What Is India News Service
Friday, March 10, 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 a surprise move, a state owned Aluminum smelting plant near Kalimantan has formally requested Indian Public Sector Utility (PSU) Company National Aluminum Corporation (NALCO) to take over its plant.  The smelting unit is located near large coal reserves but is short of aluminum. On the other hand, even after its USD 1 billion expansion plan, NALCO will have several million tons of alumina leftover. The Department of Mines, while cautioning NALCO on takeover is also encouraging an international presence. As one of the largest aluminum manufacturers and exporters, NALCO is actively considering a USD 3 billion plant in Bahrain, Qatar, and Oman. West Asian countries are ideal for smelting as the cost of electricity is low which makes up 60% of the cost of smelting. The Department of Mines is asking NALCO to process 80% of its surplus alumina for domestic markets and the rest 20% for exports. Like all PSUs, NALCO is cash, productivity, and technology starved and these investments are major resuscitating options for it.  

Democracy, Politics and Judiciary

  • Supreme Court (SC) sentenced Zahira Sheikh for a year’s imprisonment for changing her deposed story made under oath many times and committing perjury in the “Best Bakery” case. Sheikh was a key witness in this 2002 case where a mob, incensed by the burning of Hindu pilgrims at Godhra by Muslims, stormed a Muslim-owned Bakery killing those inside and burning down the store. Many of those identified by other witnesses have been found guilty but Sheikh was a key witness who waffled on her story many times. She alleged that a human rights activist in Mumbai mentored her to doctor a story then she alleged that the threat of retribution by a Shiv Sena Member of Maharashtra Legislative Assembly threatened her to retract her story. In any case, she was sufficiently discredited to have her deposition thrown out. The bigger issue is whether the SC is making a strong statement against perjury by sentencing her and also how does this verdict shape the behavior of other entities such as corporations, politicians, actors, and cricketers who retract their stories as convenient. The open question is whether the SC will look at statements made to the media and later blaming the press for “misunderstanding,” “misrepresentation,” and “politically motivated” will automatically be considered perjury by default. After all, at least politicians take the oath to uphold the Constitution, and when they do break provisions of this oath, they do commit perjury. The classic example is the recent bounty killing call made by a serving Uttar Pradesh Minister of the Samajwadi Party. While he had broken many criminal and Constitutional provisions, he took cover under the media misrepresentation pretext to duck impeachment, recall, and eventual imprisonment. Similarly, while Indian law proscribes tobacco and alcohol advertising, Members of Parliament and prominent Indian tobacco and alcohol companies often have bogus products to advertise the banned substance through a process euphemistically called “surrogate advertising.” Will these be dragged under the same net as they have breached Indian laws that they have promised to follow during their incorporation?

Environment, Health and Education

  • Chief of UN operations controlling the spread of the dreaded avian flu H5N1 Dr. David Nabarro said that the virus fast spreading in Asia, Europe, and Africa is likely to jump the Atlantic from 6 months to a year. He highlighted that many countries and populations are not aware of the disease infecting their poultry population. Since 2003, the flu has so far infected 175 people killing 96 of them. Millions of birds have since been culled to contain the spread of the disease. The virus does not infect humans easily but experts fear that it may mutate and pass on just as easily to humans. Highlighting this fear, experts found one case of a German cat, a mammal, affected with the virus was recently discovered in the Baltic region. News on the bird flu in India has been silent after Government officials stonewalled questions on its origins and claiming success in containing the disease to a couple of districts to Western India. These moves, coupled by shameless exhibitionism by politicians with strong financial interests in poultry, chicken eat fest in cities, lack of public awareness, and more newsworthy incidents like the budget and French and US Presidential visits have shunted these incidents right of all newspapers. While every country has reported the spread of the disease, only India claims to have contained the epidemic.

  • Editorial : Regulate Ship Breaking Business
Terrorism, Defense, Security and Science & Technology
  • A Kashmir news agency, CNS, said that it got a call from a unknown group calling itself Lashkar-e-Kahab to claim responsibility for the Varanasi bombing. The caller threatened more incidents if the Government does not halt its policy of “catch and kill” when pursuing terrorists. The Uttar Pradesh (UP) police, that was overseeing the marriage of Chief Minister Maulayam Singh Yadav’s niece when the incident took place, released sketches of two suspects that they claim is “95% accurate.”  Police officials said that they were working closely with counterparts in Jammu & Kashmir and were looking into calls made to Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal. They also claimed that they had very good leads but could not share it as that would compromise the investigation. Eyewitnesses say that the two suspects appeared to be from Kashmir and spoke like they were traders from Delhi or Western UP. Reports say that Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) modules get trained in Bangladesh and infiltrate West Bengal through to Uttar Pradesh. Meanwhile, there are reports that the two suspects must have had local support and police is looking out for 3-5 more accomplices and electronic fund transfers. The criminals also bought 5 pressure cookers and three of them were detonated; police are on the lookout for the missing 2. Bomb experts say that pressure cookers are apt equipment for crude bombs with small explosion but large impact as it holds heat well and when it explodes disposes a lot of shrapnel. Besides, unlike steel drums, pressure cookers have valve holes on the top that allows the terrorist to link up the bomb to the detonator easily.

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
Rhetoric clouds peace process in Sri Lanka
Should TV channels play an activist role?
Middle East in black and white terms
New dimensions
New logic for new India
Bush - the controversial
The two faces of Gujarat riots
State and the nation
Beyond The Nuclear Deal
Maoists Vs Militias

Telling lies

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.
  • With the failure of Russian and last-ditch European Union-3 (EU-3) efforts to negotiate a peaceful solution, the International Atomic Energy Agency voted to refer Iran’s nuclear program to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). The EU-3 nations (Britain, France, and Germany) threw up its hands as Iran got increasingly rigid in its posturing. Russia indicated that it was willing to allow Iran to enrich a small portion of nuclear fuel. However, US pressure prevailed and the international community closed ranks to refer the case to the UNSC. While the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that her country is not anxious to impose sanctions, the US Permanent Representative to the United Nations John Bolton like the US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfield before talked about a military plan on the table. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan asked the US to lower its rhetoric after the US Vice President Dick Cheney made similar bellicose statements on war and Iran in the same breath. It is not clear what the US expects to achieve with the transfer of case to the UNSC where there are veto bearing membership which will undoubtedly block sanctions proceedings against Iran. Russia and China has large trade, commerce, and defense interests in Iran and will likely block punitive sanctions for a while. But even they cannot stop over-arching sanctions if Iran does not yield to demands by most nations in the world to build confidence. Iran did breach the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and unilaterally abrogated the Paris Agreement to illicitly procure nuclear weapons dual-use technology from disgrace Pakistan nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan and start nuclear enrichment, albeit in small quantities. Iran claims that it has been wrong and warns the West of retribution that will hurt it more; the US said that these threats are only isolating the country even more.

  • India and Myanmar signed three major agreements on energy, space, and education even as India offered its help to build multi-party democracy in Myanmar. While the release of imprisoned leader Aung San Suu Kyi did not specially feature in the discussions, India promised to extend its help to build Constitutional institutions and building democratic capability. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed to cooperate on Buddhist studies. India is trying to persuade Myanmar to build a pipeline through Bangladesh to provide it with Natural Gas. If this should not be feasible, then conversion to Liquefied Natural Gas is being evaluated and although transportation will not be very expensive because of the short distance, the loss due to conversion will be high. It is not clear if this deal would mean that Myanmar will build the pipeline.

  • An underreported news item during US President George Bush’s visit is a joint statement from India and US to Nepal calling King Gnanendra to rebuild democratic institutions and make peace with the political parties. The statement also called on Maoist terrorists to forsake their armed struggle and participate in the democratic process. The US dispatched Deputy Undersecretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Camp to reiterate the message to Gnanendra. However, none of the parties—Gnanendra, political parties, or Maoists terrorists, seemed to have heeded this call. Members of the 7-party Nepal political parties are visiting New Delhi to widen their broad alliance with Maoists and seek assistance from India. However, India and the US are unlikely to provide more sanctuary to them as long as they are allied to Maoists. While the communist allies of the Government are trying to coerce into such support, it is unlikely that India will support a group that commits large-scale violence. Moreover, a support to Maoists in Nepal will spur the Naxal movement that has terrorized large tracts of India. Demonstrating the mind of US policy makers, Camp said his Government remained skeptical about the Maoists saying that they cannot support a group that indulges in “killing, maiming, destroying property.” Although the US and Europe and looking to India to lead the policy on Nepal, given this sensitivity and the collateral impact to India, it is unlikely that countries would support a political grouping that seeks support from terrorists. Maoists currently control 2/3 of Nepal with their own taxation, judiciary, and administrative processes. They have linked up with Indian Naxal groups arming and training them in assaults on Indian economic and rural targets. China and Pakistan are militarily aiding Gnanendra while India has resolutely spurned him on 3 separate junctures.

  • India strongly protested Pakistan’s new Bhasha dam on the Indus River saying that the construction will inundate large parts of land in Northern Jammu & Kashmir (J&K). India said that the inundation of the Indian state violated its borders. Pakistan rejected the protest saying that J&K was a disputed territory and cited numerous United Nations resolutions to that effect. At the time of Indian Independence in 1947, the erstwhile king of J&K (Hari Singh) vacillated between joining India and Pakistan because his majority Muslim population wanted to join India and since he did not get along with the Indian leadership, he wanted to join Pakistan. The indecisive Singh asked for a Standstill Agreement with both countries, which Pakistan accepted readily. However, Pakistan financially and materially funded a tribal invasion led by serving Pakistani officers and soldiers on annual leave. When the invading party took over large parts of his territory, Singh asked for help from India, which agreed only if he were to accede to India, which he eventually did. Indian commandos were airlifted, tanks climbed large heights to flank the rebels and the Pakistani army. In January 1948, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru disregarded military advice and announced a unilateral ceasefire and took the case to the United Nations (UN). The UN Security Council (UNSC) asked both India and Pakistan to not change the ground situation “materially.” A year later, Pakistan accepted that it had moved in new brigades into J&K and have therefore violated the UNSC direction. Thereafter, after the defeat of Pakistan in the Bangladesh war in 1971, it agreed through the Simla Agreement not to involve third parties in the resolution of the case. Pakistan has not honored any of these commitments choosing to cite UN resolutions when convenient and disregarding them when not. The two countries have successfully negotiated and upheld the Indus Water River Sharing Agreement, which is often showcased as success in negotiated settlement. Of late there have been disagreements with Pakistan complaining about the Balighar dam in India and India complaining about the Bhasha dam.

  • Editorial: The Nepal Stalemate

  • Editorial: Iran's Nuclear Program

  • US President George Bush started consultations with key bipartisan Senatorial and Congressional representatives to kick off amendments in their laws to facilitate the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal. Bush also bristled at suggestions that this deal will somehow encourage Pakistan and Israel to seek a similar deal. He pointed out that Pakistan does not have the same non-proliferation record as India does and its energy needs are very different from those of India. He said that Israel has not declared itself a nuclear power and has not demonstrated that it has as much a critical energy need as India. Bush rejected suggestions that the deal may send the wrong signal to Iran and North Korea to hold out. He insisted that Iran and North Korea were rogue nations that procured nuclear weapons technology surreptitiously while the Indian program was indigenous. Further, India has not extra-territorial or terrorist aspirations as these countries do. However, he pointed out that the US has not plans to assist the Indian nuclear weapons program nor does it plan to recognize the country as a nuclear weapons state. Besides, India has also agreed to perpetually placing its civilian facilities under international supervision if it is perpetually provided nuclear fuel. Through this deal, India will also place more nuclear reactors under International Atomic Energy Agency than China, which is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). An interesting point he made was that India has agreed to place under international supervision upstream and downstream facilities of the 14 reactors that are included in the deal. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has not highlighted this aspect of the deal and needs further investigation. Meanwhile, a group of influential hard-line nuclear protectionists affectionately called the “Nuclear Ayatollahs” (because of intractable positions that are often at odds with world views) are converging and protesting the deal vociferously. It is unclear how their collusion will affect Bush’s plans. India is banking on this deal to overcome its energy deficiency; it is planning 8 new reactors with more in tow to double nuclear energy output to 7,280 mwe (megawatts-electrical output) in the next 5 years. Critics say that the Department of Atomic Energy frequently over-promises and under delivers on time, cost, and output. Currently, nuclear energy is only 3% of total mwe production. Even with the increase of nuclear energy facilities, nuclear energy will only be about 8-9% of the total energy produced in India.

  • Editorial: Hamas's victory in Palestinian Territories

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