Archive for ‘India alert’

30/07/2015

India hangs Yakub Memon for 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts | Reuters

India hanged Yakub Memon on Thursday for his role in the country’s deadliest bombings, which killed 257 people in Mumbai in 1993, after the Supreme Court threw out his final plea for a stay of execution.

Memon was convicted as the “driving spirit” behind the serial blasts in India’s financial capital Mumbai, then known as Bombay. He spent two decades in jail before going to the gallows on his 53rd birthday in a jail Nagpur.

The execution drew wide public support but has stirred controversy about whether the punishment adequately reflected the help Memon gave authorities in solving the crime.

Critics question whether Memon’s death serves India’s larger interests, saying it sends the wrong message to potential collaborators with justice agencies.

In the days before his execution, it emerged that Memon had helped Indian intelligence crack the case and establish a link to neighbour and arch-rival Pakistan over the bombings.

“It’s extremely sad that India has gone ahead, we had been hoping India will now call for a moratorium,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director for Human Rights Watch.

“But it’s very welcome that now there seems to be a growing debate around this in India.”

In a dramatic sequence of events, a Supreme Court panel held an unprecedented hearing in the early hours of Thursday, before rejecting Memon’s last-ditch plea for a 14-day delay in execution. Several previous pleas had also been rejected.

Police consider Memon’s brother, “Tiger” Memon, and mafia don Dawood Ibrahim to be the masterminds behind the attacks, intended to avenge the destruction of an ancient mosque by Hindu zealots in 1992. Both men remain in hiding.

Memon’s body was released for burial in Mumbai, with police deployed in riot gear to guard against possible street protests and security tightened at the family home.

via India hangs Yakub Memon for 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts | Reuters.

29/07/2015

Why the Punjab Police Station Attack Was Waiting to Happen – India Real Time – WSJ

Six people were killed and at least seven injured in the Indian province of Punjab on Monday after gunmen dressed in military uniforms opened fire at a bus station and later turned their weapons on a police post.

According to Indian officials, security forces killed three of the attackers; three police officers also were killed in the violence in Gurdaspur district, which is close to the Pakistani border. The death toll could have been much higher; five bombs were reportedly found on train tracks nearby.

Many Indians and South Asia analysts, myself included, have feared for some time an eruption of the sort of violence that unfolded Monday. Reasons include:

* With most international troops out of Afghanistan, numerous militants that had been fighting foreign forces in Afghanistan could be looking for new targets—and might see ones in neighboring India.

* There was a resurgence in 2014 of anti-India militant leaders who had been quiet in recent years. These include Masood Azhar, head of the Jaish-e-Mohammed group, whose voice was heard in a recorded broadcast last year at an anti-India rally in Pakistan. Mr. Azhar had threatened to assassinate Narendra Modi if he became prime minister.

* The India-Pakistan relationship is at one of its lowest points in years. The Pakistani military controls its country’s relations with India, and army leaders are fundamentally opposed to the idea of peace with New Delhi. Mr. Modi’s conservative, Hindu nationalist government sees no reason to pursue full-fledged talks with Pakistan’s civilian government, which is more sympathetic to reconciliation but lacks the power to pursue it. This fraught environment offers useful pretexts for attacks.

It is not yet clear who staged Monday’s assault; some Indian officials have alleged the involvement of Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Pakistani anti-India group responsible for the 2008 terror strikes on Mumbai. Lashkar-e-Taiba is known to have ties to the Pakistani security establishment. Notably, Islamabad has condemned the attack—a goodwill gesture made with the knowledge that, whoever staged the attack, someone in India would invariably accuse Pakistan.

Although Punjab province is close to the tense Kashmir region, terror attacks are unusual in Punjab. In decades past, it has been a hotbed of separatist—and at times violent—activity led by Indian Sikhs, though this movement—which many Indian commentators believe is supported by Pakistan’s intelligence service—has been quiet in recent years (grievances of the past, however, remain entrenched, I was told repeatedly while in Punjab last year). Some Indian commentators have questioned whether Monday’s attack marks a “revival” of the movement. Others wonder if Pakistani terrorists are simply opening new fronts beyond Kashmir.

If India concludes that the attack originated in Pakistan, the subcontinent could be in for some very turbulent times. Mr. Modi is not likely to be as restrained in the face of Pakistani provocations as his predecessor Manmohan Singh was.

Whoever was behind the attack, Monday’s death toll reminds us that amid talk of al Qaeda affiliates and Islamic State wreaking havoc across the Middle East and North Africa, South Asia’s subcontinent remains a dangerous–and nuclear-armed—place.

via Why the Punjab Police Station Attack Was Waiting to Happen – India Real Time – WSJ.

29/07/2015

GIFT, the Indian Smart City That Would Cost $23,500 a Person – India Real Time – WSJ

Two 29-story steel-and-glass office buildings rise above a dusty wasteland in the Indian state of Gujarat, the most conspicuous sign of progress on an ambitious project conceived by the man who is now India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi.

More than seven years ago, Mr. Modi, at the time the state’s top elected official, decided to push the construction of an entirely new city—dubbed the Gujarat International Finance Tec-City, or GIFT—about a 40-minute drive from Ahmedabad, the historic commercial hub here.

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The if-you-build-it-they-will-come idea was to create a magnet for banks, securities firms and information-technology companies akin to Canary Wharf in London or La Defense outside Paris. But construction work has moved slowly and few private enterprises have signed up. Of the two office towers, the first is about 50% occupied and the second one is empty.

Critics say the undertaking’s halting progress is a cautionary tale as Mr. Modi’s federal administration moves ahead with plans for 100 “smart cities,” which, among other things, would use technology to improve public services such as waste disposal and save energy.

Ramakant Jha, managing director of the company building the city, says that offices and retail stores and other businesses at GIFT will help create one million direct and indirect jobs. The city will also have homes, allowing employees to walk to work, and social infrastructure like a school, hospital and malls.

With central air-conditioning in all buildings, filtered tap water and municipal waste collection (a rarity in urban India), GIFT, as planners envision it, would be far more advanced than existing Indian cities.

But all this comes at a cost. If 100,000 people live in a city, the cost of building the city’s infrastructure comes to around $23,500 per person. In comparison, India’s gross national income per capita is around $1,600, according to the World Bank.

via GIFT, the Indian Smart City That Would Cost $23,500 a Person – India Real Time – WSJ.

28/07/2015

SpiceJet reports $11.2 million net profit in Q1 | Reuters

Budget airline SpiceJet Ltd(SPJT.BO) reported on Tuesday a net profit of 718 million rupees ($11.2 million) for the three months ending June, after cutting costs and flying more passengers.

SpiceJet aircrafts prepare for landing and take-off at the airport in Mumbai July 15, 2008. REUTERS/Punit Paranjpe/Files

SpiceJet made a net loss of 1.24 billion rupees in the same quarter a year earlier.

India’s second biggest budget carrier by market share, which last quarter made its first profit since 2013, is in the midst of a recovery plan after it almost collapsed late last year.

Under new Chairman Ajay Singh, the airline has cut routes – its capacity is down a third since last year – and costs.

It said on Tuesday that its load factor – the percentage of an airline’s carrying capacity it has filled – rose to 89.8 percent in the quarter, a rise of almost 15 percent from last year.

Sustained profitability has eluded most of India’s airlines for the last few years amid fierce competition for fares and high operating costs, despite the country’s aviation market growing at one of the fastest rates worldwide.

SpiceJet shares jumped after news of the results, ending up 7.4 percent as the wider market .BSESN fell 0.4 percent.

($1 = 63.9400 rupees)

via SpiceJet reports $11.2 million net profit in Q1 | Reuters.

28/07/2015

Maruti Suzuki Q1 profit jumps 56 percent; lower costs, higher sales | Reuters

Maruti Suzuki India Ltd(MRTI.NS), India’s top-selling carmaker, said on Tuesday first-quarter net profit rose 56 percent helped by lower costs, favourable foreign exchange rates and higher sales, but still missed bullish analyst estimates.

A Suzuki badge is reflected on the body of a Maruti Suzuki Eeco car at a Maruti Suzuki stockyard on the outskirts of Ahmedabad April 26, 2013. REUTERS/Amit Dave/Files

Maruti, controlled by Japan’s Suzuki Motor Corp (7269.T), said profit for the April-June quarter was 11.9 billion rupees ($185.94 million), up from 7.6 billion rupees in the same period a year earlier. Analysts had expected a profit of 12.35 billion rupees, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Net sales rose about 18 percent to 130.8 billion rupees, the company said, as India’s car trade continues to grow. India is expected to become the world’s third-largest car market by 2020, moving up three places.

“During the quarter, higher volumes, cost reduction efforts, lower sales promotion expenses, and favourable foreign exchange helped improve the performance,” the company said in a stock exchange statement.

Total expenses as a percentage of net sales fell to 91 percent during the quarter from about 96 percent in the year ago period, while finance costs were halved to 190.4 million rupees. Maruti, which imports certain car components from Japan and also pays royalty to its Japanese parent, Suzuki, is benefiting from the yen’s weakening.

The carmaker, which sells about one in every two cars in India, wants to increase its share of the premium car segment at a time when rivals like Honda Motor Co (7267.T) and Ford Motor Co (F.N) are launching cheaper, compact cars – Maruti’s mainstay.

Maruti has had little prior success in the premium segment and is now planning an aggressive rollout of new vehicles and dealerships to capture buyers with deeper pockets – a move that is expected to boost margins and profits, say analysts.

Next week Maruti will launch the S-Cross – a crossover between a sport-utility vehicle and a hatchback – the first car to be sold at its new Nexa showrooms. These spruced-up showrooms will differ from existing dealerships in design and service, managing director Kenichi Ayukawa said recently.

“It is a very good strategy because as income levels rise we will see that more and more consumers will prefer premium vehicles,” said Nitesh Sharma, auto analyst at Mumbai-based brokerage, Phillip Capital, adding that it will boost margins.

Shares in Maruti, valued by the market at about $20 billion at Monday’s close, were trading 0.5 percent higher at 4,200 rupees a share at 0850 GMT in a weak Mumbai market.

Maruti’s shares have risen more than 25 percent since January – the highest among major automobile companies in India.

($1 = 64.0000 rupees)

via Maruti Suzuki Q1 profit jumps 56 percent; lower costs, higher sales | Reuters.

27/07/2015

How Police and the Indian Army Are Dealing With Punjab Attack: In Pictures – India Real Time – WSJ

At least three gunmen stormed a police station in northern India near the border with Pakistan Monday, killing six people—including two policemen—and injuring seven others, in a standoff that continued hours later, a senior Indian counterterrorism official said.



It is such terrible news and I always think back to seeing Roger and Hilary at their home and having a picnic in their garden. They are/were such lovely people. I had the greatest repsetc for Roger and I am only sorry that I didn’t stay in touch.

Punjab police fired to counter the attack on Monday. Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

H.S. Dhillon, head of intelligence for Punjab state police, said the attackers were suspected to have crossed the Indian frontier early Monday.

The deadly incident comes as hostilities between India and Pakistan have worsened in recent weeks, even after a meeting of the countries’ premiers earlier this month sparked hopes of a thaw.

Indian army personnel stood in Dinanagar town, July 27, 2015. Narinder Nanu/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

India has long accused Pakistan of harboring and aiding militant groups that launch attacks on India, particularly in the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan denies allegations that it supports militant activities against India.

Army personnel take position in Dinanagar town, July 27, 2015. Narinder Nanu/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

But Monday’s killings were unusual, analysts said, because they occurred in Punjab, where militant attacks have in the past two decades been rare, and could signal an expansion of militancy beyond Kashmir.

Punjab police took position during the attack. Narinder Nanu/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Police personnel took aim during the attack. Narinder Nanu/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

The gunmen, who were wearing military uniforms, opened fire on a bus in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district before heading to the local police station, according to Mr. Dhillon and an eyewitness. The attackers exchanged fire with police inside the station and a standoff that continued into Monday afternoon, Mr. Dhillon said.

via How Police and the Indian Army Are Dealing With Punjab Attack: In Pictures – India Real Time – WSJ.

25/07/2015

Should Britain Pay Reparations to India? Shashi Tharoor Says Yes, Narendra Modi Praises Him, What Do You Think? – India Real Time – WSJ

Should Britain pay reparations to its former colonies, including India? An articulation of why the former holder of empire should make amends, or at least say sorry, for two centuries of colonial rule, has sent a video of Indian law maker Shashi Tharoor viral and opened up a debate in India.

In a 15 minute speech given during a debate at the Oxford Union in the U.K., telegenic and floppy-haired Mr. Tharoor, who is a former foreign minister and a onetime under-secretary-general at the United Nations, argued that “Britain’s rise for 200 years was financed by its depredations in India.”

Speaking in favor of the motion, the opposition Congress party politician said that India’s share of the world economy when the British arrived was 23% but by the time they left it had slipped to 4% because “India had been governed for the benefit of Britain. Britain’s rise for 200 years was financed by its depredations in India.”

“In fact, Britain’s industrial revolution was actually premised upon the de-industrialization of India,” he added.

The YouTube clip of the Congress politician’s oration has been watched more than 1.5 million times since it was uploaded last week, making it one of the most-viewed clips from the Oxford Union, a prestigious debate chamber at the University of Oxford.

A video of Jack Gleeson, an actor explaining to the chamber why he left the Game of Thrones, has over two million views as does one of Sepp Blatter, the FIFA president, impersonating Portuguese soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo.

Others to have appeared at in the red-walled debate chamber in the recent past include Google’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, former U.S. Senator John Edwards, former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and onetime South African President F.W. De Klerk.

Indian social media lit up with praise for Mr. Tharoor’s eloquence and ability to take on the British establishment: Opposing speakers in the debate included Sir Richard Ottaway, a politician with the United Kingdom’s right-wing Conservative party.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who belongs to Congress’s rival the Bharatiya Janata Party, praised Mr. Tharoor for the speech.

via Should Britain Pay Reparations to India? Shashi Tharoor Says Yes, Narendra Modi Praises Him, What Do You Think? – India Real Time – WSJ.

22/07/2015

India’s Labor Force – WSJ

India’s urban women are four times less likely to be in paid work than their male counterparts with the most educated being the least likely to participate in the workforce, the latest figures from India’s labor ministry show.

Meanwhile in rural India, women are marginally more likely to have a job – the ratio of male to female participation in the workforce is 2.6 to 1.

Here are some more findings from the survey.

39%

The proportion of women who have received vocational training were not part of the workforce in 2013/14.

Although women were not asked to give reasons in the survey, Jayan Jose Thomas, an assistant professor of economics at the Indian Institute of Technology in New Delhi and an expert on India’s labor market and industry, said women often face discrimination at work in rural and urban India, including unequal pay.

In urban India, there were also concerns for women’s safety, traveling to and from work and in the workplace. Pushing the figures higher, women who chose to be homemakers were counted as unemployed.

“When you look at the figures for women, you understand the real employment situation in India. You see a huge mismatch,” said Mr. Thomas.

Indian women’s participation in the workforce falls as their education level rises, according to research by Mr. Thomas.

Labor-force participation by women in 2009-10 showed nearly 55% of women with post-graduate level education had not joined the workforce. Most women who didn’t join the workforce said “they are attending to domestic duties.”

524 rupees

The average daily wage for a man educated beyond high school working in an Indian city. That is the equivalent of $8. For women, average earnings were 391 rupees a day.

12 million

The number of people who enter India’s workforce each year. Some argue India’s rigid labor laws, which make it harder to fire employees, may be the reason employers are reluctant to hire full-time staff but Mr. Thomas says, despite official figures showing otherwise, the growth of India’s workforce has stagnated from lack of investment in infrastructure.

Government investment in basic infrastructure, like setting up power plants, needs to take place before the country can realize Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Make In India” drive, which seeks to supercharge the country’s manufacturing growth, according to Mr. Thomas.

“India’s infrastructure shortage is so high that you cannot expect private investment to kick-start industrial growth. You need public sector to do the work first,” Mr. Thomas said. “Major initiative has to come from the government.”

5.5 million

Jobs created in India every year. Even though 12 million people join India’s workforce every year, the number of new jobs is much lower. Mr. Modi’s government has set a target of creating 400 million jobs by 2020 to try and narrow the gap.

6.8 %

The proportion of India’s population signing up for vocational training in the country. Among those who successfully train, a large proportion – 75% – find employment.

via India’s Labor Force – WSJ.

21/07/2015

Indian Companies Invest Billions, Create Thousands of Jobs in the U.S. – The Numbers – WSJ

As India attempts to thaw its business environment and attract the interest of foreign companies, a hundred Indian firms have together made investments worth more than $15 billion in America, according to the findings of a new survey by the Confederation of Indian Industries and audit firm Grant Thornton International Ltd.

The findings, which were released in a report titled “Indian Roots, American Soil” on Tuesday, suggest that Indian companies in the U.S., most operating in the information-technology sector, have created thousands of jobs there and show a growing interest in hiring more American workers in the next few years.

Indian outsourcing companies in the U.S. have in recent months been criticized for depending too much on foreign staff — H1-B visa holders – instead of hiring locals.

The 100 Indian companies surveyed are spread across all 50 U.S. states, the report said. Here are the main numbers from the report.

91,000

The survey says Indian firms have created more than 91,000 jobs in the U.S., most of them concentrated in New Jersey, where they have hired over 9,000 people. In California, more than 8,000 people work for Indian companies.

$15.3 billion

The total value of tangible investments – for example in real estate or equipment — made in the U.S. by the surveyed companies. Texas has received the largest amount — almost $3.85 billion from 17 Indian companies, most in the information-technology and telecom sectors. The report didn’t give a timeframe for these investments.

40%

The percentage of surveyed companies that do information-technology business is 40%. The report also highlights the emergence of Indian companies in the pharmaceutical and manufacturing sectors, which each accounted for 14% of the firms surveyed.

84%

That’s the proportion of companies in the survey that plan to make more investments in the U.S. in the next five years. California, New Jersey, New York and Texas are the “most promising states for expected future investment,” the report said.

90%

The forecast for hiring local U.S. employees is also encouraging, the survey reveals. Almost 90% of the companies responded positively when asked if they foresaw hiring locally in the coming five years.

via Indian Companies Invest Billions, Create Thousands of Jobs in the U.S. – The Numbers – WSJ.

21/07/2015

Traveling on India’s Roads Is Getting More Dangerous – The Numbers – WSJ

Traveling on India’s roads is getting more dangerous. In 2014 there were 141,526 deaths due to road accidents in the country, up from 137,423 a year earlier.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is set to introduce the Road Transport and Safety Bill in the upcoming 18-day session of Parliament, which starts Tuesday.

It would be India’s first separate legislation to govern road safety. Counter-intuitively, the legislation would reduce penalties for offenses such as drunken driving or speeding, but road-safety campaigners say that would make the law more likely to be enforced.

Until then, some numbers from the National Crime Records Bureau that show how safe it is (or isn’t) to travel on India’s roads.

39.2%

The percentage of India’s accidental deaths in 2014 that were the result of traffic accidents.

May

The month in 2014 in which the most traffic accidents were reported in India. Accidents that month accounted for 9.2%, or 44,106 out of 481,805 of the total traffic accidents that year.

3 p.m. – 9 p.m.

The time the largest number of traffic accidents were reported in 2014, making up a total of 34.2% of traffic accidents that year.

2.9%

Amount fatalities from road accidents increased by in 2014, from a year earlier. Road accidents overall increased by 1.8% in 2014.

31.39%

Percentage of road accidents in India in 2014 where at least one person died.

Two wheelers

Type of vehicle most often involved in fatal road accidents. More than one in four (26.4%) of accidental deaths on roads involved motorbikes, scooters and other two wheelers, followed by trucks and lorries at 20.1%, cars at 12.1% and buses at 8.8%. The statistics do not say if this included bicycles.

National highways

Roads which saw the highest number of accidents, contributing to 27.5% of total road accidents. These roads makes up just 1.58% of India’s total road network. State highways had a share of 25.2% of total accidents. The national highways also saw the most fatal accidents – accounting for more than 32.5% of the total deaths on India’s roads in 2014.

Uttar Pradesh

The state with the most road traffic accident deaths in India in 2014 –16,284. Perhaps not surprising, since it is India’s most-populous region. The state was closely followed by Tamil Nadu at 15,190 deaths and Maharashtra at 13,529 deaths.

Speeding

The cause of most road accidents in India in 2014–accounting for 36.8% of total accidents, causing 48,654 deaths and injuring 181,582 people. Dangerous, careless driving or overtaking caused 137,808 road accidents, the data showed, resulting in 42,127 deaths and injuring 138,533 people. Poor weather caused 3.2% of road accidents, while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol contributed to 1.6% of total road accidents

via Traveling on India’s Roads Is Getting More Dangerous – The Numbers – WSJ.

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