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Saturday, March 11, 2006

India News Summary



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Business and Economy
  • Indian oil major Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) revealed plans to start a joint venture with steel baron Lakshmi Mittal to buy energy stakes around the work valued at USD 15 billion. ONGC-Mittal Energy Ltd will buy energy blocks to meet oil and natural gas requirements by a tornado Indian economy. ONGC Chairman Subir Raha also revealed plans to start production of natural gas from a deep-sea platform on the Krishna Godavari basin to produce one million standard cubic meters per day (mscmd) before summer and a full production of 2.7 mscmd by mid-2007. This is the first time India is tapping gas from a deep-sea platform; the present 69 mscmd comes from on-land and shallow water fields. The company will increase its domestic oil exploration budget by 18% to USD 3.5 billion. Since 2001-2002 when Raha started running the company, the exploration budget has grown by 300%. Oil production from the Mumbai High offshore oilfields will be less than 1 million tons because of the fire in Mumbai High that destroyed the platform. By June 2006, ONGC expects to produce 275,000 barrels a day to produce 29.09 million tons in the next fiscal year.

Democracy, Politics and Judiciary

  • Uttar Pradesh (UP), a safe haven for terrorists, Ministers offering bounty for murders, and Ministers offering to transport heroin, and Ministers and Chief Minister colluding to manipulate the judiciary is throwing up a different Constitutional challenge. The Election Commission (EC) of holding has charged a former cine actress elected to the Rajya Sabha an “office of profit” would mean an automatic disqualification. Jaya Bachan, wife of a well-known actor who was in the news for income tax default and evasion, is also Chairperson of the Uttar Pradesh Film Development Corporation, which is considered an “office of profit.” If disqualified, other prominent members such as UP Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, senior Samajwadi Party (SP) functionary involved in the judiciary manipulation issue will likely face expulsion. The SP has been casting aspersions on the EC terming the notice has a political bias. The Chief Election Commissioner B.B. Tandon said that it is “below our dignity to comment on these remarks and dismiss with the contempt it deserves.” In the meanwhile, UP Assembly passed a legislation that will remove 79 positions out of the “office of profit” list just to benefit Bachan and Singh; the bill will mostly likely be struck down in the courts as unconstitutional.

Environment, Health and Education

  • A Federal Ministry of Environment & Forests Committee constituted by the Supreme Court rejected a Kudremukh Iron Ore Company Limited (KIOCL) request to extend mining rights in the environmentally sensitive Kudremukh area. While the Committee rejected the request since “there will be no loss of jobs” KIOCL has repeatedly appealed judicial decisions only to be rejected time and time again. It had sponsored studies that have supported its position only to be rejected by environmental groups.

  • Editorial : Regulate Ship Breaking Business
Terrorism, Defense, Security and Science & Technology
  • Arrested terrorist Shayekh Abdur Rahman, head of banned Jamat ul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) conceded to his interrogators that he planned bomb attacks on economic targets to create an Islamic order in that country. The organization was suspected to have been involved in several bomb attacks on cinemas, NGOs, companies, and Shia Muslim Shrines that did not fit their myopic view of Islam. They also attacked liberal politicians, journalists, teachers, and public persona who they thought was against their view of Islam. Rahman told his interrogators that they used to manufacture detonators in Bangladesh before they started smuggling bomb-making information, as it got too risky and expensive to make them in the country. 

  • An unknown Kashmiri group that claimed responsibility for the Varanasi blasts turned out a ploy by Lashkar-e-Toiba to distract and mislead investigations. Two arrested in Kolkata admitted that they bought ammonium nitrate from Burrabazar in January and West Bengal police had communicated this information to the Uttar Pradesh police and it is not known why they did not intercept the shipment and arrest the recipient in that State. The two operatives had visited Burrabazar many times to befriend traders and were unfortunately arrested after they had shipped the material to UP. Shameem, the recipient of the material was staying with his associate Mohammed Abdullah in UP. The two terrorists in Kolkata revealed the names, locations, and intents of the shipment including the bomb blasts in Varanasi and Orissa. The two who were major conduits for Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and LeT in Bangladesh, told interrogators that temples and public locations were targets. Even though the Kolkata police gave these details to UP, they failed to act on the intelligence. Therefore, police from Kolkata organized a raid in Varanasi to arrest Abdullah without any help from their UP counterparts. UP police told a top commentator Tavleen Singh (see Featured opinions) that while their political masters have not given them direction to go soft on Muslims, they and they administration have learnt to understand their requirements. Interestingly, the UP police have offered reward money of USD 2,250 for information that would lead to the capture of escaped terrorists. UP Chief Minister Maulayam Singh Yadav is called “Maulana Yadav” because he has made religion based vote banks targeting Muslims particularly a political instrument to gain power. One Cabinet member had offered bounty to volunteers who would murder Danish cartoonists (Yakoob Qureshi) and another had agreed to transport heroin on hidden camera (Mehboob Ali) have been pardoned and still remain on the Cabinet even though they have broken several laws

  • A senior British Foreign Office source warned that Iran could only be months away from developing a nuclear bomb technology although it could take years to develop a serviceable nuclear weapon. Iran claims that it is interested only in energy related nuclear technologies but most countries and analysts do not believe that claim. At present Iran has 85 tons of uranium fuel at Ishafan and has installed 3000 centrifuges at Natanz. Last year, Iran started processing small quantities of nuclear fuel at Natanz underground complex using 20 centrifuges. British officials say that a military option to destroy the Natanz facility is not under discussion but the US and Israel is not ruling out use of force to get Iran to comply. Iran warned the US not to take military action saying that it will inflict “hurt and pain.” 

  • Editorial: The Nepal Stalemate

  • Editorial: Iran's Nuclear Program

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
The politics of patronage
Understanding the harvest of hate
Augmenting water infrastructure
Guruji's panacea
Neighbours building an IT highway
Needed, caution
Budget ignores farm realities
After Varanasi: the new alignments in Uttar Pradesh
Science and society
Balancing game
George Bush as Dr.Strangedeal
Just 1,200 tigers left?
Road to Perdition
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.
  • Many US policy advocates from several think tanks have urged the Congress to approve the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal. Meeting at the US-India Business Council, several prominent India experts such as Brookings Institution Senior Fellow Stephen Cohen, former Assistant Secretary of State Rick Inderfurth, former US Ambassador to India Frank Wisner, and Center for Strategic Studies Director ‘Tessie’ Schaffer signed letter advocating a policy favoring the deal. The letter said, “Congress should support the agreement to promote US strategic interests, US non-proliferation goals, US energy security and global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions leading to global warming.” The Bush Administration wants legislation by the end of May so it can proceed to lobby the Nuclear Suppliers Group to also exempt India from its guidelines. Secretary of Department of Atomic Energy Anil Kakodkar advocated parallel negotiations with International Atomic Energy Agency to ensure that the “perpetual supervision” clause is linked to the “perpetual supply” requirement.

  • Editorial: Hamas's victory in Palestinian Territories

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