Brunei (Brunei Darussalam) is an Islamic sultanate located on the northern coast of the island of Kalimantan (Borneo) facing the South China Sea. It is divided into two sections, separated by territory (the Limbang Valley) of the state of Sarawak, Malaysia. The Sultan, His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, is concurrently the prime minister, defense minister, finance minister, and head of religion (Islam) for the country. In the tradition of Islamic sultanates, the government of Brunei is autocratic and is classified as an absolute monarchy.
The Sultanate of Brunei was a major power in the region from the 15th to the 17th centuries, including control over the current Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak and north beyond the Sulu Sea. After conflicts with Spain and attacks by pirates, the Sultan eventually gave much of the country (mainly Sarawak) to the Scottish adventurer James Brooke in 1841. Brooke established a raj in Sarawak and installed himself as a “white rajah.” Brunei also began ceding territory to Great Britain and eventually became a British protectorate in 1888.
Brunei was occupied by the Japanese during World War II and returned to its British protectorate status in 1945. Brunei was invited to become a part of Malaysia when it was formed in 1963 but refused, mainly on economic grounds, not wanting to grant control to Kuala Lumpur of its extensive oil and natural gas resources. It regained full independence again in 1984, at which time it joined the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), and the United Nations.
Brunei has a legislative council but its members are appointed and it has only token power with regard to approving the budget. There is a constitution but it was suspended after an armed rebellion in 1962. When the legislative council was reactivated in 2004, a number of direct restrictions were placed on it by the Sultan. Individual rights remain limited and Freedom House classifies press status as “Not Free.”
The economy of Brunei is built around oil and natural gas, which account for more than half of gross domestic product (GDP) and more than 90 percent of exports. The discovery of oil at Seria in 1929 has resulted in development in the country that has kept it ahead of all other Southeast Asian countries except Singapore. It has one of the world’s largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) plants. Roughly 90 percent of the LNG produced is sold to Japan. In 2008 cooperation with China in the development of Brunei fisheries was undertaken. Recently, South Korea has also become a major customer. With a per capita GDP of more than US$25,100 (PPP $51,000), Brunei is on a par with the European Union at US$26,300. Life expectancy is more than 75.5 years and the infant mortality rate is low at less than 13 per 1000 live births. An indicator of modern prosperity is the low fertility rate of 1.94.
Brunei has considerable ethnic divisions, with distinct separations between Barunay (including the Sultan and his family line), Iban, Dayak, and other Malays (roughly 60 percent together), plus substantial numbers of Chinese (14 percent), Indians (6 percent), British (10 percent), and Koreans (9 percent). Citizenship is strictly controlled in favor of Malays, with many Chinese having registration documents but no citizenship. The Chinese and South Asians are a commanding presence in the economy, far outweighing their numbers, while the Malays are heavily represented in government service and in agriculture. The numbers of Chinese in the country may be undercounted.
Vestiges of Brunei’s empire remain in its border and island disputes with Malaysia and its claims against China and others in the Spratly Islands. Sea bottom exploration for oil, natural gas, and other minerals continues to be critical to Brunei’s economic future.
- BP USA, Brunei: Country Study Guide (International Business Publications, 2008);
- Economist Intelligence Unit, “Brunei Country Report” (June 2008);
- H. Hickling, A Prince of Borneo (Graham Brash, 1985);
- Saunders, A History of Brunei (Oxford University Press, 1994);
- S. Ranjit Singh, Brunei 1839–1983: The Problems of Political Survival (Oxford University Press, 1991);
- Third Point Systems, Brunei: A Strategic Assessment (1985).
BSE Sensex Index (Bombay Stock Exchange)
The BSE Sensitive Index (Sensex) is a value-weighted index tracking the performance of 30 stocks on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE).
The Bombay Stock Exchange was established in 1875, and in the 21st century it lists more stocks (4,700) than any other exchange in the world. By market capitalization, it is the 10th-largest exchange in the world, and the largest in south Asia. The Sensex was first compiled in 1986, using 1978–79 as its base year, with a starting value of 100 points. The inflation-adjusted rate of return since its base year has been about 9 percent per annum. The index passed the 1,000 point mark in July 1990, doubling in the next year and a half, doubling again in the following two months to pass 4,000 points on March 30, 1992. Growth has been steady, though slower, since then.
Like stock exchanges worldwide, the BSE has suffered from the American subprime mortgage crisis and related credit crisis. The 10 worst single-day falls in the BSE’s history all date from 2006 on; most were in 2008. The Sensex was volatile all through that period, experiencing not only its worst falls but its most rapid climbs, with the three fastest 1,000point climbs in the index’s history occurring in the autumn of 2007.
The 30 stocks tracked by the Sensex are the largest and most traded stocks on the exchange, accounting for about one-fifth of the market capitalization of the huge exchange. As of the beginning of 2009, the 30 stocks on the BSE Sensex are:
- Associated Cement Companies Limited, a Mumbai cement company operated by the Swiss corporation Holcim.
- Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited, India’s largest infrastructure and energy-related manufacturing company.
- Bharti Airtel, the largest cellular service provider in India.
- DLF India, India’s largest real estate developer.
- Grasim Industries, a textile manufacturer that expanded into building materials and chemicals.
- Housing Development Finance Corporation (HDFC), a bank focused on home mortgages.
- HDFC Bank Limited, a commercial bank opened by HDFC after India began allowing private sector banks in 1994.
- Hindalco Industries, an aluminum manufacturer.
- Hindustan Unilever, India’s largest consumer products company, a majority stake of which is owned by the Anglo-Dutch company Unilever.
- ICICI Bank, formerly Industrial Credit and Investment Corporation of India, India’s largest private bank.
- Infosys Technologies Limited, a multinational IT company headquartered in Bangalore.
- ITC Limited, formerly Imperial Tobacco Company, one of the country’s most profitable companies, a conglomerate dealing in everything from cigarettes to hotels to greeting cards.
- Jaiprakash Associates, a housing industry company.
- Larsen and Toubro, a diversified Indian conglomerate with major holdings in construction.
- Mahindra & Mahindra Limited, a conglomerate with operations in IT, infrastructure, automotive, financial services, and farm equipment.
- Maruti Suzuki, one of the largest automobile manufacturers in South Asia.
- National Thermal Power Corporation, the largest power company in the country.
- Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, the company responsible for most of India’s natural gas and oil production.
- Ranbaxy Laboratories Limited, the country’s largest pharmaceutical company.
- Reliance Communications, a telecommunications company.
- Reliance Industries, a large conglomerate with holdings in petroleum, clothing, and fresh food.
- Reliance Infrastructure, a large power company.
- Satyam Computer Services, an IT company.
- State Bank of India, the nation’s largest bank.
- Sterlite Industries, a metals and mining group.
- Tata Consultancy Services, a software and consulting company.
- Tata Motors, a vehicle manufacturer.
- Tata Power, an electricity company with a focus in hydroelectric power.
- Tata Steel, the world’s fifth-largest steel company.
- Wipro, an IT company.
- Gurcharan Das, India Unbound: The Social and Economic Revolution from Independence to the Global Information Age (Anchor, 2002);
- Arvind Panagariya, India: The Emerging Giant (Oxford University Press, 2008);
- Jorge Dige Pedersen, Globalization, Development, and the State: The Performance of India and Brazil Since 1990 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008);
- Robert J. Shiller, Irrational Exuberance (Broadway Books, 2006).
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