Tag Archives: India

Parachute commandos use helicopters in cross-border raid to retaliate against deadly ambush that killed Indian soldiers.

By Subir Bhaumik

Indian parachute commandos in helicopters have crossed over the border into Myanmar to strike separatist bases in retaliation against an ambush in Manipur state last week that left 18 Indian soldiers dead, officials said.

Military officials said between 30 to 50 rebels were killed in Tuesday’s surprise raids, but a rebel group led by Burmese Naga leader S S Khaplang said the Indian claims were “exaggerated” and that there were few casualties.

India’s junior information minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore told TV channels that the “hot pursuit strikes” on separatist bases in Myanmar had been authorised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“Be it Yemen or Iraq, attacks on Indians are not acceptable. This is also a message to our neighbours who shelter terrorists,” Rathore said.

Read more » Aljazeera
See more » http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/06/india-crosses-myanmar-attack-rebel-bases-150610091416863.html

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Putin ratifies BRICS $100bn currency pool deal

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ratified a deal to establish a $100 billion foreign currency reserve pool for the BRICS group. The pool’s purpose is to protect national currencies from volatility in global markets.

The document was “to ratify the treaty on the establishment of a pool of foreign exchange reserves of the BRICS.”

On Wednesday the deal was ratified by Russia’s upper house of Parliament, the Federation Council. According to the deputy head of the Federal Council Committee for Budget and Financial Markets, Sergey Ivanov, the currency pool will primarily support the balance of payments of the BRICS member states.

“Realization of the agreement will also contribute to the effective protection of the national currencies against the volatility in the world currency markets,” Ivanov said.

The goal of the pool is so that BRICS member states can urgently replenish their liquidity from it in different proportions to resolve problems with their balance of payments.

China will make the biggest contribution to the pool – $41 billion. Russia, Brazil and India will donate $18 billion each, while South Africa’s investment will be $5 billion.

The fund is expected to be maintained by a managing council, a permanent committee and a coordinator who will be from the country of the current president.

In July Russia, Brazil, India, China and South Africa signed the document to a reserve currency pool worth over $100bn as well as $100bn BRICS Development Bank

BRICS represents 42 percent of the world’s population and roughly 20 percent of the world’s economy based on GDP, and 30 percent of the world’s GDP based on PPP, a more accurate reading of the real economy. Total trade between the countries is $6.14 trillion, or nearly 17 percent of the world’s total.

News courtesy: http://rt.com/business/255141-putin-brics-pool-currency/

Borderlands – India’s Great Wall

ALL NATIONAL BORDERS ARE IMAGINARY. But some are more imaginary than others. And perhaps some nations are more imaginative too. Somewhere in the labyrinths of the New Delhi bureaucracy, tucked within the recesses of the Ministry of Home Affairs, is a bureau called the Department of Border Management. The DBM, sometimes with just the flourish of an ink pen, conjures the sinuous, unsteady line that separates the triangle of the subcontinent from the mass of Asia. India’s shortest border, according to the department, is its ninety-nine mile border with Afghanistan. This one is especially imaginary, since it’s been in Pakistani hands for the past seventy years. India’s longest border is the 2,545 mile line that encircles Bangladesh. This one is being drawn right now, with steel and electric light.

Travel along the border districts of the east and you will see it unfurling slowly through the simmering green farmlands of Bengal, turning the territory into a map at last. It is an improbable structure: a double fence, eight feet high, consisting of two parallel rows of black columns made of sturdy angle iron and topped with overhanging beams. The two rows of columns are draped in a tapestry of barbed wire, with spools of concertina wire sandwiched between them.
This imposing national installation is still a work in progress. It has been under construction since 1989; 1700 miles have now been erected, at a cost of approximately $600 million. There have been many delays and cost overruns, but when it is complete it will render precisely 2042 miles of the invisible border an impenetrable barrier, a gigantic machine for processing bodies—designed, in the words of the DBM, to prevent “illegal immigration and other anti-national activities from across the border.”

Whether this is an appropriate or proportionate response to India’s perceived problem with its smaller neighbor is less certain. The issue of Bangladeshi migration into India has become part of the background chatter of Indian political discourse in the quarter century since work began on the fence, though in times of political turmoil it has been amplified into obtrusive static. Both the partition of India in 1947 and the 1971 war that led to Bangladesh’s independence from Pakistan occasioned a massive influx of refugees into India. But migrants of these generations are now generally accepted as naturalized Indians. While the number of subsequent migrants is presumed to be significant, the figures most commonly cited are wildly divergent and unverifiable. In 2000 the Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina famously asserted there were no illegal Bangladeshi migrants in India at all, while three years later India’s Intelligence Bureau pegged the figure at 16 million. The Indian press routinely cites more sensational figures, which expand impressively each year. The unlikely sum of 60 million was a popular estimate a couple of years ago.

Just last year, during his election campaign tour of Bengal, Narendra Modi promised to send all illegal migrants “back to Bangladesh”—although, he reassured his audience, those who worshipped the Hindu goddess Durga would be “welcomed as sons of Mother India.” Nobody knows, of course, what proportion of the unknown number of Bangladeshi migrants are Hindu. Like all the other numbers, it is likely to be impressive. But it seems doubtful that the extravagant net that India is casting around Bangladesh will be up to the task of sieving Muslims from Hindus.

Continue reading Borderlands – India’s Great Wall

Qatar prince ready to invest Rs 1 lakh crore in 10 smart cities

Has formed JV with Delhi businessman and held meeting with UP, AP CMs

By BS Reporter

The government may be inviting the Americans, Chinese and Japanese to invest in India, but just one person is ready to put in Rs 1 lakh crore over the next five years.

Enthused with the new government’s spirited approach towards new investment, a prince of Qatar, Hamad Bin Nasser A A Al-Thani, member of the ruling family, is looking at investing the sum in at least 10 smart cities.

The 51-year-old has already tied up with a 31-year-old Delhi-based businessman, Mitesh Sharma, for taking the investment forward through projects in real estate, sea ports and airports, besides smart cities. According to a person working for Hamad, the two recently registered a company, NRS Enterprise Pvt Ltd, in India through which the investment would be routed.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious ‘smart cities’ project has caught the attention of the prince. The investment will be made over the next five years,” said the person.

The investment announcement came after the two partners met Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav on November 20 and his Andhra Pradesh counterpart, Chandrababu Naidu, on November 22.

The focus of this huge investment is on 10 smart-city projects in a first phase, besides power, solar energy, infrastructure development, health care and education. They are aiming for the first project to take off by February-March 2015.

The Union government has decided to support the development of 100 in the country. According to the high power expert committee (HPEC) on investment estimates in urban infrastructure has assessed a per capita investment cost of Rs 43,386 for a 20-year period. Their estimates cover water supply, sewerage, sanitation and transportation.

Continue reading Qatar prince ready to invest Rs 1 lakh crore in 10 smart cities

Indus re-enters India after two centuries

Indus re-enters India after two centuries, feeds Little Rann, Nal Sarovar

By D. P. Bhattacharya

The Indus or Sindhu, a major river flowing through Pakistan around which the great Indus Valley Civilisation flourished, may have shifted course after an earthquake in 1819, but recent satellite images show the river has re-entered India feeding a lake near Ahmedabad known as Nal Sarovar.

The discovery has been made by Rohan Thakkar, a postgraduate student of climate change working on the water bodies of Gujarat.

The development will hugely benefit the water-starved Kutch region as well as the Bhal region adjoining Ahmedabad district.

Speaking to Mail Today, Rohan said he spoke to his father about it after detecting that water from a river in Pakistan was flowing into the Rann of Kutch. Further examination of the satellite images showed the water was flowing from the Indus.

Rohan’s father Dr P. S. Thakkar, who is a satellite archaeologist with the Indian Space Research Organisation, said the river started flowing into India last year when the Indus river basin was heavily flooded. “Heavy rains had left the river basin along with the Mancher, Hemal and Kalri lakes inundated and people breached several canal heads,” Thakkar said.

Continue reading Indus re-enters India after two centuries

It’s On: Asia’s New Space Race

While NASA and the European Space Agency gets most of the world’s attention, China, Japan and India are racing for the heavens.

The general public in the West largely views the exploration of space as dominated by the United States and perhaps Russia. Sometimes, as in the case of the Rosettamission, they may give thought to Europe’s capabilities. Few people think of India when it comes to missions to Mars, but popular joy erupted across India in September 2014 after its Mangalyaan scientific spacecraft successfully achieved orbit around the red planet. One Indian reader responded to the story on a major online news outlet by posting: “It is [a] moment of pride as India becomes [the] 1stAsian nation to reach Mars.” And understood to all Indian readers was the point that China had—after a series of Asian firsts in space—finally been surpassed.Since China’s first human spaceflight in 2003 and its threatening anti-satellite test in 2007, Asia has seen a surge in space activity, with budgets increasing rapidly across the region. While few officials admit to the term, a “space race” is emerging in Asia.

The surge of Asian countries joining the ranks of major space powers mirrors the rise of Asian economies and their militaries more generally since the end of the Cold War. But following the political drivers of these trends leads most often to regional rivalries, not a desire to compete with the United States or Russia. Being first in Asia to do anything in space brings prestige, lends credibility to governments in power, and helps stimulate Asia’s young population to study science and technology, which has other benefits for their national economies.

The responses to China’s rise have included the sudden development of military space programs by two countries that previously shunned such activities—Japan and India—and dynamic new activities in countries ranging from Australia to Singapore to Vietnam. On the Korean Peninsula, both North and South have orbited satellites in the past three years and both have pledged to develop much larger rockets. Many of these countries realize that they can’t “win” Asia’s space race, but they also know that they cannot afford to lose.

China’s rapid expansion in space activity has also raised serious concerns within U.S. military circles and in NASA. But these developments pose an existential threat to China’s neighbors, some of whom see Beijing’s space program as yet another threatening dimension to their deep-seated historical, economic, and geo-political rivalries for status and influence within the Asian pecking order. Even more, space achievements affect the self-perceptions of their national populations, challenging their governments to do more.

How this competition will play out and whether it can be managed, or channeled into more positive directions, will have a major impact on the future of international relations in space. The U.S. government has thus far responded with a two-track strategy, seeking a bilateral space security dialogue with Beijing, while quietly expanding space partnerships with U.S. friends and allies in the region, adding a space dimension to the U.S. “pivot” to Asia.

Read more » The Daily Beast
See more » http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/01/17/why-china-will-win-the-next-space-race.html

Sindhis to get a shrine they can call their own in Kutch

By ,TNN

Once, the Sindhu (Indus) river ended here. On the banks of Kori Creek in Kutch’s Lakhpat district in Gujarat and close to Sindh’s capital Karachi, it had the Arabian Sea in the backdrop. From the sea, riding a fish, the deity of Sindhis, Lord Jhulelal, is believed to have emerged to rescue the community from a tyrant king. The place seems a perfect site for Jhulelal Tirathdham, a future nerve centre for the global Sindhi community.

Work on the Tirathdham complex which includes a massive Jhulelal temple, a museum, amphitheatre, auditorium, meditation centre, shelter for pilgrims and other amenities will start soon. As they plan a bhoomi poojan on Cheti Chand, the Sindhi New Year on March 21, the management is trying to invite PM Narendra Modi as the chief guest.

Armed with around 40 acres of land and NOCs from government departments, Shri Jhulelal Tirathdham Trust is embarking on a project never witnessed in the history of Sindhi Hindus, migrants from Sindh after Partition. “Every community has a centre they identify with. Muslims have Mecca, Sikhs the Golden Temple, Hindus have Vaishnodevi and Tirupati even as both Christians and Jews take pride in Jerusalem,” says historian and Tirathdham’s managing trustee, Subhadra Anand. “The scattered and linguistically minority community, Sindhis, have prospered materially but are uprooted culturally and spiritually. The centre will be a bonding force for Sindhis who are fast losing their language and culture.”

It was Anand who, during a lecture on threats to Sindhi identity in Gujarat in the late 1990s, first expressed the desire to build a monument to Sindhi ethos. In the audience was Madhav Joshi, a local who suggested the centre could be in Kutch which houses pilgrim sites like Narayan Sarovar (Krishna temple), Koteshwar (Shiva temple) and an ancient Gurudwara.

Next, Anand and trust chairman and diamond tycoon Dilip Lakhi met then Gujarat CM Modi. “After he heard us, Modi said ‘your dream is my dream’. His response made a difference,” says Anand.

To be created in the helically tapering form of a pyramid, the temple is to be the tallest in India. The project also includes schools, a hospital and a wedding centre. Being backed by rich and not-so-rich Sindhis alike, the trustees are approaching community members for funds. “Sindhis dream big and have built big educational institutions, hospitals and homes. Now building the Tirathdham is the community’s collective dream,” hopes trustee and realty czar Niranjan Hiranandani.

News courtesy: The Times of India
Read more » http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/Sindhis-to-get-a-shrine-they-can-call-their-own-in-Kutch/articleshow/46363798.cms

Russia ratifies $100bn BRICS New Development Bank

The Russian State Duma has ratified the $100 billion BRICS bank that’ll serve as a pool of money for infrastructure projects in Russia, Brazil, India, China and South Africa, and challenge the dominance of the Western-led World Bank and the IMF.

The New Development Bank is expected to start fully functioning by the end of 2015, according to the Russian Finance Ministry.

Russia has agreed to provide $2 billion dollars from the federal budget for the bank over the next seven years.

It will have three-tiers of corporate governance, with a Board of Governors, Board of Directors and a President.

The bank’s board of directors will hold its first meeting in Ufa in Russia in April. Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov is likely to become the bank’s first Chairman of the Board of Governors, according to Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Storchak talking on the Russia 24 TV channel.

The decision to establish the BRICS bank, along with a $100 billion reserve currency pool, was made in July 2014. Each of the five member countries is expected to allocate an equal share of the $50 billion startup capital that will be expanded to $100 billion.

The bank will be headquartered in Shanghai, India will serve as the first five-year rotating president, and the first Chairman of the Board of Directors will come from Brazil.

Read more » RT
See more » http://rt.com/business/234027-russia-ratifies-brics-bank/

Catching the dragon

IN RECENT weeks, economists at the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and Goldman Sachs, a bank, have tentatively suggested that within a year or two, India’s economy might be growing more quickly than China’s. The day came sooner than they had imagined. Official statistics published on February 9th revealed that India’s GDP rose by 7.5% in 2014, a shade faster than China’s economy managed over the same period (see chart). Narendra Modi, India’s publicity-savvy prime minister, could scarcely have hoped for a better endorsement of his first few months in office.

Read more » The Economist
See more » http://www.economist.com/news/business-and-finance/21642656-indias-economy-grew-faster-chinas-end-2014-catching-dragon?fsrc=scn/tw/te/bl/catchingthedragon

‘China, Russia back India on UN terror resolution targeting Pakistan’

NEW DELHI: China and Russia decided on Monday to back the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) — a resolution supported by India and heavily biased against Pakistan.

At a meeting of Russia-India-China (RIC) in Beijing, Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said her counterparts from the two countries understood the need for endorsing the resolution that has been pending at the UN for nearly two decades and seeks to widen the existing definition of terrorism.

The CCIT was proposed by India in 1996 in lieu of Pakistan allegedly backing Kashmiri separatists.

In Tuesday’s meeting, the RIC communiqué vouched to oppose terrorism of all forms and called all countries to join efforts in combating terrorism together with the United Nations.

Speaking at a press conference after the RIC meeting, Swaraj told reporters: “Our discussions on terrorism brought consensus on two issues. Firstly, there can be no ideological, religious, political, racial or any other justification for the acts of terrorism and secondly the need to bring to justice perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of these acts of terror.”

Swaraj added that the ministers emphasized the need to step up information gathering and sharing and prevent the use of the Internet and other information and communication technologies (ICTs) for the purposes of recruitment and incitement to commit terrorist acts.

News courtesy » The Express Tribune
Read more » http://tribune.com.pk/story/832183/china-russia-back-india-on-un-terror-resolution-targeting-pakistan/

India PM Narendra Modi to visit China in May

PM Modi
PM Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit China in May, Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj has announced during a three-day visit to Beijing.

China is one of India’s top trading partners but they vie for regional influence and dispute their border.

The announcement comes after US President Barack Obama’s landmark visit to India last week.

India and the US share an interest in curbing China’s growing regional influence.

During Mr Obama’s landmark visit he and Mr Modi signed the “Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region” pledging to work together to keep freedom of navigation, maritime security and air space safe, especially in the South China Sea.

Correspondents say it was the first time India and the US had come together openly to say that they do not want Asia to be dominated by one power.

“Mr Modi is going to come in May. I will give them dates today. This is a preparatory visit,” Ms Swaraj told reporters in Beijing, according to the Press Trust of India news agency.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to take Mr Modi to his home province of Shaanxi, reports say.

Mr Xi visited India in September. The two sides signed 12 agreements during his visit.

Read more » BBC
Learn more » http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-31087807

Putin Woos Pakistan as Cold War Friend India Buys U.S. Arms

 

By Natalie Obiko Pearson and N.C Bipindra

Russian President Vladimir Putin is seeking to build military ties with Pakistan as India buys more weapons from the U.S., changing an approach toward the nuclear-powered neighbors that has endured since the Cold War.  Sergei Shoigu, making the first visit by a Russian defense minister to Pakistan since the Soviet Union’s collapse, last week signed a “milestone” military cooperation agreement. The world community “wants to do business with Pakistan now,” Shoigu said, according to a Pakistan government statement.
Read more » Bloomberg
See more » https://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-11-23/putin-looks-to-pakistan-as-cold-war-friend-india-buys-u-s-arms.html

 

Why India is planning a new road near the China border

India has unveiled plans to build a mountain road along the disputed border with China in the country’s remote north-east.

The $6.5bn (£4.06bn), 1,800km (1,118 miles) all-weather road will stretch from Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh state to where the borders of India and China meet with Myanmar.

The road will connect sparsely populated and poorly-connected hill communities living in four large frontier districts of Arunachal Pradesh.

It will also help farmers in the mountainous region to transport their organic crops and medicinal herbs to low-lying and busy markets in neighbouring Assam state.

“This road will not boost our defences but help connect far flung communities for economic development denied to them for so long,” says India’s junior home minister Khiren Rijiju, himself a resident of Arunachal Pradesh.

But Indian military officials say the road will help consolidate Indian defences.

This represents a change in Indian military thinking that has so far opposed developing roads near the border, in case it is used by the Chinese during a conflict for speedy movement inside Indian territory.

The road, however, could could ignite fresh tensions between India and China.

The world’s two most populous countries disagree over the demarcation of several Himalayan border areas and fought a brief war in 1962.

Read more » BBC
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-29639950

Indian girl, 7, survives being buried alive

A seven-year-old Indian girl who was allegedly buried alive by relatives in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh has been rescued by a villager.

Police say relatives first tried to strangle her and then left her to die in a shallow grave. It is unclear why.

The man who found her in Sitapur district alerted police – she was taken to a hospital and is said to be doing well.

Police are looking for her mother, uncle and aunt who they say have fled.

The villager who rescued her followed the sound of muffled cries to the middle of a cane field where he found the soil moving.

Police allege the girl’s uncle and aunt had promised to take her to a fair, but then strangled and buried her near the village of Semri Gaura where she lives.

“When the girl became conscious, she began to remove the soil on top of her and clambered out of the shallow grave. Then she sat there and cried loudly when the villager spotted her,” Sitapur police chief Rajesh Krishna told BBC Hindi.

“There are strangulation marks around the girl’s neck.”

Reports say the girl lived with her mother. Her father apparently had no idea about the attack and has told police he is estranged from his wife and lives separately.

Police say they have yet to establish a motive for the attack. But cases of baby girls being killed are not uncommon in India, where women are often discriminated against socially and girls are seen as a financial burden, particularly among poor communities.

In 2012, the father and uncle of a baby girl in Uttar Pradesh allegedly tried to bury her alive, apparently as a sacrifice to protect the health of their other children on the advice of a spiritual guru.

Courtesy: BBC
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-28948296

‘India calls off sec-level talks with Pakistan’

NEW DELHI – India on Monday called off foreign secretary-level bilateral talks with Pakistan which was slated to be held on August 25, Times of India newspaper reported on Monday.

The paper reported that the Indian government decided this after a meeting between Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit and senior Hurriyat Conference leader Shabbir Ahmad Shah in New Delhi. Earlier on Monday, the high commissioner met Kashmiri leader ahead of the proposed secretary-level talks between Pakistan and India.

Read more » Daily Times
http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/national/18-Aug-2014/india-calls-off-secretary-level-talks-with-pakistan

Brics nations to create $100bn development bank

The leaders of the five Brics countries have signed a deal to create a new $100bn (£58.3bn) development bank and emergency reserve fund.

The Brics group is made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

The capital for the bank will be split equally among the five participating countries.

The bank will have a headquarters in Shanghai, China and the first president for the bank will come from India.

Brazil’s President, Dilma Rousseff, announced the creation of the bank at a Brics summit meeting in Fortaleza, Brazil on Tuesday.

A new player

At first, the bank will start off with $50bn in initial capital.

The emergency reserve fund – which was announced as a “Contingency Reserve Arrangement” – will also have $100bn, and will help developing nations avoid “short-term liquidity pressures, promote further Brics cooperation, strengthen the global financial safety net and complement existing international arrangements”.

The creation of the Brics bank will almost surely create competition for both the World Bank and other similar regional funds.

Brics nations have criticised the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund for not giving developing nations enough voting rights.

One of the goals for the bank – whose creation has been discussed for some time – would be to increase the amount of money loaned to developing countries to help with infrastructure projects.

Courtesy: BBC
http://www.bbc.com/news/business-28317555

Meaning and Origin Of The Word “Hindu”

The word Hindu is very much misunderstood and misused. Many people have no idea how the word originated. In India, some politicians use the the words Hindu and Hindutva with communal overtones either to promote or oppose some ideology or party. To the rest of the world, Hindu and Hinduism refer to a set of people belonging to definite religious system.

The fact is that the BOTH the words “Hindu” and “India” have foreign origin. The word “Hindu” is neither a Sanskrit word nor is this word found in any of the native dialects and languages of India. It should be noted that “Hindu” is NOT a religious word at all. There is no reference of the word “hindu” in the Ancient Vedic Scriptures.

It is said that the Persians used to refer to the Indus river as Sindhu. Indus is a major river which flows partly in India and partly in Pakistan. However, the Persians could not pronounce the letter “S” correctly in their native tongue and mispronounced it as “H.” Thus, for the ancient Persians, the word “Sindhu” became “Hindu.” The ancient Persian Cuneiform inscriptions and the Zend Avesta refer to the word “Hindu” as a geographic name rather than a religious name. When the Persian King Darious 1 extended his empire up to the borders of the Indian subcontinent in 517 BC, some people of the Indian subcontinent became part of his empire and army. Thus for a very long time the ancient Persians referred to these people as “Hindus”. The ancient Greeks and Armenians followed the same pronunciation, and thus, gradually the name stuck.

Read more » http://www.shraddhananda.com/Meaning_and_Origin_Of_The_Word_Hindu.html

World Bank: India Overtakes Japan as World’s Third Largest Economy

In purchasing power parity (PPP) terms, India is now the world’s third largest economy — surpassing Japan.

By Ankit Panda

In a sliver of good economic news during an Indian election that is widely focused on economic growth, the World Bank announced in a report on Tuesday that India overtook Japan as the world’s third largest economy in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP). According to the World Bank’s International Comparison Program (ICP) data, India holds a 6.4 percent share of global GDP on a PPP basis. The United States remains in first place with a 17.1 percent share and China trails it at 14.9 percent. Japan, while still the world’s third largest economy in nominal terms, holds a 4.8 percent share of global wealth.

Read more » THE DIPLOMAT
http://thediplomat.com/2014/05/world-bank-india-overtakes-japan-as-worlds-third-largest-economy/

Best of Frenemies: Pakistan’s Husain Haqqani has tough words for his home country -and for its supposed ally, the United States

Hussain Haqqani
Hussain Haqqani

By Adnan Siddiqi

Pakistan and the United States aren’t allies – they “just pretend to be allies.” Or so says Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s former ambassador to the U.S. He’s making waves with his latest book, Magnificent Delusions, which speaks hard truths about the difficult relationship between the two countries. In 2011, Haqqani was forced to resign as Islamabad’s envoy to Washington following a controversy in which he was accused of delivering, through an intermediary, a note to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff asking for U.S. help to ward off a supposed coup in Pakistan after U.S. forces killed Osama bin Laden. (He has denied the episode and also said there was no attempted coup.) He was investigated by the Supreme Court at home for treason, and he eventually left the country, saying his life was at risk. Haqqani returned to the United States and now teaches international relations at Boston University. Newsweek Pakistan spoke with him by email about his book and the delusions that continue to impair Pakistan’s relationship with the U.S.

NW: You have been a consistent advocate of resetting Pakistan-America relations on the basis of pragmatism. What exactly does this entail?

HH: For 66 years, Pakistan has sought close ties with the U.S. with the sole purpose of offsetting India’s size and military advantage. This has been a security relationship. But no nation can become a regional power while also being dependent on assistance from other countries. A better option for Pakistan would be to normalize relations with India and Afghanistan and then have a broader, nonsecurity relationship with the United States. Pakistanis resent the U.S. partly because we have been dependent on it. The United States had not been constant in its relations with Pakistan, but it was also wrong on Pakistan’s part to expect constancy. I have studied several models of partnership with the United States and wondered why most other U.S. allies since World War II have prospered while Pakistan has not. The answer came down to our unwillingness to have an honest relationship. South Korea and Taiwan aligned their security policies and perceptions with the Americans. Pakistan refused to accept U.S. advice, especially when its regional view was questioned. My vision, encouraged by [former prime minister] Benazir Bhutto, was for a strategic rather than tactical relationship. It would not be based on asking for military aid in return for providing some services to the Americans in their concerns. We need to build a self-confident Pakistan, free of the burdens of past blunders, especially jihadist misadventures. American assistance should be directed toward standing on our own feet. We need a relationship involving education, tourism, investment, and trade – like other countries have – not one that is all about seeking military equipment and aid in private and abusing America in public.

Read more » NewsWeek
http://mag.newsweek.com/2014/01/03/best-frenemies.html

India hits back, row with U.S. hots up

By Sandeep Dikshit

Withdraws some privileges in retaliation for arrest of Indian deputy consul

India on Tuesday set in motion an array of retaliatory steps against U.S. diplomats based across the country for the manner of arrest of an Indian diplomat in New York, signalling the escalation of an unprecedented bilateral row.

The government asked all U.S. consular officers to turn in their identity cards and the entire American diplomatic corps their airport passes while senior Congress leaders snubbed a visiting U.S. Congressional delegation for the second straight day by refusing to meet it.

The government also ordered the Delhi Police to remove concrete barricades on public land and roads that have existed for years around the U.S. embassy, sought salary details and bank accounts of all Indian staff employed at the missions and stopped all import clearances for the U.S. embassy, especially for liquor.

Read more » The Hindu
http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/india-hits-back-row-with-us-hots-up/article5469325.ece

Why China Is Wary Of India?

by John Lee

In a recent security conference in Washington, a Chinese delegate caused an awkward silence among the congenial group at a post-event drinks session when he stated that India was “an undisciplined country where the plague and leprosy still exist. How a big, dirty country like that can rise so quickly amazed us”.

It is this Chinese sentiment of disdain and also grudging admiration that explains much of Beijing’s attitude towards New Delhi. Indeed, one needs to go beyond strategic and military competition to understand the depth of rivalry between Asia’s two rising giants.

China shares land borders with 14 countries. Over the past 30 years, it has made concerted attempts to improve relationships with all of them by settling border disputes. In the case of Russia, China granted significant concessions in order to improve its relationship with Moscow. But the one exception is India.

Outstanding disputes such as the one over the Switzerland-sized area of Arunachal Pradesh continue to bedevil relations. China’s militarisation of the Tibetan plateau — including placing a third of its nuclear arsenal in that region — is a direct challenge to Indian sensibilities. Indeed, India is the only country not formally covered by China’s ‘no first use’ nuclear policy.

Add to these the growing naval rivalry in the Indian Ocean that is driven by resource competition and insecurity and we have what Chinese leaders openly admit to be a “very difficult relationship” with India. These factors point to the persistence of the India-China rivalry.

But they do not fully explain why Beijing has made little effort to work towards settlement of these disputes with New Delhi, as it has with its other land-based neighbours. A more complete explanation needs to take into account the non-material factors behind China’s strategic rivalry with India.

The first factor is one of shock and surprise at India’s continued rise. Until the late 1990s, people at the highest levels in China were dismissing India’s prospects. It was only early this century that China abandoned viewing India through the lens of the 1962 war when Indian forces were decimated and New Delhi humiliated. Because Indian national scars and weaknesses are there for all to see, little is hidden or explained away. China met India’s re-emergence initially with disbelief, then with disdain, and now with wariness. Beijing does not react calmly to strategic surprises and its gruff response to Indian ambitions in Asia is evidence that Beijing is yet to determine a grand strategic response to India’s re-emergence.

Continue reading Why China Is Wary Of India?

Veteran soldiers from India and Pakistan join hands to help peace process

By Jugal R. Purohit

Veteran soldiers from the Indian and Pakistani armed forces started their annual peace initiative in Delhi with a discussion where they called for a paradigm shift in the relations of the two neighbouring countries.

Organised under the aegis of the India Pakistan Soldiers’ Initiative (IPSI), the event saw the Indian chapter hosting an 18-member strong delegation of retired Pakistan armed force members and their families.

“Both our populations today have far less of collective memory of India and Pakistan being a part of one dominion. This, in my understanding, is a conducive climate for peace. However, from what I have observed, Indians in their thoughts remain frozen in the psyche of the 60s. But Pakistanis have moved on to the 21st century,” Congress MP and IPSI Chairperson Mani Shankar Aiyar, a former diplomat, said at the event on Friday.

The leader of the Pakistani delegation, former ambassador Lt. Gen. (retd.) Humayun Bangash, stressed the need to bust myths and clarify perceptions.

“I have lost my brother, who was the police chief of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, to a suicide terrorist strike. And there are many like me in my country who are victims. Not every terror attack in India is planned by the Pakistan Army,” he said.

From the Indian side, Maj. Gen. (retd.) M.A. Naik remarked that it was fitting that ex-servicemen got the opportunity to talk about peace.

“After spending 39 years in the Army where we planned on check-mating the other side, after retiring when I got this opportunity it felt very odd. But come to think of it, who can understand the value of peace better than those who have lost friends, relatives and colleagues to violence,” he said.

The relentless crisis — Lal Khan

Occupy Islamabad LahoreThe huge bubbles of speculative investment in housing, InfoTech, petroleum products and others sectors have now burst

After the 2008 crash of the world economy, there was an unprecedented turbulence in the world markets and economies. In the advanced capitalist economies most regimes, social-democratic or conservative, carried through severe austerity and cuts that started the process of dismantling the welfare state, mainly in Europe. All those gains achieved through intense struggle by the working classes of these countries were being reversed. Still the US and European economies could not come out of the recession after five years of brutal recipes to put the burden of the crisis of capitalism onto the shoulders of the working masses. There is a seething revulsion against the ruling classes. A popular catchphrase doing the rounds in Europe say it all: “Bankers are slightly less popular than paedophiles and serial killers.”

The BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries, the so-called emerging economies that were expected to give a new lease of life to capitalism with high growth rates, have failed to do so. Their growth rates shrank and the nature of the socioeconomic development in these countries, where the tasks of the bourgeois revolution have not been accomplished, have resulted in severe social contradictions that have now begun to explode on the political plane. Instability, uncertainty and disillusionment are now stalking these lands. The eruption of mass revolts from Turkey to Brazil are thus not accidental. They reflect a growing discontent and a sense of revulsion amongst the masses who are being inflicted by the severe trauma of this crisis that is crushing their livelihood.

It seems as if happiness has become elusive for the ordinary people in the advanced capitalist countries, not to speak of the oppressed working classes of the underdeveloped world.

After the Second World War, even if the revolutions were defeated in several European countries mainly due to the betrayals of the leaders of the Social Democratic and Communist parties, yet the upswing enabled these traditional leaders of the mass organisations to carry out reforms. Reforms are always introduced from above to stop revolution from below, but at least at that stage capitalism in the developed countries had the capacity to create a social welfare state. In Britain, education became free and the Labour Party introduced a health system where even foreign visitors could get treatment at a minimal cost.

People had hope for a better future and that created a blissful atmosphere and relatively prosperous societies. Now that optimism in life in Europe seems to have evaporated. People have lost hope in a future that promises only a grim life. A social malaise has set in. It is astonishing that this situation has developed in the aftermath of the collapse of the USSR, Eastern European Socialism and the capitalist restoration in China. After these events the bourgeoisie gained access to a huge market of more than two billion. At that time in the end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s, there was euphoria amongst the strategists of capital. The bourgeoisie on a world scale were dizzy with success. Yet it has turned out to be a hoax.

Dialectally it turned into its opposite and today we see capitalism mired in its most severe crisis, unprecedented in its 200-years history. This exposes the historical redundancy and the organic sickness of capitalism. Even with such a massive expansion of the market, it has failed to develop society and improve the living standards of the working class even in the advanced countries. The growth we saw in the last 20 to 30 years was through a greater labour intensive mechanism where all or most members of the household were working, many workers working overtime and of course, a gigantic expansion of credit.

The huge bubbles of speculative investment in housing, InfoTech, petroleum products and others sectors have now burst. But what triggered the crash of 2008 was the overextension of credit that accumulated in the corporate sector and through personal loans in the previous three decades. The banking default in 2007 led to the sovereign default in 2010. Ever since the economies of most European countries and the US have been reeling from a chronic crisis with no end in sight.

According to the Financial Times, it could take at least 20 years to solve the European crisis! It goes on to say, “Europe raises the spectre of an ungovernable world.” The usually boastful The Economist had to concede, “The way to recovery is long and dark.” If these most staunch strategists and spokespersons of capitalism are in such gloom, the reality of this system’s recovery must be much starker.

In the immediate aftermath of the 2008 crash, there was a sense of shock amongst the workers of the advanced capitalist countries. However, as various regimes embarked upon severe austerity programmes, retaliation began to emerge from the workers and the youth. The revolution in Tunisia that ignited the Arab revolution in the spring of 2011 took its inspiration from the mass demonstrations and protests in France in the autumn of 2010. The lightning strikes of the students in Britain in December of that year also had a huge impact on the youth, especially in Egypt. After the Arab Spring we saw the European summer with mass protests not seen in two decades in most countries of Europe. Then we saw the American Autumn with the sudden rise of the Occupy Wall Street Movement in the US with huge implications worldwide.

These movements also had important repercussions on the political plane. After 19 general strikes we saw the collapse of the traditional political party of the workers in Greece, PASOK. The meteoric rise of SYRIZA in Greece also shows that the working classes at a certain point can overcome the burden of their traditions and move ahead to a more radical solution.

Read more » Daily Times
http://dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=20137\21\story_21-7-2013_pg3_5

Healthcare Reform: What Would Jesus Do?

By Lou Kavar

“There was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse” (Mark 5: 25-26).

Their web site describes their mission. They “provide free medical care to people in remote areas around the world…” They’ve sponsored expeditions with doctors, dentists, nurses and other health care professionals to provide care in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Honduras, Guatemala, East Africa, India, Nepal and many other countries – serving those with no other option for health care. In Guyana, they have established a permanent base of operations. Remote Area Medical has pioneered no cost medical care, touching the lives of people who have no hope for other treatment.

While it is understandable that Remote Area Medical provides free health care to people in under-developed, impoverished countries, Americans should be scandalized to know that Remote Area Medical has a year round schedule to provide care to people in the United States. Yes, in the richest country in the world, in the country which brags of having the “best” healthcare in the world, American citizens line up and wait for free medical care because they have no other option.

From August 11 to 18, 2009, Remote Area Medical held clinic hours in the “remote” area of Los Angeles County. People slept in the streets overnight, lining up for health care services which they longed to receive for years. Various newspaper and TV reports recounted stories of people waiting in line to receive treatment from chronic and severe conditions. One woman stated that if her child did not receive eye glasses from Remote Area Medical, the child would have had none.

While people waited in the streets of Inglewood, Calif. for medical care, vocal, angry, and hate-filled debates ensued in other parts of the United States over health care reform. A public health care option for those in need was labeled as socialism, communism, and Nazism – often by the same commentators.

“She came up behind Jesus and touched his cloak, saying to herself, ‘If I only touch his clothes, I will be made well.’ Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease” (Mark 5:2-29).

Like the woman two millennia ago, people are pushing through crowds hoping to find help and healing for serious medical conditions. While Jesus was a willing conduit for this woman’s healing, many of the followers of Jesus today actively work to block access of those in need to health care. What’s even more scandalous is that many of these same people insist that America was founded as a “Christian nation” yet they vigorously oppose helping those in need through a public option for health care.

Continue reading Healthcare Reform: What Would Jesus Do?

Canada drops out of top 10 most developed countries list

The United Nations human development index now ranks Canada as 11th

By the Canadian Press

Canada has slipped out of the top 10 countries listed in the annual United Nation’s human development index — a far cry from the 1990s when it held the first place for most of the decade.

The 2013 report, which reviews a country’s performance in health, education and income, places Canada in 11th place versus 10th last year.

Continue reading Canada drops out of top 10 most developed countries list

Who says countries are permanent?

Ayaz AmirBy Ayaz Amir

Islamabad diary

We should know this more than others. The Pakistan of 1947 is not the Pakistan which exists today, one half of it having broken away to form another country. I served in Moscow in the seventies and nothing seemed more solid or permanent than the Soviet Union, a mighty power which cast a shadow far and wide. Who could have thought that in a few years’ time it would fracture, leaving a trail of small, independent republics behind?

Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall was two countries. Now it is back to being one. Czechoslovakia was one country then. Now it is two. In the UK, of all places, the Scots, or a goodly part of them, are demanding independence. A referendum is set to decide this question in 2014.

After the fall of the Soviet Union it seemed as if American pre-eminence was an assured thing, lasting for the next hundred years. Bright-eyed scholars announced not just the closing of an era but the end of history. As hubris goes, this had few equals. There were other Americans who said that reality would be what America wanted it to be. Yet American power has declined before our eyes, nothing more contributing to this than the wars President Bush ventured upon in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Clash of civilisations was another phrase current just ten years. Something of the sort has happened but not in a way that the US could have intended. Wouldn’t the Taliban, wouldn’t Al-Qaeda, define their struggle as a clash of civilisations?

Ten years ago in a Jamaat-ud-Dawaah mosque in Chakwal (not far from my house) I heard one of their leaders talking of America’s eventual but sure defeat in Afghanistan. I thought his rhetoric too fanciful then. It sounds much closer to home now.

I have just read a longish review of Norman Davies’ ‘Vanished Kingdoms: The Rise and Fall of States and Nations’. This book should be required reading for anyone concerned about the future of Pakistan. For the lesson it emphasises is that history does not promise progress. All it promises is change. Nothing is fixed, all is movement, nations rising and falling, the old disappearing to make way for the new, the new in turn becoming the old and morphing into something else – the philosophy of Heraclitus and Hegel, even of Marx.

Continue reading Who says countries are permanent?

Pakistan: Where the Population Bomb is Exploding

by Wendell Cox

In much the developed, as well as developing world, population growth is slowing. Not so in Pakistan according to reported preliminary results of the 2011 Pakistan census. Here population is growing much faster than had been projected. Pakistan’s population stood at 197.4 million in 2011, an increase of 62.7 million from the last census in 1998 (Note 1). The new population is 20 million more than had been forecast in United Nations documents. Some of the additional growth is due to refugees fleeing Afghanistan, but this would not be enough to account for the majority of the under-projection error.

Pakistan: Moving Up the League Tables

As a result, Pakistan has passed Brazil and become the world’s 5th most populous nation, following China, India, the United States and Indonesia. Pakistan’s 11 year growth rate is estimated at 34.2 percent, nearly double that of second ranking Mexico, at 18.2 percent, where the birth rate (as indicated by the total fertility rate) is projected to drop to under replacement rate by the end of the decade. Perhaps most significantly, Pakistan’s growth rate is more than double the rates of India (15.9 percent) and Bangladesh (14.1 percent),which have long had reputations for strong growth (Table and Figure 1). At this growth rate, Pakistan could become the world’s fourth most populous nation by 2030, passing Indonesia. …

Read more » New Geography
http://www.newgeography.com/content/002940-pakistan-where-population-bomb-exploding

A Wake up Call for Secular India

Shahrukh Khan exposes Indian secularism

Bollywood king Shahrukh Khan has exposed so-called secular face of world largest democracy: India, expressing his agony he is facing for being born as a Muslim.

SRK wrote an article titled Being a Khan for Outlook Turning Points magazine.

Khan said in the article many politicians asked him to go back to his native homeland: Pakistan, after 9/11 incident.

“I sometimes become the inadvertent object of political leaders who choose to make me a symbol of all that they think is wrong and unpatriotic about Muslims in India”.

“There have been occasions when I have been accused of bearing allegiance to our neighbouring nation (Pakistan) rather than my own country – this even though I am an Indian, whose father fought for the freedom of India. Rallies have been held where leaders have exhorted me to leave and return what they refer to my ‘original’ homeland.”

“I gave my son and daughter names that could pass for generic (pan-India and pan-religious) ones – Aryan and Suhana,” Shahrukh Khan said.

“The Khan has been bequeathed by me so they can’t really escape it.

Khan said that he pronounced names of his children with his epiglottis when asked by Muslims and throw the Aryan as evidence of their race when non-Muslims enquired. “I imagine this will prevent my offspring from receiving unwarranted eviction orders or random fatwas in the future,” said Khan.

Khan said that he was pressed to make the film “My Name is Khan” to prove a point after being repeatedly detained in US airports because of his last name.

He said he was grilled at the airport for hours about his last name when he was going to promote the film in America for the first time.

Courtesy: Pakistan Today
http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2013/01/26/news/entertainment/shahrukh-khan-exposes-indian-secularism/

How Arabs buy ‘wives’ and dump them in a few weeks

Mumbai: A month-long investigation by MiD DAY journalists has revealed a twisted form of human trafficking that involves rich Arabs, greedy Qazis, sham marriages, agents and girls lured into the flesh trade or those looking for a quick buck.

The modus operandi: set up a temporary or time-bound wedding to a rich Arab. The affluent Arab offers a negotiated amount for the services of a ‘wife’ during his stay in India. The price for the ‘booty’ varies from Rs. 15,000 to nearly a lakh for the 10-day marriage. Girls from poor families are sold like commodities to the Arabs, many of whom arrive on tourist visas from Saudi Arabia, UAE, Iran, Oman, Kuwait and Qatar. While this may seem shocking to many, the women involved in this latest form of flesh trade are often willing participants.

The Arab and The Qazi

These predators have been perpetrating a blatant crime under the veneer of nikaah, abusing the Islamic rules of marriage. Abusing the sanctioned provision which allows a Muslim man to have four wives at a time, many old Arabs are not just marrying minors in Mumbai and Hyderabad, but marrying more than one minor in a single trip to the country.

The Pimp and The Victim

A healthy stream of women keep flowing into the city from all parts of the country to solicit the Arab clientele who have turned Mumbai into a sex haven. For as little asRs 2,000 per job, scores of women line up every evening hoping to catch the eye of the adulterous tourist.

Continue reading How Arabs buy ‘wives’ and dump them in a few weeks