Sunday, March 21, 2010

That's all, your honour! Mar.14-20

1. On Monday last week, at 12pm, the Speaker of the Lok Sabha reads out a note from the government saying that it does not intend to introduce the Nuclear Liability bill in the Lok Sabha. The opposition demanded to know why the bill was not being introduced, but the government as usual did not answer. Later in the day (or rather during the night TV shows) the Congress spokesperson goes ballistic and reads out some legal clauses to tell us why the bill is solid. Now, here's the question - if the party wa so confident, why on earth did it not introduce the bill in the Lok Sabha???

So, what is this bill about? It is basically an insurance bill. In the event of a nuclear disaster, the bill seeks to limit the amount payable by the equipment supplier to Rs. 500 crore. Anything above that will be borne by the operator of the plant, in this case the Government of India (GoI). The maximum cap on GoI is about 2,300 crore. The bill also seeks to have a 10 year limit, after which one cannot file any cases to claim damages based on the accident. So, what is the problem then? Rs. 500 crore is a ridiculously low amount. In the event of a disaster today, the government will be settling the whole compensation for just twice the amount of what it settled for Bhopal Gas Tragedy way back in 1989. It is also well known that the effects of a nuclear disaster are felt well after even 20 years. Limiting the petitioner's right to claim damages after 10 years is simply unacceptable. The ratio of the insurance cap of the supplier and the operator is also to our disadvantage. Why should the tax payer dish out so much money, while the supplier will end up paying much less even if it is his equipment solely at fault? Please note that even before the opposition asked these questions, Finance ministry and Environment Ministry have
objected to these provisions. And folks, for the best reading on this topic, I strongly recommend read this blog by Pilid. It's a longgg one, but trust me it is worth reading twice over too! No Main Stream Media's journalist can come anywhere close to analysing it this well!

2. While we are discussing bills, one more important bill that the cabinet cleared was the Foreign Universities Bill. Basically it allows for foreign universities to set up their campuses in India! Now, I am still not sure if this is a revolutionary step or not, because we have to see what their fee structure is going to be, and how much we can afford them. Either way, it is still a step forward, opening up possibilities for the students. The details of the bill can be read here.

3. This event will take the cake! The Bahujan Samaj Party completed 25 years of its existence. And obviously they celebrated it this week. While everything was going on predictable lines and the national media was getting bored, came the moment they will love! A huge garland made entirely out of Rs. 1000/- notes was presented to Mayawati ! IT is apparently estimating that garland to be worth Rs. 5 crores! And our national media went ballistic. Well, for them this is the first time it is happening. For us in South India, we are used to all this (well, not in terms of notes, but gold etc). It turned out that it was South Indians that presented the garland afterall !( The Karnataka unit of BSP owned it up). And Mayawati gave back to the National Media in her own inimitable style. 2 days later, she accepted another money garland - this time worth only Rs. 18 lakhs but nevertheless, she plainly defied them!

. Nitin Gadkari announced his new team of 121 members this week. It looked promising, but the best support came from the most unexpected quarters - this editorial in The Hindu !

5. The Home Minister of India says German Bakery was issued an alert about a possible terror attack. The Home Minister of Maharashtra
says there was alert for German Bakery. All we want to know is who is telling a lie here. That's all, your honour!


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