Daily Archives: December 25, 2018

Pictures of moon from spacecraft

The U.S. Apollo 8 astronauts to-day [December 24] beamed a television broadcast to earth from their spacecraft skimming the surface of the moon. The first picture came about two and a half hours after the moonship swooped into lunar orbit. It showed a brightly-lit stretch of the moon’s surface, including …

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Towns without musicians

Recently, while covering Cyclone Gaja, I stayed in Thiruvarur, the birthplace of the Carnatic Trinity (Thyagaraja, Muthuswami Dikshitar and Shyama Shastri) and of many other famous musicians. Thiruvarur V. Namasivayam, flautist N. Ramani, nagaswaram player T.N. Rajarathinam Pillai and mridhangam player Thiruvarur Bhaktavatsalam were born and trained in this temple …

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A disquieting exit

While the string of high-profile departures from the Donald Trump White House is longer than in the case of any of its recent predecessors, last week’s announcement by the President that Defence Secretary James Mattis would step down by the end of February 2019 set alarm bells ringing in Washington …

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Course correction?

Under attack on how the indirect tax regime has panned out, the Goods and Services Tax Council on Saturday announced a set of feel-good moves to reassure diverse stakeholders. For consumers, the peak tax rate of 28% levied on cinema tickets above Rs. 100, large screen television sets or monitors, …

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Implementing NOTA in the right spirit

In People’s Union For Civil Liberties v. Union Of India (September 27, 2013), the Supreme Court had ruled that a None of the Above (NOTA) option “may be provided in EVMs” so that voters are able to exercise their “right not to vote while maintaining their right of secrecy”. On …

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A solution in search of a problem

Last week, in its report, ‘Strategy for New India@75’, the NITI Aayog mooted the creation of an All India Judicial Service (AIJS) for making appointments to the lower judiciary through an all India judicial services examination conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) in order to maintain “high standards” …

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The decades that transformed China

The December 1978 Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) might sound obscure, but its global repercussions were of seismic proportions. Deng Xiaoping’s series of economic policies, termed “reform and opening up”, went on to catapult China from an agricultural backwater into …

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The case against surveillance

Last week, a Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) notification authorising 10 Central agencies to intercept, monitor, and decrypt online communications and data caused a furore in both Parliament and the wider civil society. The notification was described as an incremental step towards a surveillance state. The government’s defence was equally …

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New Horizon hurtles toward historic flyby

A NASA spacecraft is hurtling toward a historic New Year’s Day flyby of the most distant planetary object ever studied, a frozen relic of the early solar system called Ultima Thule. The unmanned spaceship New Horizons, 6.4 billion km away, is poised to zoom past Ultima Thule at a distance …

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