Tuesday 25th November 2014 14:22 EST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is on a roll. Several months ago, he took New York by storm at a vast gathering of Indian Americans; he followed this with cordial talks in the White House with President Barack Obama, supplemented later with an extensive conversation with US company chairmen and CEOs on doing business in India, of ways and means to surmount bureaucratic hurdles and make the passage to the country a pleasure. Mr Modi’s visit to Australia has been little short of a triumph. First came the G20 economic summit, followed by an enthusiastic public gathering of Australia’s Indian community in Brisbane, climaxed by an eloquent address in English to Australia’s Parliament in Canberra. Mr Modi struck the right notes throughout. He acknowledged to Australian MPs that his visit to their country was the first by an Indian prime minister in 28 years, that the Indo-Australian relationship had come in from the cold, hence bilateral visits by Indian and Australian prime ministers would henceforth be the norm, not a rarity. He promised to facilitate two-way trade and investment and intensify defence and strategic ties between the two countries. Australian visitors to India would be granted visas on arrival, a measure limited to select countries with whom India enjoyed the closest trust. It was hardly a coincidence that as the speech echoed to all corners of Australia, the Indian Adani Group sealed its purchase of the Carmichael coal mine in Queensland , with the state government helping out in developing the railway to take the coal from source to port, from where it would be shipped to India for power generation, the Queensland government having approved and signed the deal into law.

Shared values

Beyond economics, the Indian Prime Minister made a pointed reference to the shared democratic practices and values and the love of cricket that underpin the Indo-Australian relationship. The thriving Indian diaspora was a bridge between the two countries, he said. Democracy, pluralism and inclusiveness were the beating heart of the Indian polity. Without these it would never have been possible for him, Narendra Modi, who once sold tea at railway stations back home, to stand on the podium of Australia’s Parliament and address its elected legislators. The applause that rang out showed that Mr Modi was on message, that his words were well understood – and appreciated. A new and exciting chapter in Indo-Australian has commenced under the stewardship of two full engaged prime ministers, Narendra Modi and Tony Abbott. [See page 3]

Low farce

Mamata Banerje, the Chief Minister of West Bengal clearly feels that the with ground fast slipping under her feet as the Trinamool Congress sinks deeper into the black hole of urban lawlessness, rural violence, and also by revelations of ministers and party bigwigs being covertly involved in the Saradha ponzi scam. Desperate situations required desperate remedies: hence the beleaguered Chief Minister journeyed to Delhi for the Nehru birth anniversary celebrations to float the bizarre idea of a “secular front” against the ruling BJP government, to include the two communist parties and the mother-and-son Congress rump led by Sonia and Rahul Gandhi. Ms Banerjee, only a few days previously, was cursing and abusing these self-same parties. Now she wants them on board her leaking ship.

Suicide pact


Such an alignment would surely be a case of assisted suicide for all the participants, as the Communist (CPM) leader Prakash Karat recognized when he rejected the Banerjee call. She threw a tantrum on television, when asked of her possible involvement in the Saradha scam. Taming of the shrew could be the title of a book on her term in office, if the shade of one William Shakespeare were to waive the copyright. (Telegraph, Times of India November 18, 19)

Burdwan terror:

suspect held

The National Investigation Agency’s (NIA) pursuit of jihadi terrorists linked to the Burdwan bomb blasts reveals new and unexpected catches by the day, the latest in faraway Hyderabad. Khalid Mohammed, a Rohingya from Myanmar, has been arrested on suspicion that he was the bomb maker and one of the hubs for the transmission of funds across the terror network across West B engal. NIA sources said that Khalid had links with Bangladesh-based terror groups, running terror camps along the Bangladesh - Myanmar border. Khalid, it is believed, received his training from Pakistan’s Tehrik-i-Taliban, one of that country’s foremost jihadi outfits. Under the Trinamool Congress dispensation, Bengal has turned into a hotbed of international terrorism (Telegraph, Times of India, Hindu November 19)

India, not China

Israel’s partner

China is Israel’s’s largest trade partner in Asia, its value a massive $10 billion, compared to the $5 billion with India, although this is expected to increase exponentially with the free trade pact currently under negotiation between the two countries, said Israeli officials speaking to an Indian media delegation in Tel Aviv. India was Israel’s strategic partner, which China was not, they said. This partnership was set to deepen with the Modi government. They pointed to India as the largest buyer of Israeli defence equipment and a partner in the joint development of weapons systems. (Times of India November 18)




India conducted a routine Prithvi-II test of its nuclear-capable surface-to-surface missile, which has a strike range of 350 kilometres. This is part of a periodic user trial by the army. The state-o-the-art missile, which was tested over the Bay of Bengal, is capable of carrying a 500-1000kg warhead from a mobile launcher (Mint November 15)

Army network-centric

by 2020

With the rapid strides in information technology, the Indian Army is gearing up to connect and fully integrate its vast structure by 2020, said Lt General Philip Campose, Vice Chief of the Army Staff. He said the Army would fast track critical communications infrastructure projects in collaboration with industry. To improve the system the Army Static Communications network and the Army Wide Area Network have been put in place. Cloud computing opens up opportunities for seamless connectivity from corps to tactical levels, enabling full battlefield transparency (Hindu November 19)

Indian market


India is the world’s most attractive market over a 5-year timeline, said Christopher Wood, Managing Director of CLSA Ltd, during a newspaper interview. If the country was able to get an investment cycle going similar to the one it had between 2w002-2009, the Sensex would 40,000. He said India would benefit from “negative issues relating to other emerging markets.” Wood said India’s interest rates had peaked, but wasn’t unduly worried about the possibility that the Reserve Bank of India would again defer a rate cut. (Mint November 18)

Infrastructure key

India needs to establish centres of excellence in infrastructure for job creation and introduce single- point clearances in industrial parks as a route to attracting a greater volume of investments, said Ajay Shankar, National Manufacturing Competitive Council Member Secretary. Addressing the thirteenth manufacturing summit, organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry in Mumbai, he said: “Infrastructure and logistics should be the key. There is positive expectation with the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor creating inter-linked new industrial townships and parks.”



These were unavoidable, said Ajay Shankar. “India needs to move beyond ease of doing business. Though the cost is high, there is need to see where we can improve our cost advantage, and achieve new cost advantages.. … The focus should now be on new areas such as ship building and electronics. India had an economic system for advanced manufacturing start-ups, which needed to be fostered for a leap forward in manufacturing, said Shankar. (Hindu November 15)

ONGC investment

Rs 10,000 crore

The board of India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corporation has approved an investment of Rs 10,000 crore in two major projects for enhancing oil and gas production in the country’s western offshore fields. (Hindu November 15)

Tata expansion

Tata International (TIL), India’s largest exporter and manufacturer of leather and leather products, has unveiled its expansion plans. With a presence across several verticals in the leather footwear segment, TIL is setting its sights on a turnover of Rs 14,00 crore in three years from the current Rs 900 crore. “From the current 6.5 million pairs of footwear annually, we are targeting 11million pairs in three years. Of this 10 million will come from exports and one million from the domestic market,” said N.Mohan, head of TIL’s Global Business (Hindu November 19)

Troops punished

for fake encounter

Five soldiers of the Indian Army, including two officers, have been sentenced to life imprisonment for shooting dead three unemployed Kashmiri youths and passing them off as Pakistani jihadis in a stage managed encounter in the Machil sector, in April 2010, along sector of Jammu and Kashmir Line of Control. The general court martial recommended that the guilty men, one a colonel, be cashiered from service. The rule of law had prevailed (Times of India November14)

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