India 2011-2012

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Gang rape in India sparks debate on women’s rights
Indians have been publicly debating since the Dec. 16 gang rape and beating of a 23-year-old medical student on a moving bus in the capital, Delhi. Nearly two weeks of demonstrations have injured police and protesters alike. “[T]he public has been largely apathetic to women’s plight, but many are hoping the attack could be a turning point in the way India treats women,” writes Shivam Vij. The unnamed victim is “fighting for her life” in critical condition, while the teenage victim of a gang rape last month has committed suicide. The Christian Science Monitor/Global News blog (12/27), BBC (12/27), The New York Times (tiered subscription model)/Agence France-Presse (12/27), Al-Jazeera (12/27)
M.D. Nalapat: Sino-Indian trade prospective gold mine
(Global Times) India is at the same stage of development that China was in the mid-1980s, and therefore has an enormous need for infrastructure and technology.
The optimal low-cost, high-quality option for sourcing such need is China, a country that has already passed through the cycle of massive infrastructure spending which India is entering upon.
Another requirement is energy, both conventional, such as thermal and hydro, as well as alternative, such as solar and wind power.
The third field is telecoms, where again Chinese manufacturers offer lower prices and reasonable quality.
However, trade cannot be a one-way street. Already there are murmurs of protest from manufacturers in India about the $24 billion surplus in trade that China has with India.
While the smaller economy cannot match its bigger neighbor in most lines of manufacturing, India has a competitive advantage in services and software.
23 November
Forgetting Fukushima India Pursues Massive Nuclear Expansion
(Spiegel) The 2011 disaster at Japan’s Fukushima plant led many countries to turn away from nuclear power. But a growing population and rising economy has prompted India to massively expand its nuclear program — even in the face of technological worries and fervent opposition.
21 November
Why Can’t India Feed Its People?

(Bloomberg|Business Week) The vast majority of Indians, especially villagers, are suspended in nutritional purgatory—they eat enough to fill their stomachs but not enough to stay healthy. In the early 1970s the number of calories the average Indian ate began rolling backward. In 1973 villagers ate just under 2,300 calories a day, according to the National Sample Survey Office, a branch of the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation. By 2010 that number had dropped to about 2,020, compared with the government floor of 2,400 a day to qualify for food aid. The mismatch manifests itself in some of the world’s worst health score cards: Half of all children younger than three years old in India weigh too little for their age; 8 in 10 are anemic.
Mumbai attack gunman Qasab executed
(BBC) Mohammad Ajmal Amir Qasab, the sole surviving gunman from the 2008 Mumbai attacks, has been hanged.
The Pakistani national’s plea for mercy to Indian President Pranab Mukherjee was rejected earlier this month.
He was executed in prison in Pune early on Wednesday, the Home Ministry said.
The 60-hour siege of Mumbai began on 26 November 2008. Attacks on the railway station, luxury hotels and a Jewish cultural centre claimed 166 lives. Nine gunmen were also killed.
Qasab and an accomplice carried out the assault on the main railway station, killing 52 people.
25 August
Making sense of the epic crisis in India’s Assam
A lack of political will in India to tackle the issue of illegal immigration has contributed to the exodus of hundreds of thousands of people from the state of Assam, where a conflict between indigenous tribesmen and mostly Muslim migrants evolved into “the largest involuntary movement of people inside the country since independence,” reports The Economist. The conflict is centered on land, not faith, the magazine notes. The Economist (8/25), AlertNet/Asia Views (8/24)
2 August
How India Stumbled [Available only to subscribers and site license holders.]
Pratap Bhanu Mehta
(Foreign Affairs) Just a few years ago, India seemed on the brink of becoming the world’s next great power. Today, its future appears less certain. Although some have blamed the global economic recession, the real problem is domestic — namely, the centralized, secretive, and arbitrary political culture that pervades New Delhi.
Fantasies of power in muddle-along India
By Ramachandra Guha
(FT) Back in the 1990s, the distinguished energy scientist A.K.N. Reddy outlined a strategy to overcome India’s energy crisis. This focused on reducing theft and distribution losses (estimated at 30-40 per cent of total consumption), upgrading transmission and end-use technologies and running state electricity boards professionally. The suggestions were disregarded. Antiquated technologies were not replaced. Political interference and corruption continued. … High quality global journalism requires investment. As with railways and electricity boards, so also with public health and education departments. Indeed, the degradation of state institutions is perhaps the most serious threat to the vitality of Indian democracy and to the long-term success of India’s “growth story”.
31 July
File picture of Delhi at nightIndia power collapse traced to coal over-reliance
The reliance of India on coal to power 70% of its energy needs is partly responsible for the blackouts that affected half of the country’s 1.2 billion people, as well as the sweeping devastation to the environment. Coal energy cannot be “ramped up” as quickly as alternatives during meet peak energy season, says Justin Guay of the Sierra Club International Climate Program. The Christian Science Monitor (7/31)
Delhi power back after huge Indian power cut
(BBC) The electricity supply to India’s capital, Delhi, has been largely restored after a two-day blackout across much of the country.
More than 600 million people across India were affected by the power cut after three power grids collapsed, one for a second consecutive day.
Transport networks ground to a halt with hundreds of trains stranded and water supplies interrupted.
Full power is not expected to resume until some time on Wednesday.
The breakdowns in the northern, eastern, and north-eastern grids affected at least 20 of India’s 28 states.
India’s energy crisis threatens its economic growth
(BBC) On Tuesday, almost half the country’s 1.2 billion people and hundreds of thousands of businesses and various essential service providers were left without power after India’s northern and eastern grids broke down. A similar breakdown hit nine states in northern India on Monday.
20 July
The House of Nehru-Gandhi
India ought to consider becoming a constitutional monarchy. After all, it already has a royal family.
(Foreign Policy) Of course, realistically speaking, India is about as likely to embrace constitutional monarchy as Saudi Arabia is to become a hippie commune. But even if the Kingdom of India won’t be represented at the United Nations anytime soon, viewing the country’s dysfunctional politics through the prism of medieval monarchy — rather than modern democracy — might at least help make more sense of it all.
30 June
India and China: Friend, enemy, rival, investor
How can India make its economic relations with China less lopsided?
(The Economist) Aside from stiff displays of fraternity at summits, most recently the G20 bash in Mexico on June 18th-19th, China seems not to think much about India at all. Investment flows are negligible. There are still no direct flights between Beijing or Shanghai and Mumbai, India’s commercial hub.
And yet a huge shift has taken place in the make-up of Indian trade. When India began to liberalise its economy in 1991, the West still dominated the world economy, and it was to the West that India turned for trade. China’s rise has now changed everything—for India, too. China is now its third-largest trading partner in goods, and the biggest if you include Hong Kong. For China’s East Asian neighbours a dominant trade with China is a given, but Indians are still trying to digest the development.
… T.C.A. Ranganathan, chairman of Exim Bank of India, reckons ten Chinese firms have or are building plants in India, and 100 firms have offices there. … Might this be the start of a wave of Chinese investment? India needs outside capital, and expertise in manufacturing and infrastructure. China must invest its surplus funds abroad, ideally not just in government bonds—as mostly happens in America—and ideally in countries that are not about to go belly up, as may happen in Europe. Chinese investment in India is an idea whose time has come, if only the two sides can conquer a legacy of mistrust.
15 June
India’s Broken Promise: How a Would-Be Great Power Hobbles Itself
By Basharat Peer
(Foreign Affairs May/June) India’s political and business elites have long harbored a desire for their country to become a great power. … In recent years, such sentiments have also spread to large segments of the Indian middle class, which, owing to the country’s remarkable economic growth in the past two decades, now numbers around 300 million. Nearly nine out of ten Indians say their country already is or will eventually be one of the most powerful nations in the world, an October 2010 Pew Global Attitudes survey revealed.
But two recent books reveal the ugly underbelly of India’s success story. A vast gulf has opened up between the rich and the poor, corruption suffuses every aspect of life, and the country’s political leaders lack the vision needed to turn this would-be world power into an actual one.
25 April
The India-China Rivalry by Robert D. Kaplan
(Stratfor) This is a rivalry born completely of high-tech geopolitics, creating a core dichotomy between two powers whose own geographical expansion patterns throughout history have rarely overlapped or interacted with each other. Despite the limited war fought between the two countries on their Himalayan border 50 years ago, this competition has relatively little long-standing historical or ethnic animosity behind it.
The signal geographical fact about Indians and Chinese is that the impassable wall of the Himalayas separates them. Buddhism spread in varying forms from India, via Sri Lanka and Myanmar, to Yunnan in southern China in the third century B.C., but this kind of profound cultural interaction was the exception more than the rule.
Moreover, the dispute over the demarcation of their common frontier in the Himalayan foothills, from Kashmir in the west to Arunachal Pradesh in the east, while a source of serious tension in its own right, is not especially the cause of the new rivalry. The cause of the new rivalry is the collapse of distance brought about by the advance of military technology.
Educating Indian girls out of early marriage
“100% genuine girls. Young. Innocent. And available,” begins the introductory message to the website of The Girl Store, a unique campaign to prevent girls in India from being being sold into marriage or sex slavery by purchasing supplies for school. Donors can buy items uniforms for $27 apiece, as well as items such as workbooks, backpacks and pencil sets. The Wall Street Journal/India Real Time blog (4/24)
9 April
Does India Manage Its Water Like a ‘Banana Republic?’

(WSJ) India’s water supplies might be drying up and the government is finally waking up to that fact. The question remains, though, if its efforts will be sufficient to avert a possible crisis.
India has more than 17% of the world’s population, but has a mere 4% of the world’s renewable water resources and 2.6% of the world’s land area.
Starving in India: The Forgotten Problem
(WSJ) These days, Indian policymakers are debating how to create a vast new food entitlement program. There is talk of poor households struggling to cope with high food prices and malnourishment among their children. What you don’t hear much about, however, is the most tragic and outrageous consequence of India’s failure to feed its people adequately: starvation deaths.
11 January
India is on the verge of a polio-free future
On Friday, India will reach the one-year mark of registering not a single polio case, dealing a significant blow to a disease that remains endemic in only three other countries — Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan. Indian authorities, with the help of domestic and international aid agencies, have pursued a massive, sustained battle to raise awareness and vaccinate Indian children against polio. Hamid Jafari of the World Health Organization said, “The importance of India can’t be overstated. This establishes beyond doubt that … it is possible to stop transmission even in extremely challenging conditions.” The Globe and Mail (Toronto) (1/11), The Washington Post (1/11)

2011

30 December
Criticism after India corruption bill vote delayed
(BBC) India’s opposition parties have bitterly criticised the government for its failure to put the controversial anti-corruption Lokpal bill to a vote in the upper house of parliament. But the government insists that the opposition BJP was responsible for the bill not being passed. The house was adjourned amid chaos after a debate stretched to midnight.
Notorious slum emblematic of India’s informal economy
In the sprawling Dharavi slum in the Indian city of Mumbai, some 1 million people live in an area barely two-thirds the size of New York’s Central Park, a “mini India” where the extremes of human misery are matched only, perhaps, by an annual economic output estimated at $600 million to more than $1 billion. The slum is emblematic of the huge portions of India’s economy that operate in the shadows. The New York Times (tiered subscription model) (12/28)
New lanterns, cookstoves for poor Indian women
More than 200,000 members of a trade union for poor, self-employed women in rural India will be provided with energy-efficient cookstoves and solar lanterns over the next three years in what is being billed as one of the world’s largest clean-energy projects. Lars Thunell, head of International Finance Corp., which will guarantee loans from local banks to the women, said the initiative will “help low-income households increase savings and cut expenses for firewood, kerosene and electricity.” The Hindu (India) (11/19)
4 November
Cleo Paskal: Weeding Out Corruption In India
This is Part Two of a two-part series on the roots of corruption in India, and some of what is being done to weed it out. This first part looked at causes of corruption in modern India. The second part looks at how the battle against corruption in India is being waged, and why winning that fight is critical not just for India, but also for global security.
2 November
Cleo Paskal: Roots of Corruption in India
(HuffPost) There is a revolution in India.
Individual by individual, an anti-corruption wave is growing within Indian civil society. In recent months, people from all sectors of Indian society have said ‘enough is enough’ and, each in their own way, are doing something about it. Some are taking to the streets, others are online, some are using the courts, others have turned to the media. The swelling wave has already washed away one government minister and is lapping at the ankles of some of the country’s biggest players.
The implications are global. As the West and India work more closely together, corruption in India risks spilling over into partner systems. By cleaning up India, Indians are not only reclaiming their own country, they are making the world a more stable place. For anyone interested in lasting global security, it’s important to understand how India has ended up where it is today, and what Indian civil society is fighting for.
a differing voice
Soutik Biswas: Will India’s anti-corruption campaign implode?
(BBC) Will India’s civil society-led campaign against corruption implode under the weight of its own contradictions?
Two months after a rousing crusade for tough anti-corruption laws led by former army driver turned Gandhian activist Anna Hazare caught the government on the hop, his core team – a motley group of activists, lawyers and former government officers – is mired in controversies.
31 October
Rajat Gupta was role model for middle-class India
India has a large and prosperous diaspora that is a source of national pride, with the exploits of overseas Indians a regular feature of Indian media.
Before Indra Nooyi became CEO of PepsiCo Inc or Vikram Pandit took the reins at Citigroup Inc there was Rajat Gupta, the original “global Indian” who was the first to head a major Western business.
More than 17 years after first being elected head of McKinsey & Co, the management consultancy, Gupta was charged last week in part of the same insider trading investigation that saw his friend, hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam, sentenced to 11 years in prison, the longest-ever sentence in such a case.
For hundreds of thousands of bright young men and women from India’s huge middle class, Gupta and later Pandit and Nooyi were role models – case studies of how learning and old-fashioned hard work could lead to success on a global scale.
Corruption hampers India health services efforts
The deaths of three prominent doctors in Uttar Pradesh have thrown a spotlight on continuing corruption that plagues the battle to improve health services for India’s poor. Uttar Pradesh’s health infrastructure remains poor despite the allocation on nearly $2 billion by federal authorities for improvements. The New York Times (tiered subscription model) (9/17)
Rural water shortages reflect larger Indian trend
Groundwater levels continue to fall in rural areas of Rajasthan, a region in northwestern India that already faces recurring droughts, prompting farmers to use and devise new technologies to water their crops — and highlighting a general trend of water shortages across the country. Environmentalists are pushing for tougher laws to prevent over-exploitation by water-intensive industries and to limit further drilling of bore wells. BBC (9/12)
7 September
Al Qaeda affiliate suspected in Delhi blast
(Reuters) – A powerful bomb placed in a briefcase outside the High Court in New Delhi killed at least 11 people and wounded 76 on Wednesday in an attack authorities said was claimed by a South Asian militant group linked to al Qaeda.
25 August
Cleo Paskal: Why Indian Corruption Is a Global Security Concern
(HuffPost) India is in the throes of what some are calling a “second freedom struggle.” Across the country, citizens are on the streets, in the courts and on the internet, fighting to break corruption’s chokehold on the nation. It is a critically important battle, not only for the future of India, but for global security — corruption in India enables some of the world’s most dangerous terrorist networks.
The reason is, illegal money needs illegal methods to move it around. And the amount of corruption-generated money flowing through India is vast. According to Interpol: “In South Asia, the ‘black’ or parallel economy is 30 percent-50 percent of the ‘white’ or documented economy.”
In terms of Indian political corruption, the 2011 2G-spectrum scandal alone is estimated to have lost Indian taxpayers close to $40 billion. And, as soon as the money needs to cross borders, say to get to a Swiss bank account where it can be washed clean, an Indian politician on the take goes from being a national security concern to a global security concern.
20 August
India sets 9% growth target despite global woes
(AFP) — India aims to accelerate economic growth to nine percent, despite deepening global financial worries and stubborn domestic inflationary pressures, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Saturday.
The higher growth target comes even though India’s hawkish central bank, which has hiked interest rates 11 times in 18 months, says slower expansion may be required to rein in close to double-digit inflation.
“We want to achieve a growth rate of nine percent per annum (starting in 2012),” Singh said as he outlined the Congress government’s goals for India’s next five-year economic plan to 2017.
18 August
Indian anti-corruption activist wins right to fast
(WaPost) India’s leading anti-corruption campaigner prepared to leave prison after winning an assurance from the government on Thursday that he could continue his widely watched hunger strike and burgeoning protest against official graft at a park in central Delhi for at least 15 days.
Shashi Tharoor: India’s functioning anarchy
Despite British-style parliamentary procedures, Indian parliament frequently dissolves into chaos and farce
(Al Jazeera) … many … opposition members appear to believe that disrupting proceedings, rather than delivering a convincing argument, is the most effective way to make their points. Last winter, an entire five-week session was lost without a single day’s work, because the opposition parties united to stall the House, forcing adjournments every day. There has not been a single session in recent years in which at least some days were not lost to deliberate disruption.
7 August
Jaswant Singh: Asia’s BRICs hit the wall
Despite their recent success, China and India may soon face some economic difficulties.
Inflation and rising interest rates are among the many issues that may soon prove fatal to the Indian and Chinese economies
(Al Jazeera) … India is facing severe difficulties as well, but of a different nature. For example, outward investment by Indian companies is expanding fast. Some believe that this is a natural development for a rising power, but critics view outward investment as a reflection of the scarcity of opportunities at home.
Rising interest rates, high inflation, and severe policy gridlock amid a spate of government corruption scandals have impeded both foreign and domestic investment in India, thus slowing economic growth to a level that is below its potential. An unpredictable regulatory environment, inadequate infrastructure, and a sluggish, monsoon-dependent agricultural sector are adding to the economy’s problems.
In India, the government’s failure to contain rising prices, pursue structural economic reforms vigorously, attract foreign direct investment, advance infrastructure development, manage expenditure, and avoid liquidity crunches underscores the many challenges it faces. Moreover, a continued standoff between the government and the opposition has weakened political effectiveness, further undermining India’s growth prospects.
Indeed, India’s core challenge remains political. With food prices rising sharply, the poor are being hit the hardest, fueling greater poverty, inequality, and resentment. But the same is true in China: anti-inflation protests are now roiling both countries, owing mainly to rising energy, food, and raw-material prices, with food accounting for around 45 per cent of household spending in India.
27 July
India and Pakistan: moving out of intensive care

(Reuters) The joint statement released after the meeting of the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan was so predictably cautious that inevitably attention focused on Pakistan’s glamorous new foreign minister, Hina Rabbani Khar, and her designer accessories. … Nobody ever expected policy on India and Pakistan to be set by the foreign ministers. In Pakistan, it is heavily influenced by the army; in India, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is driving it. The two ministers were simply expected to deliver that policy with tact and conviction.
… The main caveat is that nobody is entirely clear where the Pakistan army stands on the peace process. But equally, since only the military and its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency have the power to deliver on security measures, the likelihood is that it was consulted well in advance.
– As expected, there was no reference to Afghanistan, since this has never been included within the formal peace process between India and Pakistan. Yet with many suggesting both countries have an interest in discussing stability in Afghanistan it remains unclear how they will find a mechanism to incorporate this into their peace talks.
– The statement acknowledged the desire of people of both countries for peace and development, a reflection of a major focus by both governments on building their economies. Despite distrust on both sides, a Pew Global Attitudes survey released in June showed support in both countries for improved relations and stronger trade ties.
19 July
During Hillary Clinton’s India visit, nuclear power is front and center
(CSM) With Secretary of State Clinton in India this week, the US and India are attempting to make up for decades of estrangement. However, disagreements about a 2005 nuclear deal threaten progress.
14 July
India’s $600 Billion Hidden Treasure
(WSJ) It’s in steel cupboards and in bank vaults across the country, where India’s housewives and other private owners have stashed their jewelry and gold savings. India’s private gold holdings probably total 15,000 tons, according to an estimate by Citigroup analysts in May. Some jewelers like T.K. Chandiran of Coimbatore thinks this number is too conservative, and the real amount is more like 30,000 tons, counting other hidden temple treasures.
These private stores are in addition to the 560 tons of gold kept as reserves with the Reserve Bank of India, which are worth around $26 billion.
Transnational terrorists see India as an easy target
(The Economic Times of India) It is not a mere coincidence that Mumbai, India’s commercial hub, has repeatedly been struck by terrorists since 1993. Mumbai has become the favoured target because the aim of terrorists is to undermine India’s booming economy and its status as a rising power by rattling foreign investors and driving away tourists.
India’s economic rise has intersected with Pakistan’s descent into chaos. Each terror strike on Mumbai raises fresh international concerns about security in India and prompts a sizable number of foreign tourists to abandon or delay travel plans.
Undercutting India’s strength by repeatedly targeting its economic capital is a geopolitical objective that only a state sponsor of terrorism can seek to pursue, not street gangs, underworld figures, or local fundamentalists. And that sponsor – which made the mistake of leaving its marks on the three-day Mumbai terrorist siege in November 2008 – is Pakistan’s notorious ISI agency.
Bomb blasts terrorize Mumbai
Authorities in Mumbai, India, were sorting through evidence at the scenes of three coordinated bomb attacks for which there are no suspects, and no group has yet claimed responsibility. At least 18 people were killed, and 141 were injured, in what officials were calling terrorist attacks on a jewelry market, the opera house and a crowded neighborhood. The Washington Post (7/14), The New York Times (tiered subscription model) (7/13)
24 June
The women of India’s Barefoot College bring light to remote villages

Being trained as solar-power engineers enables women from rural India and Africa to introduce electricity in isolated areas
The college was set up in 1972 by Sanjit “Bunker” Roy to teach rural people skills with which they could transform their villages, regardless of gender, caste, ethnicity, age or schooling. The college claims to have trained 15,000 women in skills including solar engineering, healthcare and water testing. Roy, 65, says his approach – low cost, decentralised and community driven – works by “capitalising on the resources already present in the villages”.
8 June
India’s Food Failures
An Indian journalist asks why the world’s second-largest food producer still has the highest number of people ravaged by hunger
(The East-West Wire) Has India’s food system failed its people? Hunger and starvation remain serious problems in India despite agricultural advances that have helped make the country the world’s second-largest food producer, following only Brazil. And India’s failures are coming under increased scrutiny as soaring food price inflation cripples household incomes, according to an essay by Sarosh Bana, executive editor of Business India and an alumnus of the East-West Center. (Click here to read the full text of Bana’s essay.)
25 April
World’s #9 Most Powerful Person Now Accused of Corruption — Will She Fall?
By Cleo Paskal
Some of India’s biggest fish are getting caught up in the country’s fast-growing wave of anti-corruption activity. In what could be India’s equivalent of a judicial jasmine revolution, previously invulnerable politicians, business icons, and pillars of the community are all nervously keeping their lawyers on speed-dial.
The anti-corruption push is an unprecedented coming together of myriad facets of Indian society. Religious leaders are concerned about the effects on morality and spiritual growth. NGOs speak of the effects on the poor. The middle class is angry about its future being stifled by a smothering blanket of day-to-day corruption. The intelligence services see corruption a clear threat to national security. And the business community, thanks to globalization, has seen how efficiently things can operate without having to constantly pay bribes or be tangled in red tape, and they want the same thing at home.
Top Commonwealth Games official charged with corruption
(Toronto Star) Indian police have arrested the top official of Delhi’s Commonwealth Games and charged him in financial irregularities related to the event.
Suresh Kalmadi, a high-ranking official with India’s ruling Congress Party, is charged with improperly awarding contracts to a Swiss time-keeping company that provided equipment and services for the Games.
20 April
The Hindu rate of self-deprecation
Listen to the critics and India’s economic miracle seems, well, miraculous
(The Economist/Banyan) FOR all its success in recent years, India’s economy has disappointed its boosters in at least one way: growth has remained slower than China’s. In terms of national income per head, China overtook India only two decades ago. The gap has widened relentlessly since. Yet last year, according to the IMF’s World Economic Outlook, India’s economy grew by 10.4%, outpacing China’s, albeit by six-hundredths of a percentage point (see article). That number may not be wholly reliable. India’s government, which measures GDP in a different way, puts growth at 8.6%. But even that is spectacular compared with the lumbering “Hindu rate of growth” of not long ago, and most economists now accept the possibility that in a few years’ time India might supplant China as the world’s fastest-growing big economy.
India v China The X factor
Which of Asia’s emerging giants grew faster in 2010?
MORGAN STANLEY thinks it could happen in 2013; the World Bank thinks it might happen next year. Many pundits have speculated about when India’s growth might outpace China’s. But the IMF’s World Economic Outlook says it’s already happened—without fuss, fanfare or felicitation. China grew by 10.3% last year; India by 10.4%. How can that be?
17 April
Indian city mourns last maharaja of Jaipur
(AFP) The maharaja’s death cut one of the few remaining links to an era when local royal families controlled large swathes of India, often enjoying lives of great extravagance.
Jaipur was one of many “princely states” designated by British colonial powers, who imposed indirect rule by signing alliances with Indian royal families.
After Indian independence in 1947, the maharajas gradually lost power and influence particularly during government reforms in the 1970s, but local people have often continued to view them as their leaders.
11 April
Tight Lending Puts India’s Growth at Risk
(WSJ) The galloping economic growth rates that India has enjoyed in recent years appear to be slowing because of a severe shortage of credit available to India Inc. and a spate of corruption scandals that has made lenders wary.
India’s central bank, the Reserve Bank of India, has been one of the world’s most aggressive in tightening interest rates in the past year to stanch high inflation. That has driven up the cost of credit for companies.
Complicating lending further, banks are being cautious in extending loans after law-enforcement authorities alleged that officers from some banks and an insurance company received bribes for giving credit. The country’s top investigative agency has started a probe.
8 April
Waking India – one man’s campaign against corruption
Anna Hazare’s hunger strike has inspired Indians as frustration grows at the subversion of the rule of law and moral values
(The Guardian) After decades of utter frustration, this one man, a veteran Gandhian, has emerged as the champion for tackling the menace of corruption. His crusade is a measure of the pent-up anger, especially among the young, springing from the manner in which politicians of all hues are taking the country for a ride through misuse of office and naked corruption. With the gap between the haves and have-nots widening, there is a sense of frustration among the diminishing tribe of honest Indians which is ready to explode.
2 April
India Charges Former Telecom Minister, Executives
(WSJ) India’s federal investigation agency Saturday charged former telecommunications minister Andimuthu Raja with cheating and forgery, and named Anil Dhirubhai Ambani-headed Reliance Communications Ltd. and its unit as among the beneficiaries in the case of an allegedly rigged radio-spectrum sale in 2008, which has put immense pressure on the ruling government.
In a high-profile case, that has embarrassed the country’s prime minister, the Central Bureau of Investigation also charged Raja with conspiracy, criminal misconduct and abusing an official position, and has also named three senior executives at Reliance Telecom Ltd.–Managing Director Gautam Doshi, and senior vice presidents Hari Nair and Surender Pipara–for abetment to crime.
31 March
Growing tiger
THE demographics of Asia’s large countries are sometimes difficult to wrap one’s head around. China’s economy may surpass America’s in size while its citizens remain far poorer than Americans, simply due to the fact that there are nearly five times as many of the former as of the latter. And this news out of India is truly stunning:
… India has, in effect, added to its population the entire citizenry of Brazil, itself the world’s fifth most populous country. This rapid growth is a major reason why some analysts are more bullish on India’s long-term prospects relative to China’s. India will continue to enjoy a demographic dividend while China’s catch-up growth may be constrained by the pressure of an aging population.
30 March
India Wins Cricket Game Tinged by Politics
The politics of the match were as important as the outcome. Days earlier, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India issued a surprise invitation to his counterpart, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani of Pakistan, to join him for the match. The overture came as the countries were trying to restart diplomatic discussions and prompted speculation about what the leaders might discuss and whether a breakthrough in relations was possible.
Will Today’s Massive Cricket Match Solve The India-Pakistan Conflict? (Or Make It Worse?)
… even though the countries are engaged in a heated regional rivalry as well, the prime ministers of India and Pakistan are watching the match together in the same box.
23 February
Thousands protest against high food prices in Delhi
(BBC) Trade unions who have called the rally say nearly 40,000 people will attend a meeting at the Ramlila grounds.

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