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Weekly News 8-14 Nov

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  • 1. 8th Nov – 14th Nov 2010 WEEKLY NEWS
  • 2. • South Asia is one of the least connected regions in the world. • Surface connectivity is virtually non-existent to our west. Trade between India and Pakistan takes place mostly by sea. Trucks are not allowed to cross the border. • Trans-shipment adds to cost, delay, damage and, in some cases, pilferage. • The connectivity situation has improved dramatically in the eastern part of the South Asian region after Sheikh Hasina’s visit to India in January 2010. First, it was agreed that Bangladesh would allow use of Mongla and Chittagong sea ports for movement of goods to and from India through road and rail. • On railways, it was decided to build the Akhaura-Agartala missing link on the eastern border of Bangladesh with India to be financed by a grant from India, thereby enabling shorter rail access to Chittagong port. The alignment of this line has just been finalised and is awaiting approval by the Bangladesh government . SOUTH ASIA TOWARDS GREATER CONNECTIVITY?
  • 3. • The US President also offered collaboration in areas of science and technology and agriculture, which are also wholly welcome. • While such offers lack the immediate appeal of a gesture against terror, they hold enormous long-term potential, as past collaboration with the US in creating the Green Revolution or in building the Indian Institutes of Technology and Management amply bears testimony. • But economic cooperation will have to visibly benefit both economies, and not just India. India must accept the hand stretched out in friendship . THE ECONOMY, YOU NERD
  • 4. • To the uninitiated eye, members of the Pakistan Rangers and their Indian counterparts, the Border Security Force (BSF), while lowering their respective national flags, could pass off as indulging in some sub continental version of St Vitus’ dance. • Recently, though, reports emerged that the two sides were thinking of toning down the ‘ceremony’. That all that boot-stomping was causing the poor soldiers’ knees, spine and assorted bones and joints to creak and complain. • Pakistanis seem intent on letting a few more of their soldiers break their legs. TALE OF CREAKING JOINTS AT WAGAH
  • 5. • The reported move of 30% partner ONGC to block $ 0.5 billion in payments to Cairn Energy , the operator at Barmer, Rajasthan seems to point at regulatory rigidities in upstream oil exploration and production (E&P). • The Directorate General of Hydrocarbons is mandated to verify and review E&P works programme and attendant budget of fields/blocks. • The objective ought to be to require that licensees adopt a ‘non-blocking approach,’ and actively promote the principle of cooperative value generation in E&P activity. • Barmer is our biggest oil find in well over two decades, and we need to fast-forward production and investment in the promising basin. ROADBLOCK IN BARMER: CLEAR NORMS NEEDED TO RAISE OUTPUT
  • 6. • Reforms to make stamp duties uniform across the states will lower transaction cost and improve compliance. • A low ad-valorem rate of, say, 1%, like most countries, makes sense. States have reportedly agreed to a uniform duty in a host of financial instruments . • Uniform stamp duty on property deals will end rate wars among states, prevent under-declaration and curb black money generation. Sure, some states, including Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, have significantly reduced duty. • The Indian Stamp Act overrides stamp laws across states. A consensus among states will enable the Centre to amend the Indian Stamp Act, without the states having to amend their own legislation. The real estate sector should be free from multiple taxes at the central and state level: it will end the cascading of taxes and help better price discovery. DON'T LEAVE OUT REAL ESTATE
  • 7. • Facebook, rumoured for some time to be planning its own email service, may finally be on the verge of doing so in a move that would send a shot across the bow of Google, Yahoo ! and Microsoft. • TechCrunch, a leading Silicon Valley technology blog, reported Friday that the social network plans to announce a Web-based email service complete with @facebook.com addresses at an event in San Francisco on Monday. • Facebook boasts more than 500 million members around the world and offering a personal email service would lay down a powerful challenge to the established email giants -- Microsoft's Hotmail, Yahoo! Mail and Google's Gmail. • Hotmail currently has the most users, 361.7 million as of September, according to online tracking firm comScore, followed by Yahoo! with 273.1 million and Gmail with 193.3 million. FACEBOOK MAY BE POISED TO LAUNCH EMAIL SERVICE