Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Daily News Mail - News of 10/03/2015

Release of Masrat Alam rocks Parliament
  • Masarat Alam Bhat, whose release from jail has sparked off a political maelstrom, is a Kashmiri separatist hardliner with a talent for galvanizing the young and devising novel protest methods. Mr. Alam who spearheaded the stone-throwing protests in 2010 that resulted in the death of more than a hundred persons.
  • Prime Minister has said that Centre was kept in dark on Masrat Alam release.
  • Uddhav Thackeray seeks criminal case against Mufti Sayeed, asks whether a CM has right to release people like Masarat Alam. "Does Mufti Mohammad Sayeed has the right to free a terrorist?
  • In the meantime, Alam said the PDP-BJP government had done him no favour as his release was part of normal judicial process.
  • Masarat Alam Bhat' is the chairman of the Jammu Kashmir Muslim League and also the general secretary of Geelani led All Parties Hurriyat Conference, an alliance of Kashmiri pro-separatist groups at the forefront of the political struggle against Indian government in Indian Administered Kashmir. He has emerged as one of the prime successors to Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s political mantle.
  • Syed Ali Shah Geelani is a separatist leader from Jammu and Kashmir, India. He was previously a member of Jamaat-e-Islami Kashmir but later on founded his own party by the name of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat. He has served as the chairman of All Parties Hurriyat Conference, a conglomerate of separatist parties in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Geelani has been repeatedly cricised by Indian authorities for inciting violence in the region and working as offshoot of Pakistan.Geelani and Yasin Malik met Pakistan high commissioner Abdul Basit in Delhi on august 2014 which triggered huge protest in New Delhi outside High Commission of Pakistan.
Syed Geelani(left) and Masarat Alam(right) in the picture

World's first solar aircraft to land in Ahmedabad today
  • Solar Impulse, claimed to be the world’s only solar-powered aircraft, will make a stopover in Ahmedabad, Gujarat today as a part of its maiden global journey — without a drop of fuel.
  • After landing in Ahmedabad, the solar aircraft’s founders and pilots Bertrand Piccard and AndrBorschberg are likely to stay in the city for two days before leaving for Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh.
  • Piccard and Borschberg, during their stay, will reach out to the government, NGOs, universities and schools to spread the message of clean technologies. The aircraft is also likely to hover above the Ganga in Varanasi to spread the message
  • The aircraft has a 72-metre wingspan, larger than that of Boeing-747, and weighs just 2,300 kg, equivalent to the weight of a car. The flight will also halt at Mandalay in Myanmar and Chongqing and Nanjing in China. After crossing the Pacific Ocean via Hawaii, the aircraft will fly across the U.S., stopping at Phoenix, the Midwest and New York City.
Solar Impulse, World's first solar-powered aircraft

The cost of expensive auction
  • Against an initial target of Rs.82,000 crore, the total bid amount has already crossed Rs.86,000 crore after just four days of bidding in the ongoing spectrum auction. This auction is already a success.
  • Going by the current bidding intensity, the Centre can hope to mop up at least Rs.1 lakh crore by the time the auction ends. While this is good for the national exchequer, the reality is that an expensive auction is counterproductive from a consumer point of view. It is no secret that higher spectrum costs will put pressure on telecom operators to either increase tariffs or halt or defer their investments in rolling out new infrastructure. Neither is good for achieving Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of a Digital India. 
  • It was the high cost of spectrum in the 2010 auction that stunted the growth of 3G and mobile broadband services in the country. The Centre had then received bids worth over Rs.1 lakh crore, with operators jostling to outbid one another. As a result, even after five years of that auction, consumers are yet to experience good quality 3G services. With the average connection speed hovering just around 1.3 Mbps, it is the lowest among Asian countries.
  • Programmes such as the 100 Smart City project and the e-Governance initiatives require speed — at least a 2 Mbps connection at affordable rates. But for this to happen, telecom operators have to be given adequate spectrum, and at a reasonable price. 
  • To be fair, the Centre cannot be faulted for following the auction process for allocating spectrum. Compared to other mechanisms used in the past, such as the first-come-first-served policy and subscriber-linked criteria, auctions are the most transparent way to parcel out finite natural resources. However, the Centre has to take the blame for adopting a faulty auction design. Take for instance the decision to auction only 5 MHz of spectrum in the 2100 MHz frequency band. A block of 5 MHz spectrum is just enough for one player to offer 3G services; with eight operators in the fray, it is not surprising that the bids have skyrocketed to astronomical sums. This coupled with the decision to take back spectrum from incumbent operators, post the expiry of their 20-year licences, have placed a stark choice before telecom companies — they either have to buy spectrum at any cost or face the prospect of going out of business. 
  • Access to inexpensive broadband services is the basic requirement for achieving the goal of digitising India. Ironically, the Centre’s success in garnering higher revenues in the spectrum auction could signal the failure of that vision.
ECB launches trillion-euro-stimulus
  • The European Central Bank (ECB) has hit the launch button on its 1.1 trillion euro ($1.2 trillion) stimulus programme by starting to buy government bonds. 
  • The chief monetary authority for the 19 countries that use the euro confirmed on  February 9, that it had begun the purchases, which aim to make credit cheaper, boost growth and raise inflation.

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