IT is ironic that in India, the fastest growing air travel market in the world, yet another private airline, this time Jet Airways, collapses and folds up. However, this should have come as no surprise to anyone following the civil aviation scenario in the country.
THE PepsiCo case against nine potato farmers in Gujarat for violating its Intellectual Property Rights under Protection of Plant Variety and Farmers Protection Rights (PPV&FR) has brought out the threat that the US multinationals pose to Indian farmers. PepsiCo is claiming damages of Rs 1.05 crore from each farmer. It follows an earlier case in May last year in Delhi High Court where Monsanto has claimed patent rights over its Bt Cotton seed and sued a Telangana seed company.
EINSTEIN was once asked of the kind of weapons that could be used in a Third World War. He said he could not predict weapons that would be used in the Third World War, but he could easily predict weapons that would be used in the Fourth: “Bows and arrows”. A stone age – and that is the place a nuclear war would send us back to.
JULIAN Assange’s arrest by the UK police from the Ecuadorian Embassy after the Moreno administration withdrew his asylum, has drawn worldwide condemnation. Noam Chomsky, John Pilger, Nobel Laureate Mairead Maguire are among the leading figures who have condemned Assange’s arrest. In India, N Ram, Arundhati Roy, Gopal Gandhi, Indira Jainsing, P Sainath and Romila Thapar, condemning the arrest, stated, “His (Assange’s) arrest, and the attempt to extradite him to the US are, clearly, attacks on freedom of the press and its right to publish.”
ON April 5, 2019, a joint platform of five civil society organisations released an urgent appeal signed by over two hundred eminent persons including two former chief election commissioners – N Gopalaswami and SY Quraishi – to the Election Commission and political parties. The five civil society organisations are Common Cause, Constitutional Conduct Group, Free Software Movement of India, Association for Democratic Reforms and Internet Freedom Foundation.
NOW, that the excitement and self-congratulatory chest-thumping over India’s successful testing of its anti-satellite missile (ASAT) capability on March 27, 2019 has passed, except of course for continuous misuse in political campaigns by PM Modi, it is time to take a step back and look at the event and its strategic implications with a clearer head and a broader perspective.
THE second crash of a Boeing 737 Max8 aircraft on March 17 killing all 158 passengers and crew, this time operated by Ethiopian Airlines en route from Addis Ababa to Nairobi, six months after an earlier Lion Air crash in Indonesia, has since led to a worldwide grounding of all 737 Max8 aircraft.
THE air strikes by India across the Line of Control (LoC) have been accompanied by much chest-thumping by the prime minister, by government and ruling party spokespersons, and camp-follower TV and other media personalities. This despite India’s reluctance or inability to release convincing evidence such as imagery of damage caused to and inside the targeted structures in Jaba Top, or evidence of a Pakistani F-16 fighter brought down during the Pakistani counter-strike. Pakistan has gone to town claiming that only a single crow was killed, and only a few trees were destroyed.
WITH the elections in the offing, different groups – the Free Software Movement of India, Association for Democratic Reforms, Common Cause, etc – have raised a key issue: how to stop the Indian elections from being distorted by big digital platforms and the enormous influence they exercise over us today. And as “influence” on these platforms can be bought, will Indian elections, already plagued by money power, suffer even further? Added to this, is the enormous ecosystem of fake news, which the BJP, the RSS and its “parivar” has built over the last few years.
IN these columns of the previous issue, the main points of the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of Accounts (CAG) on the Rafale deal were discussed. It was noted that all price figures had been redacted, rendering the reader incapable of informed assessment.