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New Trill In The Warble

Yashwant Sinha in a new role; Another coffin in the air? Interoperable STBs; and more

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When yashwant Sinha formally announced his decision to part ways with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in April 2018, he had curtly rebuffed speculation saying he was not an “aspirant for any top post”. When he decided to publicly flog the Narendra Modi-led government in January, he reiterated that stance. “I have no wish to joint active politics,” he told members of the Indian Women’s Press Corps (IWPC), “but I will continue to comment on national issues.”  

The former bureaucrat and Union minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government has been an ardent commentator on national affairs. He lambasted demonetisation and the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime in his column roughly seven months before he parted ways with the BJP (‘I need to speak up now’, Indian Express, September 27, 2017). Sinha reiterated at the IWPC that the economy in his view was “in a poor state”, that rural distress was of a kind “we have never seen before” and that “the institutions of democracy are under severe stress”. Sinha has voiced his scepticism about the economy before. Since his conspicuous presence at the Mahagathbandhan rally in Kolkata though, the ring in his diatribes has been octaves higher.  
— Madhumita Chakraborty

Another coffin in the air?
On 28 January an Indian Air Force (IAF) Jaguar fighter jet crashed at Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh during a routine sortie from the Gorakhpur Air Force station. The pilot was able to eject from the aircraft, using the emergency ‘ejection seat’ mechanism. On June 5, 2018, another Jaguar fighter had crashed in the Kutch region of north-western Gujarat. The Indian Air Force has begun revamping its 118 Jaguar ground attack fighters with new engines, airframes and spares from overseas grounded fighters. Various critical components are reportedly being sourced from around the world in a bid to extend the life span of the ageing fleet. Revamping the ageing Jaguar was a contingency plan to cope with the steadily depleting squadrons of the IAF. But this jugaad (quick fix) has gone too far.

A second crash in six months raises questions about the viability of the Jaguar. If upgrading the fighter jet is put off too long it may, like the vintage MiGs, acquire the infamous tag of a ‘coffin in the air’.    
— Manish Kumar Jha 

The Taiwan poser

Beijing considers Taiwan a wayward province awaiting reunification with mainland China. It suspended official exchanges with Taipei after Tsai Ing-wen was elected President in 2016. Tsai has been vociferous about independence from China and the right to be part of UN-led humanitarian activities, but her Democratic Progressive Party suffered a landslide defeat in local government polls in November. Chinese President Xi Jinping has warned that his country would not hesitate to use force to incorporate Taiwan within the mainland. Perhaps, like the US and Japan, India too should enhance its cooperation with Taiwan and Taiwan should honour President Tsai’s 2017New South Bound Policy of furthering trade ties with India.
— Manish Kumar Jha

DTH Boxes that are Interoperable? 
When there is a common regulator for telecommunications and broadcasting sectors, it is tempting to wish that what happens in one sector should happen in the other too. After several years the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has once again expressed its intentions of enforcing interoperable Set Top Boxes (STBs). Simply put, the TRAI wants that any existing consumer of digital STB (either cable or DTH; more for DTH players) should be able to change the service provider without having to change the STB (as is now necessary because of proprietary software, technology, chips etc.). The concept is similar to that of the mobile handset, whereby any handset can be used to access the services of any telecom service provider by simply changing the SIM.

In theory, it’s a wonderful idea. In practice, it is virtually impossible, unless an intermediate external device is provided (worth almost as much as a new STB) as a solution. The industry has obviously, always opposed the idea that had initially  surfaced a decade ago. For the 70 million paying DTH consumers this may not be a workable idea after all.  
 —  Ashish Sinha

FAME II policy at last! 

The Union government is likely to roll out the second phase of the FAME India scheme early in February. The highly anticipated FAME 2 policy, which is expected to lay down fiscal incentives for electric cars, two-wheelers and charging stations, has been in a limbo since the Prime Minister suggested six months ago that the subsidy be given for batteries to make them more affordable.

The scientific secretary in the office of the Principal Scientific Advisor to the government, Arabinda Mitra, announced at the ASSOCHAM Auto Forum recently that the second phase of the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles was going to be launched “very soon” in a “consortia approach” with the Department of  Heavy Industries and Department of Science and Technology. He said the government would allocate Rs 350 crore for a concerted investment in research and innovation on power electronics.
— Avishek Banerjee

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