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Friday, January 27, 2006




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Business and Economy

  • With the historical visit of the Saudi Arabia King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz al Saud to India, the two countries are expected to sign three major agreements on terrorism, trade, and investments. The Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh invited USD 150 billion Saudi investments in infrastructure especially in power, telecom, airports, and railways. India is Saudi Arabia’s fourth largest trading partner valued at USD 8.8 billion in 2004. 50 joint ventures companies operated in India and the Saudi Government has approved 82 Indian companies to operate in that country. Abdullah has called for a fight against terror “regardless of faith” and for “as long as it takes.”  On the business side, he wanted to move his country’s “special relationship” India forward so the benefits of partnership to result in global spin-offs. He invited Indian investments in Information Technology, Agriculture, Telecom, energy, and power. Calling India his “second home,” Abdullah raised the quota for Indian Haj pilgrims to 147,000 and said India had one of the most pilgrims visiting his country. Reliance Industries announced that it would invest USD 8 billion in a refinery and petrochemical project in Saudi Arabia.

  • A Keystone India research revealed that the Indian economy will surpass that of Japan in Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) terms in 2006. Chief Economist Dr. William T Wilson said that the Indian economy will cross the USD 4 trillion mark this year and will be ranked third in the world after the United States and China. With an inflation-adjusted growth rate of 7%, India is seeing unprecedented growth in mobile telephony, a double-digit growth in motor vehicles, and a housing market growth of 10-15%. Keystone India says that the biggest hurdle may arise from the results of state elections, which may have an adverse impact on coalition Governments at the federal and state level. India ranks 12th in the world in absolute terms and with a population of 1 billion, it has one of the lowest per capital income thereby making it one of the poorest in the world.

  • With a total foreign trade of USD 1.4 trillion, China, the third largest trading nation in the world, posted a record trade surplus of USD 101.9 billion in 2005 from USD 69.9 billion in 2004. Exports outpaced imports 28.4% to 17.6%. Foreign Direct Investment dropped by a marginal .5% to USD 60.3 billion. The Chinese economy grew at 9.9% last year with its foreign exchange reserves at USD 818.9 billion (an increase of USD 208.9 billion).

Democracy, Politics and Judiciary

  • The import of the Supreme Court verdict dawned on the nation when communist allies and right-of-center opposition came together to criticize the Government for its poor management of Bihar. The communists wanted the Government to recall Bihar Governor Buta Singh while the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) opposition called for the resignation of the Prime Minister and the remove of United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Chairperson Sonia Gandhi. The NDA met the President Abdul Kalam and demanded the PM’s resignation. The Government itself was seen fumbling on how to deal with the verdict often mumbling an incoherent response. Almost all newspapers called for the Governor’s resignation. While most papers found fault with the politics of the UPA, only a few called for the PM’s resignation.

Terrorism, Defense and Security

  • In a scathing editorial, the Washington Post has castigated the lack of progress in the war of terror because Pakistan wants to be “counted as a U.S. ally while avoiding an all-out campaign against the Islamic extremists in his country.” Labeling Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf as a “meretricious military ruler,” the editorial says that he “has never directed his forces against the Pashtun Taliban militants who use Pakistan as a base to wage war against American and Afghan forces across the border.” It further said that he “has never dismantled the Islamic extremist groups that carry out terrorist attacks against India.” It also pointed out that Musharraf “has pardoned and protected the greatest criminal proliferator of nuclear weapons technology in history, A.Q. Khan, who aided Libya, North Korea and Iran.” Responding to the Pakistan’s protest of CIA bombing of Damadola to kill al Qaeda operatives, it advises the US Administration to “ignore” such protests. The paper encouraged US President George Bush to “take every available measure to eliminate the al Qaeda and Taliban operations in Pakistan. If targets can be located, they should be attacked -- with or without Gen. Musharraf's cooperation.”.


Hot Topics

Indo-Saudi Arabia relationship

Recent Supreme Court verdicts

Indo-US relationship

Iran nuclear issue

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FDI in India

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

Salute this Republic
Separation is not rocket science
"Statement taken out of context": Mulford
Extending the idea of India
Another attempt to bring peace in Sri Lanka
APHC: Voice of Pakistan
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Reject the American fatwa
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.


  • Sri Lankan Government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) seem to have agreed to resume direct unconditional talks next month in Switzerland. The announcement, brokered by the Norwegian Minister for International Development, brings some respite to spiraling violence in the island largely blamed on the LTTE. The violence from December 2005 has claimed 80 the lives security personnel. However, the resumption of talks means a cool down period in the island giving the parties a chance to focus on peace. The talks will primarily focus on the implementation modalities of the ceasefire that was unilaterally suspended by the LTTE in 2003 after six rounds of direct dialogue. The sticking points for the LTTE are the dismantling of paramilitaries in the east and the de-escalation of the high security northern region.  Meanwhile the inflow of refugees into Tamil Nadu from Sri Lanka increased adding to the 40,000 refugees count.

  • Ahead of the IAEA special meeting this week, Iran seems to have softened its stand on the need for nuclear enrichment within Iran. Iran has unilaterally reopened seals at the Nantz facility claiming that this was research work aimed to achieving technology for civilian nuclear purposes. The West, armed with revelations of Iran clandestinely buying nuclear weapons technology from disgraced Pakistani nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan, suspects that Iran is developing a nuclear bomb. Iran’s hard-line President’s calls for the destruction of Israel and the disparaging comments about Israeli people and the holocaust have deepened this suspicion. The nuclear issue has become a question of the country’s national pride and any attempts at coercion will only harden Iran’s position and Iran has not been shy of displaying this recalcitrance. Iran unilaterally suspended talks with the EU-3 (Britain, France, and Germany) and has threatened to suspend all IAEA inspections if it is taken to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). Russia and China have been advocating patience and diplomacy. The recent Russian offer for a joint venture in Russia to enrich uranium was proposed several months ago by the EU-3 but was dismissed by Iran. Now, with the pressure building up on the issue, Iran seems to be reconsidering this proposal; the Russians have already publicly stated that Iran has accepted this proposal.

  • Spreading panic, hundreds of Maoist terrorists launched multiple coordinated attacks in a key Midwestern town bordering India in Nepal. The terrorists attacked banks, police stations, prisons, police training centers, and a Royal Nepal Army company in Nepalgunj often referred to as the second best fortified town after Katmandu. Four terrorists, two soldiers, a policeman, and a civilian (said to be Indian) are reported casualties in this incident. Despite Maoist attacks and threats and opposition boycott, King Gnanendra plans to hold district levels in Nepal on Feb 8. The seven party alliance seeking restoration of democracy has called for a “bundh” (shutdown) on Thursday.


  • India firmly rejected United States (US) Ambassador to India David Mulford’s assertion that the Indo-US Nuclear deal is linked to how India votes in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) against Iran. The remarks attributed to the Ambassador repeated positions taken by US Congressman Tom Lantos when he was in India and during hearings in the US.  Congressman Lantos’s hard-line position was that if India does not support the US and the EU on blocking nuclear research and enrichment in Iran, the civilian nuclear deal couldn’t be ratified in the US Congress. The Ambassador further argued that the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group would also hesitate to make a one-time exception to India to overtly supply civilian technology to a non-Nuclear Proliferation Treaty signatory. Indo-US negotiations on the military-civilian facility separation ran into serious problems with the US insisting that India include the fast breeder reactor (FBR) programs under IAEA supervision. The US position is that since Japan has agreed to include its FBR under the IAEA, they do not see why India should not. India has maintained that India is a non-signatory to the NPT and is also a de factor nuclear weapons state and therefore has a case distinctly different from that of Japan. Moreover, India was surprised that US should raise this issue so late in the negotiations. The timetable towards getting the deal through was before the US President George Bush visits India and this achieving this timeline seems impossible now. Mulford seems to distance himself from the statements attributed to him saying that it has been taken out of context.

  • Over a million of the 3.5 million Palestinians voted to elect out of 700 plus candidates (with 80 odd women candidates) seeking a mandate fewer than 11 political parties and as independents for 132 Parliamentary seats. The terrorist group, Hamas, participated in elections for the first time. As a pre-cursor, it had dropped the “destruction of Israel” from its manifesto sparking speculation that it is softening its stance and wanting a diplomatic settlement. The United States had earlier said that it wanted Hamas, with over 33% of popular support, to participate. However, with opinion polls pointing to a Hamas victory, it balked and said it could not recognize a Government led by Hamas. Yaseer Arafat’s Fattah party, badly damaged by infighting and internal political squabbles in the Gaza strip, may still pull through but may need the support of Hamas to form a Government. Senior members of the Israeli Cabinet met with army commanders to discuss options in case of a Hamas victory that it calls a “ticking bomb.” Fattah party leader Mahmud Abbas said it has no qualms partnering with Hamas and reiterated its partnership with Israel. Although it does not recognize the Jewish state, Hamas said that it is willing to negotiate indirectly with Israel but is unwilling to give up its weapons.

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