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India: Unarmed man goes berserk on Mumbai-Delhi flight

After passengers overpower an unarmed man who slapped a flight attendant and attempted to storm the cockpit, India ponders a crucial question: How do you say "Let's roll" in Hindi?
An Indian-operated SpiceJet Boeing 737-800 aircraft (foreground) takes off as a British Airways Boeing 747-400 aircraft (background) sits on the tarmac at the international airport in Mumbai on October 1, 2009. (INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty Images)

An unarmed man went berserk on an Air Indigo flight from Mumbai to Delhi on Wednesday, slapping a flight attendant and making a break for the cockpit before he was subdued by crew and passengers. 

Though early reports do not suggest the incident was a planned terrorist attack, 40-year-old Mursalin Sheikh, a bearded man in a pathani suit, according to NDTV, allegedly threatened to bring the plane down. The Times of India reported that Sheikh allegedly shouted "Islamic slogans" during the altercation. 

In case you're planning a quick trip, please note that the mid-air scare follows another close shave on Tuesday, when four aircraft nearly collided above New Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport when one of them misheard instructions from air traffic controllers.

As for Wednesday's dust up:

"This unruly passenger started screaming and also physically assaulted a crew member. The passenger also got violent with co-passengers, and tried to access the forward of the aircraft. IndiGo crew made appropriate announcements and deployed security measures to block access to the front of the aircraft and the front galley," NDTV cites a statement from IndiGo as saying.

Meanwhile, the TOI reports "Male passengers and the crew together pinned Shaikh down" -- which begs the question: How do you say "Let's roll" in Hindi?

Twitter survey says:

"Chalo, ho jaye" - @saltandpepper

"Dhoom machale" - @chai09

"Chalo shuru kare" - @charuhas11

"Aage badho" - @Oberoi_R_US


Nepal: 'Serial killer' leopard may just crave salty snacks

Once wild animals get the taste of salty human blood, they do not like other animals like deer, says Nepal wildlife official
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MASHATU, BOTSWANA - JULY 25: at the Mashatu game reserve on July 25, 2010 in Mashatu game reserve, Botswana. Mashatu is a 46,000 hectare reserve located in Eastern Botswana where the Shashe river and Limpopo river meet. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images) (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

A leopard "serial killer" is stalking Nepal -- where it is believed to have killed and eaten 15 people over the past 15 months.

But according to this report from MSNBC, it's not so bad. It just craves salty snacks.

"Since human blood has more salt than animal blood, once wild animals get the taste of salty blood, they do not like other animals like deer," the report quotes Maheshwor Dhakal of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation in Kathmandu as saying to CNN.

So, does that mean you should cut down on the Fritos? Go get your cholesterol checked? Dhakal's keeping mum.

Other experts, however, suggest our salty goodness is a lesser factor in falling prey to animal attacks than our pesky tendency to build villages and towns in their territory.

Johnny Rodrigues, chairman of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, has told Discovery News that wild animals are often reported as being in urban areas 'possibly because humans are encroaching more and more into areas previously reserved for wildlife, resulting in the destruction of their habitat,'" CNN reports.

Insert cheesey TV kicker here.  (My personal favorite: "Cute chicken.")


Pakistan's Imran Khan pledges to bring 26/11 attackers to justice

Hawkish on US, Khan makes pleasant noises in India but waffles on Lashkar's Hafiz Saeed
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He hasn't made any friends in Washington with his dogged opposition to the US drone attacks in Pakistani territory. But former cricketer Imran Khan--a darkhorse candidate for Pakistan's prime minister as head of the Tereek-e-Insaaf party--made some of the right noises in a freewheeling interview with India's Mail Today newspaper this week.

In town to attend the World Economic Forum being held in Gurgaon, Khan made a measured promise to bring the perpetrators of the 26/11 terrorist attack on Mumbai to justice, saying, "India must understand the legal process takes time, but I will bring the Mumbai perpetrators to justice."

"We have to follow the rule of law."

That said, Pakistan has long delayed action with the argument that it lacks sufficient evidence to convict the alleged planners of the attacks--which India and the US have both alleged includes members of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence spy agency, as well as Lashkar-e-Toiba's Hafiz Saeed. And Khan reportedly waffled when confronted with a pointed question about how he'd handle a potential prosecution of Saeed if he were elected.


India's Dalal St wanted Obama, while Wall St rooted for Romney

Indian analysts cautious about US future due to impending "fiscal cliff"
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Traders on India's Dalal Street were pulling for the re-election of US President Barack Obama, despite Wall Street's liking for challenger Mitt Romney, according to But now that the race has been called for the Democrats, analysts in the US are worried about the impending "fiscal cliff" -- pending legislation that will trigger tax increases and spending cuts to balance the US budget deficit.


India: FinMin says no new taxes on the anvil despite need for cash

Finance Minister Chidambaram "not likely to bring in any kind of additional burden for companies in the form of any kind of tax in the next budget," says official.
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India's government has set itself a difficult task in vowing to keep the fiscal deficit at 5.3% in the current fiscal year and bring it down to 4.8% by 2014 and 3.0% by 2016-17. But Finance Minister P. Chidambaram is "not likely to bring in any kind of additional burden for companies in the form of any kind of tax in the next budget," according to an unnamed official in the finance ministry.

Government sources said the minister is betting on disinvestment in public sector companies and auction of spectrum for telecom firms to raise government revenue, the Hindustan Times reported Wednesday.

“This [deficit to GDP ratio] is a steep target considering the situation on hand, but the government is not likely to bring in any kind of additional burden for companies in the form of any kind of tax in the next Budget,” the paper quoted a finance ministry official as saying, on condition of anonymity.

In recent months, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has increased prices for petrol and diesel fuel to reduce the subsidy the government pays to oil companies, in a bid to move closer to balancing the budget. And a move to institute a Goods and Services Tax (or VAT) is also afoot to try to boost collections and simplify the business environment.

At the same time, however, Singh's Congress Party continues to bank on costly programs like a national employment guarantee scheme and an expansion of food subsidies for the poor to deliver votes in the next election, scheduled for 2014.


India: GM crops set for more obstacles, with 10-year moratorium proposed

As farmers protest against more trials of genetically modified crops, an official committee has suggested a 10-year moratorium
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Cotton is a thirsty plant and parts of India drought-prone. But the intensive farming process for cotton leaches the soil and requires high pesticide and fertiliser use that pollutes further downstream (India cotton 2012 11 6 0/AFP/Getty Images)

Doing business in India is about to get harder for genetically modified seed companies like Monsanto, an article in this week's Tehelka suggests.

According to the magazine, the latest round of farmer protests against trials of new GM crops marks an escalating opposition to the technology -- which some argue has contributed to the high rate of suicides by farmers in India's cotton belt.

"The anti-GM sentiment in the country has grown louder with states such as Bihar, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh banning field trials," Tehelka reports. "Besides, official committees have also recommended discontinuing such trials."

"The latest report, dated 18 October, was submitted by the Technical Expert Committee (TEC) set up by the Supreme Court. A key recommendation is to put a 10-year moratorium on field trials of Bt transgenics in all food crops (meant for direct human consumption) until specific sites for conducting the trials have been marked and certified, and competent monitoring mechanisms put in place," the magazine said.

As GlobalPost reported earlier this year, the third film of San Francisco film-maker Micha X Peled's globalization trilogy blames US agribusiness giant Monsanto for a wave of farmer suicides that has claimed tens of thousands of lives across India's cotton belt.


Is India's showpiece highway a sparkling death trap?

With 4 deaths over the past 5 days, Indians question the safety of Noida expressway
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Indian farmers block traffic on a national highway during a protest against the state and central government at Rayya village some 35 kms from Amritsar on October 5, 2012. (NARINDER NANU/AFP/Getty Images)

With four traffic deaths over the past five days, one of India's first modern expressways is facing new scrutiny.

According to the Times of India, the 23.6 km stretch of highway linking Noida and Greater Noida, on Delhi's eastern border, has been racking up accident statistics in its first decade of operations, even as the main developer of the area pushes its vision of an India linked by superhighways further east to the home of the Taj Mahal with the recently opened Yamuna Expressway.

As GlobalPost reported earlier this year, the Yamuna Expressway promises to transform the towns and cities along the route between New Delhi and Agra. Its planners project that the promise of speedy travel will draw multinational firms like Honda, Daewoo, and Samsung — which already have factories in a township outside New Delhi called Greater Noida — deeper into Uttar Pradesh. And, in a country plagued by woefully inadequate infrastructure, the project could well transform the economy of India's most populous state, and one of its least developed.

But the death toll is already mounting, as these high-speed thoroughfares continue to be used by slow-moving vehicles such as tractors and 75-100 cc motorbikes, according to the Times of India.

In the past five months, around 20 people have lost their lives on the Gautam Budh Expressway, as the stretch between Noida and Greater Noida is officially called.

"The expressway lacks emergency services like fire stations, tow trucks and ambulance services. The stretch has just two PCR vans, one at both ends — Mahamaya flyover in Noida and Pari Chowk in Greater Noida," TOI writes.


India: US silence leaves India guessing about its post-poll fate

Left out of rhetoric, India must wait and see how next US president treats Iran sanctions, Af-Pak withdrawal, and climate change, says Sumit Ganguly
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It's not surprising that India hasn't figured much in the US election campaign, Indiana University Professor Sumit Ganguly writes in Monday's Deccan Chronicle newspaper. But the poll silence nevertheless leaves India guessing about what the next president's moves will be on India's possible role in post-war Afghanistan, climate change negotiations that could limit India's economic growth and US oil sanctions against Iran that could further limit India's energy supply.

Though outsourcing was a political football in the early stages of the 2012 campaign, as it was in 2008 at the beginning of the economic crisis, Ganguly argues that India's IT services industry has nothing to worry about.

"Once in office, however, [outsourcing] was not a subject that [Obama's] administration returned to with any vigor," Ganguly notes. "Nevertheless his campaign rhetoric had caused much concern to Indian policymakers as well as the titans of Indian commerce and industry."


India closely watching Indian origin candidates in US polls

6 Indian-origin candidates have India closely watching this US election
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Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal speaks with employees in the oil and gas industry about U.S. President Obama`s moratorium on Deep Water Drilling on June 10, 2010 in Houma, Louisiana. Jindal is one of only two Indian-Americans have been elected to the US Congress. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Six Indian-origin candidates have India closely watching this US election, as India's diaspora continues to grow in influence in America.

According to India's DNA newspaper, Dr Ami Bera, the Democratic Party candidate from California's seventh Congressional District, has the best chance of winning a Congressional seat out of the six Indian-Americans vying for a seat in the House of Representatives.

So far, only two Indian-Americans have been elected to the US Congress. Dalip Singh Saund was the first Indian-American elected to the House of Representatives in 1950s, while Bobby Jindal, now the Louisiana Governor, was the second, DNA noted.


India: New web site tracks green clearances

India's Center for Science and Environment launches website to clear "grey haze, marred by non-transparency and half-truths."
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In the wake of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's call for $1 trillion in infrastructure investment "at all costs," the Center for Science and Environment (CSE) launched a new website designed to refute claims that the environmental clearance regime is slowing India's economic growth.

The site features a slick map that identifies the locations of industrial sites by categories, including thermal power plants, cement plants, iron & steel facilities, bauxite mines, and so forth. There is also a database that is searchable on various different parameters, which should make it easier for journalists and researchers to crunch numbers on India's environmental performance.

As GlobalPost reported earlier this year, CSE and various environmental journalists and activists have long maintained that it is a rank falsehood that green clearances have held up development. 

The new website should provide valuable new data.