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Bolivia suspends airline as Colombian crash probe points to lack of fuel | Reuters

By Daniel Ramos and Fredy Builes

LA PAZ/MEDELLIN, Colombia Bolivian authorities on Thursday suspended the license of a tiny charter airline whose plane crashed in Colombia this week after apparently running out of fuel, killing 71 people and wiping out a Brazilian football team on its way to a regional cup final.Monday night’s disaster sent shock waves across the global football community and plunged Latin America’s largest nation, Brazil, into mourning as it reels from a deep recession and political crisis. The small Chapecoense team was travelling to the biggest game in its history, the final of the Copa Sudamericana.Colombian investigators said the crash might have resulted from lack of fuel on the plane operated by charter airline LAMIA Bolivia. Freddy Bonilla, secretary of airline security at Colombia’s aviation authority, said investigators combing the crash site on a wooded hillside outside of Medellin found no traces of fuel in the wreckage of the BAe 146 made by Britain’s BAE Systems Plc (BAES.L). Air traffic control at Medellin airport asked the LAMIA pilot to wait while another flight made an emergency landing. International flight regulations require aircraft to carry enough reserve fuel to fly for 30 minutes after reaching their destination. “In this case, sadly, the aircraft did not have enough fuel to meet the regulations for contingency,” Bonilla said. Bolivia said on Thursday that it was immediately suspending LAMIA’s operation certificate and would replace the management of its aviation authority in the wake of the crash, to ensure a transparent investigation. It said the moves implied no wrongdoing. LAMIA Chief Executive Officer Gustavo Vargas on Wednesday said the plane had been correctly inspected before departure and should have had enough fuel for about 4-1/2 hours.”It’s a decision that the pilot makes,” Vargas told reporters in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. “Weather conditions influence a lot, but he had alternatives in Bogota in case of a fuel deficiency.”

A crackling recording obtained by Colombian media of Bolivian pilot Miguel Quiroga’s final words showed he told the control tower at Medellin’s airport that the plane was “in total failure, total electrical failure, without fuel.” He requested urgent permission to land, and then the audio went silent. BRAZIL GRIEVES
In the football club’s small farming hometown of Chapeco in southern Brazil, workers on Thursday erected temporary structures in the stadium to shelter the coffins of 51 victims – players, staff and journalists – expected to arrive back on Friday for an open-air wake.

Some 100,000 fans, about half the city’s population, were expected to attend, as were Brazilian President Michel Temer and Gianni Infantino, president of world football governing body FIFA.On Wednesday night, when the Copa Sudamericana final had been scheduled, tens of thousands of fans assembled in tribute at Chapecoense’s arena and the stadium in Medellin of rival team Atletico Nacional. “We Brazilians will never forget the way in which Colombians have felt as their own the pain of this terrible disaster that ended the historic dream of Chapecoense,” Foreign Minister Jose Serra told the crowds in Medellin.Fox Sports Brasil, which lost six of its journalists in the crash, broadcast 90 minutes of a black screen in the time slot of Wednesday’s game.

A spokesman for Britain’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch said an inspector for the agency and Colombian officials would transport the aircraft’s black boxes back to the United Kingdom, where the information will be downloaded.Only six on board the flight survived: three Chapecoense team members, a journalist and two Bolivian crew members.Some have wondered why Chapecoense used the charter company instead of a commercial airline. Club Vice President Luiz Antonio Palaoro said LAMIA had a track record of transporting football teams around South America, and it had used the airline before. “We are dealing with the humanitarian aspect of the families and the victims,” Palaoro told reporters in Chapeco. “After that, we are going to have to think about restructuring the team and also the appropriate legal measures.”Among surviving players, goalkeeper Jackson Follmann’s right leg was amputated, while defender Helio Neto was in intensive care with severe trauma to his skull, thorax and lungs. Fellow defender Alan Ruschel had spinal surgery. Two of the Bolivian flight crew, Ximena Suarez and Erwin Tumiri, were bruised but not in critical condition, while journalist Rafael Valmorbida was treated in intensive care for multiple rib fractures that partly collapsed a lung. (Reporting by Daniel Ramos in La Paz, Brad Haynes in Chapeco, Julia Symmes Cobb in Medellin, Anthony Boadle in Brasilia, Helen Murphy in Bogota and Tim Hepher in Paris; Writing by Helen Murphy in Bogota and Daniel Flynn in Sao Paulo; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Lisa Von Ahn)

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First Published On : Dec 1, 2016 23:36 IST

Football plane in Colombia crash was running out of fuel – recording | Reuters

By Julia Symmes Cobb and Brad Haynes
| LA UNION, Colombia/CHAPECO, Brazil

LA UNION, Colombia/CHAPECO, Brazil The plane that crashed in Colombia virtually wiping out an entire Brazilian football team was running out of fuel, had no electrical power, and was preparing for an emergency landing, according to the pilot’s final words.The disaster on Monday night killed 71 people and sent shock waves round the global football world. Only six on board the LAMIA Bolivia charter flight survived, including three of the Chapecoense football squad en route to the biggest game in their history: the Copa Sudamericana final.”Miss, LAMIA 933 is in total failure, total electrical failure, without fuel,” Bolivian pilot Miguel Quiroga was heard telling the control tower operator at Medellin’s airport on the crackly audio played by Colombian media.”Fuel emergency, Miss,” he added, requesting urgent permission to land. That matched the account from the co-pilot of an Avianca plane flying close by at the time. He said he overheard the LAMIA plane reporting it was out of fuel and had to land.”Mayday mayday … Help us get to the runway … Help, help,” Juan Sebastian Upegui described the LAMIA pilot as saying in an audio message also played by local media. “Then it ended … We all started to cry.”The BAe 146, made by BAE Systems Plc (BAES.L), slammed into a mountainside next to La Union town outside Medellin. Besides the three players, a journalist and two crew members survived.One survivor, Bolivian flight technician Erwin Tumiri, said he only saved himself by strict adherence to security procedure, while others panicked.”Many passengers got up from their seats and started yelling,” he told Colombia’s Radio Caracol. “I put the bag between my legs and went into the foetal position as recommended.”Bolivian flight attendant Ximena Suarez, another survivor, said the lights went out less than a minute before the plane slammed into the mountain, according to Colombian officials in Medellin. Of the players, goalkeeper Jackson Follmann was recovering from the amputation of his right leg, doctors said. Another player, defender Helio Neto, remained in intensive care with severe trauma to his skull, thorax and lungs.

Fellow defender Alan Ruschel had spinal surgery. Suarez and Tumiri were shaken and bruised but not in critical condition, medical staff said, while journalist Rafael Valmorbida was in intensive care for multiple rib fractures that partly collapsed a lung.INVESTIGATING THE CRASH
Investigators from Brazil have joined Colombian counterparts to check two black boxes from the crash site on a muddy hillside in wooded highlands near the town of La Union.Bolivia, where LAMIA is based, and the United Kingdom also sent experts to help the probe. The plane “came over my house, but there was no noise,” said Nancy Munoz, 35, who grows strawberries in the area. “The engine must have gone.” Some have questioned why Chapecoense used the charter company instead of a commercial airline and why the plane did not have enough fuel for the roughly five-hour flight.

The club’s vice president, Luiz Antonio Palaoro, said LAMIA had a track-record of transporting football teams around South America and it had used the airline previously. “We are dealing with the humanitarian aspect of the families and the victims,” Palaoro told reporters in Chapeco. “After that, we are going to have to think about restructuring the team and also in the appropriate legal measures.”Rescuers have recovered all of the bodies, which are to be sent to Brazil and Bolivia. All of the crew members were Bolivian.Forty-five of the bodies have been identified, Colombian officials said.Since there was no fire on board, bodies are being identified by fingerprints, Julio Bitelli, Brazil’s ambassador to Colombia, told Reuters.”There’s no need for family members to come,” he said. “If they want to come, that’s an individual decision that we respect, and we will give all the support needed.”

He said returning the bodies to Brazil was complicated by the number of victims, but air force planes were ready to take them from Medellin direct to Chapeco, in remote southern Brazil.Soccer-mad Brazil declared three days of mourning. It was a bitter twist to a fairy-tale story for Chapecoense. Since 2009, the team rose from Brazil’s fourth to top division and was about to play the biggest match in its history in the first leg of the regional cup final in Medellin. Global football greats from Lionel Messi to Pele sent condolences.In the small city of Chapecó in remote southern Brazil, black and green ribbons were draped on fences, balconies and restaurant tables. Schools cancelled classes, and businesses closed.”It’s a miracle,” Flavio Ruschel, the father of Alan Ruschel, told Globo News as he prepared to fly to Colombia. “I don’t think I’ll be able to speak, just hug him and cry a lot.”Black banners hung from a cathedral downtown and wrapped around a 14-meter statue of one of the town’s founding explorers.Outside the team’s Conda stadium, a group of hardcore fans put up a tent and promised to keep vigil until the bodies of their idols returned to the city.”We were there for them in victory, and we’re here for them in tragedy, rain or shine,” said fan Caua Regis. “Like family.” The club is planning an open wake at their stadium, a city official said.A homage was also planned for later on Wednesday at the stadium in Medellin of Atletico Nacional, which had been due to play Chapecoense in the regional final in the evening.The Colombian team wants the trophy to be given to Chapecoense in honour of the dead. “As far as we are concerned,” the team said, “Chapecoense will forever be the champions of the Copa Sudamericana Cup 2016.” (Writing by Helen Murphy and Andrew Cawthorne; Additional reporting by Anthony Boadle and Daniel Flynn in Brazil; Editing by Kieran Murray, Lisa Von Ahn and Lisa Shumaker)

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First Published On : Dec 1, 2016 05:01 IST

Narendra Modi seeks public opinion on demonetisation after Parliament outrages over his absence


Hamilton wins to take title battle down to the wire | Reuters

Hamilton wins to take title battle down to the wire | Reuters

Updated: Nov 13, 2016 19:34 IST


SAO PAULO Triple world champion Lewis Hamilton won a stop-start, wet and chaotic Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday to take his Formula One title battle with Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg down to the wire in Abu Dhabi.The Briton’s third win in a row from pole position and first in Brazil left him 12 points behind Rosberg, who finished second, with the pair both on nine victories each for the season.Rosberg need now only finish third in two weeks’ time to clinch his first title, even if Hamilton wins again.

In a crash-filled thriller that was twice stopped and re-started, with five safety car periods and lengthy delays, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen finished third with a sensational performance in the wet.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin; Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes)

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First Published On : Nov 13, 2016 19:34 IST

Embraer deal scam: CBI registers FIR against UK-based arms dealer

New Delhi: CBI has registered an FIR against a UK-based arms dealer for allegedly taking kickbacks worth over USD 5.70 million from Brazilian company Embraer in the 2008 three-aircraft deal.

CBI sources said a case has been registered against a UK-based NRI whose named had also figured in another defence deal probed by the agency.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

They said the kickbacks were allegedly paid in 2009 through subsidiaries of Embraer via a Singapore-based company which is owned by the middleman.

It is alleged that payoffs were routed through Austria and Switzerland.

They said the agency, which had registered a preliminary enquiry in September, has converted it into a regular FIR as enough prima facie material has been found by it to proceed in the case.

The deal for three aircraft which were to be used by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for air-borne radar systems was inked in 2008 with Embraer.

A Brazilian newspaper had alleged that that the company had taken the services of middlemen to clinch deals in Saudi Arabia and India.

According to defence procurement rules of India, middlemen are strictly barred in such deals.

Leading Brazilian newspaper ‘Folha de Sao Paulo‘ had reported that the company allegedly paid commissions to a UK-based defence agent to finalise the deal with India.

DRDO had purchased three aircraft from the company in 2008 and customized them for serving are air-borne radar system known as airborne early-warning and control systems or AWACS for the Indian Air Force.

The company has been under investigation by the US Justice Department since 2010 when a contract with the Dominican Republic raised the Americans’ suspicions, the report said.

Since then, the investigation has widened to examine business dealings with eight more countries.

After the PE was registered, Embraer had issued a statement saying, “Since 2011, Embraer has publicly reported that it has been conducting an extensive internal investigation and cooperating with the authorities on investigations regarding alleged violations of the FCPA.”

“The company voluntarily expanded the scope of the investigation, systematically reporting the progress of the case to the market.”

“The company is not party of the legal proceedings in Brazil. Therefore, it does not have access to the information contained therein,” it had said.

Brics Goa Summit: Real test lies in meeting goals, not treat them as rhetoric

The eighth Brics Summit (attended by the heads of the governments of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) has just concluded in Goa.

Going by the news coverage (both print and television), one got an impression as if the summit’s sole focus was to evolve a mechanism to fight the menace of terrorism in the world. That there was no consensus on the subject among the five leaders – Brazilian President Michel Temer, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chinese President Xi Jinping and South African President Jacob Zuma — particularly in naming some leading terrorists of the world and their supporters, has been highlighted in the media the most. But then the fact remains that combating “global terror” was only one item of the lengthy agenda at the summit.

What about the rest?

The summit concluded with a 109-point Goa Declaration. It has emphasised: “The importance of further strengthening Brics solidarity and cooperation based on our common interests and key priorities to further strengthen our strategic partnership in the spirit of openness, solidarity, equality, mutual understanding, inclusiveness and mutually beneficial cooperation. We agree that emerging challenges to global peace and security and to sustainable development require further enhancing of our collective efforts.” In other words, what the five leaders, representing nearly 2/3rd of the world’s population, deliberated on the identification of many major global challenges and how to meet these challenges. Obviously, these challenges related to three major areas — global politics, security and economy.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Brics leaders in Goa. PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Brics leaders in Goa. PTI

And, as in the past summits, the one in Goa turned out to be a platform to express dissatisfaction with the shortcomings in the system of global governance, but it did not project itself as “a vehicle to overturn the system itself”. This point needs to be emphasised, for there is a wrong notion that Brics is meant to be an alternative to the global institutions such as the United Nations (UN) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

In fact, the Goa Declaration said, “We reaffirm our commitment to contribute to safeguarding a fair and equitable international order based on the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations including through consistent and universal respect and adherence to the principles and rules of international law in their inter-relation and integrity, compliance by all states with their international legal obligations.”

They further added, “We reaffirm the need for a comprehensive reform of the UN, including its Security Council, with a view to making it more representative, effective and efficient, and to increase the representation of the developing countries so that it can adequately respond to global challenges. China and Russia reiterate the importance they attach to the status and role of Brazil, India and South Africa in international affairs and support their aspiration to play a greater role in the UN.”

On the economic challenges, the Brics leaders at Goa “welcome(ed) the adoption of landmark 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals during the UN Summit on Sustainable Development on 25 September, 2015 and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda at the Third International Conference on Financing for Development.” They talked of “the G20 Action Plan on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted during G20 Hangzhou Summit and commit to its implementation by taking bold transformative steps through both collective and individual concrete actions.”

Importantly, they reiterated their “determination to use all policy tools – monetary, fiscal, and structural, individually and collectively, to achieve the goal of strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth. Monetary policy will continue to support economic activity and ensure price stability, consistent with central bank’s mandates. Monetary policy alone, though, cannot lead to balanced and sustainable growth. We, in this regard, underscore the essential role of structural reforms. We emphasise that our fiscal policies are equally important to support our common growth objectives. We also take note that the spill-over effects of certain policy measures in some systemically important advanced economies can have adverse impact on growth prospects of emerging economies.”

Few can find faults with goalposts set by the Brics leaders in Goa. However, the real test lies in the cooperative endeavours at realising the goals by not treating them as rhetoric. And on this front, the report card of the Brics has not been very impressive. The Goa summit proved that China was not exactly in tune with India’s concerns over terrorism. Though the Goa Declaration did talk of the need for reforms in the United Nations, the fact remains that China has a completely different view from the rest four on the expansion of the UN Security Council.

On the economic front, while they all may agree on the better functioning of the World Bank, greater transparency of the IMF, non-discriminatory global trade and the developed countries “honouring” their ODA (Official Development Assistance) commitments to achieve 0.7% of Gross National Income commitment for the developing countries; the bitter truth is that the five Brics are not in a position to fulfill their own commitments for the structural reforms of their respective economies. Each one of them has its own peculiar domestic and regional challenges. China and Russia have essentially authoritarian systems of governance, whereas India, South Africa and Brazil are democracies where taking hard decisions are, more often than not, slow and politically risky.

This is particularly true of South Africa and Brazil. South Africa’s ruling African National Congress party has suffered its worst election result in the recent local elections since it came to power in 1994, threatening its rule in several of the country’s biggest cities. Its vote share has sunk to 55 percent, which is humiliating for President Jacob Zuma, who is surrounded by a number of scandals and been blamed by many for overseeing a corrupt administration. And this is no good news for the South African economy.

According to The The Economist magazine, with the weakening of President Zuma’s position, “economic growth will remain subdued in 2016, at 0.5%, held back by power shortages” and “growth will edge up to average 1.8% a year in 2017-20 as constraints ease gradually. The current-account deficit will be a source of concern, leaving the country reliant on foreign capital to plug the hole.”

Similarly, with the recent impeachment of the elected President Dilma Roussseff, Brazil is at a crossroad. Vice-President Temer has ascended to the Presidency at a time when Brazil continues under a period of turmoil. The country has been under recession, with Brazil’s economy contracting by 3.8 percent in 2015, and that figure could be matched in 2016. Inflation hit 10 percent by the end of 2015, and the fiscal deficit has also reached double digits. These economic challenges could have been addressed with decisive policy reforms, but the ongoing political crisis has led to a complete government gridlock.

Even Russia’s economy is not in the best of shape these days. Russia is also in some sort of recession as oil prices tailspin and Western sanctions following its takeover of Crimea really pinch. That leaves only China and India that are witnessing still respectable annual growth rates. But then, the fact remains that from around more than 10 percent annual rate of growth, China has come down now to less than 7 percent. India’s growth rate at 7.6 percent is the highest among all the Brics countries. But seen overall, the growth rate of Brics is really a disappointment compared to what it was estimated at originally.

It may be noted that in 2001, Goldman Sachs analyst Jim O’Neill had coined the term “Bric” (Brazil, Russia, India and China) to encapsulate what he predicted would be the four most dynamic emerging market economies of the new century. For him then, these countries (he saw their grouping to be a purely economic entity) would have extraordinary growth rates and there would be tremendous investment opportunities. Then the Bric liked the idea so much that they formed an official club (2009). Later they invited South Africa and became Brics (South Africa joined their ranks in 2011.) But the irony is that rating agencies like the Goldman Sachs are highly disappointed today with the Brics’ uneven economic performance in recent years (in fact, following the years of losses, Goldman Sachs closed its “Bric fund” in November 2015). So much so that the Brics has doubted their objectivity and is thinking of creating a ‘Brics credit rating agency’ (Modi is a big advocate of this idea), an idea on which the five heads of government could not reach a consensus in Goa.

Of course, to its credit, the Brics has created the New Development Bank (NDB), a $100 billion lending platform that will finance infrastructure projects in the Brics and other developing countries, and a $100 billion currency pool known as the Contingency Reserve Arrangement (CRA), which will aim to cushion the Brics economies from global financial pressures. The bank, which went operational last year, with leading Indian banker KV Kamath as its first head, has already done $900 million lending for renewable energy projects in Brics countries and is targeting at $2.5 billion lending for the coming calendar year. However, consensus eluded in Goa on establishing the connectivity between the NDB and the export-import banks of the member countries to facilitate trade among them. All told, the intra-Brics trade is not that healthy. For instance, in 2015, China had more trade with the United States alone than with its Brics partners combined. It earned $482 billion in exports to the US last year against a modest $244 billion to “the Brics family”.

This is not to suggest that Brics is nothing but “a fairytale”, a term that some Western critics use to describe the grouping. Brics might not have achieved much; but its very existence does signify that there is much to improve on the front of global governance.

In that sense, Daniel Chardell, a research associate in the International Institutions and Global Governance Programme at the Council on Foreign Relations, says, “The Brics may just be a symbol, but they are also a symptom of the world’s impatience with business as usual.”

India lauds Brazil’ support for actions to combat terror: Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India appreciated Brazil’s support for its actions to combat terrorism on Monday and said the two countries agreed that the world must come together to fight the menace without distinction or discrimination. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also thanked Brazilian President Michel Temer for “understanding India’s aspiration” for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. “My country deeply appreciates Brazil’s support for India’s actions in combating terrorism,” Modi said after a bilateral meeting with Temer, who is here for the 8th BRICS Summit which concluded yesterday. “We agreed that the world must come together to fight this menace without distinction or discrimination,” the Prime Minister said.He said India will continue to work with Brazil as an important partner in early adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT).”Both bilaterally and multilaterally, the partnership between India and Brazil is filled with possibilities that we are keen to harvest,” he said. Modi said the two countries made progress in opening new areas of cooperation in drug regulation, agricultural research and cyber security during Temer’s visit. “I am happy to note that India and Brazil are close to finalising the text of a bilateral investment agreement. President Temer and I have reviewed the full range of bilateral cooperation,” he said.He said that the bilateral relations between India and Brazil have grown for the better and there has been increased interaction at all levels. “This visit (by Temer) takes place as both countries mark a decade of our strategic partnership,” the Prime Minister said. Modi and the Brazilian leader also witnessed exchange of four cross-sectoral MoUs between the two countries.The first MoU is on genetic resources, agriculture, animal husbandry, natural resources and fisheries while the second one is on pharma products regulation. The third MoU is on cattle genomics and assisted reproductive technologies and the fourth is on investment cooperation and facilitation treaty.

India, Brazil ink four MoUs

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> India and Brazil on Monday signed four Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) during a bilateral meeting held in Goa’s Salcete city. The four MoUs that have been signed are on genetic resources, agriculture, animal husbandry, natural resources and fisheries, on pharmaceutical products regulation, on cattle genomics and assisted reproductive technologies, and on investment cooperation and facilitation treaty. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Brazilian President Michel Temer witnessed the signing of the MoUs. India and Brazil share a very close and multifaceted relationship at bilateral as well as multilateral fora such as IBSA, BRICS, BASIC, G-20, G-4 or the larger multilateral arena such as the UN, WTO, UNESCO, WIPO, etc. Bilateral relations between India and Brazil have acquired the dimension of a strategic partnership in the last decade. Brazil is one of the most important trading partners of India in the entire LAC (Latin America and Caribbean) region. India-Brazil bilateral trade has increased substantially in the last two decades. However, the global drop in commodity prices and the economic recession in Brazil in 2015 affected Brazil?s overall trade. Evidently, some negative impact was felt in the India- Brazil bilateral trade as well. Indian exports to Brazil stood at USD 4.29 billion in 2015 as compared to USD 6.63 billion in 2014 and USD 6.36 billion in 2013. Indian imports from Brazil stood at $3.62 billion compared to $4.789 billion in 2014 and $3.13 billion in 2013. Thus the overall bilateral trade was at $7.9 billion, decreasing 30.7 percent from $11.424 billion in 2014. About 39 percent of Indian exports were value added petroleum products such as diesel. The other prominent export items from India were organic chemicals and pharmaceutical products valued at USD 730 Million. Boilers, machinery and mechanical appliances were other major items in India?s export basket. The other important export items included textile products (cotton, apparels, accessories etc.) which amounted to USD 150 million. (ANI)Ends KR/ADNNNNani

Brics summit: Full text of Goa Declaration adopted by member nations

According to a statement released by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), here is the full text of the Goa Declaration adopted by Brics nations:

We, the Leaders of the Federative Republic of Brazil, the Russian Federation, the Republic of India, the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of South Africa, met on 15-16 October 2016 in Goa, India, at the Eighth BRICS Summit, which was held under the theme “Building Responsive, Inclusive and Collective Solutions.”

Recalling all our previous declarations, we emphasise the importance of further strengthening BRICS solidarity and cooperation based on our common interests and key priorities to further strengthen our strategic partnership in the spirit ofopenness, solidarity,equality, mutual understanding, inclusiveness and mutually beneficial cooperation. We agree that emerging challenges to global peace and security and to sustainable development require further enhancing of our collective efforts.

We agree that BRICS countries represent an influential voice on the global stage through our tangible cooperation, which delivers direct benefits to our people. In this context, we note with satisfaction the operationalisation of the New Development Bank (NDB) and of the Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA), which contributes greatly to the global economy and the strengthening of the international financial architecture. We welcome the report presented by NDB President on the work of the Bank during the first year of its operations. We are pleased to note the progress in operationalising the Africa Regional Centre (ARC) of the NDB and pledge our full support in this regard. We look forward to developing new BRICS initiatives in a wider range of areas in the years to come.

We note with appreciation the approval of the first set of loans by the New Development Bank (NDB), particularly in the renewable energy projects in BRICS countries. We express satisfaction with NDB’s issuance of the first set of green bonds in RMB. We are pleased to note that the operationalisation of BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangements (CRA) has strengthened the global financial safety net.

In order to reach out and enrich our understanding and engagement with fellow developingand emerging economies, we will hold an OutreachSummit of BRICS Leaders with the Leaders of BIMSTEC member countries – Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation comprising of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand. The meeting will be an opportunity to renew our friendship with BIMSTEC countries as well as to jointly explore possibilities of expanding trade and commercial ties,and investment cooperation between BRICS and BIMSTEC countries,while advancing our common goals of peace, development, democracy and prosperity.

PM Modi. Courtesy: PIB

PM Modi. Courtesy: PIB

We reiterate our common vision of ongoing profound shifts in the world as it transitions to a more just, democratic, and multi-polar international order based on the central role of the United Nations, and respect for international law. We reaffirm the need for strengthening coordination of efforts on global issues and practical cooperation in the spirit of solidarity, mutual understanding and trust. We underline the importance of collective efforts in solving international problems, and for peaceful settlement of disputes through political and diplomatic means, and in this regard, we reiterate our commitment to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.

We note the global character of current security challenges and threats confronting the international community. We reiterate our view that international efforts to address these challenges, the establishment ofsustainable peace as well as the transition to a more just, equitable and democratic multi-polar international order requires a comprehensive, concerted and determined approach, based on spirit of solidarity, mutual trust and benefit, equity and cooperation, strong commitment to international law and the central role of the United Nations as the universal multilateral organisation entrusted with the mandate for maintaining international peace and security, advance global development and to promote and protect human rights. We underline the importance of further strengthening coordination of our efforts in this context.

We reaffirm our commitment to contribute to safeguarding a fair and equitable international order based on the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations including through consistent and universal respect and adherence to the principles and rules of international law in their inter-relation and integrity, compliance by all states with their international legal obligations.We express our commitment to resolutely reject the continued attempts to misrepresent the results of World War II. We recall further that development and security are closely interlinked, mutually reinforcing and key to attaining sustainable peace.

We remain confident that resolving international problems require collective efforts for peaceful settlement of disputes through political and diplomatic means. Implementation of principles of good-faith, sovereign equality of States, non-intervention in the internal affairs of States and cooperation excludes imposition of unilateral coercive measures not based on international law. We condemn unilateral military interventions and economic sanctions in violation of international law and universally recognised norms of international relations. Bearing this in mind, we emphasise the unique importance of the indivisible nature of security, and that no State should strengthen its security at the expense of the security of others.

We recall the 2005 World Summit Outcome document. We reaffirm the need for a comprehensive reform of the UN, including its Security Council, with a view to making it more representative, effective and efficient, and to increase the representation of the developing countriesso that it can adequately respond to global challenges. China and Russia reiterate the importance they attach to the status and role of Brazil, India and South Africa in international affairs and support their aspiration to play a greater role in the UN.
We welcome the substantive measures undertaken by the UN membership to make the process of selecting and appointing the UN Secretary-General more transparent and inclusive.

We expressour gratitude to UN Secretary-General Mr. Ban Ki-moon for his contributions to the United Nations in the past ten years. We congratulate Mr. AntónioGuterres, on his appointment as the Secretary-General of the United Nations andexpress oursupport and to work closely with him.

Cognizant of BRICS countries’ significant contributions to UN Peacekeeping operations, and recognising the important role of UN Peacekeeping operations in safeguarding international peace and security, we realise the challenges faced by UN Peacekeeping and emphasise the need to further strengthen its role, capacity, effectiveness, accountability and efficiency, while adhering to the basic principles of peacekeeping. We emphasise that UN Peacekeeping operations should perform the duty of protection of civilians in strict accordance with their respective mandates and in respect of the primary responsibility of the host countries in this regard.

We are deeply concerned about the situation in the Middle East and North Africa. We support all effortsfor finding ways to the settlement of the crises in accordance with international law and in conformity with the principles of independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of the countries of the region. On Syria, we call upon all parties involved to work for a comprehensive and peaceful resolution of the conflict taking into account the legitimate aspirations of the people of Syria,through inclusive national dialogue and a Syrian-led political process based on Geneva Communiqué of 30 June 2012 and in pursuance of the UN Security Council Resolution 2254 and 2268 for their full implementation.While continuing the relentless pursuit against terrorist groups so designated by the UN Security Councilincluding ISIL, Jabhat al-Nusra and other terrorist organisations designated by the UN Security Council.

We reiterate also the necessity to implement the two-state solution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on the basis of the relevant UNSC resolutions, the Madrid Principles and Arab Peace Initiative, and previous agreements between the two sides,through negotiations aimed at creating an independent, viable, territorially contiguous Palestinian State livingside-by-side in peace with Israel, withinsecure, mutually agreed and internationally recognised borders on the basis of 1967 lines, with East Jerusalem as its capital, as envisaged in the relevant UN Resolutions.

We express deep concern at the persisting security challenges in Afghanistan and significant increase in terrorist activities in Afghanistan. We affirm support to the efforts of the Afghan Government to achieve Afghan-led and Afghan-owned national reconciliation and combat terrorism, and readiness for constructive cooperation in order to facilitate security in Afghanistan, promote its independent political and economic course, becoming free from terrorism and drug trafficking. The Leaders expressed the view that capable and effective Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) should be the key to the stabilisation of Afghanistan. In this regard, the Leaders emphasised the need for continued commitment of regional countries and wider international community, including the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission, which as the ISAF’s heir has a key role in the ANSF capacity-building. The Leaders stressed the importance of multilateral region-led interaction on Afghan issues, primarily by those organisations, which consist of Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries and other regional states, such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, Collective Security Treaty Organization, and the Heart of Asia Conference.

We welcome the African Union’s (AU) vision, aspirations, goals and priorities for Africa’s development enshrined in Agenda 2063, which is complementary with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. We reaffirm our support for Africa’s implementation of its variousprogrammesin pursuit of its continental agenda for peace and socio economic development. We will continue to engage in joint endeavours to advance Africa’s solidarity, unity and strength through support measures for regional integration and sustainable development.We further welcome recent elections that have been held in the continent and the peaceful manner in which they were conducted.
We support the AU’s efforts to resolving conflictsthrough its peace and security architecture, in collaboration with the United Nations and the continent’s regional organisations, and to contribute towards lasting and sustainable peace and security in Africa.

We welcome the decision of the African Union’s Assembly to operationalise its Peace Fund, in order to contribute to financing of its peace and security operations. We support efforts aimed at full operationalisation of the African Standby Force (ASF) and note the progress being made in this regard, including the contributions by the African Capacity for Immediate Responses to Crises (ACIRC).

We express our concern that political and security instability continues to loom in a number of countriesthat is exacerbated by terrorism and extremism.We call upon the international community through the United Nations, African Union and regional and international partners to continue their support in addressing these challenges, including post-conflict reconstruction and development efforts.

We welcome the adoption of landmark 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals during the UN Summit on Sustainable Development on 25 September 2015 and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda at the Third International Conference on Financing for Development. We welcome the people-centred and holistic approach to sustainable development enshrined in the 2030 Agenda and its emphasis on equality, equity and quality-life to all. We welcome the reaffirmation of the guiding principles of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, including the principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR).

The 2030 Agenda, with its overarching focus on povertyeradication, lays an equal and balanced emphasis on the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. We call upon developed countries to honour their Official Development Assistancecommitments to achieve 0.7% of Gross National Income commitment for Official Development Assistance to developing countries. Those commitments play a crucial role in the implementation of the SDGs. We further welcome the establishment of a Technology Facilitation Mechanism within the UN with a mandate to facilitate technology for the implementation of the SDGs.

We commit to lead by example in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development inline with national circumstances and development context respecting the national policy space. We welcome the G20 Action Plan on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Developmentadopted during G20 Hangzhou Summit and commit to its implementation by taking bold transformative steps through both collective and individual concreteactions.

We meet at a time when the global economic recovery is progressing, with improved resilience and emergence of new sources of growth.The growth, though is weaker than expected with downside risks to the global economy continuing to persist.This gets reflected in a variety of challenges including commodity price volatility, weak trade, high private and public indebtedness, inequality and lack of inclusiveness of economic growth. Meanwhile, the benefits from growth need to be sharedbroadly in an inclusive manner.Geopolitical conflicts, terrorism, refugee flows, illicit financial flows and the outcome of UK referendum have further added to the uncertainty in the global economy.

We reiterate our determination to use all policy tools – monetary, fiscal, and structural, individually and collectively, to achieve the goal of strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth. Monetary policy will continue to support economic activity and ensure price stability, consistent with central bank’s mandates. Monetary policy alone, though, cannot lead to balanced and sustainablegrowth. We, in this regard, underscore the essential role of structural reforms.We emphasise that our fiscal policies are equally important to support our common growth objectives. We also take note that the spill-over effects ofcertain policy measures in some systemically important advanced economies can have adverse impact on growth prospects of emerging economies.

We recognise that innovation is a key driver for mid and long term growth and sustainable development. We stress the importance of industrialisation and measures that promote industrial development as a core pillar of structural transformation.
We highlight the need to use tax policy and public expenditure in a more growth-friendly way taking into account fiscal space available, that promotesinclusiveness, maintains resilience and ensuressustainability of debt as a share of GDP.

We note the dynamic integration processes across the regions of the world, particularly in Asia, Africa and South America.We affirm our belief to promote growth in the context of regional integration on the basis of principles of equality, openness and inclusiveness. We further believe that this will promote economic expansion through enhanced trade,commercial and investmentlinkages.

We highlight the importance of public and private investments in infrastructure, including connectivity,to ensure sustained long-term growth. We, in this regard, call for approaches to bridge the financing gap in infrastructure including through enhanced involvement of Multilateral Development Banks.

We reaffirm our commitment to a strong, quota based and adequately resourced IMF. Borrowed resources by the IMF should be on a temporary basis. We remain strongly committed to support the coordinated effort by the emerging economies to ensure that the Fifteenth General Review of Quotas, including the new quota formula, will be finalised within the agreed timelines so as to ensure that the increased voice of the dynamic emerging and developing economies reflects their relative contributions to the world economy, while protecting the voices of least developed countries (LDCs), poor countries and regions.

We welcome the inclusion of the RMB into the Special Drawing Rights (SDR) currency basket on 1October, 2016.

We call for the advanced European economies to meet their commitment to cede two chairs on the Executive Board of the IMF. The reform of the IMF should strengthen the voice and representation of the poorest members of the IMF, including Sub-Saharan Africa.

We share concerns regarding the challenges of sovereign debt restructurings, and note that timely and successful debt restructuring is key for ensuring access to international capital markets, and hence economic growth, for countries with high debt levels. We welcome the current discussions to improve the debt restructuring process,and on the revised collective action clauses (CACs).

We reiterate our support for the multilateral trading system and the centrality of the WTO as the cornerstone of a rule based, open, transparent, non-discriminatory and inclusive multilateral trading system with development at the core ofits agenda. We note the increasing number ofbilateral, regional, and plurilateral trade agreements, and reiterate that these should be complementary to the multilateral trading system and encourage the parties thereon to align their work in consolidating the multilateral trading system under the WTO in accordance with the principles of transparency, inclusiveness, and compatibility with the WTO rules.

We emphasise the importance of implementing the decisions taken at the Bali and Nairobi Ministerial Conferences. We stress the need to advance negotiations on the remaining Doha Development Agenda (DDA) issues as a matter of priority. We call on all WTO members to work together to ensure a strong development oriented outcome for MC11 and beyond.

We appreciate the progress in the implementation of the Strategy for BRICS Economic Partnership and emphasise the importance of the BRICS Roadmap for Trade, Economic and Investment Cooperation until 2020. We believe that close cooperation between the sectoral cooperation mechanisms, BRICS Contact Group on Economic and Trade Issues, the BRICS Business Council, New Development Bank and the BRICS Interbank cooperation mechanism is crucial in strengthening the BRICS economic partnership. We welcome, in this context, the continued realisation of the major BRICS economic initiatives such as enhanced cooperation in e-commerce, “single window”, IPR cooperation, trade promotionand micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).We recognise non-tariff measures (NTMs),services sector, and standardisation and conformity assessments as possible areas of future cooperation.We note in this context the meeting of BRICS Trade Ministers in New Delhi on 13 October 2016 and welcome its substantive outcomes.

In operationalising the Strategy for BRICS Economic Partnership, we encourage measures that support greater participation, value addition and upward mobility in Global Value Chains of our firms including through the preservation of policy space to promote industrial development.

We welcome India’s initiative to host the first BRICS Trade Fair in New Delhi. This is an important step towards the implementation of Strategy for BRICS Economic Partnership. We believethis will further consolidate trade and commercial partnership among BRICS countries. We welcome the deliberations and outcome of the meeting of BRICS Trade Ministers held on 13October 2016 in New Delhi.
We noted the Annual Report by the BRICS Business Council, including the various initiatives undertaken by its Working Groups. We further direct the Council to accelerate the development and realisation of joint projects which, on a mutually beneficial basis, contribute to the economic objectives of BRICS.

We agreed that MSMEs provide major employment opportunities, at comparatively lower capital cost, and create self-employment opportunities in rural and underdeveloped areas. MSMEs thus help assure equitable wealth distribution nationally and globally. We commend organisation of BRICSsecond round-table on MSMEs by India with a focus on technical and business alliances in MSMEs Sector. We agree to work for greater integration of MSMEs in Regional and Global Value Chains.

We commend China for the successful hosting of the 11th G20 Leaders’ Summit in Hangzhou and its focus on innovation, structural reform and development as drivers of medium and long term economic growth. We recognise the role of G20 as the premier forum for international and financial cooperation and emphasise the importance of the implementationof the outcomes of G20 Hangzhou Summit, that we believe will foster strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth and will contribute to improved global economic governance and enhance the role of developing countries.

We stress the importance to foster an innovative, invigorated, interconnected and inclusive world economy.We will enhance our consultations and coordinationon the G20 agenda, especially on issues of mutual interest to the BRICS countries, and promote issues of importance for the Emerging Market and Developing Economies (EMDEs). We will continue to work closely with all G20 membersto strengthen macroeconomic cooperation, promote innovation, as well as robust and sustainable trade and investment to propel global growth,improve global economic governance,enhance the role of developing countries,strengthen international financial architecture,support for industrialisation in Africa and least developed countries and enhance cooperation on energy access and efficiency. We stress the need for enhanced international cooperation to address illicit cross-border financial flows, tax evasion and trade mis-invoicing.

The role of BRICS and its collaborative efforts in the field of economic and financial co-operation are yielding positive results. We emphasise the importance of our cooperation in order to help stabilise the global economy and to resume growth.

We welcome experts exploring the possibility of setting up an independent BRICS Rating Agency based on market-oriented principles, in order to further strengthen the global governance architecture.

We welcome the reports of BRICS Think Tanks Council and BRICS Academic Forum that have emerged as valuable platforms for our experts to exchange views. They have submitted their valuable suggestions with regard to promoting market research and analysis in BRICS and developing countries and exploring possibilities of carrying this process forward.We believe that BRICS institution-building is critical to our shared vision of transforming the global financial architecture to one based on the principles of fairness and equity.

We emphasise the importance of enhancing intra-BRICS cooperation in the industrial sector, including through the BRICS Industry Ministers Meetings, in order to contribute to the accelerated and sustainable economic growth, the strengthening of comprehensive industrial ties, the promotion of innovation as well as job creation, and improvement of the quality of life of people in BRICS countries.

We congratulate the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) for the 50th anniversary of its foundation and recall its unique mandate to promote and accelerate inclusive and sustainable industrial development and its contribution in promoting industrialisation in Africa. We note, in this context, the progress achieved so far in the establishment of the UNIDO-BRICS Technology Platform.

We commend our Customs administrations on the establishment of the Customs Cooperation Committee of BRICS,and on exploring means of further enhancing collaboration in the future, including those aimed at creating legal basis for customs cooperation and facilitating procedures of customs control. We note the signing of the Regulations on Customs Cooperation Committee of the BRICS in line with the undertaking in the Strategy for BRICS Economic Partnership to strengthen interaction among Customs Administrations.

We recall the Fortaleza Declaration wherein we recognised the potential for BRICS insurance and reinsurance markets to pool capacities and had directed our relevant authorities to explore avenues for cooperation in this regard. We would like this work to be expedited.

We reaffirm our commitment towards a globally fair and modern tax systemand welcome the progress made on effective and widespread implementation of the internationally agreed standards. We support the implementation of the Base Erosion andProfit Shifting Project (BEPS) with due regard to the national realities of the countries.We encourage countries and International Organisations to assist developing economies in building their tax capacity.

We note that aggressive tax planning and tax practices hurt equitable development and economic growth. Base Erosion and Profit Shiftingmust be effectively tackled. We affirm that profit should be taxed in the jurisdiction where the economic activity is performedand the value is created. We reaffirm our commitment to support international cooperation in this regard, including in the Common Reporting Standard for Automatic Exchange of Tax Information (AEOI).

We note the ongoing discussions on international taxation matters. In this regard, we recall the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development including its emphasis on inclusive cooperation and dialogue among national tax authorities on international tax matters with increased participation of developing countries and reflecting adequate, equitable, geographical distribution, representing different tax systems.

We support the strengthening of international cooperation against corruption, including through the BRICS Anti-Corruption Working Group, as well as on matters related to asset recovery and persons sought for corruption. We acknowledge that corruption includingillicit money and financial flows, and ill-gotten wealth stashed in foreign jurisdictions is a global challenge which mayimpact negatively on economic growth and sustainable development. We will strive to coordinate our approach in this regard and encourage a stronger global commitment to prevent and combat corruptionon the basis of the United Nations Convention against Corruption and other relevant international legal instruments.
We recognise that nuclear energy will play a significant role for some of the BRICS countries in meeting their 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement commitments and for reducing global greenhouse gas emissions in the long term. In this regard, we underline the importance of predictability in accessing technology and finance for expansion of civil nuclear energy capacity which would contribute to the sustainable development of BRICS countries.

We reiterate that outer space shall be free for peaceful exploration and use by all States on the basis of equality in accordance with international law.Reaffirming that outer space shall remain free from any kind of weapons or any use of force, we stress that negotiations for the conclusion of an international agreement or agreements to prevent an arms race in outer space are a priority task of the United Nations Conference on Disarmament, and support the efforts to start substantive work, inter alia, based on the updated draft treaty on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space and of the threat or use of force against outer space objects submitted by China and Russian Federation.We also note an international initiative for a political obligation onthe no first placement of weapons in outer space.
Priority should be accorded to ensuring the long-term sustainability of outer space activities, as well as ways and means of preserving outer space for future generations. We note that this is an important objective on the current agenda of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS). In this respect, we welcome the recentdecision by the UNCOPUOS Scientific and Technical Sub-Committee Working Group on Long-term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities to conclude negotiations and achieve consensus on the full set of guidelines for the long term sustainability of outer space activities by 2018to coincide with the commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the first United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNISPACE + 50).

We strongly condemn the recent several attacks, against some BRICS countries, including that in India.We strongly condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and stressed that there can be no justification whatsoever for any acts of terrorism, whether based upon ideological, religious, political, racial, ethnic or any other reasons. We agreed to strengthen cooperation in combating international terrorism both at the bilateral level and at international fora.

To address the threat of chemical and biological terrorism, we support and emphasise the need for launching multilateral negotiations on an international convention for the suppression of acts of chemical and biological terrorism, including at the Conference on Disarmament.In this context, we welcome India’s offer to host a Conference in 2018 aimed at strengthening international resolve in facing the challenge of the WMD-Terrorism nexus.

We call upon all nations to adopt a comprehensive approach in combating terrorism, which should include countering violent extremism as and when conducive to terrorism, radicalisation, recruitment, movement of terrorists including Foreign Terrorist Fighters, blocking sources of financing terrorism, including through organised crime by means of money-laundering, drug trafficking, criminal activities, dismantling terrorist bases, and countering misuse of the Internet including social media by terror entities through misuse of the latest Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs).Successfully combating terrorism requires a holistic approach. All counter-terrorism measures should uphold international law and respect human rights.

We acknowledge the recent meeting of the BRICS High Representatives on National Securityand, in this context, welcome the setting up and the first meeting of the BRICS Joint Working Group on Counter-Terrorism on 14September 2016 in New Delhi. We believe it will further promote dialogue and understanding among BRICS nations on issues of counter terrorism, as well ascoordinate efforts to address the scourge of terrorism.

We acknowledge that international terrorism, especially the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as Daesh) and affiliated terrorist groups and individuals, constitute a global and unprecedented threat to international peace and security. Stressing UN’s central role in coordinating multilateral approaches against terrorism, we urge all nations to undertake effective implementation of relevant UN Security Council Resolutions, and reaffirm our commitment on increasing the effectiveness of the UN counter terrorism framework.We call upon all nations to work together to expedite the adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) in the UN General Assembly without any further delay. We recall the responsibility of all States to prevent terrorist actions from their territories.
We reaffirm our commitment to the FATF International Standards on Combating Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism and Proliferation and call for swift, effective and universal implementation of FATF Consolidated Strategy on Combating Terrorist Financing, including effective implementation of its operational plan. We seek to intensify our cooperation in FATF and FATF-style regional bodies (FSRBs).

We welcome the outcome document of the Special session of the General Assembly on the world drug problem, held in New York from 19-21 April 2016. We call for strengthening of international and regional cooperation and coordination to counter the global threat caused by the illicit production and trafficking of drugs, especiallyopiates. We note with deep concern the increasing links between drug trafficking and terrorism, money laundering and organised crime. We commend the cooperation between BRICS drug control agencies and welcome the deliberations in second Anti-Drug Working Group Meeting held in New Delhi on 8 July 2016.
We reaffirm that ICT expansion is a key enabler for sustainable development, for international peace and security and for human rights. We agree to strengthen joint efforts to enhance security in the use of ICTs, combating the use of ICTs for criminal and terrorist purposes and improving cooperation between our technical, law enforcement, R&D and innovation in the field of ICTs and capacity building institutions. We affirm our commitment to bridging digital and technological divides, in particular between developed and developing countries. We recognise that our approach must be multidimensional and inclusive and contains an evolving understanding of what constitutes access, emphasising the quality of that access.

We reiterate that the use and development of ICTs through international and regional cooperation and on the basis of universally accepted norms and principles of international law, including the Charter of the UN; in particular political independence, territorial integrity and sovereign equality of States, the settlement of disputes by peaceful means, non-interference in internal affairs of other States as well as respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to privacy; are of paramount importance in order to ensure a peaceful, secure and openand cooperative use of ICTs.

The increasing misuse of ICTs for terrorist purposes poses a threat to international peace and security. We emphasise the need to enhance international cooperation against terrorist and criminal misuse of ICTs and reaffirm the general approach laid in the eThekwini, Fortaleza and Ufa declarations in this regard. We reaffirm the key role of the UN in addressing the issues related to the security in the use of ICTs. We will continue to work together for the adoption of the rules, norms and principles of responsible behaviour of Statesincludingthrough the process of UNGGE. We recognise that the states have the leading role to ensure stability and security in the use of ICTs.

We advocate also for an open, non-fragmented and secure Internet, and reaffirm that the Internet is a global resource and that States should participate on an equal footing in its evolution and functioning,taking into account the need to involve relevant stakeholders in their respective roles and responsibilities.

We recognise the importance of energy-saving and energy-efficiency for ensuring sustainable economic development and welcome the Memorandum of Understanding which was signed in this regard.

We recognise the challenge of scaling-up power generation and its efficient distribution, as well as the need to scale up low carbon fuels and other clean energy solutions. We further recognise the level of investments needed in renewable energy in this regard. We therefore believe that international cooperation in this field be focused on access to clean energy technology and finance. We further note the significance of clean energy in achieving Sustainable Development Goals. We recognise that sustainable development, energy access, and energy security are critical to the shared prosperity and future of the planet. We acknowledge that clean and renewable energy needs to be affordable to all.

We support a wider use of natural gas as an economically efficient and clean fuel to promote sustainable development as well as to reduce the greenhouse emissions in accordance with the Paris Agreement on climate change.

We note that BRICS countries face challenges of communicable diseases including HIV and Tuberculosis. We, in this regard, note the efforts made by BRICS Health Ministers to achieve the 90–90–90 HIV treatment target by 2020. We underline the imperative to advance cooperation and action on HIV and TB in the BRICS countries, including in the production of quality-assured drugs and diagnostics.

We take note of United Nations High Level Meeting on Ending AIDS in June 2016 and forthcoming Global Conference on TB under WHO auspices in Moscow in 2017.

Recognising global health challenges we emphasise the importance of cooperation among BRICS countries in promoting research and development of medicines and diagnostic tools to end epidemics and to facilitate access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines.
We welcome the High Level meeting on Anti-Microbial Resistance (AMR) during UNGA-71, which addresses the serious threat that AMR poses to public health, growth and global economic stability. We will seek to identify possibilities for cooperation among our health and/or regulatory authorities, with a view to share best practices and discuss challenges, as well as identifying potential areas for convergence.
We reaffirm our commitment to promote a long-term and balanced demographic development and continue cooperation on population related matters in accordance with the Agenda for BRICS Cooperation on Population Matters for 2015-2020.

We welcome the outcomes of the meetings of BRICS Labour & Employment Ministers held on 9 June 2016 in Geneva and on 27-28 September 2016 in New Delhi. We take note of the possibility of bilateral Social Security Agreements between BRICS countries, and of the commitment to take steps to establish a network of lead labour research and training institutes, so as to encourage capacity building, information exchange and sharing of best practices amongst BRICS countries. We recognise quality employment, including a Decent Work Agenda, sustaining social protection and enhancing rights at work, are core to inclusive and sustainable development.

We welcome the outcomes of the fourth BRICS Education Ministers’ meeting held on 30 September 2016 in New Delhi, including the New Delhi Declaration on Education. We stress the importance of education and skills for economic development, and reaffirm the need for universal access to high-quality education. We are satisfied with the progress of the BRICS Network University (BRICSNU) as well as the BRICS University League (BRICSUL), which will commence their programmes in 2017. These two initiatives will facilitate higher education collaboration and partnerships across the BRICS countries.

We appreciate the organisation of Young Diplomats’ Forum held on 3-6 September 2016 in Kolkata. We also welcome the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between BRICS Diplomatic Academies to encourage exchange of knowledge and experiences.
We welcome the outcomes of the fourth BRICS STI Ministerial Meeting held on 8 October 2016, wherein they adopted theJaipur Declaration and endorsed the updated Work Plan (2015-2018) aimed at strengthening cooperation in science, technology and innovation, especially leveraging young scientific talent for addressing societal challenges; creating a networking platform for BRICS young scientists; co-generating new knowledge and innovative products, services and processes; and addressing common global and regional socio-economic challenges utilising shared experiences and complementarities.

We stress the importance of implementation of the BRICS Research and Innovation Initiative. We welcome the hosting of the first BRICS Young Scientists Conclave in India, instituting of BRICS Innovative Idea Prize for Young Scientists.We note the progress of the first Call for Proposals under the BRICS STI Framework Programme, in ten thematic areas, with funding commitment from the five BRICS STI Ministries and associated funding bodies. We welcome the establishment of the BRICS Working Group on Research Infrastructure, and Mega-Science to reinforce the BRICS Global Research Advanced Infrastructure Network (BRICS-GRAIN).

We welcome the outcomes of the Agriculture Ministers’ Meeting, held on 23 September 2016, including the Joint Declaration. We emphasise the importance of ensuring food security, and addressingmalnutrition, eliminating hunger,inequality and poverty through increased agricultural production, productivity, sustainable management of natural resources and trade in agriculture among the BRICS countries. As the world’s leading producers of agriculture products and home to large populations, we emphasise the importance of BRICS cooperation in agriculture.We recognize the importance of science-based agriculture and of deploying information and communication technology (ICT).

To further intensify cooperation among BRICScountries in agricultural research policy, science and technology, innovation and capacity building, including technologies for small-holder farming in the BRICS countries, we welcome the signing of the MoU for Establishment of the BRICS Agricultural Research Platform.

Considering the dependence of agriculture on water, we call upon the development of infrastructure for irrigation to assist farmers in building resilience during times of drought and welcome sharing of experiences and expertise in these areas.
We affirm that the value of sharing expertise and experiences among BRICS countries with regard to usage of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in e-governance, financial inclusion, and targeted delivery of benefits, e-commerce, open government, digital content and services and bridging the digital divide. We support efforts aimed at capacity building for effective participation in e-commerce trade to ensure shared benefits.

We welcome the forthcoming BRICS Telecommunication Ministerial Meeting that will further strengthen our cooperation, including on technology trends, standards developments, skill developments, and policy frameworks.

We believe it is necessary to ensure joint efforts towards diversification of the world market of software and IT equipment. We call for developing and strengthening the ICT cooperation in the framework of the BRICS Working Group on ICT Cooperation.

We welcome the outcomes of the meetings of BRICS Ministers responsible for Disaster Management held on 19-20 April 2016 in St. Petersburg and on 22 August 2016 in Udaipur. We also welcome the Udaipur Declaration adopted at the second meeting and applaud the formation of BRICS Joint Task Force on Disaster Risk Management.

We extend our deepest condolences to the people of Haiti and the Caribbean on the tragic loss of lives following hurricane Matthew. We support the efforts of the UN and humanitarian partners in their response to this tragedy.

We welcome the outcomes of the BRICS Ministerial Meeting on Environment held on 15-16 September 2016, in Goa, including the Goa Statement on Environment. We welcome the decision to share technical expertise in the areas of abatement and control of air and water pollution, efficient management of waste and sustainable management of bio-diversity. We recognise the importance of participation by BRICS countries in environmental cooperation initiatives, including developing a platform for sharing environmentally sound technologies.

We welcome the outcome of the 17th Conference of Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), held in Johannesburg, South Africa, as a landmark advancement of the regulation of international trade in endangered species from 24 September – 4 October 2016.

We welcome the adoption of the Paris Agreement anchored in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and its signing by a large number of countries on 22 April 2016. We emphasise that the comprehensive, balanced and ambitious nature of the Paris Agreement reaffirms the principles of UNFCCC includingthe principle of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in light of different national circumstances (CBDR & RC).

We welcome the Paris Agreement and its imminent entry into force on 4 November 2016.We call on the developed countries to fulfil their responsibility towards providing the necessary financial resources, technology and capacity building assistance to support the developing countries with respect to both mitigation and adaptation for the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

We reiterate the commitments to gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls as contained in the 2030 Agenda. We recognise that women play a vital roleas agents of developmentand acknowledge that their equal and inclusive participation and contribution is crucial to making progress across all Sustainable Development Goals and targets. We emphasise the importance of enhancing accountability for the implementation of these commitments.

Cognizant of the potential and diversity of youth population in our countries, their needs and aspirations, we welcome the outcomes of the BRICS Youth Summit in Guwahati including, “Guwahati BRICS Youth Summit 2016 Call to Action” that recognise the importance of education, employment, entrepreneurship, and skills training for them to be socially and economically empowered.

We welcome the BRICS Convention on Tourism, that was organised in Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh on 1-2 September 2016 as an effective means to promote tourism cooperation among BRICS countries.

As home to 43% of the world population and among the fastest urbanising societies, we recognise the multi-dimensional challenges and opportunities of urbanisation. We affirm our engagement in the process that will lead to adoption of a New Urban Agenda by the Conference of the United Nations on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development – Habitat III(Quito, 17-20 October, 2016).We welcome the BRICS Urbanisation Forum, BRICS Friendship Cities Conclave, held in Visakhapatnam on 14-16 September 2016, and in Mumbai on 14-16 April 2016, respectively, which contributed to fostering increased engagements between our cities and stakeholders. We call for enhanced cooperation with regard to strengthening urban governance, making our cities safe and inclusive, improving urban transport, financing of urban infrastructure and building sustainable cities.

We note India’s initiative on the upcoming BRICS Local Bodies Conference to exchange expertise and best-practices, including in local budgeting.

Noting the importance of orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people, we welcome the outcomes of first BRICS Migration Ministers Meeting in Sochi, Russian Federation, on 8 October 2015.

We recognise the important role of culture in sustainable development and in fostering mutual understanding and closer cooperation among our peoples. We encourage expansion of cultural exchanges between people of BRICS countries. In this context we commend the hosting of the first BRICS Film Festival in New Delhi on 2-6 September 2016.

We welcome the forthcoming meeting of the Second BRICS Parliamentary Forum in Geneva on 23 October 2016under the theme of ‘BRICS Parliamentary Cooperation on the implementation of the SDGs’.

We appreciate the deliberations of the BRICS Women Parliamentarians’ Forum in Jaipur on 20-21 August, 2016 and the adoption of Jaipur Declaration, centred on SDGs, that inter alia emphasises the commitment to strengthen parliamentary strategic partnerships on all the three dimensions of sustainable development,fostering gender equality and women empowerment.

We note the deliberations on a BRICS Railways Research Network aimed at promoting research and development in this field to further growth in our economies in a cost effective and sustainable manner.

We congratulate India on organising the first BRICS Under-17 Football Tournament in Goa on 5-15 October 2016. We,in this regard, note the initiative towards a BRICS Sports Council to foster exchanges among BRICS countries.

Recognising the increasing trade, business and investment between BRICS countries and the important role of BRICS Interbank Cooperation Mechanism, we welcome the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the BRICS countries National Development Banks and the New Development Bank (NDB). We welcome the initiative of the Export-Import Bank of India of instituting Annual BRICS Economic Research Award to promote advanced research in economics of relevance to BRICS countries.

We reiterate our commitment to strengthening our partnerships for common development. To this end, we endorse the Goa Action Plan.
China, South Africa, Brazil and Russia appreciate India’s BRICS Chairpersonship and the good pace of BRICS cooperation agenda.
We emphasise the importance of review and follow up of implementation of outcome documents and decisions of the BRICS Summits. We task our Sherpas to carry this process forward.

China, South Africa, Brazil and Russia express their sincere gratitude to the Government and people of India for hosting the Eighth BRICS Summit in Goa.

India, South Africa, Brazil and Russia convey their appreciation to China for its offer to host the Ninth BRICS Summit in 2017 and extend full support to that end.

BRICS development bank to lend $2.5 billion next year | Reuters

BRICS development bank to lend $2.5 billion next year | Reuters

Updated: Oct 16, 2016 06:27 IST


By Douglas Busvine
| GOA, India

GOA, India The development bank set up by the BRICS group of emerging economies will ramp up lending to $2.5 billion next year after making its first loans to back green projects, its president KV Kamath told Reuters.The BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – agreed to create the New Development Bank (NDB) in July 2014 with initial authorized capital of $100 billion. The lender was officially launched a year later.”The second year is scaling up, concentrating on people, getting all the skillsets in,” said Kamath, a veteran Indian banker appointed as the first head of the Shanghai-based NDB.He was speaking on the fringes of a weekend BRICS summit hosted in the Indian resort of Goa by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The gathering seeks to add substance to the group that grew out of an acronym devised by Goldman Sachs economist Jim O’Neill back in 2003 that projected a long-term boom and global power shift in their favor.

With Russia, Brazil and South Africa on the economic skids and China slowing, the initial euphoria has faded, yet Kamath said the BRICS had much to gain by deepening their cooperation.”The fact is that these countries, collectively, have for the last few years contributed to more than 50 percent of incremental economic wealth that has been generated globally,” said Kamath. “I don’t see that changing.”The NDB, headquartered in Shanghai, will expand its staff to 300 over the next three years but run a tight operation that seeks to take quick decisions and transfer experience across all five BRICS member states.

It has already approved loans totaling $900 million to green projects in each member state. It has also started a renminbi-denominated borrowing program, issuing a 3 billion yuan ($450 million) bond.Kamath, 68, said there was plenty of room for new lenders like the NDB and the Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), in addition to established institutions like the World Bank.

“Infrastructure alone has needs globally of $1-1.5 trillion a year – all the multilateral banks put together can do maybe 15 percent of this,” said Kamath, who ran India’s ICICI Bank Ltd (ICBK.NS) from 1996 until 2009.”The phrase I would like to use is cooperate and work together, rather than compete. I don’t see competition as a key challenge in this context.” (Reporting by Douglas Busvine)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

BRICS Summit: PM Modi, Sushma Swaraj reach Panaji

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi reached Panaji, Goa on Friday night ahead of the BRICS Summit scheduled to start on Saturday. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj also reached Panaji. PM Modi will host a state dinner for the visiting heads of states and government of the BRICS and BIMSTEC groups at the iconic beachside luxury hotel ‘Leela Goa’ on Sunday night. While the five-member BRICS group comprises Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, the seven-member BIMSTEC bloc has Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal.Vladimir Putin of Russia, Xi Jin Ping of China, Michel Temer of Brazil and Jacob Zuma of South Africa will be dining at the Leela, Aung Sang Suu Kyi of Myanmar, Maithripala Sirisena of Sri Lanka, Prayut Chan o Cha of Thailand, Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh, Pushpa Kamal Dahal of Nepal and Tshering Tobgay of Bhutan will be the guests at the hotel.BILATERAL TALKS WITH CHINA, RUSSIAIssues such as India’s NSG membership bid and China blocking UN ban on JeM chief and Pathankot attack mastermind Masood Azhar are likely to be raised by PM Modi during his bilateral talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday. A range of key bilateral and international issues including ways to tackle threat of terrorism besides security situation in the region are also likely to figure in the talks on the sidelines of the BRICS summit.India is likely to reaffirm its concerns over growing Russia-Pakistan military ties when PM Modi holds talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday during which the two sides will look at ramping up their “special and privileged partnership” by inking pacts in areas of defence and nuclear energy.(With Agency Inputs)

Brics meet in Goa: Can India call Pakistan’s bluff on terrorism and win over world opinion?

Ever since Jim O’Neill, former chairman of Goldman Sachs asset management, coined the term Bric for four powerful economies — Brazil, Russia, India and China — in their 2001 paper, The World Needs Better Economic BRICs, the regional grouping has caught the world’s attention. With South Africa joining the club in 2010, BRICS commanded an even bigger influence. It soon evolved into a group with a significant say over the political-economic affairs of the world. Take a look at what Brics means to the world today.

(from left) Michel Temer, Narendra Modi, Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin and Jacob Zuma ahead of the 8th Brics Summit. Twitter @BRICS2016(from left) Michel Temer, Narendra Modi, Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin and Jacob Zuma ahead of the 8th Brics Summit. Twitter @BRICS2016

(from left) Michel Temer, Narendra Modi, Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin and Jacob Zuma ahead of the 8th Brics Summit. Twitter @BRICS2016

According to certain estimates, Brics constitutes nearly half of the world population, one-third of the world’s GDP and close to one-fifth of the world’s trade. The grouping has three heavyweights — China, Russia and India, that practically controls the region, both politically and economically and is seen as an Eastern power centre. The point of highlighting these statistic is to say how critical is the summit slated to be held in Goa on 15, 16 October to the region and the Western world.

In the recent past, Brics has gradually begun to set the stage for a new world economic order.

The formation of the New Development Bank (NDB), also known as BRICS development bank is a big example. Set up in 2014, the NDB sent a signal to the world that the region wants an institution that can eventually offer an alternative to existing multilateral agencies such as International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank and Asian Development Bank (ADB) and that the new body will be more sensitive to the needs of region.

Going by the initial contours, the NDB will have a corpus of $50 billion divided equally between its five founding members, with an initial total of $10 billion in cash put over seven years and $40 billion in guarantees. Another $50 billion is expected to come from other members who join in later. Besides, there will be a currency chest of $100 billion to help member countries meet their emergency cash requirements. China will contribute the largest share of $41 billion to the reserve. Russia, India and Brazil will contribute $18 billion each, while South Africa will contribute $5 billion. One Indian—K V Kamath, former chairman ICICI Bank—is the first chief of BRICS bank. The Goa meet will be looked closely to know how the grouping wants to grow the BRICS development bank from here.

Second, according to reports, the Brics countries are now considering forming a new global credit rating agency for emerging markets to challenge the dominance of western credit rating agencies like Moody’s, Standard and Poor’s and Fitch, whose observations and rating decisions have often come under heavy criticism by some of the developing markets including India. For instance, India has, in the past, challenged the methodology followed by rating agency Moody’s saying the agency has ignored the reforms initiated by the government and it should not wait “till infinity” for them to take root before upgrading the country’s sovereign rating. Presently, there are no alternatives for the eastern world to challenge the dominance of the ‘big three’ of the West. Here again, the Brics meet this weekend will be watched for clues.

Besides the economic factors, the Brics meet this time assumes even more significance in the context of the growing threat of terrorism originating from Pakistan and its impact on rest of the world. India, which managed to completely isolate Pakistan from the Saarc countries in the aftermath of a series of border terrorist attacks by Pakistan-based elements (the latest being Uri), will most likely take up the issue of the Pakistan factor in the Brics meeting. India has already raised concerns on Russia’s suspicious bonhomie with Pakistan, though Russia has openly expressed its willingness to support India’s fight against terrorism.

Similarly, China’s growing influence in Pakistan and China’s economic aid to that country is a matter of concern for India. As Firstpost has noted before, Pakistan economy’s dependence on China to improve its fortunes is so high that a recent World Bank report warned that Pakistan’s prospects of growing even at at modest five percent a year are at risk due to delays in the implementation of the $46-billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects. India is looking at this progress closely, given that it sees potential threats from China. There is a possibility that India will raise its concerns to Brics partners about the danger of extending economic and military aid to Pakistan. Whether India manages to convince the Brics partners about its stance on Pakistan and the need to isolate the country in the larger interest of the region, needs to be seen.

In this backdrop, the Goa meet of Brics isn’t just another event for the world, the region and India, in particular. The meet has crucial, unprecedented significance. Beyond the regional issues, the Goa meet will be watched by the world to gauge how the regional group is silently building a new world order brick by brick that the West can’t ignore any longer.

Data contributed by Kishor Kadam

BRICS to advance agenda for development, peace, reform: PM Modi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ahead of BRICS and BIMSTEC Summits, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said he is looking forward to building bridges to new partnerships and finding common resolve and solutions to entrenched problems of the region. Modi, who will also hold bilateral meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin and other leaders on the sidelines of the Summits in Goa, said they will discuss ways to address “pressing international and regional challenges that stand in the way of our goals”. “I am optimistic that the BRICS Summit will strengthen intra-BRICS cooperation and advance our common agenda for development, peace, stability and reform,” the Prime Minister said in a Facebook post. New initiatives will be launched in Goa by BRICS (Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa) as it marks the successful operationalization of initiatives like the BRICS New Development Bank and the Contingent Reserve Arrangement, he said. The Prime Minister noted that India is facilitating an outreach Summit with the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) comprising Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Nepal, Sir Lanka and Thailand. “Representing nearly two thirds of humanity together, we hope to tap the potential for cooperation and the dividends this will bring,” he said on the first-ever BRICS-BIMSTEC Outreach Summit.Referring to India-Russia Annual Summit, the Prime Minister said Putin’s visit will give an opportunity to consolidate and reaffirm a unique time-tested friendship and partnership with Russia. Terming Brazil as an important strategic partner, Modi said President Michel Temer’s visit will open up new areas for cooperation with the country. “As Chair of the BRICS this year, India has embraced a stronger emphasis on promoting people-to-people linkages in diverse fields including trade, sports, education, films, scholarship, and tourism,” he said. BRICS Summit will be held in Goa on 15-16 October, followed by the BRICS-BIMSTEC Outreach Summit.

Ahead of summit, BRICS Sherpas discuss Goa Declaration, UN reforms

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A meeting of BRICS Sherpas to discuss and finalise text of the Goa Declaration and the Goa Action Plan for adoption by the leaders at the Summit took place in Goa on Thursday and would continue their meeting tomorrow as well, said sources. The meeting is chaired by Ministry of External Affairs Ministry Secretary for Economic Relation Amar Sinha, who is the Indian sherpa.The Sherpas discussed several important subjects, including reform of the United Nations and International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Trade Organisation (WTO) and G20 issues, progress on the sustainable development goals, etc, said sources.A particular focus was on intra-BRICS trade, finance and industrial cooperation as well as BRICS cooperation in education, health, agriculture, science, energy and disaster management, whereas terrorism being a common challenge faced by all BRICS counties was an important part of the discussion.The theme of India’s BRICS Chairmanship is ‘Building Responsive, Inclusive and Collective Solutions’ and has been marked by several new initiatives, enhanced people to people contacts and broad basing BRICS Sectoral cooperation. The focus during India’s BRICS Chairmanship will be on enhanced people-to-people (P2P) contacts of BRICS member states, especially youth. In this context, India has planned activities like U-17 Football Tournament, Youth Summit, Young Diplomats’ Forum, Film Festival etc.The Eighth BRICS Summit will be held in Goa on October 15-16, where leaders from all member countries — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — will participate.Divulging detail of the BRICS programme in New Delhi during a media briefing on October 7, Sinha said, “Basically, it is a two-day event on October 15 and 16, and normally, the BRICS Summit starts with an informal dinner, which will be held on October 15 in Goa. At that event, we are also trying to bring all the five captains of the participating teams – because there would be also the final of the Under 17 football tournament – to meet the leaders and, perhaps, to have a photo-op with them.””The main summit day is October 16, which will start with a group photo, and then, a restricted meeting of the five BRICS’ leaders, followed by a working luncheon. Thereafter, the leaders will meet the business council and accept the report from them. Besides, there will be for the first time a briefing by New Development Bank (NDB) president KV Kamath, because they have completed a year of functioning and they have issued the first loans, so they would be coming and presenting a report,” said Secretary (ER).”Later, we will have a plenary, where the Prime Minister will address the media in the presence of all the leaders, and there will be the leaders’ statement at the end,” he said.Sinha further said in the evening of October 16, there first would be a BIMSTEC meeting that the Prime Minister would chair, followed by a meeting of BRICS and BIMSTEC leaders.And the final event would be a BRICS-BIMSTEC outreach dinner, he added.BRICS brings together five major emerging economies Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa comprising 43% of the world population, 30% of the world GDP and 17% share in the world trade.

Brics summit in Goa: Forget Hindi-Chini bhai-bhai and get tough with China

Dealing with Pakistan’s export of terror is difficult enough for India. Add to this tragedy a third player, China, which not only backs Pakistan but even plays nasty economic games against India, and then it’s quite a tough job to handle.

That’s what Prime Minister Narendra Modi must remember as he hosts the summit of the five-nation Brics and a retreat for the leaders of the seven-nation Bimstec this weekend in Goa. Pakistan is part of neither Brics nor Bimstec but will be at the back of Modi’s mind when he talks to President Xi Jinping of China in Goa.

India must reconcile to the fact that, in foreseeable future, both Pakistan and China will continue to be its adversaries. Having already made enough gullible attempts to turn both those countries into friends, India must now begin to find ways to “manage” its relations with the rogue country on the west and its ally on the east in a manner that would be to its best advantage.

India’s recipe to fight China must have more of economics than diplomacy. Then as a spin-off, India can hope for a more sober Pakistan, though there is no guarantee of that since nobody knows who is — and who will be, in future — in charge of Pakistan’s affairs.

What makes the cash route a better bet to fight China is the slow-down in China’s economy. The dragon is breathing less economic fire now, and though it’s not ready to have its wings clipped, it’s more vulnerable than ever before.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

But it would take only a fool or a jingoist to believe that India is better off than China. Though India’s economy is showing impressive signs of improvement, Chinese economy, even with its present mess, is still many times larger than India’s, and the Chinese military much stronger.

It’s also preposterous to even suggest that India must curb trade ties with China, in retaliation for the latter’s brazen backing for Pakistan. Economically, India needs China as much as China does India.

Western economists differ on whether China’s economic troubles are subsiding, and their assessments are not proving to be reliable. Yet the stories that continue to come out of China of job losses, unemployment and salary cuts are good news for India.

That’s what India must leverage to perk up its own economy and to bring down its own unemployment and poverty levels, say some well-meaning experts.

Like India has replied to Pakistan’s terror in its own langue with surgical strikes, India must deal with China by employing the same methodology of chicanery that the eastern neighbour has made itself notorious for: by dropping a subtle hint here and there, and by making it clear that India will do business with China on its own terms.

Brics is a good place to start, and China is already getting the right message not only from India but other countries of the bloc as well. Media reports suggest that India, along with other Brics members, are showing no interest in a “Brics Free Trade Agreement” that China wants to peddle to them at this week’s summit. This proposal is designed in a way to further China’s own interests, not anybody else’s.

Paying for its past follies, China is indeed a desperate nation today.

AFP reported on 10 October that China’s foreign exchange reserves, the largest in the world, have fallen to a five-year-low to less than US $3.18 trillion this week. But India’s reserves — $371.2 billion this week, though a fraction of China’s—are showing an upward trend.

But that’s not the point. What matters more is what the world thinks of the Chinese and what India should do to rein the Communist nation that has no respect for international rule of law, human rights, treaties or the global fight against terrorism, and for whom transparency is a dirty word.

But even China—where most things are shrouded in a sinister secrecy and where the very composition of its foreign reserves itself is a state secret—can occasionally be candid. That, again, perhaps is part of the Chinese passion to surprise the enemy.

On 5 October, a Xinhua report quoted a Chinese official as having made an oblique confession that the world at large thinks of the Chinese as fraudsters who are unreliable to do business with.

The official said China’s trade remained under heavy downward pressure, partly due to “increasing trade frictions” with nations around the world

In the last eight months, he admitted, 20 countries including the US launched 85 “trade remedy probes” against Chinese deals worth US $ 10.3 billion, almost double the amount for the same period last year. These relate to patent or trademark infringement, misappropriation of trade secrets, false advertising and violation of antitrust laws.

A recent Reuters report said: “China’s offshore ambitions have come under increasing scrutiny this year by governments in Europe and the United States.”

The Chinese are learning, though slowly, that their policies could one day lead to their isolation in the world. Already, China finds itself to be somewhat of a pariah within Brics, though not to the same extent as Pakistan is in Saarc — yet.

Among Brics members, India suffers from a trade deficit of $ 52.7 billion with China. This means China’s exports to India far outstrip its imports from India. Russia has its own $-12-billion trade deficit with China. Though Brazil and South Africa enjoy trade surpluses with China, all four countries are suspicious of any move that China makes that they think can even remotely affect the balance unfairly.

Pakistan may be a vassal state of China, but Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa are not. They would be ready to call China’s economic bluff, though the four countries together don’t present a pretty picture of unity themselves.

There are some who argue that India must do more business with China to offset the security threat from Pakistan. One of them is, Niti Aayog’s Vice-Chairman Arvind Panagariya, who told India Today: “… our economic engagement with China can trump the security engagement of China with Pakistan.”

But those like Subhash Kapila, former Indian diplomat in Japan and the US, don’t agree. Kapila argues in this article: “The China-Pakistan Axis with strategic underpinnings pointedly aimed at India is also an established strategic reality. India vainly keeps hoping that economics would ultimately prevail and modulate China’s patent targeting of India’s strategic rise in Indo Pacific Asia.”

The way to grapple with the China problem lies in both politics and economics in right proportions. While using its own significant economic clout, India must raise its voice against China’s hypocritical and hegemonistc advances in the region.

It is clear that, whatever Modi does or says in Goa this week, a meek surrender to the Chinese blackmail is not an option. The days of Jawaharlal Nehru’s gullible Hindi-Chini bhai bhai are long gone. Having called Pakistan’s bluff, India must now call China’s.

The author tweets @sprasadindia

To enhance mutual trust and get India-China closer, media needs to build on ‘positive energies’: China

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Amidst the negativity in Sino- India ties, a senior Chinese Communist Party official on Thursday underlined the need for the media in both countries to build on the “positive energies” in bilateral relations to enhance mutual trust and bring the two Asian giants closer.Addressing the 3rd India-China Media Dialogue here, Tuo Zhen, Vice-Minister, Publicity Department of the ruling Communist Party of China Central Committee, said journalists in the two countries could help forge better bilateral relations by projecting what was “good and positive” in the two neighbouring nations, also ancient civilisations.”It can generate a lot of positive energy” if the media in both countries highlight the positive news that has been taking place, he said. Tuo said the field for bilateral cooperation was vast and there was great potential to develop fast, including in areas like media and culture. By jointly exploring opportunities in these areas, the two countries could improve mutual understanding among each other, the senior official said.Tuo also called for stepped up cooperation among the media in the BRICS grouping, saying it would also lead to enhanced mutual understanding among the people of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Senior journalists from China, who participated in the dialogue, said that there was an urgent need to improve perceptions that has a very important role in molding public opinion in both countries.Deputy Editor of China Daily, Gao Anming said the two countries should focus on developing their economies and take help from each other on their strengths. For example, China should tap India’s strength in areas like Information Technology, financial services and pharmaceuticals while India can focus on China’s strengths in infrastructure and other areas.Interestingly, the media dialogue took place at a time when China-India ties have witnessed stress due to issues like China’s opposition to India’s efforts to get JeM chief Masood Azhar banned by the UN and Beijing’s efforts to scuttle India’s membership bid at NSG. Indian journalists at the dialogue also raised India’s concerns on these issues and the need for China to be sensitive to New Delhi’s interests.

The bittersweet India- China deal

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In school, during skits or presentations we make groups with whom we are comfortable with or have a chance to win or do well. Similarly, countries too form groups to help in each other’s progress, whereby there is equality and mutual benefit. One such group is the BRICS. Brazil, Russia, India and China are the original members of BRIC, which took shape in 2006. The first summit meeting was held on 16th June 2009. The aim is to improve the global economic situation by cooperating with each other and making trade easier. The eighth annual BRICS summit will be held in Goa from 15-16 October 2016.Vying for the no1 spotThe two big giants of the group, China and India have the highest growth rate in the world. It is essential for India and China to maintain good relationships. However, the two countries haven’t shared the best of relationships and instead stood on opposing grounds. After the 1962 war against India, China had supported Pakistan by providing supplies. A key factor to India’s Nuclear Suppliers Group membership was also denied by China’s vote. Recently after the attacks in Kashmir, China has remained neutral on the attacks by saying that it is in contact with India and Pakistan and hoped that the countries would jointly enhance communication.Trade mattersThe political relations may be strained but economically the two countries trade worth was $70.73 billion in 2015-16. India exports iron, steel, leather, cotton, tin, plastic etc. and China exports telecom instruments, computer hardware, fertilizers, chemicals etc. BRICS countries exports to rest of the world were $3.48 trillion in 2014. Between 2006 and 2015, BRICS’s trade increased 163 percent from $93 to $244 billion. Thus it is essential for India and China to build their relationship as they make up an important part of the trade world.The plan for 2016The BRICS summit meet held each year helps to discuss the changes that need to be brought in to improve the relationship between the member countries and also benefit the nations. This year’s theme being Building, Responsive, Inclusive and Collective Solutions. The plan for this year is to deepen the cooperation between the nations, implementing decisions of previous summits, finding better policies and methods and continuing the policies of the past. China has proposed a free trade area (zone where there would no government restrictions and tax on imports), which would be discussed during the meet. China is also ready to hold talks with India regarding its entry into NSG, which would boost India’s prospects of getting a membership.The BRICS summit is crucial as there is a need to balance the India-China relationship, which not only affects the BRICS nations but also the economy of the world.

India conveys its opposition on Russia-Pakistan military exercise to Moscow

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ahead of their annual bilateral Summit, India has conveyed its opposition to Russia over its joint exercise with Pakistan, a nation which “sponsors and practises terrorism as a matter of State policy”, saying it will create further problems.”We have conveyed our views to the Russian side that military cooperation with Pakistan which is a State that sponsors and practises terrorism as a matter of State policy is a wrong approach and it will only create further problems,” Indian Ambassador to Moscow Pankaj Saran said in an interview to Russian news agency Ria Novosti.Saran’s remarks come ahead of the bilateral meeting in Goa on Saturday between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin, who will be arriving in India on October 14. Apart from bilateral Summit, Putin will attend the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) meet on October 16.India has been communicating its unhappiness to Russia over its joint military exercises with Pakistan. However, these concerns have been played down by the Russians who maintain that they hold similar military drills with other countries of the region as well.Saran also said, “There are some burning issues before the world today which the BRICS countries will certainly address and this includes the question of terrorism and the threat of terrorism faced by all the countries in the BRICS group. So this will be a major item of discussion during the Summit apart from the regional conflicts and the global situation.”On Indo-Russia ties, the envoy said as far as India’s relations with Russia are concerned, the two countries share a special and privileged strategic partnership.”We see no change in this. On the contrary, this has only strengthened in all areas, including in the field of military-technical cooperation. This partnership is an anchor of peace and stability in the region and the world.”We have a regular system of military exercises with Russia. We have been holding these exercises for the last few years with Russia and we will continue to do so. The plan for these exercises is drawn up between the relevant agencies of the two sides. This will continue even next year,” he said.Saran also talked about the cooperation in the field of civil nuclear sector, trade and investments.Russia had held first-ever joint military exercise with Pakistan in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa region in September.Saran said as far as nuclear cooperation was concerned, the ties were “historic”.”We have five other units for Kudankulam project. Unit-2 is in the process of achieving criticality and work on Units 3 and 4 is in the process of beginning. As far as Units 5 and 6 are concerned, we are working with the Russian side to finalise a General Framework Agreement and a Credit Protocol,” he said, hoping to conclude the negotiations to mutual benefit for the two countries.On commercial ties, he said the two sides were “actively” working to meet the bilateral trade target of USD 30 billion by 2025.

China ready for NSG talks with India but opposed to UN ban on Azhar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ahead of President Xi Jinping’s visit to India, China on Monday said it is ‘ready’ for talks with India on its entry into the NSG but defended extending a hold on India’s bid for a UN ban on JeM chief Masood Azhar, saying Beijing is opposed to anyone making “political gains in the name of counter-terrorism”.Briefing media on Xi’s visit to India this week to take part in the BRICS Summit in Goa, China’s Vice Foreign Minister Li Baodong again harped on the need to build consensus over the admission of new members in the 48-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).Asked if any progress on the issue of India’s admission into NSG can be expected in the meeting between Xi and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit, Li said NSG rules stipulate consensus among the members to admit new ones.”These rules are not to be decided by China alone. On the issue, China and India have maintained good communication and we are ready to continue consultations with India to build consensus and we also hope India can go to other members of the NSG as well,” Li said replying to a question on China’s reservations on India’s admission to the elite nuclear trading club.”In this aspect we are also ready for discussions with India to explore possibilities but things need to be in keeping up with procedures, norms and regulations of the NSG. On this issue, China position is consistent. That is why China has often said international law must be observed,” he said.Xi will travel to Goa to attend the BRICS Summit scheduled to held between October 15-16. The BRICS grouping consists of Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa.While India has blamed one country, without naming China, for stalling its membership in the NSG, both the countries held talks recently to iron out differences.After talks with India, China also has held similar talks with Pakistan, which also applied for membership in the influential grouping.Replying to a question on criticism about China’s move to stall India’s bid for a UN ban on Azhar – head of Pakistan-based terrorist group Jaish-e-Muhammad, Li sought to justify Beijing’s recent technical hold in the matter, saying: “China is opposed to all forms of terrorism.” “There should be no double standards on counter- terrorism. Nor should one pursue own political gains in the name of counter-terrorism,” he said in a veiled reference to India, which is pressing for the UN ban against Azhar over his role in the Pathankot terror attack.China had announced the extension of its “technical hold” on India’s bid to get Azhar designated as a terrorist by the UN on October 1, days before it was to expire. The hold can continue for upto three months more.

Manohar Parrikar, Rajnath Singh meet to discuss Kashmir, and security for BRICS Summit

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Friday met Home Minister Rajnath Singh and discussed with him various issues, including situation in Jammu and Kashmir and security for BRICS Summit to be held in Goa next month. During the half-an-hour long meeting, the two senior ministers discussed the prevailing situation in Kashmir Valley as well as steps taken to check infiltration from across the border, official sources said. The reports of suspicious movement of some unidentified persons along the Maharashtra coast, also figured in the meeting.Singh and Parrikar, who hails from Goa and is a former Chief Minister of the state, discussed the security preparation for the BRICS Summit to be held in Panaji on October 15-16, the sources said.Presidents of Brazil, Russia, China, South Africa, besides Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend the BRICS meeting. Normal life remained affected in the Valley for the 77th straight day due to restrictions and separatist sponsored strike.Curfew was imposed in parts of Srinagar in view of apprehensions of law and order problems after Friday prayers. Shops, business establishments and petrol pumps continued to remain shut in Srinagar and elsewhere in the Valley, while public transport was off the roads. Schools, colleges and other educational institutions also continued to remain shut.

Kiren Rijiju says BRICS nations should work together on Disaster Risk Reduction

New Delhi: Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju on Monday urged BRICS countries to come together for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), saying it will help in influencing the global agenda for strengthening efforts on the issue.

Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju. PIB

Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju. PIB

India is willing to stand shoulder to shoulder with other BRICS nations and explore all possible areas of collaboration in DRR, he said while inaugurating a two-day BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) meeting on disaster management in Udaipur, Rajasthan.

According to a press release issued here, the minister said that DRR is a “high priority area” for Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“It is time that we move away from a static understanding of risk, and that we must realize that tomorrow’s risk is being built today,” he said, adding that there is a strong need to focus on urban disasters keeping in mind that a large number of people will be living in cities by 2050.

“We need to move towards an all-society approach to tackle disasters. While governments have to pay a central role, they cannot do it by themselves. They have to take everybody along. The government action must be geared towards empowering and supporting communities and individuals to be more and more self-reliant in their quest for resilience,” Rijiju added.

PM Modi to visit four African nations from 7 to 11 July

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will embark on a five-day visit to Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Kenya beginning 7 July, with an aim to further deepen India’s engagement with the resource-rich African continent where China has been expanding its influence.

The prime minister’s visit comes within weeks after President Pranab Mukherjee and Vice-President Hamid Ansari travelled to Africa to strengthen and reinvigorate India’s ties.

“The visit will provide opportunities to build on close contacts at the highest political level and enhance mutual cooperation and understanding on major issues of common interests,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.

India’s current trade with Africa is around $75 billion and it has granted a whopping $7.4 billion for various developmental and capacity building projects in the past four years. India has implemented nearly 140 projects in 41 African countries during the period.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AFPPrime Minister Narendra Modi. AFP

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. AFP

Modi’s first destination will be Mozambique where he will have bilateral discussions with President Nyusi on 7 July to expand existing cooperation.

In the second leg of his tour from 8 to 9 July, Modi will be in South Africa, where he will have meetings with President Jacob Zuma and other senior leaders across the political spectrum.

South Africa was among very few countries which was known to have some reservations over India’s bid for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

The prime minister is also expected to visit Johannesburg, Pietermaritzburg and Durban during the visit, Swarup said.

India’s ties with South Africa is considered crucial and both countries work closely in various multilateral fora like BRICS (Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa), tripartite grouping IBSA (India, Brazil, South Africa), G-20 and BASIC, a bloc of four large countries — Brazil, South Africa, India and China.

On 10 July, the prime minister will have meetings with Tanzanian President John Pombe Joseph Magufuli on a range of areas with an aim to further enhance mutual cooperation and understanding on major issues of common interest, said Swarup.

On the final leg of his trip, Modi will travel to Kenya where he will have bilateral discussions with President Kenyatta.

The prime minister will also address students in the University of Nairobi during the visit.

“The visit of the Prime Minister to the African mainland reflects India’s desire to further strengthen and reinvigorate bilateral ties with our African partners,” said Swarup.

India had organised a four-day-long summit here with African countries in October last year which was attended by representatives of 54 African nations, including heads of state and government of around 40 countries.

Govt investigating dumping of non-woven fabric from 5 nations

India has initiated a probe into dumping of non-woven fabric from five countries including China, Malaysia and Indonesia to protect the domestic industry from cheap imports.The Directorate General of Anti-Dumping and Allied Duties (DGAD) has found “sufficient prima facie evidence” of dumping of the products from Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Saudi Arabia and China.Global Nonwovens Ltd has filed an application before the DGAD to initiate an investigation regarding the same.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The authority hereby initiates an investigation into the alleged dumping and consequent injury to the domestic industry …to determine the existence, degree and effect of alleged dumping and to recommend the amount of anti-dumping duty, which if levied, would be adequate to remove the injury to the domestic industry,” the DGAD said in a notification.The period of investigation covers July 2015 to March 2016.Countries start anti-dumping probe to determine whether their domestic industries have been hurt because of a surge in below-cost imports. As a counter measure, they impose duties under the multilateral regime of WTO. The duty is aimed at ensuring fair trading practices and creating a level-playing field for domestic producers vis-a-vis foreign producers and exporters.India has already imposed anti-dumping duty on several products to tackle cheap imports from some countries, including China.According to a WTO report, India, the US and Brazil were the leading initiators of anti-dumping investigations in 2015. The WTO members initiated 107 new anti-dumping investigations from January-June 2015, slightly up from 106 in the same period in 2014, the report said.

New Zealand rekindles India’s hopes, but NPT question looms large

Even as Opposition continued to attack the Modi government for failing to seek entry into the Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG), New Zealand, one of the countries which threw a spanner in the works, on Tuesday clarified that it didn’t oppose India’s entry. New Zealand high commissioner in India Grahame Morton said his country only wanted a criterion to be fixed for the entry of non-NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty) states into the 48-nation NSG.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Rekindling India’s hopes, he said the Seoul meeting was not an end of the road. “It is a process and talk will continue,” he said.While India has blamed “one country” (read China) for blocking its bid to the elite group, there were other countries that had reservations, which included Turkey, Brazil, Austria, Switzerland and New Zealand. It is now believed that New Zealand and Ireland wanted the criteria for membership to come first, before an announcement that India was meeting those criteria. Reports said Brazil, Mexico and Switzerland also stressed on a criterian, but they made it clear if India’s nuclear record matches with criteria, a parallel announcement of its membership could be made.The envoy said it is very important for NSG members to consider carefully what criteria should be used in assessing applications from non-NPT states. “This is a consistent position,” he said. President Pranab Mukherjee visited New Zealand last May to convince the country to extend its support on the NSG issue. “We believe constructive discussions should lead to a pathway against which India’s application can be properly considered,” he said. The high commissioner further said the NSG doors for India were not closed and a constructive discussion will lead to some solution.Experts, however, believe that in the coming months India will be under considerable pressure to sign and ratify the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which it has been terming as discriminatory.Han Hua, director for Arms Control and Disarmament at Peking University pointed out that if India, is admitted to the NSG as a nuclear weapon state — in the same category as the permanent members of the UN Security Council, it would trigger an outcry among other nuclear-capable states.Meanwhile, Opposition parties continued to criticise Modi, saying his foreign policy lacks coherence, clarity and consistency. Both the Congress and the Left also questioned the government’s Pakistan policy.”Nobody is against engaging with Pakistan but what we have questioned him (Modi) is about not taking the opposition into confidence,” Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma said. He said diplomacy does not require theatrics and needs seriousness, gravitas.CPI-M leader Brinda Karat said there is a “show-based” policy rather than a serious diplomatic initiative to deal with a neighbour which undoubtedly has been encouraging terrorists groups against India. “One day you say you are going to bomb Pakistan. The other day your Home Minister (Rajnath Singh) said you are not going to count the bullets that are going to be used against Pakistan,” Karat said, adding that the Prime Minister had gone to Pakistan to meet Nawaz Sharif on his birthday.

China upsets India’s NSG plans at Seoul plenary meeting

Despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself leading a heightened diplomacy, India’s bid to secure membership to the 48-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) hit a dead end on Friday. Atleast 16 countries, led by China, raked up procedural issues as well as India not signing Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to scuttle India’s chances to the elite nuclear club. An upset ministry of external affairs (MEA) in a clear reference to Beijing, said one country persistently created procedural “hurdles” during the two-day discussions at Seoul, where the NSG concluded its plenary meeting.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While the Opposition bayed for the blood of the PM, terming the developments in Seoul as an “embarrassment” to India, many senior diplomats argued that India’s attempt to seek a high-table at the nuclear club was worth trying. Former foreign secretary Shyam Saran, who was instrumental in getting a waiver from the NSG in 2008, said there was nothing wrong in making a bid. India should no longer fear foreign policy failure. “If India sees an opportunity, New Delhi should be prepared to seize it even if there are risks involved,” he said. Many others also believes that diplomatic blitzkrieg for the NSG was also to test waters for making bid for more higher table, like that of a permanent seat at the UN Security Council.Strategic expert and director of Society for Policies Study, Uday Bhaskar said while the outcome was disappointing, it was not surprising. “It is evident that despite the determined attempt by the Modi government to persuade NSG members to support India. This did not materialise due to certain cynical realpolitik considerations,” he said. While saying that it was not a not a major setback for New Delhi, he called for recalibrating of nuclear diplomacy and outreach to ensure that its credibility to the nuclear domain is appropriately acknowledged.The NSG works through consensus with even a single country having capacity to halt a decision. Surprise for Indian diplomats was reservations expressed by Brazil and Switzerland. Both of them had earlier committed to support India’s bid. Fresh from Iranian nuclear crisis, the countries forcefully argued to making a case for countries to enter into the NPT, before being allowed to do nuclear trade. They also apprehended, that an exception granted to India would be exploited by other non-NPT countries as well. Pakistan’s application for the membership is also pending before the NSG.The criticism of India was not only that it had not signed the NPT, but also that it had not fulfilled the commitments it made while getting NSG waiver in 2008. Diplomatic sources here said that some countries raised the issue of India’s progress towards CTBT and also separation of its civilian and military nuclear reactors and reports about the safety of nuclear programme.The MEA statement, while blaming one particular country, said signing of the NPT was not necessary as per the NSG rules. But officials here say, there was no problem in signing the NPT if India is formally declared sixth legitimate nuclear power.At the end meeting, the NSG countries in a statement declared “firm support” for “full, complete and effective” implementation of the NPT as the cornerstone of the international non-proliferation regime. The wording was enough to carry a message that no exception will be made in the case of India. It, however, said the grouping will continue to have discussions on participation of countries which have not signed the NPT. Confirming that India’s application was discussed during the two-day deliberations, the NSG statement, under a sub-heading ‘Outreach’, said it shared information on all aspects of the 2008 Statement on Civil Nuclear Cooperation with India and discussed the NSG relationship with India.MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup said despite procedural hurdles persistently raised by ‘one country’, a three-hour long discussion took place on Thursday night on the issue of future participation in the NSG, in which an overwhelming number of those who took the floor supported India’s membership and appraised India’s application positively. “We thank each and every one of them. It is also our understanding that the broad sentiment was to take this matter forward,” he said. He added that an early positive decision by the NSG would have allowed India to move forward on the Paris Climate Change Agreement.Chinese negotiator, Wang Qun, who is director general of China’s Department of Arms Control, told reporters that there was no consensus on the NSG membership of non-NPT countries like India. He insisted that for a country to be a member of NSG, signing of the NPT “is a must”. This rule has not been set by China but by the international community, he added. Wang warned “if exceptions are allowed here or there on the question of NPT, the international non-proliferation will collapse altogether”.Chinese stand shows that Prime Minister Modi’s meeting with President Xi Jinping at Tashkent had failed to yield results. Modi had urged Xi to make a “fair and objective” assessment of India’s credentials as the two leaders met on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Summit.Official sources said that China was initially joined by Austria, Ireland, Switzerland and Brazil to question admission of a non-NPT country. They were later joined by other countries as well, who though mild raised the issue that once a window is opened, it would be discriminatory to block other non-NPT countries. In the NSG plenary, chaired by ambassador Song Young-wan of South Korea, the participating governments also called upon all states to exercise vigilance and to ensure effective implementation of all United Nations Security Council resolutions relevant to the work and purposes of the NSG.While the NSG did discuss India’s case for three hours on Thursday evening, Pakistan’s case was not taken up at all. Pakistan’s foreign secretary Aizaz Chaudhry remained in Seoul during the NSG plenary meeting, and it is learnt that his team met representatives from 25 countries on the sidelines of the session.Pakistan’s foreign office spokesman Nafees Zakaria said Islamabad would continue to highlight its strong credentials and pursue NSG membership based on non-discriminatory and objective criteria. He further said that Pakistani and Indian applications cannot be considered in isolation from the goal of maintaining strategic stability in South Asia.Diplomacy no tamasha: CongStating that the PM needs to realise that diplomacy needs “depth and seriousness and not public tamasha,” Congress senior spokesman Anand Sharma said, “We do not know why India showed its desperation and allowed the country to be equated with Pakistan on the issue.” The party also deplored external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj statement on Pakistan’s entry into the NSG, “based on merit”.“Absolutely shocking to equate India with Pakistan whose non-proliferation record is deplorable from the way it sold the nuclear material to the rogue states,” former Maharashtra CM and MoS to former PM Manmohan Singh Prithviraj Chavan told reporters here. Asked if India should sign the NPT, Chavan retorted: “Absolutely not… it’s a discriminatory treaty.”

Modi govt staging ‘public tamashas’ in the name of NSG bid: Congress

Accusing the present Modi Government of indulging in ‘public tamashas’, the Congress Party on Friday dubbed the BJP-led NDA government as ‘desperate’ and accused the saffron party of allowing India into the NSG elite group, saying this kind of hectic campaigning was not required.”It is an embarrassment for India to do what was not required. When there are no obstacles when it comes to nuclear trade with the NSG countries, it was unnecessary. We do not know why India showed its desperation and allowed India to be equated with Pakistan on the issue of NSG membership,” senior Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma told ANI.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”It’s high time that Prime Minister Narendra Modi realizes that diplomacy requires gravitas, depth, seriousness and not ‘pubic tamashas’,” he added.Sharma said that this kind of intense lobbying could be justified in case of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government trying to get UN Security Council membership.”We have never seen diplomacy being conducted in a manner in which Prime Minister Modi and his government have done, making it very clear that whom you are lobbying with and whom you are petitioning with,” he further said.Earlier on Friday, China said that the NSG will not discuss its membership bid into the elite group, adding that New Delhi will first have to sign the NPT, as it is a must and a major criteria set up by the NSG.Speaking to ANI in Seoul, Director-General of the Arms Control Department of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China Wang Qun asserted that India’s membership has ‘never ever’ been on the agenda of the NSG and that there is no such agenda item for the two-day plenary, adding that there is no point of China opposing or supporting India as well as the membership of other countries.”One thing is clear that India’s membership has never ever been taken up as an agenda item. In the two plenary sessions, there was no extraordinary session on this matter. There is no such agenda matter. In the caveat there could be observations and interventions but that’s all,” he said.Earlier, highly placed sources told ANI that China is not the sole opponent to India’s member ship to the NSG, but Brazil, Austria, Ireland, Turkey and New Zealand too have opposed India’s entry, citing it’s not being a signatory of the NPT for nuclear weapons and weapons technology.Meanwhile, on a day on mixed developments for India Canada and Braxil have extended their complete support to New Delhi.According to sources, Brazil on Friday supported India’s bid but called for a common criteria for all non-NPT states. Brazil also said that India has by far a better nuclear proliferation record than Pakistan.However, in a complete shocker, Switzerland, who had earlier extended its complete support, has now opposed New Delhi’s bid citing it being a non NPT state. This comes as a jolt for India as earlier, during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Switzerland, the European nation had extended its complete support.

Lessons of India’s NSG entry: China-Pak axis is now a fact of life

In order to sensibly analyse what is happening over India’s possible admission to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), one must take account of how the global political scene has changed over the past eight years, since India was given a waiver in 2008.

The most obvious change is China’s emergence as a superpower. It does not yet project power across the globe as much as the US, but it is less chary of arrogating global power to itself than it was eight years ago. Its influence over other countries has increased significantly; willy-nilly, that has dented the ‘globo-cop’ role which the US was able to take on after the collapse of the Soviet Union a quarter-century ago. That Russia has made a strong comeback on the world stage in the new century has further decreased the reach of the US’s power. So has the failure of its ‘shock-and-awe’ invasion of Iraq.

A related change is that China has adopted Pakistan as a key economic, political, and military ally. Indeed, Pakistan is now arguably China’s most trusted strategic ally. Chinese troops are deployed in parts of the Jammu and Kashmir state controlled by Pakistan, and an extraordinary economic corridor is coming up through that state all the way to the Arabian Sea. It is slated to be China’s most important neo-‘silk route.’

Representational image. Getty ImagesRepresentational image. Getty Images

Representational image. Getty Images

Since at least the 1970s, the two countries’ cooperation has focused most sharply on nuclear power; China has either given, or helped Pakistan to develop, technologies and hardware for nuclear weapons, fissile material and missiles. Even beyond the nuclear field, the two countries’ military cooperation has increased tremendously over the years.

One must therefore understand that China’s resistance to India’s admission to the NSG is to a large extent an integrated Sino-Pakistani resistance. Pakistan has been antagonistic towards India since its birth. India needs to get used to the fact that China too is not positively disposed.

It has become clear since 2008 that China wants to keep India uncertain and under pressure. Since the end of that year, its troops have made periodic forays into territories of Jammu and Kashmir that India considers to be under its control. China had also stopped issuing visas on the Indian passports of citizens from that state. And it has, during this period, made it clear that it considers the state to be disputed, and that it sees a role for itself at the negotiating table for a resolution.

When India was given a waiver in 2008, US President George W Bush had gone out of his way to exert his country’s considerable pressure on a range of member countries. Since then, sections of the US establishment may have been disappointed in their expectations of nuclear-related sales to India — which has rightly demonstrated that it will decide each purchase on merits according to its interests.

On the other hand, Pakistan and China have obviously done a lot of spadework in the world’s chanceries this time round. According to reports, Brazil, Austria, Ireland, New Zealand and Turkey raised objections. Most objections have centred, either explicitly or implicitly, on the need to establish norms for admission that would allow the Group to deal with a Pakistani application. The behaviour of Brazil, which is in the throes of a messy political transition, is particularly intriguing.

On the other hand, India’s case was brought up by Japan, which occupies the high moral ground on the issue of nuclear proliferation — as the only country to have suffered nuclear weapon strikes. India also had strong support from France – a leading seller in the nuclear market.

India can take comfort from the fact that its diplomacy succeeded to a large success. Prime Minister Narendra Modi did well to ask Chinese President Xi Jinping to consider the issue of India’s admission objectively on its merits. In diplomacy, what is left unsaid is as important as what is said. At this juncture, it would have been counterproductive to acknowledge that India sees that China is closely aligned to Pakistan.

Goa getting ready to host BRICS summit in October

Goa government is putting in place required infrastructure and making arrangements for the eighth annual summit of BRICS, a bloc of five emerging economies, to be held in the coastal state in October.Over 8,000 delegates from Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa (BRICS) are expected to take part in the mega event to be held from October 15-16. India is hosting the summit in its capacity as chair of the influential bloc.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”BRICS summit will be held in Goa in October and we are building all the required infrastructure for it. Over 8,000 delegates from the five member-countries are expected to participate in it,” Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar said.He was speaking to mediapersons after presiding over a meeting with the secretaries and senior officers, held to take stock of preparations for the event.”This will be a high-profile international event with VVIPs attending it. Therefore, we need to be well prepared for providing them best facilities and comfort,” he said.”We want to create infrastructure that can be maintained and used even after the event is over. We still have three more months to go for the summit,” Parsekar said.BRICS member-countries account for 42% of the world population and have a combined GDP of over US $16 trillion.

BRICS New Development Bank to issue bonds in Chinese currency

Beijing: Shanghai-based New Development Bank (NDB) is set to issue its first yuan-denominated bonds, and is eyeing future funding for infrastructure projects.

The bank was founded in July 2014 by the BRICS countries of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa to finance sustainable development in the emerging markets and developing countries, the China Daily reported on Wednesday.

Its first five-year yuan-denominated bonds, also referred as green bonds, will be issued after receiving a rating from international ratings agencies as well as getting authorities’ approval, said Paolu Nogueira Batista, the bank’s vice-president for economic research, strategy and partnerships and chief risk officer.

New Development bank BRICSNew Development bank BRICS

BRICS leaders at the 6th BRICS summit where they signed the agreement to form New Development Bank. File Photo. Reuters

Batista outlined the bank’s plans on Monday at the closing ceremony of the Shanghai Forum, an annual meeting of officials, academics, business chiefs and world opinion leaders, that discusses issues such as business solutions and social governance.

Batista said that more bonds denominated in local currencies of the BRICS countries, including the rupee in India, will be issued if the bank’s board and local authorities endorse the project plans.

He said that as a result local investors will be more engaged in projects financing sustainable development because they will be exposed to less currency exchange volatility with bonds issued in local currencies.

The NDB announced its first batch of loans on 16 April, providing $300 million to Brazil, $81 million to China, $250 million to India and $180 million to South Africa.

So far, the projects the bank has been working on are all financing sustainable energy projects, such as solar power and hydropower, an initiative that is included in the bank’s articles of agreement.

WHO rejects call for Olympics to be moved due to Zika | Reuters

LONDON, The World Health Organization (WHO) on Saturday rejected a call for the Rio Olympic Games to be moved or postponed due to the threat posed by a large outbreak of Zika virus in Brazil.

Responding to a call from more than 100 leading scientists, who said it would be unethical for the Games to go ahead as scheduled, the United Nations health agency said having the Games in Rio as planned would “not significantly alter” the spread of Zika, which is linked to serious birth defects.

“Based on the current assessment of Zika virus circulating in almost 60 countries globally and 39 in the Americas, there is no public health justification for postponing or cancelling the games,” the WHO said in a statement.

In a public letter posted online on Friday, around 150 leading public health experts, many of them bioethicists, said the risk of infection from the Zika virus was too high for the Games to go ahead safely.

The letter, sent to WHO director-general Margaret Chan, said the Games, due to be held in Rio de Janeiro in August, should be moved to another location or delayed.

“An unnecessary risk is posed when 500,000 foreign tourists from all countries attend the Games, potentially acquire that strain, and return home to places where it can become endemic,” the letter said.

But the WHO rejected the call, saying Brazil “is one of almost 60 countries and territories” where Zika has been detected and that people continued to travel between these countries and territories for a variety of reasons.

“The best way to reduce risk of disease is to follow public health travel advice,” it said.

One of the signatories of the letter, brain injury specialist Dr Ford Vox, called the WHO’s response “defeatist, depressing, and quite a bit too quick for anyone to believe they gave the letter due consideration.”

The scientific community is divided over the threat of Zika due to the Rio Olympics, with many experts saying the call for postponement or relocation is unjustified.

“We live in an incredibly interconnected world, global travel and trade are daily activities that offer Zika virus an opportunity to spread,” said Jonathan Ball, professor of molecular virology at the U.K.’s University of Nottingham.

“By comparison to these routine activities, the increased risk that the Olympics poses is a drop in the ocean.”

The WHO’s advice is that pregnant women should not travel to areas with Zika virus transmission, including Rio de Janeiro. It also advises everyone to make all efforts to protect against mosquito bites and to practice safe sex.

Zika infection in pregnant women has been shown to be a cause of the birth defect microcephaly and other serious brain abnormalities in babies.

The connection between Zika and microcephaly first came to light last fall in Brazil, which has confirmed more than 1,400 cases of microcephaly.

The International Olympic Committee jumped into the debate by saying the WHO’s response was not made in consultation with the Olympic body. It also denied there was a “secret” memorandum of understanding between the WHO and IOC.

“The IOC does not currently have a Memorandum of Understanding with the World Health Organisation,” a spokesman said.

The IOC has said it was monitoring the development of Zika through the WHO for up-to-date information and guidance but has repeatedly said the virus would not pose a threat to the Games.

(Additional reporting by Karolos Grohmann in Berlin and Mary Milliken in New York; Editing by Richard Balmforth)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Russia says eight athletes positive in London 2012 re-tests | Reuters

MOSCOW Russia’s Olympic Committee (ROC) said on Saturday eight of its athletes from three different sports had tested positive for banned substances in a re-examination of samples taken during the 2012 London Olympics.

The news came a day after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that 23 athletes in total had tested positive in re-tests of 265 samples from the London Olympics.

Russia’s track and field athletes have already been suspended since November due to suspicions of a systematic doping programme and the latest positive tests are a further blow to the country’s hopes of sending a full team to the Rio Olympics in August.

The ROC said it would not name the athletes until the results of their B-sample tests and following the start of official disciplinary proceedings. That is expected to be next month.

Earlier this week, the ROC said 14 of its athletes from the 2008 Beijing Olympics had tested positive for banned substances.

The IOC, which stores samples for a decade in order to re-test using newer methods or to look for new drugs, is re-testing samples from past Games in a bid to ban cheats from competing at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

Russia is under investigation following a report by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) that suggested a widespread doping programme involving not just track and field athletes.

In a bid to improve its chances of returning to competition in time for Rio, Russia’s athletics federation has said it will not include any athletes on its Olympic team who had been banned for doping in the past.

The IAAF, the world governing body of athletics, will decide on June 17 whether Moscow has done enough to clean up its act in order to be readmitted to competition though calls to ban Russian athletes from the Rio Games are growing.

The targeted re-testing of samples from past Games by the IOC has focused mainly on athletes who could potentially compete in Rio and anyone found to have been doping will be banned from those Games.

Several Russian medallists are reportedly among those positive Beijing 2008 Games re-tests, including high jumper Anna Chicherova who won a bronze medal in China and went on to claim gold in London.

(Reporting by Alexander Winning; Writing by Karolos Grohmann, Editing by David Evans, Helen Popper and Clare Fallon)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Rosberg romps to fifth win in a row at Bahrain F1 Grand Prix | Reuters

MANAMA Germany’s Nico Rosberg romped to his fifth win in a row for Mercedes on Sunday and ended Formula One champion team mate Lewis Hamilton’s hopes of a third successive Bahrain Grand Prix victory.

In a race that at times resembled a demolition derby, with bits of bodywork flying as cars collided, Rosberg seized the lead from the start and enjoyed an easy evening under the floodlights.

“It’s been an awesome weekend. The key was really at the start, I made a great getaway and from then on I was trying to control the pace,” said Rosberg of his first win at the desert track where he made his F1 debut a decade ago.

Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, whose team mate Sebastian Vettel failed to start after his car’s engine let out a plume of smoke on the formation lap, finished 10.2 seconds behind to repeat last year’s second place. [nL3N1760AH]

Hamilton, a distant third and never in a position to challenge for the lead, made a slow start from pole position and tangled with the Williams of Valtteri Bottas at the first corner as the Finn tried to go past on the inside.

That left him having to battle back from seventh place at the end of lap two with a damaged car, while stewards gave Bottas a drive-through penalty for causing the collision.

Hamilton had also started on pole in Australia two weeks earlier, when both Mercedes drivers were jumped by the Ferraris before eventually finishing one-two.

“Two separate incidents, both equally painful — perhaps today more painful,” said Hamilton.

“We still managed to get the car up there and get some points,” added the Briton. “So, again, damage limitation, congratulations to Nico, an easy race for him I would assume but I’m glad it wasn’t more points.”

Rosberg stretched his lead over Hamilton at the top of the standings to 17 points after two races.

The win was the 16th of the German’s career, lifting him level in the all-time lists with British great Stirling Moss, and the eighth in a row for champions Mercedes.

All but the top six cars were lapped, with 17 finishers.

Red Bull’s Australian Daniel Ricciardo was fourth for the second race running, with Frenchman Romain Grosjean performing more heroics for the new U.S.-owned Haas team by finishing fifth after sixth in Australia.

Dutch teenager Max Verstappen finished sixth for Toro Rosso, with Russian Daniil Kvyat seventh for sister team Red Bull and Felipe Massa eighth for Williams ahead of Bottas.

Belgian rookie Stoffel Vandoorne, standing in for Fernando Alonso at McLaren after the Spaniard was ruled out on medical grounds after his big crash in Melbourne, scored on his debut with 10th place.

The points were McLaren’s first of the season and capped a great weekend for the reigning GP2 champion, who also out-qualified 2009 world champion team mate Jenson Button. The Briton retired on lap seven.

With Vettel and Alonso not starting, that left three of the sport’s five active world champions watching from the sidelines.

Manor rookie Rio Haryanto became the first Indonesian to finish a Formula One race, in 17th and last place.

(Editing by Toby Davis and Clare Fallon)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

IMA recommends India adopt Brazil’s Zika model to fight dengue

New Delhi: The Indian Medical Association (IMA) on Wednesday recommended adopting Brazil’s Zika virus awareness model to combat dengue, which has emerged as a leading cause of death in India.

Dengue’s incidence is drastically higher in countries with poor sanitation as compared to the developed nations. In 2015, 97,740 cases were registered in Delhi, the highest to be recorded in the city. The subsequent death toll was 200, said SS Agarwal, the National President of IMA.

Zika virus. APZika virus. AP

Zika virus. AP

“IMA suggests that India consider the model adopted by Brazil to raise awareness on Zika virus for its fight against dengue. Educating and raising awareness is an integral part of the Brazil model. With the help of the government and armed forces, the society can be informed about the causes and consequences of dengue and its preventive measures, which need to be adopted,” he said.

IMA Secretary General KK Aggarwal said, “The transmission of dengue is actually a cycle, if the person suffering from dengue is bitten by mosquito, that mosquito gets infected and goes on infecting other healthy people and thus the cycle continues.”

“A major factor that results in the spread of the virus is through travelling, and with Delhi being the nation capital, it is a constant tourists hub all year long,” he said.

Brazil has deployed over two million armed force personnel to fight the Zika disease. These have been accompanied by mosquito control teams and community health agents to help educate people about how they can eliminate mosquito breeding zones in their neighborhood.

The teams have an ambitious target of visiting 30 lakh homes in 350 cities to hand people explanatory pamphlets, Aggarwal said.

“It is alarming that India still hasn’t been able to terminate the root causes of Dengue since 2010. This year, one of the Indian states, if not all, should adopt this type of campaign and declare war against the Aedes mosquito,” Aggarwal said.


A smooth ride is all about some rubber and a little plastic

You might soon drive over roads made of recycled rubber and plastic in Bandra. After a successful test run in Dadar, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is planning to construct the city’s first road made out of rubber and plastic in Bandra (West).The ‘rubberised mastic asphalt’ roads will be pothole-proof and cheaper than regular roads.In 2013, the civic body filled over a dozen potholes on Padmabhau Thakkar Marg, off LJ Road, between Dadar and Mahim, using the rubberised mix.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The surface did not disintegrate even during heavy showers,” said Sharad Ughade, assistant municipal commissioner, H-West ward. That made Ugadhe, himself an engineer, thinking. Why not build an entire road itself using this mix?”We then decided to try this out for an entire road. The Indian Institute of Technology (Bombay) has given us its go- ahead and we have taken help from them,” he said.While the road is yet to be finalised, officials said that BMC chief Ajoy Mehta had given the green signal to the plan to use rubber tyres and plastic waste, instead of regular asphalt.The project will cost the BMC around Rs 20 lakh.”We will use tyres from the BMC garage for now. It will be more durable and cheaper. We will soon float tenders for the work. We are in the process of selecting one road for the project,” said Ughade said.The technology uses shredded rubber from discarded tyres to get an effective bitumen mix that does not easily come off. The rubber binds the asphalt and gravel effectively, ensuring that the surface, once filled, will remain smooth even during heavy rains.”This is also an eco-friendly way to recycle tyres. The civic body can even earn carbon credits if it is done on a large scale. We will modify the regular tender conditions and ask the contractor to use this technology,” Ughade, known in BMC circles for innovative projects and schemes, said.Road experts like Sudhir Badami have given the move a thumbs up.”If the repaired surface remains intact, the technology should be referred to the BMC’s standing technical advisory committee for verification. Since the Dadar project was successful, there is no harm in trying it out on other major roads, too,” Badami said.This technology is already prevalent in the US since the 1960s. It is fast catching on in countries like China, Brazil and Germany now.

Olympic medals prospect Kenya causes stir in weighing Zika and Rio | Reuters

NAIROBI Kenya, with its stellar medal prospects for the Rio Games, caused a stir on Tuesday when the head of its Olympics committee said the team might withdraw because of Zika, but officials said later it was too soon to decide on the impact of the virus.

The mosquito-borne virus, which is widespread in Brazil and has been linked to birth defects, has prompted concern among athletes and sports officials around the world as they prepare for the Aug. 5-21 Games in Rio de Janeiro.

National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOCK) head Kipchoge Keino said on Tuesday the country would not “risk taking Kenyans there if this Zika virus reaches epidemic levels,” and that he was seeking reassurance from organizers.

But NOCK played down the comments, saying the East African country was monitoring the potential health threats from the disease and receiving regular updates.

“It is too early to make a determination on the status of the virus during the Games time which is six months away,” said NOCK’s chief of mission for Rio, Stephen Soi.

NOCK said Keino “may have been quoted out of context”.

Kenya’s sports minister Hassan Wario said on Tuesday the country has not yet decided whether to take part after meeting with health officials, according to the best-selling Daily Nation newspaper.

Kenyan athletes include some of the best middle and long-distance runners in the world and would likely be among the star performers in Rio.

Zika has spread through most of the Americas, with Brazil the most affected country. The World Health Organization declared an international health emergency on Feb. 1 over the virus, citing concern over a possible link with a rise in cases of microcephaly, a birth defect characterized by an abnormally small head that can result in developmental problems. However, a causal link has not been proven.

WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier, asked about travel advice for the Olympics, especially for pregnant women, said at a briefing in Geneva on Tuesday that the U.N. agency had no specific travel recommendations now. He added, “if you are pregnant, or wishing to get pregnant, consult with your specific health authorities on specific country travel advice.”

The agency “is fully leaving it to national authorities to give out travel advice to the best knowledge and evidence they have available in the interest of their people,” he said.


Sports authorities are watching developments closely. In many countries the approach appears to be keeping informed and understanding that the decision to go to Rio will come down to individual athletes. Still, the suggestion that athletes might choose to skip the Games is a worry for Olympic organizers.

The United States Olympic Committee told U.S. sports federations in late January that athletes and staff concerned for their health should consider not going to the Games. The message was delivered in a conference call involving USOC officials and leaders of U.S. sport federations, according to two people who participated in the call.

Australia’s Olympic Committee has said no athletes have indicated they intend to withdraw, but it would “totally understand” if they did. Similarly, New Zealand’s Olympic Committee has warned athletes and officials of the risks and a committee spokesman said any competitors who decided to opt out would receive the committee’s “absolute support.”

Australian tennis player and former U.S. Open champion Sam Stosur said fears over the virus would play no part in her planning.

“It’s not going to deter me from going,” she told Reuters. “But obviously there are a lot of precautions you need to take moving forward to be there, but the Australian Olympic team are very thorough.”

The disease, which produces no symptoms in most people who are infected and relatively mild illness in those who do show symptoms, is mostly viewed as a threat to pregnant women or women who might get pregnant, because of the possible link to birth defects. While it is predominantly transmitted by mosquito, researchers are studying the possibility of infection through blood and sexual contact.

British Olympic Association Chairman Lord Sebastian Coe said none of the country’s athletes were reluctant to go. But British rower Andrew Triggs Hodge said his wife Eeke would not accompany him because of the “very real and frightening threat” posed by Zika.

There is no vaccine or treatment for Zika, so combating the outbreak is focused on eradicating mosquito populations and preventing mosquito bites.

Brazilian officials and Olympic organizers have said that August is mid-winter in the southern hemisphere so the weather in Rio will be drier and cooler than usual, and less hospitable for the mosquito that spreads the virus. But scientists say even if less active than in warmer months, the mosquito, Aedes aegypti, never actually disappears.


German sports officials have sent a brochure to teams, coaches and medical staff containing information on the virus and basic precautionary measures.

The country’s Olympic Sports Confederation spokesman, Michael Schirp, told Reuters a specialist on infections would brief the German team’s medical staff in April.

“We found out that what we can do at this very moment is prevention. This whole situation is very dynamic at the moment,” Schirp said. “The brochure we sent ends fittingly with the phrase that there is no need for panic,” he added.

Many leading male golfers are among those determined not to miss Rio, when their sport returns to the Olympics after an absence of more than a century.

“We’re used to being in different climates and different areas with many different concerns, not just the Zika virus or whatever it might be, so we realize the dangers when we do travel,” said American world number 14 Brandt Snedeker.

(Reporting by Drazen Jorgic in Nairobi, Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles, Matt Smith in Dubai, Julie Steenhuysen in Chicago, Daniel Bases and Joshua Schneyer in New York, Martyn Herman in London, Paul Prada in Rio de Janeiro, Karolos Grohmann in Berlin and Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva; Writing by Frances Kerry; Editing by Grant McCool)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

dna Morning Must Reads: From earthquake in Taiwan to cricketer Irfan Pathan’s wedding

Magnitude 6.4 earthquake hits Taiwan; over 100 trapped in collapsed building A powerful quake struck southern Taiwan before dawn on Saturday near the city of Tainan, toppling a 17-story apartment building where more than 100 people are feared trapped. Read more here<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Zika found in saliva, urine in Brazil; US offers sex adviceAuthorities in Brazil said on Friday Zika has been detected in patients’ saliva and urine, adding to the concern over the spread of the virus, while US officials offered new guidance on sex for people returning from Zika-hit regions. Read more hereMaharashtra government won’t take back allotted land from Hema MaliniActress-turned-politician Hema Malini will be retaining the controversial 2,000 sqmt prime plot at Andheri, allocated by the state government at a token rate, for starting her dream project – a national dance academy. Read more hereBollywood Retrospect: 5 film albums that helped make Jagjit Singh a phenomenonJagjit Singh will forever be remembered as the artist who led the resurgence of ghazals in India in the 1980s, one that lasted about two decades. Read more hereCricketer Irfan Pathan ties the knot with 21-year-old Safa Baig in Mecca31-year-old cricketer Irfan Pathan has married 21-year-old Safa Baig from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Read more here

Brazil Zika cases raise concern of virus transmission beyond mosquitoes | Reuters

BRASILIA Authorities in Brazil, where a Zika outbreak has been linked to severe birth defects, on Thursday disclosed two cases of transmission tied to blood transfusions, adding to concerns over the spread of the virus.

The virus, spreading quickly across Latin America and the Caribbean, is usually transmitted by the bite of a mosquito.

Marcelo Addas Carvalho, the doctor who is the director of the blood center at the University of Campinas near Sao Paulo, said genetic testing confirmed that a man who received a blood transfusion using blood donated by another man infected with Zika in March 2015 became infected with the virus, although he did not develop symptoms.

Carvalho said another man, who had suffered gunshot wounds, also became infected with Zika after receiving multiple blood transfusions that included blood donated by an infected person in April 2015.

Carvalho said that infection probably was caused by the transfusion but genetic tests have not yet been conducted to confirm it. He said it was very unlikely the infection was caused by a mosquito bite because the patient was in a hospital intensive care unit for three months. The patient later died from his gunshot wounds and not the Zika infection, health officials and Carvalho said.

“Transmission of the virus through blood transfusion is very rare and not an important factor in the epidemic. Governments and society in general should focus on eliminating the mosquito, which is the main form of transmission,” Carvalho said.

The Brazil cases, along with a reported case of sexual transmission of the virus in Texas add a new dimension to efforts to limit Zika’s spread.

The cases have emerged at an awkward time because Rio de Janeiro is preparing to host the Olympic Games in August when tens of thousands of athletes and tourists were expected to visit Brazil’s second largest city.

Brazil is investigating more than 4,000 suspected cases of microcephaly, a condition in which infants are born with abnormally small heads and can suffer developmental problems, that may be linked to the outbreak.

Scientists have begun to study whether Zika infection in pregnancy can cause microcephaly. The World Health Organization, citing strong suspicions of a link between the two and the spike in cases in Brazil, declared a global health emergency on Monday.

Sexual contact and blood transfusions as modes of transmission of the virus have been matters of concern for experts since the beginning of the outbreak, said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious diseases expert at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee.

But Schaffner questioned whether either will lead to widespread transmission of Zika.

“A little bit of transmission? Sure,” Schaffner said. “But the main engine of transmission that has led this virus to be spread widely throughout Central and South America and the Caribbean is, of course, the mosquito.”

Procedures for blood donations have been tightened in the countries including Brazil to protect blood supplies from Zika. U.S. health officials are still working on national guidelines.

Following word of the Texas case on Tuesday, U.S. health officials urged the use of condoms to prevent spreading sexually transmitted infections.

Brazil said it was reinforcing instructions to blood banks that people infected with Zika or dengue not be permitted to donate blood for 30 days after full recovery from the active stage of Zika infection.

The American Red Cross has urged prospective donors who have visited Zika outbreak zones to wait at least 28 days before giving blood, but said the risk of transmitting the virus through blood donations was “extremely” low in the continental United States.

It asked donors who give blood and subsequently develop symptoms consistent with Zika within 14 days to notify the Red Cross so the product can be quarantined.

In the Texas case, a person in Dallas became infected with Zika after having sex with another person who had traveled in Venezuela, where the virus is circulating.

Dallas County health officials said on Thursday both those people have fully recovered from the virus.

Schaffner said uncertainties remain about sexual transmission of the virus, including how long a person might be able to transmit it or whether an infected person must have had symptomatic Zika in order to be able to transmit Zika through sex. Most infected people do not develop any symptoms.

While health authorities have not provided such details, Schaffner said he suspected a man transmitted Zika to a woman.

“We don’t know whether it can move from a woman to a man. We assume also that if a man can transmit it to a woman, that a man could also transmit it to another man,” Schaffner said.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Thursday expanded his state’s free Zika testing to include all pregnant women who have traveled to countries where people have been infected.

Florida Governor Rick Scott declared a public health emergency on Wednesday in four counties with travel-related cases of the Zika virus. Scott extended his order to a fifth county on Thursday. He has also ordered increased mosquito control efforts in some of the southeastern state’s most heavily populated locales including Miami and Tampa.

(Reporting by Anthony Boadle in Brasilia; Additional reporting by Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas, Jeffrey Dastin in New York and Letitia Stein in Tampa; Writing by Will Dunham; Editing by Michele Gershberg and Grant McCool)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Made in India! Hyderabad scientists claim world’s first Zika vaccine

At a time when the world is is once again asking scientists and drugmakers to come up rapidly with a vaccine for Zika virus, scientists from a Hyderabad laboratory have claimed that they have developed world’s first vaccine against the virus. According to NDTV, the scientists have developed two vaccines using a live Zika virus imported officially.

The virus, linked to severe birth defects in thousands of babies in Brazil, is spreading rapidly in the Americas, and WHO officials have expressed concern that it could hit Africa and Asia as well.

Bharat Biotech International Limited in Hyderabad told NDTV that they have patented the vaccine. “On Zika, we are probably the first vaccine company in the world to file a vaccine candidate patent about nine months ago,” said Dr Krishna Ella, Chairman and Managing Director, Bharat Biotech Ltd.

According to Dr Ella, the Hyderabad-based lab can make one million doses of the vaccine in four months and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been requested to help fast-track the process “cutting through the red tape of regulatory clearances.”

“We believe we have an early mover advantage in developing the Zikavac and we are probably the first in the world to file for global patent for Zika vaccine candidates.

“We have two candidate vaccines in development. One of them is an inactivated vaccine that has reached the stage of pre-clinical testing in animals,” Ella said.

Quoting a WHO report, he said Zika is now present in 23 countries and Brazil, the hardest-hit country, has reported around 3,530 cases of the devastating birth defect, called microcephaly, in 2015 that are strongly suspected to be related to Zika.

“We hope to announce the arrival of Zikavac to the world as early as possible,” he said.

“Considering that women of child-bearing age and pregnant women are the prime target group for Zika virus vaccine, we consider safety as the overriding factor in development of a new vaccine for this virus. The vaccine methods developed early on, before the devastating consequences of the epidemics in Brazil came to light provided us a push to accelerate vaccine development,” Dr Sumathy, Director, R&D, Bharat Biotech said.

Currently, the vaccine maker is focusing towards scale up and characterization of the vaccine product, Ella further said.

Brazil’s president, noting there is no medical defense against the infection, called for a crusade against the mosquitoes spreading it. “As long as we don’t have a vaccine against Zika virus, the war must be focused on exterminating the mosquito’s breeding areas,” said President Dilma Rousseff.

The Zika virus was first discovered in Africa in 1947. But until last year, when it was found in Brazil, it had never been a threat in the Western Hemisphere.

The virus causes no more than a mild illness in most people. But there is mounting evidence from Brazil suggesting infection in pregnant women is linked to abnormally small heads in their babies — a birth defect called microcephaly.

A family in Brazil which is infected with Zika. APA family in Brazil which is infected with Zika. AP

A family in Brazil which is infected with Zika. AP

India itself may not be as safe as hoped. According to India Today, India has been free of this virus for over 60 years, and that traces of Zika were last seen in 1952-53.

However, Hindustan Times reported that the Union health ministry is procuring testing kits to detect the virus, which is spread by the bite of the Aedes aegypti mosquito — the same vector that spreads dengue and chicken guinea. “The government is also writing to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to know more about the infection and prepare accordingly,” the report quoted a senior official from the Zoonosis unit of the Union health ministry as saying. Furthermore, the report added that the ministry is putting together protocols to track the ‘sudden rise’ of birth defects across the country.

Making a shot to generate an immune response against Zika virus, which is sweeping through the Americas, shouldn’t be too hard in theory. However, producing a safe, effective and deliverable product to protect women and girls who are at risk is not easy in practice.

For a start, scientists around the world know even less about Zika than they did about the Ebola virus that caused an unprecedented epidemic in West Africa last year.

Ebola, due to its deadly power, was the subject of bioterrorism research, giving at least a base for speeding up vaccine work. This time, the knowledge gap is more daunting.

There are just 30 mentions of Zika in patents, against 1,043 for Ebola and 2,551 for dengue fever, according to Thomson Reuters Derwent World Patents Index. And there have been only 108 high-profile academic papers on Zika since 2001, against more than 4,000 on Ebola, as found in the Web of Science.

Still, the US National Institutes of Health, the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Butantan Institute in Brazil have started work on potential candidates for a Zika vaccine, and several biotech firms are in the race.

They include NewLink Genetics, which helped develop the first successful Ebola vaccine with Merck & Co.

Importantly, there is now a “big gun” vaccine maker with skin in the game: Sanofi said on Tuesday it will launch a Zika vaccine programme, a day after the World Health Organization declared the disease and its suspected links to birth defects an international health emergency.

Canadian researcher Gary Kobinger told Reuters he believes an experimental Zika shot might be able to be used on a limited emergency basis as soon as late 2016, although full regulatory approval will take years.

Ben Neuman, an expert on viruses at Britain’s University of Reading, says there are many hurdles ahead. “To be useful, a Zika vaccine would need to be effective and safe, but it’s difficult to do both,” he told Reuters. “It’s a balancing act.”

That’s because a good vaccine works by provoking the immune system into a strong response – but not enough to make a person sick – and there is no simple way to assess the right immune response for Zika, according to one drug company expert.

Zika infection is so mild in the vast majority of cases that its victims are unaware they are even infected, so this group of potential patients is unlikely to need or want immunisation.

The crucial target group is women who may be pregnant, since the disease’s greatest suspected threat is the possible link to severe birth defects.

Clinical Trials

All of this makes developing and testing a vaccine highly complex, especially since pregnant women are often excluded from clinical trials until the safety of new drugs or vaccines is well-established in other population groups.

It also makes for an uncertain and potentially limited market for any Zika vaccine.

Assuming Sanofi or another company succeeds in developing one, the vaccine may be used only in teenage girls – protecting them before they are likely to become pregnant – in countries and regions where Zika-carrying mosquitoes thrive.
“It’s a public health good initiative, it’s not necessarily a commercial initiative,” said Berenberg Bank analyst Alistair Campbell. “Zika is something that has cropped up suddenly and may well dissipate, so there may not be a sustainable annual cohort of patients for vaccination.”

Still, the WHO and other public health authorities will be relieved that one of the world’s top drugmakers has pledged to work on a vaccine.

GlaxoSmithKline is also investigating Zika and a spokeswoman reiterated on Tuesday it is concluding feasibility studies to see if its vaccine technology might be suitable.

Ultimately, developing vaccines is a question of priorities, as evidenced by a patchy pattern of protection against a range of mosquito-borne viruses over the past 80 years.

There was early success with the development in 1938 of the first vaccine against yellow fever, which belongs to the same virus family as Zika. More recently, drugmakers have successfully developed shots against Japanese encephalitis and dengue.

The first dengue vaccine, from Sanofi, was approved in December – after 20 years’ work.

Work on other mosquito-borne diseases such as West Nile fever and chikungunya is still underway.

One idea for tackling Zika is to adapt vaccine prototypes for dengue and West Nile, using them as a “platform” for the Zika virus. But even this approach would not be simple.

“For most viruses, there are lots of ways to make a somewhat effective vaccine, but the most effective vaccines target several parts of the virus in different ways,” said Neuman.

Multiple targets give the immune system more options, meaning more people are able to develop immunity. Yet an effective vaccine in most people may pack too much punch for others, with the potential to trigger birth defects.

“It’s big concern,” Neuman said. “And at this stage we just don’t know.”

With inputs from agencies

Exclusive – Brazil says Zika virus outbreak worse than believed | Reuters

BRASILIA Brazil’s top health official said on Monday that the Zika virus outbreak is proving to be worse than believed because most cases show no symptoms, but improved testing should allow the country to get a better grip on the burgeoning public health crisis.

Health Minister Marcelo Castro told Reuters that Brazil will start mandatory reporting of cases by local governments next week when most states will have labs equipped to test for Zika, the mosquito-borne virus that has quickly spread through Latin America. The virus has no vaccine or cure at present.

On Monday, the World Health Organization declared the Zika outbreak to be a global emergency, a decision that should help fast-track international action and research priorities.

In Brazil, believed to be the country hit hardest by Zika, the outbreak has sparked fear especially among pregnant women after local experts linked the virus to thousands of cases of microcephaly, or abnormally small heads and underdeveloped brains, in newborns.

“Eighty percent of the people infected by Zika do not develop significant symptoms. A large number of people have the virus with no symptoms, so the situation is more serious that we can imagine,” Castro said in an interview.

“Our big hope is finding a vaccine,” he added.

The Zika emergency comes at a particularly bad time for President Dilma Rousseff’s unpopular government, adding a new burden to a public health system hit by budget cuts in the midst of a severe recession. It has also cast a shadow on Brazil’s hosting of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in August.

The Brazilian government suspects the virus was brought to Brazil during the 2014 football World Cup by a visitor from Africa or Oceania where Zika is endemic. An estimated 1.5 million Brazilians have caught Zika, a virus first detected in Africa in the 1947 and unknown in the Americas until it appeared in May in the poverty-stricken northeastern region of Brazil.

The Pan-American health Organization said the virus has since spread to 24 countries and territories in the hemisphere.


Castro, a psychiatrist from Rio, said the virus cannot be transmitted from person to person, only by mosquito, addressing fears that it could be spread through saliva, semen or urine.

By next week, labs in all but three of Brazil’s states will be able to test whether a person has had Zika or not, he said.

And by next month, the labs will have a test that can detect all three viruses borne by the Aedes aegypti mosquito – dengue, chikungunya and Zika. The test, however, will only be effective during the initial infection period of five days.

Castro said Brazilian researchers are convinced that Zika is the cause of the 3,700 confirmed and suspected cases in Brazil of microcephaly in newborns. Ninety percent of children born with the condition will have retarded mental and physical development, experts say.

“The microcephaly cases are increasing by the week and we do not have an estimate of how many there will be. The situation is serious and worrying,” Castro said.

Brazilian biomedical research centers are joining forces with U.S. counterparts to try to find a Zika vaccine in record time, Castro said. A partnership between the U.S. National Institutes of Health and Brazil’s Butantan Institute will seek to develop a vaccine by adding a gene to an existing one for dengue, he said.

Until there is a breakthrough on a vaccine, Brazil’s only option is to try to eradicate the mosquito that spreads the virus, Castro said, with the government mobilizing all its possible resources and people, including tens of thousands of soldiers, to go door-to-door seeking places where the insect breeds.

Rousseff signed a temporary decree on Monday that makes it obligatory for residents to allow health workers to inspect their homes and properties for still water deposits where the Aedes aegypti mosquito lays its eggs.

Asked if Brazil would ease its restrictions on abortion to allow women with Zika to terminate pregnancies, Castro said it would be up to Congress to make that change. The government, he said, is sticking with the current law that makes abortion in the world’s largest Roman Catholic country illegal except in cases of rape and risk to the mother’s life.

Brazil will follow the U.S. decision last week to prohibit blood donations from people who have been infected with Zika, Castro said.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, however, has said it is planning to require people who have traveled to an affected country to defer giving blood, but details on how that might work are still being determined.

(Reporting by Anthony Boadle and Lisandra Paraguassu; Editing by Mary Milliken)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

India braces for Zika virus

Taking note of the global alarm, the Central health ministry conducted a “high-level meeting”, on Friday, about the Zika virus, reviewing India’s preparedness and the threat the pregnant women and their children could face from exposure. Chairing the meeting comprising officials from the ministry and the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Union health minister JP Nadda directed the constitution of a technical group with immediate effect which would “monitor the situation arising out of spread of Zika Virus in other countries and will advise further on all the necessary steps that need to be taken”.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Even as the National Centre for Disease Control took point on upping India’s surveillance system, consultation on draft measures went on late on Friday evening, with the measure expected to be revealed on Saturday. These will include community awareness, which the minister called “instrumental”, and screenings at airports. India, home to the Aedes mosquito that spreads vector borne disease, such as the dengue virus, is vulnerable to Zika, also borne by the Aedes mosquito. Though India has been free of the virus for almost 60 years, it could be exposed via people travelling from the more affected Western Hemisphere.The virus, long thought to be mild and very rarely resulting in death, has sparked a near panic as women in Brazil exposed to it have given birth to babies with microcephaly, a condition that results in a shrunken head and brain damage. Thousands of such cases have been seen in Brazil in the past year, even as scientists are still to establish a clear link between Zika virus and microcephaly. Thus, even in India, it is pregnant women who are most at risk and biggest cause for concern.There is no immunity in India for the virus, said officials from the NCDC.Historically the virus has not been life threatening, resulting at the most in low grade fever and redness of the eyes, leaving the body soon. Thus, there are fears that the virus may have mutated into a more virulent strain.There is currently no vaccine for the Zika virus.Factbox – Facts about the Zika virus and the current outbreak(Reuters) – The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday the Zika virus, linked to severe birth defects in thousands of babies in Brazil, is “spreading explosively” and may infect 3 to 4 million people in the Americas, including 1.5 million in Brazil.Here are some facts about the virus and the current outbreak.How the virus is transmittedThe virus is transmitted to people through the bite of infected female Aedes mosquitoes, the same type of mosquito that spreads dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever. Efforts to control the spread of the virus include eliminating mosquito breeding sites and taking precautions against mosquito bites such as using insect repellent and mosquito nets.There is no treatment or vaccine available for Zika infection. People who get Zika virus disease typically have a mild fever, skin rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain and fatigue, with symptoms normally lasting for two to seven days. Most people never develop symptoms. U.S. health officials say the United States has two potential vaccine candidates and may begin human clinical trials by the end of 2016, but there will not be a widely available vaccine for several years.The virus has been linked to a devastating birth defect called microcephaly in which babies are born with abnormally small heads and brains that have not developed properly. The WHO said a direct causal relationship between Zika virus infection and birth defects has not yet been established but is strongly suspected. Local health authorities in Brazil in 2015 observed an increase in babies born with microcephaly at the same time as a Zika outbreak. About 4,000 cases of microcephaly have been reported in Brazil since September. Given an estimated 80 percent of people infected have no symptoms, it can be hard to tell if a pregnant woman has been infected. Research by Brazilian authorities indicates the greatest risk of microcephaly appears to be associated with infection during the first trimester of pregnancy.The WHO said Zika cases have been reported in 23 countries and territories in the Americas in the current outbreak. Brazil has been the nation most affected. The Pan American Health Organization said Aedes mosquitoes are found in all countries in the Americas except Canada and continental Chile, and the virus will likely reach all countries and territories of the region where Aedes mosquitoes are found.Zika virus is found in tropical locales with large mosquito populations. Outbreaks of Zika virus disease have been recorded in Africa, the Americas, Southern Asia and Western Pacific. The virus was first identified in Uganda in 1947 in rhesus monkeys and was first identified in people in 1952 in Uganda and Tanzania, according to the WHO.

Don’t change goalposts at the first sign of crisis: RBI governor Rajan warns against debt financing in global turmoil

New Delhi: Ahead of the Budget, RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan on Friday warned against generating economic growth through additional debt saying that any deviation from the fiscal consolidation path will hurt stability of the economy.

Raghuram Rajan. ReutersRaghuram Rajan. Reuters

Raghuram Rajan. Reuters

Rajan said that macroeconomic stability during the global turmoil cannot be risked and the government and RBI should continue to bring down inflation.

“As Brazil’s experience suggests, the enormous costs of becoming an unstable country far outweigh any small growth benefits that can be obtained through aggressive policies. We should be very careful about jeopardising our single most important strength during this period of global turmoil – macroeconomic stability,” he said here.

Delivering the CD Deshmukh Memorial lecture, Rajan said there is a public discussion whether India should yet again postpone fiscal consolidation path with some arguing that it could lead to higher growth.

“Unfortunately, the growth multipliers on government spending at this juncture are likely to be much smaller, so more spending will probably hurt debt dynamics. Put differently, it is worth asking if there really are very high- return investments that we are foregoing by staying on the consolidation path?” he said. Rajan said that consolidated fiscal deficit of the Centre and states rose to 7.2 per cent in 2015 from 7 per cent in the previous year. “So we actually expanded the aggregate deficit in the last calendar year.

With UDAY, the scheme to revive state power distribution companies, coming into operation in the next fiscal, it is unlikely that states will be shrinking their deficits, which puts pressure on the centre to adjust more,” he said. The NDA government had last year deviated from the fiscal consolidation path, postponing reduction in fiscal deficit target by a year.

Originally, the target was to bring down fiscal deficit to 3.6 per cent of the GDP in 2015-16 but it has been postponed by a year. Now, government is targeting 3.9 per cent in the current fiscal. Rajan said deviation from the fiscal consolidation path could push up government bond yields, both because of the greater volume of bonds to be financed and potential loss of government credibility on future consolidation. He said that fall in inflation has been on account of the “joint work of the government and the RBI, aided to some extent by the fall in international commodity prices. This is no mean achievement given two successive droughts that would have, in the past, pushed inflation into double digits”.

Unfortunately, he added, despite the success on the inflation front there are voices suggesting weakening the fight against inflation. He said: “Let me reiterate that macroeconomic stability relies immensely on policy credibility, which is the public belief that policy will depart from the charted course only under extreme necessity, and not because of convenience. If every time there is any minor difficulty, we change the goal posts, we signal to the markets that we have no staying power.

“Let me therefore reiterate that we have absolutely no intent of departing from the inflation framework that has been agreed with the Government. We look forward to the Government amending the RBI Act to usher in the monetary policy committee, further strengthening the framework.” Macroeconomic stability, Rajan stressed, would be the platform on which “we will build the growth that will sustain our country for many years to come, no matter what the world does”.

On the interest rate, he said, both industrialists and retirees overstate their case and the way to resolve their differences is to bring CPI-based, retail inflation steadily down. RBI is scheduled to announce the next bi-monthly monetary policy on February 2. Rajan also cautioned against raising tariffs to protect the domestic industries which are facing problems.

“Clearly, there are industries in trouble. We should, however, be particularly careful about raising tariffs at a time when costs are falling everywhere – aside from the inflationary impact, for every happy domestic businessman whose prices are raised by the imposition of tariffs on imports, we have an unhappy domestic businessman whose costs are raised by the very same tariffs, as well as unhappy consumers,” he added. Rajan said that though RBI is in “fine fettle”, the world today is much less comforting as industrial countries were still struggling, with a few exceptions, to grow.

“Our fellow BRICS all have deep problems, with confidence about China waxing and waning. Indeed, India appears to be an island of relative calm in an ocean of turmoil,” he said. Citing the example of Brazil, which is facing double digit inflation, Rajan said it is confronted with financial problems because it tried to grow too fast on the back of substantial stimulus. He added: “While the Brazilian authorities are working hard to rectify the situation, let us not ignore the lessons their experience suggests. It is possible to grow too fast with substantial stimulus, as we did in 2010 and 2011, only to pay the price in higher inflation, higher deficits, and lower growth in 2013 and 2014.

“Of course, India is not in the same situation today. Given the inhospitable world economy and two successive droughts, either of which would have thrown the economy into a tail spin in the past, it is to the immense credit of the government that we have over 7 percent growth, low inflation, and a low current account deficit. But it is at such times that we should not be overambitious.” The Brazil’s experience suggests that the enormous costs of becoming an unstable country far outweigh any small growth benefits that can be obtained through aggressive policies, he said, adding that “we should be very careful about (not) jeopardising our single most important strength during this period of global turmoil, macroeconomic stability”.

A day after stating that “there are problems with the way we count GDP”, RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan said he has never raised doubts over the GDP numbers and they are broadly correct. “It was not anything about new GDP numbers or the way GDP is calculated. I think it’s broadly correct,” Rajan said while delivering the C D Deshmukh Memorial Lecture here. Observing that there are “no hidden messages” in his lectures, he said: “You do not have to gauge intent. I am direct when I speak”. These comments follow another lecture Rajan gave yesterday in Mumbai before the students of the RBI-promoted Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, wherein he had said, “There are problems with the way we count GDP which is why we need to be careful sometimes just talking about growth.

In a bid to simplify the economics, Rajan invoked the popular snack – dosa, to explain inflationary pressures.

“…while I sympathise with pensioners, they certainly are better off today than in the past,” Rajan said. Elaborating his point, the RBI chief said, a pensioner would be able to buy less number of dosas if the interest rate as well as the inflation remains high. However, pensioner’s ability to buy dosas would increase with fall in inflation as it would also protect the purchasing power of the principal amount invested in bank deposits or other debt instrument. Pensioners oppose lowering of interest rates as it directly hit their income. Rajan has been trying to keep the retail inflation under check despite pressure from the Finance Ministry and the industry to cut interest rate to boost growth. He will be coming out with the next bi-monthly monetary policy on February 2.


Zika virus: Centre forms technical group to monitor situation

The Centre on Friday decided to constitute a technical group to monitor the situation arising out of spread of Zika virus and strengthen its surveillance system, a day after WHO warned that the virus was spreading “explosively” and can affect countries like India.Health Minister JP Nadda, who held a high-level meeting to take stock of the situation in view of the recent cases of Zika virus being reported from some countries, said that India is “well prepared” in case of any eventuality.”We are closely monitoring the situation and all necessary steps have been initiated to ensure that India is well prepared in case of any eventuality,” Nadda said after the meeting in which doctors from AIIMS also took part.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Zika virus is “spreading explosively” in the Americas and can infect upto four million people, the WHO warned yesterday as it issued a warning to all countries, including India. Aedes Aegypti mosquito carries Zika virus which is thought to cause brain damage in babies. This mosquito also carries the viruses that cause Dengue and Chikungunya which are of great public health concern in tropical countries like India.The outbreak began in Brazil last year and has now spread to 24 countries in the Americas. Zika virus is believed to cause neurological problems like microcephaly, a condition of abnormally small head in babies. “Nadda directed constitution of a technical group with immediate effect which would monitor the situation arising out of spread of Zika virus in other countries and will advise further on all the necessary steps that need to be taken,” an official statement said. “We are focusing on especially strengthening the surveillance system,” it said.The Health Minister emphasised that there should be an increased focus on prevention to control the spread of the Aedes mosquito that breeds in clean water. “Community awareness plays an instrumental role in this regard. There is a need for greater awareness amongst community,” he said.Such is the level of alarm that many American countries like El Salvador, Colombia and Ecuador have urged women to postpone pregnancy till 2018.

dna morning must read: From the alarming spread of the Zika virus to Yuvraj Walmiki’s bid for a place in Team India

1. Pakistani group seeks Geeta’s return, India says noActivist files case in Sindh court saying New Delhi has failed to establish deaf-mute girl’s identity. Read more here2. Raghuram Rajan raises doubts over new GDP growth rate method, says we should be careful<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Raising doubts over the new GDP growth rate methodology, RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan on Thursday said there is a need for better computation of numbers so as to avoid overlaps and capture the net gains to the economy. Read more here3. Zika virus spreading explosively, could infect up to 4 million people, says WHOThe Zika virus, linked to severe birth defects in thousands of babies in Brazil, is “spreading explosively” and could infect as many as 4 million people in the Americas, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday. Read more here4. This HIL, it’s make or break for Yuvraj WalmikiMaking comebacks is nothing new for Walmiki, and over the past couple of years, he has taken the HIL route to claw his way back into the Indian team. Read more here5. Deepika Padukone reveals the secret of choosing a right scriptDeepika Padukone is one actress who has got the knack of choosing the right films. Here she reveals the secret. Read more here

‘The Revenant’ tops chilly U.S. Box Office as storm hits East Coast | Reuters

LOS ANGELES ( – With a blizzard hammering the East Coast, Leonardo DiCaprio’s “The Revenant” topped a subdued U.S. box office with $16 million at 3,711 locations this weekend, according to Sunday estimates.

Winter Storm Jonas shut down theaters Saturday in New York City, Washington D.C., Baltimore, and Philadelphia, cutting the nation’s overall moviegoing for the day by as much as 10% with as many as 400 locations affected. Some New York locations were re-opening Sunday but the icy conditions were likely to hold down box office in the Northeast.

Fox’s “The Revenant,” set in the brutal winter of 1823, topped the sixth weekend of Disney’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” which grossed $14.3 million at 3,365 locations. The seventh Star Wars has extended its record-setting domestic total to $880 million in 38 days in the U.S. — $120 million higher than “Avatar.”

Universal’s second weekend of “Ride Along 2” finished third with $13 million at 3,192 sites as the frosty conditions cut into business at locations that had performed well in its opening frame.

Despite the storm, a trio of newcomers came in at the higher end of moderate expectations, led by Lionsgate’s raunchy comedy “Dirty Grandpa” with $11.5 million at 2,912 venues, followed by STX Entertainment’s horror-thriller “The Boy” with $11.3 million at 2,671 sites.

Sony’s launch of sci-fi thriller “The 5th Wave” finished in sixth with $10.7 million at 2,908 theaters.

“The storm certainly cut into U.S. business on Saturday,” said Sony distribution topper Rory Bruer. “It’s really hard to quantify but it looks like about 10%.”

Sony noted that “The 5th Wave,” starring Chloe Grace Moretz, took in $3.5 million on Friday, then rose 30% on Saturday to $4.5 million — the best mark among the openers. It also opened in Russia, Brazil, the UK and Spain to boost its foreign total to $27 million with over 30% of the international rollout still to come.

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.