What Is India News Service
Friday, February 24, 2006

India News Summary



I want News  I'm a Researcher I'm a Policy Maker I'm a Traveler |  I'm an Investor  | I'm an Activist | I'm a Student
Business and Economy
  • In the largest ever effort to attract investments in oil and natural gas exploration, the Government is offering 55 oil exploration blocks and 10 coal bed methane blocks for bidding. There are 24 are deep sea, 6 shallow offshore, and 25 on land blocks covering 355,000 sq kilometers. The terms for this round have been changed to reduce speculative bidding and will include more Government profit participation, technical competence, and financial capacity of the bidder.
  • The Indian Space Research Organization has teamed up with France's Eads/Astrium to challenge the US predominance in the 4 kilowatts satellite payloads with a launch mass of 2-3 tons. The US based Orbital Sciences Corp enjoys a monopoly in this segment making the cost of communication that much more expensive. This new partnership using Indian platforms and European payloads are not encumbered by technology bans by the US and is expected to push communication costs lower.
Democracy, Politics and Judiciary
  • Samajwadi Party (SP) General Secretary Amar Singh was in panic as many television channels reportedly received a CD with taped conversations between Singh and SP Chief Maulayam Singh Yadav. Apparently Yadav said something about removing a High Court Judge a charge that Yadav quickly denied.  Singh alleged that the CD was "doctored, morphed, and fabricated" by the Congress and a Mumbai industrialist.

Environment, Health and Education

  • Addressing public interest litigation by Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Intellectuals' Forum, the Supreme Court (SC) said that it couldn’t reverse environmental damage due to "development." The Andhra Pradesh (AP) based NGO had accused the AP Government of infringing on two ancient tanks that collect rain water by converting them into housing complexes. The SC warned that the right to shelter should not supersede the right to environment and pointed out that state representative were mere custodians of community property and cannot alienate or infringe upon them. An expert committee appointed by the SC said that one of the tanks could be revived while the other irreversibly lost. The SC has instructed the state Government to revive the feeder channels, clearing housing and "development" that block rain water feeds, bar ground water harvesting, and institute rain water harvesting for the redeemable tank. The SC also banned the use of ground water from the other tank. In the last one year, the free power policy AP Government has resulted in over-exploitation of groundwater often rendering ancient aquifers dry. This election largess that brought it to power has nearly bankrupted the state electricity board..

  • The Health Ministry said that 94 of 95 samples tested negative of bird flu virus. The Ministry said that barring one case, the National Institute of Virology (NIV) at Pune and National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) in Delhi confirmed the rest negative. The Ministry claimed that its rapid response team is carrying out house-to-house surveillance in affected areas of Maharashtra and Gujarat. In Navapur district of Maharashtra, over 30,000 people and an additional 27,000 people in neighboring villages have been surveyed and only 12 people whose poultry has been affected suffer from Upper respiratory Infection (URI). In Gujarat, it said that 540 people in a population of 47,000 people have reported fever of which 471 have URI. Those working on culling including veterinarians, cullers, laborers, and poultry workers are all healthy. So far 253,000 birds have been culled, 587,000 eggs buried, and 2,500 tons of fecal matter and bird feed disposed. The 60 Government teams have overcome a lot of resistance from poultry farm owners and managed to inspect 52 farms shutting down 6 of them.

  • Editorial : Regulate Ship Breaking Business
Terrorism, Defense, Security and Science & Technology
  • The biggest US defense contractor Lockheed Martin Corp said that it plans to provide airborne surveillance system to Indonesia and Malaysia to better protect the Straits of Malacca. Nearly half of the world's oil and a third of global trade pass through the 550-mile pirate-infested narrow sea-lanes that see 50,000 ships every year. Last year, 12 pirate incidents targeted high value cargo and experts worry that terrorists may increasingly target ships, especially oil tankers as in Nigeria, if not protected. A British-based group of insurance underwriters Lloyd's Market Association made the straits a high-risk area requiring ships to pay an additional USD 5000 per trip.

  • Scientific Advisor to Defense minister M. Natarajan said an Airborne Early Warning System (AEWS) was in advanced stages of design. Emphasizing the need to protect the 7,300-kilometer of coast and 5,000 kilometer of land border, Natarajan said a third of the USD 2.5 billion-defense budget is spent on surveillance systems.

  • The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) Satellite Center Director K.N. Shankara said that his organization would launch an experimental communication satellite G-SAT4 in 2007. Expected to be launched by the Geostationary Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV), this satellite will carry onboard 8 Ka-band transponders catering to countrywide demand for hub-less VSAT or broadband connectivity. It will also carry 3 Ultra Violet imagers from the Tel Aviv University to survey the sky.

  • Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki was upbeat of the Russian offer on joint venture uranium enrichment in Russia. He said that the Russian offer was worth "serious consideration" and that the progress on understanding was good. However, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the talks with Iran were making little progress leading to the conclusion that Iran may be misreading international sentiment. Meanwhile, China announced that it is sending its Vice Foreign Minister Li Guozheng to Iran as a special envoy to discuss options to resolve the issue within the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Guozheng, along with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said, “the days before the March 6 meeting of the IAEA are crucial." There seems to be closer understanding between the "permanent" members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and Russia is closer to the Western position and China seems to be getting there but slower.
  • Editorial: The Nepal Stalemate
Hot Topics
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. <?xml:namespace prefix = u1 /> 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
Samarra's tragedy: the past and the future
Bush policies good for India
Union Budget: how FM should raise resources
The Journey Continues
In pursuit of a nuclear deal with India
Bird flu is also about security
What will the CM learn on the road?
China orders pollution crackdown 
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.
  • Differences persist in Indo-US civil nuclear deal as US Undersecretary for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns and Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran continue to negotiate a compromise. Working to conclude some agreement before US President George Bush arrives March 1, Burns said that the deal was 90% done but serious differences persist on the inclusion of fast breeder reactors (FBR). India is adamantly against its inclusion saying that the use of Thorium in FBR as an alternate fuel is too important for India to abandon even if United States, Germany, France, and Israel have given up on that route. India is the only country to have Thorium and if successful in its use it cannot only become energy self-sufficient but can also become an energy exporter. Even without technological assistance from the US, India probably will develop some indigenous technologies to overcome technical hurdles as it has done in space; missile, cryogenic engine, and light combat aircraft spheres. The US acknowledges the strategic importance and recognizes the technical capability of India but questions the cost logic when it can have nuclear fuel now from the Nuclear Suppliers Group. India has ancillary considerations in terms of the US leveraging the deal to mould Indian foreign policy, genuine fear of US being a reliable fuel supplier, and lack of access to plutonium for its plutonium bomb program. The US is trying to assuage India on the trust issue but public cynicism from decades of Cold War experiences may preclude the political space for the Government to yield on FBR. Bush was also quoted equating India to the status of Iran saying it cannot reprocess or enrich uranium. India does not need any help from anyone as it has complete mastery of front and back end processes. This new position is seen as further breach of last year's nuclear accord and if pursued will essentially render this deal dead on arrival as no Indian policy maker, influencer, expert, or opinion maker will support such a compromise. Some wonder if this is the US Administration’s tactics to back off the deal by blaming India for not fulfilling its part of the bargain.

Archives | Links | Search
About Us | Feedback | Guestbook
© 2005 Copyright What Is India Publishers (P) Ltd. All Rights Reserved.