February 26, 2011

India again unleashes its soft power on US --- Maximum Country:

Maximum Country: India again unleashes its soft power on US
Chidanand Rajghatta, TNN, Feb 26, 2011, 08.53pm IST

WASHINGTON: Some of Washington DC's cognoscenti still remember Bundu Khan Langa. With his brilliant smile and colorful safa, the oversized Rajasthani turban, the young folk singer would send titters through the audience, exhorting them to "shiiitt down...shiiitt down," so he could start his performance. Once he began, the crowd on the grassy mall in front of the Capitol would end up spellbound, hushed by the soulful melodies that essayed from then 14-year old genius.

It was an event that made Langas and Manganiars, the Rajasthani desert singers, famous, and unleashed the cultural strength and variety of India on the US and the world five years before the term "soft power" was coined by Harvard University's Joseph Nye. Some 25 years after the great Smithsonian Institution's Festival of India, it is now the turn of Washington's other grand cultural establishment, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, to host an India festival at a time the country and its cultural muscle and depth hardly needs any introduction.

Maximum India, a 20-day cultural extravaganza of Indian soft power, kicks off here on March 1 with scores of artistes set to enthrall a capital where India is now looked on more favourably than ever before. A recent Gallup Poll put India among Canada, Britain, Japan - and ahead of China, and even Israel -- as countries rated favourably by Americans. India's strategic partnership with the US has much to do with it, but underpinning that is a cultural bonding that has come a long way since 1985 when America got a sustained taste of India.

In recent years, Kennedy Center has hosted a China Festival, an African Odyssey and an Arabian extravaganza even as memories of the great Festival of India had begun to fade. Fortunately, New Delhi responded with alacrity to Kennedy Center's initiative to drum up the India beat again. The result is a fiesta that will be brighten up Washington DC's cultural calendar in the fading days of winter. "Maximum India may not be on the same scale as the Festival of India, but it is a major effort to display the creativity, ferment, and dynamism that characterizes Indian arts," India's ambassador to the US Meera Shankar observed while unveiling the program.

Indeed, the 2011 extravaganza, which Kennedy Center and the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR) have been working on for two years, showcases a whole generation of new artistes, alongside familiar icons such as Zakir Hussain and L.Subramaniam. Piano prodigy Utsav Lal, rock band Parikrama, and the folksy Bollywood singer Kailash Kher are among those who will perform on the prestigious Millennium stage.

Some of the performers will be Indian-Americans who may not be household names in India - jazz saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa, who is making waves in U.S and Europe, DC's own ghazal queen Vatsala Mehra, and US bhangra-rap DJ Punjabi MC, make the cut. Kennedy has also reached out to the far corners of India, featuring the acclaimed north-east blues band Soulmate and the Hindi-Kannada rock band Raghu Dixit Project, for American exposure.
Leading names in dance (Alarmel Valli and Madhavi Mudgal performing together; Priyadarshini Govind and the Nrityagram Ensemble; Malavika Sarrukai; Shantala Shivalingappa), theater (the peerless Naseeruddin Shah and Shabana Azmi) and movies (Nandita Das) are featured in the program that is rounded off with taste of India sessions with chefs Hemant Oberoi and Ananda Solomon.

While most of the performances are ticketed (prices range from $10 to $100), there are many free events (on a first-come basis), including those on the millennium stage, which will also be webcast live.

Is Baloch Blood cheeper than Libyan citizens? BSO-NA

Picture of Mr.Wahid Baloch with US Vice President Mr.Joe Biden
Balochs are going through the same thing for several decades what Libyan are going through now, the Helicopter Gunship attacks, Extrajudicial killings, Torture, Kidnapping, Forced disappearance and public hanging in Pakistani and Iranian occupied Balochistan for last several decades in the hands of Pakistani Jihadi Military and Iranian Terrorist Revolutionary guards. But UN and its Security Council have closed their eyes to Balochs repeated demands for international intervention and action has been met with deaf ears. Is Baloch Blood cheaper than Libyan citizens? May we ask the UN Sec General and Security Council members? -- Wahid Baloch, President of Baloch Society of North America

Security Council meets to consider Libya sanctions

By ANITA SNOW, Associated Press Anita Snow, Associated Press – 23 mins ago

UNITED NATIONS – The U.N. Security Council met urgently Saturday to consider new sanctions against Libya to halt a violent crackdown on anti-government protesters, but members disagreed over a proposal to refer Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and top aides to an international war crimes tribunal.

There was broad consensus among the council's 15 members on some sanctions, including an arms embargo as well as a travel ban and asset freeze directed at Gadhafi, his family and other key regime members, said diplomats who spoke on background because the session was closed.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is urging council members to take immediate action to protect civilians in Libya where some estimates indicate more than 1,000 people have been killed in less than two weeks. Many people in Tripoli and other areas where Gadhafi remains in control cannot leave their homes for fear of being shot.
"In these circumstances, the loss of time means more loss of lives," the U.N. chief said Friday.

Mr. Ban ki-moon, that same thing is happening in Occupied Balochistan too. We have more than thousands dead and missing, and several hundreds are homeless, living in harsh conditions without any food, shelter and medicine. Baloch are collecting the Bullet riddled bodies of their love one everyday. The UN intervention is long overdue and it should be carried out with out further delay. When the UN fulfill its obligations towards Balochistan? May we ask??? Wahid Baloch, President of Baloch Society of North America

Ban continued his campaign to consolidate world support for U.N. moves , speaking by telephone on Saturday with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi.

The major sticking point in council deliberations was language in the proposed draft resolution that refers those responsible for the violent crackdown in Libya to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, or ICC, for investigation of possible crimes against humanity.

When war crimes and crimes agianst humanity in Occupied Balochistan will be investigated and Pakistani army and Iranian Criminal Mullah will be brought to Justice for their crimes against Baloch people in Occupied Balochistan.

The sanctions being considered do not include a no-fly zone over Libya and no U.N.-sanctioned military action was planned. NATO has also ruled out any intervention in Libya.

Backers of the proposal circulated by France, Germany, Britain and the United States insisted the reference to the international court is necessary.
But diplomats consulted outside the closed-door session said Portugal was worried that the referral could endanger Portuguese citizens still inside Libya. They added that Brazil, which like Portugal is an ICC member, also opposes the refererral to the court, as do China and India, which are not parties to the permanent war crimes tribunal. China as one of the permanent council members has veto power.
France's U.N. Ambassador Gerard Araud said his country was still working to get consensus, and that "it may all be in the language."

Otherwise, "I have been quite surprised by the commonality of support on the sanctions," Araud said before the midday meeting. "We'll see if it lasts."
The Libyan mission to the U.N., run by diplomats who now have all renounced Gadhafi, told the council in a letter that it supports "the measures proposed in the draft resolution to hold to account those responsible for the armed attacks against the Libyan Civilians, including through the International Criminal Court."
The letter was signed by Ambassador Mohamed Shalgham, a former longtime Gadhafi supporter who had a dramatic change of heart after the crackdown worsened. Shalgham pleaded with the council on Friday to move quickly to halt the bloodshed in his country.

Earlier Saturday, in Ankara, Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged the council not to impose sanctions, warning that the Libyan people, not Gadhafi's government, would suffer most. He also suggested that the international community was more worried about Libya's oil reserves than about the welfare of its people.
"Sanctions, an intervention, would force the Libyan people, who are already up against hunger and violence, into a more desperate situation," Erdogan said. "We call on the international community to act with conscience, justice, laws and universal humane values — not out of oil concerns."

But German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron talked on the phone Saturday and agreed the Security Council should quickly approve harsh sanctions against Gadhafi's government, Merkel's spokesman, Christoph Steegmans said in a statement. He said that both leaders also support European Union sanctions.
Cameron's office said he also had spoken with Erdogan and Berlusconi and "made clear that the Libyan regime would face the consequences of its actions."
In Washington, the White House on Friday announced sweeping new sanctions and temporarily abandoned its embassy in Tripoli as a final flight carrying American citizens left the embattled capital.

The U.S. put an immediate freeze on all assets of the Libyan government held in American banks and other U.S. institutions. The sanctions also freeze assets held by Gadhafi, himself, and four of his children.

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley hit at Gadhafi in a Twitter posting Saturday.

"Despite Qaddafi's hardly sober claim that the protesters are on drugs, the people of Libya are clear-eyed in their demand for change," he tweeted.
On Saturday, Britain and Canada temporarily suspended operations at their embassies in Tripoli and evacuated their diplomatic staff.

A nonviolent revolt against Gadhafi's four-decade-old rule began Feb. 15 amid a wave of uprisings in the Arab world and most of the country's eastern half is controlled by rebels. Witnesses say Gadhafi's government has responded by shooting at protesters in numerous cities.

On Friday, for the second time this week, the Security Council called for "an immediate end to the violence," expressing grave concern at the deteriorating situation, particularly "reports of civilian casualties on a very large scale."
In Geneva on Friday, the U.N. Human Rights Council called for an investigation into possible crimes against humanity in Libya and recommended Libya's suspension from membership of the world body's top human rights body.
Associated Press reporters Kirsten Grieshaber in Berlin and Suzan Fraser in Ankara contributed to this report.


China - Risks and Opportunities

By Puru Saxena
Hong Kong, China

Opinion is currently divided on the world's second largest economy.

On one hand of the spectrum, the bears believe that China is a train- wreck and that its economic growth is unsustainable. These sceptics love to highlight the property bubble in China and they never miss the opportunity to mention the fact that fixed asset investment accounts for a disproportionately large chunk of the Chinese economy. According to the bearish camp, China's economy is not real; rather, its breakneck economic growth is centrally planned by Beijing. Furthermore, the bears argue that China's vast foreign exchange reserves are meaningless and that they will be used up in dealing with the aftermath of the Chinese real estate bust.

On the other side of the equation, the optimists believe that China is the next great nation in the world and its super power status is all but assured. These bulls point to China's foreign exchange reserves, low debt levels, high savings rate, strong work ethic and growing domestic consumption. According to these folk, China's economy is amongst the strongest in the world and Beijing is in total control.

So, given such conflicting views, it is hardly surprising that investors are confused about China. Furthermore, it goes without saying that over the past few months, we have spent a lot of time thinking about China's prospects. Therefore, we will now outline our views about the Chinese economy and its financial markets.

First and foremost, we want to make it clear that we are not bearish about the long-term prospects of the Chinese economy. After all, the country has amassed the largest foreign exchange reserves in the world (US$2.85 trillion), it boasts a very high savings rate (37%), its household debt to GDP ratio is very low and its per-capita income is rising rapidly. Therefore, at first glance, the Chinese economy appears to be in good health.

Unfortunately, China's economy also has a soft underbelly; it's out of control property market. After reviewing heaps of data, it is clear to us that real-estate prices along the coastal cities in China are grossly over inflated and due for an abrupt adjustment. When measured in terms of affordability (median home price to median household income), it is blatantly obvious that Chinese property is in a gigantic asset bubble. Moreover, various other data points also confirm overvaluation and excesses in China's property market.

According to some reports, billions of square feet of commercial real- estate is unoccupied in China. Furthermore, we have also heard accounts from reliable sources that there is rampant speculation in China's residential real-estate. For example, the Chinese have been snapping up bare-shell apartments (no internal walls or fittings), for the sole purpose of flipping these properties for a quick profit. It is interesting to note that these buyers are not the least bit interested in a rental yield, their only intention is to sell these properties to a 'greater fool'.

Needless to say, China's banks have been doing their part to fuel this speculative orgy. For instance, the South China Morning Post recently reported that in 2010, China's banks originated CNY8 trillion in new 'official' loans and this amount exceeded Beijing's loan target. However, the buck did not stop here and allegedly the Chinese banks loaned out an additional CNY3 trillion via 'off the balance-sheet' arrangements orchestrated through various Trust entities.

The chart below captures the sharp increase in China's Yuan-denominated loans. According to China Daily, outstanding Yuan-denominated loans stood at CNY47 trillion at the end of October, which is an astronomical sum when you consider that China's economy is worth only CNY37 trillion. Unfortunately, this rampant credit growth is not slowing down and apparently, Chinese banks have already created new loans worth CNY1.5 trillion in 2011!

So, there you have it. All the conditions are now in place for a property bust - extreme overvaluation, abundant credit and massive oversupply. The trillion dollar question though is whether the unavoidable bust in housing will impact China's broader economy or will the damage be confined amongst the property speculators and developers?

Unfortunately, this is a very difficult question to answer but given the relatively low household debt in China, we are inclined to believe that the pain will be limited to the property developers, leveraged speculators and banks. We have no doubt in our mind that China's non- performing loans will escalate in the future, therefore we believe that an investment in Chinese banks is risky.

Furthermore, when the Chinese property boom turns sour, various asset markets and economies will be impacted. First and foremost, the prices of base metals may fall from their lofty levels and this will affect the earnings of the major mining companies. Remember, China is the major importer of base metals and any slowdown in its real-estate construction will diminish demand for industrial raw materials. Accordingly, we have recently liquidated our investment positions in the base metals mining companies.

Moreover, any fallout from the Chinese real-estate bust will surely impact the economies of the commodity-producing nations such as Australia and Brazil. Thus, investors should remain vigilant and perhaps reassess the risk/reward of their cyclical investments in these resource-rich nations.

Now, this may sound strange but despite our near-term concern about China's housing bubble and our bearish stance towards certain sectors, we remain optimistic about the nation's long-term economic prospects.

In terms of the broader Chinese economy, we believe that a housing bust in China will cause some hiccups in its breakneck growth. However, we suspect that this slowdown will be temporary because most Chinese households are not leveraged to their eyeballs (China's household debt to GDP ratio is below 20%).

Furthermore, it is notable that currently, China's private domestic consumption accounts for only 34% of GDP (Figure 2) and in our view, this percentage will increase in the future. Remember, in its latest five year plan, Beijing has made it clear that it wants to increase private consumption and reduce China's dependence on low-margin manufacturing and exports.

It is our contention that China's policymakers are serious about this issue and they have the necessary tools to encourage domestic consumption. For instance, if Beijing allowed its currency to appreciate, such a move will undoubtedly increase the purchasing power of the Chinese, thereby increasing private consumption.

Despite the looming property bust, it is our contention that China's stock market has already discounted the housing problem and this is why the Shanghai Composite Index is trading approximately 55% below its all-time high. As far as valuations are concerned, it is notable that the index is trading at 17 times reported earnings, which is remarkably cheap when you consider the 12-year average price earnings ratio of 34. Last but not least, if you factor in this year's corporate earnings growth, the index is valued at just 13.1 times projected after-tax earnings.

In summary, given our long-term optimism towards the Chinese economy and the historically low valuations, we are maintaining our investment exposure to our preferred companies in China. While we continue to avoid the property developers and banks, we have allocated capital to terrific Chinese companies which should benefit from an increase in China's domestic demand.

If our assessment is correct, the ongoing weakness in Chinese stock prices is a good buying opportunity for the patient investor.


Puru Saxena
for The Daily Reckoning

Puru Saxena publishes Money Matters, a monthly economic report, which highlights extraordinary investment opportunities in all major markets. In addition to the monthly report, subscribers also receive "Weekly Updates" covering the recent market action. Money Matters is available by subscription here.

Puru is also the founder of Puru Saxena Wealth Management, his Hong Kong based firm which manages investment portfolios for individuals and corporate clients. He is a highly showcased investment manager and a regular guest on CNN, BBC World, CNBC, Bloomberg, NDTV and various radio programs.



( Based on a talk delivered by me at a seminar on the Indian Ocean at Bangalore on February 26,2010. It was jointly organized by the Asia Centre, Bangalore, and the Indian Council of World Affairs, New Delhi )
The main security threats to Indian interests in the Indian Ocean area arise from three factors---firstly, the gradual erosion of the Indian political influence in the area; secondly, the increase in the Chinese presence in the area; and thirdly, the uncontrolled activities of the Somali pirates.

2.Nowhere is the erosion of the Indian political influence more evident than in Sri Lanka where despite our assistance to the Government of Sri Lanka in its successful counter-insurgency operations against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) we have not been able to protect either the interests of the Sri Lankan Tamils or the lives and livelihood of Indian Tamil fishermen, who have been repeatedly at the mercy of the Sri Lankan Navy.

3. Our repeated pleas for finding an early political solution to the grievances of the Sri Lankan Tamils and for stopping attacks---some of them brutal and fatal--- on Indian Tamil fishermen have had no impact on the Government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Rajapaksa, while pretending to be sensitive to Indian interests, has been ignoring them without any fear of the likely consequences. He has no fear because he is confident that there will be no consequences. India’s core interests in the region to the south of India have been repeatedly ignored by Rajapaksa.

4. Our dilemma in Sri Lanka underlines the hard reality that having a strong Navy alone would not be sufficient to make our core interests prevail in the Indian Ocean region. There has to be a political courage and will to use our naval strength in support of our core interests. In the absence of such courage and will, the ships of our Navy will remain not a powerful arm of the Indian State ready to go into action if our core interests are threatened, but mere oceanic curios, exhibited in public and admired, but not feared.

5.The negative state of affairs that we are confronted with in Sri Lanka today could be repeated in the Maldives, Mauritius and Seychelles in the years-if not months-- to come if the Indian political leadership is not more assertive in protecting Indian interests in these Island countries.

6. Fortunately, in the Maldives, the Indian interests still prevail despite an increase in political and economic contacts between China and the Maldives. The Government of Maldives continues to look up to India for strengthening its capacity for meeting threats to its security, which presently mostly arise from non-State actors such as Pakistan-based jihadi elements and the Somali pirates. It is still attentive to Indian interests in the area.

7. So is the case in Seychelles. Despite the Chinese offer of help to Seychelles for strengthening its anti-piracy capabilities, which its has accepted, the Government of Seychelles continues to be as receptive to Indian offers of assistance and co-operation as it was before.

8. However, one has reasons to be concerned over recent developments in Mauritius since the visit of President Hu Jintao of China to Port Louis in February,2009. During his visit, China announced a credit at low interest of US $ 260 million to Mauritius to modernize and expand its airport. He said that trade between the two countries had increased by 11.7 per cent during 2008 to reach US $ 323 million. He also announced an interest-free loan of US $ 5.9 million and a grant of 30 million yuan ( about US $ 5 million ). Mauritian Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam said that the two countries had discussed possible further assistance to improve transport in and out of the island's congested capital.

9.Hu pledged to speed up the construction of the China-funded $730 million Economic and Trade Zone north of the capital. The Tianli project, as it is called, will be the largest single foreign-funded project in Mauritius creating about 40,000 jobs. Between the recognition of China by Mauritius in 1972 and Hu’s visit in February 2009, the total value of the Chinese assistance to Mauritius amounted to US $ 117 million. The fresh assistance extended since then has crossed US $ one billion--- an almost ten-fold increase. Thirteen Chinese companies operate in Mauritius in the textiles, construction and IT sectors.

10.The 521-acre economic and trade zone is an important part of what China calls the “going out” policy and its Africa strategy. The objective is to use Mauritius as a platform for servicing its construction and business projects in Southern Africa. The corporate headquarters of Chinese companies operating in Southern Africa are expected to be located in the new commercial city which China will construct outside Port Louis under this project. The zone with a modern Chinese-styled city is being built by a consortium consisting of the Shanxi Tianli Enterprise Co., Ltd., the state-controlled Shanxi Coking Coal Group Co. Ltd and the Taiyuan Iron & Steel Group Co. Ltd. The idea seems to be to convert Mauritius into a Singapore of Southern Africa to serve China’s Africa strategy. Since Mauritius does not have enough skilled workers to meet the requirements of the Chinese-aided projects, it has allowed China to bring its own nationals to work in these projects. As a result, about 50 per cent of Mauritius’ foreign labour force could be Chinese. There could be more Chinese than Indians working in Mauritius.

11.The corporate city being built by the Chinese will compete with the Ebene Cyber City constructed with Indian assistance. Huawei, the Chinese IT company, reportedly operates from the Cyber City. It provides financial services to Chinese companies in Southern Africa.

12.In an article titled “China makes foray into Mauritius” published on January 25,2010, the “Financial Times” of London wrote: “China’s state-led approach to foreign investment is muscling India aside in its traditional “backyard” by investing $700m in a special economic zone in the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius to service Beijing’s expansion in Africa. Ramakrishna Sithanen, the vice-prime minister of Mauritius and minister of finance, said China was “extremely aggressively” pursuing its objectives in Africa via Mauritius with a wave of strategic investments on the island. He said China’s “different approach”, which forcefully combined business and government interests, was in contrast to India’s more fragmented style that had less backing from the state. So strong was his government’s relationship with Beijing that he said the island had been able to call on the personal intervention of Hu Jintao, China’s president, to sort out problems. China’s participation in Mauritius is a key part of the island’s diversification away from a sugar cane and tourism economy into logistics, information technology and financial services. There are plans to build a logistics and services hub in the economic zone, together with a university and an oceanographic research centre. Mr Sithanen said the Mauritian government had secured China’s consent that the economic zone would not be exclusively for Chinese companies but could be used by others seeking to invest in the region.”

13. Having seen the gradual erosion of the Indian political influence in Sri Lanka, we are now seeing a similar erosion in Mauritius It used to be under Indian cultural and economic influence. It continues to be under the Indian cultural influence, but the economic influence is more and more Chinese. As the Chinese economic influence grows, so will its political influence. In protecting one’s core interests, it is the economic and political influence that matters and not the cultural influence.

14. The gradual decline in our political and economic influence in the Indian Ocean region---whether we admit it or not--- has been accompanied by a steady increase in the Chinese onshore presence in the countries of this region--- mainly for helping these countries in developing their infrastructure--- an airport and an economic and trade city in Mauritius, a commercial port and an international airport in Hambantota in Sri Lanka, expansion and modernization of the Colombo port, road and rail repairs and construction in others parts of Sri Lanka, construction of a new port at Kyaukpyu in Myanmar, gas and oil pipelines connecting Kyaukpyu and Yunnan so that gas and oil produced locally and coming by tankers from West Asia and Africa could be moved to Yunnan without having to pass the Malacca Strait and construction of a rapid rail system connecting Rangoon (Yangon) with Yunnan. Talks are on with Bangladesh for Chinese assistance in the modernization of the Chittagong port and for connecting the rail systems of Bangladesh and Myanmar. China is the largest foreign investor in Mynmar today, with the total value of actual and promised investments already touching US $ three billion.

15. For expanding and strengthening its political and economic influence in the Indian Ocean region China has two precious assets which India is not in a position to match now and will not be in a position to match in the foreseeable future---- its vast cash reserves and its vastly superior infrastructure construction skills. There is a hunger for the development of the infrastructure in all these counties. When these countries think of expanding and modernizing their infrastructure, they think of China first and only then of India.

16. Even the best of Navies with a vast reach in the Indian Ocean region will be only of limited use in the absence of commensurate political and economic influence in the countries of the Ocean region. In building up its onshore presence and influence, China has taken a head-start over India. The Chinese Navy still cannot match and will not be in a position to match the off-shore presence of our Navy in the Indian Ocean area, but Beijing’s onshore presence and influence will pose increasing challenges to the Indian political leadership and diplomacy.
17.Periodic reports of a speculative nature regarding a Chinese interest in the acquisition of military base ---particularly naval---base--- facilities in the Indian Ocean region have not been corroborated. The present Chinese interest is in strengthening their economic presence in this area. When the economic presence goes up, political influence automatically goes up. Yes, the Chinese have been developing a robust military supply relationship of a strategic nature with Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Myanmar. One could see the beginnings of such a relationship with Bangladesh too. Do these relationships form part of a well thought-out strategy to acquire a permanent military presence in this area? There is no evidence at present in support of such a suspicion. The Chinese focus is on establishing a strong economic presence and through that a strong political influence. Their willingness to enter into military supply and capacity-building relationships with the countries of this region is a tactical move to strengthen their economic and political influence.

18 The Chinese have been taking care to prevent their growing on-shore influence in this area from being seen as a carefully calculated move to undermine the Indian influence. They project their moves as not inspired by a larger Indian Ocean strategy, but merely as responses to requests for assistance received from the countries of this region. Whether the Chinese are making calculated moves to undermine the Indian influence or not, the net effect will be an undermining of the Indian influence

19. The present Chinese focus is on the Pacific. Their efforts are concentrated towards building a strong Pacific presence for their Navy and Air Force so as to be able to counter the US presence and achieve parity with it. Building an equal Indian Ocean presence is not yet part of their short or medium term strategy. They are not in a position to achieve parity with the Indian Ocean presence of the US and India. I do not visualize a Chinese threat to the naval presence of the US and India in the short and medium terms.

20. Compared to their Pacific naval strategy, there is very little debate in China on the contours of an Indian Ocean strategy. They do not have the required material resources to be able to challenge the prominence presently enjoyed by the US and Indian Navies in the Indian Ocean region. Their interests are presently focused on protecting the security of their energy supplies and keeping Pakistan propped up as a credible threat to India.

21. The entry of Chinese naval ships on anti-piracy patrols into the Indian Ocean region and the Gulf of Aden has not created any adverse reactions in the region or in the West. The Chinese concerns over the growing threats from the Somali pirates to their ships and crew are accepted by the countries of the region and the West as natural. The regular anti-piracy patrols undertaken by ships of the Chinese Navy in this area ,without causing any regional concerns, have enabled the Chinese Navy to familiarize itself with operating conditions and difficulties in the waters of this region, build up Navy-Navy relationships and offer Chinese assistance in capacity-building.

22. Should their anti-piracy forays be used as the initial building block for a long-term Indian Ocean strategy? The Chinese are avoiding any open discussion on this question lest they give rise to unnecessary concerns in the region about Chinese naval assertiveness in the Indian Ocean region as a follow-up to their assertiveness in the Pacific. Occasional voices are heard from the community of retired Chinese naval officers on the need for a naval base in this region to meet the logistics and rest and recreation requirements of their anti-piracy patrols, but such voices have been discouraged by the Government and party leadership to prevent undue concerns. A long-term Chinese naval strategy for the Indian Ocean region is not yet in the making.

23. In working out an Indian strategy for the Indian Ocean region, the political, economic and naval aspects have to receive equal attention. So too the aspect of the Indian and US Navies co-operating with each other to maintain their present primacy in this region. Working out a national Indian Ocean Region strategy should go hand in hand with working out a joint Indo-US strategy to safeguard their interests in the Indian Ocean region. (26-2-11)

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com )

QUOTE OF THE DAY: What can you do?

"........ You can do a lot. You can support justice for all by speaking out loudly to your family, friends, community, politicians and religious leaders. You can support foundations that do good work. You can volunteer for humanitarian organizations. You can vote regressive politicians out of office. You can do many things to move the world toward greater harmony…"

Book: "I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor's Journey" Click

February 25, 2011

Top-10 Most Innovative Research Firms

February 15th, 2011 · 6 Comments

Next Gen Positioning - Many newer smaller firms including Anderson Analytics, Brain Juicer, Itracks, Peanut Labs and Vision Critical are competing with big boys for hearts and minds of research professionals

Lenny Murphy posted an interesting sneak peak analysis of one question in the Greenbook Industry Trends study earlier today.

Full disclosure, Anderson Analytics was one of about a dozen research entities that participated in the GRIT study this year (not in study design or hosting, but mainly to encourage response among clients and Next Gen Market Researchers). One survey question, “What Research firms, if any, do you think are most innovative?” concerned me a bit. However I was ensured IP address and other methods would be employed so gaming of responses would be difficult. Naturally there may also be some bias because of various sample sources included, but I think the insights from these results are still rather interesting.

I was both surprised and delighted to see Anderson Analytics mentioned by so many. While several NGMR members took part in the study, they represent a very broad mix of client and supplier side researchers from various companies and countries. What surprised me more, until I thought about it, was that researchers who see Anderson Analytics as innovative are very similar to those who view Nielsen or TNS as innovative!

As many of you know, I’ve tried hard to differentiate from the traditional top 5 companies, pushing the idea of ‘Next Gen Market Research’, even founding an award for “Disruptive Innovation” given out at The Market Research Event last year. Meanwhile, from the business side, Anderson Analytics has also been very cutting edge in terms of being the first firm to leverage text analytics in ad-hoc market research, utilizing facebook widgets for research and also screen scraping various forums including one large project together with Linkedin. Last but definitely not least, we’ve also been working hard to develop our text analytics software (OdinText). So I was a bit concerned that I, the firm, is viewed as innovative by pretty much the same researchers who would view my former employer TNS as innovative!

They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and so I’m choosing to see these similarities as a positive. While I’ve pushed hard for inclusion of data and text mining for use in both market and social media analytics, I’ve always felt that as much as possible, new techniques should be based in sound methodology. I’ve also said several times that conducting a proper segmentation will tell you far more about your customers and their use of social media than any research project you can dream up on Twitter. Finally, I strongly believe classical training and understanding of proper research methodology is of utmost importance for any successful Next Gen Market Researcher.

That said, viewing the chart above I’m guessing that, positioning wise, most research firms are targeting and moving towards the same upper left quadrant. In such case, we are competing for the same, limited group of research professionals who value a fair amount of new innovative techniques but also look for these to be founded on classical research knowledge.

What I’m wondering about are those firms who may be moving toward the upper right hand quadrant. What kind of customers are here?

Brain Juicer which was seen as innovative by far more researchers than any other firm may be taking this other direction. At the recent MRIA event in Toronto, Brain Juicer’s Will Goodhand spoke about their “Digividuals”. Basically as far as I understood the consept, an a priori segmentation which then profiles these segments using ‘robots’ who tweet like these a priori segments. As a quant researcher who usually prefers my segments to be data driven, and my data sources to be as ‘real’ and quantifiable as possible, I had a very hard time wrapping my head around this new methodology.

However, it may end up working very well for them? Certainly there should be more blue ocean towards the upper right corner compared to the upper left were both large whales and many small killer sharks will soon turn the ocean a very dark red.


FICO Patents 100th Analytic Innovation


FICO, a provider of analytics and decision management technology, has been awarded eight new patents by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, bringing its portfolio total to 100. The breakthroughs covered by these patents are behind FICO’s solutions in credit scoring, credit account management, credit fraud management, insurance fraud management and other areas.

Since 1990, FICO’s commitment to research has increased the momentum of its analytics innovations. About one-quarter of the 100 patents were awarded to FICO in 2010 alone.
FICO’s patents span predictive analytics, fraud management, insurance fraud management, business rules and credit technology. They have resulted in the development of a number of products recognized as the leaders in their respective categories, including the following:

  • The FICO Score – launched in 1989 and continually updated based on FICO’s advances in predictive analytics – is the world’s most used credit score, with more than 10 billion sold each year in 20 countries. The FICO Score is the standard measure of U.S. consumer credit risk, used by lenders, regulators, rating agencies and consumers.
  • FICO Falcon Fraud Manager – based on neural network models and cardholder profiles, protects more than 2 billion bank cards worldwide, and has saved issuers more than $10 billion in the U.S. alone.
  • FICO Blaze Advisor – business rules management system is an industry leader, and includes the most advanced commercially available inference engine, benchmarking more than 300 percent faster than competing systems.
  • FICO TRIAD Customer Manager – used to manage two-thirds of credit card accounts worldwide, and introduced the practice of champion/challenger strategy testing to credit account management.

“Analytics is one of the fastest-growing technology disciplines today, and FICO has pioneered the use of predictive analytics for financial services,” says Dr. Andrew Jennings, chief research officer at FICO and head of FICO Labs. “We’ve not only helped our clients make smarter decisions, we’ve helped entire industries operate more profitably and efficiently. The recent growth in our patent portfolio underscores the deep reservoir of potential in our business and demonstrates the creative ingenuity of our people, who are truly at the leading edge of analytics innovation.”

“The evolution of analytics has increased its value to the financial services industry,” adds Rodney Nelsestuen, senior research director at TowerGroup. “We expect this trend to continue as leading vendors expand and enrich the capabilities of analytics for use in the evaluation of options and choices, causal analysis, and the rapidly growing role of predictive analytics in fact-based decision-making. The crisis of the past three years has clearly demonstrated the need for better intelligence and statistical support in making business decisions. Analytics is now at the center of that more sophisticated approach to running the business of financial services.”

The new patents cover breakthroughs in predictive analytics, fraud detection and business rules management

Tens of thousands of Bangladeshis trapped in Libya

While nations around the world are trying to evacuate their citizens from Libya, thousands of Bangladeshi migrant workers are trapped in the troubled country. Several are said to have even been killed during an attack.

37 Bangladeshis were killed in an attack in the area of Misurata, two Bangladeshi citizens Saiful Islam and Abdul Majid, told Deutsche Welle over the telephone. It was unclear who the attackers were. Misurata, 200 kilometers from the capital Tripoli, is a major industrial city. The Bangladeshi government has not confirmed the report.

Unknown attackers

Islam said that the attackers came at night to the factory in which around 800 Bangladeshi workers are taking cover and assaulted them. Islam, who is still taking cover in the factory, said in addition to the 37 killed, several were injured and have not received medical attention. Furthermore, they seem to be lacking food, as people cannot go out on the street. "We are in a big trouble. How long are we going to stay here?" said Islam.

The Bangladeshis were hiding from the street violence The Bangladeshis were hiding from the street violence

On the phone the two men also told Deutsche Welle that they have failed to reach the Bangladeshi embassy in Libya, which has not come forward with necessary help. "The embassy has not contacted us yet. Nobody comes to this area," said Islam. He said the telephone network was frequently breaking down.

At least 50,000 Bangladeshis are currently working in Libya, mostly low-paid contract workers in the construction industry.

Lack of food and medicine

Another incident was also reported in a construction company in the town of Mamura. Local Bangladeshi workers Mohammad Ibrahim Kalili and Imran Hossain reported to Deutsche Welle that around 4,000 Bangladeshis are taking refuge in the company building and at least 100 of them have been injured. The two sources also added that the people there were demanding help from the Bangladeshi government.

Millions of foreign workers are waiting to be evacuated from LibyaMillions of foreign workers are waiting to be evacuated from Libya

Kalili, who comes from the city of Comilla in south-eastern Bangladesh, has lived in Libya and worked in the construction company for the last two years. He said that the last two days have been miserable, not having enough food and medicine. Hossain also confirmed the news and called on the authorities for help.

No evacuation plan from the government

In Dhaka, foreign ministry spokesman Syed Masud Khandker told the AFP news agency that Bangladesh did not have evacuations plans, but was trying to move its citizens to safe places. He added, "so far we have news that Bangladeshi workers are safe and we are still trying to find a way to move them to safer places, so that if conditions deteriorate further, they will not be in danger."

Help for other Asian workers

Meanwhile, a passenger ship with the capacity to carry around 1,000 people is expected to arrive on Sunday on the Libyan coast to begin pulling back some of India’s 18,000 civilians living in Libya. The Indian foreign ministry said the ship, which is carrying government personnel and a medical team, is already in Egypt and would soon leave for Libya's eastern city of Benghazi, where around 3,000 Indians work.

An Egyptian, who has just crossed Salloum land port gate with Libya, at background, takes a knap over his luggage Wednesday, Feb.23, 2011. Turkey evacuated 3,000 citizens on two ships Wednesday from the chaos of Libya's uprising but thousands of other foreigners were still stranded at Tripoli airport, struggling to get a flight home.Several countries _ Russia, Germany and Ukraine among them _ sent more planes to help their citizens escape the turmoil engulfing the North African nation and the United States said Americans would be evacuated by ferry later Wednesday to the Mediterranean island of Malta.(Foto:Tarek Fawzy/AP/dapd) Many people are trying to leave Libya either individually or counting on their countries' effort

Other Asian countries such as China and South Korea have chartered planes and ships to get their citizens out of Libya as soon as possible. There are about 30,000 Chinese citizens living in Libya, some 15,000 of whom are to be evacuated through Greece. Thousands of Chinese have landed at the port of Heraklion on the Greek Island of Crete after their evacuation. A spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Libya, Du Minghao, said dozens of Chinese citizens have been injured since the unrest broke out more than a week ago.

Thousands of Filipino workers are also still stranded in riot-torn Libya, as the Philippine government’s evacuation plans have yet to be fully carried out. Many workers who did not hear anything from the government decided to find ways of crossing the borders to neighboring countries individually, said Migrante International in Manila, the alliance of Filipino migrant organizations. It said all contact has been lost with many Filipino migrants in Libya.

Author: Anggatira Gollmer (AFP, dpa)
Editor: Thomas Baerthlein

I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor's Journey

I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor's Journey

Izzeldin Abuelaish MD, MPH
Associate Professor
Global Health
Dalla Lana School of Public Health
155 College Street, Room 578
Toronto, ON M5T 3M7

I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor's Journey

Product Description

"What can you do? You can do a lot. You can support justice for all by speaking out loudly to your family, friends, community, politicians and religious leaders. You can support foundations that do good work. You can volunteer for humanitarian organizations. You can vote regressive politicians out of office. You can do many things to move the world toward greater harmony…

"I know that what I have lost, what was taken from me, will never come back. But as a physician and a Muslim of deep faith, I need to move forward to the light, motivated by the spirits of those I lost. I need to bring them justice… I will keep moving but I need you to join me in this long journey."
-from I Shall Not Hate

Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish - now known simply as "the Gaza doctor" captured hearts and headlines around the world in the aftermath of horrific tragedy: on January 16, 2009, Israeli shells hit his home in the Gaza Strip, killing three of his daughters and a niece.

By turns inspiring and heartbreaking, hopeful and horrifying, this is Abuelaish's account of a Gazan life in all its struggle and pain. A Palestinian doctor who was born and raised in the Jabalia refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, Abuelaish is an infertility specialist who lived in Gaza but plied his specialty in Israeli hospitals. From the strip of land he calls home (a place where 1.5 million refugees are crammed into 360 square kilometres of land), the Gaza doctor has been crossing the lines that divide the region for most of his life, as a physician who treats patients on both sides of the border and as a humanitarian who sees the need for improved public health and education for women as the way forward in the Middle East.

But it was Abuelaish's response to the loss of his children that made news and won him humanitarian awards around the world. Instead of seeking revenge or sinking into hatred, in this personal account of his life, Izzeldin Abuelaish is calling for the people of the Middle East to start talking to each other. His deepest hope is that his daughters will be the last sacrifice on the road to peace between Palestinians and Israelis.

This review is from: I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor's Journey on the Road to Peace and Human Dignity (Hardcover)
I couldn't put the book down!

I feel the other book reviews have done an excellent job so I will not repeat their poignant knowledge expressed. I have tried to keep myself educated with the conflicts in the Middle East. Yet, this book was very different experience for me. Once I started reading I could not put the book down. The book is a personal journey of Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish that I wept in grief, sorrow, hope, and joy for. I also was educated in a very different way in what the psychodynamic/ analytic community calls "Mentaizing"- putting oneself in one's shoes. I did not have judgment politically against any side of the conflicts during his story. I did find myself having empathy and sadness for everyone in this conflict.

There is an a good interview by Steve Palkin on YouTube and another video of Dr. Abuelaish's tragedy as it happened live. Palkin questioned/states Abuelaish's ideas of peace are "very dangerous ideas from the lunic fridge on both sides." I think Palkin asks some very real questions that might have overly optimistic answers from Dr. Abuelaish's. I hope I'm wrong. The book has a few themes that are repetitive. I would recommend to YouTube after reading the book since I do not feel the story and messages is captured well in the videos, but is a good adjunct to the book.

All said- I have felt inspired and found so much humanity from both sides and worldwide. Dr. Abuelaish's journey out of rubble and how he has beaten the odds to successes.... I would of thought impossible.

Gaddafi son vows: We die in Libya as Tripoli battle rages


Last updated at 2:01 AM on 26th February 2011


  • Defiant dictator issues rallying cry in desperate bid to cling to power

  • Opponents say the capital will be taken if more army units swap sides

The battle for Colonel Gaddafi’s last stronghold of Tripoli appeared to be under way last night, with claims that some suburbs in the Libyan capital had fallen to rebels.

Triumphant but terrified residents said anti-Gaddafi protesters were in control of up to three areas in the sprawling city, despite another bloody crackdown by mercenaries and troops which left at least nine dead and dozens wounded.

As night fell on Tripoli, Gaddafi appeared in the central Green Square to make an impassioned speech of defiance, telling 1,000 of his supporters waving pictures of him to fight back and ‘defend the nation’.

Last stand: Libyan leader Moamer Gaddafi speaks from the ramparts of Red Castle to supporters in Green Square last night

Last stand: Libyan leader Moamer Gaddafi speaks from the ramparts of Red Castle to supporters in Green Square last night

Pumping his fist in the air, Gaddafi, wearing a fur cap and sunglasses, spoke from the ramparts of the historic Red Castle to demand his supporters ‘retaliate against them’ and ‘prepare to defend the nation and defend the oil’.

He went on: ‘We are ready to triumph over the enemy . . . I am in the middle of the crowds . . . We will defeat any foreign attempt, as we have defeated Italian colonialism and American raids.’

Gaddafi’s favourite son, Saif, vowed that his family will ‘live and die in Libya’ and will not allow ‘a bunch of terrorists’ to take control of the country.

In an interview aired on Turkish TV, he was asked if his family has a ‘plan B’ in the face of the growing unrest and would leave the country.

He replied: ‘We have Plan A, Plan B and Plan C. Plan A is to live and die in Libya, Plan B is to live and die in Libya, Plan C is to live and die in Libya.’

Defiant: Saif al-Islam, son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, said his father was refusing to 'give in to a gang of terrorists'

Defiant: Saif al-Islam, son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, said his father was refusing to 'give in to a gang of terrorists'

Saif said the situation in Libya was different to that of Egypt and Tunisia, where he said demonstrations were peaceful. In Libya’s case, he claimed, the unrest was led by terrorist groups’.

Despite knowing the brutality of the forces they faced, defiant protesters chanting ‘Gaddafi Go’ had streamed out of mosques in downtown Tripoli after Friday prayers.

They were responding to a call to regime opponents sent round by text messages urging: ‘Let us make this Friday the Friday of liberation.’

The plan, they said, was for all protest groups to rally in Green Square, which has become the symbol of the uprising against the Libyan leader. It was the first attempt to hold a major anti-Gaddafi rally in the capital since bloody clashes on Tuesday.

But militia forces set up heavy security around many mosques in the city, intimidating opposition worshippers.

Show of strength: Gaddafi's supporters give an enthusiastic response to their leader's speech

Show of strength: Gaddafi's supporters give an enthusiastic response to their leader's speech

Armed young men with green armbands to show their support of Gaddafi set up checkpoints on many streets, stopping cars and searching them.

Protesters described coming under a hail of bullets as they tried to march from several districts around the city towards Green Square.

One man among a crowd of thousands said gunmen on rooftops and in the streets opened fire with automatic weapons and even an anti-aircraft gun. The savagery of the crackdown and apparent large numbers of Gaddafi supporters in Tripoli, home to about a third of Libya’s six million population, underlined that there is likely to be much more bloodshed before he is overthrown.

But in the pocket of northwestern Libya around Tripoli, several cities have fallen into the hands of the rebellion – significantly in areas where army units have defected.

The eastern Libyan town of Brega and its oil terminal are also under rebel control after soldiers defected and together last night they were said to be helping the rebels to secure the port.

Opposition leaders believe the key to gaining control of Tripoli lies in persuading further army units to change sides and in tribal elders switching sides too.

Gadaffi's last resort: If all else fails, try bribery

Cornered and increasingly desperate, Colonel Gaddafi has resorted to bribing his people in a bid to remain in power.

Appearing on state television, the embattled dictator promised cash to Libya’s people in a bid to quell the uprising.

In his latest attempt to regain broad support, he claimed every family would receive 500 dinars – about £300 – to cover increased food costs.

He also guaranteed a pay rise of 150 per cent for thousands of public sector workers as the prospect of civil war threatens to tear the country apart.

But the despot was also quick to display his ruthless side, offering cash rewards to Libyans who betray pro-democracy protesters.

A senior army officer added: ‘A lucrative monetary reward will be given to anyone who contributes or informs on them.’

Another officer in Tripoli said: ‘The cash will be given to anyone who betrays rats trying to bring violence to our country.’

Oust tyrant or you'll be tried for war crimes, M16 tells his allies

British spies have told Colonel Gaddafi’s henchmen to oust him or face war crimes trials, asset seizures and international travel bans.

MI6 and diplomats warned senior allies of the dictator to abandon him or face concerted Western action to topple the regime.

Those around Gaddafi have been told they will be personally targeted by the International Criminal Court.


Robert Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe

Robert Mugabe has sent crack troops from his presidential guard to fight for Colonel Gaddafi – and has even offered him exile in Zimbabwe.

Gaddafi, 68, has reportedly loaded an aircraft with gold bullion and cash ahead of a flight south to safety in Zimbabwe.

He and Mugabe, (pictured), 87 this week, are long-time friends and allies.

At one point, they even discussed creating one giant state of Africa, with Gaddafi president for life and Mugabe his loyal prime minister.

Officials told the Daily Mail ‘no one would weep’ if the fading despot was executed by his closest aides, though diplomats stress that the death penalty is not British policy.
David Cameron yesterday announced that Britain is leading an international effort with France, the U.S. and the EU to impose sanctions.

He said: ‘I have this very clear message for people in that regime – the world is watching you and the world will hold you to account.

‘Britain, through the United Nations, is pressing for asset seizures, for travel bans, for sanctions, for all of the things that we can do to hold those people to account, including investigating for potential crimes against humanity, or war crimes, or crimes against their people.

‘People working for this regime should remember that international justice has a long reach and a long memory.’

Senior Government officials point out that the Secret Intelligence Service has close links with many of those at the top of the Gaddafi government since Tony Blair brought Libya in from the cold in 2004.

A security source said: ‘We know who these people are. We have their phone numbers. We can talk to them and tell them that the game is up.’

A Downing Street official added: ‘We’re sending the message to people inside and outside Libya that we mean business.’

Britain and France yesterday prepared a draft resolution for the United Nations Security Council. As well as calling for an International Criminal Court investigation and economic sanctions, it calls for a total embargo on weapons sales to Libya.

The Gaddafis are thought to have secreted a high proportion of their £20billion fortune in Britain.

Treasury officials are working to locate these assets, which include a £10million mansion used by his son and heir Saif.

Foreign Secretary William Hague will join U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in New York on Monday to rally international support for the sanctions.

An emergency session of the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva last night passed a resolution calling for Libya to be suspended from the body.

And the U.S. has suspended embassy operations in Libya and announced it will curtail its limited military cooperation with the country.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1360805/Gaddafi-son-vows-We-die-Libya-Tripoli-battle-rages.html#ixzz1F1oSXlMy