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.


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?