Friday, January 31, 2014

Australia - Depositing dredged sediments in Great Barrier Reef Marine NP

Life under threat here? 
It was not an unexpected decision. When there is a conflict between development and environment, it’s often the development which will get higher priority. After all, there will be a lot of hue and cry in favour of development; moreover, those birds, animals, plants etc don’t have any voting rights. So it’s easy. Only problem governments have to overcome is the opposition of small group of environmentalists and scientists – easier, compared to public outcry for jobs, income and social security.

Governments elected for 5 years might be more interested in short term benefits than long term consequences - which may come after a couple of decades.

Great Barrier Reef - world's largest coral structure, located on eastern coast of Australia, extends more than 2600 km. These areas are also blessed with coal deposits, whose demand is very high and consumers are located in faraway regions like Asia, Europe, Americas and probably in Africa.

For transporting coal and other minerals, Australia needs a huge, high capacity, deep sea port. Unfortunately, port (Abbot Point) they identified for this purpose is located on above said coastline.

BBC reports that, "Australian authorities have approved a project to dump dredged sediment in the Great Barrier Reef marine NP as part of a project to create one of the world's biggest coal ports."

UNESCO's World Heritage Committee its 37th session (CONVENTION CONCERNING THE PROTECTION OF THE WORLD CULTURAL AND NATURAL HERITAGE: 16-27 June 2013) noted that,

"notes with concern that the impacts of poor water quality and ongoing coastal development on the reef continue and progress toward addressing them is limited...requests the State Party to urgently address these issues, including by making urgent commitments to:

a) Maintain, and increase where necessary financial investment in the Reef Water Quality Protection Plan and associated Reef Rescue measures...
b) Ensure rigorously that development is not permitted if it would impact individually or cumulatively on the OUV of the property, or compromise the Strategic Assessment or the resulting long-term plan for the sustainable development of the property,
c) Ensure that no port developments or associated port infrastructure are permitted outside the existing and long-established major port areas within or adjoining the property,
d) Ensure that the legislation protecting the property remains strong and adequate to maintain and enhance its OUV;"

As the decision is already taken, I can only hope that "strict mitigation measures" pointed out by GBRMPA will be implemented in letter and spirit. Let me remained you - commodity for export is 'Coal' and reef is vulnerable.


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Dhruva - 3 Platform is Operational Now

A couple of days back DG-DRDO Avinash Chander Inaugurated Dhruva-3 computing platform.

“It is one of the fastest computing facility in the country and will also play a very good role in cyber security and information processing”, Chander said.

"CVS Sastry, informed that DHRUVA-3 will be used for designing aero-frame structures, stress analysis of materials and simulation of complex systems."

This product came out from the stable of 'Advanced Numerical Research & Analysis Group (ANURAG)'. ANURAG was established in 1988, "to execute specific, time-bound projects/ programmes leading to the development of custom designed computing systems and software packages for numerical analysis and other applications".

Other important products came out from ANURAG are, PACE, ANAMICA (ANURAG's Medical Imaging and Characterization Aid), general purpose microprocessors - ANUPAMA (32-bit RISC processor, and works at 33 MHz clock speed) and ABACUS.

Hope that Dhruva will contribute significantly for the advancement of aircraft design and simulations.



1. Government of India
3. Wikipedia

Monday, January 27, 2014

Some positive developments in building National Waterways

I am a strong proponent of building National Waterways and moving freight transport from roads to Rail and Seas. Having a lengthy coastal area and numerous small and big ports should have achieved this goal long time back. However, we stick with land based approach and still suffering the consequences of high transportation cost, traffic jams and pollutions in the road etc.

Some recent decisions by GoI are indeed a welcome step in promoting cargo transport through waterways and local seas.

As per the government press release, "Union Government has decided to take up development of the stretch of 37 Kms of the National Waterway-four (NW-4) between Sholinganallur to Kalpakkam in South Buckingham Canal".

"Minister of Shipping... G.K. Vasan said that the main components of the project include
dredging and excavation to develop navigational channel,
construction of three terminals and navigational locks, 
replacement of one existing bridge at Kelambakkam, and
installation of navigational aids."

Project is expected to finish within 2 years.

"other stretches of the National Waterway-4, which covers the states of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, would also be taken up for development subsequently. NW-4 covers a total length of 1078 Km consisting of Kakinada-Puducherry canal systems integrated with Godavari and Krishna Rivers."

"The canal will be developed to make it suitable for safe navigation of cargo vessels up to 300 ton capacity for transportation of general cargo like food grain, fertilizers, building materials, etc... terminals at Shollinganallur, Mutukkad and Mahabalipuram have been planned."

Completion of this project will benefit cargo, and passenger transport in addition to opening new vistas in tourism sector.


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Naga dance and Pulikkali in R-Day parade

Just watched India’s 65th Republic Day parade on DD News. Interestingly Nagaland’s Naga dance and Kerala’s Pulikkali were performed by schools from NewDelhi. It is good to see that, people from other states are interested in and spending time in learning traditional arts from other states. However, wasn’t it better to bring someone from Nagaland and Kerala to perform these art forms? So that they can also get a chance to showcase the same in such a grand avenue?


India Celebrating 65th Republic Day

Today India is going to celebrate her 65th Republic Day.

It is believed that Republican system of governance was existed in India from very old days itself. Mahajanapadas existed in between 6th and 3rd century BC is believed to have republican style of governance. For e.g. Virjis, confederacy of eight or nine clans which includes powerful Licchhavis, followed some kind of republican administrative system. It is believed that 7707 Licchhavi members meet every year to elect one of their member as their ruler, and a council of 9 to assist them (it is another matter that only a small portion of Licchhavis were allowed to vote).

Wish that India be able to overcome all the challenges and achieve top spot among the nations.

Happy R-Day to all of my readers. Jai Hind.


1. Licchavi – Wikipedia

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Jain’s too included in minority list – Birth by Chance

Union Cabinet of India finally gave approval for the inclusion of Jains in the minority community list. If I can say more specifically, Jains will be included under section 2(C) of National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992. Here, Jains will join with other minority communities in the list - Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Sikhs and Zoroastrians (Parsis).

What is minority? Oxford dictionary says, minority means 'the smaller number or part, especially a number or part representing less than half of the whole'. In all countries there will always be one majority religion and rest will be minorities (unless two major religions have equal number of believers). In India, Hindu's are the majority; obviously all other religions will fall under minority tag. So as such nothing will change by including Jain's too in the list.

Minorities have some special rights. For e.g. in educational sector. Institutions run by minority communities enjoy some privileges. There will always be minorities - linguistic minority, ethnic minority, racial minority, age minority, political minority so on and so forth. The question is, should a secular republic like India should differentiate her own citizens based on birth?

Many argues that we should protect minorities; their language and culture. Of course we should.

These arguments raises another question, who is majority in India?

As Sashi Taroor told in a speech, there is hardly anything in common in between a Brahmin from UP and a Brahmin from Tamilnadu. Both can easily communicate and understand people from their own village but belongs to a different community, than each other. Take the case of Hinduism, the so called majority religion. There are different sects - Shivite, Vishnavaite, Shaktheyam etc. There are numerous gotras and hundreds of castes; only God and Indian Statistical and Program Implementation division knows how many sub castes are there (I am not sure about the later!!!).

People are born in to these minority or majority groups by chance. Parents hardly give any options for their kids to select their religions. In early ages, they are indoctrinated to parent’s religion.

What is the point of giving special right to minorities? I can digest if government is empowering financially weak section to get higher education or something. But, giving special rights to minorities will only make people think that they are different from others. A republic should consider all her citizens equally.


Saturday, January 18, 2014

Police, ATM and ‘Law and Order’

After the attack on a Corporation Bank employee - Jyothi Uday,  inside an ATM counter located on the side of an important road in Bangalore, Police is after the banks. Bangalore Police’s request is simple, appoint security guards for all ATM’s or shut it down. Obviously banks can’t shut down ATMs for a longer time, so the only option left is appoint security guards.

However, appointing security guards comes with its own set of problems. First of all, it should be 24*7; 24 hours a day means, three shifts; appointing three people for every ATM. Different banks can bring the ATMs under a building and share the security cost. Still, it’s a big amount. Now, banks won’t accept this additional burden. They will pass it on to customers. In short we will end up paying for that.

My question is what are the primary jobs of a state? Isn’t law and order coming under that?

According to TOI report, "Police commissioner Raghavendra H Auradkar said the city [Bangalore] police will come up with a circular latest on Monday and will initiate action against the ATMs in the city that lacks security. "We are not going to postpone the deadline and we have sought the feed back from the banks today. We will compile the data and will even go to an extent of closing down the ATMs which do not have proper security measures..."

I am wondering what Police will do, if every commercial establishment have to go for the services of private security agencies? What happened to that person, who attacked Jyothi inside the ATM in that morning? As far as I know, even after having video footage from ATM’s camera, Police is yet to nab that person. Why don’t they arrest that guy and then give advice to banks?

Police has to seriously think about what they are doing and what are people’s expectations about them.



1. Bankers meet with cops on ATM security inconclusive - TOI
2. Bangalore ATM attack: A month later, survivor leaves hospital, but awaits attacker's arrest - NDTV

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Killing a goose called ‘Coal India Ltd’, and everyone is happy to join in this feast

Anyone heard the story of a farmer killing his goose, which give golden eggs, to make some quick bucks? Till now I heard the story only, now GoI showed me the same in action as well.

Protagonist in this story is CIL (commonly known as Coal India). This maharatna company, 90% owned by GoI, is the largest producer of Coal in the world.

Before going further to this interesting – tragic for CIL – story, let me give you some facts.

Current Price of Coal Indian in NSE – 288.9/share (Jan 14/2014).
Total Income in 2013 – 76,555.5 Crore
Operating Profit – 18,083.63 Crore.
Reported Net Profit – 17,356.36 Crore.

Lets come back to GoI’s position. Government had an ambitious plan to divest her stakes in various PSUs and raise 40,000Cr INR. Due to multiple economic reasons and GoI’s general inability to do right things at right time, this didn’t happen.

Now only a few months left for the closure of this financial year. Now its not possible to sell the shares and meet the target. However, to meet the deficit target government needs the money. So government did the easy thing to make money – find a way to move cash reserves sitting in PSUs accounts to government accounts. The magical word here is ‘dividends’. Many central government PSUs – even though inefficient – have huge cash reserves. Thanks to their days of monopoly and inability to invest the same.

However in the case of CIL, it went to the extreme. Special dividend from CIL to GoI is 29 INR for a share which value 290 INR. In short CIL has to spend 18,000 crore. Out of that 16,200 will go to government treasury. Note that 18,000 crore is more than that of company’s reported net profit (consolidated) for the year ended in March 2013.

“The total out-go from the company would be around Rs18,317.46 crore out of which Government of India who holds 90% of company’s shares would get Rs 16,485.71 crore,” CIL CMD S Narasing Rao…
Beside, government would also get dividend distribution tax of Rs 3,113.05 crore from CIL and its subsidiaries…In 2012-13, Coal India (CIL) had paid a total dividend of Rs 8,842.91 crore to the government.” – Business Standard.

CIL is already sitting over a huge cash reserve. According to some reports it is more than 50,000 Crores. Which finance minister can resist the temptation? Government’s argument is simple; if the company is not going to invest – by the way big investment decisions requires government approval and for getting that approval company need a strong management – there is no point of holding that much amount of cash.

CIL I in a tragic position. This company, even though a monopoly in Indian market, doesn’t have much control over the pricing of their products. On top of that CIL is hardly known for efficiency. Recently NTPC accused CIL of adding boulders to the coal supplied by CIL to NTPC owned power plants. According to BS report, in this year production increased by just 3% and dispatch increased by just 1.9%.  Company was fined by CCI (Competition Commission of India) for “selling sub-standard product at higher prices and has been fined Rs 1,773 Crore” – Business Standard.

When both private and public sector companies (especially power producers) are finding it hard to buy coal produced in India and looking for overseas purchase of coal –at a premium prce – isn’t better for this Indian monopoly to invest in increasing production?

What about government? Aren’t they thinking about Indian fuel market? Getting his special dividend will definitely help them to fill the gaps but what about Indian power producers? Why FM is not crying about the foreign reserve outflow for buying coal? Why FM is not worried about the financial condition of both public and private sector consumers?

What about CIL itself? Are they holding the money just to show that we have this much? Don’t they want to increase the business?

What about the so called powerful CIL workers union? They were quick to oppose the stake sale. What about now? Don’t they want to do something?



2. Coal India declares interim dividend of Rs 29/share - Business Standard
3. Bumper Dividend: Coal India failed to find avenues to park its cash - Business Standard

Monday, January 13, 2014

Report Card 2013 - Ministry of Water Resources, GoI

Below mentioned extract is taken out from a press release – initiatives taken during 2013 - by Union Ministry of Water Resources, GoI.

1. Bilateral Co-Operation... in Water Resources Development and Management with Government of Rwanda.
2. National Painting Competition on Water Conservation.
3. Redesigned Website of National Projects Construction Corporation Limited.
4. Union Budget 2013-14 Highlighted Five inland Waterways have been declared as National Waterways.
5. Ministry of Water Resources notifies the Final Award of CWDT.
6. India Water Week-2013 organized.
7. Policy on Groundwater Exploitation.
8. Hydro-Meteorological Data Dissemination Policy (2013) Released.
9. Declaration of the Year 2013 as “Water Conservation Year-2013”.
10. Draft National Water Framework Bill, Draft River Basin Management Bill and Draft National Policy Guidelines released for Water Sharing/Distribution amongst States for Comments.
11. Approval of R&D programme in water sector for the XII Plan period: Outlay 360 Crore.
12. Committee Constituted to Understand the Possible Causes of Recent Flood and Land Slides in the State of Uttarakhand and Suggest Remedial Measures Ground water management and regulation scheme for the XII Plan period
13. Constituted Special Committee for Interlinking of Rivers
14. Continuation of Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme and Scheme of National Projects in XII Plan
15. Human Resources Development and Capacity Building Scheme for the XII Plan Period
16. Constitution of Supervisory Committee on Babhali Barrage

Am I missing something here?

Entries 1 (co-op with Rwanda), 2 (painting competition), 6 (organizing Water Week) hardly create any difference in Indian environment.

Ministry of Water Resources don’t have many things to do with entries 4 (declaring five inland waterways to national waterways) and 5 (Final Award of CWDT, this is by a different body).

Entries 8 (policy release), 9 (declaration of 2013 as water conservation year), 12, 13 and 16 (constituting committees) are either some declarations, constitution of committees or releases of some policies. Both you and I knew what happened to majority of reports submitted by many previous committees. Interestingly, I didn’t see any claim by Ministry of Water Resources about the implementation of any previous committee reports!!!

For entry 3 (redesigning website) I don’t know what exactly the new changes are, so no comments.
This leaves us with entries 7, 10, 11, 14 and 15.

7. Policy on Groundwater Exploitation.

Bill to regulate and control groundwater development and management in the Country. Constitution of Water Quality Assessment Authority (WQAA). Reports on ground water and Surface water pollution hotspots are uploaded to WQAA website.

--- Again creation of a bill. Mapping hotspots are indeed a good initiative. However, other than creating a new committee, what are the achievements? Are we doing something to improve the water table? Did we achieve any measurable progress in this area? What GoI is going to do to stop the water table from going down further (especially in the cities)? What GoI is going to do to improve the quality of water distribution network?

10. Draft National Water Framework Bill, Draft River Basin Management Bill and Draft National Policy Guidelines released for Water Sharing/Distribution amongst States for Comments.

--- Good to see a new bill. However, what about sand mining from river basins? What about overexploitation of river basins? In many cases, it is National Green Tribunal or Courts which are taking actions to protect the basins not ministry.

11. Approval of R&D programme in water sector for the XII Plan period: Outlay 360 Crore.
-- Good one.

14. Continuation of Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme and Scheme of National Projects in XII Plan

“CCEA gave its approval for continuation of Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme (AIBP) with a total outlay of Rs. 55,200 crore. It is expected that States would create an additional irrigation potential of 8.7mn hectare.

CCEA also approved National Projects and Command Area Development & Water Management (CAD & WM) during the XII Plan with a total outlay of Rs. 15,000 Crore. Would help in creating irrigation potential of 7.6mn hectares”.

--- Outlays are indeed big numbers. However, in the changed environment if we are continue to follow old irrigation methods, then water will never be enough. Cities need water for drinking, sanitation etc; industries need water for manufacturing; thermal power plants need huge quantity of water; agriculture needs water so on and so forth. More importantly, river itself need some water for the sake of ecosystem. Adding more water to irrigation channels and at the same time following old irrigation methods will only add to the wastage. What about popularizing drip irrigation and methods like that?

15. Human Resources Development and Capacity Building Scheme for the XII Plan Period

“Total financial outlay is 351 Crore.  Existing training institutions will be strengthened, which includes National Water Academy (NWA), Rajiv Gandhi National Ground Water Training & Research Institute (RGI), North Eastern Regional Institute of Water and Land Management,  Tezpur (NERIWALM), Central Ground Water Board (CGWB), Central Water Commission (CWC) and also officers of the Central and State Governments.”

--- Good investments in R&D. Hope that there will be some outputs as well.

What I am missing here is ‘drip irrigation’ and other such technologies. What I am missing here is action - how government is planning to fulfil water requirements of Indian cities. There are a lot of such missing entries. Hope that Ministry of Water Resources will do some measurable progress in next year, instead of creating and publishing endless new policies!!!


Sunday, January 12, 2014

FDI in Railways – Some new Developments

As elections are approaching, GoI is in an extraordinary hurry to do some work. It is interesting to note this development; after all UPA government got one full decade for policy development and execution, which could have helped them in facing the coming elections confidently. Even though it’s late, GoI is opening new sectors for FDI. Opening railways is indeed a good development.

According to Business Standard, ‘As per final cabinet note, India will allow foreign players to invest… only in construction and maintenance of railway projects, and not in operations… up to 100% FDI should be allowed in dedicated freight corridors and high-speed railway networks falling under the fixed-line category, up to 74% should be allowed in the case of collaborations and joint ventures in other areas.’

Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) is to consider the above cabinet note by end of this week.
Currently, in Railways, FDI is allowed only in Mass Rapid Transport Systems (MRTS) and component manufacturing.

I don’t think foreign players will be interested in capital intensive High Speed Rail (HSR) or loss making general transport. Even if GoI want, they may not invest in operations. After all rising passenger ticket rates is a difficult thing in India.

However, there might be some positive developments in the case of dedicated freight corridors.

Hoping for some heavy investment in freight networks,



1. Home Ministry gives green signal to FDI in railways - Business Standard

Bangalore's Namma Metro

For a long time, I was thinking about a journey through Bangalore’s Namma Metro. Finally it happened in last week.

Inside Metro Train
Way to the main road

Byappanahalli Terminal
An Outside View

A Metro Station
Entry/ Exit
Metro station on MG Road, Bangalore
Me with two other friends

South Sudan – A nation in crossroads

South Sudan may be the youngest nation in the world. However, recent actions by her political and military leadership shows that, the entity which we call ‘South Sudan’ is far from anything called a nation. 

It’s not unprecedented that a Vice President want to become a President. I think almost all VPs would like to become president one day. What came next in South Sudan - even though not unprecedented – was not expected from the leaders of this young nation.

For the record, following the problems between the President Salva Kiir and his VP Riek Machar, continuous violence become (I can confidently say once again) part of South Sudan’s daily life. 

There are multiple factors acting in this situation,

1. Riek Machar – Vice President – is from Nuer tribe. Forces under his command control parts of Jonglei and oil rich Unity state. 
2. Salva Kiir – President – is from Dinka tribe (different form that of Vice President). He is backed by neighbors, well supplied and controls other seven states. 
3. Uganda – Sided with Kiir and sent troops to South Sudan. They already control Juba airport and bombed rebel positions. According to some reports, Uganda is looking for oil pipeline contracts - where oil from South Sudan will reach Indian Ocean ports through their country instead of the proposed route passing through Kenya. 
4. Sudan – Not part of this conflict as of now. This country is in a perilous position. Their economy is dependent on royalties earned from South Sudan’s oil passing through their land. 
5. Ethiopia – An influential neighbor but still recovering from the loss of her powerful leader Meles Zenawi. Not in a position of powerful bargains.

Violence already displaced more than 1,80,000 people. Some 80,000 are already in five UN bases.

Many parts of Africa still think in terms of tribes and religion. South Sudan is not different. So any personal rivalry will not take much time to metamorphose to a full-fledged tribal warfare. This is what we are seeing now. Personal rivalry between President and VP become a tribal issue and they started fighting each other. 
It is better for South Sudanese leaders to reach a power sharing formula and start afresh. 

South Sudanese people went through all those troublesome years, not to get this type of leadership who are more interested in setting their personal scores than doing something for the development. They owe a lot to international community for supporting South Sudanese independence movement. Now it’s the time to fulfil those promises.


Thursday, January 9, 2014

Indian Diplomat, Indian Worker and American Law

This story is old. After chewing and re-chewing multiple times, this tale was pushed to the backyard. Just for the sake of curiosity, I would like to revisit the facts.

Characters in this story - both Devyani Khobragade, deputy consul general in New York, her maid Sangita Richard are Indians.

Khobragade hired Mrs Richard as a domestic help. According to written contract submitted as part of visa application, Khobragade agreed to pay $9.75/hour for a 40 hour work week. Application continued to state that Richard will make around $4500/month. So far so good, but the problem comes next. There was one verbal agreement between Khobragade and Richard. According to this, Richard’s salary would be 25,000 INR/month with an additional 5,000 INR for overtime. If we consider the exchange rates at that point of time, this would be around $573 ($3.31/hour).

It looks like neither Richard nor Khobragade informed anything about the second agreement to US authorities before she left India. Obviously they won’t agree on issuing a visa for an applicant whose salary would be less than legally accepted minimum wage.

Many things happened after that; Khobragade complained; India revoked passport for Sangita.

Khobragade was arrested by US Department of State's Diplomatic Security Service. According to Indian media, she was subjected to hand cuffing, strip search and cavity search.

As per the statement from Nikki Credic-Barrett (spokeswoman for the U.S. Marshals Service) "Khobragade was strip searched but not subjected to a cavity search... anyone taken to holding cells of the New York federal courthouse is automatically subjected to a strip search if they are placed among other prisoners".

As Khobragade was attached to Indian mission in US, this became a problem between two. India naturally invoked Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (signed by both India and US) to get full immunity for Khobragade.

Article 29 and 30 of the convention says that (you can find the convention here,

Article 29
"The person of a diplomatic agent shall be inviolable. He shall not be liable to any form of arrest or detention. The receiving State shall treat him with due respect and shall take all appropriate steps to prevent any attack on his person, freedom or dignity."

Article 30
"1.The private residence of a diplomatic agent shall enjoy the same inviolability and protection as the premises of the mission.
2. His papers, correspondence and, except as provided in paragraph 3 of article 31, his property, shall likewise enjoy inviolability."

As per Article 32, "The immunity from jurisdiction of diplomatic agents and of persons enjoying immunity under article 37 may be waived by the sending State."

It is to be noted here that, as per artcle 34 "A diplomatic agent shall be exempt from all dues and taxes, personal or real, national, regional..."

I think US could have inform and ask GoI to initiate actions against the diplomat (in case she would found guilty). Even though US prosecutors won’t get what they wanted (Khobragade might walk free from an Indian court), I still think this is the best way.

At the same time, I would like to ask some questions,

1. Khobragade might be well aware about US laws on minimum wages and Visas. Why she created a second agreement with Richard?
2. Isn't better for her to pay the full wages, in case she want to employ a house maid?
3. Arguments about her low salary won’t stay in this case. She is 'married to an American citizen, New York-born Aakash Singh Rathore, a Professor at the University of Pennsylvania'. Moreover it’s not the basic right of Khobragade to have a house maid. Because of her position, Khobragade's salary might be tax free.
4. What about Richard's version of the story? Indian media hardly focused on her version.
5. Are Indian and US administration so incapable of handling this entire sequence of events as a low key affair?

Still time is there. US and Indian officials can sit down and talk. There is no need to flex the muscles; US need to understand that their past run-ins with many other governments don’t paint them as a dove. Raymond Davis incident in Lahore didn't happen long time back. US can easily reach a settlement and put a full stop on this issue.

Indian government also have to do a lot of hard work. If I am not wrong, many Indian nationals are still held as hostages by pirates; many Indians are facing regressive working conditions and exploitation in foreign countries... Why government is not acting swiftly in those cases?

Relations between two nations are bigger than a couple of individuals or issues between them. After all both alleged victim and the accused are Indian nationals. It is better for both nations to find  a face saving measure and go on.


1. More skeletons tumble out of Devyani Khobragade’s cupboard - FirstPost
2. Devyani Khobragade incident - Wikipedia
3. 3 options available to US on Devyani Khobragade case: Sources - DNA
4. Leading to Devyani's arrest, a verbal deal and 'two contracts' - Financial Express
5. Diplomat arrest: PM says US action deplorable, Khurshid smells rat - The Hindustan Times
6. Devyani Khobragade incident: Both sides of the story - IBNLive
7. US agreed to deport Devyani Khobragade's maid before changing tack - TOI

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

ITRA – Policy Paralysis or Lack of Imagination?

“R&D projects of Information Technology Research Academy (ITRA) in the areas of ‘Mobile Computing, Networking and Applications (ITRA-Mobile)’ and ‘IT based Innovations in Sustainability of Water Resources (ITRA-Water)’ have been launched... Shri J Satyanarayana, Secretary...further emphasized that the initiative is in line with the R&D framework of DeitY which has been drawn up to strike the right balance between basic and applied research and addresses some of the domains which have been emphasized by the R & D framework such as Agriculture, Water, Energy etc. He further stressed that R&D focus must culminate into transfer of technology and commercialization of research. 

14 team projects have been initiated at 44 institutions across the country in these two areas of ‘ITRA- Mobile’ and ‘ITRA-Water’. These projects are expected to enable in the generation of about 150 quality PhDs. More areas for initiation of R&D team projects are under consideration.” - GoI Press Release.

Because of curiosity I went through the list of participating institutions. You can see the list here -> Interestingly I am not able to find any private companies there.

It is good to promote R&D and commercialization of research; it is good to bring in academic institutions. But, why government is not so interested in bringing private companies? An academic-industrial partnership will create better results, than making these projects simply another government funded ones. Focus should not be on more PhDs but on the viability and real potential of these projects.

One can take a metal oxide, spend some three years, and come up with a PhD; but how far these PhD are useful for industry and(or) society? That’s what we have to focus on. There are hundreds of small and big Indian companies working on mobile and networking. Why don’t bring them in?