India Travel News

Window on India
January 19, 2007

News Bullets

India is where the future is being shaped: Portuguese President
Portuguese President Anibal Antonio Cavaco Silva has eulogized India as a place where the future was being shaped. At the Partnership Summit 2007 organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry, on Wednesday, the president, who is a professor of economics, lauded the efforts of the government and the Indian entrepreneurship to lift millions of people out of poverty. He said that India was no more a rural country of scarcity, constantly in need of development assistance. He opined that India was a land of bright people, of new technologies, research, innovation and cutting-edge industries.

Newsweek apologises to Rahul Gandhi
Newsweek magazine has apologized to scion of the Gandhi family and Indian parliament member Rahul Gandhi for its inaccurate reporting. The renowned US magazine had misreported that Rahul had failed to earn a degree despite his efforts in some foreign universities. The ruling party dispatched a legal notice to the magazine. The magazine clarified that Rahul got his B.A. degree from the Rollins College in Florida and then got the M. Phil. in Development Economics from Trinity College of Cambridge University. Rahul also worked for a leading global-strategy consulting group, Monitor, for three years in London, the magazine mentioned in its apology.

Film-star Shilpa Shetty racially abused in UK reality show
Heart-throb of millions of Indians and Bollywood’s sex Goddess, Shilpa Shetty, has been subjected to racial and dirty remarks from the housemates of a reality television show ‘’Big Brother’’ on a British Channel by name – Channel 4. The Asian community in the UK has been stirred by these racist comments, A few of the inmates made fun of her Indian accent and pronunciation of some words in English, totally oblivious of the fact that they could not pronounce even Shilpa’s name. But then that is part of the game as most of the housemates get increasingly frustrated owing to their cooping up in a house. The show tests their nerves and also brings out their inner realities. Labour MP Keith Vaz raised his voice in the House of Commons and demanded a probe into these racist comments. The sponsors too are thinking of reviewing their sponsorship of this show.

Yemen invites Indian ONGC to build refinery
Yemen has invited India’s public sector company, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, to build a 100,000 barrels per day refinery, worth one billion dollars, on its Arabian sea coast. But the Indian firm has put a condition that it would accept the offer only if it was allotted an oilfield in return. However, Yemen wants to open their about ten offshore exploration blocks for competitive international bidding. Negotiations are on.

PoK PM dislikes India bashing
Leopards have started changing their spots. No less a person than Prime Minister of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir Attique Ahmed Khan has asked his people to change the habit of pointing fingers at India for every bad thing that happens in the region. Khan was referring to recent grenade attack on the house of Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umer Farooq. We should not unnecessarily link India to such things, he felt.

A Government Quote

‘‘There will be no compromise with these groups (militants) if they resort to violence. At the same time, I would like to reiterate that the doors for dialogue are open to all disaffected groups, including the ULFA, if they are willing to abjure violence,’’ said Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh at Guwahati, in the trouble-torn north-eastern Indian state of Assam, after visiting the violence-hit areas of Dibrugarh and Tinsukia, on Jan 16.

A reader’s Quote in Media

‘‘I hope all my country watches what happens in the UK. The ‘Racists’ are a very small but potent group. I feel sorry for Shilpa. Somebody should have warned her about this. If she stands up for herself and gives back as good as she gets, they always back out. You should NEVER respect anyone who doesn’t give you respect. I hope Shilpa realises that she represents New India, a richer and very educated India,’’... Dr Ahmed on IBN-CNN, on Jan 16.


Can urbanisation be less paralysing? - By Pratap Thorat

The year 2006 is gone without many of us noting that it was for the first time in the history of human civilization that the world’s urban population crossed the fifty percent mark, in that year. At the beginning of the 20th century just five percent of the people of the world lived in cities.

India has a long way to go before it crosses this halfway mark. For, India’s urbanization is still around 28 percent and may reach the 40 mark in 2025. Maybe it will take a quarter century now on for India to cross the 50 percent mark. Digital technology was expected to reverse urbanisation. So far, it has not. Maybe it will slow down the process of urbanisation in times to come.

India, more a federation of its 600,000 villages, identifies itself easily with the traditions and varied ethnic cultures that are necessarily rural, though the nation has done well in shifting from an agrarian economy to an industrial economy. India has been remarkably quick in adopting newer technologies and sometimes even mastering a few of them like the Information Technology. It’s greed for modern things, new thought is insatiable and the capacity to digest the invading cultures and give rise to a new one of its own is tremendous. It has attempted well not to lose its roots during the continued metamorphosis.

India’s remarkable rapid progress is largely due to its collective scientific temperament, eagerness for a change, greed for newer technologies, thrust on education, a burning desire to beat others in global competitiveness and openness of the society that treats nothing as foreign – be it English language, the game of cricket, non-vegetarianism, computers, IT, Chinese food or an Italy-born leader. Globe shrinks more in India than anywhere else.

Generally, India the progressive society is yearning for a double digit economic growth for the next quarter century or so. Inevitably, the pace of the urbanization would be quickened. Industrial townships have mushroomed in the past two decades and now the thrust is on carving out Special Economic Zones to boost up exports and the economy. Metros have already grown out of shape and towns and cities have swelled in the ugliest possible forms.

A growing India has generally failed in handling the problems arising from urbanization: the slums, housing, town-planning, illegal structures, urban transportation, pollution, health hazards, ailing minds and crime. More importantly, it is the failure of the economic model. This model was supposed to retain the rural population in villages has acted on the contrary as a catalyst to India’s unsightly and disquieting urbanization. It is also due to a lethargic, corrupt and heartless bureaucracy, sluggish judicial system and a distorted working of the political system.

India’s democracy is deep-rooted and vibrant. The people’s writ runs. The political system bends awkwardly to regularize the festering, illegal slums and finds itself inadequate to improve the lot of their inhabitants. It is a sort of the political leadership’s admission of the guilt that they couldn’t maintain them happily in their native places. There is emergence of the institution of slumlords and political functionaries find it convenient to rule the slum-dwellers through them. Slums extend safe shelter to the petty, small-time operators misused by those who preside over the organised urban crime. Slum-dwellers make a reliable vote-bank for the political bosses and enable them to rule the metros and big cities that are necessarily the islands of ever-growing prosperity. In return, what the slum-dwellers get is political patronage for an illegal occupation of a piece of government land and proximity to that glittering island of prosperity, where better prospects are possible. It is a symbiotic relationship.

The story of Nithari village, just 20 kms from Delhi, on the periphery of the affluent industrial township of Noida, is the gruesome part of the story of India’s urbanisation. It is the account of sexual abuse of over 50 children, their murder, cannibalism and suspected trafficking of human organs by a satanic servant and his stinking rich, debauch industrialist master with high political connections under the cover of a corrupt and inert police.

The hungry have-nots rush to the periphery of such islands of prosperity with a hope to fill their belly with the left-over. They have neither ration-cards, nor voter identification, nor caste lords among the politicians. They are the rootless transplants in the system. Just hapless unbranded mavericks, which could be used, misused and abused for peanuts. They have no place or godfathers in the political system as they are a mere heterogeneous mix of backward caste groups. The nexus of money, crime, bureaucracy and political lords has come to dominate the urbanisation and the system that has evolved during the past few decades. India has a long way to go before it readjusts its energy, resources and will to make the urbanisation a beautiful metamorphosis of a butterfly that has been made possible in some other parts of the world.

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