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February - March 2009

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India is bound to face more terrorist attacks

Angel Rabasa, a senior political scientist with Rand Corporation, a non profit research organisation predicts that “India will contine to face a serious jihadist threat from Pakistan-based terrorist group, and neither Indian nor US policy is likely to reduce that threat in the near future.” The prediction is based on a stud carried out by the leading US think tank at Rand Corporation

Satyam plunges - taking India’s Repution with it.

Satyam Computer’s market alue has gone to a mere US$338m from over US$7bn only six months ago. It ia a black mark for India’s corporate governance, says Deepak Lalwani, Director India, Astaire and Partners.

It also raises fundamental questions on the role of regulators and auditors in investor protetion and the crucial area of trust for investors.

Meanwhile IBM Corporation and Accenture Ltd. are now in a stronger position to win new contracts ater the fraud at Satyam Computer tarnished the credibility of India’s outsourcing industry.

Forecast for 2009

GDP growth of 7.1% for the year ending March 2009 and 6% for the next year, April2009 to March 2010.

It is possible that India shold recover from the downturn before developed Western markets.

Narendra Modi - The Next Prime Minister of India?

Indian corporate heads are all praise for Gujarat’s chief minister active role in attracting foreign investment to his State.

It was Ratan Tata who preferred Gujarat for his Nano project after he was rebuffed by short-sighted politician Mamta Banerjee. Then Mukesh Ambani in Gandhi Nagar showered praise on Narendra Modi. Now Anil Ambani and Sunil Bharti Mittal are openly coming out in support of the leadership of Gujrat’s chief minister Narendra Modi.

Speaking at the Vibrant Gujarat summit, Anil Ambani said,”If Narendra Modi can lead a state so well, just imagine how well will he lead the country.”

Echoling the sentiments, Sunil Mittal declared,: We run big companies but if there is one man who can run the whole state and the nation then he is Narendra Modi.”

BJP spokesman, Rajiv Pratap Rudi welcomed the endorsement of India Inc. “It is a vindication of Modi’s positive leadership at state level. An outstanding chief minister like Modi is acknowledged by the world community. So it is a positive and desirable action and it is the vision of the BJP for the future. Governance is the key to BJP-ruled state; and is reflected par excellence in Gujarat”

At the recent vibrant Gujarat festival, Narendra Modi was able to attract more than 1200 million Rupees for various projets in Gujarat.

Tavleen Singh in the Indian Express

Modern India’s modern myths

Tavleen Singh Posted online: Jan 04, 2009

It is my belief that the first column of a New Year should try to be cheerful no matter how bad the times. So, despite the attempt to bump off our new Home Minister in Guwahati on New Year’s Day I am not going to say more than one sentence about terrorism this week. Here is that sentence. May the attempt to assassinate him make Shri P. Chidambaram realise that no amount of national investigative and policing agencies will make any difference if ordinary policemen remain untrained and under-equipped and if intelligence gathering at the level of the local police station remains as abysmal as it is across India.

Now for something cheerful. As someone who loathes the self-loathing writers, historians, hacks and politicians who became such a noisy chorus in the international media after the attack on Mumbai, I want to have fun this week demolishing their myths about India. The first of these myths is that India itself is a myth. The Mahabharata and the Ramayana are myths that were written by men who lived in a place without geography or history. Sanskrit came from this same nebulous arena as did the Vedas and the mathematicians who invented the zero.

The idea of India did not exist until the British created it is the contention of India’s self-loathing ‘liberals’. In the words of a historian of recent celebrity, India is an ‘unnatural nation as well as an unlikely democracy’. He does not bother to explain what he means by ‘unnatural nation’ since the nation state itself did not exist till not very long ago. Long, long before that there was a country called Bharat whose borders were clearly defined and whose certainty continues to be perfectly understood by ordinary Indians across India.

When a pilgrim from Tamil Nadu or Karnataka sets off to attend the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad, he does not think that he is travelling to a foreign country. When a family from Bengal travels to Banaras or Mathura to drop off some inconvenient widow in one of the ashrams, there they do not think they are travelling abroad either. The only people who have a problem defining India are liberal, English-speaking ‘secular intellectuals’ who usually don’t speak even a single Indian language. They understand no more about the idea of India than those intellectual refugees from the West who make India their home and become ‘experts’ on all things Indian. They belong to the same club because they all make a living out of writing books, histories and articles about this India that is so unnatural a nation, so accidental a country.

The second myth perpetrated by the self-loathers is that there is no such thing as Hindu India. There is a ‘composite’ culture that is Hindu and Muslim and that is that. Anyone who dares suggest that for many centuries before Islam came to our shores India was a Hindu country is instantly reviled as a rank ‘communalist’ of the Hindutva kind. It is important to note here that the self-loathing liberals have no problem describing a period of Indian history as Mughul and another period as British. The problem is ‘Hindu’ India because the premise that there was a country called Bharat that was entirely Hindu in ancient times is somehow offensive.

Modern India has given birth to modern myths. The most popular myth among ‘secular liberals’ in these times of Islamist terrorism is that the Indian state is so evil that the jihad is a valid response. It is our fault, they like saying, all our fault. If the Babri Masjid had not been demolished, if Narendra Modi had not allowed Muslims to be massacred in Gujarat, if Kashmir had not been so badly handled, if Muslims in India had not been kept destitute and poor, if there were more Muslims in the police and government, then none of this would be happening.

If you respond, as I like to, that none of the above mentioned causes had anything to do with 9/11, the bombings in London and Madrid or the attacks on nightclubs in Bali, other causes are instantly identified. Palestine, the war in Iraq and currently Israel’s bombing of Gaza.

You would not think that there could be an alliance between religious fanatics and those who believe they are intellectuals of liberal, left persuasion but in India there is. This bizarre alliance is so strong that Indian leftists have become the most ardent spokesmen (and women) of the Islamists. They find themselves in this extraordinary role because nothing motivates them more than their passionate loathing of India. May I suggest a cure. It is time for them to spend an extended holiday in Pakistan or Bangladesh to discover what countries in which history is myth are really like.


Lord Bilimoria hails India’s “unstoppable momentum”

London, UK – In a debate on recent developments in India in the House of Lords, Cross-bench peer Lord Bilimoria insisted that despite the recent terrorists attacks and all India’s challenges and complexities, these difficulties would not hold back India’s “unstoppable momentum”.

Lord Bilimoria commended India for its restraint in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, and said the attacks were not just an attack on Mumbai but an attack on the US, Israel and Britain. He insisted however that the “terrorists will…never, ever win” Lord Bilimoria said that “India remains a steadfast pluralist and secular democracy where 99.9% of all its religious groups co-exist peacefully side by side everyday.”

Lord Bilimoria nevertheless questioned the efficacy of India’s intelligence and security services, and urged the British government given its experience in counter-terrorism activities to work together with the Indian police, intelligence services and the armed services “for India’s and for our own benefit and security.” He commended the Indian government’s decision to rush through a bill to create an FBI-style investigative agency.

Lord Bilimoria nevertheless expressed his profound regret at the still persistent and chronic poverty across India. He said “The India that has caught the world’s attention with its three hundred million strong middle class…is a world apart from the three hundred million people living on less than a dollar a day.” Lord Bilimoria argued that there was huge disparity between states, many of which still suffer from appalling literacy rates, especially female literacy rates and malnutrition.

Strong economic growth would remain essential to India’s efforts to tackle poverty. Lord Bilimoria argued that “India is reaping the rewards of the liberalisation of its economy since 1991” and that “the world has woken up to India, and India is rightly taking its place at the top table of the world.” He also congratulated Non Residents Immigrants in Britain that were now reaching the top in every field, and in that regard he congratulated Lord Swaraj Paul who was the first Indian to be appointed deputy speaker of the House of Lords and who sat on the woolsack during this debate on India.

In particular he argued that “the relationship between Britain and India is stronger than ever, people to people, business to business, and government to government.” He said that “Britain has time and again proved to its allies that we are not just fair weather friends, we are eternal friends.”

Why Prince Harry Should be Sacked From The British Army

By Elaine Sihera

*(Author of "Managing the Diversity Maze" and founder of the British Diversity Awards)

Prince Harry made a couple of racist remarks on tape and they were shocking. There have been many people trying to excuse his behaviour, trying to blame 'pc' culture for any negative reaction against him and trying their best to pretend it is not important, just a storm in a teacup. But it is extremely important what the Royal Family does, if it is to enjoy the respect of the people the Queen presides over. The Queen is head of the Commonwealth and if her family is not going to have the respect for every country within that diverse circle, especially people of colour, what on earth is it saying about their role at the head of such diversity?

Prince Harry cannot afford to be a law unto himself just because he has a title and enjoys a privileged life. That comes with specific responsibilities in the way he behaves, in valuing others and setting a good example as a role model for the taxpayers money. If he just wants to be a yob, to treat people how he likes and to say what he wants, what's he doing as a prince? Furthermore, he said those things in the Army - an army which has been a bastion of institutional racism up to a few years ago and has gone to lengths to clean up its act, to make its forces more diverse and its image more appealing, especially in recruitment. How are Harry's comments supposed to promote such diversity? Most important, how on earth can one have a commanding officer who uses such racist terms so freely within a diverse team, who clearly ingratiates himself to his troops for acceptance and approval and so easily, in a cavalier manner, crosses the line of maintaining discipline and respect? It is not just the issue of racism here which is of major concern to service people in this country, it was the clear threat to discipline through disrespect that came out on the tape, in a force that depends on the troops strictly obeying orders to protect their lives. Prince Harry was trying desperately hard to be one of the lads from a position as team-leader which would not have encouraged that and without the respect to enforce his position. Such behaviour demeans the role of officer and puts discipline at risk.

Make no mistake about it, Prince Harry has racist tendencies due to his own ignorance. One act of racism (dressing up in a Nazi uniform) might be excused as youthful mirth but calling a 'friend' a Paki, which is a known derogatory and hate-filled word, then following it up with 'Raghead' is no accident. That is someone with little regard and respect for others. A Palace comment says the reference to Raghead refers to the Taliban. That's even worse. It explains why we are not winning the war in Afghanistan. Perhaps if we treated the Taliban with a bit more respect, for who they are and are proud to be, we could get the upper hand by being shown some respect ourselves.

Moreover, the language we use is not accidental. It defines who we are, it shows how we see ourselves and we will only ever use words we are completely comfortable with, the ones that come easily to us without thinking; the ones our family and friends use; the ones that tell where we are coming from and where we are going. So language is the essence of our identity. If we keep using hate-filled words it tells others who we are and how we perceive others. If a member of the BNP called someone a Paki would we dismiss it so easily? Would we excuse their behaviour? Would we blame it on 'pc'? Of course not. So why are people trying to excuse it in Harry? The fact that Prince Harry seems to be comfortable with racists words and acts is very disturbing and should not be condoned by decent people who cherish their own traditions and heritage.

Respect is at the heart of how we treat others and we cannot say we truly respect and value someone if we are not sensitive to how they might feel, if we do not accept who they are and if we do not value their heritage. Yet unless we value ourselves too and what we stand for we cannot appreciate others or hope to get respect from them either. Respect is nothing without sensitivity and if we are willing to use hate-filled discriminatory words in our routine dealings with others, what does that say about us?

Prince Harry needs to grow up. There are all kinds of ways of enjoying one's self, but not at the expense of others, and not when one is in a privileged position of authority to know better. From his drinking binges to racist language, he needs to learn some responsibility and he won't do that by people excusing his actions - yet again! This incident is unacceptable in 21st century multicultural Britain, unacceptable to members of the Commonwealth and, most important, unacceptable to the army representing Britons and the inclusive message they are trying to give, especially from a Royal Prince. He should be sacked forthwith. Perhaps he might begin to appreciate just what his accident of birth really means in exercising personal responsibility.

An apology, and business, as usual just won't do this time.

Be British but keep Asian identity intact: Lord Dholakia 

Delivering the first Guru Nanak Annual 2008 Lecture titled “Citizenship and Identity”, instituted by the World Punjabi Organisation (European Division) at the House of Lords, Lord Dholakia said, “multi-culturalism is a very vague concept. The Jewish community has been here for 400 years. They have kept their identity intact while still being British.”

Leading NRI peer Lord Navnit Dholakia has asked the Asian community here to be part of mainstream Britain while still retaining their ethnic identity. “Allow us our religion. Don’t impinge on it. We can still be British. Just say we are British and part of the community”.

He asked the community to celebrate British citizenship and the rights and responsibilities that go with it while stressing that being a Briton meant much more than just speaking in English.

“Take citizenship to its logical conclusion,” he advised. He, however, encouraged Asian-origin people to instill ethnic values in their children. “Unless you install values, your children will grow up in vacuum,” he cautioned.

He said “there is a fusion in music and one of the popular music in Britain is bhangra.”

Shailesh Vara, MP, Shadow Deputy Leader of the Conservative Party in the House of Commons said “it is important that we represent the mainstream British.”

Describing the recent election of Barack Obama to the White Houses as a “wonderful achievement”, he said, “He has been elected not because he is black but because of his ability and merit”.

Describing Obama as a role Model, Vara said it was possible for an immigrant to be the Prime Minister of Britain.

“It is a matter of time. If there is an individual who is not white but has the abilities and confidence of the people of the country they will vote for the person,” he said.

Ranjit Singh Baxi, President of the World Punjabi Organisation (European Division) said they decided to launch the lecture as the year 2008 was an “auspicious year in the calendar of Punjabis and Sikhs worldwide… This year we are celebrating the Tercentenary Celebration of Guru-Ta-Gaddi Divas in the remembrance of the 300th year of the consecration of Guru Granth Sahibji.”

“Guru Nanak Devji was in fact the initiator of the Interfaith movement of which we hear a lot in our modern world, talked about in different aspects like Interfaith, Diversity, Good Family values, Community cohesion and respecting identity.”

He said the aim of the programme would be to hold an Annual Lecture where “we will be able not only to listen, but also share and learn about the great Punjabi values on subjects of interest to us all that affect us in our day-to-day lives.”

London’s local authorities ready for key role in leading capital through economic downturn

London’s local authorities are ready and able to play a pivotal role in supporting the capital’s businesses and residents through the challenges of the economic downturn says London Councils Chairman Councillor Merrick Cockell.

Speaking at last night’s (Thursday) annual London Government Dinner at the Mansion House, Cllr Cockell said that minds and energies of the capital’s boroughs were focused on how best to help Londoners cope with the consequences of the recession.

Cllr Cockell also said that it was critical that London Councils, the boroughs, the government, the Mayor of London, and other organisations continue to work together to target their priorities and resources into a joined up package of support.

The London Government Dinner is organised by the City of London. Both Councillor Cockell and Mayor of London Boris Johnson addressed the event last night

On the role London’s authorities will play in supporting the capital during the economic downturn, Cllr Cockell said:

“We all know that we are entering a very challenging year for London. London’s long history has seen many such troubled times and many infinitely worse. The enterprise, industry and resilience of our fellow Londoners are legendary and are our biggest assets in countering the challenges we face.

“But London’s government and its public service have a pivotal part to play. The clarity and the vision offered by our political leadership, as well as the quality and responsiveness of our public service delivery will be vital in helping London navigate through these very uncertain times.

“London’s boroughs are focused upon what we can do to help companies have the best possible chance of surviving difficult conditions; help those who are without jobs to be equipped to find new opportunities in the future; support individuals and families whose homes are at risk and may be lost; and reach out and support those whose lives are fractured in other ways by this harsh economic climate.”

On the challenge and importance of boroughs and other agencies working together, Cllr Cockell said:

“There are issues, for example, about how we, at a local level, come together to tackle unemployment and develop skills; about how we can find innovative ways together of mitigating the adverse impact of this period on the urgent housing and regeneration needs of our communities

“We are beginning, just, to see evidence showing that that the greatest increase in unemployment is being felt in unexpected places. It may be that we will be faced not with ‘upskilling’ but with ‘different skilling’ as those who never expected to lose their jobs or businesses have to deal with changed lives and expectations

“There is much to be done. But we can see examples where, together, there is encouraging progress. The work to boost the number of apprenticeships in London, for example, is seeing all tiers of government in the capital working together creatively for this vitally important common cause and to exploit the opportunity offered by some of London’s major infrastructure development in the next decade and beyond, including the Olympics and Crossrail.

“It is true that different parts of London’s public service will have some different views about the optimum way of directing and delivering services. But what, I believe, is common ground is that we have seen real benefits in recent years in the shared understanding that has developed among many of London’s public services about the importance of place and geography.

“The critical importance of aligning priority, effort and resource at the local level is now much more widely recognised.”

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