India to stall Internet reform proposal at Brazil meet

With a view to assert the “sovereign right” of governments to “regulate and manage” the internet, India will oppose the proposal to “reform” the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) — the principal body that manages the web’s domain name system — at the ongoing Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance (NETmundial) in Brazil.

In fact, the Indian position is so divergent from the NETmundial’s stated goals that Delhi has sought to relegate its “outcome document” to the status of a “discussion paper”. India’s response to the draft outcome document categorically rejects the ICANN’s proposal to “transition” from a US-controlled model to a “multi-stakeholder” approach to internet governance.

The Indian Express accessed New Delhi’s response to the draft “outcome document” that was deliberated by the NETMundial High Level Committee. Here's what it said.

Sahara and the Super Cops

The Indian Express

Growing up as I did reading The Hindu’s sports pages, I was taken by the phrase “pyrrhic victory”. Clearly, the paper’s sports desk was too: it made the headlines an impressive number of times, usually to describe dead rubber Ranji matches. Since then, it has been among my unstated goals as a writer to ­deploy the phrase without sounding a cliché. This has been an unfulfilling enterprise in these minimalist times, where victories are hard to come by, let alone those laced with failure.

Until now. Last week, when Seemanto Roy, scion of the Sahara Parivar, read out a message from his father Subrata describing his recent arrest as “the Best ­Honour My Country Could Give Me”, I knew I had my phrase.

On why Subrata Roy’s arrest is no consolation for SEBI and the many regulators the UPA has thrown under the bus, here.

'The government wanted to use my name and standing as a defence against outcry over Kunan Poshpora'


The Indian Express

Wajahat Habibullah, who as divisional commissioner of Kashmir investigated allegations of mass rape by the Army, speaks to Arun Mohan Sukumar about the incident, subsequent inquiry and why the govt deleted portions of his report.

The Indian Express story on the Kunan Poshpora rapes investigation suggests…

There was a cover up.

The story quotes the then deputy commissioner (Kupwara) S M Yasin as having received both threats and promises of promotion during his investigation. Were you similarly approached to turn in a favourable report?

No. Though my report left a number of questions unanswered, inquiry by me was only a preliminary one. But nothing further was done and the case was closed. It is quite improbable that a crime of that magnitude took place as alleged. I would not go so far as to agree with Yasin when he says “it is the biggest blot on the face of democratic India”. Yasin was carried away by emotion, he is a Kashmiri himself. I did not tell him I had not given the government my report yet they have “published” it. It is true that I had submitted it but the government only published part of my report — a critical portion of it was excised.

Why do you think the government did that?

Well, obviously, the government wanted to use my name and standing as a defence against what it saw as an international outcry against the alleged incident.

Full text of the Q&A, here

Is plea in SC against Swatanter Kumar a valid complaint, asks MoEF

The Indian Express

The centre has sought the opinion of the Solicitor General if National Green Tribunal chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar can be investigated on the basis of a law suit filed against him in connection with allegations of “sexual harassment” made against him by a former law intern.

Referring to a writ petition filed against Kumar in the Supreme Court, the Ministry of Environment and Forests wants the SG’s counsel on whether the petition would count as a “written complaint” under the National Green Tribunal Act and Rules, 2010, The Indian Express has learnt.

The ministry’s request to the SG takes cognisance of the fact that the Supreme Court “has not expressed any opinion on the allegations” made against Kumar. The request also does not refer to the veracity of the allegations.

The NGT Act empowers the Central government to remove the tribunal’s chairperson if it is found he has “abused his position so as to render his continuance in office prejudicial to public interest”.

Proceedings to remove any member of the tribunal, however, can only start after the government receives a “written complaint” relating to his alleged misbehaviour.

Report on the Environment ministry’s concern about the impact sexual harassment allegations against Swatanter Kumar may have on his chairmanship of the green tribunal, here

Jan Lokpal needs Centre’s nod, Solicitor General tells Lt-Governor

The Indian Express

Raising a red flag over the move by Delhi’s AAP government’s to bypass the Centre on the Jan Lokpal Bill, Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran has said the Bill must be presented to the Lieutenant Governor before it is tabled in the state Assembly.

Parasaran has said the Bill can “become law in the National Capital Territory only after it receives the President’s assent”, it is learnt.

His opinion came in response to L-G Najeeb Jung’s request for counsel on two counts: whether presenting the Bill in the Assembly “without sending the legislative proposal to the Central government” — as Arvind Kejriwal’s government has sought to do — violates the constitution; and whether the Delhi government has the power to legislate on matters concerning the Delhi Police and the Delhi Development Authority.

Report on the legal hurdles the Jan Lokpal has run into, here

Primary colours of democracy


The Hindu

Nearly eight years after being entitled to vote, I will cast my first in a national election this year. If the accumulated guilt from shirking responsibility weighs heavily on my mind, so does an education in political science. My professors have reliably informed me of what is termed the “paradox of voting.” It seems the probability of one voter making a difference to an election is miniscule compared to his costs — time, money and effort — of going to the polls. I can hardly claim my interests to be perfectly aligned with India’s massive electorate. By voting, am I then merely tipping my hat to Indian democracy? If not, how do I make my vote count?

My review of Ashutosh Varshney’s “Battles Half Won”, here

The inexplicable silence

The Hindu

With its recent decision to extend the implementation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act in Manipur by another year, the United Progressive Alliance’s opportunistic posturing on the legislation has come full circle. The UPA’s rendezvous with the AFSPA began months after it took charge in 2004, with the alleged rape and murder of Thangjam Manorama Devi, a 34-year-old Manipuri, while in the custody of the Assam Rifles. Nine years have passed since the gruesome episode; three reports have been submitted to the Central government by judicial or quasi-judicial commissions constituted to examine the AFSPA’s reign in Manipur; two of them are yet to see the light of day.

Sauce for the goose, but not the gander

The Hindu

Earlier this year, I asked a senior American diplomat why India and the United States differed fundamentally in their vision of Iran and its place in the world. He blunted my leading question, suggested that both countries were on the same page as far as sanctions were concerned, and began reeling off measures India had taken to reduce Iranian crude oil imports. His response to my query on the “big picture” was in part boilerplate, but no less revealing. It is not among American diplomacy’s stated aims to convince India why Iran is a threat to global security. But the U.S. has tried its best to co-opt India within its economic embargo on Iran, first at the United Nations Security Council and then through unilateral measures. For the most part, it has succeeded. India’s ties with Iran today are largely driven by the need to steer clear of the sanctions regime, rather than charting its own autonomous course. In other words, the relationship has become transactional, rather than strategic — reduced to the volume of oil India imports from Iran, or the permissibility of New Delhi’s assistance in building Iranian infrastructure.

On the uncritical refrain that the Geneva interim agreement and a diplomatic thaw in U.S.-Iran ties are also good for India, here.