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Tuesday, February 21, 2006



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Business and Economy

  • Cash hungry Indian companies are on a fund-raising spree through the foreign currency convertible bond (FCCB) market. In the first quarter of 2006, companies are set to raise USD 2.5 billion more than 60% of the USD 4 billion accumulated last year. While India took about 40% of all money raised through FCCB in Asia last year, it has taken 74% of the total regional funding this year. Jet Airways is raising USD 500 million, Mahindra & Mahindra USD 200 million, and McDowell USD 250 million. Other companies with pending applications are Cipla, Wockhardt, Matrix Labs, and HCC for a combined off take of USD 1 billion. Indian companies are leveraging the lower interest regimes to finance their expansion through mergers and acquisitions. Dr. Reddy's Lab bought the fourth largest German generic drug manufacturer for close to half a billion USD.

Democracy, Politics and Judiciary

  • The Enforcement Directorate questioned disgraced former Foreign Minister Natwar Singh for a second day in the Iraqi oil-for-food scam. Singh's son Jagat Singh was interrogated earlier and had reportedly confessed to using his father to gain contacts within Iraq to obtain oil coupons. Of these coupons, some worth about USD 750,000 was actually lifted. He then used his friend Andaleeb Seghal and Jamil Saeedi's Hamdeen Exports to siphon the money into India.  They had used the Jordan National Bank and a London-based relative (Aditya Khanna) of Singh Sr. to launder the proceeds

Environment, Health and Education

  • CSL Ltd of Australia reported that it has produced the smallest vaccine does that can protect humans against the bird flu virus. However, it admitted that it does not know how this vaccine will work if the virus mutates further. Experts say that it will take months before they can start working on a mutated strain. The H5N1 strain has killed 91 people in East Asia and Middle East and there are a total of 169 confirmed human cases. Cases have been reported in Nigeria and Europe recently.

  •  Over 27,000 chickens have died in the last 15-day in Nandurbar district of Maharashtra and 70% of them are from the H5N1 bird flu virus strain. The local Collector Jayant Gaekwad said that there were on confirmed human infestation although there are reports of people being admitted to the hospital. When the birds started dying, the initial suspicion was Ranikhet disease and only after confirmation from the National Anima Laboratory at Bhopal was a bird flu outbreak confirmed. Gaekwad said that all poultry deaths took place within one taluk, which had 49 farms and 400,000 birds. As a precaution, the State Government has asked all these birds to be slaughtered. Secretary of Animal Husbandry and Dairying P.M.A. Hakeem said that India had 2 months vaccine stocks imported from Europe and he indicated that 3-10 kilometer radius around the area will be cordoned off. He said India had previously tested 20,000 birds since 2004 but this was the first confirmed incidence. He said that chicken cooked at 60 degrees centigrade for 15 minutes is not harmful to humans The poultry industry does not agree with the Government saying that there is no confirmation yet on whether the birds were infected with bird flu or not.

  • Editorial : Regulate Ship Breaking Business

Terrorism, Defense, Security and Science & Technology

  • Ten countries including South Africa and many from the Far East have showed keen interest to buy the Indo-Russian BrahMos supersonic missile.  It is the only supersonic precision missile with a range of 290 kilometers with multiple launch capability. Starting this month, the missile will be inducted into the Indian Navy.
 
  • Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf is visiting China for a five-day visit seeking China's help in nuclear energy, textiles, energy, and communications. Pakistan was rebuffed by European Union and the United States on its demand for nuclear parity with India. Pakistan was greeted with official and media based barrage on its non-proliferation and terrorism performance. However, Musharraf hopes to gain Chinese assistance for 2 more reactors in its efforts to increase nuclear energy generation capacity from 437 megawatts to 8500 megawatts. China had assisted Pakistan with the 300 megawatt Chasma Nuclear Power Plant.

  • Editorial: The Nepal Stalemate

  • Editorial: Iran's Nuclear Program

World

  • A new Palestinian Parliament dominated by the terrorist group Hamas was sworn in even as its relationship with its President Mahmoud Abbas and Israel remained uncertain. Hamas leader Ismail Haniya is expected to become Prime Minister. Abbas said that the Oslo Accords, which recognized the legitimate right of autonomy within Palestinian territories cannot be questioned and must be honored. At the same time, clearly implying that Hamas must shun violence, he insisted that the Palestinian Government must accept negotiations as the "sole" means to achieve Palestinian goals. He is expected to ask the Government a formal charter that will direct foreign policy; two state solution, recognition of Israel's right to exist, pursuit of non-violent struggle against Israeli occupation, and a US sponsored roadmap to peace. Unfortunately, Hamas rejected Abbas's call saying that it "rejects negotiation with the occupation under the current circumstances, which occupation and aggression continues." The spokesperson went on to say that it was their "natural right" to resist for the welfare of Palestinians. However, Hamas had indicated a long-term truce with Israel but not under international pressure. According to Palestinian mode of governance, while Hamas will have some control over Palestinian security forces, decisions on appointments, promotions, and deployment have to be routed through the President's office.

  • Angry Libyan protestors incensed by an Italian Minister's threat to wear T-shirts with the distasteful Danish cartoons and called Muslims "Ali Babas" overran security forces and burnt a consulate building at Benghazi.  About 1000 stone-pelting protestors stormed the Italian Consulate even as security forces fielded tear gas to burn down the building. The Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi urged Reform Minister Roberto Calderoli, responsible for the comments, to resign. Police in Libya said that 10 protestors had been killed. 

 

Hot Topics

Foreign currency convertible bond

Volkar and Natwar Singh

H5N1 Bird Flu Virus

Indo-Russian Relations

Indo-Pak Relations

Hamas victory in Palestinian

Danish Cartoons

Indo-Us Nuclear Deal

Indo-French Deal

Iran Nuclear Program

Featured Analyses

National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme : Making Panchayat Raj Institutions Effective

The Bill on National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme seeks to provide guaranteed employment to one member of every rural household for at least 100 days a year for a minimum wage of Rs.60 per day.  Out of 260 million poor people in the country, about 200 million poor people are in rural areas. People in 45% rural India do not get work for six months in a year. 

The Saga of the Jemaah Islamiah
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

An idea thatís behind the times
Brown takeovers, with WTO help
Plight of America's migrant day workers
Bird flu: myths and realities
Seal the Deal
A nation divided on foreign policy 
Thanks Jacques, hello George
Shirking hard decisions
Partnership to balance the US?

Fowl Threat

Mirage of more
scorpene like deals
Freedom from bigotry
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.

  • US President George Bush defended the civilian nuclear deal with India saying that the use of clean energy will reduce the demand for non-renewable fossil fuels. With the sudden expansion of nuclear power, the US will also discuss the idea of a civil nuclear power industry with India. Echoing Bush's statement, visiting French President Jacques Chirac said that India needed technological and material help with nuclear power generation. Without this help, he said will pollute more and become "a chimney for greenhouse gases." He expressed French interest to help India once it has worked out differences with the US on the civil nuclear deal.

  • India and France signed 9 pacts including one on civil nuclear co-operation. The French President Jacques Chirac called for changes in international non-proliferation measures to accommodate India so all nuclear powers could enter into deals with India. This deal assumed symbolic and tactical significance in terms of timing. US President George Bush set to arrive in India on March 1 and with the downward spiral of the Indo-US civil nuclear deal over the fast breeder reactors inclusion, India has more bargaining leverage with the US. Bush himself wants the deal but political extremists in the US Congress are not willing to play along. In a sharp variance to the Indo-US deal, the Indo-French deal requires India to place only those reactors procured through international co-operation need to be placed under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards. The other pacts were for closer co-operation in space, commerce, education, tourism, environment, culture, and civil aviation.

  • Editorial: Hamas's victory in Palestinian Territories

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