It has been a particularly fraught week for India. As if the Bangaluru violence over sharing of the Cauvery waters with Tamil Nadu wasn’t bad enough, the jihadi ambush of an Indian Army administrative post in the Uri sector of Kashmir resulting in the instant deaths of 14 soldiers, followed by four others killed in the crossfire with the terrorists, of whom one died of his wounds.
The print media devoted prime space to the tragedy and India’s like response. The evening news bulletins and discussions on the various TV channels included displays of verbal incontinence and mayhem. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his team of Cabinet ministers looked suitably solemn; 62 per cent of the Indian people, according to an opinion poll, supported a swift military response.
The ruling BJP and the Opposition party sought solace and comfort in mud-slinging exercises that are now par the course. One sensed, yet again, that there would be heated talk, followed by a stream of rancid clichés, then a fading story.
(Print media, Television networks, September 20)
Past BJP, Congress goof ups
If the past be any guide, the BJP government, led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, goofed on the jihadi-hijack of an Air India aircraft; earlier, Vajpayee’s peace journey to Lahore had ensured the Kargil war and loss of over Indian 700 lives, troops who were killed in action. More recently, Prime Minister Modi dropped by Nawaz Sharif’s house in Lahore for a Sharif family birthday bash; the jihadi attack on the Pathancot air base followed shortly afterwards. There were security breaches there, like there were at the army base in Uri. Protective measures around these sensitive sites must be tightened with the utmost urgency
Poor Congress record
The Congress Party in power goofed up on the jihadi assault on Mumbai, November 26, 2008, when a critical commando force was airlifted from Delhi, following a breakdown in bureaucratic traffic and arrived on the scene a full ten hours after the carnage had begun. Neither party, therefore, trails clouds of glory. But Mr Modi keeps twittering reassuring messages to all and sundry, but of a credible Pakistan policy there is, as yet little sign. However, this being a dangerous business, action must be driven by a cool head and careful risk assessments. Revenge is best served cold.
Fresh infiltration bids foiled
Pakistan is helping India speed up its responses to jihadi terrorism from across the border with two infiltration attempts subsequent to the Uri attack. Both attempts were foiled b y prompt Army action. In the fire fights that followed local reports suggest that 8-10 jihadi terrorists were killed for one dead among the Indian troops engaging them. There was no confirmation of the numbers of infiltrators involved
Indian attitude hardens
The government has given the Army a free hand to decide the most appropriate response it deems fit to meet the Pakistani-sponsored terrorist threat. Multiple options are on the table. The Army will choose and where action is necessary. According to the NDTV channel the signs appear ominous Times of India, NDTTV September 20, 21)
Army brigades to move to valley
The Indian Army is to move two brigades – 5000 troops - into North Kashmir to reinforce its forces there. This is partly to make up for redeployment of troops who were switched to the valley. Secondly, the reinforcements up north were designed to plug the gaps in the Line of Control. With Pakistan brazenly increasingly increasing its infiltration levels into Kashmir Indian counter measures are being put in place (Hindu September 22)
Ranks of Kashmiri job seekers swells
The light at the end of Kashmir’s dark tunnel are the swelling lines of job seekers at government offices. They have clearly ignored Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani’s call to the yout of the valley to avoid employment in the civil services. Those wishing to join the police number more than 10,000 and approximate numbers are filling up application forms for employment in other branches of the State administration. It is early days, but the longer the struggle the better the chances of India prevailing. (Times of India September 21.
Pune team’s novel carbon batteries
A team of scientists from the Pune’s National Chemical Laboratory and the Indian Institute of Science and Research Education have used a simple cost-effective way of converting sugarcane bagasse into anode-grade carbon for use in Li-ion batteries. Anode grade carbon being very expensive and timer consumi8ng to produce, the Pune researchers produced high quality carbon within minutes by using a low power microwave system . The results were published in a recent issue of the Journal of Electrochimica Acta ((Hindu September 22)
India’s honeymoon with Modi firm
With a high approval rating of 81 per cent, Prime Minister Narendra Modi continues to enjoy a honeymoon with the Indian public. The poll was conducted by the Pew Research Centre. Eight out of tem respondents were satisfied with the state of the economy. Two out three Indians were satisfied by the general direction of the country (Mint, Times of India September 20)
Navy launches latest stealth warship
India’s second Visakhapatnam stealth warship INS Mormugao was launched recently at the Mazgaon Dock, near Mumbai. INS Mormugao, a guided missile destroyer, is the fifth frontline warship to be serviced for the fleet in the last six years. This latest addition to the IIndian Navy will now start its sea trials. The vessel spans 163 metres in length and displacement of 7,300 tonnes with sophisticated missile systems to match the best in the world. It has a crew of 50 officers and 250 sailours (Times of India September 18)
India, France sign Rafale deal
Following years of tortuous negotiations India and France signed a deal at the weekend for the purchase 36 Rafale aircraft together with an offset and the most advanced weapons system to keep ahead of the game in confrontation with Pakistan and China (Hindu, Times of India, September 24) More on this next week.
Mobius hails RIL’s move
Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd’s entry into the telecom market is set to be a game-changer for the Indian economy, and this impact will be felt across all its sectors, according to Mark Mobius, Executive Chairman Templeton Emerging Markets Group at Franklin Templeton Investments.
Mobius,80, who oversees the Templeton research team based in 18 emerging markets offices, said he would give high marks to the Narendra Modi government for its performance so far ((Mint September 22)
Chennai Metro takes leap forward
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayaram Jayalalithaa inaugurated the Chennai’s metro rail service from Chennai Airport to Little Mount. The St Thomas metro station, which is Corridor II of the project, was also inaugurated. Operations on Corridor I on the lower level of the the Alandur metro has also commenced.
With this inauguration 324 km of metro rail will be operational in Delhi, NCR, Gurgaon, Kolkata, Chennai, Mumbai, Bangaluru and Jaipur. About 520 km is currently under construction in above cities and others, such as, Kochi, Ahmedabad, Nagpur (Business Line September 22)
Optical fibre link approved
The central government has sanctioned an optical fibre cable linking Chennai, Andaman and Nicobar. This will equip the Andaman & Nicobar Islands with appropriate bandwith and telecom connectivity for implementation of e-governance initiatives, and the establishment of e-commerce facilities (Business Line September 22)
India-made products for the world
John Flannery, President and CEO of General Electric Healthcare has described India as an ’incredible innovation market.’ GE takes its locally made Indian products beyond emerging products into developed markets as well. Illustrating why these products are making headway, he told reporters in Delhi that a locally made CT imaging machine was ‘40 per cent less expensive than the product could be anywhere in the world; it consumes 50 per cent less electricity, has a substantially smaller footprint - so it can fit in many places - and the scan time is 28 per cent faster, so that you can get more throughput.’(Business Line September 211)
India third in tech startup exits
A few years ago there were worries that India wasn’t recording exits of startups through mergers and acquisitions or IPOs. However, in the first six months of 2016, India registered the third-highest tech startup exits, according to US startup data base CB Insights.
The US has led the list with 857mergers and acquisitions in the first six months of this year, followed by the UK with 135, India came next with 86 and China with 15 (Times of India September 23)
Maharashtra law absurd
Every now and again RSS-BJP backwoodsmen remind the country that they are alive and well. The Maharashtra government tried moral policing, but the courts shot it down. Its latest caper is banning the sale of alcohol in bars and dance club establishments. The Justices described the measure as ‘absurd’ and ‘absolutely regressive by centuries’. (Hindu September 22)