News Wrap


The Reserve Bank of India has recently provided a list of Islamic names, viz Mohammad, Abdullah, Rahman, Yusuf, Ismail and Basheer, to banks, with instructions not to approve accounts from applicants with such Islamic names, unless it is confirmed they are not terrorists. New customers are required to submit personal data. The software used to register personal data has been updated, with provisions to rule out the possibility of a ‘‘terrorist’’ opening a bank account. A list of terrorists ‘wanted’ in India and overseas, has also been provided to the banks. It is now the responsibility of the banks to ensure that customers with similar names are not terrorists. Much has been left to the imagination of bank clerks. The new procedure is unjust and creates social taboos. The select list contains more than 10,000 names, and is bound to delay opening of accounts. More than 50% of the customers who visit banks in Muslim dominated districts, poses names that are on the list.

Terms on Telengana
The imbroglio on the bifurcation of present Andhra Pradesh state into Telengana and Seemandhra, comprising the Andhra and Rayalaseema districts, continues. Proposed Telengana state does not involve any bifurcation of territory nor division of assets and liabilities; but a mere restoration of the status quo ante, 1956. Telengana is educationally and socially backward, and the Andhra districts are forward. Ever since 1969, the people of Telengana have been struggling for a separate state, and more than 900 people have died in the struggle. Almost all Congress MPs, who had offered to resign, after the Union Government of India announced the formation of proposed Telengana state, have huge business interests in the region, while their constituencies are in Seemandhra. With the aim of providing irrigation to farmers in Guntur and Krishna districts of Seemandhra, the Nagarjuna Sager project on the Krishna river, allowed the water spread to swallow poor farmers’ lands in Nalgonda district of Telengana. The large peninsula rivers— the Krishna and the Godavari—flow through Telengana, but all major irrigation schemes benefit Seemandhra only. Power stations in Seemandhra provide free electricity to more than 50 million tubewells belonging to farmers in Telengana. Five of the nine districts of Telengana have huge coal reserves. Besides coal, Adilabad and Karimnagar have clay, lime stone, iron ore, manganese and mica. Khammam has collieries, barytes, mica, copper, chromium, graphite, marble and granite. Mahabubnagar has India’s largest Uranium deposits. The Central Group of Ministers (GOM) is yet to submit concrete suggestions on the sharing of river waters, distribution of assets, demarcation of boundaries, and the efficient sharing of Hyderabad as a common capital for ten years.

African Oil and China
African oil is in great demand in China. Many African officials describe as unconditional surrender, the old terms of agreement with China’s oil giants. Economically troubled African states are now showing an assertiveness, challenging Chinese terms in oil deals. Earlier China found eager partners across the African continent, where governments welcomed China’s flush funds and passive approach to local politics, as an alternative to investment from the West. Oil production in Niger began two years ago, but it has yet to make a dent in poor living standards. A private auditor hired by the state of Niger, recently found bloated costs and unfair charges by the state owned China National Petroleum Corporation, providing Niger with database ammunition for the next round of tense negotiations in Beijing. Ten years of oil production in Chad has brought the country new roads and public buildings, a revamped army, and a strengthening of the incumbent government’s grip on power. But there has been little change in the country’s low poverty ranking. In mid-August 2013, Chand’s oil minister shut down Chinese oil operations, after discovering that they were dumping excess crude oil in ditches, south of the capital, N’Djamena; then making local Chadian workers remove it with no protection. Accusing the Chinese of environmental missteps, as in Chad, and mismanagement, the Gabon government has withdrawn a permit for a significant oil field, from a subsidiary of another Chinese state owned company, Sinopee, turning them over to a newly created national oil company. Weak African states are displaying serious leverage, and Arfican-Chinese relations are no longer unbalanced. China claims to be supporting co-operation ‘‘on the basis of equality, amity and mutual benefit’’. In certain areas of west Africa, China has improved the economy, hired local residents, built schools, dug wells and carried out other ‘‘public welfare activities’’.

Libyan Rebels and Oil
Libya has the world’s fifth largest petroleum reserves, but is lately importing oil to stave off power cuts. In the worst conflict since the 2011 civil war renegade guards crippled pipe-lines. Libyan rebel groups from more than a hundred tribes have united to hijack the country’s oil industry. Since seizing control of Libya’s main export terminals in August 2013, the rebels have imposed a crippling blockade. The rebels demand grant of autonomy to the eastern region of the country, known as Barqa, which is oil-rich. The Barqa Defence Force is assessed to be powerful enough to secure the eastern region, and to field naval units capable of defending foreign tankers buying oil directly from the rebels. Government Coffers are running dry with decline in oil exports. Libyan Navy, special forces are firing on tankers as they approach Es Sider, the largest rebel controlled port terminal.

Vol. 46, No. 23, Dec 15 -21, 2013

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