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We talked with Palash Biswas, an editor for Indian Express in Kolkata today also. He urged that there must a transnational disaster management mechanism to avert such scale disaster in the Himalayas.




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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Singur Siege: Brand India, Internal corporate Imperialism and the Ways of Leftist Fascism!

Singur Siege: Brand India, Internal corporate Imperialism and the Ways of Leftist Fascism!

Troubled Galaxy Destroyed Dreams: Chapter 55

Palash Biswas

Imperialism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Mamata suggests solution to Singur deadlock
31 Aug, 2008 [05:49 PM]

Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee said members of agitating group will meet the Governor on Sunday to press shifting of Tata Motors' ancillary units close to the Nano project site to end the deadlock in Singur.
Read More

Calcutta Telegraph CII condemns Singur violence
Hindustan Times, India - 10 hours ago
Press Trust Of India Apex industry chamber CII on Friday condemned violence at Singur, where Tata Motors is setting up plant for its Rs one lakh car Nano, ...
‘Singur will resonate in India’s global image’ Hindu
CII speaks tough on Singur, says it is disconcerting
Industry chorus to save plant Calcutta Telegraph
all 11 news articles »

Times Singur impasse continues, WB Governor steps in
Hindu, India - 2 hours ago
Singur-Kolkata (PTI): As the impasse over Singur issue persisted, West Bengal Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi on Sunday stepped into the scene by suggesting a ...
Singur impasse continues, WB Governor steps in Press Trust of India
Singur crisis: WB Gov writes to Mamata Zee News
Will Mamata respond to WB Governor's call? Times
Press Trust of India
all 11 news articles »

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Voice of America
West Bengal wants Tata to stay: NDTV poll - 1 hour ago
West Bengal supports the Tata Nano factory in Singur. This is the finding of an NDTV-GfK MODE opinion poll. Seventy five per cent of all those surveyed in urban, rural Bengal and around Singur have said that the coming of the Tatas is good for the ...
Nano will be beneficial for West Bengal: Pranab Economic Times
'Mamata's demand impossible;land can't be returned legally' Hindu
Hindustan Times - Press Trust of India - - Sify
all 552 news articles » हिन्दी में »

Voice of America Singur will unleash fear, uncertainty in investors: Murthy
Press Trust of India, India - 3 hours ago
Bangalore, Aug 31 (PTI) Software icon NR Narayana Murthy warned today the deadlock in Singur over Tata's Nano plant following agitations will "unleash fear ...
Youth fear loss of job scope if Tatas leave Singur Economic Times
Work at Tata Motors Singur plant comes to halt Hindustan Times
No end in sight for Singur stalemate (Roundup) SINDH TODAY - Hindustan Times
all 552 news articles »

Voice of America
Who killed VHP leader? Hindus, Christians divided - 10 hours ago
VIOLENCE FLASHPOINT: The Naxals have been active in these forests of Kandhamal for past many decades. What lies at the core of the tension - religious conversions, poverty or growing intolerance?
Christians may form militia for self-defence: Church leader Economic Times
Kandhamal crisis: Hatred through the cracks in Harmony Zee News
Hindustan Times - The Observer - Howrah News Service - BBC News
all 856 news articles »

Accord on Amarnath issue signed, Samiti suspends stir
Hindu - 53 minutes ago
Jammu (PTI): The more than two-month-long agitation in Jammu over the Amarnath land transfer row ended on Sunday as the state government and the group spearheading the movement signed an agreement allowing the shrine board to make use of 40 hectares of ...
Amarnath Samiti to celebrate Aug 31 annually as 'Vijay Diwas' Times of India
Samiti ends stir over land row, curfew lifted in Jammu
Sify - Kashmir Observer - - News Agency of Kashmir
all 559 news articles »

Fresh News
Revised draft exemption likely to be rejected: ACA
Hindu - 2 hours ago
Washington (PTI): The revised draft exemption for India to be presented before the Nuclear Suppliers Group has not been modulated as per the group's demands and is likely to be rejected, a top arms control specialist said on Sunday.
India jittery about this week's NSG meet
India circulates revised draft among NSG members Economic Times
Daily News & Analysis - Chandigarh Tribune - The Statesman - Times of India
all 411 news articles »

Separatists reject accord, sporadic incidents in Valley
Sporadic violence occurred in Kashmir with mobs, protesting among
other things the accord on the Amarnath land issue.
Bihar flood situation worsens as new areas go under water
With the water of river Kosi engulfing fresh areas in Bihar's North
Eastern 16 districts, flood situation in the state worsened.
Relocation of ancillary units will solve problem: Mamata
Mamata Banerjee said members of agitating group will meet the Governor
to press shifting of Tata Motors' ancillary units.
Deadline for Marathi signboards not extended: ThackerayOrissa: Additional security personnel deployed in Koraput‘India may open Srinagar-Muzaffarabad trade route’Two women get jail term for 'indecent acts' in Dubai More

Brand India Ruling Hegemony led by CII and Global Market forces have come out to defend NANO launching an unprecedented Misinformation campaign.

Intelligentsia India stands rock solid with Singur Insurrection!

Meanwhile, the brand Indian Army led by C.K. Birla, Jamshyd Godrej, Sunil Bharti Mittal and S.K. Munjal were some among the army of industrialists who urged all involved to ensure that the Tatas weren’t forced to pull the plug on the project..Venu Srinivasan and K.V. Kamath, representing CII, also threw their voices behind the Nano factory through separate statements. Mukesh Ambani had articulated his support on Wednesday.

On Saturday, Kolkata intelligentsia assembled in Dhramatolla to express their support to Ms Mamata Bannerjee in her agitation in Singur! Tapasi Malik, the gang raped murdered teenager girl was once again posted on the centre of a Banner of SANHATI SAMABESH.

"There is a one line solution. Everything will be settled if the ancillary units are relocated to the land on the opposite side of the small car unit," Banerjee said from her dharna platform, a day after Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi sent a her letter asking her to call the eight-day long stir.

Sticking to her demand that 400 acres of the land acquired for the small car project be returned to the "unwilling farmers", she said the plant could come up on 600 acres site.

"In that case both industry and agriculture will smile," she said.

SANHATI SAMABESH condemned the continuous Misinformation campaign launched by West Bengal Government, Tata and Media against Singur agitation. it exposed the Lame Excuse of Traffic Jam, deliberately created to confuse general public and subvert the Land Agitation creating artificial crisis of basic commodities in retail market. It was explained that Durgapur Express Way does not carry any Caravan of perishable Fishes, Vegetables or lifesaving drugs as focused on the media led by Anandbazar group, Star Ananda and 24 Ghanta. It was explained with graphic details that GT Road, BT Road and a ten more ways lead to Kolkata via which commodities may reach Kolkata. A resolution was passed to condemn this intriguing misinformation campaign!

Intelligentsia India demands to disclose the Agreement between the government of West Bengal and Tatas. It is never made public quoting third party involvement and violating much hyped RTI Act.

Professor Sunand Sanyal spoke,` The metro is going to witness a Grand Tamasha played by the hypocrite Left. They are organising a Grand Procession against Imperialism!’

He said,`The Anti Imperialism Demonstration led by CPIM is quite hypocritical as the Marxists in India have proved themselves the best agents of Imperialism in this geopolitics. They continued the Congress Government in the Centre to finalise the Strategic Re alliance led by United States of America as well as the Nuke Deal. They withdrew support just to dodge the Vote bank loyal!’

He further said,` Only Indigenous people like those based in Nandigram, Singur and Kalingnagar lead the genuine Anti Imperialism Anti fascism movements! The Ruling Gestapo of the Left, rather, undermines the indigenous people uprooting them from their life and livelihood and killing them mercilessly.He said,` The Left is responsible for the Internal Imperialism to enforce Marxist capitalist development for MNCs, creating Rightist Fascism!’

Dr Sanyal warned,` It will be a Himalayan blunder on the part of the Masses as well as Intelligentsia India if they chose to detach from Singur agitation due to this mischievous subversion created by the Ruling Hegemony!’

Dr Sanyal spoke so well on Internal imperialism!

It reminded me the words of Dr Manager Pandey, the eminent critic from JNU when he spoke on my novel `America Se Savdhan ‘(Be Aware of America) way back in 1996. In fact, the Novel was being published serially in Dainik Awaz published from Dhanbad and Jamshedpur simultaneously. Shramajeevi Patrakr Sangh organised a seminar on the Novel as fifty episodes were already published. Our friends Kripa Sahnkar Chaube and Arvind Chaturved was behind the event. The venue was JANSANSRA where selected audience was present and were hosted very well by Geetesh Sharma known for his book,`On the Name of religion.’ He exposed Religion long before Taslima Nasreen.

The JNU Dean warned, ` Anti Imperialism provokes Blind nationalism which blindly supports repression and annihilation of nationalities and identities until you also protest Internal Imperialism!’

The episodes of the novel were being published countrywide in little mags also and I had to answer and interact with readers on large scale. They wrote me. They encountered me face to face. They called me. Internal Imperialism was the topic on centre stage when I experimented with Interactive Novel Writing as a Creative Anti Imperialist Movement much before the Hindu Zionist White Strategic Re Alliance materialised! Much before the Nuke Deal written! Much before the war against Terrorism struck Asia and Middle east! Much Before the War zone was shifted right into our Heart in this divided bleeding Geopolitics of south Asia!

We were debating on internal Imperialism during the days of Thundering Spring which annihilated the Naxalite Uprising. The ruling Marxists were then aligned with Congress Gestapo of Siddhatrth Shankar Ray. Internal Imperialist Trend of the Marxists was exposed naked in Marichjhanpi Ethnic cleansing in January 1979.

Coincidentally, the Eye Witness of the Massacre, Sanjay Mitra, was there in the Sanhati Samabesh with CDs of ` Marichjhanpi: Tortured Humanity,’directed by Tushar Bhattachary and tele casted five times on Kolkata TV. The CD was on sale and professor Sanyal quoted the Event of First sunrise declared by then the minister of Police, culture and information in Jyoti Basu ministry, Buddhdev Bhattacharya, the Gestapo Head of the Brand India and marxists as well. Buddha declared Marichjhanpi liberated after burning the children of the indigenous refugees from Marichjhanpi, invited to settle in Marichjhanpi by no one else but Jyoti Basu. buddha declared sunrise in Marichjhanpi after dozens of the refugee women were raped and killed, their houses were burnt and their Men were shot and made the fodder for the Royal Bengal Tigers!

The Phenomenon of Marxist Internal Imperialism creating rightist Fascism was introduced by Basu and Bhattacharya long before Neo Liberalism introduced! Long before SEZ drive launched. long before the shopping malls, retail chains, chemical hubs, nuclear parks, flyovers, lock outs, retrenchment, LPG, Privatisation, disinvestment, FDI, Open Market, IT, Mobile and computer Blue revolution came fore front.

Marichjhanpi created the launching pad of internal Imperialism and Rightist Fascism in the Leftist Ruled India. It was the beginning of Nadigram and Singur.

Friends, you might remember, I have posted an On Line Petition with the Vedio of the `Marichjanpi: tortured Humanity’ in You Tube and nadigramunietd, my blog besides so many more sites long before the film was released!

Marichjhanpi genocide was committed during the time while eminent economist Dr Ashok Mitra was the finance minister in Jyoti Basu Ministry. Jatin Chakrabarti was not a rebel then. The left was combined minus CPI. Subhash Chakrabarti had offered the refugees CPIM umbrella to disassociate them the regional force, a constituent of the Left, RSP! Refugees did not oblige. Ram Chatterjee and Kiranmoy Nanda , the ministers of first Jyoti Ministry mobilised the refugees of Dandakarany to create a Vote Bank for the Left, never stood with the refugees. We the Refugees settled in UP, Uttarakhand , Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Hariyana, Rajsthan and anywhere in North India did not enter into the trap. Because my father, late Pulin Kumar Biswas did not believe the Bengali Brahmin Marxists and were quite aware of the Marxist Legacy of betrayal and Hypocrisy. he learnt it in Dhimri Block Peasant uprising in 1958. he felt it In Assam in 1960, where he landed to rescue his brothers, the Refugees.

The other parties habitual to enjoy the benefits being in Government with minimum mass base, Forward Block, RSP, SP and so on, supported the Genocide culture and the Gestapo.

Yes, it was the time just after the Tebhaga. Just after the Food Movement. just after the Bangladesh Liberation. Just after the complete surrender, disintegration and repression of Naxalbari!

Yes, it was the time while the Left front Government was engaged in much hyped Land Reforms and Rural Development. The Marxists were heading the mass movements of students, women, indigenous communities, trade unions, peasants and workers. But the Marxists never hesitated to kill the Class Enemies, the refugees, the Indigenous People. The other left and secular parties were silent.

Civil Society was silent.

Intelligentsia India was silent.

The sage of Internal imperialism continues with fullest Volume!

We have witnessed Operation Blue Star!

We have seen ram Janma Bhoomi Movement.

We bear the Military Rule in Kashmir and Entire North East under AFPSA umbrella! We never resisted. We never did address the Nationalities as a nation! We always supported the merciless Military repression of Identities and Nationalities. It is Blind nationalism provoked by Internal imperialism as well as Rightist fascism. So, entire India is fielded against Tamilnadu sometimes. Sometimes it is any state of the North east Isolated, alienated! Some times it is Punjab. Sometimes the communities belonging to minorities are targeted. The Sikhs felt the Heat. The Kashmir People could never liberate themselves from the bondage of second class doubtful citizenship. Tamils and Dravids nevre became the part of the Nation as they happen to be most Vocal nationalities empowered, organised and enlightened. We never cared to know south India! WE press that the People from south should speak Hindi. They, of course learnt Hindi. Kearla has always been a strong base for Hindi. Even Manipur happens to be a strong base of Hindi. it follows the legacy of the philosophy of love introduced by Krishna consciousness as a mass movement against castism by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

But would we ask ourselves how many of us in North India cared to learn a single south Indian language!

How many of us know Manipur and its culture!

How many of us know any Nationality in North East!

How many of us sympathise with the Kashmiri people!

How many of us know Jharkhand, Chhattisgargh, Bidarbha, Telengana, Uttarakhand and Gorkhaland, the regions of discrimination inherent!

We have been witnessing the Hindutva Resurrection since 1984 Which is strengthened further by Neo Liberalism and strategic re alliance with Zionism and US Corporate War economy Imperialism and War against Terrorism!

We have witnessed the demolition of Babri Mosque and following Nationwide riots!

We have also witnessed Gujarat Genocide.

Irony is this that the Marxists were most vocal against internal Imperialism, Fascism and United states of America. Though it supported the Soviet aggression on Afghanistan! Though it never opposed the sacred cow, soviet socialist imperialism!

Marichjhanpi, Keshpur or Nanur could not expose the Marxist Masks.

But Nandigram and Singur have succeeded to expose the Ugly faces of the ruling Marxists and proved that the Marxists are also responsible for internal Imperialism and rightist Fascism as the run blindly on the super Highway of Marxist Capitalism projecting Brand India, devastating Indigenous production system and killing our people, the indigenous communities uprooting them from life and livelihood!

Mahashweta Devi has declared to give up writing Novels for Puja Festival as he is engaged in mass mobilisation supporting the Indigenous insurrections in Nandigram, Singur and Kalingnagra!

Bibhas Chakrabarti has rightly written that the Marxists are quite unworthy Rulers as they tend to work as agents of MNCs, Corporates, Builders, Promoters and Mafia!

The director of `Animal Farm’ , Shaoli Mitra exposes the phenomenon of internal Imperialism so well.

Sahity Academy Awarded Writer known Nationwide for his poetry, ` Ei Mritu Uptyaka Amar Desh Noi’( This Valley of Death is never my Country’) exposed Brand India and MNC raj. He questioned the justification of the logic of Nano! If TATAs go, West Bengal is going to face a Doom`s day. He blasted the theory and the Illusion of Nano!

Former Land commissioner of Jyoti Basu Government, responsible for Land Reforms, Debbrata Bandopaddhyaya asserted,`CPIM`s Red Flag does not belong to Hay Market who won the classic battle with their blood to ensure working hour for Eight years!’

He alleged,` It is a red flag colored with the blood of Indigenous communities fighting for their land, livelihood and life in Nandigarm and Singur!’

He said,` The interests of Brand India, CII or Tats are not public interest. The Land Acquisition Act was misused to benefit Tatas. The land acquisition is illegal!’

He suggested the solution for Singur Stand Off,` Just Cancel the acquisition Notification an d return the Land!’

He described the episode involving Tapasi Malik!

Meeratun Nahar, the eminent educationist, Dilip Chakrabarti, Human Right activist Sujat Bhadra, and Dr Anoop Mandal addressed the SANHATI SAMABESH. he exposed the whole process of Industrialisation!

Dr Mandal presented graphic details of the dismal condition in West Bengal Industries. He said that Fifty Six thousand factories have been closed in Left rule . What happened to the land owned by those closed factories. This Massive Land Property might be used for Industrialisation. He discussed Food security, Starvation, privatisation, disinvestment, Unemployment, Health Care, Price rise and economy under Left rule.

He also shared his experience as a member of the Medical team treating the wounded, gang raped Women of Nandigram.

On behalf of Doctors, health workers, Nurses and Junior Doctors as well as medical students he pledged support to Indigenous Insurrections against Internal Imperialism and rightist Fascism of the Marxist Gestapo!

Meher sent this mail:

This appeal is about Sinngur. It was released to the press
at a rally for singur in Kolkata.

Mahasveta Devi, Samar Bagchi , Sumit Sarkar, Tanika Sarkar, Sumit Chowdhury, Aditi Chowdhury, and myself as the drafter signed it last nite

Saoli Mitra, Dr Aseem Rai Chaudhuri, Dipanjan Rai Chaudhuri, Sunanda sanyal,Debabrata Badyopadhyay, Ladli Mukherjee, Saoli Mitra, Gautam Sen, Sabyasachi Deb, Nilanja Datta, Joya Mitra and others whose names have also done so.

Very many more are likely to when friends like you approach them.

please circulate the Appeal as widely as you can. get it published if
possible. do what you like, but get the message out. acknowledge my name as
the appeal's drafter, or don't if that is more likely to work.

the message is the important thing. .



*Appeal To Fellow Citizens*

* *

*The May 2008 Panchayat Elections have been historic. The people of West
Bengal have spoken out, as never before. All political parties, those that
lost and those that gained, now know what the people demand. *

* *

*They demand an immediate full stop to the devious and shabby ways that have
dominated politics in the State for much too long. *

* *

*They are not against change but demand an end to change done above their
heads and in secret by a nexus of political parties and vested interests. *

* *

*Change seeking shall henceforth be a process that intimately involves the
people. Those who want change must be prepared to begin by seeking the open
approval of the people concerned and, having got their approval, must then
be equally prepared to accept a central role for the people, as
ever-vigilant monitors of the implementation process. *

* *

*That being so, we must: *

* *

*i)   **Support the ongoing and just struggles of the people
of Singur against the forcible occupation of their lands; *

* *

*ii) **Reject the secret deal between the CPI (M) dominated
West Bengal Government and the Tata Motor Company - both of who claim to be
benign and people loving - that led to that occupation. *

* *

*iii) **Demand that any resolution of the dispute surrounding
the Nano Car factory at Singur shall: *

* *

*a) **Start with an open admission, by the State Government, of the
series of mistakes that it made when it acquired 997.11 acres of land, both
when it used an unjust law that should have no place in the independent
Republic of India, and when it used criminal means - deceit, coercion and
the beating up of unarmed and innocent protestors, mostly common folk, the
greater part of who were women – to enforce that law.  *

* *

*b) **Continue with a genuine attempt, by all involved political
parties and civil society organizations to openly negotiate a settlement to
the impasse that meets the just demands of the people of Singur. *

* *

*c) **Accept both the people of Singur and the migrant workers who have
been part of the economy that Singur's multicrop agriculture has generated
for years, as integral partners in those negotiations because it is their
land and their livelihoods that are at stake, whether as land owners or
bargadars or bhag chaashis or farm laborers. *

* *

*iv) Appeal to the alert and intelligent people of West Bengal and
India to come together once more. The gains that they have made in
consequence of the many demonstrations of discontent that they were witness
to, and participants in, for almost two years, not only on the streets and
fields of Nandigram and Singur, and on the streets of Kolkata and other
urban centers all over the state, but also in similar places elsewhere in
the country should not be lost when negotiations happen. *

* *

*The people of West Bengal want radical change. They must have it. *

* *

*Signed, *

* *

* *

* *

Read this mail circulated by friends in the civil society, kolkata:

Agitation for urge to return of the excess lands acquisitioned for Nano car factory at Singur
Readers r aware that the Bengal govt. has, in its anxiousness to help a private industrialist to set up a factory n make profit at taxpayers' expense thro' practically free supply of prime agricultural land at Singur, of infrastructure, of use of a river being used by the villagers, huge security personnel at site at Govt. expense and long-term loan with a negligble rate of interest and additional lands at other parts of Kolkata to faciltate Tatas' additional profit through promoting, making an agreement with the Tatas contents of which r being kept secret not only from the public but even from members of the Govt.'s own cabinet of Ministers, have stooped so low an inhuman, as to take recourse to even using police, cadres and hired mercenaries to murder, rape and throw away the farmers from their lands they have refused to part with and to accept compensation. Naturally these immoral and cruel acts by the Govt and the Ruling Party (claiming to be Communists, i.e. 'pro-poor') has evoked huge upswell of mass condemnation. The Chief Minister shamelessly admits that 'he did not know that the land was so fertile".But at the same time he says that what has been done cannot be undone. That those who r opposing the deal to help the Tatas, r against indusrialisation n stand in the way of 'progress' of the state. (So there is no punishment for the 'mistake' which has resulted in loss of prime agricultural land from being available to produce multiple crops to feed the state in the prevailing situation of scarcity and of high cost of foodgrains n vegetables, and for the loss of lives, raping of woman, unrest in civil society. For the sake of compromising with the situation, the civil society demands that the factory can be set up in 600 acres, but the 400 acres of land procured beyond the requirement of the factory proper, must be returned to the farmers who have not agreed to part with their lands and refused to accept the compensation cheques. But the Govt is adamant that the 400 acres of land cannot be so returned. To press for this just demand (of return of 400 acres), for the last 6 days, stages at different locations around the site have been built and Sit-in demonstrations are being arranged, by the opposition political parties, aggrieved farmers and large section of members of the civil society including social activists, intelligentsia, students and others. Now the Govt and the CPI-M manipulated the situation so as to create a traffic snarl at the highways near the site and at the same time unleashing a huge false propaganda to create public opinion against the agitation, claiming that urgent supplies,medicines, perishables are being spoiled being inside the trucks caught in the traffic snarl. A person also was found by the party to file a Public Interest Litigation in Kolkata High Court to intervene in the hold up in traffic. The High Court has today directed the NHAI(National Highways Authority of India) to take action to clear the roads for movement of traffic and to take help of the state govt . The Court has however said that this should be done without use of force. The Court also agreed to the opposition lawyer's suggestion that the identity of the person filing the PIL should be discovered (whether he was a genuine person).Pl find in ther attachment the report by investigating journalist of the most respectable and non-partisan newspaper The Statesman, which goes to prove clearly that the state govt., the pliant police and the ruling CPI-M party have manipulated and created an unnecessary traffic snarl to disrepute the agitation movement.

‘India, US need to increase trade scope’
Our Bureau

Chennai, Aug. 26 India and the US should pay special attention to infrastructure, financial services, bilateral investments and renewable energy to increase trade opportunities, according to US Commercial Consul, Ms Aileen Crowe Nandi.

Though the bilateral trade between India and the US is growing by leaps and bounds and crossed $50 billion last year, there are more opportunities that need to be tapped, she said.

Speaking at a seminar on ‘Doing business with USA’, organised by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Ms Nandi said there are a few challenges that need to be addressed to realise the potential. A delegation on renewable energy would be visiting India next month, which would help both countries identify possibilities for cooperation.

On their experiences in doing business in India, representatives from Ford India and Caterpillar India had similar points of view. While appreciating the conducive business atmosphere, especially in Tamil Nadu, where their companies have manufacturing facilities, Mr Nigel Wark, Executive Director (marketing, sales and service) Ford India, and Mr Larry Stacker, General Manager (supply chain), Caterpillar India, expressed concern about infrastructure, rail connectivity, storage facilities in port and employable manpower. The Vice-Consul of the US Consular Office in Chennai, Mr Paul Hinshaw, said the number of visa applications has been growing at the rate of 20 per cent every year. Chennai processed the largest number of H1B (temporary worker) visas last year.

IIPM to come up at Rajarhat
Statesman News Service KOLKATA, Aug. 30: The Indian Institute of Planning and Management (IIPM) a management institute is contemplating to open up their, business school at Rajarhat. Speaking about th

‘Poor coal quality causing power cuts’
Snehamoy Chakraborty BAKRESWAR, Aug. 30: Power production at various units of the Bakreswar Thermal Power Project (BTPP) may be affected soon as the Eastern Coalfield Limited (ECL) has been providin

Industry push eases out literacy drive
Biswabrata Goswami TAMLUK, Aug. 30: The drive for increasing literacy is losing ground in Midnapore East as Continuing Education Centres (CEC) have remained non-operational due to the political turmoi

Slain caretaker’s kin threaten to gherao SP’s office
Statesman News Service MIDNAPORE, Aug. 30: The parents of Prasun Adhikari (27), the slain caretaker of Ritz Bengal Lodge have threatened to stage a sit-in demonstration at Midnapore West SP's office

Priya raps ‘blockade’
KOLKATA, Aug.30: While deploring the blockade on Durgapur expressway Union minister and the state Congress president Mr Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi today urged the state government to call for an all party

Centre seeks to distance itself from Singur
NEW DELHI, Aug. 29: The Centre today sought to distance itself from the ongoing stand-off between the West Bengal government and the Trinamul Congress over the Tata’s small car project in Singur sayin

Suchpur trial date SURI, Aug. 30: The trial for the Suchpur massacre in which 11 landless farmers were hacked to death, allegedly by CPI-M cadres on 27 July 2000, is scheduled to start on 5, 6 and 10

Drunk security guards molest woman at CMCH
KOLKATA Aug 30: Tension ran high at Calcutta Medical College and Hospital (CMCH) tonight after some drunken security guards at the emergency ward allegedly tried to molest a woman visiting a relative

Sick of politics, engineers quit KMC in hordes
Statesman News Service KOLKATA, Aug. 30: Higher salaries in private sector and in state government service are luring Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) engineers away. Thirteen engineers have alr

Govt hints at crackdown on agitators

Statesman News Service
KOLKATA, Aug. 30: The state government is contemplating action to rein in the agitators at Singur, indicated the commerce and industries minister, Mr Nirupam Sen even as work at the Nano plant remained stalled for the second consecutive day with Tata Motors saying the situation is still not conducive to resume work at their plant.
Speaking on the sidelines of a programme organised by the Union Bank Employees Association today, Mr Sen said: “Ms Mamata Banerjee's has not even heeded the court order that asked her to clear obstruction of the NH-2. If this is the way existing laws are violated the state government would have to contemplate action to uphold the law . . . If the court asks us tomorrow to take action to restore normalcy in the area, we will have to take necessary action.”
He however, did not clarify whether the action would be to smoothen the traffic flow on Durgapur Expressway or to remove the agitators altogether. He reminded that the Calcutta High Court had upheld land acquisition in Singur and the matter was pending in Supreme Court but “till then they abide by the High Court verdict.”
“We have repeatedly urged her to sit and discuss the matter. She had promised us that her agitation would be peaceful but she has deviated from her promise too,” Mr Sen added. Several Tata Motors employees and contractual labourers were detained inside the project area when supporters of the Singur Krishi Jomi Raksha Committee blocked gate number 4 of the project site on Thursday evening.
So far, other than issuing appeals to the Trinamul chief, Miss Mamata Banerjee to end her agitation and sit at the discussion table, the state government had refused to take any action to prevent traffic snarls on the NH-2. However, it is evident the government received a shot in the arm after the Calcutta High Court ordered the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) to take necessary action to ensure free movement of traffic on the Durgapur Expressway.
Claiming that people of West Bengal were not supporting Ms Banerjee's movement, the commerce and industry minister said: “It is the state's image that has suffered because of this agitation. We have already told Ms Banerjee that we are ready to speak with the displaced people and see to it that their interests are upheld.”
Miss Banerjee meanwhile said she had received a letter from the Governor, whose contents and her reaction she would disclose tomorrow.
She added the CPI-M has been caught in their own game plan. She (Continued from page 1)
said that CPI-M has tried to discredit the agitation by instigating the people on the plea that it had held up trucks carrying food items but their plans have been thoroughly exposed.
Actually police at the behest of CPI-M district leadership put up a blockade at Palsit, 65 km from the spot and another at Dankuni, 20 km from here. “It was CPI-M's plan to obstruct our supporters which failed thoroughly,” she said.
She said: "Why should we block the road? Are we fools? If we had blocked the road our supporters would have been obstructed from coming to the site.'' During the day, Mr Avadesh Kumar, project director NHAI, met three Trinamul Congress leaders and the district administration after the High Court directed NHAI to ensure movement of vehicles along NH2.
Miss Banerjee said that NHAI authorities have expressed their satisfaction that TMC did not obstruct the road. But NHAI authorities and the district administration are learnt to be in a dilemma about allowing heavy vehicles to run at night for fear of an accident. Asked about his observation, Mr Kumar said, "I've sent the report to my headquarters at Delhi. I'm waiting for their orders.''
Home secretary Mr A M Chakrabarti said that Mr Kumar had sought help from the district administration but did not specify his demand. He, however, said that both the state and the Centre would have to implement the High Court order.

Police crackdown
The police resorted to lathi charge on the Trinamul Congress activists at Chandra crossing near Asansol on NH-2 this afternoon when the party men blocked the road. Three of the party men sustained injuries and were hospitalised. The agitators blocked NH-2 for 15 minutes protesting the arrest of party activist Joydeb Karmakar, a resident of Kantagoria village in Jamuria PS area.
Karunanidhi: Putting an end to speculations that Tata might opt for Tamil Nadu if it relocates the Nano manufacturing unit from Singur, Chief Minister M Karunanidhi today said there was no move from either side in this regard, reports PTI.

Industry chorus to save plant

Ratan Tata with CK Birla. File picture
Aug. 29: A blizzard of appeals rose from Indian industry today to save the Nano project in Singur, prompting some to hear a note of foreboding in the unusual crescendo.

C.K. Birla, Jamshyd Godrej, Sunil Bharti Mittal and S.K. Munjal were some among the army of industrialists who urged all involved to ensure that the Tatas weren’t forced to pull the plug on the project..Venu Srinivasan and K.V. Kamath, representing CII, also threw their voices behind the Nano factory through separate statements. Mukesh Ambani had articulated his support on Wednesday.

Rarely has Indian industry issued such a raft of statements on a single investment project, fuelling some to speculate that the fate of the Singur plant is hanging by a thin thread and only a contingency could have prompted the chorus.

A factor common to several of the statements was an apprehension that a Tata pullout would have its repercussions not just in Bengal but across the country.

The most striking statement of the day was that of C.K. Birla, the Hindustan Motors chairman, whose vocal endorsement brings together “Tata and Birla” — once a catch-all phrase to describe the entire Indian private sector.

“Tata’s Nano project is a prestigious project for India and for the state of West Bengal.… It would be unfortunate if issues other than economic and social come into play and force the Tata management to consider pulling out from Singur,” said Birla.

Mittal of Bharti, a Tata rival in telecom, said: “The Tatas pulling out of West Bengal will be unfortunate for India.… Immediate political dialogue to find a solution towards keeping the project in West Bengal is imperative.”

“If the House of Tatas, known for its values and care for society, can face such resistance, the much-needed fresh wave of industrialisation in the country would suffer,” he added.

Jamshyd Godrej, the chairman and managing director of Godrej and Boyce, said: “Nano’s moving out would be a setback for not just West Bengal but the entire country. It is very unfortunate that the entire project is facing a political situation which it does not warrant…. The political parties involved must do their best to ensure that the concerns and issues of all the stakeholders are kept in mind, including the companies in question and the original owners of the land.”

Hero Corporate Service chairman S.K. Munjal, too, stressed the national cost. “It is in the interest of both West Bengal and India that the Tata Nano project is not moved at this stage. Withdrawal of the project will severely affect West Bengal’s image, and it certainly won’t do India’s image any good. Political parties must rise above partisan lines….”

He said the “investing en-tity has a responsibility to take care of the interests of all stakeholders, including people who are displaced or re-employed”.

Like Birla, Munjal spoke of the Tatas’ credentials. “Indeed, given their level of social commitment, I have no doubt that the Tatas are fully aware of their responsibilities in Singur as they have demonstrated in many of their companies.”

The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers said it would like to see an early resolution of the tangle. It warned that “global attention” was on the developments as the Nano was seeking to challenge all conventional theories about car making.

Englishmen and zamindars

Oil paintings in the collection of the British Indian Association have been restored. Picture by Pabitra Das
Few if any had noticed the demolition of the old building that housed the British Indian Association in the street named after it a few years ago. The street has already been renamed after Abdul Hamid and a brand new office building has come up in place of the old one.

The association occupies several rooms on the third floor of this building at the head of Barretto Lane. The association still possesses a rich collection of books and paintings and other artefacts, among which are the portraits of local Indian dignitaries who were association members, and two busts of Radhakanta Deb and Kristo Das Paul, besides a priceless collection of books that needs to be looked after.

The association was originally a political organisation that had a role in the creation of the Indian National Congress, whose early meetings were held in this building.

From a political organisation it became a landholders’ organisation, although it also took up causes that affected Indians in general. After the abolition of the zamindari system in the early 1950s, its functions may have been curtailed but over the years it has become a repository of valuable research material.

About 20 years before the establishment of the British Indian Association, Dwarkanath Tagore, Prasanna Kumar Tagore, Radhakanta Deb, Ramkamal Sen, Bhabani Charan Mitra and the then editor of The Englishman had formed the Zamindari Association in 1831. It was later renamed Landholders’ Society and was considered “the first organisation of Bengal with a distinct political object.” Englishmen and Indian landholders met here “on an equal footing”. But after Dwarkanath passed away the society too was as good as dead.

A few years later, William Adam, who became friends with Raja Rammohun Roy during his visit to India, decided to take up India’s cause on returning to England. He was the moving spirit behind the formation of the British Indian Society in 1839. George Thompson, who was also involved in its formation, went on to help create the Bengal British India Society. It was meant to further the interests of all classes of Indians through its recommendations and measures which had to be “consistent with pure loyalty to the person and government of the reigning sovereign of the British dominions”.

Indians felt alienated when Europeans vehemently opposed John Elliot Drinkwater’s efforts in 1849 to bring all British-born subjects of the crown under the jurisdiction of the local law courts. The government was forced to withdraw the “Black bill,” as the Europeans called it. Thereafter, the Landholders’ Society and the Bengal British India at a meeting held on October 29, 1851, at Kasaitola (subsequently Bentinck Street) decided to form the British Indian Association by merging the two bodies to highlight the grievances of Indians.

The first committee of the association was composed of Radhakanta Deb, Kalikrishna Deb, Debendranath Tagore, Digambar Mitra, Prasanna Kumar Tagore, Peary Chand Mitra and Sambhunath Pandit. Besides rajas and maharajas and zamindars, Derozians and the intellectual aristocracy of the Bengal Presidency also held important positions on the committee. Traders and businessmen were also members. But membership was strictly confined to Indians.

The objects of the association “were related partly to improvements in the local administration of the country and partly to the system of Indian government laid by Parliament”. Joteendra Mohan Tagore and Joykrishna Mukherji enabled the association to have a home at 18 Raneemoody Gully, whose name was later changed to British Indian Street.

The association had “an all-India outlook” and in a petition to the Parliament in UK, it criticised the British government for not allowing the Indians “the smallest share in the administration of the affairs of this country.” Among its demands was “the separation of the Legislature from the Executive, and the inclusion of some Indian members in the Legislature.” It supported the move to bring all British-born subjects under the jurisdiction of the ordinary courts. It welcomed the formation of the Mohammedan Association of Calcutta in 1856 as the association wanted to give new shape to the Indian polity.

During the Indigo Rebellion of 1859-60, the association sympathised with the ryots and pleaded with the government to appoint a commission of inquiry to solve the problems of indigo cultivation. The association tried to impinge on social and living conditions by suggesting measures on epidemics, floods, famines, taxation, the practice of Sati, burning ghats and property and inheritance.

It championed the causes of the Indian people at a time when there was no strong political body in the country. The association in 1874 “suggested that public opinion in India should be taken into consideration before enactment of any legislation concerning India”. The association gave the people the first lesson in the art of fighting constitutionally for their rights and giving expression to their opinions. All bills were sent to the association for comment, some of which were quite incisive.

The second meeting of the Indian National Congress was held in the association building on December 28, 1886. M.K. Gandhi, Bar-at-Law from Durban, visited the association in 1891 to draw the viceroy’s attention to the plight of Indians in South Africa.

Now that there aren’t any landholders the association will support research work with its meagre funds, said I.P. Singh Roy, the honorary president of the organisation. The library which contains important books, some dating back to 1783 like Ayeen Akbery in translation and others belonging to the 19th century and early 20th century, will be preserved. Many of its collection of large oil paintings have been competently restored by Narayan Srivastava. In our times, British Indian Association can survive as an institution promoting excellence.

Govt allays industry’s fears on slowdown

No slowdown signs: The Finance Minister, Mr P. Chidambaram, and the President, Confederation of Indian Industry, Mr K.V. Kamath, at an interactive session with CEOs of select CII member-companies in the Capital on Tuesday. - Kamal Narang

Our Bureau

New Delhi, Aug. 26 India Inc has demanded proactive solutions from the Government on its concerns of increase in interest rates and signs of slowdown in consumer demand, with exorbitant interest cost impinging on its future investments.

The Finance Minister, Mr P. Chidambaram, however, brought little cheer on the interest rate front during his meeting with select group of chief executives of CII member companies here on Tuesday even as he made it clear that industry’s fears on signs of slowdown in demand were misplaced, sources privy to the meeting said.

Strong on schemes

Mr Chidambaram is understood to have asserted that the Government was pumping money into the economy through its spending on various schemes and that this would take care of the demand issue. The Finance Minister maintained that demand was quite strong and that credit growth was stronger than what the Government and the RBI want it to be, industry sources said.

RBI to decide on rates

On interest rates, Mr Chidambaram conveyed that there was no scope for the Government to look at interest rates and that RBI would do what it wants on this front.

The Finance Minister also ruled out cut in taxes, noting that this would result in higher borrowings for the Government and thereby impacting interest rates. Mr Chidambaram expressed confidence that the economy would be on track in the first half of 2009-10 and that inflation would soften by mid-November when the base effect is likely to wear-off.

At the meeting, the CII President, Mr K.V. Kamath, said that even though the current pipeline of investments remained intact, fresh investment proposals were being affected by the rising costs of inputs, rising interest costs and signs of slowdown in demand.

On the positive side, Mr Kamath said that there was no problem with liquidity and that banks currently have sufficient funds, although the availability of long-term funds remain an issue.

The Finance Minister agreed that there could be some holding back on new projects due to high interest rates, but pointed out that credit off-take across sectors continued to be strong. He said that as long as inflation continued to be high, it would be difficult to moderate interest rates.

Oil decontrol on the boil
Mumbai, Aug. 29: The Reserve Bank of India today urged the government to allow greater decontrol of petroleum tariffs, rationalise taxes and ensure a gradual pass-through of prices to avoid a sharp spike in headline inflation.

“In view of the large dependence on crude oil imports, limiting the adverse impact of higher international oil prices would require adopting strategies of greater decontrol of petroleum product pricing with targeted subsidies, rationalisation of applicable taxes and duties to appropriate levels, and gradual but regular pass-through of prices to consumers so as to avoid the risk of large one-off adjustments in headline inflation,” the central bank said in its annual report for 2007-08.

Against the almost 134-per-cent increase in the prices of international crude oil (Indian basket) from $56.6 per barrel in February last year to $132.3 per barrel in July, the RBI said the prices of petrol and diesel had increased only about 14 per cent since February 2007 and, therefore, there remained a large overhang of pass-through from past increases in international crude oil prices.

The RBI also said issuing oil bonds to state-owned refiners would impact public debt. It said the interest expenditure on these bonds would widen revenue and fiscal deficits and hurt financial markets.

Tata Steel shifts gear at Kalinganagar

Muthuraman in Calcutta on Friday. A Telegraph picture
Calcutta, Aug. 29: Tata Steel has finally started work at its Kalinganagar project in Orissa.

B. Muthuraman, managing director of the company, said preliminary work had begun a few weeks back. The company hopes to start production in three years.

“We started construction in a small way. Boundary wall is being erected, structural fabrication is being done,” Muthuraman said on the sidelines of the Tinplate annual general meeting in Calcutta.

Tata Steel is running way behind schedule at Kalinganagar as about 700 families refused to vacate the site.

However, some of the families have moved out and work has started on the land where they used to reside. The affected families had even taken part in construction work. “They are the people who are doing the work,” Muthuraman said.

The company has placed orders worth Rs 6,500 crore for the first phase of the six-million-tonne plant.

On allocation of iron ore mines for the project, Muthuraman said the state government would give its recommendation to the Centre in the next two to three months.

Tinplate recast

Muthuraman said Tinplate planned to restructure its balance sheet, though he declined to give any details.

Tinplate director Koushik Chatterjee said the aim of restructuring was to ensure that the company could take up bigger projects on its own.

The process could be completed by next fiscal, he said.

On Tinplate merging with parent Tata Steel, Muthuraman said he could not comment.

He said last fiscal was an unusual year for the company because of an increase in the prices of raw materials.

“Globally, most other tinplate firms suffered losses. Corus (a Tata Steel entity) closed its tinplate facility. Given the scenario, Tinplate has done well,” he said.

Commodity prices in unwind mode


The role of speculative funds lay in amplifying supply-demand mismatches, where they existed, and buying up large chunks of the commodity on paper without ever taking delivery and thereby disproportionately jacking up prices.


— G. Krishnaswamy

India has managed to relatively insulate itself from the speculative froth built up in global commodity markets.

Harish Damodaran

From all available indications, it looks as though the extended global bull-run in commodities is over. Since March-April, there has been a falling trend in prices of base metals such as copper, lead, nickel and zinc, alongside an easing of wheat, rice and palm oil from their peaks. The past few weeks have seen a similar unwinding in oil, gold, corn and soybean. The speculative frenzy that had over the last couple of years launched commodities into stratosphere appears t o be finally cooling off.

Table 1 shows the extent of rise in world prices of 15 commodities from December 2005 to July 2006. These range from 36 per cent in aluminium and cotton to over 370 per cent for coal. The only exception has been sugar, which actually recorded a drop, for reasons to be explained later.

The dollar slide

The huge price increases in most commodities have partly had to do with the dollar’s decline as a global reserve currency — a reflection of the growing loss of US manufacturing competitiveness and also the undermining of its geopolitical hegemony following the costly war (both in monetary as well as foreign policy terms) waged in Iraq. While in December 2005, a dollar fetched 0.84 euros, in July 2008 it averaged a mere 0.63 euros.

What this means is that the 124 per cent dollar-denominated jump in crude petroleum prices between December 2005 and July 2008 was only worth 68 per cent in euro terms. Likewise, the 99.6 per cent and 160 per cent rise in dollar prices of wheat and corn translated into less than 50 and 95 per cent, respectively when measured in euros. But even after discounting for the dollar’s precipitous free-fall, the fact remains that never before in history have commodity prices surged on as widespread a scale as they have done in the recent period.

This is evident from the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) indices of primary commodity prices in SDRs or special drawing rights. The latter, representing a basket of currencies (dollar, euro, yen and pound sterling), corrects for any distortions arising from the dollar’s vicissitudes and enables one to gauge better the ‘real’ increase in global commodity prices.

The IMF’s ‘all primary commodities’ price index in SDRs, which averaged 100 in 2005, amounted to 197.7 in July 2008. The ‘food’, ‘metals’ and ‘energy’ indices went up correspondingly to 160.3, 170.2 and 224.1. Commodity prices have, on the whole then, doubled within a space of two-and-a-half years and are now apparently entering the next ‘Great Unwind’ stage.

Distinct ‘asset class’

This extreme price volatility is mainly an outcome of commodities emerging as a distinct ‘asset class’ on a par with equities, bonds, currencies and related financial derivatives — making them attractive to not just the direct stakeholders (farmers, processors, wholesalers, shippers, etc) but to a range of institutional investors from hedge funds, pension plans and exchange-traded index funds.

For these investors — the big funds based on the S&P Goldman Sachs Commodity Index and the Deutsche Bank Liquid Commodity Index were, in fact, floated only in 2006 — commodity contracts are not simply hedging tools against adverse future price movements, but like any other financial instrument. The big difference though is that while the impact of rising (or falling) stock prices is largely limited to the shareholders concerned, the rise or fall in corn prices also affects farmers and households who are not investors in these contracts.

On the other hand, price volatility is a sine qua non for investors having no direct stakes in the underlying commodity either as producer or consumer. The so-called fundamental factors — supply disruptions due to unfavourable weather conditions, diversion of arable land for bio-fuels or the assumed demand pressures from China and India — merely serve as pretexts for pouring in or pulling-out monies and sending prices way beyond their intrinsic values.

Speculative forces

In late March, the Economics Editor of Barron’s, Gene Epstein, estimated that index funds accounted for 40 per cent of bullish bets on commodities. “The speculative juices are even more plentiful — nearly 60 per cent of bullish positions — if you count the bets placed by traditional commodity ‘pools’”, he wrote, while predicting a 30-50 per cent drop in commodity prices in the months ahead (that seems to be happening now).

It is this speculative element alone that can explain how international palm oil prices touched $1,350-1,400 a tonne levels in March 2008 — a more than 100 per cent year-on-year jump — and subsequently slid below $750 a tonne. This is not to say there were no fundamental triggers, such as edible palm oil being converted into bio-diesel and its prices getting linked to crude petroleum.

The role of speculative funds, however, lay in amplifying supply-demand mismatches, where they existed, and buying up large chunks of the commodity on paper without ever taking delivery and thereby disproportionately jacking up prices.

In sugar, it was the opposite. The huge production glut, especially in India, meant there was little fund buying interest in the commodity. Instead, they sold heavily, so much so that raw sugar fell from over 18 cents a pound in February 2006 to nine cents by May 2007.

Relatively insulated

India, on its part, has managed to relatively insulate itself from the speculative froth built up in global commodity markets. The domestic wholesale price indices (WPI) for most commodities have risen by a much lower extent than world levels (Table 2). Again, a weak dollar has helped, with the greenback falling from Rs 45.65 in December 2005 to Rs 42.84 in July 2008.

But the greater contribution has come from government policies. These have extended from administrative vetoes on price hikes (as in petro-products) to tinkering with import duties (edible oils) and ban on exports and futures trading (wheat and rice), which have prevented international price pressures from transmitting into the domestic market.

In other words, a forced de-globalisation of sorts. Only in rubber and cotton have domestic prices gone up more than world prices. And this has been courtesy exports, benefiting Indian farmers at the expense of tyre manufacturers and textile millers.

What’s in store?

What now? Well, if present trends are any guide and the sell-off by funds in commodities continues, the shoe could well be on the other foot. The Government may, for instance, have to re-impose Customs duties on edible oils to protect domestic oilseeds growers against any downturn during the ensuing kharif harvest season.

In sugar, the global supply position is tightening (this time, due to India’s considerably lower cane crop); but in the absence of fund buying interest, prices may not spurt the way they would have done a year ago.

As far as oil goes, in the event of crude falling below $100 a barrel and the Government unlikely to rollback diesel and petrol prices to their earlier levels, the public sector oil marketing companies could even see their fortunes turnaround.

The Doha Round impasse


Though no country wants the multilateral trade negotiation and dispute settlement mechanism of the WTO to break down, much of the world economy is in serious trouble and in no mood for trade liberalisation. Thus, the chances of any real breakthrough in the Doha Round talks do not look bright at this moment, says ALOK RAY.


The Commerce Minister, Mr Kamal Nath… Let down by failure of best efforts.

Despite nearly three dozen trade and commerce ministers meeting at Geneva last month to save the Doha Round, the trade talks broke down. The principal players turned out to be the EU, the US and the developing world, led by India and China. The US Trade Representative, Ms Susan Schwab, openly expressed her opinion that “a handful of big emerging countries (read India and China) really threaten this round for the rest of us.” On the other side, the Commerce Mini ster, Mr Kamal Nath, put the blame squarely on the US with his rhetoric that he cannot negotiate the livelihood concerns of millions of poor Indian farmers against the commercial interests of the US.

One may ask: Why try again to flog a dead horse, especially now? The US President, Mr George Bush, is on his way out. Moreover, he has lost the so-called fast-track authority under which the President can take a simple ‘yes or no’ vote in the US Congress on a trade Bill, without detailed clause-by-clause ratification.

The US economy and much of the world economy (except the major oil-producing States such as Russia and Saudi Arabia, which are either not members of WTO or are marginal players) is in serious trouble and is in no mood for trade liberalisation.

In India, the Government has narrowly survived the Indo-US nuclear deal. Then, who is interested in restarting the trade talks which could not succeed even under more favourable economic and political conditions? Several answers are possible.

Restarting trade talks

First, it would be even more difficult to strike any complex multilateral WTO trade deal for the new US President in the initial years of his presidency. But if the outgoing President Bush can come close to striking a WTO trade deal, it may be easier for the next President to give some finishing touches and get it through the Congress.

Second, without the constraints imposed by the Left partners of the coalition, the Indian Government may now want to strike a more reformist posture. However, with general elections round the corner, this does not seem very likely — specially if it is a question of reducing tariff barriers on agricultural imports, which affects millions of small farmers.

Third, the long-term costs of failed WTO talks could be substantial. Hence, all efforts should be made to bring about even a minimalist agreement to save WTO as an institution of multilateral trade talks. The other option is bilateral or regional trade agreements which have substantially weakened the multilateral negotiations machinery.

Fourth, there could be a stronger case for negotiated multilateral trade liberalisation agreements when the world economic system is in trouble. In times of recession and job loss, there will be more pressures to revert to protectionism and beggar-thy-neighbour policies.

Chances of progress

So, one should not grudge the efforts or the timing. But, what are the chances of any progress in the future?

It should be noted here that a substantial agreement was reached at Geneva on 18 out of 20 issues put on the table for negotiations. The two contentious issues on which no agreement could be reached were the agricultural subsidies by the developed countries and the Special Products (SP) and the Special Safeguard Mechanism (SSM) for agricultural imports by the developing countries.

The US was willing to cap its trade-distorting agricultural subsidies at $15 billion which is way above its actual level of subsidies in 2006 ($11 billion) and 2007 ($7 billion). Since these were years of unusually high global farm prices and, hence, low levels of subsidy payouts, the US wanted to keep the door open to raise subsidies if agricultural prices plummet in future.

Gaps in negotiating positions

India wanted to put the cap on US subsidies at its current level. On the other hand, it wanted to have the right to hike its (already high) import duties on sensitive agricultural products (SPs) if imports reach 10 per cent of domestic market for such commodities. The US wanted to set the SSM trigger at 40 per cent of imports. Given these wide gaps in the negotiating positions of the two camps on these two issues, the talks had to collapse.

The WTO decision-making relies on consensus and not majority voting of any kind. Hence, if an exception is demanded by a member, no agreement is reached unless the exception is either accommodated or dropped by consensus. This has made WTO negotiations increasingly complex and time-consuming.

It should also be noted that there is a difference in the position taken by US and EU in this connection. The EU is willing to cut back some of its agricultural subsidies provided countries such as India reduce restrictions on imports of industrial products and services. That is easier for India to accept. But the US farm lobby is willing to allow reduction in farm subsidies only if the US agriculture gets additional market access in countries such as India.

Given the livelihood concerns of millions of small farmers and the potential political fallout, it is nearly impossible for the Indian government to liberalise imports in sensitive agricultural products. Thus, the chances of any real breakthrough in Doha talks do not look bright at this moment.

There could still be a breakthrough if the developed countries eventually accept — though grudgingly — the stand of developing countries that though they gave a lot of concessions in the Uruguay Round, the agricultural subsidies in the developed countries have not materially changed (except that some subsidies have been de-linked from production).

So, this time, the developed countries should unilaterally cut farm subsidies without expecting any significant reciprocal reduction in agricultural protection on the part of developing nations.

Areas of (dis)agreement

India has already expressed its willingness to open up more in some service areas such as telecom and financial services provided the developed countries allow additional concessions in the movement of temporary work-related personnel.

The areas of disagreement in the manufacturing sector are mainly over whether the reciprocal tariff reductions would take the form of small cuts on a wide front or larger cuts in some specific sectors, leaving other sensitive areas (like the “infant” automobiles sector for India) unaffected. Such disagreements can be narrowed down with more negotiations.

WTO negotiations do not take place over high moral principles. Ultimately, multilateral trade agreements are the products of hard bargaining. Most countries start with apparently rigid positions which gradually soften after a lot of behind-the-door deal making.

It is clear that no country — especially the poorer and weaker nations — wants the multilateral trade negotiation and dispute settlement mechanism of WTO to break down. In fact, with the signing of more FTAs, the difficulties of enforcement of rules are increasingly coming out in the open.

Even in the US, politicians, including the Democrat Presidential candidate, Mr Barack Obama, are voicing concern over the implications of NAFTA and other FTAs with the neighbouring nations. They want to bring in other issues, such as labour and environmental standards, into the agreements.

In a recent international conference in New Delhi attended by the WTO chief, Mr Pascal Lamy, Mr Kamal Nath and other bigwigs, strong sentiments were expressed against the proliferation of regional trade arrangements. A proposal was mooted that there should be a ‘sunset clause’, setting a time limit on preferential tariffs allowed to members.

At the end of the term, the same preferential tariffs will have to be extended to all WTO members. Regionalism, even if permitted temporarily, will eventually have to give way to multilateralism. Hence, all is not lost yet.

(The author is a former Professor of Economics at IIM Calcutta. Responses to

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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Mukesh Corrupted State Counsel in “Gas” case

Mukesh Corrupted State Counsel in “Gas” case

This case was between Mukesh as gas producer and Anil & NTPC as gas consumers for power generation but the crook made ministry of petroleum run by Coolie of Dhiru as party to the case.

Clearly regulatory norms in India are based on “Cost Plus Reasonable Profit” basis.

But four years Mukesh Ambani through his Coolie wants market price for the gas which is a national property or rather Andhra Pradesh property.

He is hoarding gas when load factor of Gas Power stations of 15,000 MW is 58% which for July2008 was only 51%.

Ravinder Singh

August30, 2008

Power min, NTPC disown govt counsel statement

Prabhakar Sinha | TNN August30, 2008 P-21

New Delhi : Power ministry and NTPC have moved in to nip any perception that government has relaxed its insistence for cheaper natural gas from Reliance for the NTPC power plants, in a move which will have repercussions also for feud between Amabani siblings over gas.

Reacting sharply to the surprise statement by the counsel of the ministry of petroleum and natural gas TS Doabia where he concurred with RIL's stand that it had no contractual obligation to supply gas to NTPC, the power ministry and the NTPC have both said that deposition was unauthorised, did not represent the stand of the government.

Contesting the interjection of Doabia, NTPC chief in a letter to the power ministry said, "It is most surprising and entirely inexplicable that a senior counsel appearing for the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas has made a gratuitous and uncalled for statement with regard to the merit of NTPC's case against Reliance Industries when the ministry of petroleum and natural gas is not a party and is in no way concerned with the said suit.''

The protest has bee endorsed by the power ministry with its secretary, Anil Razdan taking up the matter with the Prime Minister's Office, ministry of petroleum and natural gas as well as Dobias' appointing authority, ministry of law and justice.

Razdaan is learnt to have stressed the need to ensure that the "rights of NTPC are protected and the case presented accordingly. "

In the case over the pricing of the Reliance gas. The power secretary is learnt to have recalled the arguments made by Solicitor General G E Vahanvati in the case earlier. The Solicitor General, it may be recalled, had argued that NTPC, as per its contract with RIL, was entitled to get gas from the private sector giant at concessional rates.

The NTPC has given contract to supply gas for its two power plants of 1,400 MW each in Gujarat in 2004 to RIL. But, later when the gas price went up, RIL reversed its gears, refusing to sign the contract to supply the gas to the said power projects.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Prime Minister Addresses Students and Faculty of IIT, Guwahati

Press Information Bureau
Government of India
Prime Minister Addresses Students and Faculty of IIT, Guwahati

New Delhi : August 26, 2008

The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh visited TCS Centre and addressed the students and faculty members of IIT Guwahati in Assam today. Following is the text of the Prime Minister’s address on the occasion :

I believe it was Sir Winston Churchill who once said that empires of the future are going to be the empires of the mind. And whenever I visit the institutions of higher level such as the IIT, I feel that our country is on the road to conquer or becoming part of the empire of the mind. The IIT represent the best of the platters in our country both in terms of the faculty and in terms of students that they attract. The IITs has served our country with great distinction. But I sincerely believe that the best is yet to come. I take note of the point that Prof. Gautam Baruah has made with regard to his reservation issue, I take that with me and bring it to the notice of my cabinet colleagues. It goes without saying that I am very happy to be here in the IIT campus of Guwahati. I represent Assam in Parliament and whenever we make progress in diverse fields, it gladdens my heart. It is indeed heartening to see that in a very short period, this IIT has created a niche for itself with a campus of more than 2,000 students and faculty. I am very happy that I have the opportunity to inaugurate the futuristic looking auditorium of yours.

The Indian Institutes of Technology represent in our country the highest traditions of academic excellence not only in India but all over the world. They are the laboratories of the software revolution in our country and owe their existence to the pioneering vision of India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. Jawaharlal Nehru understood the importance of creating higher institutions of excellence even as we grappled with illiteracy and an underdeveloped primary education system. Today if the world toasts India as a knowledge power, it is to the bold vision of Jawaharlal Nehru that the nation owes its gratitude.

This early investment in higher education is paying off today as we move higher and higher up the value chain in the global knowledge economy. Our tasks and challenges are daunting. But so are the opportunities. We live in a world where human knowledge particularly scientific and technological knowledge is growing at an exponential pace and everywhere there is a recognition that the pace at which a country requires must be more than science and technology is going to be the principle determining of the wealth of the nation. Therefore, your creativity, your contribution to the growing stock of human knowledge is a critical determinant of our place in the comity of nations.

We are one of youngest nations in the world and according to observers, India has the potential to create over 500 million trained people by the year 2020. That would be over a fourth of the global workforce, so I have been told. This big and unique opportunity for India will come from an education revolution that we must undertake as our most important national endeavour.

Our government’s effort has been to create the next big wave of investment in higher education and the 11th Five Year Plan, now under implementation, is basically a knowledge investment plan. We have significantly increased allocations to the education sector with a five-fold increase to an unprecedented Rs. 2,75,000 crore.

We are trying to universalize quality elementary education through the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. We are beginning a major expansion of secondary schooling. In higher education we are building eight new IITs, seven new IIMs, sixteen new central universities, fourteen world class universities and five new Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research of which few are already functioning.

Some of these IITs, nearly six of these have already started functioning and I am very happy that IIT Guwahati is mentoring one of the new institute to be established at Patna. Three Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research and an IIM at Shillong have also started functioning. We have tried to address the uneven geographical spread of higher education facilities in this phase of rapid expansion. The North-East and in particular Assam has received its due share of such institutions.

We are also implementing a massive National Initiative for Skill Development. It will provide our youth with vocational and professional educational opportunities to realize their individual potential and create a globally competitive India. Ten new National Institutes of Technology, twenty Indian Institutes of Information Technology and a thousand new Polytechnics are all being established in this Five Year Plan.

Our government is doing its very best. We are fully committed to fulfilling all our ambitious plans and targets for educational development in the country. But this will not be enough if we are to tackle the enormity of the problem and the opportunities that lie before us. We need to work in close partnership with the corporate sector, non-governmental entities and community organizations. We need to facilitate creative partnerships between the public and private sectors in the field of education including higher education.

Many eminent educational institutions all over the world are now partnering with industry to set up collaborative knowledge partnerships in their campuses. These are to the mutual advantage of both industry and academia. The knowledge industry is driven more and more by innovation and that innovation is incubated in institutions of higher learning and research.

Before this meeting, I had the pleasure of visiting the TCS Learning Centre in the campus. I must congratulate TCS, Mr. Damodar Iyer, Government of Assam and IIT, Guwahati for collaborating in setting up this unique training centre at your campus. I am particularly happy to note that this is the first industry-led IT training centre in the North East and the first collaborative effort between an IIT and the TCS, which is one of our front-ranking knowledge-based companies.

The English language skills of the youth from the North-East are well known. They are very visible in the service industry in different parts of our country. Now our effort must be to train and educate an increasing number of the youth of the region so that they can develop higher order skill sets.

I am confident that the professionals who are trained here would contribute to the development of the Information Technology industry not only in Assam but in the entire North East.

Collaboration and co-creation are becoming the hallmark of higher education today in an increasingly democratizing and globalised world. We are putting in place an Integrated National Knowledge Network that would have nodes to all major institutions of higher education and learning. This network would help our institutions of higher learning to connect with each other and carry on the relevant interdisciplinary dialogue.

Academic resources can then flow from institutions like the IITs, the IIMs, national research institutions and universities into each other enriching every participating institution. The first phase of the network will become functional before the end of this year and this IIT at Guwahati will be part of it.

Dear students, we should remember the ancient saying education liberates. This is the larger purpose and the larger meaning of education. The atmosphere of an IIT offers you excellent opportunities for personal and professional growth and enrichment. Use this time not only to educate yourself about engineering and IT but also to develop a zest for learning that can build a holistic personality.

Our nation has invested heavily in these centers of excellence so that its best brains are given the opportunity to fire their imaginations, to think big and to dream big dreams for themselves, for their family and for their country. The country expects you to use your creativity, your spirit of adventure and enterprise, your sense of leadership and innovation to solve the problems that challenge us today as a nation.

I am heartened by what I read about new ideas being worked on in our IITs in areas like green energy, popular low-cost transport, new communication devices and so on. The diversity of socio-economic background and human experience that our young IIT students bring to bear on a problem contributes to this great burst of creativity and that is our nation’s great national asset.

I have great faith in the power of young India to remake India. In the present century, that the world acknowledges is going to be the Asian century, our time, or rather your time is here and now. I am confident that you will live up to that expectation. May your efforts be blessed.


HS/SH/LV/CS /:/....spandey/kol....(RelSet1_26Aug08)

Press Information Bureau
Government of India
Scheme to provide public telephone to 50000 new villages all villages in the country covered.

New Delhi : August 26, 2008

Government will shortly launch a scheme to provide public telephone facility to another 50,000 newly identified villages. With this, all the villages in the country would be covered by public telephone service. The Department of Telecom is likely to sign agreements soon with the State owned telecom provider BSNL for this purpose. These 50000 villages include new villages appearing in Census 2001, villages with population less than 100 and those left out earlier because of various reasons. Village Public Telephones (VPTs) will come up in such uncovered villages with subsidy support from DOT’s Universal Service Obligation (USO) Fund. Installation of public telephones in all villages is expected to be completed by the end of the next year.

The government is already implementing a scheme to provide subsidised public telephone facility to 66822 uncovered villages under the Bharat Nirman programme. Out of these, 54700 villages have already been covered and the remaining are likely to be covered by the end of the current year. All villages have been brought under the scheme except those having population of less than 100, those lying in deep forests and those affected with insurgency. About 5000 remotely located villages are being provided with VPT using satellite technology i.e. Digital Satellite Phone Terminals (DSPTs). Maximum numbers of villages covered so far under the scheme are from Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

The State owned BSNL has provided telephones to five and half lakh villages across the country. The telecom giant has also brought 30,500 villages under the reach of Broadband.

Akshay rout/vk /:/....spandey/kol....(RelSet1_26Aug08)

Press Information Bureau
Government of India
Current Status of Monsoon- 2008

New Delhi : August 26, 2008

According to the India Meteorological Department the current meteorological analysis and weather forecast for next week is as follows:
· Currently western end of the monsoon trough lies close to the foothills of the Himalayas. There is a feeble upper air cyclonic circulation over south Orissa and neighbourhood.
· The meteorological analysis and Numerical Weather Prediction models suggest sub-dued rainfall activity over northwest and central India during the next 5-7 days.
· Northeastern States, Sub-Himalayan West Bengal & Sikkim and Bihar are likely to experience wide spread rainfall activity with heavy to very heavy falls during next 4-5 days.
· There are indications of good rainfall activity over extreme south Peninsula particularly over Tamil Nadu and Kerala commencing from 27th onwards for the next 2-3 days.
Rainfall Scenario
The cumulative seasonal rainfall for the country as a whole for the period 1st June to 24th August is below the Long Period Average (LPA) value by 1 %. Rainfall distribution over the four broad homogeneous regions of India is given below:
Table-1: Rainfall distribution over four broad homogeneous regions of India
Actual Rainfall (mm)% Departure from LPA
Country as a whole662.8-1
Northwest India545.719
Central India698.4-7
South Peninsula497.6-6
Northeast India1016.8-5

Meteorological Sub-division wise rainfall condition
Due to good rainfall activity over many parts of the country during 1st half of the August, out of 36 meteorological sub-divisions, number of sub-divisions with deficient rainfall is only 6 (Table-2). The details of deficient subdivisions and their cumulative rainfall as on 24th August, 2008 is given in Table 3.
Table 2: Sub-division wise cumulative rainfall status for the parts two weeks

1 June – 30 July 1 June –24 August

Table -3 Meteorological Sub-divisions with deficient rainfall
S. No.

Met Sub-division% Departure of rainfall from LPA, as on 24 August
1. Assam & Meghalaya-21
2. Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram & Tripura -28
3. Marathawada-44
4. Vidarbha-20
5. North Interior Karnataka-27
6. Kerala-31

Next Press Release will be issued around 29th August, 2008.


Press Information Bureau
Government of India
Ambika Soni Releases a Book

New Delhi : August 26, 2008

The Tourism and Culture Minister Smt. Ambika Soni has said that the Indian Film Industry is growing at a fast pace and attracting attention not only from South-East Asia and Asia but also from Europe and the West. Speaking at the Today’s Traveller Diamond and Platinum Awards function here last night, the Minister said India has not only emerged as one of the biggest film industry in the world but also has quality films coming from it. The Minister said when she recently went to China for an Indian festival, a senior citizen asked her if there were any Indian film stars or songs from the Bombay film industry in the festival. When she said ‘no’, he remarked that he had grown up listening to the songs of Raj Kapoor’s ‘Awara’. Smt. Soni said she was very surprised to see the extent of penetration of the Indian film industry. She said the Union Tourism Ministry has recently chosen film star and producer Aamir Khan as the brand ambassador for the Atithi Devo Bhava Campaign to promote Tourism Ministry’s efforts both for domestic and foreign tourists and increase social awareness about the needs of the domestic and foreign tourists, especially women tourists.

The Minister gave away the awards on the occasion. Mr. Yash Chopra, noted film maker was given Diamond Award as India’s most successful film maker.

Smt. Soni also released a book “The Bollywood Connection” on the occasion. The book showcases travel and tourism in the country by exploring different spheres of leisure and business.


PIB Kolkata

Talk by Dr Michael Hansen, Senior Staff Scientist, Consumers Union, USA on “The Science and Politics of Genetic Engineering”, at IMAGE, Aug 23rd 2008.

Living Farms,
1181/2146, Ratnakar Bag – 2,
Tankapani Road
Bhubaneswar – 751018

DT: 26.08.08

Talk by Dr Michael Hansen, Senior Staff Scientist, Consumers Union, USA on “The Science and Politics of Genetic Engineering”, at IMAGE, Aug 23rd 2008.

Bhubaneswar: Dr Michael Hansen Senior Scientist Consumers Union, USA, delivered a talk on “The Science and Politics of Genetic Engineering” at IMAGE Conference Hall on the 23rd of August. Hosted by Living Farms, Bhubaneswar, this discussion session was attended by GVV Sharma, Revenue Secretary, Prof Radhamohan, former State Information Commissioner, Director Biotechnology, Government of Orissa, Vice Chancellor OUAT, Director OUAT and other eminent scientists from OUAT, CRRI, CTCRI, CIFA, doctors from Institute of Life Sciences, Regional Medical Research Centre, Government Ayurvedic Hospital, Jana Swasthya Abhiyan, Professors from the Utkal University, eminent social workers, media persons and activists. The session was chaired by Dr Dhanada Mishra, Chairman, Human Development Foundation.

Dr Michael Hansen in his talk pointed out the imprecise nature of Genetic Engineering. There is no way to ensure the intended effect and the process is highly unpredictable, he said. He cited various scientific studies to point out the adverse effects this technology was having on agriculture as well as health of farmers and consumers world wide. He busted the myth of high yield and low pesticide use being associated with the Genetically Modified (GM) crops by showing statistics that showed such effects were temporary and GM crops fared much worse than their traditional counterparts in the long run.

He also criticized the proponents of GM crops for trying to project GM crops as the solution to the food crisis that loomed ahead. GM technology was yet to fathom all the conditions behind increased yield and therefore such statements were mischievous he stated. The companies advocating GM crops were the ones that once said DDT was safe for humans. Thus it will be fallacious to assume that these industries are doling out correct information.

The solution to the present crisis is not a new and untested technology but exploring other safe and sure methods that exist but are ignored because they cannot be exploited for profit by the industry. He exposed the industry science nexus by quoting from correspondence between the companies advocating GM crops and the scientists and institutions that supported their views.

The effect of GM foods on the health of consumers has never been seriously studied, he said. He cited medical studies which pointed out that the foreign proteins created by the inserted Bt gene over stimulate the immune system and cause allergenicity. Studies on rats and mice have revealed serious health disorders that have never been seriously followed up. In India cultivation of Bt Cotton, a genetically modified crop has been allowed in a few States. This is not a food crop and yet those handling it have come down with severe allergies. The crop by products eaten by cattle and other animals has affected them severely. What would happen when genetically modified food crops are introduced is a question all Indians should seriously ponder upon, he suggested.

Genetic Engineering is reductionist in approach that fails to study the local ecology and evolve holistic solutions, Dr Hansen revealed.

Dr D P Ray, Vice Chancellor, OUAT, said that his institution was indeed concentrating upon alternating methods than jumping into the GM bandwagon. He said industry sponsored studies should not be taken at their face value. Higher yields can be possible by ensuring the fertility of the soil, choosing appropriate crops, lessening chemical inputs and using such methods as Marker Assisted Selection (MAS) that did not require the physical insertion of foreign genes. Orissa is a State with a rich biodiversity. It would not be wise to let Genetically Modified crops contaminate this, he emphasised.

The Dean, Agriculture, OUAT, was of the opinion that GM technology was a risk that should be best avoided. The first generation crops were already proving to have serious adverse effects. When the second and third generation crops would be introduced the effect would be disastrous, he said.

Prof Radhamohan was of the opinion that Genetically Modified crops should be rejected per se, a view that found favour with a large section of the audience who were shocked at the revelations. They agreed with Dr Michael Hansen that agriculture and food production is too important to be left to profit seeking industries. “We need to have a knowledge based approach and not brute force that seeks to change nature with an untested and imprecise technology that was already showing its seamy side.”

The meeting ended with a vote of thanks and an appeal to the policy makers to review their stand on Genetically Modified crops. The need of the hour was ecology friendly sustainable agriculture that produced safe and nourishing food using nature as a friend and not going against its rules that have been shaped by centuries of careful adaptation, opined Dr Dhanada Mishra who chaired the session.

Debjeet Sarangi & Jagannath Chatterjee
Living Farms, Bhubaneswar.

"It is now 30 years since I have been confining myself to the treatment ofchronic diseases. During those 30 years I have run against so many histories of littlechildren who had never seen a sick day until they were vaccinated and who, in the severalyears that have followed, have never seen a well day since. I couldn't put my finger onthe disease they have. They just weren't strong. Their resistance was gone. They wereperfectly well before they were vaccinated. They have never been well since. "---Dr. William Howard Hay

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