Wednesday, July 23, 2014

ASI's search for gold cost 2.78 lakh to exchequer

This is exactly what will happen when an agency whose primary method should be based on scientific evidence deviate from its path and subscribe to fantasies. In the end search for gold only added another 2.78 lakh bill to exchequer.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

IPI and India Pak trade

Looks like IPI (Iran-Pakistan-India) pipeline is slowly coming back to discussion tables. Credit goes to US need to isolate Russia; which requires finding an alternate source of oil and gas supply to western European countries. This will again open Iran for international trade. Which means a pipeline from Iran to India through Pakistan is feasible.

However, I am not convinced of the viability of IPI pipeline. It has to pass through many of Pakistan’s most restive provinces. An explosion here or there will break the pipeline and create leakages. However, the other part looks attractive. Exporting the gas through Iran’s Chabbar port; receive at Indian LNG terminals and then distributing it to various parts of Indian and Pakistan. Instead of unsafe route through Pakistan, this one seems to be safe and viable.

In this situation, Arun Jeitley’s announcement of encouraging hydrocarbon exports to Pakistan through Jalandar (after receiving Gas at Dahej and then to Jalandar through existing pipelines) is a welcome statement. This will not only increase the business ties between Indian and Pakistan but also give some momentum in diplomatic engagements. Connecting this Indian city with Pakistan through a 103 km long gas pipeline (to be laid by GAIL) will add some more momentum to business. An additional export of 500MW electricity from India to Pakistan is supposed to strengthen the ties.

However Pakistan also need to reciprocate. One step Pak government can easily take is encouraging Indian business houses to directly trade with Pakistani companies. Instead of going all the way from India to Middle East and then to Pakistan. Won’t it be cheaper for Pakistani’s to bring commodities from Indian cities from couple of hundreads kms away?


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Mosul decree and the choice of others

Finally the word Caliph is back in political parlance. Leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, crowned himself (and started ruling?) as the new Caliph of vast swaths of land spread over Iraq and Syria captured by force in lightening assaults. Everyone, probably even Baghdahi, was surprised by the speed of conquest. As Iraqi military is concentrated on stopping the assaults than taking back the lost land; Syrian government on the other side is engaged in survival battle; and Americans are reluctant to bring their boots to the ground, there won’t be any immediate threat to his Caliphate.

As CNN reported, “Islamist militants, now occupying large regions of Iraq and Syria, have issued an ultimatum to the remaining Iraqi Christians in the city of Mosul: accept Islam, pay extra taxes to Islamic Sharia courts, or face "death by the sword."

There is no point of reasoning with Baghdadi. After all the group’s recent actions revels that they only understand the language of force and violence. As neither Iraqi nor Syrian military can dislodge ISIS (also known as ISIL, IS) from its current positon or take back the lost territory there is hardly any hope left for Christians in those areas. If ISIS are not even considerate to their own religion – reports reveals the summary execution of Soldiers and villagers – is there any hope left for other religionists?

Looks like Iraq and Syria are steadily sliding in to a perpetual war situation, just like what happened in vast swaths of Africa, Yemen and Afghanistan. This will only create lost generations. It will be better for Baghdadi to take a look on above mentioned regions and think whether he want the same fate for people living in lands currently controlled by his group.



1. Islamic extremists kill 270 in attack on a gas field in central Syria, report says - CNN

Pushing Vegetarianism by Force? From Palitana, Bhavnagar, Gujrat

Palitana Temples
Fundamental Right – now-a-days news channel anchors and editorial writers can’t complete a sentence without uttering these two words at least once. What is fundamental right? Is it the right enshrined in constitution? Most of us say yes. I too say yes, but I also believe fundamental right is more than what simply mentioned in constitution. It is right which I have, and which no one can take away from me in a modern society which rely more on values than on force to maintain social cohesion.

I am a vegetarian by choice. Neither parents, religion nor society forced me to become a vegetarian. I am free to switch to non-vegetarianism whenever I want.  One can say vegetarianism or non-vegetarianism is good or bad. But it’s a never ending argument, I am not interested in that, it’s my choice, it’s my right.
However, I don’t have the right to force my family members, friends or neighbors to become vegetarian. That is their choice, their right. So why on earth an elected government in Gujrat is thinking about declaring an entire region as vegetarian zone following a hunger strike by 200 Jain monks? This sequence of events are going on in Palitana town, coming in Bhavnagar district of Gujrat.

I agree that this area is a main pilgrimage centre for Jains and a lot of their temples are located in this area. I can also understand the demand for ban of slaughter and sale of meat and eggs within some metres from temple premises. But is it fair to apply the same rule for entire town which have mixed populations?
Monks in Palitana needs to rethink about their demand. It’s purely their choice to select whatever items they want to eat, but it’s not their right to forcefully convert others in to vegetarianism.


1. Gujarat mulls creation of vegetarian zone in Palitana - The Hindu

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Do we need 5,000 crore statue OR healthcare, sanitation and other primary services?

Sardar Patel
In many Indian cities, traffic junctions are occupied by statues of various politicians. It doesn’t matter whether it’s in the east, west, north, south or central India. UP’s former CM, Mayavathi, took this mania to the next level by building colossal statues of her own and her leaders by diverting huge amounts of money from state budget. That too in a state where people are struggling for basic services like health, education and sanitation.

Looks like Gujrat also got this mania. In the fast run to own Sardar Patel from Congress (which anyway hardly care about their non-Gandhi leaders of pre or post-independence era) Gujrat government is going to create probably the tallest statue in the world - Sardar Patel statue in Narmada dam.

As Hindu reports, “Union Minister for Law and Justice, Communications and IT Ravi Shankar Prasad on Friday said the nation needs a memorial to pay tribute to the Sardar… “The Statue of Unity is a Rs. 4,000-Rs, 5,000 crore project and this money [Rs. 200 crore] is only for the statue. We are proud of the legacy of Sardar Patel, the nation and the coming generations need to be told what his contribution is. Why should there only be statues of Indira Gandhi,” he said”

This statement came after the government allocated 200 crore in recent general budget for this project.
As per Business Standard report, “The entire project will include the statue, a memorial park at the base of the statue, an artificial reservoir between the Dam and Garudeshwar town and a visitor facilitation centre and reception desk at Kevadia.” – BS

DNA reports that, “to be developed on public private partnership model, will cost around Rs2,500 crore. It will include the Statue of Unity, and also besides a bridge, a road connecting the memorial with Kevadia, convention centre, garden, amusement park, hotel, among others.” – DNA

The question is, does the government have the moral right to divert such huge amount of money to this project when the fate of thousands of displaced people are not fully settled? Why don’t allocate the same amount for compensatory forestation? Why don’t invest this money in India’s primary health care services or sanitation program and dedicate that program in the name of Sardar Patel. Why don’t build bridges, railway lines to connect villages and cities of India, and name the same after him?

I strongly believe, Saradar Patel will be happier to see the money spend on a project which will benefit the nation and aid in nation building rather than creating a lifeless statue somewhere in the middle of water.