Seeking to work aggressively to secure its aim of energy security, India has decided to formally join the strategic U.S.-backed $3.5 billion Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project this week. Before leaving for Pakistan on Tuesday afternoon, Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister, Murli Deora told journalists here that the Indian delegation was going to Pakistan to sign the agreement for the TAPI pipeline at the invitation of the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

More than 70 international climate scientists met in Kathmandu earlier this month to begin the tricky scientific

The United States is working with international donors to realise supply of electricity from energy-rich Central Asian region to Afghanistan and Pakistan, a senior US official said Tuesday. Richard Boucher, the top US official for South Asia, told a Congressional hearing that trade in electricity can benefit both sides, providing "much-needed energy to South Asia and serving as a major source of future revenue for the countries of Central Asia."

The Sulabh toilets are located in five of the most congested areas of Kabul. They are an important contribution to Kabul's non-existent sanitary facilities.

Dr BK Mukhopadhyay

A deadly new and virulent fungus capable of affecting wheat crop has been detected in Iran, a major cereal growing area in West Asia. The fungus was previously found in East Africa and Yemen and has now moved to Iran, according to Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). The fungus is capable of destroying entire fields of wheat crop. The report could further push up global wheat prices by at least 10-15 per cent. In the spot retail market, wheat prices have surged by 40 per cent in last one year on global shortage. Countries such as Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, all major wheat producers, are most threatened by the fungus and should be on high alert as the fungus can travel to these areas thus affecting the entire output, FAO said. It is estimated that as much as 80 per cent of all wheat varieties planted in Asia and Africa are susceptible to the wheat stem rust (Puccinia graminis). The spores of wheat rust are mostly carried by wind over long distances and across continents. "The detection of the fungus in Iran is very worrisome,' said Shivaji Pandey, director of FAO's plant production and protection division. According to the Iran government, the fungus has been detected in some localities in Broujerd and Hamedan in western Iran. Laboratory tests have confirmed the presence of the fungus. The fungus first emerged in Uganda in 1999 and is therefore called Ug99. The wind-borne transboundary pest subsequently spread to Kenya and Ethiopia. In 2007, an FAO mission confirmed for the first time that Ug99 has affected wheat fields in Yemen. The Ug99 strain found in Yemen was more virulent than the one found in East Africa. Ethiopia and Kenya had serious wheat rust epidemics in 2007 with considerable yield losses. Global wheat production is estimated at 603 million tonnes in 2007, up 1.2 per cent from 2006. In Asia, the output is estimated to rise by 1.7 per cent to 928 million tonnes in 2007 compared with 912.6 million tonnes last year. Global wheat prices have strengthened since December. Tight export supplies amid strong demand continued to provide support to cereal markets. International grain prices benefited from the weak US dollar, which increases the demand for the US wheat, and a sharp decline in freight rates, which helped accelerating purchasing activities by several countries in recent weeks. Export restrictions by China and the Russian Federation coupled with the closure of the export registry in Argentina also provided support.

Munich: India on Sunday said it faces threats from countries that are "authoritarian, anti-democratic and anti-secular' and voiced concern over d a n g e r s posed by nu cl e a r weapons in the hands of "volatile states', in an apparent reference to Pakistan. Highlighting South Asia's security challenges, national security adviser MK Narayanan pointed out that South Asia has been a "source' as well as a "destination' of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and said it was a matter of concern if proper steps were not put in place.

The South Asia Media Commission has declared 2007 a very difficult year for South Asian journalists. The year saw 25 journalists and media workers getting killed in the line of duty. Besides, the

Although postconflict Afghanistan has some of the worst health indicators in theworld, the government is working hard to rebuild the health infrastructure, extend services to underserved areas and improve the quality of health services. An outbreak of cholera that struck Kabul and spread nationwide in 2005, prompted a collaborative response from the Afghan Ministry of Public Health, partner agencies, and the system established to
provide the Basic Package of Health Services, of which diarrhoeal disease control is an essential component.This

afghan debt relief