Revolutionizing Awareness

helping humanity, make choices, more so through awareness, than ignorance

Posts Tagged ‘New Delhi’

Power cut hits millions, among world’s worst outages

Posted by Admin on August 1, 2012

http://in.news.yahoo.com/power-blackout-sweeps-north-india-second-day-081130063.html

By Frank Jack Daniel | Reuters – 2 hours 10 minutes ago

              NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Hundreds of millions of people across India were left without power on Tuesday in one of the world’s worst blackouts, trapping miners, stranding train travellers and plunging hospitals into darkness when grids collapsed for the second time in two days.

Stretching from Assam to the Himalayas and the northwestern deserts of Rajasthan, the outage covered states where half of India’s 1.2 billion people live and embarrassed the government, which has failed to build up enough power capacity to meet soaring demand.

“Even before we could figure out the reason for yesterday’s failure, we had more grid failures today,” said R.N. Nayak, chairman of the state-run Power Grid Corporation.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had vowed to fast-track stalled power and infrastructure projects as well as introduce free market reforms aimed at reviving India’s flagging economy. But he has drawn fire for dragging his feet.

By nightfall, power was back up in the humid capital, New Delhi and much of the north, but a senior official said only a third was restored in the rural state of Uttar Pradesh, itself home to more people than Brazil.

The cuts in such a widespread area of the world’s second most populous nation appeared to be one of the biggest in history, and hurt Indians’ pride as the country seeks to emerge as a major force on the international stage.

“It’s certainly shameful. Power is a very basic amenity and situations like these should not occur,” said Unnayan Amitabh, 19, an intern with HSBC bank in New Delhi, before giving up on the underground train system and flagging down an auto-rickshaw to get home.

“They talk about big ticket reforms but can’t get something as essential as power supply right.”

Power Minister Sushilkumar Shinde blamed the system collapse on some states drawing more than their share of electricity from the over-burdened grid, but Uttar Pradesh’s top civil servant for energy said outdated transmission lines were at fault.

Asia’s third-largest economy suffers a peak-hour power deficit of about 10 percent, dragging on economic growth.

Between a quarter and 40 percent of Indians are not connected to the national grid.

Two hundred miners were stranded in three deep coal shafts in the state of West Bengal when their electric elevators stopped working. Eastern Coalfields Limited official Niladri Roy said workers at the mines, one of which is 700 metres (3,000 feet) deep, were not in danger and were being taken out.

Train stations in Kolkata were swamped and traffic jammed the streets after government offices closed early in the dilapidated coastal city of 5 million people.

The power failed in some major city hospitals and office buildings had to fire up diesel generators.

By mid-evening, services had been restored on the New Delhi metro system.

“PUSHED INTO DARKNESS”

On Monday, India was forced to buy extra power from the tiny neighbouring kingdom of Bhutan to help it recover from a blackout that hit more than 300 million people.

Indians took to social networking sites to ridicule the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, in part for promoting Shinde despite the power cuts.

Narendra Modi, an opposition leader and chief minister in Gujarat, a state that enjoys a surplus of power, was scornful.

“With poor economic management UPA has emptied the pockets of common man; kept stomachs hungry with inflation & today pushed them into darkness,” he said on his Twitter account.

The country’s southern and western grids were supplying power to help restore services, officials said.

The problem has been made worse by a weak monsoon in agricultural states such as wheat-belt Punjab and Uttar Pradesh in the Ganges plain, which has a larger population than Brazil.

With less rain to irrigate crops, more farmers resort to electric pumps to draw water from wells.

India’s electricity distribution and transmission is mostly state run, with private companies operating in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata. Less than a quarter of generation is private nationwide.

More than half the country’s electricity is generated by coal, with hydro power and nuclear also contributing.

Power shortages and a creaky road and rail network have weighed heavily on India’s efforts to industrialize. Grappling with the slowest economic growth in nine years, the government recently scaled back a target to pump $1 trillion into infrastructure over the next five years.

Major industries have their own power plants or diesel generators and are shielded from outages. But the inconsistent supply hits investment and disrupts small businesses.

High consumption of heavily subsidized diesel by farmers and businesses has fuelled a gaping fiscal deficit that the government has vowed to tackle to restore confidence in the economy.

But the poor monsoon means a subsidy cut is politically difficult.

On Tuesday, the central bank cut its economic growth outlook for the fiscal year that ends in March to 6.5 percent, from the 7.3 percent assumption made in April, putting its outlook closer to that of many private economists.

“This is going to have a substantial adverse impact on the overall economic activity. Power failure for two consecutive days hits sentiment very badly,” said N. Bhanumurthy, a senior economist at National Institute of Public Finance and Policy.

(Reporting by Delhi Bureau; Sujoy Dhar in Kolkata and Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow; Writing by Frank Jack Daniel; Editing by Robert Birsel and Diana Abdallah)

Advertisements

Posted in Economic Upheavals, India Forgotten, Pollution | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Power cut hits millions, among world’s worst outages

What is causing power grid failure in India?

Posted by Admin on August 1, 2012

http://in.news.yahoo.com/what-is-causing-power-grid-failure-in-india-.html

Power failure hit India for a second day running, cutting power to more than 600 million people. Here are a few facts about the power crisis:

Yahoo! India News – 7 hours ago

NEW DELHI: Power failure hit India for a second day running on Tuesday due to the collapse of the Northern and Eastern grids, cutting power to more than 600 million people in the populous northern and eastern states including the capital Delhi and major cities such as Kolkata. Around over 300,000 passengers were stranded in over 300 trains across eight states after the northern and eastern grids failed, crippling operations across six railway zones in the country. Here are a few facts about the power crisis in India:

What is an electrical grid?

A power grid is an interconnected network of transmission lines for supplying electricity from power suppliers to consumers. Any disruptions in the network causes power outages. India has five regional grids that carry electricity from power plants to respective states in the country.

What leads to a grid failure?

Planning Commission Deputy Chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia said the blackout may have been caused by a mix of coal shortages and other problems on the grid. The power deficit was worsened by a weak monsoon that lowered hydroelectric generation and kept temperatures high, feeding the appetite for electricity.

Farmers using energy-intensive water pumps for irrigation to save their recently sown crops may also have pushed up the demand.

If the monsoon does not pick up, the grids are expected to come under more stress. Hydro-power accounts for about 20 per cent of installed power capacity but reservoirs have only 24 per cent of the water they can hold — just about half of what they carried at this time last year.

Many state governments give farmers free or near-free electricity, triggering a vicious cycle of unviable power boards whose supply is so erratic that farmers are forced to pay a steep price to run diesel pumps and generators. Many states have not adjusted tariff for 10 years.

The industry has advocated abolishing a 1973 Act that nationalised coal mining. Changes to the law are expected to allow professional miners to scout for and mine coal.

India’s power shortage

India is slow to set up new power capacity principally because it is short of fossil fuels. Coal is mined hesitantly and natural gas, the other feedstock for power plants, is just beginning to flow in from new offshore finds. The government rations both.

The immediate response to a power sector in distress – thermal plants are idling a quarter of their capacity – is to give it a bigger slice of the pie. The sustainable response will need the pie to grow overall.

This January, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh set up a committee to work through the issues that have been bedeviling electricity generation: a host of problems ranging from coal and gas shortages to environmental clearances to the price at which power is sold in the country.

India’s basic energy shortage is compounded by the policy of selling electricity to consumers at politically correct prices. The government-owned distribution monopolies in the states have all but lost their ability to buy power because their political bosses force them to sell it cheap, sometimes free, to voters. This opportunism is hurting the economy: the government estimates unaccounted for sale of power in India, at a third of the total, costs the country 1% of its gross domestic product.

The road ahead

The road ahead for reforms in the power sector is well lit. Introduce competition in all three areas of the business – generation, transmission and distribution – to enhance productivity and contain leakages. Create an independent watchdog that can withstand the political pressures playing on different links of the nation’s power supply chain.

Finally, free up pricing to make consumers more responsible for the electricity they use. This has been the broad course of electricity reforms the world over. India’s energy pricing, including transport and cooking fuels, is hopelessly caught in competitive populism. Serious attempt to extricate it will need more grids to trip.

Posted in India Forgotten, Pollution, Press Releases | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on What is causing power grid failure in India?

French diplomat arrested for sexually abusing daughter

Posted by Admin on June 20, 2012

http://in.news.yahoo.com/french-diplomat-arrested-sexually-abusing-daughter-045247308.html

By Indo Asian News Service | IANS India Private Limited – 16 hours ago

Bangalore, June 19 (IANS) Bangalore Police early Tuesday arrested French diplomat Pascal Muzurier on the charge of sexually abusing his minor daughter.

“We have arrested Mazurier and taken him into custody from his residence in the early hours…We will produce him in the court later in the day after medical examination,” Bangalore Additional Police Commissioner (Law & Order) T. Sunil Kumar told IANS here.

Mazurier is the deputy head of chancery in the French consulate here.

Muzurier,39, was charged June 15 under section 376 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for allegedly raping his nearly four-year-old daughter Stella after his Indian wife Suja Jones complained to the police.

“We got clearance from the external affairs ministry and the union home ministry from New Delhi late Monday for arresting Muzurier. We will seek his custody for interrogating him as part of our investigation into the case,” Kumar added.

Posted in Press Releases | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on French diplomat arrested for sexually abusing daughter

Reputed websites under hacker threat: CERT-In

Posted by Admin on May 30, 2012

http://in.finance.yahoo.com/news/reputed-websites-under-hacker-threat-125757525.html

IANS – Sun 27 May, 2012 6:27 PM IST

New Delhi, May 27 (IANS) Websites of reputed government and private organisations are under threat from hackers, the Computer Emergency Response Team India (CERT-In) has said, warning users to be extra cautious while using the internet.

“It is observed that some hacker groups are launching distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on websites of government and private organisations in India. The attacks may be targeted to different websites of reputed organisations,” CERT-In, the national nodal agency for responding to computer security incidents, said in an advisory on its website.

“These attacks are being launched through popular DDoS tools and can consume bandwidth requiring appropriate proactive actions in coordination with service providers,” it said.

The agency has asked users to deploy adequate security systems to deal with these attacks originating through DDoS.

As a counter measure, it has also suggested that the users review traffic patterns and if there is any rise, this should be reported to the agency.

In a recent written reply in the Lok Sabha, Minister of State for Communications and IT Sachin Pilot said 112 government websites, including that of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL), were hacked in just three months – Dec 2011 to Feb 2012.

These hacked websites belonged to the agencies in the governments of Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Kerala, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh, Sikim and Manipur.

Posted in India Forgotten | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Reputed websites under hacker threat: CERT-In

‘Proposal for FDI in domestic carriers sent to commerce ministry’

Posted by Admin on February 26, 2012

http://in.finance.yahoo.com/news/proposal-fdi-domestic-carriers-sent-091006069.html

IANS – Thu 23 Feb, 2012 2:40 PM IST

New Delhi, Feb 23 (IANS) A proposal has been sent to the commerce ministry to permit foreign carriers invest in India‘s cash-strapped private airlines, Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh said Thursday.

“We have sent the proposal to them,” Singh told reporters here.

However, he did not divulge any timeframe for the cabinet to examine the matter.

Foreign airlines are currently not allowed to directly invest in Indian carriers for security reasons. However, 49 percent FDI is allowed by non-airline players.

On Jan 17, a group of ministers (GoM) headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee agreed to draft a cabinet note proposing a 49 percent cap on FDI by foreign carriers in domestic airlines.

Before the Jan 17 decision, various government departments had proposed different investment caps – from 24 percent to 26 percent. The commerce ministry’s Department of Industrial Policy and promotion (DIPP) had suggested a 26 percent cap.

“Private airlines in the country are in need of funds for operations and service upgrades to compete with global carriers,” said the DIPP note.

Industry sources say the fresh infusion of investment would give a lifeline to the struggling sector, which bears the brunt of high jet fuel prices caused by state levies and high interest cost of their debt.

“The current financial position of Indian carriers is extremely challenging. FDI by global airlines in India would be a very welcome step,” Amber Dubey, director (Aerospace) for consultancy firm KPMG told IANS.

“It will provide access to global funds, routes and management expertise,” he added.

Three domestic airlines — Kingfisher, Jet and SpiceJet – have reported heavy third quarter losses.

The FDI proposal was mooted by Vijay Mallya, chairman of the cash-strapped Kingfisher Airlines.

“I am an avid supporter of FDI. I don’t see any reason why FDI from strategic partners like an airline should be banned or not permitted. Who would understand an airline better than another airline,” Mallya had asked.

Posted in Conspiracy Archives, Economic Upheavals, India Forgotten | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on ‘Proposal for FDI in domestic carriers sent to commerce ministry’

The Power and the Potential of India’s Economic Change

Posted by Admin on February 4, 2012

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/17/books/17grim.html?ex=1188014400&en=6236c430ccc01fd5&ei=5070

Published: January 17, 2007
All eyes are on China as it races to become the world’s next great power. Smart bettors would be wise to put some money on India to get there first, and Edward Luce explains why in “In Spite of the Gods: The Strange Rise of Modern India,” his highly informative, wide-ranging survey.

Mr. Luce, who reported from New Delhi for The Financial Times from 2001 to 2005, offers an Imax view of a nation so enormous that it embraces every possible contradiction. Always it seems to be teetering on the edge of either greatness or the abyss. Right now the future looks inviting.

India’s dizzying economic ascent began in 1991, when the government abruptly dismantled the “license raj,” a system of tight controls and permits in place since independence in 1947. Mr. Luce, as you might expect from a Financial Times reporter, does a superb job of explaining the new Indian economy and why its transformation qualifies as strange.

Unlike China, India has not undergone an industrial revolution. Its economy is powered not by manufacturing but by its service industries. In a vast subcontinent of poor farmers whose tiny holdings shrink by the decade, a highly competitive, if small, technology sector and a welter of service businesses have helped create a middle class, materialistic and acquisitive, along with some spectacularly rich entrepreneurs.

“If Gandhi had not been cremated,” Mr. Luce writes, “he would be turning in his grave.”

Mr. Luce, notebook in hand, matches faces to trends as he tours India from the affluent, relatively well-governed south to the poor, hopelessly mismanaged north, where the age-old problems of illiteracy, poverty, government corruption and caste divisions persist.

Much of the book consists of interviews and colorful vignettes intended to illustrate the myriad statistics that, out of context, can numb the mind. The blend of anecdote, history and economic analysis makes “In Spite of the Gods” an endlessly fascinating, highly pleasurable way to catch up on a very big story.

As Mr. Luce dryly observes, “India never lacks for scale.” This is a country where 300 million people live in absolute poverty, most of them in its 680,000 villages, but where cellphone users have jumped from 3 million in 2000 to 100 million in 2005, and the number of television channels from 1 in 1991 to more than 150 last year.

India’s economy has grown by 6 percent annually since 1991, a rate exceeded only by China’s, yet there are a mere 35 million taxpayers in a country with a population of 1.1 billion. Only 10 percent of India’s workers have jobs in the formal economy. Its excellent engineering schools turn out a million graduates each year, 10 times the number for the United States and Europe combined, yet 35 percent of the country remains illiterate.

Despite its robust democracy and honest elections, India faces the future saddled with one of the most corrupt government bureaucracies on earth. Mr. Luce encounters a woman in Sunder Nagri, a New Delhi slum, whose quest for a ration card entitling her to subsidized wheat and other staples involved bribing an official to get an application form. The form was in English, which she could not read, so she had to pay a second official to fill it out. When she turned up to claim her wheat, it was moldy and crawling with insects. The store owner had evidently sold his good government wheat on the black market.

In the northern state of Bihar, Mr. Luce writes, more than 80 percent of subsidized government food is stolen. Most ration cards are obtained through bribery, by Indians who are not poor. It’s the same story in nearly every area of an economy touched by the groping tentacles of a government that “is never absent from your life, except when you actually need it.”

As a former cabinet official tells Mr. Luce, corruption is not simply a nuisance or an added burden on the system. Rather, he says, “in many respects and in many parts of India it is the system.”

Mr. Luce, traveling the country’s rickety rail system, covers an enormous amount of ground. He inquires into the Kashmir dispute while dissecting India’s fraught relationship with Pakistan; marvels over New Delhi’s spanking-new subway system; describes the middle class rage for megaweddings; pays a visit to Bollywood and, in some of his most absorbing chapters, analyzes the changing caste system, the status of India’s Muslims and the alarming rise of Hindu nationalism.

All this and a visit to C2W.com, a Mumbai company that markets brands through the Internet, cellphones and interactive television shows. Its founder, Alok Kejriwal, is still in his 30s, and to Mr. Luce represents the new India.

“I am greedy,” he tells the author. “I have no trouble admitting to that.”

At one point, Mr. Luce ponders India’s constant state of chaos and compares it to a swarm of bees. From inside the swarm, things look random, but from the outside, the bees hold formation and move forward coherently.

Sometime in the 2020s, at current growth rates, India will overtake Japan to become the world’s third-largest economy. Greatness lies within its grasp, Mr. Luce argues, if it can figure out a way to restructure its inefficient agriculture, put millions of desperately poor people in jobs that pay more than a pittance, wake up to a potential H.I.V.AIDS crisis and root out government corruption.

Mr. Luce takes a cautiously optimistic view. “India is not on an autopilot to greatness,” he writes. “But it would take an incompetent pilot to crash the plane.”

Posted in India Forgotten | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Power and the Potential of India’s Economic Change

India. The Plight of the Rural and Urban Poor: In a Land of Facades, Mark the first Signs of an Indian Spring

Posted by Admin on December 31, 2011

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=28411

by John Pilger

When the early morning fog rises and drifting skeins from wood fires carry the sweet smell of India, the joggers arrive in Lodi Gardens. Past the tomb of Mohammed Shah, the 15th century Munghal ruler, across a landscape manicured in the 1930s by Lady Willingdon, wife of the governor-general, recently acquired trainers stride out from ample figures in smart saris and white cotton dhotis. In Delhi, the middle classes do as they do everywhere, though here there is no middle. By mid-morning, children descend like starlings. They wear pressed blazers, like those of an English prep school. There are games and art and botany classes. When shepherded out through Lady Willingdon’s elegant stone gateway, they pass a reed-thin boy, prostrate beside the traffic and his pile of peanuts, coins clenched in his hand.

When I was first sent to report India, I seldom raised my eyes to the gothic edifices and facades of the British Raj. All life was at dust and pavement level and, once the shock had eased, I learned to admire the sheer imagination and wit of people who survived the cities, let alone the countryside — the dabbawallahs (literally “person with a box”), cleaners, runners, street barbers, poets, assorted Fagans and children with their piles of peanuts. In Calcutta, as it was still known during the 1971 war with Pakistan, civil defence units in soup-plate helmets and lungis toured the streets announcing an air-raid warning practice during which, they said, “everybody must stay indoors and remain in the face-down position until the siren has ceased to operate”. Waves of mocking laughter greeted them, together with the cry: “But we have no doors to stay inside!”

When the imperial capital was transferred to Delhi early last century, New Delhi was built as a modernist showpiece, with avenues and roundabouts and a mall sweeping up to the viceroy’s house, now the president’s residence in the world’s most populous democracy. If the experience of colonialism was humiliating, this proud new metropolis would surely be enabling. On 15 August, 1947, it was the setting for Pandit Nehru’s declaration of independence “at the midnight hour”. It was also a façade behind which the majority hoped and waited, and still wait.

This notion of façade is almost haunting. You sense it in genteel Lodi Gardens and among the anglicised elites and their enduring ambiguity. In the 1990s, it became a wall erected by the beneficiaries of Shining India, which began as a slogan invented by an American advertising firm to promote the rise of the Hindu nationalist BJP-led government. Shorn of Nehru’s idealism and paternalism, it marked the end of the Congress Party’s pretence of class and caste reconciliation: in other words, social justice. Monsanto and Pizza Hut, Microsoft and Murdoch were invited to enter what had been forbidden territory to corporate predators. India would serve a new deity called “economic growth” and be hailed as a “global leader, apparently heading “in what the smart money believes is the right direction” (Newsweek).

India’s ascent to “new world power” is both true and what Edward Bernays, the founder of public relations, called “false reality”. Despite a growth rate of 6.9 per cent and prosperity for some, more Indians than ever are living in poverty than anywhere on earth, including a third of all malnourished children. Save the Children says that every year two million infants under the age of five die.

The facades are literal and surreal. Ram Suhavan and his family live 60 feet above a railway track. Their home is the inside of a hoarding which advertises, on one side, “exotic, exclusive” homes for the new “elite” and on the other, a gleaming car. This is in Pune, in Maharashtra state, which has “booming” Bombay and the nation’s highest suicide rate among indebted farmers.

Most Indians live in rural villages, dependent on the land and its rhythms of subsistence. The rise of monopoly control of seed by multinationals, forcing farmers to plant cash crops such as GM cotton, has led to a quarter of a million suicides, a conservative estimate. The environmentalist Vandana Shiva describes this as “re-colonisation”. Using the 1894 Land Acquisition Act, central and state governments have forcibly dispossessed farmers and tribal peoples in order to hand their land to speculators and mining companies. To make way for a Formula One racetrack and gated “elite” estates, land was appropriated for $6 a square metre and sold to developers for $13,450 a square metre. Across India, the communities have fought back. In Orissa State, the wholesale destruction of betel farms has spawned a resistance now in its fifth year.

What is always exciting about India is this refusal to comply with political mythology and gross injustice. In The Idea of India, wrote Sunil Kjilnani, “The future of western political theory will be decided outside the west.” For the majorities of India and the west, liberal democracy was now diminished to “the assertion of an equal right to consume [media] images”.

In Kashmir, a forgotten India barely reported abroad, a peaceful resistance as inspiring as Tahrir Square has arisen in the most militarised region on earth. As the victims of Partition, Muslim Kashmiris have known none of Nehru’s noble legacies. Thousands of dissidents have “disappeared” and torture is not uncommon. “The voice that the government of India has tried so hard to silence,” wrote Arundhati Roy, “has now massed into a deafening roar. Hundreds of thousands of unarmed people have come out to reclaim their cities, their streets and mohallas. They have simply overwhelmed the heavily armed security forces by their sheer numbers, and with a remarkable display of raw courage.” An Indian Spring may be next.

John Pilger is a frequent contributor to Global Research.  Global Research Articles by John Pilger

Posted in India Forgotten | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on India. The Plight of the Rural and Urban Poor: In a Land of Facades, Mark the first Signs of an Indian Spring

Food inflation at 12.21 pct y/y on Oct 22

Posted by Admin on November 7, 2011

http://in.finance.yahoo.com/news/Food-inflation-12-21-pct-y-y-reuters-1628243810.html

On Thursday 3 November 2011, 11:47 AM

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India‘s food price index rose 12.21 percent, its highest in 9 months, and the fuel price index climbed 14.50 percent in the year to Oct. 22, government data on Thursday showed.

In the previous week, annual food and fuel inflation stood at 11.43 percent and 14.70 percent, respectively.

The primary articles price index was up 12.08 percent, compared with an annual rise of 11.75 percent a week earlier.

The RBI raised interest rates last month for the 13th and possibly final time in a tightening cycle that began in early 2010, on expectations that persistently high inflation will finally begin to ease starting in December.

(Reporting by Rajesh Kumar Singh; editing by Malini Menon)

Posted in Economic Upheavals, India Forgotten | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Food inflation at 12.21 pct y/y on Oct 22

612 million Indians ‘multi-dimentionally poor’

Posted by Admin on November 7, 2011

http://in.finance.yahoo.com/news/612-million-Indians-multi-ians-1713365579.html

Indo Asian News Service, On Wednesday 2 November 2011, 7:41 PM

New Delhi, Nov 2 (IANS) At 612 million, or more than half its population, India has the world’s largest number of ‘multi-dimentionally poor’, the UN Global Human Development report released Wednesday said.

To assess acute poverty levels, the index examined factors such as health services, access to clean water and cooking fuels, basic household goods and home construction standards, which together offer a fuller portrait of poverty than income measurements alone.

Posted in India Forgotten | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on 612 million Indians ‘multi-dimentionally poor’

Indian anti-graft activist arrested as protests spread

Posted by Admin on August 16, 2011

http://news.yahoo.com/veteran-indian-activist-detained-ahead-mass-fast-054711574.html

By Paul de Bendern and Alistair Scrutton | Reuters – 58 mins ago

Veteran Indian social activist Anna Hazare waves from a car after being detained by police in New Delhi

Veteran Indian social activist Anna Hazare waves from a car after being detained by police in New Delhi August 16, 2011. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Police arrested India‘s leading anti-corruption campaigner on Tuesday, just hours before he was due to begin a fast to the death, as the beleaguered government cracked down on a self-styled Gandhian activist agitating for a new “freedom” struggle.

At least 1,200 followers of the 74-year-old Anna Hazare were also detained, signaling a hardline stance from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh against anti-government protests, a gamble that risks a wider backlash against the ruling Congress party.

Dressed in his trademark white shirt, white cap and spectacles in the style of independence leader Mahatma Gandhi, Hazare was driven away in a car by plainclothes police, waving to hundreds of supporters outside his residence in New Delhi.

His followers later said he had begun his fast.

“The second freedom struggle has started … This is a fight for change,” Hazare said in a pre-recorded message broadcast on YouTube. “The protests should not stop. The time has come for no jail in the country to have a free space.”

In a country where the memory of Gandhi’s independence battles against colonial rule with fasts and non-violent protests is embedded in the national consciousness, the crackdown shocked many Indians.

It also comes as Congress party leader Sonia Gandhi is in the United States being treated for an undisclosed condition.

The question for many is whether Hazare and his movement will grow across the fast-urbanizing nation of 1.2 billion people whose middle class is fed up with constant bribes, poor services and unaccountable leaders.

In a worrying sign for a government facing crucial state elections next year, local media reported spontaneous protests against the crackdown across India. Dozens of Hazare supporters were also arrested in Mumbai, according to local media.

“If the government stops protests or not, what it can’t stop is the anger, which ultimately means bad news for Congress when people go to the polls,” said M.J. Akbar, an editor at news magazine India Today.

The country’s interior minister said Hazare and six other protest leaders had been placed under “preventative arrest” to ensure they did not carry out a threat to protest.

“Protest is welcome, but it must be carried out under reasonable conditions,” Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram told a news conference.

“A MURDER OF DEMOCRACY”

Hazare has become a serious challenge to the authority of the government in its second term as it reels from a string of corruption scandals and a perception that it is out of touch with millions of Indians hit by near-double-digit inflation.

Both houses of parliament were adjourned for the day after the opposition protested at the arrests of Hazare and his key aides, further undermining the chances that reform bills — seen as crucial for Asia’s third-largest economy — will be passed.

Acting Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi called a top-level emergency meeting with senior cabinet ministers to discuss the escalating crisis.

“This is murder of democracy by the government within the House and outside the House,” said Arun Jaitley, a senior leader of the opposition Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The scandals, including a telecoms bribery scam that may have cost the government $39 billion, has smothered Singh’s reform agenda, dented investor confidence and distracted parliament just as the $1.6 trillion economy is being hit by inflation and higher interest rates.

Those arrested included Kiran Bedi, one of India’s first female police officers and a widely respected figure for her anti-graft drive. She tweeted from detention that she had refused an offer of bail.

Police denied Hazare permission on Monday to fast near a cricket stadium because he had refused to end his fast in three days and ensure no more than 5,000 people took part.

Opposition figures likened the crackdown to the 1975 “Emergency” when then-prime minister Indira Gandhi arrested thousands of opposition members to stay in power.

A HARDENING STANCE

Singh and his Congress party have hardened their stance against Hazare in recent days, fearing that these protests could spiral.

“When you have a crowd of 10,000 people, can anyone guarantee there will be no disruption? … The police is doing its duty. We should allow them to do it,” Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni told CNN-IBN television.

The prime minister used his Independence Day speech on Monday to criticize Hazare, and Congress spokesman Manish Tewari said Hazare was surrounded by “armchair fascists, overground Maoists, closet anarchists.”

Hazare rose to fame for lifting his village in western state of Maharashtra out of grinding poverty. His social activism has forced out senior government officials and helped create the right to information act for citizens.

It is unclear whether the tactics will backfire and spark further protests. They could also help the image of a prime minister criticized as weak and indecisive. A previous crackdown this year on a fasting yoga guru successfully broke up his anti-corruption protests.

Hazare became the unlikely thorn in the side of the Congress-led coalition when he first went on a hunger strike in April to successfully win concessions from the government.

Tapping into a groundswell of discontent over corruption scandals in Singh’s government, Hazare lobbied for a parliamentary bill creating a special ombudsman to bring crooked politicians, bureaucrats and judges to book.

Hazare called off that fast after the government promised to introduce the bill into parliament. The legislation was presented in early August, but activists slammed the draft version as toothless, prompting Hazare to renew his campaign.

Under the current bill, the prime minister and judges would be exempt from probes.

(Additional reporting by Arup Roychoudhury, Matthias Williams and Annie Banerji; Editing by John Chalmers)

Posted in India Forgotten | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Indian anti-graft activist arrested as protests spread

India yoga guru launches anti-graft fast

Posted by Admin on June 5, 2011

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20110604/wl_asia_afp/indiapoliticscorruptionprotestyogareligion;_ylt=AkKotfp75zUIdrHWCgIMcz5vaA8F;_ylu=X3oDMTNoOTcyNnNyBGFzc2V0A2FmcC8yMDExMDYwNC9pbmRpYXBvbGl0aWNzY29ycnVwdGlvbnByb3Rlc3R5b2dhcmVsaWdpb24EcG9zAzIxBHNlYwN5bl9hcnRpY2xlX3N1bW1hcnlfbGlzdARzbGsDaW5kaWF5b2dhZ3Vy

India yoga guru launches anti-graft fast
Baba Ramdev launched his indefinite fast against corruption and black money in Delhi on Saturday after the government failed to persuade him to call off his protest
by Penny MacRae 14 mins ago

NEW DELHI (AFP) – India‘s most celebrated yoga guru embarked on a “fast unto death” on Saturday to force the country’s scandal-tainted government to accept his maverick anti-corruption proposals.

Swami Baba Ramdev, who has wide support from right-wing Hindu groups, began his hunger strike after a pre-dawn yoga session with his followers in an anti-graft campaign that has piled fresh pressure on the embattled government.

“What will India get from this protest? India will be saved,” the saffron-clad swami declared to thousands of cheering supporters as he launched his fast in a tent the size of four football fields in the Indian capital.

The guru, who energetically performed his yoga poses on a giant stage to the delight of his audience, has called for repatriation of so-called “black money” — cash stashed in foreign accounts suspected of being used for bribes and illegal transactions — and the execution of corrupt government ministers.

“Nothing is impossible, everything is possible and we are not going to be defeated,” declared the middle-aged, pony-tailed guru as fans whirled to cool his supporters in the sweltering summer heat.

Followers fasted along with Ramdev — some lying down, others sitting cross-legged in the tent erected at a site where a Hindu festival marking the triumph of good over evil is celebrated every year.

“This anti-corruption fight is very important for the nation,” said one hunger striker who identified herself as Veena as followers chanted “Ramdev” and sang Hindu devotional hymns.

Ramdev’s supporters across the country joined in the fast while a 22-year-old follower in northern Muzzafapur town attempted to set himself on fire to support the guru but was stopped by police.

The Congress administration is worried the protest could mushroom into a populist campaign against the government amid outrage over a slew of corruption scandals, notably a $39 billion telecom scam that has seen a minister arrested.

The bearded guru, who claims he can “cure” homosexuality, cancer and AIDS through yoga and other alternative therapies, accused politicians of gaining vast sums “from the people’s hard-earned money”.

“All corrupt ministers should be given the death sentence,” said Ramdev, who has a huge TV following for his daily yoga show, .

The government issued a statement saying the maximum penalty for corrupt bureaucrats would be “substantially increased” and pledged speedy trials for people accused of corruption but stayed silent on the guru’s demand that they should hang.

“As far as issues we are concerned, the talks (with Ramdev’s representatives) are on (to end the protest). We want to solve the problem of corruption,” said Congress party spokesman Abhishek Manu Singhvi.

But he accused Ramdev of allowing himself “to be remote controlled by political interests,” referring to hardline Hindu nationalists who were on stage with the swami. Ramdev has insisted his anti-graft movement is secular and also invited Muslim clerics to share his podium.

Commentators have questioned the government’s willingness to placate Ramdev, saying it highlighted the administration’s weakness.

“Why is the government so afraid of Ramdev?” asked the tabloid Mail Today in a front page headline, complaining “top ministers do headstands to talk Baba out of his fast plan”.

Others said Ramdev and another social activist, 73-year-old Anna Hazare, who fasted for 98 hours in April demanding a tough anti-corruption law, were holding India’s democracy to ransom with no mandate from the people.

“For the first time in India’s constitutional history, an elected government has been hijacked by intellectual charlatans… even some assorted nutcases and loonies,” wrote Shekhar Gupta, editor of the Indian Express.

Posted in India Forgotten | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on India yoga guru launches anti-graft fast