Showing posts with label India. Show all posts
Showing posts with label India. Show all posts
06 September 2013

Groupon India Starts Onion Sell Off

All good ideas begin with a bulb.
Groupon’s India business, which had some lousy PR a few months ago after it accidentally published 300,000 passwords, is somewhat redeeming itself in the eyes of Indians right now with a special deal: 1 kg (2.2 lb) of onions for Rs 9 (14 US cents). That is a fraction of the market rate, which is hovering between Rs 60 and Rs 70 a kilo. More than 5,000 people signed up for the first day’s deal—which comes with free delivery across 78 cities—before it expired.

Not all 5,000 will get the deal. Groupon has promised to put onions up for sale at Rs 9/kg every day for seven days, but with a daily limit of  3,000 kg. If it’s buying them at a market rate of Rs 65, that works out to a loss of Rs 1.18 million or a little under $18,000 not including shipping costs. Even at average wholesale rates of Rs 30, that’s still a $6,700 outlay. But that is a small price to pay for what will certainly give thousands of Indian families a reason to keep returning to Groupon.

The onion is perhaps the most telling indicator of economic problems in India. A staple that forms the basis of most Indian food, it makes headlines every time prices shoot up, which they have done throughout August (see chart below). The price of a kilo of onions in India’s cities has more than doubled since the beginning of August, from less than Rs 30 (45 cents), adding to Indians’ woes about the crashing rupee and rising inflation.

04 September 2013

One Woman Killed Every Hour Over Dowry in India

Women’s rights activists said Tuesday that one woman dies every hour in India because of dowry–related crimes, demonstrating that the country’s economic growth has made expectations of dowries even more prevalent.

The National Crime Records Bureau says that 8,233 women were killed in India last year because of disputes over dowries.

One woman dies every hour in India because of dowry-related crimes, indicating that the country's economic boom has made demands for dowries even more persistent, women's rights activists said Tuesday.

The National Crime Records Bureau says 8,233 women were killed across India last year because of disputes over dowry payments given by the bride's family to the groom or his family at the time of marriage.

The conviction rate in dowry-related crimes remained a low 32 percent, according to statistics the bureau published last week. Indian law prohibits the giving or receiving of a dowry, but the centuries-old social custom persists.

Dowry demands often continue for years after the wedding. Each year, thousands of young Indian women are doused with gasoline and burned to death because the groom or his family felt the dowry was inadequate.

Women's rights activists and police said that loopholes in dowry prevention laws, delays in prosecution and low conviction rates have led to a steady rise in dowry-related crimes.

Dowry demands have become even more insistent and expensive following India's economic boom, said Ranjana Kumari, a women's rights activist.

She blamed a growing culture of greed as India opens its economy to foreign goods that the younger generation cannot afford but badly want. "Marriages have become commercialized.

It's like a business proposition where the groom and his family make exorbitant demands. And the wealthier the family, the more outrageous the demands," Kumari said.

Suman Nalwa, a senior New Delhi police officer dealing with crimes against women, said dowry practices extended to all classes in society. "Even highly educated people don't say no to dowry," she said.
26 August 2013

Stop Debating Mumbai’s Reputation and Get To The Real Issue: Cities Don’t Rape Women, Men Do

“Is Mumbai going the Delhi way?” a poll by a newspaper asks. Insensitive? Flippant? Divisive? All that and more—with absolutely no thought to nuance, opening no new discourse, asking the wrong questions, and trivializing the issue.

The posturing, the silly games of one-upmanship played across cities—mine is safer, mine is better—lull us into a false sense of security. Keenan Santos and Reuben Fernandez would not have been stabbed to death two years ago for standing up to hooligans who were harassing the young women they were out with, if Mumbai was particularly safe. Cities don’t rape, men do. Bombay might seem safer by default because it is so crowded that you rarely find a secluded corner to conduct a rape. In the case making headlines now, the suspects in the gang rape of a photojournalist found an empty mill and they used it. Violence comes in many forms and to the most unexpected places; last year Mumbai had the case of a Spanish tourist raped in her own bed by a thief who shimmied up through the window. And being a stranger in any part of the world, not knowing how to play by their rules, leaves you most vulnerable. That partly explains why a recent CNN report went viral as Michaela Cross, a US student at the University of Chicago, who spoke out about her sexual harassment in India.

We all have stories: I was new to Bombay and waiting to board a local train. I didn’t know where the ladies coach stopped and happened to be near the door of the general compartment when the train pulled in. The crowd pushed me in with one mind and then molested me for what felt like a lifetime. I fell out a few stations later, in tears, my clothes in tatters. A few days later, my cab was followed home from Churchgate station by another cab with a man reaching in to grab me—I made the cabbie drive straight to the police station. Some weeks later on an early morning, a pujari, mind you, a man of God, followed and propositioned me on a relatively empty stretch of road.

It wasn’t the city I was in, it wasn’t my clothes (I was in an office uniform), it wasn’t the color of my skin. It was opportunity. Given the right time and place, no woman in India is safe. 

Smriti Lamech is a writer in Gurgaon, India.
21 August 2013

A Summer of Troubles Saps India’s Sense of Confidence

Farooq Khan/European Pressphoto Agency
A strike call by Kashmiri separatists left businesses closed and streets deserted in Srinagar on Saturday.
NEW DELHI — For the last 10 years, India seemed poised to take its place alongside China as one of the dominant economic and strategic powerhouses of Asia. Its economy was surging, its military was strengthening, and its leaders were striding across the world stage.

But a summer of difficulties has dented India’s confidence, and a growing chorus of critics is starting to ask whether India’s rise may take years, and perhaps decades, longer than many had hoped.
“There is a growing sense of desperation out there, particularly among the young,” said Ramachandra Guha, one of India’s leading historians.
Three events last week crystallized those new worries. On Wednesday, one of India’s most advanced submarines, the Sindhurakshak, exploded and sank at its berth in Mumbai, almost certainly killing 18 of the 21 sailors on its night watch.
On Friday, a top Indian general announced that India had killed 28 people in recent weeks in and around the Line of Control in Kashmir as part of the worst fighting between India and Pakistan since a 2003 cease-fire.
Also Friday, the Sensex, the Indian stock index, plunged nearly 4 percent, while the value of the rupee continued to fall, reaching just under 62 rupees per dollar, a record low. The rupee and stocks fell again on Monday.
Each event was unrelated to the others, but together they paint a picture of a country that is rapidly losing its swagger. India’s growing economic worries are perhaps its most challenging.
“India is now the sick man of Asia,” said Rajiv Biswas, Asia-Pacific chief economist at the financial information provider IHS Global Insight. “They are in a crisis.”
In part, the problems are age-old: stifling red tape, creaky infrastructure and a seeming inability to push through much-needed changes and investment decisions. For years, investors largely overlooked those problems because of the promise of a market of 1.2 billion people. Money poured into India, allowing it to paper over a chronic deficit in its current account, a measure of foreign trade and investment.
But after more than a decade of largely futile efforts not only to tap into India’s domestic market but also to use the country’s vast employee base to manufacture exports for the rest of Asia, many major foreign companies are beginning to lose patience. And just as they are starting to lose heart, a reviving American economy has led investors to shift funds from emerging-market economies back to the United States.
The Indian government recently loosened restrictions on direct foreign investment, expecting a number of major retailers like Walmart and other companies to come rushing in. The companies have instead stayed away, worried not only by the government’s constant policy changes but also by the widespread and endemic corruption in Indian society.
The government has followed with a series of increasingly desperate policy announcements in recent weeks in hopes of turning things around, including an increase in import duties on gold and silver and attempts to defend the currency without raising interest rates too high.
Then Wednesday night, the government announced measures to restrict the amounts that individuals and local companies could invest overseas without seeking approval. It was an astonishing move in a country where a growing number of companies have global operations and ambitions.
The Indian stock markets were closed Thursday because of the nation’s Independence Day, but shares swooned at Friday’s opening. Stocks lost another 1.5 percent Monday, and many analysts predicted that the markets will continue to decline.
“I think things will get much worse before they get better,” said Sonal Varma, an India economist at Nomura Securities in Mumbai. “The government is between a rock and a hard place.”
The problem for India, analysts say, is that the country has small and poorly performing manufacturing and mining sectors, which would normally benefit from a weakening currency.

Meanwhile, India must buy its oil, much of its coal and other crucial goods like computers in largely dollar-denominated trades that have become nearly 40 percent more expensive over the past two years.
That is helping feed inflation, which jumped in July to an annual rate of 5.79 percent from 4.86 percent in June, far above what analysts had expected.
The Reserve Bank of India, the central bank, has recently responded to the rupee’s weakness by raising interest rates, but those moves have already begun to hurt a huge swath of India’s corporate sector. Growth rates had already slowed to 5 percent in the most recent quarter, and India now has a far harder time meeting its current-account deficit.
Analysts fear that higher inflation, softening growth, a falling currency and waning investor confidence could spin into a vicious cycle that will be difficult to contain.
“There’s a risk of a spiral downward,” said Mr. Biswas, the IHS Global economist. “It will be very hard to break.”
The submarine explosion revealed once again the vast strategic challenges that the Indian military faces and how far behind China it has fallen. India still relies on Russia for more than 60 percent of its defense equipment needs, and its army, air force and navy have vital Russian equipment that is often decades old and of increasingly poor quality.
The Sindhurakshak is one of 10 Russian-made Kilo-class submarines that India has as part of its front-line maritime defenses, but only six of India’s submarines are operational at any given time — far fewer than are needed to protect the nation’s vast coastline.
Indeed, India has fewer than 100 ships, compared with China’s 260. India is the world’s largest weapons importer, but with its economy under stress and foreign currency reserves increasingly precious, that level of purchases will be increasingly hard to sustain.
The country’s efforts to build its own weapons have largely been disastrous, and a growing number of corruption scandals have tainted its foreign purchases, including a recent deal to buy helicopters from Italy.
Unable to build or buy, India is becoming dangerously short of vital defense equipment, analysts say.
Meanwhile, the country’s bitter rivalry with Pakistan continues. Many analysts say that India is unlikely to achieve prominence on the world stage until it reaches some sort of resolution with Pakistan of disputes that have lasted for decades over Kashmir and other issues.
Gardiner Harris reported from New Delhi, and Bettina Wassener from Hong Kong.

Rupee at 64: 5 Lessons from a man-made disaster

By Arjun Parthasarathy

The Indian rupee (INR) is trading at levels that can only be described as disastrous. Levels of Rs 63-64 to the US dollar mean all-time lows for the currency that has depreciated by a whopping Rs 20 – or 45 percent – over the last couple of years.

What has made the INR tank against the USD and join the ranks of countries such as Argentina and Iceland that have seen their currencies lose most of their value over the last decade? The Brazilian real is the only other currency that has depreciated more than the INR, falling by over 53 percent in the last two years.

Brazil’s problems largely stem from its sharp fall in GDP growth from levels of 7.5 percent seen in 2010 to below 1 percent seen in 2012. Weak commodity prices, with the Reuters CRB commodity index down by over 30 percent since the financial crisis erupted in 2007-08, bureaucracy, corruption and weak infrastructure are to be blamed for Brazil’s GDP growth fall.

Overconfidence was the undoing of the rupee: AFP
Overconfidence was the undoing of the rupee: AFP
India’s problems stem from overconfidence on growth, economic mismanagement, bureaucracy, corruption and weak infrastructure. The INR fall is completely man-made and policymakers blaming the forthcoming withdrawal of the stimulus by the US Fed is pure nonsense.

India offers a great learning tool for policymakers across the world on how not to manufacture currency disasters. India’s fall from strength in the mid 2000’s to a position of weakness post 2010 is well documented. High fiscal and current account deficits, rising inflation, falling economic growth and weak capital markets are the cause of the INR fall. What did the policymakers do to take the INR down to record lows and, more importantly, push India out of any kind of reckoning in the world economic order?

The following five man-made factors are the cause of the INR fall.

1. The government, public and private sector were living in a fool’s paradise believing that economic growth will never slow down. The government allowed subsidies to burgeon, as rising oil prices were not passed on to consumers while public sector banks lent heavily to infrastructure projects of the private sector where revenues were more mythical. The private sector floated projects based on valuations of licences and commodities rather than on future cash flows. The end result was a huge subsidy bill taking up the fiscal deficit by 300 bps (100 basis points make 1 percent), rising non performing assets of banks, that have gone up multi-fold, and a fall in valuations of over 80 percent of many companies in the private sector.  Government finances, banking sector balance sheets and health of corporates weakened considerably, leading to fall in valuations of the whole country that is reflected in the rupee fall.
2. The illusion of high foreign exchange reserves made policymakers ignore a potential spike in Current Account Deficit (CAD). India’s foreign exchange reserves touched record highs of around  $320 billion in February 2011 (around 11 months of import cover) but have plummeted by 12.5  percent since then to levels of  $280 billion (around seven months of imports). CAD has risen from levels of below 3 percent of GDP to 5 percent over the last few years. CAD was financed by capital flows that led policymakers to believe that a high CAD would not impact the INR. Structural issues of oil and gold imports, rising inflation and high fiscal deficit was ignored until too late.

3. Growth was given priority over inflation. The focus on growth by all stakeholders concerned pushed inflation to the back seat. The RBI was castigated in public by both the government and the corporates for taking any action on inflation as it was felt that growth would suffer. The numbers are stark. In the period 2008-12, wholesale price inflation came down to below zero to over 10 percent levels and then went back to over 10 percent levels. The RBI, in the meanwhile, raised the benchmark repo rate by 100bps and then cut the rate by 425 bps and then raised the rate by 375 bps. The seesawing of policy rates along with seesawing of inflation indicates that the central bank was being reactive rather than being proactive. The economy has suffered due to the wide fluctuations in inflation and policy rates, leading to the INR being dumped later on.

4. A falling INR hurt the pride of the government. The government felt that India was too much of a growth story for the INR to fall. The noises made by the government when the INR touched Rs 57 in June 2012 suggested that the INR was being pulled down due to reasons other than macroeconomic factors. The RBI forced speculators to reduce long USD/INR positions while the government made noises on reforms and growth. The government and the RBI did not show urgency in tackling the INR fall last year and that has hurt them heavily this year.

5. The INR fall to levels of below Rs 60 has awakened the ‘animal spirits’ of the government and the RBI. The FM has been touring the world to bring in foreign investments while the RBI has strangled liquidity and reintroduced capital controls. The end result is a fall to record low levels of Rs 64. These hasty “animal spirit” decisions have caused panic in the markets as any hope of economic growth pulling the INR up has been laid low. Policymakers are not focusing on growth at the right time and markets know that policy actions cannot stem the fall in the INR. Wrong policies at the wrong time.

Is there hope for the INR going forward? Yes, if the stakeholders learn from their earlier mistakes and take the right decisions.

The mistakes India has made on the INR will help other countries to tackle currency issues. 

Something good can after all come out of the INR fall. But it won’t help us right now.

Arjun Parthasarathy is the Editor of a web site for investors. 
06 August 2013

Why India's Next State Is Not Likely To Be The Last

India's cartographers may soon be redrawing the country's map. If events go to plan, India will inaugurate Telangana, its 29th state, perhaps as early as next year — casting the spotlight anew on the challenges of governing a country as vast, and with a population as diverse, as India.

Telangana, on the arid Deccan plateau, is due to be carved out of the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, India's fifth most populous state, with a population of 85 million.

The demand for a separate state, endorsed by the central government last week, has simmered for half a century, rooted in history, religion and economics (see sidebar, left). Now, after 60 years of intermittent agitation, Telangana is closer than ever to winning autonomy.

Telangana would be the latest in a long list of states created since the end of British colonial rule in 1947.

The argument for going small is beguiling. Ostensibly, it produces a more nimble, responsive government. But that hasn't necessarily been the case.

Twelve years ago, for example, three megastates — Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh — were split, and the small states of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Uttarakhand were created, respectively.

The Times of India reviewed the performance of India's most recent states, and the results were decidedly mixed. It found that infant mortality fell across the board. But smaller wasn't necessarily better when it came to economic output and eradicating illiteracy, for example.

With a population of 35 million, Telangana will be one more small Indian state, prone to drought and infiltration by India's Maoist militants known as Naxals, who could take the opportunity to stir up more trouble during a politically sensitive moment.

Many argue that the splitting of Andhra Pradesh into two states is being done for political — not altruistic or administrative — reasons.

Amid charges of political opportunism, the Congress Party of Sonia Gandhi says it has backed Telangana for over a decade. Others say it is a crafty move that allows the party to take credit for statehood and the chance to win all 17 parliamentary seats in the new state in next year's election.
Moreover, critics worry that the move has opened a Pandora's box by fanning the flames of other long-simmering separatist movements.

In recent days, separation fever has boiled over in the Darjeeling hills as the outcry sharpened for a new state of Gorkhaland to be carved out of West Bengal. Last week, an activist set himself on fire, while government employees began to flee after a series of arson attacks. Over the weekend, statehood advocates launched an indefinite strike to press their demand for statehood, which supporters claim is older than Telangana's.

Blaming the central government for the fresh agitation, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee declared, "Darjeeling is part and parcel of West Bengal. We will stay united." She reportedly sought five companies from the Central Reserve Police Force to be deployed in Darjeeling in a bid to curb violence.

Statehood aspirations are also roiling in the far-flung northeast state of Assam, where ethnic groups such as the Bodo and Karbi are renewing protests — sometimes violent — for independent territories. The state has already gone under the knife before, in the 1980s, when the states of Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram were carved out of Assam.

Meanwhile, the state of Maharashtra faces the possibility of mineral-rich Vidarbha breaking away. Uttar Pradesh, the country's largest state, faces calls to be split further. Also looming is the old specter of dividing up the conflict-ridden Jammu and Kashmir.

Would these new states make for a happier India? A stronger India? A more secure or less secure India?

India's own recent history has shown that breaking up is not only hard to do, it may not be the panacea those who promote it believe it to be.
08 July 2013

Work On New India-Bangladesh Rail Line To Start This Year

Agartala, Jul 8 : Work on a new rail link between India and Bangladesh along Tripura, to ease surface transport in the mountainous northeastern states, would start this year, officials of the two countries said on Friday.

India will build a 15 km railway track linking Tripura capital Agartala with Bangladesh's southeastern city Akhaurah, which is also an important railway junction connected to Chittagong port, resource-rich Sylhet and Dhaka.

"Necessary survey and alignment of the railway tracks have been completed. Bangladesh's Planning Commission's approval is awaited. We expect the work for the vital railway line would start this year-end," Bangladesh's Brahmanbaria district's Deputy Commissioner Nur Mohammad Majumder told reporters.

After a two-day meeting with the Indian officials, Majumder said, "Land acquisition works are on and necessary tenders for the works would soon be floated."

West Tripura District Magistrate Kiran Gitte, who led the Indian side in the meeting, said that works, including survey and alignment of the railway line, have been completed.

An agreement for the new railway line was signed between Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina during her visit to India in January 2010.

"Total cost of the proposed project is estimated at Rs 252 crore. The Indian Railway Construction Company (IRCON) would lay the new railway tracks on both sides of the border," an official of the Northeast Frontier Railways (NFR) told reporters.

In the last railway budget of the Indian government, the allocation of some funds was sanctioned for the 15 km railway project.
Work on India-B’desh rail line to start soon
Work on India-B’desh rail line to start soon
Agartala: Work on a new rail link between India and Bangladesh along Tripura, to ease surface transport in the mountainous northeastern states, would start this year, officials of the two countries said on Friday.

India will build a 15 km railway track linking Tripura capital Agartala with Bangladesh's southeastern city Akhaurah, which is also an important railway junction connected to Chittagong port, resource-rich Sylhet and Dhaka.

"Necessary survey and alignment of the railway tracks have been completed. Bangladesh's Planning Commission's approval is awaited. We expect the work for the vital railway line would start this year-end," Bangladesh's Brahmanbaria district's Deputy Commissioner Nur Mohammad Majumder told reporters.

After a two-day meeting with the Indian officials, Majumder said, "Land acquisition works are on and necessary tenders for the works would soon be floated."

West Tripura District Magistrate Kiran Gitte, who led the Indian side in the meeting, said that works, including survey and alignment of the railway line, have been completed.

An agreement for the new railway line was signed between Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina during her visit to India in January 2010.

"Total cost of the proposed project is estimated at Rs 252 crore. The Indian Railway Construction Company (IRCON) would lay the new railway tracks on both sides of the border," an official of the Northeast Frontier Railways (NFR) told reporters.

In the last railway budget of the Indian government, the allocation of some funds was sanctioned for the 15 km railway project.
- See more at:
Work on new India-Bangladesh rail line to start this year - See more at:
02 July 2013

India’s Most Financially Inclusive States

Crisil has launched an index that measures financial inclusion in India, and some of the county’s most industrialized states don’t fare too well.
A man counted money in Mumbai, June 20.
Indranil Mukherjee/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
Gujarat and Maharashtra are generally popular with industry thanks to their relative openness to investment. But in terms of financial inclusion, India’s top two industrialized states fall below the national average, a recent report showed.

When it comes to access to financial services for all sections of society, the top states are found in the south of India, according to Crisil Inclusix, an index that measures financial inclusion.

The index, launched last week by ratings firm Crisil, measures financial inclusion on a scale of 1 to 100, with 100 signaling that an entire population has access to banking services. Gujarat has a rating of 38.6, just ahead of Maharashtra on 37.5. The national average is 40.1.

Six of the 10 most inclusive states are in the south. Puducherry is top with a score of 79.6. Chandigarh in the north and Goa in the west are also in the top 10. The bottom five are Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Nagaland, and Manipur, the lowest with a rating of 16.6. These five are all in east and northeast India.

India as a whole had a financial inclusion rating of 40.1 in 2011, the latest available reading, up from 37.6 in 2010. “It [India’s reading] is a reflection of under-penetration of formal banking facilities in most parts of the country. Just one in two Indians has a savings account, and only one in seven Indians have access to banking credit,” the report says.

The government and the Reserve Bank of India have both acknowledged that millions of people still need to be brought into the banking fold.

Real financial inclusion should ensure that a range of financial services are available to every individual. This includes a basic bank account, savings products suited to poor households, money transfer facilities, small loans, overdrafts, and insurance.

Crisil’s index uses three parameters: branch penetration, deposit penetration (the number of deposit accounts) and credit penetration (number of borrower accounts.)

“Lack of awareness, low incomes, poverty, and illiteracy are among factors that lead to low demand for financial services and, consequently, to exclusion,” the report said.

Often, people feel it is easier to borrow from informal credit sources instead of traveling long distances to banks, which may not have convenient opening times and can require reams of documentation. Informal money lenders typically charge high interest rates.

“Financial inclusion… is not just about opening of saving bank accounts; it includes creation of awareness about financial products, and offering of advice on money management and debt counseling,” the report added.
27 June 2013

Delhi Transit Hub in Narcotics Corridor

By Dwaipayan Ghosh

New Delhi, Jun 27
: Data released by Narcotics Control Bureau on International Day Against Drug Abuse has once again shown how Delhi is rapidly emerging as a transit point of high-end drugs smuggled by international cartels.

While the capital lags behind other states in use of ganja and opium, it ranks high in consumption of party drugs such as ketamine and cocaine. Maharashtra is the top consumer of party drugs, according to this data. Between April 1, 2012 and March 31, 2013, a total of 143.43kg ketamine has been seized in Delhi compared to Maharashtra (2,170kg) and Tamil Nadu (596kg). Ketamine is produced illegally in the latter states for supply to southeast Asian countries. The fact that Delhi ranks three on the list when it is not even a major producer indicates it is a transit point. Police said this is due to its unique location between producers Afghanistan and Commonwealth of Independent States nations and consumers in southeast Asia.

According to top officers in the narcotics wing and NCB officials, pseudoephedrine—used to make party drugs like 'Speed' and 'Ecstasy'—is a good example of a transit drug. The total seizure of pseudoephedrine in the past one year in north, east and northeast India have been more than 4,500kg.

The figures also include a cocaine haul of 5,429kg and 180kg heroin. The cocaine circuit is dominated by African cartels who also engage in heroin trade. But most of the heroin seized in the capital are of southwest Asian origin and enters India through Pakistan border, says an NCB study.

Security agencies have long believed that some of the money in this trade is actually a portion of narcoterrorism wherein profits from selling this drug is used to fund terror activities. A total of 612.08kg hashish, 955.58kg ganja and 233.42kg opium were also seized from the capital in this one year. A new item on the list is ATS (amphetamine-type stimulants). Over 6.5kg ATS was seized in the city vis-a-vis Maharashtra (40kg).

"It is believed that, due to establishment of special ATS labs, some foreign operatives are using the country's huge chemical base to source raw materials and produce such drugs. Drug hauls on Delhi-Manipur route show they are being trafficked to Myanmar," the NCB noted.

"Recent seizures of Kolkata-bound consignments in eastern and northern India indicate that the mafia is using West Bengal's ports to smuggle banned drugs to South America. A group of pharmaceutical companies are handing out stocks from Uttarakhand. This is then brought to Delhi en route to northeast, Myanmar and Thailand. The processing is completed in factories there before the drugs are pushed backed to India. While a portion returns to party circles in Delhi and Mumbai, the rest is shipped out to Colombia and Uruguay where these drugs are in high demand," said an NCB official.

NCB also asked agencies to crack down on abuse of prescription drugs with the smuggling of codeine-based Phensedyl increasing across borders.

Due to setting up of special ATS labs, foreign operatives are using the country's huge chemical base to produce such drugs, the NCB noted.
21 June 2013

Why The Indian Rupee is On a Downward Spiral And Nobody Knows How To Stop it

The US Federal Reserve’s stimulus exit timeline shook the global economy. In India, the situation is particularly dire: its stock markets experienced the sharpest fall in almost two years, bond prices fell so much that trading had to be halted, and the value of the rupee fell to a record low. The rupee nearly reached the psychological barrier of 60 rupees to the dollar, a low point that many consider catastrophic for the Indian government.

Why? The chain of events goes like this. As the Fed’s quantitative easing program unwinds, the cost of US borrowing rises, causing massive outflows of foreign investment from India and less demand for rupees. The sharp decline of the rupee’s value comes at a time when India is struggling to tame high inflationspur economic growth and reduce its unwieldy deficits. A weaker rupee raises the cost of imported fuel and exacerbates inflation, which gives the central bank less leeway to cut interest rates to revive growth. 

Even so, the Indian government has said it stands ready to take action and stop the bleeding. But in reality, there’s not much it can do. Here’s why:

India’s foreign exchange reserves stand at $290 billion, which is barely enough to cover the cost of its imports for seven months. Attempting to vacuum up excess liquidity at the national level could halt business activity in local markets and cause a spike in money market interest rates. Those rates have already been rising because of fleeing foreign investment. Also, using central bank reserves to defend the rupee could attract the attention of currency speculators who are eager to bet on the currency’s fall.

The government could limit the purchase of gold and crude oil, but that would be unpopular and economically painful. India’s chief economic advisor Raghuram Rajan admitted that curbs and blanket bans would be “harmful.” He is advocating for broader reforms to liberalize and strengthen Indian capital markets, but those may be politically untenable.

In the meantime, companies and consumers will suffer. Corporations with large unhedged dollar holdings, such as telecom giants Bharti Airtel and Reliance Communications, will take on more debt in rupee terms. Firms with heavy raw material imports will face higher operating costs, according to Goldman Sachs. India’s largest automaker Maruti Suzuki is already considering sourcing more local products.

Some companies will foist rising costs on to customers. Computer makers like Dell and Lenovo and mobile phone manufacturers have already announced that prices will rise by around 10% in the coming days. The fall in the rupee has pushed up monthly household bills by 15-20% in the past month alone, according to a study by Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India. If consumers pull back on spending as a result, the economy will really be in bind.

New 5-rupee Coin Has Hindu God

So from now on, whether, you're a Muslim, a Christian or any other religion living in're basically praying to an Idol...

New 5-rupee coin to mark Vaishno Devi Shrine Board's 25th anniversary runs into communal trouble

The Reserve Bank of India recently released a coin in the denomination of Rs 5 to mark the silver jubilee of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVDSB). No sooner did the coin go in circulation than its secular credentials came under heavy scrutiny. Members of several communities have taken umbrage at the religious overtones of the legal tender, and plan to stage a protest against it.

The RBI issued the Rs 5 coin to commemorate the occasion of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board’s silver jubilee. Pic/Datta Kumbhar
The tails of the coin it’s non-controversial face shows the Lion Capital of Ashoka Pillar with the motto Satyamev Jayate inscribed below, flanked on the left periphery with the word ‘Bharat’ in Devnagri script and on the right with the English word ‘India’. Below the Lion Capital is the rupee symbol followed by the denominational value ‘5’ in international numerals.
On the flip side, though, the coin bears in the centre a picture of the Hindu deity Vaishno Devi, with the inscription ‘Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board’ in Devnagri along the upper arc and in English along the lower arc. “Ours is a secular country and featuring the picture of a Hindu goddess on the coin will harm secularity,” said Dr Azimuddin, president of Movement for Human Welfare. Thoughtfully, he added, “Coins are given to beggars and tossed by saints during holy processions. With such instances, it is not proper to emboss a picture of a deity on it.”
Conspiracy theory
Maulana Mustaqim Azmi, president of the Jamiat-ul-Ulema in Maharashtra, said. “We might not be able to understand or accord the importance the goddess commands for Hindus, since in Islam, showing pictures of God/Allah is not allowed.” Questioning the impulse behind the concept, he added, “We think this is a conspiracy by the government to rupture secularism in the country. We will stage a protest against the authorities.”
Hindu organisations like Sanathan Sanstha have no objection to the coin. “Earlier, the country has had coins with Christian saint Alphonsa and Mother Teresa marking their birth centenaries. What’s wrong with a Rs 5 coin with Mata Vaishno Devi? We welcome the decision, though we think that the government has done this to appease Hindus before the elections,” said Abhay Vartak, the Sanstha’s spokesperson.
Bad for business
When it comes to currency, commerce trumps religion. Shopkeepers in areas like Kurla, Pydhonie, Mahim, Jogeshwari and Bhendi Bazaar say they are finding it difficult to trade coins with customers from other communities. “If a minority community member finds a coin with images of deities, they reject it and we have to issue them another one,” said a businessman from Kurla. “Issuing such coins will create communal disharmony, as other communities are not very open to the idea.”
Moreover, many Hindus do not use the coin for transaction, given the divinity cut in on it. Said the shopkeeper, “I myself have kept two of these coins at my home temple for worshipping.” A businessman from Nagpada area had a more cordial idea. “If you want to avoid the conflict, then put motifs from all religions Sikh, Hindu, Muslim, Christian on one coin,” he said. RBI officials said coins are issued by the Government of India’s finance department. Nobody could be contacted in the department despite repeated efforts.

The year the first Indian commemorative coin was issued to mourn the death of Jawaharlal Nehru
The year in which the 25-paise coin ceased to be legal tender
18 June 2013

WTF: In India Legal Age Sex = Marriage

Couple of right legal age indulging in sex are husband and wife: Madras HC

In a ruling which might have a far reaching impact, Madras High Court has said if a couple in the right legal age indulge in sexual gratification, it will be considered a valid marriage and they could be termed as husband and wife.

Chennai, Jun 18 :
"..if any couple choose to consummate their sexual cravings, then that act becomes a total commitment with adherence to all consequences that may follow, except on certain exceptional considerations," Justice CS Karnan said in his order.

He said that marriage formalities of tying a mangalsutra, garlands and rings were only for the satisfaction of society.  Either party could approach a family court for declaration of marital status by producing documentary proof for a sexual relationship.

The judge also said once such a declaration is obtained, the couple can establish self as each others' spouse in any government records.

Justice Karnan made these observations in his order Monday while modifying an April 2006 judgement of a family court in a maintenance case.

A family court in Coimbatore had ordered a man to pay Rs 500 maintenance per month to his two children and Rs 1000 as litigation expenses and had held that the woman's wedding with him did not have any documentary proof.

In his judgement, Justice Karnan directed the man to pay her maintenance of Rs 500 a month from the date of petition (September 2000) and that the arrears be paid within three months.
17 May 2013

Bangalore's IT Workers Start Tech Tattoo Craze

Bangalore, May 17 : In Bangalore, India’s technology capital, tattoo artists have reported an uptick in men asking for brand tattoos to celebrate jobs at the world’s top technology companies, including Microsoft and IBM.

Young high fliers in India’s technology capital Bangalore are so proud to work for Western technology firms such as Microsoft and IBM that they are having their logos tattooed on their bodies.

Tattoo artists in the city have reported an increase in the numbers of men asking for "brand tattoos" to celebrate the high status that comes with a job at one of the world’s top technology companies.

The permanent "branding" of their bodies with their boss’s logo is not seen as a symbol of slavery or eternal submission but as a symbol of triumph to commemorate landing a highly coveted job.

And despite the fact that many move on to other jobs, they keep the tattoos, according to the city’s leading artists.

“Its called Brand tattooing. Mostly people from IT companies like IBM, Apple, Microsoft and Oracle have got their company logos tattooed on their bodies.

"Its like the first love, like a symbol of success for them. Most of them have started their careers with these companies and want to keep their logos as a memento.

"Such tattoos can land us in a legal soup. Since they are copyrighted logos, they may attract legal suits against the inscriber,” said Giresh Bramhanayapura of Bramha Tattoo Studio

Pradeep Menon of the "Dark Arts" tattoo studio said owners of small businesses have also been asking for their companies’ names to be etched forever on their skin. “Not only employees of IT companies but owners of small enterprises get their company logos tattooed on their bodies."

Inking and coloring them is not straightforward, however simple the design. “We have to consider many things including the tone of the skin. Indians have generally dark colored skin and getting a perfect logo is a bit difficult,” he added.
09 May 2013

New Delhi Subway Riders Must Pass Breathalyzer

Critics worry new crackdown will put more drunks on roads

The New Delhi subway is so tired of drunken passengers starting fights at night that it's setting up breathalyzers at all its stations, reports the Hindustan Times.

Those who blow over the limit can't board a metro rail car. It's believed to be a worldwide first for any subway system, but critics are asking an obvious question: Do turned-away riders try to drive home instead?

"For activists like us it was a difficult task to raise awareness among people to exchange their cars for public transport when drunk, especially in Delhi," says a member of an anti-DUI group. "Now, all that will come to naught."

The Telegraph of India says the move is at least in part a reaction to the December gang rape of a young woman in New Delhi.

Though she was on a bus, not the subway, her assailants were believed to be drunk at the time.
06 May 2013

Welcome to Delhi, The New Drug Trafficking Hub

Drug addictsBy Suhas Munshi

Drug addicts wait for traetment at National Drug Dependence Treatment

The National Capital is witnessing a boom in drug trafficking. A Mail Today investigation has found out that foreign drug cartels are smuggling in thousands of kilograms of narcotics through Delhi's porous borders even as the anti-narcotics forces grope in the dark for leads.

On April 3 this year, the Delhi Police seized drugs worth Rs.15 crore from a storehouse in the Capital. Two Myanmar nationals, two persons from Mizoram and one from Delhi were found in possession of 140 kg of pseudoephedrine tablets and 50 kg of pseudoephedrine powder. The consignment was to be smuggled out to Myanmar through Mizoram and brought back after being processed into a consignment of high-end party drugs such as Ecstacy, ICE and Crystal Meth.
A few days later, another international drug cartel in possession of several kilograms of psychotropic drugs and fake currency notes, was busted by the Delhi Police.

Low on priority
A senior Delhi Police officer, on condition of anonymity, said better financial prospect in the national Capital is attracting new narcotics suppliers from within and outside the country.

"Almost all the drugs seized by law enforcement agencies are smuggled into the Capital through airports or by surface transport. While everyone knows about this, we have been told to focus on our top priority, which is to go after terrorism and not drugs," said the officer.

He said most officers, from the narcotics branch and the special cell division of the Delhi Police, are hesitant to go after the source of drugs because not many understand the provisions of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS).

Trouble for cops
The officer said several precautionary clauses reserved in the NDPS to prevent unlawful arrests actually invoke fear among the police, who haven't been sufficiently trained in antinarcotics laws. "Many a time our investigation comes to a deadend because no drugs are found from the suspects' place. There have been cases when NDPS has questioned the policeman's intent of going after a suspect. This creates trouble for all investigating officers," said the officer.

"As soon as we seize the supply, chaos ensues. Rate of drugs spikes, suppliers adulterate narcotics with impurities because of which the number of fatalities also shoots up. Being resource-constrained, we try to nab mainly the sources of drugs and leave the footmen alone," said a narcotics officer.

Mail Today investigation also found that a 'set' comprising certain tablets along with a syringe can be procured over the counter for Rs.80. Chemists report the stock as having been misplaced or damaged due to exposure to heat.

While the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) has just 70 men for the city, Delhi Police's narcotics division is just 55-personnel strong. There are also an increasing number of children who are being absorbed into the drug trade.

"Children are first being addicted to drugs and then being forced to work for the traffickers," said Vinod Kumar Tikoo, member of National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).

Addicts who are trying to find their way back

Manjeet Luthra (Name changed)

He had a family business in Tilak Nagar before he started snorting smack with friends. It started as a party recreation but soon changed into a regular habit.

Luthra had inherited a building and store-houses from his ancestral business of agricultural. As an addict he began selling his property, his wife's jewellery and their savings off to buy smack.

A smack addict consumes around one gram or less smack each day, but Luthra's addiction had peaked to more than five grams every single day, inform his doctors.

The three friends who passed on the habit to him died shortly afterwards from drug overdose. After 20 years of snorting heroin Luthra says he's finally given up. It has been one year and he hasn't touched the powder yet.

Amit Kumar (Name changed)

Kumar started abusing medicines as soon as the girl he had eloped with refused to marry him.

A few days after their escapade the girl returned to Delhi to join her family. Kumar took recourse to cannabis, alcohol, painkillers and later heroin to help him overcome the grief.

Drugs, as he later realised, distanced him further from his former beau and the vicious cycle of inebriation reduced the 21-year-old Kumar to a 40 kg skeleton. Today, Kumar commutes 50 km once every week from his home in Mongolpuri to NDDTC(National Drugs Dependence Centre) in Ghaziabad. He hasn't consumed drugs for the past four months.

Bittoo (Name changed)

He has been addicted to tobacco, both smoking and chewing and paint thinners for the past two years.

He started consuming alcohol one and a half years ago. He has also been addicted to weed for the past one year, and recently started heroin.

He is only 16 years old.

His family based in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, found out about the addiction when Bittoo thrashed his brother who demanded to sniff what his elder brother was sniffing.

Bittoo's mother says their family was ostracised, and her husband gave up on their son when they found out about his addiction.

The child in a strained, hoarse voice now claims to have rid himself of all addictions.

Gurinder Singh (Name changed)
Like many youths, Singh got addicted to drugs as a result of peer pressure.

Heroin which was being smuggled from Pakistan was easily available in his village at Wagah Border.

His grandfather was a senior retired military man, and his father and mother were employed in the service sector.

Addiction forced him to drop out of college and spend his days looking for money to buy drugs. When cash dried up Singh fled to Dubai and started bootlegging liquor there. Police found him and deported him back to India. He is now trying to get back on the path of recovery. His application to Punjab police force has been accepted.
02 May 2013

Traffickers Arrested For Selling Indian Girls As Brides

By Nita Bhalla

A girl looks on outside her mud hut in northeast India, on July 2, 2005.

REUTERS/Desmond Boylan
NEW DELHI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Police have arrested seven members of a trafficking ring that kidnapped young girls from the Indian capital and sold them as brides to middle-aged men in other parts of the country, the Times of India reported Tuesday.

The four men and three women were arrested following an investigation into the abduction of two teenage girls, who were rescued from an area in southwest Delhi.

“Police said the gang charged rich landowners in (the northern states of) Uttar Pradesh and Haryana between 50,000 rupees ($921) to 100,000 ($1,842) for a girl, depending on her age," the report said.
Activists say tens of thousands of girls and women are trafficked in India every year, largely for domestic work, sexual slavery and increasingly marriage due to a lack of women in some parts of the country.

A strong preference for boys has resulted in decades of aborting female babies, leading to skewed male-to-female ratios in northern India and rising incidents of rape, trafficking and even "wife-sharing" - one wife shared amongst brothers.

The Lancet medical journal says up to 12 million Indian girls were aborted over the last three decades, resulting in a ratio of 914 girls for every 1,000 boys in 2011, compared with 962 in 1981.
23 April 2013

India: No Country For Women

While violence against women continues unabated in India, our crime investigation and justice systems offer no comfort.
No country for women (© Reuters)
The Capital has erupted once again over the gruesome kidnapping and rape of a five-year-old girl child. This time, the protests are more political with the presence of volunteers from organisations such as the Aam Aadmi Party, the ABVP, etc. But matters have come to such a head vis-à-vis the gender front that help from any quarter is welcome.

Since the gang rape of the physiotherapy student in Delhi in December 2012, horrendous and continuing brutalisation and sexual assaults on women have continued. Western tourists have also not been spared, resulting in advisories by countries such as the US and the UK cautioning women tourists to take extreme care while travelling in India.

Erupting even amidst economic scams connected to 2G and 3G Spectrum and Coalgate, the debate on India being no country for women/girls has hogged media headlines. Grim-faced politicians, from the UPA as well as the Opposition, have expressed their pain and outrage at these developments, and voiced concern on the growing cult of violence against women.

In the latest incident of monstrosity on the tiny girl in Gandhi Nagar in Delhi, once again we saw the total indifference and callous attitude of the police. The child’s parents were made to wait for hours to file a “missing” complaint. The child, abandoned in a room in the same building in a serious condition, was found no thanks to the police but after her cries were heard by a neighbour.

The events that followed were even more bizarre when it comes to shaming and disgracing an already discredited police force.

A policeman offered the father a “bribe” of Rs 2,000 to hush up the matter! Hence it was nothing short of catharsis to watch continuous telecast of several protestors offering the police a “bribe” of Rs 2,000. The pained expressions on the face of the policemen facing this barrage was gratifying, to say the least.

Known perpetrators
At the core of the protests and demands from Opposition parties is the issue of Delhi, and the rest of India as well, being unsafe and insecure for women. This is not to defend the police force, which is more often than not found lacking when it comes to prompt filing of FIRs or investigation. But the fact remains that much of the violence — sexual and otherwise – that women and girls face is perpetrated by known people… a relative, a friend, a lover or ex-lover. If not in the womb, where foetuses are aborted, with the common consent of male and female relatives.

Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar, who addressed a press conference Monday afternoon, was quick to latch on to his point when questions were raised about his resignation.

At first he impudently asked the reporter, “When you do misreporting, does your editor resign?”
Later he pointed out the futility of expecting the police to prevent sexual assaults against women or girls that are carried out by their relatives. Quoting figures, he said that in several cases, fathers, stepfathers, brothers-in-law, cousins, neighbours, lovers and ex-lovers were guilty of rape. This doesn’t absolve those supposed to prevent crimes failing to do so in thousands of cases where young women are abducted on roads or raped in moving cars, as happens often in Delhi, but there is an element of truth in what he says.

The mighty climb down
But what I enjoyed the most while watching Kumar’s live press conference was his opening statement where he said the ACP who had slapped a woman protestor had been suspended. But the two policemen who had offered bribe to the father to hush up the case had not been identified because the father was busy in the hospital where his daughter was being treated.

And next followed a clear demonstration of what collective rage or mass protests can do. Delhi’s police force was ready, said its chief, to parade the possible culprits before the father at the hospital if he so desired!

Wow! How many ordinary people who throng our police stations for a modicum of action or justice can expect such a gesture from the top boss of the police?

No country for the poor too
But let us not fool ourselves. Whether it is the crime redressal dispensation, or our justice system, beginning with the lawyer who takes up a case, how many economically disadvantaged people have timely access to these? But for the protests which the media picked up and broadcast and wrote about, would the two men accused in this child’s rape been arrested so quickly?

The heavy wheels of our crime administration system move only on the application of lubricants such as bribes, influence, or public pressure. The ACP who slapped the woman protestor only displayed the habitual arrogance of our public “servants”. And why only suspend a senior officer who would dare to so impudently slap a young woman in full view of hundreds of others? Instead of a “departmental inquiry” in which the public has little faith, should he not be thrown behind bars?

Isn’t a man in uniform who is supposed to protect civilians a bigger criminal when he assaults a woman? And one who is well within her right to express her outrage over the plummeting record of the Delhi administration when it comes to making girls like her feel safe.

Juxtaposed against the way our creaky wheels of crime investigation and justice dispensation move, I watched in utter admiration the speed and efficiency with which the Boston police carried out operations to hunt down and kill one terrorist and capture the second one involved in the Boston Marathon bombing.

An entire township was shut down, the people responded and co-operated totally and within a week the perpetrators had been traced, challenged and one captured. You may find any number of faults with the US for its arrogance or its supercilious manner in dealing with the rest of the world.

But when it comes to rising as one to ensure public safety and security, they just do it…without any fear, favour or fuss. Now this is the kind of police force that inspires confidence. Not one which slaps protestors, or offers bribes to the victims to shut their mouths.

Or worse, derisively asks a middle-aged woman who goes to report her rape: “Tu teen bachcho ki maa hei; tujhe kaun rape karenga? (You’re a mother of three, who will rape you)?

18 April 2013

More Quakes Could Hit India: Experts

By Charu Sudan Kasturi

New Delhi, Apr 18 :  Tuesday’s 7.8 magnitude temblor near the Iran-Pakistan border could realign the region’s tectonic plates, potentially setting off follow-up earthquakes closer to India in the coming days and weeks, scientists have cautioned.

From Ahmedabad in Gujarat to Nongpoh in Meghalaya, India was on Tuesday shaken by a ring of earthquakes that scientists say were most likely unrelated, but could trigger aftershocks. The quakes have triggered fresh concerns over preparedness in the country’s burgeoning urban spreads.

The Iran quake occurred close to the line where the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates meet, west of Gujarat in Pakistan. Proximity to that line makes western India — home to Latur, Maharashtra and Bhuj, Gujarat that were epicentres of two of India’s most destructive recent earthquakes — vulnerable.
“When a major earthquake occurs on one plate near where it meets another plate, it causes shifts on the other adjoining plate,” Ramancharia Pradeep Kumar, earthquake engineer and professor at the Indian Institute of Information Technology in Hyderabad told HT. “There will also be aftershocks in neighbouring areas.”

Though most aftershocks occur within 24 hours, there have been instances of the follow-up tremors waiting for weeks before striking.

A quake measuring 4.4 on the Richter Scale with an epicentre in Nongpoh, Meghalaya triggered tremors across northeast India and even Odisha early on Tuesday morning. It was 49.2 km deep. Deeper quakes cause less damage as they lose most of their energy by the time they reach the earth’s surface. 

Early afternoon, just after 2pm, a second quake shook northeast India. This 5.3 magnitude earthquake had its epicentre in Motuo in eastern Tibet, and was 31 km deep. A few hours later, the biggest quake of the day struck, near Khash in Iran.

The sequence of the quakes and the distance between eastern Tibet and Iran makes it highly improbable that the two were related, said BK Rastogi, Director of the Institute of Seismological Research in Gandhinagar.

But the quakes have cast fresh focus on India’s preparedness to handle large quakes closer home.

After the 2001 Bhuj earthquake that killed about 20,000 people, India set up a National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) to formulate a strategy for national crises. Several states have also set up similar agencies.

But when it comes to ensuring earthquake-resistant building codes, little has been done, the scientists said. “The only solution is to make earthquake-resistant design non-negotiable for buildings,” Kumar said.

Indian hospital to help child with swollen head

Indian daily labourer, Abdul Rahman, 26, fans his 18 month old daughter, Roona Begum, suffering from Hydrocephalus. AFP PHOTO/ STR Source: AFP
A TOP private Indian hospital offered Monday to examine an 18-month-old girl suffering from a rare but treatable illness that has caused her head to swell to more than double its normal size.

The decision raises hope that eighteen-month-old Roona Begum, who suffers from hydrocephalus, a disorder which causes cerebrospinal fluid to build up on the brain, will get the life-saving surgery she urgently requires.
She was discovered last week living with her impoverished parents who are too poor to pay for treatment for the condition, which has resulted in her head swelling to a circumference of 91-centimetres (36-inches).
The publication of pictures taken by an AFP photographer in remote Tripura state in northeast India last Friday led numerous well-wishers to step forward offering donations, while a website has been set up to collect money for her.
Leading Indian neurosurgeon Sandeep Vaishya, who is the head of neurosurgery at a flagship hospital for the Fortis group near the capital, said that he would examine the girl and see if surgery was possible.
India hydrocephalus
Fatima Khatun 25, kisses the head of her eighteen month old daughter, Roona Begum, suffering from Hydrocephalus. AFP PHOTO/ STR
"Fortis will fly her down and while we will have to do an MRI to check the condition of her brain, I am hopeful that we will be able to carry out a surgery and relieve the pressure on the poor child's brain," Vaishya told AFP.
The group has a charitable foundation which carries out surgery free of charge.
Her 18-year-old father, Abdul Rahman, who lives in a mud hut with his family in the village of Jirania Khola, told AFP earlier that only a "miracle" could save his daughter's life.
The swelling is putting pressure on her brain and has made it impossible for her to sit upright or crawl on the ground.
Local doctors had told the family to take the newborn to a private hospital in a big Indian city but the costs were too high for Rahman, an illiterate labourer who earns 150 rupees ($2.75) a day working in a brick plant.
The US government's National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke estimates about one in every 500 children suffers from hydrocephalus.
The most common treatment involves the surgical insertion of a mechanism to drain cerebrospinal fluid away from the brain and towards another part of the body where it can be easily absorbed into the bloodstream.
Extreme cases like Roona's are very rare, according to Vaishya, who said he had been deluged with calls about the child after he spoke to AFP on Saturday.
"The child must be in a lot of pain because her head is so heavy. Still, in the images I could see that she was smiling sometimes, which makes me think that her cognitive functions might still be intact," Vaishya said.
Surgery to treat hydrocephalus is not particularly risky, Vaishya said.
09 April 2013

Gorkha’s Burn Effigy of Former Minister Over Monkey, Dog Eat Remark

Gorkha's burn effigy of former minister over monkey, dog eat remarkDharamshala: A BJP legislator suggesting that deploying Gorkha or Naga regiment in monkey and stray dog infested area would help to contain their population as they do eat them has angered Gorkha residents, who have demanded an immediate apology from the lawmaker.

Agitated members of Bharatiya Gorkha Praisangh here, today, burnt an effigy of Ravinder Singh Ravi for having stated during a debate in the Vidhan Sabha posting Gorkha and Naga regiments in the state would help to contain the menace exploding monkey population and stray dogs.

Media reports quoted Ravi have suggested during a debate on April 5 that “If Gorkha or Naga regiments are posted in Himachal from time to time, it will definitely have an impact on the population of monkeys.”

He is also reported to have claimed monkey was a delicacy for Gorkhas and Nagas. Ravi also said, “Black dogs are a favourite food of Gorkhas and this would help maintain ecological balance.”

Pained and shocked at this racist jibe against the Gorkhas, the Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh has demanded action from both the Speakers of the Himachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly Brij Behair Lal Butail,  BJP President Rajnath Singh and Himachal Pradesh BJP President Satpal Singh Satti against the erring MLA.

Saying Ravi had misused the floor of a Constitutional House, the Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh has requested the Speaker to expunge these remarks from the proceedings of the Legislative Assembly and to take appropriate action against Ravi.

The Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh told Rajnath Singh that it was especially shocking to have a BJP MLA uttering such demeaning, and utterly erroneous, references to the community because only in the month of March, the Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh had met Rajnath Singh in New Delhi, Narendra Modi in Ahmedabad and Manohar Parikkar in Panaji to apprise them of the status of Gorkhas in India and had been assured of the BJP’s attention both to their issues and their demand for Gorkhaland.

The Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh has asked both the Speakers and Rajnath Singh to take action against Ravinder Ravi and have him immediately tender an apology to not only the Gorkhas, but also the Naga community.

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