News Wrap


It is over a year that Bangladesh amended a transit treaty to allow India transport heavy power gears, each weighing over 300 tons, through Bangladesh territories to the 726.6 mw ONGC Tripura Power Company (OTPC). In return, Bangladesh wanted to buy 100 mw of power from the project. Planning expansion of power co-operation and setting up of other gas-based industries, Tripura is keen to augment the scope of co-operation with Bangladesh. Tripura has offered Bangladesh power from its allocations. The Indian state constructed a 9 km connectivity from Sonamura (Tripura) to Comilla district (Bangladesh), which would have expedited evacuation of power. The Union Government of India has dumped the proposal to offer 100 mw power to Bangladesh, citing technical and commercial hurdles in transmission, even though an agreement exists for cross-border power trade, through West Bengal. New Delhi’s hesitation is against the spirit of the treaty for wider regional co-operation signed by India and Bangladesh, in 2010. Tripura and the other North Eastern Indian states, may suffer, if Dhaka drags its feet in either allowing further movement of heavy equipment through its territories, or evacuation of industrial products through the Chittagong port.

Attacks on Pastors
The highest number of atrocities on Christian preachers and Church members is recorded in Andhra Pradesh. In the last two years, there were 76 incidents of attacks on Pastors and Churches in Andhra Pradesh. P Sanjeev of Vikarabad (Ranga Reddy District) was stabbed to death outside his house by four persons in January 2014. Some activists of Hindu Vahini have been arrested for the murder. Between October 2013 and December 2013, Pastors of many Churches have been threatened and assaulted in the districts of Nalgonda, Ippathi, Ranga Reddy, Adilabad, Nizamabad, Karimnagar, Kurnool, East and West Godavari. The rising attacks on Christians point to a conspiracy and systematic plan of the Hindu Vahini and extremist elements, for attacking and killing Christian Pastors all over the state of Andhra Pradesh.

Polluted Delhi
As India falters in coping with a deepening environmental crisis, the levels of air pollution are the worst in the world for Delhi. During November 2013 to March 2014, the peak levels of harmful particles in Delhi, were nearly sixty times higher than recommended safe levels. The most dangerous type of small airborne particles known as PM 2.5, averaged 575 micrograms per cubic metre in Delhi, compared to 400 micrograms in Beijing, often considered as the world’s most polluted city. The recommended daily level of PM 2.5 is 20 micrograms, consisting of sulphate, nitrates, ammonia and carbon particles, which in the blood stream could cause cancer and emphysema. Delhi has an increasing population of nearly 22 million. The city is blanked by grey-brown smog throughout the winter. Exhaust fumes become the biggest single contributor to rising pollution, as the number of cars on the city’s streets grows by 1400 every day. Pollution is enlarged by industrial emissions and dust from construction sites, as well as smoke from the burning of rubbish. In 2010, there were more than 620,000 premature deaths in India due to air pollution.

Year of the Horse
Welcoming the year of the Horse and declaring in era of ‘new reform’ to the 1.3 billion population, China’s communist leaders have scorned dissidents in China, and singled out Japan for abuse in a series of hard line messages. Hundreds of millions of Chinese travelled in the first week of February 2014, to mark the spring festival with their families. The horse as a beast symbolised ‘courage and strength, persistence and hardship’. Modern rivalry between China and Japan heated up when the Japanese revealed plans by China to impose a new ‘air defence zone’, over disputed areas of the South China Sea. The ruling party would not tolerate dissent, even as Chinese officials called for partriotism and promises of economic change, but not political changes. Recent trials of peaceful dissidents, were an attempt to defend people’s rights. Courts have adopted a ‘Marxist legal perspective’, where ‘stability maintenance is the essence of rights defence’. Since the 2008 Beijing Olympics, stability maintenance (‘Waiwen’) is the slogan for campaign of domestic security and surveillance. Censors tried to purge the internet in China, of ‘negative postings’. A Beijing court gave human rights activist Xu Zhiyong a four-year jail sentence, for ‘disturbing public order’. The rich and the privileged have long transferred their children and wealth overseas.

Guantanamo Inmates
After the 11 September 2001 attacks, the Guantanamo Bay was set up as a venue for military commissions that George Bush’s White House hoped would rapidly convict and sentence suspected terrorists sent there free from the scrutiny of US courts. The terror attack had killed about 3000 people. The high value detainees were not transferred to Guantanamo Bay, until 2006 from civilian custody at CIA ‘black sites’. There are about 158 detainees still held at Guantanamo Bay without charge or trial, in many cases tortured. The number who could be prosecuted from war crimes is in the ‘low 20s’.


Vol. 46, No. 38, Ma r30 - Apr 5, 2014