Why hydel-power companies in Arunachal Pradesh want NHPC to take over their projects (and why it won’t)

In a delicious twist of fate, a cluster of private companies that rushed headlong into Arunachal in the late 2000s to build hydel power projects are now, in a turnaround, asking the public sector National Hydel Power Corporation to take over their projects.

The fascinating afterlife of Arunachal Pradesh’s hydel scam.

Why Punjab’s power bills include a cow cess and water charges

late last year, during my early days in punjab, i was nonplussed to find the state is charging a cow cess on electricity. and then, i found the state also charges octroi on power. which nonplussed me some more. and then, i learnt the state is going to start porting its water and sewerage charges onto its power bills as well. which pretty much formatted my brain. the outcome is this story, which seeks to understand why unconnected charges are being added to power bills.

as expected, there is rationality — albeit a demented one — here.

Iran’s blogfather: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are killing the web

most of the time, this blog is just an online dumping ground for my articles. this article in the guardian has me breaking that pattern.

Even before I went to jail, though, the power of hyperlinks was being curbed. Its biggest enemy was a philosophy that combined two of the most dominant, and most overrated, values of our times: newness and popularity. (Isn’t this embodied these days by the real-world dominance of young celebrities?) That philosophy is the stream. The stream now dominates the way people receive information on the web. Fewer users are directly checking dedicated webpages, instead getting fed by a never-ending flow of information that’s picked for them by complex and secretive algorithms.

so much of this article makes sense to me. i miss the early days of blogging in india. i grouse at this barrage of trivia (and the attention deficit disorder it induces). as a reporter in this internet age, i wonder about these social media algorithms pivoting around, as the piece says, newness and popularity which have left the information my peers and i bring out facing a very unknown social life. how do these articles travel? given that everyone is neck-deep in news/trivia, how much of our stuff gets read?

by the end of the december bike ride, i had decided to slow down. to spend less time on twitter, check email less often, buy fewer books, certainly not rush to buy new books but wait to see if their fame survives even when the hype cycle exhausts itself, to get the brain to spend longer on discrete (and hopefully meatier) thoughts, and — this is connected through the notion of focusing on more real things — learn to carry out more complex repairs on the cycle like trueing its wheels.

at the end of the scroll project, i have to reach some conclusions re the utility of reporting in this age where social media is strong, the public seemingly more inwards-looking and our regulators (who are supposed to give the press its muscle by acting on its reports) decidedly indifferent. the brain is idly dreaming of a cycling trip at the end of the scroll assignment.

maybe then.

No city is an island: Lessons from Delhi’s odd-even experiment

The Delhi government’s 15-day odd-even initiative to contain vehicular emissions has made little or no difference to air quality in the capital, The Hindu reported last week.

The report claims that peak pollution levels during the first week of the scheme – which moved cars with odd licence plates off the streets on alternate days – are “either comparable or just slightly lower” than the high levels observed from the beginning of December.

This is not surprising. The odd-even rule wasn’t a bad idea. But the pollutants floating around in Delhi’s poisonous air are not generated by the city alone

RIP Priya Thangarajah

my friend priya passed away last november. since then, the brain has circled back to her repeatedly. in fond, sad remembrance.

For more on her, two links (one and two) and this old image.



on the pathankot attacks

wrote this quick and dirty piece after a day trip from jalandhar to pathankot.

and now for something completely different

For a few years now, I have sneaked off every December for a relatively long bike ride. The brain gathers all manner of stresses and tensions as each year vends along, and it has seemed like a good idea to leave email, twitter and other horsemen of the ‘constant connectedness’ apocalypse behind and hare off somewhere on the cycle by the end of the year.

This year, two friends and I pedalled from Pune to Goa. Nine days of cycling, clean air, no email, simple food, kokum juice/soda, coconut water, sugarcane juice, homestays, heat, ferry crossings and old tar roads that rose and fell along the hills, plateaus and valleys of the Sahyadris.

A most delightful time was had. Especially up on the plateaus with their gently undulating roads, the occassional glimpse of distant ocean, and acres of golden wild grass growing amidst black basaltic rock. Cycling through these plateaus, with the heat in constant attendance, made for some meditative moments.

Am appending some pictures. Have to get some of these framed. Just so that I remember this ride. Especially those hours up on the plateaus. Those were almost transcendental.

Here is wishing you a restful end to 2015 and a great 2016.


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