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Nepal Earthquake: How Prepared is the Region for Such Disasters?

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Newsclick Production, May 9, 2015

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The Nepal earthquake has officially killed more than 7,000, injured many more and devastated parts of Nepal. How ready are we in South Asia for facing such disasters? Newsclick speaks with D. Raghunandan, President of All India Peoples science Network on this issue. The discussion also covered the role of Indian teams, the criticism of its media and and the longer term issue of rehabilitation. Raghu also spoke of the weakness of the Nepalese government, particularly of its Army, to co-ordinate the relief efforts.

Rafale Deal: Meeting Defence Needs or PR for Modi?

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Newsclick Production, April 22, 2015

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The Modi government has recently made a quick Government to Government (G2G) deal with France for acquiring off the shelf 36 Rafale fighter aircrafts. The prices --it appears -- are yet to be negotiated. Newsclick interviewed D. Raghunandan, President, All India People's Science Network and a defence analyst to discuss the deal. According to Raghunandan, the deal being a G2G instead of public bidding as originally envisaged, is back to arbitrary decision making on defence deals. Reverting back to such a policy does not have any transparency and opens up a huge scope for corruption in defence deals.

Specific to the deal, Raghunandan stated that it contradicts Modi’s much hyped policy of “Make in India”. Originally, the deal was to have 126 aircrafts, out of which 108 would have been made in India by HAL. Dassault, the makers of Rafale, did not agree to technology transfer and have now have been rewarded with outright purchase of 36 aircrafts. Instead of the original tender which involved 126 aircrafts, 36 Rafales bought in this way, neither meets the airforce's needs of replacing almost 200 MIGs nor the long-term objective of India developing a self-reliant defence industry. All it has done is help Modi make a big PR splash in Paris, at a great cost to India's defence and procurement policy.

TRAI: Helping Telecom Companies Make Even More Money

Prabir Purkayastha, April 12, 2015

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The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has come out with a consultation paper dated March 27, 2015. Titled Regulatory Framework for Over the Top (OTT) Services. Even a quick look at this document makes clear that this is regulatory overreach on a grand scale. TRAI is essentially claiming that every activity carried out on the internet is an Over-TheTop service and TRAI can ask for it to be licensed as a telecom service.

India Votes Against Providing Benefits to Homosexual Employees of the UN

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Newsclick Production, April 3, 2015

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The UN , under the guidance of Secretary General Ban Ki Moon had decided last July to extend employee benefits to partners of homosexual employees of the UN organisation (to put them on par with partners of heterosexual employees). Russia, a country which is notorious for its persecution of the homosexual community within its territory, moved a resolution against this decision. India together with 43 other countries supported this Russian resolution stating that no consultations had been conducted on the issue. While the Russian resolution was defeated with 80 countries voting against (and some such as Singapore, which have similar laws pertaining to homosexuality as India deciding to abstain), the Indian stance has kicked of controversy with many criticizing the retrograde step.

Newsclick interviewed Dr. Himadri Roy, Professor, Gender Studies, IGNOU to discuss India's decision to vote against extending employee benefits to homosexual employees of the UN and what this means for the LGBT community in India. Himadri talks about the discrimination that the LGBT community faces on a daily basis and whether and how this can be changed. Himadri further critically analyses our judiciary's attitude towards the issue as shown by its decisions concerning Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code as well as its acknowledgment of transgenders as a 'third gender'.

The New Mines and Minerals Act - Liberalising the Loot of India's Natural Resources?

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Newsclick Production, March 26, 2015

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Given the huge losses to the exchequer following the 2G and Coal Gate scams, and the Supreme Court decisions mandating auction for allocation of scarce natural resources, there was a need for the government to put in place a transparent system to deal with extractive industries. The Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2015 attempts to put in place a system of auctions to deal with allocation of mineral resources and also deals with the compensatory and regulatory structure for the carrying out of extractive industries. However, some have argued that the Act actually legitimizes prospective scams by excluding large quantities of minerals from the purview of the auction and transparency provisions. Many have pointed to the dilution of environmental norms as well as reduced compensations payable to displaced persons under the Act and have therefore questioned the intentions of the Modi Government when passing this legislation. Newsclick speaks to D.Raghunandan, President, All India People's Science Network to discuss the recently passed MMDRA Act and whether the legislation actually favours the corporate sector at the cost of the citizenry of this country.

Swine Flu: A Challenge for Public Health

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Newsclick Production, 22 February 2015

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Death toll from Swine flu or H1N1 virus is on the increase in India, and the Indian Public Health system seems to have failed to respond to the threat from the H1N1 virus. Newsclick interviewed Dr. Satyajit Rath, National Institute of Immunology to understand the seriousness of issue. According to Dr. Rath there is very little data available with the public health system and government is not prepared to deal with such outbreaks. He thinks that government should stop portraying the current outbreak as a major crisis or epidemic. While taking care of those severely ill, government should learn from the episode, address the everyday health situations and how to handle such short term crisis.

Defence Strategic Framework: Tying India to the US

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NewsClick Production, February 7, 2015

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Newsclick interviewed D. Raghunandan on the new Defence strategic framework between India and U.S. According to Raghunandan, the much hyped framework is not going to help India in acquiring any sophisticated defence technology from the US. Rather, it will make India a junior partner of of the US. He believes India should not just manufacture equipment designed and developed elsewhere, but invest in designing and innovation as well. India has already shown this capability as exemplified by its achievements in nuclear and space technology. India's over-reliance on other nations for defence and strategic equipment is a matter of national shame.

Diluting India's Nuclear Liability Regime - Who gains?

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NewsClick Production

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India's civil nuclear liability regime has been at the center of dispute between India and US as the Indian legislation inter alia permits a right of recourse against suppliers in the event of a nuclear accident (caused due to the suppliers' fault). The US has been pushing for a dilution of this regime and the recent visit of President Obama saw some movement on this front with the Indian government offering various assurances to its US counterparts. Has the Indian government gone back on its previous position in order to assuage the fears of the American nuclear industry? What do the latest negotiations on the nuclear liability regime mean for the citizens of India and our energy security? NewsClick discusses these issues with Prabir Purkayastha of Delhi Science Forum and the All India Peoples Science Network.

Why did Rajapaksa Lose? – An Analysis of the Sri Lankan Election Results

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Newsclick Production, January 13, 2014

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Newsclick spoke to Srinivas Ramani about the recently held elections in Sri Lanka which saw the ouster of Mahinda Rajapaksa and the election of Maithripala Sirisena as President. According to Ramani, a combination of circumstances resulted in the victory of Sirisena despite Rajapaksa’s vigorous attempts to capitalize on the government’s victory in the civil war with the LTTE. Increasing centralization of power, cornering of positions and privileges by Rajapaksa’s family, growing militarization of the economy, erosion of democratic freedoms, and inability to reign in chauvinistic attacks on minorities, caused disaffection amongst large sections of the Sri Lankan people including the Sinhala population. The authoritarian and dynastic nature of Rajapaksa’s rule bred discontent within the old guard of the ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP). Led by Chandrika Kumaratunga, this section put its weight behind Sirisena, a move that enabled it to rally a number of opposition parties including the Tamil National Alliance (TNA). Ramani believes that the regime change could be significant in many ways. Firstly, the presence of the TNA in the national mandate could be conducive to resolving the question of Tamil regional autonomy. On the economic front, the appointment of Ranil Wickremesinghe as the Prime Minister could signal a deepening of neo-liberal reforms. Finally, at the level of foreign policy, Rajapaksa’s exit could herald a distancing from China and a rapprochement with India and the western powers.

Lima climate summit: bad signs for Paris 2015

D.Raghunandan, December 20, 2014

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Anyone following the climate negotiations, especially since the disastrous pattern set at Copenhagen in 2009 and even more so given the tepid progress made since the wishy-washy Durban summit in 2011, could have seen it coming. There were low expectations from the Lima Conference of Parties (COP 20) to begin with and, true to form, the summit ended with a whimper of a Statement, low on ambition on all fronts, emissions reduction, finance and technology, but full of statements with dark portents for the future.

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