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Saturday, February 18, 2006




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Business and Economy

  • The Indian Iron & Steel Company (IISCO), a 100% subsidiary of the Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) merged back with its parent. With this merger, the largest steel maker will have 5 integrated steel plants. The Government has planned a Rs. 80 billion investment to take its hot metal production capacity to 2.5 million tons by 2011-12 from the present 850,000 tons. IISCO owned a high quality iron ore mine in Chiria, Jharkhand that will now see full exploitation by SAIL.

Environment, Health and Education

  • The Maharashtra Government said that the death of 1000 chicken on its border with Gujarat is due the Ranikhet or Newcastle disease and not due to the dreaded H5N1 avian flu virus. To ensure that it is not due to avian flu, they have sent samples to a Bhopal laboratory for testing. India has two major testing facilities at the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) and National Institute of Contagious Disease (NICD). However, these two labs will be used for human testing mechanism. Not much is known of monitoring mechanisms although the Ministry of Health claims to be in close contact and discussions with its peers in other SAARC and ASEAN nations. India also has poor reporting and control mechanisms and it is not known how the Government plans to proactively stop, control, and manage the epidemic. Most people in India are not even aware of the disease.

  • Editorial: Regulate Ship Breaking Business

Terrorism, Defense and Security

  • The US Defense establishment, the Pentagon has requested a short passage exercise between its new super aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and the Indian aircraft carrier INS Viraat. US carrier, "Gipper" as it is affectionately called, is on its first voyage out of its home base in San Diego. It will come through the Straits of Malacca and rendezvous with the Viraat in the Indian Ocean. India and the US have been upgrading bilateral relations substantially and this exercise will strengthen their plan to protect important sea-lanes, especially those where energy fuel is being transported. Seen in this context, the exercise can better prepare both countries operationally and test their readiness. The two aircraft carriers will establish radio communication and engage in fundamental maneuvers. The "Gipper" is the largest aircraft carrier in the world with a displacement of 100,000 tons and carriers a large unspecified fleet of F/A-18 Super Hornets. The two ships will not engage in aircraft exercises as the Viraat did with the USS Nimitz during the Malabar exercises. This is the first ever exercise that "Gipper" is undertaking and it happens to be with the Viraat.


  • In response to a call from the United Nations Children Education Fund (UNICEF), the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) announced that it release 28 child soldiers. In 2002, UNICEF complained that more than 5,000 children were recruited and being used by the LTTE. Ahead of scheduled talks with the Sri Lankan Government under Norwegian facilitation, the UN repeated its call and the LTTE responded. The 28 released children will either be returned to their parents or sent to a rehabilitation vocational school that the LTTE runs. The organization claims that it has released thousands of children since 2002 but declined to reveal any specific numbers or details.

  • The French Foreign Minister Philippe Doutse-Blazy characterized the Iranian nuclear project as a "clandestine military" project. Rejecting Iranian assertions that their project was peaceful and intended to generate power, he said not just European allies but also Russia and China shared the views. US President George Bush said the same thing pointing out that apart from the United Nations Security Council veto-power members, countries like India voted against the Iranian nuclear weapons program.

  • Editorial: The Nepal Stalemate

  • Editorial: Iran's Nuclear Program


  • Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said that his country will severe all relations with Palestinian territories if they elect a Hamas leader to be their Prime Minister of Speaker. The Hamas is under enormous international pressure to abandon their path of violence and accept Israel's right to exist. Western nations have suspended aid and the PT, which depends on aid to survive, is nearly bankrupt. A recalcitrant Hamas has so far refused to yield to this pressure. Israel has been assiduously working for the isolation of Hamas and the Western nations seem to be rallying behind it. However, the Russian invitation to the Hamas for parleys has won support from some of the Western nations, including the United States.  Israel will be going to the polls next month and the results will greatly influence the outcome of the West Asian peace process. The comatose former Israeli Prime Minster Ariel Sharon's new centrist Kadima party is expected to win.

  • The Chinese Ambassador to India Sun Yuxi said that his country "fully understood" India's energy needs as a "rising country in the developing world." With this context, he said every Government has the right to develop strategies to bridge the energy gap and the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal will help India. He went further saying "we would like India develop better relations with the US, just as we are working for better relations with America." The change of heart and his sentiments would vastly challenge the communist parties' strategy to disrupt US President George Bush's state visit to India in a couple of weeks and also oppose the nuclear deal. The communist "allies" of the Government threatened to boycott a Parliamentary address causing that to be taken off the agenda. They were strongly opposing an Indian vote against Iran's nuclear weapons program when the Chinese and Russian decision to vote with the West saw a sudden volte-face in their posturing. The US Ambassador David Mulford's comments linking the Iran vote with the nuclear deal provided another opportunity for grand standing. It would be very interesting to see how they would react to the Chinese change of policy.


Hot Topics


H5N1 Bird Flu Virus

Indo-Us Relations


Iran Nuclear Program

Hamas and the Western nations

Indo-Us Nuclear Deal

Indo-France Relations 

Danish Cartoons

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

The nuclear issue and Iran's domestic debate
"Third Front" an affront
"India supports diplomatic efforts for amicable solution"
Kitne Musalman hain?    
Nuke deal unlikely during Bush visit
Musharraf’s other wars
The quest is on
A political opportunity
The contrast in treatment
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.

  • India and France will sign several declarations and agreements during the visit of the French President Jacques Chirac early next week. Significantly, both countries will sign a declaration agreeing to cooperate on the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, defense, and tourism. Chirac is traveling with an entourage of 30 CEOs of leading French companies. Chirac will also expected to communicate to the Indian Government that France will officially take the Mirage 2000-5 fighter plane off the mega 126 combat aircraft order that the Indian air force has floated. Instead it will offer Rafale, a more advanced and feature-rich evolved variant of the Mirage. The reason for this decision is because France is planning to retire the Mirage and another 3 to 5 years of production will make it unprofitable to sell the plane. The IAF, which has been actively promoting the Mirage, is now in a quandary over this decision. It has now quickly evaluated the Rafale with the US offer of F/A-18 Super Hornet. A major consideration for India has been co-production, maintenance, and trained personnel in the Mirage and switching to a new aircraft may mean more money down per plane but also increased operational, infrastructural, and support capital costs. France says that the Rafale draws on the Mirage and is not that much more expensive to upgrade the factories and support infrastructure. Another issue that will certainly feature in discussions will be the French opposition to the Mittal Steel's USD 23 billion offer to buy Arcelor. India expressed shock over the European Union's political opposition to a commercial deal. Federal Commerce and Trade Minister Kamal Nath wrote to the EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson wondering how the EU could expect developing countries to open up the services sector when they are closed to commercial deals.

  • In the heels of Danish cartoons that depicted Prophet Mohammed in distasteful manner, a whisky maker used the image of Durga to brand his Southern Comfort brand. Hindus in the US and Europe cried foul and demanded that the manufacturer stop using a religious symbol to sell alcohol. Greece responded saying that it will ban advertisements of the offensive whisky. Activists complain that the Indian missions abroad are really not helping with their efforts and not have any pride in protecting the honor of the nation.

  • Editorial: Hamas's victory in Palestinian Territories

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