May 31- In a change of tactics from the Bush administration, this one led by Obama seems to be refocusing its attention to the Asian region.
According to the administration’s deputy secretary of state, James Steinberg, the government plans to demonstrate a ‘very strong commitment’ to ASEAN and the greater Asian region. This means that there will be more high-ranking American officials, Mr Steinber told The Sunday Times during an interview.
May 26 – The Metropolitan Region Development Authority in Mumbai is taking bids on an iconic 100-plus-story building in the city’s Wadala district. The tender calls for an interstate bus terminal and tower to be built on 35 hectares of land.
Pre-qualifications for tenders have been asked for submission by July 2. Only construction companies with an annual turnover of US$600million will be accepted, while shortlisted firms who meet this criterion will then be asked to submit technical and financial bids on a BOT basis. Continue reading
May 25 – The annual Asian monsoon has arrived, touching the western coast of India last Saturday with 5 centimeters of rainfall in Thiruvananthapuram, the State Capital of Kerala in 24 hours. The monsoon, which refers to the high seasonal winds blowing from the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea in the southwest, moves eastwards. It brings heavy rainfall and unsettled conditions to much of Southeast Asia during the summer months, and extends its influence from India to Japan.
The summer monsoon has been gaining strength in recent decades, although its origins commence in the uplifting of the Tibetan Plateau following the collision of India and Asia about 50 million years ago. This has been verified from the study of wind-blown dust in the Loess Plateau in China, and plant fossils and sediment records from the South China Sea. Recent changes in weather patterns attributed to global warming have also seen an increase in the summer monsoon, with wind velocity increasing and rains intensifying. A warming of the Indian Ocean due to the closing of an undersea channel near Indonesia from earthquake activity has resulted in a reduced flow of colder waters from the Pacific and is also thought to be having an effect. Continue reading
May 21 – BSNL, the Indian state-owned telecommunication service provider, has been ordered by the government to “thoroughly test” all equipment supplied to it by the Chinese manufacturer Huawei on fears that “backdoor entries” could have been inserted to enable China if needed to disable Indian telecommunications.
Huawei won a US$1.5billion contract to supply BSNL with 25 million lines. The kit must be tested for trapdoors, blackboxes, malware and remote hacking capabilities. BSNL has been restricted from purchasing from Huawei on common political borders it shares with China, with the Huawei kit only to be deployed in the southern Indian states. There are concerns that in politically sensitive areas such as Bangladesh, Burma and Pakistan, Huawei could provide equipment that contains remote diagnostic facilities which could be activated by China at a later stage. Such additions would allow China to conduct surveillance and potentially disable communications networks in India. Continue reading
May 20 – Stocks across Asia rose yesterday on the back of U.S. banks repaying bailout debt sooner than expected and buoyed by the positive electoral outcome of the Indian elections.
The region’s benchmark indexes rose to a seven month high. Indications from the United States and Europe that the banking system was showing signs of improvement gave impetus to Japans MSCI Asia Pacific Index, with financial companies accounting for 35 percent of its rise. The index has climbed more than 41 percent since a five year low in March. Continue reading
May 18 – The results of the recent Lok Sabha national elections in India are likely to have long lasting implications for the development of the country.
With the Congress Party winning all but an 11-seat majority, India finally has, for the first time in 20 years, a democratically elected government that has essentially a mandate to govern. With 261 seats, the Congress Party requires just another 11 seats to form a majority, and with plenty of allied parties wanting to lend a hand for the opportunity to govern, it can grab the chance to push through much-needed reform on its own terms. Continue reading