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Saturday, February 04, 2006



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Business and Economy

  • The Federal Minister of State for Coal Dasari Narayana Rao said that India needed Rs.1200 billion (USD 30 billion) in fresh investments in coal mining to meet its growing energy demands. To encourage fresh investments, the Government will allow 100% foreign direct investment (FDI) in mining including diamonds and coal with no minimal Government control. Addressing the India-Australia Coal and Mining Forum, he said that India has already approved 75 FDI proposals for non-coal mining for USD 1 billion. 

  • Reliance Airport , a loser in the recent Mumbai and New Delhi modernization contract, filed a case in the Delhi High Court alleging irregularities. It accuses Government agencies (Airport Authority of India a.k.a. AAI) of indulging the winners of the contracts and together conspired to allot the contracts to their favorites. Meanwhile, AAI communist union members, egged on by communist political parties, went on strike making it hard for travelers. However, private aviation companies pitched in along with the Indian Air Force (IAF) to ensure that flight schedules were kept even if delayed. Striking AAI employees clashed with police, damaged Government property, and were a nuisance to travelers. Traffic to the Delhi airport backed up automobiles for miles and travelers had to walk to the airport to catch their flights. The Delhi High Court issued a restraining order ordering the striking employees to be at least 500 meters from the airport. The AAI employees went a rampage slashing and deflating car tires. The West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadev Bhattacharya, a reformer communist, asked workers to deliver and not ask for more.

  • To tide over price and supply crisis, especially in the south, the Government, for the first time in 7 years, plans to import half a million tons of wheat. For a while, the Government knew of the shortage in its buffer stocks and when this import will fill, the country would be reporting bumper wheat crops.

  • The Indian Textile Export Promotion Council said that restrictive practices in the US and EU continue to block exports of textile raw materials to those countries. Frequent use of anti-dumping subsidy measures are seriously hurting the linen industry even as Indian exports in textiles and clothing grew by 14% and 33% respectively to the US and 4% and 31% to the EU. The Indian textile industry is valued at USD 40 billion with exports making up a 1/3. The target fro textile export by 2010 is USD 40 billion. China has emerged a clear winner in the post-quota era and Pakistan is also gaining on India in yarn export.

  • Despite tough economic hurdles, the Gems and Jewelry exports from India grew at 15% to USD 17 billion. Imports grew at 32% to USD 13.8 billion. Cut and uncut diamonds fetched more than 60% of the exports. The industry expects stiff competition from China .

  • The Prime Minister Manmohan Singh launched the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. Guaranteeing 100 days of work for rural population, this Act is aimed at improving rural infrastructure such as road connectivity, school buildings, and water supply to villages. He called for full transparency of this scheme and inclusion in the Right to Information Act.

Democracy, Politics and Judiciary

  • Hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) the Supreme Court (SC) has asked all Indian states and Union Territories to provide information on enforcement details of child labor abolition for children aged 6-14. The SC had issued notice to the Federal Government expressing concern for the continuation of child labor. India amended its constitution for compulsory education up to the age of 14 and children under that age cannot work for a living. The court said, "They have to be in school. It is the duty of the States to provide them schools." The Federal Government will set up a National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights to review and examine legal safeguards and recommend measures for effective implementation. It will also be empowered to look into complaints, address them, and suggest changes to laws to protect the Constitution and legal rights of the children.

Environment, Health and Education

  • US Scientists at the Center for Disease Control and Purdue University published a study in the journal The Lancet, that a variation of a vaccine based on common flu controlled the dreaded H5N1 in mice. Unlike conventional vaccines, which contain safe variation of a virus, this test vaccine does not have any trace of H5N1. Asian countries are trying to cull thousands of domesticated chicken, geese, ducks, and other domestic fowl since this is means of this virus becoming pandemic that could affect 1.2 billion people. The virus has so far killed 72 people and the chance of survival of someone exposed to the virus is only 50%.  

  • Editorial: Regulate Ship Breaking Business

 

Hot Topics

Foreign Direct Investment

Modernization of Airports & the AAI Issue

Child Labor

Bird flu virus

IAEA Nuclear Vote

Human Rights violation in Pak

Hamas victory in Palestinian 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

Breaking the oil habit
India's secret search for peace and its perils
Ground these protests
Chirac is right after all
Asian tigers will overcome Western challenge
Poverty among women underestimated
Return of old third worldism
Mess in Nagaland
Defeat leprosy
Striking argument
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.

Terrorism,  Defense and Security

  • A naval version of Tejas, the Light Combat Aircraft, was tested for possible induction in the navy by April 2007. The second version of the technology demonstrator has been test flown 11 times and the feedback from pilots has been consistently good.

Neighbors

  • The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) postponed its meeting for a day for backroom deliberations that the IAEA chief Mohammed El Baradei calls a "window of opportunity." Although the IAEA motion is expected to pass easily, the matter will be referred to the United Nations Security Council till March. That leaves Russia a month to convince Iran to accept its proposal for a joint venture in Russia to enrich uranium. El Baradei also said that this was not a crisis situation as Iran was 7 to 10 years away from a nuclear bomb, an allegation that Iran vehemently denies. However, Iran handed IAEA a document, which could be used only for making a nuclear warhead. Iran's growing missile arsenal, its President's call for destruction if Israel, and its threat to attack with missiles if the UNSC imposed sanctions have fuelled fear in the world community.

  • The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has accused the Pakistan armed forces of indiscriminate bombing, killing, torture, and mysterious disappearances in Baloachistan. A fact-finding report said that most of the dead were women and children. It blamed intelligence agencies for mysterious disappearances of labor leaders who were in Karachi to negotiate with the management. Following indiscriminate killing and firing, several Hindus were also driven out of their homes. Many Hindus were also killed in this fighting.

  • In a major climb down from inflexible position, Pakistan has admitted to the United Nations that Indian construction of the Baglihar dam is within the legal scope of the 1960 Indus Water Treaty. It maintained that it has issues only with the height of the dam. It said that the problem it had with the project was the height. An independent arbitrator was appointed by the Unite Nations to review Pakistan's complaint about the "legality" of the dam.

  • Editorial: The Nepal Stalemate

  • Editorial: Iran's Nuclear Program

World

  • The Palestinian Authority saw the first effects of the Hamas victory in last week's elections when Israel stopped transfer of moneys to the administration. The Government of these territories is expecting USD 33 from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and UAE to pay for next week's wages. The West, which contributes close to USD 1 billion in aid, said that it would not provide aid to Hamas Government unless they disarmed and accepted Israel's right to exist. Hamas has rejected this demand as "blackmail.

  • Editorial: Hamas's victory in Palestinian Territories

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