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Monday, March 06, 2006

India News Summary



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Business and Economy
  • Head of macroeconomic in Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) John Hawksworth said that with a 7.6% growth in the next 50 years, India will the fastest growing economy in the world and overtake China. With the fastest growth rate in working-age population among major economies, India will lead the E-7 pack consisting of India, China, Brazil, Russia, Indonesia, Mexico, and Turkey to overtake the G-7 group of rich nations. The report said that India and China would be 43% larger than the US by 2050 in purchasing power parity terms.

Democracy, Politics and Judiciary

  • Many groups are trashing a report by retired Supreme Court Judge Banerjee concluding that it accidental fire that caused the death of scores of Hindu volunteers at Godhra in 2002. The Parliament had already appointed a Commission headed by Judge Nanavati to probe the incident and Railways Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav had appointed this other commission without due process. The conc lusion of Banerjee Commission is in sharp variance to the report of the Railway Protection Force (RPF) which talked about a "mob attacking and setting fire" to a coach carrying the victims. Most opposition parties feel that Yadav is politicking and this hasty conclusion trivializes the incident that saw anti-Muslim riots leaving several hundreds dead.

  • The Supreme Court made strong statements today against rape but surprisingly commuted a life sentence handed by lower courts to a rapist of a 8 year old to 10 years of rigorous imprisonment. A two-judge panel said, "rape is not only a crime against a person of a woman, it is a crime against the entire society. It destroys the entire psychology of a woman and pushes her into deep emotional crisis. When the victim is a helpless child or a minor, it leaves behind a traumatic experience." The reason for lowering the sentence is not known. The SC also said that the name of the victim must not be mentioned.

Terrorism, Defense, Security and Science & Technology
  • US President George Bush raised the issue of cross-border terrorism with Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf. Pakistan maintains that even with 80000 troops were present at the border it is unable to stop all infiltration into India just as the US is incapable of stopping terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan. Bush had also told a press conference with Musharraf that a "lot of work" needs to be done by Pakistan to defeat the al Qaeda. The polite reference is increased American displeasure on Musharraf's Government not doing enough to track down, engage, and eliminate al Qaeda and Taliban militants. Indian analysts say that while Pakistan makes perfunctory overtures to demonstrate good faith to the US, it does nothing to reduce terrorism on the eastern border. The Indian Government accuses Pakistan of actively funding, training, and materially sponsoring terrorism on India; a charge that Pakistan denies.  Pakistan claims to have deployed 80000 along the Western border to fight remnant Taliban and al Qaeda forces. A recent expedition saw over 100 terrorists and 4 Pakistani soldiers killed in Waziristan; reports said that the Taliban took control of a telephone exchange in Miranshah and the Pakistan action was reprisal in nature. Pakistan used helicopter gun-ships and killed several foreign terrorists.

  • The Indian Coast Guard has a thankless job of manning a 5422-kilometer coastline that covers 12 states and union territories including 1197 islands with 6200 personnel. The role of the coast guard is expected to increase many fold with the creation of the Sethusamudram canal and an exclusive economic zone that is expected to grow to 3 million square kilometers. The Coast Guard is responsible for grey water security including fighting smuggling, piracy, transport of banned substance including narcotics and weapons of mass destruction, and terrorism. It has projected a new force level of 15,000 personnel to operate as many as 238 ships including 173 patrol craft, 113 aircraft, 18 'Nishant' unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), and a couple of over-the-horizon radars by 2017. Specifically, it plans to get 60 helicopters, 35 Dorniers for coastal surveillance, 11 medium range reconnaissance aircraft, over 40 interceptor boats, and 6 deep-sea patrol vessels.

Neighbors
  • US President George Bush traveled to Pakistan from India and delivered harsh messages to the military junta. Analysts say that 3 'As' rule Pakistan-- Allah, America, and the Army and the US lived up to this belief by asking Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf to hold elections within a year; a demand to which he quickly acquiesced. Bush rejected Pakistan's demand for nuclear parity with India saying, "India and Pakistan are two different countries with different needs and different histories." The last comment was an obvious reference to the disgraced Pakistani nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan who sold nuclear weapons design, materials, and accessories to so-called "rogue nations." Many westerns analysts believe that the Khan operated with complete knowledge and approval of the Government; this is a charge Pakistan vehemently denies but also refuses to allow international interrogation of Khan who is now under house arrest. Bush also strongly refused to mediate on Kashmir saying this is an issue that needs peaceful settlement through bilateral negotiations. The only two things that were positive is the US acknowledging Pakistan's energy needs and not opposing the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline and the promise of a US-Pakistan strategic dialogue. The whole tenor of the Pakistan visit was in sharp contrast with India. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh received Bush and both exchange lengthy and friendly words on the tarmac, which now turns out to be active affirmation to get the nuclear deal done. In contrast, neither the Pakistan President or Prime Minister received Bush and instead stuck to protocol; speculation on this range from security concerns to a "message" from Pakistan that it is not happy with the attention India is getting. Only petulant allies of the Government and some disgruntled groups protested Bush's visit and boycotted the State dinner in India. In contrast, Musharraf, security incidents and threats kept most people home and the intelligentsia away from the State dinner deserted Pakistan as a strike protesting the Danish cartoons, political arrest. US newspapers have severely criticized Musharraf and had demanded that Bush not trust him.

 
Hot Topics
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
Vaccinating against avian influenza
New beginnings
Path through Bush
Economics & politics of it all
Next steps in the Indo-US deal
US war on Iran?
Checks and benefits

Breaking from the past

India is out of South Asia box
New tensions on the political scene
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.
  • China is planning to increase its military budget by 14.7% to USD 35.3 billion citing increasing fuel costs, salaries, new equipment, and training. China's military expenditure is speculated to be higher than what is publicly stated as weapons purchases and large projects are never revealed and clubbed into the budget. In fact, the Chinese defense budget includes mainly operational costs of its 2.5 million-army that frequently threatens and bullies smaller neighbors such as Taiwan and Vietnam. The increase in defense drew criticism from many who say that after 57 years of communist rule; over 800 million in rural China have not received any share of its economic explosion in the cities and coastal areas. Making up 70% of the total population, the average income of rual habitant is USD 400 and together consumes 40% of total domestic consumption. China has long promised and not delivered education, health care, and other services to the rural areas. However, the latest congress of 3000 delegates has earmarked increased social spending in the rural areas. Premier Wen Jiabo is expected to reveal a report that will showcase China's social expenditure roadmap for its rural areas when he opens a Parliament.  Between 2006 and 2010, China will spend USD 27.2 billion to distribute free textbooks, allocate boarding allowance for poor children, repair school buildings, and ensure universal 9-year education. To leapfrog technology in genetics, nuclear energy, medicine, and computers China will spend USD 8.9 billion.

  • Iran reiterated its threat to restart complete nuclear enrichment if the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) meeting on March 6 decides to refer its nuclear program to the United Nations Security Council. Top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani said, "nuclear research and development is part of Iran's national interest and sovereignty and won't give it up." It said that if the US and its allies undertook a military expedition, he promised that Iran "will pursue our own path" which could mean missile attacks on Israel and occupational forces in Iraq. However, he said that Iran will not use oil as a weapon as the world's "morale security" is important to his country. While he claimed a deal with Russia and European Union could happen "in a few hours" those interlocutors have thrown up their hands in desperation at Iran's recalcitrant position. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called Russian President Vladimir Putin to exchange views on Iran's nuclear program. Appreciating Russian efforts to defuse the crisis, India said it did not want the Iran issue to go to the UNSC.

  • Editorial: The Nepal Stalemate

  • Editorial: Iran's Nuclear Program

World
  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that his country is happy with talks with Hamas that won elections in the Palestinian Territories. Russia said that Hamas is willing to honor peace commitment with Israel if that country shows goodwill. Hamas is willing to honor the four principles of the West Asia peace process-- renunciation of violence, accepting previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements, recognition of Israel's right to existence, and creation of an independent Palestinian state. Hamas said that the only obstacle to peace is Israel's "aggressive policy" and demanded that they leave the occupied territories. Israel has instituted sanctions on Hamas by denying it monies due through customs collection and much of Western non-humanitarian aid has virtually stopped.

  • Australian Prime Minister John Howard will visit India this week and is expected to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to cover defense, customs cooperation, trade, economic framework, and biotechnology. The two countries will also sign a document to create a Strategic Research Fund. Presumably, the fund will cover the areas that the MoU will cover. He said, "India is an increasingly influential player whose interests converge with Australia's. We work constructively on key international issues..." Howard ruled out supply of nuclear fuel to India saying that his country will supply cheap fuel only to countries that have signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. He said, "We are not going to suddenly change our policy just because the Indians and Americans have reached an agreement." Australia has 40% of the world's uranium deposits.

  • Editorial: Hamas's victory in Palestinian Territories


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