ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Transparency in Appointing the CAG

The Comptroller and Auditor General is essential in overseeing government finances and ensuring public accountability. Post-independence, public expenditure has increased hundredfold, with no clear accountability structure in place. New regulatory bodies have been created, and a good number of government transactions have been computerised. These developments pose new challenges for public audits, which require the CAG to reinvent itself. This entails more professionalism in its working, wider power delegation, and fundamental reforms in its structural organisation. Our government should not be afraid of such reforms, since conditions have fundamentally changed from when the Constitution came into effect, in 1950.

Writing Technology-neutral Law

The regulation of “biotechnology” seems to present legislative diffi culties of another kind. The Government of India proposes to institute a biotechnology regulatory authority—the Human DNA Profi ling Bill 2015—for the purpose of collating the DNA information of citizens so as to strengthen the criminal justice process and system. However, the regulation of such technology needs to be technologically neutral and requires safeguards against any information abuse and exploitation on the part of the “experts” and “specialists” appointed to the new regulatory institution governing biotechnology.

Pricing of Cardiac Stents

The pricing of cardiac stents in India has been mired in controversy and allegations of profiteering at the cost of vulnerable patients. This article looks at the stances of various stakeholders around the issue leading up to the government slashing the prices of stents by a huge percentage.

Subnational Diplomacy

Regional cooperation in South Asia is difficult not only because of the geographical, historical and cultural complexity of the region, but more so because of the lack of stable leadership emanating from the bigger states like India. India’s foreign political and economic policies are being increasingly shaped by regional governments, political parties and leaders. The increasing ease with which regional players consult, exert pressure and influence the centre poses both opportunities and risks for India’s foreign policy strategy.

Raising the ‘Bar’ for India’s Power Sector

Two prominent infrastructure companies belonging to Adani Group and Tata Group had sought the assistance of electricity regulators to hike the rate at which they sold power to several state power utility and distribution companies. They claimed that compensatory tariffs to the tune of nearly ₹8,000 crore were due to them as they had to absorb an increase in the price of coal imported from Indonesia used to fuel their power plants. But this was denied to them by the Supreme Court.

The Zero Case

The manner of dismissal of the interim appeals filed by Common Cause in the Birla–Sahara Papers case triggers a host of questions, legal and political. The presiding of a particular judge is also problematic as it appears to conflict with the code of conduct for judges, more so with the allegations against the Chief Justice of India and another sitting judge of the Supreme Court made by Kalikho Pul, former Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, in his so-called suicide note.

The Hidden Universe of Non-profit Organisations in India

Systemic reform of the institutional and legal framework for non-profit organisations in India is long overdue, but its absence does not imply that their societal, developmental and professional contributions should be ignored, decried, or devalued.

Did Adani Group Evade ₹1,000 Crore Taxes?

The authors would like to clarify that the first paragraph in the “Conclusions” section (p 40) should have read as follows: “The DRI filed an appeal against the CESTAT order in the Supreme Court on 6 April 2016, which was eventually disposed of on 22 July 2016. The Ministry of Finance now has to file a review petition against this decision. The question that remains unanswered: what has dissuaded the ministry from filing this review petition even though more than five months have gone by?” This is the corrected version of the article. The corporate conglomerate headed by Gautam Adani has been accused by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence of having allegedly evaded taxes and laundered money to the tune of around ₹1,000 crore while trading in cut and polished diamonds and gold jewellery. The DRI has claimed that companies in the Adani Group misused export incentives and indulged in high-velocity circular trading through a complex web of front companies located in different parts of the world. The government seems strangely reticent about fi ling a review petition in the Supreme Court that could protect its revenue interests.

Exclusionary Conservation in the Sundarbans

An ethnographic survey on the island of Satjelia in the Sundarbans shows how exclusionary conservation practices are intensifying the vulnerabilities of the local population. An inclusive conservation policy would privilege both biodiversity and people’s livelihoods.

Water Crisis in Punjab and Haryana

After the Green Revolution, Punjab and Haryana have become water-scarce states due to the introduction of paddy as the main kharif crop, a massive increase in cropping intensity, and rapid urbanisation and industrialisation. However, the real issue--of reverting to sustainable cropping patterns and improving water-use efficiency--remains unaddressed. An improvement of 15% to 20% in water-use efficiency from the present level can provide each state with the increased water share it is demanding.

Look East Policy, Subregional Connectivity Projects and North East India

Many native scholars and social activists concerned about peace and development in landlocked, peripheral, conflict-ridden northeastern states have been pinning hopes on India's Look (Act) East Policy. They expect the proposed subregional connectivity projects to contribute to economic development of the region and address its problems of underdevelopment. Interrogating the assumptions on which the connectivity projects are conceived, the article throws light on hindrances in realisation of the set objectives.

Genetically Modified Mustard and India's Future

Genetically modified mustard, if approved, will be the first such food crop to be commercially released in India. This will open the floodgates for other such crops making India one of the largest users of genetically modified crops in the world in the next 10 to 12 years. Given that its agriculture is largely in the hands of multinational seed and agrochemical companies, India will end up bartering its freedom for the benefit of a few and the misery of the rest.

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