Archive for ‘India alert’

01/10/2014

US, India to collaborate on Mars exploration – The Hindu

India and the U.S., after sending their own respective spacecraft into Mars’ orbit, have now agreed to cooperate on future explorations of the Red Planet, which America said will yield “tangible benefits” to both the countries and the world at large.

NASA chief Charles Bolden.

The agreement in this regard was signed by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and K. Radhakrishnan, Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) in Toronto on Tuesday on the sidelines of the International Astronautical Congress.

The two sides signed a charter that establishes a NASA-ISRO Mars Working Group to investigate enhanced cooperation between the two countries in Mars exploration.

They also signed an international agreement that defines how the two agencies will work together on the NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) mission, targeted to launch in 2020.

“The signing of these two documents reflects the strong commitment NASA and ISRO have to advancing science and improving life on Earth,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.

“This partnership will yield tangible benefits to both our countries and the world,” Mr. Bolden said.

The joint Mars Working Group will seek to identify and implement scientific, programmatic and technological goals the two agencies have in common regarding Mars exploration.

The group will meet once a year to plan cooperative activities, including potential NASA-ISRO cooperation on future missions to Mars, it said.

NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) spacecraft arrived at Mars September 21. MAVEN is the first spacecraft dedicated to exploring the tenuous upper atmosphere of Mars.

ISRO’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), India’s first spacecraft launched to the Red Planet, arrived on September 23 to study the Martian surface and atmosphere and demonstrate technologies needed for interplanetary missions.

One of the working group’s objectives will be to explore potential coordinated observations and science analysis between MAVEN and MOM, as well as other current and future Mars missions.

“NASA and Indian scientists have a long history of collaboration in space science,” said John Grunsfeld, NASA associate administrator for science.

“These new agreements between NASA and ISRO in Earth science and Mars exploration will significantly strengthen our ties and the science that we will be able to produce as a result,” he added.

According to a NASA statement, the joint NISAR Earth-observing mission will make global measurements of the causes and consequences of land surface changes.

Potential areas of research include ecosystem disturbances, ice sheet collapse and natural hazards.

The NISAR mission is optimised to measure subtle changes of the Earth’s surface associated with motions of the crust and ice surfaces.

NISAR will improve our understanding of key impacts of climate change and advance our knowledge of natural hazards, he said.

“NISAR will be the first satellite mission to use two different radar frequencies (L-band and S-band) to measure changes in our planet’s surface less than a centimetre across. This allows the mission to observe a wide range of changes, from the flow rates of glaciers and ice sheets to the dynamics of earthquakes and volcanoes,” it said.

Under the terms of the new agreement, NASA will provide the mission’s L-band synthetic aperture radar (SAR), a high-rate communication subsystem for science data, GPS receivers, a solid state recorder, and a payload data subsystem.

ISRO will provide the spacecraft bus, an S-band SAR, and the launch vehicle and associated launch services.

NASA and ISRO have been cooperating under the terms of a framework agreement signed in 2008.

This cooperation includes a variety of activities in space sciences such as two NASA payloads — the Mini-Synthetic Aperture Radar (Mini-SAR) and the Moon Mineralogy Mapper — on ISRO’s Chandrayaan-1 mission to the moon in 2008.

During the operational phase of this mission, the Mini-SAR instrument detected ice deposits near the moon’s northern pole, it said.

via US, India to collaborate on Mars exploration – The Hindu.

30/09/2014

Obama-Modi Meeting Offers Chance to Reset U.S.-India Ties – Businessweek

President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meetings in Washington give the two leaders to chance to reinvigorate an economic relationship that both see crucial to growth and security.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi

The two days of talks, which began with a private dinner for Modi at the White House last night, are pivotal, U.S. officials said ahead of the summit. In addition to Obama’s sessions with Modi, Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry will host today a luncheon for the Indian leader.

This is the first time Obama and Modi have met, and it also is Modi’s first visit to the U.S. since he was denied a visa in 2005 over anti-Muslim riots in his state of Gujarat three years earlier. Modi won a landslide election win in May, and the U.S. is seeking to repair relations while India is wooing foreign investors to revive its economy.

“The U.S. is eagerly trying to move forward with Modi in order to put the past behind them,” Milan Vaishnav, an associate in the South Asia program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, said in a phone interview. “The two sides have a foundation in terms of a bilateral government-to-government relationship and a people-to-people relationship to build on. In terms of a leader-to-leader relationship, this is almost like starting anew.”

via Obama-Modi Meeting Offers Chance to Reset U.S.-India Ties – Businessweek.

30/09/2014

India Plans to Clean Up for Gandhi’s Birthday – India Real Time – WSJ

On Sunday, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi told a crowd at Madison Square Garden that cleaning up India was his priority.

Mahatma Gandhi never compromised on cleanliness. He gave us freedom. We should give him a clean India,” said Mr. Modi.

To honor Gandhi on the anniversary of his birth on Oct. 2, Mr. Modi earlier this month announced the launch of the Swachh Bharat, or Clean India, Mission. “I myself will set out with a broom and contribute towards this pious task” on Thursday, said Mr. Modi in an official statement. Previously called the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan, the program will be restructured into two separate programs for urban and rural India.

Sanitation is one of the most pressing challenges India faces: almost 600 million people defecate in the open in the country.

The movement aims to “create a Clean India” by 2019 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Gandhi’s birth. It’s an ambitious initiative, but viewed as critical to sustainable development in a country that has long ignored the most basic needs of many of its people.

As Oct. 2 draws nearer, millions of people across the country are joining daily the cleanliness drives organized by government departments, nonprofits and local community centers.

But the federal government will carry out the lion’s share of the work. Here’s what it has pledged:

The urban component is expected to cost 620 billion rupees (around $10.1 billion) over 5 years, and includes plans to eliminate open defecation, convert insanitary toilets into pour-flush ones and eradicate manual scavenging.

Manual scavenging — the practice of scraping feces out of primitive dry latrines or collecting waste from fields where villagers relieve themselves — has been illegal for decades but still persists in Indian regions lacking indoor plumbing.

In urban areas, 10 million households will be provided with around half a million public and community toilets and waste management facilities.

In rural India, 1,340 billion rupees (around $21.7 billion) has been pledged to construct around 110 million toilets across the country, said India’s rural development minister in a statement.

That’s a lot of new toilets, which if built could help prevent water-borne diseases like diarrhea, which kills almost 100,000 Indian children each year.

More toilets could also make women in India safer — in June, two teenage girls were assaulted in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh when, lacking toilets, they had gone outside to relieve themselves in the privacy of the darkness.

Mr. Modi has also directed state governments to ensure that all schools have separate toilets for boys and girls by Aug. 2015, according to a government of India press release. Many girls in India quit school when they reach puberty because of a lack of functioning toilets on the premises.

via India Plans to Clean Up for Gandhi’s Birthday – India Real Time – WSJ.

30/09/2014

Centripetal and Centrifugal Forces at Work in the Nation-State | Stratfor

“Here begins our tale: The empire, long divided, must unite; long united, must divide. Thus it has ever been.” This opening adage of Romance of the Three Kingdoms, China’s classic novel of war and strategy, best captures the essential dynamism of Chinese geopolitics. At its heart is the millennia-long struggle by China’s would-be rulers to unite and govern the all-but-ungovernable geographic mass of China. It is a story of centrifugal forces and of insurmountable divisions rooted in geography and history — but also, and perhaps more fundamentally, of centripetal forces toward eventual unity.

Tibetan Settlement in India

This dynamism is not limited to China. The Scottish referendum and waves of secession movements — from Spain’s Catalonia to Turkey and Iraq’s ethnic Kurds — are working in different directions. More than half a century after World War II triggered a wave of post-colonial nationalism that changed the map of the world, buried nationalism and ethnic identity movements of various forms are challenging the modern idea of the inviolable unity of the nation-state.

Yet even as these sentiments pull on the loose threads of nations, in China, one of the most intractable issues in the struggle for unity — the status of Tibet — is poised for a possible reversal, or at least a major adjustment. The long-running but frequently unnoticed negotiations have raised the possibility that the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader, may be nearing a deal that would enable him to return to his Tibetan homeland. If it happens, it would end the Dalai Lama’s exile in Dharamsala, India — an exile that began after the Tibetan uprising in 1959, nine years after the People’s Republic of China annexed Tibet. More important, a settlement between Beijing and the Dalai Lama could be a major step in lessening the physical and psychological estrangement between the Chinese heartland and the Tibetan Plateau.

Read rest of article via Centripetal and Centrifugal Forces at Work in the Nation-State | Stratfor.

30/09/2014

Stand-off continues, Chinese army refuses to withdraw from Chumar

 

The standoff between the Indian Army and their Chinese counterparts continued on Monday at the Chumar sector in eastern Ladakh, along the Line of Actual Control. At one of the eight spots in the Chumar sector, the Indian Army made a tactical retreat in the face of a heavy Chinese presence. Despite diplomatic interventions on Monday, both sides continue to hold their tactical positions against each other. The standoff has continued primarily because of China’s unwillingness to stop its road-building exercise to the Line of Actual Control and India’s refusal to demolish structures built in the area to shelter troops.

via Scroll.in – News. Politics. Culture..

20/09/2014

Huawei: The great disrupter’s new targets | The Economist

“THE last time there were so many people down by here, the Rolling Stones were in town.” So declared one of those attending an unusual gathering this week in a vast auditorium along the shores of Shanghai’s Huangpu River. The music was blaring, the coloured lights flashing and the ceiling shimmering, but this was not another rock concert. Astonishingly, the enthusiastic throngs—10,000 squeezed into the venue and another 13,000 joined in via streaming video—had gathered for a technology conference.

The gig was organised by Huawei, a Chinese maker of telecoms equipment, which used the occasion to unveil a new business strategy. As they strode across the stage in front of a video screen nearly as wide as a football pitch, Huawei’s bosses declared their aim of making their firm the world’s leading information-technology (IT) company. In the first stage of this, Huawei plans to increase its sales of servers, storage and other data-centre equipment by a factor of ten by 2020. Last year such products brought in only about $1 billion of Huawei’s total revenues of $39 billion.

It is an audacious goal. It pits Huawei against such titans as IBM, Cisco and HP—innovative giants with deep customer relationships and comprehensive offerings that Huawei cannot yet match. Then again, a decade or so ago Huawei faced a similar challenge in telecoms equipment and has grown to become one of the world’s dominant vendors. It has also become big in smartphones. Evan Zeng of Gartner, a consulting firm, says Huawei starts with an edge in China’s fast-growing market, where state-owned firms favour domestic suppliers. That said, it has some strong local rivals, notably Lenovo and ZTE.

Bryan Wang of Forrester Research, another consulting firm, says Huawei is taking on this daunting challenge because the telecoms-equipment market has become saturated and is set to grow only sluggishly. The IT business is also crowded. But it is a far bigger market than telecoms equipment, and Huawei, since it has such a small share of it, has enormous scope for growth.

In an attempt to keep the company nimble, Huawei recently introduced a system in which three of its bosses take turns, six months at a time, at being the chief executive. Guo Ping, who is in charge at the moment, argues that the telecoms operators that are now his firm’s main customers are embracing cloud computing, so it makes sense for Huawei to make sure it can provide all the gear they need to do so.

Second, Mr Guo argues, the long-predicted convergence of the telecoms and IT businesses is finally happening. The switching of telecoms and internet traffic will no longer require so much of the costly, specialist hardware that Huawei now makes. Increasingly, the job will be done by software, which will run on cheaper, standard IT equipment—what is known as “software-defined networking”. Huawei is seeking to get ahead of this disruption of its core business by being a disrupter itself.

There are good reasons to think Huawei may be up to the challenge. As a privately-held company, “its managers don’t have quarterly pressure, and can invest for the long term,” notes Mark Gibbs of SAP, a German software firm that works closely with Huawei. Ryan Ding, Huawei’s head of product development, recalls that his firm stuck with its efforts to penetrate the markets for routers and LAN switches—two important bits of telecoms gear—despite losing money on each for more than a decade. Likewise, this year it is pumping $600m, or more than half of its entire revenues from IT products, into researching future ones.

Huawei is a proven innovator entering a bloated industry, ripe for change. Its bosses speak clearly and compellingly about what innovation is for: not to win Nobel prizes, or plaudits in the media for the “coolness” of its products, but to create value for customers. To this end, Huawei stations armies of engineers at 28 “joint innovation centres” at customers’ sites around the world. “My guys don’t just ask the customer what he wants: they go to the field site together, do the installation together, and figure out together how to increase efficiencies,” boasts Mr Ding.

The American and European giants of IT have been put on notice. Mr Wang of Forrester says Huawei has already shown it can deliver a potent combination of price, service and customisation. That is why he feels sure it will disrupt the IT business just as it did with telecoms.

via Huawei: The great disrupter’s new targets | The Economist.

20/09/2014

Modi Uses Another International Visit to Raise His Local Profile – India Real Time – WSJ

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping this week once again showed that Mr. Modi is a master of media management.

The summit of the heads of the world’s two most-populous countries produced mixed results. A lot of agreements were signed, but the $100 billion in Chinese investment pledges that some local media had predicted did not materialize. And just as the leaders were shaking hands, there was an embarrassing faceoff between Chinese and Indian troops along the countries’ disputed boundary.

That didn’t stop India’s prime minister from again using photo opportunities and body language to broadcast his confidence, an impression that is likely to remain long after local media stop discussing the border tension and whether China had promised enough money.

Indians watching the visit wouldn’t have missed some of the symbolism. Mr. Xi flew into Mr. Modi’s home state, on the Indian prime minister’s birthday. Mr. Xi wore an  Indian vest that Mr. Modi gave him. Video of the two showed Mr. Modi walking in front of Mr. Xi at one event and swinging on a swing with him. At one point it even looked like Mr. Xi was carrying an umbrella for Mr. Modi.

Reuters Xi Jinping looked like he was carrying an umbrella for Narendra Modi during a recent visit to Gujarat.

The Indian prime minister has used the same charisma in photo ops during other international summits, most recently in Japan where he gave Prime Minister Shinzo Abe a big bear hug and later performed a solo on traditional Japanese drums.

All of this has been beamed into Indian homes and marks a major change from the demeanor of the country’s previous prime minister, Manmohan Singh, who was soft- spoken and slow-moving.

Mr. Modi’s multimedia skills are one of the things that made him prime minister.  Whether it is his controversial selfies, the sight of hundreds of supporters wearing Modi masks, campaign speeches delivered through hologram, his stylish outfits or his willingness to put on almost any kind of regional headwear, Mr. Modi knows how to make an impression.

via Modi Uses Another International Visit to Raise His Local Profile – India Real Time – WSJ.

20/09/2014

To engage with China, India must stop peddling myths about the Line of Actual Control

Nehru’s hubris about his own statesmanship, coupled with a refusal to discuss the matter reasonably since 1962, has led us to the present tangle.

Political commentators have been gushing over the possibilities of strengthened economic and strategic relations between China and India, but the unresolved border dispute remains alive and can always play spoiler in the future. A border is, after all, more than a line on the map or a series of military posts on the ground; it is a reflection of how the political elite of a nation-state thinks about its security.

Chinese-controlled Aksai Chin is claimed by India as part of Jammu and Kashmir, and Indian-controlled Arunachal Pradesh is claimed by China. The only feasible solution is to accept the status quo and transform the Line of Actual Control into an international boundary. There have been several rounds of talks since the 1990s, but a resolution remains distant. Despite its parliamentary majority, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government will be unable to sell a permanent boundary settlement without being accused of ceding territory in Aksai Chin, though in reality it will only be giving up its claim over a territory India never controlled.

This raises a pertinent question: what precisely is the border upon which India and China cannot agree?

New neighbours

Through history, China and India have not been neighbours. The current de facto border has its genesis in a line drawn on a map by Henry McMahon during a secret treaty between Britain and Tibet in March 1914. Both entities, British India and Tibet, are no more: one has been transformed into postcolonial India and the other was occupied and colonised by communist China. Yet India and China, both of whom have overthrown the mantle of Western imperialism, are jostling over the same imperialists’ line – and have completely militarised and destroyed the traditional zone of contact that the border regions were.

The border is a legacy of a few dynamics, including the expansionist policies of the British in the Himalayan regions of India, the disappearance of the traditional Tibetan state, which had political and sacral hegemony over much of the region, and the modern nationalisms in postcolonial India and revolutionary China, which are keen on implementing a rigid notion of sovereignty in the border regions and legitimising the primacy of militarised security over the religious, cultural and human rights of the people inhabiting the region.

Stuck in the middle

The primary loser in the dispute is neither India nor China but Tibet. China has occupied most of Tibetan territory, while India has occupied the Tawang tract, which was historically part of Tibet. The Tibetan state had given up the Tawang region to British India in 1914 on the understanding that they would get friendship and assistance to protect their independence from China. When China went on to occupy Tibet in 1949-’50, India reneged on that understanding, preferring the diplomatically attractive Hindi-Chini-bhai-bhai rhetoric over a strategically sound and morally defensible Indo-Tibetan friendship.

Despite reluctantly hosting the Tibetan exile community today, India did not offer any tangible help to the Tibetans in their struggle for independence. Today, as Modi and Xi plan collaborations on various fronts, Tibetans are reminded that in this world of realpolitik, morality and human rights are subservient. Tibetans are perceived as strategic assets or liabilities in bargaining with China, not people of an occupied land for whom India should raise its voice. For India, it is the border matters, not the border inhabitants.

Myths peddled by India

The popular as well as strategic approach of many in India towards the border dispute is jaundiced by the myths the Indian state peddled about the humiliating war of 1962. After the 1962 defeat, there was no credible reflection at the policy level in India. Indians accepted as real the myths that Indian territorial claims were legitimate and sacrosanct, and that the Chinese were duplicitous and stabbed gullible India in the back. The reality could not be further from this. The first Survey of India Map in 1950 showed the boundary as undefined in Aksai Chin and as undemarcated in the north east. It was only in the summer of 1954 that Jawaharlal Nehru gave personal orders for all old maps to be withdrawn and destroyed and to remove qualifiers and show the McMahon Line in bold, as if that was the de jure boundary.

Nehru later claimed innocence, insisting that there was no boundary disagreement and that Chinese claims were surprising. Since 1959, India rejected all the diplomatic overtures of Zhou Enlai and said negotiations could only take place if China withdrew from Aksai Chin, though India would not offer anything in return. Since 1961, the Indian military followed a “forward policy” in the border regions that was not only provocative but based on the assumption that China would not retaliate.

A great unresolved mystery from the time is why the best Indian minds working in intelligence, military and diplomacy accepted this assumption without a murmur of protest. It can be explained by Nehru’s hubris in his own capacity as a statesperson, bureaucracies subservient to him, and the inability of the civilian and military elite to be independent-minded. Macho posturing was the order of the day. The Indianisation of the top brass in the military occurred only after independence in 1947, so they were inexperienced as leaders. Faced with an army that had its genesis in revolutionary wars, the Indian army, which had been servant to an imperial power, failed to perform its basic duty of protecting the country.

via Scroll.in – News. Politics. Culture..

18/09/2014

Trade, investment hopes as China’s Xi visits India – Businessweek

Chinese President Xi Jinping landed in the Indian prime minister‘s home state of Gujarat on Wednesday for a three-day visit expected to focus on India’s need to improve worn out infrastructure and reduce its trade deficit.

Xi was greeted on the tarmac by state officials carrying fringed umbrellas to guard him from the sun in Gujarat’s main financial city of Ahmedabad.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to court Chinese business and seek investment to upgrade creaky infrastructure, banking on China’s track record at building highways, railways, and industrial zones. India is also eager to address the imbalance in their annual trade, which now totals around $65 billion but is skewed toward imports of Chinese electrical equipment and parts.

Modi and the Gujarat government are staging a lavish welcome for Xi, with billboards across Ahmedabad showing a smiling Modi and Xi. A banquet dinner was being held Wednesday night on the banks of the Sabarmati River in Ahmedabad. Modi was also celebrating his 64th birthday.

Xi has been equally effusive in expressing excitement for the visit.

China-India relations have become one of the most dynamic and promising bilateral relations in the 21st century,” Xi wrote in an article published Wednesday in The Hindu newspaper.

via Trade, investment hopes as China’s Xi visits India – Businessweek.

18/09/2014

Chinese Views of India: Culturally Rich but Backward – China Real Time Report – WSJ

From China’s side of the Himalayas, the view of India isn’t always that great.

“This place is like China from 20 years ago. It’s much, much worse than I’d imagined,” said Tony Jiang, 29, an employee at an electronics-parts maker in Hangzhou visiting New Delhi this week.

Reshma Patil, an Indian journalist who spent more than three years based in Beijing reporting on China for the Hindustan Times newspaper, writes in a recently published book that Chinese she met tended to view India as poor and unsanitary.

In “Strangers Across the Border: Indian Encounters in Boomtown China,” Ms. Patil argues that ties between the two countries are hampered by their citizens’ mutual ignorance of each other.

A survey by the Pew Research Center published this year found that 30% of Chinese have a “favorable” view of India and 55% an “unfavorable” one. By contrast, 50% of Chinese have a favorable view of the U.S., according to Pew. Just 8% of Chinese hold a favorable view of Japan.

More Chinese are getting first-hand knowledge by visiting India as tourists or on business trips.

But the numbers are still small. India’s Ministry of Tourism says that about 175,000 Chinese tourists visited India in 2013, a 46% increase from around 120,000 in 2010. Tourism experts say China’s newly affluent prefer traveling to Europe, the U.S. and Southeast Asia.

India Real Time interviewed some Chinese visitors to India to get their impressions of the country as the two nations focus on bolstering ties that have long been strained by territorial disputes. Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in India on Wednesday for a three-day trip aimed at deepening economic relations.

For some Chinese, the allure of India is its cultural heritage, especially its connection to Buddhism.

Mario Tang, a 26-year-old store manager from Shanghai who traveled across north India, said he came to see India’s centuries old history — against the advice of family and friends.

“My parents thought I was crazy. Most people I know think India is a poor, dirty, backward place,” Mr. Tang said.

He found it magical. “India is one of my favorite places on the planet,” he said. He visited Buddhist holy sites and even took a dip in the Ganges, India’s sacred river. He said Indians he spoke to seemed happy, something he attributed to “the power of belief and culture.”

Di Wenjie, a 32-year-old Chinese magazine editor who has visited India several times, said the country is “beyond imagination and full of color.” She says she studied meditation and yoga and plans to come again soon.

Others take a dimmer view.

“We didn’t have high hopes coming here,” said Mr. Jiang, the electronics-company employee, who was visiting Delhi for a trade fair. “Our impression was that Indian people are dirty and disorderly,” he said, while working on his laptop at a Starbucks in the center of the Indian capital this week.

Mr. Jiang also questioned Indians’ dedication to their jobs. “Indians are still eating breakfast at 10 a.m. Then they go home by 5 to 6 p.m.,” he said. “This is why this country is developing so, so slowly.”

His colleague, Ray Zhang, 28, said that his experience in New Delhi had been “terrible.” But he said he wouldn’t rule out returning to India to see the sights. “I’ve heard a lot about the Taj Mahal,” he said.

via Chinese Views of India: Culturally Rich but Backward – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

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