Wednesday, August 4, 2010


0) How much of the KNLA (Karen National Liberation Army) violence against Burmese junta instigated by the chinis in response to the Kokang incident? Seeking comments and a breakdown of the inter-ethnic lowdown in Burma.
1) The Union finance minister, Pranab Mukherjee, is scheduled to visit Bangladesh on August 7 for two days to discuss the sharing of the Ganga waters and other bilateral issues. Kati, any take on what the other bilateral issues are?

Meanwhile, Linky

PRAN Group, a Bangladeshi food processing and manufacturing firm, will set up agro and food processing plants in Tripura, Orissa and Tamil Nadu, a company official said here today. “Setting up of an agro and food processing joint venture plant with Indian entrepreneurs in Agartala is now in an advanced stage,” said Ahsan Khan Chowdhury, deputy managing director of the PRAN Group of companies.
“PRAN (Programme for Rural Advancement Nationally), which is the first Bangladesh company to invest in India, has also sought approval from Bangladesh Bank to invest in India,” he told reporters here. The Tripura Government has allotted an acre of land to the group at Bodhjung Nagar industrial zone in western Tripura to set up the proposed unit for which a new company, PRAN Beverage India Private limited, was floated recently with Indian entrepreneurs. “Though India had lifted its restrictions for Bangladeshi and Pakistani investors and businessmen to invest in India two years back, Dhaka is yet to withdraw restrictions to invest abroad by the Bangladeshi industrialists,” said Chowdhury.

2) BD fencing issues: Linky

Meanwhile, the Central Government has no plans to declare identified illegal migrants in Assam as stateless citizens, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs M Ramachandran said in a Rajya Sabha reply. In a written reply to a question by Kumar Deepak Das, the Minister added that declared illegal migrants are being deported to their countries. According to report of the Foreigners Tribunal set up in Assam, 2242 persons of pre-1971 stream have been declared as illegal migrants and during the 2007-2010, 5175 persons were so declared. At least 441 deported illegal migrants had re-infiltrated and were detected and deported to their country, he informed.

During 2008, some 5.41 lakh Bangladeshi nations entered the country on valid documents of which 31,229 overstayed. The same year 12,625 Bangladeshi nationals were deported, the Minister added. The highest number of deportations took place in 2006, when 13,692 illegal migrants were deported. In 2006, 24,497 Bangladeshi nationals over stayed, the next year 25,712 nationals of Bangladesh overstayed. The same year 12135 illegal migrants were deported to Bangladesh, it was reported by the Minister.

Of the 4096.70 Km India-Bangladesh borders, 3436 Km is proposed to be fenced. About 2706 km has been fenced so far, Ramachandran said in a separate reply.

No fencing work has been taken up in the India-Myanmar border. These are very, very difficult terrains and difficult conditions. These borders are porous, Chidambaram said.

3) Adani coal buy in Oz Linky

Linc Energy Ltd. said Tuesday it sold its Galilee thermal-coal property in Queensland state to India's Adani Enterprises Ltd. for 500 million Australian dollars (US$456 million) plus royalties, in the biggest acquisition by India of an Australian asset, as the fast-growing nation tries to plug gaps in its energy supply.
The breakthrough ends years of frustration for Brisbane-based Linc after two previous attempts to sell coal properties in Queensland to Chinese entities, including Galilee, collapsed at an advanced stage of negotiations.
As one of the world's fastest-growing economies, India currently has to import coal because it doesn't produce enough to meet increasing demand. According to government data, India is estimated to face a coal shortage of 52 million tons this fiscal year, and power utilities have been asked to import 35 million tons of the fuel. Linc said the Galilee property could support a development producing 60 million tons of coal each year. Imported coal will help India meet its aims to nearly quadruple the annual addition to power generation capacity over the next few years to 13,000 megawatts each year from around 3,500 MW now, to power rural households and prevent blackouts.

According to data by Dealogic, the next biggest Indian corporate investment in Australia is Tata Steel Ltd.'s A$96 million purchase of a stake in Mozambique-focused Australian coal miner Riversdale Mining Ltd. The biggest single Indian investment in Australia, however, remains PetroNet LNG Ltd.'s agreement last year to buy liquefied natural gas from Exxon Mobil Corp. for 20 years from the massive Chevron Corp.-operated Gorgon project in Western Australia.

Adani said it has obtained approval for the Linc deal from Australia's Foreign Investment Review Board and has also been awarded "preferred proponent status" by relevant authorities to develop a 30 million to 60 million-ton-a-year coal terminal near the existing Hay Point and Dalrymple Bay terminals at the port town of Mackay. Speculation that Linc would seal a deal with Adani firmed in recent weeks after Bond confirmed Linc was talking to the Indian group, which raised US$850 million through a late July share issue.

The deal is the latest in a flurry of corporate activity in Australia's coal sector, following last year's Chinese takeover of Felix Resources Ltd. and this month's offer by Thai miner Banpu PCL for Centennial Coal Co.

The acquisition of the coal assets has many benefits for Adani. The deal would help the company, which already has coal mines in Indonesia, work towards significantly increasing its power-generation capacity. Adani Power, in which Adani Enterprises has a stake of about 70%, has four thermal power plants under various stages of development and planning with a combined planned capacity of 9,900 megawatts.

4) Time for mid-term elections in Maldives? Linky

Having realised that it is getting near impossible to conduct the affairs of the government in view of various restrictions in the present Constitution, President Nasheed is veering round to the view that a mid term election will be necessary to amend some articles of the constitution.
Two days earlier, on the day Abdulla Yaameen, the opposition leader was released, there was a very valuable advice in the press and this needs to be quoted. “There is no alternative to talks as an immediate measure on strengthening institutions of horizontal accountability such as Anti corruption commission, the Audit Office and the Judiciary for the long haul. The comment ended with the words “Get prepared for painful compromises in the short term.” This is the dilemma President Nasheed is facing. He is a young President of integrity and in a hurry. At the same time he has to sustain and get the young democracy take deep roots to ensure that authoritarianism never returns. Will he be able to go for compromises? This is what he was trying in the last few days in getting his party meet the leaders of opposition in three rounds of talks.
The Special Adviser to President Nasheed, Zaki is said to be in India, perhaps to discuss the current political impasse.

5) NRC update Linky

The pilot project on NRC update began after long five years of the May 5, 2005 tripartite talks’ decision to update the NRC. Many are apprehensive that now the State Government is out to stall the NRC update work on the pretext of anomalies in the NRC form as the ruling party is afraid of losing ‘‘minority’’ votes in the Assembly election slated for next year. Assam politics has been taking a dramatic turn after the July 21 Barpeta incident. The Badruddin Ajmal-led AIUDF has been supporting the AAMSU from the very beginning. NRC update has been a long-standing demand of the AASU. In accordance with the decision taken on the tripartite talks on April 22 this year, work of the pilot projects on NRC update began on June 1 in Barpeta and Chhaygaon revenue circles. There was no protest from any quarters. However, the AAMSU discovered anomalies in the NRC update process in Barpeta.

6) Nepal Mayhem. wow. Linky

Maoist chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda' needs the support of the United Democratic Madhesi Front, constituting four Tarai-based parties, to get to 301 — the required simple majority mark. India had used its influence to convince the front to remain neutral in the last round of voting, in line with Delhi's preference to keep the Maoists out of power. However, 11 MPs of the Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum crossed the floor to support Prachanda. The Maoists are banking on either the front supporting them, or more Madhesi MPs defying the party whip in the next round.
The decision to send Mr. Saran as special envoy has triggered multiple, and conflicting rumours, in Kathmandu political circles. Some suggested he would try to stop the Madhesi front from going over to the Maoists; others argued that India could well do a deal with Prachanda and encourage the Madhesi parties to vote for him.

Another rumour doing the rounds is:

Shyam Saran may have come to Nepal to champion the case of Dr. Babu Ram Bhattarai and in all likelihood may appeal Prachanda to take back his nomination and forward Bhattarai’s name for the post of the Nepal PM in the next round of election.

7) Visa on arrival cancelled Linky

Malaysia is planning to introduce a Visa Facilitation System (VFS) for tourists from India and China. This follows a decision to revoke the Visa on Arrival (VOA) scheme for visitors to Malaysia from several countries. The VOA scheme was discontinued in respect of Indian nationals in 2008. The reason cited by the authorities, including Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, was that thousands among those who arrived from India under the VOA scheme later went “missing.” Chennai was identified as the embarkation point.

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