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October - November 2009


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India

Fight against Maoists failing, admits PM

NEW DELHI: Admitting that the government had "not achieved much success" in containing left wing extremism, which he described as the "gravest internal security threat", Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also maintained that infiltration through various routes was going up.

Addressing state police chiefs on the second day of their three-day conclave, Manmohan Singh at the outset pointed to the increasing influence of Maoist rebels in vast swathes of India. According to home minister P Chidambaram, they had presence in 17 states and were responsible for 90 percent of the violence in the country.

"I have consistently held that left wing extremism is, perhaps, the gravest internal security threat we face. We have not achieved as much success as we would have liked in containing it. It is a matter of concern that despite our efforts, the level of violence in the affected states continues to rise," the prime minister said.

"As I have stated before, dealing with left wing extremism requires a nuanced strategy - it cannot be treated simply as a law and order problem. Despite its sanguinary nature, the movement manages to retain the support of a section of the tribals and the poorest of the poor in many areas. It has influence among sizeable sections of civil society, the intelligentsia and the youth.

"It still retains a certain elan. All this adds to the complexity of the problem. I expect you to keep this in mind as you devise newer and better strategies to deal with the problem."

A day earlier, Chidambaram had said that last year alone there were 1,591 incidents of Maoist violence resulting in 721 killings; this year until August there had been 1,405 incidents, resulting in 580 deaths spread over 11 states.

While maintaining that levels of violence had come down appreciably in Jammu and Kashmir and was at its lowest level since the beginning of insurgency in the late 1980s, the Prime Minister said there were other worrying signs.

"There are certain developments that are worrisome. Infiltration across the Line of Control and also via other routes such as Nepal, Bangladesh and the sea is going up. Encounters with armed militants have become more frequent in recent weeks and months," he said.

"Secessionist and militant groups within the state are again attempting to make common cause with outside elements and have embarked on a series of protest movements. The intention apparently is to create an impression of widespread turmoil in the state. We must not allow such a situation to develop. It is imperative that these efforts are contained and checked."

The situation in the northeastern parts of the country, the Prime Minister warned, was far from comfortable.

"In two of the States, Manipur and Assam, current levels of violence give us cause for concern. In addition, extortion and intimidation have become a menace across most of the states in the region. It should be possible, I believe, to bring about a substantial improvement in the situation if there can be better security management," he said.

The Prime Minister also called upon the police chiefs of the seven northeastern states to achieve higher levels of professionalism from the forces they commanded.

"Firm but compassionate handling of law and order matters can certainly bring about substantial improvement in the prevailing state of affairs."

Chidambaram had pointed to the large scale diversion of development funds to militants, giving them easy access to critical resources and helping them recruit new cadres as well as procure arms.


“I believe this century can be India’s century”: Jyotiraditya Scindia

Delivering the special keynote address at the Tenth CII Annual Marketing Summit 2009, Mr Jyotiraditya Scindia, Minister of State for Commerce and Industry spoke about the India’s emergence on the global map as a strong, resilient economy that has weathered the global financial crisis well and offers great potential to marketers. “India has buffered itself quite well against the global economic tsunami…and is now a force to reckon with, a nation whose voice is heard in every forum,” he said.

He attributed India’s strong performance even in the face of a global economic slowdown, partly to the “domestic nature of our economy”, the strong banking system and the various monetary and fiscal policies pursued by the Government to boost the economy.

In fact, the Minister said, “India may well be pioneering the next wave of global growth”. Quoting a forecast by the World Bank, the Minister added that even as the other major economies of the world slow down, India is expected to grow 8 per cent in 2010 and may overtake China. This strength, the Minister added, arises from the relentless pursuit of development of the economy and the people: “We have developed a very unique model of inclusive economic growth,” he said.

Elaborating on the government’s inclusive growth schemes such as The National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, the Minister stressed that such inclusive growth measures would specially benefit marketers as it would spur growth in demand. “Over the last decade, the changing demographic profile of India and the expected improvement in income levels lead to an increase in demand for a range of goods and services. An average Indian today can potentially spend double of what he or she could spend in 1985. In the next 20 years, he or she will be able to spend four times as much as they do now.”

As India gains in strength across parameters, it can impart lessons to the rest of the world – lessons in diversity, in handling a financial crisis, in offering a growth model that is inclusive.

“I believe this century can be India’s century, ” the Minister said, concluding his address.

Earlier, welcoming the participants, Mr Suhel Seth, Chairman, Tenth CII Annual Marketing Summit 2009 & Managing Partner, Counselage India, said the CII Marketing Summit has become a “watershed” in terms of cerebral inputs. He emphasised the role of marketing by saying that “Marketing is at the touchstone of everything around us. It is an investment and not an expenditure.”

Building further on Mr Seth’s comments, Mr Sunil Kant Munjal, Past President CII and Chairman, Hero Corporate Servics Ltd said, “We are all selling something all the time and those who are able to market themselves seem to perform better.”

Concluding the session, Mr Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, CII, commended the Minister’s contribution and said that Minister Scindia represented a “strong, futuristic brand of India.”

The theme of the Tenth CII Annual Marketing Summit 2009 was ‘Impacting the Market’.

The theme examines the impact strategy for the Indian market, while providing expert insight and practical strategies for Indian firms to sustain growth in an economically-straitened environment. The Summit probes issues critical to the market and the marketers with authoritative minds like Ms Rama Bijapurkar, Prof Piyush Kumar Sinha of IIM, Ahmedabad, Dr Ajit Ranade, Group Chief Economist, Aditya Birla Group, Mr Partha Rakshit, Managing Director, South Asia, The Nielsen Company alongwith practising business leaders like Ms Anisha Motwani, Executive Vice President – Marketing & Chief Marketing Officer – New Markets SBU, Max New York Life Insurance, Mr Sanjeev Goyle, Senior VP – Marketing, Mahindra & Mahindra Farm & Equipment, Mr V Ramachandran, Marketing Head, LG Electronics, Ms Suparna Mitra, Global Marketing Head, Titan Industries, Mr Parminder Singh, Business Head, Google India, Mr Anil Srinivas, Head – SMB

Marketing, Dell India, Ms Amanda Manchia, Group Marketing Director, Coca-Cola Eurasia Africa Group, Mr Jacob Mathew, Co-founder, idiom Design and Consulting.


Modernize Indian railways by using ICT: Dr Sam Pitroda

“Key towards bringing in a substantial change in the Indian railways is the Information and Communication Technology (ICT)” suggested Dr. Sam Pitroda. He was speaking at the ‘International Railways Conference; Development of Indian Railways: Opportunities and Challenges’ organized jointly by the Indian Railways and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

The exhibition spread over 70,000 sq feet had 160 Indian and international exhibitors. The conference had a focus on bringing in private players and dealing with IPR concerns faced by small companies while presenting innovative equipments to the entity.

Sam Pitroda stated that the existing political will on the part of the Railway Minister Ms. Mamta Banerjee should be captured by the industry and people. The modernization of the Indian railways should be aimed towards expansion, excellence and access. During the event Dr. Pitroda also release the exhibition book.

He further stated that the Indian Railway is blessed with ten assets namely tracks, trains, stations, land, factory, vendors, management, people and a vast pool of special services. Each of the assets offers great potential to bring in new technology, generational change, innovation and undertake projects under PPP arrangements.

Mr. Praveen Kumar, Member (Mechanical), Railway Board outlined that the Indian Railway shares a symbiotic relationship with the industry. This calls for the industry to support the railways towards maintaining quality, affordability, introducing innovation and help in leveraging technology.

Mr. Rakesh Chopra, Member (Engineering), Railway Board observed that the 11th five year plan focuses on creation of new assets within railways. The sector has huge potential to engage the private sector and bring in value addition.

Mr. J P Chowdhary, ex-President, CII pointed out that the Railway Minister in the Union Rail Budget has put a lot of emphasis on PPP arrangements for the growth and modernization of this sector. The turnaround that the Indian Railways is about to witness should have cost effective and energy efficient solutions.

Mr. Rajive Kaul, Past President CII & Chairman, Council for Trade Fairs, CII said that Indian Railways would be a significant buyer in times to come. He pointed towards the 11th Five year plan which has dedicated US$ 46 billion for railways.

Expressing view on the challenge faced by railways, Mr. Rajeev Jyoti, Chairman, Railways Equipment Division, CII stated the aspect of continuing with the growth momentum. He stressed on bringing in sustained modernization plan, state-of-the-art technology, innovative practices in land usage etc.

Mr. Naresh Aggarwal, Convenor IRC & Vice Chairman, Railways Equipment Division of CII said that the public and private sector of India should work together in bringing about a change in the sector. New initiative in building the rail systems should be brought in, he added.


Pakistan’s Mango Diplomacy

By Rita Payne, eTN Special Correspondent

It’s August, the middle of the summer “silly season” when there’s a dearth of news with most politicians and newsmakers away on holiday, so journalists in London welcomed a rare treat. They were invited by Pakistan’s High Commission to a mango festival as part of a series of events to mark the country’s 62nd Independence Day. Assembled journalists at Asia House in London were offered a tantalizing selection of mango creations to taste: chicken and mango salad, spicy mango soup, light-as-a-feather mango cake, mango mousse and platefuls of succulent cubes of fresh mango.

As Pakistan’s High Commissioner, Wajid Shamsul Hasan, remarked of mangoes,“ It is a fruit that towers at every feast – of the rich, the poor alike. In the 19th century the greatest Urdu/Persian poet, Mirza Ghalib, by extolling its tasteful qualities, its exotic aroma, its honey-sweetness immortalized it in his beautiful verses. He described it as the King of fruits.”

There are 1,300 varieties of mangoes in Pakistan. Slice it or suck it – either way a mango tastes sublime. Eaten with a paratha, it makes a complete meal. A mango lassi (curd shake) in the morning provides an energy boost to see you through the day. A mango salad for lunch and another glass of mango shake in place of afternoon tea will pep you up. Commercially mangoes are used to make ice-cream, squashes, juices, chutneys, pickles, mango puree and sold in slices in syrup. And you don’t have to travel all the way to Pakistan to enjoy these delicacies, they’re readily available in most food stores in the UK.

According to Mr Hasan, mangoes are a special favorite with the Queen, a passion she shares with her son, Prince Charles. After learning of Her Majesty’s partiality to the fruit, the High Commissioner had mangoes sent to the Palace and to other important dignitaries. A few days later the High Commissioner attended a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace.

“ When I was introduced to the Queen, Her Majesty made my day when she said she was very fond of mangoes and was very pleased to know - for the first time – that Pakistan produced top class mangoes. His Royal Highness Prince Charles too disclosed that he had the pulp removed, frozen and made ice cream for his children. It was the beginning of Pakistan’s mango diplomacy.”

Mr Hasan recalled another occasion after he had just been appointed High Commissioner for the first time in 1994. “I received a call from my Prime Minister martyred Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto on her way to Ireland asking what she should get for me from Pakistan. Since it was the beginning of the season I said ‘mangoes.’ Being a great lover of the fruit herself, when her plane stopped over in London it had 200 boxes of the finest Pakistani mangoes.”

Several journalists, included myself, were the beneficiaries of Ms Bhutto’s generosity when she was alive. Every summer, on her instructions, a box of delicious mangoes from Pakistan would be delivered to our doors – another example of mango diplomacy in operation.

Undeterred by the challenges facing Pakistan today – the battle against the Taleban, political tension and the effects of the global economic squeeze - the government is pulling out all the stops to celebrate its Independence anniversary in London this year. Apart from the mango festival, several of Pakistan’s famous classical and pop singers took part in a special concert at Wembley arena on Sunday evening. Pakistan TV ran a Peace Telethon with an hour’s live contribution from London with British members of parliament and intellectuals taking part.

Amid the celebrations there was a sobering message from one of the UK’s leading Muslim youth organisations, the Ramadhan Foundation. Its Chief Executive, Mohammed Shafiq, urged Pakistan to reflect on its failings as well as celebrating Independence Day. But for journalists and others gathered at Asia House a taste of Pakistan’s mango diplomacy provided a refreshing break from the grim realities of everyday life and politics in the country.

Rita Payne is the current chair, Commonwealth Journalists Association (UK). She may be reached via the email addres: ritapayne@hotmail.com


UK

Government Moves To Regulate Practitioners Of Herbal/Traditional Medicine

The National Institute of Medical Herbalists (NIMH) welcomes publication of the Department of Health (DH) public consultation document that reflects upon the recent recommendations of the Steering Group on the need for Statutory Regulation of practitioners of acupuncture, herbal medicine, TCM and other traditional medicine systems practised in the UK.

Statutory regulation of practitioners of herbal medicine and acupuncture has been advocated by a House of Lords' Select Committee and by three subsequent DH working groups as well as the vast majority of respondents to a previous DH consultation on this subject. Having looked closely at all other options, the NIMH is strongly in support of statutory regulation of this sector. All other options considered, only statutory regulation of this sector can enable the public to identify qualified practitioners and maintain the availability of a full range of herbal medicines in herbal practice.

The Report on Extending Professional and Occupational Regulation published 16 July 09 said “Government has also agreed to extend regulation to practitioners of acupuncture, herbal medicine, and traditional Chinese medicine practised in the UK. “ It also reports that the Health Professions Council has recommended these groups of healthcare professionals for statutory regulation. Given this it seems clear that statutory regulation of this sector should now proceed without further delay.

The public are at risk of having a much reduced access to herbal remedies from herbal practitioners unless the Government is able to get statutory regulation in place before the EU Directive on Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products comes into force in 2011." says Jane Gray, President of the NIMH.


Claim your National Insurance Rebate now

Very few people are aware that the UK Government gives us a choice as to where some of our National Insurance contributions should go. Some of the National Insurance we pay goes towards our State Second Pension, but we can opt to put these funds towards a personal pension of our own.

This can offer much better value for your retirement than relying on the State Second Pension, especially if you are under 40 and earn over £15,000 per annum, or are planning to retire outside the UK.

If you earn £30,000 per annum your average National Insurance Rebate can be more than £1,500 every year. This is not paid to you in cash, but the Government will refund it to your personal pension scheme.

Claiming your National Insurance Rebate is easy, simply log on to www.nirebate.com

You only have to do this once, as next year this process will be administered for you by your personal pension provider. Have a look now, and see how much you could claim.


SRI LANKA: AMNESTY CALLS FOR DETENTION CAMPS TO BE UNLOCKED

Amnety International has called for the immediate release of 285,000 innocent civilians - including an estimated 50,000 children - being held in cramped and squalid camps in the north of Sri Lanka.

The camps - each surrounded by barbed wire and guarded by security forces - were set up during the recent Government offensive against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, commonly known as the Tamil Tigers.

The call is part of a new Amnesty campaign entitled “Unlock The Camps”, aimed at pressurising the Sri Lankan authorities to halt this barbaric imprisonment. .

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

“The largest camp - Menik Farm - is horrendous. It holds about 160,000 people in an area smaller than one square kilometre. That’s like the entire population of Bournemouth having to live, eat and sleep in an area the size of Wembley Stadium.

“The people we are talking about here are doctors, teachers, farmers - ordinary people with ordinary lives. Yet, they are being held in horrendous conditions for no reason other than that they previously lived in areas held by the Tamil Tigers.

“There is a lack of running water, limited access to toilets and restricted communication with the outside world.

“Aid workers in the camps are not even allowed to talk to the residents of the camp. These are innocent people being treated in the most inhumane way.”

Amnesty International is calling on the Sri Lankan government to: * immediately end the detention of civilians by lifting restrictions on displaced persons leaving the confines of the camps

* grant immediate, full and unimpeded humanitarian access to the camps, permitting the supply of food, water and medical assistance

* commit to the eventual closure of all the camps

Birmingham University celebrates centenary of India ties

The University of Birmingham celebrated 100 years of engagement with India by observing that the country is experiencing "its golden era of change". The university opened its first overseas office in Delhi, inaugurated by the British High Commissioner to India Richard Stagg.

The university, which was established in 1900, had welcomed the first students from India to its Edgbaston campus in 1909.

Speaking at the event, vice-chancellor David Eastwood said: "We have come a long way in developing international relations and are proud that India is the first country that we will have a permanent office presence in."

"Birmingham is passionate about working with the Indian education sector and the opportunities the new office will present. Despite the challenging economic times we are facing, India is experiencing its own golden era of change and so we are even more excited by the possibilities of working together at this special time," Eastwood added.

The office in New Delhi has been established to maintain partnerships with local providers, support the alumni in India, further consolidate research collaboration and provide local services to those students who want to study at the university.

The university has already partnered with the Jawaharlal Nehru University and the Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi on a few research projects.

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