News Wrap


India is a key investor in Africa’s communication, healthcare and agriculture industries. A commitment of $10 billion to infrastructure and development projects in Africa, since 2008, has been made. India’s trade share with Africa has doubled to 6% between 2000 and 2013. During the same period, Europe’s trade share with the continent declined from 47% to 33%. In 2013, China-Africa trade of $211 billion, represented the continent’s biggest trade relationship with a single country. India’s import-export with Africa totalled $93 billion in 2013. Between 2003 and 2012, India ranked sixth in terms of Foreign Direct Investment into Africa. Indian businesses and foreign companies, like heavy equipment manufacturers and car makers, that manufacture in India, are exporting to Africa from their Indian factories. Focusing on information technology, services, agriculture, infrastructure, pharmaceuticals and consumer goods, Indian companies are estimated to quadruple revenues from Africa to $160 billion, by 2025.

Polavaram Dam
Plans to build Polavaram Dam have annoyed the Konda Reddi Tribe settled in the submergence zone of the proposed project in Khammam district of proposed new state of Telengana. The project aims to provide irrigation to areas in Seemandhra, but the submergence zone lies in Telengana. An ordnance proposes transfer of seven mandals in Khammam to the residue state Seemandhra, for smooth rehabilitation. The Polavaram multi-purpose project involves Rs 20,000 crore. However, since neither the Konda Reddis nor any other tribal population have any pattas or title deeds, they will not benefit from the rehabilitation package, under the new land acquisition policy. Large scale inundation from the construction of the Polavaram Dam threatens extinction for the Konda Reddi tribe, who are spread sparsely in Chinturu, VR Pura, Kunavaram, Veleru Padu hills and Ashveropeta and Dammapeta plains of Khammam district. The tribal population, settled in the uphill area in the thick of forests, practising Podu cultivation, are now rated as second in terms of facing risk of extinction. 276 villages in Andhra Pradesh are going to submerge. This would also have an adverse impact on the tribal population in Chattisgarh and Odisha.

Crimea Joins Russia
In the first week of March 2014, Crimea’s parliament voted to join Russia. The crisis over the Ukrainian Black Sea peninsula precipitated with the acceleration of moves to bring Crimea, which has an ethnic Russian majority, and has effectively been seized by Russian forces, formally under Moscow’s rule. The Crimean parliament voted unanimously to enter into the Russian Federation, with the rights of subject of the Russian Federation. Crimea formally applied to join Russia on 17 March 2014, after its leaders declared a soviet-style 97% result in favour of seceding from Ukraine, in a referendum on 16 March 2014. The referendum has been condemned as illegal by Kiev and the western powers, threatening to trigger immediate sanctions. The move, dismembering Ukraine against its will, is the most serious East-West crisis since the Cold War. Crimea is home to 2 million people. The turnout in the referendum was 83%. United States President Barack Obama imposed sanctions on 11 Russians and eight Crimeans, Ukrainians, blamed for Russia’s military incursions into Crimea, including two top aides to Russian President Vladimir Putin, which covers freezing of assets and bans on travel.

Russia’s Gas Weapon blunted
Changes in the global trade in natural gas, has forced the Russian pipeline monopoly Gazprom to cut prices worldwide, and giving Ukraine slightly more  bargaining power. Gas exporting countries are looking for other customers, with the boom in US shale gas. Europe is adding terminals to handle liquid natural gas. Declining production is offset with supplies from countries, such as Qatar. In 2012, Norway’s Statoil sold more gas to other European nations than Russia’s Gazprom. The price of gas paid by Ukraine has been discounted by Gazprom from about $11.50 per thousand cubic feet to $8.10. This has only brought Ukraine’s prices roughly in line, with those being paid in other parts of Europe. With Soviet era factories or mines becoming more efficient or going out of business, Ukraine’s domestic gas consumption has been reduced by nearly 40%, over the past five and half years. This has cut gas imports from Russia by half. Energy subsidies reached 7.5% of Ukraine’s GDP in 2012. Ukraine imported small quantities of natural gas from Germany and Hungary through pipelines in Slovakia and Poland, in 2012. As gas supplies are growing more plentiful, the link between gas and oil prices has been severed, for about half of Russia‘s gas sales.

Afghan Deaths
During the NATO-Taliban war in Afghanistan, more than 13,000 Afghan soldiers and police officers have been killed. As Afghan forces took over an increasing share of responsibility for security in the country, leading to full Afghan authority since March 2014, most of the war deaths occurred during the past three years. Without the intervention from the American coalition as it prepares to withdraw, more clashes have taken place, as insurgents test the government forces. In the past 13 years, 13,729 Afghan security forces have been killed and an additional 16,511 Afghan soldiers and police officers wounded. The Afghan death toll is four times higher than that of the international coalition, which has lost 3425 soldiers, of which 2313 of them Americans, during the 13-year conflict. About 12,500 civilians had been killed in the conflict. Another 11,700 civilians had been wounded. The Afghan council of Ministers has been paying death benefits to the families of soldiers killed and families of civilian casualties.

Vol. 46, No. 44, May 11 -17, 2014