November 11, 2013
Ageing dams not being decommissioned
- A report by International Rivers, an NGO campaigning against destructive dam projects worldwide, has highlighted the absence of policies regarding decommissioning of old dams in India. Ageing dams are a serious concern in India.
What does the report says?
- The report reviews the lifecycle of dams and its relation to the safety of the riverine system and downstream areas. These concerns should be introduced in mainstream policy debates.
- Decommissioning of old dams is crucial for restoration of damaged ecology. Dams have a lifespan, in USA, it is said to be between 30 and 50 years. After completing their lifespan, dams have to be evaluated to check whether they need to be decommissioned.
- India with more than 5,100 large dams is the world’s third largest dam builder. Dam decommissioning for the Mullaperiyar dam in Kerala and the Dumbur dam in Tripura has garnered much attention.
- According to the Estimates, India has around 100 large dams and are more than 100 years old and it has more than 400 large dams between 50 and 100 years.
- While at the international level, dam decommissioning is already a part of the dam construction scenario for revival of riverine ecology and farming, it remains to be an unexplored arena in India
- According to the report, ‘The Central Water Commission(CWC) and the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) are of the opinion that a dam is a permanent structure that does not need to be decommissioned, even though many old dams have developed leaks and fissures.’
Tiger census from November 17
- The synchronised phase one data collection for tiger census would begin simultaneously in the four Southern States – Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Karnataka – on November 17, 2013.
The census would occur in 3 phases:
- In the 1st Phase: Information on prey-base encounter rate, dung or pellet abundance, carnivore sign survey, habitat quality assessment and evaluation of anthropogenic pressure. This would be sent to the Wildlife Institute of India (WII).
- In the 2nd Phase: The institute would analyse the data collected by the Forest department in the first phase by integrating it with modern technological tools, such as geographical information system and remote sensing data, such as forest cover, forest connectivity, human and livestock density.
- In the 3rd phase: Actual density estimation of the tiger’s prey base and population estimation of tigers by using mark-recapture technique.
- The data of the tiger census would be released by December 2014.
- The population of tigers in the country increased from 1,411 in 2006 to 1,706 in 2010.
Waqf Act amendments in force
- With the amendments to the Waqf Act, passed by Parliament recently, coming into force on 1st November, 2013 the encroachment of Waqf property, believed to be a rampant phenomenon across Karnataka, has been made a cognisable and a non-bailable offence.
- The amended Act had enlarged the definition of encroachers to include “any person or institution, public or private occupying Waqf property, in whole or part and includes a person whose tenancy, lease or license has expired or has been terminated by the mutawalli (trustee) or the Board.”
- This would enable the Board to evict unauthorised occupants.
What do you mean by Waqf?
- When Muslim person/s who is/are working for charitable purpose under religious faith and sentiments and for the benefit & upliftment of the Society, has/have donate his/their property/properties in the name of Allah is called Waqf.
- It is an inalienable religious endowment in Islamic law, typically donating a building or plot of land or even cash for Muslim religious or charitable purposes. The donated assets are held by a charitable trust.
Courtesy- www.mpwaqf.tripod.com & Wikipedia
India to shift ASEM focus to tangible cooperation
- India is said to try a new approach to reorient the Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM), whose Foreign Ministers would hold a two-day meeting at Gurgaon from 11th November, 2013.
- ASEM has traditionally focused on political dialogue rather than on the other two pillars of economic collaboration and socio-economic cooperation.
- Also, India has been pushing for a fresh approach that will reorient discussions, from dialogue to actual tangible cooperation. ASEM, like many others, has primarily been a forum for political dialogue where in the past members discussed topical global issues even when principal discussions on these were taking place on specialised fora elsewhere.
- This has resulted in mere reiteration of national positions on many occasions. India’s attempt is to focus on areas where real progress and actual deliverables can be achieved. The areas of cooperation identified by India and other members are not generic but are relevant to specific needs and look to build capacity in member-countries.
- ASEM’s meet will be the biggest international gathering hosted by India this year with 36 Foreign Ministers and 12 Deputy Foreign Ministers confirming participation
- As is the case with all multilateral conferences, ASEM will also see several bilaterals on its ambit.
- There would be meeting of Foreign Ministers from Russia, India and China (RIC) followed by separate meetings among the External Affairs of the three countries.
- While the RIC interaction would centre around regional and international developments, the separate interaction between India and China would focus on the actionable areas identified during the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Beijing (that took place in October, 2013). And with the Pakistan counterpart it would be related to ‘peace’ across the Line of Control.
More about ASEM
- The Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) was initiated in 1996 when the ASEM leaders met in Bangkok, Thailand. It is an informal process of dialogue and cooperation bringing together the 27 European Union member states, 2 European countries, and the European Commission with 20 Asian countries and the ASEAN Secretariat. (At present there are 51 members)
- ASEM is an informal trans-regional platform for dialogue and cooperation between the two regions and has arisen out of a mutual recognition that the relationship between Asia and Europe needed to be strengthened in light of the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.
- The ASEM dialogue addresses political, economic and cultural issues; all issues of common interest to Europe and Asia. ASEM has provided a dialogue platform to address international matters such as United Nations reforms, weapons of mass destruction (WMD) issues, terrorism, migration flows or WTO negotiations. Asia and Europe have worked together for improving the international security environment.
- Overall, ASEM has become a useful process for managing globalization and its effects, for enhancing interregional and international business frameworks, and promoting the role of Euro in Asia. ASEM is also about people and culture.
- It has served as a dialogue facilitator and helped increasing mutual understanding through people-to-people contacts.
- The 10th ASEM Summit of Heads of State and Government will be hosted by the European Union in 2014 in Milan, Italy.
Courtesy – www.aseminfoboard.org
‘Loss and Damage’ key issue at Warsaw climate talks
- Before the formal beginning of the U.N. climate negotiations, that is happening on 11th November, 2013, informal talks took place among the delegates from more than 190 countries. Many rounds of meetings between different block of countries and the UNFCCC officials too went on in parallel with the Polish presidency of the talks keen to figure out common ground.
- The phrase ‘loss and damage’ became a buzzword of these talks. ‘Loss and damage’ refers to the demand of the poorest countries that they must be compensated for inevitable losses caused by existing level of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere which any amount of adaptation or reduction of future emissions will not stop.
Demands from the Developing countries:
- The two key blocks of countries, Association of Small Island States (AOSIS) and Least Developed Countries (LDCs) have been at the forefront demanding an arrangement under the U.N. climate convention for the developed countries to support and compensate for such ‘loss and damage’.
- The developing countries have also asked for clarity on how the rich world will provide the $ 100 billion annual funding it has promised to deliver starting 2020. So far, there has been little evidence that the developed countries are keen to do so and have instead suggested that these countries should depend upon investments from private players to secure the money to fight climate change.
- India, along with other countries in the BASIC group, has also demanded that the talks bring out a clear timeline of how the funds would be increased to reach the target amount by 2020. But hope on this end is low
- India has warned that, “Developed countries want that the funding for loss and damage too should be provided through the market route. They are suggesting that the developing countries look at insurance and other such market avenues. In contrast the poor countries require a clear public funded system where the funds are adequate and predictable.”
- The Indian government has empowered its negotiating team in Warsaw to work with the Like-Minded Developing countries and the BASIC to ensure a formal mechanism on addressing Loss and Damage is secured at the Warsaw talks.
Baggage of mistrust weighs down Iran talks
- After a promising start, nuclear talks between Iran and the six global powers failed to achieve a breakthrough, stumbling over some heavy historical baggage of mistrust that had accumulated on account of years of hatred between Iran and the West.
- Despite the setback on ‘peace talks’, negotiators from the two sides will meet again on November 20, 2013 for another round of talks in Geneva. But the absence of foreign ministers at that meeting, which will be headed at the level of directors-general, have dimmed hopes of an imminent second chance to achieve a breakthrough.
What the reason behind the setback?
- It was observed that, the Iran talks were imposing a heavy strain on the trans-Atlantic alliance and its partners. Already, the prospect of a deal seemed to have chocked the ties between the U.S. and Israel; fissures had developed between its western partners and France.
- According to the French, the deal had to cover the dangers of a fully functional heavy water reactor in Arak (Iran), which could be used to produce plutonium – potential bomb-making material in the future. The French wanted that curbs on the Arak reactor should be included in the initial part of the deal. This perception was supported by Israel, which has also been demanding that Iran must halt construction of the reactor.
- Israel and the U.S. have made a note that, it would be hard to militarily attack the Arak plant once nuclear fuel was loaded into the reactor, as this would cause an environmental disaster because of radiation leakages. Israel had raided Iraq’s nuclear reactor in 1981 and more recently in Syria, before fuel had been loaded.
Criticism of this perception:
- However, critics have dismissed this argument as flawed. The executive director of the Arms Control Association has said that, the Arak plant could have become the subject of negotiations in the future as it would be completed in a year, and extraction of plutonium that could be used in a bomb would take even longer.
- The Geneva talks had been structured to deliver a deal that would ‘identify the starting point as well as the end game of negotiations, and a number of reciprocal confidence building measures (CBMs) within’.
- The negotiators were apparently looking for a six-month time frame to conclude the two-staged deal. The Iranians seemed to have agreed at the outset to halt the expansion of their nuclear programme and suspend 20% enrichment of uranium, to allay western fears that Iran was working to make an atomic bomb, which requires uranium purified at least to a 90% level.
- And in return, Iran wanted easing of the oil and banking sanctions imposed on it during the first phase of the deal.
No rebel backing, no talks: Syria opposition
- Syria’s fractious opposition coalition has announced that it would not attend mooted ‘peace talks’ in Geneva unless it received the backing of rebels on the ground.
- It is said that, the opposition and the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) were on the same side and they were fighting a common enemy. Hence the Syria opposition wanted the rebel group to be part of the delegation.
- The opposition coalition’s gathering was meant to forge a common position on the Geneva talks, which world powers want orgnised to find a negotiated solution to conflict in Syria.
Maldives re-vote put off to Nov. 16
- The Maldives Supreme Court has suspended run-off for the presidential re-vote, prolonging the political turmoil in the country amid mounting international concern over a looming constitutional crisis.
- The run-off was to have taken place on 10th November, 2013 but the Supreme Court delayed it until November 16.
- In the crucial re-vote(that took place on 9th November), Maldivian Democratic Party chief Mohammed Nasheed had emerged winner but failed to clinch 50 % of votes to avoid a run-off.
- According the court’s order, holding the run-off the very next day of the first round could undermine the constitutional rights of many people. It has now ordered all state institutions to hold the second round on November 16th.
Iraq, Turkey pledge to end tensions
- Both Iraq and Turkey have pledged to end the diplomatic tensions troubling the two neighbours.
- Ties between the two countries had strained in 2012 when Iraq’s former Sunni vice-president took refuge in Turkey following accusations by the Shiite-led government that he was running death squads. Turkey had rejected Iraq’s request to hand over him.
What is an IPO?
- An initial public offering (IPO) or stock market launch is a type of public offering where shares of stock in a company are sold to the general public, on a securities exchange, for the first time. Through this process, a private company transforms into a public company.
- Initial public offerings are used by companies to raise expansion capital, to possibly monetize the investments of early private investors, and to become publicly traded enterprises. A company selling shares is never required to repay the capital to its public investors.
Courtesy – Wikipedia
Why Go Public?
- Going public raises cash, and usually a lot of it. Being publicly traded also opens many financial doors: Because of the increased scrutiny, public companies can usually get better rates when they issue debt. As long as there is market demand, a public company can always issue more stock. Thus, mergers and acquisitions are easier to do because stock can be issued as part of the deal.
- Trading in the open markets means liquidity. This makes it possible to implement things like employee stock ownership plans, which help to attract top talent.
- IPOs can be a risky investment. For the individual investor, it is tough to predict what the stock will do on its initial day of trading and in the near future because there is often little historical data with which to analyze the company. Also, most IPOs are of companies going through a transitory growth period, which are subject to additional uncertainty regarding their future values.
- The costs associated with the process, and the requirement to disclose certain information could prove helpful to competitors, or create difficulties with vendors.
Courtesy – www.investopedia.com
On Gas exploration & Gas pricing, refer-
India’s Foreign policy compromised by domestic political interests
- Once again, India’s foreign policy has been compromised for narrow regional view and political expediency The PM Manmohan Singh’s decision of not attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) was taken following the pressure by Tamil Nadu political parties, including a resolution by the State Assembly.
- For India, the two main objectives in its dealings with Sri Lanka are to ensure a just deal for that nation’s Tamil minority, and to protect its own interests in a region of strategic importance.
- But if the primary reason for staying away is to express displeasure at Sri Lanka’s reluctance to address alleged atrocities against Tamil civilians during the final battles against the LTTE, it is doubtful if the decision will yield a different, more positive outcome.
- Rather this might further erode India’s influence on the Sri Lankan island and this can also be an opportunity for Sri Lanka to build a stronger relationship with China and look out for other allies in the region. This would further strain the relationship between the two countries.
- The recent election (for the 1st time) in Tamil-dominated Sri Lankan Northern province where Tamil National Alliance (TNA) won by a huge margin signifies an important milestone in ethnic reconciliation. It was due to India’s constant persuasion the elections were held.
- Instead of projecting this as an example of constructive diplomacy, the Indian govt. has allowed itself to be intimidated by its present and potential allies in the State.
- A decision by the PM to go to CHOGM and include a visit to Jaffna would have been a powerful reaffirmation of India’s stakes and interests in the region. India would now deal with the consequences of its decision to stay away, both on the Tamil question and on its own larger interests. It would be difficult to manage this huge strategic and diplomatic fallout.
- In Sri Lanka, this might affect the reconciliation process including India’s efforts to ensure the 13th Amendment is not diluted or done away with entirely.
- Hopefully both countries will guard against any adverse consequences on people-to-people links.
- A year-long celebration to mark the 150th birth anniversary of Assamese literature pioneer Lakshminath Bezbaruah will kick-start in December, 2013.
- Bezbaruah made pioneering contributions to almost all forms of Assamese literature — poems, novels, short stories, collection of folk tales, dramas, biographical works and satirical essays. ‘O Mor Aponar Desh’, composed by him, is accepted as the anthem of Assam.
- The event will aim to inspire all non-resident Assamese to get connected to the root and contribute to developing their mother tongue and own heritage by recognising Bezbaruah as their true icon.
- It is viewed as an occasion to bring a new sense of being Assamese.
- The event will also flag off projects on learning of Assamese language, web-based social-cultural forum for exchange of ideas and web-based history of Assam.