Tuesday, January 31, 2012

‘FOCUSED ON MARITIME SAFETY AND SECURITY’


THE INDIAN COAST GUARD -
FOCUSED ON MARITIME SAFETY AND SECURITY


New Delhi, 01 Feb 2012

The Indian Coast Guard is celebrating its 35th anniversary on                 01 Feb 2012. Since its inception, the service has grown into a multi-faceted and vibrant force, maintaining ‘round the clock’ vigil in the Maritime Zones of India, by deploying its multi-role ships and aircraft.

Beginning with a modest inventory of two ex-naval frigates, the service today boasts of a force-level of 68 ships and 52 aircraft.  During the past year, one ship, four interceptor boats, four Dornier aircraft and two Chetak helicopters have been commissioned into service, in addition to the establishment of six CG Stations and two Air Enclaves.

The Indian Coast Guard today, is on a path of rapid expansion, as a large number of state-of-art ships, boats and aircraft are under-construction at various shipyards/PSUs. The service is expected to attain a force-level of              77 surface platforms and 56 aircraft by end 2012. The Coast Guard will also have 42 CG Stations, four Air Stations and 11 Air Enclaves functioning all along the coast, by the end of 2012.

On the manpower front, the service has initiated several measures to augment its manpower viz. introduction of short service appointment for women officers and CPL holders, increase in number of recruitment centres, departmental promotions of outstanding Subordinate Officers and conduct of special recruitment drives.
                                                         


As far as CG operations are concerned, an average of 18 ships and five aircraft are tasked daily, to keep the vast Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and coastline under constant surveillance. Further, the establishment of Coastal Surveillance Network (CSN) is being progressed to boost the surveillance capabilities along the coastline. 46 CSN Stations are being     set-up under Phase-I of the project.

Coastal Security has been on the fore-front of CG operations for the past few years. Today, Coast Guard stations and coastal marine police stations are functioning as ‘Hub and Spoke’ for information outflow. Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for coastal security of all the coastal States / Union Territories have been promulgated by the Indian Coast Guard. Synergy amongst various stake-holders is achieved by conduct of regular exercises and operations, and subsequent review of the SOPs. 17 such exercises and       19 operations have been conducted during the last one year.

The service has also formed a bond with fishermen, by conducting regular community interaction programmes, so that they act as ‘eyes and ears’ for coastal security. About 400 such community interaction programs have been conducted since Jan 2011. Provisioning of biometric identity cards for fishermen and uniform registration of fishing boats for precise identification at sea, is under progress.

Search and Rescue operations within the Indian Search and Rescue Region are undertaken by the Indian Coast Guard. Professional and dedicated efforts of the service have resulted in saving of 415 lives last year. A Search and Rescue exercise was also conducted off Mumbai on 14 Jan 12, in which international observers from seven countries participated.



The Indian Coast Guard has carved a niche for itself at the international level and is today recognised as a leading Coast Guard in the region. Institutionalized visits as per Memorandum of Cooperation/Understanding with Japan Coast Guard and Korea Coast Guard are being conducted regularly. On 29 Jan 12, a combined Indo-Japan Coast Guard exercise was conducted off Chennai. The Indian Coast Guard, also hosted a Capacity Building Workshop with ReCAAP (Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia) in Nov last year, at Goa. In addition, a bi-annual Joint exercise ‘Dosti’ is also conducted with the Maldives National Defence Force.

The Indian Coast Guard has evolved into a mature and highly capable maritime force with state-of-the-art ships, boats and aircraft. The theme of the Indian Coast Guard for the year 2012 is ‘Focused on Maritime Safety and Security’, which aptly reflects the commitment and resolve of the service, and is in tune with its motto ‘Vayam Rakshamah’ meaning ‘We Protect’

Monday, January 30, 2012

Opposition obstructs proceedings in Nepal Parliament

Nepal , the opposition parties continued to obstruct the proceedings of the Parliament on Sunday.

The Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and other fringe parties have been demanding that the government take back it’s decision to legalize the land transactions made by the Unified Communist party of Nepal -Maoist (UCPN-M) during the decade old conflict.

For the sixth time, the proceedings of the Parliament in Kathmandu have been obstructed and the Speaker adjourned the House till Wednesday.

The opposition continues to obstruct the proceedings of Parliament for the sixth consecutive time on the government’s decision to legalise the land transaction made by the Maoist parallel government during the decade long insurgency.

The matter is now in the Supreme Court which has passed an interim stay order, on which the Prime minister has told the opposition leader that the matter will be kept in abeyance.

However the opposition has said that they want the decision revoked.

In a program at Kathmandu on Sunday the Nepali Congress leader Arjun N arsingh KC said the present government could lose power if they go ahead with the decision, while the maoist leader C. P Gajurel said that it was the best decision taken by the present Baburam Bhattari led government.

Another difference that continues to persist between the ruling Maoist party and the opposition parties as the country continue in its transition to completing the peace process and constitution drafting.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Aung San Suu Kyi on election campaign trail

Aung San Suu Kyi, visit coastal town of Dawei on a political tour ahead of by-elections on 1 April.
She initiated  first time her election venture outside Rangoon for  months her visit is seen as litmus test  how she and her party are able to campaign.Military  new administration entered into dialogue with Ms Suu Kyi and has changed the electoral laws that led to the NLD to poll.

Aung San Suu Kyi's party, the National League for Democracy (NLD) is contesting all the available constituencies in the coming by-elections.She herself is seeking office in the rural township of Kawhmu.
Aung San Suu Ky flocked by  many thousands  to see Nobel peace prize winner, who was released from house arrest in 2010.Burmese government is planning to build a huge industrial complex in Dawei, which could transform the region.NLD is running for all 48 seats up  in the ensuing polls. Suu Kyi is standing in a rural constituency near Rangoon. Sunday's visit was in support of Aung Soe, the party's candidate in a local township."If we move in the right direction our country will have many opportunities. We are eager to seize them," she said in a speech in Dawei earlier."For the security of the people, the rule of law is very important...We hope to give back to the people by working for more stability in people's lives."
The 66-year-old, known here as "The Lady", also spoke about democratic principles and job creation for educated young people.Local people brought flowers and gifts and held up their children to see the NLD leader, who spent much of the past two decades in detention, with banners proclaiming "You are our heart".
Traffic clogged the roads as Suu Kyi's convoy, trailed by a large number of cars and motorbikes, travelled around the district through villages and Aung Soe's constituency.Suu Kyi's outing took her to the area set to be transformed by a huge industrial site and strategic deep sea port, the Dawei Development Project.
Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari conferred the Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Award for Democracy on Myanmar’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Wednesday in recognition of her outstanding services for the cause of democracy.
The award was presented to Suu Kyi by Aseefa Bhutto Zardari at a ceremony held at the residence of the Myanmar leader. PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and members of the visiting Pakistani delegation attended the ceremony.President Zardari lauded the services of Suu Kyi for democracy and said she was a source of inspiration for millions around the world.President Asif Ali Zardari returned to Karachi on Wednesday after a two-day visit to Myanmar where he held talks with its leadership on boosting cooperation in trade, commerce and other fields.
  From US several senators from both parties went to Myanmar and they all came back cautiously optimistic about reforms there, and ready to consider lifting some of the sanctions on the country.
Senators,John McCain , Joe Lieberman , Kelly Ayotte , and Sheldon Whitehouse visited Myanmar earlier this month as part of their whirlwind tour around Southeast Asia, the Philippines, Thailand, and the Hanoi Hilton in Vietnam, the POW camp where McCain was held during the Vietnam War. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Rep. Joe Crowley too visited Myanmar over the winter break on separate trips.

Indian Govt to take up Indonesia's proposal on coal tax

The government is trying to take up the issue of Indonesia proposing a tax of exports of coal at bilateral level, Coal Secretary Alok Perti said on Saturday.

"We have taken up the issues of export tax and restrictions in certain quality of coal by the Indonesian government with the Ministry of External Affairs and Finance Ministry," Perti said on the sidelines of the Fourth Asian Mining Congress and International Exhibition in Kolkata on Saturday.

"We are trying to negotiate on the issue on a bilateral level," Perti added.

Indonesia plans to impose export duty on coal and minerals from 2012 and a total ban from 2014 to discourage export without value addition and to encourage base metal and coal downstream industry development.

There was also talk of export of only value-added coal of more than 5,600 kilocalories (kcal) by Indonesia from 2014 onwards.

According to analysts, there would be an overall impact on the Indian power sector, as currently over 50 percent of the total thermal coal imports came from Indonesia.

India's coal import is likely to jump to 140 million tonnes in 2012. Perti also expressed concern over Australia's proposal to impose Mineral Resource Rent Tax (or MRRT). "Australia's proposal for a MRTT will also have an impact," he said.

Commenting on the issue, Arun Jagatramka, chairman and managing director of Gujarat NRE Coke, which has coal blocks in Australia, said: "There is still no clarity on the tax matter by Australia".

Speaking on coal shortage in the country, Perti said, "Coal India is planning to add 100 million tonne of additional production on a conservative basis during the 12th plan period (2012-17) to meet the growing demand.

He pointed out that if environmental issues were sorted out production could be increased to 150 million tonnes during the period.

"The Prime Minister's office is holding talks with coal, power and environment ministries to sort out issues," Perti said.

The Coal Ministry plans to rationalise coal linkages in the 12th plan period to meet the demand on a viability basis. Perti, however, did not elaborate on the issue.

Taj Mahal's minaret tilted 3.57 cm in three decades: ASI

Taj Mahal's minaret tilted 3.57 cm in three decades: ASI

Is a leaning Pisa Tower in the making in India? It appears so. According to the Archaeological Survey of India, the South west minaret of the famed Taj Mahal has recorded a tilt of 3.57 cm in three decades. But overall there is no significant change in its heights.

This has been revealed in an affidavit filed by it in the Supreme Court in response to the apex court's direction for the latest survey report on Taj Mahal.

The direction was given following reports that the historical monument is facing danger to its structure owing to environmental pollution.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

ITALIAN INITIATIVES FOR THE KOLKATA BOOK FAIR

ITALIAN INITIATIVES FOR THE KOLKATA BOOK FAIR Italy has been invited to participate as Partner Country to the 36th Kolkata International Bookfair 2012, reciprocating India’s participation in 2010 in the Book Fair in Turin , the largest of its kind in Italy which takes place every year in May.  The Italian participation in the Kolkata Book Fair will not only promote Italian literature with the participation of some of the most translated and best known Italian writers such as Dacia Maraini, Alessandro Baricco, Beppe Severgnini, Valerio Massimo Manfredi but also authors with a longstanding relation with India and its culture such as Angela Staude Terzani and Sandra Petrignani. Indian authors who contribute to promote Italy in India  such as Ritu Dalmia or Dileep Padgaonkar will also participate.  On this ocassion, Embassy of Italy and Istituto Italiano di Cultura are holding the following event   MEET THE AUTHORS KOLKATA BOOK FAIR – COLLATERAL EVENTS in Delhi   Dacia Maraini                              31st January, 6:30      in conversation with Ms. Urvashi Butalia                   Valerio Massimo Manfredi         Ist February, 6:30 pm        in conversation with Mahmood Farooqui           Beppe Severgnini                         2nd February, 6:30 pm       in conversation with  Jug Suraiya   Due to unforseen circumstances, Mr. Shekhar Gupta is not able to make it. Mr. Jug Suraiya has kindly consented to hold the conversation with Mr. Beppe Severgnini. Please find the invite and a profile of Mr. Suraiya.   All the above events will take place at 6:30 pm at Multimedia Hall, Istituto Italiano di Cultura Regards, Istituto Italiano di Cultura 50-E, Chandragupta Marg, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi - 110 021

FILMS ON SPIRITUALITY & FAITH

THE FOUNDATION FOR UNIVERSAL RESPONSIBILITY
of His Holiness the Dalai Lama
&
INDIA INTERNATIONAL CENTRE

present
FILMS ON
SPIRITUALITY & FAITH

a series
of monthly screenings
28th February 2012 6.30 PM
THE MODERN
MYSTIC - SRI M OF MADANAPALLE
DIRECTED
BY RAJA CHOUDHURY
72
MINS
28th March 2012 6.30 PM

THE
SALTMEN OF TIBET
DIRECTED
BY ULRIKE KOCH
109
MINS

3rd April 2012 6.30 PM
THAKUR
DIRECTED
BY RAJIV MEHROTRA
112
MINS
Venue: Auditorium, India International Centre
40 Max Mueller Road, New Delhi, India


We are happy to send the above three months film screening details to you and also I would like to request to add these in your events/programme listing if possible. Your consideration and supports for our programmes are highly appreciated.

Friday, January 27, 2012

India Art Fair 2012

Suu Kyi audio broadcast at World Economic Forum

Aung San Suu Kyi ,In an audio broadcast played to delegates in the main hall, she said: “We yearn to be a part of the global community: not only to be economically and socially connected, but also to achieve the domestic political stability and national reconciliation that would enable us to fully address the needs of our people.”

She also addressed the forum last year.

Here is the full text of her remarks:

Distinguished guests – heads of state, government and UN officials, leaders of global companies, representatives of the media, academia, NGOs, and young global leaders: I am very honoured and privileged to have this opportunity to address the World Economic Forum in Davos.

I would especially like to extend my appreciation to Professor Klaus Schwab and the organizers of this influential gathering of leaders who are committed to improving the state of this planet.

Over the past few years, despite my isolation from much of the world, I have been able to follow closely the global response to the economic downturn through listening assiduously to radio broadcasts. While the challenges were immense, the response was both swift and strong. Of course much still remains to be done.

Our global interdependence has compelled and resulted in increased cooperation.

In this context, however, I would like to speak on behalf of the 55 million people of Burma who have for the most part been left behind. We yearn to be a part of the global community: not only to be economically and socially connected, but also to achieve the domestic political stability and national reconciliation that would enable us to fully address the needs of our people.

Economic policies linked to human development and capacity building are the best path to the achievement of stability in a democratic transition. We have already missed so many opportunities because of political conflicts in our country over the last 50 years.

Despite an abundance of natural resources, Burma's development has lagged far behind its neighbours. Our government annually spend about 40 percent of our GDP on the military and barely two percent on health and education combined.

The young people of Burma need the kind of education that has enabled young global leaders, some of who are present at this gathering, to excel so early in their careers. We need investments in technology and infrastructure. We need to counter and eventually eradicate widespread poverty by offering opportunities that will allow the entrepreneurial spirit of our people to be gainfully harnessed through micro lending programmes.

The National League for Democracy has in fact embarked on an experimental micro credit scheme on a very small scale. We need to address the tragic consequences of preventable diseases, particularly in conflict zones and rural areas.

At the same time, we also need to pay close attention to the costs and collateral damage of our development, whether environmental or social. These however can be contained if we plan ahead responsibly. In addition to these enormous challenges, we also need to reform our legal system that we might be able to attract foreign direct investment and guarantee the rule of law.

I believe that as necessary steps towards integration within the global community Burma must achieve national reconciliation, political stability, and economic growth grounded in human resources development.

Without the first two, which are essential for the basic requirements of good governance such as transparency, accountability, credibility and integrity, social and economic development will remain mere pipe dreams.

I would like to request those who have invested or who are thinking of investing in Burma to put a premium on respect for the law, on environmental and social factors, on the rights of workers, on job creation and on the promotion of technological skills.

Such an approach would not only be in line with a global sense of responsibility, it would lead in the long run to greater benefits for all concerned. I look forward to the day when there will be a political and social environment that is favourable to a wide range of investments in Burma. We are certainly in need of innovation and diversification if our country is to fulfill the aspirations of its people and catch up with the rest of the world.

I would like to appeal to all those present at this gathering to use their particular opportunities and skills as far as possible to promote national reconciliation, genuine democratization, human development and economic growth in Burma that our people may in turn be able make their own contribution towards a safer happier world.

Each year Davos draws more than 2,500 business, political and academic leaders for a five-day program of workshops and panel discussions on economic and cultural affairs.

Burma has a high growth potential

International Monetary Fund (IMF) team says Burma has the potential to become “the next economic frontier in Asia.” Meral Karasulu, the deputy division chief of the Asia and Pacific Department at the International Monetary Fund, who led the IMF assessment team, said in a statement released on Wednesday:

“Burma has a high growth potential and could become the next economic frontier in Asia, if it can turn its rich natural resources, young labor force, and proximity to some of the most dynamic economies in the world, into its advantage.


”The IMF team studied current processes and analyzed factors that could streamline and enhance Burma’s financial system, including aspects of its budget expenditures.

“As this essential process continues, channeling the reform momentum to improving monetary and fiscal management and to structural reforms would allow taking full advantage of the positive effects of exchange rate unification,” she said.

Karasulu said modernizing Burma’s economy would require changes to enhance the business and investment climate, modernizing the financial sector, and further liberalizing trade and foreign direct investment.

She said Burma’s real GDP growth is expected to increase to 5½ per cent in FY2011/12 and 6 percent in FY2012/13, driven by commodity exports and higher investment supported by robust credit growth and improved business confidence.

“Inflation, projected at 4.2 percent for FY2011/12, is expected to pick up to 5.8 per cent in FY2012/13 as the recent decline in food prices phases out,” she said.

She noted that the parallel market exchange rate of the kyat has appreciated by about 32 per cent in nominal effective terms since end-FY2009/10. The appreciation pressures are primarily due to large foreign inflows into the economy, which cannot find an outlet due to exchange restrictions on current international payments and transfers, she said.

The technical work by the Central Bank of Myanmar (CBM) is already under way to establish the necessary market structure. Ultimately, the unification of the exchange rate would require moving away from the “export first” policy. In light of the appreciation pressures, she said certain exchange restrictions can be removed immediately, for example, by allowing the use of all foreign currency bank account balances for imports, easing import licensing requirements and access to the newly established foreign exchange retail counters.

“A successful exchange rate unification would require improvements in all areas of macroeconomic management,” she noted. “This will have to start with establishing a monetary policy framework to focus on price stability. The authorities’ plan to grant operational autonomy and accountability to CBM is a welcome first institutional step towards this goal.”

Noting Burma’s recent reduction in interest rates, she said, “We do not see room for further interest rate cuts in the near term in light of the buoyant growth expectations and the inflation outlook. Within the current regulatory constraints on financial intermediation and impediments to productive investment, lower real interest rates would risk channeling savings to potentially speculative outlets, such as real estate.”

Stimulating productive investment is now resting on structural policies to reduce barriers to private sector development and improve financial intermediation, she said.

 “The discussion of the 2012/13 budget in the new Parliament provides a historic opportunity to redefine national spending priorities and bring fiscal transparency,” she said. “We welcome the authorities’ plans to reorient spending to health and education, while targeting a moderate fiscal deficit, which we project to be about 4.6 percent of GDP, about 1 percent lower than the last year’s deficit. A prudent fiscal policy is essential to maintain macroeconomic stability, especially during the exchange rate unification process.

She sad overall, Burma’s fiscal balance is expected to improve in the medium term, but mainly due to new gas exports from the Shwe and Zawtika projects once they come on line.

“These additional revenues should be used to build human capital and infrastructure,” she said. “These are key priorities to alleviate poverty and reduce bottlenecks to industrialization,” she said. “The sizable development needs of Myanmar would require additional fiscal revenues, primarily from non-resource based sources, to safeguard fiscal sustainability and prevent boom-and-bust cycles associated with fluctuations in commodity prices. There is room to increase revenues by improved tax policies that should emphasize direct taxation over indirect taxes to protect the poor.”

“The adoption of a market-determined exchange rate in SEEs’ operations would allow better assessment of their performance, and provide an opportunity to accelerate SEE reforms. These efforts should focus on containing their losses by gradually reducing regressive subsidies, which benefit higher income groups, to protect the most vulnerable poor.

 A key to Burma’s growth potential lies in more banks, she said. “Modernization of the financial system should be expedited to facilitate broad-based growth. Improvements to financial intermediation should begin by phasing out the deposit-to-capital ratio and expanding the list of collateral, including to all crops. Expansion of bank networks, especially in rural areas, is essential to increase access to finance.


Nurturing a stronger commercial banking culture requires price competition. Interest rate liberalization started with some freedom in setting deposit rates, and should be extended to loan products. A level playing field between state and private banks, including in the areas of regulation and supervision, is critical to promote competition.”

Allowing joint ventures with foreign banks would expedite the transfer technology and prepare the sector for Asean financial integration in 2015, she said.

Another key reform area lies in he agriculture sector, which  needs more credit to increase productivity and improve rural livelihoods.

“The planned land reform provides a unique opportunity, and should ensure that land titles of farmers can be used as collateral. However, credit alone will not suffice to increase rural growth, which is essential to alleviate poverty,” she said. Investment in rural infrastructure, including through community-driven development initiatives, and spending on health and education, are also essential.

Expert Committee on Sugar Sector

Prime Minister constitutes an Expert Committee on Sugar Sector Prime Minister has constituted an Expert Committee under the Chairmanship of Dr. C. Rangarajan, Chairman Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister, to examine issues relating to the sugar sector. The other members of the committee are:

1. Dr. Kaushik Basu, Chief Economic Adviser, Ministry of Finance
2. Secretary, Department of Food and Public Distribution
3. Secretary, Department of Agriculture
4. Dr. Ashok Gulati, CACP
5. Shri Nand Kumar, former Secretary, Department of Food and Public Distribution and Department of Agriculture and Cooperation and presently Member NDMA
6. Dr. K.P. Krishnan, Secretary EAC – Convener

The Committee has been empowered to involve such experts, academics as required as special invitees. The Committee will look into all the issues relating to de-regulation of the sugar sector and it has been requested to complete its task as early as possible and give its recommendations to the Prime Minister. The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution has been requested to provide the necessary support to the Committee in discharging its functions.

“Vivekananda Memorial Programme for Museum Excellence”

Union Finance Minster Shri Pranab Mukherjee would be leaving for the two day official visit to Chicago, US on the early  morning of Saturday,28th January, 2012. During his visit, the Finance Minister’s first engagement on arrival would be to address the Chicago Council on Global Affairs where large number of business leaders of the Corporate World are likely to participate.
 Finance Minister Shri Mukherjee include unveiling of Swami Vivekananda Memorial Plaque at the Art Institute of Chicago, inauguration of exhibitions of Tagore Paintings at Art Institute of Chicago and signing of two agreements by the Ministry of Culture, Government of India with the (a)Art Institute of Chicago for the “Vivekananda Memorial Programme for Museum Excellence” and (b) with the University of Chicago for an endowment to establish “The Indian Ministry of Culture Vivekananda Chair.”   

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Dr Manmohan Singh
First woman PM of Thailand, Ms.Yingluck Shinawatra will be the Chief Guest at the Republic Day celebrations this year

Myanmar, Mr. U. Wunna Maung Lwin called on the Prime Minister

Myanmar, Mr. U. Wunna Maung Lwin called on the Prime Minister

Dr Manmohan Singh
Foreign Affairs Minister of Myanmar, Mr. U. Wunna Maung Lwin called on the Prime Minister today
Posted just now by

Tell President Obama to support in word and deed democracy and human rights in Egypt and Bahrain!

Dear Naresh,
President Obama asserted in last night's State of the Union address that the United States is a global leader.
He said that the United States "will stand for the rights and dignity of all human beings" and that it "will support policies that lead to strong and stable democracies...because tyranny is no match for liberty."
We agree. But as the people of Egypt build a new government and as human rights defenders and NGO's in Bahrain call for democratic reforms, tyranny continues.
Tell President Obama to support in word and deed democracy and human rights in Egypt and Bahrain!
We've seen a positive impact when the United States leads and it must do so more concretely in the Middle East. Last weekend, President Obama called Egyptian Field Marshal Tantawi to condemn SCAF's recent violence against peaceful protesters and raids in NGO's. He reminded him that an active civil society and respect for human rights are foundations for a stable democracy. We need more of this leadership.
In Bahrain, despite recommendations by its own Independent Commission of Inquiry, the monarchy continues to attack, harass, and detain human rights defenders who are calling for democratic reforms. Medics and peaceful protesters continue to receive unfair sentences in sham trials and international NGO's—including Human Rights First—are denied entry to document abuses. Yet the United States remains silent on these abuses.
To lead in the Middle East, President Obama must give unequivocal support for human rights and democracy in Egypt and Bahrain. He must openly criticize attacks against NGO's and human rights defenders in the region.
Tell President Obama to call for an effective transition to civilian rule in Egypt and an end to violence against peaceful protesters in Bahrain!
Sincerely,
Neil Hicks
Human Rights First

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

India Art fair Saturday, 28th January 2012

Saturday, 28th January 2012
12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
Session 7
Topic : The Arab Spring and the Broadening Gulf
Speakers : Judith Greer, Associate Director, International Programmes, Sharjah Art
Foundation Suzanne Cotter, Curator, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Project,
Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation
Moderator : Kavita Singh, Associate Professor, School of Arts & Aesthetics, JNU
214
Speakers’ Forum
Over the past decade, the Arab world has emerged as a node in the global art network. Growing wealth in the oilrich states supported an extensive art infrastructure, including art fairs, art collections, museums and bienalles. At the same time, the less wealthy Arab regions in northern Africa and the Levant remain centres of artistic production and political and intellectual ferment. What is the present and likely future of art in the Arab world? Will changes there have an impact India? Two eminent speakers – the former director of the Sharjah Biennale and the curator for the
Guggenheim, Abu Dhabi discuss a world that the Indian art scene knows little about, but which is of vital interest.

1:30 pm - 2:30 pm Lunch

2:30 pm - 4:00 pm
Session 8
Topic : De-coding the Indian Art Market: A look at the driving factors behind
collecting art
Speakers : Amrita Jhaveri, Art Consultant Mumbai, London
Tim Marlow, Director of Exhibitions, White Cube
Kiran Nadar, Art Collector and Chairperson, Kiran Nadar Museum of Art
Prateek Raja, Director, Experimenter
Jan Dalley, Financial Times Arts Editor, UK
Moderator : Priyanka Mathew, Head of Sale for Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art,
Sotheby’s, New York
The value of Indian art has risen by multiples over the last decade making it one of the fastest growing art markets globally. The panel will analyze the factors that influence the acquisition of art both in the primary market through the galleries as well as via the auction market and will consider the appetite of Indian collectors for art from beyond the subcontinent. It will take a closer look at the strength of the market for Indian Art and consider how similar or different this market is to other art markets.
4:30 pm - 6:00 pm
Session 9
Topic : You don’t have to be a Millionaire to Collect Art
Speakers : Parmesh Shahani, Art Collector, Mumbai
Sonal Sood, Art Collector, Delhi
Moderator : Maithili Parekh, Director, Sotheby’s
215
He was a postal clerk in New York, she was a librarian. With their modest means, the couple managed to build one of the most important contemporary art collections in history. Meet Herb and Dorothy Vogel, whose shared passion defied stereotypes and redefined what it means to be an art collector. In its India premier at the IAF 2012, Herb and Dorothy, the documentary by Megumi Sasaki on this legendary art collector couple, highlights why art collecting is not necessarily for only the privileged or moneyed, it is for the passionate art lover. Following the screening of the Vogel documentary, Maithili Parekh will be in conversation with two Indian collectors – Parmesh Shahani and Sonal Sood – both of whom have built substantial art collections with modest budgets.
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Session 10 Artists’ Conversations
Speakers : Marc Quinn, Artist
Bharti Kher, Artist
A Balasubramaniam, Artist
Moderator : Sara Raza, Independent curator, critic and editor
Art Asia Pacific magazine (West and Central Asia)
As part of the informal talks’ programme London based independent curator and editor for Art Asia Pacific magazine (West and Central Asia) will be in conversation with a selection of high profile Indian and international artists. Guests include pioneers of the Young Indian Artists’ (YIA) movement Bharti Kher and A Balasubramanium along with one of the defining Young British Artists’ (YBAs) set Marc Quinn to discuss their artistic practices.

Our security interests are intertwined with Myanmar: Krishna



Seeking deeper bilateral ties in strategic areas between Myanmar and India, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna on Tuesday said New Delhi's security interests are "intertwined" with that of Nay Pyi Taw.

"We have traditional and civilisational relationship with Myanmar. Our trade links have been very ancient and our security interest are intertwined with Myanmar," Krishna said while welcoming Myanmar Foreign Minister Wunna Maung Lwin in New Delhi.
His comments came in the backdrop of the "17th National Level Meeting to Strengthen Border Issues" between the two countries that was concluded at Nay Pyi Taw last week.
In a statement issued by the Union Home Ministry today, it said both sides discussed in detail security related issues like presence of Indian Insurgent Groups (IIGs) along Indo-Myanmar border, exchange of intelligence information and arms smuggling.
Home Secretary R K Singh, who led the Indian delegation mentioned about IIGs camps and training facilities in Myanmar and sought Myanmar's cooperation in dealing with the IIG's activities.
On his part Lwin, who is here on an official visit, said it was a pleasure and honour for him to come to New Delhi.
"We have a very historic and long tradition of bilateral relations between our two countries".
"I look forward to future bilateral discussions about the strengthening and enhancing the existing bilateral relations in the field of political, security, social and economic development of the two countries," he said.
Incidentally, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari will embark on a two-day official visit to Myanmar today where he will call on pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and hold talks with the country's top leadership.
Lwin also met with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during the day.
He also held talks with Krishna during which the two sides "positively" assessed the development in bilateral relations after the "landmark" state visit of the Myanmar President Thein Sein to India in October last year.
India welcomed the steps taken by Myanmar towards national reconciliation and democratic transition.
"Both sides discussed measures to enhance mutually beneficial cooperation, including in the areas of trade and commerce, security, agriculture, health, culture, science and technology, human resource development and capacity building".
"The Indian side reiterated its continued support for infrastructure development and cooperation projects for the benefit of the people of Myanmar," a statement issued by the Ministry of External Affairs said.
The two Foreign Ministers underlined the significance of such projects which could improve connectivity between India and the other countries of South East Asia through Myanmar.
"India welcomed the steps being taken by the government of Myanmar towards national reconciliation and democratic transition".
"India also expressed its support for Myanmar to continue playing its due role among the comity of nations," it said.

India concerned over victory of "dark forces" of terrorism



India has sought a cautious approach on the US-backed peace talks with the Taliban, warning against a victory for the "dark forces of terrorism" if such negotiations are put on a fast track.

"While we agree that ultimately there would have to be political solution, we also believe that this should not become an over-riding objective that needs to be achieved at all costs for that would risk the prospect of the victory of the dark forces of terrorism and extremism that have plagued the region for long," Indian Ambassador to the US, Nirupama Rao has said.
India has been "fully supportive of US efforts to fight terrorism in Afghanistan and to bring stability there.
In this regard we are keenly watching recent efforts for a political dialogue," Rao said.
"Let us not wait for the dusk and the owl of Minerva to spread its wings, with awareness coming too late.
Too much is at stake both for Afghanistan, and for our region in what happens in that country," Rao said.
Rao said both India and the US understand the imperative of ensuring success in Afghanistan.
"We have been engaged in developmental assistance efforts in Afghanistan at considerable human and economic cost," she said.
Rao said India's vision of Afghanistan is that it should become a stable peaceful and a very strong democratic country.
"It's a very diverse and pluralistic society like India. How do you cohere all the different ethnic groups and interest together. That's the challenge," she said
Rao said India is closely watching the peace talks with the Taliban. The top Indian diplomat in the US was delivering key note address at the Seminar.
"India as a Global Power:Contending Views from India" jointly organized by the Center for a New American Security, in partnership with The George Washington University's Rising Powers Initiative.
Now the dialogue that has been launched with the Taliban, we have to see where that goes.
But our vision for Afghanistan is that the progress that has been made in the last decade and a little more than that should not be turned back.
The benefits that have accrued to women and children particularly should not be diminished in any way.
India's total assistance totaling to Afghanistan so far has been over USD 2 billion, which she said has been guided by the priorities of the Afghan government and people.
"We are in fact supplementing our individual assistance efforts with joint projects with the US in areas such as in capacity building, agriculture and women's empowerment in Afghanistan," she said.

President Obama’s 2012 State of the Union address

President Obama’s 2012 State of the Union address

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow Americans:
Last month, I went to Andrews Air Force Base and welcomed home some of our last troops to serve in Iraq. Together, we offered a final, proud salute to the colors under which more than a million of our fellow citizens fought – and several thousand gave their lives.
We gather tonight knowing that this generation of heroes has made the United States safer and more respected around the world. For the first time in nine years, there are no Americans fighting in Iraq. For the first time in two decades, Osama bin Laden is not a threat to this country. Most of al Qaeda’s top lieutenants have been defeated. The Taliban’s momentum has been broken, and some troops in Afghanistan have begun to come home.
These achievements are a testament to the courage, selflessness, and teamwork of America’s Armed Forces. At a time when too many of our institutions have let us down, they exceed all expectations. They’re not consumed with personal ambition. They don’t obsess over their differences. They focus on the mission at hand. They work together.
Imagine what we could accomplish if we followed their example. Think about the America within our reach: A country that leads the world in educating its people. An America that attracts a new generation of high-tech manufacturing and high-paying jobs. A future where we’re in control of our own energy, and our security and prosperity aren’t so tied to unstable parts of the world. An economy built to last, where hard work pays off, and responsibility is rewarded.
We can do this. I know we can, because we’ve done it before. At the end of World War II, when another generation of heroes returned home from combat, they built the strongest economy and middle class the world has ever known. My grandfather, a veteran of Patton’s Army, got the chance to go to college on the GI Bill. My grandmother, who worked on a bomber assembly line, was part of a workforce that turned out the best products on Earth.
The two of them shared the optimism of a Nation that had triumphed over a depression and fascism. They understood they were part of something larger; that they were contributing to a story of success that every American had a chance to share – the basic American promise that if you worked hard, you could do well enough to raise a family, own a home, send your kids to college, and put a little away for retirement.
The defining issue of our time is how to keep that promise alive. No challenge is more urgent. No debate is more important. We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well, while a growing number of Americans barely get by. Or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules. What’s at stake are not Democratic values or Republican values, but American values. We have to reclaim them.
Let’s remember how we got here. Long before the recession, jobs and manufacturing began leaving our shores. Technology made businesses more efficient, but also made some jobs obsolete. Folks at the top saw their incomes rise like never before, but most hardworking Americans struggled with costs that were growing, paychecks that weren’t, and personal debt that kept piling up.
In 2008, the house of cards collapsed. We learned that mortgages had been sold to people who couldn’t afford or understand them. Banks had made huge bets and bonuses with other people’s money. Regulators had looked the other way, or didn’t have the authority to stop the bad behavior.
It was wrong. It was irresponsible. And it plunged our economy into a crisis that put millions out of work, saddled us with more debt, and left innocent, hard-working Americans holding the bag. In the six months before I took office, we lost nearly four million jobs. And we lost another four million before our policies were in full effect.
Those are the facts. But so are these. In the last 22 months, businesses have created more than three million jobs. Last year, they created the most jobs since 2005. American manufacturers are hiring again, creating jobs for the first time since the late 1990s. Together, we’ve agreed to cut the deficit by more than $2 trillion. And we’ve put in place new rules to hold Wall Street accountable, so a crisis like that never happens again.
The state of our Union is getting stronger. And we’ve come too far to turn back now. As long as I’m President, I will work with anyone in this chamber to build on this momentum. But I intend to fight obstruction with action, and I will oppose any effort to return to the very same policies that brought on this economic crisis in the first place.
No, we will not go back to an economy weakened by outsourcing, bad debt, and phony financial profits. Tonight, I want to speak about how we move forward, and lay out a blueprint for an economy that’s built to last – an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers, and a renewal of American values.
This blueprint begins with American manufacturing.
On the day I took office, our auto industry was on the verge of collapse. Some even said we should let it die. With a million jobs at stake, I refused to let that happen. In exchange for help, we demanded responsibility. We got workers and automakers to settle their differences. We got the industry to retool and restructure. Today, General Motors is back on top as the world’s number one automaker. Chrysler has grown faster in the U.S. than any major car company. Ford is investing billions in U.S. plants and factories. And together, the entire industry added nearly 160,000 jobs.
We bet on American workers. We bet on American ingenuity. And tonight, the American auto industry is back.
What’s happening in Detroit can happen in other industries. It can happen in Cleveland and Pittsburgh and Raleigh. We can’t bring back every job that’s left our shores. But right now, it’s getting more expensive to do business in places like China. Meanwhile, America is more productive. A few weeks ago, the CEO of Master Lock told me that it now makes business sense for him to bring jobs back home. Today, for the first time in fifteen years, Master Lock’s unionized plant in Milwaukee is running at full capacity.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

India and Myanmar Resolves Border Issues.

India and Myanmar Resolves to Strengthen Cooperation in Border Issues.
The 17th National Level Meeting between India and Myanmar concluded at Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar last week. The Indian delegation was led by Shri R.K. Singh, Home Secretary and the Myanmar delegation was led by Brig. Gen. Kyaw Zan Myint, Deputy Union Minister, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar. Recalling the traditionally close relationship between India and Myanmar, the leaders of India and Myanmar delegation expressed commitment to further strengthen the cooperation between the two countries in economic and developmental areas, closer people to people contact and maintaining peace and tranquillity on the border.

In the delegation level meeting, Home Secretary gave an overview of the main areas of concern to India and expressed hope that these could be discussed in the spirit of trust and friendship between India and Myanmar. Both sides discussed in detail security related issues like presence of Indian Insurgent Groups (IIGs) along Indo-Myanmar border, exchange of intelligence information and arms smuggling. The leader of Indian delegation mentioned about IIGs camps and training facilities in Myanmar and sought Myanmar’s cooperation in dealing with the IIG’s activities. Home Secretary especially mentioned that Indian Insurgent Groups are planning large scale disturbances in the forthcoming elections in 2012 in Manipur. The leader of Myanmar delegation assured that Myanmar would never allow insurgents to use its territory to engage in any hostile activities against its neighbour India.

The two sides agreed to maintain closer interaction between the nodal points and respective commanding officers of border guarding forces of the two countries for sharing real time intelligence. Both sides expressed satisfaction at the meetings of the Border Liaison Offices (BLOs) at DC/SP level at Moreh/Tamu and Zowakhatar/Rhi to discuss measures for combating arms smuggling, drug trafficking , smuggling of wild life parts and other issues and it was decided that BLO meetings be held more frequently. It was agreed to establish a new BLO at Ukhrul (India)- Somra (Myanmar). The Indian leader agreed to provide the requisite communication facilities for the additional BLO and Commanding officers level interactions at the border.

In order to trace the recipients of the arms smuggling in India, the leader of Indian delegation requested Myanmar to share interrogation reports of arms smugglers arrested by Myanmar security forces. The leader of the Myanmar delegation agreed to share these reports with India.

Both the sides expressed satisfaction over decline in drug trafficking and agreed to regular interaction between drug control agencies of both countries at DG level and DDG level to eliminate the menace of drug trafficking. India offered training and any other support that Myanmar may require to combat drug trafficking. Theyalso discussed illegal wildlife trafficking, tourism cooperation, training of Myanmar security forces in India and repatriation issues of Myanmar Fishermen in Indian Prisons and Indian Prisoners in Myanmar. India offered all possible support to assist Myanmar in its pursuit for better connectivity and overall development .

The Indian delegation also called on the Myanmar Minister of Home Affairs and the first Vice President, Myanmar. The leader of the Indian delegation flagged the main issues and sought their guidance and support.

EU to lift sanctions against Myanmar



EU foreign ministers agreed on Monday to begin easing sanctions against Myanmar to encourage reform but will await further positive signals before calling an end to restrictive measures, diplomats said.

"We will begin by suspending some visa bans as a first stage from today," said a diplomat speaking on condition of anonymity as EU foreign ministers began a day of talks in Brussels.
Lifting all sanctions will be "conditional on the continuation of positive action by the authorities," the source added.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton hailed "the quite extraordinary changes in the last weeks and months" and announced she would visit the country in April as she went into the ministerial meetings.
The 27-nation bloc has been divided over how soon to lift sanctions, with some insisting on waiting for by-elections on April 1, which will see a historic bid for parliament by Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.
Ashton said the European Union had been in contact with her on the issue.

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