Archive for ‘India alert’

06/07/2015

Narendra Modi’s Visit to Central Asia: What to Know – India Real Time – WSJ

India is starting to latch onto the need to forge diplomatic relationships with other countries beyond simple exchange of embassies. However, in the two months of rest between PM Modi’s globe trotting, China formed or reinforced relationship with 28 countries:

  • May:  E U; Japan; Belarus; India; Ireland; Vietnam; Brazil; Colombia, Peru, Chile.
  • June:  Pakistan, Senegal; French Polynesia;  Angola; Sri Lanka; Georgia; Myanmar, Maldives; Uzbekistan; Australia; Czech Republic; Poland; Belgium; USA; Brazil; France.

Some of these were when senior foreign politicians visited China, others when senior Chinese politicians visits abroad.

In 2014, China wooed 167 nations – http://chindia-alert.org/2014/12/31/chinese-diplomacy-2014/ and over 100 in 2013 – http://chindia-alert.org/2013/12/31/who-did-china-woo-in-2013/.  So far 62 in 2015.  Someone in the higher eschelons of Chnese government must have read and espouse Dale Carnegie’s book!

“Less than two months after returning from a journey that took him to China, South Korea and Mongolia, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi begins another whirlwind overseas tour on Monday in which he is slated to visit five Central Asian countries, attend two multilateral summits in Russia and talk about issues ranging from trade to yoga to terrorism.

In a series of short trips, Mr. Modi will touch down in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, covering a cluster of strategically-positioned, resource-rich nations not far from India’s borders where China has established robust trade and investment ties. In between, he’ll visit Russia for the annual Brics summit.

Mr. Modi’s main focus is going to be energy: Turkmenistan’s natural gas reserves, for instance, and Kazakhstan’s oil and uranium. In recent years, India’s plans to invest in Kazakhstan’s oil projects have been waylaid by proposals from China, which has a major presence in the country’s oil and gas production.

Efforts to ramp-up the flow of these resources to India have also been complicated by the region’s security risks and geopolitics. A long-pending project with Turkmenistan, for instance, involves constructing a gas pipeline from that country over Taliban-hit Afghanistan and across India’s rival neighbor Pakistan, to India.

The Indian government is looking to kickstart work on the pipeline. In April, during a visit by India’s foreign minister, Sushma Swaraj, Turkmenistan pledged to begin construction of it this year, India said. Ahead of Mr. Modi’s departure, Navtej Sarna, an Indian official, said on Friday that the government “will have to explore how we can move this project forward very quickly,” though he didn’t elaborate on how much progress Mr. Modi and his team were expected to make.

It’s not just the pipeline. Mr. Modi is hoping to push other infrastructure projects too that would connect Central Asia to India – regions that are not far apart on the map but have remained inadequately linked by roads, railways and ports, diminishing opportunities for trade and investment.

A North-South transport corridor that would help move cargo through a more straightforward and cheaper route between Russia and Central Asia on the one hand and India on the other has been in the offing for years. While some infrastructure has been built, big gaps remain. Mr. Modi is hoping to recruit more partners to help fill them.

One crucial link country in this plan is Iran, which has been off limits because of Western sanctions aimed at driving Tehran to end its nuclear program. As Iran and its U.S.-led opponents moved toward a deal this year that would end the deadlock, India in May sought to reinvigorate a port project in Iran’s eastern Chabahar region. Once completed, the port would become a central part of the planned corridor.

These questions of connectivity are important for India’s trade prospects, but they also have a geopolitical  significance. China has in recent months stepped up its diplomatic outreach for its new “Silk Road” belt connecting it to Central Asia and Europe. On a visit to Islamabad in April, Chinese President Xi Jinping unveiled a $46 billion economic corridor that would cut across Pakistan and a disputed territory governed by Pakistan that India also claims. Indian officials have objected to the initiative, both publicly and in meetings with Chinese officials.

At the same time, Mr. Modi is looking to forge closer economic ties with China. This week, he will meet Chinese leaders during the Brics summit in the Russian city of Ufa, where the leaders will discuss, among other regional and global issues, their recently-formed bank. The New Development Bank as it is called is headquartered in Shanghai and will have an Indian banker as its first head. Mr. Modi will also participate in a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a security grouping led by China and Russia, which India is likely to join shortly as a full member.”

via Narendra Modi’s Visit to Central Asia: What to Know – India Real Time – WSJ.

06/07/2015

Rivals Pakistan, India to start process of joining China security bloc | Reuters

Nuclear-armed rivals Pakistan and India will start the process of joining a security bloc led by China and Russia at a summit in Russia later this week, a senior Chinese diplomat said on Monday, the first time the grouping has expanded since it was set up in 2001.

Photo

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) groups China, Russia and the former Soviet republics of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, while India, Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan and Mongolia are observers.

“As the influence of the SCO’s development has expanded, more and more countries in the region have brought up joining the SCO,” Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Cheng Guoping told a news briefing.”India and Pakistan’s admission to the SCO will play an important role in the SCO’s development. It will play a constructive role in pushing for the improvement of their bilateral relations.”

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since 1947, two of them over the divided Muslim-majority region of Kashmir which they both claim in full but rule in part. Pakistan also believes India is supporting separatists in resource-rich Baluchistan province, as well as militants fighting the state.

India applied to join the regional security grouping last year and SCO foreign ministers gave a positive recommendation when they met in June. “We await further developments,” said Sujata Mehta, a senior foreign ministry official.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be in Moscow for a summit of the BRICS group of emerging markets and both he and his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif, will attend a special SCO “outreach” session as part of the gathering.

Pakistan’s application is being considered, said foreign ministry spokesman Qazi Khalilullah. “We hope they will support us for full membership,” he added.

The grouping was originally formed to fight threats posed by radical Islam and drug trafficking from neighboring Afghanistan.

Cheng said the summit, to be attended by Chinese President Xi Jinping, would also discuss security in Afghanistan.

Beijing says separatist groups in the far western region of Xinjiang, home to the Muslim Uighur minority, seek to form their own state, called East Turkestan, and have links with militants in Central Asia, as well as Pakistan and Afghanistan.

China says Uighur militants, operating as the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), have also been working with Islamic State.

“It can be said that ETIM certainly has links with the Islamic State, and has participated in relevant terrorist activities. China is paying close attention to this, and will have security cooperation with relevant countries,” Cheng said.

via Rivals Pakistan, India to start process of joining China security bloc | Reuters.

03/07/2015

Rag pickers’ services will be recognised by Government; to give national award – The Hindu

The national award, with a cash prize of Rs. 1.5 lakh, will be given to three best rag pickers and three associations.

Now, rag pickers’ services will be recognised by the government which has decided to give national award for their contribution to keep India clean. File photo

Now, rag pickers’ services will be recognised by the government which has decided to give national award for their contribution to keep India clean.

“There are millions of rag pickers in the country. This informal sector has saved the country. They are doing a good job and I have decided to recognise their efforts. We will grant national award,” Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said at an event on waste management in New Delhi.

The national award, with a cash prize of Rs. 1.5 lakh, will be given to three best rag pickers and three associations involved in innovation of best practices, he added.

Stating that rag pickers are helping to some extent in handling waste, the Minister pitched for setting up of a credible agency like Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) that can guide municipal bodies to take measures to address waste management in a scientific way.

“At present, agencies that handle solid waste are working on contractual basis and this has failed miserably. Handling waste cannot always be a profitable business. We have suggested that the Urban Ministry build a credible agency like DMRC that can give scientific guidance,” he said.

The Minister also mentioned that there are adequate funds for waste management. “What is lacking is scientific guidance to handle different kinds of waste,” he said.

Expressing concern over the large quantity of untreated waste and sewage in the country, Javadekar said that current rules have been revised to ensure every village of over 5,000 population has a waste treatment plant.

The country generates 62 million tonnes of waste annually. “This is expected to increase to 165 million tonnes by 2030 and 450 million tonnes by 2050,” he said adding that the worrying fact is that 68 per cent of waste and sewage is not treated in the country at present.

He said the new draft norms on waste management, which aim to put in place a strong mechanism to address concerns related to different kinds of waste, would be implemented from August-end after seeking public comments.

via Rag pickers’ services will be recognised by Government; to give national award – The Hindu.

03/07/2015

Fridges, Cellphones and Divorce Rates: Independent India’s First Socio Economic and Caste Census – WSJ

India on Friday released the results of a census that gives the first large-scale picture of India’s caste and socio-economic makeup since 1932.

The numbers from the Socio Economic and Caste Census 2011 reveal where Indians live, what work they do and what kind of products they own. They are separate from the Census of India that is carried out every 10 years, and highlight major gaps in education and job opportunities.

Here are 10 key numbers, all relating to houses in rural areas, from the census.

TAX

4.58%

The percentage of households where someone pays income tax.

Less than 10% of households get their income from a salaried job. Of these, around 5% are employed in government jobs, just over 1% in the public sector and 3.5% in private entities.

In only 8% of households, the highest earning member makes Rs. 10,000 ($157) or more a month. It is hardly a surprise then, that fewer than 5% pay income tax.

REFRIGERATORS

11.04%

The percentage of households with a refrigerator. Whether they have the electricity to run it is another question.

Goa has the highest percentage of households in rural areas with a fridge–at 69%. By contrast, in Bihar, only 2.61% of households in the countryside have a fridge.

NO PHONES

50 million

Households that don’t own a landline or a mobile phone. Roughly 70% of the 179 million rural households in India own cellphones.

But 27% have neither a cellphone nor a landline. The eastern states of Chhattisgarh and Orissa, home to some of India’s largest indigenous populations, have the lowest access to telecommunications.

DIVORCEES

1,052,210

Divorced people living in rural areas. That’s just 0.12% of the population. Divorce is very rare in India.

FAMILY SIZE

4.93

Average household size in rural areas. Though in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most-populous state with 200 million people, the average number of people in a rural household is 6.26.

WOMEN HEADS

12.83%

The percentage of households headed by a woman.

MANUAL SCAVENGERS

180,657

The number of people who carry out manual scavenging, a practice of collecting human waste from primitive dry latrines by hand, which is outlawed but persists.  Manual scavengers are usually from the lowest rungs of the Hindu caste system (Indian Muslim communities have similar low-status members who perform this job) and women, according to U.S. human-rights group Human Rights Watch.

MECHANIZATION

4%

Of households own mechanized equipment with three or four wheels for carrying out manual labor through which they earn a living.

Nearly 40% of households don’t own land and earn wages through casual, manual labor. Agriculture is tough work, with 40% of rural land still lacking irrigation facilities.

LEARNING

35%

More than 35% of rural Indians are illiterate, with the highest numbers of those who can’t read or write coming from the states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar.

MAKESHIFT HOUSING

45%

Nearly half of rural households still live in what are called “kuccha” houses, which include structures made of materials such as thatch, mud, plastic and wood.

via Fridges, Cellphones and Divorce Rates: Independent India’s First Socio Economic and Caste Census – WSJ.

01/07/2015

NDA constituents Shiv Sena, Shiromani Akali Dal, Swabhimani Paksha red-flag land bill provisions – The Hindu

Fault lines in the NDA over the land bill are visible with three of BJP’s allies – the Shiv Sena, the Shiromani Akali Dal and the Swabhimani Paksha — red-flagging a number of provisions of the proposed legislation.

The contentious land acquisition bill, which proposes amendments to the Land Acquisition Act of 2013, is under examination of a Joint Committee of Parliament. File photo

The contentious bill, which proposes amendments to the Land Acquisition Act of 2013, is under examination of a Joint Committee of Parliament which is about to conclude its consultation process and consider it clause-by-clause next week.

While the Shiv Sena has, for quite some time, been on record seeking incorporation of a clause providing for 70 per cent consent of farmers in the bill, the SAD and the Paksha have written to the panel headed by S.S. Ahluwalia that “not an inch” of land should be acquired without the consent of farmers.

In its written representation to the JPC, five MPs from the SAD — Naresh Gurjal, Balwinder Singh Bhunder, Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Prem Singh Chandumajra and Sher Singh Ghubaiya — said that they firmly believe that land is a priceless asset of the farmers.

“Not even an inch of it should be acquired by the government without the consent of the farmers/land owners.” they said.

The MPs also insisted that land should only be acquired for public sector projects and the “government should not get into acquisition for private entities”.

via NDA constituents Shiv Sena, Shiromani Akali Dal, Swabhimani Paksha red-flag land bill provisions – The Hindu.

01/07/2015

India Lags Behind Pakistan, Nepal on Sanitation – India Real Time – WSJ

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made sanitation a priority for his country, saying he would rather build toilets than temples and setting a goal for every home in the country to have a place to go to the bathroom by 2019.

But new data show India is lagging behind its neighbors in providing access to adequate sanitation.

“Progress on Sanitation and Drinking Water,” a report published by the United Nations Children’s Fund and the World Health Organization this week, says that advancements in meeting Millennium Development Goals, or MDGs, by 2015 in relation to sanitation have faltered worldwide. The report says 2.4 billion people still don’t have access to improved sanitation.

 

Mr. Modi launched his Clean India, or Swachh Bharat, campaign last year for good reason. Research shows that the practice of open defecation is linked to a higher risk of stunting in children and the spread of disease. A World Health Organization report said in 2014 that 597 million people in India still relieved themselves outdoors.  And the new WHO/Unicef report says that the Southern Asia region has the highest number of people who defecate in the open.

The new data show that despite recent efforts, over the past 25 years, India has been losing the regional race to improve sanitation.

Its neighbors, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan led the way with the greatest percentage-point change in the proportion of the population with access to improved sanitation facilities between 1990 and 2015.

Pakistan’s percentage point change was 40–64% of people have use an improved sanitation facility. In Nepal, a country in which just 4% of people had access to improved sanitation facilities in 1990, access rose by 42 percentage points to 46%. Bangladesh improved its score by 27 percentage points — 61% now have access to improved sanitation facilities.

India meanwhile, had a lower 23 percentage point increase in the same period – bringing the number of people with access to improved sanitation facilities to 40%.

And Sri Lanka is way ahead, with 95% of people having access to improved sanitation.

via India Lags Behind Pakistan, Nepal on Sanitation – India Real Time – WSJ.

29/06/2015

India’s Victory Over Polio Has an Unexpected Consequence – India Real Time – WSJ

India’s aggressive eradication of polio established the template for moving a disease from endemic to eliminated and has been lauded by the World Health Organization.

But in the process, a rise in the prevalence of another polio-like condition, acute flaccid paralysis, has been recorded.

Known as AFP, the condition is the sudden onset of muscle weakness or the inability to move limbs, and can be a tell-tale sign of polio, but is also a symptom of other diseases, including transverse myelitis, which causes injury to the spinal cord, Guillain Barre Syndrome, a nerve disorder, and Japanese Encephalitis, a mosquito-borne virus.

Since 1997, children in India who present with AFP are immediately tested for polio to comply with polio-eradication protocol and doing so has been one of the foundation stones for eradication.

Just this month, more than 200 young patients in the country’s most-populous state Uttar Pradesh, suffering from AFP were tested for polio. They didn’t have the virus, the federal Health Ministry said in a statement.

Such surveillance has resulted in a huge rise in reported cases of AFP.

In 2003, when polio was endemic in India, 8,500 cases of AFP were recorded. So far in 2015, a year after India was declared polio free, there have been nearly 18,000 reported instances but none linked to polio.

Often the cause of AFP remains unknown.

via India’s Victory Over Polio Has an Unexpected Consequence – India Real Time – WSJ.

29/06/2015

Wimbledon’s Famous Towels Made, and for Sale, in India – India Real Time – WSJ

It’s Wimbledon season, which means it’s Wimbledon towel season.

The colorful terry-cloth towels used by tennis players on court are the most-prized keepsake from the annual tournament at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in southwest London.

Even the sport’s biggest stars are not immune, pocketing around half of the 6,000 towels set aside for their use during the matches, and giving them away to friends and family. The towels are so popular that the tournament employed towel police to prevent thefts until 2012, when they stopped trying to prevent players from stuffing their bags full of towels.

Thousands of tennis fans will scramble to get one of the 100,000 towels made for this year’s tournament inside Wimbledon’s gates or online. The luckiest ones will be in India.

That’s because textile giant Welspun India Ltd. has produced the towels in Gujarat since buying the iconic British towel manufacturer Christy, in 2006.

There are two Wimbledon towels for players. The one given to male players is purple and green with tennis balls and letters in a color called “buttermilk.”

The women’s towel is done up in new colors each year, this year’s is described as “Apple Berry.”

While most people will be lining up to pay £30 (3,015 rupees) for this year’s towel on the sidelines of the hallowed courts, Indian fans can buy one online for 1,295 rupees, or 995 rupees for the women’s version.

“However,” said Dipali Goenka, head of Welspun, “the market for Wimbledon towels in India is very small currently.”

via Wimbledon’s Famous Towels Made, and for Sale, in India – India Real Time – WSJ.

25/06/2015

Indian and Chinese Car Makers Out-Earn U.S. Rivals – India Real Time – WSJ

U.S. auto makers’ ability to finance costly technology and emissions requirements from earnings will be tested by a broader group of strong competitors that for the first time include more profitable Indian and Chinese car makers.

Top auto makers in China and India earned 37.5% more profit excluding preferred dividends in fiscal 2014 than their U.S. counterparts, joining European and Japanese auto companies in out-earning the Detroit Three, said AlixPartners LLP, a New York-based consulting firm with a global automotive practice. Its 2015 automotive outlook, released on Tuesday, shows emerging Asian auto makers last year generated margins that were about double those of General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV’s Chrysler unit.

The emergence of Asian powerhouses—notably India’s Tata Motors Ltd. and China’s SAIC Motor Corp. and Great Wall Motor Co.—represents the latest dent in Detroit’s once-global dominance. Over the past 15 years, U.S. auto makers went from delivering more than 60% of world-wide car-company profit to delivering about 17%, the consulting firm said.

The trend raises questions about the global competitiveness of GM, Ford and Fiat Chrysler on the eve of labor negotiations with the United Auto Workers union and amid an aggressive push by Fiat Chrysler Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne for industry consolidation. The U.S. market is on pace for 17 million light-vehicle sales in 2015, the best year in more than a decade, but Detroit needs better returns to develop self-driving cars and electric powertrains and to combat new entrants like Google Inc. and Tesla Motors Inc.

via Indian and Chinese Car Makers Out-Earn U.S. Rivals – India Real Time – WSJ.

25/06/2015

Indians Buy Gold as Chinese Shift to Stocks – India Real Time – WSJ

The rapid run-up in Chinese shares this year is dimming the allure of another popular investment: gold. Luckily for fans of the metal, demand is looking healthy in India, the other big retail market in Asia.

The divergence between gold’s two biggest consumers is unusual. Normally, gold buyers in both countries snap up the metal when it is cheap, hoping prices will surge as they did in 2011, when gold nearly hit $2,000 an ounce. Individuals in both countries tend to sell when gold gets expensive.

This year, as gold prices have meandered around the $1,200 an ounce mark, shares have been more of a draw for Chinese investors. The Shanghai market is up 41%, while mainland Chinese investors have helped push Hong Kong shares up nearly 16%.

“Everybody wants to get on to the stock-market bandwagon,” said Victor Thianpiriya, a precious-metals analyst with Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. “It is having a big impact on jewelry demand.”

China’s gold imports may tumble by as much as 20% this year, Mr. Thianpiriya forecasts.

via Indians Buy Gold as Chinese Shift to Stocks – India Real Time – WSJ.

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