India’s Manipur security forces expel IDPs from Myanmar

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YANGON, Myanmar – Myanmar citizens from Tamu who had fled across the border into India were expelled back to Myanmar, according to Imphal Free Press.

Manipur’s government also published a letter March 26 urging local Civil Society Organizations not to give shelter to Myanmar IDPs, although the people on both sides of the border often have existing relationships.

India’s federal government is putting more pressure on the northeastern states to not accept IDPs, too. Mizoran state, however, has refused and is trying to persuade the federal government to accept Myanmar IDPs.

By Htay Win
Photo credit CN

India turning to the Americas for oil, aiming to cut reliance on Middle East

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The world’s third-largest oil importer is diversifying oil imports away from the Middle East and is buying crude from North and South America, according to various reports. A first cargo of Brazil’s grade Tupi was booked by Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd., reported Bloomberg.

State-run Hindustan Petroleum Corporation and HPCL-Mittal Energy Ltd, have also placed a recent order from Guyana, reported Reuters noting that in February the United States became India’s second-largest crude supplier, bumping Saudi Arabia, and just behind Iraq.

By Milan Sime Martinic

World’s largest democracy now only ‘partly free’ says new Freedom House rating

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Freedom House downgrades the “world’s largest democracy” from free to partly free

Citing politicization of the Indian judiciary, deterioration of political rights and civil liberties, intimidation of journalists and academics, internet censorship, undue pressure on human rights groups, scapegoating, stigmatization, and harm to Muslims and other religious minorities and an overall decline in democratic values under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, FW explained its decision, “India appears to have abandoned its potential to serve as a global democratic leader, elevating narrow Hindu nationalist interests at the expense of its founding values of inclusion and equal rights for all.”

The “Democracy Under Siege” 2020 report of the democracy watchdog said that India’s decline from “the upper ranks of free nations” could have an outsize global effect. “Rather than serving as a champion of democratic practice and a counterweight to authoritarian influence from countries such as China, Modi and his party are tragically driving India itself toward authoritarianism,” it concluded.

By Milan Sime Martinic

India Is Winning Its War on Human Waste – Gates

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India, where 600,000 people die of water related illness each year (world total is 1.7 million), and where 1/4 of girls don’t attend school because there is no proper toilet facilities, headway is being made in improved sanitation and risk education, according to Bill Gates, who blogged about the improvement this month.

The problem costs India an estimated $106b per year.

Two things cause most of the problem: access to proper toilet with waste treatment (to remove the pathogens that cause illness) in a country where most public spaces are used for defecation, and education about the necessity of using sanitary toilets, according to Gates.

In India, it is not feasible to build sewer systems and treatment facilities. For most toilets, one way or another water has to be carried to the toilet regularly. India is testing new toilet technology to find other ways of preventing disease.

As evidence of the progress Gates lauds, he points towards Clean India, the Indian government’s campaign to clean up the country, which includes ambassadors and toilet-use monitoring, and the statistic the organisation reports that 63% of citizens now have access to proper sanitation, up from 42% in 2014, and that 30% of villages have been declared free of open defecation, up from 5% in 2015.

In India, Chocolate Consumption Is Growing Fast

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Due to low cost, a belief the treats are healthy, and Indians’ general liking for chocolate, sales of the food have grown rapidly in the past few years.

Sales grew by 13% last year, according to global market analysis agency Mintel, and the rapid growth is expected to continue to 2020. It’s one of the fastest-growing markets. Mintel thinks it will hit Rs32,000 crore by 2020, up 160% from 2015.

The price for a chocolate bar is around 8 to 16 cents, and 2 in 5 Indians think sugary chocolates and cakes are healthy, according to Mintel.

India’s 228,000 tonnes of consumed chocolate for the year is still well below the much less populated U.S. and U.K., which consumed around 1,300,000 and 600,000 respectively.

95% of India’s Engineers Unfit for Software Development, Study Says

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Despite the large number of engineers in India, most are not fit for software development jobs, according to Aspiring Minds, a private company that does employability assessment, reported Business Line.

Aspiring Minds assessed test results when 36,000 engineering students from over 500 colleges wrote Automata (which tests software development ability). Over 2/3 could not even write code that compiles. Most of the other 1/3 wrote incorrect or inefficient code. 1.4% were found to write good code.
While the overall assessment of India’s engineer’s was this low, India’s tier I colleges fared much better than it’s tier IIIs. From India’s top 100 colleges, almost 70% of students could write compilable — even if incorrect or inefficient — code, compared with 31% for tier IIIs.
Another dimension to the assessment is the test itself, Automata, which has been criticised for poor or incorrect questions, as well as the company which is the source of the results.

Indian Army Crosses Pakistan Line to Carry Out Surgical Strikes

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“The operations were focused on ensuring that these terrorists do not succeed in their design to cause destruction and endanger the lives of our citizens,” Indian Director General of Military Operations Lt. Gen Ranbir Singh said of the move.

“Significant casualties have been caused to terrorists and those trying to shield them. We don’t have a plan to further conduct such strikes. India has spoken to Pakistan.”

India regularly crosses the Pakistan LoC to take out terrorists who Pakistan allows or proxies to act against Indians within India, but usually India does not go as deep and cause as much damage (killing) as today.

Usually, crossing the line is not admitted, but this time New Delhi has officially announced that troops carried out an attack authorized by Indian authorities.

According to analysts, Pakistan has been relying on its nukes as a threat to protect terrorist activity against India. Now, however, Pakistan will have to decide how to react to Indian troops crossing into Pakistan to kill terrorists — terrorists Pakistan may have to admit it allows or supports if it acknowledges India’s move.

The crossing of the LoC has been denied by Pakistan. Pakistan says there was merely cross-border fire. Pakistan’s statement said that at least two Army men were killed as Indian and Pakistani troops exchanged fire over the Line of Control in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.”

“Pakistani troops befittingly responded to Indian unprovoked firing on the LoC in Bhimber, Hotspring Kel and Lipa sectors,” Pakistan’s statement read.

Singh, however, described the military procedure in detail: “Based on receiving specific and credible inputs that some terrorist teams had positioned themselves at launch pads along Line of Control to carryout infiltration and conduct terrorist strikes inside Jammu and Kashmir and in various metros in other states, the Indian Army conducted surgical strikes at several of these launch pads to pre-empt infiltration by terrorists.

“During these counter terrorist operations significant casualties were caused to terrorists and those providing support to them. The operations aimed at neutralizing terrorists have since ceased. We do not have any plans for further continuation. However, the Indian Armed Forces are fully prepared for any contingency that may arise,” the DGMO said. No Indian casualties occurred during the surgical strikes that were carried out last night by the Indian Army.

“We have recovered items including GPS which have Pakistani markings. Captured terrorists hailing from PoK or Pakistan have confessed to their training in Pakistan or in Pakistan controlled region.”