Showing posts from July, 2012

Private Empire - Exxon Mobil And American Power

Book Review If you were expecting Private Empire, the latest book by two-time Pulitzer Prize winning author Steve Coll, to serve as a hit piece on Exxon Mobil (XOM) (and "big oil" in general) you'll be somewhat disappointed. For anyone unfamiliar with his previous work, Steve Coll's earlier books include the highly recommended Ghost Wars, arguably the definitive geopolitical account of the activities of the CIA and other national intelligence agencies in Afghanistan and Pakistan from the time of the Soviet invasion up to the eve of the 9-11. Ghost Wars won the Pulitzer Prize in 2004 for general non-fiction and was one of the books a newly elected President Barrack Obama was reported to be reading upon entering office. Steve Coll describes in an interview with Charlie Rose what lead him to want to write Private Empire and how his original idea for the book was to tell a broader story about the oil industry in the style of Daniel Yergin's The Prize. He soon reali

Anti-Corruption Measures by UPA-2

The Group of Ministers (GoM) set up in January 2011 to consider measures to tackle corruption has submitted two reports. In pursuance of this, 1. Government has directed that requests for sanction of prosecution are to be decided upon by the competent authority within a period of three months. 2. Government decided that for all officers of the central government above the rank of Joint Secretary, the competent authority to approve initiation of enquiry/investigation under Section 6A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act will be the Minister-in-charge in the Government of India. 3. Government has also accepted the recommendation of the GoM to put in place regulatory parameters for exercise of discretionary powers by Ministers and to place them in public domain. Other anti-corruption initiatives include:- 4. A comprehensive ‘Lokpal and Lakyuktas Bill, 2011’ was passed by the Lok Sabha this year. 5. ‘The Whistle Blowers Protection Bill 2011’ intended to provide prote


Central Hall of Parliament New Delhi, 25th July 2012 Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil, Shri Hamid Ansari, Smt. Meira Kumar, Shri Justice S.H. Kapadia, Members of Parliament, Your Excellencies, Friends and fellow citizens, I am deeply moved by the high honour you have accorded to me. Such honour exalts the occupant of this office, even as it demands that he rises above personal or partisan interests in the service of the national good. The principal responsibility of this office is to function as the guardian of our Constitution. I will strive, as I said on oath, to preserve, protect and defend our Constitution not just in word but also in spirit. We are all, across the divide of party and region, partners at the altar of our motherland. Our federal Constitution embodies the idea of modern India: it defines not only India but also modernity. A modern nation is built on some basic fundamentals: democracy, or equal rights for every citizen; secularism, or equal freedom to every faith;

Journalists Demand for Third Press Commission, Indian National Congress Reluctant

At a program to mark the 76th birth anniversary of late Prabhash Joshi, well known columnist and former editor of Nayi Duniya, Jansatta and Indian Express, speaker after speaker demanded the formation of Third Press Commission. The program was organised on July 15 at Satyagrah Mandap, Raj Ghat by Prabhash Parampra Nyas and Gandhi Smriti awam Darshan Samiti. It has come to light that the efforts of senior journalists like Ram Bahadur Rai, Ram Sharan Joshi and Kuldeep Nayar have been demanding setting up of the Third Press Commission from the Manmohan Singh Govt but due to resistance from the de facto head of the state, it has not been constituted so far. Press Council of India in its report of 2001 had also recommended setting up of a Third Press Commission during Justice PB Swant's tenure. Justice G.N. Ray, the Press Council chairman also recommended it in his speech in 2009 in Kolkata. In July 2011, at a function in Indore too, journalists marched in the streets dema

personal information as commodity, mass-surveillance, biometric information based NPR & UID

From: Gopal Krishna Date: Thu, Jul 12, 2012 at 9:05 PM Subject: personal information as commodity, mass-surveillance, biometric information based NPR & UID To: Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL) To Hon’ble President of India Government of India President's Secretariat Rashtrapati Bhavan New Delhi-4 Date 12/7/2012 Subject –mass-surveillance, digitiized discrimination, slave trade & biometric information based NPR & UID/Aadhaar Madam, With reference to my letter dated 12/6/2012, when almost the entire political class of the country is debating the TIME Cover Story "The Underachiever:India needs a reboot, Is Prime Minister Manmohan Singh upto the job?" (July 16, 2012 issue), I wish to draw your attention towards how under patronage from the Prime Minister "a small group of entrepreneurs within the government have set out to identify to every one of their 1.2 billion residents by using biometric technologies, such a

United Kingdom of surveillance

Despite strongly opposing a similar measure when the then Labour government introduced it in 2009, the Conservatives and Liberals who rule Britain today have now proposed their snooper’s charter. The Communications Data Bill has provoked fierce criticism across the political spectrum. Under it, the intelligence services and police will have access, without warrants, to all text messages, phone calls, emails, and internet connections. Internet users, visitors to social networking sites, and telephone users will all be subject to interception or supervision, or both, any or all of the time. Officials will be able to seek court injunctions against British internet and telephone companies which fail to comply, and the government has gone even further than Labour by planning to pay overseas-based firms like Facebook and Twitter to hand over information on web and mobile phone use. The Bill, however, is riddled with problems. Even an official impact assessment states that significant ri