G7 nations vow to stop financial crisis

The world’s seven largest economies finance ministers and central bank governors met in Washington and have agreed to do whatever they can in order to tackle the financial crisis which has spread and threatens to take the entire world into recession.
The G7 countries were in agreement that the current financial meltdown all over the world called for ‘urgent and exceptional action’ and that governments would “take all necessary steps to unfreeze credit and money markets”.
It isn’t just the G7 countries that met, even the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank also met on the weekend to be able to find a solution to this crisis. The financial crisis that first engulfed America has now spread to parts of Europe as well as Asia.
The sub prime market crisis which hit America has now caused losses worth almost $200 billion to the top banks of the world. The effects of this crisis are now being felt all over the European markets. The stock markets of the world are on the downslide including the Indian stock markets. The G20 countries that comprise of the twenty most developed countries in the world also met on Saturday to be able to come up with a solution for the crisis.
What started as the subprime mortgage crisis in America with Lehmann Brothers, one of the largest investment banks of America went bankrupt and Merrill Lynch was sold to Bank of America. Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sacchs became retail commercial banks and dropped investments. All the countries in the world are expected to face less growth this year as all the economies of the world are going to be hit hard by the financial crisis, and some countries may slip into recession.
The G7 meeting occurred at a time when there is gloom all across the world and there was a feel in the market that the G7 block would not be able to find a way to stem the crisis which now seems to have spread beyond America and Europe. The government in America passed a $700 billion package to save the economy of the country. Britain also followed suit, it is expected that Germany will also be releasing a similar plan in the coming days on the lines of America and England. All the meeting ministers affirmed that they would supply public funds to banks which would be on the brinks of a collapse. But there was no common solution that emerged after the meeting. Thus the countries were not off the opinion that a single common solution taken by the G7 blocks could help reduce the financial turmoil. Defending their stand, the G7 block opined that people would be naïve to think that seven different countries facing a different set of problems having a different economy structure and political system would be able to come with the same policies in order to curb the financial crisis.
The international monetary fund too expressed its concern saying that the global growth for the current year could not be expected to cross three percent. Amidst the financial turmoil over the world, the Indian growth rate can also be expected to come down from figure of eight plus percent. The G7 countries have all shown a resolve to do whatever they can to stop the financial crisis. It waits to be seen whether their resolve and plan of action will be able to have a calming effect on the markets worldwide.

No more Exit Polls?

The Union Cabinet’s recent decision could sound the death knell for Exit Polls in India as the government has decided that the results of the exit polls will have to be withheld till the last phase of the polling of elections is completely over.
The decision was taken for many political parties had been against the Exit polls as they thought that the polls could be manipulated. Even a couple of years back the Election commission had banned the telecast and the broad cast of the exit polls but the media houses had approached the Supreme court and hence the order had to be revoked by the court to allow the telecast of the exit polls.
The states of Madhya Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi, Rajasthan and Chattisgarh are due to have assemble election in a few months time whereas the Lok Sabha elections will be taking place at the beginning of 2009.
The Ministry of Law had wanted to modify the Representation of People Act of 1951 by inserting section 126 (b), “to restrict publication and dissemination of opinion and exit polls conducted during elections to the Lok Sabha and Legislative Assemblies”.
Meanwhile exit polls have had a mixed response over the world. Some countries have completely banned exit polls all together whereas in others the broadcast of the polls cannot take place before the final vote has been cast. But on the other hand critics have said that this is against freedom of speech and the freedom given to the media in our country especially. At the time of elections, several media houses come up and conduct their own exit polls. The exit polls are generally a precursor to the actual polls but their results and findings may not always match that to the actual polls held.
In the countries of New Zealand as well as Singapore, exit polls have been completely banned whereas in most of the European countries like the United Kingdom and Germany do not allow the results of the polls to be displayed before the polling stations close and the last vote has been cast. It often happens that many exit poll groups combine with each other to provide an as accurate figure as possible. This collaboration was done during the general elections in 2005 in UK where the exit polls showed that the labor party would get a majority of sixty six seats and the figure was bang on.
In most of the American states, displaying the results of the exit polls is banned before the closure of the voting period. But it has been noted that these results have been leaked at times. In a country like India the situation is different when compared to America as most of the people in our country are still illiterate and hence they can be easily manipulated by the exit polls. The exit poll results are also known to deter voters from sometimes actually waiting, for they feel that their preferred candidate is going to win any way. Hence the cabinet has decided to ban exit polls for the upcoming elections. But the media houses will be up in protest against the ruling.

Bush signs Nuclear deal

“It is a Big Deal”. When the whole of India slept on Thursday morning, George Bush signed the legislation to implement the Indo-US Nuclear deal in the White House.  The legislation marks a historic deal that took more then three years in the making.
George Bush was all smiles as he signed the legislation confirming that there will be no change in fuel supply. The Vice President of America Dick Cheney, Condoleeza Rice and the Indian Ambassador Ronen Sen were present as the American president signed the historic deal.
Bush went on to say, that it was a “Big Day” for strengthening the relationship between the two nations. He also acknowledged the hard work put in the by the entire team on both the sides as the nuclear deal went through a lot of ups and downs in the past three years. He further added that India is a natural partner of the united States of America as the two countries had similar interests and values.
The deal also means that India will now be able to get nuclear energy from the Nuclear Suppliers group which will end India’s Nuclear isolation for the past thirty years. India will now have a reliable fuel supply and thus will be able to meet the energy needs of a billion plus population and also will no longer have to be dependent on fossil fuels.
Contrary to reports doing the rounds in the media, the legislation has not modified the 123 agreement submitted to the congress. Thus Bush clarified the doubts that people would have had over fuel supply issues. Indian Foreign affairs minister, Pranab Mukherjee is likely to visit Washington in the next two days to sign the 123 agreement.
Bush was also positive about the strong relationship between the two countries and was sure that the relationship between the two countries would only grow further in the upcoming years. “Even though the United States and India are separated by half the globe, we are natural partners as we head into the 21st century,” Bush said.
Bush also wished people in India and around the world celebrating the festival of Delhi which is due this month. Incidentally it was George bush who had started Diwali celebrations in the White House a couple of years back, a gesture that was highly appreciated by the Indian community staying in the US.
The Indo US Nuclear deal had created a furor in India with the Left parties withdrawing support over the implementation of the deal. Several old political ties were severed and new alliances came forth with the Samajwadi Party led by Mulayam Singh offering support to the Manmohan Singh government when they were falling short of a majority in Parliament. Meanwhile the Left parties and the BJP had criticized the Indo US nuclear deal severely by saying that it was a deal between two people and not between two countries. But the congress government was able maintain a majority in the house of parliament and the Indo US nuclear deal went as forward. Despite some doubts being raised by the Atomic Energy association, the Indo US Nuclear deal was giving a thumbs up and a deal which took more than three years in the making finally attained fruition.

A bomb safety costume kit: Best Eid gift in Pakistan

Pakistan may be in a terror grip brought about by terrorists and militants but the people of the land of Pakistan have not lost their sense of humour with a ‘Bomb safety costume kit’ being a favoured gift idea at the occasion of Eid this year.
Pakistan continues to be in turmoil, even after Musharraf gave up the presidency and Asif Ali Zardari took over the reigns of the country. Bomb blast at one of the safest hotels in the country in the capital city, attack on ministers, American troops trying to enter at the Afghanistan and the Pakistan border, the people of Pakistan have their hands full and with the weakening rupee and the high inflation numbers are making it tough for Pakistan this festive season. But the people of the country have shown that they have the courage to hang in there even in such turbulent times and having a good sense of humour will help you a long way in coping with difficult times.
A web site in Pakistan that describes itself as extremely addictive internet lifestyle for the Pakistanis, gave an option to Pakistanis to brain storm and come up with creative ideas for gifting this festive season. Stop.pk has become one of the premier web sites in the country. Pakistanis may have not celebrated the festival with a bang outdoors because of the fear of terror strikes and bomb blasts but definitely made up for it by visiting the internet back home. Their sense of humour is what stood out when you go through the list of the top ten Eid gifts for the festive season. Coming in at the first position was a “bomb safety costume kit”. Clearly the Pakistan people though it would be a great gift to any one this festive season in the wake of the recent bomb blasts.
Not just the bomb safety costume kit, if you go through the rest of the list, the items were equally hilarious. The price of flour has sky rocketed in the past few months and hence came in the bag of flour. The country has been facing frequent power cuts and hence hand fans seemed to be the best solution for any one to get through this crisis. Other ideas included gifting people in dollars for like the Indian rupee, in the wake of the current global financial crisis the value of the dollar continues to weaken. The list also includes a gift box or a ‘dua’ that relatives and friends do not have to contend with any disaster.
The list went on to show that Pakistan people have retained their great sense of humour which will help them tremendously in coping with these times of turmoil that the entire country is facing today.

Zardari admits miltiants in Kashmir are terrorists

Former Pakistan leaders have always been accused of not accepting facts, but current Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari in a candid interview admitted that the militants operating in Kashmir were indeed terrorists and a major threat.
In an interview made to Wall Street Journal, Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari frankly said that India is not and has never been a threat to Pakistan. He also went on to say that the militant groups that were operating on the other side of the border in Kashmir were terrorists. The statement is one of the first ones to be made by a top Pakistan leader. Asif Ali Zardari’s predecessor used to have a different take on the crisis in Pakistan. General Pervez Musharraf would have definitely called them freedom fighters or jehadis but definitely not terrorists. This statement is in complete disregard of the policy adopted by the governments of Pakistan in the past few decades of treating the militant groups as freedom fighters. The statement made by Pakistan president Zardari has evoked a great response from the Indian side. While on one hand it has been welcomed by the Indian government, it has created a ripple in Pakistan with several groups slamming the president for making such a remark. In India, Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma and BJP National Spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy, welcomed the statement made by the Pakistan President.
Meanwhile back home in Pakistan, the statement made by the Pakistan president has drawn flak and criticism from several quarters. Abba Ansari, Hurriyat leader has strongly condemned the statement whereas Siddiq-ul-Farooq, Spokesperson, PML(N) has said that the Pakistan president does not know what the dispute in Kashmir is all about and his maiden trip to America had been a disappointing one.
Zardari also went on to say that he had nothing against the Indo-US Nuke deal and the growing friendship of India and America saying that why would they dislike the largest democracy in the world (India) getting friendly with one of the oldest democracies in the world (America). He also said as long as Pakistan is treated ‘at par’ he had no problem.
On the Americans carrying predator missiles in Pakistan territory, Zardari said that America and Pakistan had an understanding and that they were in sense fighting the same enemy. He also said that they welcomed the help of America in terms of providing the intelligence and technology in terms of helicopters, night goggles and other equipment.
Zardari went on to add that trade between the two subcontinent countries should increase as free trade between the two neighboring countries was the best way of economic survival in these turbulent times.
Zardari’s statements made may have drawn criticism from the Pakistani sources but will definitely go on to strengthen the relationship between India and Pakistan in the near future.

Morgan Goldman drop all investments

In what may be the defining moment of banking in America, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs- the last of the two largest surviving banks in America decided to abandon all investments and become bank holding companies in order to remain in business.
If after the fall of Lehmann Brothers and the buy out of Merrill Lynch you thought that the financial crisis being faced by the American banks was over, here comes another bomb shell. The Federal Reserve in America granted permission to two of the largest banks Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs to drop the ‘I’ word from their operations. The two banks will now return to more old fashioned style of banking. This change of status implies that both the banks will now come under the regulation of the Federal Reserve. And hence they will have to face the same regulations that other commercial banks face as opposed to the regulations that they had to face when they were under the Securities and Exchange Commission.
But the step taken by the two banks is being lauded all across the world for it was the safest option in such times of turmoil. The Americans are in the midst of a subprime mortgage crisis which started more than a year back and this is the crisis that swallowed the likes of Lehmann brothers as well as Merrill Lynch, though AIG was bailed out by the American government. The move will ensure that both the banks get to build up cash and deposits and even go forth and buy smaller banks. As an investment bank, the two had continually relied on borrowed money rather than just deposits but in the financial crisis that the country is facing right now, borrowing money was not all that easy. The move also means stricter regulations from the Federal Reserve something that the two banks may not be used to. Hence they will have a certain amount of capital and will also not be free to sell and buy securities as they used to when they had the status of an investment bank.
Meanwhile Morgan Stanley is in talks with Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Japan’s largest bank to acquire a stake in it. It is expected that there will be an agreement signed that offers a stake of almost twenty percent of Morgan Stanley to Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group. The move was taken well by the Market as well as the shares of Morgan Stanley rose 3.5 percent.
Meanwhile, it is expected that Japan’s largest brokerage Nomura Holdings will be buying Lehman’s Asian assets whereas Britain’s largest bank Barclay’s will be purchasing Lehman brothers North American brokerage operations.
Meanwhile the mood on Wall street is still somber as these were two of the biggest names in the financial market not just in America but also in other parts of the world. The investments made by the two banks in the last two years were erroneous and now have had to pay by giving up their pride. Meanwhile the smaller investment banks that can wither the financial storm right now may be able to cope up with the crisis. But from the point of view of the two banks as well as the American economy, it was indeed a pleasant move to abandon all investments. The abanks will now be able to concentrate on orthodox retail commercial banking and should be able to build on it. Moreover in the financial turmoil being currently faced by the country, it will bring in stability and safety. The two major banks may have lost their pride but atleast are still standing to be able to recover it in the future.

Pakistan troops open fire on american choppers

American helicopters flew into Pakistan in the Pakistan Afghanistan militant infested border but had to return as Pakistani troops opened fire on them. Earlier fifteen people were killed in aerial strikes carried out by America on September 3rd.
Though Pakistan is a key ally of America in its fight against terror, but the recent shooting of the Pakistan troops on the American choppers is sure to create tension between the two nations. In the blast at the Marriot hotel in Islamabad more than fifty people were killed a few days back with a lot of them being foreigners. Two American department of defense officials also lost their lives in the attack.
In this particular incident it is said that two American choppers crossed on to the Pakistan border at Lowari Mandi in the North Waziristan region. From the Pakistan side, the troops as well as civilians opened small arms fire. The American forces though did not retaliate with fire and after monitoring and patrolling for some time returned back to Afghanistan.
There has been increased pressure being put by America on the new government in Pakistan to act against the militants and insurgents belonging to Taliban and the Al Qaeda who are suspected to be on the Pakistan and the Afghanistan border. The Americans believe that Pakistan officials have to act fast if they are to curb the acts of militancy and terrorism in Pakistan as well as regions of Afghanistan. The American authorities also believe that some of the top leaders of the Al Qaida including Osama bin laden are hiding on Pakistan land.
This is not the first time that America has engaged in aerial strikes. Just a few days back, on September 3rd, in a raid by American commandos. Fifteen people were killed in the missile strikes.
Meanwhile the American embassy in the Pakistan capital has sent out instructions to all Americans in Pakistan asking them to reduce their movement and to travel only when absolutely essential. They have also been asked to keep a low profile and also avoid very crowded regions.
The spate of militant activities in the Pakistan Afghanistan region has been on the rise with gunmen kidnapping Afghanistan ambassador designate and killing his driver in Peshawar. In another incident a suicide bomber killed several security officers in the Swat valley.
Following the attack on the JW Marriot hotel in Islamabad, British airways has also temporarily suspended its flights to the country. It used to offer six flights to Pakistan every week.
Meanwhile Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari is due to meet his American counterpart in America today. The topic of the fight against militants and terrorists will be on top of the agenda. Zardari has maintained that he will protect the sovereignty of Pakistan at all costs and any one violating its border will have to face action. Zardari has also asked America to assist them with intelligence reports in finding the militants but has maintained that Pakistan will be in a better position to deal with the threats themselves. With the security and safety of the people in Pakistan being the core issue these days and with Americans deciding to go ahead with aerial strikes in Pakistan, the Pakistan president is sure to face a tough time on the hot seat.

Is the celebration of Valentine’s Day against the Indian Culture?

The meeting of the Orient and the Occident will always produce a spark. Valentine’s Day is just not a day restricted to the West, Love is a global language and everyone who is in love ought to celebrate this day for love knows no barriers.

Valentine’s Day is celebrated with great fervour all across the World. Even in India the Day has captured the hearts of all romantic couples. You will see love in all malls and hyper markets with big discounts and freebies being offered to couples. There are contests on Air, TV and the Print to determine whose love is strongest. All major Brands and companies want to cash in on this day. Theatres where the Crowd generally flocks offer discount schemes to attract hapless couples which don’t really have any other place to go.

But the Detractors say that celebrating Valentine’s Day is against the Indian culture. They believe that we are just aping the Western Culture. Now there have been so many instances when we ape the Westerns. Our Constitution in itself is the longest constitution drafted and was made from the UK and the American Constitution. Whenever we want to make movies, we again copy the entire script and the screenplay. All the high technology products coming into our country come from the West. The Internet which has become the most vital medium for survival came from Switzerland. Even the SEZ policy which is being criticized by one and all right now came from China.

So why don’t the detractors of Valentine’s Day stand up against all these things? Isn’t Valentine’s Day celebrated as a Day? Love just does not mean love for your spouse or partner. You could be in love with your parents, your children and even your dog. After being under the British rule for so long, Indians had to acquire some of the traits from the British. It was just not restricted to the language of English even the colonial architecture stands out as a tribute to the British today.

Valentine’s Day began with St. Valentine, a Roman Christian. It is believed that this Saint died on February 14, 269 A.D. Legend also says that the Saint left a farewell note for the jailer’s daughter, and signed it “From Your Valentine”. Other aspects of the legend say that Saint Valentine served as a priest at the temple during the reign of Emperor Claudius. Claudius then had Valentine jailed for defying him. But Since 496 A.D, February 14 is being celebrated as Valentine’s Day to honour St. Valentine.

Thus 1502 years hence, Valentine’s Day is still healthy and Strong all across the World. The legend of St. Valentine might not be that popular, but people do celebrate the Day as they would celebrate Holi, Diwali or any other festival. Saint Valentine became the patron of love and this day is remembered in his name and celebrated by everyone who is in love.

If Americans can celebrate Diwali at the White House, if parts of London celebrate Holi in the open where even Foreigners join in the fun, for the main purpose of a festival is to spread happiness and have fun. How can anyone be against the spirit of love? Indians too revere Parvati- the Goddess of Love and Kama- the God of Love. Since childhood, the stories of Laila Majnoo, Soni Mahiwal are imbibed in us. The Love Stories in Bollywood have been the biggest hits ever. Love is a feeling that brings everyone closer irrespective of all social, political or economic barriers. To not be in love or not celebrating it, would be to be devoid of the most powerful emotions that humans have. Even the Animals who cant communicate properly to each other exhibit qualities of love.

There is nothing wrong with the concept of Valentine’s Day, but the only problem which the detractors have is that we are aping the Western culture. Now if the Westerners have created a good precedent for us, then why shouldn’t we follow it. Ask all the detractors to celebrate another day in the name of love, im sure people wouldn’t mind sharing their feelings for each other on that very day.

Couples say that any day which spreads the message of Love cannot have any adverse effects on society. For Love is the perfume that you cannot spray on others without sprinkling a few drops on yourself. Spreading Love is spreading happiness in these days where due to terrorism and violence everyone is on the edge. Who knows what terror comes your way tomorrow? Till then you ought to enjoy every moment in love. And Love is not blind – it sees more, not less. But because it sees more, it is willing to see less.