Tag Archives: BRIC

TEDxHitechCity – Karuna Gopal – The Truth about Indian Cities

Karuna Gopal from the Foundation of Futuristic Cities was the main speaker at a recent Tedx conference (TEDx: TEDx is a new program that enables local communities such as schools, businesses, libraries, neighborhoods or just groups of friends to organize, design and host their own independent, TED-like events.).

As always Karuna’s fiery talk was about Indian cities and their state. She highlighted the poor state our cities are in and the need for their development on our future.

The topic of Karuna’s talk was: The Truth about Indian Cities.

Watch her talk about the issues and how important they are:

Karuna’s organization the Foundation for Futuristic Cities has done pioneering work in the area of City Development and is determined to carry it forward.

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Transparency International releases Corruption Perceptions Index 2009

CPI-2009

Corruption Perceptions Index-2009

Transparency International (TI), a Berlin based organization, which is a civil society organization and claims to be leading the fight against corruption, has released its annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) for the year 2009.

Corruption is the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. It hurts everyone whose life, livelihood or happiness depends on the integrity of people in a position of authority.

The organization releases this list every year which ranks nations on an index which is created as a function of various parameters to scale the level of corruption in a country. It measures the perceived level of public-sector corruption in 180 nations and territories around the world. As TI defines it: The CPI is a “survey of surveys“, based on 13 different expert and business surveys. Each nation undergoes a different number of surveys to get a final score. The scores are on a scale of 0-10 where 0 is perceived very corrupt and 10 as very clean. The score is based on perceptions of the degree of corruption as seen by business people and country analysts.

This year, Somalia (1.1) tops the list of most corrupt nations with Afghanistan (1.3) being a close second. Iraq is at 5th spot with a score of 1.5.

As TI’s Head, Huguette Labelle put it, the 2009 corruption list is “of great concern,” since most of the nations have a score of under 5. Out of 180 nations featuring in the survey only 48 have a score of above 5. Most of the nations that ranked high on corruption include some of the most poor and war torn nations.

The international community must find efficient ways to help war-torn countries to develop and sustain their own institutions,” said TI’s head Huguette Labelle.

Afghanistan slid from a score of 1.5 in 2008 to 1.3 this year, which is bound to fuel the attack on President Hamid Karzai whose election and re-election was clouded with allegation of rampant fraud. Earlier on this Monday the Afghan government announced steps that included forming a major crime unit to tackle corruption. This moved has been seen as a move designed to assuage Western concerns about Karzai.

Among the group of 7 most rich nations Italy’s ranking took a beating with it sliding to 63rd position from last year’s 55th spot. Some of the nations which made marked improvement are Liberia (97th from 138 last year) and Gambia (106th from earlier 158th). The United States of America while improving its score from 7.3 to 7.5, slid one spot on the rank to 19th. China has a stable score of 3.6 but slid seven places on the ranks to 79th. Brazil (3.7) shared the 75th spot with Columbia, Peru and Surinam while another BRIC nation, Russia (2.2) was ranked very low at 146th. India (3.4) ranked at a joint 84th spot with four other nations including Thailand.

The top-5 nations on the list are: New Zealand (9.4), Denmark (9.3), Singapore (9.2), Sweden (9.2) and Switzerland (9.0). Canada (8.7)is ranked at a joint 8th with Australia and Iceland.

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FBI foils terror bid to attack India and Denmark

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The FBI arrested David Coleman Headley, a Chicago resident earlier this month for plotting terror-attacks overseas, including India. He was arrested along with a Canadian citizen of Pakistani origin by the FBI’s joint terrorism task force. Headley, a U.S. citizen who resides primarily in Chicago, was arrested on Oct. 3, 2009, by the Chicago FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) at O’Hare International Airport before boarding a flight to Philadelphia, intending to travel on to Pakistan.

Reports also indicated that they planned to attack the Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, which published some cartoons of the prophet, including one with a bomb as a turban, in 2005.

Pakistan-based terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), blamed for the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attack, was planning to use an American national to carry out another major attack in India, the FBI said Tuesday.

mumbai-attacks(1)

26/11 Attack on India

Indian sleuths would now join their FBI counterparts on Monday to ineterrogate David Coleman Headley, for his role and association in a attack plot on India, as fresh inputs indicated that he was planning to visit Pakistan this month. Indian investigators from the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) are also expected to probe the terror-drug nexus as it has come to light that Headley was charged by a federal court in New York in 1997 with smuggling heroin to the US.

In 1997 he was still operating under his name Daood Saleem Gilani; under which name the case is still in the court records which also shows he was living in New York. Gilani was sentenced to a 15-month prison term in that case. He was travelling to Pakistan and bringing heroin back.

One of Headley’s cousins, Farid Gilani of Philadelphia, told the Chicago Sun-Times that he spoke to Headley over the phone about a month ago. “He was supposed to come (and) visit me, but he never came,” Farid Gilani was quoted as saying. “He said ‘I am going back home to Pakistan.”

A Department of Justice press release sourced from it website lists the details of arrest as well as charges on the two accused:

Headley, a U.S. citizen who changed his name from Daood Gilani in 2006 and resides primarily in Chicago, was arrested on Oct. 3, 2009, by the Chicago FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) at O’Hare International Airport before boarding a flight to Philadelphia, intending to travel on to Pakistan. He was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit terrorist acts involving murder and maiming outside the United States and one count of conspiracy to provide material support to that overseas terrorism conspiracy.

Rana, a native of Pakistan and citizen of Canada who also primarily resides in Chicago, was arrested on Oct. 18, 2009, at his home by federal agents. Rana is the owner of several businesses, including First World Immigration Services, which has offices on Devon Avenue in Chicago, as well as in New York and Toronto. He was charged with one count of conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorism conspiracy that involved Headley and at least three other specific individuals in Pakistan.

In a related development, a senior Pakistan diplomat has come under the FBI scanner for his links with the two accused arrested individuals. Aman Rashid, who is currently Pakistan’s consul general in Chicago, was trying to help Headley acquire a Pakistan visa, the FBI said in its chargesheet while suggesting that he may not have been aware of the true identity of Headley and the purpose of his visit to the country.

A revised FBI chargesheet said that Rashid and the two accused went to the same military high school in a town called Hasan Abdal, 40 km northwest of Rawalpindi in northern Punjab. FBI also found that Rashid, Headley and Rana were all Abdalians, as former students of the Cadet College Hasan Abdal school describe themselves. The FBI told the court that postings to a Yahoo group of graduates of the military school suggested that both Headley and Rana were members of the group.

The FBI said that Rana was in touch with Rashid for arranging Pakistan visa for Headley to facilitate his visit to NWFP where he was scheduled to meet LeT leaders. “On or about September 25, 2009, Rana spoke by telephone with the consul general at the Pakistani consulate in Chicago in an effort to obtain a five-year visa for Headley to travel to Pakistan. It is clear from the email traffic unrelated to terrorist plotting that the consul general knows Rana and Headley personally as all three attended the same high school,” the FBI stated in its chargesheet filed in a Chicago court.

The transcripts of phone conversations and emails in FBI’s possession indicate that LeT was planning to use Headley for attack on an Indian actor named “Rahul”. Headley is reported to have divulged to the FBI his intention to travel to Pakistan in early October where he was supposed to meet with an unidentified LeT individual and another man named (Ilyas) Kashmiri, an LeT terrorist who was earlier with Pakistan’s Special Services Group.

While the Indian Home Minister, P Chidambaram clarified that it is not Congress leaders “Rahul” Gandhi it may be a code name for some other leader or individual.

“It is not the Rahul that you think it is. It could be a pseudonym, it could be a code name but please be assured that it is not the Rahul that you think is,” he (Chidamabaram) said.

The DoJ release indicated that there was no “imminent threat” in the Chicago area.

There was no imminent danger in the Chicago area, officials said, adding that the charges are unrelated to recent terror plot arrests in Boston, New York, Colorado, Texas and central Illinois.

At the same time, the October 18 raids on the goat farm house of Rana have become the talk of the Kinsman town on the outskirts of Chicago, when nearly 100 sleuths with helicopters and latest equipment landed up. Incidentally, there are three nuclear power plants near Kinsman. A Kinsman resident told a local daily that the raid was upsetting as no one was aware of what was going on until the FBI announcement made public the arrest of the two early this week.

The US state department has meanwhile issued a short term “travel alert” advising Americans “to monitor local news reports and consider the level of security present when visiting public places, including religious sites, or choosing hotels, restaurants, entertainment and recreation venues.’’ The “travel alert’’ is different from the “travel warning,’’ as describes short-term conditions. Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal in the region are on a “travel warning”, alongwith other nations like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Somalia and Philippines among others.

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(B)RIC agrees on issues of terror, drug and regional cooperation

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RIC Foreign Ministers (From L): Russia's Sergei Lavrov, India's S.M. Krishna and China's Yang Jiechi

The Foreign Ministers of Russia, India and China (RIC) met at Bangalore, India to discuss issues of regional and international importance on Tuesday, October 27. This was the ninth trilateral discussion between the three nations.

 

Discussions were dominated by issues like drug trafficking, terrorism and cooperation on several issues. A mention for diplomatic settlement of the Iran nuclear issue and denuclearization of the Korean peninsula was also made at the meet. The meeting was also important in backdrop of recently concluded meeting between Indian and Chinese Prime minister’s meeting at Thailand on the sidelines of the ASEAN meet as well as discussions with Russia on October 21.

In a joint declaration, minister for external affairs S M Krishna and his Chinese and Russian counterparts, Yang Jie Chie and Sergei Lavrov, demanded that all the nations concerned implement relevant resolutions of the UN General Assembly, UN Security Council, international conventions and protocols against terrorism. The RIC meeting urged the member-states to urgently conclude and adopt the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism. “Member-states should also contribute to implementation of the UN global counter-terrorism strategy,” the ministers said in a joint declaration.

The recent spate of allegations by both India and China on each other on border issues had dominated news recently. While both the nations stayed away from such discussion during the meet; the Indian Foreign Minister, SM Krishna, on Wednesday acknowledged that the resolution of boundary dispute with China would take time, and need “a lot of patience“. He also acknowledged occasional Chinese incursions but added that there was no cause for alarm. He also discharged any allegations of China building a dam on the Brahmaputra river which can damage the ecology in the Brahmaputra basis in India.

Meanwhile the state government of Arunachal Pradesh is going ahead with its preparation to receive the Dalai Lama as a state guest on a 1-week tour starting November 8 this year. China has always objected to Indian support to the exiled spiritual Tibetan leader. China had also objected to Indian PM’s visit to the state of Arunachal Pradesh, which it claims as part of its territory. Indian PM said that he has taken up the issue with Chinese PM, Wen Jaibao during his recent meet at Thailand.

The three nations also agreed that they should help Afghanistan to counter terrorism as it is of strategic importance to curb terrorism in the region. The meeting also identified energy security, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, IT and climate change as key sectors of common interest and called for synchronized approach.

The three foreign ministers decided to hold the next trilateral meeting of the series in China.

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Recovery is here?

Stop ForeclosureEven as various analyst and economists are falling head over heels with claims of economic recovery having started, Friday night marked the tally of US failed banks crossing 100. The number of banks which had to down their shutters in 2009 is 106 by now. This is almost four times the number of banks that went out of business in 2008.

  • Earlier on Friday evening the dubious honor of the 100th failure went to Partners Bank, of Naples, Fla., which had $65.5 million in assets, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
  • The 101st failure was American United Bank, of Lawrenceville, Ga., which had $111 million in assets.
  • The 102nd failure was another Naples, Fla., institution: Hillcrest Bank Florida, which had $83 million in assets.
  • The 103rd closure was Bradenton, Fla.-based Flagship National Bank, with $190 million in assets.
  • The 104th was Bank of Elmwood, based in Racine, Wis., which had $327.4 million in assets.
  • The 105th failure was Riverview Community Bank of Otsego, Minn., with $108 million in assets.
  • The 106th failure was First Dupage Bank in Westmont, Ill., which had $279 million in assets.

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), which insures banks will cover all deposits to a limit of 250,000. FDIC has been working as the insurer of banks since the Great Depression. Sheila Bair, Chairperson, FDIC in a video message posted on the organization’s website said that for the insured customers such a hapening is a “non-event” but at the same time sounded cautious about the future.

In fact, to reassure borrowers, FDIC chair Sheila Bair posted a video message to the agency’s Web site, saying “for the insured depositor, a bank failure is a non-event.”

Still, Bair cautioned that “until the healing process is complete, there will be more bank failures.”

As banks continue to tumble, the federal reserves are feeling the heat. The fund now stands at $7.5 billion, which is just one-sixth of what it was at a $45 billion a year ago.

FDIC, which maintains a list of “problem banks“, when factors forthcoming expected closures, says the fund is in the red and will likely stay there through 2012. Bank failure costs are expected to total $100 billion over the next four years, leaving regulators strapped for cash.

To replenish the fund the agency had suggested last month that the banks should pay up the insurance premiums for next three years in advance. In June this year, FDIC had a list of 416 problem banks.

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(B)RIC Meets in India

 
Indian-Chinese PMs

Indian-Chinese PM

India is playing host to the ninth trilateral meeting between India, Russia and China starting Oct 27, at Bangalore. The meeting will discuss ways to expand cooperation in regional and international issues like the global financial crisis, terrorism and UN reforms. The Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna will meet his counterparts, Sergei Lavrov of Russia and Yang Jiechi of China, during the talks.

“At the forthcoming meeting in Bangalore, the three foreign ministers will discuss regional and international issues and will explore ways of strengthening trilateral cooperation,” the external affairs ministry said here (New Delhi) Friday.

Source: samaylive.com

Though the meeting is quite significant in itself given the involvement of the Cabinet Ministers, all eyes will be on the bilateral meeting between the Indian Minister and his Chinese counterpart. The bilateral discussion between the two leaders becomes more important given the recent issues that have cropped in the relation of the two Asian economic gaints. The main issues of contention in recent times have been the the reports of Chinese incursions and strident assertions over Arunachal Pradesh by Beijing as well as issue of seperate visas to Kashmiri residents.

The meeting between the Indian and Chinese foreign ministers will be preceded by talks between the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit at the Thai resort city of Hua Hin, likely on Saturday.

Meanwhile on Oct. 21, (Wednesday) the Chinese Ambassador to India, Zhang Yan, dismissed concerns over comments made by his country’s foreign ministry with regard to Kashmir who on Tuesday was almost echoing the Pakistani stance on Kashmir.

In a press briefing Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ma Zhaoxu called Kashmir an issue left over by history that should be resolved properly through dialogue and consultation between India and Pakistan. 

Kashmir issue is a question left over by history that should be resolved properly through consultation and dialogue by India and Pakistan,” said Zhaoxu.

While trying to downplay the statement in light of the upcoming dailogue the Chinse Ambassador said:

China is committed to advancing its relationship with India in a cooperative and mutually beneficial way,” Yan said.

China has recently also shown displeasure over the visit of Indian Prime Minister and Dalai Lama to Arunachal Pradesh to which the India has voiced severe discontent.

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