Archive for December, 2019

Russia Enters South China Sea Brawl …

Posted on December 30, 2019. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Move over All Players – Russia also seems to be wading into the South China Sea Waters ….

China has clashed on multiple occasions with smaller nations in the South China Sea region, none more so than Vietnam and the Philippines.

But Russia has grown close ties with Beijing’s two rivals and is being aided by both Manila and Hanoi in its own exploration of resource rich areas of the contested region.

In October, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte invited Moscow-based energy company Rosneft to conduct oil and gas exploration in waters claimed by Manila.

Filipino representatives have also been invited to Moscow and have agreed for Manila’s ships to explore oil rich waters near Russia.

Rosneft is half owned by the Russian government, and therefore indicates President Vladimir Putin is showing more and more interest in the South China Sea.

Russia also has close ties with Vietnam, with the two nations making defence a core part of their relations.

Hanoi and Moscow agreed defence cooperation agreement covering 2018–2020 last year, and agreed to enhance defence cooperation during for the 2019–2023 period.

Russia and Vietnam also elevated their bilateral relations to a comprehensive strategic partnership in 2012, National Interest reports.

Even more worrying for Beijing is Rosneft’s exploration in waters claimed by Vietnam, which is also contested by China.

Vietnam has been particularly difficult for China to contend with, being the only smaller nation to put up substantial resistance to China’s encroachment.

Earlier this year, Beijing and Hanoi were embroiled in a three months long standoff as Chinese oil vessel – Haiyang Dizhi 8 – remained in Vietnam’s economic exclusion zone.

Russian exploration breaks the conditions set by China that ‘no country, organisation, company or individual can, without the permission of the Chinese government, carry out oil and gas exploration and exploitation activities in waters under Chinese jurisdiction’.

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May 8, 1945 …

Posted on December 30, 2019. Filed under: Uncategorized |

When Hitler Realised the End of the War Was Upon Him

When Hitler Realised the End of the War Was Upon Him

More in common than you’d think.
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Oliver Wendal Holmes Sr …

Posted on December 29, 2019. Filed under: Uncategorized |

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Fiaz Ahmed Fiaz – KMB …

Posted on December 29, 2019. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Those of us who joined the Army in the mid 1950s were familiar with the controversial poet and the famous singer.
During my tenure at the Regimental Center in the 1960s, while I was casually flipping through the pages of a copy of the Indian Army List, probably of 1946, I was pleasantly surprised to note that Col Fiaz was on the panel of our Regiment. At that time, he was Director of Morale at GHQ, New Delhi. Later, I verified the fact with Gen Rudra during one of the Regimental functions.
Iqbal Bano’s classic ” Ulfat ke Nai Manzil” was enjoyed by most of the young officers, including myself, who did not understand a word of Urdu. Iqbal Bano’s voice was too melodious to ignore, and her rendition too powerful to pass.
Fiaz was seriously implicated in the Rawalpindi Conspiracy Case of 1950s, and I think he served a short prison sentence. For a more detailed account, please follow this URL from the Indian Express.

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India, Modi, Students …

Posted on December 27, 2019. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Wall Street Journal –

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Solo, Female, n Asia …

Posted on December 27, 2019. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Aerial of the mountainous Pulau Padar island, Indonesia. Taken on a sunny day with a few fluffy clouds in the far distance, the verdant green hills contrast against the deep, jewel-blue sea.
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Delhi RajPath Development Plan …

Posted on December 26, 2019. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Courtesy The Wire –

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Rita Hayworth …

Posted on December 26, 2019. Filed under: Uncategorized |

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Modi, India, Markets …

Posted on December 26, 2019. Filed under: Uncategorized |

A $45 Billion Bet On India Is Rapidly Unravelling: Economists

After pouring $45 billion into the stock market over the past six years on hopes that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would unleash the country’s economic potential, international money managers are now unwinding those wagers at the fastest pace on record. They’ve sold $4.5 billion of Indian shares since June, on course for the biggest quarterly exodus since at least 1999.

“The euphoria around Modi before 2014 has tapered off,” said Salman Ahmed, the London-based chief investment strategist at Lombard Odier Investment Managers, which oversees about $52 billion.

It’s hard to fault investors for losing faith. The country’s economic growth has decelerated for five straight quarters to the weakest level since early 2013, one year before Narendra Modi became prime minister. And the 5% headline number for the second quarter may actually understate how painful the slowdown has become. Car sales are sinking at the fastest pace on record, capital investment has plunged, the unemployment rate has surged to a 45-year-high and the nation’s banking system is hamstrung by the world’s worst bad-loan ratio. Monday’s oil-price spike adds yet another headwind for a country that imports most of its crude.

While PM Modi isn’t sitting idly by as the economy weakens, investors say he’s been slow to act on a long list of needed reforms that includes selling stakes in state-owned companies and revamping the nation’s labor laws. The growing worry is that India could be headed for a structural slowdown that pummels the country’s $2 trillion stock market, throws a wrench into growth plans of international companies from Inc. to Netflix Inc., and makes it increasingly difficult for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party to deliver jobs for the millions of young Indians who enter the workforce every year.

Subramanian Swamy, a BJP lawmaker, spoke bluntly about the risks of inaction in an interview with BloombergQuint published Sept. 5: “If the economy is not rectified, Modi has about six more months till people start challenging him.”

Representatives from the prime minister’s office, finance ministry and BJP didn’t respond to requests for comment. India is an attractive investment destination, offering a massive market as well as local talent, political stability and a corruption-free, reform-oriented government, Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said at an industry event on Monday.

While many of India’s problems pre-date PM Modi, critics say his handling of the economy has been disappointing. His 2016 decision to invalidate 86% of the country’s currency in circulation is widely regarded as a growth-sapping boondoggle, and his 2017 goods and services tax reform — passed with bipartisan support — has since been panned as far too complicated. PM Modi’s early attempts to simplify land and labor laws were reversed in the face of social and political opposition.

The BJP leader, who turned 69 , has won plaudits for cementing an inflation target that’s kept prices in check, passing a new bankruptcy law and recapitalizing the nation’s troubled lenders. But the revolutionary changes that many investors expected from Modinomics have so far failed to materialize.

In recent weeks, the government has focused primarily on efforts to shore up short-term growth as the U.S.-China trade war weighs on emerging markets globally. PM Modi’s administration on Sept. 14 unveiled at least $7 billion of tax breaks for exporters, adding to measures last month that included tax benefits for vehicle purchases, the rollback of an extra levy on capital gains earned by international funds and an easing of foreign investment rules in sectors including retail, manufacturing and coal mining.

But PM Modi’s fiscal firepower is limited by the region’s widest budget deficit (including federal and provincial finances) and a bevy of overly indebted state-owned companies. His own advisers have warned that without major reforms, India could face a structural slowdown that keeps long-term growth far below the 8% rate that many economists say India needs to create enough new jobs.


“Structural reforms will be critical for higher GDP growth as the government may have largely exhausted the fiscal and monetary options,” said Sanjeev Prasad, an analyst at Kotak Institutional Equities in Mumbai.

PM Modi’s latest sweeping election victory in May was fueled by a combination of economic populism and air strikes against arch-rival Pakistan. Last month, he revoked seven decades of autonomy in Kashmir, a move that further escalated tensions with Pakistan and unnerved markets.

“They have spent all this political capital on Kashmir, which is frustrating,” said Katalin Gingold, managing director at Cartica Management, an emerging markets focused hedge fund based in New York. “It seems more important to deal with the economy which looks like it could fall into a vicious cycle.”

High up on investors’ reform wish list: privatize more state-run companies, make it easier to hire and fire workers, loosen government restrictions on land purchases, set up a bad bank to take soured debt off lenders’ balance sheets, and expedite tax refunds to small manufacturers that are getting squeezed by the shakeout in India’s shadow banking system.

Even some long-term Modi supporters aren’t sure he will deliver. Jefferies Financial Group Inc.’s Christopher Wood, author of the widely followed “Greed & Fear” investment strategy report, cut his recommended exposure to Indian stocks on Aug. 22 and advised buying Indonesian equities, writing that he’s “not so sure what PM Modi can do about the economy in the short term.” As recently as May, Wood had called PM Modi the “most pro-growth leader in the world.”

The MSCI India Index has dropped 9% from its all-time high in August 2018, cutting the gauge’s longstanding valuation premium over the MSCI All-Country World Index to the narrowest level since 2004. The Indian gauge now has a price-to-book ratio of 2.5, or 13% higher than the global measure. When PM Modi entered office, the premium was nearly 30%.

It’s not just investors that are turning more downbeat on Asia’s third-largest economy. Public expressions of pessimism from the nation’s corporate leaders, rare in the early years of PM Modi’s tenure, have become increasingly common.

Sanjiv Mehta, chairman of Hindustan Unilever Ltd., one of India’s biggest consumer-products producers, warned in May that the soaps and shampoos his company makes are “recession-resistant, but not recession-proof.” Guenter Butschek, chief executive officer at Tata Motors Ltd., said Sept. 5 that the Indian auto industry growth story “is about to collapse.” Vehicle makers contribute about half of national manufacturing output and are among India’s biggest employers.

“Absent a fast response from the government, the private sector risks facing a prolonged slowdown,” said Maupassant Chachra, an economist at Morgan Stanley who recently cut her growth forecast for India.

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Woes of Indian Farmers …

Posted on December 26, 2019. Filed under: Uncategorized |

India’s Farmers Will Continue to Face Price Crash Nightmares Until Export Markets Are Created

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