News Wrap


At tax havens like the British Virgin, Cayman and Cook Islands and Singapore, nearly 500 Indians and Indian companies have bank accounts. A comprehensive list, of about 10,000 account holders worldwide, has been recently released by the US based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). The official residential addresses of two senior Indian government officials also figure in the list. The massive worldwide expose, titled ‘Secrecy for Sale’, released by the ICIJ contains the names of 498 Indians and several Indian companies, in the tax havens. The majority of the 498 Indian addresses are from Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Baroda, Ahmedabad and Bangalore. The list indicates all the posh colonies in the metro cities. Also figuring in the list are Indians from areas like Raipur, Bellary, Kurukshetra, Khammam, Ludhiana, Ajmer, Bhopal, Muzaffarpur, Baripada (Odisha), Kochi and Pondicherry.

Cattle Lifters in Delhi
Of late the regard for cows as religion has declined in India, they are all about business and money. Today India is the world’s largest dairy producer, the largest cattle producer and the largest beef exporter, having surpassed Brazil in 2012. Meat consumption, chicken primarily is becoming acceptable even among Hindus, albeit it was a taboo even four decades back. Increasingly affluent Indians are developing a taste for meat, even the flesh of cows, which are considered sacred in Hinduism. Much of the exported beef is from buffalo, which is not considered holy. India has half of the world’s buffalo population. The killing of cows is illegal in vast portions of India and some states have outlawed the possession of cow meat. In Andhra Pradesh there are 3100 illegal slaughter houses, compared with just six licensed ones. Much of the illicit beef is probably sold as buffalo. Criminals round up some of the roughly 40,000 cattle that wander the streets of Delhi, and sell them to illegal slaughter houses, located in neighbouring villages. A large number of the cattle in Delhi are part of dairy operations, and their owners have neither the land nor the money to keep them penned. The animals graze on grassy patches or rubbish trash piles. Cattle too old to be milked are abandoned, and left to wander. Cattle lifters round up straycattle, and carry them off in trucks. Each cow fetches around Rs 9000.

Colonies in the Pacific Ocean
Originally consisting of territories reported as dependencies by the colonial powers, the United Nation’s ‘‘non-self-governing’’ list dates back to 1946. Over the decades, most of the colonies became independent, or were annexed, or were enjoying political autonomy. 16 territories around the globe, mostly small islands in the Caribbean, Atlantic or Pacific Oceans, remain to be decolonised. Tokelau, Pitcairn Islands, American Samoa, Guam and New Caledonia are in the Pacific. However, independence has not been the preferred option for many pacific islanders. With a population of 1411, Tokelau narrowly failed to obtain the required two-thirds majority to end its status as a New Zealand dependency, in two UN sponsored referendums, held in 2006 and 2007. Pitcairn, still home to descendents of the ‘‘Bounty’s’’ mutineers, having 47 inhabitants, has no desire to end British rule. American Samoa’s politicians repeatedly ask to be removed from the UN list.

Nickel-rich New Caledonia is a French colony since 1853. The island has a substantial French settler population. Since the 1980s, the indigenous Kanak leaders have been pushing for independence, resulting in sporadic violent conflicts. A referendum on independence must be held at some point before 2019, and perhaps early as next year. While the French government is weary of costly Pacific dependencies, France has been threatening to withdraw economic co-operation from any territory that chooses independence. In May 2013, the territory of French Polynesia, of which Tahiti is the most populous island, was reinscribed on the UN’s disapproving list of ‘‘non-self-governing territories’’. The UN resolution requires France to encourage self-determination in French Polynesia. In May 2013, elections in French Polynesia, brought a heavy defeat for the territory’s long standing pro-independence leader, Oscar Temaru, and victory for his arch rival Gaston Flosse, who vows against self-determination.

Abductees in North Korea
The late 1970s and early 1980s, witnessed North Korea abducting at least 17, mainly young Japanese. They were typically seized by frogmen, emerging out of the sea of Japan. They were carried to North Korea to teach Japanese ways to North Korean secret agents. Of late, Japanese delegations have been visiting the North Korean capital, to talk with the regime about Japanese abductees. The awful kidnapping and trips to Pyongyang have been a long standing and reliable source of political capital for ruling parties in Japan. Till late Kim Jong II of North Korea admitted to the kidnapping in 2002, many Japanese had dismissed the rumours of kidnapping as conspiracy theory. Kim allowed five abductees brief family reunions back in Japan. The Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe has allowed some of the abductees to remain in Japan. Now with Japan’s ties with North Korea severed, several abductees are still unaccounted for. The North Korean government maintains that many of the victims are dead. Japan’s far right political parties have long supported the abductees’ cause, and shouted racist slogans against Japan’s own Korean population.

Vol. 46, No. 5, Aug 11-17, 2013

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