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Friday, February 03, 2006



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Business and Economy

  • In the largest ever tranche, India will offer 55 oil blocks, mostly offshore, covering 300000 square kilometers for exploration. From 1999, India has offered 90 such product-sharing contracts in 4 lots as part of its New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP). As part of the country's effort to boost domestic production of oil, this offer includes deep exploration blocks off Krishna & Godavari basins and near the Andaman Islands. In the last 4 years, Private sector companies have made 32 significant hydrocarbon discoveries. India imports 76% of its oil requirements and its rapid economic growth has increased energy demands and consequently increasing the need for more oil.

  • The Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) and Sri Lanka Council for Agricultural Research Policy (SLCARP) announced a collaborative program to accelerate agricultural research and education. The program includes long-term training of Sri Lankan scientists, deputation of ICAR scientists as consultants in Sri Lanka, collaborative research project and exchange of germplasm between the two countries. Research will focus on hybrid seed production technology in onion, sunflower, and chili, tissue culture virus based cleaning in citrus, development and testing of potato varieties, coconut mite control, developing technologies to enhance storability of onions, identification of micro agro processing areas for rural areas, etc. As part of this program, 62 participants from Sri Lanka will attend short-term program and 37 in long-term programs. Thirteen Indian scientists will sojourn in Sri Lanka.

  • Singapore Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong told Indian President that his country is considering a special economic zone (SEZ) in India that would help boost Foreign Direct Investment. The visiting Indian President and his counterpart said that the two countries would work towards creating an Asian economic community and explore potential for cooperation in science and technology (S&T). These measures will help India realize its goal of achieving USD 30 billion trade with ASEAN nations in the next few years.

Environment, Health and Education

  • Scientists from Britain, India, South Africa, and Namibia published a study in the journal Plos Biology offering a way to cure cattle without killing 3 kinds of Asian vultures. The prevalent use of the drug Diclofenac to treat sick cattle killed Oriental White-Backed, Long-Billed, and Slender-Billed vultures. When these birds fed on recently dead cattle, this drug caused kidney damage, increased serum uric acid concentrations resulting in gout, which invariably killed the birds. The scientists offered Meloxicam as an alternate drug citing experiences in Namibia where vultures showed no signs of being affected. Asian vulture population plummeted by 97% the last 15 years. In a belated move, the Government recently banned the offending drug and is desperately looking for ways to improve the population of this species. 

  • The Indian Council for Medical Research said that it would start testing of Ayurvedic, Unani, and Sidhha drugs on animals. The move comes after a communist party member, in support of disaffected labor, alleged that a popular yoga and Ayurvedic teacher/practitioner is using human bones in the drugs that he manufactures. Following this allegation, the Union Health Ministry had issued a statement that Ayurvedic drugs will be tested for content. However, the latest move is to determine the quantity of heavy metals that is present in samples of various products and not for its DNA makeup as originally planned. In December 2004, The Journal of American Medical Association published a study that showed the presence of heavy metals in some Ayurvedic drugs. While heavy metals are used in Ayurvedic "Basmams" they are processed so the metals are reduced to their oxide and sulphide form through the use of some very specific ancient procedures. The Health Ministry has not revealed the objective, sampling technique, study methodology, and analytical processes they plan to use. This is the most elaborate attempt made to regulate 9000 Ayurvedic companies that produce and sell drugs worth USD 14.2 billion. While allopathic drugs are "regulated" they hardly carry any information. These traditional medicines are expected to carry a label that contains nutritional, ingredient, and usage instructions. 

  • The University Grants Commission inaugurated an experimental Educenter text and video supplementary content to students on a 24X7 basis. The joint venture involving the Inter-University Center for Astronomy & Astrophysics (IUCAA) and Hewlett Packard (HP) will be available to all colleges for a nominal Rs.10000. A vast network of colleges is expected to participate. HP provided the equipment and software services to hold the content in a database and deliver the video on demand (VoD).

  • Editorial: Regulate Ship Breaking Business

Terrorism, Defense and Security

  • In a video address released through Arabian television news channel Al Jazeera, Al Qaeda second in command Ayman al Zawahiri called US President George Bush a "butcher." He claimed that the CIA directed unmanned drone missile attack on a village in Pakistan killed innocent civilians. Confirming the truce offer by al Qaeda, he invited Bush to become a Muslim and be pardoned for "all that is past." A White House spokesman said that the al Qaeda "leadership is clearly on the run and under a lot of pressure." The US attack in Pakistan was meant to kill al Zawahiri as a result of a tip off from CIA "assets" (spies) with Pakistan's spy organization Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). This is the first time there is confirmation that he was not among those killed; no one really knows who was killed in that incident.

 

Hot Topics

Indo-Singapore Relationship

Indo-Srilanka Agri. Co-op.

Ayurvedic Medicine in India

Indo-US Defense Co-op.

IAEA Nuclear Vote

Election in Nepal

Al Qaeda

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

Iran and the IAEA
A future of their own
Unassuming Raja
Negotiating the N-deal
Waiting for George Bush
Assembly dissolution case
Using kids as bombs
Pay panel pill
Ending leprosy
Palestinians in a lose-lose situation
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.

  • The Indian Defense Minister Pranab Mukherjee has invited international defense vendors to jointly develop defense equipment with the 39 labs and factories of the Government. Mukherjee said that India had indigenously developed several components of its arsenal and joint ventures with the Defense Research & Development Organization (DRDO) can use the ordinance factories to mass-produce arms for export. The US Ambassador to India David Mulford said that India and the US have "entered a new era" of relationship and defense cooperation that will help them improve regional and global security and stability. Participating in the DefExpo, 22 major US defense vendors and the US Army are visiting India. India had placed an order for 126 F-18 Super Hornets fitted with Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA). This multi-billion USD order, awaiting US Congress approval, will require Boeing and F-18 partners Northup Grumman and General Electric to source 30% of components from an Indian subsidiaries.

Neighbors

  • Iran is striking a defiant note as the world community is set to approve the referral of its nuclear program by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). Iran said that its decision to reopen its "research" to enrich uranium at Natanz is "irreversible," and repeated its threat to end all IAEA inspections in Iran. Iran said that its program is for peaceful civilian purposes and that as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty it is entitled to nuclear technology and has rights to achieve self-sufficiency. However, it turned over to IAEA documents pertaining to a nuclear warhead design. Reports say that this single event turned China and Russia, who have large investments in Iran, in favor of a UN referral. Although, Russia won a key concession to delay the referral to UNSC till March buying time to try convincing Iran to accept its proposal for joint enrichment in Russia. India will be voting against Iran despite opposition from communist allies. The communists sheepishly conceded to this move after a meeting with the National Security Adviser and Foreign Secretary and virtually said that what is good for China and Russia must be good for India. This ended a 6-month tantrum demanding that India not vote against Iran.

  • Less than a week before the scheduled February 8 mayoral elections in Nepal, Maoist terrorists attacked an army base killing 19 police and soldiers even as demonstrators in Katmandu protested the assumption of power by King Gnanendra. The army said that dozens of soldiers and Government officials, including the district administrator, were still missing. In a televised address, Gnanendra called for negotiations and peace. It has been a year since Gnanendra seized power and promised national elections by 2007. A 7-party political alliance calls the February 8 elections a "sham" and an effort to legitimize the power-grab.

  • Editorial: The Nepal Stalemate

  • Editorial: Iran's Nuclear Program

World

  • One major stumbling block that is stopping the progress of Indo-US civilian nuclear deal was India's vote on the Iran nuclear issue. Even after India's vote against Iran at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the suspense is far from over. The US is expecting India to include more nuclear facilities, including the fast breeder reactors, under the IAEA ambit. This new US requirement has intensified the opposition to the deal in India. Following the announcement of the deal in July 2005, India had announced four new nuclear power plants in Kudankulam (Tamil Nadu), Kakrapar (Gujarat), Rawatbhata (Rajasthan), and Jaitapur (Maharashtra) to produce 8000 megawatts of electricity. Top Government officials said with the nuclear deal in doubt, the Government is looking at alternate fuels like Thorium. The nuclear establishment, including scientists, says that it is confident of finding alternate fuels to carry on with the nuclear energy plan. The four plants were planned assuming free access to enriched uranium.

  • Editorial: Hamas's victory in Palestinian Territories

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