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Wednesday, January 11, 2006




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Business & Economy

  • The Indian Finance Minister P. Chidambaram met with business leaders for a pre-budget consultations and hinted that the budget will have a strong rural bias and emphasis. The Government has been saying that investments in agriculture is required to achieve a 4% growth in that sector so that overall sustained economic growth of 8%. Therefore, this year's budget is expected to focus on farm, food processing, and social sectors with investment plans for irrigation projects and labor-intensive sectors such as food processing, textiles, pharmaceuticals, petrochemicals, and telecommunication. He is also expected to unveil funding for healthcare and education. Businesses in India want the Government to withdraw or simplify the controversial fringe-benefit tax (FBT), which taxes companies on business expenses. They also want a tax rationalization so that some sectors are not "punitively" taxed. Currently, the telecom sector faces an excessive licensing fee regime and agriculture-oriented sectors like food processing are treated as luxury goods. 

  • Taking advantage of lower interest rates abroad, Indian corporations have replaced expensive local debt with cheaper foreign funds. In 2005, Indian businesses raised over USD 8 billion compared to USD 4.42 billion in 2004 and USD 1.99 billion in 2003. 

  • Federal Commerce & Industry Minister Kamal Nath has called for a Board of Trade meeting to discuss the alarming decline in exports in November 2005. For the first time in two years, Indian exports of gems, jewelry, and textiles declined in November causing an overall decline of 11.38%. This could also be a transition where textile companies are focusing on quota countries thus yielding the non-quota country market to China. Indian exports registered a 40% growth in November 2004. A working group studied chemical, pharmaceuticals, and textile sectors and advocated a slew of measures to sustain export growth including export promotion schemes, trade facilitation, assisting specific sectors, and the creation of special economic zones (SEZs). 

  • The Information Technology (IT) oriented association NASSCOM has estimated that India may have lost upto USD 8 billion in business opportunities because of concerns regarding data security among foreign clients. Insisting that clients are convinced about the delivery capabilities of Indian IT & business process outsourcing (BPO) companies, it unveiled plans measures that it has initiated with the Government to mitigate these concerns. Some of these measures include a national registry of skilled workers to monitor movement, training investigating officers in IT crimes, educating companies on security measures, and setting up of a self-regulatory body for IT & BPO companies. Despite this loss of opportunities, Karnataka reported that secondary cities in the state are clocking more than 70% growth in IT & BPO business. 

  • The Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) is receiving a grant of USD 250 million from the World Bank to propel crops and farm products to the world market to achieve a second green revolution. This grant will also help to boost productivity, facilitate marketing, develop unexplored businesses such as inland aquaculture and meat production. "Conservation agriculture" techniques such as zero-tillage, laser land leveling, raised bed planting, crop residue management, and direct rice seeding will be used to save natural resources without compromising productivity. ICAR Director General Dr. Mangala Rai says that India has three million water bodies where productivity can be enhanced by 10-30% with improved and disease-free breeding stock..

Environment, Society & Health

  • French authorities have said that the retired French warship "Clemenceau" on its way to the Gujarat junkyard for dismantling has less than .2% of the toxic asbestos. Techno pure, the company that performed the first stage of asbestos removal, estimates the asbestos content to be about 2%. French authorities have dismissed this claim as "sheer fantasy" and "gross exaggeration" and said that they have removed a vast amount of pre-existing of asbestos before sending the ship to India. They also say that additional removal will affect the structural integrity of the ship making it risky to sail to India. The Supreme Court Monitoring Committee (SCMC) has recommended that the ship not be allowed into India since it contains toxic material and that inter-state transfer of toxic material violates the Basel Convention. A French court had ruled that the Basel Convention does not cover warships. 

  • World Health Organization (WHO) said that five more people have been infected by the dreaded H5N1 strain of bird-flu virus in Turkey indicating that the disease is spreading. Studying the genetic makeup of affected birds and the virus, they warned that this virus could mutate into a form that can be easily transmitted by humans and become a dangerous epidemic.


Hot Topics

Tiger Census

Patenting Indian Knowledge 

Recent Supreme Court Verdicts

Forest Management

IISc Terrorist Attack

Indo-Pakistan bilateral relations

Iran - Russia Talks

ASEAN Summit

UNSC Expansion Plan

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
The French Non

Featured Edits

Pakistan: Haunted by Balochistan
Bharat Sarkar, all ears
Rajnath and UPís slow churning
Indiaís killing fields
Terrorists target centres of growth
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.


  • Investigation of IISc terrorist incident showed that Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) operative Abdul Rehman, a resident of Saudi Arabia and arrested in Nalgonda had visited Bangalore, Mysore, and Kolar districts earlier. He has been visiting Karnataka since 2003. His objective was to recruit cadres for the organization and provide funding for their operations. The conspiracy to attack vital installations in IISc was hatched in 2003. Rehman also said that 12 Islamic priests (11 from Karnataka) are spreading terror in various parts of the country. So far, no organization has claimed responsibility for the incident. 

  • In a clear sign that the al Qaeda was alive and well, a tape allegedly carrying the voice of Iraq's al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi said that retaliatory rocket attacks against Isarel from Lebanon was under the orders of Osama bin Laden. By invoking bin Laden's name, al-Zarqawi has thus boosts United States assertions that it is fighting the al Qaeda in Iraq. al-Zarqawi said that his group had carried out 800 operations so far against "crusader" (read American) forces. The Sunday Mirror said that it has evidence that al Qaeda is recruiting suicide bombers infected with the AIDS virus and other lethal blood diseases such as hepatitis and dengue fever in order to increase its "kill rate" from an explosion. Researchers have found that bones and other human fragments can penetrate the skin of targets 50 meters away. In Afghanistan, terming President Karzai an "American puppet," deposed fugitive Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar said that the attacks in that on schools, secular, and other non-Islamic targets will intensify.


  • Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse accused the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) of "abusing" Colombo's "restraint." He however said that while his Government will "take necessary measures" to check "terrorist attacks" his Government is "committed to upholding the obligations of the ceasefire agreement." Sri Lankan forces and the LTTE fought an intense gun battle near Muttur where 15 navy men were killed yesterday by the LTTE suicide bomber. One soldier and 2 LTTE men died in this battle. With the increasing belligerence of the LTTE, the European Union is going though intensive internal discussions to explore the possibility of banning the LTTE. The EU had earlier decided not to "receive LTTE delegations" when terrorists believed to be LTTE assassinated Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar. A EU ban will shut LTTE out of 25 countries and have serious implications for it in terms of financial and political support. Analysts say that 60,000 people have died since the 1972 when the Tamil armed uprising began. 

  • Bangladesh Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia is expected to visit India later this year to discuss major irritants in Indo-Bangla relations. Experts say that she would raise trade imbalances, river water sharing, and border skirmishes with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.


  • Kampuchean Prime Minister Hun Sen seems to be on the final stage of a crackdown to consolidate powers to him. Critics say that over the past year, he has choked political opposition, marginalized the monarchy, and manipulated the judiciary, and intimidated labor unions and civic groups. Fearing politically inspired persecution, the leader of the only significant political opposition party, Sam Rainsy fled the country in December. However, he has been sentenced to undergo a 18 month prison term in absentia for defamation. Critics also allege that with a series of arrests and lawsuits, PM Sen is directly attacking human rights groups; the only faction left to oppose his actions. 

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