Sunday, November 8, 2015

Twisted World Of News Reporting

One answer I often get from people in between arguments is 'check it in Google'. It sounds like whatever displayed in google (for that matter any other search engine) is correct. This is very far from reality. Truth and facts are not the factors based on which search engines display results.

I was watching TimesNow in the morning. Initially when BJP was leading by 25 seats they told, they are the only channel who got it right. Two hours later, when the lead was reversed, then also they told they are the only channel who got it right.

Just now watching Russia Today, its a state sponsored channel. Good one to hear the alternate view points from Russian side. Now a days RT and CCTV have good coverage too.

Interestingly RT news anchor in a talk with 'Foreign Policy' magazine's chief compared killings in Syria with that of shooting of AfricanAmerican's in US. Ironic, isn't it?
Media no longer serves news. What it give is its opinions. For getting original news you need to work out your brain.


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Pragati Meetings finally waking up India's notoriously dysfunctional bureaucracy

Dedicated Freight Corridor
Good to see that, projects stuck on red tape started moving from there due to direct intervention by Prime minister through Pragati Meetings. Pragati meeting (usually held on fourth Wednesday of each month) generally involves officials from finance, law, land, environment, transport and energy ministries, as their approvals are required for any projects to go ahead. According to reports, PM's intervention helped to clear projects worth nearly 60bn since March.

If we focus more on execution part of projects, rather than fighting never ending ideological battles,  getting in to first 50 of World Bank's 'Ease of Doing Business' by 2017 may be feasible. To reach there we still need to climb 80 positions. Hope that we will make it.


1. Once a month, Modi steps in to revive stalled projects - BS

Photo Courtesy:

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Supreme Court: Finally Touching the Untouchable

It is interesting that, probably one of the most famous litigators of Independent India is a 62 year old Muslim women, mother of 5, from Indore. Her maintenance law suit (Mohammed Ahmed Khan Vs Shah Bano Begum (1985 SCR (3) 844)) opened a Pandora ’s Box, which till then Indian leaders where trying to hide under carpet.

Shah Bano Begum was divorced by her husband in 1978. Subsequently, she filed and won (right to alimony from her husband) a criminal suit in Supreme Court of India. Under fire from fundamentalists, parliament sided with them and went out of its way to beat this poor women. Thus passed 'Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986' to dilute the judgement. Poor Shah Bano, she may never expected that she would win the case in court and lose it to Parliament of India.

However, in later judgements (Daniel Latifi case; Shamima Farooqui Vs Shahid Khan case) Supreme Court interpreted the act in such way that, it was helpful for destitute Muslim divorcées who were denied alimony from their former husbands.

Current SC

30 years after SC ruling on Shah Bano case; in which court asked government to frame universal civil code; two judge bench of SC has ‘Suo Moto’ ordered the registration of PIL (Public Interest Litigation) to consider gender discrimination suffered by Muslim women due to arbitrary divorce and second marriage of their husband when the first marriage is in force.

The question is, should the law consider this gender discrimination faced by Muslim Women as the violation of Article 14 (Equality before law), Article 15 (Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth) and Article 21(Protection of life and personal liberty) of Indian constitution and other international covenants.

What is Uniform Civil Code?

Before going further let’s take a look at Uniform Civil Code. This is a proposal to replace existing personal laws based on scriptures and customs of various religions with a set of common rules applicable to every Indian. These laws cover Marriage, Divorce, Inheritance, Adoption and Maintenance. Currently because of the flaws in debate across the country, this suggestion looks more like something targeted against Muslims. But this outlook is not current.

The main idea of Uniform Civil Code is bring in same set of law for everyone in the land. However it is true that, main beneficiaries of this law may be Indian Muslim women. Even under considerable opposition government some way passed Hindu Code Bill in 1956. This one and various acts like (Hindu Widows Act, Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act (1987), Dowry Prohibition Act (1961) ) etc bought in considerable equality for Hindu Women under the law.

Currently only Goa have common civil code.

Politics behind the Code

Flawed debates across the country made Uniform Civil Code look like a draconian law targeted against Muslims. Fundamentalists are adding more fuel to the fire without recognising the importance of this law. Uniform code is much more than a simple law.  Unfortunately, fearing the backlash politicians may never dare to implement it.

About Future

Hope that we will all live to see a day when all matters related to law – no matter whether it is personal, civil or criminal – will be under a common law. If Supreme Court can bring in this one, then it will be one of the greatest service to the nation.


Saturday, October 24, 2015

National Perspective Plan – Came late, but finally came

Sagarmala Initiative - A new era for Indian Shipping
Having lengthy coastal belt is a blessing by nature. Many landlocked countries across the globe are desperate to get a connection to sea ports and global waterways. Major cities located on sea shores made full use of its access to maritime commons and became hub of industrial activities. Look at Singapore a county which may not reach its current form if it was not located in such a strategic location.

For long time, we ignored the industrial importance of coastal area and coastal shipping; even though 3 out of 4 of our metros are located in sea shores.

Probably National Perspective Plan (NPP) set to launch by Jan next year will open a new chapter. As per the policy potential geographical zones called Coastal Economic Zones (CEZ) will be identified and developed. These economic zones will be around a group of major or minor ports. Zone can extend 300-500 KM in coast and 200-300KM inland. As of now 14 CEZ are identified.

An important point in this plan is its integration with Dedicated Freight Corridor, National Highways, SEZss and other industrial areas (Sagarmala Initiative).

Hope that, it will be good start for the coastal areas, whose potential we ignored for a very long time. Global Maritime Commons are the primary nerves of global trading system. A direct connection with it will quickly improve the industrial activity and generate more jobs and development.


Sagarmala Initiative: Sagarmala project is to promote port-led direct and indirect development and to provide infrastructure to transport goods to and from ports quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively. This focus on, (a) Supporting and enabling Port-led Development through policy and institutional interventions (b) Port Infrastructure Enhancement, including modernization and setting up of new ports, and (iii) Efficient Evacuation to and from hinterland.

Sagarmala Initiative – PMO

Eurospirit - Off Mumbai Coast

Supreme Court: Make Selection Process Transparent

Presently courts are one of the most respected institutions in India. This has more to do with tarnished images of executive and legislature than with the efficiency of courts itself. Needless to say Indian courts are extremely slow and a business with it burns common man’s pocket. However, as the last respite Indian courts are doing a wonderful job.

Ever since Supreme Court of India declared 99th constitutional amendment and NJAC act as unconstitutional (4-1 majority judgement), one question that frequently disturbs us is – who will oversee the keepers of Indian constitution. The present collegium system of appointing judges - which Supreme Court for itself - is a big black hole. No one knows what is going on there and what criteria they follow.

Supreme Court may fend off current demand for abolishing collegium. By the way ‘National Judicial Appointment Committee Act’ and 99th amendment was passed by both houses of parliament and 20 of Indian state legislatures. President of India also gave his assent to 99th amendment.

I still don’t understand the problem with SC regarding this amendment and bill. Proposed NJAC Commission will consist of 6 member panel (Chief Justice of India, 2 of most senior judges in SC, Law Minister and 2 eminent people). These two eminent people will be selected by a committee composed of CJI, Leader Of Opposition and Prime Minister. This structure doesn’t allow executive to impose their will over selection of judges.

If SC thinks this laws is against constitution, then there isn’t much option left in front of government. But one thing the court has to understand is collegium system - introduced by SC through verdicts of 1993, 1998 – should go. People have the right to know the selection process in SC and other higher courts of the land.