India

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CBC: Kashmir in depth (2006)

Street protests spread across India over jailed rights activist
The recent sentencing to life imprisonment of an Indian pediatrician — an outspoken activist on behalf of disenfranchised peoples expelled from mineral-rich forest areas — has sparked street protests throughout the country. Human rights activists say police planted evidence and manufactured testimony against Binayak Sen, who was convicted of sedition and conspiracy for allegedly assisting the deadly Maoist insurgency. The Washington Post (12/28)
27 December
India’s space programme suffers set back
(FT) The explosion of a communications satellite during launch comes only a month after the US and India agree on space collaboration
7 December
Asia: Censors’ sensibility
What can and cannot be said in the world’s largest democracy
(The Economist) The country is enthralled at the moment by a series of corruption scandals, mostly involving members of the ruling Congress party. Now attention has turned to some journalists-cum-lobbyists whose close ties to powerful business and political types go beyond acceptable limits. Indian journalists, say local critics, are too often docile, unwilling to challenge those in authority, or, worst of all, easily bought off with gifts and made to publish (or withhold) stories in the interests of the powerful.
None of this stops Indians with controversial views speaking out, of course. But there are limits on what can be said. This month courts are pondering the prosecution of Indian novelist and activist Arundhati Roy for sedition, for daring to question the place of Kashmir within India. The same colonial-era law is occasionally trotted out to threaten separatists and others who speak out.
15 November
Two Delhi Commonwealth Games officials arrested
(BBC) India’s top investigating agency has arrested two 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games officials for alleged financial irregularities.
TS Darbari and Sanjay Mohindroo are accused of forgery and cheating over the awarding of Games contracts.
Obama: India deserves a permanent Security Council seat
U.S. President Barack Obama is backing reform of the UN Security Council to include more permanent members, notably India. He did not suggest a timeline for such reforms in his remarks, which came at the conclusion of a three-day visit to the country. BBC (11/8)
26 September
Lloyd’s insurers turned down Delhi games
Insurers in the Lloyd’s of London market said they would not provide cover to ticket sellers and broadcasters for cancellation or disruption of the Commonwealth Games due to a lack of information about infrastructure
India cautions world to show ‘respect’ in Commonwealth Games criticisms
India’s industry minister is lashing out at critics of his country’s readiness to host the Commonwealth Games, warning potential trade partners to treat the emerging economic powerhouse with “respect.” … countries such as Canada are looking to expand their trade ties with the world’s two fastest growing major economies: China and India. But as Canada tries to gain access to these massive emerging markets, it must not only surmount traditional trade barriers, but also deep cultural differences and the perception in some quarters that China and India have been snubbed by the traditional club of rich western nations.
Commonwealth Games 2010: Indian government to blame for Delhi chaos, says Mike Hooper
Commonwealth Games Federation chief executive Mike Hooper has said his organisation should not shoulder the blame for the problems which have plagued the build-up to the event in Delhi.
23 September
At India’s Commonwealth Games, shame might be a blessing
A wholesale cancellation of the Commonwealth Games might just be the best thing for India.
The games people play (or not) — Why Delhi’s Commonwealth games fiasco is not all bad news
(The Economist) India is a democracy. It is hard to deny that its political system complicates the organisation of such events. Responsibilities are split between the federal government, the local authorities in Delhi and the various sports bodies. And, in a democracy, every decision is contested. That the prime minister cannot snap his fingers, tell everybody to fall into line and “just do it” may be embarrassing. But not many Indians would prefer it another way.
21 August
India tests programs to curb large families
Indian authorities have launched a pilot program in Satara to offer cash bonuses to newlyweds who wait two years after marriage to have children. Across India, officials continue to test initiatives such as encouraging the use of condoms and campaigns to end teenage marriages as part of the government’s ongoing bid to curb population growth. The size of India’s population — half of which consists of individuals under 25 years old — is increasingly straining the government’s ability to provide services and threatens the country’s economic gains of the past decade. The New York Times (8/21)
6 August
Indian Kashmir hit by deadly floods
5 August
Violence in Indian Kashmir
The bloody protests in Indian Kashmir get much bloodier
(The Economist) Even by its turbulent standards, the Indian-held portion of Kashmir is in chaos. Each day, defying curfews, crowds in Srinagar and several outlying districts gather to pelt stones at police. A paramilitary bunker near the line dividing Indian from Pakistani Kashmir was ransacked this week, and a police station torched. The local economy is choked, as so often in two decades of insurgency and protests. The road to Srinagar is closed and supplies of blood, medicine and baby milk are short.
What could break the cycle? The government sees the answer in better local services and more jobs. But it would, having long denied the great extent to which Kashmiris want rid of India. While the insurgency raged, backed by Pakistan, the government could blame its neighbour. But as fighting eased and protests rose, blaming Pakistan got much harder. Kashmiri separatist aspirations are the heart of the problem, as Mr Abdullah hinted in Delhi, by calling for a political solution to it.
Short of separation, which would be impossible even if a third of Kashmir were not in Pakistan, it is hard to know what could satisfy Kashmiris.
11 July
India’s Foreign Secretary Calls on Dalai Lama
There was thus nothing unusual or secret about her visit and meeting with His Holiness, but there is likely to be speculation connecting her meeting with India’s unhappiness over China’s ignoring Indian concerns over the implications to India’s national security of China’s decisions to help Pakistan in improving its road infrastructure in the Gilgit-Baltistan area and in constructing a railway line to Xinjiang which will pass through Gilgit-Baltistan.
These decisions were announced during the just-concluded visit of President Asif Ali Zardari to China.
… The Chinese have sought to play down Indian concerns over their assistance to Pakistan for improving the infrastructure in the Gilgit-Baltistan area by projecting it as meant to promote trade between Pakistan and Xinjiang, but it has serious military implications for India. It would enable Pakistan to move its troops and military equipment to these areas across the Line of Control in J&K more rapidly than in the past. It would also enable Chinese troops in Xinjiang to move to this area to assist Pakistan in the event of a military conflict. This would further increase the military threat to the Ladakh and Kargil areas where China claims a large area as Chinese territory.
8 June
Thousands dead, their land poisoned. The sentence – just two years
Court ruling over the tragedy at Union Carbide’s Bhopal plant has enraged campaigners.
More than a quarter of a century after tens of thousands of people were killed in one of the world’s most notorious industrial accidents, activists in Bhopal reacted angrily when a court handed down jail terms of just two years to former officials who oversaw the pesticide plant that leaked clouds of poisonous gas. (BBC) Indian papers deplore ‘shameful’ Bhopal sentences (CSM) Indians outraged by Bhopal gas verdict prepare counterpunch
The lingering shame of Bhopal
We in the West often fail to take notice of suffering in the developing world. Ferries sink in Bangladesh and dozens die and yet we barely blink, protesters get locked-up, shot and tortured and we shrug, cyclones and storms kill tens of thousands and it is news for a day. It is not that we do not care about these things, of course. When an oil spill threatens the ecology of the US Gulf and the livelihoods of its people, we sit up and take notice, demand action and insist on better safety checks for the future, even though the incident has killed 12 people rather than 25,000. Tough questions are asked of CEOs and presidents and we all get all misty-eyed at images of oil-soaked pelicans. That’s because it is happening in our back yard, or at least somewhere we can equate to as our back yard. In the developing world it is somehow easier to ignore, just as it was easier for Union Carbide not to require a level of maintenance and safety at its plant in central India as would have been demanded back home in the US.
India sees reward in backing for China during Copenhagen
Bilateral relations between China and India have improved dramatically as a result of close coordination of negotiating positions during the December 2009 Copenhagen climate summit to counter demands from Western countries, an Indian official notes. “We were critical to China at Copenhagen. The Chinese know, in their heart of hearts, that we saved them from isolation,” Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh said. The Hindu (India) (5/10)  India, Pakistan jockey for influence in Afghanistan
India and Pakistan are waging a proxy battle against one another in Afghanistan, where influence represents access, resources and security. Pakistan, which shares a religion and ethnic ties with Afghanistan, considers the country its natural ally — and abhors the thought of finding itself sandwiched between India and a pro-India Afghanistan. India’s efforts to build roads and electrical infrastructure in western Afghanistan reflect its interest in opening new trade routes and energy corridors through Central Asia as well as expanding its regional influence. The Washington Post/The Associated Press (4/26)
6 January 2010
Clash of the Tigers
(Foreign Affairs January 2010) A hostile diplomatic battle has erupted in recent months between China and India. Do tensions over visas and the two countries’ shared border pose a threat to one of Asia’s most formidable partnerships?
The festering discord — and relations with China, in general — is perhaps the one foreign policy issue that causes anxiety for an otherwise buoyant and optimistic government in New Delhi. Some Indian policymakers believe … as China’s and India’s economies continue to grow, the two countries will vie for greater influence, competing for both markets and resources. … the two countries have very real areas of rivalry: they will struggle against one another for dominance in the Indian Ocean, compete for resources in Africa and gas in Burma, vie for influence with the United States, and more specifically, debate the question of devaluing the Yuan, on which India and the United States are in agreement.
3 December 2009
Bhopal Gas Tragedy: Endless nightmare
(Times of India) Following the disaster, there was an international outcry for relief for the victims and punishment to those responsible for the gas leakage. The pesticide plant from where the gas leaked belonged to Union Carbide India, a subsidiary of the US-based Union Carbide Company. They were asked to pay compensation and arrange for medical treatment. The matter immediately got embroiled in legal controversies. Thus began a long and painful struggle of the victims for compensation, medical attention and rehabilitation that has spluttered along for a quarter century.
13 November 2009
Rural India Gets Chance at Piece of Jobs Boom
Rural India was once seen as a dead weight on the Indian economy, a bastion of backwardness embodied by the frequent suicides of farmers eking out livings from arid fields, dependent upon fickle monsoons. But Indian and foreign companies have come to see India’s backwaters differently, as an untapped market for relatively inexpensive goods like low-tech cellphones, kitchen gadgets and cheap motorcycles. Now some businesses have begun looking to rural India for an untapped pool of eager and motivated office workers.
10 October
Why India Fears China
(Newsweek) China claims some 90,000 square kilometers of Indian territory. And most of those claims are tangled up with Tibet. Large swaths of India’s northern mountains were once part of Tibet. Other stretches belonged to semi-independent kingdoms that paid fealty to Lhasa. Because Beijing now claims Tibet as part of China, it has by extension sought to claim parts of India that it sees as historically Tibetan, a claim that has become increasingly flammable in recent months.
22 July
India opens door to foreign universities
India plans to open its higher education sector to foreign investment and some of the world’s leading universities next year to help meet the growing skills requirements of millions of its young people. Kapil Sibal, minister of human resources development, said he aimed to have legislation in place to allow top universities such as Harvard, Stanford and Yale to enter the country by next July.
7 July
Martin Wolf: What India must do if it is to be an affluent country
(FT) What will the world economy – indeed, the world – look like after the financial crisis is over? Will this prove to be a mere blip or something more fundamental? Much of the answer will be provided by the performance of the two Asian giants, China and India. Rightly or wrongly, it is widely accepted that China will continue to grow very rapidly. But what is the likely future for India?
22 June
India eyes huge rise in road building
(FT) The government plans to invite foreign investors to participate in an ambitious move to increase road construction 10-fold as it seeks to boost infrastructure development
21 May
(The Economist Analysis) The outgoing government, formed after Congress surprisingly triumphed in the 2004 election, winning 145 seats, was hobbled by the many venal and incompetent regional and Communist allies that it needed to make up its majority. Unencumbered by this rabble, Congress’s next government is expected to be more stable, less corrupt and, at a time of economic crisis, more efficient. Shorn of the Communists, who blocked a clutch of liberal measures before they abandoned the government last year, it could also pass some overdue economic reforms. Read article
18 May
The 2009 Lok Sabha Election: a Storm in the Teacup?
Mritiunjoy Mohanty
(Macroscan) Now that the votes have been counted and we know which party has won how many seats, it might be worthwhile reflecting on an intriguing possibility put forward by two of our leading political scientists, Yogendra Yadav and Suhas Palshikar. They argue that for all the vibrancy of our democracy and high levels of participation, it might actually be much ado about nothing because it matters so little as to which government comes to power in Delhi.
17 May
Next steps in India poll process
(Al Jazeera) With the Indian electorate giving the incumbent federal government a rare second chance to rule, the country will be spared the backroom dealings and horse trading that was being refered to as the “sixth phase” in the month-long election process. Once the vote count is final, Manmohan Singh, the current prime minister, will formally submit his resignation to the president That Patil will ask Singh to continue as caretaker prime minister until his new government is ready to take charge, is another formality that will be gone through. India’s election commission says a new government must be formed by June 2 as the present government’s tenure ends on June 1.
The new cabinet’s first task will be to present the national budget by June 25. Al Jazeera’s indepth coverage of India elections
Elections 2009: An analysis
The mandate is loud and clear. India will see a government under a successive prime minister, Manmohan Singh, for the first time after Jawaharlal Nehru, in the 1950s. The Congress party’s 201-seat tally is the best ever by any party since 1991..
14 May
Economy and chauvinism on the ballot in India
(Toronto Star) The question is not so much whether the ruling Congress will lose, given the economic slowdown and the perils of incumbency, but whether the unapologetically Hindu chauvinist Bharatiya Janata Party can make a comeback.
The party advocates Hindutva (Hindu-ness), under which minorities, especially Muslims (145 million) and Christians (25 million), must accept the predominance of Hindu ethos and culture, despite India’s secular constitution.
When the BJP last held power (1998-2004), its moderate prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee curbed its extremism and concentrated on economic reform. Vajpayee has since retired. His successor, L.K. Advani, is a stalwart of the party’s paramilitary organization, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (National Self-Help Front). It was an RSS devotee who assassinated Mahatma Gandhi in 1948.
12 May
FT op-ed by Aravind Adiga (author of the “White Tiger”) on the four crises waiting for new Indian PM (“Tips for India’s next premier“):
But this much is already clear: the new prime minister will almost certainly have to deal with four emergencies in the course of his term.
Emergency One: Terrorism is a part of daily life in India now, but at some point during the new prime minister’s term there will be a spectacular strike – on a plane, temple, parliament or nuclear installation. When the strike takes place, it will be found that the local police did not have enough guns, walkie-talkies, training or manpower to fight back quickly.
…Two: The extent to which the global recession has hurt India’s economy has been masked by a government stimulus package.
…Three: In the past few weeks, the Naxals – Maoist guerrillas who operate in the desperately poor states of north and central India – have attacked a major aluminium mine, killed voters and policemen, and disrupted trains.
…Four: India’s population continues to grow and demand for water – for irrigation, industrial and personal consumption – keeps mounting; yet no government has given enough thought to husbanding the country’s water resources.
9 May
India votes – we have mentioned it before, but believe that the extraordinary news of  The untouchable who would be PMwarrants some 714 million eligible voters, with almost four million officials taking part – the mind boggles.
7 May
The BJP enjoys an optimistic moment
RICH, industrialised and with a history of Hindu-Muslim violence, Meerut, a city in western Uttar Pradesh (UP) which went to the polls on May 7th, should be easy pickings for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). In the 1990s, when the Hindu nationalists were thrust to national power, they won three elections in Meerut in a row. But there was little of the Hinduist party’s saffron paraphernalia on display in the city of 1.3m. Indeed, the BJP is having a lacklustre election. It has mostly played down its Hindu-chauvinist ideology, Hindutva, which puts off many Indians, including the coalition allies it would need to form a government. This has caused discontent among the BJP’s foot-soldiers, directed in particular at L.K. Advani, the party’s 81-year-old prime-ministerial candidate.
Power Plays in the Indian Ocean
(Foreign Affairs March/April 2009) Already the world’s preeminent energy and trade interstate seaway, the Indian Ocean will matter even more as India and China enter into a dynamic great-power rivalry in these waters.
8 Nov 2007
Technology in China and India [Premium content]
(From The Economist print edition) TOWARDS the end of the 11th century, while tardy Europeans kept time with sundials, Su Sung of China completed his masterpiece: a water clock of great intricacy and accuracy. Standing almost 12 metres (40 feet) tall, Su’s “Cosmic Engine” wavered, it is said, by only a few minutes in every 24 hours. From twin tanks filled by servants, a steady flow of water was cupped and spilled by a series of buckets mounted on a wheel. The rotation of the wheel turned the clock, as well as an astronomical sphere and globe that charted the movement of the sun, moon and planets. Drums beat 100 times a day; bells chimed every two hours. A replica, painstakingly built with contemporary methods, now turns in Taiwan’s National Museum of Natural Science.
Clockmaking was only one scientific endeavour in which China and India comfortably led the world before the 15th century. China outstripped Europe in its understanding of hydraulics, ironsmelting and shipbuilding. Its machines for ginning cotton, spinning ramie and throwing silk seemed to lack only a flying shuttle and a drawbar to match the 18th-century contraptions that launched Britain’s Industrial Revolution. Clean your teeth with a toothbrush, rebuff the rain with a collapsible umbrella, turn a playing card, light a match, write, pay—or even wipe your behind—with paper, and you register a debt to China’s powers of invention.…

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