Citizens' Issues
What India can expect from PM Modi’s Myanmar visit in November

It is imperative that Prime Minister Narendra Modi should carry out detailed discussions and propose Indian involvement in laying gas pipelines, setting up oil refinery, urea plants, hydroelectric power stations and road building in Myanmar


Our External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj, truly speaking a Roving Ambassador, has already been to Myanmar and who has, in all probability, done the necessary ground work for a fruitful visit, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives to attend the 25th ASEAN Regional forum meeting in November. Final dates have not been made public, though indications are that the East Asia Summit and the ASEAN Regional Forum meetings may be held on 9-11 or 10-12 November this year. This is an important meeting and a great opportunity for PM Modi to be able to meet a great number of political leaders of this region. It would appear that apart from meeting the Myanmar President U Thein Sein in Nay Pyi Taw, he may also have the pleasure of meeting the leader of the opposition and Chairperson of the National League for Democracy, Aung San Suu Kyi.


Our relations with Myanmar, formerly known as Burmah, go back several centuries, as the country's population are devout Buddhists. It may be recalled, that till 1937, Burmah was a province under the British rule, and became totally independent on 4 January 1948. The present population of Myanmar is said to be 55 million, of which 2.5 million have Indian origin as roots.


In the past, literally when nobody wanted to associate and assist this country, due to the military junta that ruled, it was China that filled the vacuum and took immense advantage in building in roads into the Myamnarese society, in the fields of security, energy, business, infrastructure development, besides equipping its army, Indian association, trade wise, can be considered as one that has become increasingly important in the last couple of decades. In 2012-13, India exported $544.66 million and imported $1,412.69 billion worth of goods, mostly natural gas, wood products, copper and fish.


Indian exports covered various items such as fabric, petroleum products, fertilizer, plastics, machinery, transport equipment, food products and edible oil. Now, some developments are taking place that' includes engineering project services. Our bilateral trade has reached $2.18 billion in 2013-14 and this may reach $3 billion by 2015.


Indian investments in Myanmar have amounted to only $283 million till 2013, though it is projected that this may touch $2.6 billion in the next few years.


Already, some of the leading corporate bodies like TCIL, ONGC Videsh, GAIL, Essar, Rites, JK Paper, Jubilant Energy and Reliance Industries are actively pursuing opportunities in Myanmar.


Mention may be made of the Essar port development work at Sittwe as this, in the next few months, will enable India to get Kolkata linked with Mizoram and other North Eastern states through inland waterway, and road along the Kalandan river. In fact, Sittwe could become a key port for development with transit facilities for reaching out to Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland and Manipur, as explained above.


Myanmar, in the past, had offered to help India in setting up hydroelectric power projects with a potential of over 1,000 MW across its rivers on our borders. They have the natural gas that can be utilized for setting up Urea plants, which would be mutually beneficial. A gas pipeline that could run through Bangladesh, carrying the Myanmar gas, would benefit India just as much as the transit country.


In these areas, China has taken tremendous advantage in laying the gas/oil pipe line from Yunan province, all the way to the Bay of Bengal Port of Kyaukphu. However, media reports indicate that "all is not well" in China-Myanmar relations as the later feels that the former has taken advantage of the situation.


In any case, there are two other developments that are of importance. First refers to the Chinese proposal of Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) Economic corridor, which would covered over 1.65 million square kms and take the interest of 440 million people in that area. This BCIM corridor is expected to run from Kunming, capital of China's Yunan province, which borders Myanmar. This corridor will cover Mandalay, Dhaka, Chittagong and eventually, Kolkata. This may also come up for detailed discussions during the Asean meeting.


The other covers the growing economy and importance of countries nearer to Myanmar, namely, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. These are vibrant and have natural resources and developments involving Myanmar would have rippling effect all round.


What India has to bear in mind is the Chinese plans and development in the region. China has been actively associated with infrastructural development in the Trans-Karakoram Corridor stretching all the way upto Gwader (in Baluchistan), Pakistan, at the entrance of Strait of Hormuz. They also are associated with the Irrawady Corridor involving road, river and rail link from Yunan province, right through in Myanmar, upto the ports of Sittwe and Kyaukphu.


With all these developments happening in and around our areas of interest, it is imperative that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has a strong delegation that should carry out detailed discussions and propose Indian involvement in laying gas pipelines, setting up oil refinery, urea plants, hydro-electric power stations and road building in that country. For its development, Myanmar would need tremendous amount of engineering goods and services, transport equipment and other miscellaneous goods. If need be, India should offer adequate credit facilities and come to buy-back arrangements on many of the items mentioned above.


This November visit to Myanmar is an opportunity that Narendra Modi should not miss.


(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.)



Hari Krishna Dara

2 years ago

Is this accurate?

"$544.66 million and imported $1,412.69 billion worth of goods"

We really imported $1,412,690 million ?


2 years ago

India must do all the good it can, especially where it is mutually beneficial. However it must ensure,through media and PR, that the Burmese do not forget how they were helped.

In Bhutan, India gave lots of aid, educated folks, built many hydel plants with the best knowledge then, managed energy with a buy back guarantee and today BHUTAN gets the credit today for its power surplus.

Same with the fruit orchards India planned and grew in Nepal for the Nepalese.

Today only the Dalai remembers what sacrifices India made to accept Tibetan refugees, educate them, given them land where land and food was scarce.

Same story continues with other refugees like the Parsis, Jews, etc.

Credit where it is due. Indian history texts must include this and ensure all know it.

Pink Ribbon Doesn't Always Indicate A Healthy Buy

Should breast cancer foundations accept cash from companies selling these products?


Pinkwashing, pinkification, pinktober. Whatever you call it, slapping a pink ribbon on a product is big business. It’s called “cause messaging” and it sells – boosting potential revenues by millions, according to at least one study.

But should breast cancer research foundations accept donations from companies selling unhealthy products that could harm the very people they are trying to help? The companies may get a boost from the pink labels, but some say the foundations should be more discerning about the health effects the products could have on consumers, especially those struggling with cancer. Here are five examples of companies that have offered pink ribbon promotions. (UPDATE: And now there is a sixth example. Texas-based Baker Hughes, a fracking company, will be painting and distributing 1,000 hot pink drill bits this month as part of its “Doing out Bit for the Cure” campaign and will donate $100,000 to Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure at the Oct. 26 final Pittsburgh Steelers “pink-out” football game. Fracking, critics point out, is a natural gas and oil drilling process that adds harmful chemicals to water supplies.

Going pink gives caffeinated lemonade highly charged sales boost

Living Essentials announced this month it was going to continue its support for breast cancer awareness for a second year. It first launched its Pink Lemonade 5-Hour ENERGY campaign last year, marketing the drink to women and donating $387,531 to the Avon Foundation for Women. The company renewed its commitment in September, announcing it would donate 5 cents for every sale of a limited edition pink lemonade flavor 5-Hour to support Living Beyond Breast Cancer for a minimum of at least $200,000.

It based its donations last year on sales between the product’s launch and the end of the campaign on Dec. 31, 2012. Demand was so strong that Living Essentials ordered two additional production runs. Living Essentials President Scott Henderson said on the company’s website,

Response to the new flavor and its tie-in to a great cause generated such a great demand for Pink Lemonade 5-hour ENERGY® that two additional production runs had to be ordered.

Living Essentials is under scrutiny by the FDA along with other energy drink companies after reports of 13 deaths within four years and 30 injuries that may be linked to high caffeine levels in the drinks and is facing a class-action lawsuit by consumers over its “no crash” claim.

Continue Reading….

This story was updated on 9/10/2014.

Theresa Sullivan Barger is a Canton, Conn.-based freelance writer specializing in business, environment, and health.



Deadly Force, in Black and White

A ProPublica analysis of killings by police shows outsize risk for young black males


Young black males in recent years were at a far greater risk of being shot dead by police than their white counterparts – 21 times greater i, according to a ProPublica analysis of federally collected data on fatal police shootings.

The 1,217 deadly police shootings from 2010 to 2012 captured in the federal data show that blacks, age 15 to 19, were killed at a rate of 31.17 per million, while just 1.47 per million white males in that age range died at the hands of police.

One way of appreciating that stark disparity, ProPublica's analysis shows, is to calculate how many more whites over those three years would have had to have been killed for them to have been at equal risk. The number is jarring – 185, more than one per week.

ProPublica's risk analysis on young males killed by police certainly seems to support what has been an article of faith in the African American community for decades: Blacks are being killed at disturbing rates when set against the rest of the American population.

Our examination involved detailed accounts of more than 12,000 police homicides stretching from 1980 to 2012 contained in the FBI's Supplementary Homicide Report.


The data, annually self-reported by hundreds of police departments across the country, confirms some assumptions, runs counter to others, and adds nuance to a wide range of questions about the use of deadly police force.

Colin Loftin, University at Albany professor and co-director of the Violence Research Group, said the FBI data is a minimum count of homicides by police, and that it is impossible to precisely measure what puts people at risk of homicide by police without more and better records. Still, what the data shows about the race of victims and officers, and the circumstances of killings, are "certainly relevant," Loftin said.

"No question, there are all kinds of racial disparities across our criminal justice system," he said. "This is one example."

The FBI's data has appeared in news accounts over the years, and surfaced again with the August killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. To a great degree, observers and experts lamented the limited nature of the FBI's reports. Their shortcomings are inarguable.

The data, for instance, is terribly incomplete. Vast numbers of the country's 17,000 police departments don't file fatal police shooting reports at all, and many have filed reports for some years but not others. Florida departments haven't filed reports since 1997 and New York City last reported in 2007. Information contained in the individual reports can also be flawed. Still, lots of the reporting police departments are in larger cities, and at least 1000 police departments filed a report or reports over the 33 years.

There is, then, value in what the data can show while accepting, and accounting for, its limitations. Indeed, while the absolute numbers are problematic, a comparison between white and black victims shows important trends. Our analysis included dividing the number of people of each race killed by police by the number of people of that race living in the country at the time, to produce two different rates: the risk of getting killed by police if you are white and if you are black.

David Klinger, a University of Missouri-St. Louis professor and expert on police use of deadly force, said racial disparities in the data could result from "measurement error," meaning that the unreported killings could alter ProPublica's findings.

However, he said the disparity between black and white teenage boys is so wide, "I doubt the measurement error would account for that."

ProPublica spent weeks digging into the many rich categories of information the reports hold: the race of the officers involved; the circumstances cited for the use of deadly force; the age of those killed.

Who Gets Killed?

The finding that young black men are 21 times as likely as their white peers to be killed by police is drawn from reports filed for the years 2010 to 2012, the three most recent years for which FBI numbers are available.

The black boys killed can be disturbingly young. There were 41 teens 14 years or younger reported killed by police from 1980 to 2012 ii. 27 of them were black iii; 8 were white iv; 4 were Hispanic v and 1 was Asian vi.

That's not to say officers weren't killing white people. Indeed, some 44 percent of all those killed by police across the 33 years were white.

White or black, though, those slain by police tended to be roughly the same age. The average age of blacks killed by police was 30. The average age of whites was 35.

Who is killing all those black men and boys?

Mostly white officers. But in hundreds of instances, black officers, too. Black officers account for a little more than 10 percent of all fatal police shootings. Of those they kill, though, 78 percent were black.

White officers, given their great numbers in so many of the country's police departments, are well represented in all categories of police killings. White officers killed 91 percent of the whites who died at the hands of police. And they were responsible for 68 percent of the people of color killed. Those people of color represented 46 percent of all those killed by white officers.

What were the circumstances surrounding all these fatal encounters?

There were 151 instances in which police noted that teens they had shot dead had been fleeing or resisting arrest at the time of the encounter. 67 percent of those killed in such circumstances were black. That disparity was even starker in the last couple of years: of the 15 teens shot fleeing arrest from 2010 to 2012, 14 were black.

Did police always list the circumstances of the killings? No, actually, there were many deadly shooting where the circumstances were listed as "undetermined." 77 percent of those killed in such instances were black.

Certainly, there were instances where police truly feared for their lives.

Of course, although the data show that police reported that as the cause of their actions in far greater numbers after the 1985 Supreme Court decision that said police could only justify using deadly force if the suspects posed a threat to the officer or others. From 1980 to 1984, "officer under attack" was listed as the cause for 33 percent of the deadly shootings. Twenty years later, looking at data from 2005 to 2009, "officer under attack" was cited in 62 percent xxxvii of police killings.

Does the data include cases where police killed people with something other than a standard service handgun?

Yes, and the Los Angeles Police Department stood out in its use of shotguns. Most police killings involve officers firing handguns xl. But from 1980 to 2012, 714 involved the use of a shotgun xli. The Los Angeles Police Department has a special claim on that category. It accounted for 47 cases xlii in which an officer used a shotgun. The next highest total came from the Dallas Police Department: 14 xliii.

i ProPublica calculated a statistical figure called a risk ratio by dividing the rate of black homicide victims by the rate of white victims. This ratio, commonly used in epidemiology, gives an estimate for how much more at risk black teenagers were to be killed by police officers.Risk ratios can have varying levels of precision, depending on a variety of mathematical factors. In this case, because such shootings are rare from a statistical perspective, a 95 percent confidence interval indicates that black teenagers are at between 10 and 40 times greater risk of being killed by a police officer. The calculation used 2010-2012 population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.







xl Calculated from the "Weapon Used by Offender" variable. Ranked based on frequency of reported shotgun homicides by police agencies.






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