Archive for October 30, 2006

What about the rest?

All throughout the day I watched news channels giving themselves a pat on the back for a job well done and how media has played such an important role (emphasis added) in ensuring justice in the Priyadarshini Mattoo case.

I acknowledge the fact that without constant media pressure and the efforts of support groups which were persistent in demanding justice in this case this would not be possible. The media has definitely played a vital role which is now called a ‘landmark verdict’.

I just have one question for the media, what about the rest?

The fact is this story was picked up because it had potential. I do not wish to undermine the seriousness of the issue, but this tragic event made for compelling news. A young promising girl, full of hope and dreams was wronged in the most heinous way by Santosh Singh, a retired IPS officer’s son. The perpetrator is now sentenced to death. Would this case have reached its logical conclusion if it was not a high profile case?

What about similar cases which I am sure exist in abundance and have no hope of even brought to trial. If Ramgad ka Ramu committed the same crime would the media still be interested in telling say a Sunita’s story. Without the trappings of high profile people being involved there is no drama for the media to thrive on. Nobody cares if an unknown entity, I understand there are many who have been grossly wronged, would ever receive even a semblance of justice in his or her life.

What about the bigger picture. Does the media propose to take up every case in which common people are denied justice and where the aggressors are influential people? Why only Jessica Lal murder case and the Nitish Katara case are brought into focus? What about thousands of cases lying on the bench never to see the light of day.

The answer to this is obvious. Some would argue that it is not the job of the media to ensure fair investigation and speedy justice, we already have agencies to do that. That is exactly my point.

It took 10 years to reach a verdict in a case where the judge had previously ruled that “he had no doubt” the act was committed by Singh but was forced to “acquit him due to lack of evidence”. It is an opportunity to take stock of our judicial capabilities in terms of quality and quantity. Also, the investigating officers who compromised the case must be brought to book.

By being jubilant over what I can safely call a minuscule victory, delayed due to judicial lethargy, only because the media chose to emphasize this case would be an insult to those who yearn for their rights. Is justice only for the higher ups or those who are “blessed” enough to get the apparent media midas touch?

From the news Archives: October

GM rice test field torched in Karnal
Indian Express, 30 October 2006.

In a serious setback for field tests of genetically modified (GM) rice, activists of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) have torched the sole field in Haryana where tests for the modified rice variety were being carried out.

Some 400 BKU activists torched the crop, saying it would contaminate soil and affect the existing variety of rice. After the incident, BKU threatened to burn all such fields in the country where trials are underway.

Read full article:

  • GM rice field torched
  • *****
    Move to constitute an independent Biotech Authority.
    Times of India, 28 Oct 2006.

    In a move to bolster bio-technology research, growth and investment in India, the Department of Bio-technology (DBT) has sought constitution of an independent bio-technology (BT) regulatory authority.

    The seminal focus of the authority would be to monitor and regulate all science-based processes. “The authority could look at the whole range of bio-tech products, medicines and their quality, environmental safety, health, genetic engineering, field trials of new products, the DNA question and the like. Underlying the monitoring is quality of the bio-tech process. Stringent standards will have to be followed.”

    DBT would like the proposed authority to function on the lines of the Election Commission — independent and armed with tangible powers to guide the bio-tech sector in accordance with the needs of the country.

    Read full article:

  • See link
  • *****
    Bird flu season back but govt sleeps
    Times of India, 18 October, 2006.

    With October, the bird flu season is back once again and India stands hopelessly unprepared for another outbreak. Five Bio Safety Level (BSL) III labs to test animal samples for H5N1 virus were announced.
    Not one has come up till now. The High Security Animal Disease Laboratory in Bhopal, which tested thousands of suspected samples for the virus early this year, continues to be the only hope.

    According to international norms, once a country declares an H5N1 outbreak, it has to send the virus samples to another country for validation. Sources said officials from Centre for Disease Control, Atlanta, have repeatedly asked India to send the samples to Australia. But HSADL has refused to share the virus.

    Scientists say though government’s attention towards bird flu has dipped, the virus remains just as dangerous and just as able to cause a worldwide outbreak like the one seen since 1918, when 50 million people died.

    Read the full article:

  • Bird flu
  • *****

    IIT-Delhi develops new drug designing software
    Times of India, October 2006

    The Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi has developed a wide array of software tools for drug designing and developing individualised medicine.
    The ChemGenome software can distinguish genes from non-genes in 331 bacterial genomes and 20 eukaryotic genomes with almost 90 per cent accuracy.
    The protein structure prediction software can successfully bracket native-like structures in the lowest energy structures for 50 small alpha helical and mixed globular proteins, Jayaram said.

    Read full article:

  • Drug Design
  • *****
    New policy may make medicines cheaper
    Indian Express, 3 October 2006.

    A new pharma policy that will substantially bring down several generic drugs’ prices is likely to be soon in place. A 14-member committee set up by Chemicals and Fertiliser Minister Ram Vilas Paswan will submit a report in this regard to the Union Cabinet at the end of this month.

    Paswan said the prices of several hundred brands of generic-generic and branded generic drugs, including Omeprazole and Ciprofloxacin, are set to crash by up to 92 per cent with the pharma industry agreeing to a government proposal on capping trade margins. It has been agreed that the retail margins for these drugs would be kept at 35 per cent while the wholesale margins would be 15 per cent, he said. “This will be effective from October 2.”

    Read the full article:

  • Cheaper medicines
  • *****

    ‘HIV not proven to cause AIDS’

    German court rules HIV not proven to cause AIDS

    After years of claims by the AIDS establishment that a link between HIV and immune suppression had been established a High Court found the claim without merit and a unfounded deception. This is the first legal trail of the HIV/AIDS hypothesis and a historic defeat for AID$ Inc.

    It is impossible – as far as laboratory conditions are concerned – to develop a valid Virus-antibody-test, if the virus has not been isolated before. Every layman understands that an individual proof for an infection with a virus is impossible, if the existence of the virus has never been generally proven. This knowledge of the German health authorities, that the tests are not validated, can be proven via the authorities‘ documents themselves. The error concerning the test’s validity is spread and supported by the authorities – against better knowledge.

    Read the full article at:

  • LINK
  • Also see the comments to this article.

    For more in-depth reading see this very diabolical and informative page which categorically substantiates that the HIV=AIDS model, which is seen as a standard in health care, is actually a misnomer.

  • The AIDS myth!!
  • From the news archives

    From The Financial Express, 17th October 2006.

    Field trials of indigenously developed GM Gold Rice soon

    India is not lagging behind in developing its versions of the genetically modified (GM) Golden Rice. Director-general of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) Mangla Rai said, “We would possibly go for largescale field trials of our Golden Rice within a year.”

    …The development of GM rice, however, can have some adverse trade implications. The trade session of the ongoing IInd International Rice Congress here on Wednesday discussed how complex global trade would become with the commercialisation of GM rice. In this context, the southwest regional director of IRRI, Steve Linscombe, said, “Though in US, GM rice events like 06 and 62 have been approved and found safe, the concerned company has not yet commercialised it, keeping in view some public concerns about this food crops. Same transgenic protein occurs in the herbicide resistant GM maize and Canola.”

    Read the full article at:

  • GM trials soon
  • From the Indian Express, 13 October 2006.

    Seeds that fight climate change in Navdanya banks

    Looking for alternatives to Genetically Modified seeds, noted environmentalist Vandana Shiva’s organic farming initiative Navdanya has brought out seeds that are resistant to extreme climatic changes. Under ‘Climate Change’, a project launched in August this year, three seed banks have been opened in Jaisalmer (drought resistant crops), Kerala (saline resistant crops), and Bihar (flood resistant crops) to help with, according to Shiva, “various dimensions of preparedness in the face of extreme climate changes like the floods in Barmer.’’

    According to Vandana Shiva, “We can only deal with climate change by trusting the nature and Indian farmers and not international corporations.” She says BT cotton seeds being infected with insects is an apt example of how corporation seeds can also fail.

    Read the full article at:

  • IE article link
  • From, 7 October 2006.

    Has the Bt cotton bubble burst?

    Cotton farmers around the country are following Andhra Pradesh’s lead in skipping both pesticides and Bt seeds. And there are no pests. Why? There are 28 predators of the American bollworm, cotton’s main enemy. If you stop spraying pesticides, these beneficial insects devour the bollworm.

    …As the New York Times reports “frustration is building in India with American multinational companies peddling costly, genetically modified seeds. They have made deep inroads in rural India – a vast and alluring market – bringing new opportunities but also new risks as Indian farmers pile up debt.” Regardless of the extent of failure of Bt cotton, the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) – the apex nodal agency that accords clearance for GM crops – has been merrily approving Bt cotton varieties. In the past four years, 59 Bt cotton varieties have been approved for commercial planting.

    The question I am often asked is as to what is the alternative. My answer is very simple: Follow the two-pronged strategy. First, ban the use of chemical pesticides on cotton (which incidentally consumes 55 per cent of the total pesticides applied). This will result in a restoration of the ecological balance, minimise the insect attack, and result in a safer environment. Secondly, stop cultivating genetically modified cotton varieties. Not only will it reduce drastically the cost of production, it will also mean that the farmer is pulled out from the death trap.

    Farmers in several parts of the country are following this approach. In more than 4,500 hectares in Andhra Pradesh, farmers are reaping a higher harvest without growing Bt varieties or using pesticides. And there are no pests. Why? If you stop spraying pesticides, beneficial insects take over. In case of cotton, there are 28 predators of the American bollworm in the same field. When the farmer stops using pesticides, these beneficial insects survive and devour the bollworm. With indiscriminate pesticides applications, these predators are the first one to be killed.

    Read the full article at:

  • Bt cotton bubble burst?
  • Inside : India Questions

    An exercise in visual media marketing, India questions is timed close to the release of Don. If one remembers that a similar “debate” was held after KANK released on NDTV’s ‘We the people with Barkha Dutt’. How valid is this current trend in news channels, well that’s subjective. The following programme might as well be just that.

    In his introduction Dr. Pranoy Roy rightly said that there is so much known about SRK in the public domain, one is at loss when it comes to asking him questions. “Your life is an open book” and that too literally and figuratively.

    So yes it is true. He is humble, articulate, ‘chilled out’, hyperactive and just about everything that you have heard in countless interviews. (We couldn’t confirm the gay thing, obviously). The show was supposed to begin at 12.30 but like he has confessed in a previous interview with Vir Sanghvi, SRK true to his word walks in 2 hours later. The most frustrating part about this was the fact that it was being taped at Mehboob studios, two minutes away from the grand mansion that he calls home. But the audience, mostly comprising of journo students and college crowd didn’t seem to mind.

    Pranoy Roy arrived probably an hour before Shah Rukh did. He is a lot smaller in person than what I initially thought. A comfortable ease surrounds him, a nonchalant awareness of sorts. NDTV announced its projections for the next quarter and an aim of taking their business to $500 million in10 years. This man, at the helm of it all seems too honest and genuine a journalist to be burdened by the trappings of creating a media empire.

    And then the Don makes an entrance with the music from the movie being played in the background, well not so much of an entrance really. Bodyguards in tow, surrounded by hordes of people, dressed casually in blue jeans and a checkered brown shirt (cleavage on display, why-o-why!) I couldn’t believe that it was him. He appears a lot smaller in person and a lot “normal” too. The girls were swooning by now and some guys also, with a distant sigh I could hear words like “so cute” “wow” “is it really him”… I couldn’t see what the fuss was about, but his impact as an entertainer, an enigma was apparent in the way the crowd and just about everyone was reacting around me. It is impossible to ignore the man, even if you are a determined cynic at war with the influence of pop-culture.

    He is called destiny’s child and is truly blessed, I must say, because I just can’t see why this very charismatic yet ‘normal’ looking guy is the King of a multi-billion dollar industry. A casual aura surrounds him as if he is completely oblivious to his concomitant reality.

    As the interview begins I can see why both these gents are so affable and loved all across the country. The genuineness and honesty is highly infectious and an immediate connection is made with the audience.

    The initial questions are routinely generic but my friend fires one at SRK (my question mind you) that in spite of being a smoker he launched a Biocon anti-cancer product recently. His answer is much more calculated than probably what he would have said five years back, but honest none the less. He categorically derides smoking as a bad habit, “I am trying to quit” and mentions the loss of his father to cancer which made him endorse the cause.

    When asked about him being overtly diplomatic when it comes to commenting on his co-actors he replied and which I consider a true definition of SRK in his private life, “I am just a wise-guy!” He does seem to be the cool friend that everyone would want to hang out with.

    The questions are dealt with a characteristic smile and the twinkle in the eye, which makes you wonder, what is he going to say next. He confesses to being tone deaf, musically inert and admits that he likes making comedies a lot including the forgettable ‘Babloo’ and other such zany characters.

    What was most revealing about his personality is the way he perceives life and his job (as “just another 9 to 6 shift” Ya right!). The passion for his work is omnipotent and that is the secret to his unparalleled success today. He best describes it as being a child with many ideas and unbridled enthusiasm which his directors just cannot ignore. He reiterates the often heard “Do whatever that you wish but do it with passion”, a mantra that he clearly follows in his own life.

    “Nothing better than honesty and goodness to achieve your goals…with a bit of patience…” is his advice to youngsters. I don’t know how much of it would hold true in SRK’s professional life but it does seem to be a norm for SRK the person.

    The show couldn’t end without the wily doctor perpetrating a jig to which the marketable star willingly obliged. He danced to ‘Khaike’ along with some auidience members and made it look effortless.

    As the crowd rushes to the makeshift stage, Shah Rukh is completely swamped, probably groped and molested too; the bodyguard then somehow manages to extract the prized possession.

    He smoked two cigarettes for those eager to keep a count. If you watch the show, the cigarette pack is in his left shirt pocket. Also, he is quite restless as a person, fidgety as if always in a hurry. He spun around in his swivel chair. It is this boyish quality which makes him one of us, relatable.

    Sorry Nessi didn’t get an autograph, but I did find out that SRK at the end of the day is a nice guy. My friend, who had a chance to go on stage during the Hindi version of the show, apologized for being brash earlier. Shah Rukh HUGGED HIM and said “God bless you” with a peck on the cheek (?!)

    Watch India Questions this Saturday, 21 Oct on NDTV 24/7.


    Here is a list of links which you may find useful to better understand RTI Act, 2005.

  • Right2Information
  • Ministry of public grievances
  • Maharashtra govt.
  • human rights initiative
  • Municipal corporation of Greater Mumbai
  • Mumbai RTI laws.pdf
  • ******

    Another example of RTI at work.
    Aware citizen Ronald Rebello asks Min of petroleum and natural gas to respond to the rampant misuse of its LPG licience by the Railway authorities themselves.

    This is the RTI petition he had filed and still awaits reply.


    Mr. R. Panda
    Maharashtra state level co-ordinator
    Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas


    I had sent the following application under the Right to Information to you on 7th September per Courier which was received by your office the next day. However, now it is more than one month and I have not received a reply which is mandatory under the Right to Information. Please show cause why I should not approach higher authroties so that you may be fined as per the Right to Information Act, 2005 for not providing information . You are hereby called upon to furnish the information within 72 hours of receipt of this E-notice.
    Fail not.

    Ronald L. Rebello
    Rationing Kruti Samiti
    Add: 52, Gilder Lane Municipal School,
    Opposite Mumbai Central Railway Station
    Mumbai Central 400 008.

    Copy to:
    1.. Print and Electronic Media.
    2.. Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas. What is the point if your Ministry issues so many advertisments running into lakhs of rupees in the newspapers, seeking co-operation of citizens to expose misuse of LPG, if your officials can’t respond to a complaint purusant to the same?
    3.. Department of Public Grievances in the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Government of India

    —– Original Message —–
    To: ; Rationing Kruti Samiti
    Sent: Wednesday, September 06, 2006 10:04 PM
    Subject: LPG RTI


    The Public Information Officer 7th September, 2006.

    Bharat Petroleum,

    Ballard Estate, Mumbai Mumbai.

    1.. Full name of the applicant: Ronald L. Rebello

    2.. Address: 52, Gilder Lane Municipal School,

    Opposite Mumbai Central Railway Station,

    Mumbai 400 008.

    3.. Particulars of the information required:

    (1) Subject matter of information: Misuse of LPG domestic gas cylinders for commercial purposes.

    (2) Period of which the information relates to: Jan 2006 till date of receipt of this application.

    (3) Description of the information required:

    The undersigned applicant had complained via email to your department on September 04 citing instances of misuse of LPG cylinders for commercial purpose. The complaint was emailed on that is regularly advertised in newspapers by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas for reporting complaints on black misuse of LPG and Subsidised Kerosene.

    Now therefore under my right to information, I want a pointwise reply as under:

    1.. What action was taken on my complaint? Give detailed description of action such as the enquiry if any, date and time of raid conducted, if any, names and designation of the officials who conducted the raid, the cases registered against the offendors and the law under which arrests were made, if any. If no enquiry or action was taken, why not?

    2.. Why no one was picking up the phone on 5th September at 11:41 am, when I called from 6524 1968? What is the name and designation of the officer who handles these complaints via phone as well as email?

    3.. Is the number provided by you operated 24 hours? If not, then mention the duration of hours it is operated.

    I state that the information sought does not fall within the restrictions contained in section 8 of the RTI Act and to the best of my knowledge it pertains to your office.

    If the information requested doesn�t pertain to your office, under section 6 (3) (ii) of the Right to Information Act, 2005 you are duty-bound to transfer the application or part thereof to the appropriate authority / department and inform me within 5 days of such transfer.

    Under section 7 (9) of the Right to Information Act, 2005 �information shall ordinarily be provided in the form in which it is sought�. Therefore, the undersigned applicant would like to have the above information in question and answer format and in English. Please note, that in case of reply in language other than English, the reply would be appealed against.

    Provide details of the Appellate Authority such as Name, designation, address, phone, fax and email, so that I can appeal if dissatisfied.

    Requisite fees shall be paid if it is reasonable and in accordance with rules.

    Information required by ordinary post. Copy by email will be appreciated.

    Ronald L. Rebello


    Place : Mumbai

    Date : 7th September, 2006.

    Enclosure: Copy of complaint sent by email.

    —– Original Message —–

    From: Rationing Kruti Samiti


    Sent: Monday, September 04, 2006 2:39 PM

    Subject: complaint on misuse of LPG, as per your AD


    Maharashtra Incharge (LPG complaints)

    Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas,

    Sub: Complaint of misuse of domestic LPG for non-domestic purposes.

    Re: Your regular advertisments in the newspapers.

    Dear Sir,

    Further to your advertisements appearing regulary on requesting citizens to point out misuse of doestic LPG for Non-domestic purposes, I hereby point out the following places where you can conduct raids and arrest the persons responsible.

    1.. At Mumbai Central Railway Station, the Railway canteen on platform number 4, uses the domestic LPG cylinders for commercial purposes. When I questioned them, they tried to defend saying that the railways sends it to them. They even confidently stated that the Railways provide more than 100 cylinders to all such eating shops on railway premises in Mumbai. Therefore, such a thing needs to be investigated at the earliest.

    2.. Outside Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, Vile Parle (West), the local dosa hawker uses domestic LPG for commercial purposes in gross violation of the Liquefied Petroleum Gas Control Order, 2001.

    Hereby, acting on my complaint, you are enjoined to conduct the raids as per law.

    You may contact me on ————————- for further details.

    Ronald L. Rebello

    Rationing Kruti Samiti

    52, Gilder Lane Municipal School,

    Opposite Mumbai Central Railway Station,

    Mumbai Central 400 008.


    Copy to: Print and electronic media to investigate

    the above complaint and to specifically see

    if Railway’s itself is misusing subsidised LPG.

    Right To Information

    The Right To Information Act,2005 is an essential piece of legislature that everyone must be aware of. It does not matter what stream you are in or if you do not intend to ever use it in your lifr. I think it is absolutely imperative that every Indian must have the basic knowledge about it. Empower yourselves.

    Ronald Rebello, a social activist and founder of Justice corps (an organisation working for judicial reforms) and a part of Rationing Kruti Samiti was kind enough to share his RTI application with me.

    This is a follow up on his initial petition that was not answered by the concerned authority. It is an excellent example of how RTI has the potential to empower common people, you and I.

    Please do take a look at the RTI petition carefully, it may be of use to you someday. It is important that a hackneyed system is made accountable for its decisions and functioning.


    The Public Information Officer
    (Through the email of Principal Secretary – Food and Civil Supplies Department)
    Mantralaya, Mumbai

    Please refer to the following application sent to you per courier that was received by your office on 8th September, 2006. It is more than one month now that you have not provided any information under the application nor have replied to it. You are therefore called upon to provide the said information within 72 hours of receipt of this email, failing which I shall approach the appealate authority that will make you liable to a fine under the Right to Information Act, 2005.

    Therefore fail not.

    Ronald L. Rebello
    Rationing Kruti Samiti
    Add: 52, Gilder Lane Municipal School,
    Opposite Mumbai Central Railway Station
    Mumbai Central 400 008.

    Copy to:
    1.. Print and Electronic Media, Mumbai.
    2.. Advisor to Supreme Court Commissioner in PUCL v. UOI (WP 196/2001)



    The Public Information Officer

    Department of Food and Civil Supplies September 05, 2006.

    Maharashtra Government, Mantralaya, Mumbai.

    I.. Full name of the applicant : RONALD REBELLO

    II.. Address: 52, Gilder Lane Municipal School, Opposite Mumbai Central Railway Station. Mumbai 400 008.

    III.. Particulars of the information required:

    Subject matter of information: Ration Cards for homeless citizens.

    Period of which the information relates to: 1997 till date of receipt of this application.

    Description of information required: Rationing Kruti Samiti had filed public interest litigation (PIL) in the Bombay High Court regarding ration cards and food entitlements to homeless citizens in 2004.

    Now therefore,

    1.. Please provide me the case number of this PIL / WP.

    2.. The number of hearings in the court so far and the dates of hearing that took place.

    3.. The copies of the orders / judgments passed in the matter.

    4.. Say, whether any action was taken by the state government in the matter pursuant to the court orders / judgements ? If yes, what action was taken?.

    5.. As per 23rd March 2004 GR, homeless families have to be issued ration cards? How many such cards have been issued to homeless families under this GR in Mumbai, Thane, Nashik, Sangli, Nagpur and Pune?. List out as under:

    Sr. No. RO wise /Tahsil Number of cards

    Examples: 1. 26 D / 162 80

    1.. Pune 20

    6.. Which of the following cards are homeless families entitled to?

    i. Antyodaya card

    ii. BPL card (Yellow Card)

    iii. APL card (Orange Card)

    iv. White card

    v. Any other (mention type, period of validity, procedure for renewal etc)

    7.. What are the entitlements under the �homeless cards�? Whether the beneficiaries having �homeless cards� are entitled to foodgrains, Kerosene and Sugar on a consistent basis. Mention the quantity of entitlements available to homeless people.

    8.. Whether those possessing �homeless cards� have been given their entitlements uniformly so far? If not, why not?

    9.. Whether any applications for �homeless ration cards� are pending in any Rationing Offices in Mumbai? If yes, mention RO wise how many such applications are pending? Give reasons on why these applications are pending?

    9.. RO officials state that �It is a government policy that only if BPL beneficiaries do not lift grains, then only the homeless families will be provided food grains; surplus from BPL stock�. Verify if this is true. If true, quote the policy, decision maker, basis of such policy etc.

    10.. Give full details of appellate authority such as Name, Designation, address, phone, fax, email so that I can appeal in case I am dissatisfied with the information provided by you.

    IV.. I state that the information sought does not fall within the restrictions contained in section 8 of the Right to Information Act, 2005 and to the best of my knowledge it pertains to your office. If for any reason, it pertains to any other department, the Right to Information Act places an obligation on you to forward the same or part of the application to the appropriate department and intimate me within 5 days of such transfer.

    V.. Under the RTI, information shall be provided in the way it is sought. Hence, it is requested that the information be provided in question and answer format in the above manner.

    VI.. The requisite fees for this information will be paid, if in accordance with rules.

    Ronald L. Rebello


    Place : Mumbai

    Date : 05th September, 2006.

    India questions

    Tomorrow I will have the privilege of being a part of the audience at “India questions” , a NDTV feature where Pranoy Roy will interview King Khan, Shah Rukh Khan himself.

    I am not sure what is more exiting, an opportunity to ask questions to SRK or be in the presence of my icon, my idol Dr. Roy.

    It will be a learning experience for a young Journo like me. To observe both these individuals who have accomplished so much in their respective fields and that too at what they do best, interact with a live audience on camera, will be a treat.

    More on this when I post about my experience tomorrow or day after, as time permits.

    Watch this space for Inside: India Questions

    Remembering Anna

    It is said that the well being of an economy is reflected in the way the media is allowed to function. A robust independant press is a sign of a country’s willingness to achieve or at least tend towards the ideal of ‘the people’ as a primary institution.

    Anna Politkovskaya’s brutal murder only magnifies the strangle hold that the Putin administeration has on the press in Russia. Such a despicable act must be condemned world-wide.

    (Coincidentally, my muse for my initial fiction work was also named Anna)

  • Anna’s Wiki Page
  • Chechnya : articles by Anna Politkovskaya
  • Guardian article
  • WAN-Press press release :

    Paris, 7 October 2006
    For immediate release

    World’s Press Condemns Murder of Russian Journalist

    The World Association of Newspapers today condemned the ‘shocking murder’ of
    Anna Politkovskaya, the Russian journalist.

    Ms Politkovskaya, a reporter for the Novaya Gazeta newspaper, was found dead
    Saturday afternoon from a bullet wound in the elevator of the building where
    she lived in Moscow.

    “This is tragic and deeply shocking news”, said Timothy Balding, CEO of WAN.
    “We condemn this as an outrageous attack not only on a journalist but on
    freedom of the press and democracy in Russia. We call on the Russian
    authorities to pursue mercilessly the killer or killers and those behind
    this cowardly act”.

    Mr Balding added: “There had been many skeptics in Russia, including other
    journalists, when Ms Politkovskaya said she was the victim of attempted
    poisoning by security forces on her way to cover the Beslan massacre two
    years ago. This assassination is terrible confirmation, if any were needed,
    that she was not inventing her claims that she was constantly under physical

    Ms Politkovskaya was celebrated internationally for her critical coverage of
    the war in Chechnya.

    She was the 76th journalists killed world-wide in 2006, the most deadly year
    since WAN began keeping records of journalist murders in 1997. The list of
    journalists killed world-wide can be found at .

    The Paris-based WAN, the global organisation for the newspaper industry,
    defends and promotes press freedom world-wide. It represents 18,000
    newspapers; its membership includes 73 national newspaper associations,
    newspapers and newspaper executives in 102 countries, 11 news agencies and
    nine regional and world-wide press groups.

    Biodiesel : a new wave

    The following is an extract from The Sunday Express, 1 October 2006.

    Entrepreneurs are investing big bucks in biodiesel, even the President has endorsed the fuel of the future. But where is the policy that will help India ride the jatropha wave?

    ….The government has been slow to match the entrepreneurial enthusiasm on the green fuel extracted from jatropha curcus seeds. And with the long-overdue National Biodiesel Policy still to be formulated, there just aren’t enough jatropha seeds available in the country to get the private sector plants up and running.

    This has led to a strange situation on the ground. On one hand, entrepreneurs are setting up transesterification plants, which will convert jatropha seeds into oil that can be blended with diesel or used neat to run cars, trains and gensets. But, in the absence of viable jatropha supplies and escalating crude oil prices, most entrepreneurs are now depending on other vegetable oil or waste oil to employ in their plants; some are even willing to import expensive palm oil from Malaysia. ….

    ….Several arguments were made for jatropha when the first committee on the development of biofuel, chaired by N D Tiwari, submitted its report in April 2003. One, it would reduce the massive crude oil import bill (Rs 19,000 crore every year), two, it would put India’s vast wastelands (55 million hectares) into use. And three, it would provide employment to millions of farmers.

    But with plants running on imported vegetable oil instead of homegrown, low-maintenance jatropha, biodiesel is not turning out to be the wonder it was touted to be….

    ….For all the evident enthusiasm, however, there’s still a vital role that only the government can play. There are nearly 300 varieties of jatropha in India and research needs to be conducted to select the maximum-yield seeds.

    There has been some research but not enough. TERI plans to demonstrate the economics of biofuels with its 8,000 hectares under jatropha in Andhra Pradesh which will attain ‘seed-to-oil’ capacity in the next four years. The University of Hohenheim has been developing diesel blends in collaboration with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), which have been tested on Mercedes Benz C-class cars….

    For the full article see link:

  • Running on empty – IE

  • Playing the field: Entrepreneurs who have entered the biodiesel wave

    D1 Oil plc.
    Newcastle-based firm has 10,000 hectares of jatropha in India, and plans to hit 1 lakh hectares in Tamil Nadu alone

    Reliance Industries Ltd
    200 acres of land at Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh, besides projects elsewhere

    Plans Rs 15 billion bio-diesel plant at Haldia. To use palm oil as raw material initially

    Godrej Agrovet
    Plans to invest Rs 5 billion in bio-fuel plant cultivation in Gujarat and Mizoram. Will also set up processing plants in Gujarat

    British Petroleum: $9.4 bn in TERI jatropha project

    Vinod Khosla: Venture capitalist has invested Rs 117 crore in Praj Industries’ biofuel project


    Richard Branson: $350 million in ethanol to fly aircraft

    US Government: $160million for pilot biofuel plant

    Bill Gates: $84 million in Pacific Ethanol