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Wednesday, February 01, 2006



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Business and Economy

  • SAP Labs CEO Henning Kagermann said that Indian engineers are becoming dearer prompting companies to look for alternate locations for software development such as China or locations in Europe. However, NASSCOM, the association of IT companies disagrees saying that their "data shows that Chinese wages are higher" while they "lack  ... skill sets." It even predicted that Indians would be able to take advantage of Chinese immigration liberalization to work there. However individual companies are worried that the cost to company per employee has been increasing. Individual salaries rose 20% every year over the last 3 years and some believe that only the best companies will be able to attract the Indian engineer. 

  • A United States Federal Circuit Court of Appeals Judge said that India could consider fast track courts dedicated to deal with IPR issues. Addressing the International Conference on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), he said such a step would not only remove negative perception about India and IPR but also help companies do business in the country. He pointed out that global perception is that India has similar position to Brazil, which opposes the IPR regime, which is negatively impacting flow of business and technology into the country. Confederation of Indian Industry IPR Task Force Chairman said that India has 4 patent officers with 200 examiners, a growth of 230% from two years ago. He also pointed out that the numbers of patent applications have gone up from 12000 to 20000 in two years. The CII will be launching a program with George Washington University to increase awareness of IPR and advocate its benefits to India.

Democracy, Politics & Judiciary

  • The Mumbai High Court has ruled that divorcing Christian couples need to get their case cleared by the High Court and instead rely on a decree as stipulated by Indian Divorce Act 1869 and amended in 2001. This significant decision that positively affects couples even if only one of them is Christian eliminates long wait times for couples seeking a divorce. This ruling also brings about a degree of normalizing of marriages and divorces that are religion based and sometimes at odds with the civil laws.

Environment, Health and Education

  • India has achieved a major milestone in containing the threat of leprosy by bringing down the number of cases to 107000 or about .95 for every 10000 people. This is the internationally acceptable level to claim eradication of a disease. The new target is to completely eradicate this disease that takes 20 to 25 years to incubate. Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal account for 41% of all cases.  Until 1950s, over 70% of leprosy cases world over came from India with the South contributing the most. With the implementation of the Leprosy Control Program in 1955, India achieved World Health Assembly targets by May 1991. All Southern states have a low prevalence rate of .60 per 10000 but the disability rate is higher. Meghalaya has the lowest prevalence of .11 per 10000.

  • Editorial: Regulate Ship Breaking Business

Terrorism, Defense and Security

  • New evidence has emerged that a Dhaka based terror cell coordinated and executed the Dec 2005 IISc terrorist attack while the direction came from Pakistan and the funding from West Asia. Research & Analysis Wing (RAW) say that they intercepted conversation between Dhaka-based Naved Gul, a man wanted for the 2003 Ahmedabad & Hyderabad bombing, and his handlers in Pakistan. Cracking their code, RAW officials say that their plan was to trigger many terrorist attacks before the South Asian Regional Co-operation (SAARC) meeting in Islamabad. Gul was one of 14 Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) recruits who went to Pakistan for training via Bangkok or Bangladesh. Questioning Mujeeb Ahmad, a self-proclaimed LeT chief of operations in South India, is said to have recruited Gul. Ahmad was arrested and convicted for killing a senior police office as reprisal for 1990 communal violence in Andhra Pradesh (AP). In a controversial decision, the AP Chief Minister Y.S. Rajashekara Reddy granted him clemency in 2004 and allowing him to reactivate his links with LeT and Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (Hizb). He was rearrested last year and since then police have arrested several of Ahmad’s recruits including Abdul Rehman who was is suspected to have planned and executed the IISc terrorist attacks. It is speculated that Gul used a Pakistani militant based in Kashmir (from LeT or Hizb) to be the gunman at the IISc incident making it the first such instance where hardcore terrorists are imported to the South for terrorism.

 

Hot Topics

Intellectual Property Rights Issue

Judiciary in India

Leprosy Eradication

IIsc Terrorist Attack

Nuclear Weapons in Defense

IAEA Nuclear Vote

Election in Nepal

Indo-UK Relationship

Hamas Victory in the Election

Featured Analyses

The Saga of the Jemaah Islamiah

Indonesia has continuously been embarrassed by the terror acts of a handful of terrorists from the Jemaah Islamiah (JI), a group with definite Indonesian origins and made up mostly by members of Indonesian nationality.

Will Kashmir go the way of Aceh?
A Cry for Help
Watch the Dragon
Cage This "Tiger"
Dalits in India
Was Jinnah a Secularist?
Burying the Howitzer?
Smoking Out Smoking

Featured Edits

A messy compromise on Iran
Institutional excesses, elite deadlock
Palestinians alter leadership
Respect for others’ laws is necessary
General's posturing
A sensible move
Airport blackmail
All Form And No Matter
Inscription
South Indian Inscriptions

Ancient Indian dynasties documented their administration, significant developments, grants, and milestones as inscriptions in temples. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has documented these inscriptions from 1886. These pages contain inscriptions from Pallava, Chola, Pandya, Western Chalukya, Eastern Chalukya, Rashtrakuta, Hoyasala, Vijayanagara, Vishnukundin, Kakatiya, Reddi, Vaidumba, Chinda, Eastern Ganga, Gajapathi, Kalchurya, Qutb-Shahi of Golkonda, and Moghul,  dynasties.

  • Saudi security experts say that the Saudi Arabian monarchy has managed to stamp out an al Qaeda led insurgency that started in 2003 and claimed 264 lives in 25 incidents. The incipient insurgency started with attacks on foreign workers and Government buildings has largely been quashed. The United States praised steps taken by the Saudi regime to increase security even as Saudi officials boasted of major changes in textbooks to moderate language. Although many orthodox religious have supported the Government’s call, the puritanical “Whhabbi” Muslims continue to thrive and preach their radical ideology. Over 2500 Saudis have joined the al Qaeda led resistance against US troops in Iraq in 2004 alone and people fear that they may come back to restart the insurgency in Saudi Arabia. Most Arabs see the US as an unconditional supporter of Israel. This belief and the occupation of Iraq make it an easy target that has attracted terrorists from different social backgrounds. Experts also point out while the physical structure has been destroyed the ideological base remains and there are still many web sites and chat rooms that preach radical ideology.

  • Two formed army chiefs have urged the Government to “approve, start, and fund” a program to induct nuclear submarines to give maritime forces a definite second strikes capability. In separate articles in the Indian Defense Review, retired Admiral Madhvendra Singh and Army Chief Gen. S. Padmanabhan have urged the Government to remove blocks that are stopping the induction of nuclear submarines in the Indian Navy. They said to build up credible strategic deterrent forces against China, it is important to have an expanded nuclear (including thermo-nuclear weapons) arsenal on submarines that travel at 20 knots and hard to track or destroy. They pointed out that two HDW Class 209 boats which are 20 years old will have to be retired in 10 years and the remaining two a few years later. The operational lives of the first 8 Russian Kilo-class attack submarines are also nearing end and they have recommended that these be replaced.

Neighbors

  • Following through on their threat to disrupt February 8 local elections in Nepal, Maoists terrorists tried to murder a mayoral candidate at his home and critically wounding him. Maoists and a 7-party political alliance oppose King Gnanendra for different reasons. The Maoists want to abolish the monarchy and bring about a communist state while the political alliance wants to reverse the suspension of the Parliament last year and democratic reforms. Gnanendra wants to hold the elections as scheduled and detractors call it a ploy to legitimize his power grab last year. Action Aid international had called Nepal the most undemocratic of all the nations it works in.

  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel visiting Israel delivered strong criticism of the Iranian nuclear program. She said "Iran is not just a threat to Israel, but also to the democratic countries of this world." With such strong words, any hope to avoid a confrontation at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) meeting this week to consider the Iranian nuclear program vanished. It looks like the Western nations want to drag Iran to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for punitive economic and potential military sanctions. Other UNSC members, Russia and China who have large investments in and trade relationship with Iran disagree with this approach. They counsel diplomacy and a Russian plan that seeks to enrich uranium fuel in a joint venture based in Russia. Iran has been adamant on restarting "research" at the Nantz facility so it can become self-sufficient in power generation. The west thinks that Iran is developing a nuclear bomb and there is good circumstantial evidence to show that it may be. India has spoken against an Iranian nuclear weapons program but will also have to careful how it votes on the issue at IAEA for mostly domestic political reasons. The Federal Government communist allies do not want to vote against Iran for ideological reasons.

  • The United Kingdom Ambassador Michael Arthur has asked India not to fulfill the promise of selling BN-2 Islander aircraft to Myanmar. Citing European Union guidelines on dealing with Myanmar, he said British supply of spares for helicopters and replacement of Harriers on INS Viraat would be affected if India goes ahead with this sale. This is the second time that UK is demonstrating that it is an unreliable supplier of defense equipment. In held back critical spares after the Phokran-II tests in 1998 and finally released these spares after India signed a multi-billion USD order for Advance Jet Trainers (AJT). The Ambassador said that this was one area of turbulence in Indo-UK relations and that other military-to-military contact will not be affected. He revealed that the Indian Air Force and the Royal Air Force will be conducting a joint exercise by the end of the year and British aircraft carriers will visit Indian ports in a few months.

  • Editorial: The Nepal Stalemate

  • Editorial: Iran's Nuclear Program

World

  • The United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that the US will not aid a Hamas Government in Palestinian territories. She said the US "is not prepared to fund an organization that advocates the destruction of Israel, that advocates violence and that refuses its obligations." She also pointed out that the Hamas victory took everyone by surprise, which only showed, that the monitoring and recognition mechanisms need to be more sophisticated. Hamas leaders in Syria said, “Cutting off aid now will be a punishment of the Palestinian people, not of Hamas.” They mocked European Union and American warnings of cuts in aid saying, “this will not change Hamas’ strategic position.” Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has threatened to quit if Hamas does not change its position to get international relevance. Israel has called many countries seeking their support in not dealing with Hamas.

  • A recent set of cartoons in a Danish newspaper lampooning Islamic Prophet Mohammed has created serious tensions between Saudi Arabia and Denmark. Saudi Arabia has recalled its Ambassador to Denmark in protest but European Union or the Danish Government refuse to get involved or apologize. They cite freedom of expression as a fundamental right and said official Saudi ban or restrictions on Danish products will be tolerated. In the meanwhile, Muslims worldwide are organizing themselves to protest the newspaper's offensive cartoons and also a product boycott program. Palestinian terrorist groups have warned Danish and Norwegian citizens that they could be attacked unless their Government apologizes for these cartoons. Ten gunmen, armed with assault rifles and grenade launchers, rallied outside the European Union headquarters in Gaza and demanded an apology before issuing a warning to these countries. Meanwhile, Libya close down its embassy in Denmark and cooperatives in the United Arab Emirates took Danish dairy products off the shelves.

  • Editorial: Hamas's victory in Palestinian Territories

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