Weekend links – 6.12.2015

10 devices or technologies for child safety, in India.

Defendants pay lower court fee, if they plead guilty – one of the features of  the UK Budget.

India’s CEA accuses developed nations of Carbon Imperialism ahead of the Paris Climate Change Summit, after calling on India to make unilateral concessions, months ago.

IIT Kanpur innovation to make Unmanned Railway Crossings a lot safer.

A student devises a system to make bus rides in India safer than they are.

Political correctness gone bonkers in U.S. campuses. George Will catalogues some incredible stuff. A worrying trend. If Edward Luce himself felt that the rise of liberal intolerance in America had to be documented, it must have really gone too far.

Anil Padmanabhan on India’s misplaced priorities. Minor quibbles apart (India is not yet a middle-income nation), he is right.

PM Modi wants developed nations to be mindful of their obligations having feasted on, grown and developed themselves by gorging on fossil fuels. The comments that have followed the article give a foretaste of how the leaders themselves will be negotiating or thinking in their heads, when they negotiate. This is the link to PM Modi’s Op.-Ed in FT.

The ‘Business Standard’ wrote that the US government had circulated a note to select countries that argue exactly the opposite – doing away with the distinction between developing and developed countries! Link here.

Switzerland is going for a referendum on preventing private banks from creating money (Endogenous Money). It may well be defeated but the fact that the sponsors have gathered enough signatures (more than 100,000) to hold a referendum sends a signal in itself.

Important story in Business Standard on rural distress in Madhya Pradesh. An expert is cited in the end as arguing for long-term measures for Indian agriculture. But, quite what they are is not spelt out.

On Vikram Sampath being forced to resign from the Bangalore Literary Festival Committee by the ‘seemingly tolerant-really intolerant’ brigade. Another story here.

Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, is a father now. On the day his daughter arrived, he is supposed to have made a pledge to give away 99% of his stockholding in Facebook for charity. Well, not quite. This Bloomberg article puts the issue in perspective.

Appropriate warning from BS Edit on the perils of External Commercial Borrowing. India appears to be using it again as a short-cut to boost credit growth, given the perilous state of balance sheet of Indian public sector banks.

In the light of the Paris Climate Change Summit underway right now (COP21), FT’s James Crabtree has a piece on the once-in-a-100 year rains in Chennai.

Speaker of the Lower House in Brazil launches impeachment proceedings against the President. Brazil going through a big existential crisis. Might emerge better for it.

India’s e-commerce groups face a legal challenge that they are facilitating FDI in multi-brand retail which is banned. No one is prepared to dismiss this challenge as trifling. Big risk for them and for public policy in this area. Has RBI just rescued the situation quietly? FDI in multi-brand retail through the backdoor? I read the RBI Notification issued on 16th November 2015. I concede that I could not understand it fully. I cannot advise someone based on that.

Tarek Fatah on what is happening or has happened to his account with Facebook and Twitter.

This might appear simple and small but it is significant. Employees free to withdraw from CPF without their employers’ permission. Administratively, it is an important step and useful for employees. However, one hopes that there are prudent limits on withdrawals annually (I am sure there are) since this is a retirement nest egg.

China behind ‘massive’ cyber-attack on Australian government: ABC. Is it news anymore?

Will statistical data put out by government statistical agencies be reliable if the household response rate keeps declining? Worrying trend but par for the course with many other things happening around the world.

Income and wealth inequality is a breeding ground for terrorism thinks Thomas Piketty. Some think it is non-sense. This piece argues that there is no direct causation as he suggests. But, it could be indirect.

Apparently, by 2017, one-in-seventeen Japanese will have dementia. Going by what is happening in the world today, probably the ratio is one-in-two in the world already. Japan is far better placed.

Jhumpa Lahiri’s essay in Italian on learning to read and write in Italian, translated into English. Fascinating.

Heard about Bhutan’s Commitment to an ecologically and environmentally sustainable world at the India Ideas Conclave in Goa in November. Was very impressed. Some material here.

Andy Mukherjee at Bloomberg is not too impressed with the RBI permission to bankers to turn their non-performing loans into ownership and control. He thinks it is ‘extend and pretend’. But, when a company declares bankruptcy, isn’t it what happens?

Goldman Sachs says that the Brazilian economy faces the risk of an Economic Depression.

Canada exports fell for the third straight month in October and September trade deficit was revised higher.

Before the OPEC meeting, Saudi Oil Minister Al Naimi said that demand for oil would increase anyway in 2016. Looks like he and I live on different planets. So, OPEC chose to leave production quotas unchanged. Brent crude oil price dropped below USD40 per barrel. India should be pleased with the OPEC decision. It is every OPEC member for itself now.

“Gold continues to fall – so why do these investors still own so much of it?” – that was the header of a story in ‘The Telegraph’. It would have been a good question to ask when gold was rising relentlessly up to 2012. Now, the question should be the other way around.

This Reuters article calls Syria the canary in the coal mine in the new era of world conflict. The underlined portion is important to keep in mind as we enter into 2016.

The Russian-Turkey spat and the Karabakh factor.

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