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Tuesday, 30 September 2014
Tata Says Yes To Clean Chai!
Sep 30 at 5:22 PM
Yes, you heard that right. Thanks to the constant support of over 40,000 people like you, Tata said yes to clean chai.
That’s four of India’s leading tea companies, Tata, Unilever, Girnar and Wagh Bakri,committing to removing pesticides from our tea cultivation, in less than two months after launching our report titled, Trouble Brewing. How awesome is that!
This wasn’t fate and it most definitely wasn’t an accident. The collective voice of this nation’s people made this happen.
Today is the clearest proof yet that change is inevitable.
Let’s take a moment to revel in this victory and tell all our friends and family how we made a huge difference to our national drink.
Support Greenpeace India
Greenpeace India is funded by individuals like you. We don’t take money from the government or any private companies. You will get a Greenpeace organic, cotton grocery bag as a thank you for your contribution.
South Asia’s Largest Biking Extravaganza to host XDL Championship Series for the first time in India
30th September 2014, New Delhi: The inaugural edition of Bike Festival of India (BFI) – an initiative by Rhiti Sports Management & Event Capital – is all set to start on 4thOctober 2014 till 5th October 2014 at the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida. BFI will be a unique platform for biking enthusiasts to come together and be a part of this first-of-its-kind biking adventure in India. The biking festival will bring together over 120 biking communities from across the nation to participate in a series of events as part of the two-day festival.
Indian Cricket Team Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who is also an avid biker, is the face of the Bike Festival of India.
Bike Festival of India will also feature for the first time in India the XDL India Championship, which is the top level for motorcycle stunt riding in the world, and the only professional series of its kind. Riders like Jesse Toller, Chris Tice & AaronTwite will be participating in this championship.
XDL Championship Series is the premier stunt riding championship in the world and attracts competitors from the U.S., Asia and Europe. No other stunt riding championship has been around as long as XDL, which over the years has led to a large international following in countries such as India, Indonesia, Thailand, France, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and many other countries.
Stunt riding is fast becoming one of the most powerful international action sport, and XDL is regarded as the leading competition brand. To put it simply, XDL is the F1 or NASCAR of stunt riding. XDL is the only official sports league for street freestyle stunting in the whole world. The winners at the XDL India Championship Series will participate in the XDL World Championship next year.
Apart from other races such as Drag Racing, Lap Time championship, adventure enthusiasts can get their adrenaline rush from rappelling, paragliding, engine gliding, rock climbing and many more. Among many other activities, BFI will also host an exclusive vintage motorcycle exhibition and live performances from music bands likeMidival Punditz, Hari & Sukhmani, Tides of Nebula, Parikrama amongst others.
Also, for the first time ever, Camping will take a whole new meaning when it is at Buddh Circuit. Participants can live at the F1 circuit, visit the pit-lanes and feel the rush of the fast lanes. A two day camping at the Mecca of Motorsport in India will be a dream come true for any motorsport fan.
Bike Festival of India has partnered with bookmyshow.com for the ticket sales & participation registration and is receiving massive registrations from around the country.
Commenting on the kick-off of Bike Festival of India, Mr Arun Pandey, CMD, Rhiti Sports said, “Bike Festival of India is our vision towards fostering the biking culture and passion while inculcating the idea of responsible biking amongst youth and who can be a better youth icon for this than Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who is the brand ambassador of BFI. We are extremely thrilled to see the excitement build up amongst everyone for the festival. We have received good response from bike enthusiasts and it will be a phenomenal experience as the first edition of South Asia’s largest biking festival unfolds.”
As a prelim initiative, The Bike Festival of India also hosted a month long National Safety Ride covering 8170kms in just 30 days mapping each and every state of India.
On a year-on-year basis, gross bank credit stands at 10.2% in Aug 2014 as compared to 12.6% in July 2014. The growth of food credit stands at 9.5% in Aug 2014 as against 14.8% in July 2014 and the non-food bank credit increased by 10.2% in Aug 2014 as compared to 12.6% in July 2014.
The credit to NBFCs increased by 4.1% in Aug 2014 as compared with 11.5% in July 2014. The credit to agriculture increased by 18.8% in Aug 2014 as compared with 19.5% in July 2014.
The gross bank credit stands at Rs. 57,293 billion as on Aug 2014 as compared to Rs. 51,991 billion as on Aug 2013, posting a growth of about 10.2%.
Monthly trend in growth of gross bank credit (%) (YoY)
Source: PHD Research Bureau, compiled from RBI
Credit to industry increased by 7.6% in Aug 2014 as compared with 10.1% in July 2014. Deceleration in credit growth to industry was observed in all major sub-sectors, barring construction, glass and glassware, rubber plastic and their products, leather and leather products, beverages and tobacco and mining and quarrying.
The services sector credit increased by 8.9% in Aug 2014 as compared with 12.3% in July2014. Personal loans stand at 12.8% in Aug 2014 as compared with 14.5% in July 2014. Growth in the components of personal loans in Aug 2014 stood at housing (15.4%), advances against fixed deposits ((-) 10.2%), advances to individuals against shares, bonds, etc. (24.9%), education (8.6%) and vehicle loans (17.4%).
Deployment of Gross Bank Credit by major sectors (Rs. Billion)
Gross Bank Credit
Agriculture & Allied Activities
Industry (Micro & Small, Medium and Large)
Source: PHD Research Bureau, compiled from RBI
Note: Data are provisional and are collected on a monthly basis from select 47 scheduled commercial banks accounting for about 95% of the
total non-food credit deployed by all scheduled commercial banks;
* Data pertains as on July 25, 2014, ** Data pertains as on August 22, 2014
^ Data pertains as on July 25, 2014 over July 26, 2013, ^^ Data pertains as on August 22, 2014 over August 22, 2013
Following the Arab Spring that began in December 2011, the situation in West Asia and North Africa, particularly in Iraq and Syria is taking an ugly turn and has not only put Indian diplomacy to test but is likely to pose a challenge to India’s security concerns and economic interests. The region has brought both local and external powers in play. The sectarian divide between Sunnis and the Shias has aggravated the situation and questioned the Sykes-Picot boundaries between existing nation states. Further the formation of a Caliphate by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) is an indication that the knotty problem may not be resolved in the immediate future. Adding to India’s security concerns is the Sunni terrorist organisation, Al Qaida forming its new arm for the Indian sub-continent.
Though the present crisis has not impacted on global oil and gas prices due to ample stocks, the turmoil in the region is likely to impact future investment climate and production in the long run.
If the Sykes-Picot boundaries, arbitrarily fixed by the British and the French after World War I, are replaced and new boundaries drawn based on sectarian divide, the entire geopolitics and geo-economics of the region would change. The ISIS Caliphate has begun the process of earmarking its areas and capturing oil fields and a refinery at Mosul. It still holds 40 Indian construction workers in captivity. In this emerging situation, India needs to carefully play its diplomatic card keeping in view its security and economic interests.
The region, long known as a playground for external powers, is undergoing reconfiguration in its geopolitics which would impact the geo-economics also. Though the region has a love-hate relationship with external players, it cannot resolve most of its core problems without external influence, interference or intervention. Despite its declining influence, the US continues to be the power that has the political will and military capability to exert itself in the region. But its attitude towards the Arab Spring and its policy of ‘rebalancing towards Asia Pacific’ has drawn criticism from its regional allies.
Russia is seen coming back as a player in the region with its support for Iran and the Assad regime in Syria and ongoing efforts to cultivate a stronger relationship with Egypt. Russia’s handling of the Ukraine issue has demonstrated its growing assertiveness in world affairs. China, which sources about 50% of its imported oil from the region, is continuing to strengthen its economic leverage. Concerns are also high in Japan and South Korea that look to this region to meet their energy needs.
The sectarian divide between Sunnis and Shias has made Saudi Arabia and Iran active in mobilising their influence in the region. The six-member body, Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) that is supposed to anchor the region, is suffering from intra-GCC rivalry which is threatening the fragile balance within the group. The emergence of Qatar-Saudi rivalry is a major issue.
Iran is coming out of its isolation after the interim agreement with P5+1 resulting in partial lifting of sanctions. Iran-Saudi Arabia rivalry has taken new dimensions with Iran harbouring the ambition to lead the Shias in the region. Way back in 2004, King Abdullah of Jordon apprehended the emergence of a Shia Crescent embracing Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. This fear was echoed by the then Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al Faisal. However, with the emergence of Hezbollah in Lebanon, rule of the minority Alawite Shias in Syria, the nascent Shia empowerment and leadership in Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein and US withdrawal and emergence of new Zaydi (Shia) fighting force in Yemen, the Shia Crescent seems to be a reality.
In the global Muslim population of 1.4 billion, Shias constitute 13%, but the maximum concentration of Shias is in Iran and the Arab world. If Iran is excluded, Arab Shia constitute one-third of the total native population. In Iraq, Shias constitute about 60% of the total population of 35 million. In Bahrain two-third of the native population of half million is Shia. In Kuwait, 30% of the native population of 1.2 million is Shia, while in Saudi Arabia out of the total native population of 20 million, 13 % is Shia. But Ismaili Shias in Saudi Arabia are concentrated in Eastern Province, Najran and Jizan Province. In Syria, Alawi Shias constitute just 12% of the total population of 23 million. Assad family of Alawi Shia sect has been ruling Syria since 1971.
All Shia sects in the region have the support of Iran which is determined to emerge as a major player in the region. Saudi Arabia is the natural leader of Sunnis in the region. But both Iran and Saudi Arabia were in the forefront of supporting the Palestine cause. However, in the recent Israeli operation in Gaza that took place in the backdrop of ISIS occupation of over 40,000 sq km of Iraq, the response from both Iran and Saudi Arabia was negligible.
The sharp sectarian divide between Sunnis and Shias in the region may have a spillover effect on the Muslim population in India and elsewhere in the world. India has the third largest Muslim population in the world. There are already reports of some Sunni Muslims from India joining the ISIS in Iraq and some Shias willing to go to Iraq to defend Najaf and Karbala. The sectarian divide between Shias and Sunnis in India may result in a new problem.
The challenge facing India is to balance its political equations and economic interests with major regional and external players in the region. India’s energy imports from the region are about 63% of total oil imports. West Asia and North Africa are also home to 47% of the world’s natural gas reserves.
The region is a leading trading partner for India with a total trade of about $200 billion. The region hosts about seven million Indian expatriates who send substantial remittances back home. The Gulf countries have huge Sovereign Funds that can be invested in several infrastructure projects in India.
(8The writer is a senior journalist writing on strategic and policy issues in various Indian and international newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at email@example.com His mobile no 09810902204)
Australia and Japan are two important players in the Indo-Pacific region, the main geo-political global theatre. Modi has won over Japan through his civilisational diplomacy and Australia through civil nuclear cooperation. The civil nuclear energy deal matters to an energy starved India. Though a deal of this nature could not be signed during the recent visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Japan, a similar pact was waiting to be signed in the country on his return; thus the deal during the visit of Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
Australia will now be a long-term uranium supplier to India. Australia will also cooperate in the production of radio isotopes and nuclear safety. Before signing the accord Mr Abbott said, “In a sign of the mutual trust and confidence that our two countries have in each other, Prime Minister Modi and I will today sign a nuclear cooperation agreement that will, finally, allow Australian uranium sales to India.” He said he “trusts” India to doing the right thing in this area.
Nuclear apartheid on India ended after the India-US Civil Nuclear Agreement on July 18, 2005; subsequently India separated her defence and civil nuclear establishments. India’s first nuclear reactor was set up in Rajasthan with Canadian assistance. After India conducted her first nuclear test in 1974 and then in 1998, the world powers withheld civil nuclear cooperation and demanded that India sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. India refused, calling the treaty discriminatory and unequal.
India has signed bilateral deals on civilian nuclear energy technology cooperation with several countries, including France, United States, United Kingdom, Canada and South Korea. She has uranium supply agreements with Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Argentina and Namibia. An Indian private company won a uranium exploration contract in Niger.
India has low deposits of uranium and needs deals with uranium suppliers. The question arises why a deal could not fructify with Japan during Mr Modi’s five-day visit there. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe indicated that negotiations are at an advanced stage and are expected to be finalised soon. He commended India’s efforts in non-proliferation, including the affirmation that goods and technologies transferred from Japan would not be used for delivery system for WMD. Japan has removed six of India’s space and defence-related entities from its foreign end user list. Both Japan and Australia support India’s full membership to four international export control regimes – Nuclear Suppliers Group, Missile Technology Control Regime, Wassenaar Agreement and Australia Group.
Mr Modi won over Mr Abe with Buddha diplomacy and successfully raised the relationship between the two countries to the level of Special Strategic and Global Partnership. This is a signal to China that if it can have “all-weather” friendship with Pakistan to checkmate India, the latter can have a significant relationship with its island neighbour. Mr Modi has said that adding “special” is not just a “play of words”; it signifies Japan’s increasing role in India’s economic development, increased political dialogue and a renewed push to defence cooperation.
The references to “expansionist” mind-set of the 18th century, some countries “encroaching” upon others, some “entering the seas” and some “capturing the territory of a country” have perplexed, if not annoyed, the Chinese leadership. Mr Modi’s remarks came when Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to visit India in the third week of September. Reacting to the same, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Qin Gang said, “I want to stress that China and India are major countries. We both advocate and practice the five principles of peaceful coexistence”. But the official Chinese media accused Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of dividing China and India and termed the attempt as “crazy fantasy”.
India and China has a longstanding border dispute. China has occupied thousands of sq km of Indian territory in the western and eastern sector and continues to claim other parts of Indian territory. China also possesses parts of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir gifted by its “all-weather” friend. This had prompted Mr Modi to say during an election rally in Arunachal Pradesh (claimed by China), “China should shed its expansionist policy and forge bilateral ties with India for peace, progress and prosperity of both the nations.”
Mr Modi’s words sounded like music to Mr Abe as China continues to claim Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. It remains to be seen how Mr Modi deals with President Xi Jinping when he arrives in New Delhi. Will he insist on the Johnson Line and McMahon Line fixed by the British as the boundary between India and China and represented by the official map of the country; or will he try to resolve the dispute over Indian presence in the South China Sea?
Mr Modi has promised to work together with all South Asian (SAARC) countries. The presence of SAARC leaders at his swearing-in ceremony was a symbolic gesture. He wanted to reopen dialogue with Pakistan, but increased ceasefire violations at the border and dialogue with Kashmiri separatists resulted in the scheduled talks at foreign secretary level being called off. The Modi government is of the view that dialogue should be on the basis of Shimla Agreement and Lahore Declaration with peace at the border. India, however, remains confident that the situation would improve.
The tilt in India’s foreign policy under Mr Modi government is visible. The trump card is Buddha diplomacy. The Prime Minister’s first foreign tour was to Bhutan and then to Nepal (both South Asia), with Japan the first visit outside South Asia. This was the first time an Indian Prime Minister stayed in an Asian country for five days.
Buddha diplomacy is being extended to many south-east Asian countries. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s recent visits to Singapore, Vietnam and to Myanmar for the 21st ASEAN Regional Forum Meeting and 4th East Asia Foreign Ministers’ Meeting has set the tone for the NDA’s future interaction with east Asian countries.
India and Japan have agreed to take forward the India-Japan-US trilateral process to the level of foreign ministers and continue with joint naval exercises. But Australia is unwilling to join in as yet. Australia currently holds the chair of the Indian Ocean Rim Association and is eager to cooperate with India. South Korea too, is unwilling to join the trilateral as it has problems with Japan. But both Australia and South Korea have bilateral arrangements with India.
On the economic front, Mr Modi’s visit saw Japan rolling out of 3.5 trillion yen public and private investment and financing within a span of five years. Prime Minister Abe also pledged ODA loan of 50 billion yen to India Infrastructure Finance Company Ltd for a public-private partnership infrastructure projects in India. Cooperation between Varanasi and Kyoto was inked for the development of India’s holy city. Japan is a major investor in the project to revive the ancient Nalanda University, along with other south-east Asian and east Asian countries. The development of the Buddhist Tourist Circuit in India has drawn Japan’s attention. Feasibility study on Ahmedabad-Mumbai Bullet Train with Japanese assistance is at an advanced stage.
India and Japan have also agreed to work jointly for the development of Africa. This effort would check the growing Chinese influence in this continent. All in all, Mr Modi’s visit gives hope that India will play a major strategic role in South-east Asia and east Asia and check China’s ambition to dominate the entire Indo-Pacific region, including South Asia, South-East Asia and East Asia.
(*The writer is a senior journalist writing on strategic and policy issues in various Indian and international newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His mobile phone no 09810902204)
in the Seminar Room, First Floor, Library Building
‘Historicizing Climate Change:
Or, what could climate change history be?’
Prof. Sverker Sorlin,
KTH/the Royal Institute of Technology,
ABE, Division of History of Science, Technology and Environment, Stockholm,
There has been a revolution in knowledge about climate change in the past couple of decades. The same is true for our knowledge of the history of climate change. We have had a broad range of books and papers mostly in environmental and science history that have made us understand the chronology and the context of the science that has brought us to our current understanding.
However, given the pervasive nature and complex politics of the issue, wouldn’t it be useful to consider the future historicizing of climate change as an undertaking that would engage wider strands of history and related disciplines? Could climate change history be fruitfully sorted as a dimension of the history of global capitalism? As part of a nowadays much-debated ‘species’ history of mankind (Chakrabarty), or a Big History on the planetary level? Should it be located in a historical discourse which is much more to do with justice, distribution, rights and that engaged postcolonial scholars and social historians?
In this lecture the speaker will address these questions against the background of the intense debates on global equity and sustainability issues spurred in recent years by the concept of Anthropocene — the current era when human societies impact nature on the planetary level. The speaker’s ambition is to arrive at identifying some possible ways forward for the necessary undertaking to locate climate change more centrally in our historical understanding of human societies and the human enterprise.
Prof. Sverker Sörlin’s work focuses on the environmental history of modernizing societies and especially the role of science and policy. Among his recent books are The Future of Nature (Yale UP 2013) andNature';s End (Palgrave 2009). His policy oriented work has appeared in Nature, Nature Climate Change,Global Environmental Change, and other journals. He has advised the Swedish government on research and environmental research and policy since 1994. In 2012 he was a co-founder of the KTH Environmental Humanities Laboratory in Stockholm.