This is, of course, a matter of legitimate concern to which President Pranab Mukherjee had recently given voice. But if Parliament fails to perform its rightful duties because of the mayhem of party political mudslinging, it is almost inevitable that the Supreme Court steps into the breach. If Parliament functioned normally, so, too, would the executive and the administration. The separation of powers would be in just and proper balance as envisaged in the country’s Constitution. The fact that a number of mainly opposition MPs emphasized the importance of conciliation and compromise is surely a sign of hope that future sessions of Parliament will be allowed to function in the best traditions Indian democracy as was once the case.
Swami’s latest antic
BJP MP Subramaniam Swamy, who brings neither lustre to himself or his party called for the dismissal of Raghuram Rajan, the Governor of the Reserve of India for his alleged destruction of the Indian economy, and his return to the University of Chicago whence he came. Mr Rajan has a global reputation as one of the most cerebral bankers in the world, with some of his most notable former colleagues at Chicago suggesting that he should be appointed chairman of the Federal Reserve in the US. Swamy, not having anything like a similar reputation to preserve – being a Harvard University reject, although not on academic grounds, one understands - and protect can thus afford to be his irresponsible self. But his performance added nothing to the dignity of the Rajya Sabha. (Hindu, Mint (May 18)
State Assembly polls
There was sign of anti-incumbency factor as the the Trinamool Congress in West Bengal and the AIDMK in Tamil Nadu swept to power with increased majorities, confounding mainstream exit polls. The Congess party came a steady second, the Communist Left Front a disappointing third, with the BJP winning three seats. In Tamil Nadu Chief Minister stormed to victory over her DMK and Congress opponents. In Kerala, the Left Front have won power, and in Assam the BJP romped home with a thumping majority over Congress.
India, Japan to tie-up on Chahabar port
In a boost to India’s investment in the Iranian port of Chahabar at the top of the Persian Gulf, linked to Herat in western Afghanistan and a possible hub for India’s ambitious project to develop a railway network to Central Asia, Armenia and the Russian Federation. Japan’s projected partnership in the plan has shared geopolitical interests with India. With China throwing down the gauntlet with its ‘all weather friend Pakistan, and its goal of turning the Baluchistan port of Gwadar, the challenge will have to met appropriately. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Iran should be watched with considerable interest, as will also be the case of the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to Tehran later in August (Times of India May 15)
India-US ‘Red Flag’ air exercise
The Indian and US Air Forces concluded the most expensive and exacting four-week air exercises in Alaska, the world’s most expensive and arduous, to their mutual satisfaction. The Air Forces simulated realistic combat operations in a networked environment. The IAF flew four Sukhoi 30MKIs, four Jaguars and two Ilyushin-78 aerial refueling tankers. The US flew F 16s and other frontline aircraft.
Group Captain H. Assudani said: ‘The objective of this inter-continental deployment was not only to showcase the IAF’s capability in undertaking integrated air operations but also to imbibe operational lessons from the exercise engagements, which will help us add more teeth to our war making capabilituies.’
The teams had to endure sub-zero temperatures during the exervises. US Colonel William Culver said: ‘This was one of the best ’Red Flags’ I have seen. I compliment the exceptional standards displayed by the IAF and am amazed to see all the 10 aircraft the IAF had brought maintaining 100 per cent serviceability for the entire four weeks and their aircraft flying on all days as per plan.’
The IAF made it a point to switch off during its exercises with the US so as not to reveal the radar signatures (Hindu May 15)
The Apple CEO said: ‘India is home to one of the vibrant and entrepreneurial IOS development communities in the world. With the opening of this new facility in Bangaluru, we’re giving developers access to tools which will help them create innovative apps for customers around the world.’ He was greatly taken by enthusiastic crowd at an IPL Twenty/20 cricket match, and promised that Apple planned to be in India for the next 1,000 years. Phew! (Business Line, Hindu, Mint,Times of India May19, 20)
Amazon upbeat on India operations
Amazon, the US e-commerce megastar has invested Rs 15,000 croe in the country and is more than satisfied at the returns. The company’s Chief Financial Officer, Brian Olsavsky, having returned from a weeklong visit to Bangalore and Hyderabad, said: ‘I had a chance to see firsthand the level of invention going on with both customers and sellers. It’s a very exciting time in India…We are inventing things in India that do not exist in other parts of the world. And the team there is one of the best.’ He concluded: ‘We’re very excited by what we see and we will continue to invest heavily in India.’ (Times of India April 30)
India-Bangladesh ties set for higher orbit
India’s nuclear agreement with Bangladesh is a clear sign that their bilateral relations have moved into a higher orbit, with a wide range of other items that are designed to set in motion the modernization of the core sector of the Bangladesh economy. Under the first line of credit India supplied 300 buses, several railway wagons, coaches, locomotives, dredgers for inland waterways and building bridges. Work iin progress include railway expansion, energy and the setting up of two Indian special economic zones. There is also close anti-terrorist security cooperation between Delhi and Dhaka (Times of India May 15) See also page 3.
Mumbai’s bullet train station
With the Rs 98,000 crore, India-Japan bullet train Mumbai to Ahmedabad was finalized and signed in Tokyo last week by an Indian delegation led by Arvind Panagriya, Chairman, NITI Ayog, and Japanese ministers and officials. The bullet train station at Mumbai is to be located in the Bandra Kurla Complerx. Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has promised all assistance in bringing the Mumbai project to fruition (Hindu May 17)
High end SUVs boost ITBP operations
Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs), the usual symbols of high living among smart sets in metropolitan centres, have been acquired by the paramilitary Indo-Tibetan Police Force ((ITBT) have been deployed for high altitude border transport in Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh. ITBT’s General Krishna Chaudhury explained: ‘We were looking for good high powered vehicles at these heights where regular vehicles are not as adept as SUVs.’ The SUVs are for the exclusive use of ITBT troops (Times of India May16)
CIA’s betrayal of Mandela
Western leaders, with Barack Obama in the forefront, were out in force at Nelson Mandela’s funeral singing his praises, the odour of sanctity much in evidence. This being the age of cynicism few ordinary South Africans would have guessed at the time that it was tip-off by the CIA to the security services of the apartheid regime that led to his capture, arrest – as he travelled between Durban and Johannesburg - and trial, leading to his imprisonment on Robbin Island, where was incarcerated for the next 27 years.
British film revelation
Truth will out, and the story of the betrayal is now in the public space, thanks to a British film directed by John Irving. His informant was the late US Vice Consul and CIA operative Donald Richard. The CIA, thus far, has refused to release the documents pertaining to the case (Times of India May 16).
Key Godhra jihadi suspect arrested
Farroq Mohammed Bhana, believed to be one of the masterminds of the GGodhra massacre was arrested by the Gujarat anti-terror squad en route to Godhra to meet his family. For more than 14 years after the massacre of over 50 Hindu pilgrims returning home from Ayodha on a train which on a routine stop at this Gujarat town. Farooq Mohammed had absconded, changing his identity and working as property broker in Mumbai. But the police never gave up; they were rewarded for their diligence when he was caught at the Kalol-Khadki check point (Times of India, Hindu May 20)
Apple CEO comes calling
Tom Cook, Apple CEO, was on a high profile visit to India and has met Prime Minister Narendra Modi. However, his first port of call was Mumbai where was greeted by Anant Ambani, son of Reliance Industries chief, Mukesh Ambani, at the Siddhivinayak Temple. Cook met industry leaders in the city including Cyrus Mistry, Chairman of the Tata Group. Bloomberg reported that Cook will unveil a digital centre for maps in Hyderabad and introduce an accelerator programme for IOS development in Bangaluru.