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India's Economy And Teleconnectivity
<b>The tale density of India is increasing very rapidly. On an average India is adding about 2 million phones every month. Still we are way behind many countries including China, Egypt and perhaps Turkey. However, the most important aspect of this connectivity has been that it is generating employment not only to those who are directly involved in the telecom industry. It has even increased the trading and turnover for the roadside vegetable vendor. The vendor is now equipped with the mobile phone is taking orders from various apartments and having the delivery done by appointing additional people. This is just one example; one can find a large number of such activities in which the mobile phone is playing a major role.</b>
can someone give me any information on the microwave and optical Fibre cable (OFC) layout in India and which are the major players, private or public in the Broadband sector. Especially helpful will be a map of the Backhaul layout.
<!--QuoteBegin-ben_ami+Mar 12 2006, 09:44 PM-->QUOTE(ben_ami @ Mar 12 2006, 09:44 PM)<!--QuoteEBegin-->can someone give me any information on the microwave and optical Fibre cable (OFC) layout in India and which are the major players, private or public in the Broadband sector. Especially helpful will be a map of the Backhaul layout.

I don't think you will find backbone infrastructure information in public domain, (same as routing information etc.).
well then at least the micro wave and optical fibre info??

i have the map of Karnataka - but i want the national info.

<!--emo&:argue--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/argue.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='argue.gif' /><!--endemo--> While there is increase in GDP, so is the increase in poverty. SEZs which at the best will boost GDP further; may not be able to alleviate poverty. Here is a view:
India doesn't need SEZs: Bhagwati
Dinesh Narayanan & Anil G Nair
[ 19 Oct, 2006 0148hrs ISTTIMES NEWS NETWORK ]

RSS Feeds| SMS NEWS to 8888 for latest updates

MUMBAI: There are protests and then there are arguments. And when Columbia University's Jagdish Bhagwati opposes India setting up special economic zones, it's not a protest against tax evasion or land grab but the professor's argument that crashes thro-ugh the bulwark of support for them.

"SEZs are a sort of scaffolding with which you climb into more openness. Hopefully, that demonstration (of openness in SEZs) will show that it is worth having these policies.

But now that you have the building, why do you need the scaffolding? Already the policies have changed. So, I think it's a backward step,"said Bhagwati in an exclusive chat with TOI.

The world's most ardent advocate of globalisation (who lost this year's Nobel economics prize narrowly) says that India needs only clear policies that will integrate the country into the world market.

"We don't need to learn lessons from China anymore, because the main lesson was outward-orientation. We should concentrate on making the additional reforms for reducing trade barriers."

Bhagwati said that China needed SEZs because it had an export-oriented strategy which relied on its eastern seaboard with four provinces and 700 million workers as a platform to experiment with the policy while the rest of the country remained closed.

"Basically, what they did was to take an export-oriented strategy, which was married into investment as well, because investment was more or less geared to export promotion. We did not cash in on that, partly because we were too scared of foreign investment,"he said.

"And the way it (the SEZs in India) is being managed, you know the politicians are getting their hands on it and ultimately you have to take land. There is nothing wrong with it as long as people pay for it. And if you get politicians to assign it, then you can be sure there is a rent, and clearly when you have something like that, you are offering a temptation to the politicians or bureaucrats or whoever. That is also when you build resentment, when peoples' lands are taken. But we are a democratic system.

"Similar things are happening in China, which is experiencing land grab. There they have no recourse at all. They don't have any NGOs to go to, they don't have a free press, no independent judiciary, and no opposition parties. So, what do they do? At least here it's being discussed. But as I said, we don't need the damn thing."

Describing China as a "triple Gulliver"problem, Bhagwati said while its reserves were enormous, it was creating disturbances in specific import markets like oil, and like Japan in the 1930s and 1980s, it was creating tsunami waves in specific export sectors.

"I think it's more of a management problem than ever before. We tend to get dragged into it because of people like Tom Friedman who are always talking of India and China as two great rising emerging powers, that these are the two giants and they are going to awaken. But both giants continued snoring right until the mid-1980s because of bad policies. Now they are really awake and people are scared as hell,"he said.

Everything that Bhagwati argues for is rooted in openness and globalisation. "There are three things around which there needs to be consensus.

Development is a powerful cocktail made of three liqeurs. One is openness. Greater integration with the world can bring you benefits in trade and investment.

Two, economic freedom, which I don't like because it sounds ideological, like judicious use of markets—not a knee-jerk reaction against them but being pragmatic about it. Use markets more freely whatever your objectives. The third is political democracy, what we call political freedom, which is a great value in itself,"he said.

"India had democracy, not the other two (openness and free markets). Now we have all three. Now we are poised for dramatic growth. China, unfortunately, has the first two but not democracy. And there it's leading to a lot of problems. It can go on to create massive social destruction. We have the ideal brew,"he adds.
I think India does need insulated cities, that don't have to be SEZ's neccessarily, but brand new cities designed with infrastructure and law enforcement at industrialized world levels (essentially many "Singapore's" in India that require a permit to enter). This is the only way India can build "showcase cities" that can be what Hong Kong or Shenzen was to China.

I agree that too much tax exemption is wrong, infact the Indian government policy should be be more deregulation, but also more taxation, and that money should be spent on infrastructure/ public works to create jobs and further economic growth.

<!--emo&:argue--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/argue.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='argue.gif' /><!--endemo--> Special Exploitation Zones

By Tejal Kanitkar & Puru Kulkarni

18 October, 2006

Special Economic Zones (SEZ) is a pseudonym for a new tsunami let loose on the Indian working class and peasantry by the Indian State. The bill was passed with much rapidity and urgency in both the lower and upper houses and is now called the SEZ Act. With the recent trend in government policies, this act is not a very big surprise, but by far it is the most blatant and extreme form of exploitation inflicted on the Indian poor by its own government. Vandana Shiva, an environmental activist has very rightly called it the “biggest land grab in the history of independent India”.

State and Central governments will together acquire land from people who have been living on it for generations. Of Course they will compensate those who “own” this land. No compensation will be given to those who don’t own it but depend on it directly or indirectly---farm workers. The compensation given/to be given to land owners will be lower than what they would otherwise get for the land. Only agricultural land or non-village land will be acquired---nullifying the need to address the rehabilitation and resettlement of the project affected. The government will resell this land to big industrialists/SEZ developers for prices a lot higher than paid to the farmers, but lower than what otherwise would be the market prices---a win-win for everyone but the farmer. But why and how will these people just give away their land for nothing?

The Indian State still harps on trickle down, which is now widely discredited world over. SEZs will provide numerous jobs, infrastructure and most importantly “development” for the village and consequently the villagers---were the farmers asked if they want this development which snatches away their way of life? These jobs that SEZ developers are promising will be generated in the various projects within the Zones. What will these projects be? The Act mandates 25% of the land to be used for economic activity or cash flow generating activity. The rest can just be real estate. When the Government takes 1000 acres of good fertile agricultural land from farmers and gives it to Reliance, Reliance can build houses or golf courses on 750 acres of it and it would be legal, as long as the rest of the 250 acres is used to generate economic activity, which could very well be IT centers and shopping malls. Note that the 25% land has been mandated for economic activity and not industrial activity, generating jobs for the-now landless farmers in whatever the SEZ developers decide to build. It is not hard to imagine the jobs farmers, landless labourers and their spouses and children would get in IT centers, shopping malls, golf courses or residential complexes.

The SEZs are “Special” for many more reasons though. Land grabbing is just one little part of a bigger scam. These Zones would be alien lands within the Indian nation---twenty one different Indian laws are inapplicable within the Zone, one of the most important being the Panchayat law. The very core of democracy---the right to self-determination, the sovereignty of the people living in these Zones will be taken away overnight. Almost all governance of the Zones is the responsibility of the Development Commissioner. Far from being elected by the people living in the Zones, this person will be appointed directly by the Central Government. Further, everyone will need an identity card or a passport to be able to commute within and stay in the Zone. The farmers/farm workers who once tilled that very land will now have to show ID cards to walk on it. To top it all, SEZs have been declared as a Public Utility Service---shopping malls, recreatation centers, golf courses included! This provision will easily be exploited to hire and fire workers, crack down on organizing and restrict all kind of union activity. There will be no respite from unfair, exploitative business practices that many of the prospective SEZ developers are known to practice even outside these Zones.

The specialty of the special Zones doesn’t end here. Everything within the Zone would have a ten year long tax holiday. There will be no taxes, duties, cesses on anything within this Zone. No income tax, no import duty, export duty, no cesses on electricity and water. The resources within the Zone can be freely exploited by the SEZ developer. Water that belonged to the communities living there for generations together will now belong to Reliance, Tata, Bharat Forge, Ispat, Aditya Birla Group and many such others. Once a state government clears an SEZ it will be obligated to provide the required resources for the SEZ - most importantly electricity.

There has been no effort to check the SEZ experience in other countries. The experience in China has been that of companies wrapping up their industries once the tax holidays terminate. What happens then? The Indian State waives off all revenue generating taxes to encourage investment and when the time comes for the multinationals to pay back, they can just wrap up and leave?

One hundred-fifty Special Exploitation Zones have already been sanctioned. This means 70,000 hectares of land is being grabbed as we read this.Two hundred twenty five more Special Exploitation Zones are waiting approval. This means that 2,74,000 hectares of land will be grabbed soon. The extent of the planned mass murder and mass displacement is unimaginable.

Tejal Kanitkar
Industrial Assessment Center
Department of Mechanical Engineering
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
(413)-545-4216 (Lab)
(413)-687-2090 (Res)

<b>Left demands put India SEZs in doubt</b>
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->So far 150 SEZ projects have been approved and a further 100 are pending approval.

Economists believe that the proposed SEZs are unlikely to help Indian manufacturing because half are less than 1sq km in area and the average size of just 4.2 sq km.

Finance ministry officials say SEZs are giving unnecessary tax breaks to real estate developments that would have taken place anyway and will cost the government $19bn in revenues by 2010.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2006
They should not use agriculture land.
<!--emo&:felx--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/flex.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='flex.gif' /><!--endemo--> गेट्स भाई के सर्किट की आपके फोन पर नजर
[Wednesday, November 08, 2006 09:00:20 pm ]

आशीष पांडे

नई दिल्ली: 'इस वक्त दुनिया में मौजूद रहने के लिए अगर सबसे बेहतर जगह कोई है, तो मैं वहीं पर हूं।' यह कहना है माइक्रोसॉफ्ट के सीईओ स्टीव बामर का जो भारत दौरे पर हैं। बामर की अहमियत इसी से समझी जा सकती है कि वह कंप्यूटर की दुनिया के सबसे ताकतवर शख्स बिल गेट्स का दाहिना हाथ हैं। गेट्स के स्कूली दोस्त और २६ साल से माइक्रोसॉफ्ट में उनके साझीदार रहे बामर के हाथ में कंपनी की कमान है और उसे नई ऊंचाई तक ले जाने का नक्शा उनके सामने बिल्कुल साफ है। हर कंप्यूटर पर माइक्रोसॉफ्ट की छाप छोड़ने के बाद उनके निशाने पर अब आपका मोबाइल फोन है और मोबाइल के सबसे तेजी से बढ़ते बाजार, भारत में वह इसी इरादे से हैं। यानी कंप्यूटर पर जिस तरह आपका प्लैटफॉर्म विंडोज होता है, वह चाहते हैं कि मोबाइल पर भी विंडोज आपका साथी बन जाए।

बिल गेट्स और पॉल एलेन ने माइक्रोसॉफ्ट को टेक्नॉलजी का ब्रह्मास्त्र दिया, तो बामर ने इसे चलाने का करतब दिखाया। शुरू से उन्होंने कंपनी के बिजनेस मैनेजर की कमान संभाली और ऐसा जलवा दिखाया कि माइक्रोसॉफ्ट के कारोबार में गेट्स की सत्ता वही संभाल रहे हैं। बामर के चेहरे पर इस कामयाबी का आत्मविश्वास साफ झलकता है। अपने टारगेट और उस तक पहुंचने का रास्ता वह बखूबी जानते हैं। हच से करार कर वह मोबाइल की स्क्रीन पर विंडोज सर्च सिस्टम ला रहे हैं। रिलायंस के साथ हाथ मिलाकर वह रिलायंस वर्ल्ड पर माइक्रोसॉफ्ट जोन ला रहे हैं। भारत जैसे देश में जब ज्यादा से ज्यादा लोगों को कंप्यूटिंग का पहला एक्सपीरियंस कंप्यूटर के बजाय मोबाइल फोन से मिल रहा है, तो वह इस नए मोर्चे पर भी बाजी मार लेना चाहते हैं।

लेकिन बामर को कमजोरियों की भी जानकारी है। इंटरनेट पर विंडोज के सर्च सिस्टम पर गूगल के भारी पड़ने और स्पीड की शिकायतों का उन्हें पता है और कंपनी इसका उपाय खोजने में जुटी है। ऑपरेटिंग सिस्टम के तौर पर लाइनेक्स जैसे फ्री सॉफ्टवेयर को मात देने के लिए उन्हें अपने नए ओएस विस्टा पर भरोसा है, जो बतौर बामर अब तक का सबसे बेहतरीन सिस्टम होगा। वैसे बामर के भरोसे को बेवजह नहीं कहा जा सकता। १९९८ के बाद से माइक्रोसॉफ्ट जब एक के बाद एक कई मुकदमों में फंसती जा रही थी, तो वही थे जो मीडिया के सामने कंपनी की खुलकर सफाई देने का दम रखते थे। बामर ने ही स्टॉक ऑप्शन का फॉर्म्युला निकालकर स्टाफ को कंपनी छोड़ने से रोकने का रास्ता सबसे पहले निकाला और माइक्रोसॉफ्ट के लोगों को करोड़पति बना दिया। बामर वही शख्स हैं जिन्होंने गेट्स से भी पहले इंटरनेट की ताकत को समझा और १९९५ में इंटरनेट एक्सप्लोरर लॉन्च कराकर अपना जलवा दिखा दिया।

अब इस शख्स की नजर आपके मोबाइल पर है और उनमें इतना दम है कि आपके फोन की स्क्रीन को कंप्यूटर बना दे। तो दिल्ली में जब उनसे एक पत्रकार ने पूछा कि आप आखिर भारत क्यों आए हैं, तो उनके जवाब कि इससे बेहतर जगह और कौन है, में वाकई दम था।

Minimal translation:
Bamer(Spelling may not be correct!), next to Bill Gates in Microsoft, is all praise for Indian market with an eye to capture mobile phone market.
<b>India Telecom 2006</b>

Can any IFites in Delhi attend this and hopefully have the conference proceedings (a link to, if possible) posted here?

The latest statistics as published in the Times of India of date:-

No. of telephone connections 1994 - 0.8% per 100 population.
2006- 12.8% per 100 population.

Fix lines per 100
China - 23.7%
India - 6.3%
Russia - 84%
Brazil - 45.8%
USA - 73.5%
UK - 100.8 %

Operators in India have laid 670,000 route kilometers of optical fiber , even in interior areas.
The annual subscriber growth on basic telephones
China 12 %
India 2 %
on mobile phones -
China 17 %
India 78%.

The recent penetration of the mobile phone in the rural areas , in which BSNL has taken a lead is providing a new weapon in the hand of the small time business men and others to improve on their profit by increasing their turn -over as they can negotiate more business deals in less time by phone.Even in small towns, petty vendors are using cell phone to procure order from the neighbourhood and deliver goods including vegitables at the doorstep.
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Majority of farmers in favour of SEZ project: Survey </b>
Staff Reporter | Gurgaon
The Government of Haryana (GOH), in association with the Central India News Service (CINS), conducted a public survey in the State that showed that a large number of farmers are supporting the mega Special Economic Zone (SEZ) project. The survey report states that majority of farmers believe that SEZ project will bring development in terms of huge employment to the State.

The State Government is facing large-scale protests by the farmers against acquiring their land for the SEZ project. Some of the affected farmers have knocked the doors of justice and are awaiting court rulings. The main issue is the compensation they are offered against their land at Rs 20 lakh per acre, which is much below the market rate. About 1,400 acres of land is to be acquired from five villages in Gurgaon and farmers are protesting against the Government move.

The survey report reveals that an unpredictable 73 per cent people favours the SEZ project as it safeguards the interests of the farmers in land acquisition while 47 per cent are of the opinion that SEZ will help in generating huge employment opportunities in the State. The Survey was conducted in 123 cities, towns and villages spread across 48 Assembly constituencies of Haryana from March 15 to March 25 in which 19,135 eligible voters have been interviewed.

In the next one year 23 per cent people want the Government to generate more employment opportunities, 22 per cent respondents desire checks on price rise, 21 per cent people advocate for more pro-farmer schemes, 12 per cent of survey sample stress for the better infrastructure in the State to give it international identity, 10 per cent expect more initiatives to attract more industries, 7 per cent respondents expects more efforts in maintenance of law and order and 5 per cent respondents want the Government to start policies for the welfare of the senior citizens in the third year of its tenure.
Policy on SEZs
First. The peasantry is deeply disturbed with government policy on SEZs, which in their present form and configuration can only constitute a grave threat to the integrity and security of our agrarian society rendering it vulnerable to dislocation and economic exploitation .The Indian farmer is already the most marginalised majority in society today.
Second: The ramifications of the current policy are manifold and far reaching. The peasantry is the only lifesource of the nation’s innate strength from times immemorial, the powerhouse of self-reliance most importantly in food without being hostage to external dependency and a granary of unmatched human resource for our soldiery with its roots in land it tills which instills its patriotic fervour as displayed over a historical continuum and which no other segment of society can claim. Our land frontiers are protected with this instinct The Jawan and Kisan are thus traditionally interwoven in a natural bond as nowhere on the globe. Our social cohesion and cultural identity too are deeply rooted in peasantry unique to our nation and comparable with none, which cannot be traded off for avoidable commercial ends. It must be noted that post 1857 the British enacted laws under their Company to break the back of our peasantry for the threat it could pose against their rule by cleverly converting agricultural into a marketable commodity. We follow the same laws. Dislocation or threat of this to rural communities therefore means much more than mere displacement of one human activity by another. It means making inroads into our stability and security. Any measures, which erode our agricultural base by exploitation of arable land, will also in light of definitive UN report, predicting acute impact on agriculture on account of global warming and climate change, can become a direct threat to our social and national security. SEZs must not therefore be allowed to encroach on agricultural land.
These should be dispersed over fallow land so as to instead stimulate horizontal growth and development of neglected regions.
Third: Current methodology of economic growth is disturbing in many ways being driven by preference for corporate ‘convenience’ in an attempt at transforrmation into an economically super state through quick fix routes emulating alien models. The Chinese experiment by one party communist system using capitalist tools is their genius and cannot be implemented in our conditions. Even this despite their efficient rehabilitation policy, of which we have none, is proving worrying to them. In our context SEZs can only create more islands of selective prosperity in vertical proliferation of growth surrounded by ocean of neglect. Without horizontal proliferation of growth and diffusion economic benefits there can be no security nor an economic super state let alone superpower. For SEZs managed by pure corporate vested interests will accentuate class conflicts and take urban rural divide to dangerous levels by throwing out agriculture work force, increasing youth unemployment with migration to cities of unproductive manpower, further congesting ‘developed’ regions largely contiguous to major centres. It is a pipe dream to expect that we will become an industrial power through mere urbanization in alliance with SEZs as we are three centuries behind any mass movement for scientific or industrial revolution with no signs of this in the face of skewed education policies accenting on ‘privatization’ to churn out management work horses to feed MNCs. Merely this cannot be nation building.
Fourth: There aught to be a rethink on SEZs as even J Bhagwati the patriarch of globalisation has ruled out SEZs in our context. But while this debate resurges SEZs must carry a patriotic responsibility with a mandatory role in support of communities affected or dislodged by them and regions within a defined radius of their impact. The nature of missions can be SEZ specific but capacity and competence building of community specially to fit it for absorption and employment must be obligatory. In one SEZ it was reported that despite promising employment of locals, this was not done and skilled workers were enrolled from outside the state. The new policy stipulating employment of at least one member of the displaced family is bound to in practice prove perfunctory and token with no tangible results or commitment from corporate, a bonus to assuage conscious as it were. Training and education must spearhead any deployment on ground to obviate need for inducting outside workforce, through institutionalization of interface between SEZs and the affected. Any default should be penalized by levy of 2% tax to be utilized for community training, education and habitat development schemes.
Fifth: SEZs will be big polluters. Strong safeguards against carbon emission and commitment to environment must be extracted while licensing these bodies. The State must also ensure that SEZs do not become a haven for generating wasteful consumer consumption focused on churning profits promoting elitist lifestyle in further softening of our society for which we have a great penchant or for creating a parallel economy with private access to strategic assets of the nation, especially in light of liberal FDI policy. Under no circumstances should the State abdicate its control on strategic minerals and products while also ensuring that SEZs do not become bastions of free enterprises in control of foreign shareholders.
Fifth: A total review of SEZ concept is essential for peace and harmony the fundamentals without which no nation can forge ahead in progress. Corporate capitalism is beneficial only when it does not generate counter currents at cross-purposes with national interests and basic needs of the common man to lend dignity to his life. What are these national interests must be spelled out by the State. SEZs must therefore have a higher direction and a soul if at all the nation must live with this entity.
maj gen aps chauhan (rtd)
For Sainiksangh
How does this project sound?

This Ain’t No Pipedream:
India-Myanmar Gas Pipeline and West Bengal SEZ
at the Nayachara-Ghoramara Island

Recent news reports of Myanmar signing a MOU to supply natural gas to China, over preference to India, should not come as a huge surprise. Analysts suggest that inordinate delays caused by the Indian government in selecting the best possible origin-destination transit corridor may have largely contributed to the Myanmarese tilting the decision in China’s favor. If true, then the geopolitical price which India will have to bear, a strategic miscalculation entirely of its own making, has just escalated considerably.

India must do all it can and take immediate steps to salvage this very important strategic space ceded to China in its very own neighborhood. The good news is that a mere signing of a MOU (for the A -1 and A – 3 block) does not necessarily constitute a formal agreement. India can still come out a winner provided it engages Myanmar with a sound business plan alternative superior to China’s, coupled with a healthy mix of appropriate economic, military and political package. The political mix should include a SAARC membership for Myanmar, a necessary step to bring Myanmar into India’s sphere of influence and break its international isolation.

The Indian action should not be seen as a game of one-upmanship. The India-Myanmar gas pipeline (map 1) business model trumps any other trans-national agreement in terms of economic viability, environmental safety, and in the context of the geo-political “look east” paradigm which the Indian government has been trying to engage in.

Although the Myanmar government has not provided any specific reason for its China decision, a major contributing factor cited by experts may have been the inordinate time delay caused in determining the most economical and efficient transit corridor for the gas pipeline from Myanmar to India. Over the years, the Indian government has engaged in a series of protracted and unfortunately, unsuccessful negotiations with the Bangladeshi government over securing transit route through that country. It has also explored an alternate, circuitous route traversing several of its North Eastern states. The third option, transporting and routing the gas through a direct offshore underwater pipeline has also been studied, but possibly, due to the relatively higher upfront capital cost-structure inherent in laying pipes undersea, has not seriously been considered. Until now!
Given the dramatically changed business situation where Myanmar’s economy will slowly but surely get inextricably linked and sealed under China’s mercantilist romp towards global domination, now, more than ever, it becomes imperative for the Indian government to seriously consider and undertake the implementation of the offshore pipeline in an expeditious manner. A cost-benefit study will validate that, as opposed to the other two options mentioned above, the offshore model might actually prove to be most economical and environmentally sustainable in the long-term.

Why the other two options may not be feasible.

Transit corridor through Bangladesh: if past trends are any indicator for predicting future behavior, and the two decades-long simmering dispute over sharing the Ganga water at Farakka is a clear proof of that, then it is reasonably safe to assume that the fate of the project and its viability can, and will be forever held hostage to the whims of Bangladeshi politics de jour. Enough! Time now for India to stop engaging in futile negotiations and move on to explore other options!
Transit corridor through the North-East States: Economic hardships resulting from land acquisition as right-of-way from thousands of residents along the transit corridor; environmental degradation, and the loss of time and money resulting from spills or loss due to accidents, sabotage; the lack of political will, the time delays associated with dealing with a myriad of legislative, compensatory, social and other issues involving multiple states, will take forever to resolve and implement. No time to waste!

(As an example, many Assamese have long nurtured a grievance that although the oil fields are in Assam, the refinery was built all the way in Barauni, Bihar. In the present scenario, what stops some states from indefinitely delaying the construction of the pipeline unless the “fair share” issue is resolved to their satisfaction, or in creating disharmony by labeling accusations that West Bengal’s economic development will be carried out at their expense?)

Although the goal of an integrated network of pipelines to serve the North Eastern states is laudable and must be implemented eventually, the Myanmar gas pipeline must not become hostage to the situation. Time is of essence and India just can’t afford to squander the opportunity in these protracted internecine squabbles.

Considering that the two contentious models may not be implementable in the near-term, the offshore underwater option looks suddenly extremely attractive. The Indian government, the West Bengal government, and the Indian industry should come together and work collaboratively to execute the offshore pipeline without further delay.

Based on my background as a practioner of community and regional planning with specialization in transportation, and having studied a myriad of global coastal development projects over the past decade, I am outlining a vision plan to make this a reality. The proposal, if implemented, could herald the economic renaissance of West Bengal, benefit the less-developed regions of central, north-central and east India, and quite possibly become the precursor to the second-generation economic reform in India.

The proposal outlines an audacious yet a very innovative developmental approach by creating a 100 square kilometers (10,000 hectares) offshore-island Special Economic Zone at the estuary of the Bay of Bengal reclaimed from existing and reclaimed land from sea.

When it comes to Special Economic Zones, size does matter! This size of the SEZ model which this proposal enumerates goes against the contemporary mind-set which seems to have, post-Nandigram, gripped Indian policy planners. But that’s precisely the point! The size and the location of the suggested island-SEZ offers the fundamental bedrock upon which economies of scale can be achieved for companies planning ultra mega projects in India. And, more importantly, that which would make the India-Myanmar offshore gas pipeline economically feasible!
India can do it.

And here’s how:

First, the Offshore Island-SEZ: The Master Plan recommends creating a Special Economic Zone by dredging, reclaiming and amalgamating land from sea and from Nayachara - Ghoramara (N-G) islands, submerged islands, Balari bar area, Jiggerkhali Flats, Jellingham and Auckland bar, Haldia’s second Dock and Storage area, Hooghly river all the way to the Kolkata port, and any other viable area in the vicinity of the estuary of Bay of Bengal (map 2).

In the post-Nandigram era, the concept of developing an island-SEZ in West Bengal takes on special significance since most the land will be reclaimed from sea and will not involve massive land acquisitions from farmers and residents on the mainland. In fact, the reclamation process will create new land, with almost no adverse political fallout. Politicians can take this development model as an all round winning proposition to their constituents.

The proposed size of the island SEZ is estimated at approximately 100 square kilometers (10,000 hectares). This island-SEZ will become the platform for businesses considering setting up of large, ultra mega projects with investment expected in the range of $30 billion or more.

Second, Dredging in the Hooghly river and the Bay of Bengal area:: Clichés like "someone's trash is another person’s treasure," and “killing two birds with one stone,” may sound out of place in these modern times, but consider this: What the Dredging Corporation of India and the Kalkota Port Trust/Haldia consider trash (silt and sediment - dredged material!) and have difficulty disposing off, now becomes the developer's treasure! Much of the fill for creating the island can be obtained very close to the source. And the two birds analogy makes excellent sense in that the dredging process also helps in deepening and widening the entire navigation channel in the area including up to the Kolkata port.

The navigation channel in the Kolkata/Haldia port is plagued with horrendous silt and sedimentation choke points with decreasing levels of draughts rendering shipping extremely hazardous. Due to its unique location, the geomorphologic contours of the estuary region are ever changing – new islands and mudflats are created while old ones get submerged creating havoc in the shipping channels. Previous schemes to dredge the navigation channel have resulted in mixed and less than satisfactory results. The prohibitive costs associated with dredging and maintenance of navigation channel has also been a recurring drain on the national exchequer.

However, the current status quo approach is simply not acceptable. The time now is to completely and comprehensively undertake a major capital dredging operation to make the navigation channel absolutely world-class, capable of accepting most of the world’s largest ships.

Preliminary studies indicates that approximately 300 - 350 million cubic meters of dredged material may be required as fill to create the new reclaimed island. Working together, the various government agencies and the developer can undertake to dredge the entire navigation channel upto Kolkata port, Balari bar area, Jiggerkhali Flat, Jellingham and Auckland bar, and other targeted areas widening and deepening the navigation channel while making it safe for international shipping. It is a win-win situation for all stakeholders.

Third, Elements of the Island-SEZ: the self-contained, multi-modal, multi-product island-city SEZ (three times the size of Jurong Island, Singapore) proposes targeting specific industries in the manufacturing and services sector.

a) Chemical hub: patterned along the lines of Jurong Island, build and develop a world-class chemical, petroleum, oil, gas and a distribution/logistics hub for the Indian and global market.

The island SEZ’s strategic location, size, proximity to the market place, easy accessibility to the deepwater seaport, and the quick ingress and egress will offer unparalleled economies of scale for companies considering ultra mega projects. This will more than compensate for the initial high-cost incurred in laying the 500 kms. (GAIL estimate) offshore gas pipeline from Myanmar to island-SEZ. Companies like the ONGC, IOCL, GAIL, RELIANCE and others could work collaboratively to ensure joint-development of the gas pipeline.

b) An island-based gas based Power Plant to supply all energy needs for the island SEZ and West Bengal.

c) A Deepwater Seaport with varying draughts reaching upto 14 meters in the southern part of the island and capable of handling post-seuzmax, Ultra Large Crude Carriers (ULCC’s), Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCC’s) and Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) tankers.

d) Haldia’s Second Dock and Storage area: Excavate the identified land area and use the material as fill. The second Haldia dock and Storage area can now be constructed at considerably lower cost.

e) Kolkata’s Second Airport. Post-Nandigram, acquisition of large amounts of land for public services will become highly contentious, if not impossible. The current proposal to build a 4,000 acre second Kolkata airport in the Sonarpur - Baruipur area, close to the heavily populated southern suburbs of Kolkata, therefore, in all probability, is a non-starter. Also, the NSC Bose International airport’s size and operational efficiency will always be restricted due to its geographic limitations. Therefore, any meaningful airport planning approach has to consider building the airport at an offshore site, away from major population centers. During the past decade, the Japanese, Chinese, Korean and other Asian countries have dramatically, improved and upgraded their airport capacity by successfully building offshore island-airports from land reclaimed from the sea.

There are enough data points to validate the concept of designing and building greenfield airports on offshore islands which should provide an excellent roadmap for Indian policy planners to consider.

The Nayachara-Ghoramara (N-G) island SEZ proposes to allocate approximately 1,000 hectares for building Kolkata’s second airport. The airport is designed for operational capacity of 50 million passengers per year and as yet, an undetermined cargo handling capacity. The new 24-hour island-airport is expected to become the primary gateway to east India.

f) Rail-Road-Bridge and Oil/Gas Pipeline connectivity from the N-G island SEZ to the west and east mainland of West Bengal. The multi-modal, seamless transportation system will integrate the island SEZ within the larger regional transportation network with major cities like Sealdah, Howrah, Kolkata, Kharagpur and beyond. The Rail-Road connectivity will also open up the hinterland for a faster economic expansion and integration not only in Bengal, but in the less-developed eastern reaches of India. For e.g. the Japanese funded rail corridor can be linked directly to the Haldia port. Tata Power can reduce transportation costs by importing substantially larger quantities of coal from Indonesia for its operations on the mainland. In short, the island N-G SEZ will become the major economic engine, not just for West Bengal, but for the entire region.

g) I C E and Financial Services city: A world-class Information, Communication, Entertainment, and Financial Services Center.

h) Education City: A global education city with world-class global, Indian and specialized academic, vocational and technical schools.

i) Manufacturing, Processing and Assembly industries: Given the close proximity to rich natural resources and minerals within the region, non-polluting, hi-technology manufacturing/ processing/assembly type of industries will find the infrastructure-rich island irresistible for setting up operations there.

j) Shipbuilding and Maritime Industry: The island SEZ will provide the necessary infrastructure to establish India’s foremost shipbuilding capability by offering shipbuilders world class facilities. The deepwater seaport offers perfect synergistic opportunities for companies considering shipbuilding facilities in the region.

k) Aquaculture Farming: Increase the livelihood of regional farmers and fishermen by creating a world-class aquaculture farming industry.

l) Eco Tourism and Water and Leisure Sports: Encourage and set-up environmentally friendly flora and fauna for long term sustainability of the SEZ. Fishing, boating, scuba diving, and other water-based sports activity to be encouraged in the island.

m) Housing Development at Nandigram, East Midnapore, West Bengal: As part of the seeking a therapeutic closure to the unfortunate loss of life at Nandigram, invest in real estate by creating and developing multiple housing projects in the Nandigram area. Nandigram residents would benefit directly in terms of employment generated by the SEZ. Investing in the “social” infrastructure at Nandigram would help bring about a “closure” to the unfortunate incident and provide a cathartic healing effect to the entire nation.

Fourth, Environmental and Coastal Restoration must become the most important hallmark and the primary reason behind the undertaking the island SEZ project.
According to experts, environmental degradation, population growth, and global warming have contributed to the terrible loss of the ecosystem in the Sunderbans Delta. Ironically, commercial exploitation as part of an overall investment strategy may be the only way to generate funds for undertaking the massive environmental and coastal restoration of the fragile ecosystem in the Sunderbans region.

This proposal addresses environmental issues by placing top priority in the belief that all steps, all developmental activities, and every effort must be directed to comply and conform to the highest global environmental standards. Ultimately, any developmental effort which does not take into the primacy of addressing the environmental issues should never be permitted.

A systems approach will include the entire range of coastal zone management and infrastructure, sustainable development, mangrove restoration, studies of coastal geology and morphology, hydrographic survey and monitoring, impact on living resources, water, oil, waste disposal and control, and any other issues consistent with and relevant to coastal and port development of such magnitude.

Fifth, politically, the Indian government, as part of its “Look East” strategy, must mount an immediate campaign to co-opt Myanmar to reconsider its China decision. They must underscore to the Myanmarese government that building an offshore pipeline is in their best economic and geo-political interests. This, because a) the offshore option will be environmentally lot safer for the Myanmarese people than building it overland, which the Chinese must; b) it will be the right thing to do, as it will not dislocate and dispossess local Myanmarese people from their land dwellings because the pipeline will not traverse their lands; c) will be safe from political unrest, chances of sabotage, accidental spills within Myanmar and that d) cooperation with India would be a very safe investment for the Myanmar government.

India must play up to these strengths, as well as provide other incentives as suggested earlier to persuade the Myanmarese government to drop the MOU with China and enter into a mutually beneficial agreement with India instead. A visit by the Indian Prime Minister to Myanmar may prove to be strategically significant. In short, transform the “Look East” policy into a more dynamic and demostratable “Do East” working plan!

Of course, if the Myanmar government still goes ahead with the China initiative, then the Indian government should quietly influence the human rights activists to ratchet up the global opposition to the China-Myanmar deal.

Lastly, pre-feasibility studies conclude that the proposal is economically, financially, technologically, environmentally as well as politically feasible and sustainable. Let’s do it India!
© Copyright 2007
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->How does this project sound?

This Ain’t No Pipedream:
India-Myanmar Gas Pipeline and West Bengal SEZ  at the Nayachara-Ghoramara Island
India lost it, current government is too busy with Pakistan or sleeping or traitor Commies gifted this to China.
I don't know how they can salvage now. Can't trust people, who are running India anymore.

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Of course, if the Myanmar government still goes ahead with the China initiative, then the Indian government should quietly influence the human rights activists to ratchet up the global opposition to the China-Myanmar deal.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
This is bad suggestion; China will pay Indian sold out commie crowd to drag India into Human Rights activist trap. And Moron Singh will confirm this with his statement, it is equivalent to apartheid.
<!--emo&Sad--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/sad.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='sad.gif' /><!--endemo--> Who cares for AEZs?

Rajeev Ranjan Roy| New Delhi

In the run for getting maximum Special Economic Zones (SEZs) sanctioned, the Centre seems to have lost its sight on the Agriculture Economic Zones (AEZs). The export proceeds from 60 AEZs in the past six years stands only at Rs 5316.31 crore against the target of Rs 11821.47 crore. Such a tardy growth of AEZs in the country punctures the Government's claims over putting the best possible efforts to accelerate agriculture's contribution to gross domestic product (GDP).

As per an Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ASSOCHAM) study, there is a shortfall in exports and investment proceeds of over 50 per cent in all the 60 notified AEZs spread across 20 States. Such agriculture zones were notified in 2001 to promote export and investments in the farm sector. Out of this, 54 are performing very badly.

The study claims that these AEZs could attract only Rs 820.08 crore worth of investment against the envisaged investment limit of Rs 1717.95 crore. "54 AEZs have not been able to make any export or investment due to the non-cooperation of agencies involved by their promoters," ASSOCHAM president Venugopal N Dhoot said.

"It is true that AEZs are not doing so well. Many of them have not yet been able to cope with the teething problems. It is only six years ago that most of them were notified. They would pick up in years to come effectively," an official in Agriculture Ministry said.

The Government is in receipt of 34 additional proposals for setting up of AEZs in the last two years. The final approval has not yet been granted.

The latest Government figure shows the agriculture production has plummeted to an all-time low to 1.5 per cent. The production of rice, coarse cereals and oilseeds has declined by 1.1, 8.3 and 18.2 per cent respectively. The Central Statistical Organisation (CSO) puts the growth in agriculture at 1.5 per cent in gross domestic product against 8.7 per cent during the last corresponding period.

In 2007-08 budget, the Centre has allocated Rs 8558 crore under the plan outlay for agriculture sector as against Rs 7391 crore spent last year to give a boost to the farm sector, considered to be the backbone of Indian economy. There is just an increase of Rs 1167 crore in the centre's allocation to agriculture.

"The wrong policies and continuous neglect has made agriculture subservient to other sectors in India, which is very unfortunate. There is stagnation in productivity. It is high time the Centre takes charge of agriculture. It cannot be left at the mercy of States. The investment on irrigation has to be increased adequately," P Chengal Reddy, secretary general, Consortium of Indian Farmers Associations, said.

According to Dhoot, the AEZ in Karnataka, which processed rose onion, flowers and vanilla, had envisaged the export proceedings to the tune of Rs 619.38 crore and the export realisations to the tune of Rs1138.49 crore. To achieve this goal, the investment projected was Rs.52.23 crore. But in reality it received investments only up to Rs.91.04 crore till January 2007.

The AEZ in Maharashtra has realised export proceedings to the tune of Rs 1051.15 crore with actual investments of Rs.365.3 crore against the targeted investment of Rs.270.65 crore till January 2007. "Investment in AEZs meant for premium products like basmati rice is negligible and Darjeeling tea is zero. India is the leading producer of tea, but has only one zone attributed to tea in Darjeeling. It was approved in September 2004 Due to the lack of consensus between the central and the state government, MoU is still awaited," Dhoot said.

According to ASSOCHAM study, there six flower zones in the country, but the exports are not even ten per cent of the estimations.

There is a huge untapped market potential for flowers in international market. Punjab has three AEZs, one each of vegetables, potatoes and basmati rice. So far the Basmati zone has drawn an investment of Rs 5.27 crore against the anticipated figure of Rs 23.30 crore," Dhoot said.

Hitachi Creates Brain 'Remote Control'
By Hiroko Tabuchi, Associated Press

posted: 22 June 2007 10:40 am ET

Share this story
Email HATOYAMA, Japan (AP) -- Forget the clicker: A new technology in Japan could let you control electronic devices without lifting a finger simply by reading brain activity.
The “brain-machine interface'' developed by Hitachi Inc. analyzes slight changes in the brain's blood flow and translates brain motion into electric signals.
A cap connects by optical fibers to a mapping device, which links, in turn, to a toy train set via a control computer and motor during one recent demonstration at Hitachi's Advanced Research Laboratory in Hatoyama, just outside Tokyo.
“Take a deep breath and relax,'' said Kei Utsugi, a researcher, while demonstrating the device on Wednesday.
At his prompting, a reporter did simple calculations in her head, and the train sprang forward -- apparently indicating activity in the brain's frontal cortex, which handles problem solving.
Activating that region of the brain -- by doing sums or singing a song -- is what makes the train run, according to Utsugi. When one stops the calculations, the train stops, too.
Underlying Hitachi's brain-machine interface is a technology called optical topography, which sends a small amount of infrared light through the brain's surface to map out changes in blood flow.
Although brain-machine interface technology has traditionally focused on medical uses, makers like Hitachi and Japanese automaker Honda Motor Co. have been racing to refine the technology for commercial application.
Hitachi's scientists are set to develop a brain TV remote controller letting users turn a TV on and off or switch channels by only thinking.
Honda, whose interface monitors the brain with an MRI machine like those used in hospitals, is keen to apply the interface to intelligent, next-generation automobiles.
The technology could one day replace remote controls and keyboards and perhaps help disabled people operate electric wheelchairs, beds or artificial limbs.
Initial uses would be helping people with paralyzing diseases communicate even after they have lost all control of their muscles.
Since 2005, Hitachi has sold a device based on optical topography that monitors brain activity in paralyzed patients so they can answer simple questions -- for example, by doing mental calculations to indicate “yes'' or thinking of nothing in particular to indicate “no.''
“We are thinking of various kinds of applications,'' project leader Hideaki Koizumi said. “Locked-in patients can speak to other people by using this kind of brain machine interface.''
A key advantage to Hitachi's technology is that sensors don't have to physically enter the brain. Earlier technologies developed by U.S. companies like Neural Signals Inc. required implanting a chip under the skull.
Still, major stumbling blocks remain.
Size is one issue, though Hitachi has developed a prototype compact headband and mapping machine that together weigh only about two pounds.
Another would be to tweak the interface to more accurately pick up on the correct signals while ignoring background brain activity.
Any brain-machine interface device for widespread use would be “a little further down the road,'' Koizumi said.
He added, however, that the technology is entertaining in itself and could easily be applied to toys.
“It's really fun to move a model train just by thinking,'' he said.
<b>Move to allocate ‘spectrum’ without auction challenged </b>
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has been moved seeking a CBI probe into the projected ‘loss’ of Rs. 10,000 crore to the government following a decision to allocate ‘spectrum’ without inviting bids or holding a public auction.

Spectrum is the medium/air waves on which wireless/cellular mobile services are offered and is the most important input for the growth of wireless services.

Social Action Forum for Manav Adhikar, an NGO in its Public Interest Litigation petition said the Centre had announced that it would auction 3G spectrum but not done the same for 2G spectrum “which smacks of arbitrariness.”

It said “the respondents — Communications Secretary and A. Raja, Union Minister for Information Technology and Communications — in gross dereliction and abdication of their duty have gifted/squandered away spectrum — a valuable and scarce resource — at a throwaway price, without a public auction which is recognised as the best method to deal with a scarce resource.”

The petitioner said Mr. Raja had in a recent statement said the government was willing to auction 2G spectrum also but could not do so due to legal impediments.
It said “the respondents ought to follow a uniform policy on allocating spectrum and if 3G spectrum is to be auctioned, then on parity of reasoning 2G spectrum must also be allocated by way of public auction.”

“In the process the respondents have fixed/rigged the process/match towards a pre-determined decision-making and have given/conferred largesse to private interests to the detriment of the entire telecommunication sector. The government’s decision is therefore totally flawed, arbitrary, illegal and was taken in undue haste and hurry without following an open, fair and transparent process which is mandatory.”
IBM expects India revenues to touch 1 billion dollars in 2007
New York, PTI:
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Saturday, December 8, 2007

IT major IBM today said it expects revenue from Indian operations to touch USD 1 billion by the end of December, growing at a rate of 39 per cent currently.

"We expect our revenues to reach USD one billion by the end of this calendar year up from 700 million in 2006 driven by strong factors. In the first three quarters of the current financial, the company's revenue has grown by over 39 per cent," IBM Vice President (Financial Management) Jesse Green said here.

He said factors like competitive offerings, effective sales force, strong brand name, technology base along with the ability to offer hardware and software combination would contribute to the expected figure.

The USD 1 billion would include revenues from services and solutions provided by the IBM to domestic clients and other global corporates operating in India along with total revenues of IBM Daksh, its business process outsourcing unit.

Last year the company's India revenue grew by 37 per cent as against 2005, while the CAGR from 2002 to 2006 was over 49 per cent.

"The company, which caters to around 17 industry sectors, experienced broad-base growth during 2002-2006 period in telecom, financial services and Small and Medium Businesses growing at 58 per cent, 34 per cent and 35 per cent respectively," Green said.

<b>"We think about India as a support to entire IBM. The country will be a hub of global delivery which will help us improve margin components and growth initiatives," he said.</b>

The recent deals, which IBM has inked with some of the big corporates in India, would also contribute to the revenues to a large extent.

In the telecom sector the company is working with Bharti Enterprises, while it has also entered into agreements with companies like the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL), DLF, Idea, Financial Information Network and Operations (FINO), BSNL, and Apollo in 2007.

IBM currently employs around 5,300 employees in India working at 35 centres for 2500 Indian business partners.

About 2010 roadmap, he said in future India will not only contribute to global revenue pool of IBM but also provide research software.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
What is happening in Goa? I think there is more to it than just SEZs. I saw somewhere that it is the churches that are selling the land for SEZ.

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