ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Fenced Indians Pay for 'Security'

Since 1986, India's borders with Bangladesh are being fenced disrupting the lives of citizens residing in those tracts. The unnatural division of people has created a human tragedy of which the organs of the state refuse to take cognisance of. Excluded by mainstream discourses of security, the lives and livelihoods of these fenced Indians bear the costs of fencing.

Srikrishna Committee on Telangana: Recommendations at Variance with the Analysis

The Srikrishna Committee's analysis suggests that a separate Telangana can be a viable state and that a larger majority of the people in the region favour statehood. If a separate state is yet not the most preferred option then this has been on account of the vehement opposition from the Seemandhra region and the committee's own fears about more demands for smaller states cropping up as well as Telangana becoming a stronghold of Maoism and religious fundamentalism. Above all, the Srikrishna Committee's preference shows that in our system, opting for radical change by moving away from the status quo is not easy.

The Great Indian Tiger Show

Thirty-seven years since the Project Tiger, the decline in numbers is shocking - 1,827 tigers in 1972, only 1,411 today. Forest rights implementation has been sluggish with rampant violations and large-scale denial of rights, mostly by the forest bureaucracy, the revenue and tribal departments. An analysis of the legal provisions under various Acts reveals that none of the 39 notified Critical Tiger Habitats have obtained the consent of the forest dwellers and the gram sabhas, and are thus illegal. An elitist conservation policy, which has so far targeted only the tribals, has resulted in illegal encroachment and activities in the tiger reserves by the State.

Rohmoria's Challenge: Natural Disasters, Popular Protests and State Apathy

Rohmoria, in the upper reaches of the Brahmaputra river in Assam, is severely affected by river-borne erosion. Efforts to get government help in combating this erosion passed through different stages of peaceful agitation and ultimately took a political character. People's resistance used oil blockade as an effective means of getting government attention. Unfortunately, the state's response has mostly been ad hoc and geared towards temporary measures to lift the oil blockade. This article has two objectives: to portray the nature of the problem of erosion in Rohmoria and to show the history of the peoples' movement and the state's response.

Underbelly of the Great Indian Telecom Revolution

While the phenomenal growth of telecommunications in India is often attributed to deregulation, the other side of the coin is the equally massive spread of crony capitalism based on scams and corrupt practices. These scandals are a consequence of poor regulatory oversight and deliberate manipulation of policies and norms to favour select privately-owned corporate entities. The most brazen of these scandals pertains to the questionable manner in which mobile spectrum was priced and allocated under the former communications minister Andimuthu Raja. This article traces the history of telecom scams in India and explains the nature of the present 2G corruption.

The HPV Vaccine: Science,Ethics and Regulation

A recent civil society-led investigation has highlighted serious ethical violations in a trial of the Human Papilloma Virus vaccine on girls in Khammam district in Andhra Pradesh. The findings are presented along with a review of clinical trials of the hpv vaccine in India and an analysis of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act and Rules. Together they illustrate how the promotional practices of drug companies, pressure from powerful international organisations, and the co-option of, and uncritical endorsement by, India's medical associations are influencing the country's public health priorities.

Silicon Valley's Integrated Water System

California's Santa Clara Valley, widely known as the Silicon Valley, manages its water resources admirably, integrating surface water, groundwater, artifi cial recharge, waste-water treatment, imported water, water conservation and public participation. As India seriously tackles its water challenges, the Silicon Valley's case history provides insights into how citizens of a hydrological basin may take control of their indigenous water resources based on an understanding of the essential attributes of hydrological systems, and drawing upon the best available science to achieve sustainable management. This case history also highlights the fact that even with the most sophisticated integrated water management, there are defi nite limits to the extent to which indigenous resources can satisfy water demands.

Broadband Policy: What Do We Know? What Do We Need to Know?

In some technology sectors in India, particularly in software services, public policies and private initiative have yielded rapid growth and good private and social returns. But this has not been true in the case of the internet, more so for broadband. Broadband adoption in India is and remains low, even falling short of modest official projections by half. This article summarises the current state of knowledge and argues that (a) we do not have a good understanding of the drivers and economic effects of broadband in India, and (b) this lack of understanding is largely due to the absence of a systematic way of monitoring the technological pulse of the nation.

Ensuring Minimum Public Holding in Listed Companies

There have been long drawn-out offi cial attempts to ensure a minimum public shareholding in listed companies. The latest attempt, announced in June 2010, made the 25% limit mandatory for all companies. The limit for public sector enterprises was, however, lowered to 10% in August. This note argues that if the policy challenges identifi ed in the fi nance ministry's discussion paper of January 2008 are to be addressed, the issues of defi nition of the public, the maximum desirable promoter shareholding and identifi cation of promoter group's control should be taken up seriously.

Understanding the Backward Classes of Muslim Society

The identifi cation of and reservation for the backward classes among Muslims has been a contentious issue, most recently in Andhra Pradesh. However there is a clear case, on constitutional grounds, for such reservation. A detailed discussion of the national situation and reservation measures in some states.

The Saga of Sompeta: Public Deception, Private Gains

On 14 July, two persons were shot dead by the police in Sompeta village in Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh when hundreds were protesting against an attempt to forcibly take possession of land for a private 1,980 megawatt coal power plant that was planned in the area. On 15 July, the National Environment Appellate Authority quashed the environmental clearance that had been given to the project. The saga of Sompeta is one of many arms of the central and state governments colluding with the promoters to turn fact into fi ction and give clearance to a polluting project in a fragile ecological area, disrupting thousands of livelihoods.

Judicial Setback for Panchayats and Local Bodies

The Supreme Court's rulings in the Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme case and the Arkavathy Layout in Bangalore case could have alarming consequences for panchayati raj and municipal bodies. Since the Court has upheld the validity of MPLADS, the preference of MPs for an executive role rather than for law-making may now well be reinforced. With these two judgments the political leadership will not be required to assign the functions and fi nances to the local bodies. State agencies not answerable to the elected local bodies may then take over the functions in the panchayat and the municipal domain.

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