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December 2010

A Who's Who of Indian sleaze

Leaks of tapped phone conversations reveal how corruption propels India's booming economy

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How Not To Fight Climate Change : A bad deal at Cancun

Some international treaties and agreements are so incurably ineffectual, unequal or otherwise flawed that the world would be better off without them.

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Media credibility in peril

The Radia tapes expose the rot in our media and demand radical reform of journalistic and industry practices to restore its independence and credibility.

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Letdown in Cancun climate talks

Environment minister Jairam Ramesh has declared the outcome of the Cancun climate conference a major victory. Many others have welcomed it for preserving the integrity of the United Nations multilateral process, under which an effective and equitable global climate agreement can hopefully be reached next year. So low were the expectations from Cancun after all the wrangling to undo past gains from the climate talks and the rich countries’ effort to wriggle out of their commitments to fight climate change, that any agreement, however weak, could be made to look like an achievement.

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Courting nuclear disaster?

''Whenever a French president comes to India, so do arms deals. During President Nicolas Sarkozy’s recent visit, India and France discussed or signed several weapons agreements. These include a $2 billion deal to upgrade Mirage fighters and a $900 million contract to equip them with missiles. French and Indian agencies are now in advanced talks on jointly developing new fighter jets and surface-to-air missiles in deals worth $7 billion-plus.

Overshadowing all these is the Indo-French agreement on two European Power Reactors (EPRs) developed by Areva. The EPRs, each of 1,650 MW, carry a price-tag estimated at $13 billion and are to be erected at Jaitapur, in Maharashtra’s Ratnagiri district. The site was cleared by the Ministry of Environment and Forests only days before Sarkozy’s arrival.''

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Hit By Election Defeats & Countless Scams : Crisis time for the Congress

How the mighty have fallen! The Congress party was so exuberant and confident after its Lok Sabha election victory last year that it imagined that it would be only a matter of time before it returns to the glorious past of one-party salience when it used to call the shots nationally and rule in all but a handful of states. Barely one-and-a-half years later, the party is besieged by scandal after scandal, buffeted by defeats in the Bihar Assembly elections, Uttar Pradesh panchayat polls and various by-elections, politically confused, and organisationally demoralised. Suddenly, its return to power in 2014 no longer looks a near-certainty, as it did only some months ago.

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Cancun: heading towards a deadlock?

The Cancun climate conference, now in its second week, seems headed for an impasse on a series of issues. The most important are the industrialised nations’ reluctance to make quantifiable reductions in their greenhouse gas emissions beyond 2012; their failure to deliver “fast start” assistance of $30 billion to the poor countries over three years; and continuation of talks on technology transfer and intellectual property rights (IPRs).

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New Social Coalition & Improved Governance: The Nitish tsunami in Bihar

Mr Nitish Kumar has made history in Bihar by leading his Janata Dal (United)-Bharatiya Janata Party coalition to an overwhelming electoral victory and winning 206 of the 243 Assembly seats. The landslide has reduced Mr Laloo Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal to a poor 22 seats, his partner Ram Bilas Paswan’s Lok Janashakti Party to just 3 seats, and the Congress to a pathetic 4 seats, its lowest-ever Bihar score. Bihar has no official Opposition, which must win at least one-tenth of the Assembly seats. The results have important implications for national political trends.

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The panic of 1962

Nehru's letters to Kennedy requesting U.S. defence support do not show him, as alleged by some, as a ‘pragmatist' with a flimsy commitment to non-alignment.

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