News Wrap


Buoyed by good monsoon in 2016, after two years of drought, India’s food grains output is likely to hit a record 271. 88 million tons (mt) in the july 2016-june 2017 crop year. Wheat, rice, pulses, coarse cereals and oilseed production are all set to surpass previous record. Druoght had reduced foodgrain production to 251. 57 mt in July 2015-2016. The previous record was 265.04 mt in July 2013-June 2014. Rice output is pegged at 108.86 mt last year. Wheat output is projected to be 96.64 mt this crop year, against 92.29 mt last year. The pulses output is seen at a record 22.14mt this year, against 16.35 mt last year. The output is still short of the country’s estimated demand of 23 to24mt. The rise in output will reduce India’s dependence on imports. Coarse cereal output is estimaed to be a record 44.34mt. Oilseed production is at a record 33.60mt, with soyabean output likely to be at 14.13mt, ground-nut at 8.45mt, and castor seed at 1.74mt. Cotton output, among cash crops, is estimated at 32.51 million bales (of 170kg each) for June ending-2017, against last year's 30 million bales. However, suger cane output is likely to be lower at 309.98mt, against 348.44 mt for June 2016 year. Jute and mesta output is estimated to be lower at 10.06 million bales (of 180 kg each), against 10.52 million bales for June 2016 year.

Kaziranga Poachers
The BBC film ‘Killing for Conservation’, directed by Justin Rowlatt, the BBC South Asia correspondent, highlights, the union government of India and the state Goverment of Assam’s ‘Ruthless anti-poaching strategy’ for the Kaziranga tiger reserve. The BBC documentary explores the ‘dark secrets’ of Kaziranga, and claims that forest guards have been given powers to shoot and kill. More people were killed by forest guards, than rhinos by poachers.23 people lost their lives, compared to just 17 Rhinos in 2016. Rowlatt also claims that only two intrudecrs were prosecuted, while 50 were shot dead since 2014. The forest guards have a legal immunity. The film explores that challenge of India’s conservation drive, and the impact on communities living next to the park. Just one park guard has been killed by the poachers in the past twenty years, compared with 106 people shot dead by guards over the same period. The film on several cases of innocent villagers being shot in Kaziranga. The BBC aired the film programme on 11 Feb 2017. The union environment ministry has called the BBC film report as ‘grossly erroneous’, and has recommended the black listing of the BBC correspondent.

Migrants In Jammu
There is increasing tension on the issue of rising number of Bangladeshi and Rohingya migrants settling on the outskirts of Jammu, in Jammu and Kashmir state. Indian security agencies are disturbed by the increasing number of foreign settlers in the sensitive border state. Various political, social and Hindu Religions organisations of Jammu have started demonstrating against these selters, demanding their eviction. The Kashmir – centric Muslim parties are maintaining silence on the issue. The Jammu organistions, including the Pantheers Party, Shiv Sena and Dogra Front suspect that the Muslim foreigners are being given settlement, in a bid to alter the demograply of the area. Earlier the Kashmir-based separatists raised hue and cry against the government issuing identity certificates to the Hindu refugees form West Pakistan, who had settled in various parts of Jammu, Samba, Kathua and Rajouri districts, about 70 years ago, during partition. 5743 Rohingyas have settled around Jammu. Cases of illegel attempts to cross over to Pakistan, have been registered against 38 of them. Trained in terrorism in Pakistan, one Rohingya was killed in an encounter in 2016, in Pakistan. People with political connections in Jammu are accused of illegal grabbing of more than 30,000 hectares of forest land around Jammu, and establishing illegal colonies, with all civic amenities. Only about 1000 hectares have been vacated.

Troubles About ‘Brexit’
Britain's Supreme Court in the third week of Jan 2017 ruled that the British Parliament should have the final say under Artical 50, on Britain exiting the European Union. Their verdict concerned the process, not the rightness or otherwise of the decision taken by voters in the referendum in June 2016. On 09 Feb 2016, the House of Commons approved the Brexit Bill, with 494 members in favour and 122 against. Labour and the Conservative parties are divided on the issue. The Commons rejected about nine amendments attempted, including one to guarantee the future rights of EU nationals. World Trade Organisation rules would mean hefty export tariffs on dairy products (36%), cars (10%), food and drinks (20%), and clothing and textiles (10 to 20%). A 'hard Brexit" could also see billions of pounds having to be spent on new IT systems for customs declarations on holding facilities at big ports, and
on a new immigration system to process applications for work permits.

UK prime minister Theresa May suffered her first parliamentary defeat over Brexit, on 01 March, 2017, after the House of Lords voted in favour of an amendment to guarantee the rights of EU citizens in the UK, after the country leaves the single market. On 08 March 2017, the House of Lords voted 366 to 268 to back calls for a 'meaningful vote' on the final terms of withdrawl from the 28-member EUROPEAN UNION. Parliament's Upper House voted to authorise lawmakes to veto the final outcome of the UK prime minister's EU talks.

Vol. 49, No.45, May 14 - 20, 2017