The South Asia Channel

India Tops World Bank’s Growth Outlook for First Time; Bomb Attack on Afghan News Agency; Deadly Week for Quetta Police Force

India Tops World Bank’s Growth Outlook for First Time; Bomb Attack on Afghan News Agency; Deadly Week for Quetta Police Force

Film Screening: “The Sky Below,” Monday, June 15, 5:15 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. (NewAmerica)


India tops World Bank’s growth outlook for the first time

World Bank Group’s latest Global Economic Prospects (GEP) report released on June 10 puts India at the top of the growth chart of major economies (LiveMint, Reuters, IBT). Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of World Bank Kaushik Basu said: “With an expected growth of 7.5 percent this year, India is, for the first time, leading the World Bank’s growth chart of major economies.” According to the report China is likely to grow at 7.1 percent. The Bank expects developing countries to witness a rise in growth to 5.2 percent in 2016 and 5.4 percent in 2017. The report indicated that falling crude oil prices has lowered the risks for the Indian economy, as the country meets its oil needs significantly from imports.

Police investigate alleged murder of a journalist burnt to death in Uttar Pardesh

Police in the northern state of Uttar Pardesh are investigating the alleged murder of a local journalist Jagendra Singh, who recently published a story accusing a ruling party politician, Ram Murti Singh Verma, of corruption (BBC, Guardian). Singh died on Monday, a week after he was allegedly set on fire by Verma’s associates. Singh’s family claims that Verma and a group of policemen assaulted the 42-year-old journalist at his home, doused him with petrol, and set him on fire. The journalist’s son, Raghvendra Singh said it was not the first time his father was assaulted after accusing the minister of involvement in illegal mining and land-grabbing in the state. On the other hand a local police official claimed that Singh had “committed suicide” when the police arrived at his house in Shahjahanpur district to “arrest him” in connection with another case. Amnesty International has urged the government of Uttar Pradesh to launch an independent investigation into the incident.

Nestle India petitions against ban on Maggi noodles

On Thursday, Nestle India filed a petition in Mumbai High Court challenging a ban imposed by the country’s food safety regulator, The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), on its popular snack, Maggi noodles (BBC, LiveMint, IBT). FSSAI holds that tests have found instant noodles “unsafe and hazardous” and has accused Nestle of failing to comply with food safety laws. Nestle announced that it is seeking a judicial review of the order, insisting that the noodles are completely safe. The company has also raised issues of interpretation of the Food Safety and Standards Act 2011. Earlier this month FSSAI asked Nestle India to “stop further production, processing, import, distribution and sale” of all nine variants of Maggi immediately. Last week, Nestle began withdrawing the Maggi brand from stores, after regulators said they found higher than allowed levels of lead in some packets. Maggi’s instant 2 minute noodles are an extremely popular snack in India and are an extremely valuable source for revenue for Nestle India.

India’s first indigenously built aircraft carrier undocked at Kochi

India’s first indigenously built aircraft carrier INS Vikrant was undocked on Wednesday at Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL) in the southwestern port city of Kochi (IndiaToday, Hindu, Diplomat). CSL officials say the vessel will be undergoing an extensive testing phase before being inducted into the naval fleet. The 260 metre (853 feet) ship was designed by the Indian Navy’s Directorate of Naval Design and has two take-off runways and a landing strip with three arrester wires, as well as a range of helicopters with hangar facilities.


Bomb attack on Afghan news agency

A bomb exploded at an office of Afghanistan’s main news agency, Pajhwok Afghan News, in Jalalabad on Thursday, wounding two people and causing damage to the building (Reuters, Pajhwok, TOLO). No group claimed responsibility for the attack, but its editor-in-chief, Danish Karokhil, said militants had threatened the agency in the past. “We have received threats and letters from insurgents from time to time when they were not happy about our stories and coverage of incidents,” Karokhil told Reuters. A spokesman for the provincial governor said police were investigating and it was not clear why the agency was attacked.

Ghani appoints four senior advisors

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani announced on Thursday the appointment of four senior presidential palace advisors (TOLO, Pajhwok). According to a statement by his office, Juma Khan Hamdard has been appointed security advisor, Qudbuddin Hilal adviser for peace affairs, Mohammad Akram Akhpalwak as health affairs adviser, and Khalid Farooq as the internal affairs adviser. Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah also has advisors, five in total.


Deadly week for Quetta police force

Eight police were killed in Pakistan’s western city of Quetta this week, making it the deadliest week for the force in nearly two years (Reuters). On Thursday, gunmen shot dead four police in the Pashtoonabad area of the city when unidentified assailants opened fire on a police vehicle (Dawn). Four more police were killed in the same area on Saturday while on a routine patrol. “It was first time that eight police men have been killed by armed men in just one week,” said Quetta police chief, Abdul Razzak Cheema. “One of the police got down from the police pickup and tried to retaliate, but was killed on the spot.”

Also on Thursday, a Taliban suicide bomber killed two police and seriously wounded six others when he crashed his explosive-laden motorcycle into a police motorcade in the northwestern city of Peshawar (AP). Mohammad Khurasani, a spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility for that attack.

EU calls for reinstatement of moratorium

The European Union (EU) on Thursday expressed concern over increasing executions in Pakistan and demanded the government reinstate the death penalty moratorium (Dawn, ET). A statement released by an EU spokesperson said that at least 150 people have been executed across the country since December 2014, when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif lifted the moratorium on capital punishment. “This represents a major step backwards in Pakistan’s record on human rights, as per the European Union which has been opposed to capital punishment in all cases and has consistently called for its universal abolition,” the statement said.

— Shuja Malik and Emily Schneider

Edited by Peter Bergen