Politics & the Nation
  • Furore over Bhopal gas tragedy judgement
    • A quarter of a century after the worst industrial disaster in history, a Bhopal district court sentenced seven people, including business leader Keshub Mahindra, for two years in jail under sections of Indian law usually applied to road mishaps.
    • The Bhopal Gas Tragedy occurred on December 3, 1984, when leaking fumes of toxic methyl isocyanite from the Union Carbide plant spread to neighbouring slums, killing thousands and impairing a generation for life.
    • Mr Mahindra, chairman of car-and-utility vehicle maker Mahindra & Mahindra, was the non-executive chairman of the Indian arm of Union Carbide during the disaster while the other six were employees of the firm. An eighth accused died during the course of the trial that lasted 25 years, examined 178 prosecution witnesses and over 3,000 documents.
    • Representatives of the tragedy’s victims and their families who were protesting outside the Bhopal chief judicial magistrate termed the judgement “too little, too late” and accused the prosecution and CBI of failing the victims by “diluting” the charges.
    • The Monday verdict didn’t mention Warren Anderson, the Union Carbide global chief during the disaster. Anderson, who was arrested in Bhopal in 1984, was freed on bail on assurance that he will return. Four years later, the CBI chargesheet named him, and in 1989, the chief judicial magistrate of Bhopal issued a non-bailable warrant for his arrest for repeatedly ignoring summons. In 1992, Anderson was declared a fugitive by the Indian courts.
    • However, the US rejected India’s request for his extradition saying the request does not “meet requirements of certain provisions” of the bilateral extradition treaty. A fresh arrest warrant was issued against him in July 2009 by the Bhopal chief judicial magistrate, the latest in a series of such efforts.
    • Take a look at this graphic which gives details the chronology of the disaster.
Finance & Economy
  • TFC's recommendations on containing Naxalism
    • In the context of its urging the state governments to share their royalties from mining with local bodies to improve the lot of the local, tribal, people, this editorial comment which castigates the lethargic attitude of the States is well worth a read.
  • Some interesting stats relating to forest produce...
    • A unique study — Green accounting for Indian states and Union Territories — found the value of our forest at Rs 88,60,259 crore in 2003.
    • The ILO Report 2009 estimates that the global market for environment products and services is projected to double to $2,740 billion by 2020 from the present $1,370 billion per year.
    • World export market for handicraft is estimated to be worth $350 billion.
  • The merits and demerits of fuel price control
    • The government has yet another backed out at the last minute from increasing the fuel prices. This is a very good article that discusses in this context some of the merits and demerits of a fuel price hike. Very enlightening. Don't miss it.
  • What exactly is ailing Europe?
    • Let's get a feel of it from today's op-ed in ET:
    • For example, the total debt of Greece is $226 billion while that of Spain is $1.1 trillion — almost four and a half times larger. Of that, about $220 billion is owed to French institutions, a similar number to German institutions and about $120 billion to British firms. With 20% unemployment, Spain has one of the weakest economies in Europe. Meanwhile of Italy's gross debt of $1.4 trillion, about 40% is owed to France, which amounts to almost half of the latter's GDP. The interconnectedness of these economies is such that the weakest link will determine the strength of the EU.
  • What is ACTA and why is it in the news?
    • ACTA is an acronym for anti-counterfeiting trade agreement; otherwise also known as 'Trips Plus' that is reportedly being given a shape by countries such as the US, Japan, the EU, Australia and South Korea.
    • The ACTA being negotiated between eleven countries (it also includes Canada, Mexico, Switzerland, NZ, Morocco and Singapore), proposes to widen the scope of protection and setting up higher standards for enforcement of intellectual property rights. It would extend to import, export and in-transit goods and includes infringement of all IPRs.
    • While the negotiations for the agreement have been going on for more than three years, the international community got to know about it this April through media reports.
    • It is feared that it could hamper India’s trade in a number of areas including pharmaceuticals and IT products.
    • Therefore India and China have decided to rake up the issue at the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
Language Lessons
  • kilter: Noun
    • In working order
    • eg: As the euro depreciates, European exports do get more competitive but it throws the world economy out of kilter.