News Wrap


India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi’s ‘‘Make India’’ campaign aims to raise manufacturing’s share of India’s gross domestic product to 25% from 15%, and to create jobs for the 12 million young people entering the country’s labour market each year. India is formidable supplier of software services. With rising costs in China, and over-dependence on one geography, India’s watch industry, mainly supplying components is expected to expand widely, over the next decade. However, India’s share of world exports in 2013 was just 1.7%, increasing from 0.5% in 1990, but far behind the 11% of China, where manufacturing accounts for 34% of GDP. With the manufacturing sector on a slow mode, India imports huge quantities of consumer goods to satisfy its middle class, fuelling a widening trade deficit. India has a market of 1.25 billion people, and 65% of its people are under the age of 35.

In September 2014, during the US trip, Mr Modi announced lifelong visas for the Persons of Indian Origin card-holders, and the merger of the PIO and Overseas Citizenship of India schemes. India and USA reached an agreement on extending their defence cooperation for ten more years. The vision statement of ‘‘Chalein Saath Saath: Forward Together We Go’’ promises strategic partnership, to combat terror threats, and prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

Jayalalitha and Corruption
Ms Jayalalitha of Tamil Nadu is the first serving Chief Minister of a state to be convicted under the Prevention of Corruption Act, in the Rs 66.65 crore disproportionate asset case, after an 18-year-old legal battle. A Special Sessions Court Judge in Bangalore has sentenced her and her close associate Ms Sasikala to four years jail terms. The judge has imposed a fine of Rs 100 crore on Ms Jayalalitha and Rs 10 crore on Ms Sasikala. Ms Jayalalitha ceases to be a member of the Tamil Nadu Assembly, and has lost her position as Chief Minister. The Rs 66.65 crore disproportionate asset is worth thousands of crore today. The Supreme Court has ruled out suspension of conviction pending appeal, even if imprisonment is suspended. Ms Jayalalitha will not be able to contest any elections for the next ten years. After the AIADMK supremo’s conviction, Jayalalitha loyalist and Tamil Nadu Finance Minister O Panneerselvam has been chosen as the next Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. Unless the conviction is set aside, Ms Jayalalitha is barred for contesting in elections for the four years in jail, and six years after release. After Ms Jayalalitha was sent to jail, there were sporadic incidents of violence across Tamil Nadu, at end September 2014.

Satellite To Mars
India has successfully placed a satellite in orbit around Mars at its first attempt, in September 2014, and beating arch rival China, to become the first Asian country to send a space craft to another planet. After an 11-month journey of 410 million miles (661 million kms), the Mangalyaan Mars Craft probe, entered the Martian atmosphere. A Chinese mission to the planet Yinghou-I failed in 2013 and 23 missions out of 41, have also failed. Critics observe that the mission was a waste of money in a nation where 43% of children aged under the age of 5 are chronically malnourished, and 33% of India’s population of 1.2 billion people lack access to electricity. India’s space budget is $983 million, compared with $17.5 billion in USA. India launched its first space rocket in 1963 and its first satellite in 1975. Mangalyaan, which was launched on 05 November 2013, is the cheapest ever mission to Mars at $74 million (45 million Pound), which is a fraction of the $671 million spent by NASA on its current mission to the Red Planet. India’s success makes it the fourth space power after USA, Europe and Russia to orbit or land on planet Mars.

Vol. 47, No. 23, Dec 14 - 20, 2014