Air Asia loses plane over Java Sea with 162 people on board
Another airline tragedy for a South-East Asian carrier makes it the third plane to be lost for 2014 itself
Indonesia's search and rescue agency head, Bambang Soelistyo's statement that Air Asia's missing plane, flight QZ8501 was likely at the bottom of the sea, seemed to confirm the worst fears about the missing plane.
Air Asia had said in a statement yesterday that, “AirAsia Indonesia regrets to confirm that flight QZ8501 from Surabaya to Singapore has lost contact with air traffic control at 07:24 (Surabaya LT) this morning. The flight took off from Juanda International Airport in Surabaya at 0535hours.”
Today, search parties spotted “suspicious debris” and even reports of oil slicks in the sea. Rear Marshal Dwi Putranto of the Indonesian Air Force said, "However, we cannot be sure whether it is part of the missing AirAsia plane. We are now moving in that direction, which is in cloudy conditions."
No Indians were reported to be flying on the ill-fated plane. This is the third air tragedy for a South-East Asian carrier in this year after the two Malaysian Airlines planes that were lost, one of which is yet to be traced.
Tony Fernandes, Air Asia CEO said this was his worst nightmare, “We are very devastated by what has happened, it's unbelievable he said.” 
The Air Asia stock crashed by 7.8% in early trade after news of the crash.


A Rupee agreement with Russia would be beneficial to Indo-Russian trade

Since the current crisis in Russia has arisen out of western sanctions, a bi-lateral currency agreement would benefit both countries in the long run.


In 2013-14, the Indo-Russian trade amounted to S6.01 billion with the balance of trade in favour of Russia, as Indian exports during the same period stood at $2.121 billion only.


Apart from major exports like pharmaceuticals ($535 million), other items such as electric machinery ($ 170 million) Iron and steel ($128 million) and agri-produce ($117 million) comprised our exports. Our bilateral trade with Russia is settled in US Dollars. It is projected that this may actually increase to over $30 billion by 2025, if our trade relations grow at current rates.


The recent happenings in Ukraine have been a damper. Because of Russia's annexation of Crimea and the resultant crisis in Ukraine, the Russian relationship with the West has deteriorated to the extent of attracting sanctions from the West, which is USA and Europe. Although Europe is heavily dependent upon Russian gas supplies, this intervention has not been taken kindly by them.


Russia has announced its plans to scrap the South Stream pipeline project to supply gas to Southern Europe without crossing Ukraine and has proposed an alternative gas pipeline via Turkey to whom it has offered gas at a discount. Gazprom is reported to have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Turkey's Botas for the pipeline, proposed to run under the Black Sea. A lot of technical and commercial details will still have to be worked out on this project.


In the meantime, it is reported in the press that, Ajai Sahai, Director General and CEO of Federation of Indian Exporters Organisation has plans to meet the Commerce Ministry to seek their assistance if the Government can work out some sort of Rupee payment agreement with Russia, because of the fall in the Rouble-Dollar parity since the Rouble's free fall in the recent past.


It may be recalled that when the sanctions were imposed on Iran by Western Powers, led by USA, as both Iran and India were inter-dependent on oil supplies, to circumvent the impasse, a rupee account was set up in the UCO Bank, Kolkata, which was used as a conduit for settlement of trade between both the countries. Since the current crisis in Russia is similar, arising out of western sanctions, Ajai Sahai feels a similar proposal can be brought into use, by both Russia and India, as this will benefit both nations.


Also, during the recent visit of Russian President Putin, projects and other details worth much more than $20 billion were concluded as reported in the press, which includes, Essar's 10-year multibillion dollar oil deal; Alrosa's pact for direct sale of rough diamonds; NMDC-Acron of Russia's deal to acquire a potash mine in Russia among others. Recently, Russia also relaxed the rules to permit the importation buffalo meat from India.


An indepth study and initial limitation of Rupee-Rouble agreement stipulating the total value that can be made in this manner would be a good start. Because of the steep fall in Rouble realisation, Russia is bound to control or reduce its export of wheat and India may find it worthwhile to have an "understanding" of wheat export price, wihch would also help to stabilise the market.


However, all these may also depend upon how the proposed first visit of an American President, as Chief Guest on Indian Republic Day goes and the result of discussions during the visit that he may have with the Indian Government.


(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce. He was also associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts; and later to the US.)




2 years ago

It will be good for India. But, will it suit Russia? Russia is reported to be moving to receiving payments in Gold or hard currencies that can be converted forth with to gold.Abd then there is the US Polyphemes with the Old Man of Islam athwart its shoulders like Sindbad of yore who will include India in the sanction block!

IED explosion in Bengaluru kills 1 and injures 3
The victim was on a visit to Bengaluru and had extended her stay with her family on the night the tragedy occurred
One person was killed and three others were injured in an Improvised Explosive Device blast in Bengaluru's Church Street. Two IEDs were set off near the Coconut Grove restaurant causing the explosion that killed the victim, Bhawani Bala, a resident of Chennai.
The IED wrapped in a plastic bag and suspected to have been placed in a bushy plant went off around 8.30 PM in front of Coconut Grove restaurant, Karnataka Director General of Police L Pachau told reporters.
Reports suggested that the IED was wrapped in Sunday's newspaper.
The victim was on a visit to Bengaluru and had extended her stay with her family on the night the tragedy occurred. Three others, including one of her relatives who was identified as Karthick, have been admitted to Mallya Hospital and HOSMAT Hospital.
Karnataka Chief Minister Siddiramaiah announced a compensation of Rs5 lakh to the victim's family.
Police officials involved with the investigation described the device as a pipe bomb meant for a low intensity but high impact blast on account of it being packed with iron nails
As rumours started floating on social media and messaging services like WhatsApp, Police Commissioner M N Reddi sent out a message requesting citizens to maintain calm and that the there was no need for panic and that the probe was on.


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