Friday, August 31, 2012





INDIA is becoming known for its indifference to Public Health, Natural hazards and man-made hazards.

Modern Technology, in some cases, madly rushes into areas where there are deep, unknown, hidden hazards. It is OK as long as this experimentation is confined to Laboratories and, away from human habitations. But, we are doing it in human habitations –and on human beings. That too – without reasonable safeguards.

The mind-set is – we must keep up with the west. Be it Nuclear Power generation, or cell phone proliferation, we want to keep up with and if possible, be one up on the west.

But, when the west changes, we don’t change to their level of enhanced safety precautions.

India madly embraces such technologies without adequate safe guards. Where this indifference will land us is something – we will see only when the Hazard happens and affects human lives adversely.

On 31st,August,2012 (Yesterday), the Ministry of Communications & Information Technology31 has brought into operation more Stringent Mobile Radiation Standards.

It says, all New Mobile Handsets must comply with SAR Value of 1.6Watts/KG and it  has introduced Penalty and Random Checks for Enforcement. We can of course, feel happy, saying, Better late than Never.

The announcement pats itself saying - Beginning tomorrow (1st September 2012), India will be among the select few countries in the world to have stringent EMF( Electromagnetic Frequency)  Radiation Standards, established in the interest of public health, for mobile towers and mobile handsets. Indian standards would now be 10 times more stringent than more than 90% countries in the world.

The following are the highlights of the Standards :

Mobile Towers (EMF Radiation Norms)

Ø EMF ( Electromagnetic Frequency) exposure limit (Base Station Emissions) has been lowered to 1/10th of the existing ICNIRP exposure level, effective 1st Sept. 2012.

Ø Telecom Enforcement Resource & Monitoring (TERM) Cells have been entrusted with the job of conducting audit on the self certification furnished by the Service Providers. TERM Cell will carry out test audit of 10% of the BTS site on random basis and on all cases where there is a public complaint. 

Ø Telecom Engineering Centre (TEC) has revised the Test Procedure for measurement of EMF for verification of EMF compliance for BTS towers in accordance with new standards.

Ø For non-compliance of EMF standards, a penalty of Rs. 5 lakhs is liable to be levied per BTS per Service Provider.

Ø The BTS site details i.e. self certification, registration with TERM Cell, test results etc. is proposed to be provided on DoT web site for General Public information.

Mobile Handsets

Ø All the new design of mobile handsets shall comply with the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR)   values of 1.6 W/kg averaged over 1 gram of human tissue w.e.f. 1st Sept. 2012.

Ø The mobile handsets with existing designs which are compliant with 2.0 W/kg averaged over 10 gram of human tissue, will continue to co-exist up to 31st August 2013. From 1st Sept. 2013, only the mobile handsets with revised SAR value of 1.6 W/kg would be permitted to be manufactured or imported in India.

Ø SAR value information display on the mobile handsets like IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) display. The information on SAR values to be made available to the consumer at the point of sale.

Ø Mobile hand set manufactured and sold in India or imported from other countries shall be checked on random basis for compliance of SAR limit after TEC SAR Laboratory is set up by end of 2012. Test results from international accredited labs will be acceptable in the interim period.

Ø The manufacturers in India will provide self declaration of SAR value of the handset.

Ø Manufacturer’s mobile handset booklet will contain safety precautions.

Ø All cell phone handsets sold in the market in India will comply with relevant standards and shall be available in hand free mode.

SAR Test Laboratory:

Ø  SAR Test Laboratory is being set up in Telecom Engineering Centre for testing of SAR value of mobile handsets imported/ manufactured in India. 

New National SAR Standards from Telecom Engineering Centre

Ø  National SAR standards from Telecom Engineering Centre are being finalized. 

Measuring Instruments:

Ø DoT is procuring EMF radiation measuring instruments for TERM cell units.

Ø Outsourcing for EMF radiation measurement for BTS towers is also being considered.

Expert  Group Study:

Ø  A scientific study in India-specific context is being undertaken jointly by Dept. of Telecom and Dept. of Science & Technology in collaboration with ICMR, MOEF & Min of Science & Technology to derive norms based on credible scientific evidence taking into account diversity of Indian social context.

Guidelines to State Government:

Ø  Department of Telecommunication has released Guidelines covering BTS Towers so that some consistency gets evolved on setting up of BTS towers. Guidelines have been placed on DoT website.

Guidelines for Consumers :

Guidelines for consumers on Mobile handset usage have been issued and hosted on DoT Web site ( for general public awareness.

Some of them are :

1.    Keep distance – Hold the cell phone away from body to the extent possible.

2.    Use a headset (wired or Bluetooth) to keep the handset away from your head.

3.    Do not press the phone handset against your head. Radio Frequency (RF) energy is inversely proportional to the square of the distance from the source -- being very close increases energy absorption much more.

Limit the length of mobile calls:

5.    Use text as compared to voice wherever possible.

6.    Put the cell phone on speaker mode.

When your phone is ON, don`t carry it in chest/breast or pants pocket. When a mobile phone is ON, it automatically transmits at high power every one or two minutes to check (poll) the network.

Radiation Booklet :

Ø  A booklet addressing possible queries from mobile telecom users on radiation-related issues along with other informative inputs is also being placed on DoT website.

TEC Test Procedures Document for Service Providers and Term Cell Units:

Ø  TEC has revised the Test Procedure for measurement of EMF elaborating the methodology, calculations, measurements and report formats for verification of EMF compliance for BTS towers in accordance with new standards effective from 1st Sept. 2012. This will be applicable for all Mobile Service Providers and Term Cell Units to verify compliance.

Department of Telecommunications, Ministry of Communications & IT has  ensured that the new EMF Radiation standards get implemented through close co-ordination with the industry.

The guidelines underline the Government’s efforts at providing the best possible Telecom services across the country without compromising on public safety and /human health.

MY COMMENTS :- This was long overdue. Is this enough? Listening to some experts, I feel, it is not enough. The radiation levels must come down still further. For instance, very near to my home, there are several towers in close proximity. What is their combined effect? Each tower may claim to be within LIMITS. But, what is the overall radiation?

(1) India must establish cell phone and cell tower manufacture within India and experiment exhaustively on it – to evolve the BEST POSSIBLE CELL PHONE TECHNOLOGY within India. This is a primary requirement. Being better than 90% of the nations is not GOOD ENOUGH. Those 90% of the Nations put together may not have the number of cell phones that we, as one nation, use. Also, India must stop untested, un certified (Like, the Chinese manufactured) instruments which are proliferating all across India. Untested – implies HIGHER RISK.

(2) Some Experts have said that – the level of radiation must come down much further-even per tower and per cell phone. The Independent regulator TRAI must be duty-bound to conduct checks, monitor radiation levels, their effects on environment, the scientific methods to protect against radiation, and so on. But, unless, manufacture of Towers and cell phones also happens in India,  we cannot completely ensure the levels that we may desire. The reason is – India has one of the densest populations in the world -  in our cities – where TOWERS are in huge proliferation. What applies to US or UK may therefore be utterly insufficient for Indian population.

(3) We find, many of the functions are kept within DOT – and the Regulator TRAI is kept out. In respect of Stock Markets, SEBI is the Regulator performing ALL SUCH FUNCTIONS – and this has led to vast improvements in stock market functioning. It is SEBI which conducts most of the checks on ALL STOCK MARKET PARTICIPANTS, levies penalties and so on. In Telecom also, it must be TRAI, under whose jurisdiction, the checking, levying Penalties etc happens. Let DOT make Policies; let TRAI oversee the function and suggest improvements.

All said – the Government certainly deserves appreciation for taking this action – of reducing the radiation levels applicable to CELL TOWERS and CELL PHONES. It has also done well to OFFICIALLY PUBLISH THE Dos and DON’TS on cell phone Use.

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Thursday, August 30, 2012





COALGATE is becoming curiouser and curiouser. What should be primarily discussed in Parliament has been dragged into the forum of Media by media -  which is their right – but, what is really curious is that the Media Discussion has been actively joined in by both the Opposition and  Ruling Coalitions.

If they can discuss it threadbare in media – the question arises – why can’t they discuss the same in Parliament – which is the proper and prescribed Forum for discussing the CAG Reports!

Let all Parliamentarians first discuss the CAG Report in Parliament and the Public Accounts Committee, threadbare, obtain all facts from all sources including CAG, and then see what went wrong and where. If nothing went wrong, wonderful; if something did, that can be got corrected. If somebody needs to resign on any grounds, they can then be made to resign. Is there a case for any RESIGNATIONS even before the CAG REPORT is discussed in Parliament?

I think, there is no case for it right now. We can’t certainly say with THIS EXACTLY IS THE WRONG – AND THIS ONE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR IT.

There are a number of layers in the process - like the state Governments, their Ministers and bureaucracy, the screening committee members, the persons who appeared before the committee, the various Central Ministries and Ministers who were part of the decision making – and then, at the final stage, comes the PM.

In between – somewhere - are the Companies who got the allotments in haste, but did not mine even half a tone of coal all these years. What did they do with their Higher Market Valuations in the Mean time is a curious Factor needing attention.

Leaving all this – demanding the PM’s resignation on mere moral grounds – in times which do not belong to the Nehrus and Sastris – is just not appropriate. Much water has flown down the Ganges – and no one has resigned after Sastriji on mere moral Grounds – unless you make a case against him personally.

It looks as if BJP IS INTENT on scoring a SELF GOAL on this issue - and surrender the ADVANTAGE to Congress, which may win on BJP's self goal.
In any Organization, things do go wrong. As Murphy’s Law proclaims – if something can go wrong, it will. Murphy’s Law may not be RIGHT all the time; Murphy’s  Law  too can go wrong  and it does. In other words – things do go wrong – not all the time, but, some times. An extension of the law says – things go wrong when least expected.

Probably, this extension has struck COLAGATE –when people least expected it.

The Ruling UPA need not have joined the Media Debate and could have insisted on Parliamentary Debate First – media Debate only later. They could have taken the stand - we are not going to go before media before Parliament discusses the CAG Report. This, they could have done. But, like in all other issues, they went ahead trying to score points, opening up New Fronts in the Media itself – chiefly against the State Governments, and then, QUITE UNNECESSARILY, against the CAG, who cannot join the Debate. 

Even the Prime Minister, who, normally does not get into such controversies joined issue against the CAG. But, nobody was willing to give the CAG the same facility – of rebutting the charges on the Media itself – or, even going further, discussing the whole Report in the Media itself – since the Debate forum has effectively shifted to Media.

This has necessarily rattled the CAG. It has rattled CAG and - also given him enough indications on what he should do when called upon to justify his report in PAC and before  Parliament.

While Government says, CAG’s figures are exaggerated and incorrect, CAG is finding all arguments to  prove, that their calculations were actually HIGHLY CONSERVATIVE – and the presumptive loss figures are actually much higher. This is what we see from latest News Reports.

Media is digging out many more angles in COALGATE. We will need to wait and see.

When Team Anna or Ram Devji agitates on Corruption – everyone talks of Supremacy of Parliament. But, now none talks of it.  Media Discussion seems to be of Paramount importance. The doubt now is - Will CAG’s Report on COALGATE at all be discussed in Parliament? If so, when?

Will Parliamentarians restore to Parliament its due rights to discuss and take action on CAG’s Reports?

P.S: We now find that Mr.Deepak Parekh has raised his voice against CANCELLATION OF COAL BLOCK ALLOCATION - saying it will ruin the country. He very pertinently says - "Reversing every economic Policy is the beginning of the end of this country". I totally agree with him. But, whoever has not made any attempt to mine the COAL from the BLOCKS  allocated - Their ALLOCATION MUST BE CANCELLED, and their allocated blocks must be re-allocated to some one who will do the mining IMMEDIATELY. 

INDIA is in IMMEDIATE NEED OF POWER - and therefore, of COAL - So, some one who is in such dire need of coal must be allocated the Coal Blocks with strict stipulation that he must start mining, say, within 6 months of allocation and use it for specified purposes. 

There is another news that MANY Non-UPA, Non-NDA PARTIES have come together to voice their OPPOSITION to the DISRUPTION OF PARLIAMENT. As this Blog has said earlier - whatever one have to say - say it in PARLIAMENT. Let the country know all facts - from the most authorized source, namely, the Parliament - not from Media. PARLIAMENTARIANS of both UPA and NDA must both first discuss the CAG REPORT in Parliament - and thereafter only, in Media. It is definitely not healthy for MPs to discuss CAG Reports in Media first and in Parliament later. Also, demanding RESIGNATIONS even before start of discussions is meaningless. One Party's view need not be MAJORITY VIEW - and Majority view must prevail. The call of many parties for review of the coal block allocation by a SITTING SUPREME COURT JUDGE is perhaps the BEST SOLUTION. Both UPA and NDA must support this method of resolving the issue. But, even for that - Parliament must discuss the issue - at least for a day - without disruptive atmosphere. This precedent can become a permanent feature of Parliamentary functioning if not stopped now -  and will boomerang on BJP also - in states where it is in Power - and at centre, if and when it becomes the Ruling Coalition at Centre.

Leaving the COALGATE its present stage – let us see how GROWTH vs INFLATION debate continues.


RBI refuses to bring down the INTEREST RATES until and unless INFLATION  comes down. But, Inflation seems more stubborn than RBI. It refuses to come down – probably – until and unless RBI reduces the INTEREST RATES, it has raised in monthly installments over a year or more.

This Blog has been pointing out this phenomenon for over an year. Now, many CEOs have started asking the same.

RBI says – INFLATION must come down to 5% or less. Yes. This is needed.

But, how and who will do it now - is the question. Is there a scope for raising Interest rates further? Even if RBI raises Interest Rates further – will it really reduce INFLATION? It has not happened at all in the last  one and a half years. Who can be sure of that to happen now?

RBI was always right in asking Government to use its fiscal and administrative powers to reduce Inflation. For some reason, Government is looking at the RAIN GOD, to help it bring down inflation. If RAIN GOD is the solution, where is the rationale for RBI to keep its INTEREST RATES so high?

While many Industry captains have been voicing concerns over the decelerating Growth, the latest to join the Bandwagon is Sri K.V.Kamath. He has said – for Growth’s sake cut Rates by 1%. He is right, but, I would say, partially. The Rates must come down to a level lower than that of the Chinese – so that our Industries become competitive.

In the last year and a half – Growth (GDP) has been nose-diving very consistently – and the performance of many Industries is suffering. Demand for Industrial Products has not been going up at all, and in some sectors, it is coming down drastically. The latest to be added to this list is – 2 wheelers. The Big companies are all reducing their Production, as per the latest report. Why the Demand recession? It is not in 2 wheelers alone. It is in many sectors. On one side, their manufacturing and all other costs have gone up by a significant amount because of the Hike in Rates. On the other hand, the buyers are not enthused by the High Rates to go for purchase at these levels of Interest.

We also know that huge Inventories are lying Idle in realty sector. There are no Buyers for them. One of the reasons for that also is the High Interest Rates – apart from the huge hike in realty prices by the builders.

No one says, Interest Rates is the only underlying factor for the decelerating Growth. There are others – to be tackled by the Government. But, Interest rate is also a significant factor. That is the point, the RBI cannot ignore. High Interest Rate in India makes Indian products uncompetitive compared to the products of other countries.

All said – I think, It is time that RBI reduced the INTEREST RATES significantly – even while putting pressure on Government to do what Government needs to do for containing Inflation.

So far, Indian Companies have been giving quantitative performance Information also – along with financial Information in their Annual Reports. But, now there is a move to do away with this requirement.

This move is quite retrograde and unnecessary. Companies are giving this Info – and investors and Analysts want this Info – to judge whether the Profits (or losses) have come on higher or lower production or on mere price manipulation. Likewise, whether higher or lower raw material consumption was there – is also material for Investors and Analysts. India need not abandon its HELATHY PRACTICES – especially when there is a good need for them.

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Sunday, August 26, 2012

COALGATE - All Smoke & Heat - No Light ! - What & Where - is the SCAM ? - Who should resign? - But, what India needs - Urgently?




CAG  - is duty bound to submit his reports on every major Aspect of Government’s Functioning. These reports (of CAG) must be debated in Parliament and in Public Accounts Committee – and decisions taken – on all the points raised by CAG.

This, unfortunately, is not happening. CAG has submitted his report on COAL MINE allocation by the UPA Government. As usual, it has found its way to the Media – even before it is discussed in the Parliament. And, Media started discussing the Report – which is perfectly normal in India.

Many Parliamentarians from different Parties, other luminaries, some experts, some not-so-experts – all join the Media to discuss the REPORT, most of which they may, or may not have READ.

The only person not joining the MEDIA DEBATE on COALGATE – is the CAG. He is not allowed. He cannot defend himself from the attacks on him by Ruling Party members; nor can he correct wrong opinions of the Opposition or the Media etc.

He waits patiently for the discussion in Parliament and PAC, and for his turn to be called by PAC – to explain, support and elucidate – everything connected with his REPORT.

There is nothing HELATHY about this sort of FIGHTING IN THE DARK – by all others on the CAG Reports. Media and others can discuss  – but not Parliamentarians – who are duty bound to discuss the Report in Parliament. This is my considered personal Opinion.

Had UPA members not joined public debates, there would have been no fire in such debates and NDA would have been forced to join Parliamentary Discussions. The Demand for PM’s resignation would have become UNSUSTAINABLE.

Likewise, if NDA had not joined Public debate, but had concentrated on Parliamentary Discussion – it would have won the Debate handsomely – in all probability – without scoring self Goals in the process.

Now, by their Method of Handling, NDA has provided the UPA, a very effective method of stalling any Governance by NDA, if it is likely to come to POWER in 2014. Is this going to be the way Parliament will run after 2014 also- this is the disturbing question in Public mind now?

Let there be LIGHT.

Even now – the right course is - Parliament must discuss such CAG reports. BJP is unnecessarily squandering a GOOD Opportunity to place its points of view inside the Parliament. If Prime Minister has to RESIGN, he can be so asked – only after a COMPREHENSIVE DISCUSSION covering all aspects of the report.

Definitely – Prime Minister cannot be the only one who examines the COAL MINE ALLOCATION FILES. Before him, there are always a battery of officials and Ministers who examine all these files and contribute their thoughts and recommendations.

In this case - State Governments have also made specific recommendations – and wanted specific solutions. If the decision is wrong – those who suggested the decision from state Government are also the ones to be hauled up – not merely the PM or not necessarily the PM.


CAG sees - things that are done, what irregularities have taken place in them and how they could have been done better. He does it in RETROSPECT. Unfortunately – there is no mechanism in India to involve NEUTRAL EXPERTS at the time of taking such HUGE, VITAL DECISIONS by the Government.

The way Indian Democracy is functioning – the RULING PARTIES, either at Centre or in States, almost never associate the OPPOSITION in such major processes/ decisions  – unless a Law or change of Law is thought to be involved.

This was not the way, Indian constitutional Methods were devised initially.

The Budgets get scrutinized so thoroughly by the entire Parliament and in specific committees (which include Opposition Parties also); so that, before Budgets are passed, entire Opposition also have taken full part in discussing it. They may criticize some parts later too. But, the Budgets ultimately carry the majority will and approval of the Parliament with it. The founding fathers of the constitution and the initial Governments of India have set many such healthy precedents.

The one Major lacunae in India is – there is no clear demarcation between the EXECUTIVE, represented by the Cabinet and the LEGISLATIVE WING represented by the Parliament, in which also, the CABINET plays the primary role in making Laws.

What are the exact POWERS OF CABINET in their role as Executive and in their Role as part of the Legislative process? Can they act as they have done in the COAL MINES ALLOCATION – without Parliamentary approval?

From 2 G case onward, it has also became UNCERTAIN, whether the Prime Minister’s Opinion or advice is binding on a Minister in his cabinet or not. The coalition Politics have set a dangerous precedent – that an Individual Minister can refuse to abide by PM’s advice or opinion.

At least this aspect needs to be set right by Parliament, stipulating that Prime Minister’s opinions, advices and decisions are BINDING ON ALL INDIVIDUAL MINISTERS IN HIS CABINET – from whichever party they come. Otherwise – the coalition Politics will wreck havoc on India’s Governance.

These are all ISSUES which need fresh debate.

It is very CLEAR – that had Parliament been associated in cases such as 2G, Coal Mines Allocation etc – and if specific Processes were evolved, discussed and Parliamentary approval was obtained – there would have been no case for CAG or SC  – to question the things which Parliaments have approved, to the extent they have approved.

It is astonishing that – after 66 years of functioning as Democracy – we still are unsure, where huge public resources can be distributed on methods like (i) First come, First served; (ii) Nomination of a company by State Government (without any Procedure) or Central Government or (iii) Royalty Payment /Equity sharing / Profit sharing etc.

For much smaller expenditures or public facilities, Government has to clearly call for tenders. But, for distribution of much larger Government largesse, there are NO Parliament approved PROCESSES! Is this an acceptable Position?

Individual cases may fall within EXECUTIVE JURISDICTION – but, the processes to be followed in GENERAL – definitely seem to need PARLIAMENTARY APPROVAL – especially after the 2G and coal Mine allocation experience.

The Executive must be accountable to Parliament – and must follow Parliament approved Laws and Procedures. There cannot be FREE HAND to the executive (even at cabinet level) to FOLLOW ANY PROCEDURE.

Second – Coal Mines were any way awarded to some companies- private and Public for Mining. But, they were not mined by these companies – all except one, as we understand now.  The coal still sleeps under Mother Earth.

There is no loss of COAL as such. But, are we not suffering as a nation without electricity, without steel and without many, many manufactured Products – all of which need coal as the primary source of Power. How much Productivity is being lost due to lack of Electricity, which is due to lack of Coal; this is the real loss for India.

And for all that, India is actually surplus in Coal! Surplus in Coal, but the Coal is under Mother Earth, and needy, User Industries only are allocated to mine them, and THEY FAIL TO MINE THEM  till today. Then, why did the State Governments recommend them at all; and after allocation, what did they do – Both State Governments and the Companies – so far? What was the purpose of the whole allocation process? That, to my mind, seems to be a major aspect of the COALGATE. I won’t say, it is a scam. It is the absolutely distressing way – India is planning and using its vital resources.

For several decades, periodically, we also hear that some of the contractors illegally cart away Huge quantities of coal from the Mines. No one talks a word about that. Can’t we manage anything efficiently and legally?

CAG is certainly entitled to make his calculations, the way he finds fit. He does not engage any outside experts; and mostly, he is not allowed to see the FACTS AT SITE – through his agencies or through Experts. I feel, he must be allowed both these facilities. When he feels there are Huge losses in any scheme, and the scheme is turning into a scam, he can and must be allowed to use experts and visits to site, as he feels fit, so that, his calculations will be supported by Expert opinions.

There are usually more scams AT SITE,  than on DOCUMENTS. Do we, in India, want to know the whole truth or not? What we are seeing in CAG’s reports are irregularities on PAPERS – but, BIGGER IRREGULARITES at site – by the executives, contractors and others at site – are never known to CAG or any one. We must enable someone like CAG to look into them also – in Big cases like this.

Third – Agreed that CAG and his officers are not experts in everything. But, they are experts in Auditing documents. What about the Ministers who argue on these reports of the CAG? Can we classify them as EXPERTS?

In the Ministry of Finance, we engage a Battery of Experts from outside – to proffer their Opinions. So is the case, in the PMO’s office for financial Matters. So, is the case even in Ministry of Law, where experts like Attorney General and Solicitor general are available. It is essential that every Ministry has such EXPERT BODIES, on a Permanent Basis, whose opinion, they must take, before every major decision. 

The Bureaucrats, who usually examine cases are like the Seven Blind men who touch the Elephant from one side each and tell their opinion about the Elephant. They don’t wish to see anything beyond existing rules.

If Rule is Satisfied, LOSS does not matter. This is Bureaucratic way of doing things. There is no Great Discretion to them, to suggest beyond anything existing rule. Therefore, EXPERT OPINION is needed on every Major expenditure or Government largesse to others.
Whether PM should go or State CMs should go or Companies should be hauled up too – is a matter between UPA and NDA. That should necessarily be decided only after PROPER PARLIAMENTARY DISCUSSION.

But, what the country must speak up for – is, please, do get the coal Mined and supplied to user Industries; This is the first Priority for India;

Let there be coal for all user Industries. Let there be Steel. Let there be all those products which are manufactured using Coal. Let there be Electricity, without which the whole Growth process of the country is suffering.

Let there be LIGHT on this, Sir!

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