India Shuffle: Strikes, Secret Nepal Deal & Hand Chopped Off

NATIONWIDE STRIKES went ahead today in protest against the deregulation of fuel prices. Will it make any difference? No. It would be ridiculous to keep up the system of subsidies that leaves oil suppliers underpaid by millions of rupees. That’s just as inflationary as the price rise, according to the man behind the deregulation plan. BJP leader Arun Jaitley was among those arrested in Lucknow.

PROFESSOR HAS HAND CHOPPED OFF – Some insane morons dragged a professor out of his car and chopped off his right hand in front of his family yesterday. The professor is on bail for writing an exam paper question that apparently defamed the prophet Mohammed, for which he has apologised. I can’t find the question anywhere so hard to judge whether he was inciting hatred.

SECRET NEPAL DEAL – A member of the Nepali Congress party says there was a secret deal between Maoist leader Prachanda and Madhav Kumar Nepal, three days before the latter resigned as PM on 30 June. They apparently promised to complete the highly controversial integration of former Maoist fighters into the national army (and pay-offs for the rest). The army hasn’t been best pleased at the idea of incorporating former enemies into its ranks, but with the peace process collapsing, there really is no alternative. The missed deadline to write a constitution by 28 May seems to be spurring some vital compromise, but it remains highly precarious.

SPONSORSHIP BLUES FOR CWG – The unending tragedy of the Commonwealth Games build-up. Now, worries about sponsorship and whether the city can off-load some of the $2.5 billion its paid to put them on, with very few sponsors showing interest.

GIRL WAS LeT OPERATIVE – Terrorist plotter David Headley has told US investigators that Ishrat Jahan, a Mumbai girl killed in an encounter with police in 2004, was a Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) operative who was planning to kill Gujarat chief minister Narenda Modi. Good news for the police facing charges over the controversial killing.

COCA COLA IN TROUBLE in Kerala again, with the state government demanding $48 million for environmental damage. I’m no expert on this case, but it does sound like Coke have actually had a bit of a rough time. They were ordered to stop work in 2004 because they were using up all the water, only for water stocks to remain low and a scientific investigation to conclude it was the lack of rainwater that was the real problem. Important to remember the attitudes towards America that were prevalent in 2004, and who symbolises the US more than Coke? Oh, and what a surprise: there appears to be a state election coming up in September! Either way, it all adds to the momentum of anti-industrialisation that has been growing in rural India over the past decade.

INDIA AND CHINA held some more talks as part of their ongoing love-in, which is based on a shared love of money and a shared realisation that they’re going to rule the world soon.

PAKISTAN MELTDOWN – The collapse of Punjab into sectarian violence and horrific acts of terrorism continues unabated, while the rest of the world continues to think that Waziristan is the important problem. The Lahore shine bombing last week that killed 50 has brought threats of violent retaliation by the usually peaceful Barelvis against the Deobandi nutjobs.

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