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Drones and India: Exploring Policy and Regulatory Challenges Posed by Civilian Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
This paper explores the ways in which UAVs are increasingly integrating themselves in civilian life, outlines the policy implications of this rapid proliferation, and identifies specific policy blind spots India must address.
Drones are welcome, but where's the policy framework?
15 January 2015
The Delhi police proposal to use drones for day-to-day law and order activities is bound to fail unless it is accompanied by a regulatory and manufacturing ecosystem for unmanned aerial vehicles
The time to counter Trojan horses
30 December 2014
The Mehdi Masroor Biswas case has exposed our intelligence preparedness to fight cyber terrorism. Our intelligence agencies were not able to identify the owner of @shamiwitness Twitter account because of a spoofed IP address. Laughable, if it were not a matter of national security.
The solution to eliminate black money lies in India
15 December 2014
It is commendable that the prime minister has raised the issue of black money at an international level. The solution, however, lies in following up on commitment for 'more governance and less government' by implementing networked and integrated digital solutions.
Politics of Technoscapes: Algorithms of Social Inclusion & Exclusion in a Global City
09 December 2014
Social media and the Internet are seen as Siamese twins. The discursive architecture of social media is so tightly coupled with the various imaginaries of the Internet that the distinct spatiality, territoriality, and relational power dynamics of each is often simplistically blurred and merged.
Life lessons from three European families and one group of friends
01 December 2014
In defining the term 'quality of life', there is no better way to give it a concrete shape than trekking in the woods of an alien land, traversing the streets and bylanes of its cities and staying with people whom you would otherwise never meet in your life.
The epistemology of a sea view: mindscapes of space, power and value in Mumbai
21 November 2014
Mumbai is a collection of seven islands strung together by a historically layered process of reclamation, migration and resettlement. The built landscape reflects the unique geographical characteristics of Mumbai's archipelagic nature.
Redefining multi-stakeholderism for internet
15 November 2014
Democratic multi-stakeholderism has the potential to mitigate the genuine concerns of sovereign nations in terms of protection of their cyber resources and infrastructure - not only from anonymous hackers and non-state actors, but also from the overarching surveillance mounted by the US and its allies.
Higher education: Can PM's dreams be translated into reality?
14 October 2014
The government has to free India's top 50 institutions across all disciplines from the iron grip of UGC and AICTE. The institutions must be given the freedom to devise their own course curriculum. After all they have the best subject experts.
India's smart 100: 10 cities, 10 lessons
04 October 2014
Narendra Modi seems serious about building 100 smart cities. Just look at how the port city of Dholera in Gujarat is shaping up. It's might as well become an emblematic talisman of how a few handpicked men and women can build a new urban India at breakneck speed.
Modi's per drop more crop dream needs a digital cover
14 August 2014
The prime minister has shown a refreshing approach towards Indian agriculture, but for the real challenges to be surmounted he needs a massive dose of digital technology in all part of the value chain.
Should death be our final stop?
04 August 2014
The current debate around euthanasia and assisted death brings in spotlight what technological possibilities of the future may end up achieving for humanity.
Paving a new road to a digital future
14 July 2014
A road or a highway will no longer be a 'dumb pathway'. It will be an intelligent network with its own inherent logic and sense of meaning derived from algorithms and predictive software. From the point of view of institutional arrangements, several ministries and departments will have to work together.
Beyond net neutrality
02 July 2014
Internet of Things ensures that all data cannot be treated as equal. The principle of net neutrality needs an overhaul to reflect the complicated future of the cyberworld
India's Electronics Sector: Policies, Practices and Lessons from China
25 June 2014
This Paper analyses India's approach towards the Electronics Sector over the decades and how it has fared in comparison to China. It argues that the National Policy on Electronics (NPE) 2012.
PM, now it's time to introduce governance analytics
17 June 2014
To convert Modi's vision of more governance and less government into a quantifiable experience requires a change in the prevailing mindset of electronic governance as an exclusive issue of hardware and connectivity.
Will Modi look at Russia with new eyes?
28 May 2014
Narendra Modi's warm response to Putin's congratulatory message, in contrast to a business-like acknowledgement of Obama, has a well-thought out back story and may prove all those predicting a business-as-usual foreign policy regime wrong.
An old German city shows a new green logic
21 May 2014
Hamburg wants to go completely car free in the next ten years, and it wants to achieve it by networking all its green space creating a new paradigm of walkable and cycleable urbanity.
The new fix list for China
16 April 2014
The Chinese economy's has been facing serious structural problems for some time now. Premier Li knows it, and he is making sure that the legislators attending the parliament session also get the message and pass it on.
Issues of Drones in our daily lives
31 March 2014
Drones are no longer esoteric and confined to military precision strikes. The impending, almost inevitable, arrival of drones into our daily lives raises three issues that we need to start thinking about -- reconceptualisation of connectivity and infrastructure, the need to re-imagine airspace and the third, privacy.
A new paradigm for cyber security
01 March 2014
There are three quixotic paradigms of cyber security. The first looks at cyber security as simply an issue of protection of specific digital devices against a malware or a virus. The second either sees in cyber security a conspiratorial state-corporate elite meta-strategy to take control of society and polity or conceives it as a necessary prerequisite of national security.
Need to humanise urban planning
17 February 2014
The day and age of centralised and linear town planning approaches are over. Conceptually, the urban planners, architects, designers, builders and policy makers have to make a conscious efforts to humanise urban planning to make it part of the larger ecosystem of social sciences.
Is it the dawn of an electronic age in India?
03 January 2014
The National Electronics Policy of 2012 has the potential to change the way India produces and procures chips and gadgets. However, the key, as always, lies in implementing it.
Beyond Chinese Whispers and Indian Rope Tricks
30 December 2013
Both India and China have already entered an age of pragmatism. But they must soon transform it in an age of competitive realism if they are to jointly architect and mould the Asian century.
Time for a Swede deal?
18 November 2013
The relationship between India and Sweden has always been low-key. But it's also mature one with immense possibilities for cooperation and collaboration.
New governance paradigm for cyberspace
18 October 2013
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff's recent decision to give the US a miss needs to be seen in the context of the changing narratives of internet governance and the control for cyber resources.
Growth of fear of crime among women needs to be addressed
03 September 2013
Everyday fears of violence against women have sharpened in the recent past. However they are increasingly being addressed by new prescriptive do and don't lists of precautionary measures for women. This is happening even while we consistently assert that the onus need not be on the women to keep themselves safe.
Electronic snooping is here to stay
16 July 2013
With electronic snooping here to stay, the larger question is not of ethics or privacy, but of regulation, protection and the provision of strong legal remedies
NeGP: Much ground covered, much remains to be covered
18 June 2013
The National electronic Governance Plan (NeGP) has more or less got all the right ingredients. It just needs to be mixed in the right proportions.
Who says privacy is just about data?
18 May 2013
Privacy and democracy have always had an uneasy relationship in India. However, now India has a unique opportunity to evolve a progressive and expansive legislation on privacy and protection of personal data. The report of the experts group chaired by Justice Ajit Prakash Shah is a good starting point.
A blueprint to evaluate digital governance
18 April 2013
Sooner than later, India will have to start evaluating its e-governance projects. And in the near future, the focus will shift to the outcomes of e-governance initiatives.
Death by another name
09 April 2013
India runs the real risk of killing its environment in the blind pursuit of development in some areas. A stark example is the blatant manner in which the powerful leather industry in Unnao has been polluting the water sources in the name of development.
The four pillars of a safe city
20 March 2013
Defining safety in urban spaces as just one of physical protection is self-defeating as it presupposes the existence of only reactive action. The construction of safety in sheer physical terms reduces, and often completely eliminates, the possibility of proactive action.
When 'safety' becomes a ghetto for women
20 March 2013
In the urban-rural stereotyping, the phrase 'city girls' epitomises the impact of urban excesses on the apparent modesty and traditional aspect of femininity. City girls are assumed to be loud, to say the least, and of 'morally inappropriate character' on the extreme.
Take cyber security seriously
15 February 2013
Till now India has seen cyber-security only as a simple issue of a malware or a virus. But cyber-security is about protecting India's digital assets from cyber invaders, as India is rapidly turning into a digital society.
A space monkey and the art of rocket diplomacy
15 February 2013
Iran is being treated more like North Korea, even though it is one of the world's great civilisations, with major historical and scientific achievements. And, as anyone who has deeply analysed the personalities of Ahmadinejad and Kim Jong Un knows, they don't look like one another. Or like one another.
Duflo, Lynas highlight existential crisis of Indian activism
28 January 2013
Mark Lynas is right. Completely divorced from research and data Indian activism today is a cesspool of myths and misconceptions.
One click health
02 January 2013
The coming together of cognitive computing, digital devices with capabilities to touch, feel, smell and hear and super-speed Internet is poised to transform telemedicine.
A convenient handmaiden called freedom
18 December 2012
The ruckus at WCIT is all about the cosy relationship between governments, big businesses and commerce and not about Internet freedom.
The right medicine for learning - a tablet
10 December 2012
At some point in the near future, everyone will have a smart digital device. The new digital divide will be of those with access to interactive digital content and those without.
Let technology and society dance together
23 November 2012
India spends over Rs 400,000 crores every year on schemes, projects and programmes broadly falling within the category of social welfare. Embedding appropriate technology in social welfare programmes can give poor Indians a real chance of empowerment.
IT solutions can transform India’s poor PDS delivery mechanism
05 October 2012
For the first time in India’s history, a common technological platform is available to provide governance services to all Indians through one single smart card.
Breaking the gridlock
31 August 2012
Smart Grid technology solutions can not only help India reduce its transmission and distribution losses, but can also help leap to the future by bundling major public utilities over one single grid.
Narrow the Open Standards debate
24 June 2012
No one knows what an Open Standard is. If we don’t define it explicitly in time, India’s ambitious digital governance plans will surely derail.
Good and bad of National Telecom Policy 2012
10 May 2012
The New Telecom Policy if implemented in letter and spirit has the potential to fundamentally transform governance.
Financial inclusion a viable business model now
10 May 2012
Out of the 660,000 habitations in India with a population of 100 or more, only 33,000 have a commercial bank branch. That’s approximately one branch for every 20 habitations.
UIDAI-NPR row: Identity politics of a different kind
07 April 2012
The tussle between the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) and the National Population Register (NPR) is not about turf. It’s about bureaucracy’s control over us.
The stubborn man and his flying machines
23 February 2012
Antony has done India a huge favour by absorbing pressure from different lobbies and allowing IAF to select the best possible fighter aircraft.
•  How it all played out
•  When strategy was technical
Why should I vote?
18 January 2012
Has Indian democracy failed its people? Maybe it is time for all of us to introspect and answer this question in a genuine manner.
Mumbai - A city of maximum contrasts
3 January 2012
For long we have been fed lies. Mumbai has no scarcity of houses and the key to the truth lies in using digital technology to unlock the city’s housing potential.
Moving People, Not Cars - Creating Sustainable Transport in Mumbai
2 January 2012
The possibilities of establishing The ORF-RLS seminar on ’Creating Sustainable Transport in Mumbai’ focussed on some key topics of sustainable transport like decongestion of roads, equitable road usage, encouraging people to use public transport, private vehicle ownership, traffic management, parking issues and concerns, etc.
India’s Silent War
26 December 2011
It’s now a battle to the finish. The amazing diversity of the digital world is seen as a threat by a coterie of bureaucrats who are going all out to annihilate it.
The tyranny of the written word
19 November 2011
Digital technologies have the potential to annihilate the rich sources of oral history. It is time that we stopped looking at digital technology with rose-tinted glasses.
Smashing democracy’s license permit raj
31 October 2011
Fixers aka political managers abound because they thrive in an artificially scare economy where votes are a premium.
Creating an Inclusive Mumbai
10 October 2011
Observer Research Foundation (ORF) and the Berlin-based Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung (RLS), one of Germany’s largest political education institution, jointly organised a day-long roundtable conference on ’Breaking Silos: Creating an Inclusive Mumbai’ in Mumbai.
Goodbye money. Nice knowing you
03 October 2011
Radical transformation in governance can only begin when we are pushed to the wall and have no other option but to take the monster head on
Lokpal and Governance
15 September 2011
The crucial question is this: Is it time to look beyond institutions, which are supposed to repositories of our trust but routinely betray them, and look at means of self governance?
Why my fancy degree doesn’t help a pig farmer
02 August 2011
Technology solutions for illiterate people are exclusively designed by the formally educated and that is a fundamental problem.
The great Indian strangulation trick
20 July 2011
In a stratagem that would make Sun Tzu proud, the government first velvet-gloved an iron fist and then clamped down hard on digital freedom and enterprise.
When in doubt don’t write, just speak
04 July 2011
Telecom companies are stuck with falling ARPUs. Indian researchers from two unlikely companies show them new tricks of the trade
How Tesla solved India’s broadband puzzle in 1893
27 June 2011
It’s time policy mandarins remove their blinkers and jettison their vested interests to learn the sharp and focused lessons that history of science teaches so beautifully
De-institutionalise urban planning
09 June 2011
Mumbai today has a plethora of institutions - BMC, MMRDA, MSRDC, MVRC, etc. At last count, there were 23 institutions directly or indirectly ’planning’ for Mumbaikars. There is an urgent need to ’de-institutionalise’ urban planning.

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