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NTPC a key enabler of India's electricity transformation
A recent Morgan Stanley report has downgraded the Indian utilities industry. It highlighted that renewable energy is becoming so cheap that thermal power, mostly coal, is uncompetitive. This is a highly significant market signal which will likely be accompanied by growth in the already impressive list of high calibre international investors moving into India's renewables sector, including from Japan, the Netherlands, Italy, China, France, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Canada. The Institute for Energy Eonomics and Financial Analysis - has long predicted India's growing global leadership ... read more

Enemy's enemy is my friend: BJP, CPI-M target Mamata
On the eve of the May 2016 West Bengal Assembly elections, Arun Jaitley shared his campaign experiences with some editors. When he attacked Mamata Bannerjee and the Left-Congress front in equal measure, the crowd's response was tepid. When he attacked the Trinamool for 60 percent of his speech, there was some applause. But when his speech was 75 percent invective against the Trinamool, the applause was thunderous. The editor who passed on these findings to me was then a key figure in the Kolkata establishment. He was amplifying something he liked to believe. So opposed to Mamata was he that ... read more

Making Indian democracy a world leader - through civic engagement
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's recent meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House did not receive a large amount of press coverage in the United States. The most notable quote came during a press conference in the White House Rose Garden when President Trump proclaimed: I am proud to announce to the media, to the American people, that Prime Minister Modi and I are world leaders in social media. Trump's comment missed the real significance of his meeting with Modi. It was important not because of the pair's leadership in social media but because the Prime Minister and the Pr ... read more

Boosting rooftop 'parks' can help India achieve solar energy goal (Lead, revising figures in
Recent newspaper articles have highlighted the rooftop photovoltaic - sector's sluggish growth in India. The articles claim that based on the present outlook, the 40 GW target for 2021-22 will not be achieved. Greenpeace India's report shows that RTPV uptake in major cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Chennai has been abysmal. While the large-scale ground mounted solar parks have gathered critical mass in India with tariffs as low as Rs 2.44/kWh, RTPV is lagging behind significantly, comprising only about 1.46 GW of today's 12.5 GW installed solar capacity. Statements fro ... read more

Boosting rooftop 'parks' can help India achieve solar energy goal
Recent newspaper articles have highlighted the rooftop photovoltaic - sector's sluggish growth in India. The articles claim that based on the present outlook, the 40 GW target for 2021-22 will not be achieved. Greenpeace India's report shows that RTPV uptake in major cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Chennai has been abysmal. While the large-scale ground mounted solar parks have gathered critical mass in India with tariffs as low as Rs 2.44/kWh, RTPV is lagging behind significantly, comprising only about 1.46 GW of today's 12.5 GW installed solar capacity. Statements fro ... read more

Modi's Israel visit: Memories of a journalist's visits to the Jewish State
Israel has been in the news in the context of the Prime Minister's visit and I may be forgiven for a touch of nostalgia. I was the first Indian journalist to visit Israel after an Australian fanatic had set fire to the pulpit of the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem in August 1969. The Arab World was ablaze. Indian passports in those days were not valid for South Africa, Israel and Southern Rhodesia. Under a special dispensation you could obtain a separate passport for travel to countries with which India did not have diplomatic ties. Israelis were more practical: They pinned a piece of paper for ... read more

India's cold-chain sector: A thriving area for investment
The cold chain sector in India suffered years of neglect resulting in inadequate capacity addition but the present National Democratic Alliance - government has managed to turn it around with investor-friendly policies World Food India 2017, the flagship summit being hosted by Government of India, will showcase the might, the potential and the opportunities in the sector The cold chain sector has been a much neglected sector for many years, under previous governments. The details were even highlighted in a study submitted in March 2015 -- Assessment of Quantitative Harvest and Post-Harvest L ... read more

India-China: Dangerous brinkmanship
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said very proudly during a visit to Russia last month that not a single bullet had been fired along the border between India and China for 40 years. It is true that we have a border dispute with China. But in the last 40 years, not a single bullet has been fired because of border dispute, Modi said in a panel discussion at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. Modi spoke in the context of an inter-connected and inter-dependent world where, he said, countries may have some disputes but that should not stop them from moving ahead in areas of collaboratio ... read more

Rise of Left: Corbyn, Sanders become most popular politicians
The recent rise in the electability of Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn as Britain's next Prime Minister, according to the latest opinion polls, has not made headline news. This is not surprising because Establishments everywhere, of which the media is a part, imagine that an idea can be made to vanish by playing it down. The findings of the poll have been published even in conservative newspapers like The Telegraph in London. This virtually amounts to a taboo being lifted from the idea of Corbyn. Call it acquiescence, if you like. Senior Labour leaders, indeed authors of New Labour, like T ... read more

Modi-Trump summit: Hugs, business and support for India
If hugs and handshakes are markers to personal and bilateral relationships, then the first get-to-know meeting between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump seems to have been singularly successful. The optics -- as seen on TV -- showed Trump proffering his hand of friendship to Modi -- he called him a true friend more than once in the course of the day -- after their meeting in the Oval Office, and then shaking his hand and hugging him at the end of their media appearance at the Rose Garden. This was followed by more hugs and handshakes while seeing Modi off at ... read more

Dravidian assault: Bahubali may save Bollywood from its mindless exertions
There is a scene in Richard Attenboroughs film Gandhi where Shriram Lagoo playing Gopal Krishna Gokhale prevails upon the South Africa-returned barrister Mohan Das Karamchand Gandhi - to travel all over India. As an astute observer, Gokhale's character knows that Gandhi has both the product as well as the potential to recreate the South Africa magic in India. He just needs to understand the pulse of the people. Gandhi takes the plunge, and eventually, the Kathiawadi barrister becomes the Father of the nation. Something similar happened in the Indian movie industry recently. One of the shar ... read more

Climate change: Neglecting oceans no longer an option
When people think of climate change, pictures of melting glaciers, sweltering heat in summers and flooding of coastal areas predominate. Often lost in the imagery is the role the world's oceans play in countering the worst effects of global warming. Although oceans and seas cover more than two-thirds of the earth's surface, they are taken for granted most of the time. People and governments forget that they are rich in resources and provide us with food, energy and minerals. It is a truism to say that since the high seas belong to no nation, they are the most exploited by everyone. It is thu ... read more

Muslim women in India can become change agents through education
Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently called for empowerment and education of Muslim women. One would have expected this message to receive widespread acceptance and support. It did not. There was resistance on several fronts for a variety of reasons. Some saw Modi's move as a political stunt. Some questioned whether Modi was doing anything meaningful in the education and empowerment area. Others came out against it because of a connection to the triple-talaq controversy. There is no gainsaying that there is an unequivocal and critical need to empower Muslim women through education in order ... read more

Dalit for President: Tokenism wins
It's a no-brainer, for the result is known before the contest. The support which the Bharatiya Janata Party - has been able to muster for its presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind in the electoral college will give him an easy ride to Rashtrapati Bhavan. Even then, the confrontation between him and the opposition's nominee, Meira Kumar, will provide an idea of the contours of the bigger battle which awaits the two sides in less than two years. For the moment, the BJP has the edge. The party may succeed in retaining it till the 2019 general election. But the margin between the combatants is ... read more

India has to save yoga from its shallow, soulless imitations
With weird concoction like Beer Yoga getting popular as the next big international fitness craze, the ancient art of inner blossoming is seemingly going topsy-turvy. And as yoga hogs the limelight on its third International Day, the loud call for saving the spirit of the ancient and modern practice can't be swept under the carpet. While yoga needs to be promoted as a life-transforming phenomenon, it wouldn't do much good if it loses the balance of purity and ingenuity. From being an ancient spiritual pursuit for those seeking enlightenment and becoming a hippies' fad, yoga has shown remarkab ... read more

Ronald & Donald: From Reaganian history to Trumpian future of planet Earth
Tear down this wall, Ronald Reagan, former Republican President of the US, challenged Mikhail Gorbachev in his speech at Brandenburg Gate, in Germany, exactly this week of June in 1987. Reagan was speaking next to the iconic Berlin wall. He was referring not only to the brick and mortar wall erected in 1961 by the then communist East Germany with unflinching support from Soviet Union, but also to the ideological firewall that separated an inward-looking, isolated, centralised, socialistic economy from the capitalist West. It was a time when open market globalisation was blazing a trail towar ... read more

Navigating towards a 'Paris Agreement for the oceans'?
The first ever UN Ocean Conference came to a close on June 9 with a Call For Action, over 1,300 voluntary commitments made to support ocean health, and aspirations for a new convention to protect biodiversity in the roughly half of our planet which lies beyond national jurisdictions. The commitments range from vague policy intentions to declarations of marine protected areas extending for millions of square kilometres. Many of these conservation zones are being set up by small island developing states whose fate in a world being altered by climate change was the subject of much attention at ... read more

Trumpexit could be good news for India as Modi meets Macron
Newly-elected French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted 24 times within two hours as news, on June 1, came from across the Atlantic. US President Trump declared that he has broken away from the Paris Climate Agreement. That breaking news sent frenzied tremors across the globe. But Macron was calme, prudent et reflechi as they say in French -- calm, careful and thoughtful. French presidents are, by tradition, not known to express in public in English, but many of Macron's tweets were in good English. Finally, later that night, thinking that his tweets were not good enough to express himself, h ... read more

Will US withdrawal stop India's actions against climate change? The answer: No
Will the US withdrawal from the Paris agreement impact Indias efforts to tackle climate change? To a limited extent, yes. Will it stop Indias actions against climate change? No. President Trump's announcement of the US withdrawal from the Paris agreement leaves a huge void in the global efforts to stabilise our climate. The US is by far the largest historical emitter of greenhouse gases, and its actions in reducing emissions are central to global efforts to address climate change. The Paris Agreement had provided an innovative framework for all the countries of the world to pledge what they ... read more

Corbyn closes gap: Will he go past?
Prime Minister Theresa May and the leader of the opposition Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, have been pitted against each other on a host of issues but nothing has caught the popular imagination more than terrorism, as I discovered after recent interaction with students, teachers and social workers in Manchester. Terrorism has acquired urgent saliency after the Manchester bombing in which 22 youngsters, including children, lost their lives. The tailwind would have been behind the Prime Minister in another era -- say, when George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld were embarked on full-spe ... read more

When governments dream of electric cars
Since coming to power, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced one green energy initiative after the other. One by one, however, these have turned out to be red herrings that have succeeded only in drawing attention away from technologies that can deliver the required non-fossil fuel energy. His first commitment, to set up 100,000 MW of solar power generating capacity by 2022, has got off to a slow start: 2,133 MW of generating capacity was added in 2015, and a little under 4,000 MW in 2016. Around 10,000 MW is now under construction and will come on stream by the end of next year. That w ... read more

When governments dream of electric cars
Since coming to power, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced one green energy initiative after the other. One by one, however, these have turned out to be red herrings that have succeeded only in drawing attention away from technologies that can deliver the required non-fossil fuel energy. His first commitment, to set up 100,000 MW of solar power generating capacity by 2022, has got off to a slow start: 2,133 MW of generating capacity was added in 2015, and a little under 4,000 MW in 2016. Around 10,000 MW is now under construction and will come on stream by the end of next year. That w ... read more

A new era of shared clean-energy leadership begins in China
There is a new reality in clean energy. The world's major emerging economies -- including China, India, and several others -- are moving to the centre stage of the clean energy transition. By betting heavily on energy efficiency, on wind, solar and other renewables, as well as other less carbon-intensive technologies, these countries are increasingly leading the way. This is the significance of the top-level meeting of energy ministers from the world's biggest economies in Beijing next month. The fact that representatives from fossil-fuel producers like Mexico and Saudi Arabia will join rene ... read more

Remembering John F. Kennedy and his legacy
On May 29, the United States and the world will celebrate the 100th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's birth. Tragically, President Kennedy, or JFK as he was known universally, did not live to see the ripe old age of 100 or even get close to it. He was assassinated on November 22, 1963 -- when he was only 46 years old -- as he sat with his wife Jackie in an open top convertible in a Dallas motorcade. Kennedy's premature and horrific demise caused professor of history Robert Dallek to title his brilliant biography on JFK An Unfinished Life. While Kennedy's life was unfinished, his legacy lives ... read more

French communist office: 'Does anyone live here any more?'
Imagination conjures up sounds of the organ as I stand in the shadow of that brooding architectural wonder. It feels like I am at a service for the repose of the dead. I am brought back suddenly, as in an abrupt Bunuel sequence, by a bearded, kindly looking receptionist, directing me almost in slow motion towards the elevator to the fifth floor where Laurent Perea, from the International Department of the French Communist Party, a tall, burly man, ushers me into a room, which overlooks a terrace with puddles and bird dropping and torn awnings. Intimations of mortality are not in the DNA of p ... read more

Whither India's culture? The curious silence at the top
It seems to be yesterday once more with the deafening silence of the Sahitya Akademi and other cultural institutions over the provocative threat that acclaimed actor and Bharatiya Janata Party - lawmaker Paresh Rawal has made against writer Arundhati Roy. Why hasn't the Sahitya Akademi, which gloriously calls itself India's National Academy of Letters, spoken a word against it? Why hasn't the Indian Council for Cultural Relations -, which aims to promote cultural exchanges with other countries, uttered a word for the writer who brought us international fame by becoming the first Indian to wi ... read more

Reforms transform real estate and housing sector
As Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government marks three years in office, one area in which it can be proud of its reformist and progressive policy approach is the real estate and housing sector. Unregulated, unorganised and disoriented for years, it has emerged as a professional, mature and regulated sector thanks to a number of reforms and policy initiatives. These include the Real Estate Regulation Act -, liberalised FDI rules, Real Estate Investment Trusts -, besides key missions like Housing for All, Smart Cities, AMRUT -, and, of course, the Goods and Services Tax -, a landmark reform. ... read more

Why coalitions among NE militant groups won't work
Chronic attacks of the insurgency virus for decades has made the people of northeast apparently immune to the scourge. The relentless operations by security agencies have forced some of the militant groups to surrender or to run away to alien lands which they use as shelter -- and to employ hit-and-run tactics in the region. In between, there are instances of militant groups surrendering in big numbers. One faction would be negotiating while some others would have gone into the jungles, declaring their disagreement with the negotiating group. These have been occurring so often that ordinary ... read more

Reporting ransomware, other cyber threats - your legal obligations
The Wannacry ransomware outbreak that continues to unravel across the globe is the latest in a long line of prominent cyber security threats. With time, these attacks are only likely to become more frequent, sophisticated and widespread. The Indian IT Secretary recently stated that the impact of ransomware in India is currently limited to six incidents. In sharp contrast, other estimates peg attempts at over 48,000 and counting, with over 700 successful infections. If the government figures belie - the true impact of attacks such as Wannacry, this creates big problems for everyone. For one, ... read more

Under Trump, a presidency declines, step by remorseless step
As the US constitution was being drafted in utmost secrecy in 1787, an anxious citizen asked Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers, Well, doctor, what have we got -- a republic or a monarchy? Without the slightest hesitation, Franklin responded, A republic, if you can keep it. Franklin's words seem eerily prescient, if one considers that the Latin words from which the word republic is derived -- res publica -- means a form of government where the country is considered a public matter, not the private concern or property of the rulers. More than two centuries after Franklin's warnin ... read more

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