Sunday, September 5, 2010

Enough is enough!

0) Rant time: One anecdote on tax issues before regular action kicks in: US and Phillipines are perhaps the ONLY countries where one has to pay taxes if they are "resident aliens" for tax purposes, independent of their citizenship status and current tax home. The strange clause is that a resident alien under the Substantial Presence test has little protection but to file taxes for worldwide income UNLESS they can prove a complicated combination of non-residency in the subsequent year, which is hard if you keep flitting back and forth and work temporarily in the academic system this and academic system that. In every other country I can think of, including India, it is the vague notion of "tax domicile" that is the key to whether you owe taxes or not. Obviously, one should attribute and associate Phillipines' system with the US' colonial days. In any case, the US' economic system is already biased by obtaining social-security contributions from temporary "dual-intent" workers on H1 and L1. I started paying into the social security system of the US even during my student days with absolutely no visible intention (under immigration laws) to become a "lawful permanent resident". If one knew of my personal beliefs on US-India geostrategic positions, there would be even lesser scope for that. But to expect some kind of global "fairness" (a grossly misused word!) in these times of economic woe is to expect the US to not indulge in one-upmanship with little to prove on flat earth. Anyway, SCREW tax returns -- sorry for the rant :). I am not done with this woe that befell me, but I could nt care less. Sue me, please, IRS!! I would rather go to jail than file the returns and break my head on legalese that is beyond a normal (useless to the world, obviously) "engineer."

1) Alternative trade route via Burma -- no news for people in the ken Linky

India is betting big on a Rs 1,700 crore project to develop an alternate route through Myanmar to transport goods to the North-east, as against the current congested passage via Guwahati, to promote relations with Asean countries and develop the northeastern region, reports PTI. “We are betting big on the ambitious Kaladan multi-modal project. Once complete, bilateral trade would grow manifold. It will also help in overall development of the North-East region and particularly land-locked states like Mizoram,” the Minister of the Department of the North-East Region, BK Handique, told PTI.
In this light, India and Myanmar had in 2007 inked a pact to set up a multi-modal project, which comprises building a port, inland waterway facility and connecting road in the neighbouring country. India is funding the mega-project, which aims at bringing goods into the North-east through Myanmar. “The Kaladan project envisages connectivity between India ports on the eastern sea board and Sittwe Port in Myanmar and then riverine transport and by road to Mizoram, thus providing an alternate route for northeastern India for the transportation of goods,” Handique said. In addition to the Kaladan project, India is already in a dialogue with Bangladesh to develop a rail link between a bordering town in Meghalaya to Chittagong in Bangladesh, which is a port city. The government is working to develop more routes to ship goods in the North-east region.

Critics of the project say that the multi-modal project is expensive and “time consuming.” But Handique said the project will further India’s ‘Look East’ policy and make the North-east region the “vanguard” of policy to foster ties with East Asian countries. Under the multi-modal project, it is envisaged to ship goods from the Kolkata port to Myanmar’s Sittwe Port, which is being developed by the Essar Group at a cost of over Rs 311 crore. The sea distance between Kolkata and Sittwe is 539 km. From the Sittwe Port to Setpyitpyin in Myanmar, an inland waterway route is to be developed along the river Kaladan. From Setpyitpyin to the Myanmar-India border, a 62 km road is to be built to carry the cargo. Finally, from the international border, national highway NH-54 would be stretched by 100 km to touch Lawngtalai, in Mizoram, for bringing the goods to the most populous part of the region. The entire project could cost about Rs 1,700 crore, a government official said. “The overall project is scheduled to be operational by 2014-15,” Handique added. In 2009-10, India and Myanmar had trade worth 1.5 billion, up about 30 per cent from 2008-09.

2) South Asia’s Rectangular Triangle – Nepal, Bhutan and India Linky
Read the transcript of the tape that was caught here: Linky
The subliminal message to china is that any transaction in Nepal can be and will be tapped. The message to maoists is to not push the envelope further. The message to others is that the bucks stops with India. Wonderful, now can we have elections, please?!

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