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Tag Archives: UPA

By limiting Aadhaar, Supreme Court may have given government a way to expand its reach

By now the contours of the events are known. On Tuesday morning, the Supreme Court referred to a Constitution Bench the question of whether Indians have a fundamental right to privacy. The same afternoon, when the judges reconvened, they restricted the use of the government’s biometrics-based identity project Aadhaar to only the public distribution system for food grains, kerosene and LPG.
These orders are unmistakably significant. But what do they mean for the public and the ambitious Aadhaar programme? Why is the Aadhaar project, which seeks to do no more than assign a unique number to all Indians, getting snared in questions of privacy?

I write again on Aadhaar after a long hiatus. See the tag cloud for other links on the project as well. see this link, especially.

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On why the 14th Finance Commission is bad news for Mizoram

In early April, PC Zosangzuala lost his job. About three years ago, the 28-year-old had been hired by an Indian government programme which supports India’s middle schools – Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan. The job contract signed by “Peecee”, as his friends call him, suggested the programme would run till 2017. However, on April 4 or April 5 – he doesn’t remember the exact day – he got a letter from the department saying the part of the programme that employed him had been closed.

Peecee, with an earnest mien which makes him look much younger than 28, was not the only one axed. In all, 366 staffers, mostly lab technicians and clerks, lost their jobs. The job cuts have followed a budgetary squeeze in New Delhi….

…Faced with less funds, the central government officials overseeing the programme retained teachers but axed clerks, lab technicians and counsellors…. Since jobs are hard to find in Mizoram, the sacked employees – mostly between 25 and 35 years old – panicked. Some of them had married recently. Others had become parents. Some others had taken bank loans they were still repaying. Peecee had taken a loan to pay for the treatment of his grandmother who died of cancer. 

In late April, 70-80 of them went on a hunger strike. They went without food for 12 days, calling the fast off only after the state education minister assured them that whenever the state finds funds, they will be the first to be hired.

In the weeks and months ahead, Mizoram is likely to see many more such protests. Mainly due to the 14th Finance Commission. This story explains why.

Why the CBI cannot claim much glory for filing a chargesheet against Naveen Jindal

The Central Bureau of Investigation on Wednesday filed a chargesheet against industrialist Naveen Jindal and 14 others in the Amarkonda Murgadangal coal block allocation matter. The matter will come up for hearing in the CBI court on Thursday. Apart from Jindal, among those named in the chargesheet are former Minister of State (Coal) Dasari Narayana Rao, former Jharkhand Chief Minister Madhu Koda and former coal secretary HC Gupta. The chargesheet centres on a transaction in 2008 where a company owned by former directors of the Naveen Jindal Group, and then by Jindal himself, gave an unsecured loan of Rs 2.25 crore to a nondescript trading company called ND Exim. This company then used the Rs 2.25 crore to buy shares of a company owned by Rao on extremely generous terms.

In this story, I argue that the CBI should not get any credit for this chargesheet. that its work, as i have written earlier, has been more coverup than investigation.

Why AIIMS Is In Trouble

This, and an accompanying story published in today’s ET, argue that this response is half-baked. And that, instead of making populist promises, India’s egregious leadership would be well-advised to start by reviving the main AIIMS. The hospital is meeting the same fate as most public sector enterprises — it is being subverted for private gain by a plethora of people.
This, I should also add, is my last story for ET. I left the paper in mid-February with a lot of affection and gratitude towards it, the bosses I worked under, and the colleagues I worked with. ET gave me my first break — to report on rural India and environment. Then, it followed up by giving me extraordinary freedom and support. It was a place where I grew as a reporter. And where I forged a set of friendships that will last a long time. For all that, much gratitude.

and the supreme court deallocates all blocks…

yesterday, shortly after 2 pm, the supreme court deallocated almost all captive coalblocks — sparing just the umpps and two JV-less blocks of sail and ntpc. with that, i guess, ends my reporting on the captive coal block allocations. see these two links. one, this bouncy little primer written yesterday on what coalgate was all about. also see this: a link aggregating all the stories by my friends (and ex-colleagues) avinash singh, john samuel raja, supriya sharma and me on the captive coalblock allocations.

what should be done with the coalblocks where mining has already started?

is the forest rights act being implemented well? (the answer is ‘no’)

Last month, union tribal Minister Jual Oram told the Lok Sabha that India is making “satisfactory progress” implementing the “Forest Rights Act” (FRA). However, a closer look at the numbers he submitted in the house indicates otherwise.

my story on how the government’s claims about “satisfactory” implementation of the forest rights act are garbage. what is underway is a game with statistics.