The Water Cooler
  • The Indian aviation industry has witnessed remarkable growth in recent years, with major contributions from the civil aviation segment.

    Currently the ninth largest in the world, the civil aviation market is anticipated to register more than 16 per cent growth between 2010-2013.

    But this phenomenal expansion faced the inevitable challenge of insufficient safety apparatus. While we crowed over our burgeoning fleet size and airport ratings, we paid little attention to safety surveillance. "With the growth of aviation, it is essential to enhance safety systems. In India the reverse happened", alleged Sanat Kaul, Chairman of IFFAAD.

    The result has been devastating: 158 passengers died in the Mangalore air crash, which safety advocates say was completely avoidable. But before blaming it all on the infrastructure, we need to consider the more appalling aspects of the problem.

    Chronology: Air accidents in India

    According to a DGCA report, pilot error caused the Mangalore crash. Data retrieved

    Read More »from If you aren’t afraid of flying yet, you should be!
  • I overslept as it was my weekly off, and was a little late to hear about the awful quake that hit Japan. The catastrophic images I  saw on TV were worse than what Roland Emmerich depicted in 'Day After Tomorrow'. I wasted no time logging on to Facebook to check whether my friend Shyam Krishna who stays in Tokyo is fine. Minutes later, I saw his status that read: "Earthquake in Tokyo! The building is shaking!

    He told me that even while typing those words, the entire building kept shaking. The building where he works is strong enough to withstand quakes up to a magnitude of 9 Richter scale. I told him jokingly to keep updating about what has been happening around him, so that we'll know he is alive. Though he trembled with fear, he managed to keep updating his status and chatting all the while, narrating the incidents each passing second.

    His initial reaction soon gave way to fear as they got a clearer picture of the situation. He said:
    "Japan is no stranger to earth quakes, and we have

    Read More »from ‘As Indians panicked, Japanese checked on project status’
  • Aarushi murder probe still drifting

    Nearly three years after the murder of 14-year-old Aarushi, no one is any wiser about what really happened to her that fateful night.

    In December 2010, the CBI closed the case saying it could come to no conclusion on who had bludgeoned her to death.  Two months later, a Ghaziabad court ordered the CBI to reinvestigate the case after charging her parents Rajesh and Nupur Talwar with murder.

    But that's just the latest twist in the tragic case. The police and the CBI have repeatedly interrogated the Talwars, besides a man who worked  in their household and three of his friends. The investigators have put all suspects through narco tests in Bangalore and Ahmedabad. Yet, both the police and the CBI remain undecided on what happened on the night of May 15, 2008.

    In the initial days of the case, the Noida police, now painted as a goofy lot, reportedly caused the destruction of crucial evidence by allowing neighbours and the media to walk into the room where Aarushi had been

    Read More »from Aarushi murder probe still drifting
  • After two years of debates and controversies the list of eighteen Indians who have stashed 'black money' in the LGT bank of Liechtenstein is out.

    The list which was officially handed over to the Indian Government on March 18, 2009 includes 12 trusts and 26 beneficiaries.

    The list that Germany shared with India had 12 trusts out of which four belong to Indians. The beneficiaries are

    1. Manoj Dhupelia
    2. Rupal Dhupelia
    3. Mohan Dhupelia
    4. Hasmukh Gandhi
    5. Chintan Gandhi
    6. Dilip Mehta
    7. Arun Mehta
    8. Arun Kochar
    9. Gunwanti Mehta
    10. Rajnikant Mehta
    11. Prabodh Mehta
    12. Ashok Jaipuria
    13. Raj Foundation
    14. Urvashi Foundation
    15. Ambrunova Trust

    According to CNN IBN, the amounts in the twelve accounts totals nearly to Rs 52 Crores.

    The list has been leaked out of various media houses across the country. However, experts are of the view that this could be a plant — while the real account holders are some where out there.

    Also read

    What did NDA govt do to bring back black money: Cong

    Read More »from Black money list revealed
  • Friday's release of Wikileaks cables, in which Congress leader Rahul Gandhi reportedly told an American ambassador that saffron terror was more dangerous than the terror unleashed by extremist Islamic groups, has kicked off a major row between the BJP and the Congress.

    The term 'saffron terror' came into use after the Malegaon blasts in 2006, but has remained controversial and contested because saffron is a colour associated with Hinduism, and its holy aspects.

    On September 29, 2006, a bomb went off in the Maharashtra town, killing seven.  In 2008, police arrested Lt Col Shrikant Purohit and Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur on conspiracy charges. They have become the face of what since then has been called saffron terror. They are now in jail.

    Home minister P Chidambaram spoke in August this year about saffron terror when he was addressing a police conference. His party later toned down what he had said. An editorial in Arab News said:

    …It is rather rich for BJP and Shiv Sena to

    Read More »from What Exactly is Saffron Terror?
  • Wednesday's Kerala police action against Kannada actress Jayamala revives a debate over women's entry rights at the Sabarimala shrine.

    Some say she is lying, and that she couldn't have ever gone inside a temple where women between 10 and 50 are barred, but others say she is being victimised because she spoke the truth.

    The police filed a chargesheet against the Kannada actress, four years after she claimed she had entered the shrine and touched the idol of god Ayyappa in Sabarimala. Her claim created a furore in Kerala.

    Wednesday's chargesheet says Jayamala, astrologer Parappanangadi Unnikrishnan and his Bangalorean assistant Raghupathy caused outrage and hurt religious sentiments in 1986, a full 24 years ago. In November this year, Jayamala had approached the Karnataka High Court, seeking anticipatory bail, but the Kerala police had told the court they had no intentions of arresting her.

    In 2006, Sanskrit scholar R Ganesh had argued in Deccan Herald that the question of who

    Read More »from Jayamala chargesheet reignites temple entry debate

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