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Showing posts from November, 2013

Is The Internet Truly 'Democratic'?

Each discovery and innovation comes at a cost. The gift that Tim Berners-Lee gave the world in 1990 is no exception. While, the World Wide Web has revolutionised the very ways the global economy, various national governments and ordinary individuals function, the price tag it bears is significant. What are the focal points of dispute that I’m referring to here? Two questions. Are acts of espionage over the Internet healthy? Is surveillance over the web a necessary component of some greater good for a society, one that claims to be democratic? As per a 2013 report published in Web Index (the annual journal of the World Wide Web Consortium), the surge of online censorship and surveillance is a potential threat to the very “future of democracy”. That incidences related to spying and surveillance (on the web) are causing tides that the Internet was not originally expected to influence is no surprise. The Internet threw open an age of information, where flow of information was expected

Time to Kill The Foreign Pill!

Back in 2003, George Washington University started the GWU India Project, a project that gave dramatic insights into how the 'business' of lobbying works to a nation's detriment. Private companies and associations were found to be the funding entities for R&D and consulting; and in turn, these entities got public policy and judicial decisions fabricated and influenced to their benefit with respect to Intellectual Property (IP). Many views on critical agendas were deliberately made one-sided, in favour of these so called funding entities. Various US lobbyists were part of these efforts and tried to manipulate decisions and views of many Indian lawmakers and thought leaders. Foreign Pharma has always kept a close eye on Indian pharmaceutical manufacturers and related drug legislations, especially as most of our manufacturers are infamous for producing low cost generic unbranded drugs, whose branded versions are being sold at prices that are phenomenally high and out of r

Making Macau out of Andaman and Lakshadweep!

While I was contemplating what to write in this week's editorial, James Packer was publicly announcing his plans to invest $400 million for a casino resort in Sri Lanka. In a speech at the Commonwealth Business Forum in Colombo, he said that his casinos would act as ‘‘a leading tourist mecca for the rising middle class of India, China and the rest of Asia.’’ Without a doubt, Packer has got his figures worked out pretty well. Despite a domestic ban on gambling, Indians do illegally indulge in various forms of gambling and betting every year. Some reports suggest that the size of the domestic gambling and betting 'industry' could be beyond $60 billion a year; and this is not counting the amount Indians spend abroad in casinos and betting centres. However, most of these instances are not in public view and are virtually impossible to track. Here is where the government needs to make smart plans to exploit the benefits of both the worlds. Going by the way India wishes to incre

Public Debates By Prime Ministerial Candidates Can Reshape Our Democracy!

UPA recently called for a blanket ban on opinion polls in India, tagging these as subjective and manipulative. Undoubtedly, such a demand by a ruling government showcases the complexes the party is suffering from and the insecurity that is prevailing amongst the party members. How wonderful it would have been if, on the contrary, the party had called for a full fledged public debate between all Prime Ministerial candidates, and influenced the results of these opinion polls through their arguments and vision? At any given point of time, a public debate between political leaders goes a long way in shaping public perception, much better than opinion polls. Really, what could have been more transparent than a public debate where the potential candidates defend themselves and their parties’ policies? The history of such debates dates back to Abraham Lincoln times, when a series of seven debates took place that lasted for a few hours. However, it was in the 1970s that President Gerald For

ASI Depends on Dreams Rather Than Science for its R&D!

Sample this! Oct 2013: The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), one of the most coveted agencies in India, started excavating at the fort of the former king, Raja Rao Ram Bux Singh in Daudia Khera village at Unnao in Uttar Pradesh in search of gold supposedly worth Rs 30,000 crores, and all based on a dream of a sadhu! Where other nations invest money in excavations only after research and geographical surveys, the premier national excavation agency, which operates under the Ministry of Culture, relies on dreams of seers! If you found that rollickingly laughable, the dents get more visible when one browses through the recent CAG report that states that when asked by CAG to give details of past excavations, ASI could not give any details about 458 excavations that had been approved by ASI in the past five years. If you wanted to search for evidence of mismanagement and fraudulent investments, one needn’t go far. It doesn’t stop here. CAG also found out that out of the sample