Minister Manmohan Singh is worried about rain
Amit Agnihotri |
June 23: Concerned over the likely impact of delayed
monsoon on the agriculture sector and thereby on the
economy, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has asked key
government secretaries to keep a watch on the
Keeping their fingers crossed over the expected
revival of the south-west monsoon, delayed by around
20 days, sources in the government said any adverse
impact on the agriculture sector has the potential
to affect the targeted 7-8 per cent economic growth
this financial year. The sector employs over 50 per
cent of the population and contributes around 19 per
cent to the country’s GDP.
The PM has already stated that any dip the in
economic growth projections may result in financial
crunch for the flagship social welfare schemes,
which are in priority list for the UPA government.
"At the moment, we are watching the situation
closely. We hope the monsoon to revive by June 25 as
projected by the MeT department. If it doesn’t, it
should be a cause of concern," said a senior
official in the agriculture ministry.
As part of plan B, in case the monsoon gets delayed
beyond June 25, the ministry will issue revised
advisories to the state governments suggesting
delaying sowing for the rabi crop, focusing on water
conservation methods and use of drought resistance
seeds, said officials.
Council of Churches asks Indian churches to fight
Indian Catholic |
June 24 2009
An international conference
held in Doorn on anti racism has asked the Indian
churches to fight caste discrimination and to
tirelessly work towards empowering the Dalits.
Organized by the World Council of Churches with the
Council of Churches in Netherlands, there were
around 50 church leaders from various denominations
including theologians and activists committed to
tackle racism in a concerted effort.
“WCC is to urge the Indian Churches to address the
issue of caste discrimination as a key priority,”
says the joint statement issued by the delegates
from the conference.
The conference condemned ‘Dalits’ being treated as
‘untouchables’ in India. It also asked the WCC to
“renew and refocus its priorities so as to initiate
a new churches' to set a new beginning to Churches’
movement to address the issues related to ‘racism,
casteism and related forms of exclusion in the new
context of global economic and environmental crisis,
and also resurgent nationalism."
According to Bishop Dr. Vedanayagam Devasahayam of
the Church of South India some churches in India
practice discrimination of Dalits. He said, "We want
the Indian church to declare its identity as the
church of and for the Dalits, in order to work
towards their liberation. We also want the Indian
church to encourage the expression of the Dalits'
culture in church life, worship and theology."
India home to 25 pc of wealthiest expats: Survey
Press Trust of India, |
June 25, 2009, New Delhi
Asian countries are home to some of the wealthiest
expatriates in the world and about 25 per cent of
the highest paid foreign assignees' prefer to live
in India, a report has said.
According to the 2009 Expat Explorer Survey by HSBC
Bank International, the highest paid expats in the
world prefer living in Asia, while their lowest paid
counterparts go for Australia and Western Europe.
The highest proportion of expats, earning more than
$250,000, are in Hong Kong (27 per cent), Japan (26
per cent) and India (25 per cent) compared with a
global average of 16 per cent.
Further, about 30 per cent of high-salaried expats
live in Russia and 25 per cent in Switzerland, it
The survey revealed that Asian countries were among
the cheapest for accommodation, with expats in
India, Malaysia and China finding accommodation much
cheaper than they did living in their countries of
About 43 per cent of the expats surveyed find
accommodation cheaper in India and allocating much
less of their income towards accommodation, compared
with expats globally, it said.
The report said that the lowest-paid expats live in
Australia and Belgium, with the majority (63 per
cent and 61 per cent versus 35 per cent overall) of
expats earning under $100,000.
babus don't use computers'
Surendra Gangan / DNA |
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Mumbai: Chief minister Ashok Chavan was shocked when
he learnt that nearly 80% of the secretaries and top
officials do not follow the online procedure using
the computer and laptops given to them. Chavan had
directed all officials to minimise manual
communication and resort to the online mechanism for
internal communication within the administration.
Chavan, during a review meeting of the use of
information technology on Thursday, was told that IT
facilities were not being used effectively by the
administration. All government officials have been
provided with personal computers and laptops, which
are hardly used by them hampering speedy
dissemination of work. This has led to delayed
response to the complaints received, Chavan was
Pakistan Treads Warily as New Fight Looms
Preliminary Efforts Against Fighters in Tribal
Waziristan Yield Mixed Results
By Pamela Constable |
Washington Post Foreign Service |
Monday, June 29, 2009
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, June 28 --
More than 70 years
ago, the British army went to war against tribal
forces loyal to a charismatic religious figure in
what is now the Pakistani region of Waziristan. The
ensuing guerrilla conflict lasted more than a
decade. The British troops, though far more numerous
and better armed, never captured the renegade leader
and finally withdrew from the region.
Today, the Pakistani army is preparing to launch a
major operation against another warrior in
Waziristan, the ruthless Islamist commander
Baitullah Mehsud. Taking a lesson from history and
its own recent failures, the army is attempting to
isolate and weaken Mehsud before sending its troops
Every day for the past two weeks, Pakistani bombers
have crisscrossed Mehsud's territory, pounding his
suspected hideouts and killing dozens of his
fighters, including 16 who officials said died in
bombing raids Saturday. Military forces have also
surrounded the region to choke off Mehsud's access
to weapons and fuel from outside.
"We are trying to shape the environment before we
move in for the fight," Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, the
chief military spokesman, said in an interview. "We
are also trying to minimize the loss of life. Ours
is the only institution that can stand up to the
militants, but public support is crucial. When we do
move in, it must only be against Baitullah and his
group. We cannot afford to provoke a tribal
So far, the effort has produced mixed results. On
Tuesday, a Mehsud loyalist assassinated a key
pro-government tribal leader in South Waziristan,
and U.S. drone strikes killed 46 people at the
funeral of a slain Mehsud commander, muddying the
waters of tribal loyalties and antipathies.
"It is now clear that any tribals who side with the
army will be violently suppressed," said Rifaat
Hussain, a professor of defense studies at
Quaid-i-Azam University here. "They may tacitly
support the state, but they will not dare actively
support it." He also noted that many army officers
are from the same ethnic Pashtun group as Mehsud,
making them reluctant to take him on.
As the days pass without the launch of a full-scale
operation, experts said Mehsud -- who army officials
estimate commands about 10,000 tribal fighters --
has had the time to gather support from sympathizers
in other areas of Pakistan and abroad.
Since April, the army has enjoyed unprecedented
public backing for a series of anti-militant
operations, because of a mixture of high-profile
terrorist bombings and revelations of cruel excesses
by Taliban forces in the northwestern Swat Valley.
But lately, some Pakistani commentators have cast
doubt on the wisdom of taking on Mehsud's fanatical
"The decision to launch a military operation in this
highly sensitive border region is ill-conceived,
ill-advised, ill-timed," Roedad Khan, a retired
government official, wrote Friday in The News
International newspaper. Khan recalled the 1930s
operation in which 40,000 British and Indian forces
failed to crush Mirza Ali Khan, known as the Fakir
of Ipi, a religious and tribal leader in North
Waziristan. The retired official warned that by
attacking next-door South Waziristan, the army could
open a "massive, self-inflicted wound."
Sources close to the armed forces said there were
concerns that the military was being pushed into the
new campaign by Pakistan and U.S. officials too soon
after taking on thousands of Taliban fighters in
Swat. The operation there sent more than 2 million
people fleeing and used up military resources.
The sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity
because of diplomatic sensitivity, said there was
also concern in the military that the continuing
U.S. drone attacks were doing more harm than good,
killing a few important militant figures but stoking
anti-American sentiment throughout the tribal
"The drone attacks have a short-term positive
impact, but their long-term effect is to create
public hostility," one military source said. "People
see them as a breach of sovereignty and think the
state is leaving its own citizens at their mercy."
Abbas said he could not comment on the drone issue,
and he would not say how soon the ground operation
in Waziristan would begin. However, he said that
although the army was prepared to go after Mehsud
and the fighters, "we are dealing with a lot of
complexities and constraints. We can only go so far
without hurting our long-term interests."
Abbas acknowledged that the government had decided
to withdraw the army from South Waziristan in
January after a brief effort to attack Mehsud, but
he said the military was in a far better political
position today to go after the militants, because it
enjoys strong public support while Mehsud, once seen
as a Robin Hood figure by many Pakistanis, has
become a ruthless criminal in the public's eye.
Abbas also took issue with observers who suggest
that South Waziristan is going to be a far tougher
fight than Swat. He said Swat was an "ideal
territory for guerrilla fighters" because it is
mountainous, forested and heavily populated. In
contrast, he said, South Waziristan is barren and
sparsely populated, with few places for insurgents
Still, Abbas said that even if Mehsud is captured or
killed and his movement crushed, the problems that
spawned it will not vanish overnight. "The tribal
areas have been neglected for 50 years," the
spokesman said. "We will do our part, but there has
to be follow-up by the civilian administration,
better governance, more development. This is going
to be a long haul."
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