Somewhere in the Sathyamangalam Forest....

The land of the dreaded sandalwood smuggler Veerappan has now turned into a tiger den. Camera traps have revealed pictures of 19 tigers on the prowl in the Savannah-like forests of Sathyamangalam in Erode district in western TN. And DNA analysis has confirmed the presence of at least 13 big cats. The booming tiger population in Sathyamangalam, even while the big cats are on a decline in North India, has prompted Union environment minister Jairam Ramesh to ask Tamil Nadu government to send a proposal for declaring the Sathyamangalam forests a tiger reserve. As of now, only a small part of the Sathyamangalam forests has been declared a wildlife sanctuary. And the sprawling 1,450 sqkm area is the only non-tiger reserve in south India with a significant presence of big cats, say wildlife experts. The big cats have been spotted sporadically across the five forest ranges of the Sathyamangalam forest division after the killing of Veerappan in November 2004. The wildlife census team found pug marks of eight to 10 tigers in Sathyamangalam last year. However, for the first time, a scientific study of the tiger presence was carried out by the Wildlife Fund for Nature and the Wildlife Trust of India according to the guidelines laid down by the environment and forest ministry. The cameras, placed at 30 places across Moyar valley in the Sathyamangalam forest division at an interval of two sq km, have captured footages of 19 tigers. The forest officials now fear that the presence of the big cats may attract poachers to the forests.

Infra bonds are here

Navi Mumbai Airport update

The Navi Mumbai airport could take as much as the year-end to get cleared, with the City Industrial Development Corporation (Cidco) of Mumbai unable to meet the regulations and requirements of the Union environment and forest ministry (MoEF) even after a submitting a fresh plan. The minutes of the last meeting, the MoEF’s expert appraisal committee, held on September 22, show that the project developers were unable to satisfy the Centre that it was willing to do everything possible to reduce the damage that the second international airport could cause. In fact, the EAC pointed out several lacunae in Cidco’s resubmitted plans as well as pointed out to erroneous data and facts that made up the environmental impact assessment (EIA) report, submitted along with the particular proposal. The EAC has now asked for a detailed study to evaluate the costs and impact of reducing the distance between the two runways, which is at present, greater than the minimum required. The committee also wants the study to evaluate the redesigning of terminals and shifting the non-operational activities to the south side of the airport, away from the sea front. The MoEF committee is keen that the hotels and other non-essential commercial activities be shifted away from the coastal zone, which Cidco has also opposed so far. Another point of contention between the Centre and Cidco is the diversion of Ulwe River. While Cidco does not want to avoid the river diversion that is illegal under current rules, owing to the cost escalation it would lead to, the MoEF would find it extremely difficult to bend rules for the plan.

Destination Madhya Pradesh

UID kicks off

Ranjana Sonawane, a 30-year old housewife from Tembhli,a nondescript village in Nandurbar district, entered history on Wednesday. But more as a number—782474317884—than a name. Sonawane became the first Indian to get a Unique Identification Number, Nandan Nilekani’s ambitious project that promises to be the passport to better access to government schemes for the poor and facilities like banking and insurance. One of modern India’s biggest schemes—the UID or Aadhaar—was launched by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. “Once a person has a UID number, his or her basic identity linked to their biometrics is established and can be used to uniquely identify the individual,’’ Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) chairman Nilekani said.
Sonawane wasn’t too sure how her life would change but she imagined it would help her. “We find it very difficult to maintain all our government records considering out house is very small. This will help us get access to government schemes,’’ she said after the first 10 people got their UID numbers. The UID is widely expected to improve delivery of services to the poor and prevent corruption on the last mile of otherwise ambitious poverty alleviation programmes.
Both Gandhi and Singh hoped that the project would help plug the pilferage that
plagues the public distribution system and the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGA), one of UPA government’s showpiece schemes. “The aim of the UID scheme is to bring transparency in the system,’’ Gandhi said, adding that Indians with this Unique Identity Number could reap the benefits of such schemes anywhere in India. “Even if an individual migrates or shifts temporarily to some other place, he will be entitled to the benefits of all government schemes. I hope this will change the lives of every individual,’’ Gandhi said, getting a huge response from the largely tribal audience.
The PM echoed Sonia Gandhi in Nandurbar on Wednesday. “The poor do not have any identity proof and often face problems opening bank accounts or even getting basic government documents like the ration card. Taking advantage of the system, government help meant for the poor and the needy is often pocketed by others,’’ he said, appealing to all Indians to come forward and enrol for the project as the whole idea of the UID scheme was to benefit the “aam admi’’. The aim was to give a dignified life to the poor and the backward, he added.
Maharashtra CM Ashok Chavan, state governor K Shankaranarayanan, Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia were present on the occasion. Chavan thanked Gandhi and Singh for selecting a remote tribal-dominated district like Nandurbar in Maharashtra for launching the nationwide project. The Unique Identification Authority of India started working in August 2009 and the government committed itself to issuing the first set of Unique ID numbers in 12 to 18 months.

The Ayodhya moment


ADB ups India growth forecast

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has upgraded India’s GDP growth forecast to 8.5% for the current fiscal from 8.2% that was estimated earlier in April. The better performance, according to the report, is the result of robust private demand and sustained effects of stimulus policies of the government. The report has painted a very positive outlook for the largest democracy, saying India, along with China, is lifting the growth of the entire region. ADB’s forecast for China, where double-digit growth in the first half of 2010, is expected to moderate in the second half, remains elevated at 9.6%. The report forecasts healthy growth for the region at 8.2% in 2010, well above 5.4% recorded in 2009 and also above ADB’s earlier forecast of 7.5% made in April. “Strong export recovery, robust private demand, and the sustained effects of stimulus policies allowed the region to experience solid growth in the first half of 2010,” it said and added that this improved performance is broad-based and is projected to carry on for the rest of the year. The ADB report said the recovery has also been due to stronger domestic demand conditions as consumer and business confidence is on the rise. It praised RBI for its tightening of the monetary stance in a series of policy adjustments since January to stall overheating. However, fragility and uncertainty of recovery in the industrialised countries is “one big cloud hanging over the region’s otherwise sunny short-term horizon”, the report warned, pointing out the slowing down of the growth momentum in the second quarter. “The threat of another contraction in industrialised countries still remains, although the likelihood is small,” it said.
This risk from the industrialised countries is a major reason why ADB is maintaining its 2011 growth forecast at 7.3%, which marks a moderation from the 8.2% of 2010. Additional factors for the moderation are gradual withdrawal of the fiscal and monetary stimulus, and the end of the low-base effect due to the slump. It remains to be seen whether private domestic demand will be strong enough to support growth as fiscal and monetary policy attains normalcy.

Global rating agency Standard & Poor’s on Tuesday pegged India’s economic growth rate at 8.1% during 2010 on strong farm output, but warned that inflation will continue to remain a worry. The Indian economy has clocked a growth of 8.7% in the first half of the year. The rating agency said strong farm production will help drive economic recovery and may bring down food inflation.

HNI wealth

Even as capital markets remain buoyant on the back of strong FII inflows, the wealth and number of high networth individuals (HNIs) in the country is now back to the pre-crisis level, according to a latest wealth report. India and Hong Kong, which experienced the world’s largest declines in HNI population and wealth in 2008, showed the strongest resurgence in wealth generation in 2009. The HNI population grew 104.4% in Hong Kong and 50.9% in India, according to the Asia-Pacific wealth report for 2010 by Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management and Capgemini. HNI wealth in India jumped 53.8% to $477 billion in 2009. Only Hong Kong, where HNI wealth surged 108.9%, did better in Asia-Pacific.India’s HNI population is now level with that of South Korea after dropping in 2008. HNIs from China and India allocated a very high 85% and 82%, respectively, to home region investments. In contrast, Japanese HNIs maintained a fairly diversified portfolio, the report said. India’s HNIs were driven to invest in equities by rising asset values and signs of underlying economic growth, it noted. The combined market capitalization of the NSE and the BSE more than doubled to end 2009 at $2.55 trillion. China and India will lead the way in the region with economic expansion and HNI growth in these countries is likely to outpace more developed economies.The super rich are moving away from equities, mutual funds and FDs and channelling their wealth to start-ups, unlisted companies, realty-focused private equity funds, gold ETFs and art.

Aadhaar is here !

Obama's India visit

Go for a solution to the Kashmir issue and help bring stability to the region in return for a ticket to UN Security Council membership and fulfilling your big-power aspirations. That’s the broad message US President Barack Obama will be bringing to New Delhi during his November visit, preparations for which are in full swing in Washington DC. The Kashmir settlement-for-seat at high table idea (euphemism for UNSC membership) is being discussed animatedly at the highest levels of the US administration, according to sources. Obama himself has decided to revive the process of a US push in this direction, albeit discreetly because of New Delhi’s sensitivities.
Key administration officials have confirmed that the UNSC issue will be on Obama’s agenda when he comes calling. The President is ex
pected to announce an incremental American support to India’s candidature during his address to the joint session of parliament, depending on New Delhi’s receptiveness to resolving the Kashmir tangle. The clearest insight into Obama’s thinking on the matter comes from Bob Woodward’s latest book, Obama’s War, in which top US policymakers are shown mulling over defusing the Kashmir situation as part of an exit strategy for the US from the Af-Pak theatre. “Why can’t we have straightforward talks with India on why a stable Pakistan is crucial?’’ Obama is reported as musing at one meeting. “India is moving toward a higher place in its global posture. A stable Pakistan would help.’’ Implicit in the rumination is the idea that settling the Kashmir tangle will mollify Pakistan where, US officials say, hardliners are using the unresolved issue as an excuse to breed an army of terrorists aimed at bleeding India.
External affairs minister S M Krishna brought up the H1B visa fee hike and the outsourcing ban issues during his meeting with US secretary of state Hillary Clinton in Washington on Tuesday.
The spoiler to any settlement is the hardline Pakistani military and its jihadist proxies for whom attrition and confrontation with India is an article of faith. In fact, the solution Washington has in mind (also proposed by Riedel) is likely to be more palatable to New Delhi than to Islamabad. It’s on the same lines as that agreed upon by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan’s deposed military leader Pervez Musharraf before the latter was turfed out of office—the LoC would become the international border, but it would be a soft, permeable border, allowing Kashmiris on both sides to move. The remaining safeguards, procedures, etc are a matter of detail. “President Obama’s strategy for dealing with Afghanistan and Pakistan always needed a Kashmir component to succeed; that need is becoming more urgent and obvious now. His trip to India in November will be key to addressing it,’’ Riedel said in a commentary this week. “India cannot become a global power with a prosperous economy if its neighbour is a constant source of terror armed with the bomb. A sick Pakistan is not a good neighbour,’’ he added, echoing Obama’s words (Woodward’s book also suggests he influenced Obama’s thinking).
Riedel says the President’s challenge is to quietly help Islamabad and New Delhi work behind the scenes to get back to the deal Singh and Musharraf had negotiated. “He will have a chance to work this subtly when he visits India.’’ But Riedel and other US policymakers portrayed in Woodward’s book also recognize that the biggest hurdle to a settlement is a hardline Pakistani military. While the civilian leadership will like to embrace the deal, “it is unclear if the army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani, is on board’’, it says. Woodward’s book shows that most top US officials, save Admiral Mike Mullen, believe Kayani to be a closet jihadi and a two-faced “liar’’ intent on perpetuating war with India. “I’ll be the first to admit it, I’m India-centric,’’ Kayani is quoted as telling US officials in one exchange. Although three top cabinet principals from India—S M Krishna, defence minister A K Antony, and finance minister Pranab Mukherjee—are in the US this week and next, exchanges on the UNSC and Kashmir are said to be taking place between President Obama and Prime Minister Singh through trusted interlocutors such as NSA Shivshankar Menon, who is also in Washington DC this week.

Ayodhya verdict tomorrow

A sense of anxiety mixed with a hope for peace pervaded Mumbai as the Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected the plea to defer the Ayodhya title suit verdict. Across the city, community leaders and residents worked to ward off a repeat of the 1992-93 orgy of violence by forming bands of volunteers to monitor sensitive areas and by sensitising citizens. The government, for its part, ramped up security measures, banned celebration of the verdict or protests against it, and declared Thursday and Friday dry days.It proscribed bursting of firecrackers or carrying posters displaying joy or anger at the verdict, and forbade assembly of more than five people ‘with the intention to disrupt peace’. The state has asked the Centre to extend a ban on bulk SMSs and said it will take a call on shutting down schools and colleges on Wednesday.
Years after a firestorm of hatred barrelled through the country in the wake of the Babri Masjid demolition, there now pervades an air of calm, helped by Hindu and Muslim leaders who are willing to accept the impending Ayodhya judgment with equanimity. The winds of change blowing across In
dia since 1992-93 have displayed that it may be futile to stoke religious passions. Those were the days of the now-forgotten Mandal agitation. Decades of communal tension and the new threat of external terror have wisened the electorate to the games that politicians play. Today, neither the parties to the litigation nor fringe elements are preparing to make incendiary speeches or do battle in the streets. And not just because it would amount to contempt of court.
Unwittingly, Hindus and Muslims have come to common ground on almost every issue, save the verdict. Both condemn the “frivolous petition’’ by R C Tripathi that caused a delay in the Allahabad high court judgment. Both solemnly promise not to stoke passions in the aftermath of Thursday’s verdict, and advise the aggrieved party to approach the Supreme Court for a final say.
Maulana Mahmood Daryabadi of the Ulema Council is one of the many who have appealed for calm. “Let the verdict come after a 60-year wait, that is all we ask. We are confident the court will serve justice.’’ Samajwadi leader Abu Asim Azmi said he is “yet to meet a maulana from Kashmir to Kanyakumari who will disrespect the verdict”. BJP veteran Jaywantiben Mehta, who played an active role during the ‘kar seva’, now says, “The Ayodhya matter is not a religious dispute. It is simply a question of ownership of land.” Party colleague Shatrughan Sinha denies making the fiery speeches that have figured in Anand Patwardhan’s documentary of the time. “Development and progress is the need of the hour. What happened on December 6, 1992, was a shameful act of mobocracy which brought tears to the eyes of none other than our leader L K Advani.’’
The Shiv Sena and MNS have advised calm, with the latter apparently dispatching pleas for peace in text messages. The Vishwa Hindu Parishad, too, is girding up to battle it out—but in court. VHP national secretary Vyankatesh Abdeo said, “The issue is certain to go into appeal, either from the Hindus or the Wakf Board. Legal recourse is the only way forward.’’ Even those fringe elements that are wont to react, for instance the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS) and the Sanatan Sanstha, are keenly aware that the tide has turned. “We have been served a notice under Section 149 by the police, warning us that we will be held responsible in case a law and order issue arises,’’ said HJS spokesperson
Ramesh Shinde. “That is so unnecessary. We have instructed our cadre to respect the judgment and are not planning any demonstrations as yet.’’ The Sanatan Sanstha speaks in measured tones. “We have been patient for 60 years and will accept the verdict with calm fortitude,’’ said spokesperson Abhay Vartak.


IAF wants high power radars

IAF now wants a major induction of long-range surveillance radars (LRSRs) and high-power radars (HPRs) to bolster air defence coverage in “hilly terrain’’ in the hinterland as well as along the borders with China and Pakistan. This comes after IAF has already inked contracts for 19 LLTRs (low-level transportable radars), four MPRs (mediumpower radars) and 30 indigenous medium-range Rohini radars, among others.
Apart from lightweight mountain radars for high altitude areas, plans are also afoot to procure nine more Aerostat radars to add to the two EL/M-2083 Israeli Aerostats inducted earlier as well as two additional AWACS (airborne warning and control systems) to supplement the first three Israeli Phalcon
AWACS bought under a $1.1-billion deal.
The overall aim of all this is to ensure Indian airspace, which still has several gaping holes, especially over central and peninsular India, becomes impregnable against hostile aircraft, drones and helicopters. As for the LRSRs and HPRs, IAF’s global request of information (RFI) says these active aperture phased array radars, which will “be
used for air defence surveillance, command and control in hilly terrain’’, should be able to classify large, medium and small aircraft, drones and helicopters at a range of 450 to 600-km automatically.
Though IAF is yet to specify numbers, the
procurement is likely to be large since the RFI specifies that the project will involve a “phased manufacturing programme’’ leading to indigenous production under transfer of technology. With advanced “electronic counter-counter measures’’, the LRSRs and HPRs should also be capable of being integrated into the IACCS, the fully-automated network being established to integrate the wide array of military radars.

Somewhere in Mumbai....

Mumbaikars on Wednesday broke out in a riot of colour and danced to loud music amid chants of ‘Ganapati Bappa Moriya’ as lakhs of devotees took to streets to bid farewell to their favourite deity. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation worked closely with the traffic police to ensure peaceful processions of Lord Ganesha across the metropolis. The 10-day festival culminated on Wednesday with the immersion of elephant-headed God

Judgement day

With just a day left for the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court to deliver its verdict on the contentious issue of the title suits of the disputed site at Ayodhya, suspense over its outcome and anxiety over the possible fallout keep rising. The Supreme Court has kept open room for a possible hearing in the court on Thursday on a plea seeking to defer the HC verdict on the suits claiming ownership over the disputed site at Ayodhya. On Wednesday, the court was reluctant to take up a plea seeking that the verdict be put off. But the rising level of anxiety led the Centre to clamp a 72-hour country-wide ban on bulk SMSs and MMSs. With speculation over what the high court might decide reaching a feverish pitch, Union home minister P Chidambaram on Wednesday cautioned against drawing “any hasty conclusion”. Even Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, in an unusual intervention, issued an appeal, asking people to maintain peace and harmony. The growing wariness fuelled rumours about the resignation of one of the judges of the bench of the Allahabad High Court that is to pronounce the much-awaited verdict: a prospect that would require the matter to be heard afresh. On Wednesday, an SC Bench comprising Justices Altamas Kabir and A K Patnaik did not seem very keen to hear a deferment plea filed by Ramesh Chandra Tripathi, a defendant in one of the title suits before the HC. The Bench said that it would take it up in the afternoon after consulting the registry when the matter was mentioned in the morning by advocate Sunil Kumar Jain. But in the afternoon, the Bench, much to the disappointment of an anxious crowd of journalists, told senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi that the division of work among Benches by the CJI barred them taking up the appeal relating to civil suits. “I have checked it with the registry. As the matter relates to civil suits, I do not have the determination to hear it,” Justice Kabir said indicating that the work allocation did not permit him to hear the appeal. But when Rohatgi persisted with his request for hearing, Justice Kabir said: “I would have had no hesitation to hear it if I had the determination permitting me to hear the matter.” When the counsel requested for listing before another Bench, Justice Kabir declined, saying he did not have the power to do so. But, he said that the registry will list it expeditiously. This means, Tripathi’s appeal could possibly find its place among the cases that would be listed for mentioning before various courts. If on Thursday Tripathy’s appeal yields no tangible result, then the HC would be without any judicial impediment to pronounce its verdict on Friday. The petitioner has cited possible law and order fall out from the verdict on the 59-year-old title suits as the primary reason for his request seeking to defer the HC judgment. “If this unfortunate fall out becomes a reality, then it would cause a massive dent to the country’s image at a time when it is preparing to host the Commonwealth Games,” he said.

If wishes were horses....

Deoband to discuss Valley unrest

The Deoband seminary, which has stayed out of Kashmir politics, will host a gathering of Muslim clerics and scholars on October 4 to discuss Kashmir in the backdrop of renewed violence in the Valley. The conference is an initiative by the Jamiat-Ulama-i-Hind (JuH), first-of-its-kind by a Muslim religious organization in the country, said the group’s leader Maulana Mahmood Madani. ‘‘The ulema will meet to evolve a peaceful and unanimous civilian response to the Kashmir crisis,’’ he said. But dragging Deoband into Kashmir wasn’t being welcomed. ‘‘It could create a perception that Kashmir is a religious issue,’’ said Arshad Alam, assistant professor, Jamia Millia Islamia University. He feared it could create a wedge between communities. ‘‘A message could go out that Kashmiris are facing repression because they are Muslims. It could foist a monolithic identity on a heterogenous Muslim community,’’ he said. Sociologist Imtiaz Ahmad said, ‘‘A religious initiative on Kashmir issue is not desirable.’’ Madani says Deoband is just a venue and no symbolism should be attached. ‘‘We couldn’t find a venue in Delhi due to the Commonwealth Games. On October 30, we will hold a rally at Delhi’s Ram Lila Maidan where we’ll invite likeminded people from all communities and civil society groups.’’

Aadhaar update

Chairman of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) Nandan Nilekani said the Unique Identification Number, renamed as ‘Aadhaar’, would be issued in a few days to Indian residents. He said in the first four years, 600 million people would be covered and the UID number would be useful for a number of applications like financial inclusion. The UIDAI had discussed with RBI for preparing the roadmap for financial inclusion with help of micro-ATMs, he said. A unique eco-system would be created, he said, where the authority would be surrounded by registrars which would be either banks, oil companies or public sector units. Nilekani said a big challenge which UID was facing was of de-duplication. Giving UID number was akin to giving mobile identity to a person using biometric technology. He said approaching the authority for a second time would be made a penal offence. Nilekani said the online verification of the UID number would be done in five to six seconds and would also work on the mobile network. To a query, he said implementation of the project would also require stable internal security.

Ahmedabad’s new int’l airport terminus functional

The new terminus at Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport, Ahmedabad, and its upgraded facilities are now fully functional. The Airport Authority of India (AAI) officials said that the flights mainly for the Middle East and US were being received at the new terminal. Apart from Dubai and Doha, the US is another destination one can directly go to by taking linking flights that originate from Ahmedabad. The new terminal, spread over an area of 40,000 square metres, is handling 16 take off and landings daily. Constructed at a cost of Rs 300 crore, the new terminal was inaugurated by Union civil aviation minister Praful Patel on July 4. However, it could not be made operational because of various reasons, like installation IT systems being still not over by then. Airport director Anuj Agrawal said that the new terminal had become fully operational. This number of flights at here increase over a period of time. Equipped with the state-of-the-art fire fighting and security systems, the terminal has a capacity to handle 2,200 passengers during peak hours. It can accommodate as many as 30 big aircraft like Airbus-380. The terminal has seven boarding gates, including two aero-bridges, to enable passengers enter the aircraft directly from the terminal building. There are 32 check-in centres with the provision of common user terminal equipment.

Gujarat's urban growth

The population of the city covered by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation has risen to 54.52 lakh against 35.20 lakh in the census a decade ago. Sources in Gujarat government say that the huge rise of 54.88 per cent in the population of Ahmedabad city has been mainly on account of factors like “massive urbanization leading to migration of people from not just Gujarat’s rural areas but also from other parts of India”. However, Surat beats Ahmedabad with a rise of 80.77 per cent since the last census. A city where labourers come from Saurashtra and faraway Orissa to polish diamonds and work in small powerloom units, Surat’s population grew to 44.01 lakh from 24.34 lakh. The rise in the previous decade (1990s) in Surat was also high — 62.31 per cent. Surat’s corporation limit was expanded by four times in 2006. While expansion of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) limit by nearly 2.5 times in 2006 has had an impact in the rise in city’s population, wardwise analysis by a senior state bureaucrat shows a rise of 28.55 per cent in the old AMC area (190.84 sq km). “Population in the old AMC limit has reached 45.25 lakh, while the new areas have added another 9.62 lakh,” the official said. The density in the old areas has gone up to 23,711 per sq km from 18,429 per sq km in 2001. In the nineties, the growth in Ahmedabad city’s population was slower at 22.22 per cent. These figures are based on the data collected and collated on the basis of phase-1 census in June. A final picture will emerge after phase-2, which will start in February 2011. Based on phase-1 data, officials believe Gujarat’s urban growth would be perhaps one of the highest in India. “We have been told that Ankleshwar’s population has grown by 85 per cent,” a state official said, adding, “While Gujarat’s population in 2000s appears to have risen by 18 per cent, the population of such cities like Rajkot, Jamnagar and Junagadh has jumped by at least twice as much”. The population of Junagadh, which became a municipal corporation recently, rose by 82 per cent in 2000s as against 29 per cent in 1990s.


"Global Governance 2025"

India is listed as the third most powerful country in the world after the US and China and the fourth most powerful bloc after the US, China and the European Union in a new official US report. The new global power line - up for 2010 also predicted that New Delhi's clout in the world will further rise by 2025according to "Global Governance 2025" jointly issued by the National Intelligence Council (NIC) of the US and the European Union's Institute for Security Studies (EUISS).Using the insights of a host of experts from Brazil, Russia, India and China, among others, and fictionalised scenarios, the report illustrates what could happen over the next 25 years in terms of global governance.

In 2010, the US tops the list of powerful countries/regions, accounting for nearly 22 percent of the global power.The US is followed by China with European Union at 16 percent and India at eight percent. India is followed by Japan, Russia and Brazil with less than five percent each.According to this international futures model, by 2025 the power of the US, EU, Japan and Russia will decline while that of China, India and Brazil will increase, even though there will be no change in this listing. By 2025, the US will still be the most powerful country of the world, but it will have a little over 18 percent of the global power. The US will be closely followed by China with 16 percent, European Union with 14 percent and India with 10 per cent. "The growing number of issues on the international agenda, and their complexity, is outpacing the ability of international organisations and national governments to cope," the report warns. This critical turning point includes issues of climate change, ethnic and regional conflicts, new technology, and the managing of natural resources. The report also highlights the challenges proponents of effective global governance face. On one hand, rapid globalization, economic and otherwise, has led to an intertwining of domestic politics and international issues and fuelled the need for more cooperation and more effective leadership. But on the other hand, an increasingly multipolar world, often dominated by non-state actors, has put a snag in progress toward effectual global governance, it said.


MMRDA's innovation park

Chief minister Ashok Chavan has cleared the proposal for an Innovation Park in the state being set up by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) near Panvel. The Innovation Park will be spread over 5,000 acres and will house research centres of private industry as well as government with several thousand scientists from different countries. The exact site of the project is still under wraps. However, according to MMRDA officials, it would take an hour to reach it from Panvel. The MMRDA will be collaborating with the Science and Technology Park, University of Pune for this venture. An agreement has also been signed with Sophia Antipolis of France to become one of the partners for the park. The project is envisaged as a place where there will be innovative research on a range of subjects, added MMRDA officials. The park is being established by Vision Group headed by MMRDA commissioner Ratnakar Gaikwad.
There would be focused research on pharma, nano and
bio-technology, functional foods, micro electronics and embedded systems, green energy, fuel cells, clean technologies, defence as well as internal security projects. The park would have an international convention centre, international research university, business incubators, a design institute and a language centre. After the announcement of the park a year ago, many large companies including Reliance Infra, Bharti Group, Indiabulls and ILFS Infrastructure showed interest in the project. An automobile major in India, which has huge landholdings near Panvel, is reportedly also interested.

The Naval Dockyard , Mumbai is 275

The Naval Dockyard gets a fresh coat of paint ahead of its 275th-year celebrations in October. The building is one of the oldest in Mumbai.


Worli - Haji Ali sealink snippets

There won’t be any hanging cable-stay bridge portion in the extension of Bandra Worli Sea Link (BWSL) unlike the existing one. The proposed Worli-Haji Ali Sea Link (WHSL), to be built by Reliance Infrastructure and Hyundai consortium, will be a “lighter and sophisticated” structure with more steel than concrete, said a source who is closely working on the designs of the 5.5-kilometre bridge. The sea link’s construction is expected to start by December 25, once the Reliance-led consortium pays Rs 1,634 crore against buying of BWSL to start the toll collection and maintenance of BWSL and construction of WHSL. Confirming the development, Sharad Sabnis, chief engineer, Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation, said, “It will be a more advanced structure in terms of technology and will not have the cable-stayed bridge. The designs are being worked upon by the concessionaire. It will have connectors that will help people access two links from Worli and Haji Ali.”
The 5.5-km sea link will have a 3.25-km main deck and a 2.25-km clover leaf interchange — one of the first to be constructed in deep sea in India. “Construction of WHSL will be achieved faster as we are adopting advanced technologies used in Europe. The clover leaf interchange is expected to be an awe-inspiring structure,” said a source. “Different plans are being worked upon for the interchange. One plan is that the loop would go under,” the source added. Meanwhile, the environment department’s go-ahead for WHSL connectors is not much of a worry for constructors and MSRDC. Sources say only the government will have to keep in touch with the environment ministry and BMC in case of further changes in the connector’s design towards Haji Ali. WHSL is expected to cost around Rs 2,000 crore with expected traffic of around one lakh car units.


July 2010 IIP snapshot

India's industrial output beat analysts’ expectations by a huge margin in July, strengthening the case for further monetary tightening ahead of next week’s crucial monetary policy review.Industrial production expanded 13.8% during the month, compared with 5.8% growth in June. Most polls had predicted a 7-8% growth in the index of industrial production in July. The central bank has the difficult task of tackling high inflation without upsetting the growth momentum in the economy amid doubts about the global recovery. It had hiked policy rates four times this year to a combined one percentage point. RBI is under pressure to raise rates further to bring down sticky food inflation that continues to be in double digits despite a good monsoon and prospects of a bumper harvest. Food inflation stood at 11.5% in the week ended August 28. Many economists expect RBI to raise policy rates by 25 basis points in its September 16 review. The government expects the economy to expand 8.5% in the current fiscal year. Industrial output recorded double-digit growth from October 2009 to May 2010. It has been showing a declining trend since January and posted dismal figures for June, leading analysts to believe that Reserve Bank of India would slow its monetary tightening. The growth in capital goods output has come as a surprise for most analysts.

Monsoon report

Forbes forecast

With a net worth of $62 billion, Indian business tycoon Mukesh Ambani would be the richest man on earth in 2014, according to a forecast issued by the prestigious Forbes magazine. “One of the predictions is that Reliance Industries’ chief Ambani, who currently has a net worth of $29 billion, pips the world’s richest man Mexican businessman Carlos Slim to top Forbes’ rich list in 2014,” it said. Ambani’s net worth swells to $62 billion while Slim is “hit hard by Mexican political, financial chaos,” according to the prediction by Forbes. 53-year-old Ambani currently ranks fourth on Forbes’ list of the world’s billionaires. Forbes has listed a number of events that could happen over the next 10 years in the field of politics, energy, medicine, finance, society and technology. The publication asked its staff and contributors to forecast some of the “noteworthy events” till 2020. “A vision of the coming decade sketched from real data, projections and facts whenever possible — though we’ve injected a dose of rigorous science fiction to fill the gaps,” Forbes said about its special 2020 report called ‘What Happens Next — Our Look Ahead’.

Expressway snippets

The government’s ambitious plan of building around 18,637 km expressways by 2022 has hit a roadblock. Following the recent farmers protests against the Yamuna expressway project in Uttar Pradesh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s remark favouring justifiable compensation for land acquisition, the government has decided to go back to the drawing board on the creation of an expressway authority and the funding pattern of the projects. The ministry of road transport and highways, which was in the process of finalising a draft bill for creation of an expressway authority and take views of state governments, has decided to go slow on the proposals. Last year, highways minister Kamal Nath had announced that a separate authority will be created by 2010 for implementation of expressway projects. The plan has been shelved for a few months till the Centre firms up its land acquisition policy. According to sources, the ministry has been seriously considering the same design, build, finance and operate (DBFO) model as employed by Uttar Pradesh government for Yamuna expressway. Under this model, the government would acquire land for the private developer who would in turn design and build the expressway. The builder would get the rights for collecting toll and real estate development alongside the expressway for a certain period. It would also have rights to develop land for residential, commercial and institutional purposes along the alignment. The government was eyeing good revenue through positive viability gap funding of 20% for expressways. The ministry, however, has decided to put brakes on this as the entire exercise would require land acquisition on a massive scale. A senior ministry official, on the condition of anonymity, said, “Expressway plans would take time now, it may be delayed till next year end. We hope the rural development ministry pushes the land acquisition (amendment) bill and resettlement and rehabilitation bill in the winter session of Parliament. After that we will start the process of finalising the bill for creation of the expressway authority and the funding pattern.” So far, the government has approved construction of 1,000 km of expressways under NHDP Phase-VI at a cost of 16,680 crore with a deadline of December 2015. These include Vadodara-Mumbai, Delhi-Meerut, Bangalore-Chennai and Kolkata-Dhanbad Expressways. This delay in finalising the authority and funding pattern could hit the government’s plans to award 11 expressway projects by the end of the current Five Year Plan. The projects are a part of the first phase of expressway networks in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. In the second phase, scheduled between 2013 and 2017, about 3,690 km will be added with the longest stretch being over 700 km. The third phase, between 2018 and 2022, will add another 6,031km. Depending on the need, the third phase may also see construction of an additional 5,275km of expressways on annuity model.

Somewhere in Mumbai....

Keeping it quiet and simple....an elderly couple at Dadar Chowpatty with their Ganpati idol prior to immersion.

BSNL slips

Tata Teleservices, with a subscriber base of 77 million, has become the fourth-largest operator in terms of wireless subscribers overtaking BSNL. TTSL is now behind only Bharti Airtel, Reliance Communications and Vodafone. TTSL was the first to introduce the per-second tariffs that forced competitors to follow suit. Both TTSL and TTSL (Maharashtra) offer dual technology (GSM and CDMA) mobile services across India. After its collaboration with Japan’s NTT DOCOMO in November 2008, TTSL has so far launched GSM services under the “Tata Docomo” brand in 18 telecom circles where it has received spectrum. According to latest Trai figures, Bharti had over 139 million, RCOM over 113 million, Vodafone over 111 million and BSNL 73.7 million wireless subscribers by end-July. TTSL claimed to have clocked a growth of 100% in the year gone by as it had wireless subscriber base of 38 million in July 2009

PM on Kashmir

Unrest in the state of Jammu and Kashmir over the last few weeks is a matter of concern. The youth of Kashmir are our citizens and their grievances have to be addressed. We are willing to talk to every person or group which abjures violence, within the framework of our Constitution .

Rahul @ work

Ride pods in Gurgaon

Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda has a hightech solution that will address commuters’ problems in one shot: Pod taxis. And he is serious about it. As Gurgaon residents well know, the city roads are an optical illusion. The unbroken chain of craters and ditches that pass for roads have for long burned holes in the pockets and hearts of the residents. But, if Hooda has his way, you could bypass the troublesome roads altogether. “Pod taxis seem to be the best way to take public transport through all the built up areas,’’ Hooda said. The CM believes that these battery-operated, driverless vehicles that run on an elevated track, will begin to ply in the next few years and connect people point to point — what the government claims as “providing last mile connectivity”. Highly placed sources in the Haryana government said the project would be implemented in the public private partnership (PPP) mode, with a total investment of Rs 5,000 crore. The government is looking at introducing about 1,100 pod taxis initially. “We want the pod taxi facility to connect all commercial and residential complexes in the city. Taking public transport to that point is our aim,” said the chief minister. The proposed ticket rate is Rs 10. He added that the government had already completed the detailed project report. “I hope Gurgaon will be the first city in India to get such a facility. It will cover both new and old parts of the city,’’ Hooda said. Officials said the service would offer a solution to Gurgaon’s mobility problem. “You don’t need to depend on rickshaws or taxis to move within the city. This will also be a solution to commuting from Metro stations to the workplace or home,’’ they said. No drivers, no rails, no emissions and no haggling over fares. The future of Gurgaon’s public transport is bubble shaped and it’s called a pod taxi. Designed to work on specialized roads reserved for them, the space age pods are unmanned. And, if Haryana government is to be believed, these lowenergy, no emission vehicles will become Gurgaon’s transport reality in near future. The ride could be smooth for the pod project. Sources close to the project said that it is commercially viable despite being a high capital intensive plan, considering the high demand of intra-city movement within Gurgaon. The taxis, once in place, will also connect to the private Metro plan. One of the major reasons for the government to pick the pod was the minimal requirement of land on surface to construct the elevated structures. It will be completely elevated. We need only 100 sq yard land to build a station. The stations will also have multi-level parking,” said a senior transport department official. The battery operated pods need only 22 mw of electricity for recharging. For commuters, the biggest advantage would be in terms of saving time. These pods will take the shortest route between the boarding point and a particular destination.
Model : Build, operate & transfer
Phase-I (New & Old Gurgaon) : 105 km, 143 stations
Stretch : Ist: 31km
IInd: 74km
Pod density : 30 pods after every kilometre
Land Needed for a station : 100 sq yard
Facility at stations : Multi-level parking
Status : Detailed project report completed
Time needed : 18 months from the day of awarding of the project

Chennai Metro snapshot

First Namma Metro train rolls out from S Korea

It was a proud moment for Bangalore Metro officials in South Korea. The city’s first Metro train rolled out from the Hyundai-Rotem factory there on Monday. Officials said the rollout signifies compliance to design, engineering and integration of the train’s various sub-systems and successful manufacturing of the complete train set. Once final testing is done, the train will leave for Bangalore, which is expected by October-end. The other four trains are likely to be ready latest by November, officials added. Each train set has two drive motor units (DMUs), and a coach in between. In effect, there are three compartments with total seating capacity of 1,000. The engine is also attached to the coach. On May 13, 2009, BMRC inked a contract with BEML-led consortium (BRIMM) for design, manufacture, supply, testing, commissioning of passenger-rolling stock (electrical multiple units) and training of Metro personnel at a cost of Rs 1,670.76 crore. As per the deal, the first five train sets are to be manufactured by Hyundai-Rotam in South Korea and the remaining 45 will be assembled at BEML Ltd, Bangalore.

Government to launch new WPI series

The government will launch a new series of wholesale price index (WPI) with 2004-05 as base from Tuesday. At present, 1993-94 is used as base year to calculate WPI. The new series of WPI will have 676 items as against 435 items in the previous series. Consumer items widely used by the middle class like ice-cream, mineral water, flowers, microwave oven, washing machine, gold and silver will be reflected in the new series of WPI. Readymade food, computer stationery, refrigerators, dish antenna, VCD, petroleum products and computers will also be part of the new series.
Under primary article
group of the new WPI, there will be 102 items against the existing 98, while fuel and power category will remain at 19. In the new series, there will be 555 items of manufactured products compared to 318 items at present. At the same time, weight of manufactured products will go up to 64.97% compared to 63.75%, while that of primary articles group, including food, will come down to 20.12%, against 22.02% at present. The new series would accompany inflation numbers with old base year (1993-94) as well for comparison, the official added. Depending on the relevance of articles in the present economic condition, about 200 items have been dropped from the new series. Items like typewriters, video cassette recorders (VCRs), radio etc will not find place in the new series.