Tuesday 06th January 2015 17:44 EST

Industrial revival
The new year may well see Indian industry picking up, if the latest manufacturing figures are anything to go by. These are at a two-year high. “A steep rise in new orders from the consumer sector can be seen….In our view  a rise is critical for a meaningful  pick-up for industrial growth,” said Prakash Bhandari, Chief India Economist at the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank. Profit margins (Business Line January 3).
Land Act ordinance
Seeking to strike a balance between the welfare of farmers and the strategic and developmental needs of the country, the Cabinet in New Delhi has passed an ordinance to unshackle defence, infrastructure and rural projects trapped in land acquisition procedures. These amendments have relaxed the requirements of consent and Social Impact Assessment survey for projects, which include national security and defence, rural infrastructure and electrification, affordable housing for the poor and the development of industrial corridors (Hindu December  30)
Likely results
The effect of these measures will be as follows:  Faster processing of acquisitions; fast-track process for defence and defence production; no compromise on compensation or rehabilitation measures; no compulsory social impact assessment for infrastructure, social infrastructure projects; no compulsory consent from farmers for five project categories, such as affordable housing and industrial corridors. Indian industry has welcomed the ordinance (Business Line December 30)
Ericson’s upcoming
Pune plant
Swedish telecom equipment major Ericson’s second Indian manufacturing plant is to be located in Pune The unit is being set up at the Indospace Industrial Park, Makan, Pune and will serve as an export hub for South East Asia, the Middle East and Sub Saharan Africa. Ericson is to invest $15 million initially, with production commencing in 2016. Ericson already has a production facility in Jaipur, which is geared to the domestic Indian market. Ericson is among the first multinational companies to invest in India after the BJP-led government took power and projected the Make in India  plan (Business Line December 30)
Aerospace centre
near Chennai
The Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises is to set up a Rs 200 crore aerospace technology centre at Oragadam, near Chennai, according to MSME Development Institute Director, SMJ Jamkhandi. The ministry has sought 20 acres of land from the Tamil Nadu government for the site. It will be one of four centres, each with its own area of specialization.
Other centres
The other centres to come up will be at Bangalore, Puducherry and Biwandi (in Maharashtra). The Oragan facility will focus on components and electronics as there are a large number of automobile components and electronics manufacturing units in the vicinity. The Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation is planning an integrated aerospace park project in Sriperumbudur. The park will cover design, engineering, manufacturing, servicing and maintenance of aircraft (Business Line December 30)
India-Russia finalize
helicopter deal
India and Russia are working out details for the manufacture of Russian Kamov helicopters for India’s armed forces at a site in India. This will also be an export hub for both countries. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who accompanied President Vladimir Putin on his recent visit to India, said the “understanding is to assemble 400 advanced Kamov-226T helicopters per year built on Russian technologies in India.” The Indian manufacturers are expected to come from the public and private sectors.
Rugged machines
On the operational front, Russian choppers are known for their ruggedness. India’s armed forces are well experienced, over many decades, in using Russian MI-17 helicopters, which are the mainstay of the Indian Air Force in diverse roles and in varied environments.
With India’s Parliamentary Committee expressing concern at the growing gaps in the Air Force and Navy’s operational requirements, under Project 751, Russia has said it is open to technology transfer and joint production of diesel-electric submarines. India having submitted its requirements, Russia has responded with attractive options. Russian officials said that for advanced defence systems, India and Russia should reach an agreement under an inter-governmental framework. “We involve India in very delicate spheres – in the military, in high technology….that we have not proposed with other countries….We are making it with India because we have a certain level political trust and friendship,” said Russian Trade and Commerce Minister Denis Manturov  (Hindu December 22, Mint December 15)
Intelligence fiasco
A sensational New Times report (reproduced in The Telegraph newspaper December 22) details the activities of 30-year-old jihadi computer expert named Zarrar Shah, who together with his Lashkar-e-Toiba team used Google Earth to plot the routes for the Pakistani terror squad to enter Mumbai on 26 November 2008.  “No one put together the whole picture,” said Shiv Shankar Menon, India’s then foreign secretary and later national security adviser to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. “Not the Americans, not the Brits, not the Indians……only once the shooting started did everyone share” what they had in meetings between British and Indian officials and “then the picture became instantly clear.”
BJP’s year, Congress
2014 has, without doubt, been the Bharatiya Janasta Party’s year. It won a momentous victory in India’s general election in May, which brought the Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi to power in Delhi as India’s new Prime Minister. The BJP won an absolute majority in Parliament, while the Congress Party was decimated, reduced to 44 seats from its previous tally of 206 seats. This was no flash-in-the-pan for the BJP, which has gone on to win most of the State Assembly elections and may become a coalition partner in Jammu and Kashmir, where it came a creditable second. For the Congress Party2014 has been a veritable nightmare.
Time for change
Thrashed in the general elections, thrashed again in the State elections, whither Congress? Party Vice President Rahul Gandhi, perceived widely as a nincompoop, cut no ice with electorate, as he led his party’s charge to near oblivion. Party President Sonia Gandhi has been aloof. Time for mother and son to exit for the sake of India’s democratic well-being. India needs a strong two-part system(Hindu December 30)
Sangh hotheads
Corporate India has voiced its misgiving at the conversion antics of elements within the Sangh parivar. The mood of intolerance appears to be spreading and with it deepening social discord. The recent arson attack on an east Delhi Catholic church and attacks on churches in other parts of the country are already having a detrimental effect on India’s image in the United States, wrote K.P. Nayar, The Telegraph’s Diplomatic Correspondent (December 31). The fallout could affect Indo-US investment ties, he warns. On the previous day, business management Gurcharan Das carried a similar message in the Times of India’s editorial page. Hindu religious sites in the US, UK and Continental Europe (all with a Christian heritage) are respected and freedom of worship is assured. The Modi government’s foremost priority is the modernization of the Indian economy. No distractions, please. (Times of India December 24)      
Fanaticism spurned
The agitation to ban Aamir Khan’s film ‘PK,’ fomented by the Bajrang Dal, Shiv Sena et al were dealt significant blows, first by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav’s Uttar Pradesh Samajwadi Dal government, which not only allowed its screening in cinemas across the state, but blessed the film with a tax-waiver. The BJP-ruled Maharashtra government of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis  took a  a similar path minus the tax-waiver.  Both Chief Ministers met the challenge well. “PK” is  proving to the biggest ever box office Bollywood draw.  (Hindu,  January 1 2015)
Radhakrishnan honoured
Dr K. Radhakrishnan, Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO)has been listed as one of the world’s top scientists for 2014 by the prestigious science journal  ‘Nature’. Under his stewardship India launched its Moon and Mars missions, the latter being the only one to achieve success at the first attempt. This was followed last month by the successful launch of India’s GSAT III, the country’s heaviest launch, which was propelled into geosynchronous orbit by an India-made cryogenic engine. Dr Radhakrishnan retired December 31. (Hindu December 25, January 1).

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