Revolutionizing Awareness

helping humanity, make choices, more so through awareness, than ignorance

Posts Tagged ‘delhi’

Power cut hits millions, among world’s worst outages

Posted by Admin on August 1, 2012

http://in.news.yahoo.com/power-blackout-sweeps-north-india-second-day-081130063.html

By Frank Jack Daniel | Reuters – 2 hours 10 minutes ago

              NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Hundreds of millions of people across India were left without power on Tuesday in one of the world’s worst blackouts, trapping miners, stranding train travellers and plunging hospitals into darkness when grids collapsed for the second time in two days.

Stretching from Assam to the Himalayas and the northwestern deserts of Rajasthan, the outage covered states where half of India’s 1.2 billion people live and embarrassed the government, which has failed to build up enough power capacity to meet soaring demand.

“Even before we could figure out the reason for yesterday’s failure, we had more grid failures today,” said R.N. Nayak, chairman of the state-run Power Grid Corporation.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had vowed to fast-track stalled power and infrastructure projects as well as introduce free market reforms aimed at reviving India’s flagging economy. But he has drawn fire for dragging his feet.

By nightfall, power was back up in the humid capital, New Delhi and much of the north, but a senior official said only a third was restored in the rural state of Uttar Pradesh, itself home to more people than Brazil.

The cuts in such a widespread area of the world’s second most populous nation appeared to be one of the biggest in history, and hurt Indians’ pride as the country seeks to emerge as a major force on the international stage.

“It’s certainly shameful. Power is a very basic amenity and situations like these should not occur,” said Unnayan Amitabh, 19, an intern with HSBC bank in New Delhi, before giving up on the underground train system and flagging down an auto-rickshaw to get home.

“They talk about big ticket reforms but can’t get something as essential as power supply right.”

Power Minister Sushilkumar Shinde blamed the system collapse on some states drawing more than their share of electricity from the over-burdened grid, but Uttar Pradesh’s top civil servant for energy said outdated transmission lines were at fault.

Asia’s third-largest economy suffers a peak-hour power deficit of about 10 percent, dragging on economic growth.

Between a quarter and 40 percent of Indians are not connected to the national grid.

Two hundred miners were stranded in three deep coal shafts in the state of West Bengal when their electric elevators stopped working. Eastern Coalfields Limited official Niladri Roy said workers at the mines, one of which is 700 metres (3,000 feet) deep, were not in danger and were being taken out.

Train stations in Kolkata were swamped and traffic jammed the streets after government offices closed early in the dilapidated coastal city of 5 million people.

The power failed in some major city hospitals and office buildings had to fire up diesel generators.

By mid-evening, services had been restored on the New Delhi metro system.

“PUSHED INTO DARKNESS”

On Monday, India was forced to buy extra power from the tiny neighbouring kingdom of Bhutan to help it recover from a blackout that hit more than 300 million people.

Indians took to social networking sites to ridicule the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, in part for promoting Shinde despite the power cuts.

Narendra Modi, an opposition leader and chief minister in Gujarat, a state that enjoys a surplus of power, was scornful.

“With poor economic management UPA has emptied the pockets of common man; kept stomachs hungry with inflation & today pushed them into darkness,” he said on his Twitter account.

The country’s southern and western grids were supplying power to help restore services, officials said.

The problem has been made worse by a weak monsoon in agricultural states such as wheat-belt Punjab and Uttar Pradesh in the Ganges plain, which has a larger population than Brazil.

With less rain to irrigate crops, more farmers resort to electric pumps to draw water from wells.

India’s electricity distribution and transmission is mostly state run, with private companies operating in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata. Less than a quarter of generation is private nationwide.

More than half the country’s electricity is generated by coal, with hydro power and nuclear also contributing.

Power shortages and a creaky road and rail network have weighed heavily on India’s efforts to industrialize. Grappling with the slowest economic growth in nine years, the government recently scaled back a target to pump $1 trillion into infrastructure over the next five years.

Major industries have their own power plants or diesel generators and are shielded from outages. But the inconsistent supply hits investment and disrupts small businesses.

High consumption of heavily subsidized diesel by farmers and businesses has fuelled a gaping fiscal deficit that the government has vowed to tackle to restore confidence in the economy.

But the poor monsoon means a subsidy cut is politically difficult.

On Tuesday, the central bank cut its economic growth outlook for the fiscal year that ends in March to 6.5 percent, from the 7.3 percent assumption made in April, putting its outlook closer to that of many private economists.

“This is going to have a substantial adverse impact on the overall economic activity. Power failure for two consecutive days hits sentiment very badly,” said N. Bhanumurthy, a senior economist at National Institute of Public Finance and Policy.

(Reporting by Delhi Bureau; Sujoy Dhar in Kolkata and Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow; Writing by Frank Jack Daniel; Editing by Robert Birsel and Diana Abdallah)

Advertisements

Posted in Economic Upheavals, India Forgotten, Pollution | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Power cut hits millions, among world’s worst outages

What is causing power grid failure in India?

Posted by Admin on August 1, 2012

http://in.news.yahoo.com/what-is-causing-power-grid-failure-in-india-.html

Power failure hit India for a second day running, cutting power to more than 600 million people. Here are a few facts about the power crisis:

Yahoo! India News – 7 hours ago

NEW DELHI: Power failure hit India for a second day running on Tuesday due to the collapse of the Northern and Eastern grids, cutting power to more than 600 million people in the populous northern and eastern states including the capital Delhi and major cities such as Kolkata. Around over 300,000 passengers were stranded in over 300 trains across eight states after the northern and eastern grids failed, crippling operations across six railway zones in the country. Here are a few facts about the power crisis in India:

What is an electrical grid?

A power grid is an interconnected network of transmission lines for supplying electricity from power suppliers to consumers. Any disruptions in the network causes power outages. India has five regional grids that carry electricity from power plants to respective states in the country.

What leads to a grid failure?

Planning Commission Deputy Chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia said the blackout may have been caused by a mix of coal shortages and other problems on the grid. The power deficit was worsened by a weak monsoon that lowered hydroelectric generation and kept temperatures high, feeding the appetite for electricity.

Farmers using energy-intensive water pumps for irrigation to save their recently sown crops may also have pushed up the demand.

If the monsoon does not pick up, the grids are expected to come under more stress. Hydro-power accounts for about 20 per cent of installed power capacity but reservoirs have only 24 per cent of the water they can hold — just about half of what they carried at this time last year.

Many state governments give farmers free or near-free electricity, triggering a vicious cycle of unviable power boards whose supply is so erratic that farmers are forced to pay a steep price to run diesel pumps and generators. Many states have not adjusted tariff for 10 years.

The industry has advocated abolishing a 1973 Act that nationalised coal mining. Changes to the law are expected to allow professional miners to scout for and mine coal.

India’s power shortage

India is slow to set up new power capacity principally because it is short of fossil fuels. Coal is mined hesitantly and natural gas, the other feedstock for power plants, is just beginning to flow in from new offshore finds. The government rations both.

The immediate response to a power sector in distress – thermal plants are idling a quarter of their capacity – is to give it a bigger slice of the pie. The sustainable response will need the pie to grow overall.

This January, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh set up a committee to work through the issues that have been bedeviling electricity generation: a host of problems ranging from coal and gas shortages to environmental clearances to the price at which power is sold in the country.

India’s basic energy shortage is compounded by the policy of selling electricity to consumers at politically correct prices. The government-owned distribution monopolies in the states have all but lost their ability to buy power because their political bosses force them to sell it cheap, sometimes free, to voters. This opportunism is hurting the economy: the government estimates unaccounted for sale of power in India, at a third of the total, costs the country 1% of its gross domestic product.

The road ahead

The road ahead for reforms in the power sector is well lit. Introduce competition in all three areas of the business – generation, transmission and distribution – to enhance productivity and contain leakages. Create an independent watchdog that can withstand the political pressures playing on different links of the nation’s power supply chain.

Finally, free up pricing to make consumers more responsible for the electricity they use. This has been the broad course of electricity reforms the world over. India’s energy pricing, including transport and cooking fuels, is hopelessly caught in competitive populism. Serious attempt to extricate it will need more grids to trip.

Posted in India Forgotten, Pollution, Press Releases | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on What is causing power grid failure in India?

Baba Ramdev dares Govt. to prove his black money estimates wrong

Posted by Admin on July 4, 2012

http://in.news.yahoo.com/baba-ramdev-dares-govt-prove-black-money-estimates-061107840.html

By ANI | ANI – 14 hours ago

Jaipur, July 3 (ANI): Yoga Guru Baba Ramdev has dared the Congress-led UPA Government at the Centre to prove his estimate of 400 trillion rupees’ worth of black money being stashed in safe havens abroad wrong.

Baba Ramdev said he was ready for punishment if proved wrong.

“It is said that the statistics given by me are false, and that I am lying and presenting the people with a false dream. I say that if I am lying and presenting false statistics, then I should be given the most stringent punishment. But if I am speaking the truth, then do not evade it,” he said.

Baba Ramdev further said that graft was destroying India’s democracy at its roots, and added that the present system needed to be replaced by a more just and equitable one.

“Approximately 400 trillion rupees that have been looted by corrupt people should come back to the country. Graft has eaten away the roots of our democracy and made them hollow. Democracy has become more about loot, graft and currency notes today. It must be saved. The current system must be replaced with one that provides economic and social justice to all,” he said.

Baba Ramdev, who sat on a daylong fast Delhi along with veteran social activist Anna Hazare at the Jantar Mantar in New earlier last month, had demanded that the government should follow the steps suggested by him in its endeavor to bring back black money stashed abroad.

Baba Ramdev, who has been at loggerheads with the government over a range of national issues for the past many months, had also called on the government last year to pursue billions of dollars in illegal funds abroad and the withdrawal of high denomination bank notes. (ANI)

Posted in Conspiracy Archives, Economic Upheavals, Geo-Politics, India Forgotten | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Baba Ramdev dares Govt. to prove his black money estimates wrong

Ukrainian girls may be jailed for insulting Indian flag

Posted by Admin on February 18, 2012

http://in.news.yahoo.com/ukrainian-girls-may-jailed-insulting-indian-flag-231905518.html

By Indo Asian News Service | IANS India Private Limited – 4 hours ago

Kiev, Feb 18 (IANS) A group of Ukrainian topless protesters may face jail term up to four years for climbing onto the balcony of theIndian embassy in Kiev and tearing down India’s national flag last month, said police Friday.

The protesters had brought down the Indian flag, smashed the doors and windows with it and threw it on the ground.

The activists were enraged by the Indian Foreign Ministry ordering thorough checks into all Ukrainians aged 15 to 40 seeking to enter the country, saying it would help weed out the numerous prostitutes in search of a job, the RIA Novosti reported Friday.

The incident resulted in two cases opened on separate charges of hooliganism and desecration of state symbols, Ukrainian police said.

But no one was charged as of Friday evening.

The incident had occurred Jan 19.

The Indian ambassador to Ukraine, Rajiv K. Chander, was not at his residence when the four women from Femen arrived in Indian attire and stripped to their waists before using a ladder to reach the second-floor balcony, an Indian media report said.

The women tied a banner in English to the balcony that declared: “We are not prostitutes”. They also carried placards in English and Russian that said “Delhi, close your brothels” and “We demand apologies”.

 

Posted in India Forgotten | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Ukrainian girls may be jailed for insulting Indian flag

India. The Plight of the Rural and Urban Poor: In a Land of Facades, Mark the first Signs of an Indian Spring

Posted by Admin on December 31, 2011

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=28411

by John Pilger

When the early morning fog rises and drifting skeins from wood fires carry the sweet smell of India, the joggers arrive in Lodi Gardens. Past the tomb of Mohammed Shah, the 15th century Munghal ruler, across a landscape manicured in the 1930s by Lady Willingdon, wife of the governor-general, recently acquired trainers stride out from ample figures in smart saris and white cotton dhotis. In Delhi, the middle classes do as they do everywhere, though here there is no middle. By mid-morning, children descend like starlings. They wear pressed blazers, like those of an English prep school. There are games and art and botany classes. When shepherded out through Lady Willingdon’s elegant stone gateway, they pass a reed-thin boy, prostrate beside the traffic and his pile of peanuts, coins clenched in his hand.

When I was first sent to report India, I seldom raised my eyes to the gothic edifices and facades of the British Raj. All life was at dust and pavement level and, once the shock had eased, I learned to admire the sheer imagination and wit of people who survived the cities, let alone the countryside — the dabbawallahs (literally “person with a box”), cleaners, runners, street barbers, poets, assorted Fagans and children with their piles of peanuts. In Calcutta, as it was still known during the 1971 war with Pakistan, civil defence units in soup-plate helmets and lungis toured the streets announcing an air-raid warning practice during which, they said, “everybody must stay indoors and remain in the face-down position until the siren has ceased to operate”. Waves of mocking laughter greeted them, together with the cry: “But we have no doors to stay inside!”

When the imperial capital was transferred to Delhi early last century, New Delhi was built as a modernist showpiece, with avenues and roundabouts and a mall sweeping up to the viceroy’s house, now the president’s residence in the world’s most populous democracy. If the experience of colonialism was humiliating, this proud new metropolis would surely be enabling. On 15 August, 1947, it was the setting for Pandit Nehru’s declaration of independence “at the midnight hour”. It was also a façade behind which the majority hoped and waited, and still wait.

This notion of façade is almost haunting. You sense it in genteel Lodi Gardens and among the anglicised elites and their enduring ambiguity. In the 1990s, it became a wall erected by the beneficiaries of Shining India, which began as a slogan invented by an American advertising firm to promote the rise of the Hindu nationalist BJP-led government. Shorn of Nehru’s idealism and paternalism, it marked the end of the Congress Party’s pretence of class and caste reconciliation: in other words, social justice. Monsanto and Pizza Hut, Microsoft and Murdoch were invited to enter what had been forbidden territory to corporate predators. India would serve a new deity called “economic growth” and be hailed as a “global leader, apparently heading “in what the smart money believes is the right direction” (Newsweek).

India’s ascent to “new world power” is both true and what Edward Bernays, the founder of public relations, called “false reality”. Despite a growth rate of 6.9 per cent and prosperity for some, more Indians than ever are living in poverty than anywhere on earth, including a third of all malnourished children. Save the Children says that every year two million infants under the age of five die.

The facades are literal and surreal. Ram Suhavan and his family live 60 feet above a railway track. Their home is the inside of a hoarding which advertises, on one side, “exotic, exclusive” homes for the new “elite” and on the other, a gleaming car. This is in Pune, in Maharashtra state, which has “booming” Bombay and the nation’s highest suicide rate among indebted farmers.

Most Indians live in rural villages, dependent on the land and its rhythms of subsistence. The rise of monopoly control of seed by multinationals, forcing farmers to plant cash crops such as GM cotton, has led to a quarter of a million suicides, a conservative estimate. The environmentalist Vandana Shiva describes this as “re-colonisation”. Using the 1894 Land Acquisition Act, central and state governments have forcibly dispossessed farmers and tribal peoples in order to hand their land to speculators and mining companies. To make way for a Formula One racetrack and gated “elite” estates, land was appropriated for $6 a square metre and sold to developers for $13,450 a square metre. Across India, the communities have fought back. In Orissa State, the wholesale destruction of betel farms has spawned a resistance now in its fifth year.

What is always exciting about India is this refusal to comply with political mythology and gross injustice. In The Idea of India, wrote Sunil Kjilnani, “The future of western political theory will be decided outside the west.” For the majorities of India and the west, liberal democracy was now diminished to “the assertion of an equal right to consume [media] images”.

In Kashmir, a forgotten India barely reported abroad, a peaceful resistance as inspiring as Tahrir Square has arisen in the most militarised region on earth. As the victims of Partition, Muslim Kashmiris have known none of Nehru’s noble legacies. Thousands of dissidents have “disappeared” and torture is not uncommon. “The voice that the government of India has tried so hard to silence,” wrote Arundhati Roy, “has now massed into a deafening roar. Hundreds of thousands of unarmed people have come out to reclaim their cities, their streets and mohallas. They have simply overwhelmed the heavily armed security forces by their sheer numbers, and with a remarkable display of raw courage.” An Indian Spring may be next.

John Pilger is a frequent contributor to Global Research.  Global Research Articles by John Pilger

Posted in India Forgotten | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on India. The Plight of the Rural and Urban Poor: In a Land of Facades, Mark the first Signs of an Indian Spring

Indian activist to launch public fast as government relents

Posted by Admin on August 18, 2011

http://news.yahoo.com/india-activist-allowed-fast-15-days-000649292.html

 By Paul de Bendern | Reuters – 18 mins ago

A supporter of Anna Hazare wearing a handcuff holds a portrait of Hazare as he attends a protest against corruption in Hyderabad

A supporter of veteran Indian social activist Anna Hazare wearing a handcuff holds a portrait of Hazare as he attends a protest against corruption in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad August 18, 2011. REUTERS/Krishnendu Halder

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India‘s beleaguered government caved in to popular fury over corruption on Wednesday after thousands protested across the country, granting permission for a self-styled Ghandian crusader to stage a 15-day hunger strike in public.

Anna Hazare was arrested on Tuesday, hours ahead of a planned fast to demand tougher laws against the graft that plagues Indian society from top to bottom.

But the jailing of the 74-year-old campaigner sparked nationwide protests and put Prime Minister Manmohan Singh‘s government on a backfoot, forcing it to relent.

“Anna wishes to congratulate everyone as we have started a great momentum for this fight against corruption,” said Arvind Kejriwal, a social activist and close aid of Hazare.

“He wants all of us to continue in this peaceful and calm way of protest,” Kejriwal told reporters.

The Congress party-led government, facing one of the most serious protest movements since the 1970s, at first agreed to release Hazare, but he refused to leave the high-security Tihar jail until he won the right to lead an anti-corruption protest.

Crowds by the jail erupted in joy at news of the deal, reached early on Thursday, shouting “I am Anna” and “We are with you,” singing, playing guitars and waving the Indian flag.

Hazare is expected to postpone his public fast until Friday because the Ramlila Maidan grounds in central Delhi are not ready to host massive crowds, his advisers told reporters.

A medical team is on standby to monitor Hazare’s health as he has already begun his fast in jail and a sharp deterioration could further worsen the crisis for the government.

“It’s an indefinite fast, not a fast-unto-death. He will be there as long as he can sustain it,” said Kiran Bedi, a former senior police officer and a member of Anna’s protest team. Earlier the hunger strike had been billed as a fast-until-death.

The protests across cities in India, helped spread by social networks, have not only rocked the ruling Congress party, they have sent shockwaves through the political class.

Students, lawyers, teachers, business executives, IT workers and civil servants have taken to the streets in New Delhi and both cities and remote villages stretching down to the southern end of the country.

“The movement has meant politicians realize that they cannot fudge these issues or ignore public opinion any longer,” said Vinod Mehta, editor of the weekly Outlook magazine.

“It has succeeded in concentrating the minds of politicians across the political spectrum on one issue for the first time.”

A weak political opposition means that the government should still survive the crisis, but it could further dim the prospect for economic reforms that have already been held back by policy paralysis and a raft of corruption scandals.

SOCIAL NETWORK REVOLUTION

One Facebook page for Hazare has almost 280,000 followers, while the India Against Corruption page on Facebook has more than 312,000 followers where links and messages of support are posted. Several Twitter accounts have been set up by supporters to send out messages of where and when protest and fast.

An online page petitioning for the freedom of Hazare and India of corruption had signed up almost 170,000 people within 24 hours.

The country’s 24-7 news networks, competing to dig up the latest corruption scandal, have also played a vital role in whipping up the Hazare story.

A NATION FED UP WITH CORRUPTION

Many have criticized Hazare for taking the government hostage over his demand for a specific bill to give more teeth to investigating and punishing graft in high office. But few take issue with his crusade against the scourge of corruption.

The urban middle class, who have prospered since the economy was opened up in the early 1990s, is fed up with the rampant corruption that they encounter, whether it be getting a driving license or buying a flat. The soaring cost of living has also exacerbated the situation.

Hazare’s arrest, followed by the brief arrests of about 2,600 followers in the capital alone on Tuesday, shocked a nation with strong memories of Gandhi’s independence battles against colonial rule with fasts and non-violent protests.

INDIA’S NEW GENERATION

Thousands of mostly young people held peaceful candle-light vigils through Wednesday night, from the capital Delhi to the IT hub of Hyderabad and the financial capital, Mumbai.

Many of the crowd were young, with rucksacks on their backs, some with their faces painted. Others were older, decked out in outfits as worn by the bespectacled Hazare, with his trademark white cap and kurta, a long-time social activist who is often compared to independence leader Mahatma Gandhi.

Demonstrations are part of daily life in the towns and cities of India, a country of 1.2 billion people made up of a myriad of castes, religions and classes. But spontaneous and widespread protests are rare and the scale of this week’s outpouring of public fury has taken the government by surprise.

Singh, 78, who is widely criticized as out of touch, dismissed the fast by Hazare as “totally misconceived” and undermining the parliamentary democracy.

Hazare became the unlikely thorn in the side of the ruling coalition when he went on hunger strike in April. He called off that fast after the government promised to introduce a bill creating an anti-corruption ombudsman.

The so-called Lokpal legislation was presented in early August, but activists slammed the draft version as toothless because the prime minister and judges were exempt from probes.

Over the past year an increasing number of company executives, opposition politicians, judges and ministers have been brought down by corruption. Still, Transparency International rates India in 87 place on the most corruption countries according to a 2010 survey.

(Additional reporting by Annie Banerji, Arup Roychoudhury and Matthias Williams; Editing by Alistair Scrutton and John Chalmers)

Posted in India Forgotten | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Indian activist to launch public fast as government relents

War looms as UPA, Anna harden positions

Posted by Admin on June 9, 2011

http://in.news.yahoo.com/blogs/boxpopuli/war-looms-upa-anna-harden-positions-073523746.html

By Ramakrishna S R | Box Populi – Wed, Jun 8, 2011

Everyone knows Anna Hazare has been demanding a stringent law against corruption, but his day-long fast at Raghat today is not for that cause. He is actually protesting the government’s violent midnight raid that scuttled Baba Ramdev‘s hunger strike last week-end.

The action at Delhi‘s Ramlila Grounds, where Ramdev was holding a fast against black money, has left 71 injured. With no place to go in the middle of the night, some found shelter in a gurudwara. The government’s high-handedness has triggered criticism from across the political spectrum. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has defended the swoop, saying it was unfortunate but unavoidable. The National Human Rights Commission isn’t impressed, and has called for reports from the central and Delhi governments.

Last night, Times Now showed a 51-year woman in hospital, paralysed after being thrashed at Ramdev’s pandal. Raj Bala is a citizen like any other, but concerned enough to take part in a movement against black money. She now lies in a hospital ICU on ventilator support. Doctors describe her condition as critical.

The government isn’t winning any hearts by terrorising peaceful demonstrators. Even the Supreme Court was shocked by the midnight raid. It has taken suo moto notice, and ordered the government to explain the forceful eviction. People across the country are asking the same question: Why did the police assault a group of women and children deep in slumber? The police, meanwhile, have seized CCTV footage of their action from Ramlila Grounds. Why, you ask? Ramdev believes they are trying to destroy evidence of their atrocities.

Two more developments add to the repression the UPA government is unleashing: (a) it is busy digging up dirt on Ramdev’s close aide Balakrishna; and (b) prominent Congress leaders are tarring Anna Hazare with the communalism brush, describing him as a mask of the RSS and Sangh Parivar. If Balakrishna were a Nepali citizen who possessed illegal arms, as the government is now letting it be known, why didn’t the police act all these years? And if Anna Hazare were a mask for hateful rightist groups, why are the government’s senior-most leaders sitting down with him and discussing a new law?

Given the predominance of the tri-colour at Anna Hazare’s meetings and saffron at Ramdev’s meetings, many had assumed they were aligned to the Congress and the BJP respectively, but the equations aren’t turning out that simple. Anna Hazare is a Gandhian and Ramdev a yoga guru and TV celebrity. Despite their dissimilar moorings, they feel they are fighting the same battle, and have affirmed faith in each other.

That makes life that much more difficult for the Congress. It will now have to take on the combined forces of Anna Hazare and Ramdev.  It looks like the Congress is already panicking. It has already let Digvijay Singh loose on Ramdev, letting him call the baba names, and tried to stop Anna Hazare from demonstrating today at Jantar Mantar. With a flip-flop Congress turning vengeful and going after anti-corruption activists, Anna Hazare and Ramdev are bound to close ranks and prepare for a bigger battle.

Ramdev is continuing his fast in Haridwar, and has asked his followers to stop their hunger strike for the time being. The Delhi police had transported him to the pilgrim town after evicting him from Ramlila Grounds. They have also barred him from entering Delhi for 15 days. All of which suggests the action will hot up in the last week of June, whe Ramdev resumes his campaign in the capital. The civil society group led by Anna Hazare is bound to come up with a more aggressive plan of action if the government continues to treat them shabbily.

Meanwhile, the US, which has spoken out against Tiananmen Square and Tahrir Square, clearly sees India as capable of handing its protests in a democratic manner. It has described the government action against Ramdev an internal Indian matter.

Posted in India Forgotten | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on War looms as UPA, Anna harden positions

Petrol price hiked Rs.5 per litre; opposition, people fume

Posted by Admin on May 15, 2011

http://in.news.yahoo.com/petrol-price-hiked-rs-5-per-litre-opposition-162823330.html

By Indo Asian News Service | IANS – Sat, May 14, 2011

New Delhi, May 14 (IANS) In its steepest hike so far, the price of petrol will be raised Rs.5 per litre in an over 8 percent increase from Saturday midnight. The increase comes only a day after the assembly poll results in five states, and was greeted by anger and derision from ordinary citizens and opposition parties.

According to officials, the three state-run companies will increase the price in a move to plug the losses suffered due to sale of subsidised domestic fuel.

In Delhi, petrol is currently priced at Rs.58.37 per litre, while it is Rs.63.08 per litre in Mumbai till Saturday. From midnight, it will be raised to Rs.63.37 and Rs.68.33, respectively.

In June last year, the government had allowed oil companies to set the price of petrol as per the market situation, following which they had raised the price of petrol by Rs.3 per litre.

Then, another substantial price rise took place in December 2010, when companies had hiked the price by Rs.3 per litre.

The last price hike was in January, when oil companies had raised the price by four to two percent. Thus, in the last nine months, the price of petrol has increased from Rs.47.93 per litre to Rs.63.37 – through nine revisions.

Despite the hike, oil company officials said they will still be losing about Rs.5 per litre of petrol, due to rising international crude prices, with India meeting eighty percent of its fuel consumption through imports. Another hike may be done next week, said officials.

There has been steady increase in the international prices, with the Indian crude basket priced at $113.09 per barrel Friday. The average of the previous fortnight from April 16-30 stood at $119.4 per barrel.

The last time the monthly average was above $100 level was in August 2008, when the crude basket price was calculated at $113.05 per barrel.

The biggest loss of the companies, however, is due to the sale of diesel, cooking gas and kerosene, whose price continues to be controlled by the government. Every day, oil companies lose Rs.495 crore due to the sale of these three products alone.

The empowered Group of Ministers (eGoM) on fuel prices is scheduled to meet next week, to consider a proposal to raise prices.

According to sources, there are proposals to increase the price of diesel by about Rs.4 per litre. Similarly, cooking gas cylinder could become costlier by about Rs.20.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Left parties condemned the hike in petrol prices Saturday, terming it as an ‘attack’ and a ‘cruel hoax’ on the common man.

The BJP said it would fight against the measure ‘inside and outside parliament’ while the Left called it hypocrisy, coming a day after the election results to five states.

‘The petrol price hike exposed the failure of the economist Prime Minister Manmohan Singh,’ BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters here.

Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Sitaram Yechury said the price hike was highly condemnable.

‘This is a cruel hoax on the common people,’ he told reporters here.

Forward Bloc national secretary G. Devarajan said the government was ‘indulging in hypocrisy by increasing the prices of petrol just one day after the assembly poll results’.

The moment the news flashed across the media, petrol stations in the city saw long queues of vehicles with people in a hurry to fill up the tanks before the hiked prices came into effect.

Shweta Arya, consultant in an infrastructure firm, lamented that her transportation budget has spiked in the last one year.

‘My petrol expenditure has doubled in the last one year. How will the common man survive after such a price hike,’ she wondered.

Vinay Verma, 32, wondered if the government could tolerate corruption among politicians and bureaucrats, which has drained the country’s coffers, then why couldn’t it also take on the burden of subsidy.

‘I know that the hike is because of the international increase in prices. But what angers me is that the government can tolerate scams worth thousands of crores of rupees but fails when it comes to international fuel rates,’ lamented Verma, a human resources executive.

Posted in Economic Upheavals, India Forgotten | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Petrol price hiked Rs.5 per litre; opposition, people fume

The GM genocide: Thousands of Indian farmers are committing suicide after using genetically modified crops

Posted by Admin on January 17, 2011

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1082559/The-GM-genocide-Thousands-Indian-farmers-committing-suicide-using-genetically-modified-crops.html

By Andrew Malone
Last updated at 12:48 AM on 3rd November 2008

When Prince Charles claimed thousands of Indian farmers were killing themselves after using GM crops, he was branded a scaremonger. In fact, as this chilling dispatch reveals, it’s even WORSE than he feared.

The children were inconsolable. Mute with shock and fighting back tears, they huddled beside their mother as friends and neighbours prepared their father’s body for cremation on a blazing bonfire built on the cracked, barren fields near their home.

As flames consumed the corpse, Ganjanan, 12, and Kalpana, 14, faced a grim future. While Shankara Mandaukar had hoped his son and daughter would have a better life under India‘s economic boom, they now face working as slave labour for a few pence a day. Landless and homeless, they will be the lowest of the low.

Indian farmer

Human tragedy: A farmer and child in India’s ‘suicide belt’

Shankara, respected farmer, loving husband and father, had taken his own life. Less than 24 hours earlier, facing the loss of his land due to debt, he drank a cupful of chemical insecticide.

Unable to pay back the equivalent of two years’ earnings, he was in despair. He could see no way out.

There were still marks in the dust where he had writhed in agony. Other villagers looked on – they knew from experience that any intervention was pointless – as he lay doubled up on the ground, crying out in pain and vomiting.

Moaning, he crawled on to a bench outside his simple home 100 miles from Nagpur in central India. An hour later, he stopped making any noise. Then he stopped breathing. At 5pm on Sunday, the life of Shankara Mandaukar came to an end.

As neighbours gathered to pray outside the family home, Nirmala Mandaukar, 50, told how she rushed back from the fields to find her husband dead. ‘He was a loving and caring man,’ she said, weeping quietly.

‘But he couldn’t take any more. The mental anguish was too much. We have lost everything.’

Shankara’s crop had failed – twice. Of course, famine and pestilence are part of India’s ancient story.

But the death of this respected farmer has been blamed on something far more modern and sinister: genetically modified crops.

Shankara, like millions of other Indian farmers, had been promised previously unheard of harvests and income if he switched from farming with traditional seeds to planting GM seeds instead.

Prince Charles 

Distressed: Prince Charles has set up charity Bhumi Vardaan Foundation to address the plight of suicide farmers

Beguiled by the promise of future riches, he borrowed money in order to buy the GM seeds. But when the harvests failed, he was left with spiralling debts – and no income.

So Shankara became one of an estimated 125,000 farmers to take their own life as a result of the ruthless drive to use India as a testing ground for genetically modified crops.

The crisis, branded the ‘GM Genocide’ by campaigners, was highlighted recently when Prince Charles claimed that the issue of GM had become a ‘global moral question’ – and the time had come to end its unstoppable march.

Speaking by video link to a conference in the Indian capital, Delhi, he infuriated bio-tech leaders and some politicians by condemning ‘the truly appalling and tragic rate of small farmer suicides in India, stemming… from the failure of many GM crop varieties’.

Ranged against the Prince are powerful GM lobbyists and prominent politicians, who claim that genetically modified crops have transformed Indian agriculture, providing greater yields than ever before.

The rest of the world, they insist, should embrace ‘the future’ and follow suit.

So who is telling the truth? To find out, I travelled to the ‘suicide belt’ in Maharashtra state.

What I found was deeply disturbing – and has profound implications for countries, including Britain, debating whether to allow the planting of seeds manipulated by scientists to circumvent the laws of nature.

For official figures from the Indian Ministry of Agriculture do indeed confirm that in a huge humanitarian crisis, more than 1,000 farmers kill themselves here each month.

Simple, rural people, they are dying slow, agonising deaths. Most swallow insecticide – a pricey substance they were promised they would not need when they were coerced into growing expensive GM crops.

It seems that many are massively in debt to local money-lenders, having over-borrowed to purchase GM seed.

Pro-GM experts claim that it is rural poverty, alcoholism, drought and ‘agrarian distress’ that is the real reason for the horrific toll.

But, as I discovered during a four-day journey through the epicentre of the disaster, that is not the full story.

Monsanto

Death seeds: A Greenpeace protester sprays milk-based paint on a Monsanto research soybean field near Atlantic, Iowa

In one small village I visited, 18 farmers had committed suicide after being sucked into GM debts. In some cases, women have taken over farms from their dead husbands – only to kill themselves as well.

Latta Ramesh, 38, drank insecticide after her crops failed – two years after her husband disappeared when the GM debts became too much.

She left her ten-year-old son, Rashan, in the care of relatives. ‘He cries when he thinks of his mother,’ said the dead woman’s aunt, sitting listlessly in shade near the fields.

Village after village, families told how they had fallen into debt after being persuaded to buy GM seeds instead of traditional cotton seeds.

The price difference is staggering: £10 for 100 grams of GM seed, compared with less than £10 for 1,000 times more traditional seeds.

But GM salesmen and government officials had promised farmers that these were ‘magic seeds’ – with better crops that would be free from parasites and insects.

Indeed, in a bid to promote the uptake of GM seeds, traditional varieties were banned from many government seed banks.

The authorities had a vested interest in promoting this new biotechnology. Desperate to escape the grinding poverty of the post-independence years, the Indian government had agreed to allow new bio-tech giants, such as the U.S. market-leader Monsanto, to sell their new seed creations.

In return for allowing western companies access to the second most populated country in the world, with more than one billion people, India was granted International Monetary Fund loans in the Eighties and Nineties, helping to launch an economic revolution.

But while cities such as Mumbai and Delhi have boomed, the farmers’ lives have slid back into the dark ages.

Though areas of India planted with GM seeds have doubled in two years – up to 17 million acres – many famers have found there is a terrible price to be paid.

Far from being ‘magic seeds’, GM pest-proof ‘breeds’ of cotton have been devastated by bollworms, a voracious parasite.

Nor were the farmers told that these seeds require double the amount of water. This has proved a matter of life and death.

With rains failing for the past two years, many GM crops have simply withered and died, leaving the farmers with crippling debts and no means of paying them off.

Having taken loans from traditional money lenders at extortionate rates, hundreds of thousands of small farmers have faced losing their land as the expensive seeds fail, while those who could struggle on faced a fresh crisis.

When crops failed in the past, farmers could still save seeds and replant them the following year.

But with GM seeds they cannot do this. That’s because GM seeds contain so- called ‘terminator technology’, meaning that they have been genetically modified so that the resulting crops do not produce viable seeds of their own.

As a result, farmers have to buy new seeds each year at the same punitive prices. For some, that means the difference between life and death.

Take the case of Suresh Bhalasa, another farmer who was cremated this week, leaving a wife and two children.

As night fell after the ceremony, and neighbours squatted outside while sacred cows were brought in from the fields, his family had no doubt that their troubles stemmed from the moment they were encouraged to buy BT Cotton, a geneticallymodified plant created by Monsanto.

‘We are ruined now,’ said the dead man’s 38-year-old wife. ‘We bought 100 grams of BT Cotton. Our crop failed twice. My husband had become depressed. He went out to his field, lay down in the cotton and swallowed insecticide.’

Villagers bundled him into a rickshaw and headed to hospital along rutted farm roads. ‘He cried out that he had taken the insecticide and he was sorry,’ she said, as her family and neighbours crowded into her home to pay their respects. ‘He was dead by the time they got to hospital.’

Asked if the dead man was a ‘drunkard’ or suffered from other ‘social problems’, as alleged by pro-GM officials, the quiet, dignified gathering erupted in anger. ‘No! No!’ one of the dead man’s brothers exclaimed. ‘Suresh was a good man. He sent his children to school and paid his taxes.

‘He was strangled by these magic seeds. They sell us the seeds, saying they will not need expensive pesticides but they do. We have to buy the same seeds from the same company every year. It is killing us. Please tell the world what is happening here.’

Monsanto has admitted that soaring debt was a ‘factor in this tragedy’. But pointing out that cotton production had doubled in the past seven years, a spokesman added that there are other reasons for the recent crisis, such as ‘untimely rain’ or drought, and pointed out that suicides have always been part of rural Indian life.

Officials also point to surveys saying the majority of Indian farmers want GM seeds  –  no doubt encouraged to do so by aggressive marketing tactics.

During the course of my inquiries in Maharastra, I encountered three ‘independent’ surveyors scouring villages for information about suicides. They insisted that GM seeds were only 50 per cent more expensive – and then later admitted the difference was 1,000 per cent.

(A Monsanto spokesman later insisted their seed is ‘only double’ the price of ‘official’ non-GM seed – but admitted that the difference can be vast if cheaper traditional seeds are sold by ‘unscrupulous’ merchants, who often also sell ‘fake’ GM seeds which are prone to disease.)

With rumours of imminent government compensation to stem the wave of deaths, many farmers said they were desperate for any form of assistance. ‘We just want to escape from our problems,’ one said. ‘We just want help to stop any more of us dying.’

Prince Charles is so distressed by the plight of the suicide farmers that he is setting up a charity, the Bhumi Vardaan Foundation, to help those affected and promote organic Indian crops instead of GM.

India’s farmers are also starting to fight back. As well as taking GM seed distributors hostage and staging mass protests, one state government is taking legal action against Monsanto for the exorbitant costs of GM seeds.

This came too late for Shankara Mandauker, who was 80,000 rupees (about £1,000) in debt when he took his own life. ‘I told him that we can survive,’ his widow said, her children still by her side as darkness fell. ‘I told him we could find a way out. He just said it was better to die.’

But the debt does not die with her husband: unless she can find a way of paying it off, she will not be able to afford the children’s schooling. They will lose their land, joining the hordes seen begging in their thousands by the roadside throughout this vast, chaotic country.

Cruelly, it’s the young who are suffering most from the ‘GM Genocide’  –  the very generation supposed to be lifted out of a life of hardship and misery by these ‘magic seeds’.

Here in the suicide belt of India, the cost of the genetically modified future is murderously high.

Posted in India Forgotten | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The GM genocide: Thousands of Indian farmers are committing suicide after using genetically modified crops

The Iron Pillar from Delhi

Posted by Admin on February 22, 2010

The Iron Pillar from Delhi

Standing at the center of the Quwwatul Mosque the Iron Pillar is one of Delhi’s most curious structures. Dating back to 4th century A.D., the pillar bears an inscription which states that it was erected as a flagstaff in honour of the Hindu god, Vishnu, and in the memory of the Gupta King Chandragupta II (375-413). How the pillar moved to its present location remains a mystery. The pillar also highlights ancient India’s achievements in metallurgy. The pillar is made of 98 per cent wrought iron and has stood 1,600 years without rusting or decomposing.

The Iron Pillar from Delhi
7.3 m tall, with one meter below the ground; the diameter is 48 centimeters at the foot, tapering to 29 cm at the top, just below the base of the wonderfully crafted capital; it weighs approximately 6.5 tones, and was manufactured by forged welding.


Enigma of the Iron Pillar

B.N. Goswamy

The sight is so familiar: each time you are in the vicinity of the Qutab Minar in Delhi, you find groups of tourists gathered around a tall, sleekly tapering iron pillar in that complex, one person from the group standing with his or her back firmly against it, and trying to make the fingers of the two hands touch while holding the pillar in embrace. Very few succeed but, almost always, there is a feeling of merriment around, since terms are set within the group and each person is ‘tested’, as it were, for fidelity or truthfulness or loyalty, even longevity, it could be anything. When a person fails to make the contact between the fingers of the two hands wrapped around the pillar, squeals of delight go up. This has gone on for years, certainly ever since tourist guides came into being.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in India Forgotten | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Iron Pillar from Delhi