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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Anna Hazare, others declare assets

Anna Hazare, others declare assets

Special Correspondent: The Hindu

Social activist Anna Hazare has cash assets worth Rs.68,688.36. He owns 0.07 hectares of family land in Ralegan Siddhi which is being used by his family. Two other pieces of land donated to him by the Army and by a villager have been donated by him for village use.

This is all that Mr. Hazare, who lives in a temple in Ralegan Siddhi, a model village, owns.

The assets of Mr. Hazare and four other civil society members were released to the media here on Friday. The members sent their declaration of assets to the chairman of the joint committee for drafting the Lokpal Bill, Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

Shanti Bhushan, a former Law Minister and Supreme Court lawyer, has shown his income as reported in his tax returns in 2010-11 at about Rs.18 crore. A resident of Noida, he owns three houses in Noida (444 sq.metres, 465 sq.metres, 450 sq.metres), a flat in Supreme Court Cooperative Group Housing Society, a plot in Bangalore, a five-acre farm land in Roorkee, a farm land in Noida and one-fourth share in an Allahabad house property.

He has public provident funds, bonds, shares, fixed deposits estimated at about Rs.1,02,60,00,000 and cash and bank balance to the tune of Rs.2,75,00,000.

Justice N. Santosh Hegde has declared bank deposits to the tune of about Rs.31.5 lakh and a flat in Bangalore valued at Rs.1.5 crore.

Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan has declared a house (145.06 sq. metres) in Jangpura, a flat in the Supreme Court Cooperative Group Housing Society, agriculture land in Himachal Pradesh and one-fourth share in an Allahabad house property.

He has declared deposits in public provident fund, bonds, mutual funds, shares and fixed deposits at an estimated Rs.1,45,00,000 and bank balance of Rs.7,50,000.

Activist Arvind Kejriwal has a 220 sq. metre plot at the IRS Group Housing Society at Indirapuram, a bank balance of Rs. 28,640, and cash in hand at Rs.5,300.

The civil society members responded to query of journalists last week if they would declare assets publicly like politicians. They had agreed to do so
TAAS welcomes declaration of Tourism as “Infrastructure Industry”

GANGTOK, 15 April: A Notification issued by the Home Department [No. 28/Home/2011 dated 29 March 2011] records that the tourism sector has helped tremendously in economic development and employment generation in the state of Sikkim. A number of financial incentives become available under Infrastructure Industry if Tourism is declared an Infrastructure Industry, the notification explains. “Hence, in order to achieve the above objective, the state government has declared and notified ‘Tourism’ as Infrastructure Industry in the state of Sikkim with immediate effect,” the Notification announces, informs an IPR press release.
The Travel Agents Association o f Sikkim [TAAS] president, Lukendra Rasaily, expressed “great happiness” on behalf of his organization and tourism stakeholders over the notification of Tourism as an Infrastructure Industry

He mentioned that such declaration has been a long-pending demand of the organisation and it was welcome that it has been so notified.
“This will help the state tremendously as the sector will now receive direct assistance from the Centre and enjoy other relaxations. This will greatly facilitate development of the sector since the State government has come out with policies favorable to tourism stakeholders and people of the state,” he said.
Mr. Rasaily stated that the Chief Minister has already prioritized the tourism sector in the state and with this notification, the path for further development had been further cleared.
He expressed his deep gratitude towards the Chief Minister from his organization and all tourism stakeholders on the latest initiative.
source;Sikkim Now
Govt. reiterates its commitment to introduce strong Lokpal Bill in Monsoon session

Apr 16, 2:41 PM

Government today reiterated its commitment to introduce a strong Lok Pal Bill in the monsoon session of Parliament. Briefing the media after a meeting of the joint committee on drafting the bill, HRD Minister Kapil Sibal said that both the sides took a histroic step today in this regard. He said, in today's meeting, both the government and the civil society representatives exchanged views on the salient features of the proposed bill. Mr. Sibal said, the co-Chairman of the Committee, Shanti Bhushan presented a draft of the Jan Lok Pal Bill to the Chairman, Mr. Pranab Mukherjee, while the Government also also circulated the draft of the standing committee on Lok Pal bill. Mr. Sibal informed that audio recording of all the meetings will be done and important decisions will be shared with the people from time to time. They also agreed to the procedures to be followed in the meeting as well as the mechanisms to consult the public as widely as possible. The next meeting of the joint committee will be held on the 2nd of next month.

Today's meeting of the 10-member Joint Committee was chaired by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee. It was attended by Home Minister P Chidambaram, HRD Minister Kapil Sibal, Law Minister M Veerappa Moily and Water Resources Minister Salman Khurshid from the government side.Civil Society activists who participated in the meeting are Co-chairman Shanti Bhushan, Anna Hazare, Arvind Kejriwal, Santosh Hegde, and Prashant Bhushan.

Talking to reporters, civil society activist Prashant Bhusan expressed satisfaction over the discussions in the meeting and hoped that this will lead to an independent Lok Pal in the country to fight corruption at higher places. He said, though the demand for videographing of the proceedings was not accepted, the audio recordings about important decisions reached in the meetings will be shared with the public for wider consultations. He said, the next meeting will take up issues related to the bill after studying the drafts exchanged today.
Silicosis is a strange disease that may take from a few months to a few years to manifest itself. In Madhya Pradesh, it has assumed a class character: that of a disease almost exclusively affecting migrant labourers. Photo shows free crystalline silica as it is produced after crushing quartz stone. Labourers have to fill up gunny sacks with this dust. Photo: Special Arrangement
Silicosis is a strange disease that may take from a few months to a few years to manifest itself. In Madhya Pradesh, it has assumed a class character: that of a disease almost exclusively affecting migrant labourers. Photo shows free crystalline silica as it is produced after crushing quartz stone. Labourers have to fill up gunny sacks with this dust. Photo: Special Arrangement
"It Is Very Easy to defeat someone, but It Is Very Hard To Win Someone."                                                              
                                                                  Abdul Kalaam 
"Never play with the feelings of others, because you may win the game, but the risk is that you will surely lose
the person for a life time."

"The world suffers a lot.
Not because of the violence of bad people,
but because of the silence of good people!"

"I am thankful to all those who said NO to me.
Its because of them I did it myself.."

"If friendship is your weakest point then you are the strongest person in the world"
                                                          Abraham Lincoln

"Laughing faces do not mean that there is absence of sorrow! But it means that they have the ability to
deal with it."

"Opportunities are like sunrises, if you wait too long you may miss them."
                                                                William Arthur

"When you are in the light, everything follows you, but when you enter into the dark, even your own shadow deserts you."

"Coin always makes sound but the currency notes are always silent. So when your value increases keep yourself calm and silent"

Deconstructing the Anna Hazare campaign

Vidya Subrahmaniam
source: The Hindu  
File photo shows social activist Anna Hazare addressing supporters at his village Ralegan Siddhi in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra.
PTI File photo shows social activist Anna Hazare addressing supporters at his village Ralegan Siddhi in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra.
Anna Hazare succeeded because he tapped into a deeply felt anger against corruption and systemic gang-up. But the campaign must define itself ideologically or risk appropriation by right-wing usurpers.
A future historian attempting to document the Anna Hazare fast at the Capital's Jantar Mantar will likely confront contrasting images: of multitudes enthused and galvanised by one elder citizen's crusading zeal, of Mr. Hazare's almost single-handed ability, within days, to bring the government to its knees. The Hazare campaign would connect strangers and unite voices, making it the first time in two decades that anyone had been able to mobilise support on the issue of corruption.
However, the chronicler would also be perplexed by the motley bunch that formed the audience at the principal venue. Not just the young and the idealistic, of whom there was evidently no dearth, but also the lynch mobs who seized the platform to show off their contempt for politics and the due process. The constant presence of babas and sants did not help, nor for that matter the unsolicited support from sundry Bollywood divas. Thanks to the mish-mash, rousing strains of brashtachar mitayenge (we will end corruption) mingled with incendiary calls to “kill” and “hang” the political class. The contradictions were only accentuated by the way sections of the visual and print media presented the event.
Indeed, the nuances have gone missing in the Anna Hazare story, with Anna being projected as all white or all black; either as a Gandhi at the vortex of a blazing revolution or as a manufactured hero with only an imaginary following. On the television screen, the Hazare fast became a TRP-raising blockbuster, a 24x7 “people's movement” that brought a profitable rush of eyeballs and advertisements. Curiously, in sections of the print media, the same “throbbing, pulsating” event that TV grabbed with both hands, transmogrified into a charade, a “fast one” pulled on the nation by the “Hazare circus.” In this narrative, the veteran was “a self-serving blackmailer” who would use the threat of his own death to force the government into submission. There was also the suggestion that corruption excited only the rootless urban elite; the buzz on twitter and facebook was just that — a passing interest in a transient curiosity.
So what ought to be the takeaway from the Hazare campaign? Undoubtedly, it was a campaign that was waiting to happen. It also ended as it should have, with the government agreeing to share responsibility to bring a comprehensive and effective bill to investigate and prosecute corruption. By any yardstick this is a spectacular breakthrough. But equally, there has been unease over a campaign that seemed predicated on instant justice — prioritising deadlines over consultations — and that has looked so far to be ideologically adrift.
To airily dismiss the Hazare event because TV magnified it or because the facebook generation lapped it up, or even because disparate elements jumped on the bandwagon, is to ignore the elephant in the room. The truth is that Mr. Hazare tapped into a deeply felt popular anger — against corruption of course but even more against the arrogance of the expanded class that fed off this corruption. If the disillusionment was missed, it was by this class, by people who were complicit in the system and its privileges, and who were shielded by the closed nature of the compact they formed. Rewind to the fury unleashed in the wake of the Niira Radia tapes — the citizen is hardly likely to have missed the “business as usual” manner of most of the cast. Perhaps Anna had shown a way to break the gang-up.
Nor is it true that corruption finds no resonance in the rural areas. No news reporter travelling in Uttar Pradesh in the late 1980s could have missed the pervasive anti-Bofors mood in the villages. At the time, private television was not even a glint in the eye of the still smallish media industry; Bofors and V.P. Singh were blacklisted words on All India Radio and Doordarshan. Yet the villages could have been located on an information superhighway, judging from how eagerly they absorbed and passed on Bofors-related news. The 1989 general election saw the Congress finish with 15 Lok Sabha seats — down from 83 in 1984.
Had there been no undercurrent of popular support for Mr. Hazare, the United Progressive Alliance government — or for that matter any other government in its place — would not have rushed to wrap up the show, much less respond to Mr. Hazare's ultimatums. Jantar Mantar is the Capital's designated place for protests. This is where nameless morchas ended; this is where hunger-strikers pitched their tents, waiting for the government machinery to move. Over the years, the tents and the hunger-strikers had become part of the landscape, a distant blur unnoticed by those rushing by.
Last week, the faded-out venue dramatically came alive, and at the centre of the commotion was an unlikely figure — a forgotten old man, relegated eons ago to the margins of protest politics. Mr. Hazare clicked because he struck at a time when many of the previous heroes had fallen from their pedestals. Corporate heads and media celebrities, who had been the toast of the middle class, had been exposed as colluders in power politics. The vacuum needed to be filled, and Anna, who, stories claimed (there are counter stories too) lived in a temple with no bank balance, filled it as no one else could.
It is clear that without Anna's perceived simplicity — and integrity — the campaign could not have taken off. It is a given that a campaign for probity must be helmed by a person of unquestionable moral stature. However, any such campaign will flounder without ideological focus and a larger understanding of history as also of the checks and balances that are inherent to the democratic processes. Members of Mr. Hazare's team, among them Arvind Kejriwal and activist-advocate Prashant Bhushan, were on the ball when they argued that the Lokpal bill was a sham promised over 40 years by corrupt governments that shut themselves out of transparent and independent scrutiny. However, the Jan Lokpal Bill, offered in response, has been criticised for possibly being an overcorrection, with fears that the pendulum could swing too much to the other side.
It is instructive that Team Hazare has received bouquets and brickbats in equal measure from within civil society. Bouquets for resuscitating the comatose Lokpal bill and brickbats for the “here and now” impatience visible in such things as the imposition of quick deadlines for the bill's enactment. The National Advisory Council's Working Group on Transparency, Accountability and Governance, headed by Aruna Roy, has repeatedly emphasised the importance of the “pre-legislative process,” urging “wider and more geographically spread” consultations to precede the “seminal legislation.” The drafters of the Jan Lokpal Bill seem willing to put the draft to greater scrutiny. Besides, there is one iron-clad guarantee against the bill turning rogue: the government itself. The drafting sub-committee includes sharp legal minds such as Pranab Mukherjee, P. Chidambaram and Kapil Sibal, none of whom would easily yield ground.
The bill will most likely sort itself out. But where does the movement go from there? And before it takes up other projects like electoral reform — as Anna has suggested it would — should it not define itself ideologically? As the past week's hunger strike demonstrated, the best of causes can be subverted by the indiscriminate offer of the platform to diverse elements. The appearance on stage of yoga guru Baba Ramdev was disconcerting as was the fact that Anna thought it fit to receive a letter of support from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, handed over to him by spokesperson Ram Madhav. The frenzied calls from the crowds to hang the corrupt were endorsed at times by Mr. Hazare himself, and the overall slant was worryingly anti-politics. Together these suggested a campaign that perhaps viewed itself as ideology neutral, a campaign that targeted corruption per se without situating the struggle in an overarching intellectual vision.
Post-Independent India has witnessed two major movements and the important lesson from both is that ideological neutrality is a short cut to power but self-defeating in the long term. In 1974, Jayaprakash Narayan captured the popular imagination with his call for Total revolution. Narayan drew his cadre support from the RSS, and unsurprisingly so because at that point the Indira Gandhi-led Congress was the only identified enemy. The credibility gained from the movement helped the Jana Sangh enter the 1977 Morarji Desai government.
Years later, in 1988-89, V.P. Singh would lead an anti-corruption movement against Rajiv Gandhi, with logistics managed once again by the RSS. In the 1989 general election, the Bharatiya Janata Party won 85 Lok Sabha seats — up from the two seats it held in 1984 and the rest, as they say, is history: The BJP grew to be the second pole in politics.
The Hazare-Kejriwal campaign was initially spearheaded by Baba Ramdev, with the spiritual preacher, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, bringing up the rear. It was the yoga guru who bombarded the Prime Minister's Office with letters, and who addressed mass rallies against corruption at the Ram Lila maidan. It was around late January 2011 that members of the core team realised the divergence between Ramdev's larger agenda — death for the corrupt is central to his vision — and their own limited interest in pushing the Jan Lokpal Bill. But by then the anti-corruption juggernaut had started to roll and it was too late to stop Ramdev from claiming space on the podium.
The nation will be well served if Team Hazare learns from history even as it basks in the sweet aftermath of its victory.

Data source: The China Daily

Friday, April 15, 2011

Indian pharma industry to be among world’s top 10 by 2015: Assocham

Apr 15, 1:54 PM (AIR)

Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Assocham) has said it expects the Indian pharmaceutical industry to reach USD 20 billion by 2015, making it one of the world's top 10 pharmaceuticals markets.

Also, India's clinical trials business is expected to reach approximately USD 1 billion by 2011, further solidifying the subcontinent as one of the world's preferred destinations for clinical trials, Assocham added.

This has increased the need to address all aspects of pharmacovigilance to ensure delivering medical advances to patients, quickly and efficiently while protecting public health.

Pharmacovigilance Summit India will take place from 27-29th June in Mumbai this year with regards to these developments.

In July 2010, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW), India, had launched a road-map for pharmacovigilance in the country under the Pharmacovigilance Programme of India (PvPI).

The goal of this programme has been to provide safer medicines for the Indian population. However, the program is faced with many challenges.

"The sheer number of patients in India is quite sizeable and the issues sometimes conflict between the need to provide access to medicines versus the need to provide safer medicines," National Coordinator PvPI and a key note speaker at Pharmacovigilance Summit India Dr Y K Gupta said.

"The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, India is planning to address these challenges by allocating a budget head under the MOHFW budget," he added.

International Society of Pharmacovigilance President Dr Alexander Dodoo will present a case study on Africa's experience in developing a robust pharmacovigilance system with limited resources at Pharmacovigilance Summit India.

The event will bring together regional and global experts to create a dialogue with local and international companies on setting up an advanced drug safety system to optimize resources, and ensure quality and regulatory compliance.

"Looking at India as the future pharmaceutical hub and with regulators embarking on new initiatives to update and expand methodologies to monitor drug safety, this event couldn't come at a better time," IQPC Conference Director Doaa said

Entrepreurship in Sikkim

State’s young beauty therapist call on CM Chamling


Fifteen beauty therapist who were trained at Ananda Spa Institute, Hyderabad under the Skills Development Scheme of the Directorate of Capacity Building called on the Chief Minister Pawan Chamling at his official residence Mintogang, today.

All the trainees who are from rural background of Sikkim thanked the Chief Minister, the State government and the Directorate of Capacity Building for providing such an opportunity which has shaped their entire career. The 2010-2011 batch of 15 youths trained in the same trade and Institure have been placed in renowned, popular and big brand names spa centers across the country like Oberoi Hotel & Spas, Mumbai / Kolkata / Shimla; Westin Resort & Spas, Sohna / Gurgaon; Four Seasons Hotel, Mumbai; Moksha Spa, Himachal Pradesh and May Fair Hotels and Spas, Gangtok.

The Chief Minister while talking to the young professionals highlighted on the importance of Capacity Building and the initiatives the government is taking to make the youth power more skilled in various professions. Skilled Human Resource can compete any where in the world, he added. The Chief Minister congratulated the young professionals and assured them of every support for their career and well being at any point of time.

According to the press release from the Directorate of Capacity Building, the recruiters while interviewing these young therapists from Sikkim have found them well trained, conversant with the subject, very hospitable and with great positive attitudes. The comments and feed back received from these hiring organizations are that these youth from Sikkim shall definitely blossom in their world class spas and have great future ahead of them. They have been offered quite an appeasing salaries and perks in the beginning itself, the release adds.

(Courtesy: Sikkim Mail)

Architects of Sikkim initiate dialogue for Gangtok

GANGTOK: “Architects of Sikkim”, a body of concerned architects, has announced plans to organise an exhibition, “Projecting Gangtok – Dialogues for an Emerging City”, showcasing public projects in Gangtok and collecting public opinion on the Gangtok of the future. Opening its doors to public footfalls after decades of having remained shut will be the Star Cinema Hall at MG Marg where the exhibition will be hosted from 15 to 30 April.
“The purpose of the exhibition is to bridge the gap between decision makers in the urban bodies and the aspirations of the people who live here,” the AoS explains in a press release.
“Urban growth is a global phenomenon and Gangtok straddles a critical juncture between a large town and a nascent city. Some cities just about cope with the problems that accompany this growth, others are stretched and some take the situation as an opportunity to transform their cities into something better. The direction Gangtok takes is dependent on the decisions we make today as citizens, planners and policy makers,” the release states.

Projecting Gangtok seeks to articulate the city’s collective thought about its “aspirations as a city” by creating awareness and allowing the citizens to voice their views on the projects through feedback books and questionnaires, the release further informs.
A photographic exhibition/ competition ‘Click City’ on the theme “Urban Life in Gangtok” organised jointly by Architects of Sikkim and Rachna Books also features in the programme.
The architects have also recorded that the initiative has been made possible by the “wholehearted support” of the Urban  Development and Housing Department “which has encouraged the venture from its conception and also allowed the premises of the Star Cinema hall to be used as the venue”, the release mentions.
The schemes to be exhibited have been sourced from UDHD, Buildings department, Cultural Affairs and Heritage Department, Public Health Engineering department, Forest department, and Tourism department while Karma Tenrab, a local artist is helping with the “venue enhancement”.

Hanuman Tok gears up for Hanuman Jayanti

source:Sikkim Now

GANGTOK: The annual general meeting of the Hanumantok Committee was held today and resolved to continue the tradition of a grand Hanuman Jayanti Puja at the Hanumantok Mandir Dham. The holy day fall on 18 April this year, next Monday, and this time, the prayers will be performed over two days, it is informed.

The Hanuman Tok  Maha-avishek will be performed on Sunday at 4 p.m. and the temple opened for public darshan the next day at 6 in the morning. Prasad and Langar will start at 7 a.m. and the AGM decided to invite the Governor and Chief Minister to perform the main Aarati.

The GOC, 17 Mountain Division, Maj. Gen. SL Narasimhan, who is also the chairman of the committee will perform the Havan, a press release informs.

The main daylong prayers will be performed on Monday, concluding with the evening Aarati scheduled for 6 p.m. An Army music group will be in performance at Hunuman Tok with a live bhajan programe.
The organising committee is expecting around 15,000 devotees to turn up for the prayers on Monday.
Tourism declared “Infrastructure Industry” in Sikkim

GANGTOK, 15 April [IPR]: A Notification issued by the Home Department [No. 28/Home/2011 dated 29 March 2011] records that the tourism sector has helped tremendously in economic development and employment generation in the state of Sikkim. A number of financial incentives become available under Infrastructure Industry provided Tourism is declared an Infrastructure Industry. “Hence, in order to achieve the above objective, the state government has declared and notified ‘Tourism’ as Infrastructure Industry in the state of Sikkim with immediate effect,” the Notification announces.
Flyover to link Sikkim & Bengal

Amalendu Kundu, TNN, Apr 14, 2011, 04.54am ISTGANGTOK:

The Border Roads Organization (BRO) is considering the construction of a 1-km flyover from Rangpo Mining to the Rangpo border at Mansoong, that connects West Bengal, at a cost of Rs100 crore.

Major landslides are a common occurrence on the 100-km National Highway 31 A that links Siliguri with Gangtok. Restoration of traffic takes two to 10 days.
Sikkim and Climate Change

source: iSikkim

The Guardian has reported that the UN’s biodiversity cause still lags behind climate change and it needs to do better than its ‘year of biodiversity’ if it is to raise public awareness of species loss. As the threat to biodiversity continues to increase due to climate change, the small northeastern Indian state of Sikkim has been creating its own landmarks in preventing the menace of climate change from taking over its most prized possession: Natural Beauty.

Sikkim accounts for only 0.5 percent of total geographical area of India and has a population of around 6 lakhs according to Census 2011. Sikkim is home for over twenty six percent of the country’s biodiversity which include exquisite species of flora and fauna. There are more than 150 species of mammals, 550 species of birds, 400 types of medicinal plants, over 500 types of orchids, 28 mountain peaks, 104 rivers and streams and around 700 species of butterflies. Due to all this natural advantages, the small Himalyan state is an important link in the environmental security of the entire eastern Himalayan region of the Country.

But Sikkim Himalayas have come under pressure due to activities taking place outside the state leading to erratic snow fall volumes and similar negative effects. Global warming and glacial melting has resulted in receding glaciers and recurring phenomenon of flood in the entire Himalayan region. Climate change has also caused retreat and sometimes disappearance of alpine species.

There is a serious threat that shrinking of the snow, mountains or in glaciers may modify the water-holding capacities of mountains, thus affecting not only downstream ecosystems but also human water availability for human beings. The change in hydrological cycle accelerates water-related hazards, and affects agriculture, vegetation, forests, biodiversity and health. Climate change also affects mountain ecosystems and its role in biospheric carbon storage and carbon sequestration.

Fortunately, for Sikkim, the state government has been very active over last two decade in promoting environmental awareness. The state government declared the year 1995-96 as the “Harit Kranti Varsh” and the year 2000-2010 as the Harit Kranti Dashak”. The government has made various efforts to increase environment awareness over last two decades from banning the felling of green trees in forests to promoting eco-friendly, pollution free and green industries.

The state government also took some innovative steps like building first of its kind Biodiversity Park at Tendong in 2001 and the concept of “Model Village” in each constituency. More than 46 % of Sikkim is under forest cover and the forest cover has increased from 43.95 percent in 1993-94 to 45.97 percent in 2005-06. Sikkim is also trying to add hydel power generation capacity up to the tune of 8,000 MW.

Sikkim government also constituted a Commission to study the state of Glaciers and its impact on water system in Sikkim under the Chairmanship of Prof. Syed Iqbal Hasnain, Senior Fellow, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi.

State_animal_of_sikkimPic Courtesy:
In the year 1999 Pawan Kumar Chamling was declared the ‘Greenest Chief Minister of India’ by Centre for Science & Environment, New Delhi.

In the first Glacier and Climate Change Commission meeting in January 2008 Sikkim Chief Minister Chamling quoted a proverb, “Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned….. will we realize we cannot eat money”. He concluded saying, “This is high time that we understand this everlasting truth to save Nature which feeds us and sustains human civilization on earth.”

The threat to climate today is more than ever before. The need is not only to realise it but put ourselves to action to do whatever we can.

Our effort will determine whether Sikkim will be able to save its own red pandas or not

Jan Lokpal bill: addressing concerns

Prashant Bhushan

source:The Hindu  T+  
Supporters of social activist Anna Hazare during a victory celebration after he ended his hunger strike for Jan Lokpal Bill, at India Gate on April 9, 2011.
AP Supporters of social activist Anna Hazare during a victory celebration after he ended his hunger strike for Jan Lokpal Bill, at India Gate on April 9, 2011.
The draft bill seeks to create an institution that will be independent of those it seeks to police, and will have powers to investigate and prosecute all public servants, and others found guilty of corrupting them.
A number of commentators have raised issues about the provisions in the draft of the Jan Lokpal Bill. They have asked whether it would be an effective instrument to check corruption. They have pointed to the manner in which Anna Hazare's fast put pressure on the government. It is therefore important to understand the provisions of the bill and how it seeks to set up an effective institution to deal with corruption.
Corruption in India has grown to alarming proportions because of policies that have created enormous incentives for its proliferation, coupled with the lack of an effective institution that can investigate and prosecute the corrupt. Under the garb of liberalisation and privatisation, India has adopted policies by which natural resources and public assets (mineral resources, oil and gas, land, spectrum, and so on) have been allowed to be privatised without transparency or a process of public auctioning. Almost overnight, hundreds of memorandums of understanding (MoUs) have been signed by governments with private corporations, leasing out large tracts of land rich in mineral resources, forests and water. These allow the corporations to take away and sell the resources by paying the government a royalty, which is usually less than 1 per cent of the value of the resources.
The Karnataka Lokayukta, Justice Santosh Hegde, has pointed out in a report on mining in Karnataka that the profit margins in such ventures are often more than 90 per cent. This leaves huge scope for bribe-giving and creates incentives for corruption. The same thing happened when A. Raja gave away spectrum without a public auction to companies at less than 10 per cent of its market price. Private monopolies in water and electricity distribution, airport development and so on have been allowed to be created, where huge and unconscionable levels of profit can be made by corrupting the regulator and allowing private monopolies to charge predatory prices. Tens of thousands of hectares have been given away to corporations for commercialisation in the guise of airport development, construction of highways, creation of Special Economic Zones and so on, at prices that are less than 10 per cent of the value of those tracts of land.
Apart from creating huge incentives for corruption, such policies have resulted in the involuntary displacement of lakhs of the poorest people, leaving them on the brink of starvation and forcing many of them to join the Maoists. The beneficiaries have stripped the land of natural resources (a good deal of which is exported) and destroyed the environment. Most ominously, such deals have resulted in the creation of monster corporations that are so powerful and influential that they have come to influence and virtually control all institutions of power — as we see from the Radia tapes.
While adopting policies that thus create huge incentives for corruption, we have not set up effective institutions to check corruption, investigate and prosecute the corrupt and bring them to justice. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) continues to be under the administrative control of the government, which is seen as the fountainhead of corruption. Thus, no action is usually taken by the CBI to effectively investigate high-level corruption — except once in a while when the court forces its hand. Often we see the CBI itself behaving in a corrupt manner, with no other institution to investigate that. The Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), which is supposed to supervise the CBI, has failed to act, since its own appointment process is riddled with conflicts of interest. The Prime Minister, the Home Minister and the Leader of the Opposition (who has been a Minister and hopes to become Prime Minister one day) want to avoid their own accountability and are thus interested in having weak and pliable persons to man the institution that is expected to supervise the CBI. Moreover, the CVC and the CBI have to seek the government's sanction to investigate and prosecute wrongdoers; such sanction is usually not given when it comes to high-level corruption. The CVC depends on vigilance officers in various government departments. They are often middle-level officers from the same departments and cannot be expected to exercise vigilance over their bosses who write their confidential reports. The judiciary, which must try and convict the offenders, has become dysfunctional and is afflicted with corruption due to lack of accountability of the higher judiciary.
The draft Jan Lokpal bill seeks to create an institution that will be largely independent of those it seeks to police, and which will have effective powers to investigate and prosecute all public servants (including Ministers, MPs, bureaucrats, judges and so on) and others found guilty of corrupting them. Since corruption involves misconduct and gives rise to grievances, the draft proposes that the Lokpal will supervise the machinery to pursue disciplinary proceedings against government servants (the Vigilance Department) as well as the machinery to redress grievances. Thus, misconduct by government servants, and grievances, will come under the ambit of an independent authority rather than the government — where the machinery has become ineffective due to conflicts of interest. It is proposed that if the Lokpal finds that a contract is being given for corrupt considerations, it can stop the contract. It cannot otherwise interfere with government decisions or policy.
It has been said that this would create a super-cop with enormous powers and no accountability. There is a misconception that the proposed Lokpal will have judicial powers; there is no such provision in the bill. The need of the hour is to have an effective cop who can investigate and prosecute the high and mighty without interdiction from the very people who need to be prosecuted.
The bill seeks to make the Lokpal accountable. First, it is mandated to function transparently so that everything related to its functioning is known to the people (without compromising the investigation itself). Exemptions from disclosure provided in the Right to Information Act could be included. Secondly, the Lokpal's orders will be subject to review in the High Courts and the Supreme Court. Lastly, the members of the Lokpal could be removed for misconduct, by a five-member bench of the Supreme Court.
There has been some criticism of the Lokpal selection committee and the selection process. Given the erosion in the integrity of most of our state institutions, it was thought that the best bet would be to have a broad-based selection committee and build transparency and public participation into the selection process, while trying to keep out those who are most likely to be within the ambit of the Lokpal's investigations. That is why in the draft bill Ministers were sought to be kept out.
One criticism has been that this shows contempt for democracy. We have seen how the “democratically elected” Prime Minister, Home Minister and leaders of the opposition have normally selected weak and pliable CVCs. So the draft bill proposes a selection committee comprising the Lok Sabha Speaker, the Rajya Sabha Chairman, the Comptroller and Auditor General, the Chief Election Commissioner, the two seniormost judges of the Supreme Court, two seniormost Chief Justices of High Courts, the Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission and the outgoing members of the Lokpal. This proposed composition of the committee will certainly be discussed, and perhaps improved upon, during public consultations and discussions within the drafting committee that will now take place.
It has been said that putting the function of redress of grievances on the plate of the Lokpal would make its work unmanageable. Though the Lokpal will only reorganise and supervise the grievance redress machinery (rather than dealing with each grievance itself), this is an issue that will be discussed openly by the committee. By next week, a website that will formally take in all the opinions and suggestions on the Jan Lokpal bill will be launched and announced. People are welcome to read, understand and send their comments on it, to be taken note of.
One must not, however, be under any illusion that the Lokpal law by itself would solve the problem of corruption. Unless we tackle and change the policies that create enormous incentives for corruption and monster corporations that become too powerful for any institution to control, the fight will be incomplete. The judiciary too is in need of comprehensive reforms.
But an independent, credible and empowered Lokpal is a necessary, though not a sufficient, condition to effectively control corruption. Let us work at least to put that in place.

(Prashant Bhushan is a senior Supreme Court lawyer and member of the joint committee to draft the Lokpal bill.)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Seek Out the Stories that Census Figures Tell

editorial of Sikkim Now

The Provisional Population Totals of Census 2011 have been released. Sikkim’s population as of March 2011 has been counted at 6,07,688 people, recording a 12.36% growth since 2001. Since 1911, when the first proper Census operation was undertaken in Sikkim, only three decades, the last being 1941-51, have population growths lower than this. With the release of more detailed Census 2011 findings in the days to come, the reasons why growth has been so slim in the last decade will be better understood from the clearer demographic patterns which subsequent Census data will illustrate. While one waits for these details to emerge and explain the present better, it would be worthwhile to go over the data thrown up by Census operations in Sikkim thus far. The first Census of Sikkim was conducted in 1891 by the Political Officer. A decade later, in 1901 the West Bengal Census authorities of British India were deputed to carry out the task and it was probably only in 1911 that the Directorate of Census Operations brought the detailed methodology by which India does a head-count of all its people. In the decade of 1901-11, Sikkim’s population grew by 48.98%, the second-largest population spurt of the century. In the next decade, 1911-21, the population fell by 7.05%, the only time it has done so since Census operations were initiated in Sikkim. Population growth in Sikkim has shown marked variations, growing by little over 34% in the decade of 1931-41 and then almost grinding to replacement fertility-rate figure of 10.67% in 1931-41, creeping only slightly higher to 13.34% in 1941-51 and reaching 17.76% in 1951-61.
It started rising from thereon, recording a nearly 30% population growth in 1961-71 and then hitting the record of 50.77% in 1971-81, dropping to nearly half this growth rate to 28.47% in 1981-91, rising five percentage points to 33.07% population growth in 1991-2001 and then scaling back to its mid-Twentieth Century average of 12.36% growth in 2001-11.
Census findings are important indicators of socioeconomic conditions of areas they cover. Populations obviously grow beyond the traditional average either due to influx or improvements in health services, both of which are indicative of the quality of life and opportunities. Of course, in the recent past, our country has been working towards containing its population through family planning schemes launched on mission-mode, but the population figures of the past slightly more than a century are untouched by such efforts and should attract closer academic scrutiny. From the pattern of these figures, one could understand the history of Sikkim from the point of view of the lay people, who, although they have lived through Sikkim and its transitions, rarely find mention in the few records of even contemporary events. The nearly 50% growth in population between 1901 to 1911 should make for interesting analysis, coming as it does in a decade when the palace and the Political Office were in direct confrontation and also the time when British India was most interested in Sikkim, using it as the route to open Tibet. The change in how the State was administered must have obviously created new opportunities triggering new arrivals. What can also not be ignored is that if this 1911 exercise was indeed the first head-count Census, then it would have also accounted for population segments not covered in the previous two Census operations carried out the Political Officer who would have relied on feedback from the landlords, which would not have been very scientific. The fall in population in 1911-21 should be even more fascinating for anyone interested in the people’s history of Sikkim. The population fell by 7.05% due to the Influenza pandemic which spread through the world in the wake of World War-I. Sikkim did not fight the Great War, but an epidemic which was born from it claimed lives here as well. The pandemic broke out in 1918 and is believed to have killed 50 million people across the world. One still does not know how many died of it in Sikkim. The numbers must have been huge because healthcare services were too rudimentary here to have been able to deal with an alien sickness. Most of these deaths would have taken place in the two years between the outbreak and when the Census was carried out. This 7% fall in population immediately after a 50% growth must have scarred an entire generation. It deserves to be researched because it could explain many things about how Sikkim lived in those times. As an aside, there are also references to how the Younghusband Mission of 1904-05 brought the Foot & Mouth disease to Sikkim. Agriculture and animal husbandry were the only occupations in Sikkim at that time. Isn’t it important to research into how Sikkim resuscitated itself from that calamity? These exercises are important for Sikkim to understand its past better and may be even understand issues which attract passionate opinions in a different light.
Political forces against anti-corruption movement: Hazare


Handful of people want to break up our collective power, says Anna Hazare
Include corporate sector, NGO in Lokpal Bill scope: Digvijay

Quit panel if you see no merit in Bill, Hazare tells Sibal

Anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare on Thursday charged “political and criminal forces” of trying to dilute the nationwide movement against graft by defaming and criticising the campaign for a comprehensive Lokpal Bill.

“Some political and criminal forces are afraid of recent awakening and huge support of the common man to the Jan Lokpal Bill. They are trying to create confusion and defame the movement to defuse the emerging people’s movement for curbing corruption,” Mr. Hazare told PTI from Ralegan Siddhi village, 40 km away from here.

On criticism for reported remarks against political leaders, the social activist said that he never said that all politicians in India are corrupt.

“There are very few exceptions at all levels. But those exceptions can be honoured only if they too raise their voice against known corruption in their close circles. Keeping mum on issues related to corruption is also silent support to corruption and such leaders who fall in that category are actually of no use for nation,” he said.

The veteran also faced flak from the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party for allegedly calling voters corrupt and dishonest.

The 73-year-old Gandhian said, “Political parties and leaders are responsible for maligning the voter’s character in this country. They usually earn lot of black money using power and distribute a little amount of it to voters in elections to grab sympathy for their corrupt practises.”

“Is it possible today for candidates who are meritorious and possess good moral character and commitment to win an election without huge amount of black money,” he asked.

Under attack for appreciating Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and his Bihar counterpart Nitish Kumar, Mr. Hazare said he only lauded their developmental efforts and has always condemned every communal riot including the one in 1984.

Mr. Hazare will leave for Delhi on Friday to attend the first meeting of the draft committee for Jan Lokpal Bill on April 16.

He expressed his gratitude for the common man as well as all NGOs for their selfless involvement in the movement against corruption.


Corruption is not a political issue but a moral issue. It can only be eliminated by a value(moral) centered educational system. No law can eliminate uncleanliness (either moral or physical). We must teach sound moral values it in our schools and parents must enforce it at home. Only then can we even dream of a corruption free country. Or else 20 years down even the laws that the current movement is attempting to make will only be a tool in the hands of the corrupt.

from: Prakash
Posted on: Apr 14, 2011 at 13:16 IST
But why give opportunity in the first place, Mr.Anna Hazare, to the political and criminal forces to 'dilute' the movement ? Isn't it a fact that your own ardent supporters are not happy with some of your public statements? Why not keep away from media on such controversies and concentrate just on he Bill and work for it Your stature has changed and now you have to be careful in what you say in public...

from: D Mohan
Posted on: Apr 14, 2011 at 13:32 IST
The Lokpal Bill is a welcome development to stem the rot at the top end of the political and administrative spectrum. But to root out corruption from all walks of life, the citizens have to raise above their personal needs. Corruption in school and college admissions, corruption in the corporation, in the road transport office, in public hospitals, in the tashildar's office etc can be eleminated when individuals raise above their inidvidual needs. Netaji Anna should address the issue of the citizens' responsibility towards a corruption free India.

from: Mani Sandilya
Posted on: Apr 14, 2011 at 13:33 IST
Mr Hazare sounds to be a very confused person.Does, according to him,corruption only mean money changing hands under the table? A person who is responsbile for the worst State-sponsored communal riot in independent India is also corrupt, because he abused the power vested in him by the people to subserve his narrow political end. So,I fail to appreciate how Mr Hazare can laud a corrupt person for his so-called developmental efforts in Gujarat and how he can recommend such a person to be a role model.So far as other forms of corruption are concerned, they are there in all the endeavours of Mr Modi.Mr Hazare has only to look deeper.

from: Goutam
Posted on: Apr 14, 2011 at 13:34 IST
We are with sir..forever..

from: abhijit
Posted on: Apr 14, 2011 at 13:36 IST
Sir, Please concentrate on drafting a strong anti-corruption bill that should effectively help common man. The local Tashildahr offices are completely corrupt. Please don't bother about political parties' views. The bill should not only stop corruption at higher levels but also lower levels. Please suggest to replace interview system with written test for Govt jobs. Interview for Govt job means extraction of money from the candidates. Until otherwise you insert honest, young and energetic people in the corrupt system the old corrupt system will stay there.

from: T. Subramanian
Posted on: Apr 14, 2011 at 13:37 IST
I fully agree with Mr. Hazare that he only lauded the developmental efforts of Chief Ministers of Gujarat and Bihar and has always condemned every communal riot including the one in 1984. However, to control black money I suggest that currency notes of denomination 1000, 500 to demonetised for ever and new notes of Rs.900 and Rs.400 to be printed by giving two months notice period. Persons want to exchange the notes should give their bank account number and PAN Number along with declaration of source of income. Though it may be a cumbersome prcoess, still it is wortth considring by the Govt as it will eradicate black money to great extent and also exchequer will earn revenue through income tax from undisclosed source of income and penalty proceedings can start based on the information disclosed. To implement this, we need POLITICAL WILL. CAN THE PRESENT GOVT. DO THIS?

from: R.Venkatesan
Posted on: Apr 14, 2011 at 13:49 IST
Creating riots to win an election is the worst kind of corruption; everything else fades into nothing in front of it.

from: Nirmal Gill
Posted on: Apr 14, 2011 at 13:59 IST
It is shameful to see the unity amongst all political parties in attacking Anna Hazare's in his effort to bring effective law against corruption. This unity should have been shown on other occasions when India's pride is on stake. The political parties should learn from Anna, how to organise the people and how much the general public is facing problem in their lives. Instead of preparing itself to identify ways and means for effective mechanisms to curb the corruption, the government is simply involved itself in attacking the movement. If government have so much reservations with the movement, why it brought up the notification. Why it came out for negotiations? It is shameful to see the state of governance in India.

from: Ajay
Posted on: Apr 14, 2011 at 14:00 IST
Anna Hazare needs full support of nation. Though he clarified his coomment on Modi, why the NGOs are after him ?He is above evertything. It is nothing but a group of people who do not want India to prosper are spreading canards against Hazare.

from: Amudhan
Posted on: Apr 14, 2011 at 14:16 IST
I wish Annaji all success in his efforts. But as you said, politicians are hindering your move, which was obvious for reasons you know. I wished people to come out with their experience with various government departments while they were on television. Even now, people who suffered should come out which is not possible without your direct support. You had started a very noble movement which I feel has not culminated. I hope you will not let it fade away as people are basically honest and want a clean system. Even those who would have paid bribes to get small little work done are honest and should not be penalised for it, unless it has been done to amass wealth by cheating general public.

from: Tikku
Posted on: Apr 14, 2011 at 14:23 IST
Sir, there will be lot of stumbling Block when good is going to be done. But these blockages will automatically kicked out when goodness prevails.

from: Laltakkar
Posted on: Apr 14, 2011 at 14:31 IST
Mr.Anna Hazare may also to add in the list of watch - dog list while dealing in Anti-corruption note about freebees and to check the Tax-payers money should not be go in vain deviating national interest. And to put right check to curb the unscrupulous people retaining power in center or state.I deeply feel about the implication procedure to it effectiveness should be taken care.

from: M R C Murthy
Posted on: Apr 14, 2011 at 14:32 IST
Laudatory that Anna also commented on 1984 riots.. Power to him!!

from: kiran
Posted on: Apr 14, 2011 at 14:56 IST
Anna Hazare must move around whole nation to strengthen the anticorruption movement.It is now very much essential to gain momentum of the movement by organising common man.

from: Radha Kumud Das
Posted on: Apr 14, 2011 at 15:23 IST
One should not give political colours to Anna's appreciation about Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar. If some thing good happening it should be appreciated like strong criticism against corruption. I am non political person and I feel the Congress party is behaving like a goon as far corruption is concerned. Congress is trying to do the very famous divide and rule dirty tricks so as to destabilize this holy movement against corruption. By using various dirty methods and inducing some of the Anna's associates to say some thing against him (who are having hidden agenda in their minds while joining the movement and using this as a golden opportunity) started showing their true colours. Annaji we are with you. Go ahead we are with you.

from: Subburaj
Posted on: Apr 14, 2011 at 15:25 IST
All Governments, even the most dictatorial and tyrannical, profess to be acting for the good of the people. When the British ruled India and held the country by naked brute force, they claimed to be doing so for the good of the Indian people. Democracy is not a license to few to destroy everything - all morals values. Some poor people are voting for Money so votes are being purchased at any cost. This is even confirmed, a short-time ago, by the Chief Election Commissioner of India. Ignorant, poor and illiterate people are easily swayed by cheap propaganda, empty slogans and attractive promises and gifts. Some shrewd and unscrupulous politicians misguide them with tall talk and exploit their ignorance for their selfish objectives.
The politicians are fully aware of these weaknesses of the people and of our democracy and take maximum advantage of them as and when the circumstances demand. A headquarters of a national level political party,in New Delhi, was shifted from one Road to a plot on a prestigious Road, the market value of which at that time was some Rs 100 crores but which was handed over to the party for Rs 2 crores only. Relative of a polititian who was given super security protection at the tax payer's expense and is excused from being frisked at airports even though ordinary citizens representatives [ which in this instance include the defence chiefs of staff sometimes ] are not accorded such a sign of respect.
Why should MPs occupy bungalows each estimated at many crores and often continue to occupy even when their term of office is over? In some cases Courts have given directions to the Governments in this regard. Please answer what Politicians have you done in this matter? How disappointed we are. It is high time we need debate for the above question with all honest leaders sitting together. Then only we can convey our Plight.

from: N. K. Dhuvad
Posted on: Apr 14, 2011 at 15:35 IST
Anna Hazareji please also update your security. The evil corrupt mafia does not want this bill to come in force. Money can turn into supari, so please have some intelligence around you to protect you. We common Indian aam aadmi want a leader like you.

from: Sokhi Singh
Posted on: Apr 14, 2011 at 15:35 IST
Mr Anna Ji is absolutely clear about the movement. The SARKARI BABUS and allied active OR passive politicians from Top to Bottom, unless they come out boldly with expressed support to the movement, their silence shall be deemed support to the corruption. It is a cancer, spreded all over the nation since FIVE+ decades. Obviously, it would not be possible to expect ZERO corruption within the given time frame. BUT it would sure set the path towards reaching the ZERO level too.
Silence by all in the red area zone must come out with courage and conviction by exposing their surrounding corrupt practices, they are witnessing always, under or above them. IT WOULD BE THE GREATEST SERVICE TO TE NATION, indemnifying ownself, individually from the corruption links, in their working areas.

from: Dilipbhai Shah
Posted on: Apr 14, 2011 at 15:39 IST
After a successful agitation in Delhi and all over India it was expected that all political leaders would not tolerate this success and they may create confusions and conflicts amongst the leaders of IAC and their supporters.Now they are making every possible efforts to defame and dissolve the movement.Kapil Sibal is trying to misguide people by saying that Janlokpal bill would not be able to provide water, education and other basic needs.But the fact is that if Janlokpal bill comes in force then corruption at top level i.e.corruption by political leaders and adm.officers would be curbed effectively and corruption at low level will automatically finish.Also leaders of IAC should try their best to make the whole 'bill drafting'transparent through vediography as this will keep the public wakeful.I alongwith my family and friends strongly support Anna Hajare movement against corruption.Jai Hind.

from: Ashok Singla
Posted on: Apr 14, 2011 at 15:50 IST
Who is corrupting whom is not the issue. The point is whether India can break ice and usher a new era of honesty, transparency and accountability. It's honeymoon time as Hazare wave is on the rise. All those supporting Anna must remember they are opting for a bed thorns, not roses. Can they sacrifice their all the way Hazare is doing? Answer to this question will decide whether the present uprising will reach its logical conclusion, or get lost on wayside.

from: Bir Singh Yadav
Posted on: Apr 14, 2011 at 16:00 IST

Source: The Economist

“Year of China-India Exchange.”

India, China to address irritants in ties

Sandeep Dikshit
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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh shakes hands with Chinese President Hu Jintao at Sanya in China on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh shakes hands with Chinese President Hu Jintao at Sanya in China on Wednesday.

Border affairs mechanism to be set up; high-level dialogue to redress investment grievances
India and China on Wednesday agreed to work towards removing all major irritants impacting bilateral relationship including the border issue and trade imbalance. At their first meeting this year, both Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chinese President Hu Jintao agreed to set up a mechanism on coordination and consultation on border affairs, resume senior-level defence exchanges, initiate a high-level economic dialogue for focussed redress of investment and market access grievances and step up high-level contacts.
On the sidelines, officials came away with the impression that China is agreeable to resolving the issue of issuing stapled visas to Indians domiciled in Jammu and Kashmir.
Peace, stability
With frequent reports of transgression across the Line of Actual Control (LAC), both leaders expect the consultation and coordination mechanism to achieve consensus and better maintain peace and stability in the border regions until the boundary issue is resolved. This proposal was mooted by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao during his India visit in December last. Dr. Singh and Mr. Hu also instructed their Special Representatives to continue working towards settlement of the boundary issue.
The two countries decided to end the pause in high-level defence exchanges with a multi-command Indian Army delegation scheduled to visit China later this year. India halted high-level defence exchanges after China denied visa to an Indian Army commander whose area of responsibility included Jammu and Kashmir. “They also discussed further defence exchanges and visits,” National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon told journalists after Dr. Singh's two major bilaterals of the day — with Mr. Hu and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. .
Essentially, Dr. Singh and Mr. Hu dwelt on four major bilateral issues, besides briefly discussing the BRICS summit beginning on Thursday and the situation in North Africa and West Asia, the principal source of energy supply to both countries.
The 50-minute meeting saw the two leaders resolving to hold the first meeting of a high-level strategic and economic dialogue mechanism. This will address reservations expressed by either side in the fields of infrastructure, Information and Technology, pharmaceuticals, investments, project contracting and banking “to achieve a win-win result,” as Mr. Hu put it. Mr. Menon expected this forum, to be headed by Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, from the Indian side, to address the slow place of access to Indian IT, pharma and agro-products companies.
China is India's largest trade partner and bilateral trade crossed $61.8 billion last year. Both sides are well on the way to achieving the target of $100 billion by 2015. But the huge imbalance in trade is of concern to India.
It was agreed to step up the frequency of high-level exchanges with Vice- President Hamid Ansari likely to be the next major Indian leader visiting China. “We have the understanding to maintain the momentum not just this year but in the subsequent years [also]. We will do two-three very high-level visits this year,” said Mr. Menon.
The two countries also formally announced the start of the “Year of China-India Exchange.” China will invite 500 young Indians from all walks of life and support teaching of Chinese in Indian middle and high schools.
source;The Hindu

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Data source: World Gold Council, CSO

Vice President Inaugurates India Water Forum-2011

The Vice President of India Shri M. Hamid Ansari has said that Water management systems have traditionally reflected existing socio-economic structures and governance mechanisms. The key challenges to water management today stem from changing demographics, shifting geo-politics, wide-spread poverty and under-development, climate change phenomena and shifting weather patterns, and the elements of globalization and its attendant consequences. Delivering inaugural address at “India Water Forum-2011” and the “International Water Convention on Water Security and Climate Change : Challenges and Opportunities” here today, he has said that those formulating public policy regarding this vital resource must therefore cater to essential requirement and ensure sustainability of eco systems so that there is availability of adequate water for every one. Prevention of greed, of waste and of conspicuous consumption must remain high on their agenda.

Shri Ansari has said that Water stress and scarcity would have a significant impact on the prospects of Indian companies operating in various sectors including agriculture and agro-industry, irrigation, mining, pulp and paper, iron and steel, and power generation. Regulators, investors and citizens alike must demand corporate water disclosure, including plans and policies for water consumption, use and disposal and whether environmental concerns have been addressed.

Following is the text of the Vice President’s inaugural address :

“The Energy and Resources Institute has a formidable reputation and I am happy to participate in today’s function organized in association with the Ministry of Water Resources of the Government of India. It is very appropriate that the theme of this first international convention is the challenges and opportunities of dealing with the twin issues of water security and climate change.

Water is an essential building block of life. Existence would be unimaginable without it. An Urdu poet had summed up the human sentiment about it:

Yeh aab o baad o khak ka jahan bahut haseen hai
Agar koi bahisht hai to bus yehi zameen hai

Beautiful is this world of water, air and dust
If there is a paradise then this indeed it is.

In our world of today, water is a critical national asset with geo-political and geo-strategic import. Water resources often transcend national boundaries. Successful public policy therefore has to be premised on establishing cooperative partnerships between governments, business and industry, non governmental and civil society organizations and, above all, the individual users.
Water management systems have traditionally reflected existing socio-economic structures and governance mechanisms. The key challenges to water management today stem from changing demographics, shifting geo-politics, wide-spread poverty and under-development, climate change phenomena and shifting weather patterns, and the elements of globalization and its attendant consequences.

Those formulating public policy regarding this vital resource must therefore cater to essential requirement and ensure sustainability of eco systems so that there is availability of adequate water for every one. Prevention of greed, of waste and of conspicuous consumption must remain high on their agenda.

At the outset, it would be useful to look at some figures regarding our water resources.

India has 2.4 per cent of the world’s area, 16 per cent of the world’s population but only 4 per cent of the total available fresh water. Our main water resources consist of annual precipitation of around four thousand cubic kilometers and a broad estimate of trans-boundary flows from upper riparian neighbours of around five hundred cubic kilometers. Out of the total precipitation, annual availability from surface and ground water is estimated at 1869 cubic kilometers.

However, only 60 per cent of this at 1123 cubic kilometers is estimated to be capable of being put to beneficial use, 690 cubic kilometers of which is surface water and 433 cubic kilometers being replenish-able ground water.

The twin indicators of water scarcity are per capita availability and storage. Our population has increased from 361 million in 1951 to 1.21 billion in 2011. Accordingly, the per capita availability of water for the country as a whole has decreased from 5177 cubic metres per annum in 1951 to 1544 cubic metres per annum in 2011, a drastic reduction of 70 per cent in sixty years. This meets the definition of a water-stressed condition which is per capita availability of less than 1700 cubic metres.

The situation is even more serious when we look at individual river basins. Nine out of twenty river basins in the country, with a population of over 200 million, meet the definition of water scarcity of a per capita availability of less than 1000 cubic metres.

We fare no better regarding the other indicator of storage. According to the 11th Five Year Plan document, per capita water storage in the country is 213 cubic metres, as against over 6000 in Russia, 4700 in Australia, 1100 in China and 1960 in the United States.

It is estimated that by the year 2050, as per existing water use practices, overall demand for water resources would be 1447 cubic kilometers, around 30 per cent higher than assessed utilizable water of 1123 cubic kilometers. It is evident that only the adoption of better governance practices and enhanced efficiency would reduce this demand.

The annual extraction of groundwater in India at 210 cubic kilometers is the highest in the world. It provides for over 60 per cent of net irrigated area and has accounted for over 85 per cent of the addition to irrigated area in the last three decades.

The growing dependence on ground water has been at the cost of unsustainable over-extraction in at least a third of total area and population of the country, which has lowered the water table and adversely impacted rural drinking water. For example, in a six year period, ground water depletion in Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana and Delhi was 109 cubic kilometers, double the capacity of India’s largest surface water reservoir.

Finally, we must note that irrigation accounts for 85 per cent of water requirement, whereas drinking water accounts for 7 per cent with industrial, energy and other uses being of a smaller scale.
This data makes disturbing reading. It suggests that analysis and policy regarding irrigation is central to sustainable water management.

The picture of water security across the country is indeed one of major concern. Water availability and water quality issues plague the majority of citizens in both rural and urban areas. Gross irrigated area is not rising commensurate with our huge investments, with a big gap between potential created for irrigation and potential that is actually utilized. The problem of floods has been exacerbated due to degradation of catchment areas and loss of flood plains to urban development and agriculture. Water conflict has taken new forms with more menacing consequences.

Climate change issues have further complicated the water calculus. It is likely to alter precipitation received in our territory, the hydrology of catchments in upper riparian neighbouring countries, and the distribution and quality of water resources in the country.

The threats and challenges are significant and immediate. We have recognized and responded to the threat of water insecurity emanating from climate change. The National Water Mission has been established under the National Action Plan for Climate Change for ‘conservation of water, minimizing wastage and ensuring its more equitable distribution both across and within States through integrated water resources development and management’. It has suggested specific action points and has sought policy modifications in view of climate change concerns. Five of these merit close attention:

First, it has sought comprehensive reform on regulation of water resources. Such public regulation must ensure that the right of citizens and residents to minimum essential water supplies for health and hygiene is ensured; available water is equitably distributed across regions and categories of users; monitoring is done to ensure compliance with allocation and water quality; that there is creation, review and modification of water rights for various categories of users; create water prices for different uses; and create a system of penalties for polluting surface and ground water resources.

Second, policy planning must consider water as a unified resource, with the quantified hydraulic cycle becoming the main tool for understanding the water situation. Management of rain water and evaporation should supplement current strategies of managing rivers and aquifers. Thus, water balances, water budgeting, water accounting and water audits should be based on the hydraulic cycle and the interaction between rain water, surface water, ground water and evaporation.

Third, there is a need to establish legally-empowered, stakeholder-managed Basin Authorities with wide powers for approving development and management plans and tackling emergencies and tasked with reducing conflicts and imposing penalties for misuse of water resources.

Fourth, improving water use efficiency in irrigation is critical for water management. For each large irrigation system, benchmarking and performance evaluation studies for each water year with complete water budget and efficiency related data should be put in the public domain for transparency and accountability. Subsidies should encourage irrigation efficiencies through piped and drip irrigation, and constructing storages for irrigation water at the user’s end. Participatory management of irrigation systems would increase equity and reliability and reduce losses due to over irrigation.
Fifth, we need to launch a coordinated and time bound programme to improve the analytical capabilities of our water resource personnel in the various public and private agencies at the national, state and local government levels.

I fear that in regard to water we are living in the past and too many of us take water for granted. Like climate change, the idea of water scarcity must seep into consciousness and through it to the institutions and mechanisms of global and national governance and business and industry. The need to address the complexities of water management in the context of climate change is imperative.

Water shortages affect the most unlikely of industries. For example, severe water shortages and high water temperatures in 2003 in France led to the shut down or scaling down of production at the 58 nuclear power stations responsible for supplying over 75 per cent of total electricity. If nations and peoples ration the use of water for industrial purposes or change the pricing for such use, there would be significant changes in the business environment.

Water stress and scarcity would have a significant impact on the prospects of Indian companies operating in various sectors including agriculture and agro-industry, irrigation, mining, pulp and paper, iron and steel, and power generation. Regulators, investors and citizens alike must demand corporate water disclosure, including plans and policies for water consumption, use and disposal and whether environmental concerns have been addressed.

Today’s convention, I venture to hope, would contribute to the realization that water scarcity affects individuals, businesses and the national economy, that water is central to poverty alleviation and citizen empowerment, and that better water governance is a shared enterprise between all stakeholders - citizens, governments, civil society and industry.

I thank Dr. Pachauri for inviting me to inaugurate the India Water Forum and wish you all success in your deliberations. ”