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Wednesday, February 08, 2006




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Business and Economy

  • The Food secretaries of major wheat producing states met and set the target quantity of wheat production at 16.2 million tons, an increase of 1.4 million tons from last year. They pointed out that the current crisis in wheat supply was caused by lower contribution of wheat production from Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Gujarat, Bihar, Delhi , Jharkhand, and Rajasthan. A shortfall of 2 million tons created a crisis in supply therefore causing an increase in the price of wheat. This year, 26.5 million hectares will grow wheat compared to 26.3 million last year. The shortfall in wheat buffers by about 2 million was known on January 1, so it is still remains unanswered why it took the Government so long to realize that there was a shortfall in wheat production and take corrective action. The recommended action is to import 500,000 tons of low quality wheat by the Government in the spot market at 30% more than normal rates. The mismanagement, recommendation, and delay in action have been highly criticized by the opposition and experts.

  • President Abdul Kalam, on an official visit to the Philippines said that Asia is the "future of business." He attributed this to "the tremendous economic potential and the availability of knowledge-based human capital." He called on the ASEAN countries to exploit these inherent benefits to create e-businesses and claim fair market share of this growth.

Democracy, Politics and Judiciary

  • The Tribal Affairs Ministry Secretary Meena Gupta disclosed that the Scheduled Tribes Bill, also known as Recognition of Forest Rights Bill, would be tabled in the next Parliament session. She said that forest officials were treating tribal population living in the forests for millenniums as “encroachers” and is often harassed. The Draft National Policy prepared by the Ministry said that 8.5 million tribal people have been displaced from the forests till 1990 to accommodate some mega "development" projects. The tribal population makes up 55.16% of the total displaced population in India. Referring to a report from the Forest and Environment Department, she said that various tribes occupy 1.3 million hectare of 7.4 million hectare total forestland. She pointed out that of this, only 365,000 hectares of the "encroached" land has been grand fathered and "regularized." The cut-off date for claiming rights to live in the forest is October 25, 1980 and claimants can submit police case, forest case, or other documents to support their claim. The safety measures of this bill to protect the tribal population from land mafias, industrial encroachers, or from binami (front or fictitious names) transactions is not known. 

Environment, Health and Education

  • The Supreme Court Monitoring Committee on Hazardous Waste submitted its recommendation to the Supreme Court and said that this would be a "turning point in environmental awareness." Refusing to reveal their recommendations for "protocol" reasons, Chairman G. Thyagarajan said that the Committee might open up for more discussions and suggest a set of options for the court to consider. 

  • A virulent strain of bird flu virus has killed 40,000 birds in a large poultry farm in Nigeria. This is the very first known instance of bird flu in Africa. The farm where the H5N1 virus was found first on Jan 15, 2006 treated the chickens, geese, and ostriches with a broad dosage of antibiotics. Nigeria reported bird flu to the World Health Organization only after the birds did not respond to this treatment. An India sailor was reported to have contracted bird flu and his condition is unknown.

  • Editorial: Regulate Ship Breaking Business

Terrorism, Defense, Security

  • A lone suicide Taliban terrorist exploded a bomb outside the police headquarters in Kandahar, killing 13 people and injuring 14 others. Taliban has been increasing its suicide operations in a systematic manner causing much hardship to civilians. The public has been vocal protesting these attacks. The Afghan Government blames Pakistan for not doing enough to catch the Taliban terrorists hiding in Baloachistan.


  • Bugti insurgents fired over 100 rockets in the South Western province of Baloachistan near the largest gas field killing 8 people, injuring scores, and damaging gas and water pipelines. Sui, the place of this incident, is about 700 kilometers from the capital Islamabad. Last month, Pakistan launched an intense attack on Bugti tribal villages using helicopter gun ships, artillery, and combat aircraft killing hundreds of civilians. Sustained international exposure has forced Pakistan to reduce the use of such excessive force in what the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) calls a race-based discriminatory campaign. The tribes themselves accuse Pakistan of unduly exploiting natural resources of Baloachistan, building the Kalabagh dam that would cut water to Baloachistan and threaten their existence, and administrative high-handedness. Pakistan has a history of fighting Baloach rebels. In the 1973 insurgency, 3000 army, 5000 insurgents, and innumerable civilians lost their lives. The province never truly integrated with Pakistan.


Hot Topics

Wheat Import Issue

Forest Rights Bill

Clemenceau & the Environment

Troops in J&K redeployed

Human Rights Violation in Pakistan

Election in Nepal

Peace process in Sri Lanka

Iran Nuclear Issue

Danish Cartoon Issue

Hamas victory in Palestinian Election

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

Featured Edits

Catch the new nuclear moment
Global war on corruption
India-Afghan ‘action’ in Balochistan
A clash of ideologies
Red terror
Moderate Islam has lost its voice
Geneva talks: not much scope for optimism
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.

  • Two days before the controversial February 8 mayoral elections in Nepal, Maoist terrorists killed candidates who dared to defy their order to stay away from democracy. A weeklong strike called by the Maoists created panic among people and forced vehicles off the roads. The administration alienated vehicle owners by forcing them, especially transport vehicles, to drive their vehicles. Very few vehicles ventured out on roads leaving Katmandu and those, which were forced to, did so with security escorts. A number of mayoral candidates have been declared unopposed winners while several others withdrew their names from the candidacy fearing the terrorists. While the election commission went ahead with groundwork to ensure free and fair polls, many people do not know whom their candidates are or even where to vote. The administration continued with its mass arrest strategy by arresting several journalists for defying prohibitory orders and trying to participate in a protest march. 

  • The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) said that it would not be ready to participate in the Geneva talks by mid-February as previously arranged. Seen as a political stunt, the LTTE is protesting the abduction of 10 relief workers by, they allege, Government paramilitary troops. There is a lot of suspense over the identity of these relief workers and the abductors. The Government rejected this accusation.

  • Iran clarified that it has not withdrawn from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). However, it will bar spot and unannounced inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) officials. Saying that the "era of bullying is over," the Iranian hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that Iran will never back down from its resolve to develop. He mocked the western nations saying, "You can issue as many resolutions as you like and have fun with it.

  • Editorial: The Nepal Stalemate

  • Editorial: Iran's Nuclear Program


  • Protests over distasteful cartoons that showed Prophet Mohammed in uncharitable ways spread in many Asian countries often resulting in police firing. In Afghanistan, 2000 protesters tried to storm a US military base in Bagram and police firing killed 2 and injured 5 protestors. In Mihitrlam, Afghan police fired at a crowd when one of the protestors fired at them and others threw knives and rocks; 2 protestors were killed. In Kabul, police used batons and rifle butts to disperse 200 youths protesting outside the Presidential palace. In Indonesia, the most populous Muslim country, protestors threw rocks at the Danish Consulate in the second largest city Surabaya. In Malaysia, an editor who published one cartoon to highlight the lack of impact of the controversy in that country, resigned. 

  • The Indo-US civilian nuclear deal seems to have a major dead-end because of last minute inclusion of fast breeder reactors into the discussion by the US. The demand to include FBR in the discussion has met with huge resistance in the diplomatic, scientific, and press communities.

  • Hamas is coming to terms with its election victory and administrative responsibilities. A severe cash crunch created by Israel's block of tax money transfers and a halt in western nations' aid has left the Palestinian Authority (PA) without cash to pay salaries to its 137,000 workers. While the western nations lined up behind Israel and promised to cut aid of USD 1 billion, Hamas insisted that it would continue to work for the destruction of Israel. In the meanwhile, West Asian Islamic countries are trying to help PA tide over the crisis with special doles.

  • Editorial: Hamas's victory in Palestinian Territories

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