This is in response to “Who will prove cartels in steel?” (Mint, Ourview, 21 April). In the case of steel, the lack of understanding of the product type, the pricing pattern and market fragmentation are the reasons why the Union government is so ineffective in doing anything worthwhile on the issue. The government needs to appoint an expert consultant to assess and arrive at a decision. Mere emulation of action points followed to curb rising prices in the case of food items will obviously not work in the case of steel. But that is what essentially the United Progressive Alliance government is doing. One can have a fact check to verify the same. What a pity!
Apropos “Clean drinking water for all” by Sudhirendar Sharma (Mint, 16 April), bottled water is being banned in the so-called world-class cities. Recent news reports from the US say so. First, San Francisco banned it. Then Chicago started taxing it. Now, Seattle is taking action against bottled water; last month, Seattle mayor Greg Nickels signed an executive order to stop the city from buying bottled water.
In India, there are proposals afoot to bottle up all water in the country for assured equitable distribution and access for all just to underline the phenomenon of a flourishing bottled water industry.
The slogan now seems to be that we are quite “developed”, therefore, instead of “water for all”, we should ask for “bottled water for all”. When we demand water for all, it is the public water we are calling for. Obviously, when the privatization of the Indian state is nearly complete, the demand for bottled water of all types is a demand for corporate water with an astoundingly misplaced assumption that it is clean and safe!
Indeed, when you add up the tremendous environmental costs of disposable plastic bottles clogging our landfills, the better choice is crystal clear, but in India it isn’t clear as yet.
In fact, it is time to debate whether bottled water should be banned in India, especially for legislators and IAS officers. Sudhirendar Sharma seems to be playing the devil’s advocate when instead of banning it, he argues that it would be a good idea to subsidize bottled water so that the poor can afford to buy it!
Bottled water is not about conserving water systems, it is about bulk water exports —transporting water from water-rich regions to water-poor regions.
In the current scheme of things, no one seems to have enough political muscle to stop massive extraction of water by the bottled water industry that is disrupting aquifers by over- extraction that is impossible to restore. The million dollar question is: Do we want status quo in the name of poor or do we need to follow the footsteps of US cities?
This has reference to the feature “Banks to lose free float income with reduced IPO listing time” (Mint, 15 April).
The proposal of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) to utilize investors’ funds only after allotment has legal dimensions. By creating a system of “locking” and “unlocking”, the funds in the investors’ account would get escrowed. Since these funds would lie in their accounts, there’s the question of interest (at the rate applicable to savings accounts) payment for the period it gets locked. Strictly speaking, the investors are eligible for the interest as these funds have been locked. I am not sure whether Sebi has examined the issue.
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