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Tuesday, January 24, 2006




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Environment , Health and Education

  • Fearing the loss of business from increased environmental awareness and regulation, Alang ship breaking yard officials in Gujarat has sought French expertise to dismantle Clemenceau. Officials say that if India refuses the French aircraft carrier, the ship will sail to Pakistan, Bangladesh, or China. Dismantling Clemenceau can give the country 27,000 tons of steel. There is an environmental cost in the production of so much steel such as water, mining, destruction of forests, fossil fuel usage to transport ore and fire furnaces, pollution, and effluent treatment and disposal. There are conflicting reports on the how much carcegonic asbestos is on this ship. Techno pure, the company involved in the first phase of asbestos disposal estimates 500 tons. The French Government dismisses this estimate and says there is only about 45 tons and it cannot be taken out without damaging the sea-worthiness of the ship. The Indian Government seems to agree with this assessment. Asbestos is not a banned substance in India and is often used by the poor as roofing.

  • Researchers performing autopsies of H5N1 virus infected cats have found that the virus can be transmitted through urine and faeces thus intensifying fears of a human panendemic. Cats were initially thought as being immune to the virus. However, the research, quoted in magazine Nature, found that the pattern of this infection of these mammals, with similar body systems as humans, through a "fecal-oral route" indicates that the virus does not care which cell it attacks. A follow-up study published in the Journal of Pathology, showed that the virus attacked brain, liver, kidney, heart, and other tissues it comes in contact by killing cells and causes inflammation.

  • The United Nation’s-funded Global e-Schools and Communities Initiative (GeSCI) signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Rajasthan to e-enable its education system. The other partners, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and World Economic Forum (WEF) joined in the Rajasthan Education Initiative aiming to include more than 100,000 schools into ongoing programs. Project GRACE (Girls of Rajasthan and Computer Education), District Computer Centers, departmental computerization, and EDUSAT (satellite based teacher training) are the programs that they will bring to the schools and community. According to Government of Rajasthan, the state has quietly doubled its literacy over the decade to an overall 61% with women at 44% and men 76%.


  • Suspected Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) operatives ambushed a 10 member foot patrol in Sri Lanka. In the resulting battle near Batticaloa, four soldiers were injured. In rebel-held territory two bombs exploded near a LTTE convoy sparking speculation in the vernacular press that these explosions were aimed at senior LTTE leaders. While the army also said that two senior LTTE leaders were killed, the LTTE vehemently rejected these speculations saying that the explosion was from a training exercise. Meanwhile, there ate increased reports of Tamil tea picking laborers leaving this occupation of moving on to other skilled or commercial work often with loans from the Government. The With the loss of manpower and clout, the largest tea labor union Ceylon Workers Congress is also seen as allying themselves with the LTTE thus bringing the civil war into the hills away from the traditional North and East.

  • Sri Lanka is to propose names of 5 countries where it would be open to hold talks with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). It said it will invite equal contribution of names from LTTE. LTTE has ruled out India as a possible venue and the Government has ruled out Oslo. Other names being thrown around are Japan or South Africa. Norway is out because of the Government’s fear that facilitating country is giving in to increased hostility and ceasefire violations by LTTE. Since December 2005, 130 people have died and more than half are soldiers and navy men. The Sri Lankan Monitoring Mission that oversees the ceasefire has closed down operations in Trincomalee saying that the security situation is “unacceptable.” The Norwegian International Development Minister Erik Solheim is to visit Sri Lanka in the next few days to take the peace process forward. 

  • Bugti rebels attacked a Pakistani army base, telephone exchange, and Government offices in South Western Baloachistan province. Pakistan said that 9 civilians died and 4 soldiers were injured in this attack. The Baloach tribes are asking for better allocation of funds, more rational exploitation of resources such as natural gas, stop dams that would stop the flow of water to the mountainous region, and also a cessation of further military deployment. Pakistan says that only the constabulary is fighting the rebels. However, independent reports say that combat aircraft, artillery, and helicopter gun ships have been deployed. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has said that Pakistan’s operations in Baloachistan is based on racist perspectives and condemns the Government for the callous use of excessive force that has resulted in the death of mostly civilian non-fighters.


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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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India, China and the Asian axis of oil
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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.


  • Israel was on full alert today as two pre-poll surveys of Palestinian territories indicated a large Hamas victory. Known in the west for its terrorist activities, Hamas was believed to have a 33% support base. Israel had initially refused to allow the elections if Hamas participated. However, relentless American pressure and Hamas also removing the call for the destruction of Israel from its manifesto seemed to have softened Israel’s stance. The US wants Hamas to participate but also wants them to eschew violence after elections; a position that has not been accepted publicly by Hamas. There is no public indication from Israel whether they will actually allow Hamas to participate; only a couple days ago, Israel spurned the offer from Hamas and the US. There seems to be a disenfranchisement with Yaseer Arafat’s Fatah party as there are many public incidents of in-fighting which has left a power vacuum especially in the Gaza strip. Hamas is seen as a party of disciplined workers but nothing is known about their administrative capacity. Senior members of the Israeli Cabinet and security officials met to explore strategies and options open to them. A large Hamas win without a change of their terrorist positions could serious alter the peace process and dynamics of the West Asia.

  • Evo Morales, son of a poor farmer, trade union leader, and native Indian is all set to become the President of Bolivia. The Andean Indian community crowned him supreme chief and will be sworn before a cornucopia of world leaders from the European Union, South America, and United States. A leftist by ideology, he has promised to improve the conditions of the poor and also tighten state control of the nation’s gas reserves. While campaigning, he often boasted to become the United States’ “worst nightmare” but seemed to have sobered after meeting US representatives and promised that relations with the US will continue. Morales’s unspecified agenda of tighter controls on gas reserves has multi-nationals and oil markets nervous.

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