Friday, December 5, 2008

Action plan against Pakistan

People in India are very angry at the fact that Pakistan has been the mastermind behind all terror attacks and does nothing to crack down terrorist camps. This despite the fact that the same terrorists are carrying out attacks in Pakistan itself. The problem is ISI controls Pakistan and not the govt. The army and ISI run the country.

I still remember after the attack on Parliament in 2001, there was a fast track process in place to extradite Dawood Ibrahim ( we all know about this monster). But diplomacy did not work. At that time Indian govt relied on US's support to crack down. Although US no longer has that deep relationship with Pakistan that existed before Kargil war, it is still hesitant to take any action. This is because Pakistan's army is required to capture Osama. The Afghanistan Pak border is the new battleground and the US army is busy with it. If India declares a war, all the troops from either side will be diverted to Kashmir. This will obstruct US plans. Just to ensure that it doesn't happen, Rice ( US secretary of State) came to India. What a shoddy diplomacy? US says it needs evidence against Pak? What sort of evidence did US have when it attacked Afghanistan and Iraq. Not anything concrete. So, is Indian life less precious than American one? Why should Indian govt wait for US to decide its action plan. Ideally, the govt should bomb all those terror camps, locations of which are clearly known to us. Pakistan per se is not our enemy. It is this ISI and Army whose tacit support spawns new terror camps and accelerates the growth of existing ones.

Why should India still listen to handover Dawood when Pak will not hand him over to India. India must take action on its own. Go for the war as coercive diplomacy doesn't work. In fact, these criminals must be shot at sight rather than capturing them.

In 2001, when Parliament was attacked, the then govt resorted to diplomatic means to cripple Pakistan. Indian govt stopped all trade with Pakistan, isolated it from Commonweath nation, stripped its status of the Most Favoured Nation (MFN), crippled its economy, stopped all confidence building measures, stopped all train links. This in a way helped India as there was no major terrorist attack. At least Govt took a very tough step and showed to the world that we are not soft.

Pakistan sensed this and resorted to Bangaldesh to destabilize India. Today, Bangladesh and Pak are 2 sides of the same coin - enemy of our nation.

The Indian govt must resort to tough diplomatic steps, and also plan for military action as Pakistan will not change. However, it must be borne in mind that taking a step of military is going to cost India more. We are still a growing economy and any war will slow us down and the fact that Pakistan is nuclear power must be kept in mind. It is a must step, but must be taken with greatest caution and sensibility.

I wish Indira Gandhi was the PM at this point. She would have gone for a war by giving deaf ears to US. She is the toughest leader when it comes to terrorism India has ever seen. She was the one who formed the NE India, curbed terrorism in Punjab, clamped down Anti-Hindi sentiment in TamilNadu, annexed Goa, went for a complete war with Pak in 1971 by saying to the then US President - "The President of a developed country need not dictate terms to the Prime Minister of a devloping country as to what should be done in a crisis like this"...It was the boldest statement ever made by an Indian leader to an US president.

if she was here, she would have asked RAW to kill Dawood Ibrahim. The govt must revamp internal security - create a single investigative agency and a single intelligence agency so that co-ordination problem doesn't exist. The govt must also give powers to RAW not just to get intelligence but also to take counter terrorist steps.

26/11: Mumbai attacks: Intelligence or political failure


In the first place I salute all those martyrs who died fighting for the country. My heartful condolences to all those who have been killed or injured in the attacks.

The attacks on Mumbai are unique and most dastardly. This is because just a group of 10 terrorists held the entire city at ransom. Such a scale and intensity was never seen before. All top hotels, an open railway station, a cafe etc were all attacked killing Indians and multinationals. Of course, this article doesn't concentrate on the attack per se, but tries to analyze if it is easy to prevent such attacks. The article tries to see at 2 aspects - Intelligence failure and politcal failure.

Intelligence failure:

India's external intelligence agency RAW had told 4 times to Govt of India and Maharashtra but the Special Protection group (SPG) left barely minutes before terrorist attack. The SPG however had no clue about the attack on Oberoi. Do you call this intelligence failure? No, it is intelligence co-ordination failure. Our RAW is good enough to get inputs, but despute protocol no one cares when RAW gives its information. Forget that. RAW gets paid so less and the stress they have calls for reforms. What's the point of setting up such agencies if their utlization is not up to the mark? We have too many intelligence agencies - CBI, CID, each state police(intelligence), IB, Directorate of Army, Navy and Air force intelligence. Yet there is no co-ordination amongst them. Read this article I posted earlier regarding intelligence reforms that were seriosulsy implemented post Kargil war. At least at that time government was serious and took stern steps.

Let's look at what happened. Indian boat Kuber (officially registered with Indian govt) went to shores beyond Gujarat. The Pakistani ISI/terrorists knew about the boat. They killed the fishermen and others and disguised themselves as Indian fishermen. They had the GPS with built in maps of how to reach Mumbai. They also got fake documents and ID cards that made Coast Guard trust them. The coast Gurard trusted them because the boat was a registered boat and they further checked all documents which were genuine. Where is this failure coming from - It is a systemic failure and only the political establishment can solve this. Recently, Karnataka Govt has issued mandatory orders for smar cards (supposedly not tamperable) to all fishermen in the coastal region. Do you think this will help? May be to a great extent, but not completely. How does a political system check the fact that more than 50% of the boats are unregistered. Who should patrol or supervise...Politicians or Navy, Coastal Guard or Marine Commandoes - definitely the onus is on the latter set.

In our country, there is no way we can identify a person uniquely like SSN in USA. Anybody can fake Driving License, PAN cards, Ration cards - no check on this. All this is not the responsibility of the govt. It is the resposnsibility of all citizens as well. Recently the govt ordered cell phone operators to do a thorough checking on who buys SIM cards and become subscribers. The cell phone operators have this complaint as to the fact that they trust the documents produced which could be any of the above mentioned and thereby give them numbers. So, is this now a systemic failure? It is a failure both at the politica level and at the citizen level. Go to several franchisee stores. Pay them a little bribe and they give you cell phone connection. Is this political failure? Definitely not. People themselves are to be blamed for all these as they don't practise honesty in several cases.


Political failure:

Undoubtedly, politicians are responsible for most failures. As a best case example the govt in the early 1990's introduced an act that was to prevent illegal infiltration from Bangaldesh to the NE Indian states. But the Congress just to get votes from these illegal immigrants continued to execute this act despite High Court and Supreme Court orders. If people can simply come into the country, they can do a whole lot of destructive activities without any check. We did seal the Western borders and thereby Kashmir is safe today. We must seal our Eastern borders. We now have enough evidences to show that Bangaldeshi immigrants were trained by Pakistani's ISI and LeT to carry out such attacks. The organization SIMI works in close co-ordination with such immigrants. All these are funded by Pakistani ISI and organizations like LeT.

In 2004 the govt had set up National technical Reserach Organization (NTRO) which would act as a super intelligence agency - a single window. But this is not yet functional. Why? There is ego clashes amongst various intelligence agencies. The political leadership has not been serious about implementing these changes on a fast track. Let's look at the track record of the present Govt. It is so bad and this year alone 48 attacks have taken place in major cities. Our very own PM has been insisting on setting up Federal Investigative Agency (FIA). Why this has not been implemented? Why we don't have a tough law (forget POTA, but something at least for terror activities)? The present govt just to have vote banks from Muslims doesn't want to punish those who did the PArliament attack, don't want to take action against SIMI. They don't want to pass state laws by different states despite Maharashtra having one such. All this because of Congress and BJP clashes. Rajasthan, MP, Gujarat, Karnataka all want those bills to be passed by the Center. The Central govt is least bothered. These laws are not POTA but resemble Maharashtra's MCOCA law. Of course, it is another argument that having such laws itself is going to help or not. That however, doesn't mean don't have the law. The govt's logic is simply irrational.

We don't have trained Marine Police. They are ill-equipped. The number of boats, resources are so low. Despite the govt's approval they have not yet received. All caught in red tape bureaucracy. Who must supervise this? It is definitely the political establishment. Coastal police stations are setup but neither equipment nor training has been given. Police reforms not being done is the root cause of everything. Some places there is equipment but either are dysfunctional or have poor design. For example, a poor CCTV camera failed to get a camera footage of a shootout in Delhi IGI airport. Whom to blame for this? When honest, brave officers like Hemant Karakre, Ashok Kamthe all had defective bullet proof jackets, whom do you blame for this?

Despite having credible inputs, political establishments have not been serious in implementing security changes. There is a total lapse in implementing them. Even today, go to Delhi's roads where bomb blasts took place. You will not find one policeman with any equipments or simple revolvers while terrorists carry AK-47, bombs and modern revolvers. Is this police failure? Yes, and also a political failure..

As yet another example, when NSG was asked to come there was a delay of 10 hours because the request had to be first sent to Central Govt by the state govt. Why all these crap rules when there is danger? NSG must be given enough powers to reach locations without waiting for any authority. How can u delay such elite commando forces in terms of heightened crisis like this?

Lets' not forget. Whenever there has been a blast or incident of this kind for a week or so patrolling is increased, everything is kept under vigil. But how far can you sustain this vigilance? It has to go down with time. It is natural. When the vigil is strong, nothing happens and everything that has happened is when vigilance is at its lowest point.

Here's another interesting statistics taken from IBNLive which clearly demonstrates a political failure:

After the 1993 serial blasts, Indian Navy hired fishing trawlers to patrol the coast and the state government was supposed to take over in a couple of years but that never happened.

There are 27 departments to take care of maritime security, but hardly any co-ordination between them.

The facts get even more damning. Colonel (retired) Mahendra Pratap Choudhary, who trained the first lot of National Security Guard commandos in the country, was roped in to put up a team of Mumbai Police commandos in 1993 but the unit was disbanded in 2001

A Quick Response Team was formed after the 2003 Gateway of India and Zaveri Bazaar blasts, but that too is dysfunctional.

After the serial bomb blasts in Mumbai local trains on July 11, 2006, a separate investigation committee to follow the money trail of terror was initiated. This also fell through.

Conclusion:

Both political failure and intelligence co-ordination failure has led to the present situation and unless there is co-ordination amongst intelligence agencies and the corresponding political will to take the recommendations seriously we won't be able to prevent such attacks.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Indian flag touches the moon - Chandrayan special

If there is a good classic example to demonstrate that India is a land of extremities, then it is the successful moon launch - Chandrayan.

In a country which stands 50th in Global competitive index, 66th in hunger index, 83rd in corruption index, a successful space odyssey to the moon still appeared a dream. We today are the 4th country in the world to put a flag on the moon and 6th to have launched a moon mission. We also are the 6th country in the world to go nuclear. Today, India matches China in nuclear warhead capability (although China is slightly ahead of us - India possesses 140 while China 160).

No one could have expected such an engineering feat from an Indian government organization (ISRO) in a short span. Program conceived : 2003 Program accomplished: 2008

"India can achieve anything. It sure is a proud moment for us." - An elated Madhavan Nair (ISRO chief)
"With a minuscule budget of Rs.386 cr(lowest ever moon mission), we have shown that we have mastered the cutting-edge technology in space. Besides, the moon mission motivated the younger generation."


First of all, moon mission was chosen for a lot of reasons. It was not to match China. It was to probe the presence of He-3 on moon which if found and brought back to the Earth could be used power up nuclear plants. Moreover, all moon missions till date have concentrated on one or more areas of the moon. There is no comprehensive mapping of moon's surface. It is still unexplored. No one really has done an extensive study of minerals on the moon and its reaction to solar flares and sunlight. What mineral composition does moon's craters have? Does moon really have water?

"For the first time in the history of India, an Indian-made satellite is circulating the Moon," a jubilant Madhavan Nair told PTI adding "this will be written in the history of Indian space in golden letters".

Secondly, of the 11 payloads that make up the mission, 5 are indigenously developed, 2 are from NASA, 3 from ESA and 1 from Bulgaria. In brief, their functionality is as below:

Even before discussing that it should be noted that to track and communicate with objects beyond the earth's pull, we need Deep Space Antennas. So far, only US and Russia had developed such giant antennae and even China had to rely on them. A few years ago china developed its own with almost 34 m in diameter. India developed its own and is 32 m in diameter and situated in Byalulu (near Bangalore). This itself was an achievement.

Compare: US - 74 m diameter, ESA - 34 m, Russia 64 m and China - 34m. Now, India's is 32m. Moreover, this was developed by Indian companies - 38 domestic companies including state-owned Electronics Corporation of India Ltd (ECIL), L&T and Godrej & Boyce, and Bhabha Atomic Research Centre.
Now, the payloads in brief staring with ones made in India..

1)Moon Impact probe (MIP) - Carrying India's flag, a sanskrit shloka embedded on it, is a brainchild of Shri Abdul Kalam. It has a spectrometer and video imaging syatem

2)High energy X-ray Spectrometer - to carry out spectral studies using X-ray energies

3)Terrain mapping (TMC) - one of the best in the world can take near and far pictures of the moon and send 3D maps of high spatial and altitude resolution assisiting in understanding moon's evolution. The TMC makes Chandrayaan the most unique and sophisticated moon mission

4) Hyper Spectral Imagery - mapping lunar surface in 64 contiguous bands.

5) lunar Laser Ranging instrument - will do a morphology of large bases and study properties of lithosphere.



The ones from NASA include - Miniature Synthetic Radar to study the poles and Moon Minerology mapper. The ones from ESA include Sub KeV Atomic Reflector that would study moon's interaction with the sun and Near IR spectrometer the crust, and C1XS - will capture high resolution X ray images. Bulgaria has Radiation Dose Monitor to study radiation effects.




Thirdly, what needs to be appreciated is the fact that Indians have been doing extremely well in space research ever since 1975 or so when the technology transfer from Russia and US stopped completely to India. At that time, we had to do everything on our own. Thanks to Vikram Sarabhai whose vision was to go the indigenous way as he believed Indians in the past centuries have shown they were space experts even without precise instruments or other gadgets. The credit must go to ISRO.

Fourthly, this successful launch has opened avenues for further space exploration and tie up with other space agencies in the world. The commerical wing of ISRO, Antrix Corporation had earned millions of dollars to launch other countries' payload on our spacecraft earlier this year. Now, the company will progress further. Already, Russia has signed a deal with ISRO for Chandrayan 2 which will have a rover (will be developed by Russia) that will land on the moon. The launch spacecraft will be that of India's - GSLV. India's GSLV - III will match China's capability in launching vehicles.


"India has the flag on Mount Everest and now it is on the moon, he said. I congratulate ISRO on this remarkable achievement," Abdul Kalam


Fifthly, we need to realize that unlike other countries which spend a lot on space, Indian Govt spends very little on space and yet ISRO has demonstrated remarkable engineering marvels in the past 20 years. For example, read this article to know the success rate. Their success rate is very high almost comparable to US and China in terms of launching capabilities. China is far ahead in terms of reconnaissance satellites that can destroy other satellites. India has always been cautious of not having developed such a capability because it would result in space race on a military level. Of course, China is ahead even in international space stations. However, if India sends a manned mission by 2015 (as declared by ISRO), then it will outdo China's target of 2020 which will give it an edge.

Sixthly, let us not forget that we achieved success in the first attempt and it is a giant leap. The readers of this article may argue that at this point every country must possibly aware of the latest techniques to launch a moon mission. However, I would like to also tell the fact that knowing is different from delivering in the first attempt with 100% precision.

Sevethly, the budget used is Rs.386 cr. It is the cheapest moon mission any country could think of.

(All images from Hindu, IT, Business Standard)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

India now is second in the world to have exceptional remote sensing capability

India is the second country in the world that has an indigenously developed and perfected the art of producing high resolution maps of objects moving in the world. India's Technology Experiment Satellite (TES) can offer maps of objects anywhere in the world which is at least a meter apart.

Only US possessed such a capability till date. In fact, the pictures of US war on Afghanistan was captured by TES very accurately.

After its launch in 2001 (this news I discovered late and hence people who knew this should forgive me for posting the news this late), India is still the second country in the world which has this special satellite.

Here's the BBC and wikipedia sources as references.

India has the world's largest Remote sensing satellite constellation

Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has always worked on projects, which have benefited the country as a whole and perhaps is the only space agency in the world involved purely in this work (except now that it has launched programs for exploration beyond the Earth's trajectory).

In this connection, as Indians we must be proud of the fact that our remote sensing satellite constellation is the largest in the world used solely for civilian purposes. We have now 8 satellites in a constellation. They are:

1) IRS 1-D
2) Oceansat - 1 (monitors the chlorophyll content of oceans and the sea surface temperature. ISRO scientists use the information to identify areas where cold, nutrient-rich water wells up from the ocean floor, which in turn attract fish)
3)Technology Experiment Satellite
4) Resourcesat - 1
5) Cartosat - 1
6) Cartosat - 2
7) Cartosat 2A (capable of detecting missile launches in all regions surrounding India. Also, it can real time 3D mappings of regions in the world. Check out this image of Delhi got from the satellite)
8) IMS 1

These provide the following services:

  • Preharvest crop area and production estimation of major crops.
  • Drought monitoring and assessment based on vegetation condition.
  • Flood risk zone mapping and flood damage assessment.
  • Hydro-geomorphological maps for locating underground water resources for drilling well.
  • Irrigation command area status monitoring
  • Snow-melt run-off estimates for planning water use in down stream projects
  • Land use and land cover mapping
  • Urban planning
  • Forest survey
  • Wetland mapping
  • Environmental impact analysis
  • Mineral Prospecting
  • Coastal studies
  • Integrated Mission for Sustainable Development (initiated in 1992) for generating locale-specific prescriptions for integrated land and water resources development in 174 districts.
Source:

National Remote Sensing Agency(NRSA) in Hyderabad is the central agency in India that collects all signals from this constellation.

The best part is ISRO has already linked 69 hospitals in remote areas of India such as the Andaman Islands to 19 hospitals in India's main cities. A health worker in a remote location can then transmit a patient's medical information to a specialist in seconds and, in many cases, a video consultation is sufficient for diagnosis.

If government could realize enormous potential of this reality it can bring drastic changes in a abysmal health system we have.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Bush's greatest foreign policy success

On a blog that contains articles related to India, the title above seems contradictory to it. However, this article concerns India. The outgoing American President George W. Bush is known for all wrong actions and undoubtedly it is he who messed up the world big time. In contrast ,he is the best President who has over zealously changed US's foreign policy (favorable) towards India.

It was 1998 when Clinton came down heavily on Vajpayee, but Vajpayee, with his diplomatic skills completely altered Clinton's mindset. The result - the entire US senate started rethinking on its ties to India. US needed a country in SE Asia for strategic reasons to counter weigh communist China. India's vibrant democracy coupled with Indians in US contributing to US economy tilted Clinton in India's favor. The consequence was within 6 months of imposing sanctions against India it was lifted. US for the first time began to think India as a serious growing power and began to disengage Pakistan. The close proximity of US towards Pak took a back seat because of Vajpayee's pressure on Clinton. It was 1999 Kargil misadventure by Pak that convinced Vajpayee that he had to turn the tables in India's favor. So began the diplomatic journey of bringing the largest and most ancient democracies together.

The then US Secretary of State Madeline Albright was fully convinced with a growing India. When Bush came to power, nobody knew what his policy would be. With time, Bush became overzealous towards India. His thought about India, "The coming century will see democratic India’s arrival as a force in the world — a changing economy in which three of its five wealthiest citizens are software entrepreneurs" convinced Indian diplomats that Bush is going to change Indo-US relations.

At that time, Bush invited the then Indian home minister L.K. Advani. He remarked, "Mr. Advani, even before you came, your toughness and your history reached me". Advani began to establish a close association with Mr. Bush. The first thing Advani did was to put pressure on US to declare terrorist organizations like Lashkar and Hiszbul as international terrorist organizations. A declaration of this sort was not liked by Colin Powell (the then Secretary of State). However, Bush personally intervened and did what India wanted. Slowly, Bush isolated Pakistan and began to push relations with India without considering Pakistan. It was Vajpayee and Advani who made Pakistan dance to their tunes with the help of US. The entire US was exposed to the terror matrix of Pakistan and its evil intentions. Bush, particularly, realized the significance of India. The sudden supply of American jets, fighter plans, joint naval and military exercises with Indian counterparts, and many other such events were breakthroughs.

Bush is primarily responsible for changing US relations with India outside the Pakistan axis. He personally had laid foundation for nuclear deal with Vajpayee. But, government fell and before its fall Vajpayee clearly conveyed to Bush that India will not give up its right to test and will not sign either NPT or CTBT. Bush also could not go ahead with a deal with India without amending Hyde Act in American Senate. It was then Condolezza Rice who came in as the Secretary of State and worked together with Bush. Rice and Bush pushed for 123 Agreement just to deal with India. This is the greatest foreign policy deviation for one particular country which has not signed either CTBT or NPT. Bush overpowered all those opposing Senators who raised doubts about India's credibility. It was Bush who went at a lightning speed and met Indian PM Manmohan Singh and tabled the civilian deal. Of course, not to forget Indian NRIs and Indian diplomats worked round the clock to change Indo-US relations under Bush. And adding to all these was PM Manmohan Singh's personal government and credibility that was at stake. Mr. Singh's conviction helped him to remain rigid (It is another story that many assurances given by him later proved to be false). PM Singh must be congratulated for his perseverance. It was Mr. singh who really saw the need of getting close to US was more than a necessity. I am happy that both Congress and BJP stood same w.r.t US and not necessarily the nuclear deal.

The rest is known and today Bush had made it a law (It is another topic to debate on the intricacies of the deal). The single most contribution of Bush is that he got clearance from all NSG countries to deal with India. This event was not a joke. To personally convince all 45 nations to do deal with India and bring India out of nuclear apartheid was a herculean task. If Vajpayee's diplomacy changed Indo-US relations, Bush's pro India stance solidified the same.

Despite the fact that Bush has been a big failure, his biggest success has been his policy towards India. Hence, Bush is preferred more than Clinton with respect to Indian diplomacy.

Here are some of the excerpts from Bush's speech after Indo-US nuclear deal was signed:

"Even though the United States and India are separated by half the globe, we are natural partners as we head into the 21st century. Both our nations emerged from a colonial past to establish vibrant democracies. We have welcomed investment and private enterprise to become leaders in the global economy. We have stood against the dangers posed by extremists, who have carried out attacks in both our countries. We have demonstrated that we cherish liberty, honor human dignity, and respect the rule of law."

"This agreement sends a signal to the world: Nations that follow the path of democracy and responsible behavior will find a friend in the United States of America. The American people are proud of our strong relationship with India . And I am confident that the friendship between our two nations will grow even closer in the years ahead."

Such statements by an American President only signifies that India is now a significant player in US's foreign policy. Despite all this everything is not rosy. US is known for clandestine diplomatic moves. India must be cautious of this and work very smartly. Indian foreign policy since 1994 is getting mature and mature everyday. This cuts across the main parties - BJP and Congress which differ in semantics but not on protocol and policies. This will help foreign policy to a great extent.

For the complete speech, click here

But will Obama (if comes to power) be like Bush? No, he seems to be tough with India and this is a big mystery if and how he does incline to India.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Is Indian economy really strong?

In the deteriorating days of the world economy, there are several experts, analysts, strategists, planners who become jingoistic about India's economy and its fundamentals and give strong statements like "India is very strong", "It is insulated from the world economic crisis".

Can we trust these agencies after realizing that the so called credit rating agencies miserably failed in giving right ratings about a company? Can we trust those statistics whose basic premise and analysis always do not come under scrutiny of a common man? Can we really say, "Yes, Indian economy is strong enough to wither this crisis". Now, if this is yes, next question should be "why" and "how "?

To understand and answer this question, we must also bring in China and also understand the problem with the US economy. The US economy became buzz with words like "investment banking" in early 1990's. The complete deregulation of this business led to cut throat competition amongst companies. US is an example of extreme capitalist economy in which common norms and simple logics do not apply and what matters is just where a company is headed towards. With no regulation and cut throat competition crossing the limits, each major economic entity (investment bank) collapsed. This collapse is not sudden, but has been happening very frequently whenever innovations went overboard. No doubt money was in full supply with all such banks and everything appeared smooth. Deregulation always ensured that US is competitive than any other world economy and it is precisely on this premise several economy players have wanted Indian one to be deregulated.

India, no doubt, has no good infrastructure or health care system, but its banking system is rock solid. India's banking system is so strong because of a simple single reason. These banks are tightly regulated by Reserve Bank of India (RBI) which for years has been doing a tremendous job. The real impact of RBI was felt post liberalization in 1991. RBI has supreme powers in the country and never allows any bank(public and private both) to take more risks than it can handle. For this, RBI doesn't rely on credit rating agencies like in the US, but a more stronger evidence of a company's performance in meeting core banking requirements. India's major problem till 1991 was lack of external funds which could have been used for developmental purposes. Post 1991 when we opened up and till now, we have not gone back w.r.t regulation.

Every time there was a section of economists who believed in absolute deregulation while policy makers always were cautious of this approach because of already calculated and carefully calibrated risks that our economy must be mixed in the sense there should be regulation and deregulation in a balanced mode. It is as a consequence of these factors that our banks are very calculative in lending even though borrower has the capacity to repay.

Indian economy is very strong in macro fundamentals which include high growth, low inflation, sustained foreign reserves inflow which exceed its imports, and declining poverty levels. India ,of late, began to have high inflation. However, strong growth mainly driven by services sector and manufacturing have ensured that fundamentals are strong. Poverty levels are coming down and purchasing power has increased. India has also a well defined capital market system. India is very good in strong institutions which regulate both stock markets and banking. We also have very good structural parameters. What we lack is government will on ensuring fiscal deficit is low. We are very bad at this. We depend heavily on subsidies, govt funds, tax rebates for poor people and this is mainly to satisfy the election vote banks. If we can maintain low fiscal deficit, we can over power China in its economic strength. The other area we need to focus is infrastructure. This when done can match up with China. If infrastructure takes years to achieve, fiscal deficit is easy to achieve and requires policy changes.

Chinese economy is bad in everything except that it is adept in keeping its fiscal deficit low and concentrating on low cost manufacturing and sound infrastructure. Chinese banking system is extremely absymal. They don't have strong institutions like RBI which can govern independently of the government. This exactly makes China more vulnerable to a crisis than India. However, given the fact that US depends heavily on china, China is stronger than India today.

So, in answering the fundamental question, Is indian economy strong, it is very clear that we still are very strong in our macro fundamentals. However, our stock market is so much exposed to foreign ones that any impact there will affect us. Moreover, our services sector very much depends upon world economies. If we take out these we still continue to be very strong. Secondly, our foreign reserves have seen quantum jumps. This has been primarlily because our markets are giving that profits to foreign investors. This continued trust has ensured foreign direct investment to flow despite recession. Last month despite recession, there was 180% jump in FDI flow than the same month last year.

Today, our FDI reserves are much more than debts we owe to other countries. Unlike 1991, where we had shortage of money, we don't have it now. India is so strong now that if there is a need, liquidity can be pumped in very easily because of our strong reserves. Our reserves are not going to deplete as long as our demands don't decrease. A growing population coupled with increasing purchasing power parity will always ensure that we have continuous demands.

We, even today, can target our home grown goods and services to ourselves and yet end up making reasonable sales than depending upon exports for higher profits.

However, India needs serious measures to contain its increasing fiscal deficit by reducing subsidies,unwanted expenditures on sectors solely for vote banks and increase infrastructural growth. Furthermore, a factor that will continue to plague fiscal deficit is also the fact that all states don't grow at the same rate and do not maintain the same deficits. Some states are growing at twice the rate as the national one, while some don't even show signs of economic growth.

India doesn't have to depend upon foreign reserves if it can contain its fiscal deficit.

Kashmir gets its first train..An Engineering feat


For people who have studied the time line of Kashmir railway line, it appears rather pathetic that the project has always been involved in bureaucratic delays. This project, however, is a real arduous task because it has to be realized by passing through some of the toughest terrains in the world - The Pir Panjal Range of the Himalayas.

Jammu and Kashmir people have never seen a railway track in their state. Till 2004, it was cut off from the rest of the country. Way back in 1980's, Indira Gandhi laid the foundation stone for connecting Jammu to Baramulla in Kashmir. However, geo-technical problems and funding delayed the project till 2001 when Vajpayee made the project as National Project which means no matter what happens the project will have continuous flow of funds till completion. So, work began at a war footing pace.

The entire 300 km railway track connects North to South of J&K and is divided into following tracks:
  • 55 km Jammu Udhampur (already functional)
  • 25 km Udhampur Katra-Vaishov Devi (most challenging and yet in construction)
  • 140 km Katra Qazigund (The toughest track to be made and don't know if will be made ever)
  • 66 km Qazigund Srinagar (functional now as inaugurated today)
  • 60 km Srinagar Baramulla (will be opened soon)


Udhampur railway station above


The 2.5 km long tunnel (required great engineering skills to make this tunnel and is immune to landslides)





Finally, Jammu-Udhampur railway link was open in May 2005 by Lalu Prasad Yadav...Here is an article which describes the journey through the railway line by an Indian express journalist

First, salient features:

53 km track connecting Jammu to Udhampur Cost: 550 crore 20 tunnels, 158 bridges, has a 2.5 km tunnel longer than NH1 (Jammu-Srinagar highway) Gambhir bridge is an engineering feat and is 77m above sea level.

Here's the video of Gambir bridge which is higher than even Qutub Minar

Now, coming to Kashmir:

The Katra (Vaishov Devi)- Qazigund is a 140 km railway track that is the most challenging and has been constantly delayed because the soil is loose and making tracks on such high altitudes is a very daunting task. This line however is not yet opened and not sure if it will open even in 2010. However, Qazigund-Baramulla link will be opened soon which is abt 120 km of which 66 km Budgam to Anantnag track has been opened. It is historic because it passes through Budgam, Anantnag, Srinagar. Srinagar will get the first railway track ever since 1947. The salient features include:

The info below is taken from here

The Valley train has a specially designed 1,400-horse power engine and an auxiliary engine that will generate heat to keep the engine and its lubricants from freezing. It will also pump hot air into the coaches to keep passengers warm. The railways has also developed its own snow-cutting "cattle guard" for the engine so that the train runs in sub-zero temperatures without any problem.


  • The main engine has a sleek aerodynamic profile with fibre reinforced plastic. The driver's cabin will be provided with a single glass screen to give a wider view. Along with "cab heating," the driver's screen has an inbuilt de-snowing and de-fogging unit.
  • The "snow-cutting type cattle guard" has been developed by the Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala, to clear snow from tracks during winter. "This will enable the train to run even in the absence of snow-cutting machines," a senior Northern Railway official said.
  • Each coach has a capacity to seat 90 persons. Each coach has a 900-mm wide door to enable easier entry and exit.
  • They will also have sliding doors like the ones in the Delhi Metro. The coaches have roof-mounted heating units, necessary during the severe winters.
  • The heating units will keep the temperature at a constant level of 20 degrees Celsius. The windows will be wide, made of unbreakable splinter proof polycarbonate sheet, to provide a "breathtaking panoramic view of the Kashmir valley," the railway official added.
  • The coaches have been provided with pneumatic suspension for better riding comfort and fitted with executive chair cars with fire resistant grade upholstery and a reclining mechanism. The coaches will have a public information system with display and automatic announcement features just like the Delhi Metro.
The best part is Qazigund Srinagar train which has been equipped with some of the latest equipments and machinery that can withstand extreme low temperatures.


The most important effect will be on the livelihood of the people which will get better. There are several people who can use. Look at the price. Jammu udhampur or even Anantnag Budgam is Rs.15 one way which is so affordable to the common man there. The rail links will also connect J&K to the rest of the country once Katra-Qazigund is opened.

Images courtesy: Skyscraper and Wikipedia

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Nuclear deal: a messed up deal?

It took barely a week after NSG waiver to arrive at one conclusion shocking the UPA government, several followers of the deal and euphoric Indian media - nuclear deal is now a messed up deal.

Here are the 3 main reasons. Rather, these are facts that contradict the Prime Minister's assurances given on the floor of our Parliament.

1) "US will give uninterrupted and assured nuclear fuel supply" - was PM's statement. Bush on the other day revealed that there is nothing in the deal that makes US legally binding to give nuclear supply, but provides a framework only.

What does this mean? It means that the deal was presented to the public as though US is favoring the country by giving uninterrupted nuclear fuel namely - Uranium. Now, it is not so. So, why sign the deal which is not going to serve the purpose for which it was made?

2) "Even if India conducts the test there is no stop to the fuel supply" was PM's statement. The other day it was clealry exposed that US has the right to terminate the deal if India gives up its self imposed unilateral moratorium. It will also co-ordinate with other NSG countries to stop supplying the fuel.

What does this mean? It means that the moment we conduct a nuclear test, US will stop supplying fuel and will ask to give back in money what was given to us and not only that it will work with the other NSG countries to do the same. Why should our right to test become subservient to US interests' ? As it is the world recognized India as a responsible and growing power after we conducted nuclear tests in 1998 - thanks to Vajpayee. Today, China is far ahead in nuclear weapons than us and we intended to reach that level within 10 years post 1998. We are no where and we should be thinking of that as it is in our foremost security interest amidst hostile neighbors (Pak, China, Bangaldesh, Nepal and Lanka)

3) "The right to reprocess spent fuel lies with us" was PM's saying. But the reality is the latest inclusion in the Bill is that US can restrict the further reprocessing or enrichment of spent fuel. Further, US can also pressurize NSG countries to do the same.

What does this mean? This means that India's need of using spent fuel to generate electricity is not going to be met. This is the worst possible outcome of such a hyped up deal. Arun Shourie explains - we shall be able to reprocess the spent fuel only in a facility (a) set up at our cost; (b) under IAEA oversight; (c) and only in accordance with "arrangements and procedures" to which the US agrees. As for the right being "permanent", the answer to question 44 gives the lie. The answer does not just reiterate that the "arrangements and procedures" under which the reprocessing may be done shall have to be agreed to by the US; it says, "the proposed arrangements and procedures with India will provide for withdrawal of reprocessing consent." Permanent?


There are some tricky parts which clearly Arun Shourie, Brahma Chellany, Parthasarthy and several other intellectuals have explained in several articles. Arun Shourie, particularly, has given enough explanations.

In an interview Arun Shourie clearly explains why the deal is messed up. According to him, Hyde Act supersedes 123 Act. Actually, Atomic Energy Act of 1954 and Hyde Act of US apply when it comes to nuclear deal with India. Hyde Act was made separately and 123 agreement was the binding agreement between US and India. So, w.r.t NSG, neither 123 nor Hyde Act is applicable.

All these days BJP was claiming that 123 agreement is a trap to put India into Hyde Act. Our diplomats worked round the clock to get 123 agreement as the binding protocol instead of Hyde Act. The fact that NSG does not subscribe to both of them and follows its own protocol should have allayed the fears.

However, Arun Shourie clearly explains that in the event India conducts a test or should there be any violation of IAEA safegaurds agreement, US will terminate the deal and may work in co-ordination with other nSG countries to follow the same. Indirectly, it means that US will trap NSG countries into accepting Hyde Act/123 agreement. Hence, a bilateral agreement has become a multilateral agreement now. This action of US is exactly what is mentioned in the 123 agreement and the fact that there is a clause which says - "in implementing 123 agreement, hyde Act and Atomic Energy Act will be the underlying framework".

With so many questions and ambiguities the deal has become messed up and so simply the media ignores a whole lot of issues and becomes euphoric. So, the middle class which carefully follows must understand the flip side of the deal.

Moreover, by 2020, energy generated because of nuclear deal is going to meet only 7% of the demands -which means the Congress's future poll plank - "aap hume vote do, hum aapko bijli denge " is a total flop.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Kerala takes the lead in health insurance

Keral will be the first state in the country to offer health insurance cover to the BPL and APL (i.e. Below Poverty line and Above Poverty Line) families.

11.79 lakh BPL families will get insurance - free of cost.
BPL families will have to pay Rs.30 registration fees and Rs.100 per year as premium and will get a coverage of Rs.30,00 for 5 members in the family. (The amount seems to be too less, but nevertheless at least certain basic medical requirements can be satisfied)

APL families will have to pay premium + smart card cost (biometric so that forgery is minimized) totalling Rs.550 per year as premium.

As it is from many sources it is known that government hospitals in Kerala are better off than rest of the country. The govt has tied with private hospitals to give better facilities in government hospitals.

I feel this is definitely the model that at least all states need to follow so that BPL section of the society at least gets medical cover.

Reference

Post Offices in Karnataka to sell air/bus/train tickets

In a move that is going to generate enough revenue for India Post and give access to more people the availability of train/bus/air tickets, India Post has started Genie Ease-Ticket.

Essentially what it means is that all post offices in the state will now have a separate travel department wherein citizens can buy/book train, air or bus tickets to various destinations.

Within the next few months, rental cars, hotel bookings, tour package bookings will start. Surely the biggest advantage will be to people who have post offices close by. People who don't have access to internet or computers or have to walk long distances to meet travel agents will be the biggest beneficiary. More than 9000 locations will now have all these features in the next few months.

Undoubtedly, the plan is going to have an impact even at the national level and all states will have the same.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Why the new Ramayan is worth watching?

Initially, when Ramayan started on NDTV Imagine, I was not too enthused. The old Ramayan from the same production house has already created history. The new Ramayan from the same production house (Sagar Arts) was initially low on TRP's. Personally, I did not like until Ram was coronated. Later on, the picturization became the high point. All characters look good and costumes given are also fine and matches with the traditional facet of the epic.

Just observe Ravan's make up and costumes. It is very nice. At least they have maintained the right looks unlike Manish Malhotra whose costumes in Mahabharath (Ekta Kapoor) are crap. This make up given to Ravan resembles that given to S.V. ranga Rao or Satyanaryana of Telegu films (whose acting can't be matched by anyone). Speaking of Ravan, the character played by - Akhilendra Mishra (Kroor Singh of Chandrakantha) is superb. His expressions, acting, anger, laughter - all suit extremely well. In fact, Ravan's character played by the artiste is the high point of the serial. The most striking feature is his acting.

The settings are also another worth watching at. It is better than the old one. Look at the above picture. It looks so nice. The conventional ones and the floor design is very appealing. I wish floors of my house resemble this..

This is Ram played by Gurpreet Singh. Of course, no one can match Arun Govil, but this guy has done fair enough.



This is the mighty Kumbhakaran. The costume colors are very good.

This is Hanuman above. All characters have been well scripted and everyone has a pleasant face and good pace w.r.t dialogues. Not too many songs. Story is fast and to the point. No exaggeration, whatsoever. This is the best part of the story flow in the serial.

If possible, everyone watch as the final war sequence is about to begin and it's going very well. The TRP's have also shot up considerably.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

TCS to computerize all police stations in GUJARAT

In a revolutionary step, Gujarat government headed by Modi has given contract to Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) to computerize all 483 police stations across the state.

With already broadband connectivity in all villages, computerising is a simple task according to TCS. In the next 6 months, the software will be handed over.

Salient features:

1) complete inter networking of all stations in a way such that if a criminal record is filed in police station Ahmedabad can be retrieved instantly in Gandhinagar (as an example)
2)All police and constables will now be accessing computers to record their attendance and leaves
3)The citizen will be able to file a complaint online through internet and will get a confirmation in return
4)All stations equipped with biometric devices that can capture fingerprints and other bio sensory information

The project's first version will be released in 6 months, while the project span is going to be 5 years..

I would say this is a mindblowing and extremely necessary action. Imagine if we network all police stations in the country, the impact would be unbelievable. The fact that the inhouse software giant is doing is an interesting fact.

So, will states follow Modi's suit?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

J&K burning: Nehru's blunder; separatists betrayal

If our country can ever remember a blunder done by the respectful first Prime Minister - Nehru it is Kashmir. Even when the then Home Minister Sardar Patel consistently insisted that Kashmir be resolved bilaterally by acceding it to Indian Union, Nehru wanted a route that was unprecedented w.r.t situtation - referendum.

One should go and look at PoK (Pakistan Occupied Kashmir). It is even worse than Pakistan itself. It is nothing but hell. In Indian Kashmir, at least there are roads, there are trains, there is at least some development and most important of all - freedom. Special status to KAshmir has been given since 1947. Even today an Indian from any other part cannot purchase land in KAshmir and is because to help the people there. Yet, separatists in Kashmir want to join Pakistan. They hoist Pakistan flag on Indian Independence Day in Srinagar's Lal Chowk (it is the same place where 20 years ago Murli Manohar Joshi of the BJP had hoisted Indian flag). This is definitely not the people of kashmir valley doing - it is the separatists who want merger with Pakistan and they indirectly say - "Azaadi". Consitutionally, legally - Kashmir is a part of India. What kind of freedom are such people talking about?

In Jammu when the controversy started over accomodation of Amarnath pilgrims, it was a single issue. All that Hindus in Jammu wanted was better amenities in Amarnath for JUST 2 MONTHS when the yatra is in place. Over the past several years, there have been frequent terrorist attacks on the pilgrims. In order to better facilitate and co-ordinate, the Amarnath Shrine board headed by Governor seeked more land. This was agreed by the government and law was passed to hand over the same. Pilgrims come in huge numbers to Vaishnov Devi, but because of military's presence the place is better managed. Similarly, for Haj, there are lakkhs of rupees spent on pilgrim safety and accomodation. Hence, Amarnath also is no different. Just when the separatists of the valley started protests, the government went back on the order. This gave BJP an emotive issue. But this time, it is a little different. Congress party of Jammu has also joined hands with BJP in ensuring that the land be given at least on a temporary basis.

According to me, there is nothing wrong in giving the land for temporary purpose for 2 months in a year. The sole reason the separatists want to prevent even this is to vitiate the peace and harmony. First of all, the governor Vohra must be called back. Second, of all there should be an agreement according to which 2 months the land is given to Amarnath Shrine board. As far as plebisicite issue of the separatists is concerned, it is out of question. India and indian govt will never accept the same.

The most communal position today is being taken by PDP who say that the land transfer will violate Section 370. How ridiculous is this statement? A temporary accomodation is not land transfer.

Our very HOME MINISTER Is not fit to be in home or in office. He must be sacked. He is the most passive and nuisance cum non sense leader in politics today. He is fit for nothing but only speaking and that too in an insane manner.

Modi does it again; cracks the terrorist puzzle

In yet another demonstration of political maturity, Narendra Modi has cracked down on terrorists in a silent, smart and suave manner. His complete freedom to Gujarat Police to crack down and the pressures put on the police to come out with concrete results helped the police finally reveal the terror trail.

SIMI being behind this has now come out in the open. The so called Indian Mujadeen is nothing but a subordinate of SIMI. They have been planning this from a very long time.

SIMI, was a banned outfit when Advani ordered the same in 2001 through involvement of the courts. A few days earlier, Lalu, Mulayam, Paswan together wanted ban to be lifted just to get Muslim votes. It was a cheap and communal trick. No religious body matters when it comes to national security.

Modi has shown a path after which not only BJP, but also Congress, defense analysts, other state governments have got leads. Yes, of course one cannot guarantee if every state and every police will act so independently.

Click this article to know how police cracked the case.

Now, even Congress - fortunately has filed an affidavit asking for an extension on the SIMI ban. Thankfully, Congress party has shown some maturity.

All this still leads us to unanswered questions - Can we still be safe? Can further such attacks be avoided or prevented?

At least what Modi has done needs to be applauded. There is a single and simple reason for this. If the perpetrators of crime are booked, the fear of committing the crime will reduce. Any govt when goes soft on terror and does not even book criminals, the crime rate will exponentially increase. If as a country and the law as a whole can be rigid, we can reduce the incidents. Alas!! if this was real...Modi has only shown that he can do it and he has done...

A ban may not help, but definitely it freezes the organizations assets. However, it is also known fact that Bangaldesh is sponsoring them indirectly. It is necessary to keep a tight vigil and share inputs with a central agency coupled with a tough law. A central agency as suggested by UPA govt and a tough law like POTA as suggested by BJP must go hand in hand to ensure that intelligence reports are synchronized and tough laws are in place to punish for such henious crimes.

Doing both of these will not eliminate such attacks, but will reduce them.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Internet Telephony legally starting next month

In what could trigger a second revolution in telephony in India, net telephony - i.e legally making calls from PC to cell/fixed land line/another PC(net telephony user) will be introduced from next month onwards.

This means the government will lawfully give permission to different ISP's to provide this facility. The ISP's can now give specific devices by which calls can be made if subscriber doesn't have a PC.

This information below is from a news excerpt -

"Consumers can avail Net telephony services by using any device with which one can access the Internet. It may be a PC or a laptop with a headset, a Web-enabled mobile phone such as smart phones or one with GPRS or 3G connectivity.

To make the call, subscribers will have to buy a Net phone package from any of the ISPs and download a dialler software on the device. With this software, consumers will be able to call other Net phone subscribers, a cellular phone user or a fixed line telephone user anywhere in the country.

If one does not want to invest in buying a PC or an Internet-enabled mobile phone, one can also use an Internet Protocol-(IP) based device, available for about Rs 800 or even a normal fixed line telephone to make calls over the Internet.

In this case too, subscribers will have to buy a pre-paid Net telephony card which works just like the long distance calling cards currently available in the market. At present, ISPs are allowed to offer voice calls over the Internet only for international long distance calls and PC-to-PC calls within the country. While existing integrated players such as Bharti Airtel, BSNL and Reliance Communication are allowed to offer unrestricted Net telephony within the country, they have not yet launched their service, probably for fear of losing their traditional voice business on their normal fixed line and cellular network."

The impact of this would be a further reduction in STD tariffs (say 20 paise per minute.) This would trigger a revolution. Of course, the quality of the voice would depend upon bandwidth. Actually it is better that this has been legally introduced now that BSNL is offering 2 Mbps speed for just Rs.500.



Thursday, August 14, 2008

3 more expressways opened

The story of expressways in India is moving forward, although slowly. This year is seemingly getting faster. 3 more expressways are now operational, taking the total number of expressways to 9. (Pictures: Courtesy :flickr and skyscrper)

Belgharia Expressway - West Bengal









Durgapur expressway - West Bengal
This stretch was initially a 2 lane highway and was the central point in connecting Delhi-Kolkata and Kolkata-Mumbai. In 2003, work began and by 2005, 4 lane was made. Instead of just upgrading, they made it an expressway with exits at sides to connect Kolkata on one side and Kolkata-Chennai part of Golden Quadrilateral.




Delhi-Panipat elevated Expressway
Delhi to Panipat journey used to take 45 minutes and was causing severe congestion in Delhi. Now, the new 10 km New Delhi-Panipat expressway has opened. 6 laned, tolled expressway with the help of which you can cover Panipat in 10 MINUTES....

What more!!! The road was made 10 months ahead of schedule by L&T. The 3.6 km elevated expressway is the longest in the country as of now. 30,00 litres of Petrol will be saved everyday from now on.
Nine meter wide Peripheral roads provided on either side will cater for local traffic without interfering with long distance main traffic. Three under passes at km. 87, 92 and 93.6 have been provided for the cross traffic. Via-duct has been provided covering the Panipat city on the crossings of Gohana road, Sanauli road, Assand road and Bus stand upto Skylark Tourist Complex. At the end of the stretch a 20 lane Toll Plaza has been provided for collection of the user fee.


Sunday, August 10, 2008

The country gets its 8th IIT in PATNA, Bihar

There is a reason why I capitalized PATNA. This is unbelievable in the fact that Bihar has been lagging behind in every social and economic paramter in the country for almost 20 years now. Although the fact is also true that Bihar produces highest number of IAS and IPS officers.

After Nitish Kumar's entry as CM, Bihar is changing, changing for the better. The newest thing being IIT now opened in Patna and clasess have begun. With 3 courses - mechanical, computers and electrical- IIT has now been opened. This is a dream come true for everyone esp Biharis.

In the past few years, several educational institutes have been opened and next month National Institute of Fashin technology will be opened. Apart from this 9 Indian technical Institutes (ITI) are going to open this year (yes, not on paper, but in reality). These will give access to so many people that it is going to boost the image of the state.

Also, very recently the state organized a JOB Fair attracting all sorts of companies to come and attract the young Bihari graduates. Ref Article

After Delhi, it is CNG in Ahmedabad and pollution drastically reduced

After Delhi's air pollution scene has been witnessing a dramatic reduction and improvement in air quality, it is now the turn of Ahmedabad. According to the recent article, Ahmedabad was 4th most polluted city in the country, but now it is 50th. This means that the introduction of CNG for autos there has reduced the air pollution so much.
I believe that this should spread across the state (hoping entire country) as it has huge natural gas reserves. Already there is a grid network of 1200 km gas pipleline giving chemical industries cheap and affordable gas. This if diverted can give huge potential to use it for public transporation.
The real problem initially seemed the non-availability in Delhi and long queues the auto drivers had to be standing in. Gujarat has solved the problem by setting up more CNG stations. CNG is definitely cheaper than Petrol and is undoubtedly a viable alternative. After all autos, now 600 of 1000 buses have been converted to CNG.
In 2001, 198 micrograms of RSPM (respirable suspended particulate matter) in every cubic metre of air. Later it reduced to 166, 132, 96,82 (recently). It is definitely an inspiring graph.
Hope, Bangalore gets CNG soon. It will reduce pollution so much.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Indira Gandhi's boldness

Rarely in Indian politics and rarely on ocasions have actions been taken that have gone in history for the good...One such thing was her action against Gorillas in Assam. Her toughness is what we lack when our nation is facing threats from all sides.

It appears that the nation's governments after her have lost the audacity she had.


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

India now has world's first super sonic missile

June 21st will be remembered in Indian Defense as a proud day. India now has all 3 versions - air, water and land i.e air force, navy and army - of supersonic cruise missile BRAHMOS. While we had earlier inducted the same in army and navy, this day we inducted into air force. It is the WORLD's FIRST AND THE ONLY SUPERSONIC ANTI-SHIP CRUISE MISSILE date. It is named after Brahmaputra and Moskva rivers of India and Russia respectively. Indian Navy will be the first navy in the world to carry this on board. It is also the fastest cruise missile in the world.

Kudos to both Russian and Indian scientists who jointly developed. Brahmos is 3 times faster than US's Tomhawk missile which is not a true supersonic cruise missile(US one comes inferior to what Brahmos is.) The missile can travel 2.8 times faster than sound.

While Russians designed, Indian counterparts manufactured and redesigned mass of the missile to maintain aerodynamic stability and this is truly an indigenous one. This is where we actually showed our creative genius and supreme smartness.

The deal is win-win for both Russia and India. While Russia is going to manufacture some of them by the next 5 to 10 years, India will be exporting 2000 of these to other countries. This is what is called reverse drain in Indian defense. This will truly signify a beginning of indigenous defense development. Russia will also have the same with it by the next 2 to 3 years.

Indeed a proud moment to all Indians!!!

Ref: click here

Monday, July 28, 2008

India on top of the world in Thorium Research

A matter of pride to all Indians is the fact that we lead today in Thorium Research. We are at the topmost position in the world. The countries following India include Japan, France, Germany and the US in the respective order. This is an achievement. Congrats to all scientists involved in this.

Some Statistics:

1) In case of Fast Breeder Reactors, Indira Gandhi center for research published largest number of successful research papers in 2005 and 2006 not done so far by any single institute in the world.

2) In case of Pressurised Heavy water reactors - 55% of papers in 2006 were from India.

3) India has exported 4,400 kg of nuclear-grade heavy water exported to a US firm recently.

4) Two orders received for 11 tonnes and 4.6 tonnes of heavy water

5) Higher demand foreseen for ‘superior purity’ of Indian product

6) US and South Korea have placed orders worth millions of dollars

Now, US's Thorium companies want to use India's proven expertise in the field. Once the Indo US nuclear deal is done, the deal will make India enter into global trade with 45 countries and in turn is going to get access to newer technology.

Where India lags behind is the size and capacity of reactors. While US and Germany have 700MWe and 1000 MWe generation capacity per reactor, India has 220 MWe. But once the deal is cleared India will be on par with the world because of continuous uranium supply.

With India highly expertized in Heavy Water Reactors will now work in tandem with French companies to enhance their reactors in return for fuel to us.

This is the way to go!!!

Ref: CLICK HERE
CLICK HERE

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Has a new Manmohan Singh born?

These days what is doing rounds everywhere is that "Has Manmohan become a strong politician after winning the trust vote?"

My answer is more towards "no" and less towards "yes".

"Yes"..Why?

Manmohan Singh is a person who has earned my admiration when he pushed forward for reforms in 1991 which was truly a pathbreaking step in our country. There can be do denial about this. Manmohan, as PM, stood true to his justification of the claim that nuclear deal is good for the country. He came out strong after giving a relatively good speech. He, in fact, several times threatened to resign on this matter.

"No"...Why?

Why this dire need to resign not happen when for 4 years not a single reform was made? Why didn't Singh rise to the occasion and say - "I am going to resign because the Left parties are stalling eveything". Why didn't the party support him? When a great scheme like Rural Employment - (definitely, a wonderful scheme, a revolutionary scheme) was being indulged in corruption, he didn't raise a single voice. This was essential because he himself knew that the mechanism being adopted is going to make it corrupt, yet he surrendered. Why didn't he raise his voice? When his education schemes - all path breaking, were being stalled by Arjun Singh- why didn't he object? When his party chief and former PM Rajiv Gandhi said reservations are not going to help anyone, Manmohan allowed Arjun Singh to carry on with it. I admire Rajiv Gandhi for this that he rose above politics and spoke what he thought was right. When Right to Information Act - (I believe is one of the path breaking legislations w.r.t common citizen) was brought into effect, he allowed it to dilute coming under the pressure of allies. Where was his conscience and why did he allow the dilution of such a strong act? When there was a food crisis, why didn't he ensure that government godowns get filled first before private hoarders are given access to it? It has always been observed that a man comes out with his real colors when a crisis hits him hard. Mr. Singh, unfortunately, has come out with his real honest color of a tough politician by passing through a crisis that was more political. How do I accept the view of such a great intellectual when he said - "Muslims have the first right over resources in the country".
Does water, oil, air, energy now needs to be given first to Muslims and then to others. Do all these natural resources see one's religion and satisfy them? This was the last thing to expect from an intellectual, forget a politican.


These are some of the questions which history is going to ask from the academically most qualified person for country's top post, from an economist whom I admire a lot, from an individual from whom I expected so much. It is a dream come true to see 3 best intellectuals governing this country - Chidambaram, Singh and Montek Singh. Yet, why we don't see sweeping reforms? What has the aam aadmi got?


Friday, July 25, 2008

The dark day when my city was targetted

If one looks at the pattern of blasts since 2004 in Jaipur, Hyderabad, Delhi, Varnasi, Ayodhya, Mumbai, ajmer and now Bangalore...it is all the same...SERIAL BLASTS. It is highly deplorable and painful. Why our system continues to bleed and allows everyone to bleed? There is a total lack of law and order. In stronger terms, it is tough posturing that is lacking,

To remember, in 2002 when Parliament was attacked, the govt almost went to a war. It was a tough signal not just to such terrorists but to the entire world that we are serious. From 1971 to 1984 - as long as Indira Gandhi ruled, not a single attempt was made by any terrorist (Bhindrawale and NE conflict apart) because she had given such a stern and tough answer to 2 things 1) International countries like pak and Bangaldesh 2) an effective law and order system that took care of (wish it could also take care of corruption) such things.

In 1989, when Rubaiya was kidnapped in Jammu that was the starting point for militancy in India. Till 2002, India has been bleeding. In 2002, when the Govt led by Vajpayee took a very tough stand and decided to stop talking to Pak and declared to go to war...Pakistan realized that its game of kashmir has to be ceased and it must continue to disrupt India by going deep inside. Since then they have been taking the help of every possible outfit in Bangaldesh and disturbing the country. Unfortunately, the timing was so bad that the govt of today took it very casually and the blasts happened in every major city.

Today, it was my city. Bangalore was attacked. serial blasts one after the other, causing panic in the IT city - "Namma Bengaluru"..It is with deep pain and sadness I write that we no longer are safe in our city. This was conducted by SIMI (that's what media claims) in retaliation to arrests by the BJP. One thing that has happened is that the central govt has decided to use paramilitary forces to protect IT city. This is essential because if that is attacked, the growth factor will be hampered and no one can take a chance. Yet, lapses will happen.

Once, Advani said and this was what was done by NDA - "Have a tough law and a centralized intelligence apparatus". The govt of that day made POTA (yes, there have been misuses, but the law must be there) and created National Security Agency. Today, NSA does exist but intelligence system is still decentralized and unorganized. It is out of sync with state govts. Forget everything - the NSA in our country not only is incharge of intelligence apparatus, but also is the personal secretary of the PM. Is controlling PMO and country the same with respect to priority? It is so disgusting. J.N.Dikshit, one of the toughest intelligence expert clearly had stated that NSA's job is only intelligence. But, no use. He died and his idea is also dead. It is not just revaming the model.

Most importantly we are not tough. We keep making slogans like filmi dialogies but never dare to take action. It was only 3 politicians who took action - Indira Gandhi, Narasimha Rao and Vajpayee..Each of these did commit blunders..but were very tough and not soft like the present govt. US attacked Afghanistan, we decided to attack military camps in Pak. The step was stopped only because of US pressure. It is at this point that I remember when Indira Gandhi told US president - "It is not the duty of the President to advise a democratically elected Prime Minister of a sovereign country what it must do". It is exactly this we need. Act..Don't speak or listen.

We need action...We have an intelligence system..It needs co-ordination...It needs more powers...We also have to stop inflitration from all our deadly neighbors - Pak, Bangaldesh, nepal, Sri Lanka - What neighbors have God given us?? When will we take action, if any? Security system continuously needs revamp. It is dynamic and should be made independent of all politicians except for one or two.

Life is so volatile in a system like ours whose both ends are non-commital and non-ethical.