September 24, 2004

Asia Brief

India and Pakistan are to hold preliminary talks in New York today while the two countries' leaders are attending the U.N. General Assembly. It will be newly elected Prime Minister Singh's first chance to meet General Musharraf.

Iran offers western nations the opportunity to invest in its nuclear energy plans, with rich contracts on offer for European nations, and even the U.S. The Iranians would apparently prefer the safer and more sophisticated technology available from western European contractors over Russia's, with whom they are prepared to spend $1 billion. The offer includes wider cooperation on terrorism and regional stability, and a variety of assurances that the technology is intended solely for peaceful use.

Afghanistan's poppy crop expected to be up 40% this year. Bush said he'd create jobs and growth, but I guess we should have insisted that he be more specific about where.

The Indian city of Bangalore is having its infrastructure stressed beyond capacity by the rapid influx of technology firms. Companies are complaining about the poor roads, sporadic electricity, and lack of government interest in improving the quality of life in the area. One returnee from the U.S. blames the situation on voter apathy and a lack of civic spirit in the public, and has set up a grassroots organization with the aim of turning things around.

Poor Nepalese villagers are being preyed on by organ sharks who convince them to donate kidneys for money, generally without paying them the promised amount, and leaving them ignorant of how to take care of the kidney they have left.

Korea set to crackdown on prostitution, a growth industry representing 4% of their GDP. New legislation passed to accompany the public announcement deals with human trafficking, makes brothel owners and traffickers liable, and changes the status of sex workers from criminal to victim. The author of the article suggests that the endeavor will fizzle out quickly and without lasting impact, in spite of the fanfare, because there are few other avenues in Korean society for women without university degrees to find suitable jobs.

India's Sikh parliament has re-elected a president suspected of killing her own daughter.

Posted by natasha at September 24, 2004 05:17 AM | International | Technorati links |