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Thursday, February 16, 2006




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Business and Economy

  • The Government release norms for foreign direct investment (FDI) in many economic sectors, including the controversial retail sector. India will allow 51% FDI in retail for multiple products under one brand. What this means is that clothing and personal goods manufacturers such as Nike and Adidas will benefit but companies Hewlett Packard with its HP and Compaq lines of business will not. It is not known if the Government intends to liberalize the retail sector further. Even this liberalization will require extensive paperwork to be filed with the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion and numerous other agencies. All product additions require prior approval.  The Government allowed 100% FDI in Greenfield airports, alcohol, tobacco, industrial explosives and hazardous chemicals, wholesale trading, coal mining for captive usage, power trading and processing, warehousing of coffee and rubber, and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) pipeline laying. It has removed restrictions that 26% stake has to be sold to resident Indian shareholders in the business-to-business e-commerce companies.

Democracy, Politics and Judiciary

  • The Supreme Court (SC) ruled that all marriages, irrespective of religion, must be registered with the Government. Agreeing with the National Commission of Women, the SC said that registration was important to check child marriages, forced marriages, illegal polygamy, and empowering married women to stay in their matrimonial house. The SC directed the Federal Government to work with all the states to form modalities for registration and consequences for non-registration or providing the wrong data while registering. Only Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Himachal Pradesh have laws that require registration of marriages. Slowly the country is moving towards uniform marriage and divorce laws. Recently, the SC had ruled that Christians can and should file divorce papers with the Government without the consent of the Church..

Environment, Health and Education

  • A Director of the World Health Organization (WHO) Dr. Hans Hogerzeil said that India has the perquisites to become the leading supplier of HIV fixed-dose combinations for children. Representing the Geneva-based Department of Medicines Policy and Standards as part of the WHO, he said many children especially in Africa are dying because of lack of simple tools. The lack of cheap feasible diagnostics for children under 18 months, trained personnel, and the affordable child friendly antiretroviral (ARV) drugs are the main reasons for many of the deaths. Although WHO has simplified the drugs combinations, countries find it difficult to get simple and affordable combinations. One reason is that pediatric drug cocktails are not profitable for drug manufacturers in western countries because there are very few children born with the virus there. The second reason is that since the cost of treating a child is 6 times as expensive as treating an adult, drug companies do see a business potential to go through many testing and conformance procedures to address a small market. However, Indian laws do not disallow the mass production of fixed-dose drug cocktails creating a large unaddressed market for Indian pharmaceutical drug manufacturers.

  • Editorial: Regulate Ship Breaking Business

Terrorism, Defense and Security

  • The controversial Sachar survey reached a different dimension when the Army provided the data on composition of Muslims to the Defense Ministry but asked it not to forward them to the committee. The Government had set up a Committee to find out the social, economic, and educational status of Muslims in the country. In a damage control exercise, the Committee spokesperson said that it is only seeking the number of Muslims working in 500 institutions. The Army had reported that it has less than 8% of Muslims in its 1.1 million personnel. The percentage dropped when the Baloach and Frontier Force regiments were transferred to Pakistan. The opposition National Democratic Alliance has asked President Abdul Kalam to intervene and stop this survey which they say will have "dangerous consequences." The Shiromani Akali Dal also opposed this move questioning the rationale of singling out a single community for such through analysis and benefit.


  • Iran has stipulated conditions to consider the Russian plan for joint-venture enrichment. It insists that its specialists be given access to enrichment process, conversion stage of enrichment takes place within Iran, and a third party joins the program. Russia said it did not have objections to a third party which could be China, France, or Germany; China has shown no interest to participate. However, Russia has rejected access to specialists and enrichment with Iran as viable options. Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov said that his country "has made a number of proposals to defuse the situation" and it is up to Iran to respond. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) agreed with the Government that it is not in India's interest to have a nuclear Iran but was critical of Government "mismanagement" at the IAEA.

  • About 200 Pakistani students, protesting against the Danish cartoons, broke through a high-security cordon in Islamabad and damaged 40 parked and Government cars. They fought pitched battles with the police and dispersed only when the police fired tear gas shells and lathi charged the crowd. In Lahore, a crowd attacked American fast food joints, damaging property, and tried to attack a bank. The police fired several rounds killing 2 protestors. In Peshawar, 1500 protestors blocked the main artery by burning tires.


Hot Topics

Foreign Direct Investment

Registration of Marriage

World Health Organization 

Terrorism in Pakistan

Iran Nuclear Program

Deuba's Government in Nepal

Indo-Us Nuclear Deal

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

More funds for secondary level, but can the govt spend it well?
Multilateralism key to growth
India’s Iran stand neither here nor there
Incidentally, the budget will also be passed this session
Price of Left's complacency
Lessons from the US economy
Bihar Assembly dissolution
The Plot thickens around the place
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.

  • In a major set back to King Gnanendra, the Nepal Supreme Court dissolved the anti-corruption body that jailed ousted Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba. Released from the prison, a defiant Deuba said, "the conspiracy to assassinate our political character has been foiled." Vowing to continue the fight for democracy, he said he will work with the 7-party political alliance. Along with him, 115 political leaders and human rights activists were also freed although 700 others arrested before last week's controversial elections are still in detention.  Gnanendra sacked Deuba's Government last February on an assortment of charges including corruption, suspended the Parliament and Constitution, and assumed complete power.

  • Editorial: The Nepal Stalemate

  • Editorial: Iran's Nuclear Program


  • Hundreds of thousands of people thronged Beirut to remember slain Lebanese billionaire Premier Rafiq Hariri.  Calling for the resignation of President Emile Lahoud, the assassinated Premier's son Saad Hariri called for unity in Lebanon as a country not as Christians or Muslims. Calling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad a "terrorist tyrant" he said that Lebanon needs to fight against "terrorism, confessionals (sic)" and for "justice and truth." Syria is implicated in this assassination and the US is leading a campaign to isolate Syria and bring it to justice.

  • It is very unlikely that India and the US will have another conversation on the civilian nuclear deal before the arrival of US President George Bush during the 1st week of March. Media reports quote unidentified Government sources as saying that they want American recognition that it will never place its Fast Breeder Reactor (FBR) within the ambit of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Further talks on this would be wasteful unless this basic position has been accepted. Regardless of political affinity, scientific background, or strategists, there is near consensus that FBRs should not be part of this deal. However, there are some who say that this is the cost for gaining access to denied technology that will bridge the energy deficit in India. Some even suggest creating new FBR facilities within the Bhabha Atomic Research Center (BARC) that can continue with alternate fuel research and pursuing military applications of plutonium. The Bharatiya Janata Party said that it was not opposed to the Indo-US Civil Nuclear Deal per se, but was apprehensive about the provisions that allowed for contingency and maintaining the "credible minimal deterrence." It also cautioned against the "unacceptable unilateralist" of the US in the region.

  • Editorial: Hamas's victory in Palestinian Territories

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