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Tuesday, January 17, 2006




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Business & Economy

  • The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is planning to resurrect an old plan to converge telecom, Internet, and broadcasting sectors. Surprisingly, the right of center previous Government run by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) had stalled this proposal for political reasons. Given the current Government requires the support of the communists who are averse to any economic reform, the passage of this proposal seems bleak. The present Government took more than a year to approve the rise of Foreign Direct Investment limit in just the telecom sector from 49 to 74 per cent. This proposal requires uniform FDI levels, licensing fees, spectrum rationalization, and creation of equal opportunities to cell phone, wireless local loop, telecom, cable, and Internet service providers to be able to address data, voice, video markets.

Environment and Health, Science & Technology

  • Egyptian officials seem to have granted clearance to the French aircraft carrier Clemenceau after a tense standoff between the two Governments. It appears that the French Government has convinced Egyptians about the legality of the ship heading towards the Gujarat wreck yard. The French Government's position is that the ship is still a French property and that the Basel Convention preventing the transnational shipment of hazardous waste does not cover warships. The area of contention is the amount of asbestos on the ship; asbestos is a banned substance in France and is not to be carcinogenic. The Indian Supreme Court's Monitoring Council had advocated against allowing the ship into India. The Indian Government seemed to take a position that is closer to the French Government and seems intent on the business which is worth over USD 700 million. The environment group Green peace, which has opposed the transfer of ship to India has called the Egyptian Government's decision "political." Techno pure, the company that implemented the first phases of asbestos removal, says that the ship contains over 500 tons of asbestos. The French Government rejects that assessment and says that there is only 45 tons of toxic material on board claiming to have removed most of what was on board.

  • The Kudremukh Iron Ore Company Limited (KIOCL), a Federal Government-owned public sector company complied with Supreme Court orders and stopped mining ore in the environmentally sensitive Western Ghats. The company converts all the mined ore into pellets and exports 85% of it to China. t grosses Rs.18.5 billion a year with cash reserves of Rs.13 billion. Although the company was ordered by the SC on September 30, 2002 not to mine beyond September 30, 2005 the company has not given up hopes. It has sought extensions, appealed the decision, manufactured public opinion through sponsored environment surveys, black-balled NGOs opposing the mining, and even got a national paper to publish an investigative study in its favor. But with global prices of pellets plummeting by about 50% due to China's decision to regulate import of pellets, the financial outlook for continued mining coupled with debilitating impact on the environment too expensive for the company to continue its business. However, the company is determined to keep its pellet plant running sourcing raw material from other parts of Karnataka. They are also seeking license to mine ore in the Ramanadurg area which is already seeing illegal mining for ore. Even if license is granted now, it would take KIOCL about 4 years to mine that area. In the meanwhile, KIOCL is expecting to import ore to keep its pellet plant functional.

  • The Forest Department is seeking to procure 12,000 square kilometers of revenue land to facilitate the easy migration of elephants, tigers, leopards, dholes, and other non-predatory animals. The conceptual proposal, if approved, can take up to two years to implement and requires the resettling of those in Yelechatti village in Bandipur. The acquisition will widen the Kaniyanapura corridor that connects Bandipur National Park with forests of Chamarajanagar, Satyamangalam, and Dimbam. This corridor has been identified as the key elephant corridor by wildlife biologists and experts from Asian Elephant Research and Conservation Center (AERCC) at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. The current corridor is hardly a few meters wide with elephant proof trenches on one side and private land leading to the Moyar Gorge on the other.

  • The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is planning to enter the lucrative satellite launch business and aiming to capture 10% of the market share over the next five years. It will address the launch market, estimated at USD 2 billion, using its cost-effective Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and hope to earn USD 10 million this year. The first commercial launch in April or May this year will carry an Italian satellite Agile on the PSLV C-3. ISRO is planning one to two launches every year and plans to get self-sufficient in this space when it launches GSLV Mk III in 2008. This vehicle will be capable of carrying heavier satellites up to 4 tons. ISRO will also launch two Russian satellites for its global navigational system called Glonas. Later this year, it will also launch an Indonesian micro-satellite.


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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.

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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

  • Underworld don Dawood Ibrahim's sister recently visited Jammu & Kashmir and made financial contributions to some people there. Although she is not known to be a participant of any terrorist activities, she has admitted regular contact with him. Dawood's gang is being accused as the primary financier of recent Delhi blasts and the brain behind the Mumbai Lashkar-e-Toiba cells busted in Mumbai recently. Dawood, with strong political support in India including active front men, is accused for the Mumbai blasts of the 90s and is the most wanted man in India.

  • The Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) has revealed plans for a Medium Combat Aircraft which will succeed the indigenously designed and developed Light Combat Aircraft (LCA). It revealed that the weapon systems of LCA, as required by the Indian Air Force (IAF), will be completed in two years. The IAF has already ordered 20 LCAs and will order another 20 soon.


  • In a massive attack using automatic weapons and various bombs over the weekend, Maoist terrorists in Nepal killed 11 policemen and wounding many other just 10 kilometers from Katmandu. The terrorist group, fighting a Hindu monarchy system, called off their unilateral ceasefire claiming that they did not get a response from the Government. However, life in the capital was unaffected by this violence. The decade long violence has claimed over 12000 lives and destroyed the fragile economy of Nepal that is so reliant on tourism and international aid. King Gnanendra has announced civil polls on February 8. The terrorists have vowed to disrupt it and expand their fight into Katmandu and other cities.


  • The Counter Insurgency and Jungle Warfare School (CIJWS) in India imparts intense unconventional training in dealing with insurgency, prevent terrorism, and reduce collateral damage. Located deep in the tropical forests of Mizoram, the school has trained over 300,000 Indian Army personnel. Following the 9/11 terrorism event, the US army trained a number of marines at this institute. Currently, 30 elite Uzbek troops are training to fight terrorists of the Khaliafat Islamic Movement in Uzbekistan. In the near future, Britain and Israel are planning to send contingents of their own for specialized training. The considerable experience of the Indian Army in tackling terrorism in Kashmir and North East is customized to the unique requirements of those requiring training. The CIJWS is looking to expand its facilities by another 100 hectares.

  • The Israeli cabinet has approved the participation of East Jerusalem in the forthcoming Palestinian elections. However, it said that it will not allow the terrorist group Hamas does not participate in it. Although Israel had allowed East the Muslim-majority Jerusalem o vote in the 1996 Parliamentary elections, Israel worries that this moves could erode its claims to Jerusalem. Israel considers all of Jerusalem as its own and is also worried that a Hamas victory would revitalize the armed struggle with Palestinians. However, intense United States pressure to allow their participation seems to have paid off. Even Hamas has dropped its call for the destruction of Israel from its manifesto. Israel captured the Gaza strip and East Jerusalem during the 1967 Middle East war. While it has withdrawn troops from the Gaza strip in September 2005, it continues its claim over East Jerusalem.

  • Embattled British Prime Minister has said the Britain will soon be scrapping the 40-year old Wilson Doctrine that protected the privacy of Members of Parliaments. This will grant British intelligence agencies such as MI5 unfettered access to technology, laws, and means to tap MPs suspected of crimes, terrorism, and lawbreaking. The argument is that MPs need to be treated the same as ordinary British citizens who are some of the most spied on in the world. Since 1997, British surveillance has expanded and the Investigatory Powers Act of 2000 gave the police and investigative agencies right to snoop on email texts and other communications.. 

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