Showing posts with label India. Show all posts
Showing posts with label India. Show all posts
29 January 2021

India's Vaccine Production Capacity Is Best Asset World Has Today, Says UN Chief

 "I think that production capacity of India is the best asset that the world has today. I hope the world understands that it must be fully used," United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said.

India's Vaccine Production Capacity Is Best Asset World Has Today, Says UN Chief

UN chief's statement comes as India gifted over 55 lakh doses of Covid vaccine to neighbouring countries

Calling for India to play a major role in global vaccination campaign, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday termed the vaccine production capacity of India as the "best asset" that the world has today.

Addressing reporters here, the UN chief said, "I know that in India there is a very high level of production of Indian developed vaccines. We are in contact with Indian institutions for that. We strongly hope that India will have all the instruments that are necessary to play a major role in making sure that a global vaccination is campaign is made possible."

"I think that the production capacity of India is the best asset that the world has today. I hope the world understands that it must be fully used," he added.

On the need to democratize access to medicines, Guterres said, "I would say a very important element on the democratization of access to medicines all over the world. I appealed once again today for the licenses to be made available in order for companies around the world to be able to produce some of the vaccines that already exist."

UN chief's statement comes as India has gifted over 55 lakh doses of coronavirus vaccine to neighbouring countries.

Addressing a weekly briefing, External Affairs Ministry (EAM) spokesperson Anurag Srivastava on Thursday said India plans to gift vaccines doses to Oman, CARICOM countries, Nicaragua, Pacific Island states.

Srivastava said New Delhi plans to supply 1 crore or 10 million vaccine doses to Africa and 10 lakh to United Nations health workers under GAVI's (Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation) COVAX facility.

"There is interest in many countries to access vaccine from India. In line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's announcement that India sees international cooperation in the fight against the pandemic. We have played the role of the first responder in the neighbourhood," Srivastava said.

"From 20th January 2021 onward, we have gifted over 55 lakh doses of coronavirus vaccines to our neighbouring countries and in the extended neighbourhood--1.5 lakh to Bhutan, 1 lakh to Maldives, Mauritius and Bahrain, 10 lakhs to Nepal, 20 lakhs to Bangladesh, 15 lakhs to Myanmar, 50,000 to Seychelles, 5 lakh to Sri Lanka. In the coming days, We plan to gift further quantity to Oman that is of 1 lakh doses, 5 lakh doses to CARICOM countries. 2 lakh to Nicaragua, 2 lakh doses to the Pacific island state," he added.

India, Srivastava said, plans to commercially export coronavirus vaccine to Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Canada, Mongolia and other countries.

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"On a commercial level, the export has taken place for Brazil Morocco and Bangladesh. Further supplies to countries on commercial bases are likely to take place to Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Canada Mongolia and other countries. We plan to supply 1 crore or 10 million vaccine doses to Africa and 10 lakh to United Nations health workers under GAVI," he said.

25 January 2021

Kashmir gets a new bureaucracy

Fewer locals, more officers from outside, The Jammu and Kashmir cadre of the All India Services has ceased to exist.

The Jammu and Kashmir cadre of the All India Services has ceased to exist.

Kashmir was on the boil in August 2008. Protests had erupted over the transfer of 99 acres of forest land to the Amarnath Shrine Board, which managed a popular Hindu pilgrimage site in the Valley. In response, groups in Jammu had blocked the highway to Kashmir, choking off supplies to the region.

To protest the economic blockade, on August 11, over two lakh people marched through North Kashmir’s Baramulla district towards the Line of Control with Pakistan. The security forces opened fire on them, killing five protesters, including a leader of the Hurriyat Conference, Sheikh Abdul Aziz.


As the news came in, Latief U Zaman Deva, the district magistrate of Kulgam in South Kashmir, summoned local officers from security agencies like the army and the police. He told them curfew was being imposed in Kulgam, much like the rest of Kashmir, “but with the direction that you will not use force in case it is breached”.

Deva, who hailed from neighbouring Anantnag district, understood the need to handle the situation carefully. He decided not to forcibly restrict people from protesting peacefully against Aziz’s killing the next day. “I allowed people to take out processions, assemble in Jamia Masjid Kulgam, deliver speeches, etc,” he recalled.

Instead of the security forces manning sensitive locations in Kulgam, civilian officers and friendly residents were deployed to guard public properties and keep the peace. Deva stayed in touch with prominent local leaders through the day.

“The net result was that despite protests and marches, nothing untoward happened in Kulgam,” said Deva, now retired from the Jammu and Kashmir cadre of the Indian Administrative Service. In the rest of the erstwhile state, 15 protesters were killed in firing by police and paramilitary forces that day.

No more J&K cadre

On January 7, the Union government promulgated an ordinance enabling the merger of the Jammu and Kashmir cadre of the All India Service officers with the AGMUT cadre. AGMUT stands for Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Mizoram and Union Territories.

The All India Services include the Indian Administrative Service, the Indian Police Service and the Indian Forest Service. While most appointments to these services are made centrally through examinations held by the Union Public Service Commission, the selected officers can pick the state cadres they wish to belong to. An officer assigned to the Tamil Nadu cadre, for instance, will spend most of their career working within the state.

Like other states in India, the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir had its own cadre for the All India Services. Given its special constitutional status, however, only 50% of its All India Service officers were direct recruits chosen through the UPSC exams. The other half came from Kashmir Administrative Service officers who were promoted into the All India Services. In other states, 67% of the officers are direct recruits while only 33% are officers inducted from the state services.

When Jammu and Kashmir lost its special status on August 5, 2019, it also became subject to the 67:33 rule, reducing the number of positions available for Kashmir Administrative Service officers.


Now, with the Jammu and Kashmir cadre itself being merged into the AGMUT cadre, which represents three states and eight Union Territories, the presence of Kashmiris in key bureaucratic positions within the Valley stands to erode further.

“It means the officers from across the AGMUT cadre can be posted at any point of time in Jammu and Kashmir,” explained Mohammad Shafi Pandit, the first Kashmiri Muslim to clear the Indian Administrative Service examinations in 1969.

More often than not, Kashmiris who cleared the UPSC exams, like the former bureaucrat-turned-politician Shah Faesal, chose the Jammu and Kashmir cadre. This ensured Kashmiri presence even among the 50% of direct recruits into the All India Services in the erstwhile state. But this will change, since Kashmiris who opt for the AGMUT cadre may not be posted in their home region.

“Now, the government has a larger pool from which they can choose officers to serve in Jammu and Kashmir,” said a retired bureaucrat from Kashmir, who requested anonymity. “Put simply, Jammu and Kashmir will have more non-local officers serving here.”

The local factor

There is already disquiet over Kashmiris disappearing from the top ranks of government, as reported previously. The Union Territory administration is currently led by lieutenant governor Manoj Sinha, a Bharatiya Janata Party politician from Uttar Pradesh, and his advisors, none of whom is from the Kashmir Valley. A change in the composition of the civil services will only deepen the disquiet, said former bureaucrats.

Mohammad Shafi Pandit, who went on to become the chief secretary of Jammu and Kashmir before he retired in 2009, said most governments understood the need for the presence of local officers at the higher levels of governance. “In a sensitive place like Jammu and Kashmir, which has had problems all along from 1947, it has always been necessary to have somebody who can comport with the local people and understand their problems,” he said.

Governments even strove to ensure “balance was always maintained both in Jammu and Kashmir”, he added. “Suppose in Kashmir, if you had one Muslim officer at the top, you would have one non-Muslim officer at other top rank as well… Those considerations seem to have lost relevance all together now.”

Even though many Kashmiris view civil servants with suspicion, indifference, even hostility, local officials stood a better chance of handling difficult situations, said former officials. They were able to forge informal relationships with key leaders. There are numerous instances when such relationships were put to use in favour of the government.


Former deputy inspector general of Jammu and Kashmir police, Ali Mohammad Watali, offered an example from his tenure as the police superintendent of Baramulla district.

“It was long before the militancy erupted,” recalled 88-year-old Watali. A religious leader had given a call to shut down the only liquor shop in Sopore town. “When I came to know about it, I went to Sopore and talked to people. I found a lot of support for the call.”

Before the chorus for shutting down the liquor shop in the volatile area could gain steam, Watali did the unexpected: he locked up the shop himself. “There was an uproar from many in the government [who asked] how could I do it. I told them it is my discretion and since its shutting down is in the interest of law and order, I decided to lock it down.”

While he had diffused a potentially volatile issue from spiraling into a larger crisis in his jurisdiction, the trouble was far from over. The leader was quick to extend his call to shut down all liquor shops in Kashmir valley. The next day, he led a massive procession in Sopore, gathering outside the police station to court arrest with his followers.


Watali told the leader since he had not committed any crime, he could not arrest him. “Since I knew him well, he whispered in my ear, requesting me to take him into custody as it won’t look good before his supporters,” the former police officer recalled.

But Watali wanted to go by the procedure under law – he told the leader that if he blocked the main road and brought transport to a halt, it could be registered as a crime. “You won’t believe it,” he said. “That’s exactly what he did and we arrested him.”

At the police station, Watali offered him tea and counselled him before letting him go. “I told him it doesn’t befit a tall leader like him to talk about small issues like alcohol ban and all.” That was the end of the anti-liquor protests.

“We restored peace by personal influence,” said Watali. “The personal influence depends on your relationship with the people and that can only happen if you are a local.”

The need for such interventions grew in the post-militancy years, said former civil servants.

Away from home

Another implication of the merger of the Jammu and Kashmir cadre into the AGMUT cadre is that Kashmiris who clear the All India Services Exams now have reduced chances of getting an opportunity to serve within their home region. “Even if Kashmir Administrative Service officers are inducted into the IAS, it will mean that they too will have to serve in different parts of the country other than Jammu and Kashmir,” said the retired bureaucrat.

This aspect could weigh on the minds of future civil service aspirants in Jammu and Kashmir, said Rouf Ahmad. The young man from Ganderbal district had made a bid for the Kashmir Administrative Services in 2016, but did not qualify. 



Arnab Goswami paid me $12,000 to fix ratings: Partho Dasgupta

 A 3,600-page supplementary chargesheet, filed by Mumbai Police on January 11 in the TRP scam case, includes a BARC forensic audit report, WhatsApp chats purportedly between Partho Dasgupta and Arnab Goswami, and statements of 59 persons, including former council employees and cable operators.

By Mohamed Thaver , Krishn Kaushik
Arnab Goswami paid me $12,000 and Rs 40 lakh to fix ratings: Partho Dasgupta
Partha Dasgupta and Arnab Goswami. (File Photo)

Mumbai, New Delhi, Jan 25, 21: The former CEO of Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India, Partho Dasgupta, has claimed in a handwritten statement to Mumbai Police that he received US$12,000 from Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami for two separate holidays and a total of Rs 40 lakh over three years, in return for manipulating ratings in favour of the news channel, according to the supplementary chargesheet filed in the TRP scam case.

The 3,600-page supplementary chargesheet, filed by Mumbai Police on January 11, also includes a BARC forensic audit report, WhatsApp chats purportedly between Dasgupta and Goswami, and statements of 59 persons, including former council employees and cable operators.

The audit report names several news channels, including Republic, Times Now and Aaj Tak, and lists instances of alleged manipulation as well as “pre-fixing” of ratings for the channels by BARC’s top executives.

The supplementary chargesheet was filed against Dasgupta, former BARC COO Romil Ramgarhia and Republic Media Network CEO Vikas Khanchandani. A first chargesheet was filed against 12 persons in November 2020.

According to the second chargesheet, Dasgupta’s statement was recorded in the office of the Crime Intelligence Unit on December 27, 2020, at 5.15 pm, in the presence of two witnesses.

Dasgupta’s statement reads: “I have known Arnab Goswami since 2004. We used to work together in Times Now. I joined BARC as CEO in 2013. Arnab Goswami launched Republic in 2017. Even before launching Republic TV he would talk to me about plans for the launch and indirectly hint at helping him to get good ratings to his channel. Goswami knew very well that I know how the TRP system works. He also alluded to helping me out in the future.”

It states: “I worked with my team to ensure manipulation of TRP ratings that made Republic TV get number 1 rating. This would have continued from 2017 to 2019. Towards this, in 2017 Arnab Goswami had personally met me at St Regis hotel, Lower Parel and given me 6000 dollars cash for my France and Switzerland family trip…also in 2019 Arnab Goswami had personally met me at St Regis and given me 6000 dollars for my Sweden and Denmark family trip. Also in 2017, Goswami had personally met me at ITC Parel hotel and given me Rs 20 lakh cash… also in 2018 and 2019… Goswami met me at ITC hotel Parel and gave me Rs 10 lakhs each time…”

Dasgupta’s lawyer Arjun Singh said: “We totally deny this allegation as the statement would have been recorded under duress. It does not have any evidentiary value in the court of law.” When contacted, a member of Goswami’s legal team declined to comment. Goswami has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and alleged he was being targeted.

The chargesheet also includes BARC’s audit report, dated July 24, 2020, which states that evidence “indicated favouritism shown to few channels” and “in some cases, we suspect that the ratings were pre-decided”.

For instance, the report mentions alleged suppression of viewership for Times Now to boost Republic’s weekly rankings, and highlights a purported conversation between BARC’s top executives and a senior marketing executive of India Today Group on “pre-fixing” Aaj Tak’s ratings.

With multiple emails and messages between BARC officials attached as annexures, the report states that one of the reasons given by the council for changing Times Now’s viewership data is to cater for “outlier” data, which is meant to identify spikes in viewership due to the channel being the “landing page” on some distributors.

The practice of placing a channel on the “landing page” was prohibited by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. But that direction was set aside by the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal, and the matter is now in Supreme Court.

The audit was conducted by Acquisory Risk Consulting. The executive summary of the audit report states that “manipulation was evidenced in 2017, 18 and 19 across English News Genre and Telugu News Genre”.

The report states that six top executives of BARC at the time were involved in “manipulation of ratings and violation of the code of ethics” between 2018 and 2019, including Dasgupta, Ramgarhia, Head of Products (South) Venkat Sujit Samrat, Head of West Rushab Mehta, Vice President of Strategy Pekham Basu, and Chief People Officer and Strategy Manashi Kumar.

In October 2019, Dasgupta was replaced by Sunil Lulla as CEO. The supplementary chargesheet includes a statement by a BARC official claiming that in “February 2020, Sunil Lulla told me that there were allegations of TRP rating manipulation from the media industry” against Dasgupta, Ramgarhia, Mehta, Samrat, Kumar and AVP Pekham Basu. The official states that in “the first week of June 2020, from the server I took the backup of the emails of the suspected persons on a hard drive and gave Ramgarhia’s laptop in the last week of June” to the auditing agency.

Mehta, Samrat, Kumar and Basu have not been charged by police. The audit report was provided to Mumbai Police in December, two months after it registered an FIR in the TRP case.

Some of the instances cited in the report point to changed ratings that resulted in Republic being the top channel in English news from 2017. It cites emails and messages as evidence for weeks in which Times Now’s data and ratings were decreased, giving Republic the edge.

On June 18, 2017, the report states, Mehta wrote to Ramgarhia: “As required, Times Now numbers are changed, while Republic is kept the same”. According to the report, “this is pointing that the senior management wanted Republic TV to be number 1, and the team was working to achieve this objective”.

According to the audit report, conversations between BARC’s executives and a top marketing executive of India Today Group, in 2016, pointed towards “pre-fixing” the ratings for Aaj Tak. The report cites “chat message conversations between Romil, Partho, and external officials of channels, hinting about pre-fixing the channel ratings during our analysis”.

When contacted, BARC said in an email: “As the matter is a subject of an ongoing investigation by the various law enforcement agencies, we are constrained to respond to your enquiries.”

Republic said in a statement that “there has been a collusion of corporate and political interests to target” Goswami. “This collusion, which is a result of commercial, political and personal interests, is aimed, quite obviously, at illegally trying to create prejudice against the Republic Media Network,” it said.

Times Now defended the use of landing pages, stating that they are “not ruled as illegal” and “are simply the most preferred frequency which is sold and bought at a Premium by perfectly legal means”. It said the outlier policy was “abused by corrupt BARC officials to manually intervene and wilfully and deliberately improve channel ranks for favoured channels” and that it is “contemplating legal action”.

India Today Group did not respond to queries from The Indian Express.

While Dasgupta is in jail, The Indian Express reached out to Mehta, Samrat, Ramgarhia, Kumar and Basu. Only Kumar responded. “I had remotely nothing to do with research or ratings as it was a different team which handled market analytics and data,” he said, adding that everything else was “slander”.

The chargesheet also includes statements by cable operators that they were asked to show Republic on two channels to increase its TRP in exchange for money — two operators said they were asked to raise vouchers of Rs 11,800 each.


“Times Network uses only bonafide and legally valid means to do its business. We do not indulge in Panel-Tampering or bribing BARC officials which are common cheating practises followed by unscrupulous actors. TRP numbers are a function of 2 factors: Reach of channel and Time Spent by Viewer on the Channel (TSV). TSV depends upon the Content plan, style and quality of story-telling. Reach depends upon Distribution efficiency and Opportunity To See (OTS). There are laws of the land that govern distribution, and as per them Landing Pages are not ruled as illegal. Landing Pages are simply the most preferred frequency which is sold and bought at a Premium by perfectly legal means. It is the same as FMCG Companies strategy of acquiring best Shelf Space in supermarkets for higher visibility. Or advertisers placing ads on the front page of newspapers for highest visibility. This is available to all and is not done by any underhand deals. Times Network has optimised its Product, Brand and Distribution with the best in class inputs including Landing Pages at high cost to deliver its channels to maximum viewers. It is also worthy to note that such viewers are real and genuine as far as advertising reach is concerned and the Advertiser gets the viewership that he has paid for.

“The Outlier Policy of BARC to filter Landing Pages is a contentious issue as this is not Spurious reach. It is pertinent to note that the Landing Page Filtration Algorithm has been officially announced by BARC only on Sept 03, 2020 after which Times Network has challenged this in the Bombay High Court and the matter is sub judice as on date. The 44 week Forensic audit is for the period May 2017 to March 2018 when no such Outlier Policy was in place and BARC had no mandate to remove bonafide reach from landing pages. The outlier policy or moderation policy is a mechanism provided by BARC Technical Committee to remove statistically significant anomalies, mainly abnormal TSV from unlikely homes or spikes in data that don’t represent the logical true picture. The Outlier Policy is the key provision that has been abused by corrupt BARC officials to manually intervene and wilfully and deliberately improve channel ranks for favoured channels.

“Times Network views this as the gravest breach of trust by BARC and is contemplating legal action. The timing of misrepresentation of numbers makes it even more damaging as it was done at a critical juncture in our Brand history when Times NOW was engaged in a marketing battle, energetically defending and retaining its position. The resultant financial and brand impacts are being ascertained at the moment.”


Source: Indian Express

NEW DELHI: Remote voting, or allowing a voter to cast her franchise from any polling station in the country and not just the polling station or constituency where she is registered, is among the key future initiatives that the Election Commission is working on, chief election commissioner Sunil Arora said on Sunday and added that mock trials of the project would begin soon.

Sharing an “important dimension of the vision of Election Commission of India for future electoral processes”, Aro ..

24 January 2021

Indian Medical Association (IMA) calls for nationwide relay hunger strike against surgery by Ayurveda doctors

The IMA on Thursday announced a pan-India relay hunger strike of doctors starting February 1, in protest against a notification issued by the Central Council of Indian Medicine (CCIM) that authorises post-graduate practitioners in specified streams of Ayurveda to perform general surgical procedures, stating that it will lead to "mixopathy".

The Indian Medical Association (IMA) is giving immediate directives to all members across the country to launch the "Save Healthcare India Movement", the doctors' body said in a statement.

Under the campaign, the IMA will launch a massive awareness drive across the country as this is a clear threat to the safety of healthcare of people.

Doctors will take turns to sit on the hunger strike 24x7 from February 1 and the IMA will release posters and banners to raise awareness on the issue across the country, the statement said.

"All IMA members shall update their Members of Parliament and MLAs regarding the true picture of the notification and the integration policy. The IMA will also give its representations to all state governments. Under this movement, all NGOs will be updated about the core issues," it added.

Besides, all IMA members will write and convey their feelings to the prime minister, the association said.

Representatives of the IMA shall visit various places across the country to raise awareness among the public and apprise various associations from different countries of this "unscientific" notification, it said, adding that the global voice of modern medicine shall echo the feelings of the Indian Medical Association and its members.

The IMA has condemned the notification issued by the CCIM, a statutory body under the AYUSH Ministry, authorising post-graduate practitioners in specified streams of Ayurveda to be trained to perform surgical procedures such as excisions of benign tumours, amputation of gangrene, nasal and cataract operations.

The doctors' body further said the recent policy tilt, as evidenced in the medical pluralism advocated by the National Education Policy 2020 and the four committees of NITI AAYOG for officially integrating the systems of medicine in medical education, practice, public health and administration as well as research ostensibly for a "One Nation, One System" policy, will "ring the death knell of all systems of medicine as a whole".

"The IMA respects all streams of healthcare. We object mixing of the streams as it is unsafe and doctor cannot give all systems of medicine to one patient. Mixing the Pathies and providing substandard healthcare is definitely wrong.

"The IMA demands withdrawal of the CCIM order and dissolution of the NITI AAYOG committees for integration. The IMA appeals to the government to consider the sensitivity of the medical fraternity and take appropriate steps. The IMA will be constrained to intensify the agitation until the steps towards implementing mixopathy are abandoned," it said.

28 November 2020

India in Recession From Today

This will mark the first time in India's history that it plunges into recession


It is an oft-bandied about statement that India is in 'recession'. Especially so in the last couple of years of economic slowdown. However, it will be officially true from today, when the government announces the July to September Q2 GDP figures. Expectations are that the economy will contract, though it will be on much better footing than the nearly 24 per cent decline in the first quarter (April to June).

Though periods of economy stagnation often get billed as 'recession', officially, a nation is said be in recession only if it has two consecutive quarters of GDP decline.

Going by that yardstick, the official announcement of Q2 figures, expected on Friday, will mark the first time in India's history that it plunges into recession.

Estimates by various agencies have put Indian economy declining anywhere from 8.6 per cent to 11 per cent or more. As for the whole year (financial year 2020-21), India's economy will decline by 9.5 per cent, as per the estimate of the RBI. 

An article in RBI's monthly bulletin released last fortnight had put the Q2 drop at 8.6 per cent. “India has entered a technical recession in the first half of 2020-21 for the first time in its history with Q2 likely to record the second successive quarter of GDP contraction,” says Pankaj Kumar from RBI's Monetary Policy Department in the article, though he reassures that the decline will be "short-lived".

Different agencies have forecast different figures, all around minus 10 per cent, for the contraction of economy in Q2. While Bank of America's estimate is the most hopeful at -7.5, the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) being cautious at -12.7. Other major estimates range from State Bank of India's -10.7, ICRA's -9.5 and Barclay's -8.5.

Indian economy was in a 'slowdown' and not recession through the downturn of 2018 and '19, dropping from a growth rate of 5.2 down to 3 per cent in the January-March quarter of this year, just as coronavirus hit. The nationwide lockdown announced at the end of March and remained in place in various forms into June ensured that the first quarter of financial year 2020-21 saw the GDP deep-diving to 23.9 per cent.

However for Q2 (July to September), the re-starting of economic activities, the pent-up demand and the festive season rush has definitely seen things looking up. The purchasing managers indices for manufacturing and services had improved, while exports also finally came back on the growth path. In fact, the uptick in indices was so much that SBI actually revised its forecast from 12.5 per cent de-growth to just 10.7 earlier this month. Agriculture, fisheries etc have been a bright spot, doing well throughout these troubled months, almost like a ray of life amidst dark clouds.

Yet, it may not be enough to save India from the inevitable tag of 'recession'. It is also expected to fare the worst among all major global economies as far as recovery goes. How well Q2 has been for India will be known when the National Statistical Office releases the GDP data today.

27 November 2020

India Has Highest Bribery Rate in Asia

 NEW DELHI, Nov 27: India has the highest bribery rate in Asia and the most number of people who use personal connections to access public services, according to a new report by corruption watchdog Transparency International.

 The Global Corruption Barometer (GCB) Asia, found that nearly 50 per cent of those who paid bribes were asked to, while 32 per cent of those who used personal connections said they would not receive the service otherwise.

The report is based upon the survey which was conducted between June 17 and July 17 this year in India with a sample size of 2,000.

“With the highest bribery rate (39 per cent) in the region, India also has the highest rate of people using personal connections to access public services (46 per cent),” the report said.

Bribery in public services continues to plague India. Slow and complicated bureaucratic process, unnecessary red tape and unclear regulatory frameworks force citizens to seek out alternate solutions to access basic services through networks of familiarity and petty corruption, the report said.

“Both national and State governments need to streamline administrative processes for public services, implement preventative measures to combat bribery and nepotism, and invest in user-friendly online platforms to deliver essential public services quickly and effectively,” the report said.

Although reporting cases of corruption is critical to curbing the spread, a majority of citizens in India (63 per cent) think that if they report corruption, they will suffer retaliation, it said.

In India, 89 per cent think government corruption is a big problem, 18 per cent offered bribes in exchange for votes.

About 63 per cent of surveyed people think the government is doing well in tackling corruption while 73 per cent said their anti-corruption agency is doing well in the fight against corruption, it said.

Based on fieldwork conducted in 17 countries, the GCB surveyed nearly 20,000 citizens in total.

Cape Clean - India's Top Facade and Window Cleaning

Percentage of Population with Internet Access in India statewise as of June 2020


16 November 2020

Aadhaar PVC: One Person Can Order For Whole Family With One Mobile Number


You can use any mobile number to receive OTP for authentication, regardless of the registered mobile number in your Aadhaar. (@UIDAI)
You can use any mobile number to receive OTP for authentication, regardless of the registered mobile number in your Aadhaar. (@UIDAI)

UIDAI launched the Aadhaar in the form of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) card in October.

UIDAI launched the Aadhaar in the form of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) card in October this year. Just like your debit or credit card or PAN card, you will be able to carry the PVC Aadhaar card in your wallet. UIDAI puts it as ,"Loaded with the latest security features, your Aadhaar is now more durable, convenient to carry, instantly verifiable offline." UIDAI allows residents of India to get their Aadhaar letter reprint on PVC card by paying nominal charges of 50. Residents who do not have registered mobile number can also order using non-registered or any alternate mobile number. In fact, one person can order Aadhaar PVC cards online for the whole family, using his or her mobile number.

UIDAI in a recent tweet wrote, "You can use any mobile number to receive OTP for authentication, regardless of the registered mobile number in your Aadhaar. So, one person can order Aadhaar PVC cards online for the whole family. Follow the link to order now."

Here's the tweet:

How to order PVC Aadhaar card?

> Go to the link:

> Fill in your Aadhaar Number or Virtual Identification Number or EID to order Aadhaar card.

Aadhaar card comes with security features i.e. Digitally signed Secure QR code, Hologram, Ghost image, Guilloche pattern etc.

> Click on 'send OTP.' You can order Aadhaar card using your registered mobile number or Alternate mobile number to receive OTP.

> Aadhaar preview is available on use of registered mobile only. Preview of Aadhaar card details is not available for Non-registered mobile based Order.

> Time-Based-One-Time-Password (TOTP) can also be used via m-Aadhaar Application.

> After submitting the OTP, you will need to make the required payment and your PVC Aadhaar reprint will be ordered.

07 October 2020

Glock Pistols For Indian Citizens

 The Tamil Nadu company has now set a target to sell the pistols to civilians by the end of March 2021.

By Tanmay Chatterjee

The Glock is sold to citizens in many countries, including the USA.

The Glock is sold to citizens in many countries, including the USA. (Courtesy-

Currently serving with the military, police and special forces in more than 70 nations, including India, America, England and France, the famous polymer-frame Glock pistols from Austria may soon be available to Indian citizens in non-service calibres.

In 2019, the Tamil Nadu-based Counter measures technologies pvt. ltd. (CMT) and Glock Ges.m.b.H, Austria, entered into a partnership to produce the pistols at the CMT plant in Tiruvallur district, which is part of the state’s defence industrial corridor planned by the Centre.

The joint venture was initially signed for supplying Glocks only to the government. With permission from the Centre, CMT has now set a target to sell the pistols to civilians by the end of March 2021, one of the Indian company’s directors and major shareholder, Jayakumar Jayarajan, told HT.

For India’s civilian arms market, the arrival of the Glock will be a game changer, stakeholders feel. The pistol is sold to citizens in many countries, including the USA.

“The Covid-19 lockdown delayed our project by more than six months. We are trying to pick up speed. Our first priority is to supply the 9 mm pistols to the armed forces. Civilians will get the .22 LR, .380, .357 Sig, .40 and .45 calibre pistols. We have permission to set up our own proof testing facility,” said Jayarajan.

“A team from Glock landed in Chennai in January 2019 and flew to Delhi to meet Union defence ministry officials after visiting our site. In the delegation was a man who was part of the team that helped the designer, Gaston Glock, make the first pistol in 1981,” said Jayarajan.

Today, Glock produces fifth generation pistols with competitors following its polymer technology.

In India, the majority of licensed firearms owners are saddled with old or antiquated foreign handguns imported before 1984 or the ones being made by government ordnance factories. The erstwhile Congress government at the Centre banned import of all types of firearms in 1984, giving exemptions only to national and international shooters and state agencies.

Though out of reach of India’s gun owners till now, the world’s first military service pistol to sport a light polymer frame and trigger safety feature, is a familiar name to the nation.

A 9 mm Glock 26 compact pistol was the only weapon wing commander Abhinandan Varthaman was armed with when he was captured in Pakistan in February 2019 after the Balakot air strikes.

Glocks also went into action with National Security Guard (NSG) commandos during the terror attack on Pathankot air force base in 2016 and in other operations.

“We support any initiative that promotes the ‘Make in India’ programme and moves us closer to an ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ (self-sufficient India),” said Delhi-based Abhijeet Singh, spokesperson for National association for gun rights India (NAGRI), the only pan-nation organisation fighting for liberal gun laws for citizens.

Prakash Simson, owner of Simson gun house in Mangalore, Karnataka, said, “Indians still pay a premium price for 50 or 70-year-old handguns because of their reliability. The India-made Glocks have to meet people’s expectations. But before that, the government must ensure that law-abiding citizens get gun licence without being caught in red tape for years. If licences are not issued there will no market. The companies will wind up their business.”

A gun owner and sports enthusiast, Yuvraj Yograjsinh of Mansa, Gujarat, said, “Glocks are not made in .32 ACP which is the most popular pistol calibre in India because the ammunition is made by our ordnance factory, the other one being .22 LR. Ammunition for the rest of the calibres being offered to civilians by CMT is not made here. Imported ammunitions are frightfully expensive. This needs to be addressed first.”

Jayarajan said CMT has been given permission to manufacture ammunition of all calibres, ranging from the small .22 LR to the 12.7 x 108 mm heavy machine-gun cartridge used by the army. “We plan to make the ammunition factory operational by the end of 2021,” he said. 


Source: Hindustan Times

‘You run a banana republic channel’: Rajdeep Sardesai attacks Arnab Goswami on live TV


‘This is not what journalism is about.’

12 March 2020

How Riots are Affecting Circumcision in India

Medical procedure strikes fear in mother

By Joyjit Ghosh in Calcutta

Protesters carry a national flag during a rally against the citizenship act in Calcutta on Thursday. (AP)

February 2020, New Delhi: A journalist with a Hindi news portal was assaulted in riot-hit Maujpur in northeast Delhi and forced to drop his pants to check if he was circumcised. Rioters in Maujpur had also threatened to take the pants off a photojournalist to confirm his religion before he was let off.

Last Sunday, the unspeakable depravity that unfolded on the streets of Ahmedabad and Delhi gate-crashed a doctor’s cabin in Calcutta and preyed on a mother’s worst fears.

The paediatric surgeon, Subhasis Saha, had conducted a procedure called circumcision on the woman’s child for medical, not religious, reasons.

The surgeon had explained to the family, who does not belong to any religion that mandates circumcision, that surgeries for phimosis are performed through either of the two procedures — circumcision or preputioplasty.

“Preputioplasty helps retain the foreskin which is lost in the case of circumcision. But preputioplasty is far more challenging than getting rid of the foreskin. It involves curing the foreskin, saving it and ensuring that the situation does not recur warranting another procedure later,” the surgeon explained.
That Sunday, the surgeon had to perform two surgeries for phimosis in the Calcutta hospital. “Both the patients were from a community that doesn’t mandate the procedure. For one child, I could undertake preputioplasty. However, for absolute medical reasons, circumcision was the only way out for the other kid,” Saha recounted.

“When I told the child’s mother that I had to opt for circumcision, her face fell,” the surgeon said.
“The woman’s brother told me that his sister was worried about the operation ever since she read reports about the two journalists who were caught in the recent riots and the way they were made to prove their religious identity,” Saha said.

He added: “A socio-political crisis has come to influence a medical intervention.”

“It has not been many days since the northeast Delhi riots, but it has already left an indelible scar on the minds of parents of kids who have been advised surgery for phimosis. The parents are worried because their religion do not require them to undergo the process, but it has to be done for pure medical reasons. They have already worked the Internet and are suggesting that I undertake preputioplasty,” the surgeon added.

For medical reasons, more than 2,000 circumcisions, including on adults, are performed by general surgeons, urologists, paediatric and plastic surgeons every month in Calcutta and its surroundings alone, doctors said, adding that it was a conservative figure.

The Sunday incident does not appear to be an isolated one.

Another doctor who also performs surgeries for phimosis but didn’t want to be named said: “In the past few weeks, a couple of parents have approached me with requests to retain the skin. In our WhatsApp group, doctors are debating this trend with concern.”

Uday Shankar Chatterjee, who pioneered preputioplasty in the city a little over two decades ago, said: “When I had started the procedure, it was about saving the prepuce or foreskin for medical reasons. In the context of the Delhi riots, it gives a new dimension to the procedure.”

A Calcuttan whose son had to undergo the procedure a few years ago recalled: “It was after the Gujarat riots but it did not even occur to me then that what some thugs did there will have any bearing on my child here in Calcutta. My son’s health was my sole concern.”

“When the doctor recommended circumcision for my son, I readily agreed. Now, I think what has happened to our country of late is making us fear that such horrors need not be confined to distant places. They can happen anywhere now,” he added.

Sociologist Surajit C. Mukhopadhyay said: “This shows how innocent people are getting drawn into the vortex of fear and that they are trying to build a defence mechanism in a possible riot situation.”
He pointed out: “The parents are aware that scientific explanation will not wash with the bloodthirsty mob. So, they are trying to keep their children safe.”

Mukhopadhyay added: “People who are not honed into the majority and minority binary are trying to publicly show their allegiance to the majority out of fear. This is almost a reflection of what thousands of Germans did when they displayed their support for the Nazis. Fear has overtaken democracy, and civil edifices are being systematically destroyed. We are being pushed back to an era we had supposedly left long ago.”

Psychologist Mohor Mala Chatterjee echoed Mukhopadhyay. “Such actions of parents show how deep the threat runs. Whether children or adults, the anxiety over the medical process will definitely weigh negatively on their mind.”

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11 March 2020

Asianet News has an interpreter translating every word into Sign Language

Asianet News has an interpreter translating every word into Sign Language...
31 March 2015

India Arrests '1,000 Police Cheats'

Bihar police force: Tens of thousands of people had applied for the latest jobs in Bihar's police force 
Tens of thousands of people had applied for the latest jobs in Bihar's police force

More than 1,000 men have reportedly been arrested in India's Bihar state for impersonating candidates in physical fitness tests for the police.

The men had been hired to pass themselves off as the candidates, according to the state police.
The arrests were made over the last fortnight, as documents produced by the men were found to have been falsified.

Photographs of mass cheating in Bihar's secondary school exams provoked an outcry earlier this month.

More than 300 people, many of them parents, were arrested after the publication of the pictures.
Last year, some 150 people were arrested in Bihar for cheating in a written exam for police constables, Indian media say.

However, a Bihar police official told the Times of India newspaper that the latest round of arrests is the largest ever made for impersonation.

Some 52,000 people were selected for the physical fitness test, according to Indian media, with the state government hoping to recruit around 12,000 police constables from their ranks.
23 March 2015

Delhi to Launch India’s first e-ration card scheme next week

 The scheme links ration and Aadhaar cards with a view to curbing corruption and increasing transparency in the system.

To make it easier for people to avail the service, the govt will also accept other identity proofs

New Delhi, Mar 23
: Delhi will become the first state in the country to launch an e-ration card service which links ration and Aadhaar cards with a view to curbing corruption and increasing transparency in the system. The service will be inaugurated by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal next week, a senior government official said in New Delhi.

“Anybody with an Aadhaar card can apply online for a ration card. Those who are waiting for an Aadhaar card can also apply for a ration card with the Aadhaar card number on the online slip. Ration card will be now linked with Aadhaar card,” the official said, adding that those who do not have access to the Internet can apply at the office of their respective MLAs.

To make it easier for people to avail the service, the government will also accept other identity proofs. “We want to make the system easier so that the maximum number of people can avail the service. Those who don’t have an Aadhaar card can provide some other valid identity proof to apply for ration card,” the official said.

According to a senior officer, although a similar service has been announced by the Punjab and Maharashtra governments, Delhi would be the first to implement it. Through the new service, an applicant can also take the print of his ration card, which will be valid like e-ticket. “We had received many complaints of corruption in the process of distribution of ration cards in Delhi.

We have now brought the entire process online. All the work done in the ration card department can be checked online,” officer said, adding that the digitisation of records will also expose fake or duplicate ration cards. Along with the online ration card, Delhi government will also start issuing temporary Fair Price Shop (FPS)-licences. According to government data, there are around 25,000 FPS in Delhi.

“It takes around three months time to issue and set-up an FPS, which is operated by private players to provide subsided foodgrains. In case of cancellation of any licence, the process of issuing a new one is too lengthy. So, the government will now issue temporary licences in seven days which will be valid for three months,” the official said.
12 March 2015

India's Look East Policy Yet To Translate Into Action

Kolkata, Mar 12 : Finding fault in India's Look East and counter-terrorism policies, experts here on Tuesday stressed upon India's significance in fostering regional cooperation in South Asia.

Participating in a two day conference on 'Building Pan Asian Connectivity', the experts, however, exuded confidence of a change in the scenario following positive steps by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

"India's counter-terrorism policy has been criticised by experts on grounds that it concerns only mid and short term responses. Some of the experts have said that it is mired in systematic weaknesses with terrorists having the upper hand," said Julio Amador III, Deputy Director-General, Philippine Foreign Service Institute.

"However, under Modi, counter terrorism is being seen as a key national policy and seems to give renewed attention to terrorism as a security challenge," said Amador.

Observing that most ASEAN members have had problems in effectively collaborating in combating terrorism, Amador said India needs to be consistent in it counter-terrorism policy.

"The onus is on India to coordinate with the ASEAN members to forge closure cooperation in combating terrorism. It also need to consistent in its counter terrorism policy and spell out what it specifically wants from the ASEAN members regarding this," added Amador.

RAND Corporation senior political scientist Jonah Blank said India's Look East policy was yet to translate into action.

"When it comes to Sino-India rivalry in Southeast Asia, China is winning the trade war hands down. Though India's trade relation with ASEAN has improved, it is not very fast. India also lags China far behind in terms of connectivity. Commercial flights from India to the region are sparse," said Blank.

"But with Modi government having fewer political constraints than its predecessors, there are reasons to believe that the present should not be like the past. Modi's engagement with Japan, the US and ASEAN as well with China are very positive signs," added Blank.

Lamenting the lack of connectivity and infrastructural deficiencies, Sanjoy Hazarika, director of the Centre for North East Studies at Jamia Millia Islamia wondered why the north eastern state governments were not made stakeholders in India's Look East policy.

"There is a need for greater inclusive approach. We have extremely poor internal connections with the North East- not only in terms of rail, road or air connectivity but also of services. If you don't have vibrant social services, roads and railways are not going do anything in connecting people," said Hazarika.

"The problem is 60 years down the line, the central government still perceives North East to be a disturbed area. When the governments from here are not stakeholders how can you go ahead with such a policy," said Hazarika.

"The need is to build new generations of politicians, scholars and professionals who can engage more in developing the cooperation. The focus should be more at the micro level initially then we can look at the larger picture," added Hazarika.
24 February 2015

Swine Flu Cases Cross 14,000, 832 Deaths Reported

India reported 20 swine flu (H1N1 virus) deaths on Sunday, taking the death toll to 832 even as the number of cases crossed 14,000.

On Saturday, 38 deaths were reported, the highest number of swine flu deaths in a single day this year.

In 2014, India had 937 swine flu cases and 218 deaths.

This year, Rajasthan is the worst hit, with more than 4,000 cases and 200 deaths have been reported.

Delhi and Gujarat have had more than 2,000 cases each in less than two months.

The Drug Controller General of India G N Singh has directed all states to set up a ‘Swine flu drugs availability monitoring cell’ with a designated officer to monitor there are no drug and vaccine shortages even as some states like Kashmir reported vaccine shortages.

All chemists have also been asked to prominently display availability of medicines.

Experts maintain that H1N1 virus is no more deadlier than last year cases and deaths are being reported simply because more people getting tested and diagnosed. Most deaths are among people over 40 years.

While infection appears to be waning in Telangana, new states such as Jammu and Kashmir are reporting cases.

With one more H1N1 virus infected patient dying on Sunday night, the total number of swine flu deaths in Jammu and Kashmir rose to six on Monday while the number of infected people went up to 120.

"One more H1N1 infected patient died yesterday (Sunday)," Parvaiz Koul, pulmonary disease specialist at the super-specialty Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences, Srinagar, where eight people are currently being treated.

"We have provided sufficient medicines and preventive advisories to the families of patients being treated at home, which include using a face mask and washing hands and cleaning surfaces frequently," he added. "The most important precaution is to avoid social and religious gatherings during these days.”

Uttar Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh, which has reported 280 cases and six deaths since January 1, has enough medicines in stock, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Azam Khan informed the State Assembly on Monday.

State capital Lucknow is the worst hit, reporting 228 of the 280 cases from across the state. "There is no need to panic due to swine flu. Those who are saying hundreds have died due to disease are wrong. We have made all the arrangements to deal with it and have sufficient amount of medicines,” said Khan.

The minister said this after the swine flu issue was raised on the assembly floor by BJP suresh Suresh Kumar Khanna ,as the House met, who demanded a statement from the government on rising cases of the virus in the state.
West Bengal
Five persons have succumbed to swine flu in West Bengal, with 67 testing positive for it, state Minister for Health Chandrima Bhattacharya told the state Assembly today.

The minister said there is no shortage of medicines and testing kits at hospitals to tackle the spread of the H1N1 virus.

The health department is taking all necessary steps to control the spread of the disease and trying to spread awareness, she said, adding that the virus is not being spread through swine but through the air.

Mizoram has started swine-flu screening and testing all passengers arriving at Lengpui Airport after a woman arriving from Delhi tested positive on February 13.

All passengers arriving with cough and fever are being tested. Mizoram has had one swine flu case and no deaths.
The state Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme's Nodal Officer Pachuau Lalmalsawma said the screening was being conducted after obtaining permission from the Aviation department.

The IDSP officials will also start the screening people arriving in the state at the Mizoram-Assam border Vairengte town soon.

Am isolation ward to treat infection has been created at the Referral Hospital at Falkawn village near Aizawl and a special laboratory for testing has been set up at the Aizawl Civil Hospital.
09 February 2015

What Happens When Top Bureaucrats Visit Their First Posting Locations

By Saubhadra Chatterji and Moushumi Das Gupta

Musahari/Ukhrul/ Kushinagar
: As the car climbs up a hilly road amid the rocky landscape of Manipur, Union land resources secretary Vandana Jena remembers her days here in 1981. “Civic infrastructure, roads were almost non-existent. It was a four hours back-breaking journey to Ukhrul from Imphal. No work in the evening as diesel-generated power went off after 5 pm. There was no water supply either,” she said. Back then Jena was Ukhrul’s sub divisional officer.

Sitting in his first office in Musahari — the birthplace of Naxal movement in Bihar — parliamentary affairs secretary Afzal Amanullah could easily remember his stint as a young assistant magistrate 34 years ago. The rot in the system, frustrating corruption and lack of civic amenities had haunted people then. “Now, little has changed,” quips Amanullah.
It was a different ‘ghar wapsi’ — or return to the roots — for top-notch bureaucrats last month. As planned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, all secretary-level officers working with the central government went back to their first place of posting to review its progress.

The tours (HT accompanied three bureaucrats in as many states) threw up mixed revelations: There was palpable progress in road and tele-connectivity, agriculture and income of villagers. But in many places social infrastructures like school, health-care or toilets still remain in the dark ages.

Eighty-odd secretaries would be giving detail reports to the Prime Minister’s Office on how their first areas of posting fared in development over time.

Information and broadcasting secretary Bimal Julka was happy to see a weaver colony which he had set up in 1981 in Madhya Pradesh’s Ashok Nagar thriving and helping locals generate substantial income. “There were only ramshackle huts. Now almost everyone has pucca house. There is an all-weather road to Guna with a railway over bridge.”

Coal secretary Anil Swarup also has a tale of success to share while visiting  Tamkuhiraj tehsil in UP’s Kushinagar district: “It’s unbelievable to see so many girls cycling to schools. Back in the 80’s, when I was posted in Padrauna, there were just a handful of girls attending schools.” Swarup joined the elite Indian Administrative Service with first posting at UP’s Kushinagar as joint magistrate.
But these policy-makers also find that despite hundreds of government schemes running in paper, there are little or shoddy implementation in most of them.

Amanullah is the only Bihar cadre secretary-level officer now working at the centre. In Narauli, he visits a cluster of Indira Awas Yojna — the scheme for housing for poor — only to find that the entire colony has not a single toilet. Nearby lied Prahladpur, a village where a central grant of `32 lakh went back unspent due to non-utilisation.

Julka too, hardly found toilets as he toured an entire division: “Hygiene and cleanliness was far from satisfactory even in the government offices. School buildings are also in bad shape. There is an acute shortage of doctors and medical staff in local government hospitals and health centres.”

“During our field visit, when we had to stay the night at some village home, we had to go out in the open to attend to nature’s call,” says Jena. She, however, spots many village homes now with a toilet. Similarly, Swarup visited Bandhu Chapra, once notorious for anti-social elements, and finds dramatic changes with pucca roads, a majority of the children going to school, houses under Indira Awas Yojana. “There are tubewells at regular intervals,” said Swarup.

These reports, albeit local stories are likely to give reference points to the PMO while it shapes newer strategies. But in most of the cases, thrust areas of different governments like hygiene and cleanliness, e-governance, employment, etc. still lies in the dim shadow of underdevelopment.
21 January 2015

Jan Dhan Scheme Enters Guinness Books


New Delhi: Appreciating the Jan Dhan scheme for setting a Guinness record of opening most number of bank accounts in a week, BJP today lauded the efforts of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the achievement and for inclusion of 11.5 crore poor with country's economy.
BJP also accused the Congress of keeping such people out of the economic reform process for last many decades for their own vested interests and for their "corrupt" practices.
"This shows that 11.5 crore poor have reposed their faith in the Prime Minister and deposited their 9,000 crores in zero-balance accounts under the Jan Dhan scheme, whom Congress kept out of the financial system due to their own vested interests and corrupt practices," BJP national secretary Shrikant Sharma said.
He said this is a clear indication of the Prime Minister's intent of weeding out corruption and not allowing it to flourish, as during the previous Congress regime.
"A certain section of society was deliberately kept out of the financial system due to Congress' 'mission corruption' and its vested interests of leakages in subsidies and benefiting brokers and middlemen to siphon off public money," he said.
Sharma also lauded Prime Minister's efforts in helping those sections kept away from the financial system to be included now under the scheme, through which the poor will benefit largely.
"This is the result of Modi's vision, good governance and commitment that even World Bank is now predicting that India's economy will grow faster than China's in the coming times," he said.
Financial Services Secretary Hasmukh Adhia earlier said that Guinness Book of World Records has recognised the achievements made under Jan Dhan scheme.
In its citation, the Guinness Book said: "Most bank accounts opened in one week as part of the Financial Inclusion Campaign is 18,096,130 and was achieved by the Department of Financial Services, Government of India from August 23 to 29, 2014."
Announcing the financial inclusion scheme in his first Independence Day speech last year, Modi had set a target to open bank accounts for 7.5 crore poor persons by January 26, 2015. The target was later increased to 10 crore accounts
17 October 2014

Why India is Planning A New Road Near The China Border

An Indian girl poses for photos with an Indian flag at the Indo China border in Bumla at an altitude of 15,700 feet (4,700 meters) above sea level in Arunachal Pradesh, India. India and China disagree over the demarcation of several Himalayan border areas

India has unveiled plans to build a mountain road along the disputed border with China in the country's remote north-east.
The $6.5bn (£4.06bn), 1,800km (1,118 miles) all-weather road will stretch from Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh state to where the borders of India and China meet with Myanmar.

The road will connect sparsely populated and poorly-connected hill communities living in four large frontier districts of Arunachal Pradesh.

It will also help farmers in the mountainous region to transport their organic crops and medicinal herbs to low-lying and busy markets in neighbouring Assam state.

"This road will not boost our defences but help connect far flung communities for economic development denied to them for so long," says India's junior home minister Khiren Rijiju, himself a resident of Arunachal Pradesh.

But Indian military officials say the road will help consolidate Indian defences.

This represents a change in Indian military thinking that has so far opposed developing roads near the border, in case it is used by the Chinese during a conflict for speedy movement inside Indian territory.
The road, however, could could ignite fresh tensions between India and China.

The world's two most populous countries disagree over the demarcation of several Himalayan border areas and fought a brief war in 1962.

'Colonial legacy' Chinese foreign office spokesperson Hong Lei has said India's plan may "complicate" the boundary dispute which he described as a "colonial legacy".

"Before a final settlement is reached, we hope that India will not take any actions that may further complicate the situation. We should jointly safeguard the peace and tranquillity of the border area and create favourable conditions for the final settlement of the border issue," he told reporters in Beijing.

Chinese officials say it is not fair of India to undertake such a huge road building project in an area which is still in dispute.

"Once the dispute is resolved and the boundary is clearly demarcated, India can build such roads in its territory, but it would be unfair to build a road in a disputed territory," says Kong Can of the Yunnan Development Research Institute.

He says India should agree to develop the BCIM (Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar) highway and economic corridor from Calcutta in India's West Bengal state to Kunming in China's Yunnan province cutting through Bangladesh, India's north-eastern states of Assam and Manipur and Myanmar's northern provinces.

"This highway and economic corridor will help integrate our economies and open huge opportunities for developing our under-developed frontier provinces and create a climate of trust that will help resolve the border dispute," Kong Can said.

India is going slow on the project, so far just agreeing to "explore" its possibilities.

Arunchal Pradesh road Roads in Arunachal Pradesh are poor and make troop movement difficult
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has responded to demands from his security establishment to develop its defences against China, which has reportedly beefed up its military infrastructure in Tibet with a string of new railway lines, roads and at least five new airports.

Also, the rail route to Lhasa is likely to be extended to Nyingchu, close to the Arunachal Pradesh border, Indian military officials say.

"China has vastly beefed up its military infrastructure in Tibet and we are only catching up. Unless we do that, China will always arm-twist us on the border and try to impose a solution on its terms," says Lt Gen JR Mukherjee, former chief of staff in India's eastern army.

Last month India and China pulled back troops after a two-week stand-off near their de facto border in Ladakh. Chinese President Xi Jinping was visiting India when India accused his country of the fresh territorial incursion.

Many believe that has added to Indian apprehensions and could have influenced the decision to build the long border road that now upsets China.

Subir Bhaumik is a former BBC correspondent and author
26 September 2014

India Invites Thai Businesses To Invest in The Country

Bangkok, Sep 26 : India today invited Thai businesses to invest in the country and said it attaches top priority to the development of the North-East states as it opens a corridor into South-East Asia.

India's Ambassador to Thailand, Harsh Vardhan Shringla referred to various initiatives taken by the new Indian government to take the country's trade and development to a new plateau.

"Opening the North East creates a corridor for us into South East Asia," Shringla told a gathering of Thai commerce ministry officials, trade department representatives, ethnic Indian Thai businessmen and academia on the sidelines of a live telecast function showing Prime Minister Narendra Modi launching "Make in India" campaign.

Those who had gathered to watch the telecast, organised by the Indian Embassy with the assistance of India-Thai Chamber of Commerce, wanted to know about Indian Government's new "Make in India" campaign and developments in India's North-East region.

"We hope to attract Thai investors," Shringla told the assembled gathering.

Prime Minister Modi today launched the "Make in India" initiative in New Delhi to make India a manufacturing hub by attracting foreign companies to set up their manufacturing units.