Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Who's the culprit?

I regularly keep myelf updated on what's happening in India and Bangladesh. Today, I come to know about a strange reporting in the newspapers. The same incident has been reported differently in Indian and Bangladesi newspapers. And yes, it's another incident of border tension between India and Bangladesh. After reading both the reports, I was stunned and thought these must be reports of two different incidents. But, soon, I was convinced from the mentioned time, area and point of interests of the clash that it was the same incident.

Bangladesi Report
Let me get into the details of the reports now. Bangladesi newspaper The News Today reported that - "Indian miscreants attack BDR men, loot 3 magazines". The report says that
"police and eyewitnesses as saying that over 1,000 armed Indian nationals backed by BSF soldiers of Zikatola camp started illegal construction of a road along the zero line opposite to Kuchlibari outpost ... Commander of Kuchlibari outpost of BDR went to the zero line immediately and requested the Indians and BSF personnel to stop such illegal construction work as per the Indo-Bangladesh Joint Border Guide Line of 1975 ... Commander of Nabinagar Company Headquarters of BDR went to the spot and asked the Indians and his BSF counterparts not to violate border rules and stop such illegal activities within 150 yards off the zero line ... But the Indians rushed 400 yards inside Bangladesh territory under BSF coverage, gheraoed 11 patrolling BDR members and started beating them. BDR opened one round blank fire in self- defence and to disperse them. One Indian criminal was killed 300 yards inside Bangladesh territory ... Two BDR men and four villagers sustained serious injuries. Three SMG magazines and 90 bullets were also looted from the injured BDR men by the attackers."
Indian Report
Now, let me quickly take a look at what Indian major dailies are saying. The Times of India has reported it in relatively less importance - but with a view opposite to what the Bangladesi newspaper said. The report "BDR Men cross over, kills 3" says it's BDR who came inside Indian territory and attacked Indian labourers. A more details can be found in The Telegraph, Kolkata. It says
"At least three people were killed and several injured when Bangladesh Rifles personnel opened fire on unarmed villagers repairing a road near the border in a Cooch Behar village this afternoon. ... The arrival of a large contingent of the Border Security Force at Jamaldahabalapukuri — around 70 km from Cooch Behar town — two hours later did little to diffuse the simmering tension that has gripped the border hamlet in the Mekhliganj police station area. ... Police said most residents have fled the area for fear of the BDR. .... Dhirendranath Roy, one of the men accompanying the injured to Jalpaiguri, said about 100 men were levelling a kutcha road along the border under the Sampurna Grameen Rozgar Yojna. ... The work was being supervised by the Kuchlibari village panchayat (see map). Suddenly, the BDR asked the men to stop work. That was in the morning. The Bangladesh force had talks with the BSF and the work resumed again. ... But in the afternoon, there was a change in shift and the new group of BDR personnel entered into an altercation with the workers. They beat them up with lathis and then suddenly started firing, they fired on unarmed people."
Further, it reports :
"S.S. Sandhu, an additional deputy inspector-general of the BSF, said from Siliguri the border force has registered its protest against the unprovoked firing.“We have already held a flag meeting with the BDR at the spot and deployed jawans so that the BDR does not cause any more problems for the villagers. Our men from Jhikabari reached the spot soon after the incident,” Sandhu said.The BSF officer said one person had died on the spot and the other is in hospital.Jalpaiguri MP Minati Sen visited the injured in the hospital, where she met the shocked wife and son of Mohammad Manglu. “Parliament is no longer in session, so I will write to the Union home minister about the heinous crime committed by the BDR,” Sen said."
So the difference between the reports is very easy to identify. Also it is obvious that they are talking about the same incident, started off a allegedly illegal construction work near Bangladesh border.

Analysis of the reports and falacies
Let me try to dig deep into the incident. The claim from Bangladesi side is that the firing has been provoked by labourers(safe to assume, this is true from Indian side), who came inside Bangladesi territory and beaten them. These men were backed by BSF as well. The claim from Indian side is BDR came inside Indian territory and fired indiscriminately. Also, the BSF was not at all present there.

Sherlock Holmes would have loved to merge these two reports to extract the truth. Anyway, let me put a few of my words and try to understand where exactly the falacies are.

1) The News Today report says thousands of armed Indians started construction. The question is - what is the definition of 'armed' - is a labourer with 'lathi's, 'shabol's and 'kodal's can be called 'armed'? The report did not mention what kind of 'arm' they had.
2) It is highly unlikely that BSF were involved in this incident. Had it been the case, I guess there would have been casualties in the Bangladesh side from their firing - from past reports I can conclude that.
3) It is not at all possible that there were no physical and verbal provocation from the labourers before BDR started firing.
4) Indiscriminate firing from close range, after getting gheraoed, standing among a crowd of 400+ would result in 10+ deads and 20+ injuries. Hence, it is unacceptable.

My Guess
The actual fact might be something like this (my imagination):
1) Road construction started in the morning, BDR objected verbally.
2) Labourerers shouted and provoked them, verbal altercation starts by noon.
3) To disperse the adament labourers - BDR fires by afternoon, might be it injured some. Till nobody has crossed the border.
4) Now the labourers started chasing the BDR personnel. Mob crosses the border. To stop them, BDR fires in the air, and then at the mob. Some labourers dies. Before backing off, BDR leaves some ammunitions behind, that are looted by the mob.
5) A couple of BDR personnel are injured by the stones thrown by the mob. However, they are successful to disperse the mob. Ultimately, mob backed off along with the injured.

To the people who always thinks in religious lines, let me add the information that all the labourers died in Indian side are muslims.


The question left out of the controversy was : was it an illegal construction? Let me turn to Indira-Mujib Defence Agreement, 1975. It mentions that defence constructions are not allowed within 150 yards of the zero-line. Now, what's a "Defence Construction"? A road? Well, opinions vary from people to people. A road is a civil infrastructure, which can be used in a defence purpose. By the way, I think, maximum of the infrastructure can be used in dual purpose. Till there is a strict definition of what exactly is a defence construction, these incidents will take place. The ambiguity in the definition brings altercation - that leads to firing. So, working and living in the borders will become more and more risky. PMs comes and visits countries. But, in last 10 years, there are no efforts from either side to list up what exactly is a 'defence construction'. They seldom discuss problems of people, but they discuss politics. It is proved once more, at the cost of a few lives.

A third story by Anandabazar Patrika.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Solar Pyramids Being Built in India

solar pyramid

A Singapore-based company, MSC Power Corp, is building its first "solar pyramid" in India. The solar pyramid works by drawing in air, heating it with solar energy and moving it through turbines to generate electricty. The company aims to be listed this year on NASDAQ in an initial public offering that it says could be worth more than $5 billion.

The small scale of the power generation - up to 36 MW with the current design means it is more suitable for rural areas than for powering cities.

A 10 MW pyramid plant would be about 45 metres high and take up about 2,500 square metres of space, including an associated desalination plant.

The firm, MSC Power Corp, backed by private investors from the Middle East and Asia, will finish constructing a small $10 million five megawatt (MW) power station by June in Pune near Mumbai that will use solar energy to power wind turbines.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Bangladesh PM visits India

I have read a very good article in The Daily Star, one of my favoutite newspapers across the world. The article sets out an agenda for Prime Minister Khaleda Jia to be tabled in India. It mentions also that the Prime Minister, who's known for her anti-India stance for years, should bargain judiciously to gain the maximum possible benefit out of the visit.

Let me try out a few possible responses of Indian govt. in these topics of the agenda.

Common rivers
Needs a permenent solution rather than problem at each dam. The South Asian chaotic democracies need some strict solutions to this problem, like what was done in Indus Water Treaty with Pakistan. The treaty stands firm till date. For India-Bangladesh case, the distribution can be East-West as well. Barrages can be built only on Western rivers (Ganges, Teesta) and not on Eastern ones. The Eastern rivers might be allocated entirely to Bangladesh for consumptive purpose, as those river areas (North-East India) does not depend on river water for agriculture. The generated hydroelectricity can be shared with Bangladesh with a share in investment. Bangladesh also needs to recognize India as the upper-riparian State and get ready to consider shortage of power as an obstacle of Indian services industry.

Land Borders
Exchange of land and corridors should take place in phases and in a transparent way. The fate of these 300,000 people, who are locked in enclaves inside other country, has to be decided by these countries in a sympathetic way. The land-people swapping should be done with the consent of the people involved.

I think Indian govt should start looking at this issue more seriously. Bangladesh produces surplus man-power in Technological sector, where India has a shortage. A lot of the technocrats of Bangladesh goes to West for jobs. India can allow some of them to work in India as we are in shortage of technocrats. It will be a win-win solution for India-Bangladesh.

Regional Energy Grid
This comes under Common Rivers problem The sharing of electricity from surplus-potential electricity regions (Nepal, Bhutan, North-East India) to energy hungry regions (West Bengal, Bangladesh and Jharkhand) can reduce Indian dependency on coal to produce electricity. However, the investments should be shared between the countries.

Joint Iron/Fertilizer plants
I don't think this will be a necessary item to discuss once Tatas are dealing with it. A good deal with Tatas can solve these problems for ever.

Trade deficit
This is a topic where I think Bangladesh is unfair with India. Bangladesh has similar Trade deficits with Japan, China and even Pakistan, but nobody raises finger at them. Japan returns a lot in terms of aids, but China does not. The Trade deficit with India is now gone down to second place below China. Besides, Bangladeshi exports to India is growing at 80% (89.3mn to 144mn in 2005) compared to only 25% (45mn to 56mn) with China. Hence, Bangladesh should understand that politicizing business is not good for business. The Indian exports are now being substituted by Chinese ones, according to the Daily Star report. Hence, till date, the reason of trade deficit with India was mainly lack of investment and lack of industrialization. A sincere effort to attract investment should solve this issue.

The points those India will be interested to put in Bangladesh table are the followings :
1) Investment opportunity 2) Transit ( the most important) 3) Use of Bangladesh ports.

Investment opportunity
Indian govt. might ask for preferential investment opportunity of Indian companies into Bangladesh, as it has similar agreement with Srilanka. This can open a floodgate of investments in a capital-hungry country.

Already discussed in my previous posts, I think Bangladesh govt. should throw away it's non-progressive look out and embrace the transit route as a geographical reality. Tagging this issue with other one's will hamper the prospect of Bangladesh's earning potential from this specific issue. It will also block future investments in infrastructure, such as land ports, roads and rail-line. The below picture(Kolkata-Agartala) shows what could be the positive effect of the transit if allowed. The transit should have a reciprocity clause, India should allow Bangladesh the same favour in case of it's trade with Nepal and Bhutan.

Use of Bangladesh ports
This is a different issue than the above, as Bangladesh never officially rejected this one. Bangladesh shows the lack of infrastructure in Chittagong port to be the reason of not allowing India to use it. But, at the same time, they are interested to become proxy-port of Nepal and Bhutan. I think, Bangladesh should go for equity in foreign policy and offer use of Chittagong port to India. India should invest in port infrastructure of Chittagong to facilitate trade though that.

As historically seen, India seems to have reservation in dealing with BNP govt in Bangladesh. They prefer Awami league for all major deals with Bangladesh. The situation is more complex, because a positive India deal is can give BNP a potential breakthrough before the election, which India never wants. Same way, any sacrifice from Indian point of view might hamper the position of Congress in Assam and West Bengal.

Besides, of late, a shift of strategy from Indian policymakers' has been noticed. They want to take on hostile countries in a multilateral meeting (SAARC), rather than bilateral ones. This potentially reduces the risk of direct confrontation and bitterness in relations. Hence, I am not expecting a miracle from Indian govt. on any of these issues, we have to wait longer to discover a friendly neighbour in the East.

Another similar article can be found in The Hindu.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Make Way for India — the Next China

The following is copied from Arab News website.

Hamish McRae, The Independent

“Bush in India” may never become an opera like Nixon in China — though maybe Bollywood will some day have a crack at it. But the president’s visit to India, which began yesterday, does signal a warming in the US toward the world’s greatest democracy. While it may not quite match President Nixon’s historic visit to China in 1972, which started the rebuilding of relations with the People’s Republic, presidential visits to India are pretty rare events. Only four serving US presidents have visited the country since independence: Eisenhower, Nixon, Carter and Clinton. So this visit matters.

It matters because it highlights the shifting perception of India’s economic prospects. Even a couple of years ago India was still regarded as an also-ran in the race with China to move from developing to developed status.

India’s success in a narrow field of export industries, such as software, was widely acknowledged. But the economy as a whole would be held back, it was argued, by a combination of adverse factors, including poor infrastructure, low educational standards, corruption and an unwelcome attitude to foreign investment. China, by contrast, was soaring.

Well, China continues to soar, with the economy still growing at around 9 percent a year. However, people are becoming more aware of the environmental and social costs of such growth, and also of the demographic shift that will soon start to affect the country. This is that the one-child policy will start to reduce the size of China’s working population within the next 10 years.

India, by contrast, will have an increasing working population for another generation at least. Naturally it, too, will suffer from environmental and social pressures — it already is — but arguably its less authoritarian society will be more sensitive to these than China has been.

This leads to one of the great questions facing the world economy: Which of the two giants, China or India, is more likely to dominate the world economy in another generation, or both? Well, it must surely be both, unless there is some unspeakable catastrophe. But whereas two or more years ago most people would have predicted that China would continue to outpace India, now they are evidently more evenly matched.

This has an important political dimension. India is a democracy; China is not. As China raced ahead, this led to the somewhat uncomfortable conclusion — uncomfortable, that is, for those of us in the West — that while economic freedom was clearly an essential condition for rapid growth, political freedom was not. Worse, an excess of political freedom might even inhibit growth.

If, however, Indian growth were to prove more durable than Chinese, or at least produce fewer unpleasant bumps, then it would, to put it mildly, be very comforting to Western democracies, including, of course, the US.

Of course, there are other issues about Indian practice. Nevertheless, on the four main governance indicators used by the World Bank — quality of regulation, rule of law, control of corruption, and voice and accountability — India scores higher than China. On the final one it is much higher.

Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of the Indian take-off is that it continued under the governance of both major parties. There was a bout of reform in the early 1980s under the Congress party. But that stalled, and it was only the near-bankruptcy of the country in 1991-2 and the reforms of Manmohan Singh (then finance minister, now prime minister) that set the country on its current growth path. However the BJP coalitions of the late 1990s and early 2000s carried on the process. Congress, back again, carries it on.

There are a large number of roadblocks facing the Indian economy. As anyone who visits will be all too aware, progress in the country is very uneven. Inequalities have multiplied. Cities are under enormous pressure as people move in from the country. Investment in infrastructure has lagged, and, in some ways worse, maintenance of existing infrastructure can be appalling.

Bureaucratic blockages over privatization are holding up investment in the main airports. An enormous road-building program is under way, linking the main cities with high-quality highways. But while that will ease some transport blockages, it will have environmental costs. The middle-class lifestyle that is so attractive requires a lot more energy, and India is energy poor.

Indeed, all economic growth requires energy. There is a myth that Chinese growth is principally driven by manufacturing while Indian is driven by services — the former requiring more energy. That is indeed useful shorthand, for the impact on the West of both nations does appear that way. We import goods from China, and we import software and other services from India.

But if you look at both economies in the whole, India is a rapidly industrializing nation too. It actually has a trade surplus with China. New industries such as motor components are flourishing. Meanwhile the hi-tech sector, about which we hear so much, is actually quite small in the context of the whole economy. So, just like China, shortage of energy will constrain growth.

The most interesting question of all, surely, is whether a messy, multilayered democracy is more likely to cope peacefully with the pressures of growth than an autocratic but energetic bureaucracy. In other words, when things go wrong — as they inevitably will — will India be better able to cope than China? The instinct of many of us in the West would be that the Indian political system is more flexible and ultimately more robust.

In 2001 the investment bank Goldman Sachs produced a research paper on the BRICs. That stands for Brazil, Russia, India, China. A follow-up study a little over two years ago argued that China would become the world’s biggest economy by 2050, passing the US, while India would become the third biggest, passing Japan.

Yesterday a book from the Goldman team who prepared that study landed on my desk, The World and the BRICs Dream. Since that initial study both China and India have grown even faster than projected. The new book poses the question: Is India poised to be the next China? Its answer, in a nutshell, is yes. If it carries on with its path of reform, it will become the “sleeper success story” of these fast-growing economies.

If President Bush wants a useful briefing on what he needs to know about the Indian economic success story he should get one of his staff to highlight the important bits of this study for him. Every previous president was visiting a Third World economy. Things are different this time.

US Companies Eye Indian Skills

The following is the article published in BBC site. The article deals about Indian potential to become R&D hub for the world. The US companies, known for their advanced technologies, are ensuring Indians to be on the right track. The world can see a huge change in hi-tech but cheap technologies, if the effort succeeds.

President Bush meets Indian business leaders in the south of the country on Friday. There is plenty to talk about.
In a quiet suburb of the southern Indian city of Bangalore, some 2,500 Indians are working in a multi-million dollar facility using some of the most advanced technology in the world.
Spread over 50 acres, the John F Welch Technology Centre is one of only four such research and development (R&D) centres in the world, and was set up in 2000 by American giant General Electric (GE). Its laboratories employ highly-skilled Indian engineers, scientists and researchers who work on developing applications for GE's businesses worldwide.

In 2000, when the then US President Bill Clinton visited India, many US companies were cashing in on India's fast growing IT sector. But most of them were using low-skilled workers, mainly fresh college graduates, for a variety of basic call centre and back office processing work.

Hi-tech research

Six years later, as Mr Clinton's Republican successor George W Bush comes calling, American business interests in India have taken a quantum leap.
India has a strong foundation in its technology and engineering schools and, as a result, is an excellent source for scientific talent
Guillermo WilleDirector, GE R&D centre"Earlier US companies basically outsourced data processing, back office work etc.," says Ramesh C Bajpai, Executive Director of the American Chamber of Commerce in India.
"Now basic research work is being carried out in this country. That's what's been happening for the past two to three years."
With India registering a growth rate of 8% a year, it is beginning to attract significant amounts of high technology investment.

Another American company, Cisco Systems, is investing $1.2bn in a new R&D centre in Bangalore which will employ 3,000 people - it's single largest investment outside the US.
Microsoft has announced plans to invest $1.7bn in its own research facility and Intel another billion.
"What American companies have now realised is that the talent pool in India is now on par with the United States," says Mr Bajpai.
Now Indian skills are being used for innovation and design.
Guillermo Wille, Managing Director of the John F Welch centre believes India is becoming the preferred destination for global companies to set up their R&D centres.
"India has a strong foundation in its technology and engineering schools and, as a result, is an excellent source for scientific talent," he says.

Reverse brain-drain
The increased opportunities for highly-skilled work is also attracting many Indians who are based in the United States but are returning home to work on similar projects in surroundings that are a bit more familiar.

Rangu Salgame worked in the US for 20 years, mainly in telecom companies. In 2003, he returned to the country of his birth to head Cisco's India operations. "India as a market is very attractive," he says. "Cisco in India is replicating all the functions that it does in the United States - R&D, infrastructure and venture capital. "This is just the beginning of the telecom revolution in India."

With the political relationship between the two countries, once ranged on opposite sides of the Cold War fence, improving substantially, American companies are getting comfortable with the idea of doing business with India - a lot of business. Last year US exports to India jumped by 30% but, at $7.96bn, were substantially lower than its imports from India - which amounted to $18.8bn.

Appetite for more
But that could slowly change. Along with technology and fuel to feed India's growing energy appetite, American companies are also targeting Indian consumers. It's something that's not lost on the American chief executive. "Young Indians are acquiring a taste for pizza from Domino's and Pizza Hut," President Bush said in a recent speech.

A visit to Gurgaon, a wealthy suburb of Delhi, appears to confirm the optimism. Nestled between high-rise apartment blocks and shiny office complexes, housing leading American companies like Gillette and American Express, are a series of shopping malls that would not be out of place in Texas. Inside, young Indians browse through shops selling Nike footwear and Levis jeans, gawk at the latest Ford SUV on display and then head off to the food-court to choose between McDonalds, Dominos or Subway.

Satish Reddy used to work in a software company in California's famed Silicon Valley.
Two years later he returned to work for a leading American company based in Gurgaon.
"My wife and I were apprehensive at first. After all, we'd lived in the States for eight years," he says, speaking in a strong Californian drawl.
"But our life here is almost uncannily similar to life back there.
"Our apartment is centrally air-conditioned, is well-equipped. We work out at a gym nearby, catch a movie at the mall on weekends, grab a pizza afterwards.
"And the best part of it all is that if you are homesick, you just need to step outside."

Some more similar news : Reuters Summit - The world makes a beeline to growing India

India-US Nuclear Deal : What the world is saying

The World

Dawn in Pakistan : US, India sign N-deal to seal strategic ties
MSNBC, USA : Why India got a pass with new nuke deal
Mercury News, USA : Nuclear pact between U.S., India draws fire
Daily Times, Pakistan : US-India nuclear deal comes through
Reuters, Worldwide : Critics slam India nuclear deal
Voice of America : Mixed Reaction Greets India-US Nuclear Deal
People's Daily, China : India, US seal civil nuclear deal
LA Times, USA : Bush Brokers Landmark Nuclear Deal With India
Al Jazeera, UAE : US and India reach nuclear accord, Canada : Bush defends nuclear agreement with India
BBC, UK : Hurdles ahead for landmark nuclear deal
Khaleej Times : US-India civilian nuclear deal faces obstacles in Congress

Indian Newspapers

Hindustan Times : Done deal
Rediff : Why is India rejoicing?
Times of India : India, US clinch 'historic' civilian nuclear deal
Times of India : Nuke deal: Angry Left warns UPA govt
The Telegraph : India gains unique status
Countercurrents : The Reality Of India-US Nuke-deal
Anandabazar Patrika (Bengali) : Bush dekhalen tar kache Bharoter bondhutwo mulyoban
Bam-birodhita dekhiye kaj hasil korlen Manmohan

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Investments in West Bengal

Though West Bengal has a communist govt. and the leaders here are skeptic about the FDI issue, the flow of investment in West Bengal is rising, thanks to some solo effort by Buddhadeb Bhattacharya. The investment figures proposed in short term shows there is no dearth of people pouring money in West Bengal, be them Indians or foreigners. One major achievement the current govt cherish to achieve, is to secure some investments from China. Given the fact that Bhattacharya wants Bengal to run in China way, there are still enormous roadblocks in the way of investments coming to India. Asia Times quotes :
West Bengal, located (despite the name) in the far east of India, has been on a strong growth trajectory of late, having notched up substantial investments to the tune of US$6 billion (Rs 266.8 billion) between 1991 and 2004. The sector that received the highest amount of investment during this period was chemicals and petrochemicals, where the investment inflow was to the tune of $2.2 billion, followed by iron and steel at $1.9 billion. West Bengal has racked up the fastest rate of economic growth in India, both in terms of gross domestic product (GDP) and per capita income. According to data from the Central Statistical Office, in the years since 1993-94, West Bengal has had the highest national growth rate, at 8.55% with Karnataka's 7.29% well behind. Looking at the 1990s only, West Bengal was the second-fastest-growing state in India.

According to TIDCO site, West Bengal received Rs. 89bn(US$2bn) FDI approval between '91 and '02, which is sixth largest amount among Indian states. West Bengal has a State Domestic Product of Rs. 1.02tn($23bn), which makes it the third largest productiove state in India.

China factor
The news source has also given a list of Bengal-China mutual interests in business :

West Bengal products demanded in China
  • plastic (waste and otherwise)
  • agricultural products and processed food
  • organic chemicals
  • ores, slag, ash
  • machinery
  • cotton textiles and yarn
  • software training and development
  • gems and jewelry
  • hides and skin

    Chinese products demanded in West Bengal
  • machinery
  • woven and knit apparel
  • footwear
  • toys and sports equipment
  • mineral and fuel oil
  • furniture and bedding

  • Outcome
    And the results are encouraging as well ...
    1. Salim Group of Indonesia investments - Mahabharat Motors will have an initial investment of Rs.10 billion ($226 million), the township is a Rs.21.56 billion ($488 million) project.
    2. Bhattacharya also opened a spanking Rs.180 million ($4.06 million) food park in the vicinity that would directly benefit the farmers who have been made out to be the victims of the chief minister's pro-investment policies.
    3. Kolkata-based Motijug Group, the West Bengal government and Uralaz of Russia, will soon start assembling heavy-duty and high-capacity trucks, dump trucks and tippers at its manufacturing facility that is being set up at Haldia at an investment of Rs.5.5 billion ($124.2 million).
    4. Ambani signed the memorandum of understanding with the West Bengal government for the 50-acre IT institute at Kalyani, two hours from here, that will have an outlay Rs.1 billion ($22.5 million).
    5. In an unprecedented move, Britain's Department for International Development (DFID) is spending Rs.15 billion ($338.7 million) in West Bengal to fund generous retirement packages for employees of loss-making state-owned companies.
    Some more news in the Bengali newspaper about Chinese Knowledge based industries investing in Kolkata.

    Indians are pro-US?

    Despite protests and anger at Bush visit to India, the urban India views Bush and his country, the sole superpower, US, a safe heaven. The Pew Global Attitudes survey once more points out Indian inclination towards Bush. By the way, this survey does not cover the Indian poors, who are indifferent to Bush and USA. Let's see some of the survey reports and statistically analyse how much favour does Indian pay to USA. Read the original article at the YaleGlobal site.

    " Across a range of measures, Indian public opinion is consistently pro-American. The 2005 Pew Global Attitudes survey found that about seven-in-ten Indians (71%) have a favorable view of the United States. Of the 17 countries polled in the survey, only Americans themselves hold a more favorable view of their country. And while U.S. favorability ratings have plunged in many countries, Indians are significantly more positive about the United States now than they were in the summer of 2002, when 54% gave the U.S. favorable marks.
    Indians also have a strongly positive impression of the American people - 71% have a favorable opinion of Americans, up from 58% in 2002. Moreover, Indians tend to associate Americans with positive character traits, and generally do not associate Americans with negative characteristics. Eight-in-ten (81%) Indians consider Americans hardworking, and 86% - the highest percentage of any country surveyed, including the U.S. itself - say Americans are inventive. Fewer (58%) regard Americans as honest, but even among U.S. respondents, Americans receive mediocre marks for truthfulness (63%). Meanwhile, Indians are among the least likely to associate Americans with negative traits such as greed, violence, rudeness, and immorality."

    The Figure beside points to the fact that after the Americans, it's the Indians who are having the positive view of the USA. The negative side of the ladder are Pakistan, Jordan and Turkey, who are increasingly getting away from USA.

    The Indians have more confident on war-monger Bush. They are just below US itself on the ladder. Interestingly, in both of these tables, the sequence is almost the same, i.e., people who view US positively, also view Bush as positive. However, this is sad that the view of the US has been aligned with their President. The other US achievements, like globalization efforts, and knowledge based industries are been ignored completely.

    Interestingly, the US foreign policy, is being viewed more positively even in the negative-US minded countries like China and Pakistan. However, as it goes on all along, Indians have liked it as well.

    Indians have given Bush a pat on his back in the case of removing Saddam from his seat. This shows growing Indian concern over Middle-East funding of the extremist elements inside their own country.

    But the world-view where US found themselves almost alone, is the 'sole' superpower status. Overcoming the China-factor, Indians responded that they want another superpower in place to counter US hegemony. May be the legacy of the Soviets in the cold war era are still there in Indian minds, or might be every Indian as aspiring for India to be the next superpower after USA.

    " Still, there is less support among Indians for China becoming as militarily powerful as the United States. Indians are split over this issue, with 45% saying that if China became America's military equal this would be a good thing and 45% saying this would be a bad development. Here, India occupies something of a middle ground between European countries, which generally oppose the potential military rise of China, and majority Muslim countries such as Pakistan, Jordan, Indonesia, and Turkey, which generally welcome the idea of a strong China that could rival U.S. military strength."