Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Some more updates

1) Rail connectivity in the Northeast Linky

All the eight state capitals of the Northeast will boast of a railway link by 2016, the DoNER ministry said today. The railway ministry gave a presentation according to the North East Vision 2020 yesterday and assured the North Eastern Council (NEC) that it would connect all the capitals by 2016, DoNER minister Bijoy Krishna Handique said today. The cost of the mammoth project is Rs 17,000 crore for which all approvals have been acquired. Sources said the project would certainly be implemented as it was a national project committed by none other than Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The cabinet has also approved the budget, the sources added.

There is more for the region’s rail connectivity as the railways may commission a link between Akhaura in Bangladesh and Agartala, the capital of Tripura, by 2013. In the meantime, sources said Bangladesh had given the go-ahead for a link between a location close to the Indo-Bangladesh border and Chittagong port. The next problem now is for the state governments to pull up their socks on acquisition of land for the railways. Many states have still not been able to convince people to giving up their land.

There is hope though. “The Meghalaya chief minister yesterday promised he would clear land acquisition within three months,” an official present at the NEC meeting here said. This will put Shillong up in the list of go-getters for the railway link. At present, only Assam’s capital Guwahati is connected to New Delhi by the NF Railways. Though the rail link to Dibrugarh in north Assam passes through Dimapur in Nagaland, the state’s capital, Kohima, remains unconnected. Sources said Kohima will be connected by 2016.

Engineers of the railways have saved time by doing a GPS-based techno-survey, a time-saving departure from manual surveys that are manpower intensive and time-consuming. Handique will visit the Badarpur part of the Lumding-Badarpur section, work on which has been going on for the past several years. “We are pressing for the project to be completed at the earliest so that Agartala can also be connected,” Handique said. The Lumding-Badarpur line that passes through the North Cachar hills has one small hitch — a 3km-long tunnel. The railways plan to complete the tunnel by 2013. Connectivity to Tripura and thus, into Bangladesh, would then be complete. Complementing the new railway plan with inland waterway connectivity would increase productivity for the region manifold. The NEC meeting also declared two inland waterways on the Barak and the Brahmaputra to be national waterways.

2) A district call comes before Nagalim Linky

After the people of four underdeveloped districts in Nagaland have sought a separate state, a Naga community — Yimchungrü — living in parts of Tuensang and Kiphire — has now raised a demand for a separate district carved out of these two areas. “The Yimchungrü Tribal Council demand for separate district headquarters is genuine. The demand does not simply appear out of recent happenings but is a revelation of long sufferings,” the former president of Yimchungrü Tribal Council, S.J. Akhum, said.

He said the government believes that every community of Kiphire district was equally treated following an MoU was signed in 2003 between Sumi, Sangtam and Yimchungur communities, but it was not the case at the district level. “If Yimchungrüs were weak in passion, they could have immediately reclaimed the missing villages in the past. We understand that lives guided by the human values would be enough to permeate peace among the people but some have failed to live as good citizens and that disturbs the whole environment and affects the future lives of other communities,” Akhum said.

3) Little known facts on the Tirupur RMG industry Linky1 and Linky2

The value of exports was Rs.15 crore in 1985. In 1990, exports crossed the Rs.300-crore mark and in the next three years touched Rs.1,000 crore. Exports were at Rs.11,000 crore in 2006-2007, but it slumped to Rs.9,950 crore in 2007-08 because of the economic slowdown. It picked up steam in 2008-09 to record Rs.11,250 crore. Last year, the total value of exports stood at Rs.11,500 crore. The Tirupur Exporters' Association has set Rs.25,000 crore as the export target for 2012.

Once the quota system ended, buyers looked for big units, big facilities and also complete-compliance-certified factories. Under the quota system, we had small factories and the buyer had to go to as many as 20 exporters. In the situation prevailing now, corporate social responsibility (CSR) is built-in. Exporters are also aware of compliance requirements and of CSR. All factories have good toilet facilities and a good working atmosphere. The workplace is kept neat and clean. We also have the system of bringing workers to factories and dropping them back. Compared with the situation 10-15 years ago, now our factories have undergone a sea change. This is because we have found that unless we change, buyers will not come to us. The realisation that we have to fulfil our responsibilities has resulted in our voluntarily effecting the necessary changes in the factories, besides meeting the compliance requirements.

4) Oz updates: Greenhouse gas emission trading seems to be the issue over which the new Oz government will face its first acid-test. If the Oz government lasts till the next year, with the expected completion of the NBN pilot project in Tasmania, more sparks are expected to fly. With the beginning of the Parliament session, it seems like sledging Kevin Ruud has become a fair-game for any and every Rep from the Coalition. The following is a take on how Julia came to wrest the government. Linky

Julia offered Oakeshott, Windsor and Katter a package of measures designed to close the development gap between regional Australia and metropolitan Australia. The three independents had, on their own, come together to explore which side to support. Towards this end, the trio sought and obtained the Treasury's estimates of the public funding required to implement the poll promises of Labour and the Coalition respectively. With Abbott having initially suspected the impartiality of the Treasury in a highly surcharged political atmosphere, Julia was able to turn this issue to her advantage. In her narrative, she could be trusted more than Abbott for transparency in governance. In the end, it suited her that the independents detected what was described as “a huge black hole” in Abbott's funding plans for translating the Coalition's poll promises.

As a critical interlude in this process of decision-making by the trio of independents, an agreement was reached across the federal political spectrum for reforms in parliamentary procedures. An idea much talked about was the need for an “independent” Speaker in the House. Another strand of thought was that the constitutionally validated three-year term of any House of Representatives should not be trifled with. In such a new ambience of debate on issues, as distinct from a debate on parliamentary numbers, Oakeshott and Windsor chose Julia, while Katter sided with Abbott. Oakeshott cited the glamour or reforms – especially that of a fair deal for regional Australia – while Windsor was fascinated by Labour's plan for a national broadband network. On a parallel track, Wilkie, the whistle-blower, opted for Julia's continuance in office after she agreed to address his local concerns about hospital and health care reforms and gambling excesses. With the Greens, which secured a seat in the House for the first time, sensing that Labour, not the Coalition, would be its natural partner, the parliamentary numbers fell in place for Julia.

Meanwhile, the country as such is recovering from the replay (after the first Grand final was drawn) of the Grand final of ARL (Aussie rules footie) between the victors Collingwood Magpies and St. Kilda Saints. The NRL Grand final is to follow soon. For those who are not aware, Aussie rules or footie (as it is known) is THE premier sport in Oz. It is far more egalitarian in terms of gender, ethnicity (given the huge immigrant set in Oz -- Greeks, Italians, this that), social status etc. in contrast to its country cousin of cricket, which is more of a rich, white, male-dominated sport followed by the likes of John Howard, Pete Roebuck and Gideon Haigh. While the establishment has been vigorously trying to put Don Bradman as the epitome of Australian-ness, the country as such is fiercely ignoring the Gentleman's game, except when "Its not cricket" rules the airwaves. Even then, most of the Aussies really could nt care two hoots about cricket. It is ONLY us, folks from the Indian subcontinent, who would make a life or death heart-attacky setting out of a bloody cricket game. The rest of the Commonwealth just moves on happily. That explains why Fiji has little enthusiasm in cricket other than watching us subcontinentals make a mountain out of a molehill.

In any case, this is what an Aussie (Andrew Herrick in The Age) could think of when the word India came up: "upfront, garrulous, colorful, diverse, religious, relentlessly activist." For himself, he came up with this: "reserved, laconic, complacent, boisterous, tendentiously monocultural, and occasionally uncivil." An Australia-India tete-a-tete is mentioned as "an insular society wary of a sophisticated and complex 3000-year old civilization, and unused to dark-skinned people articulate in English."

5) NSCN senior terrorist goes missing from Nepal Linky

Nepal's biggest organisation of indigenous peoples has taken up the cause of a rebel leader from India's Nagaland State who reportedly went missing last week after arriving at Kathmandu's Tribhuvan International Airport from Bangkok. "We were alerted by an organisation in the Philippines, the Asian Indigenous People's Pact, that Ningkhan Shimray, head of the foreign affairs of the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah), disappeared on Monday evening after he emerged from the airport at Kathmandu," said Ang Kaji Sherpa, general secretary of the Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NEFIN).

Shimray, also known as Anthony Shing, was to have proceeded to India to take part in a new round of peace talks with the Indian government. He was to have flown to New Delhi the following day. However, even though he was allowed through by Nepal's immigration and customs authorities at the airport, he vanished soon after that.
...
This is the second "disappearance" of a rebel Indian leader from the east in less three months. In July, Niranjan Hojai, leader of the Dima Halam Daogah (Jewel) organisation in Assam, was arrested in Nepal and handed over to the Indian authorities.

6) ULFA parleys reach a certain stage of raised anxiety in me Linky

Highly placed official sources told The Assam Tribune that though the ULFA leaders, who are in judicial custody, cannot be released by the government directly, their release can be facilitated if the Government does not reject their bail petitions. The Government already facilitated the release of ULFA vice chairman Pradeep Gogoi and central publicity secretary Mithinga Daimary and in the same manner, the other jailed central committee members of the outfit can be released. According to information available, in the first phase, the deputy commander in chief of the ULFA, Raju Baruah, adviser Bhimkanta Buragohain alias Mama and cultural secretary Pranati Deka may be released on bail and the other senior leaders can be released in a phased manner depending on the progress made in the efforts to start the process of talk with the militant outfit.
...
Meanwhile, it is now clear that more than 30 members of the ULFA, who came back to Assam from Bangladesh recently, were compelled to do so because of the pressure mounted on them by the security forces of the neighbouring country. Security sources as well as sources close to the ULFA leaders revealed that the Rapid Action Battalion of Bangladesh launched a massive crackdown on the militants in recent times and even took action against those who provided shelter to the militants. On September 12, the personnel of the Rapid Action Battalion picked up one ULFA member Tinku Sonowal and roughed him up during questioning. The ULFA members, who were under pressure following the arrests of senior leaders including their chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa came under tremendous pressure following the crackdown launched by the Rapid Action Battalion and decided to return to the State as their security was at stake. The ULFA men along with their family members came to Assam in two batches—28 in the first batch and three in the second batch. They were received at the international border in Tura sector by a team of police officers and a ULFA leader on bail and brought to Assam. However, they were not kept in police custody and the commander of the 709 battalion of the outfit, Hira Sarania was entrusted with the responsibility of keeping them in safe places.

Meanwhile, sentinel has this to add on what will be a momentous turn on GoA-ULFA parleying: Linky

Seven more top ULFA leaders may come to Assam from Bangladesh and Myanmar after the Durga Puja in order to speed up the peace process with the government. According to intelligence sources, the ULFA leaders in question are staying along the Arunachal Pradesh-Myanmar and Bangladesh-Meghalaya borders now. They are 109 battalion’s operation ‘wing commander’ Dristi Rajkhowa, 28th battalion’s Myanmar camp in-charge Jibon Moran, political wing leader Sujit Mohan, upper Assam finance secretary Michael Deka Phukan, 28th battalion’s ‘operation commander’ Bijoy Chinese, 709 battalion ‘commander’ Heera Sarania and 28th battalion’s ‘second lieutenant’ Antu Saodang.

7) Uranium mining impasse Linky

The new acting Syiem (Chief) of Hima (Chiefdom) of Langrin, Nangtei Singh Syiemiong, emphatically said that the voice of the people would guide him while taking any decision on the proposed uranium mining in the Mawthabah-Phudkylleng-Nongbahjyrin areas of West Khasi Hills. These areas are under Hima Langrin (Langrin chiefdom).
The decision of the Syiem is critical, especially when the Centre and the State Government have long been trying to persuade the local people to allow the proposed uranium mining. When asked, the newly appointed Syiemiong stated: “We are aware of the different points put forth by the government and different agencies. However, my decision will be in line with the opinion of the people”. He gave a strong indication that the Hima would continue to oppose the proposed uranium mining in the areas under his domain.

8) An op-ed on IMDT
Of Fake Fencing and Deportation Hoax Linky

The sorry plight of the barbed wire fencing along the border not only reflects total apathy of the political parties in power in the State and the Centre, but more seriously a commitment and sinister design on the part of the powers-that-be to keep the border open for unabated influx of Bangladeshi nationals into Assam in the interest of vote-bank politics indulged in mainly by the ruling Congress while a few other parties are following suit.

While the blame for failure to seal the border with Bangladesh should be borne by both the Congress and the opposition parties, statistics drive home the point that the lion’s share of the blame goes to the ruling Congress. However, the AGP in the State and the BJP at the Centre must also bear a significant quantum of the same. On this count, seemingly Sushma Swaraj alone had the guts to speak the truth that failure to fence the border was a collective political failure.

9) DHD whinefest Linky
NDFB whinefest Linky

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