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Thursday, March 23, 2006

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Democracy, Politics and Judiciary

  • The Supreme Court has advised the Parliament to amend the Hindu Marriage Act (HMA) 1955 to accommodate divorces where there is "irrevocable breakdown." The Bench ruled, "once the parties have separated and the separation has continued for a sufficient length of time" there is grounds for divorce if party petitions for it. Many countries allow such divorces based on "irreconcilable differences."

  • The Parliament abruptly adjourned sine die when opposition members wanted to question the continuance of Members of Parliament (MPs) who occupied "office of profit." Trinamool Congress MP Mamta Banerjee asked for the Speaker Somnath Chatterjee as he is also the Chairman of Sriniketan - Shanthiniketan Development Corporation. An infuriated Chatterjee refused to even come back to the Parliament and was breathing fire during a meeting with the press. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L.K. Advani is asking for the removal of Sonia Gandhi and 30 other members on the same grounds. Opposition leaders also cite a newspaper report stating that the Government planned to initiate an ordinance on this issue, which will essentially block out laws that will shield politicians who hold "offices of profit." The communist and regional allies say that the Government is taking these measures to protect Sonia Gandhi

Environment, Health and Education
  • A United Nations report says that "direct biodiversity loss, habitat change, over-exploitation, introduction of invasive species, nutrient loading, and climate change show no sign of abating." Painting a bleaker picture than the earlier report issued in 2001, the UN's Global Biodiversity Outlook 2 says that globally agreed 2010 goals are not achievable unless countries take "unprecedented steps." It noted that 6 million hectares of forest is felled every year and that 1/3 of mangrove forests have been lost since 1980s. While 12% of earth's surface is protected only .06% of the ocean is resulting in over-exploitation of marine life. For example, the hard coral in the Caribbean has declined from 50% to 10%. The earth's demands on biological resources is more than 20% of what it can renew and the growing 6.5 billion population is affecting thousands of species increasing the extinction rate to 1000 times. It noted with dismay that 844 known animals and plants have disappeared in the last 500 years. 

  • According to the World Health Organization, India is the "Rabies Capital of the world." The report says that of the 55,000 cases world over, India reported 20,000 cases and 95% of these cases are from stray dog bites. With the large stray population, it is feared that the number may be under-reported. Animal rights activists in India have opposed all forms of stray dog culling programs. With a lack of regulation on dog breeding and insufficient knowledge, many release liter pups on the streets far from home so they would not have to care for them. Programs sterilizing strays have so far been ineffective because locals protest the operation. Till a concerted program is introduced to reduce the stray numbers, their populations will grow. With that the incidence of rabies is also bound to grow because of bad health management awareness and facilities for animals.

  • US Finds New H5N1 Subtype 
    As India is trying to deal with the bird flu outbreak in Navapur an Jalgaoan, US scientists revealed that the virus has mutated to a different subtype that can be transmitted to humans.<More>

Terrorism, Defense, Security and Science & Technology
  • Afghanistan said its troops killed 15 Taliban terrorists looking to crossover from Pakistan. The terrorists died fighting the troops even as 5 escaped back into the hills that separate the country in the South. The Taliban has been active in Afghanistan and have been setting off bombs killing and terrorizing civilians. Afghans have come out in large rallies against the Taliban even as the terrorist organization promised continued violence.


  • United Nations Security Council (UNSC) members are evaluating a statement circulated by France and Britain on Iran's nuclear program. However, it looks like they are facing stiff resistance from many UNSC members and specifically veto-bearing so-called permanent members China & Russia. Recent reports suggest that the opposition for a stiff reprimand and strong demands face stiff opposition and the two sponsors have withdrawn the draft and postponed consultations till they develop backroom consultations. This whole incident seems to be a major diplomatic defeat for the US and its European allies. Russian President Vladimir Putin is visiting China and both countries have called for more dialogue and diplomatic solutions. China has supported the Russian initiative to enrich uranium in Russia for exclusive use by Iran.

  • Lackluster Bangla PM Visit 
    Bangladesh Prime Minister Khaleda Zia met with her Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh and shared mutual concerns on terrorism.<More>

  • Editorial: Iran's Nuclear Program

  • Editorial: The Nepal Stalemate


  • Iraqi Police accused the US troops of a "clear and perfect crime" saying that they killed an entire family of 11, including 5 children and 4 women, when a patrol came under attack leading to the death of one of the members at Ishaqi. The house was later blown up to conceal the killing. The Time Magazine reported the killing of civilians in Haditha in November when a patrol went on a rampage after a member was killed by a roadside bomb. The US Army says that only 4 people were killed in Ishaqi and said it has launched an investigation. Iraqi population and analysts accuse the US Army of doing little and not disciplining its soldiers for blatant human rights violations. Even in cases where disciplinary action is initiated, they say that offenders are let off with minimal punishment.

  • Editorial: Hamas's victory in Palestinian Territories

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. 
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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.

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