The Hindu: November 5, 2015 00:34 IST Becoming an opposition
In 2004, when the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) came to power after eight years in the wilderness, it had as much to do with the failure of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government's India Shining project as it had to do with the people's desire for the return of pluralism and tolerance. For in the six years of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and its affiliates had been active, though perhaps not with the kind of fervour that is visible today. In the wake of its loss in the Lok Sabha elections, the Congress, grappling with problems of identity, had held a series of closed-door sessions that started in late-October 2014 where the party's top 200-odd leaders, divided into small groups, had debated the party's future. One of the key areas under discussion had been the need to re-articulate the party's ideology: roughly summarised, the conclusion was that the Congress must remain pluralistic and inclusive without looking like a pro-Muslim party, and retain the minority vote without annoying the liberal Hindu mainstream. Many members, however, felt that the party had tilted too far in favour of the minorities. But today, with well-known members of civil society — including many distinguished academics, writers, historians and filmmakers — speaking out, the Congress clearly sees this as an opportune time to seize the moment.
On Tuesday, led by party president Sonia Gandhi, Congress leaders marched from Parliament House to Rashtrapati Bhavan to seek President Pranab Mukherjee's intervention in checking the "growing atmosphere of fear, intolerance and intimidation being deliberately created by sections of the ruling establishment". Twice earlier this year, the party took to the streets: first, during Parliament's Budget session as part of a 14-party delegation along the same route to protest against the Modi government's efforts to legislate a "farmer-unfriendly" land acquisition law; the second time, to express solidarity with former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh when he was sought to be implicated in the coal scam. On both those occasions, too, Ms. Gandhi led from the front. The party's State units and front organisations have also organised padyatras and sit-ins, occasionally under Rahul Gandhi's leadership, largely on the controversial Land Acquisition Bill, but these have gone generally unnoticed. As the Congress seeks to recover from its 2014 defeat, its efforts to make a comeback have been hampered as much by the delay in installing heir apparent Rahul Gandhi as the new leader, as the lack of clarity on whether it needs to re-invent itself. The party's mobilisation of its rank and file has been sporadic since its strength was reduced to a mere 44 seats in Parliament. But with civil society rising up against growing intolerance, that has manifested itself both in physical and verbal violence, the Congress feels that it may have found a launch pad for its return. To make a game of it, however, the party will have to articulate its core beliefs and play a leading role in banding together a secular opposition.
An uncultivated, uninhabited, and inhospitable region.
Intense and passionate feeling
A grappling hook or grappling iron.
Move or cause to move into a sloping position
Unity or agreement of feeling or action, especially among individuals with a common interest; mutual support within a group.
Occurring at irregular intervals or only in a few places; scattered or isolated.
The Hindu: November 5, 2015 00:23 IST
A gratifying outcome
The only way the state can demonstrate its commitment to rendering justice to victims of sexual violence is by ensuring a speedy trial and procuring exemplary punishment for offenders. That trials that yield such outcomes have become more frequent is a matter of considerable satisfaction. The sentencing of a Delhi taxi driver to a prison term for the remainder of his life for raping a passenger in December 2014 ought to be gratifying for two reasons. The final verdict has come within 11 months of the crime, and it imposes the maximum punishment available in law under penal provisions that were significantly strengthened in 2013. It was only three days earlier that a sessions court in Mumbai sentenced a man to death for the rape and murder of a 23-year-old software engineer, although the conclusion that it was one of the "rarest of rare cases", warranting the death penalty, will have to be tested in higher courts. It has been proved again that it is possible to end the cynicism about the country's tardy judicial system and its reputation for being soft on gender crimes. But it will also need courageous survivors, efficient investigators, committed prosecutors and judges sensitive to the need to keep the trial on track. Last year, a Mumbai sessions court sentenced four men to life terms in the Shakti Mills gang-rape cases within seven months. The Delhi gang-rape of December 2012 ended with death sentences for four and crossed both the trial and appeal stages in the High Court within 16 months. The common message from these fast-tracked trials is that the national outcry since the Delhi gang-rape for a progressive socio-legal structure to combat gender violence may not have been in vain.
However, what ought to concern the public more, especially in a society marked by entrenched patriarchy, is that public spaces are not as safe as they ought to be for citizens, and that predators do sometimes have the run of the streets. When Uber driver Shiv Kumar Yadav sexually assaulted a passenger on another December day last year, it was a setback to the cause, as it highlighted the persistent lack of safety for women in the national capital. A man with a long history of sexual offences managed to conceal his past and break into the hail-a-ride cab system with a fake certificate and little background scrutiny. The lack of visible policing in a vast city with considerable scope for opportunistic crimes against women made passengers travelling alone added to their vulnerability. Stronger laws, quicker trials and convictions may foster trust in the criminal justice system. The idea that sexual offenders do not enjoy impunity and are ultimately made answerable to the courts is a source of comfort, but the possibility that such crimes will recur is not.
Give (someone) pleasure or satisfaction.
An inclination to believe that people are motivated purely by self-interest; skepticism.
Delaying or delayed beyond the right or expected time; late.
Having or showing an excessively high opinion of one's appearance, abilities, or worth.
Exemption from punishment or freedom from the injurious consequences of an action.
Banks with impaired assets are just leaky buckets
Over the past few days, concerns over the state of bank balance sheets have intensified. First, Axis Bank declared that its asset quality problem was worse than previously indicated, causing its stock price to decline sharply. Soon after, Indian Overseas Bank showed a very large year-on-year decline in its quarterly profits, again leading to a massive fall in its stock price. While the general state of banks is well known and has presumably been discounted by investors, unanticipated signals even from a small number of banks that the situation might be worse than previously believed could have implications for the system as a whole. If markets begin to distrust financial declarations, banks will find it increasingly difficult to raise funds. As it is, credit growth is at an abysmally low rate, which is only partly explained by the moderation in inflation. The situation will only worsen if banks are unable to mobilise more funds. The recovery that some sectors are seeing could easily be choked off by a credit squeeze.
A number of things need to be done urgently. Many of the actions proposed in the Indradhanush programme are appropriate responses to the problem, but the time they may take and the magnitude of the action could dilute their impact. Two aspects of the problem need to be addressed with urgency. The first is, of course, a clear and transparent assessment and communication of the problem. Official numbers on non-performing assets are being questioned by an increasing number of observers; this is a clear manifestation of distrust. The problem is that everyone will make their own assessments, so no clear picture emerges. It would be in everybody's best interests for judgements to be made on the basis of common knowledge and understanding. The opacity problem has been compounded by the relaxation in disclosure norms made for infrastructure projects. Postponement would have made some sense if a solution were to be found in the meantime. But, that has not happened; inevitably, these exposures have to be classified as bad assets at some point. The government should make a worst case assessment and make it public as a first step to rectifying the situation.
Second, the intent to infuse more capital into banks, even if it is based on performance, is a hugely risky move without full transparency. Apparently well-performing banks may suddenly show themselves to be worse than reported. Any move to re-capitalise the banks should only be made once full transparency is achieved and, beyond that, a process of transferring these assets to appropriate institutions, with fairly distributed haircuts is initiated. As long as banks carry impaired assets, both known and unknown, on their books, they are leaky buckets and more capital is going to be wasted. The long-term capacity of banks to provide funds to their traditional borrower segments will be compromised and, in turn, this will become another noose around the neck of the growth momentum. There has to be a sense of urgency about this; Indradhanush on steroids. Many observers are beginning to list this problem on the top of their lists of what is wrong with the economy. The old management dictum "what does not get measured, does not get managed" is particularly appropriate here. (Disclosure: Kotak Mahindra and associates are significant shareholders in Business Standard Limited.)
Weakened or damaged.
Having a leak or leaks.
Terribly: in a terrible manner; "she sings terribly"
· CHOKE OFF. transitive verb. : to bring to a stop or to an end as if by choking.
An event, action, or object that clearly shows or embodies something, especially a theory or an abstract idea.
The condition of lacking transparency or translucence; opaqueness.
A loop with a running knot, tightening as the rope or wire is pulled and typically used to hang people or trap animals.
Good riddance: Delhi govt okays scrapping of 200 affidavits
In a welcome move, the Delhi cabinet has given the go-ahead to scrap 200 affidavits that were required in order to access various government services, including ration cards, income and caste certificates, electricity connections, even the booking of baraat ghars. The government rightly noted that these could be replaced with self-declarations and has tasked the department of administrative reforms to look into provisions for stringent punishment for wrong declarations. The Delhi cabinet's decision takes forward a project started in Punjab in 2010, aimed at reposing trust in citizens and moving away from affidavits sworn before a magistrate or public notary, and certified true copies attested by gazetted officers and the like, in favour of self-attestation. The Centre under Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave impetus to this campaign, and other state governments — Gujarat, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Goa — have followed Punjab's example.
Indeed, as noted in a document of the Central department of administrative reforms and public grievances, affidavits impose a huge cost on citizens — of stamp paper, fees for the deed writer and notary for attestation, as well as time and effort. In Punjab, it was found that, on average, 50 per cent of the state's households file an affidavit in a year.
The document concluded that, if this figure is extrapolated for the whole of India, the total expenses incurred by citizens would be about Rs 8,000 crore per year. All this when "affidavits have no particular sanctity in law and the same function can be easily performed by declarations". The Indian Penal Code already contains a number of sections that deal with false information, evidence, disclosures and declarations, and prescribe penalties, fines and even imprisonment for them. In Punjab, the introduction of self-attestation had unexpected benefits in freeing up the energies of local suvidha kendras. Prior to the reform, in 2009-10, 65.6 per cent of the services availed of by citizens were affidavit-related. But in 2012-13, only 9.81 per cent were — even though the absolute number of services dispensed at these centres increased considerably.
But some caution is warranted. As the Union minister of state for personnel, public grievances and pensions, Jitendra Singh, admitted in the Rajya Sabha, some complaints about the non-acceptance of self-certification have been received, in spite of the Modi government's push. In Maharashtra, too, the government's initiative to dispense with the requirement for stamp paper for certain affidavits was ignored by the establishment. Efforts must be made to ensure that the Delhi initiative doesn't hit a bureaucratic wall.
The force or energy with which a body moves.
Extend the application of (a method or conclusion, especially one based on statistics) to an unknown situation by assuming that existing trends will continue or similar methods will be applicable.
Distribute or provide (a service or information) to a number of people.
Nov 05 2015 : The Times of India (Ahmedabad)
Civic Poll Lesson
Maharashtra results show that BJP and Shiv Sena continue to need each other
The BJP-Sena alliance in Maharashtra has been more than rocky lately. Indeed, it has looked close to coming unstuck on several occasions as Uddhav Thackeray's Shiv Sena and chief minister Devendra Fadnavis's party fired salvoes at each other, with each threatening to ditch the alliance and go it alone. Would that be such a bad idea? The results of the Kalyan Dombivli Municipal Corporation (KDMC) elections suggest that it would be for both.Fighting the civic polls separately , Shiv Sena secured the highest number of seats (52). But BJP too rang up a fivefold increase in its number of seats from 9 to 42. In Kolhapur Congress-NCP held the winning hand, securing 42 out of 81 seats. However, if BJP and Shiv Sena had joined forces, they would have swept civic polls.
Sena leader Sanjay Raut, who recently dubbed Fadnavis "pro-Pakistan", has seen reason and hinted at a possible rapprochement with BJP . But feelings are still running high on both sides. In the run up to civic polls, Shiv Sena had launched a well-coordinated effort to oppose and embarrass bigger partner BJP in all manner of ways.
First, it was fiercely vocal in its opposition of the meat ban imposed during a Jain festival. Second, it unle ashed such a barrage of threats against Pakistani ghazal maestro Ghulam Ali that he was forced to cancel his concert in Mumbai.Fadnavis was unable to reason with the Sena and get it to withdraw the threats. Third, Sena lumpens blackened the face of former BJP leader Sudheendra Kulkarni. Clearly , Sena was doing its best to put its nativist ideals front and centre at the expense of BJP.
It is possible that Sena felt it had more to gain by dissociating itself from its longtime ally in the state. However, the fact is and civic poll results illustrate this neither side can do without the other.Moreover Sena's divisive, nativist politics has its limitations its more extreme format, Raj Thackeray's Maharashtra Navanirman Sena, is routinely rejected by voters. The Sena-BJP combine in Maharashtra has four more years to go. It's a fractious alliance all right. But both parties need to kiss and make up. Without a rapprochement, both Sena and BJP will be seriously weakened in the state.
A simultaneous discharge of artillery or other guns in a battle.
(lumpen) lumpish: mentally sluggish
(typically of children) irritable and quarrelsome.
(especially in international relations) an establishment or resumption of harmonious relations.
Nov 05 2015 : The Economic Times (Mumbai)
Strengthen Domestic Financial Markets
The Indian rupee is increasingly traded in the financial cen tres abroad, even as the domestic currency market remains below potential due to deficient policy , including onerous tax and regulatory requirements. This needs to change, as the maiden report of the standing council on the Indian financial sector rightly calls for. We do need more liquid financial mar kets at home, to empower the small player.
An active market abroad for derivatives on the rupee means that an end-user seeking to hedge his currency risk has a choi ce of markets and attendant instruments. We need to proac tively develop onshore markets not just to meet domestic re quirements but also to boost exports of financial products and services. If the domestic market cannot create liquidity and efficient prices for the rupee, it would have adverse consequ ences for companies both large and small and affect Indian industry as a whole. Be sides, products like rupee derivatives re quire skill-sets and systems that India is well-endowed with.
The report contains several policy recommendations to boo st the domestic currency derivatives market. For instance, it calls upon the Reserve Bank of India to remove restrictions on participation of domestic financial institutions and on can celling and rebooking over-the-counter contracts. The author ities also need to clarify ambiguities in the direct tax treatme nt of exchange-traded currency derivative transactions for domestic corporates. Further, what's suggested is that produ ct innovation decisions devolve on exchanges and not regulat ors. Other issues, like position limits and margin requiremen ts, as also trading times, need to be revisited and rationalised We do need reforms to arrest the slide in competitiveness in the currency derivatives market.
(of a task, duty, or responsibility) involving an amount of effort and difficulty that is oppressively burdensome.
Transfer or delegate (power) to a lower level, especially from central government to local or regional administration.
view on Abdel Fatah al-Sisi: sup with a long spoon
s dictators go, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi certainly meets the criteria that have long defined the Arab strongman, harnessing his power through the violent crushing of dissent and individual freedom, while claiming that he is doing no more than benignly protecting his nation's security. Such excuses should fool no one. The Egyptian president visiting David Cameron this week is nothing other than the man who has buried the democratic hopes that were born in Tahrir Square in 2011.
Since Mr Sisi took power in the aftermath of the coup in July 2013, hundreds of political opponents have been sentenced to death or life imprisonment; no one has been held to account for the deaths of more than 1,000 people demonstrating in Cairo two years ago; military court jurisdiction has been expanded; journalists have been locked up and put on trial; and NGO work has been severely restricted. None of this is likely to come up in public this week as the UK government instead fixes its gaze on security cooperation and lucrative arms contracts. So it is welcome and natural that Mr Sisi's visit is accompanied by protests from human rights organisations and other critics.
But there is a wider picture. The Middle East is fast unravelling into chaos. It makes sense for the UK and other western powers to keep channels of communication open to Mr Sisi. Egypt, along with Turkey, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, is one of only four key Muslim countries in the region that can still be described as functioning states. Syria, Iraq and Libya are all in a state of collapse, spreading disorder beyond their own borders and even beyond the region. For European countries confronted with the threat of violent jihadi networks and searching for solutions to the refugee and migrant crises, Egypt is as necessary and indispensable an interlocutor as Turkey – however unsavoury each of those very different regimes might be.
The problem lies therefore not in holding talks with Mr Sisi, but in how those talks are conducted and what is being said. At the moment there is a risk that he is being given a blank cheque to pursue abusive policies that not only trample on universal values but will also ultimately breed the very instability the west fears. Nor are his repressive measures conducive to economic development. If the current situation holds, that will only exacerbate Egyptian instability. Western policymakers should keep that in mind.
But Mr Sisi has inherited some big problems, starting with a series of armed attacks, including perhaps the downing of the Russian jet that crashed over Sinai on Saturday, which the UK government said on Wednesday may have been caused by an explosive device. That and a pattern of attacks targeting minorities serve as reminders of the presence of Isis cells and other extremist groups on Egyptian soil. And those who protest against Mr Cameron's rolling out of the red carpet to Mr Sisi should remember that many Egyptians were repelled by the authoritarian abuses that came to characterise the Muslim Brotherhood-led government of his predecessor, Mohamed Morsi.
Egyptians rightly want a government that is, at the very least, fair and decent. That means both those protesting outside the room and those leaders who are in dialogue with Mr Sisi inside it should give in neither to one-eyed indignation nor to complacency in the face of deplorably autocratic behaviour.
Put a harness on (a horse or other draft animal).
A sudden, violent, and illegal seizure of power from a government.
Undo (twisted, knitted, or woven threads).
A person who takes part in a dialogue or conversation.
Disagreeable to taste, smell, or look at.
Tread on and crush.
(especially of a social or political system) inhibiting or restraining the freedom of a person or group of people.
Make (a problem, bad situation, or negative feeling) worse.
Drive or force (an attack or attacker) back or away.
In an unfortunate or deplorable manner; "he was sadly neglected"; "it was woefully inadequate"
A feeling of smug or uncritical satisfaction with oneself or one's achievements.
Victims without shelter
THE ordeal of many of those who survived the massive Oct 26 earthquake is far from over.
The lack of proper shelter combined with the arrival of winter has compounded the miseries of the quake victims in the northern parts of the country.
In some areas, tents and blankets have not arrived, while the supplies that have reached the affected families are inadequate considering the harsh weather.
Also read: Shelterless people brace for snowfall, rain in quake-hit areas
This makes the situation critical for the thousands whose dwellings have been destroyed, especially with snowfall and rain, and temperatures falling below zero.
Chitral, Shangla and Lower Dir have been the hardest hit districts. True, the terrain is quite difficult to access, and inclement weather has affected the relief operation. Nevertheless, KP's Provincial Disaster Management Authority has been justifiably criticised for its slow response.
Officials say around 15pc of the affected areas have not yet been reached.
The state, it seems, is ill-prepared to deal with even small-scale situations of this sort; and, as this response illustrates, it is at sea when disasters of larger magnitude strike. While the people in the affected regions are incredibly hardy, it is cruel to let them fend for themselves at this difficult time.
One solution put forth by the authorities is to house the quake survivors in schools. We must ask though how many buildings in the affected area are safe post-quake.
One figure says over 500 schools have been damaged in the affected areas. The federal and provincial authorities, therefore, need to step up their efforts to provide relief and safe shelters to the victims, especially those in remote regions.
Only the state has the resources to overcome the obstacle of poor access to reach the affected citizens. Winterised tents and heavy blankets that can protect the people from the region's biting cold should be dispatched to the affected areas without delay, while the survivors' nutritional and health needs must be looked after.
Moreover, as per the prime minister's instructions, compensation for the affected must reach them by Nov 14 so that they can start rebuilding their lives. Without doubt, it is in such times of trial that the intentions and sincerity of the state towards the people are tested. That is why the administration needs to rise to the occasion and expedite the relief effort.
A painful or horrific experience, especially a protracted one.
A house, apartment, or other place of residence.
A stretch of land, especially with regard to its physical features.
(of the weather) unpleasantly cold or wet.
>make (an action or process) happen sooner or be accomplished more quickly.
"he promised to expedite economic reforms"
the newyork times
The Tough Realities of the Paris Climate Talks
IN less than a month, delegates from more than 190 countries will convene in Paris to finalize a sweeping agreement intended to constrain human influence on the climate. But any post-meeting celebration will be tempered by two sobering scientific realities that will weaken the effectiveness of even the most ambitious emissions reduction plans that are being discussed.
The first reality is that emissions of carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas of greatest concern, accumulate in the atmosphere and remain there for centuries as they are slowly absorbed by plants and the oceans. This means modest reductions in emissions will only delay the rise in atmospheric concentration but will not prevent it. Thus, even if global emissions could be reduced by a heroic average 20 percent from their "business as usual" course over the next 50 years, we would be delaying the projected doubling of the concentration by only 10 years, from 2065 to 2075.
Unconditional national commitments made by countries for the Paris meeting are projected to reduce total greenhouse gas emissions through 2030 by an average of only 3 percent below the business-as-usual average rise of 8 percent.
This is why drastic reductions would be needed to stabilize human influences on the climate at supposed "safe" levels. According to scenarios used by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, global annual per capita emissions would need to fall from today's five metric tons to less than one ton by 2075, a level well below what any major country emits today and comparable to the emissions from such countries as Haiti, Yemen and Malawi. For comparison, current annual per capita emissions from the United States, Europe and China are, respectively, about 17, 7 and 6 tons.
The second scientific reality, arising from peculiarities of the carbon dioxide molecule, is that the warming influence of the gas in the atmosphere changes less than proportionately as the concentration changes. As a result, small reductions will have progressively less influence on the climate as the atmospheric concentration increases. The practical implication of this slow logarithmic dependence is that eliminating a ton of emissions in the middle of the 21st century will exert only half of the cooling influence that it would have had in the middle of the 20th century.
These two scientific realities make emissions reductions a sluggish lever for constraining human influences on the climate. At the same time, societal realities conspire to make emissions reductions themselves difficult. Energy demand, which is strongly correlated with rising incomes and living standards, is expected to grow by some 50 percent by midcentury, driven by economic progress in developing countries and by population growth to about 9.7 billion people from the current 7.3 billion.
Fossil fuels, which are not running out anytime soon, supply over 80 percent of the world's energy today and are usually the least expensive and most convenient means of meeting growing energy demand. They continue to be widely adopted as the developing world builds its energy-supply infrastructure, because whatever the emissions benefits of technologies such as nuclear fission, carbon sequestration, wind and solar, all currently have drawbacks (including cost, land use and intermittence) that hamper their deployment at scale.
And in the developed world, the energy-supply infrastructure of electric generating plants, transmission lines, refineries and pipelines changes slowly because of the large capital costs and long facility lifetimes, and because different parts of the energy system must work together (for example, cars, their fuel and the fueling infrastructure must all be compatible).
Improvements in energy efficiency can help, but even if today's annual per capita emissions of three tons in the developing world grew by midcentury to only five tons (about 70 percent of Europe's per capita emissions today), annual global emissions would increase by 60 percent.
And, overarching all this, the tension between emissions reductions and development is complicated by uncertainties in how the climate will change under human and natural influences and how those changes will impact natural and human systems.
These scientific and societal realities compound to make stabilization of the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide, let alone its reduction, a distant prospect. As a result, even as the world struggles to reduce emissions, human influences on the climate will not be decreasing for many decades. Thus, adaptation measures such as raising the height of sea walls or shifting to drought-resistant crops become very important. Fortunately, adaptation is on the table in Paris to complement emissions reductions.
Adaptation can be effective. Humans today live in climates ranging from the tropics to the Arctic and have adapted through many climate changes, including the Little Ice Age about 400 years ago.
Adaptation is also indifferent to whether the climate change is natural or human-induced; it can be proportional, depending upon how much or how quickly the climate changes; and it can be politically easier to accomplish because it does not require a global consensus and has demonstrable local and immediate effects. Adaptation will no doubt be more difficult if the climate changes rapidly (as it has done naturally in the past), and, like emissions reductions, it will induce inequalities, as the rich can adapt more easily than the poor. Adapting ecosystems to a changing climate will require a more careful monitoring and deeper understanding of the natural world than we have today.
The critical role of adaptation in responding to the realities of climate change demands a deeper analysis and more prominent discussion of the nature, effectiveness, timing and costs of various adaptation strategies. But whatever the outcome in Paris, or of future discussions of emissions and the climate, the reality is that humans must continue to adapt, as they always have.
Improve the hardness and elasticity of (steel or other metal) by reheating and then cooling it.
Make or become sober after drinking alcohol.
Not affected by alcohol; not drunk.
Gather together or acquire an increasing number or quantity of.
Likely to have a strong or far-reaching effect; radical and extreme.
Slow-moving or inactive.
Of or relating to society or social relations.
Forming an arch over something.