Grasping at straws: Pathetic state of biofuels in India (Comment) (11:48)
By Ramya Natarajan
For the past several winters, Delhi has drawn global attention for its life-threatening smog levels. This is attributed, in part, to the open burning of biomass residues like paddy straw and stubble in the neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana.

Macro lessons for Indian energy infrastructure (Column: Behind Infra Lines) (10:58)
By Taponeel Mukherjee
Higher oil prices, the consequent inflationary pressures and a weaker rupee have dominated recent news headlines. While short-term measures to deal with these macro-economic trends are essential, it is also necessary to look at the long-term structural changes required to bring about stability in the Indian economy and reduce exposure to the vagaries of macro-economic trends.

Lessons from Karnataka: Bank on social issues, leverage traditional and modern media platforms (Column: Active Voice) (13:10)
By Amit KapoorIANS Photo Service
The drama revolving around the Karnataka state elections refuses to fade away. The assembly election results were not able to provide a clear mandate to any party. The BJP emerged as the single largest party but popular rivals Congress and JD-S forged an alliance within hours of the announcement of the result after realising that the coalition will have the numbers to form the government.

25 years of conserving biodiversity in the Hindu Kush Himalayas (Comment) (12:34)
By Janita Gurung & Pradyumna J.B. Rana
This year marks a quarter century of the ratification of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) - an agreement among 196 countries to conserve the earth's biological diversity while ensuring it is used sustainably and that the benefits from using genetic resources are shared fairly.

A Scottish adventurer and his colourful World War II career (Column: Bookends) (11:40)
By Vikas DattaIANS Photo Service
Across the Second World War's hundreds of thousands of armed clashes, big and small, across multiple theatres, there are few soldiers, below general rank, who may have influenced its strategic course, and in a way, shaped the future, despite their personal bravery. This distinction goes to a Scottish diplomat-turned-politician-turned-soldier, who was one of the many real-life inspirations for James Bond.

Modi's burden has become heavier after Karnataka setback (Column: Political Circus) (18:48)
By Amulya GanguliIANS Photo Service
The hopes of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) adding Karnataka to the list of 19 states where it is in power has been dashed although it came close to fulfilling it. However, the eight seats which the BJP needed to cross the finishing line in the legislature eluded the party.

Bollywood marketing caught in a 70-year time warp (Comment) (13:44)
By Amit KhannaIANS Photo Service
It is well known that in spite of producing the largest number of films in the world the health of the industry is not very sound. With a success rate of a mere 10 per cent, there is no way the business can hope to thrive or even rise to its full potential.

Policy clarity needed to allay fears over privatisation (Column: Behind Infra Lines) (12:26)
By Taponeel Mukherjee
Public opinion on privatisation ranges from proponents who say it increases efficiency to opponents to fear it will lead to higher charges. As we evaluate potential policies regarding privatisation in India, it would be useful to look at the specific asset and policy features that can help create an efficient privatisation process.

GEAC declines to give green light to GM mustard, seeks impact on bees (Comment: Special to IANS) (19:22)
By Vivian FernandesIANS Photo Service
New Delhi, May 15 (IANS) The regulator for genetically modified (GM) crops in its meeting on March 21 declined to reinforce its decision in May 2017 recommending approval for commercial cultivation of the GM mustard hybrid developed by a team of Delhi University scientists.

Oil prices: Government between a rock and a hard place (Column: Active Voice) (13:38)
By Amit KapoorIANS Photo Service
Just as the Indian economy was limping back to normalcy after an elongated period of subdued growth, oil prices have thrown a spanner in the works right on cue.

The Indian-American diaspora: A vital resource for India (13:14)
By Frank F. Islam
Over 31 million people of Indian birth or descent are part of the Indian diaspora spread around the world. Of them, 3.1 million, or 10 per cent, are Indian-Americans living in the US. The Indian-American diaspora has proven to be a vital resource contributing to the economic, political and social development of India.

Banning lead shot: Good for birds & people (World Migratory Bird Day is May 12-13) (11:52)
By Dr. Jacques Trouvilliez
World Migratory Bird Day this year breaks new ground with the campaign being a joint exercise between UN Environment's Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) and the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) on the one hand, and Environment for the Americas (EFTA) on the other.

Phrasebooks and the travails and traumas of translations (Column: Bookends) (11:04)
By Vikas Datta
An essential attribute of humanity, languages serve the purpose of communication, but given their sheer multiplicity and variations, they are more liable to create barriers to understanding, than paving the way towards it. Though human ingenuity evolved translation to bridge the gap, this didn't entirely solve the problem, given the differences in syntax, idiom and connotation. How does literature deal with this linguistic phenomenon?

Rise of regional leaders in Congress (Column: Political Circus) (11:06)
By Amulya GanguliIANS Photo Service
Irrespective of the outcome of the Karnataka elections and notwithstanding Chief Minister Siddaramaiah's desire to retire after the polls, a feature of the contest in the southern state is his emergence as a major state-level leader.

Let's put our money in the light combat aircraft (Comment) (12:16)
By Admiral Arun Prakash (Retd)IANS Photo Service
In its pursuit of global maritime dominance, China has decided to create a force of three aircraft-carriers -- one for each of its fleets.

What we owe to literature: A global odyssey across the centuries (Book Review) (11:56)
By Vikas DattaIANS Photo Service
Title: The Written World - How Literature Shaped History; Author: Martin Puchner; Publisher: Granta Books; Pages: 433; Price: Rs 699

Infrastructure Assets: Capturing the consumption upside (Column: Behind Infra Lines) (12:28)
By Taponeel Mukherjee
Nate Silver, the American statistician and writer, once remarked: "The key to making a good forecast is not in limiting yourself to quantitative information."

Feynman: A practical joking physicist, a paradigm of science (May 11 is Richard P. Feynman's 100th birth anniversary) (11:18)
By Vikas DattaIANS Photo Service
In physics, Richard P. Feynman is feted for his path-breaking contribution to quantum theory -- especially its electrodynamics, which won him the Nobel Prize -- and for being among the extraordinary scientific talent that developed the atomic bomb and pioneering nanotechnology. But this was only a part of this exceptional scientist, who was an irrepressible practical joker and raconteur, cracked safes for fun and played bongo drums to relax.

Strict KYC for digital payments=death of India's digitalisation push? (Column: Active Voice) (16:06)
By Amit Kapoor
In a situation that is all too familiar to Indians now, ATMs across the country began to run dry last month. Only this time there was no obvious explanation for this. With no data at hand, myriad theories did the rounds even as banks and the Reserve Bank of India claimed business as usual. The Finance Ministry issued a note saying the situation has come about due to an "unusual spurt in currency demand in the country" and that adequate notes would be printed to meet the higher levels of demand.

As state steps back, culture gets private sector leg up (Shifting Sands of Culture series) (11:52)
By Ashok Vajpeyi
More than 25 years ago, the Indian government decided to put together a National Policy of Culture in keeping with more than a hundred countries that had such policies. In fact, there was, at that time, a special division in Unesco which had already organised two world conferences on the matter. Here too a national colloquium on culture policy was organised in 1992 in Delhi in which nearly a hundred writers, artists, performers, intellectuals and experts debated a white paper, which, as the Joint Secretary of the Deptartment of Culture, I had prepared.

The ignored, inconvenient truth about the Islamic State (Book Review) (11:06)
By Vikas DattaIANS Photo Service
Title: The Way of the Strangers - Encounters with the Islamic State; Author: Graeme Wood; Publisher: Penguin Random House; Pages: 352; Price: Rs 499

Creating international platforms for Indian arts (Shifting Sands of Culture series) (12:04)
By Sanjoy K Roy
In 1999, as part of a British Council showcase programme, I travelled to the Edinburgh Festival and that set in motion the idea of creating platforms for Indian contemporary and classical art forms across the world.

Probit regression model can almost accurately predict election outcomes (Comment) (11:38)
By Amit Kapoor & Manisha Kapoor
This year -- the year before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections -- was to witness elections in a total of eight states. Three are already done, and it will be interesting to see how voters' opinions shape electoral outcomes in the remaining five states.

Adherence, denunciation and inspiration: Freud and his legacy (Column: Bookends) (11:10)
By Vikas DattaIANS Photo Service
It is the great, not necessarily correct, but disruptive ideas about human nature and the world that evoke the most fervent reactions, both for and against. Some of the quite famous of these stem from a quartet of European thinkers, all born within seven decades in the 19th century, and having done most to shape the modern world -- Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, and Albert Einstein.

Marx: A discredited theorist or a far-sighted prophet? (May 5 is Karl Marx's 200th birth anniversary) (13:58)
By Vikas DattaIANS Photo Service
A huge statue of Karl Marx was unveiled in his birthplace in the German city of Trier to mark his 200th birth anniversary on May 5 -- and it was donated by the Chinese government. But wasn't China's move towards market capitalism, even more than the Soviet Union's demise, the final epitaph for this political economist who had sought to warn us of the crisis of capitalism?

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