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Saturday, February 11, 2006




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Business and Economy

  • An ASSOCHAM (an Indian industry association) study revealed that more than 30 acquisitions (M&A) have taken place during January 2006 and a bulk of these transactions was in the automobile and IT/ITES sector. The study pointed to several instances of such inorganic growth where companies are seeking stake or outright acquisitions worldwide to grow markets, increase production capacity, gain access to new markets, or develop expertise. The largest foreign acquisition was Tata Interactive System's acquisition of Tertia Edusoft AG in Switzerland and Tertia Edusoft GmbH in Germany. Foreign companies have been increasingly investing directly in Indian companies with Taiwan-based Sanyang Industry taking a minority stake of 11% in Kinetic Motors, Switzerland-based Holcim 14.8% in Gujarat Ambuja Cement Ltd (GACL), Malaysian Maxis Communications Berhad 74% in Aircel. The most watched M&A was the Jet-Sahara merger that would give it a 50% market share and make it the largest airline in the country.

  • Nasscom (association of IT & ITES vendors) said that the Indian IT industry has reached only 10% of the world's addressable market and it would grow to USD 36 billion in 2006. Predicting a double-digit growth rate in the next four years it set of a target of USD 60 billion by 2010. The Business process outsourcing sector had only 12% of the market share. 

  • The seafood exporters association is threatening to go on strike where it will stop all purchase and production of seafood and products. They are demanding a withdrawal of a planned 5% tax. The tax under dispute is for exporters whose turnover is over Rs.100 million. Increased anti-dumping charges, allegedly illegal, from the US and large-scale competition from China, Thailand, and Vietnam are cutting into their market share. Pointing to 150 "sick units," exporters say that this tax will decrease their margins and competitiveness and seeking a one-time debt relief of Rs. 7000 million. In Kerala, there are 50 active exporters with 23 who will fall into this category but they contribute 95% of seafood export from the state. The seafood exporters have had a good ride for 8 years where they enjoyed subsidies and did not pay any taxes. With the Federal Government under increased pressure on foreign policy from communists, may see economic pork-barrels like this to subsidize an inefficient industry that will benefit a few.

  • The three non-communist Southern states are locked in competition to attract new investments. The latest in this race is a USD 3 billion-fabrication project that can translate into 3.6 million jobs. The Federal Information Technology Dayanidhi Maran announced that the fabrication consortium has decided to set up shop in Andhra Pradesh instead of Tamil Nadu. Maran says that the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister (CM) Jayalalithaa from a rival political party did not show active interest to get the project. Jayalalithaa says that Maran, with eye on state Government polls this summer, is playing politics. The new Karnataka CM H.R. Kumaraswamy who inherited a bankrupt, infrastructurally rickety and economically exhausted state thanks to the previous Government's apathy has vowed to get the unit back to Bangalore, the first choice. The successful Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Rajashekara Reddy is claims that previous rival Government, internationally acclaimed for his vision for development and implementation, did not develop the state and has promised increased infrastructural investment.

Democracy, Politics and Judiciary

  • An ominous cloud over glorious developmental endorsements from various studies about Kerala is emerging with a new study from the State Planning Board. After years of communism and populist spending on non-plan expenses such as salaries, subsidies, and pensions, Kerala is spiraling towards bankruptcy. Most of its "development" was funded by state and central borrowings and its annual interest payments has gone times to 25% of its total revenue and 35% as ratio of the states gross product. The per capita debt spiked from Rs. 4090 in 1998 to Rs. 9,248 in 2003 against a national average of Rs. 6,531. The average debt to gross domestic state product is 22% to 28%. 

Environment, Health and Education

  • The French Ambassador to India Gerard Dominique visited the Alang ship-breaking yard in Gujarat and said that the facilities were adequate.  He reiterated a previous offer from France to repatriate all toxic material to France. Pointing out that 5 workers of the yard have already been trained to handle toxic material, he offered to bring in French workers to handle such material. Meanwhile, Shiv Sena workers protested against the environmental group Green peace International who they said were out to “ruin India” and deprive workers of their jobs.

  • Editorial: Regulate Ship Breaking Business


Hot Topics

Tax issue

Clemenceau & the Environment

Suicide attack in Pakistan

Election in Nepal

Indo-US Nuclear deal

Danish cartoon issue

Srilanka peace process

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

Indo-U.S. space cooperation adrift
The battle over a warship continues
A new, clear doctrine
Grab the moment
Long-term strategy needed
Containing Iran’s nuclear ambitions
Navigating Indo-US interests
Nuclear or unclear?
Hazy nuclear deal
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

  • Suspected suicide bombers accompanied by time bombs exploded in a Shiite procession killing 23 people. Sectarian violence perpetrated by majority Sunni population over minority Shiite and Ahmediyas and reprisal killings have claimed thousands of lives in Pakistan. However, there is increased evidence of organized sectarian attacks to create unrest and civil disorder for the Musharraf regime, which allies himself with the US on the fight against terror. Interestingly, almost all other partners of terror criticize Musharraf for promising a lot and doing little on terrorism. Afghanistan has recently seen a spate of suicide bombings by Taliban terrorists, who are closely allied to the al Qaeda.


  • The Maoist threat for a weeklong strike almost paralyzed Nepal even as terrorist killed 8 security men. Terrorists attacked candidates who continued to stay in the mayoral race. King Gnanendra says that the mayoral election is the first step to full Parliamentary democracy, which the oppositions access to be a sham. The Nepal Government is threatening its employees if they do not vote in these elections.

  • Editorial: The Nepal Stalemate

  • Editorial: Iran's Nuclear Program


  • US Under Secretary of Energy David Graman met Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran to discuss the new US initiative Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP). This proposal tries to salvage the current Indo-US civil nuclear deal as a one-time exception through the globalization of nuclear fuel production, generation, and management. The countries are also exploring India’s participation in the design of Generation IV nuclear reactors and USD 1 billion FutureGen project aiming to build the world’s first “zero-emission” coal-fuelled power plant. The third item on the agenda is to discuss India’s participation in the International Thermonuclear Energy Reactor (ITER) initiative that seeks to produce nuclear energy through fusion. The GNEP is a plan to create a world consortium of corporate entities under one umbrella, which the Department of Atomic Energy may participate. Seeing this trend Japan’s Toshiba bought US-based and one of the world’s largest nuclear reactor maker Westinghouse for USD 5.4 billion. In line with its fossil-fuel energy strategy, China is seeking to buy uranium deposit blocks around the world to protect its fuel supply. Concluding these preliminary discussions, India and US signed a Memorandum of Arrangement that will facilitate the exchange of hydrocarbon sector information, energy data, and analysis techniques. 

  • The EU is considering a moral code of conduct following intense rioting in the Islamic world over distasteful cartoons depicting Prophet Mohammed as a terrorist and other uncharitable manner. Accepting the right to freedom of speech and expression, the EU said that there needs to be more sensitivity and "prudence" when it comes to dealing with religion. A Danish paper published a set of cartoons that were neither funny nor artistic last September and have since been reproduced by many European, 1 Saudi, and 1 Malaysia paper making different point. The European papers were showing solidarity to the Danish and Norwegian papers that are facing increasing pressure on the cartoons. The Saudi and Malaysian editors published them calling for action; the editors have since resigned. Several Islamic countries have recalled their Ambassadors from Denmark and Norway. The US says that Iran and Syria are instigating violence against Danes and Norwegians. The Taliban reported a recruitment of 100 volunteers prepared to commit suicide bombing to protest the "insult" to Islam. In a retrograde move, Pakistan banned the import of medicines from countries that published these cartoons. It is not clear how penalizing the sick would help Islam. Denmark has apologized through diplomatic channels, at least to Indonesia, which has asked people to accept their apology. The Danish and Norwegian papers that published the cartoons in September 2005 and January 2006, have publicly apologized for inadvertently hurting Muslim sentiments.

  • Editorial: Hamas's victory in Palestinian Territories

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