26-Dec-2011

$121 Billion Went Out In The Last Decade Via Trade Mispricing

I'm sure the politicians forced them to misprice because, as we all know, only the politicians are corrupt.

 if an exporter understates the value of goods actually exported in relation to the imports recorded in the importing partner country and keeps the balance of funds abroad, that too is an illicit outflow. International trade data reveals such mispricing by comparing data from partner trading countries.It is this type of jugglery that accounts for the bulk of illicit flows in India - worth over $121.65 billion (Rs 5.8 lakh crore) or almost 95% of the total.

FDI in Multi-Brand Retail Will Hurt Farmers


A prominent TV channel featured the story of a few farmers in Punjab highlighting how direct purchases of produce by a retailer had given them a higher yield. This is a type of faulty reasoning described in college textbooks as “the fallacy of composition”. The fallacy of composition arises when one infers that something is true of the whole from the fact that it is true of some part of the whole.
The channel had obviously hand-picked a few farmers who suited its conclusion. The only way to assess the impact on farmers is to look at countries where big retailers dominate the market, and see how the entire farming community has fared.
And it has fared quite badly.  Take a look at the following picture and then read the whole analysis for the numbers.

25-Dec-2011

"Team Anna" Still Looking For Elusive Nationwide Support


I asked Where Is The Nationwide Support for "Team Anna"? about 36 hours ago, noting that just 48413 people had registered for his Jail Bharo 'Andolan'.  Time to update that number.  It's a day later.  I expect the thing to have caught on like wild fire.  So let me check.  67070.  

That many could be fit into Eden Gardens. 

And which are the states/regions contributing mainly to that number?  The eight states/regions - Delhi & NCR, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat, MP, UP, AP, Rajasthan - together still contribute 75% of the registered people.  The four states/regions - Delhi & NCR, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat - still contribute almost half of them.

Still no nationwide support.

Update: The final figure is, hold your breath, 175220.  No wonder things fizzled out.  

24-Dec-2011

Margaret Thatcher's Funeral May Be Privatized

WHICH investment bank will underwrite the ticket sales at Margaret Thatcher’s privatised funeral?
The Capitalist only asks because, as of last night, more than 14,000 people had signed up to the e-petition posted by Scott Morgan declaring that the Iron Lady’s state funeral should be funded and managed by the private sector.
After all, Baroness Thatcher privatised the railways, the water companies, the electricity providers and the telecoms firms – so she should surely approve of the online rally to offer the “best value and choice for end users and other stakeholders” on her passing.
As the petition on the government’s website reads: “The undersigned believe that the legacy of the former prime minister deserves nothing less and that offering this unique opportunity is an ideal way to cut government expense and further prove the merits of liberalised economics Baroness Thatcher spearheaded.”
If the number of signatories hits 100,000 – as is looking pretty likely, since the petition runs until October next year – the Backbench Business Committee will present the idea as a motion in the House of Commons.
Time for City firms to start thinking of how to take a percentage of the profits, then – as Rothschild, which advised on the privatisation of British Gas, British Steel, British Coal and the regional electricity and water boards, demonstrated so admirably.
That's a mind-blowingly fitting tribute to the lady and her legacy.  No one can accuse the British of not doing the right thing by their leaders.  

Where Is The Nationwide Support for "Team Anna"?

Anna Hazare's managers have started a website for the Jail Bharo movement, Jail Bharo Andolan, where people who  are willing to fill the jails in his support can register their details.  If they want to register through SMS, the website has the number to which they can send the SMS.

Time hanging a bit heavily on my hands, I ambled across to the website to see what it was about.  It's a simple site with a simple form where you fill in your name, city, state, mobile number to register.  It also shows the current count of how many people have registered so far.

Well, as we all know, the entire country is behind him.  So who'd blame us if we expect the number of registered people to be a few hundred millions?  Or maybe a few millions?  OK, if not that many, a few lakhs at least?  At least a lakh?   But no, it turns out we'd be dead wrong.  The actual total thus far:  48413.  

Click on the graph to enlarge it.



Eight states account for 75% of the supporters: Delhi & NCR, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat, MP, UP, AP, Rajasthan.   Four states account for nearly half of the supporters so far: Delhi & NCR, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat.  Where the hell is the nationwide support?  

Maybe it will build up over the New Year weekend.  Wait and watch this space.

23-Dec-2011

Anna Hazare Fast - Satyagraha or Nuisance?


Earlier in the day, Team Anna came in for scathing criticism by the court for its proposed agitation against the Lokpal Bill with the bench saying it cannot allow “parallel canvassing” when Parliament is seized with debate on the legislation.
“We can’t allow parallel canvassing when Parliament is seized with debate on the bill. You can propagate the bill sitting at home. Till now the bill has not been passed. No one knows what form and what features it will have. Is public debate permissible at this stage?,” the court asked.
Disapproving of the agitation despite the Lokpal Bill being tabled in Parliament, Justice Majmudar asked, “How is country’s interest involved? We are a democratic set up. We have elected a government. Wouldn’t your agitation interfere in the functioning of Parliament? The bill will be debated in Parliament where our elected representatives will plead our case”.
The court further said that as Judges they had taken an oath to uphold the Constitution and law. “Under which law are you (petitioner) asking for exemption? It might be Satyagraha for you but for some other factions it might be a nuisance,” it said.
That sounds about right to me.  

So where do Anna Hazare and his team go to next? The Supreme Court?  Or else, can't they just declare victory and propagate the bill sitting at home?  They have antogonised almost every single MP in parliament by abusing them in no uncertain terms.  The HC has rejected the claim that there is anything of national interest involved.  So just who'll deliver the Jan Lok Pal bill for them?

Solar Energy Usage - Top 10 Countries

Germany at #1 with 17 Gigawatts installed.
Spain #2 with 3.7 gigawatts installed.
France #3 with 1 gigawatts installed
When will our day in the sun come?

22-Dec-2011

Bio-Terrorism And The US


Fear of misuse as a lethal bio-terrorism agent has prompted the US government to ask two of the world's leading scientific journals – “Science” and “Nature” – not to publish technical details on the creation of a deadly avian influenza strain which has the potential to transmit easily among human and cause millions of deaths.
The National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity created after the Anthrax scare post 9/11 on Wednesday has asked the editors of the journals to withhold certain technical details showing how an avian influenza virus (H5N1) can wreak havoc among humans.
“Editors at Science are taking very seriously a request by the NSABB to publish only an abbreviated version of a research report related to a strain of H5N1 avian influenza virus, Bruce Alberts, editor in chief of the journal said in a statement.
NSABB emphasised the need to curtail publication of the details of research to ensure that it does not fall into wrong hands.
The deadly genetically altered virus was created Ron Fouchier of the Erasmus Medical Center and colleagues in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Another team at the University of Wisconsin in Madison  came out with comparable results. 
Both were funded by the US National Institutes of Health, which backed the censorship.
Emphasis mine.  This is the country which accuses other countries of wanting to wage various forms of chemical, and biological warfare at the drop of a hat.  'Wrong hands'?  Which country is killing other people day after day through drones, dropping bombs, is holding people without trial for indefinite periods etc?  The US?  No, can't be.  They have their heart in the right place.  

Wrong hands indeed.

21-Dec-2011

"For Sonam, Showing Middle Finger is No Big Deal"

For Sonam, Showing Middle Finger is No Big Deal.

Yet she was classy enough not to do it in real life.  A repost from aeons ago:  The Class Dialectic:


Class:




Declasse:

Is Merit The Reason For Caste-based Poverty and Backwardness?


A little bit of time travel to 2009/10 triggered by this article: Congress ups the ante on quotas.  Two reviews of the book "Blocked By Caste".

The economics of caste inequity.  From the latter:
Reactions to the caste question are fairly predictable in India. The average (upper caste) response is that the policy of reservations has gone on far too long and that discrimination is very much a thing of the past. As to why certain social groups remain extremely poor and backward despite the legal safeguards, the usual explanation is that Dalits are either not well educated or do not have the merit to make it to good jobs.
Blocked by Caste should come as an eye-opener to those who subscribe to this view. It proves that the social and economic exclusion of Dalits (and Muslims) continues to be pervasive in a nation that speaks the global language of meritocracy and level playing fields but has been unable to shed historical caste prejudices. 
...What it does reveal is that the dominant Brahminical ideology, which categorises the Dalit and the Muslim minority as the ‘other’, has tinted the view of the private sector to a large degree. Economic discrimination is a subject that has received little attention and this book focuses on contemporary patterns of discrimination in various markets, labour in particular, along with discrimination in the delivery of public goods and services by the government.
...Thorat and Paul Attewell, professor of sociology at the University of New York, used a similar methodology in India to arrive at similar conclusions. They sent out three sets of applications for jobs advertised in major dailies over a 13-month period, using a stereotypical high caste Hindu name, a recognisable Muslim name and a distinctive Dalit name. The consistent result: applicants with Dalit and Muslim names had a significantly lower chance of a positive outcome than persons with a high caste Hindu name.
IT companies were included too.  How can such visceral attitudes be changed or at least be circumvented?  


A useful four-fold classification of the types of discrimination is proposed by Thorat and Newman: complete exclusion, selective inclusion, unfavourable inclusion, and selective exclusion. Complete exclusion would occur, for example, if Dalits were totally excluded from purchase of land in certain residential areas. Selective inclusion refers to differential treatment or inclusion in markets, such as disparity in payment of wages to Dalit workers and other workers. Unfavourable inclusion or forced inclusion refers to tasks in which Dalits are incorporated based on traditional caste practices, such as bonded labour. Lastly, selective exclusion refers to exclusion of those involved in “polluting occupations” (such as leather tanning or sanitary work) from certain jobs and services.
There is a body of research on discrimination in rural areas and on the continuation of caste barriers to economic and social mobility in village India. There is a myth, however, that caste does not matter in the urban milieu and that, with the anonymity of the big city and with education and associated job and occupational mobility (assisted by affirmative action), traditional caste-based discriminatory practices disappear. This book explodes that myth in a set of chapters that focus on the formal labour market.
All italics mine.  



"US Leaves Iraq Weaker, Less Secure, More Unstable"


But the Iraq [US] troops have left behind is far weaker, less secure, and infinitely far more unstable than when they invaded it. The war unleashed and empowered the forces of religious fundamentalism in Iraq. Washington is patting itself on its back for leaving behind a democratic Iraq. But whether Iraq today is any more democratic than under Saddam Hussein is questionable.
...The US-led invasion of Iraq was shrouded in lies. Leaders in the US and Britain claimed they had irrefutable evidence that it possessed weapons of mass destruction. This duplicity continued right through the occupation. And now at the war’s end, Washington claims the war is a success, resulting in ‘an extraordinary achievement’ that Americans can look on ‘with their heads held high’. Can the US look the Iraqi people in the eye while telling them what exactly it means by ‘success’? 
Has Washington forgotten that as early as 2005, a former head of the US National Security Agency had declared the invasion of Iraq as ‘the greatest strategic disaster in United States history’?
Many Americans and Britons will want to forget their ignoble adventure in Iraq. They must not. All wars are wrong but their war in Iraq was particularly so. The US and its allies invaded and occupied Iraq when it posed no threat to them or any other country. Forgetting the past, glossing over blunders and refusing to learn lessons will condemn the US to repeat its mistakes. 
That repetition appears to have been set in motion with American officials already issuing threats to Syria and Iran. Historians and spin masters will make every effort to twist facts and embellish the US’ Iraqi misadventure and to wipe clean its lamentable legacy in Iraq. They would do well to record the invasion of Iraq in 2003 as marking the starting point of the US’ decline as a superpower. 

20-Dec-2011

Pension Bill - Only Assurance But No Guarantee?


The government is understood to have agreed to the BJP demand for inclusion of assured returns to retired employees in Pensions Bill. The Standing Committee on Finance, headed by Sinha, had recommended for an assured return option to new subscribers. 
Pensioners are concerned over the fate of their hard-earned money as the new bill proposes to invest the pension funds in the market. The proposed Bill does not ensure guaranteed return to pensioners. The bill will provide legal backing for putting pension funds into stock markets.
At present, pension funds of over 10 lakh employees in the country are managed by domestic players such as Life Insurance Corporation of India, State Bank of India, Kotak Mahindra Bank and Reliance Capital, but foreign companies have evinced interest in the country’s pension market.  The PFRDA bill, if passed, will open country’s lucrative pension sector to foreign players.
So the bill assures return, but does not guarantee it?  And note the innocuous sentence about foreign companies evincing interest.  A bit of a lucky coincidence, for the foreign companies.  A lot of the 'second generation reforms' are somehow just what the foreign companies have evinced interest in.   

Corporates and Fin Min Officials Interfering in SEBI?


Ah, The Invisible Hand is fleetingly seen before it vanishes into the deeps.  

New Delhi: The government has declined to disclose two letters written to prime minister Manmohan Singh by former Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) member KM Abraham, who had alleged in another communication, interference by some corporates and top finance ministry officials in the working of the market regulator, reports PTI.
Replying to a PTI request for the letters under the Right to Information Act, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) cited a clause that bars disclosure of any information that “would lead to unwarranted intrusion of the privacy of the individual”.
The PMO was asked to provide copies of three letters by Mr Abraham to Mr Singh, along with the action taken report. However, the public authority provided a copy of only one of the three letters, dated 1 June 2011, written by the former SEBI member.
The others two communications—sent on 16th May and 24th June this year—were not provided to the applicant.
In his letter dated 1st June, Mr Abraham had alleged that some corporates and finance ministry officials were exploiting the vulnerability of the market regulator, which was investigating crucial cases involving prominent business houses. 

Mobile Phone Ownership Among the Poor in India

Is lower than in Pakistan , Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Thailand.  ‘More poor people own mobile phones, but productive use still a far cry'
According to a 2011 study, “Teleuse@BOP4” by LIRNEasia, an ICT policy and regulation think tank active in the Asia Pacific region, while there has been a marked rise in mobile phone use by BoP persons in rural and urban India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Thailand, unfortunately, the device's use is primarily restricted to making or receiving calls or SMSs. In some cases, it is also used as a substitute for radio or as a torch.
...
“The survey in these six countries found that except in Java (Indonesia) BoP mobile ownership was higher in urban areas. But, in India, it was the lowest in both rural and urban areas, at 37 per cent, compared with 65 per cent in Pakistan, 49 per cent in Bangladesh, 71 per cent in Sri Lanka and 89 per cent in Thailand,” says Mr Samarajiva.

"Mukesh Ambani in talks to buy Network 18: WSJ"


MUMBAI: Mukesh Ambani, the chairman of Reliance Industries, India's biggest conglomerate, is in talks to buy Network 18, the television and internet company, the Wall Street Journal said quoting people familiar with the situation. 
Ambani, the paper said, has been in talks with Network 18 founder and controlling shareholder Raghav Bahl on the issue. 
"The talks may yet lead to nothing. It also isn't clear what the value of Ambani's investment would be and whether he is operating on behalf of Reliance Industries or whether he would put his own cash into a deal. Network18 Media and Investments, the holding company for the conglomerate, has annual revenue of about $300 million but isn't profitable," said the paper. 

Update: RIL denies it.  But a nice pop of around 9% on almost 20 times yesterday's volumes, till now.  Who sold out?

Raj Thackeray To MES: Quit Cribbing

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray gave a jolt to the Maharashtra Ekikaran Samiti (MES) members from Belgaum who called on him, by advising them that instead of agitating for a secession from Karnataka, they should lead a “respectful” life in Karnataka, adding “After all, I don’t see any problem with Belgaum being a part of Karnataka.”
Talking to the press here on Monday after meeting a delegation of MES leaders, the MNS chief without did not mince words. 
“I asked them (MES leaders) very clearly what exactly is the problem of Marathi-speaking people there? Are you being hounded because you are Marathi-speaking or is it because you are raising the question of inclusion of Belgaum into Maharashtra? They did not have any answer to this. So I suggested to them not to make an emotional issue.”
 He delivered a shock to me too.  A politician who didn't want to stoke/exploit an emotive issue?  Shocking.  Shocking.  

19-Dec-2011

What Will The Food Security Bill Actually Cost?

The cost varies from Rs 1 lakh crore to Rs 3.5 lakh crore(Food Security Scheme to cost Rs 3.5 lakh cr) depending on the source.  And the latter figure counts the current food subsidy plus an increase of around Rs 25,000 crore on account of the Bill, though the cost should just count the latter.  And then it also counts approximately Rs 1 lakh crore for 'boosting farm production'.

So, what is the real cost?

18-Dec-2011

Bangalore's Deputy Mayor: Free Parking For All


While on the one hand, the City needs a parking policy to decongest many important roads, the ruling BJP in the BBMP as well as in the State is not keen on implementing the policy for one strong reason.
“Our policy is clear. We don’t want any parking fee. Parking in the City should be free of cost. We do not want to bring back a system we had fought against some years ago,” says, Deputy Mayor, S Harish. 
He says the Palike has plans to end the parking woes, which includes parking space beneath the playgrounds. 
Sheer genius. 

Anna Hazare: Is He All There?


It is difficult not to wonder if this man is all there when he says things like this (link: Anna calls for another ‘jail bharo’ agitation):
Giving a clean chit to Manmohan Singh for the logjam on the Lokpal Bill, he said the Prime Minister is good, but those holding his remote control are corrupt. “It appears, people are creating impediments in clearing the Lokpal Bill for the convenience of some future prime ministers,” the Gandhian said.
PS:  Why on earth does everyone insist on using "Gandhian"  when referring to him?  He may be living a simple life, but that doesn't make him Gandhian.  I'm not the only one thinking this for sure.  For a detailed take down see this: Spare Us the Gandhian Halo
On a Headlines Today programme, the channel head, an enthusiastic Rahul Kanwal, is talking to Anna Hazare, Kiran Bedi and Arvind Kejriwal (a former IRS officer who is now a prominent civil society activist). As he begins discussing ‘Ab iske aage kya’ (What now after this?), he turns to Anna Hazare, and asks in Hindi, “You say that those who are corrupt should be hanged, is that not against Gandhian principles?” Anna answers, again in Hindi, “That is why I have said that, today, in many things, along with Gandhi we have to look towards Shivaji. [Unclear] Patel committed a mistake, and Shivaji had the man’s hands cut off. This policy of Chhatrapati, in many ways, we have to think about. Hundred per cent non-violence is not possible. Sometimes, even this has to be done, and that is why I have been saying that these people should be hanged…” Kiran Bedi interjects, “Anna is not taking away due process… he is going by the due process, the point is [that] economic offences today in our country are bailable, [are punished] by fines, minimum imprisonment; [there’s] no recovery of property, it is a joke.”
This is a perfect example of how the Anna Hazare movement has been operating for a while. There is little confusion about what Anna Hazare means: when he says “hang them”, he means “hang them”; when he says “cut their hands off”, he means “cut their hands off”. Kiran Bedi did interject to put a palatable spin on these words, but what she said was clearly not what Anna meant. The accompanying profile in this issue clearly shows these words are in keeping with his past. As a result of Anna’s reformist zeal, the people of his native village Ralegan Siddhi have witnessed the public flogging of those who dare to drink, a ban on all intoxicants, and restrictions on cable TV. It does not take much to see how closely this resembles the ideals of the Taliban, especially if you factor in the idea of a few hands being chopped off. Which is why it is no surprise that the sympathy he has long displayed for the Hindu Right has culminated in his endorsement of Narendra Modi.
Even his language is filled with violence.  It is difficult to disagree with the author's conclusion: 
Hazare’s pretence to Gandhian values is a large part of his appeal. But Gandhi’s opposition to communal divides and violence are central to any Gandhian position. Hazare is no Gandhian, and if you forget appearances and concentrate on substance, adding enforced vasectomy to the list of requirements necessary for residence in his native village, Sanjay Gandhi is the only Gandhi who comes to mind in this context. The varied set of people who have come under his banner should have known this, but people have invested little or no time in studying Hazare’s past. So many are so caught up in the illusion of change, that they have been willing to forgo the truth about the man.

17-Dec-2011

"Media Consolidation: The Illusion of Choice"



  • 6 media giants control 90% of what Americans read, watch, or listen to.  
  • 232 media executives control the information diet of 277 million Americans

Free markets and competition work exceedingly well.  Really.  Why don't you believe me?

Is The Government Sidelining Parliament?

Yes, says Prakash Karat in this The Hindu report:  Government unwilling to abide by tenets of parliamentary democracy: Karat
Referring to the Cabinet decision of allowing 51 per cent foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail, Mr. Karat said Parliament got stalled on the issue as the government refused to accept the adjournment motion of the Opposition as it was not willing to face any censure, with partners Trinamool Congress and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam opposing the policy and uncertainty about neutralising the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party.
Certain Congress ministers advanced absurd arguments that policy decision was the right of the executive and a parliamentary vote was an encroachment on its legitimate right. While conceding that executive had the right to take decisions in certain policy matters, he said how can the Parliament's right to scrutinise such policy decisions and for the Opposition to seek to reverse such a decision through a parliamentary vote be denied.
“It goes against the elementary principle of the accountability of the executive to Parliament in our political set-up. If the government wishes to push through an unpopular and harmful policy, it must be willing to face the consequences of that in Parliament.”

Indian Cricket - Stuck In The Same Grove Since Ages

Is the first thing that comes to mind reading this in today's The Hindu: Are many of the current lot just ‘flat-track bullies'? 
Several young Indian batsmen too have been found wanting outside the sub-continent.
Suresh Raina and Virat Kohli have struggled against the bouncing ball. These batsmen have been found wanting in footwork and have consequently been opened up.
The lack of solid back-foot play and the inherent inadequacies while coping with lifting deliveries have impacted the other attributes of their batsmanship as well. The short-pitched-full-length mix, with swing, has sent these batsmen packing.
“And the modern batsman is so well protected,” fumes spin bowling legend and former India captain Bishan Singh Bedi.
Wasn't this complaint brought out of the closet and aired regularly since I don't know when?  How many times have we heard this: "Indian batsmen don't get to play on fast wickets in the subcontinent and hence become pace bowlers' bunnies when they go abroad".  And to think it still goes on.  And it seems to have only got worse and spread to other teams too!  But not a problem, we'll dumb it down by introducing inane versions like Twenty20.

16-Dec-2011

Setback For Aadhaar

Aadhaar: time to disown the idea
“…The Committee categorically convey their unacceptability of the National Identification Authority of India Bill, 2010…The Committee would, thus, urge the Government to reconsider and review the UID scheme.…”
This was the conclusion of Parliament's Standing Committee on Finance (SCoF), which examined the Bill to convert the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) into a statutory authority. With this categorical rebuff, the SCoF dealt a body blow to the Aadhaar project, which is being implemented from September 2010 without Parliament's approval.
Technically speaking, the SCoF report asked the government to bring forth fresh legislation before Parliament. However, a careful examination of the report shows that it does not just reject the Bill, it also raises serious questions about the idea of Aadhaar itself. In fact, the report so comprehensively questions the idea that any effort to introduce fresh legislation would require, as a prerequisite, a re-look at the foundational principles on which the project was conceived.
Apparently, the Committee worked well, though they came up with a 'No': 
Ironically, till last week, the same SCoF had come in for profuse praise from none other than Nandan Nilekani himself. He had said in August 2011: “I have had the occasion to…make a presentation on more than one occasion to the Standing Committee…let me tell you they do an extraordinarily thorough job. I am very, very impressed with the quality of questions, the homework, the due diligence, the seriousness that they view these things with. And it is very bipartisan, you can't make out who is from which party because they all ask on the issue. So when you have such an excellent system of law-making...Let us respect that, let us give them the opportunity to call all the experts for and against and let them come out with something. They are the appropriate people, they are our representatives.”
The “representatives” have now spoken. 

This Too Happens In Bangalore


The stories of child beggars, who were rescued in the City on Thursday, are heartrending. Though in a few cases, the parents had pushed their children into begging, in a majority of cases, they had handed over their children to handlers, who in turn forced them into begging.
In many cases, the mothers used to hand over their children to the handlers and go to work. The handlers would come in the evening, leave the children at their homes, give the mothers some money and go away. Such children used to weep and quarrel with their mothers later on. 
The mothers would feed them with a high dose of cough syrup or other medicines to put them to so sleep, the officer said. In some cases, the parents of rescued children expressed utter shock on knowing that their children had been pressed into begging.
Details: Over 200 kids rescued from begging racket.  Of the rescued children, 64 were boys above 5 years, 40 were girls above 5 years and 106 were below 5 years, apparently.  Sad stories.

Moderating Inflation Gives Food For Harmless Fun


Since [the early 1970s and between late 1970s to early 1980s], high food inflation episodes were relatively short-lived, with the longest one lasting 27 months in the early 1990s. Even in the severe drought conditions of 1987, the double-digit food inflation episode lasted just 18 months.
All of that pales in comparison with the latest spell of 38 months when inflation stayed above 10 per cent, despite a record 13 rate hikes by the Reserve Bank of India since March last year.
38 months - a long time.  But lots of people were concerned about it as this table from a July 2010 post shows:


A Friedman Unit  by any other name would amuse as much.

The 3G Scam?



They need to be.  Their exposure is almost 1 lakh crore.  Half of that may be on account of loans to the winners of the 3G auction.  So one can argue that the auction only fetched half of what is claimed, at present.  And PSU banks - implicitly backed by the government - funded a large part of the 3G auction amount as the report points out.  SBI itself has an exposure of Rs 23,000 crore.  What if the loans go bad as some are already?

No wonder one never hears calls for privatisation of PSU banks. They are sitting ducks for industry to get loans from.

Iraq, Libya... now Iran?


Many in the UK swore that it would never happen again. A hugely unpopular decision to go to war at the time, Tony Blair is still vilified to this day by large sections of the British public for his decision to support the Bush administration and illegally invade Iraq.
Fast forward eight years, and the now British prime minister David Cameron and foreign secretary William Hague are spewing out a similar brand of finger pointing bravado that we once heard from Blair towards Iraq, but this time in the direction of Iran. 
The ransacking of the British embassy in Tehran has served to ratchet up existing tensions between Britain and Iran a few notches more. 
Hague, the blood on his hands not yet dry from Libya, has used the embassy episode to exploit to the full what have become ‘common sense’ perceptions of a demonic Iran that have become prevalent among the British public. And the British media can always be relied on to fuel such beliefs and then cheer-lead the public into supporting aggressive actions and policies towards other states, as it did over Iraq and Libya. 
During the past few years, the British public has become used to media stories about  Ahmadinejad ‘the crazy man’ and the ‘mad mullas’ in Tehran, as well as the Iranian regime being hell bent on wanting to acquire a nuclear bomb that would only threaten the ‘peace and stability’ of the region.
We are all democracies in name only.  Otherwise these things wouldn't happen.  And what a topsy-turvy world we live in:
What peace and stability? Look what the meddling and carnage by the US has done to neighbouring states, such as Afghanistan and Pakistan. And why single out Iran over the nuclear issue? Iran is a nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) signatory, and there appears to be no firm evidence that it is in breach of it. 
Nuclear armed Israel and India are not NPT signatories, yet it’s Iran that has been subject to economic sanctions and nuclear inspections for years, while India basks in the warm glow of US ‘favour’, if that’s what compliance with US hegemony can be termed.

Maoists Losing Tribal Support


There are signs of tribal support for the Maoists dwindling in Orissa. Tribal voters recently ignored a Maoist call for boycott of by-elections in the Umarkote constituency in Nowrangpur district and showed up in record numbers, with 75 per cent voters exercising their franchise. 
The Maoist call for a bundh to protest the killing of Kishenji too was ignored by the state’s tribal population, which has hitherto been regarded as a reservoir of support for the Maoists. Tribal children went to school braving Maoist threats. The message that tribals have sent out is clear and unambiguous. 
They are turning their backs on the politics of the gun that the Maoists espouse and instead putting their hopes in ballot box politics. However, it is too early to interpret the developments as signaling the decline of the Maoists. Whether it results in the defeat of the politics of violence will depend on how the government responds to the opportunity that has opened up. 
If the government uses the space to initiate dialogue with the Maoists and to kick-start socio-economic programmes to benefit the tribals, then it could prove to be a game-changer. However, if authorities interpret the tribal despair with the Maoists as a victory for ‘Operation Green Hunt’ and persist with exploitative development it could end up being a lost opportunity.
Interesting developments.

Job Creation by FDI in Retail - Smoke and Mirrors

Prem Shankar Jha crunches some figures for us: Smoke and Mirrors

How many livelihoods are lost, will depend on the rate of growth of the economy and the speed of penetration by retailers.
At the centre of the storm of protest that arose over the cabinet’s decision to allow FDI in multi-brand retailing, lay one question: will it cause a loss of employment, not to mention the investment made in about 15 million stores and kiosks by the petty bourgeoisie? 
The government knew this would arise. For in  2004 the Delhi-based Centre for Policy Analysis had estimated that if FDI were to take over 20 per cent of retail trade in India, around 8 million people could lose their livelihoods. It, therefore heralded  the lifting of the ban with an unprecedented  blast of propaganda. 
For reasons that are explained below, the CPA’s estimate is greatly exaggerated. But the threat of a loss of employment is real.
He comes up with a minimum figure of 4-5 million jobs being lost.  That is only in the retail trade itself, leaving out job losses due to any replacement of indigenous goods with imported consumer goods.  

The Russians Want Zero Nuclear Liability Too


Russian envoy to India Alexander M Kadakin told a news conference here last week that Moscow would expect that the NPCIL and JSC Atomstroyexport to strike a  deal for the third and fourth reactors at Kudankulum under the same terms and conditions as the ones applicable to the first and second. 
Moscow pointed it out to New Delhi that India had no legal regime for nuclear liability, when the intergovernmental agreement was signed by Mikhail Gorbachev and Rajiv Gandhi in 1988 or when the JSC Atomstroyexport and NPCIL clinched the deal for the first two reactors in 2002.
Looks slightly more justified than prospective zero-liability.

Govt Won't Reveal Names of Overseas' Account Holders


Mukherjee said some countries may refrain from sharing further information if the names were made public as it would amount to violating the information sharing agreement with them. “We will dry up our source of information,” Mukherjee said, adding some of the account holders could even withdraw money if t he names were publicised.
“I have to ascertain, some of them may be genuine account holders, who have got permission from the RBI. They may be investors, we will get publicity but it will harm their businesses, it will have an impact on industry,” he said.
But the agreements wouldn't surely preclude us from publicising names if tax-evasion is detected?  Pictures of top film stars used to be splashed liberally on the front pages of our newspapers for this very reason?

As for them being investors, surely there is no harm in revealing their names if the money is legal?  Even if they are investing in their individual capacity, what is the harm in publishing how much they have abroad.  The wealth of most top businessmen is well known through the various rich lists, like Forbes Richest Indians etc.  If they are investing as companies, then too it should not be a problem.  Companies in any case put all investment related information as well as all their bank deposits in their public filings with SEBI.  This argument doesn't wash.

Also,
Mukherjee said that the government has received 36,000 pieces of information on monies stashed in accounts in foreign countries, but made it clear that no Member of Parliament figured in the list of names obtained from abroad. He clarified that no Member of Parliament so far figured in the list of the foreign bank account holders available with it.

15-Dec-2011

Indian Occupations - 2

As Mr Anna Hazare tilts at windmills in the national capital, other movements happen in the hinterlands and meet the brute force of the state, to be heard but faintly by the hyperventilating TV heads and the national press.

A letter from the POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti dated yesterday:
Dear Friends, 
We are in terrible shock and disbelief having faced more than 500 armed goons engaged by one Mafia don Bapi Circle under the banner of Paradip Industrial development Council and patronized by the police and administration who forcefully entered the sile of our peaceful and non-violent protest around 1.30 pm today and started attacking us by using bombs and weapons. 
As a result, at least eight villagers of PPSS were injured and one of them has got serious injury. From the morning onwards, more than 2000 villagers were making a peaceful demonstration against the construction of a coastal sea road for POSCO. The private goons who had created a scene of terror yesterday did a repeat show today. Their own bombs apart from injuring our villagers did also result in killing a member of their own team.
We strongly condemn the conspiracy hatched by the Nabin Patnaik government to engage private militia in order to create a situation of crisis which would demand police intervention. We consider the act as cowardice and no democracy worth its name should tolerate such an act of violence perpetrated by hired goons. 
Though the situation is grim and our people are shocked, we are waiting with the same determination to protest peacefully even if the police after creating such a scene tries to enter the village to bulldoze our peaceful and democratic movement. 
We request you to please stand up and expose the unethical, unjust and undemocratic means that the state has been using to crush the movement and to make the movement discredited in the eyes of public who don't have a chance to know the real truth behind any act of conspiracy the police and the mafia are hatching everyday. 
Please join hands with us, stand by us and support our cause. Please circulate the message as widely as possible. We shall inform you the ongoing development here. 
Hoping for more solidarity from you.
Prashant Paikary
Spokesperson,
POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti
A bit dated (July 2011) report from NDTV.


Largest democracy indeed.

14-Dec-2011

Only 3% of Indians Pay Income Tax

Interesting numbers from Manish Tiwari  in the LS debate on black money.  Only 3 crore Indians pay income tax.  He reasoned as follows:  65 crores are in agriculture and are exempted from paying IT.  Out of the 45 crore or so remaining, leave out around 10 crore people who may be pensioners and otherwise exempt.  Now that leaves 35 crore who should be paying it.

But only 3 crore people do.  Reminds me of this post from 2005: Revenue Generation Vs Tax Evastion, in which I mentioned the frequent quote from Chidambaram (then FM) about only 80,000 people in India declaring income above ten lakhs.

Very interesting.

FICCI Asks For Amnesty For Black Money?


Actually, no.  It asks for reforms.

NEW DELHI, DEC 14:   In the backdrop of falling rupee and overall downward industry sentiment, FICCI pushed for initiation of new reforms to widen direct tax net and give one time amnesty scheme to Indians to bring back overseas money, among others.
Now, that is some "reforms" package.

Top 3 Google Execs Own 8 Jets: Nerdiness Isn't What It Was

13-Dec-2011

"Unpalatable Truths"


via churumuri, Harsh Mander's Unpalatable truths.  
With states reluctant to run adult feeding programmes, this task is undertaken by religious charities. But few offer wholesome food or treat the poor with dignity.
...We found that only 4% of homeless persons depend completely on these charities for food. These are mainly destitute homeless persons, disabled and elderly men and women, and younger street children, with no occupation or income except alms. Working able-bodied homeless persons also occasionally go for charity food but only as a last resort, at times of utter economic distress, when they completely exhaust any savings to arrange for food through other means.
...We were curious why such small numbers of homeless people depend on food charity, and prefer to spend their scarce resources on purchasing food, or even to remain hungry. The first answer that they gave us was that the food is served sporadically, and is not the wholesome food that they seek or need. Charity forces persons to be dependent on the timing, menu and availability of food at religious places, determined by the wishes of the donors, rather than the needs of homeless people. Waiting uncertainly for charity food curtails work hours of labouring homeless persons; many of whom are casual job-seekers, for whom reaching the job market early in the morning is imperative for getting employment for the day.
...But the most important reason why homeless people and migrants reject food charities is that these assault their dignity and selfhood. They are compelled to jostle with outstretched cupped palms, and eat what they get squatting on a pavement or under a tree. Often they are forced to be pitted against each other in an effort to access the limited food that is served, and the old and infirm invariably fall by the wayside.

"Jeff Bezos Owns the Web in More Ways Than You Think"

Durban Drubs India


The Indian position ever since the COP in Bali, Indonesia (2007) when the Bali Action Plan was adopted, has been that it would abide by the Action Plan to follow “measurable, reportable and verifiable” measures to effect reductions in the emission intensity of its GDP growth but would not agree to being subjected to any legally binding instrument to do so.
With the decision in Durban, this position is no longer acceptable and hence emission reductions, either absolute or in the form of intensity reduction, will no longer be allowed to be voluntary but will be governed by some form of arrangement which will have legal force. This is a development that has gone against India.
But out of adversity comes ... something   or the other...  Here's looking forward to clean air a planet that still works, for at least our kids.

Iran Shoots Down a Drone - Bloodless War


From a military point of view, three things become apparent other than that electronic warfare has arrived as the norm rather than exception. One, US has lost the monopoly of a military technology it developed at great cost. 
Tehran proposes to do ‘reverse engineering’. But, will it do so all by itself or with friends from, say, Beijing or Moscow – or Pakistan? Two, Iran seems to possess reserve capabilities, which it has been chary of publicising, and in turn would leave the US and Israel guessing what all Tehran might ultimately do by way of retaliation if attacked. 
Three, there is laughter echoing in the hills and valleys of North Waziristan. The Haqqanis are laughing. With US being evicted from Shamsi air base and Pakistan threatening to shoot down anything in the sky crossing its border, and Iran showing how to do it, is the drone saga of the Afghan war ending? 
Not to worry, drone manufacturers, you have a new market: US.  See The growing menace of domestic drones.

Millets - Back To The Future for Dharwad Farmers


Till the late ‘80s, millets were a crucial part of agricultural produce in the Dharwad region before cash crops like maize, improved varieties of cotton and soya bean took over. Today, farmers and consumers of Dharwad district are rediscovering the importance of millets, writes Anitha Pailoor 
Angadi says, “When we got a month’s income as a day’s wages, we forgot all about millets in our daily diet. Cooking rice was an easy and quicker way out. Now we have understood that the time saved is now spent in the waiting lounges of clinics.” 
It may just be me, but even the names sound musical:
He explains, “Jowar, little millet (saave), foxtail millet (navane), pearl millet (sajje) and to a certain extent, finger millet (ragi) and proso millet (baraga) formed a key part of the agricultural produce in Dharwad district till the late Eighties. When cash crops like maize, improved variety of cotton and soya bean were introduced, the tricky post-cultivation processes of raising millets turned out to be tedious and cumbersome for farmers.

12-Dec-2011

Regime Change Hangover in Iraq


As many as 2 million Iraqis — about 6 percent of the country's estimated population of more than 31 million — are thought to have been forced from the cities and towns where they once lived and are housed in circumstances that feel temporary and makeshift.
Tough luck.

via eschaton

Passing On The Baton To Our Kids

Sorry, it should have been 'biases' instead of 'baton'.  Learning by rote prevalent in top schools too:
In a telling instance, 40-43 per cent of students in classes 4, 6 and 8 felt that education for a girl is not as important as her responsibility towards her family; and in another, nearly 60 per cent of students showed less acceptance towards immigrants from other States, as they felt that “immigrants have to conform to the State's traditions, take away jobs from natives and also are a source of communal disagreements.”
Nice work parents.
Drawing a correlation between the students' lack of critical thinking and their views on social issues, the study says, “Rote learning is often deceptive and passes off as apparent learning, but does not let students develop higher order thinking skills such as critical thinking, creativity and application. Students who do not develop these skills also will not be able to think rationally and discriminate between what is good or bad in various social and ecological issues being faced today.”
One thing though.  Kids of 9-10 (class 4) are generally more interested in playing than studies.  Many wouldn't stop twice before saying '3 units + 2 tens + 4 hundreds' = 324.  They might not even pause to figure out that the place values are in the reverse order.  

The PDF is here: link.

10-Dec-2011

FDI in Multi-Brand Critics are Retail Luddities


Says the FICCI Secretary-General, this sorry piece:  Beat back the retail Luddites.  He would, wouldn't he. 
A mere 10 million owners of traditional and self-organised retail and wholesale trade have held the country of 1.2 billion people to ransom and thwarted progress. 
No, it wasn't them.  Most political parties barring the Congress put up a front to get it suspended.
It is yet another demonstration (like ‘central planning is more efficient than a regulated market') of how untruth can triumph when repeated often and loudly enough. The retail sector is destined to almost double in size in the next 10 years by simply keeping pace with growth. By 2022, the size of the unorganised retail sector is estimated to reach nearly $1,000 billion. Of this, the ‘mom and pop stores' are expected to have a market share of 84 per cent, giving them a business volume of $840 billion — a huge expansion from their current market of $450 billion!
Note the almost subliminal reference to a certain ideology which starts with 'S'.  Also note the numbers he throws with such gay abandon to prove a point.  $1000 billion in ten years!  84% of this will still be claimed by 'mom and pop' stores.  If 84% is guaranteed to be cornered by the local shops, then what exactly is the need for FDI in multi-brand retail?  Isn't there an assumption that the local shops will still be around?

These are the only other criticism of the FDI decision he addresses : India becoming re-colonised by foreign powers.  Bah!  Who in their right senses makes that argument?  

Then this:
This reflects a very low opinion of our abilities and indeed very poor self-esteem. Can a country whose people have such a poor opinion of themselves really rise to assume global responsibilities? ... We have to show to the world and more importantly prove to ourselves that we can determine our own destiny. This is to be achieved not by denying ourselves the progress that is possible by working with foreign investors but by acting with sagacity, foresight and resolve when and if foreign investors diverge from our national priorities.
Exactly.  We should do that.  Why assume that we can determine our destiny only with foreign investors?  Isn't it possible otherwise?

Fix things like the APMC laws, local taxes, and the transport infrastructure first.  Then lets see if things improve or  not.  Then we can think of FDI in multi-brand retail.

Telecom Manufacturing Base in India: Why Is It Missing?


The Indian market for telecom equipment – from switches, routers and base station systems to microwave radios, optical fibre links and mobile handsets – was estimated at Rs 54,675 crore in 2009-10. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India reckons that just over 12 per cent of this demand was met through domestic value addition. The balance comprised imports, whether in final product form or as parts for local assembly. Moreover, the size of the market is projected to grow to Rs 108,096 crore in 2015-16 and Rs 170,091 crore by 2019-20. Much of it would be powered by the increased rollout of 3G mobile services in the immediate short-term, followed by the more advanced 4G wireless broadband networks.
That such demand can be overwhelmingly met through imports is neither a feasible nor a desirable proposition. It is, indeed, quite incredible how a country with the world's second largest telecom subscriber base of 900 million-plus (from a mere 40 million a decade ago) has not leveraged these numbers to build a robust manufacturing base at home.
 Never too late to start.

Help The Billionaires, The Poor Dears


“I’m sick and tired of what’s happening here. I don’t want to live in this country anymore,” said one of India’s biggest barons. 
My heart bleeds for these people, as every right-thinking Indian's would.

Also, at the same link, this: Why put CEOs in jail: Rahul Bajaj.  Indeed, why?  It's not as if they are going to influence anyone.  Has anyone ever heard of such a thing happening in India?  No way.  

So our billionaires are downbeat on India and are setting up house in upmarket 'ghettos':
In the past year, many highprofile Indians have bought homes in London’s toniest neighborhoods. Bharti’s Sunil Mittal, who purchased a home in Grosvenor Square a few months ago, is spending more time working out of there to keep up with the firm’s global needs. The Munjals are said to have bought two homes in Kensington. DLF’s K P Singh, Essar’s Ravi Ruia and Sahara’s Subrata Roy often live and work out of the city that once ruled India. Real estate circles in London often refer to the Berkeley and Grosvenor Square areas as upmarket ‘Indian ghettos’. 
Says a former top banker based in London, “Cities like London and Singapore are safe havens and the rule of law is clear. There is a sense of individual security and privacy.” 
Ajay Piramal of Piramal Lifesciences has also bought himself a sprawling home in London, although he isn’t shifting base. He points to India’s problems: “You don’t know what regulation is going to hit. Sometimes it is not even rational. Very old cases are being pulled out. This doesn’t give you a sense of certainty.” 
Old cases being brought, so the captains of Indian industry are going to 'safe havens'.  Very interesting.

ICICI chairman K V Kamath puts things in perspective:
Animal spirits are clearly at a low right now, acknowledges ICICI Bank chairman KV Kamath. “Negativity as a whole pushes you down,” he says, adding that he has seen such trends every time the country has been hit by a slowdown in the last 40 years. 
A banker says that of his top 100 clients, 75 are sulking and say they have no incentive to offer to potential investors. It’s a far cry from the ebullient Indian promoter, hungry to buy assets and expand, that one had got used to.
Of course.  What was that saying?  The tough leave when the going gets tough? 

End Taxpayers' Handouts To The Telecom Operators

Never thought I would agree with anything Varun Gandhi said or wrote.  When he forgets about chopping off hands and all that, he seems to make sense.  Pull the plug on diesel subsidy.
As diesel prices are subsidised by around 21 per cent, the telecommunication sector is able to purchase diesel at a very low price for its operations. This is causing the country's exchequer a massive annual loss of more than Rs 2,600 crore, whereas the Telecom Industry is witnessing a growth of profits by 10 per cent per annum.
This makes sense too: 
At the same time, the government should also introduce appropriate incentives to encourage the telecom sector to use renewable energy for generation of power for their network infrastructure. For this, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy also needs to review its policies.
In any case, we the taxpayers are subsidising the telecom operators' profits.  Let us at least do it for the right reason. 

India has around 3.5 lakh telecom towers of which about 70 per cent are in rural areas. At present, 40 per cent power requirements are met by grid electricity and 60 per cent by diesel generators.
The diesel generators are of 10-15 KVA capacity and consume about 2 litres of diesel an hour and produce 2.63 kg of CO2 a litre, according to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. The total consumption is 2 billion litres of diesel and 5.3 million litres of CO2 is produced. For every KWH of grid electricity consumed, 0.84 kg of CO2 is emitted.

09-Dec-2011

"BMTC profits going in reverse gear"


BMTC had posted Rs. 114 crore profit in 2005-06, Rs. 224 crore in 2006-07 and Rs. 140 crore in 2007-08. However, the profits plummeted thereafter — Rs. 55 crore in 2008-09, Rs. 65 crore in 2009-10 and Rs. 50 crore in 2010-11. (The profit of Rs. 224 cr. in 2006-07 was mainly due to the Government reimbursing subsidy of Rs. 109 cr. that was due for two years.)
OPERATIONAL LOSSES
The fall in profit margins is mainly due to operational losses despite periodic fare hikes. From 2008-09, BMTC began suffering operational losses (Rs. 22 cr.), which only kept increasing every year — Rs. 35.66 cr. in 2009-10 and Rs. 38.8 cr. in 2010-11.
There was also reduction in receipts under the head ‘other commercial revenue' advertisement revenue, rent from properties, income from sale of scrap buses, and others from 2009-10. While BMTC had received Rs. 70.4 cr., Rs. 86 cr. and Rs. 93 cr. under this head during 2006-07, 2007-08 and 2008-09 respectively, in subsequent years the revenue decreased to Rs. 77 cr. and Rs. 60 cr. during 2009-10 and 2010-11 respectively.
Not only that, induction of new buses too took a beating in 2010-11 with BMTC buying just 58, as against 794 buses inducted in 2006-07, 623 buses in 2007-08, 949 buses in 2008-09 and 1,218 buses in 2009-10. Most of new buses added during 2008-10 were funded through Jawharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).
With old buses fit to be scrapped continuing to ply on the roads, the utility's KMPL (mileage) came down to 3.97 a litre in 2011 as against 4.55 in 2007.
HIGH MAINTENANCE
BMTC Managing Director K.R. Srinivasa attributed increased cost of operation to non-induction of new buses and the resultant rise in the cost of maintenance and breakdowns, and decreased mileage. Also, old buses could not be scrapped to sustain increased demand for transportation. He hoped that with new buses entering the BMTC fleet from October 2011, the cost of operation would decrease. Another senior official said non-scrapping of old buses contributed to the reduction in ‘other revenue' over the last two years. 

Adieu UID?

Sources said the Standing Committee on Finance, while rejecting the bill, cited several reasons, including lack of privacy protection laws, security features, using private agencies to enroll citizens by UIDAI, the huge cost of the progrmme  and its  “unreliable” technology for grounding the project. 

"Market economy? Or, market society?"

Market economy? Or, market society?  S Gurumurthy takes on the FDI in multi-brand retail question.

Oh Those Crazy Brutal Dictators - 3


... an LAPD officer would forcibly extend the protestor’s legs, grab his left foot, twist it all the way around and then stomp his boot on the insole, pinning the protestor’s left foot to the pavement, twisted backwards. Then the LAPD officer would grab the protestor’s right foot and twist it all the way the other direction until the non-violent protestor, in incredible agony, would shriek in pain and unlink from his neighbor. 
It was horrible to watch, and apparently designed to terrorize the rest of us. At least I was sufficiently terrorized. I unlinked my arms voluntarily and informed the LAPD officers that I would go peacefully and cooperatively. I stood as instructed, and then I had my arms wrenched behind my back, and an officer hyperextended my wrists into my inner arms. It was super violent, it hurt really really bad, and he was doing it on purpose. When I involuntarily recoiled from the pain, the LAPD officer threw me face-first to the pavement. He had my hands behind my back, so I landed right on my face. The officer dropped with his knee on my back and ground my face into the pavement. It really, really hurt and my face started bleeding and I was very scared. I begged for mercy and I promised that I was honestly not resisting and would not resist.

A TV sitcom writer recounts his arrest at Occupy LA.

Relatedly, U.S. arming Egyptian military crackdown.

08-Dec-2011

"Underground Metro more prone to terror attacks: Sreedharan"



The terror card.  But how could that be?  The overground Metro stands exposed to all and sundry.  Just yesterday Namma Metro was stopped for 30 minutes because someone from one of the high-rise houses (three-storeyed I guess) right next to the elevated track seems to have thrown a bag of garbage on the track.  Underground stations have fewer access points, so should be easier to monitor.

That wasn't the reason for having it overground apparently.  Cost was the reason for that.
'An underground metro rail will have five times more security risks when compared to an elevated metro,' Sreedharan said at the Urban Mobility India (UMI) conference-cum-exhibition here. 
... 
Sreedharan said that it would be his dream to give Delhi an all underground metro but it would not be financially viable. 
'As an engineer and a planner, it would be my dream to give Delhi a metro which is all underground... it is just not affordable for a developing country like India. We have been able to leverage limited resources making the metro financially viable,' he said.
Yes, $5 billion is OK, anything more is a bit of a problem.