We're about to spend [$10 billion on fighters. Why are we boosting employment in France, or more specifically, Dassault?
India's decision to buy 126 French-made Rafale fighter jets for its air force in a colossal 7.9 billion Euro deal, has understandably made headline news in France with a discreet popping of champagne corks, not just at Dassault Aviation, the makers of the plane, but within President Sarkozy's entourage and his Conservative UMP Party. This French victory over the rival Eurofighter Typhoon (made by EADS and financed by a four-nation consortium that includes Britain, Germany, Spain and Italy) comes at a crucial time for the French President who is facing a difficult re-election bid in May 2012. With less than 15 weeks of campaigning left and extremely poor ratings, Mr. Sarkozy, who in the past has described himself as his country's “top salesman” is likely to milk the deal for all it is worth. Serge Dassault, the Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation is a right-wing Senator and member of the ruling conservative UMP Party. He is also one of Mr. Sarkozy's most ardent supporters and uses his right-wing daily, Le Figaro, to further the President's cause. Both men are probably enjoying a rare moment of quiet victory before the fraught campaign weeks that lie ahead. France had almost given up hope of ever selling its hugely expensive technological marvel. Rafale in French means gale, gust or squall and an acerbic scribe once remarked that the cash-guzzling Rafale programme was more of a tornado than a gale, sucking up a massive chunk of the defence ministry's budget. Had the deal not gone through, Dassault Aviation, which has been experiencing significant financial difficulties, would have been obliged to stop the Rafale programme altogether. In its 26-year-old history, France has been incapable of selling a single plane outside its own frontiers. Defence Minister Gerard Longuet said last December after the nth prospective buyer opted out of bidding for the plane that if no foreign buyer could be found to underwrite the programme, he would have no choice but to scrap Rafale.
And who's going to fly them? Not many women pilots, perhaps.
NEW DELHI: It's official - India is the most dangerous place in the world to be a baby girl. Newly released data shows that an Indian girl child aged 1-5 years is 75% more likely to die than an Indian boy, making this the worst gender differential in child mortality for any country in the world. --- Infant (0-1 years) and child (1-5 years) mortality are declining in India and across the world, though not as fast as was hoped in India. Simultaneously, most of the world is experiencing a faster fall in female infant and child mortality than in male, on account of well established biological factors which make girls better survivors of early infancy given equal access to resources. The world's two most populous countries, however, buck this trend. Newly released United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs ( UN-DESA) data for 150 countries over 40 years shows that India and China are the only two countries in the world where female infant mortality is higher than male infant mortality in the 2000s. In China, there are 76 male infant deaths for every 100 female infant deaths compared with 122 male infant deaths for every 100 female infant deaths in the developing world as a whole. The released data has found that India has a better infant mortality sex ratio than China, with 97 male infant deaths for every 100 female, but this is still not in tune with the global trend, or with its neighbours Sri Lanka (125) or Pakistan (120). When it comes to the child mortality sex ratio, however, India is far and away the world's worst. In the 2000s, there were 56 male child deaths for every 100 female, compared with 111 in the developing world. This ratio has got progressively worse since the 1970s in India, even as Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Egypt and Iraq improved.
What a strange world to live in.