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Tuesday, February 14, 2006




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Democracy, Politics and Judiciary

  • A Council for Social Development and Oxford University Press report found that Indian population control programs are inefficient because they place "overwhelming responsibility" on women. It said that while women faced all the responsibilities, they were "not equipped to make decisions or control their own bodies and sexualities." Over a period of time, the budget allocations for these programs also dwindled such that crucial ministries such as education, agriculture, textiles, tribal affairs, and social justice and empowerment had less than 1% of their total expenditure for women-specific programs. Compared to this spending pattern, the Department of Family welfare spends 30% of its budget on women-related programs such as reproductive and child health. This biological emphasis and lack of overall empowerment of the women, despite increasing literacy levels, is the root cause for this failure.

Environment, Health and Education

  • Italy and Greece reported the outbreak of dreaded H5N1 bird flue virus in wild birds. Non-migratory swans in Sicily, Italy and three migratory swans in Greece were found to have died due to the virus. Concern over bird flu is causing heavy damages on the poultry business in Italy leading to 30,000 layoffs and Euro 550 million in financial loses. It is unusual for swans to migrate from the South. It is speculated that migratory patterns may have shifted to the south due to exceptionally cold weather in the Balkans. 

Terrorism, Defense and Security

  • Almost after a month after a CIA unmanned drone fired missiles to kill alleged Taliban activists, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf confirmed that foreign terrorists were present and killed on that site. He said that he was "95% sure" that 5 foreign terrorists, including "very important" ones, were killed. Not revealing the identity, he said a close relative of Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed; analysts think that this could be al Qaeda bomb expert Abdur Rehman al-Maghribi, al-Zawahiri's son-in-law, was killed.  

  • After his first review of the Indian Navy, President Abdul Kalam said that the Navy needs to be prepared for more responsibilities other than maritime protection and surveillance. He pointed out that the exclusive economic zone would increase by 2 million square kilometers and it was important for the navy to participate in protecting economic and environmental interests. The navy's responsibilities have grown substantially to protect oil transportation expressways, high-value cargo, oil exploration and rigs, and securing the narrow lanes of Straits of Malacca. He applauded the navy's deep water chartering in the Gulf of Kutch enabling the faster transportation of oil to Gujarat. He asked the navy to think beyond sea, undersea, and airborne surveillance and operation; he wanted them to use the space to enhance its effectiveness. Through space technologies, it could monitor ecological disasters, detect surface and sub-surface oil slicks, and provide real time information to marine biologists on living and non-living resources of the sea.  Kalam said that, in the near future, all submarines would be fitted by the BrahMos cruise missiles; INS Rajput is the first ship to be fitted by this missile. Signifying its increasing role, the navy was recently allocated Rs. 250 billion budget for the year.

  • The Federal Government has apparently ordered a survey of Muslims in the Indian defense establishment through the Justice (Retd.) Rajendera Sachar committee. While the objective of this exercise is not known, the Army has communicated its strongest reservations to the Government but it appears its opinion has been overruled. The Army had argued that the defense forces is a secular, apolitical organization and that such survey demanding numbers, ranks, and operational involvement of Muslims will create disquiet in the professional force. According to initial estimates, there are 29,093 Muslims in the Army in 2004. More than 29 battalions had a sizeable number of the community with the Jammu & Kashmir Light Infantry with over 50% Muslims. Spurred by the book "Khaki and Ethnic Violence in India" by Omar Khalidi, the Government has asked for specific information on operations. Khalidi says that 700 Muslim soldiers deserted in 1948 Hyderabad action and entire Muslim villages in Leh were cleared during Operation Vijay in 1999. Unlike other Governmental departments, the Army does not maintain caste, community, or religious information of its recruits. The Navy and Air Force has already supplied the information to the Government.


  • Leading research institution Chinese Academy of Sciences published a China Modernization Report 2006, which predicted that with 9% GDP growth, China would challenge US scientifically and militarily. It said that 2050, China would have move 80 million of poverty, raised life expectancy to 80, relocated 500 peasants to cities, and increased average income to USD 1,300 a month. In a separate report, the State Council (China's Cabinet) announced plans to boost investments in clean energy, nuclear power, and 14 other areas of scientific research. It recommends 2.5% of GDP investment in research and development by 2020.


Hot Topics

Population control in India 

Bird Flu virus

Terrorism from Talibans

Defense Issues

IAEA Nuclear Issue

Iraq Prisoners abuse

Danish Cartoon Issue

Featured Analyses

National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme Making Panchayat Raj Institutions Effective

The Bill on National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme seeks to provide guaranteed employment to one member of every rural household for at least 100 days a year for a minimum wage of Rs.60 per day.  Out of 260 million poor people in the country, about 200 million poor people are in rural areas. People in 45% rural India do not get work for six months in a year. 

The Saga of the Jemaah Islamiah
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

Perils of three-way security cooperation
Who’s afraid of the nuke deal?
Brave Indians, also Muslim
The military mindset
India must modernize its armed forces
Dangerous game
Doodle conflict in Denmark
Russia pushes for global energy security
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.

  • After making oblique references to withdrawing from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation, Iran has now reaffirmed its faith in NPT. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) supervisors arrived in Iran to see what levels of control and monitoring still remain. An Iranian diplomat said that video cameras and seals have been removed with IAEA supervision. However, experts say it is unlikely that Iran made such a move with IAEA presence. Iran Foreign Ministry spokesperson said that Iran is still "committed to the provisions of the NPT. But we can’t accept its use as (political) instrument. We will co-operate in the treaty and the safeguards' framework." Meanwhile, reports suggest that the US has a strong military plan that will include submarine and aerial bombing of Iranian nuclear assets to seriously cripple it. The strategy is that with a significant economic blockade coupled with crippling nuclear assets precision attack may weaken Iranian resolve. However, Britain is said to be nervous about assumptions that Iran may lose its resolve since such action may spur reprisals in West Asia and drive more people towards al Qaeda.

  • Editorial: The Nepal Stalemate

  • Editorial: Iran's Nuclear Program


  • The Shia dominated United Iraqi Alliance (UIA), which won 128 seats in the Iraqi Parliamentary elections elected Ibrahim al-Jaafari as its candidate for Prime Minister. The Kurds, who won 53 seats, would most likely support the Shia party in the Government. The Sunnis won 80 seats. In England, a home video taken by a corporal in Southern Iraq in 2004 depicting UK soldiers brutalizing Iraqi teenagers was published by The News of the World. The UK British Ministry of Defense ordered a probe into what it said was "unacceptable" behavior in an otherwise "loyal, hard-working, and decent" army and vowed to bring the guilty to justice.

  • While violence over the Danish cartoons depicting Prophet Mohammed in distasteful manner abated, Danish diplomats in several countries including Syria and Indonesia were cautioned and expatriated to safety. A travel advisory from Denmark said that all Danes in Indonesia must leave the country even though the threat was mostly in eastern Java. Pakistan protestors have called for a nationwide strike on March 3 to protest the cartoons. Many British Muslim leaders have condemned violence over the cartoons. France reported a peaceful protest march by 7,200 people carrying posters and chanting slogans. In Germany, 2,500 Muslims in Düsseldorf and 1,200 in Berlin marched peacefully past those Danish missions. In Algeria, managing editors of two newspapers have been detained and will face trial for re-publishing the cartoons.

  • Editorial: Hamas's victory in Palestinian Territories

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