Chinese Rules

china

Chinese invent novel rules to discipline their citizens. The latest one to make the student pedestrians to salute the car on the way is mistaken. In order to request the coming to go slow in the busy traffic roads in front of the educational institutions the Chinese administrators have introduced this rule. Unfortunately this has been twisted as the intrusion on personal freedom. Of course personal freedom is not easy to be practised in the upcoming superpower. But that has become the pushing force for China to become one of the top emerging nations in the world. Freedom needs to be compromised to attain superpower status. Especially a country which is the largest populated in the world disciplining has been done at all costs. I asked a Chinese friend of mine what she likes and dislikes about India. She told me “Freedom here is what I like and disliking of Chinese is what I don’t like”.

The Times of India writes (27 October 2009)

All the students at Luolang Elementary School, a yellow-and-orange concrete structure off a winding mountain road in southern China,
know the key rules: Do not run in the halls. Take your seat before the bell rings. Raise your hand to ask a question.

And oh, yes: Salute every passing car on your way to and from school.

Education officials promoted the saluting edict to reduce traffic accidents and teach children courtesy. Critics, who have posted thousands of negative comments about the policy on China’s electronic bulletin boards, beg to differ. “This is just pitiful,” wrote one in a post last year.

This is hardly the only nation where local bureaucrats sometimes run a bit too free. But in China, where many local officials are less than well trained and only the party can eject them from office, local governments’ dubious edicts are common enough that skewering them has become a favorite pastime of China’s web users.

Often, the skewering gets results. In April, one county in Hubei province drew nationwide ridicule after officials ordered civil servants and employees of state-owned companies to buy a total of 23,000 packs of province’s brand of cigarettes every year. Departments whose employees failed to buy enough cigarettes or bou-ght other Chinese brands would be fined, the media reported.

But a 2003 regulation that bars male officials in Sichuan province from hiring female secretaries may still be on the books. China Youth Daily reported then that the official who initiated the regulation wanted “to ensure that work can be carried out.”

No one ever precisely pinned down the origin of an order this May to kill all dogs in the town of Heihe, on the Russian border in the far northwest. Media reports suggested one town official became irate after a dog bit him as he strolled along a river. But the official refused to confirm that.

In comparison, Huangping county’s policy of roadside salutes is arguably benign. Education officials say compliance is strictly voluntary. Asked whether they follow it, elementary students tend to burst into nervous giggles. The rule’s purpose is twofold: to keep children safer on the county’s corkscrew mountain roads and to teach manners. Nearly 30 schools are located along roads without sidewalks or speed bumps. Signs posting speed limits are few and far between; virtually no signs indicate a school nearby.

Long Guoping, deputy chief of the county education bureau, said those measures were coming. “Little by little, the government is installing them,” he said. In the meantime, the salute “might avoid some accidents,” he said. “It allows the drivers to notice the children and the children to notice the drivers.”

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Dating Diary

date

Dating is not cool walk. It needs a thorough rehearsal. If the first encounter is mismanaged rarely opportunities will come again from the same person. No wonder dating is called expert’s event.

The Times of India writes (277 October 2009)

1. Timing is everything. Punctuality is a big turn on. Turning up late is always a great turn-off. Also, remember even if your date hasn’t exactly gone as planned, you can’t simply scoot while your date is at the bar or in the loo. It’s highly offensive to leave without saying goodbye. .

2. Ex Files
It’s in poor taste to mention your ex on the very first date. It just shows you still haven’t quite got over him/her, are still hanging on to your past, and that you’re also quite possibly an obcessive stalker who simply can’t let go.

3. Too much drinking
While everyone likes to enjoy a drink or two on their first date, there’s a fine line between a couple of drinks and getting so sloshed that you don’t even remember your own name, let alone your date’s.

4. Curb your sexual urges
Getting excited? It’s a big temptation, especially for men to want to go back ‘for a coffee’ after a successful date. But don’t. You’ll just come across as horny and too eager. Get to know your partner better before taking them to bed.

5. Pay Up
Gone are the days when it was only men who footed the bill, today, it’s more congenial to offer to pay for your share. Going Dutch is often an indicator that even in the relationship you are willing to take up equal responsibilities.

6. Frankness Counts
Be honest about your age, your job, the fact that you maybe still living in with your parents, or whether you’re still getting out of a relationship – being dishonest is a huge risk as once found out, you may never get to see the person again.

7. Name Game
There’s nothing worse than forgetting the name of your date. Otherwise you’re likely to come across either as the kind of person who dates so frequently that they can’t keep track or suffers from attention deficit disorder. Neither of these helps in making a good impression.

8. Go Solo
The idea of a threesome may make you believe the more the merrier, but bringing a close friend, or even your colleague, on your date is likely to leave a bad impression. Who knows your date may even find your friend hotter!

9. Avoid Arguments
A lively and enriching discussion on your first date about politics or the environment is a great mental stimuli; but try not to get argumentative as this is a dampener.

10. Avoid long calls
Try and focus on the person in front of you instead of texting your mates and speaking intermittently on the cell. Being hooked to your phone all night is just rude!

Indian Films in Social Change

BollywoodUnplugged

Films can play a very powerful role in social change. Whether it is bringing communal harmony or development of underdeveloped areas, films are the best way to communicate to public for a wider change. This message was given by President Pratibha Patil in the National Film Awards function.

The Times of India writes on 23 October 2009

Describing cinema as India’s soft power, President Pratibha Patil on Wednesday said that more needed to be done to create social change
through films.

Speaking at the 55th National Film Awards for 2007, Patil said, “Cinema should not only be a source of popular entertainment for families and individuals, but also a vehicle of social change.”

The President also awarded the Dadasaheb Phalke award to legendary singer Manna Dey. Expressing his happiness at the award, Dey said, “I am overwhelmed. It feels absolutely great.”

I&B minister Ambika Soni said that in an effort to make the awards more contemporary and focussed a panel of eminent experts would soon be constituted to advise the government. She said that the National Film Awards needed to reflect newer developments that were happening in the field of cinema. “There is a need to re-invent the National Film Awards to make it more contemporary,” she acknowledged.

The awardees who were present to receive the award included director Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Priyadarshan, director of `Kanchivaram’, the Tamil film which won the best direction award, Shefali Shah, given the award for the best supporting actress for her role in `The Last Lear’, and child artiste Sharad Goyekar amongst others.

Actor Aamir Khan, Anil Kapoor and director Aditya Chopra gave the awards a miss.

Move Beyond RTI

RTI

Truly the RTI has revolutionised the information world of India. Having placed this revoluntionary zeal of RTI I must also talk about the pseudo RTI champions whose full time job is to file RTI petitions. This is for their publicity. But jams the network and disturbs the genuine information seeker. As we know that Indian bureaucracy moves in a snail pace, pseduo RTI applicants job complicates the problem. Moving beyond the RTI the goverment must think about introducing DTP – Duty to Publish as a rule. All the contract, recruitment, government functioning which doesn’t disturb the strategic functioning and policies of the government must be available in the websites. This can lessen the trouble. Let us see below how the information commissioners have fared in the last few years of RTI introduction.

The Times of India writes (23 October 2009)

Four years after the pioneering Right to Information regime came into force in India, many hurdles remain in the way of a citizen
accessing information. Just 27 people out of 100 get the information they ask for. And, even if an information commission rules in your favour, there is a 61% chance you won’t get the information because the rulings are not complied with.

These are some of the many interesting findings of the largest study conducted to assess the performance of Information Commissioners across India. Overturning many commonly held notions, the project led by RTI campaigner Arvind Kejariwal has ranked an unheard of information commissioner from Kerala, P Faziluddin, as the best in the country in terms of public satisfaction. Karnataka was found to have the best Information Commission.

The most public face of the Central Information Commission, its CIC Wajahat Habibullah, is placed fourth on the list in terms of public satisfaction while two IC’s from Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra bring up the bottom. Former CBI officer M L Sharma was found to be the least popular among CIC commissioners on the same count.

Apart from analyzing public satisfaction, the ranking also took into account ‘effectiveness’ (whether information was made available or not), ‘deterrent impact’ (imposing penalties for non-disclosures) and ‘pro-disclosure factor’ (which looked at whether the order was in favour of the applicant or not).

The study throws up other interesting results. Violence-racked regions like Assam and Chattisgarh are blazing new trails in ushering in transparency with Information Commissions of the two states passing 98% pro-disclosure rulings. IC Anil Joshi from Chattisgarh has ruled 100% in favour of transparency, the study, that browsed through more than 50,000 rulings, discloses.

And, despite the much reviled system of appointing retired bureaucrats as information commissioners, Kejariwal’s Public Cause Research Trust found all the best performing commissioners were retired babus. The only commissioner with a background in activism, Shailesh Gandhi, was ranked at the bottom of the rung on each of the four parameters.

While releasing the findings, Kejariwal said the rankings may change once more feedback starts flowing in from all parts of the country. “We are asking just one question: Did you finally get satisfactory information after approaching the Information Commission?” Kejariwal said, explaining how his team of researchers wrote to each applicant who got a favourable order to find out what they thought of the interface with information commissioners.

“These findings are just the beginning of a process. The hope is citizens will constantly assess the performance of high public officials as an integral part of an effective democracy,” the RTI campaigner hoped.

Spectrum Scam Raja

rajaWhy to protest the CBI raid if there is no fishy deal in the telecom ministry? Karunanidhi the octagenrian chief minister of Tamil Nadu don’t lose even a minute to defend his family members. In these kinds of family rescue his health problem is not a deterrence. No idea from where he gets the energy to defend his tainted family members. A. Raja the union telecom minister for the past four years has been ruining the cash rich telecom sector. From the profit making BSNL he took the company to the begging stage. Such a non performing but a corrupt minister is ruining the potential public sector company. The Prime Minster Dr. Manmohan Singh has been dragged by Karunanidhi in his letter protesting CBI raids. Although the P.M has been compelled to utter few decent words about Raja when the UPA II was reluctant to add him as the minister the same words has been quoted as P.M’s genuine certificate to the scam tainted Raja. To save the publc telecom companies from further collapse, P.M must dismiss Raja from the ministry to save the industry.

The Times of India writes (24 October 2009)

The DMK is seething with resentment over CBI’s raids on the offices of Department of Telecommunications headed by partyman A Raja and the very day after, Tamil Nadu chief minister M Karunanidhi has lodged a strong protest with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

According to sources, the Tamil Nadu chief minister conveyed to the PM and Congress leadership that CBI’s raids on the offices of Raja’s ministry were inconsistent with Congress’s strong defence of the commmunications minister over the 2G spectrum scam.

DMK sources in Chennai said Karunanidhi impressed upon the PM that he felt Raja was being unnecessarily humiliated, as he had consulted the PM on the spectrum allocation issue all along. The DMK stalwart also argued that the PM’s decision to retain Raja in the communications ministry was clear evidence of his innocence. He also pointed out that Congress had defended the communications minister all along both in Parliament and in public, and even campaigned for him in the Lok Sabha elections.

The protest coincided with CBI expanding the investigation by raiding offices of some of the top telecom service providers and strong demands from BJP and CPM for Raja’s resignation.

Sources in the CBI involved in the investigation into the 2G spectrum scam, which is said to have caused the public exchequer loss of thousands of crores, said raids were carried out in eight cities — Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Mohali, Ahmedabad, Noida, Gurgaon and Jaipur.

Sources said the agency was looking into the records of all those telecom operators who had 2G spectrum licences since 2001. “The copies of all agreements and licences have been procured and these are being looked into,” said an oficial.

In all, ten offices of telecom companies were raided as part of the countrywide sweep.

While the investigation has been ordered by the Central Vigilance Commission, the DMK has been defiantly dismissive of the whole affair. Raja has refused to step down, saying the decisions for which he has been accused of corruption were taken with the PM’s concurrence.

Raja has been at the centre of allegations over irregularities in the allocation of spectrum right since UPA-1, but Congress had aggressively defended the minister.

The sudden raids may have led the DMK to suspect that the comfort level of Congress in its second innings in Delhi seems to have emboldened the government to seek more leeway with the coalition partner.

AICC spokesman Manish Tiwari, responding to a volley of questions on the propriety of the minister continuing in office pending probe, rejected Opposition’s demand for Raja’s resignation. “Since the FIR names only officials, the question of propriety does not arise. CBI registered a case against some officials and the whole matter is still under investigation,” he said.

The opposition was, however, ballistic. BJP spokesperson demanded that Raja resign forthwith. “There is no justification — moral, political or ethical — for Mr Raja to continue in office after the raids on the offices of his ministry. He should step down so that the agency can unearth the huge scandal without any hindrance,” the BJP said.

The CPM said while the CBI probe into the allotment of spectrum licences was long overdue, it was shocking that Raja had refused to resign. “The minister cannot evade responsibility and involvement in the matter when all his explanations for adopting the first-come-first-served policy have proved baseless. In the interests of having a fair probe, it is essential that the minister not continue in office,” the party said.

Name Changing States

bombay-or-mumbai

Politics play a dirty role in every decision of the Governments in Centre and States. Changing the name of a city or state is one of these many dirty games. It is understandable that localisation of the names is to respect the language and culture. But when even that local names are changed when governments change tell the malafide intentions. Uttranchal to Uttrakhand is the best example. Everyone is put under heavy strain with these name change tamashas. It must stop immediately.

The Times of India writes (24 October 2009)

Just when you were getting used to Bengaluru, they’ve decided to add another tongue-twister to your vocabulary. Orissa is Odisha and
Oriya is now Odia. And for anyone who says `what’s in a name’ ask director-producer Karan Johar who was forced to not just issue a public apology on the use of `Bombay’ but also add a disclaimer to his film `Wake Up Sid’.

In times where being politically correct means not asking uncomfortable questions, the change in nomenclature was approved by the Union Cabinet on Wednesday without discussion. It will get Parliament’s nod soon enough.

While Shiv Sena turned Bombay to Mumbai and similar political compulsions dictated changing Calcutta to Kolkata, our history is replete with examples of regional demands for name changing — whether it is state, language, street or chowk. Erasing fancy sounding British names to earthy Indian ones is a favoured political pastime though it is unclear what dividend it pays.

The proposed change will now require an amendment to the first and eighth schedule of the Constitution which is likely to come up in Parliament soon.

The Orissa assembly had moved a resolution in August to change the state’s name to Odisha and its official language from Oriya to Odia, saying the names had been used wrongly. Chief minister Naveen Patnaik moved the resolution in the House which was approved by a voice vote.

Officials said the state was keen to change its name owing to disparities in pronunciation due to the wrong spelling of the state’s name. It is written as Udisa in Hindi and Orissa in English.

Major cities that have been renamed after Independence include Kanpur (formerly Cawnpore), Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum), Mumbai (Bombay), Chennai (Madras), Kolkata (Calcutta), Pune (Poona) and Kochi (Cochin).

Pre Fixed Spywares

Cyber crime has taken the ultimate technological turn. With the strategies built to handle the cyber criminals they got alerted. Instead of playing with the computer,internet and stealing the passwords now they fix the spywares before selling the computers. So no extra effort for them to loot. Automatically the sold computers will send all the secret information to the central server to steal the crucial data including credit information, bank transactions etc. Almighty only can help the cyber world.

The Times of India writes (21 October 2009)

Tens of millions of US computers are loaded with scam security software that
their owners may have paid for but which only makes

the machines more vulnerable, according to a new Symantec report on cybercrime.

Cyberthieves are increasingly planting fake security alerts that pop up when computer users access a legitimate website. The “alert” warns them of a virus and offers security software, sometimes for free and sometimes for a fee.

“Lots of times, in fact they’re a conduit for attackers to take over your machine,” said Vincent Weafer, Symantec’s vice-president for security response.

“They’ll take your credit card information, any personal information you’ve entered there and they’ve got your machine,” he said, referring to some rogue software’s ability to rope a users’ machine into a botnet, a network of machines taken over to send spam or worse.

Symantec found 250 varieties of scam security software with legitimate sounding names like Antivirus 2010 and SpywareGuard 2008, and about 43 million attempted downloads in one year but did not know how many of the attempted downloads succeeded, said Weafer.

“In terms of the number of people who potentially have this in their machines, it’s tens of millions,” Weafer said.
It was also impossible to tell how much cyberthieves made off with but “affiliates” acting as middlemen to convince people to download the software were believed to earn between 1 cent per download and 55 cents.
TrafficConverter.biz, which has been shut down, had boasted that its top affiliates earned as much as $332,000 a month for selling scam security software, according to Weafer.

Sexventures

sexSex and statistics go well. This is what Durex Global Sex Survey had proved. In a cross-country analysis it reveals hot and spicey information about the bed side adventures. From the number of times sexventured people to the environmental problems created by condoms to sex toys, the survey brings out interesting information.

The Times of India writes (22 October 2009)

1. Globally, lovers are having sex 139 times a year. The French are the lovemaking pacesetters, according to the Durex Global Sex Survey 2002, coming in at 167 times each 365 days.

2. Condoms are biodegradable — some of them. Lambskin and latex condoms are biodegradable, but polyurethane condoms aren’t.

3. Sex-enhancing CDs are being sold for setting the mood. Try some classical options to rock your world: Shacking Up to Chopin, Making Out to Mozart and Bedroom Bliss with Beethoven are available.

4. Don’t douche — it’s not recommended anymore. Douching washes away the healthy bacteria in the vagina and alters the natural, healthy pH level. The practice can actually lead to the spread of infections in the reproductive organs.

5. Sex with a celebrity is the No. 1 fantasy worldwide. That’s according to the recent Durex survey, which also found that four in 10 people have fantasized about sex with their best friend’s partner!

6. Believe it – blue balls are for real. The discomfort is caused when more blood flows into the penis than out. The uneven blood flow causes an increase in the volume of blood trapped in the genitals and contributes to the penis becoming erect and the testicles becoming engorged with blood.

7. It could take eight months for a couple to conceive. So you might not get a baby off the bat, but the wait can be more than worthwhile. At least a year should go by before you fret about your fertility.

Noble Anguish

AP_Venki2_7167fWinning Nobel prize and accepting the kudos coming from all over the world is not an easy task. The world’s most coveted prize attracts everyone’s attention. The celebration of the winner won’t be confined to one nation or region. He or she belongs to the entire world. In this victory celebration, Venkatraman Ramakrishnan who won Noble prize for his path breaking protein research is an anguished man. Due to the thousands of congratulatory messages pouring into him, his email inbox got clogged. He was not able to access his official mails. Due to this tension he blasted people who ignored him during his student days. Understandable agony. But as a Noble winner he should also be a Noble human being to forget the bitter past and politely tell his fans that they can email messages in a separate id which can be created.

Abhishek Manu Singhvi writes in The Times of India (20 October 2009)

Nobel laureate Venkatraman Ramakrishnan only the seventh person of Indian origin to have won the honour has tellingly highlighted the frequently
unbridgeable chasm between emotional intelligence (EQ) and traditional intelligence (IQ). His recent statements, after receiving the Chemistry Nobel, underline the inverse ratio between IQ and EQ and do no credit to his obviously outstanding intellectual equipment.

Ramakrishnan is reported to have expressed disgust at the outpouring of fan mail received by him from India, especially from Tamil Nadu, after the conferment of the Nobel. On two issues, his anger is understandable, though perhaps expressed at the wrong time, the wrong place and in the wrong manner. He may be right in pointing out that several teachers have suddenly discovered him as their student in his school/college days in India, while he remembers none of them. Secondly, he has expressed resentment at being contacted by persons who had chosen to ignore him for decades but started expressing new-found love after the Nobel win.

Both sentiments are understandable, may even be justifiable, though Ramakrishnan can scarcely believed to be innocent of the universal creed and global phenomenon, not at all peculiar to India, that success has many fathers while failure is an orphan. That this universal phenomenon should surprise Ramakrishnan is surprising. He would surely have encountered enough of it in the American and European cultures in which he has worked for decades to not treat it as uniquely Indian, as his observations suggest.

But these parts of his statement are not the subject of this critique. What is deplorable is Ramakrishnan’s equation and linkage of something as lofty and noble as patriotism and nationalism with something as banal and ridiculous as the clogging of his e-mail accounts and a general disgust at being troubled by his countrymen. When a Rajasthani, or a fellow citizen from Jodhpur, gets an outstanding international award, i feel a wee bit extra joy and exhilaration than my other Indian compatriots, because i was born in Jodhpur and hail from Rajasthan.

When an Indian gets a prestigious global award, all Indians feel proud, and even jingoistic, whereas the same award to a foreigner is merely another statistic in a newspaper. This is not to suggest that we are, or i am, casteist, regional or practising false nationalism. Patriotism can be distorted and misused as the “refuge of the scoundrel” but, at its core, it has an intersection of noble values which, in this case, appear to have completely escaped the mind of a brilliant Nobel laureate.

These are the values of link and affinity with a culture, a people, a territory and a national identity. It is this sentiment alone which connects India and Indians, despite this country being the greatest aggregation of diversities on this planet.

Yes, Mr Ramakrishnan, the place and nation of your birth may be “accidents of history”, as you put it, but you are woefully and grievously wrong to suppose that the overwhelming tidal wave of affection for you from fellow Tamilians and Indians can be seen or explained merely as an accident of history. Your comments illustrate not merely an absence of EQ but the arrogance of relative youthfulness and an assumption that you can see and analyse everything from the mind while deadening your heart. I can wager a bet that when you grow old (maybe over 75 by western standards, but 65 by Indian standards), you will hark back and hanker for the peace, tranquillity and cultural affinity of the same Chidambaram town, whose eulogising e-mails you are currently castigating.

Dilly-Dallying India on Emission Curbs

kyobushWill he or won’t he? This prolonged confusion regarding India’s position on emission curbs continue without an end. In the latest switch over in position the environment minister says in a letter to P.M (Crazy to be leaked to the media) that India should agree to the developed world’s insistence to cut emission curbs. While taking this cut demand India can reap dividends like compensation from the developed to the tune of 70 billion euros and its push to the UN security council. These matters need secret pursuit rather than communicating through the media. Although the minister seems to be shocked over the media leakage of his “privileged letter to the P.M”, this is how the agents get the insider information. India don’t need enemy spies. It is time to kill these kinds of silly acts and take a stable position on the climate change.

The Times of India writes (19 October 2009)

India seems to have begun to shuffle its feet in the climate change negotiations. Environment minister Jairam Ramesh, in a confidential letter to the PM, has suggested that India junk the Kyoto Protocol, delink itself from G77 — the 131-member bloc of developing nations — and take on greenhouse gas emission reduction commitments under a new deal without any counter guarantee of finances and technology.

This proposal comes just after he wrote to the PM suggesting India permit strict external scrutiny — just as is done under IMF and WTO — of the mitigation measures it takes at its own cost.

If accepted by the government, the minister’s proposal will radically shift India’s stand away from its position on climate negotiations that governments of all political hues have backed since 1990 and which was defended robustly as recently as at the UN talks in Bangkok earlier this month.

The minister has justified the proposed shift of gears by repeating his argument that India need not be seen as a deal-breaker and should try to curb emissions in its own interest. He has also pointed to the advantages — a permanent seat on the Security Council, for instance — that it can hope to reap with a changed stance.

In his October 13 letter to the PM, Ramesh argues for a deviation from the Kyoto Protocol under which only the developed countries — listed in Annexure 1 — are required to take obligations for emission cuts, saying that it would also help in a better alignment with the US. “We must welcome initiatives to bring the US into the mainstream, if need be through a special mechanism, without diluting basic Annex 1/non-Annex distinctions. If the Australian Proposal of a schedule maintains this basic distinction and nature of differential obligations we should have no great theological objections.”

When approached for his comments, the union minister responded on phone, “I am surprised that a privileged communication between me and the Prime Minister has found its way into the public domain. I am shocked. And whatever I had to say I have said to the PM.” He refused to speak further.

In his letter, Ramesh emphasizes his concern about India being seen as a bugbear for the developed countries in the climate negotiations. “India must listen more and speak less in negotiations” as its stance is “disfavoured by the developed countries, small island states and vulnerable countries. It takes away from India’s aspirations for permanent membership of the Security Council.”

The minister has also suggested diluting India’s strong stance — enshrined in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Convention (UNFCCC) — on demanding compensation from the industrialized countries in terms of funds and technology for having caused the climate change problem to begin with. He writes, “The position we take on international mitigation commitments only if supported by finance and technology needs to be nuanced simply because we need to mitigate in self-interest.”

Ramesh had previously suggested to the PM in a personal letter that India allow IMF and WTO-style review and `surveillance’ of even those emission control steps that it takes under its own legislation and at its cost.

Besides their radical import, his proposals are significant because they come just a week after India vigorously stuck to its known negotiating guns at the Bangkok round of negotiations. The UN talks in the Thai capital saw India leading the attack by G77 and China on the Australian Proposal which the environment minister now favours in his letter to the PM.

India along with other countries said that the industrialised countries by introducing the US and EU-backed Australian Proposal were attempting to “kill” the Kyoto Protocol, and alter the character of the UN Framework Convention. The Indian delegates said that the Australian Proposal, asking for a single legal instrument, would “unilaterally impose new commitments and burdens on developing countries and undermine the exiting convention”.

But now Ramesh has said India should “not stick with G77 but be embedded in G20. We should be pragmatic and constructive, not argumentative and polemical.” Interestingly, India had recently fought off immense pressure at the G20 talks to dilute its stand and give up its rights to financial compensation.

An internal document of the government cleared by the environment minister, drawing the “red lines” for the Bangkok negotiations clearly states that India will not allow commitments of the rich countries to be listed in a single instrument along with the `actions’ that India undertakes. In short, it said that the emission-cut obligations of the rich countries under the Kyoto Protocol should not be lumped with whatever the developing countries agree to do voluntarily — something that the Australian Proposal seeks to do away with.

The brief for Bangkok, which is with TOI, had said that the continuation of the Kyoto Protocol along with deep and ambitious cuts of the rich nations is of critical importance and non-negotiable. It also told the negotiators — again contrary to what Ramesh suggests to the PM — that they shall not agree to any international review of its unilateral and unsupported domestic action under any agreement.

The UN Framework Convention and the Kyoto Protocol distinguishes between the industrialized countries that are historically to blame for the accumulated greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The Protocol, to which most countries, with the exception of US, are party, imposes strong emission reduction targets, obligations and non-compliance penalties on only the rich nations. It also follows the “polluters pay” principle where developing countries like India have no obligation to cut down emissions and must be compensated fully for any actions it might undertake voluntarily to reduce emissions.

The Australian Proposal runs contrary to the existing Kyoto Protocol and has been strongly backed by the US. Even EU has come around to back it. It demands that all the countries, including India, be put on merely one list and that all countries, with the exception of the least developed, take on commitments of same nature though of various degrees without any contingent guarantee of technology or finance in return.

In fact, another proposal backed by US demands that India instead contribute money to climate change actions for the rest of the world. The EU does not go that far, but has said that India should reduce its emissions substantially below `business as usual’ at mostly its own cost.

In his letter to the PM, the environment minister has said India will suffer no harm if the Australian Proposal does not dilute the distinction between Annex 1 countries and others, and recognises difference in obligations. Significantly, the Australian Proposal has no such provisions.

The proposal, which the US has lobbied India in bilateral forums and in multilateral meets to accept, asks all countries regardless of existing status, to take obligations. In its present form, when read with other proposals, it seeks to cap India’s emissions by 2020 and force further reductions later on. A cap on emissions automatically converts into a cap of how much energy India can use.

The US has demanded that each country undertake a domestic legislation — something that Ramesh too has now backed — and put that as part of its obligations under the Australian Proposal. The US is keen to do so as it is not a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol and does not want to adhere to a strict multilateral regime that imposes clear penalties and targets to be achieved. It’s been demanding that India, China, South Africa and Brazil also take on similar obligations before it joins any new international compact.

In Bangkok, the consternation of the Indian negotiators, the chief US negotiator had openly demanded the delegation relent from its stance, as the Indian environment minister had shown more flexibility in meetings during his US tour.

Observers feel that Indian environment minister’s proposals would sit well with the US position despite the difference in energy consumption levels of the two countries.

India, at present emits only 1.2 tonnes per capita of greenhouse gas emissions, as compared to 20 tonnes by the US. Acquiescence in any regime that does not differentiate between the super polluters like the US, on the one hand, and varying levels of developing countries on the other, would, lock the country into an arrangement where its growth options would be restricted.

The suggestion by the minister comes contrary to the internal position that the government had taken as recently as July while assessing how badly uncompensated mitigation would impact India’s economy.

In a note circulated within the government and to select Members of Parliament, it had said that mitigation action (as the Australia Proposal suggests) would lead to rise in the price of power and a drop in the production, impact the expansion of railways and adversely hit the prices of fertilizers in years to come. It would increase the cost of all goods, especially food items; the government assessed that it would increase unemployment especially in the rural agricultural sector. It had also warned that even if the country were to undertake such actions, it would have no impact on the costs of climate change adaptation that India would have to bear.

Interestingly, Ramesh’s concern about India being seen as the leader of G77 comes when India is hosting a meeting of different countries on October 22-23 to build consensus among the countries on what demands should be made at the UN negotiations on technology. On October 21, India is also holding a dialogue with China and signing an MoU on climate change.

The PM is also slated to visit the US next month where climate change is expected to be a key issue for discussion. The minister in his letter has suggested that just like he has signed MoUs with other countries, “India should sign an agreement on climate change cooperation (during the PM’s visit to US) and show willingness to engage.”

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