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INDIA-L  May 1998, Week 1

INDIA-L May 1998, Week 1

Subject:

India News Network Digest - May. 5, 98. Special Report.

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Date:

Tue, 5 May 1998 11:00:48 -0400

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India News Network Digest Tue, 5 May 98 Volume 2 : Issue 1641

Today's Topics:
#1. Eight children among 20 electrocuted in India bus
#2. World Bank ready to raise infrastructure aid to India
#3. India's Congress slams minister's words on China
#4. India shares surge on renewed bull charge
#5. India Hindu party forgets past, fumbles for future
#6. India looks China in the eye, perhaps too boldly
#7. BRF--India-Doctors Fired
#8. India says China has surveillance base in Myanmar
#9. Right-wing Indian groups target irreverent artists
#10. 12 people killed by rival tribe in northeast India
#11. Who's afraid of India's BJP? Not foreign investors
#12. India-Art Attack
#13. Pakistan blames India for border village massacre
#14. India's ruling BJP warns members against corruption
#15. Retired Gurkha soldiers rally for higher pension
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Date: Mon, 4 May 98 18:23:52 EDT
From: 04-May-1998 1824 <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: News 5/4/98

31. RTw 05/04 1246 Eight children among 20 electrocuted in India bus

Copyright, 1998 Reuters Ltd. All rights reserved. The following news
report may not be republished or redistributed, in whole or in part,
without the prior written consent of Reuters Ltd.

    (adds details)
     NEW DELHI, May 4 (Reuters) - At least 20 people were killed,
including eight children, when a bus hit a high-voltage electric wire in
northern India on Monday, the Press Trust of India (PTI) reported.
     The accident occurred near Moradabad, about 200 km (125 miles) east
of New Delhi, when a bicycle tied to the roof of the bus touched a
high-tension wire, PTI quoted a senior local official saying.
     The official said 17 people died instantly, and three later in
hospital. Three more passengers were badly burnt.
     The bus was taking 70 passengers from the capital to the eastern
state of Bihar for a religious event, PTI said.
  REUTERS

#2. RTw 05/04 0959 World Bank ready to raise infrastructure aid to India

Copyright, 1998 Reuters Ltd. All rights reserved. The following news
report may not be republished or redistributed, in whole or in part,
without the prior written consent of Reuters Ltd.

    NEW DELHI, May 4 (Reuters) - The World Bank is willing to increase its
infrastructure lending to India to about $2.0 billion per year, half of
which will be spent on roads, a Bank official said on Monday.
     "(The) World Bank is in a position to increase its lending volume to
nearly 80 billion rupees, or $2.0 billion per annum in infrastructure
projects," Anil Bhandari, principal transport specialist at the World
Bank, told a business seminar on infrastructure financing and road
transport.
     "Of this, we could finance nearly 40 billion rupees or $1.0 billion
per annum for roads," Bhandari said.
     The World Bank is expected to give combined loans and credits close
to $3.0 billion in fiscal year to end-June 1998. Around 46 percent of this
will go to key infrastructure areas with half of that to the power sector.
     Bhandari said the shared objective of the World Bank and the Indian
government was to enhance the capacity of roads, improve the performance
of the public sector in road infrastructure and increase the involvement
of private firms in the sector.
     Bhandari said states which were committed to economic reforms will be
given priority in allocation of the loans.
     Transport experts say despite economic reforms private investment in
infrastructure has remained below anticipated levels. Supply of transport
services has not kept pace with demand.
     India needs about $35-40 billion for development and maintenance of
roads in the next 10 years, experts said at the seminar.
     Bhandari said volume of road transport in India was growing at about
10 percent per year.
     "The volume of road transport is likely to continue growing as in the
past, approximately tripling over the next 12 years," he said.
     Surface Transport Minister Thambi Durai said government funds for the
development and maintenance of roads were not enough and private
investment was needed for the development of the sector.
     The minister said the government is making efforts to implement a
resolution passed by parliament in 1988 to impose a 5.0 percent levy on
the basic price of petrol to collect funds for road development.
     "This will generate resources to the tune of 20 billion rupees
annually," he said.
     Another measure to raise funds for the development of roads was
collecting toll charges from users, the minister said.
     But experts warned that there were limits to collecting toll charges
in India and urged greater innovation in financing of large road projects.
     "Private financing is now being increasingly seen as a potential
source of funds," Durai said.
     R.H. Patil, managing director of the National Stock Exchange, said
development of a long-term debt market was crucial in mobilising funds for
infrastructure financing.
     Urjit Patel, executive vice-president of Infrastructure Development
Finance Co Ltd, said opening up of insurance and pension funds will also
release funds for infrastructure development.

#3. RTw 05/04 0936 India's Congress slams minister's words on China

Copyright, 1998 Reuters Ltd. All rights reserved. The following news
report may not be republished or redistributed, in whole or in part,
without the prior written consent of Reuters Ltd.

    NEW DELHI, May 4 (Reuters) - India's opposition Congress party on
Monday lashed out at Defence Minister George Fernandes over comments he
made on the threat that China poses to the country's security.
     "The defence minister...once again made observations about our
relations with China which, both in letter and spirit, go against our
trying to widen, deepen and strengthen our relations with China," party
spokesman Salman Khurshid said in a statement.
     Fernandes said on Sunday that China had built a sophisticated
electronic surveillance base in Myanmar's Coco Islands and was beefing up
airfields in Tibet to take supersonic fighters capable of striking at
India's borders.
     A former socialist firebrand whose Samata Party is a key partner in
the Hindu nationalist-led ruling coalition, Fernandes said Indian
policy-makers had for years perceived Pakistan as the major threat.
     "We've decided that we are very strong and can take on Pakistan and
the subject ends there," he said. "But we forget that from 1950, when
China invaded Tibet, we ought to have been concerned equally about China."
     Fernandes was speaking at the 101st anniversary of the birth of V.K.
Krishna Menon, who was defence minister in 1962 when India fought a brief
and disastrous border war with China and was forced to resign as a result
of the debacle.
     Khurshid said the Congress party was "surprised that the attempts of
the defence minister...to convert his personal agenda" into the government
had continued unabated.
     "Time has now come for the prime minister to put an end to the
confusion the defence minister is creating with regard to the foreign and
defence policy of India," the spokesman said.
     A foreign ministry spokesman declined to comment on Fernandes'
statements on Monday.
     "There is nothing to add," he told reporters at a routine briefing.
     In April, the outspoken minister accused China of providing Pakistan
missile technology after Islamabad announced it had tested its
longest-range missile, one capable of striking targets deep inside India.
Beijing denied the allegation.

#4. RTw 05/04 0920 India shares surge on renewed bull charge

Copyright, 1998 Reuters Ltd. All rights reserved. The following news
report may not be republished or redistributed, in whole or in part,
without the prior written consent of Reuters Ltd.

    By Rosemary Arackaparambil
     BOMBAY, May 4 (Reuters) - Indian shares put behind last week's sullen
mood to rally sharply on Monday boosted by fresh speculative buying and
fund support, dealers and analysts said.
     "After the recent healthy correction, the market had to go up," said
Ajai Srinivasan, managing director of Prudential ICICI Asset Management
Company Ltd. "But, this is largely speculative buying."
     The bellwether Bombay exchange index closed up 3.22 percent, or 129
points, at 4,135.81 off intraday high of 4,141.33.
     The rupee finished little changed at 39.73/74 per dollar in light,
range-bound trade, dealers said.
     Fresh position taking on the first day of the account at the Bombay
Stock Exchange (BSE) after lower carry forward charges on the weekend was
largely responsible for the surge, they said.
     Carry forward charges fell to about 24 percent a year on Saturday
from 33 percent in the previous week, as the overbought market underwent a
correction.
     The low charges also indicate easy money market conditions, dealers
said.
     "The lower carry forward charges and sizeable domestic fund buying of
last week is lending steam to the rally," said Kuntal Shah, chief dealer
at local brokerage D.T.Gandhi.
     The Bombay exchange index finished last week down 1.09 percent, or
44.17 points, at 4,006.81 after losing 3.24 percent in the week before.
     Analysts said the market had overcome disappointment over the central
bank's credit and monetary policy for the first half of 1998/99
(April-March).
     "The market has had a second look at the credit policy and it doesn't
look too bad. It says a CRR (cash reserve ratio) cut will come when
necessary," Srinivasan said.
     The Reserve Bank of India reduced its key bank rate to 9.0 percent
from 10 percent triggering lower prime lending rates by banks, but it did
not announce an expected cut in the CRR.
     Banks are required to hold in reserve the CRR, currently at 10
percent of deposits.
     Dealers said foreign funds have also been lending support to the
market in recent days.
     Figures released by the BSE show that foreign institutional investors
had made net purchases of 280 million rupees in the last two trading days
of last week.
     Monday's buying interest was in stocks across the board, but software
and pharmaceutical sectors were more in demand, dealers said.
     The undertone in the market is positive but ups and downs can be
expected in the run-up to the budget, they said.
     "The general pronouncements on what we are going to see in the budget
sounds good," Srinivasan said. "The market should remain strong till the
budget, with a few ups and downs."
     The budget -- the first of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led
coalition government -- is scheduled on June 1.
     A statement by Kushabhu Thakre, the new BJP president, on Sunday that
he was confident the government would overcome differences between its
squabbling partners also helped sentiment, dealers said.
     The differences have been a constant concern because the fragile
coalition had barely cobbled together a majority vote in parliament.
     Shares of Indo Gulf Fertilisers and Chemicals Corporation Ltd rose
3.70 rupees, or 9.8 percent, to 41.15 at the BSE on good results.
     The Aditya Birla Group firm said its net profit jumped 31 percent to
1.41 billion rupees in the year to March 31, 1998. It raised dividend to
2.0 rupees a share from 1.8 rupees.
     But, the Group's flagship Grasim Industries is expected to report
lower profits on Tuesday due to lower margins in cement and sponge iron,
analysts said.
     The close of weekly account at the National Stock Exchange on Tuesday
might see stocks weakening a bit, but a strong correction is unlikely till
the end of the week, dealers said. REUTERS

#5. RTw 05/04 0826 India Hindu party forgets past, fumbles for future

Copyright, 1998 Reuters Ltd. All rights reserved. The following news
report may not be republished or redistributed, in whole or in part,
without the prior written consent of Reuters Ltd.

    By Naveen Thukral
     GANDHINAGAR, India, May 4 (Reuters) - India's ruling party spent
years beating the drum of Hindu ideology to marshal public support on
controversial issues.
     Over the weekend, its leaders have spent many hours trying to
persuade their cadres to put aside those fervent goals -- at least for a
while.
     Seven weeks into sharing power in a minority government with untested
allies, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), secular by declaration and Hindu
nationalist by mooring, has realised the difficulty of sustaining some of
its favourite causes.
     Senior party leaders led by its new president, Kushabhau Thakre, told
followers at the party's two-day national council meeting in the western
city of Gandhinagar to prepare for a new-look BJP. The meeting began on
Sunday.
     "The message of the meeting to party men is to win over minorities
who have kept their distance from the BJP due to one reason or the other,"
party general secretary Venkaiah Naidu told Reuters on Monday.
     "The party will follow a consensual approach and the issues which do
not have a consensus will have to wait," he said.
     The BJP, which had just two seats in the Lok Sabha, India's lower
house, in 1984, has irked minority Moslem leaders, liberal critics and
opposition groups in its strident campaigns as it increased its tally to
181 in mid-term elections this year.
     At the national council meeting, the party's political resolution was
silent on the campaign to build a temple in the northern town of Ayodhya,
where in 1992 Hindu zealots destroyed a 16th century mosque believed by
them to be built on the birthplace of god-king Rama.
     The BJP's pledge to build the temple sent its political popularity
soaring in 1991, shaking the monolithic power of the then-ruling Congress
party to the core.
     More than 3,000 people died in Hindu-Moslem rioting across India that
followed the 1992 mosque demolition.
     The BJP has also mothballed two other issues -- plans for a uniform
civil law that would rescind separate legislation for Moslems, and for the
withdrawal of special constitutional status enjoyed by Jammu and Kashmir,
India's only Moslem-majority state.
     "The BJP is behaving more like the Congress party, which means: Avoid
all controversial public issues especially when the leadership changes,"
Tushar Bhatt, senior editor at the Times of India said in Ahmedabad,
Gandhinagar's twin city.
     "In opposition, they could talk about anything under the sun. But now
they are learning what it means to be a ruling party, more so because they
head a coalition," he said.
     BJP leaders were candid on the importance of retaining support from
regional parties in the east and south, which have helped the party go
beyond its northern roots.
     "We must bear in mind that our success is also due to our alliance
with some regional parties," Naidu said.
     New BJP chief Thakre was keen to deny criticism that the party was
tied to the apron-strings of its ideological parent, the Rashtriya
Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which is a strong advocate of the "Hindutva" or
Hindu-ness creed.
     "To allege that the RSS controls the BJP is not only a travesty of
objective truth, but also completely misrepresents the subjective reality
as regards the nation and the thinking of Sangh leadership," said Thakre,
himself a veteran RSS activist.
     BJP leaders spent time reminding themselves to steer clear of
corruption whilst in power -- a vow that hit close to home after it wooed
lawmakers facing corruption charges in order to cobble together a majority
after last spring's national elections produced a hung parliament.
     Two ministers -- not from the BJP but from allied parties -- were
forced to resign after courts ordered them to stand trial on corruption
charges.
     The BJP leaders also emphasised the National Agenda, a document for
governance forged with allies which stressed a range of economic and
regional issues and played down religious issues. REUTERS

#6. RTw 05/04 0620 India looks China in the eye, perhaps too boldly

Copyright, 1998 Reuters Ltd. All rights reserved. The following news
report may not be republished or redistributed, in whole or in part,
without the prior written consent of Reuters Ltd.

    By Sanjeev Miglani
     NEW DELHI, May 4 (Reuters) - India may be putting aside its obsession
with old foe Pakistan, but to turn up the rhetoric on China is bad
strategy and could hurt a tentative dialogue with its giant northern
neighbour, analysts said on Monday.
     Defence Minister George Fernandes said on Sunday that China was
India's first rival and warned that it would be a mistake to underplay the
threat from its giant northern neighbour.
     "Of course China is the long-term challenge, economic rivalry is
natural, but one does not have to advertise our strategic intentions,"
said former rear admiral Raja Menon.
     "We need to build a platform before we open our mouths."
     China, a declared nuclear weapon state, leads India in strategic
capability. India has exercised a moratorium on nuclear tests since 1974,
but refuses to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and Nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty.
     In the 50 years since independence, India has fought three wars with
neighbouring Pakistan, two of them over the Himalayan region of Kashmir.
     But Fernandes and military experts believe it is time to move
forward. "If we are going to get off our Pakistani fixation, that is a
good step forward," Menon said.
     "If your GDP (gross domestic product) is seven times theirs, if
indigenous defence capabilities are 10 times theirs, if your air force is
twice their size, to be caught in a situation where we keep talking of
them is patently bad strategy," he said.
     Fernandes, a former socialist firebrand whose regional group is a key
partner in the Hindu nationalist-led coalition government, said China's
military -- especially naval -- "encirclement" of India was cause for
concern.
     He said China had built a sophisticated surveillance base in
Myanmar's Coco Islands and was upgrading airfields in Tibet to take
fighter jets capable of striking at India's borders.
     In April, the outspoken minister accused China of providing Pakistan
missile technology after Islamabad announced it had tested its
longest-range missile, one capable of striking targets deep inside India.
Beijing denied the allegation.
     But Indian diplomats said China was seeking strategic gains,
including access to the Indian Ocean, and it was time to worry about this
-- although not necessarily as the defence minister had done.
     "In providing Pakistan with maximum India-oriented military equipment
and more or less taking over the naval space of Burma (Myanmar), they are
seeking to expand their strategic space in this region," former Foreign
Secretary S.K. Singh said.
     "How long can a country of our size and shape be coy about it?" he
said. "Of course making noise like this is not strategic thinking."
     India and China, the world's two most-populous nations, fought a
brief war in 1962, but have sought to rebuild ties since signing a pact to
keep peace along their disputed border.
     Negotiators have held several rounds of meetings to determine the
boundary that runs through vast stretches of the Himalayas, but so far
have made limited progress.
     In 1996, both sides agreed on a set of confidence-building measures,
including reduction of troops along the border and open military contacts.
     Last week Fu Quanyou, Chief of General Staff of the People's
Liberation Army, met Indian leaders and top military brass and was taken
to Indian naval and air force installations. Both sides said they would
work for regional stability.
     "The notice has been served," Singh said, referring to Fernandes'
comments on China. "I think the diplomatic process will be quietly speeded
up," he said. REUTERS

#7. APn 05/03 1242 BRF--India-Doctors Fired

Copyright, 1998. The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

The information contained in this news report may not be published,
broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of
The Associated Press.

   NEW DELHI, India (AP) -- Refusing to hike their salaries, the
government of a populous northern Indian state fired 1,000 striking
doctors, a news agency reported Sunday.
   The two-week strike by 1,700 junior doctors has affected medical
services in government-run clinics in Uttar Pradesh state.
   The state government fired the doctors over the weekend, Press Trust of
India news agency quoted state Health Minister Shivkant Ojha as saying.
   The doctors want their salaries doubled. The state government says it
does not have the money and that doctors in Uttar Pradesh get better
salaries than those in other states.
   India's hospitals largely are state-funded and offer mostly free
medical treatment to people.

#8. RTw 05/03 1234 India says China has surveillance base in Myanmar

Copyright, 1998 Reuters Ltd. All rights reserved. The following news
report may not be republished or redistributed, in whole or in part,
without the prior written consent of Reuters Ltd.

    By Chaitanya Kalbag
     NEW DELHI, May 3 (Reuters) - India's defence minister said on Sunday
China had built a sophisticated electronic surveillance base in Myanmar's
Coco Islands and was beefing up airfields in Tibet to take supersonic
fighters.
     "China has installed sophisticated electronic surveillance equipment
in the Coco Islands, just 40 km (25 miles) from the northern tip of
India's Andaman Islands, from where they can monitor any defence activity
along India's east coast," George Fernandes said.
     He said China had also been lengthening the runways at 11 air bases
in Tibet from which Sukhoi fighter jets would be capable of striking at
India's borders.
     Fernandes was speaking at the 101st anniversary of the birth of V.K.
Krishna Menon, who was defence minister in 1962 when India fought a brief
and disastrous border war with China and was forced to resign as a result
of the debacle.
     "Myanmar's army has grown to 450,000 from 160,000 six years ago with
the support of China," the minister said. "Even the United States now
recognises that China's ICBMs (intercontinental ballistic missiles) are
trained against the U.S., Russia and even India."
     "So we have to understand the challenges before us."
     Fernandes, a former socialist firebrand whose Samata Party is a key
partner in India's ruling coalition led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya
Janata Party, said the issue of national security had not been discussed
by many recent Indian governments.
     "Why is this not discussed? Because the truth will emerge," he said,
adding that a strategic defence review launched by the new government
would set out plans for a National Security Council.
     "We have already said we will keep our options open on building
nuclear weapons," Fernandes said.
     For years, the minister said, Indian policy makers had perceived
Pakistan as the major threat. "We've decided that we are very strong and
can take on Pakistan and the subject ends there. But we forget that from
1950, when China invaded Tibet, we ought to have been concerned equally
about China."
     He said China had been strengthening itself over the past two
decades. "People say China will be the second most powerful nation in the
world after the United States."
     India, which exploded a nuclear device in 1974, has exercised a
self-imposed moratorium on testing and proliferation but rejects the
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
     "We are capable of building nuclear weapons," Fernandes said, "and we
will use our clout to tell the five nuclear states, which include China,
to abolish their nuclear weapons."
     Fernandes said a visit last week by Fu Quanyou, Chief of the General
Staff of China's People's Liberation Army, had been marked by
confidence-building talks. REUTERS

#9. RTw 05/03 0900 Right-wing Indian groups target irreverent artists

Copyright, 1998 Reuters Ltd. All rights reserved. The following news
report may not be republished or redistributed, in whole or in part,
without the prior written consent of Reuters Ltd.

    By Clarence Fernandez
     BOMBAY, May 3 (Reuters) - Violence by right-wing Hindu parties in
Bombay, aimed at artists and musicians said to offend patriotic or
religious sensibilities, underscores the cracks appearing in India's
ruling coalition, analysts said on Sunday.
     Eminent musicians and writers condemned two attacks last week,
organised by groups with close links to Prime Minister Atal Behari
Vajpayee's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
     Vajpayee himself spoke out against one incident, orchestrated by the
BJP's regional ally the Shiv Sena party, after its activists broke up a
private performance by a Pakistani singer.
     Vajpayee's BJP rules India's wealthiest state of Maharashtra, where
Bombay is located, in alliance with the militant regional Shiv Sena, which
follows a policy of opposing visits by Pakistani artists and sportsmen to
India.
     The policy is part of Shiv Sena's stand against what it says are
Pakistan's terrorist activities in northern Jammu and Kashmir, India's
only Moslem-majority state, hotly claimed by each country.
     "Perhaps the Shiv Sena is going through some kind of identity
crisis," film lyricist and scriptwriter Javed Akhtar told Reuters.
     "Their political partner is becoming too big," he added. "The BJP has
formed the central government. It is becoming a bit too overwhelming for
the Shiv Sena, and the Shiv Sena has to establish that it has a separate
identity -- that it has its own clout."
     In another incident on Friday, members of the militant Bajrang Dal,
part of the BJP family of organisations, ransacked the home of one of
India's most famous painters, Maqbool Fida Husain, to protest against his
depiction of a Hindu goddess in the nude.
     "In art, nude figures mean purity, you see them in our temples," a
local newspaper quoted Husain, who fell foul of the same group earlier
over another nude sketch, as saying.
     "They are not detailed figures, just suggestions of the female form,"
he added. "If anybody finds them offensive, if anybody's feelings are
hurt, I apologise. I have already apologised before, what more can I do."
     The Shiv Sena has stepped up its campaign to police art, theatre and
music over the last month.
     Culture Minister Pramod Navalkar reactivated the office of the
state's drama censor over plays he said contained sexual innuendo. He has
also cracked down on rock music lyrics.
     "In terms of the culture minister's actions, it creates diversions
from real issues," said Uday Benegal, frontman and lead vocalist for Indus
Creed, one of India's top rock music groups.
     "They are exploding bombs in inconsequential issues, to take people's
attention away from the nitty-gritty, the real serious issues of life that
need to be tackled."
     Benegal contrasted Shiv Sena's treatment of Hindi plays and rock
music with the blind eye it turns to the sexual innuendo in the work of
its favourite film-maker, Dada Kondke, as well as in "laavni," or
"nautanki," Maharashtra's traditional folk theatre.
     "If I am being immoral and vulgar, so are they," Benegal said. "The
Sena must remove the public licences of these troupes too -- then we'll
sit back and watch the government lose support -- this is political
tokenism. It's eyewash and diversions."
     Sociologist Y.D. Phadke said Shiv Sena's newfound prudishness was a
strategy to boost support from militant Hindus, after it received its
worst-ever drubbing in federal polls in March.
     Shiv Sena and the BJP saw their joint tally of seats in the lower
house of parliament drop alarmingly to 10 of a total of 48 of the state's
deputies, from 33 earlier. Their opponent, the Congress, vaulted to 33
from 15.
     "They are worried because of their loss of support," Phadke told
Reuters. "They have not reconciled themselves to the loss of their
influence and support in certain areas of Maharashtra where they almost
took it for granted they would win."
     Compromises forced on Vajpayee's Hindu nationalist-coalition in order
to hold onto power has also offered the Shiv Sena an opportunity to
refurbish its militant Hindu image, Phadke added.
     "This is an old programme," he said. "They generally choose such
occasions when they badly need some support. They are trying to assert
their identity as militant Hindus."
     Now Shiv Sena faces attack from another direction.
     "The issue of the Srikrishna Commission is also very dangerous,"
Phadke said, referring to an inquiry into the bitter riots between
Bombay's Hindus and Moslems in 1992/93, in which the party is believed to
have played an important organising role.
     The state government has refused all demands to publish the report
despite growing pressure from Moslem and low-caste leaders who believe it
will lay bare the Shiv Sena's role. REUTERS

#10. RTw 05/03 0814 12 people killed by rival tribe in northeast India

Copyright, 1998 Reuters Ltd. All rights reserved. The following news
report may not be republished or redistributed, in whole or in part,
without the prior written consent of Reuters Ltd.

 (Updates with police revising death toll, other detail)
     GUWAHATI, India, May 3 (Reuters) - Twelve people were killed and five
were injured by a rival tribe in India's northeastern state of Assam on
Sunday, police officials said.
     Police said they had confirmed the deaths of the Santhals tribesmen
who had been travelling in a bus when they were attacked by Bodo tribesmen
in a remote part of Gossaigaon in the Kokrajhar district.
     The attackers left the bodies on the bus and ordered the driver to
take them to the nearest police outpost.
     Police had said earlier that 25 people were killed in the incident
but then revised the death toll.
     Separatist movements and ethnic conflict plague India's seven
northern states, which are home to more than 200 ethnic groups.
     In Assam alone, more than 2,000 people have died in ethnic clashes
and separatist violence in the past 12 years, according to police and
hospitals. REUTERS

#11. RTw 05/03 0214 Who's afraid of India's BJP? Not foreign investors

Copyright, 1998 Reuters Ltd. All rights reserved. The following news
report may not be republished or redistributed, in whole or in part,
without the prior written consent of Reuters Ltd.

    By John Chalmers
     NEW DELHI, May 3 (Reuters) - For foreign investors, India's Hindu
nationalist BJP was always a bete noire.
     It led a fight against foreign consumer products and tried to close
Pepsico's Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet in New Delhi.
     It was also part of the coalition ruling the western state of
Maharashtra which cancelled and then renegotiated the country's biggest
foreign investment power project with U.S.-based Enron Corp.
     Sensing that power was within its grasp ahead of elections earlier
this year, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) promised a policy of
"swadeshi," or economic nationalism.
     And the national agenda put together by a BJP-led coalition after the
poll promised an India "built by Indians."
     But in the weeks since taking office, the government has pedalled
less hard on mantras of self-reliance, and conceded that foreign direct
investment (FDI) is needed to fill a widening payments gap, create jobs,
breathe life into exports, bring new technology and generally get the
economy moving again.
     At first, the government said FDI would only be considered for core
areas such as infrastructure and the hi-tech industry: "Microchips not
potato chips," went the slogan.
     But since then, Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha has said that
"swadeshi" does not mean "defending the inefficiencies of Indian
industry." Foreign investors will be welcome in consumer goods sectors
where Indian entrepreneurs are not in a position to provide competition
and consumer satisfaction, he said.
     Sinha then headed for the United States and Britain, leading sources
of FDI in India, for what many saw as a roadshow to quash prejudice
against the BJP and woo investment.
     In Washington, Sinha said he aimed to double 1997's foreign
investment of $3 billion during his first year in office and said the BJP
wanted to "grow India without anti-foreignism."
     "He sent out all the right signals that reform will continue," said
the commercial attache at a West European embassy in New Delhi, who asked
not to be identified.
     "Infrastructure is still core, and that's right," he said. "But there
are indications that the government will also welcome other investments
for jobs and technology. I think there has been a dilution in the
rhetoric...there's more pragmatism."
     Ashok Desai, a former adviser to Manmohan Singh, the Congress party
finance minister credited as the architect of liberalisation, was more
blunt.
     "When they came to power they realised that they had a huge payments
deficit which can only be filled with foreign resources," he told Reuters.
"It was a complete about-turn."
     The Hindu newspaper said in an editorial that while investors had
been reassured that "swadeshi as a substantive operational concept is
being abandoned," they also heard a lot of old promises to cut red tape
and simplify procedures.
     N.S. Siddharthan, economics professor at Delhi's Institute of
Economic Growth, pointed out in the same daily last week that some,
fearing a flood of foreign investment, feel FDI needs to be restricted and
controlled to protect domestic industry.
     "The actuality is that India is not the desired destination and only
negligible investment flows have taken place," he wrote. "Even by Asian
standards, India's share is trivial."
     He said that in 1993-96, during a global boom in FDI, Asia's share of
such flows rose to almost 23 percent. But while China's share was over 12
percent, India's was just 0.57 percent.
     While FDI accounted for more than 23 percent of China's gross fixed
capital formation during that period, the corresponding figure for India
was barely two percent.
     Economists say that if the government is to make good on last week's
pledge of "growth, more growth and still more growth," it must ease the
way for foreign capital.
     With a fiscal deficit at 6.1 percent of gross domestic product in
financial 1997/98 (April-March), it can hardly spend its way to raising
growth from the current, modest rate of five percent. REUTERS

#12. APn 05/02 1150 India-Art Attack

Copyright, 1998. The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

The information contained in this news report may not be published,
broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of
The Associated Press.

   BOMBAY, India (AP) -- Twenty-six members of an extremist Hindu group
have been arrested for ransacking the house of a Muslim artist because of
a nude painting of a Hindu goddess.
   Maqbool Fida Hussain, one of India's most famous painters, has been the
target of several attacks, especially by the right-wing Bajrang Dal Party,
which tries to impose its strict brand of Hindu culture at music concerts,
art exhibits and cultural performances.
   Several Bajrang Dal activists stormed Hussain's apartment in Bombay on
Friday after a local newspaper reported that a 20-year-old painting of
his, "Rescued Sita," was showing at an exhibit in another city.
   They damaged lights, glass cases and tore up two unfinished oil
paintings, police said. Hussain was not home at the time.
   Bombay police arrested 26 people Friday on charges of trespassing. They
face several months in prison if convicted.
   The protesters said they objected to the nude depiction of Sita, a
Hindu goddess.
   Hussain has said he meant no disrespect to any religion and that
ancient Hindu paintings and sculptures are filled with paintings of nude
gods and goddess.
   He dismissed the break-in, saying, "I don't want to read too much into
the incident."
   Recently, extremist groups supporting the Bajrang Dal stormed a gallery
in New Delhi that exhibited "Rescued Sita."

#13. RTw 05/02 1112 Pakistan blames India for border village massacre

Copyright, 1998 Reuters Ltd. All rights reserved. The following news
report may not be republished or redistributed, in whole or in part,
without the prior written consent of Reuters Ltd.

    By Raja Asghar
     ISLAMABAD, May 2 (Reuters) - Pakistan accused arch-rival India on
Saturday of the killing of 22 people in a border village in the disputed
Himalayan region of Kashmir and said it was lodging a strong protest.
     A Foreign Ministry spokesman said Pakistani authorities had carried
out a thorough investigation over a whole week of the killings on April 26
at Bandala village on the Pakistani side of a U.N.-monitored line of
control (LoC).
     "The unmistakable conclusion is that it is a deliberately planned and
executed trans-LoC Indian act of terrorism," he told reporters at a news
briefing.
     "It comes in the wake of the Indian efforts to incite sectarian
trouble and the recent spate of Indian-sponsored terrorist bombings in
Pakistan resulting in the brutal killing of many innocent civilians and
destruction of property."
     Local officials in Pakistan-ruled Azad (free) Kashmir said earlier
that 21 people had died in an alleged attack by Indian commandos on two
houses 600 meters (yards) from the control line. The toll later rose to 22
with the death of one of the three injured.
     The Foreign Ministry spokesman said the night operation was carried
out by 12 to 14 assailants. "They incapacitated the sleeping people
beforehand, possibly by the use of canister gas, then shot them in cold
blood and mutilated their bodies with daggers."
     He said security in the area was being strengthened and "the army has
stepped up vigilance and taken appropriate measures."
     He said Pakistan would lodge a strong protest with the Indian High
Commission in Islamabad and with the Indian government in New Delhi, he
said.
     He said Pakistan had also requested the U.N. Military Observer Group
in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), which monitors the Kashmir LoC, to launch
an investigation and report back to the Security Council.
     "The United Nations must also take measures to strengthen UNMOGIP
appropriately as an effective force to monitor the frequent violations of
the Line of Control by India and against recurrence of such acts of
terrorism," the spokesman said.
     "The government of Pakistan calls upon the international community to
realise the gravity of the situation and exert their influence on India to
avoid any recurrence of such incidents."
     The spokesman said the attackers had left behind cartridges of
Indian-made bullets for automatic weapons used in the attack, as well as a
wrist-watch, a dagger and a written note, and had fired light signals
after completing the operation.
     The two countries have fought three wars since their independence
from Britain in 1947, two of them over Kashmir, two-thirds of which is
ruled by India. REUTERS

#14. RTw 05/02 1036 India's ruling BJP warns members against corruption

Copyright, 1998 Reuters Ltd. All rights reserved. The following news
report may not be republished or redistributed, in whole or in part,
without the prior written consent of Reuters Ltd.

    GANDHINAGAR, India, May 2 (Reuters) - India's ruling Bharatiya Janata
Party (BJP) on Saturday cautioned its members against corruption and urged
them to follow sound ideology and high ideals.
     A corrupt party "cannot remain cohesive for long, much less can it
handle the historic task of delivering good governance," outgoing BJP
president Lal Krishna Advani told the BJP national executive at
Gandhinagar, capital of the western state of Gujarat.
     "The BJP is so far largely immume to this problem. But we cannot be
complacent," warned Advani, who hands over the reins of the party to
Kushabhau Thakre on Sunday.
     "It is necessary to constantly remind ourselves that ideology and
idealism cannot be separated. Without high idealism, ideology is hollow,
and without sound ideology, idealism is a non-starter," he added.
     The national executive will finalise a draft political resolution for
the two-day National Council Session which begins on Sunday.
     The conclave is aimed at strengthening the fledgling coalition led by
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, which has been plagued by a public
row amongst its diverse constituents.
     The image of the BJP-led alliance, which took power in April, has
been dented by a slanging match between federal ministers belonging to
different regional parties.
     Two ministers were dropped from the new government after courts
ordered them to stand trial on corruption charges.
     Advani, who is also the Union Home Minister, said problems
encountered by the government had steeled the BJP's resolve.
     "We shall overcome. We shall do so by virtue of our performance in
government under the able leadership of Atal Behari Vajpayee," Advani
said.
     The resolution will also chart the course required for expanding the
party's support base, BJP spokesman Venkaiah Naidu said on Saturday.
     The BJP emerged as the single largest party in spring elections, but
still short of majority. It has limited influence in eastern and southern
India, and among social groups such as Moslems, scheduled castes and
tribes.
     The BJP, which shot into prominence in the 1980s on a wave of Hindu
revivalism, has been accused by rivals of harbouring a bias against
India's Moslem minority. BJP leaders deny such a prejudice and say they
are committed to a secular India. REUTERS

#15. RTw 05/02 0725 Retired Gurkha soldiers rally for higher pension

Copyright, 1998 Reuters Ltd. All rights reserved. The following news
report may not be republished or redistributed, in whole or in part,
without the prior written consent of Reuters Ltd.

    KATHMANDU, May 2 (Reuters) - Gurkha soldiers retired from the British
Army on Saturday marched through the streets of the Nepal capital to
demand their pensions be increased to the same level as British soldiers.
     Rally organisers said about 2,000 ex-soldiers with members of their
families paraded through the streets of Kathmandu carrying placards to
press their demands.
     Padam Bahadur Gurung, president of the Gurkha Army Ex- Servicemen's
Organisation (GAESO), said demonstrations would be intensified if the
British government did not fulfil their demands by June 14.
     "We will announce our protest programme if our demands are not met by
then," Gurung said.
     GAESO has been struggling for equal benefits for the last two years
and has threatened to take its case to the British courts.
     The pensions and benefits of the Gurkhas are determined under a
tri-partite treaty signed between Britain, India and Nepal in 1947.
    The ex-soldiers are also demanding full pension for those who retired
under a redundancy programme in the 1960s as well as the right to live and
work in Britain.
     Gurkha soldiers, of Mongolian origin, come from a fighting tribe in
the foothills of the Nepal Himalayas.
     Known for their loyalty and courage, the Gurkhas served the British
Army for the last 182 years and were deployed in the 1991 Gulf War.
REUTERS

--------------------------------
End of India News Network Digest
******************************

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