The Hindu: December 1, 2015 01:08 IST
End the stand-off
The brief detention of 13 Indian border guards by the Nepali police on Sunday is yet another example of the deteriorating relations between the two countries. Nepali authorities of the Armed Police Force (APF) say India's Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) guards illegally crossed the border with weapons, while Indian officials say the guards had inadvertently stepped into the neighbouring territory while chasing "smugglers". The crux of the situation is, the differences between India and Nepal that have led to a two-month blockade at the border are now having a direct impact on the close cooperation and trust that the SSB and APF soldiers have shared for decades, and this marks a dangerous turn. It will require urgent discussions at every level of the military and civilian leadership on both sides to now bring this situation to a resolution, clear the protestors to the largest extent possible on the Nepali side, and clear the backlog of trucks that have been piling up on the Indian side since September 23 so ordinary Nepalis can receive much-needed fuel, food, medicines and other essential supplies. While some trucks have been released in the past few weeks, they are by no means enough, and all of Kathmandu now sees long serpentine queues for every commodity. Regardless of relations at present, it is unacceptable for India to stand by, especially as the days and nights grow colder, without moving in to help Nepal. Unicef, the United Nations Children's Fund, has warned that more than three million children under the age of five in Nepal now face the risk of death or disease in winter.
This will by no means be easy. The government of Prime Minister K.P. Oli could start simply by pushing through the amendments that his predecessor, Sushil Koirala, had cleared in the Cabinet. The government had also started talks with Madhesi leaders to reach a consensus on constitutional amendments that would bring the country back to normalcy. But talks collapsed last month, following which the government started police action against the protesters, which actually made matters worse. Prime Minister Oli's obsession with blaming India for all problems Nepal is facing serves as an excuse for his government's inability to find a solution. India too must face the fact that all its attempts at intervention in the Constitution process have come a cropper. It is time for diplomacy rather than a dogmatic stance, as bad relations with Nepal will begin to seep into every sphere of bilateral ties, as they have already begun to taint the relations between the border security forces. Eventually, whatever the resolution, India can only deal with the government in Nepal; it cannot engage any of the political groups there directly. Nor is it fighting a popularity contest inside Nepal. A stable, peaceful democratic Nepal is in India's best interests. For this to be realised, both nations should first give up the confrontationist approach, and work together to resolve the impasse over the Constitution in Nepal.
Become progressively worse.
in·ad·vert·ent·ly असावधानी से
Without intention; accidentally
The decisive or most important point at issue.
back·log पिछला शेष कार्य
An accumulation of something, especially uncompleted work or matters that need to be dealt with.
Of or like a serpent or snake.
A minor change in a document.
pred·e·ces·sor किसी पद पर जो पहले रह चुका हो
A person who held a job or office before the current holder.
(of a structure) fall down or in; give way.
A plant that yields a crop of a specified kind or in a specified way.
di·plo·ma·cy व्यवहार कौशल
The profession, activity, or skill of managing international relations, typically by a country's representatives abroad
Inclined to lay down principles as incontrovertibly true.
(of a liquid) flow or leak slowly through porous material or small holes.
A trace of a bad or undesirable quality or substance.
One who favours confrontation
A situation in which no progress is possible, especially because of disagreement; a deadlock.
The Hindu: December 1, 2015 01:14 IST
Towards peace in the House
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's confabulations last Friday with Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh on the long-pending Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill, a few hours after he struck an unusually conciliatory note on the floor of Parliament, signalled a dramatic change of style. Gone was the air of aggression, the taunting tone, and the reminder that his party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, had won an election last year. Mr. Modi's new mild manner seemed to be an acknowledgement that a majority in the Lok Sabha is not enough, and he needs to build a consensus to give his government's legislative agenda a chance. A year and a half after he came to power, the Prime Minister has begun to realise that no matter how handsome a mandate the electorate might have given the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance, barring the budget — that can get by with support only from the Lok Sabha — all other laws need the backing of both Houses. Recent setbacks in the Assembly elections have also dimmed the chances of the NDA significantly increasing its numbers in the Rajya Sabha. The government needs to negotiate with the Opposition to get its bills passed. Else, the government risks attracting the phrase 'policy paralysis' in its second year, and thereby parallels with the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance in its eighth. The parallel has cautionary value: once UPA-2 lost the lines of communication with the Opposition, it lost control of its political narrative.
After his Lok Sabha triumph, Mr. Modi had shown disdain for Parliament and the parliamentary process, barely attending the House and refusing to answer tough questions on the floor of the House, when sought. Citing rules, he refused to concede to the Congress the position of Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, even as he kept his engagement with the Opposition to the minimum. Indeed, he sought to implement at the Centre a model that had seen him virtually bypassing the Gujarat State Assembly in the years that he was Chief Minister: a look at the records show the Assembly, as in most other States, barely functioned; and whatever legislation had to be passed was done with minimal debate. That is clearly not possible in Delhi, where the levels of scrutiny — and resistance — are much higher. More important, a Central government must reckon with the Rajya Sabha, and courtesies need to be extended in one House to be reciprocated in the other. Now, with the economic reforms stuck, and the electorate having spoken twice this year overwhelmingly against the BJP, first in Delhi and more recently in Bihar, the Prime Minister appears to have finally read the writing on the wall. Mr. Modi made a good beginning on Friday, but he needs to continue in the same way, engaging the Opposition even as he sends out a message of inclusion, tolerance and plurality by checking the hotheads in his party, if he wishes to make a success of the rest of his tenure.
Hostile or violent behavior or attitudes toward another; readiness to attack or confront
Provoke or challenge (someone) with insulting remarks.
Gentle and not easily provoked.
An official order or commission to do something.
Bar भीतर न आने देना
Fasten (something, especially a door or window) with a bar or bars.
Make or become less bright or distinct.
A great victory or achievement.
The feeling that someone or something is unworthy of one's consideration or respect; contempt.
con·cede स्वीकार करना
Admit that something is true or valid after first denying or resisting it.
Critical observation or examination
The refusal to accept or comply with something; the attempt to prevent something by action or argument.
The showing of politeness in one's attitude and behavior toward others.
Overwhelmingly ज़बर्दस्त ढंग से
Incapable of being resisted; "the candy looked overwhelmingly desirable to the dieting man"
The fact or state of being plural.
hot·head चिड़चिड़ा व्यक्ति
A person who is impetuous or who easily becomes angry and violent.
Trapped in a range
The quarterly estimates of gross domestic product (GDP) for the July-September period were published on Monday. They indicate that, measured in terms of aggregate expenditure, GDP grew year-on-year by 7.4 per cent, slightly faster than the seven per cent recorded in the previous quarter. This small acceleration did not do very much to the distribution of expenditure across different categories; one slightly reassuring change was the increase in the investment-GDP ratio to 30.1 per cent from the 29.8 per cent of a quarter ago. But, looking back over the past few quarters, the investment rate appears to have firmly settled into a narrow range of around the 30 per cent mark. This is hardly consistent with aspirations for growth to cross the eight-per-cent mark, let alone reach nine or 10 per cent. By a rough rule of thumb referred to as the incremental capital-output ratio, the investment rate needs to be well above 35 per cent to support those growth rates. Looking at the production side of the equation, now labelled Gross Value Added (GVA), that aggregate also grew at 7.4 per cent; but some sectors did particularly well, with manufacturing growing at over nine per cent year-on-year. Trade, hotels, transport and communication services and financial services also pulled their weight. However, agriculture appears to have also settled rather firmly into a narrow range, growing by 2.2 per cent in the latest quarter, similar to its performance over the past few quarters. These estimates take the first half growth rate of both GDP and GVA to 7.2 per cent, somewhere mid-way between despondency and elation.
One significant aspect of the estimates is the unusual direction of difference between the real and nominal estimates - the former being measured at constant prices, while the latter are at current prices. Nominal GDP grew by six per cent during the quarter, while nominal GVA grew by a mere 5.2 per cent. This largely reflects the decline in commodity prices over the year and, consequently, is not going to be a persistent phenomenon. It will certainly reinforce concerns about deflation, fuelling demands for stronger monetary stimulus. But, that would be an inappropriate interpretation; since commodity prices have largely stabilised, the base effect of this year will fade away and the nominal rates will return to their traditional position of being somewhat higher than the real rates.
From the policy perspective, a sharp acceleration in growth would have provided a stronger rationale for the Reserve Bank of India maintaining the status quo on policy rates on Tuesday, as is widely anticipated. This range-bound nature of growth intensifies the monetary policy dilemma. But, the more important signal from the estimates is that investment activity is just not reviving, be it interest rates or any other factors that may be deterring it. Two other factors to which this lack of vigour has already been attributed are the infrastructure deficit and the sluggish global economy, reflected in large excess capacities, particularly in China. There is little that the Indian government can do about the latter, but it certainly can do a lot to accelerate infrastructure investment. On this initiative rest the prospects of a revival in private investment and, in turn, an acceleration in growth.
A state of low spirits caused by loss of hope or courage.
Great happiness and exhilaration.
Continuing firmly or obstinately in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.
A fact or situation that is observed to exist or happen, especially one whose cause or explanation is in question.
The art of drawing solid objects on a two-dimensional surface so as to give the right impression of their height, width, depth, and position in relation to each other when viewed from a particular point.
A set of reasons or a logical basis for a course of action or a particular belief.
in·ten·si·fy सशक्त करना
Become or make more intense.
de·ter निवारण करना
Discourage (someone) from doing something, typically by instilling doubt or fear of the consequences.
Physical strength and good health.
The amount by which something, especially a sum of money, is too small.
Slow-moving or inactive.
ac·cel·er·ate तेज़ी से बढ़ाना
(of a vehicle or other physical object) begin to move more quickly.
The ability to assess and initiate things independently.
The possibility or likelihood of some future event occurring.
A crack in the window
The 284 municipal councils in Saudi Arabia going to the polls on December 12 are restricted to overseeing streets, public gardens and garbage disposal. Women are being allowed to vote and contest these elections for the first time, in keeping with the promise made by the late King Abdullah. As evidence of the glacial pace at which reform moves in ultra-conservative societies, this is stark enough. Yet, the very perception of movement can be read as proof of progress. After introducing the municipal polls in 2005, Abdullah had appointed women to the Kingdom's Shura Council in 2013. King Salman has stuck to this modest path of reform.
Although there are 900 women contestants among the 7,000-odd candidates, they haven't found it easy to campaign. A woman candidate is prohibited from holding rallies attended by men and only a spokesman can communicate on her behalf with male voters. As a result, many women moved their campaigns to social media. But the authorities, late on Saturday, informed one of the more active campaigners, Nassima al-Sadah, that her name had been removed from the list, without apparently explaining why. Another candidate, Loujain Hathloul, who had been detained when she tried to drive into Saudi Arabia from the UAE last December, has also been disqualified.
Hathloul's disqualification is symptomatic of the Kingdom's persistent lack of gender equality. It's still the only country in the world where women aren't allowed to drive. Women can't travel, work or marry either, without permission from male kin. Having no elected legislature, Saudi Arabia is a long way from credible democratic reform. For now, with registered male voters outnumbering women 13,50,000 to 1,31,000, a woman candidate winning her seat will create history.
o·ver·see निरीक्षण करना
Supervise (a person or work), especially in an official capacity.
Relating to, resulting from, or denoting the presence or agency of ice, especially in the form of glaciers.
Stark पूर्ण रूप से
Severe or bare in appearance or outline.
Unassuming or moderate in the estimation of one's abilities or achievements.
That has been forbidden; banned
ap·par·ent·ly प्रकट रूप से
As far as one knows or can see
cred·i·ble विश्वास करने योग्य
Able to be believed; convincing.
out·num·ber संख्या में अधिक होना
Be more numerous than.
view on Syria: MPs should say no to airstrikes without a strategy
there is a right way to approach a question as serious as whether the UK should extend airstrikes against Islamic State to Syria – and a wrong way. The wrong way is to view it through the lens of the bitter debate about the future of the Labour party and in particular its leader. For all the drama of Monday's decision to allow a free vote, the threat of Isis is too grave to be used merely to undermine or shore up the position of Jeremy Corbyn.
The question that the prime minister will now put to MPs on Wednesday is of a different order. It begins, first, by asking whether it is a vital British interest for Isis to be defeated and, second, whether airstrikes are an effective means to that end. There is surely a consensus on the first point: there can be no MPs who do not want to see the back of that murderous movement. The debate is over method and whether the proposal set out by David Cameron will be effective.
The case for action is stronger than its critics tend to allow. This is not Iraq in 2003. For one thing, Mr Cameron is not proposing an all-out invasion of Syria. For another, the public fears Isis in a way it never feared Saddam Hussein. This time there is something close to an international consensus. The call to arms comes from France, our historic ally, which famously opposed the 2003 adventure. It's also true that while striking at Isis will make Britain more of a target, Britons are already a target
On the other hand, there is – as there always must be – an onus on those who want to use force, which will inevitably cost innocent as well as enemy lives, to explain why their proposal is necessary and effective, an onus that is all the heavier in the wake of recent history. Nonetheless, had Mr Cameron set out a comprehensive and credible strategy for seeing off or materially degrading Isis, this newspaper would have been open to listen. Isis cannot simply be wished away. This is not a problem that could be solved by, say, simply choking off the organisation's external funding. The trouble is, in almost three hours in the Commons last week, Mr Cameron did not out set out such an all-encompassing strategy.
He proposed airstrikes, which on their own are not enough. The dislodging of Isis from Raqqa, Ramadi or Mosul will require air power, most certainly, but it will also depend on a ground presence. The model here is the reclaiming in November of Sinjar, won by a combination of US jets in the sky and Kurdish boots on the ground. Yet Mr Cameron could unveil no credible plan for the ground action that might complement air power, even one reinforced by British Tornados. His declaration that there are 70,000 "moderate" fighters ready to do that job has been widely derided. That figure seems to lump together disparate groups who cannot be described as a coherent fighting force, certainly not one on a par with the Peshmerga.
And what would the Royal Air Force bomb exactly? Be clear that civilian deaths from allied bombing are, as far as we can tell, a minute fraction of those caused by Bashar al-Assad, Isis, and other combatants. But Isis has turned the entire civilian population of Raqqa into a human shield. Witness the voices, reported at the weekend, of those Syrians who have fled Isis and plead for no more bombs. Hitting convoys without warning poses the same problem: Isis uses civilian drivers. Bombing oil refineries would trigger ecological disaster. Wherever you look on the map of potential targets, you find possible propaganda victories for Isis and recruiting sergeants for its hateful cause
Again, this might look different if airstrikes came as part of a wider allied Syria strategy. But there is no clear vision of the role Britain or our allies envisage for Assad. Without it, Syria's Sunnis may conclude that the outside world has made a devil's pact with the dictator who has done the lion's share of the slaughtering of their people: the anger that verdict will prompt will only entrench Isis further. Even if Isis were ousted, who do we imagine will take its place?
The UK government does not have to pretend any of these questions are easy. They are not. But it needs to offer more than an RAF wing and a prayer. If Mr Cameron had come to parliament with a wide-ranging international strategy for defeating Isis on every front – cultural and financial, through both the intelligence agencies and the military – we would have been open to that. We could be open to it still. But so far he has failed that test. Admittedly, the bar is higher now, the public more sceptical after Iraq than before. But as things stand, we believe MPs should say no.
Giving cause for alarm; serious.
un·der·mine खोखला कर देना
Erode the base or foundation of (a rock formation).
Absolutely necessary or important; essential.
An instance of invading a country or region with an armed force
Used to refer to something that is one's duty or responsibility.
in·ev·i·ta·bly जो टल न सके
As is certain to happen; unavoidably.
Complete; including all or nearly all elements or aspects of something.
Choke off ( अवरुद्ध होना)
(of a person or animal) have severe difficulty in breathing because of a constricted or obstructed throat or a lack of air.
en·com·pass सम्मिलित करना
Surround and have or hold within.
dis·lodge निकाल देना
Knock or force out of position.
A compact mass of a substance, especially one without a definite or regular shape.
de·ride मज़ाक उड़ाना
Express contempt for; ridicule
Essentially different in kind; not allowing comparison.
co·her·ent समझने में सरल
(of an argument, theory, or policy) logical and consistent.
con·voy सिपाहियों का दल
A group of ships or vehicles traveling together, typically accompanied by armed troops, warships, or other vehicles for protection.
Information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view.
A decision on a disputed issue in a civil or criminal case or an inquest.
en·trench मजबूत स्थिति बनाना
Establish (an attitude, habit, or belief) so firmly that change is very difficult or unlikely.
Role of television during polls
TELEVISION can be a great democratic enabler, but it can also be an electoral impediment — at least if good sense and the rules are ignored. With local government elections across the country entering the last phase, the polling day coverage of much of the broadcast media so far has fallen woefully short of the required, lawful standard.
Consider much of the TV coverage of the recent elections in Sindh, Punjab and Islamabad. Speeches by national political leaders were broadcast live — speeches which were unambiguously political and drifted far from the ostensible purpose of thanking party workers for their efforts.
Candidates were interviewed and asked partisan and leading questions. News anchors queried political analysts about who were the likely winners and why. In some cases, there have even been predictions about specific results. It has made for some rather grim viewing — though perhaps a great deal of it remains uninformed by the ethics of election coverage and the specific requirements of polling day itself.
There is a compelling reason why polling day coverage by the media needs to remain neutral and even-handed: it is not out of respect for the political parties and the candidates, but the duty that is owed to the voter, the public itself.
Skewed, partisan and leading coverage can potentially impact on how a voter chooses to vote — or if he/she chooses to vote at all. For example, speculation and commentary during polling hours about voter turnout can affect whether a voter chooses to make the trip to the polling station.
Furthermore, claims of a dominant victory for one side or another could conceivably dampen turnout for the reportedly losing side.
The very first point in the ECP's code of conduct for the media issued in August for coverage of LG elections in Punjab states: "Neither any Radio or Television Channel shall broadcast/telecast nor any Print Media shall publish anything that adversely affects the public opinion against a particular party or candidate."
The coverage of few news channels would pass that basic test on polling day.
The problem here is clearly one of regulation — but by an impartial, independent and empowered media regulator.
Pemra's selective enthusiasm and intervention — often at the behest of the political government or the military establishment — creates more problems than it resolves.
Perhaps now with a full-time chairman, Pemra can try and establish its independence and simultaneously reach out to the broadcast media to engage it in a meaningful dialogue. Where egregious violations of sensible media conduct are found, Pemra has the power to act within the existing legal framework.
The most obvious and immediate test would be local government elections in Karachi.
The massive media presence in the city and the many controversies surrounding the principal political party in the city, the MQM, could lead to many on-air blunders on polling day.
en·a·bler सक्षम बनाना
A person or thing that makes something possible.
A hindrance or obstruction in doing something
Woefully शोकाकुल ढंग से
Deplorably: in an unfortunate or deplorable manner; "he was sadly neglected"; "it was woefully inadequate"
Be carried slowly by a current of air or wate
Stated or appearing to be true, but not necessarily so.
A strong supporter of a party, cause, or person.
Forbidding or uninviting.
Evoking interest, attention, or admiration in a powerfully irresistible way.
The number of people attending or taking part in an event, especially the number of people voting in an election.
con·ceiv·a·bly संभावित रूप से
It is conceivable or imaginable that.
Make slightly wet.
Treating all rivals or disputants equally; fair and just.
em·pow·er समर्थ करना
Give (someone) the authority or power to do something.
A person's orders or command.
e·gre·gious बेहद खराब
Outstandingly bad; shocking.
blun·der बड़ी भूल
A stupid or careless mistake.
Dec 01 2015 : The Times of India (Ahmedabad)
Days Of Reckoning
At Paris COP 21, make persuasive case for a just climate action plan
Much hope hinges on the ongoing Paris conference on climate change. Unlike previous summits over two decades, now there is unanimous recognition of the threat. Various na tions have already drafted their own intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs).The US has offered a 26-28% cut in greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by 2025, the EU promises a 40% cut by 2030. China foresees its emissions will taper off after 2030. India has promised to lower the emission intensity of its GDP by 33-35% from 2005 levels in 2030 but is still likely to be vilified by the Western commentariat. Its challenge is to mobilise its peers and convince others of the need for a just climate action plan that factors in historic asymmetries in growth and consumption.
Though the INDCs will not be enough to limit global warming to 2°C, the Paris conference will avoid prescribing binding targets. The focus will be on transparent reporting, so that progress can be globally measured. It will try to eke out commitments from in dustrialised nations on how they plan to cut emissions by 2030, and a longer-term roadmap from developing countries.
India was recently criticised by John Kerry for planning to expand domestic coal use. But the demands of a growing economy leave it with little choice.
Consider that about 400 million Indians lack access to regular electricity that's more than the combined populations of the US and Canada. While India could, in theory , leapfrog the traditional fossil-fuel-intense route to growth and this government has committed to an ambitious clean energy plan, the whole world should be invested in seeing this through, with financial and technology transfers. Denying a nation the right to grow is patently unfair, given that historic polluters are still responsible for the bulk of emissions.
In 2013, scientists suggested the carbon budget as a clear way to frame the talks there is only so much carbon the planet can take, before it suffers irreversible damage. Rich countries have already used up two-thirds of this carbon pie. Now, the question is how to divide the rest of it.
India has high stakes in an effective climate change agreement, given that it is disproportionately vulnerable to its impact. But it is right to insist, in Paris, that the costs must be globally distributed.Climate change should not be an opportunity to entrench and intensify inequality.
Hinge कब्जे पर लगाना
A movable joint or mechanism on which a door, gate, or lid swings as it opens and closes, or that connects linked objects.
(of two or more people) fully in agreement.
Prepare a preliminary version of (a text).
fore·see अंदाज लगा लेना
Be aware of beforehand; predict.
vil·i·fy तिरस्कार करना
Speak or write about in an abusively disparaging manner.
Members of the news media considered as a class.
mo·bi·lize इस्तेमाल करना
(of a country or its government) prepare and organize (troops) for active service.
Peer समान पदस्थ
A member of the nobility in Britain or Ireland, comprising the ranks of duke, marquess, earl, viscount, and baron.
Lack of equality or equivalence between parts or aspects of something; lack of symmetry.
A game in which players in turn vault with parted legs over the backs of others who are bending down.
Not able to be undone or altered.
Susceptible to physical or emotional attack or harm.
en·trench मजबूत स्थिति बनाना
Establish (an attitude, habit, or belief) so firmly that change is very difficult or unlikely.
Dec 01 2015 : The Economic Times (Mumbai)
Strengthen Disclosure Don't Dilute RTI Act
Information commissioners reportedly want the government to introduce a legal filter in the Right to Information (RTI) Act to weed out frivolous applications. Any change in the law to curtail the citizen's access to information on public affairs is regressive. It would be entirely up to the state to decide what query is frivolous. Data collated by National Campaign for People's Right to Information show that less than 1% of the applications can be classified as vexatious. We can live with this.To ask for an undertaking that the applicant has not sought the information earlier is needless harassment. So, the case for diluting the Act on the professed reason that frivolous applications clog the system or thwart institutional efficiency is patently bogus.
The easiest way to avoid having to field so many RTI queries is to proactively pub lish all information in a form that makes sense. The UPA government had promised such a reform, but did not deliver on the promise. The NDA must implement the policy to improve governance. And in doing so, it will also fulfil a fundamental duty . Sure, official secrets must be protected. Section 8 of the RTI Act defines these restrictions. The state, for example, is not obliged to disclose to any citizen information that would "prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security , strategic, scientific or economic interests of the State, relation with foreign State or lead to incitement of an offence". Information that amounts to contempt of court cannot be disclosed either.
The RTI will still need to be retained. A citizen must be able to seek clarifications on what the government proposes to do about something that is of key interest to her, considering that the RTI Act is meant to reveal the principles and reasons that inform policymaking.
The action of making new or secret information known.
friv·o·lous गंभीरता से विचार न करने वाला
Not having any serious purpose or value
Weed out साफ़ करना
cur·tail संक्षिप्त करना
Reduce in extent or quantity; impose a restriction on.
Becoming less advanced; returning to a former or less developed state.
Causing or tending to cause annoyance, frustration, or worry
A shoe with a thick wooden sole.
Thwart विफल करना
Prevent (someone) from accomplishing something
The feeling that a person or a thing is beneath consideration, worthless, or deserving scorn.