What Is India News Service
Wednesday, March 08, 2006

India News Summary



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Business and Economy
  • The Foreign Direct Investment agency Think London announced that the number of Indian companies setting up operations in London doubled last year bringing the total investments into London at 30% making India the 2nd largest investor in London. The US amounts to 50% of investments in London. The Indian investments mainly from telecom, pharmaceutical, and Information technology companies will generate 400 new jobs. Of the 119 projects started by Indian companies in Europe from 1997 to 2004, 55 of them were located in London.

  • India and Australia are to sign a new Trade and Economic Framework that will facilitate a more balanced and comprehensive development of bilateral trade between the two countries. India-Australia trade is currently at USD 10 billion and is expected to grow rapidly in the next few years. Special attention is being given to energy, mining, infrastructure, education, tourism, entertainment, and biotechnology.

Democracy, Politics and Judiciary

  • The Law Minister H.R. Bhardwaj is working on a Judges Inquiry Bill of “minor measures” that can be ordered against “erring” Supreme Court and High Court judges but not strong enough to seek their impeachment. The law proposes to create National Judicial Council headed by the Chief Justice of India and populated by judges to create judicial accountability. If charges against a judge are proved, the Bill proposes to initiate one of 5 minor measures—issuing advisories, issuing warning, withdrawal of pending and future judicial work for a period of time, requesting the judge to voluntarily retire, and private and public censure or admonition. The Parliament and the Judiciary have increasingly been on a collision course with the Speaker Somnath Chatterjee challenging the authority of Judiciary over Parliamentary rulings and procedures. The weakness of the Constitution surfaced in recent times where a repressive Parliamentary ruling without due process targeting certain members denied those Parliamentarians the right to fair trial. While widespread cynicism of political actors is at an all time high, this Bill takes away the power of the Parliament to appoint a Commission to investigate corruption charges against a judge. This Bill will certainly create a controversy especially among the Government’s communist allies who have, in support of the Speaker, fought bitterly to reduce the influence and scope of the judiciary. Bhardwaj himself was embroiled in a recent controversy where he seemingly arbitrarily released monies of wanted arms dealer Quattrochi’s blocked due to charges of his involvement in the Bofors scandal.

Environment, Health and Education

  • Experts attending the Diabetes Summit in Hanoi, Vietnam said that it was high time that the World Health Organization declared the disease a pandemic. Once believed to be a “rich man’s disease,” experts say that genetic, changing lifestyle, and dietary reasons are causing the spread of this disease that has the capability to attack every organ. Together, India, Pakistan, and China account for 33 million diabetics. Apart from poor lifestyles and sugar rich diet, the absence of critical genes and the presence of debilitating ones are infecting an increasing number of Indians.  Madras Diabetes Research Foundation Dr. V. Mohan said that low fetal nutrition is also a major reason for the spread of diabetes among the poor.

  • Editorial : Regulate Ship Breaking Business
Terrorism, Defense, Security and Science & Technology
  • After killing scores of anti-Naxal tribal civilians, hundreds of armed Maoist terrorists in Andhra Pradesh blew up a bus, attacked a village killing 8 people, injuring 20, and taking 15 people hostage. After he assumed power, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Rajashekara Reddy ill advisedly entered into negotiations with terrorists without demanding their renunciation of arms. After much thought out and sustained operations, his predecessor Chandra Babu Naidu had marginalized the terrorists to a point of insignificance. However, Reddy known for his other populist and disastrous ideas that have bankrupted many state agencies, appeased the terrorists by transferring effective police officers, dismantling intelligence networks, and allowing free movement of terrorists. The Naxals used this space to recruit, regroup, train, and create new bases for attacks police and soft targets in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, and Karnataka. Following large protests from these states and the collapse of the dialogue process, Reddy has been ineffective in restarting operations and bringing out law and order. AP capital Hyderabad is being seen as a viable alternative to infrastructure-bankrupt Bangalore by many new and expansion plans of high-end companies. Increased violence in that state and its use to mount terror attacks on neighbors, may seriously compromise this advantage that Hyderabad has. Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh and Federal agencies have promised stronger action and arming of locals to fight the communist terrorists.

  • Suspected Islamic terrorists set off a series of bombs in the ancient Hindu holy city Varnasi killing 20 and wounding scores of people. The coordinated improvised explosive device is a sure handiwork of Pakistan-based terrorist groups.  The first bomb went off in the Sankat Mochan Hanuman temple that adjoins the ancient Vishwanatha Shiva temple. Armed police were quickly deployed to prevent sectarian backlash and national leaders called for calm. The city shutdown in protest against the bombs—shopkeepers closed down while authorities ordered schools and colleges closed. Bharatiya Janata Party blamed the Uttar Pradesh Samajwadi Party Government of ignoring security threats saying that “the government is encouraging Islamic terrorism by turning a blind eye to their activities". While no group has claimed responsibility analysts suspect Lashkar-e-Toiba, which has attacked other sites in the past, to be behind this crime. Pakistan was quick to condemn these blasts and a spokeswoman said “we know how it feels. We have been on the receiving end, we have had attacks on our places of worship too. It’s insanity, only an inhuman person will do that.” India accuses Pakistan of providing shelter, training, and material support to terrorists; a charge that it denies. Analysts both Indian and Western accuse Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf of trying to play on both sides of the fence—encouraging terrorists for domestic support and promising the West action against them but delivering little .

  • A collateral damage to the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal is Israel’s arms deals with India. Israel was one of the largest vendors of high-tech weapons systems to India and this relationship may be compromised by the deal that has brought India and US closer. According to Israel arms vendors, the US is planning to make India one of its largest weapons market.

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. 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
Issues remain unaddressed in budget
Running out of time
What’s in it for the US?
Implementing India's separation plan
Gender parity: A long way to go
Going round the table
Managing migration to the U.K.
Optimism on Iran
Going round the table
Islamic double standards

Concessions and gains

Ends and beginnings
Budget for deceptions
A landmark deal between
two democracies
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.
  • Even as last minute negotiations and backroom deals on Iran’s nuclear program went on in Vienna US Permanent Representative in the United Nations John Bolton said that military option was being actively considered. This was in sharp variance to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s statement that the US was not in a hurry to impose sanctions on Iran and that it was willing to get the issue resolved through the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfield had voiced a similar viewpoint more than a month ago before the February 4 meeting. Meanwhile, India said that it was opposed to any plans that will bring about a regime change in Iran. The US Undersecretary of Political Affairs Nicholas Burns dismissed critiques in the US Congress who opposed to the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal by equating the Indian nuclear program with that of Iran. Burns said that India was a democracy and a responsible nuclear nation while Iran surreptitiously procured nuclear weapons technology through disgraced Pakistani nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan. India is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and its program completely indigenous. On the other hand, Iran is a signatory of the NPT and was responsible under International law to disclose its nuclear procurement to the International Atomic Energy Agency. Furthermore, the technology it bought was itself stolen by Khan from European nations over a period of time. Also, while Iran had unilaterally abandoned the Paris Agreement with the European Union-3 (Britain, France, and Germany), India did not backtrack on any International Treaty. Most importantly, unlike Iran, Pakistan, or North Korea India has never used its nuclear technology as a negotiating tool, threat, or means to garner money.

  • Editorial: The Nepal Stalemate

  • Editorial: Iran's Nuclear Program

  • An Amnesty International (AI) report accused the United States and its allies occupying Iraq of mistreating prisoners saying, “from the outset the occupying forces attached insufficient weight to human rights considerations.” The occupying forces, mostly under the US, hold about 14,000 prisoners often without any due process and most of them tortured. The report said that most prisoners are held for several days without any charge, access to lawyers or family, and suddenly released without explanation or reparation. The system is so “arbitrary and ripe for abuse” that even the International Red Cross is denied access. To make its point, AI said that between August 2004 to November 2005, out of 21,999 files reviewed, only 1,301 suspected militants were tried; 4,426 were freed unconditionally, 7,626 released to guarantors and 9,903 retained in jail without trial. Furthermore, the occupying forces hand over their prisoners to Iraqi intelligence agencies, which systematically mistreat prisoners through assault, hanging by hands or painful positions, electric shocks, branding, and breaking bones. The Iraqi police often execute their prisoners without due process. Iraqi Human Rights Minister Nirmeen Othman admitted that there was widespread abuse in Iraq. However, he said there are two committees investigating into these charges. One committee was established last November and asked to report its findings in two weeks, which it has not. The second one was formed recently to overcome the incompetence of the other one.

  • The Australian Prime Minister John Howard is visiting India to enhance its economic and technological ties. From India’s standpoint, on top of the list is import of nuclear fuel from Australia, which holds about 40% of the world’s uranium in its Olympic mines in the South. Howard has been vocal opponent to exporting fuel to India saying that his country has a long-standing policy of not exporting nuclear fuel to non-NPT signatory states. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is expected to remind Australia that of the three non-NPT signatory nations—India, Pakistan, and Israel, only India has a civilian program and has not proliferated its indigenous technology (Israel has no civil nuclear program and Pakistan is an acknowledged proliferator). Australia ranted and raved over India’s May 1998 nuclear tests and threatened to cut off its ties but quietly tucked tail when it saw the US continuing to engage India actively in all spheres including defense. Many commentators have repeatedly said that Australia has three major mental blocks—obsession with the NPT, obsession with China, and inability to separate India and Pakistan in its strategic calculations. This is despite India’s overtly supportive endorsement of Australia in many international forums including the East Asian summit and China’s opposition. However, with bilateral trade at USD 10 billion a year, a luring tornado Indian economy, and increasing world engagement and investment in India, Australia cannot afford to stay away. Howard is known to be a practical man who is capable of making 180-degree changes to his country’s policy.

  • Editorial: Hamas's victory in Palestinian Territories

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