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Showing posts from December 30, 2007

QUOTE OF THE DAY : Sandhya Jain

The resounding verdict of Gujarat 2007 is that Smt Sonia Gandhi has peaked while Shri Rahul Gandhi has faded without blossoming

INDIA : Election Commission Soft on Sonia

By Sandhya Jain Courtesy: The Organiser, Jan. 06, 2008 The Election Commission should have reprimanded Smt Gandhi for her remark, which was intended to polarise voting on communal lines by reviving memories of the 2002 riots. It did not do so for reasons best known to itself. But the Commission has not acquitted itself well by appearing visibly soft on Smt Gandhi, and future solicitude towards select politicians will diminish its stature. As of now, the Commission’s action is like the media-run discourse on the Gujarat riots - just as there is no mention of the Godhra provocation that triggered the riots. If one were asked to identify the two biggest losers of the Gujarat Assembly elections, the answer would be the Election Commission and the ‘dynasty’ that leads the Congress party. Had the Election Commission waited one more day before rapping the chief minister on the knuckles for supposedly justifying the encounter death of underworld associate Sohrabuddin Sheikh, it could h

NATIONAL INTEREST is not a Common Minimum Program

Source: Offstumped The debate rages on this blog and on Nitin’s blog on what constitutes the Indian National Interest and of course on the inane subject of exclusive inclusivity. Offstumped makes yet another attempt at shining light on that rather obscure subject on where the Indian National Interest resides. So how do we know when somethings are in the nation’s interest while others are not ? Some basic rules for starters. That which is in this nation’s interests - speaks for the people of this nation and not other nations - does not hurt the territorial integrity of this nation - does not subjugate the freedom of this nation to another nation - is explicitly and exclusively committed to securing all of the above both in the short term and more importantly in the long term - will not work for the primacy of any ideology, organization or individuals over any of the above - will also not compromise one of the above to secure one or more of the above So let us apply these b

India needs special agricultural zones: Swaminathan

Fakir Balaji , Indo-Asian News Service Visakhapatnam, January 04, 2008 First Published: 08:31 IST(4/1/2008) Last Updated: 08:34 IST(4/1/2008) If special export zones or special economic zones (SEZs) can be set up for promoting manufacturing and services sectors, why not special agricultural zones (SAZs) for the crisis-ridden farm sector to boost food production, asks renowned scientist MS Swaminathan. The million dollar question was raised Thursday by the father of the first green revolution in India decades ago, at the ongoing 95th Indian Science Congress (ISC) in this port city. "Let the centre take the initiative to set up such SAZs in partnership with state governments, especially in the distressed states of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala where hundreds of farmers have committed suicide due to debt burden and poor returns from low-yields. "There is an urgent need for integrated development in the farm sector. The government should make a b

Russia’s Federal Security Service celebrates its 90th anniversary

It came as little surprise that Felix Dzerzhinsky was chosen to found the Soviet secret police - Vladimir Lenin trusted him, and believed he could handle the most difficult tasks. Dzerzhinsky established and headed the VChK, which was later renamed several times.

Triple jeopardy: the Nazi plan to kill WWII leaders in Tehran

18:03 | 04/ 01/ 2008 The attempt by Nazi Germany to assassinate the "Big Three" - Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill - was foiled thanks to Soviet intelligence MOSCOW. (Nikolai Dolgopolov) - The British Big Ape Media TV company and the Moscow TV Center are making a documentary series about Russian-British relations over four centuries. The Lion and the Bear, for release in 2008, will mix documentary history, travelogue and personal accounts and will be presented by author, and Winston Churchill's granddaughter, Celia Sandys. One of the best sections in the film is devoted to the Tehran meeting of the three leaders in 1943, when Hitler's agents planned to destroy the Big Three in one fell swoop. The attempt was foiled by Soviet intelligence. The "Long Jump" operation to assassinate the Big Three was masterminded on Hitler's orders by Otto Scorzeny, an SS thug and daredevil saboteur. The first tip-off about the planned attempt came from Soviet

Neither Intelligent nor Designed Evolution succeeds where "Intelligent Design" fails in describing the natural world. Bruce and Frances Martin Are you puzzled by the appearance of the words "Intelligent Design" in recent anti-evolution discourse? Most of us lack time to follow the history of this term or its analysis in the expert volumes produced by Robert T. Pennock and others (see references). But as the phrase Intelligent Design shows up more and more often in public debate over science education, skeptical citizens need a handle on this topic. [For recent previous articles on this subject in the Skeptical Inquirer see Mark Perakh, "Intelligent Design: Dembski's Presentation Without Arguments," November/December 2002; Massimo Pigliucci, "Design Yes, Intelligent No," September/October 2001 (Science and Religion issue); and the section "Evolution and Intelligent Design" in the World Skeptics Conference r

S.Korean Spy Chief's Visit to N.Korea Questioned

National Intelligence Service Chief Kim Man-bok made a secret visit to Pyongyang on Dec. 18, the day before South Korea's presidential election, it was emerged on Thursday. The NIS said that during his one-day stay the NIS director installed a stone marker for a pine tree that President Roh Moo-hyun planted at Pyongyang Central Botanical Garden during the inter-Korean summit in October. However, a South Korean intelligence official claimed that the NIS head was in Pyongyang to discuss a proposed visit to South Korea by Kim Yong-nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly of North Korea. He said he was skeptical that the top North Korean government official would actually make the visit, and added that it would be unlikely for the South Korean spy chief to visit the North just to install a marker. The NIS denied that its chief visited North Korea to discuss a visit by Kim Yong-nam. Roh and Kim planted the tree to commemorate the inter-Korean summit on

PICTURE OF THE DAY : A Baluch girl

Courtesy : Flickr Original Pic: Link

After Bhutto's Murder: A Way Forward for Pakistan

Asia Briefing N°74 2 January 2008 OVERVIEW Gravely damaged by eight years of military rule, Pakistan’s fragile political system received a major blow on 27 December 2007, when former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated. Her murder, days before the parliamentary elections scheduled for 8 January 2008 and now postponed to 18 February, put an end to a U.S. effort to broker a power-sharing deal with President Pervez Musharraf which the centre-left Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader had already recognised was unrealistic. Her popularity and the belief Musharraf and his allies were responsible, directly or indirectly, have led to violent countrywide protests. Stability in Pakistan and its contribution to wider anti-terror efforts now require rapid transition to legitimate civilian government. This must involve the departure of Musharraf, whose continued efforts to retain power at all costs are incompatible with national reconciliation; an interim consensus caretaker governm

How many Kurdish uprisings till today?

Source: Turkish Daily News Thursday, January 3, 2008 The other day, a reader sent me a list of all the Kurdish uprisings that occurred since Ottoman times to the present. Apparently, our history is full of them Mehmet Ali Birand We are only beginning to learn about our relations with our citizens of Kurdish origins. We had never been allowed to learn or talk about them before. The other day, a reader sent me a list of all the Kurdish uprisings that occurred since Ottoman times to the present. Apparently, our history is full of them. I won't give his name, for he doesn't want me to, so I'll only say that he's a retired soldier. I understand that he used the general staff archives to compile a striking list of all the important Kurdish uprisings since Ottoman times. I guess there must also have been tens of small revolts, not important enough to record. I couldn't believe what I read. We never knew that our history was so full of frequent and suppresse

Internet advances in 2008

Source: OXFORD ANALYTICA The coming year may not bring many major technological breakthroughs, but could see significant changes in the way we connect to, and use, the internet. Internet connectivity is likely to become increasingly mobile, which portable computers in particular becoming smaller. This will be possible through greater use of flash memory and drives, which have the added benefit of being more reliable and stable than old-fashioned hard drives. Mobile internet take-up will also increase, with mobile broadband through Wimax becoming increasingly common, which increases the viability of voice over internet protocol (VoIP) telephone services, such as Skype-using broadband devices. Nonetheless, widespread use of mobile VoIP may not come this year -– for one thing, mobile carriers may not be enthusiastic about Skype and other services undercutting their rates. Mobile devices will be developed that significantly improve the mobile browsing experience. In particular, App

US recession risk is real

Source: OXFORD ANALYTICA The US economy continues to suffer from a battered housing market and consumer credit crunch. These events have shaken financial markets and sparked fears of recession in 2008. US economic data has displayed alternating weak and strong tendencies for months, generating considerable uncertainty about the direction of the economy. After slowing in the first half of 2007, the economy posted surprisingly strong 4.9% GDP growth in the third quarter. Consumer spending increased by a moderate 2.7% annualised rate, while US exports surged at an 18.9% rate to help drive forward the expansion. Several key factors stand out among these mixed indicators: Healthy export performance almost certainly was boosted by the sharply weaker dollar, which fell to record lows against several major currencies. Capital spending for equipment and software increased by a solid 7.2% in the third quarter. Labour markets have been steady, with employers creating 94,000 net new jobs in

QUOTE OF THE DAY : Vikram Sood, Taliban in Pakistan

"...recent report (November 2007) by SENLIS Council, a Britain-based international policy think-tank. The report is called ‘Afghanistan on the Brink’, but also discusses Pakistan. There is also a map that shows permanent Taliban presence in all of the NWFP, most of Punjab and northern Balochistan. Sindh is depicted as having substantial Taliban presence. Bhutto’s assassination only emphasises this growing Taliban presence and the support or sympathy they receive from various sections of the Pakistani establishment." Vikram Sood , former head of Indian's External Intelligence agency ,RAW -Research and Analysis Wing

Tolerating terror

Vikram Sood Source : 30th Dec 2007, Hindustan Times In the preface to the revised edition of her autobiography, Daughter of the East, Benazir Bhutto begins by saying: “I didn’t chose this life; it chose me. Born in Pakistan, my life mirrors its turbulence, its tragedies and its triumphs.” She goes on, “Once again Pakistan is in the international spotlight. Terrorists who use the name of Islam threaten its stability. The democratic forces believe terrorism can be eliminated by promoting the principles of freedom. A military dictatorship plays dangerous games of deception and intrigue. Fearful of losing power, it dithers, keeping the forces of modernisation at bay while the flames of terrorism flourish.” She wrote this in April 2007. Bhutto represented modernity to the increasingly obscurantist power-brokers in Pakistan and, therefore, a threat to them. She represented, in some ways, a democratic hope for ordinary Pakistanis. She was thus perceived as a threat to the entrenched khaki int

Tata small car to be rolled out-- Oxford Analytics's Opinion

Source: Oxford Analytica Emerging trend Tata Motors will this week launch its long awaited 'people's car' in Delhi. Much is riding on the new four-door vehicle, a pet project of Tata conglomerate chairman, Ratan Tata. Its $2,000 price tag has the potential to give the market a dramatic shake-up, with competitors already considering their own versions. However, there are doubts about its prospects. The rising cost of steel and other components threatens to eat into profit margins, and there are also concerns about the environmental impact of the car and about how it will fare against a sizeable and affordable second-hand market. The test will come with a commercial launch in India expected towards the end of the year. India has emerged as a key production centre for global automobile manufacturing, while ownership has surged. The launch takes place amid growing speculation that Tata will soon acquire Ford's Jaguar and Land Rover brands, confirming the growing glo

US : Inefficiencies in the Arms Export Process

Three key trends indicate that DDTC's--Department of State's (State) Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) , arms export licensing process is under stress. First, the number of arms export cases processed by DDTC increased 20 percent between fiscal years 2003 and 2006. Most of this increase was for licenses for permanent export. Second, during the same period, median processing times almost doubled. Third, the number of open arms export cases increased 50 percent from about 5,000 in October 2002 to about 7,500 in April 2007, with a high of more than 10,000 cases in September 2006. At the beginning of fiscal year 2007, DDTC launched a campaign to reduce the growing number of open cases. Through extraordinary measures--such as canceling staff training, meetings, and industry outreach, and pulling available staff from other duties to process cases--DDTC was able to cut the number of open cases by 40 percent in 3 months. However, such measures are not sustainable in the lon

IPI Gas Pipeline to Bring Regional States Closer

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iranian Ambassador to Islamabad Mashallah Shakeri Wednesday said that Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline project will not only open new avenues of cooperation, but also bring regional countries closer. He made the statement in a meeting with Pakistan's Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Ahsanullah Khan in Islamabad, discussing bilateral cooperation in oil and gas sectors. Both sides expressed satisfaction over the progress in IPI gas pipeline project, reiterating the desire of their leadership for its early implementation for the benefit of the entire region. The Pakistani minister said that his government was taking concrete steps for exploiting untapped hydrocarbon resources spanning over 627,000 sq. km sedimentary areas to meet the speed of socioeconomic growth in the country. He said that more onshore and offshore blocks would be opened for enhancing the oil and gas exploration activities in the country which would provide enormous inv

‘Browning’ of African technology —G Pascal Zachary

Daily Times , Pakistan Chinese mastery over ultra-small, cheap “micro-hydro” dams, which can generate tiny amounts of electricity from mere trickles of water, appeals to power-short, river-rich Africans. Tens of thousands of micro-hydro systems operate in China, and nearly none in Africa Forget MIT. Hello, Tsing Hua University. For Clothilde Tingiri, a hot young programmer at Rwanda’s top software company, dreams of Beijing, not Cambridge, animate her ambitions. Desperate for more education, this fall she plans to attend graduate school for computer science — in China, not America. The Chinese are no strangers to Rwanda. Near Tingiri’s office, Rwanda’s largest telecom company, Rwandatel, is installing new wireless telephony equipment made by Huawei of Shenzen. Africa boasts the world’s fastest-growing market for wireless telephony, and Huawei — with offices in 14 African countries — is running away with the business, sending scores of engineers into the bush to bring a new generat

Rising India : Widening Of The Diplomatic Reach And Role Salman Haidar At the beginning of the year, in the customary stock-taking, what is immediately striking is the extent to which a rising India’s diplomatic reach and role has grown. New Delhi has established itself as an important way station for globe trotting dignitaries of all description ~ statesmen, captains of industry, media luminaries, eminent personalities in varied fields. India draws them, just as India’s soft power, Bollywood to the fore, is felt more and more widely across the globe. It is a picture of a country on the move whose fast increasing wealth and confidence is the honey that draws the global parade. There are important signs that relationships with several old partners have been revitalised. In a quest for partnership, many top level European visitors have come and more are on the way. Consultative mechanisms between India and Europe that have been in place for years without achieving much have taken on a fresh significance. Thus t

The 2008 BCG 100 New Global Challengers

The 2008 BCG 100 New Global Challengers: How Top Companies from Rapidly Developing Economies Are Changing the World by Marcos Aguiar, Arindam Bhattacharya, Laurent de Vitton, Jim Hemerling, David C. Michael, Harold L. Sirkin, Kevin Waddell, Bernd Waltermann, Kim Wee Koh December 4, 2007 As we did in 2006, BCG has again identified 100 large and particularly successful companies that are based in rapidly developing economies and going global fast. Incumbent multinational companies will soon encounter them—if they haven't already—as formidable competitors in markets around the world, but also as potential suppliers, customers, and partners. The authors outline these companies' performance, analyze their motivations and strategies, and set forth key implications for incumbents. Read an excerpt [PDF] or order the full copy of this

The Rise of South-South Trade

January 3, 2008; Page A2 January 3, 2008; Page A2 At a recent meeting of global business executives convened in Abu Dhabi by consulting firm A.T. Kearney, managers of sovereign-wealth funds had a message for U.S. and European executives: Work with your government to keep your markets open to us. If not, we'll go elsewhere. The big government-controlled investment pools weren't just talking tough. Sure, the U.S. remains the world's largest and most attractive economy. But the past couple of decades have seen the rise of trade and investment not only between the rich countries of the North and developing economies of the South, but between South and South. Turned away by the U.S., Dubai Ports World is expanding in China, India, Peru and Vietnam. Saudi Arabia's state-owned oil company is investing in refineries in China's Fujian and Shandong provinces. Industrial & Commercial Bank of China last year bought a 20% stake in South Africa's Standard Bank. I

Venezuela: Not What You Think

December 23rd 2007, by Robin Hahnel 12/01/07 "MRZine" - -- -In the case of Hugo Chavez and the Venezuelan Bolivarian Revolution, the mainstream media and politicians in the United States have elevated their game of demonizing all who oppose US foreign policy and business interests to a higher level of absurdity than usual. According to the mainstream media, the only newsworthy stories in Venezuela are one sided diatribes lifted from the discredited, opposition-owned media in Venezuela. For example, we read about Chavez shutting down opposition TV stations. We hear that Chavez is rewriting the Venezuelan Constitution so he can be President for life. Chavez is a dictator, QED. All the badly outgunned, alternative media in the US can do is try its best to rebut the bias in the storylines defined by the mainstream media. The tiny fraction of Americans who visit the alternative media discover that Chavez has submitted a proposal to change the Venezuelan Constitution in a number