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Efficiency versus democracy

Issue Date: Jun 30, 2007
Industrialist Ratan Tata has reportedly written to the prime minister cribbing about delays in implementing big buck projects. In his capacity as the chair of the government's investment commission he says over us $50 billion is tied up because of delays in allocating land and resources. His list includes major steel, thermal power, mining and aluminium projects of powerful houses--South Korean corporate Posco, uk's Lakshmi Mittal and India's Essar, Reliance, Jindal and, of course, Tata itself.

'Privatisation has increased rural neglect'

Issue Date: May 31, 2007
Are ethnic conflicts more frequent in the northeast compared to other parts of India? In the northeast, communities are consolidated on ethnic lines. In other parts of India caste identities are strong. In the northeast, there are lesser opportunities for indigenous communities and competition for resources stokes conflicts. Why haven't matters improved yet?


Issue Date: Mar 15, 2007
West Bengal industrialisation plans on hold as centre reviews SEZs The West Bengal government's industrialisation ambitions received a series of setbacks in the past month with the Union government deciding to put additional special economic zones (SEZs) on hold until a review; Left Front allies rejecting a proposal to relax land ceiling laws; and the Calcutta High Court quashing prohibitory orders under Section 144 at Singur calling it an "abuse of power".

A concession called SEZ, all for foreign exchange

Issue Date: Oct 31, 2006
Since the 1990s, India has had an economic regime that has placed a premium on privatising enterprise. Liberalisation and globalisation are keywords of this regime. The frenetic rush to globalise is in large measure motivated by the desire to earn foreign exchange at any cost. In recent times, special economic zones (sez) have become a key instrument to actualise this desire.

Another India is (not) ours

Issue Date: Oct 31, 2006
At a media-studded book release function, a leading editor was recounting a recent incident. He was travelling with a top Uttar Pradesh politician (who we will not name but call Mr A) in his brand new plane. The politician told him that the plane was a gift from a leading industrialist (who we will not name but call Mr AA). The editor was then told that the return gift by the politician was not meagre it was 1,000 hectares (ha) of prime agricultural land for a new special economic zone (sez). Hearing this tale, we in the audience smiled wisely.

Local travails

Issue Date: Sep 30, 2004
Incredible India. The land of mystic splendour. The hidden paradise. These are just three slogans to convince people to turn themselves into tourists and land up, every summer, in droves in hill-stations. Ooty's annual flower show attracts 0.2 million tourists over two days. In addition, it receives over 0.3 million tourists annually. Darjeeling annually receives close to 0.6 million tourists. Gangtok, a new entrant, gets more than 0.2 million tourists.

Defying gravity

Issue Date: Sep 30, 2004
When Darjeeling's population increased, a third lake with a capacity of 65.25 million litres was constructed by the Public Health Engineering Department (PHED) in 1981. But due to faulty construction, it lies unused.

What goes down

Issue Date: Sep 30, 2004
The stinky spectacle of hill-stations getting buried under their own garbage is turning more real. Look down the slopes and you will see mounds of coloured plastic bags, and tourist staples such as empty packets of potato chips and plastic water bottles. All of which is mixed with vegetable waste and debris, making the piles taller by the day.

High risk

Issue Date: Sep 30, 2004
Evam Piljain, an 80-year-old Toda who's spent all her life in Ooty, feels distraught at the sight of her hometown. "I cannot sit in the verandah anymore," she says. She moves to her drawing room and gazes wistfully at a photograph of Ooty taken in the early part of the twentieth century -- green, picturesque. But outside, hill after hill is chock-a-bloc with concrete buildings.
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