Bangalore was India’s pride, Bangaluru, as the city is now called, is India’s shame. The orgy of violence witnessed last week, of blazing buses and buildings will be etched in the public memory for decades, a benchmark of horror never to be repeated, one must fervently hope and pray. How rampaging mobs of hooligans could hold an entire city as they roamed at will, looting and pillaging is a mystery that will need answers sooner rather than later. The State government was paralyzed and so, too, it would appear, were the police who moved around like rabbits caught in the headlights. The cost to companies is a staggering: Rs 25,000 crore, the loss of credibility as a place to do business may have taken a heavy knock.
The cause of the mayhem was the Cauvery water dispute between the riparian states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The Supreme Court of India ruled that Karnataka, with the headwaters, should increase its release of water to 15,000 cusecs per month until the end of September for sowing. A Tamil Nadu thug attacked a Kannadiga on the streets of Chennai, the moment captured on camera flashed across Karnataka leading to the retaliation described above. There have also been acts of violence in Tamil Nadu. Conflicts and wars over water may become the norm across continents unless preventive measures are taken quickly.
The curfew that was declared in Bangaluru came a day late – shutting the stable door after the horse had bolted. The city has been limping back to normal, its reputation severely tarnished, its citizenry dazed (Times of India, Hindu, Telegraph, Business Line, Mint, September 12-14)
Mamata Banerjee’s olive branch to Tata
The dust hasn’t quite settled in Singur, where Tata Motors had planned to manufacture its iconic Nano car. The deal was conducted under the auspices of the previous Left Front, Communist-led government, which acquired the land from local farmers. Ms Banerjee then in opposition started a mass protest movement that led Tata to close the project and move it to Gujarat, where the car is now manufactured. The Supreme Court of India ruled recently that the land in Singur had been acquired illegally by the State government, hence the entire project was null and void in law. However, West Bengal needs industrial investment urgently, so letting bygones be bygones, Chief Minister Banerjee has offered a 1,000 acre site in West Midnapur site as an an automotive hub for a fresh project.
The West Bengal Chief Minister at a public meeting said that the land she was offering was from a government land bank, and she gave the Tata a month to take up the offer. Over to you, Tata (Telegraph, Times of India, Hindu September 15)
India, Russia reject China’s FTA
India and Russia shot down a Chinese proposal for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the BRICS group of Brazil , Russia, India, ,China and South Africa. Brazil and South Africa supported the position taken by India and Russia who fear a flood of cheap Chinese goods into their markets..Both countries have an adverse balance in their trade with China, hence are acvutely sensitive to Chinese dumping practices (Hindu September 11)
India, Russia talks on submarine deal
An Indian naval team left for Russia for talks on India’s lease of an advanced nuclear submarine from Russia. India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister with special responsibility for relations with India, Dmitry Rogozin, chaired the 22nd session of the Russia-India Inter-Governmental Commission on Trade, Economic Scientific, Technological and Cultural Cooperation, setting the agenda for Modi-Putin summit later in the year.
India has already leased a nuclear submarine from Russia, which was commissioned into the Indian Navy as INS Chakra.
Planned nuclear fleet
According to reliable reports, Russia has offered another Akula SSN submarine for a ten-year lease. However, India has expressed interest in a newer class of submarine entering service with the Russian Navy. India’s project to build a fleet of 30 nuclear submarines domestically, is based on the experience gained building INS Submarine. (Hindu September 14)
Japan keen to seal Indian naval deal
Japan has started negotiations with India for the sale of its highly prized Shinmaywa US 2 search and rescue aircraft, not for economic gain but for their mutual national interests, said a source in Tokyo. The deal will include the sale 12 of these amphibious planes. The agreement when officially confirmed, will add strategic value to the overall Indo-Japanese relationship at a critical time of Chinese sabre rattling in regional waters. The aircraft are expected to be deployed in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands within easy reach of the South and the Bay of Bengal. (Times of India September 11)
Good monsoon, rise in tractor sales
After two lean years, has come the year of the fat kine. The good monsoon has given rise to increased sales of tractors, giving a boost to rural infrastructure development. Tractor manufacturers have revised their present sales projection to rise by 15-17 per cent from the earlier figure of 10 per cent. ‘With monsoon, it is not just the quantum of rainfall, but the timing and the spread – which also matters, said market leader Mahendra & Mahendra President and CEO Farm Equipment Rajesh Jejurikar (Mint September 15)
Tata Motors, M&M match global peers in R&D
Tata Motors and Mahendra &Mahendra are matching their global peers in investments in Research and Development, spending 5 per cent of their revenues in this niche area, where the average investment of most firms vary from 1 to 2 per cent of revenues. R&D expenditure of most Indian companies have gone up in some cases equaling in percentage of turnover the sums spent by their global peers because Indian consumers are now more demanding than in the past…Clearly competition is pushing the envelope in a quest for increased market share, forcing local players to respond, said Wilfred Aulbur, Managing Partner, Roland Berger Strategy Consultants (Business Line September 13)
India’s start-up ecosystem lauded
LinkedIn aims to digitally map the global economy, hence LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, whose firm bought by Microsoft for $$26.2 billion, with a full promise to keep its autonomy, during an interview in which India came up, said: ‘Yes, this market is exciting for us, you can’t help but be excited in terms of the growth in the overall Indian economy, the growth and the momentum and the acceleration of the spirit of entrepreneurship here, the start-up ecosystem here is amazing.’ (Mint September 14)
The dynastic politics of Uttar Pradesh sports a Yadav brand. Father Mulayam Singh enthroned son Akhilesh as Chief Minister, while keeping a tight leash on his Samajwadi Dal party. Father and son have now fallen out over Mulayam Singh’s elevation of his brother Shivpal as a minister. Not being a docile son, Akhilesh has taken the bit between his teeth and taken on his father and uncle by standing his ground. Mulayam has brokered a compromise as we go to press. (Hindu, Times of India et al September 16, 17)
Rebellious gangster cocks a snook
Mohammed Shabuddin, a self confessed gangster, was released on bail by a Bihar court. He celebrated the occasion by taking out a procession and cocking a snook at Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, whose government has lodged an with the Supreme Court of India against the bail. Trouble is that Shahabuddin was (and is) a member of Lalu Prasad Yadav’s Rastriya Janata Dal, partnering the Janata Dal in a coalition government. Nitish Kumar is under fire for his prohibition legislation which borders on the absurd.
Son’s good sense
Lalu Prasad’s 26 year-old son, Tejashwi, who is a minister, has come out with a laudatory statement that Bihar’s past, when gangsters and criminals of every stripe ruled the roost should be consigned to the past. His own motto was development. Development was key to Bihar’s future progress, he said. More power to your elbow, young man (Telegraph September 16)
India’s salary growth GDP growth mismatch
According Kom Ferry business group report average Indian salaries in real terms grew 0.2 per cent, while GDP growth was 63.8 per cent since global recession in 2008. During the same period Chinese incomes in real terms grew by 10.6 per cent, Indonesia’s by 9.3 per cent and Mexico’s by 8.9 per cent among emerging markets. Income disparities in India remain high (Mint, Hindu September 16)
Congress ousted in Arunachal Pradesh
The Congress party has been ousted from power in the north eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, with the Chief Minister and 42 members of the Legislative Assembly switching sides to a regional ally of the ruling BJP at the centre (Times of India September 17)
Agartala airport test
An Indian Air Force frontline Sukhoi-30MKI landed and took from Agartala airport in Tripura in a test of readiness of all civilian airports across the North East to accommodate military aircraft (Hindu September 16)