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How different things work

The recent hanging of Pakistani militant Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab, involved in the November 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, has revived the centuries-old debate about whether the death penalty is justified.

How different things work
Done to Death
The recent hanging of Pakistani militant Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab, involved in the November 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, has revived the centuries-old debate about whether the death penalty is justified.

Changing Trends: World opinion has swung decisively in favour of the opponents of the death penalty in the last four decades or so. In 1977, there were only 16 countries which had abolished it. Today there are 110. However, it remains in force in the three most populous countries: China, India and the United States. China carries out the largest number of executions, over 2,000, for instance, in 2011.

India's Position: A day before Kasab's hanging, India opposed a United Nations resolution seeking a moratorium on capital punishment. It had done so before as well, the first time in 2007. However, death sentences as well as executions are a rarity in India, which closely follows the 1982 Supreme Court injunction that this punishment should be awarded only in the 'rarest of rare' cases. Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde recently said India needed to "rethink"continuing with it at all.

Recent Cases: There have been only three executions in the last two decades: Chennai's serial killer Auto Shankar in 1995, and Kolkata's child rapist and murderer Dhananjoy Chatterjee in 2004, apart from Kasab. There are, however, 435 prisoners currently on death row, Afsal Guru, involved in the 2001 Parliament attack, being the best known among them.

Dimming Sunshine
Half the $1.4 billion worth of solar power projects in India may be delayed or cancelled with US supplies of equipment having stalled - the firms making them have too many global orders - and dust clouds lately diffusing the radiation required to drive generation. Of the 500 megawatts, across 10 projects, due to be completed between February and May, only a third may be ready on time, says Tarun Kapoor, Joint Secretary, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy. Three of the plants are unlikely to be built at all.

Hi-tech on Board
At »20,000 (around Rs 1.8 million), a Scrabble board and tiles manufactured by UK-based Mind Sports (International) is the most expensive Scrabble game yet. It has radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips within each tile, and RFID-detecting antenna on each square of the board, allowing the latter to detect just where each letter is placed, and promptly transmit the data to an online channel. The raised surface of the board hides the electronic equipment.

Sleep Control
A pair of spectacles which help you beat insomnia and jet lag, and wake up just when you need to? Yes, indeed. Professor Leon Lack of Flinders University in south Australia has invented the world's first 'time-control' spectacles called 'Re-timer'. Slip them on and they emit a soft green glow which works on the human body clock to change sleep patterns.
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