Monday, April 30, 2007

And Miles To Go Before ...

India would love to be ranked No.2 globally - be it economic power or steel production or some other criterion. We are already euphoric about emerging as the second strongest economy by the year 2050. This is not daydreaming. The world famous financial analyst Golden Sachs made this forecast after thorough research. But doubts linger in the minds. Already the GDP growth rate for the year 2007-08 has been scaled down to 8.5%. Then, are we going to attain double digit growth rates or the economy will start cooling even before getting heated?
I read in Economic Times that India is set to emerge as the world's second largest steel producer by the year 2016 when the production capacity will rise to 120 million tonnes. The steel secretary is reported to have given this one-liner assurance -"Given a conducive mineral policy framework, this country should be producing 120 million tonnes by 2015-16 and 180 million tonnes by 2019-20". Doubting Thomas es would say it took 16 years after the liberalisation of the steel industry to double the capacity; will it then be possible to treble capacity just within 9 years notwithstanding the acquisition spree of foreign steel companies by domestic producers. The National Steel Policy took years to see the light of the day. The mineral policy framework will emerge only after several ministries and Planning Commission arrive at a consensus. All this will take time. Then one does not know whether the policy will really be 'conducive' to the steel industry or not. Some of the mega projects for which MOUs were signed with lot of fanfare have not made much progress. Posco project in Orissa is still dragging its feet over land acquisition and independent port facilities at Paradip. The JSW project in West Bengal is facing resistance over land acquisition.
The serious delay in execution of power projects (which are the most important ones for building the infrastructure) and the recent alarming news of severe power cuts in the industrial hub Mumbai affecting production show the failure of the government to implement projects in time. During the Tenth Plan, power sector could achieve just 56% of capacity addition against target. The Working Group on power has already warned of serious fund shortage to the tune of Rs450, 000 crores ($100 billion) during 2007-12 which is nearly 45% of the total funds needed for power projects during the period.
With such pathetic performance of the government in the past, the optimism aired by officials should be taken with a pinch of salt. We should not get too excited about such scenarios as we have learnt from past experiences that there's many a slip 'twixt the cup and the lip. Some may consider me as a pessimist for expressing such doubts. I would be happy if I am proved wrong.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Carbon Credit At Risk of Getting Discredited

'Carbon credit' has so far been touted as a practical scheme of fighting global warming. Simply stated, it is intended to reward 'carbon credits' to those who bring down greenhouse emissions by adopting appropriate measures. Those who exceed greenhouse emissions would have to buy 'carbon credits' for offsetting.
The whole business of fighting global warming this way appeared too simplistic to me. My apprehension that the rich nations would be exploiting the poor nations by their unrestricted greenhouse emissions with the help of carbon credits bought from the poor nations was sounded in my post 'Carbon Credit As Sops Saps Poor Nations'. It said:
"... GHG emissions, unfortunately, do not affect selectively but pervade everywhere. So the rich as well as the poor will suffer unimaginable losses in the long-term and we will be leaving the planet in much less habitable condition for the future generations.What a ghastly scenario!" After reading a news report in The Times of India titled 'British firms use India prop to pollute', I feel reassured that I was not wrong in harbouring such apprehension. It quotes Mary Taylor - a green activist saying
"It is really perverse. It allows western companies to continue polluting while handing over large amounts of money to a company in India, which itself produces large amounts of green house gases."
Companies earning millions of dollars by encashing carbon credits and investing the profits in projects that contribute to global warming should not be allowed to put an air of 'holier than thou' in the corporate world while for the poor masses, it would be be out of frying pan into fire.
Is it not?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Scoring Hundred

The Significance Of The Number 100
The digits 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 singly or in combination give various numbers. However, the number 100 has different significances altogether depending upon the context in which it is used.
Milestone in Life: Octogenarians and nonagenarians are not held in public awe anymore with longevity increasing all over the world. But when one completes one hundred years, the centenarian does get reverential attention.
Academic Performance: In schools and colleges, the most brilliant student is indisputably determined by the one who scores 100 out of 100.
One Hundred Metres Sprint Race in Olympics: There are dozens of sport events for which medals in Olympics are awarded to the winners. But the winner of gold in one event - 'One hundred metres sprint race' is given the singular honour of 'fastest man/woman in the world'. The fastest man today in the world, according to the official records, is Donavan Bailey of Canada who finished the race in just 9.79 seconds.
Googol: One of the two Google founders Larry Page had initially wanted to give the name Googol to their search engine. Googol is 1 followed by one hundred zeroes just as one billion is 1 followed by nine zeroes. Due to some spelling mistake, Googol became Google which millions use as search engine.
The100th post in Blog: Bloggers are publishing thousands of posts in their Blogs round the clock. But the 100th post, I think, is a very significant milestone for an individual Blogger. Self-propelled to blogosphere without any idea about the alien world, my blog 'Satish and his thoughts' started on 24 June, 2006 completes its 100th post with this. For me, its significance is no more less than other significant 'One Hundred's listed above. But for the support and encouragement of you all, my blog would not have seen this red-letter day.
I wish you all 'Happy blogging' in days, months and years to come.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Appalling Apathy To Alarming Global Warming

If my last post was on indifference at the national level to the impending crisis due to global warming, the present one based on an news in Economic Times titled 'Doomsday's here. Almost' touches upon the apathy at international level.
The writing is on the wall that man-made greenhouse emissions might trigger massive extinction of life on Earth in near future. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), after its six years of painstaking research by 2000 experts, has warned in its first report of rising global temperatures and sea levels. "The Earth would heat up between 1.8 centigrade and 4 centigrade by the end of the century, and upto 6.4 centigrade at the poles which heat up twice as fast around the equator. Melting ice has led sea levels climb 17cm in the 20th century and at the rate of 31cm per year since '93."
The irony is that the climate changes will affect the poorest regions in the world that are least responsible for production of greenhouse gases. As if to rub salt to injury, the worst offender nation USA which produces 25% of global emissions has been apathetic to joining Kyoto Protocol that has united all nations with few notorious exceptions to fight out the catastrophe. Perhaps, such attitudes and past actions on the part of some rich nations prompted Pope Benedict to write in his first book "Rich countries bent on power and profit have mercilessly plundered and sacked Africa and other poor regions and exported them the cynicism of a world without God."
The hapless millions of the developing nations which are being punished for the wrong-doings of others would find solace to know that the US Supreme Court has now declared global warming a serious and urgent problem in its first ever ruling on the subject. With ice-caps perilously melting in the polar regions, I hope the offenders' hearts would also start melting at the misery of the poor millions. As part of their retribution, massive assistance to the needy to mitigate the situation is called for.
Better be late than never!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Is Anyone Listening To Warning On Global warming?

After a long time, I found today's newspaper headlines screaming "Himalayan Meltdown only 20 years away ..." truly newsworthy. Usually, this space is taken up by news relating to cricket World Cup or such banal issues like government's ban on TV channels for committing obscenity or hike in bank loan rates. As if, these things deserve more attention than the apocalyptic scenario of impending global warming.
According to an UN draft report by its climatic panel, the glaciers in the Himalayas will melt away affecting hundreds of millions of people. The draft technical summary warns "If current warming rates are maintained, Himalayan glaciers could decay at very rapid rates shrinking from 500,000 square kilometres to 100,000 square kilometres by 2030s. In Africa and Asia, millions would go hungry due to damage to farming and water supplies. In lands close to the equator, declining crop yields would leave hundreds of millions unable to grow food".
The whole world is slowly waking up to the stark reality and several community measures are being taken on a war footing to ward off the effects of greenhouse gas emissions. In Sydney, they switched off incandescent lights and air-conditioners to conserve power and thereby collaborate to fight global warming.
Our leaders here are seized with more pressing things like election in UP, Supreme Court ruling on OBC quota etc. Of course, they are far-sighted enough as far as their vote-bank politics are concerned and would rather be interested in expanding their own fortunes than worrying about shrinking Himalayan glaciers by 2030s. By then, it would be too late to rectify their Himalayan blunder!