Archive for ‘India alert’

16/09/2014

Xi’s India visit highlights changing power dynamic – Businessweek

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s trip to India this week highlights subtle shifts in the regional power dynamic that are bringing warmer ties between the two Asian giants, challenging China’s traditional relationship with Pakistan, and opening a new chapter in Beijing’s ongoing competition for influence with arch-rival Japan.

Xi is due in New Delhi on Wednesday for a three-day visit focused on trade, investment and the resolution of decades-old border disputes. With the world’s second-largest economy and a proven track record at building highways, railways, and industrial zones, China has much to offer India as it seeks to upgrade its creaky infrastructure.

The visit is the latest sign of easing suspicions between the two huge countries — which between them have 2.6 billion people — dating from a month-long border war in 1962 that left around 2,000 soldiers dead. That conflict ended in a standoff with both sides accusing the other of occupying its territory.

Xi’s visit “will definitely enhance the bilateral political mutual trust,” Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Liu Jianchao told reporters in Beijing last week.

While ties have been steadily growing for years, they’ve been given a major boost under new Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who’s signaled he wishes to pursue a more vigorous foreign policy. Xi is the first Chinese head of state to visit in eight years, while the country’s prime minister, Li Keqiang, made India his first overseas visit shortly after taking office last year.

“Good relations with India are a key part of China’s regional strategy and Xi’s visit creates the opportunity for direct face-to-face communication on the problems that still exist, such as the border issue,” said Zhao Gancheng, Director of the Asia-Pacific Center of the Shanghai Institute for International Studies.

via Xi’s India visit highlights changing power dynamic – Businessweek.

16/09/2014

BJP Fares Poorly in By-Elections in India’s Most-Populous State – India Real Time – WSJ

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s landslide victory in national elections a few months ago spawned predictions of an unstoppable political juggernaut. But results of by-elections show cracks in the BJP’s dominance.

India’s governing party held onto only three of 11 seats that went to the polls for the legislative assembly of Uttar Pradesh, the country’s most-populous state. The BJP had won all these seats in the last state elections in 2012.

The regional Samajwadi Party, which governs the state but suffered a big blow in national elections, won the remaining eight seats, according to India’s Election Commission.

Just four months ago, the BJP won a historic 72 of 80 seats for the national Parliament from Uttar Pradesh on the back of a wave of support for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This result helped propel the party to a majority in the lower house of Parliament, with 282 of 543 seats.

The magnitude of the win raised expectations that the BJP would come out on top in the by-polls, which are mid-term elections held for those seats that have fallen vacant since the previous election.

The results showed that while Mr. Modi had swung the national election by making it a presidential-style vote for or against his leadership, his charisma might not be enough to carry his party to power in state elections, where local issues and caste equations dominate the vote. It also raised questions about the BJP’s prospects in crucial upcoming state elections in Maharashtra and Haryana.

Some also saw the outcome as fallout from a polarizing BJP campaign that critics say sought to consolidate Hindu votes in Uttar Pradesh by spreading animosity against Muslims – and marked a return by the party, which has roots in India’s Hindu nationalist movement, to the religious agenda that defined its strategy a decade ago.

via BJP Fares Poorly in By-Elections in India’s Most-Populous State – India Real Time – WSJ.

16/09/2014

Give the public a role in Clean Ganga project, says Rajendra Pachauri

India’s holiest river is due for a clean-up, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi taking personal responsibility for restoring the Ganga and ridding the 2,500 km long river of industrial effluents and untreated sewage.

Uma Bharti, Modi’s minister for water resources and Ganges rejuvenation, has said the river would be clean in three years. Earlier this month, India’s Supreme Court asked the government for a roadmap on the project so that the court could monitor it.

Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), spoke to Reuters on the Ganga project, the need for transparency and how the public could help.

via India Insight.

16/09/2014

India says to defend China border after standoff ahead of Xi visit | Reuters

More than 200 soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army crossed into what India considers its territory in Ladakh in the western Himalayas last week, and used cranes, bulldozers and a Hummer vehicle to build a 2-km (1.2-mile) road within it, the Hindustan Times said.

A dog rests on the Indian side of the Indo-China border at Bumla, in the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, November 11, 2009. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

Indian soldiers challenged the Chinese troops and asked them to withdraw, the newspaper said. Then, on the night of September 10, soldiers demolished a temporary track built by Chinese forces.

There was no immediate comment by India’s defense ministry.

Both China and India are trying to put a positive spin on Xi’s first summit meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi since the Indian leader took office in May. He arrives on Wednesday after touring the Maldives and Sri Lanka.

The two countries are expected to ramp up commercial ties and open the way for Chinese investment in Indian infrastructure, including railways, but the contested border remains a stumbling block to better political ties.

via India says to defend China border after standoff ahead of Xi visit | Reuters.

15/09/2014

India’s Economy Looks a Lot Like China’s — In 2001 – India Real Time – WSJ

India today doesn’t look quite like the economic dynamo that, just a few years ago, some predicted would overtake China as emerging-markets champion.

But the race looks a lot closer if you account for one key fact: China got a 13-year head start on India in opening its economy and giving companies greater freedom to invest and produce. In exports, capital spending and foreign investment, India today is remarkably similar to China circa 2001.

That should both console and concern India as it gets back on its feet after three years of weak growth and high inflation. Console, since it suggests the country’s economy could remain on a China-like trajectory for years to come. But concern, because India’s delay could mean that the country has missed out on some big advantages that catalyzed China’s boom.

The latter point is especially worth considering given how assiduously India’s recently elected prime minister, Narendra Modi, is working to follow the blueprint for China’s export- and investment-driven success.

When Chinese President Xi Jinping visits the Indian capital this week he will encounter a recipe for economic revival that ought to look very familiar. Delhi is aiming to boost exports and raise India’s share in world trade by 50% over the next five years. “Sell anywhere,” Mr. Modi said in an Independence Day exhortation to global business last month. “But manufacture here.”

via India’s Economy Looks a Lot Like China’s — In 2001 – India Real Time – WSJ.

15/09/2014

China on track to develop Indian railways as Xi heads to South Asia | Reuters

China will pledge to invest billions of dollars in India’s rail network during a visit by President Xi Jinping this week, bringing more than diplomatic nicety to the neighbors’ first summit since Narendra Modi became prime minister in May.

China's President Xi Jinping attends a meeting with Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro at Miraflores Palace in Caracas in this July 20, 2014 file photo. REUTERS/Jorge Silva/Files

The leaders of Asia’s three biggest economies – China, India and Japan – have crisscrossed the region this month, lobbying for strategic influence, building defense ties, and seeking new business opportunities.

Beijing’s bid to ramp up commercial ties in India comes despite a territorial dispute that has flared anew in recent years, raising concerns in New Delhi, where memories of a humiliating border war defeat in 1962 run deep.

It follows a pledge by Japan to invest $35 billion in India over the next five years – including the introduction of bullet trains – and a drive to deepen security ties during talks earlier this month between Modi and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo.

India and China are expected to sign a pact that will open the way for Chinese participation in new rail tracks, automated signaling for faster trains and modern stations that India’s British-built rail system desperately needs, having barely added 11,000 km of track in the 67 years since independence.

China, which added 14,000 km of track in the five years to 2011, is also pushing for a share of the lucrative high-speed train market in India, which it says would be cheaper than Japanese proposals.

“India has a strong, real desire to increase its cooperation with China and other countries to perfect and develop its rail system, and has concrete cooperation ideas,” Assistant Chinese Foreign Minister Liu Jianchao told reporters ahead of Xi’s trip.

“India is considering building high-speed railways, and China has a positive attitude towards this.”

China’s consul general in Mumbai, Liu Youfa, told the Times of India last week that Chinese investment in the modernization of India’s railways could eventually touch $50 billion.

Beijing is looking to invest another $50 billion in building India’s ports, roads and a project to link rivers, part of an infrastructure push that Modi has said is his top priority to crank up economic growth.

Chinese investment will also help narrow a trade deficit with India that hit $31 billion in 2013.

via China on track to develop Indian railways as Xi heads to South Asia | Reuters.

15/09/2014

With eye on China, Modi’s India to develop disputed border region | Reuters

India has eased restrictions on building roads and military facilities along its disputed border with China, as the new government seeks to close the gap on its neighbor’s superior transport network and take a stronger stance on Beijing.

Indian environment minister Prakash Javadekar told Reuters he had relaxed environmental rules within 100 km (62 miles) of the contested border in remote Arunachal Pradesh in order to speed up construction of some 6,000 km of roads.

The move, which also allows for the construction of army stations, arms depots, schools and hospitals in the sparsely populated Himalayan region, was announced days before Chinese President Xi Jinping visits India on Sept. 17-18.

“This is about defense preparedness,” said Javadekar. “On the Chinese side of the border, not only have they built good roads, they are building up their railway network. Our army faces problems because of the bad quality of roads,” he added.

Work on the roads will start in the coming months.

via With eye on China, Modi’s India to develop disputed border region | Reuters.

11/09/2014

India and China in wary dance as Xi Jinping prepares for South Asia trip | South China Morning Post

Xi Jinping will start his first South Asia tour with a visit to Beijing’s latest investment in Sri Lanka, a US$1.4-billion port city development to include a marina and a Formula One track – all just 250km from India’s coast.

japan_denmark_tok332_45418663.jpg

The president’s trip to the site, next to a major Chinese-funded commercial port, will provide a vivid reminder of Beijing’s growing economic clout in India’s backyard ahead of his maiden visit to New Delhi next week.

Despite his hardline nationalist reputation, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi moved quickly to engage with traditional rival China after taking office in May, inviting Xi to India.

But he has also sought to stop India’s neighbours falling further into China’s embrace, choosing Bhutan and Nepal for his first foreign trips as prime minister and extending an olive branch of peace to arch-rival Pakistan.

That may not worry China too much. Modi’s close relationship with Tokyo, on the other hand, is likely to raise alarm bells in Beijing that analysts say he may be able to use to his advantage.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi pictured in New Delhi earlier this month. Photo: EPA

Modi enjoys a particularly warm friendship with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe, who welcomed him even as he was shunned by Western powers over claims he failed to stop deadly religious riots in Gujarat, the state he used to run.

Both India and Japan are wary of what many see as Beijing’s growing territorial assertiveness, and Washington is eager for them to step up their cooperation by way of counterweight to China.

“China is looking at India under Modi as a serious and credible partner as well as potential adversary.” POLITICAL ANALYST SHYAM SARAN

“China is concerned that we would get closer to Japan and to the US under Modi. They don’t want that to happen,” said Jayadeva Ranade, president of the Centre for China Analysis and Strategy in New Delhi.

via India and China in wary dance as Xi Jinping prepares for South Asia trip | South China Morning Post.

05/09/2014

Australia to sign uranium export deal with India – Businessweek

Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott met with his Indian counterpart Friday on a two-day state visit during which they are expected to sign a deal to allow the export of Australian uranium to India for use in power generation.

The agreement is expected to be signed Friday evening. Australia, which has almost a third of the world’s known uranium reserves, imposes strict conditions on uranium exports and India’s failure to sign the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty had long been a barrier to a trade deal.

Australia and India have been negotiating a nuclear safeguards agreement with verification mechanisms since 2012, when a former Australian government agreed on civil nuclear energy cooperation with India that would eventually allow the export of Australian uranium to the energy-starved South Asian nation.

India faces chronic shortages of electricity and about 65 percent of its installed power generation capacity comes from burning fossil fuels including oil, coal and natural gas. India is eager to expand its nuclear power capacity.

Australia’s decision to sell uranium to India follows a civil nuclear agreement with the United States. The deal with the U.S. was signed in 2008 and allowed Washington to sell nuclear fuel and technology to India without it giving up its military nuclear program.

India is seeking a similar agreement with Japan. The two sides have claimed “significant progress” but failed to reach a last-minute agreement on safeguards sought by Tokyo when the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in Japan earlier this month.

via Australia to sign uranium export deal with India – Businessweek.

05/09/2014

India’s $33 Smartphone Sales Surge, Setting the Stage for a Shakeup – India Real Time – WSJ

The maker of India’s $33 Mozilla Firefox smartphone says sales of the world’s cheapest smartphone have been strong since it launched last week.

Intex Technologies India Ltd. said it quickly sold out of its first batch of Cloud FX phones–which use Mozilla Corp.’s Firefox operating system—and that it has already had to order another large shipment. It expects to sell 100,000 handsets this month and a total of 500,000 by the end of the year, the company said.

Another super-cheap Firefox-powered smartphone hit the Indian market on Tuesday. India’s Spice Retail Ltd. started selling its Spice Fire One Mi FX1 for about $37. The company did not respond to requests for early sales figures.

The less-than-2,000-rupee price tags make the Firefox mobile operating system smartphones more than 30% cheaper than the least-expensive smartphones which use Google Inc.’s Android operating system.

Other phone sellers say they are also planning Firefox handsets. India’s Karbonn Mobiles says it plans to launch a $41 Firefox smartphone by the end of September. It will be less than half the price of Karbonn’s latest Android phone, making it a “game changer,” said Pardeep Jain, managing director of Jaina Mobiles India Pvt., which  controls the Karbonn brand.

Reviews for the ultralow-cost phones have so far been generally positive. While the phones may lack some functionality and speed, buyers and technology reporters agreed they were still a great deal for the price and a good option for first-time smartphone buyers who use their phones for basic calls, web surfing and social networking.

While Mozilla phones will make smartphones affordable to millions of new users, they will likely get more competition soon on price from Android, the operating system used on most phones from Samsung Electronics and others, analysts said.

Google is expected to launch its Android One low-cost smartphone in the next few weeks.

via India’s $33 Smartphone Sales Surge, Setting the Stage for a Shakeup – India Real Time – WSJ.

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