What Is India News Service
Tuesday, March 14, 2006

India Intelligence Report



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Business and Economy
  • India and Mauritius signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to explore for hydrocarbons off Mauritius. Signed in the prescence of visiting President Abdul Kalam, the deal will empower Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) to work with Mauritius Oceanography Institute to identify areas for exploration and submit a proposal to the Government of Mauritius. ONGC will bear all expenses in training engineers and geoscientists in its petroleum research and development institutes. India recently signed a MoU with Myanmar for hydrocarbon exploration. India already has rights to two oil blocks off the Arakan coast and is also working on another joint venture with Russia’s Sakhalin for exploration in areas other than West Asia. Besides oil, India will also include Mauritius in its proposal to provide a 53-nation satellite-based telecom network that will connect “very very important persons” and also provide telemedicine and tele-education.

  • Finance Minister P. Chidambaram urged states to start spending money from day 1 of allocation and not wait till the last minute. Currently, states spend only a small portion upfront and spend 66% of the money later in the year. Chidambaram said that this would slow the growth of the economy, as states will lose a multiplier effect in economic spending. He warned that states that do not spend the money in proportion to the time and allocation would be penalized. He conceded that Education and Health needs more investments but also highlighted that the absorption rates of these ministries is also “limited” as they had huge unspent surpluses that could have been spent more productively elsewhere.  He complimented on the “vigorous” growth of the economy and said that with current growth rate of 8% and revenue growth of 20% the country will have enough money to spend on social sector. The Indian economy has a 3.8% deficit target deficit and while revenues come in only from industrial and manufacturing, revenue deficit can be managed through expense control and tighter fiscal management. Chidambaram said that the Government wanted to do more on farm credit but current inflation rates of 4% and hard interest rates made it impossible to loan more money. Many analysts think that the Government inflation figure of 4% is bogus and some say that it is as high as 8%.

Democracy, Politics and Judiciary

  • Intense public protest veiled chiding of prosecution lapses and judgment by Supreme Court Chief Justice Y.K. Sabharwal and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has spurred the Delhi police to represent the “Jessica Lall” case to the Delhi High Court. The police now say that the trial court was in undue haste in delivering a not-guilty verdict and found fault with the judgment on 92 counts. The police say that the trial court heard clarifications on Feb 21 and accused it of delivering a 179-page verdict the same afternoon throwing out the entire case without adequate consideration. The police accused the trial judge S.L. Bhayana of “non-application of judicial mind” and his verdict is based on “conjectures and surmises vitiated by non-consideration of relevant and admissible evidence.”  They faulted the trial court of not taking a holistic view of the sequence of events leading to the shooting of Lall by the son of a former Federal Minister. Senior executives of a soft drinks company, son of a former well-respected President, a former cricketer, accompanied the prime accused, Manu Sharma. Three prime witnesses supporting the prosecution turned hostile therefore jeopardizing the case. Sharma shoot Lall because he was refused alcohol after permitted hours and some say to take revenge on him being dumped by her. The murder weapon was found and in police custody but mysteriously switched to not match the cartridge obtained from Lall’s body. The present Delhi Police Commissioner filed a report bitterly criticizing the process, methodology, and practices followed by investigators. However, his boss at that time refused to take action saying that intervention may jeopardize investigation. Witnesses turning hostile because of coercion, inducement, or threat is common in the criminal justice system in India. Sabharwal had highlighted the need for change if the system is to be protected. The Parliament is considering a new law that will amend the Criminal Penal Code (CrPC) that will make it harder for witnesses to turn hostile. The Supreme Court’s (SC) recent sentencing of Zahira Sheikh on charges of perjury is essentially to enforce the sanctity of deposing under oath. Critics say that while this may ensure that witnesses do not change their story easily, it may also prevent the truth, as some corrupt police officers are known to extract a “confession” or a “statement” to suit the purposes of their political masters. Sabharwal is actually advocating the separation of investigative agencies from law and order maintenance and placing them under the executive. The Legislative body is naturally opposed to this suggestion, as it would deprive them of a key mechanism increasingly being used for political purposes. A public interest litigation challenged the promotion of Bhayana to the High Court coincidentally soon after his controversial verdict. However, the SC dismissed the petition angrily at the suggestion that Bhayana passed the verdict for political favors and personal profit.

Environment, Health and Education

  • Indian Health authorities said that all human cases suspected to have contracted the dreaded H5N1 virus have all tested negative. They further said that the disease, which killed 40,000 chickens and caused the culling of 500,000 poultry is limited only to Navapur district and has not spread anywhere. India is the only country that says that the disease has mysteriously appeared midland and claims has not spread to other parts. The Government is still to determine the reason and causes for the outbreak claiming that a full epidemiological was required to determine the cause. There is no news on the status of this study.

  • Editorial : Regulate Ship Breaking Business
Terrorism, Defense, Security and Science & Technology
  • Sunni terrorists, blamed to belong to al Qaeda, set off 6 car bombs in predominantly Shia neighborhood in eastern Baghdad killing 58 people and wounding 200. Coinciding with a political meeting sponsored by the US Ambassador, these bombing incidents raised fears of reprisals of Shiites that can essentially trigger a civil war. The neighborhood was the stronghold of radical Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr who owns a militia that could easily trigger a sectarian clash. Al-Sadr blamed predominantly Whhabbi Sunni al Qaeda for the attack but said the will not order reprisals as that could lead to civil war. He said he blamed the occupational forces for the death and violence in the country.

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
Rooting for Sharia laws in Bradford
Jargons camouflage motives
The fruits of diplomacy
Chidambaram misled the nation
The road less travelled
Cut the clutter and Indo-US deals make sound economic sense
People power in East Asia
‘CEMILAC has certified Light Combat Aircraft’
Why Bush Blinked
Bordering boredom
Workers and consumers
Afghan-Pak rift deepens
Beware the nuclear Ayatollahs
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.
  • For the first time since religion-based terrorism was unleashed on India in early 1990s, Islamic groups banded together to condemn terrorism in the name of Islam. Many leaders concluded that “Islam is a religion of peace and using holy names against peace is disrespecting Islam. The religion which does not even allow harming a tree or an animal cannot condone killing innocent people in the name of Jihad.” The organizations issued a fatwa (religious decree) against terrorism saying “through this fatwa our organizations wanted to give a message that Islam in no way support violence. The religion is being branded with terrorism just because of a few people.” Muslim leaders from Hyderabad, Mumbai, and Delhi who participated in issuing the decree said that they were worried out Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Maulayam Singh Yadav openly using radical Islamists to secure Muslim vote. They pointedly condemned Yadav’s senior minister Yakoob Qureshi who proposed a bounty to kill Danish cartoonists who depicted Prophet Mohammed in distasteful manner.

  • Iran said that it would commence work on a second nuclear plant even as the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is deliberating its nuclear program. The so-called permanent members of the UNSC met behind closed doors to discuss options to deal with Iran. The plan is for Iran to start work on the new nuclear plant in 6 months. The first civilian nuclear plant is being assisted by Russia in Bushehr and is hit my numerous delays in completion. Iran’s facilities in Ishafan and underground processing facility at Natanz are suspected to be processing nuclear fuel to develop a nuclear bomb. Meanwhile, Russia says that it will restart its stalled conversations with Iran as it has received request from that nation.

  • Editorial: The Nepal Stalemate

  • Editorial: Iran's Nuclear Program

  • In an interview to the Washington Post, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice re-emphasized that India just cannot be compared to Iran or North Korea (NK). She said, “Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism that has violated its own commitments and is defying the international community’s efforts to contain its nuclear ambitions.” She described NK as “the least transparent country in the world” and said it “threatens its neighbors and proliferates weapons.” Describing the benefits of the deal, she said “our agreement with India will make our future more secure, by expanding the reach of the international non-proliferation regime.” She called on the Congress not to miss the historic opportunity and asked it to invest “strategic capital” needed to “recast its relationship with India.” She said that the deal would strengthen international security, enhance energy security and environmental protection, and foster economic and technological development. In parallel, India has tightened its strict nuclear export norms and issued various guidelines. It said that it could authorize nuclear export only when “International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguard arrangements are made or assured by the recipient country.” Moreover, “the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) should be satisfied that the transfers would not contribute to the development if nuclear weapons or be diverted to acts of nuclear terrorism.”  DAE will now scrutinize each and every export application on a case-by-case basis. The guidelines also many contractual limitations on the recipient nation with respect to usage, production of nuclear fuel, and quality of nuclear fuel it may produce. India has an indigenous enrichment facility near Mysore that is not covered by the nuclear deal and is not open for international inspection. Meanwhile Australia has spurned Indian overtures to procuring nuclear fuel saying that it will export nuclear fuel only to countries that have signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)

  • The standoff between Hamas and Israel continued to harden with Israel refusing to recognize the Hamas Government in Palestine Territories (PT) and Hamas insisting on continuing its fight against Israel. Efforts by Hamas to form a unity Government that will include all parties and win international recognition seemed impossible with its new statement of principles. This document to the PT President Mahmoud Abbas said that the Hamas Government reserves the right to “reassess” its relationship with Israel. Abbas had invited Hamas to form the Government but after publicly honoring previous accords with Israel, recognizing Israel’s right to exist, and renouncing violence. Hamas has refused to adhere to all these conditions that are also part of the Israeli-Palestine peace process. The outcome of Hamas intransigence is not clear. PT requires international aid to survive and most contributors have stopped all non-humanitarian aid. The nations that belong to the Organization of Islamic Countries contribute the least to PT and Iran has been trying to get them to contribute more so Hamas can continue with its intransigent position. The US and European Union are the largest contributors of aid to PT and they solidly back Israel’s position on these three conditions. Russian President Vladimir Putin had invited Hamas leaders for dialogue. After initial reservations, the US backed him up to open a dialogue with Hamas. However, those talks have not yielded much as Hamas continues to stick to its former antagonistic positions.

  • Editorial: Hamas's victory in Palestinian Territories

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