Amid the celebrations to mark the beginning of a new year, what caught the fancy of the people in different parts of the country and kept them glued to their television sets and radios was Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s address to the nation.
The prime minister’s speech comes 52 days after his announcement of demonetisation, made in a similar address to the nation on 8 November.
On Saturday evening, Modi thanked 1.25 billion Indians for the resilience they showed in bearing the problems that came with his demonetisation drive, and doing so with much dignity and patience.
Lauding Indians with a couplet “Kuch baat hai ki hasti mitti nahi hamari“, Prime Minister Modi said, “People of India have lived and proved this adage. What India has done will find no parallel in the world.”
Repeatedly thanking and applauding Indians for supporting the demonetisation decision, calling it a “shuddhi yagna”, Modi said that the evils of corruption and black money compelled even honest people to bend in despair, and made him feel “suffocated”. Modi said that these people wanted relief from such suffocation.
Dwelling more upon the resilience of the people, Modi said that on numerous instances — be during the Indo-China war or the Kargil war with Pakistan — people of India have displayed immense sacrifice and resilience. He added that they were all fights with outsiders, but after demonetisation, people were fighting to kill their inner evil, which was comparatively more difficult.
Talking about how people reacted positively to demonetisation, Modi said that a time will come when the country’s intelligentsia will discuss the fight shown by people in defeating their inner demons and deformities. He said the resilience shown by the people in the last 50 days was an epitome of sacrifice to defeat what was wrong.
“The events of 8 November told us how 1.25 crore Indians took the trouble and made the efforts to prove that honesty and virtuosity are most important,” Prime Minister added.
Accepting the pain that people have to face because of demonetisation, Modi said, “I know that to withdraw your own money, you had to bear pain. People shared their pain with me. But I realised that you considered me your own. You showed that you don’t want to be left behind in this fight against corruption.”
He added that the government’s top priority will now be to normalise the functioning of the banking system. Modi said that there will be renewed focus on every aspect of the sector, and especially on making things normal in rural areas.
Stressing on the fact that tax evasion has now become all-pervasive in the country, Modi said that as per official records, only 24 lakh people claim to be earning more than Rs 10 lakh, which is unbelievable given the opulence that is on display in most of the cities.
Sending a clear message to the “corrupt and dishonest” citizens of the country, Modi said that is very obvious now as to what will happen to them. “The law will take its own course. But government’s priority will be to ensure how the honest can be helped and be supported,” he said.
While lauding the efforts of the banking sector, who “worked really hard” in the last 52 days, he also made it amply clear that the people, including government officials, who have indulged in fraudulent practices, will not be spared.
Apart from stressing on demonetisation warning wrong doers, and applauding the honest, Modi also announced a slew of reforms and schemes to benefit the rural poor. Some of them were: An eight percent interest rate will be guaranteed on deposits of upto Rs 7.5 lakh for 10 years for senior citizens; interest will be paid monthly. Modi also announced a 4 percent interest rate cut against home loans of up to Rs 9 lakhs, and 3 percent against home loans upto Rs 12 lakhs for the year 2017.
While there will be detailed analysis of the reforms, the prime minister has sent out a clear message in his New Year’s Eve address: While the honest can expect ache din, it will surely be bure din (tough times) for the corrupt.
First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 21:30 IST
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>China’s decision to once again block the proposal to list Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar as a designated terrorist under the “1267 regime” has triggered a sharp reaction from India.China, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, had blocked India’s move with a six-month technical hold followed by a three- month extension. Officials here say that India may have to apply again to the 1267 Committee with charge sheet details to press for its case as its present application will lapse following Beijing’s two technical holds.Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup termed Beijing’s decision as an “unfortunate blow” and a step that confirms the prevalence of double standards in the fight against terrorism.India had approached the UN in February to include Azhar (for his link with al Qaeda) in the UN Security Council’s 1267 sanctions list in the aftermath of the January 2 terror attack on the Pathankot air base by JeM terrorists. The resolution will now go into cold storage, till a fresh listing is demanded by a UN Security Council member.He said that the international community is aware that JeM, which is proscribed by the UN, has been responsible for innumerable terrorist attacks on India, including the one on Pathankot air base. “The inability of the international community to list its leader Masood Azhar is an unfortunate blow to the concerted efforts to effectively counter all forms of terrorism, and confirms the prevalence of double standards in the fight against terrorism,” he said.Swarup further said that China’s decision is surprising as it has been affected by the scourge of terrorism and has declared opposition to all forms of terrorism. “As a consequence of this decision, the UN Security Council has again been prevented from acting against the leader of a listed terrorist organisation,” he added. India had expected China to be more understanding of the danger posed to all by terrorism and join India and others in fighting the common challenge of terrorism.Earlier also, India had expressed anger at the working methods at the UNSC, which is based on the principles of unanimity. Following the attack on US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam by al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and other associated groups in 1999, the Security Council passed a resolution known as “Resolution 1267” or “1267 Regime” under Article 41 of the UN, which established a sanction regime to cover individuals and entities associated with al Qaeda, Laden and/or the Taliban.The 1267 Resolution reads as follows: “The Security Council may decide what measures, not involving armed forces, are to be employed to give effect to its decisions, and it may call upon the members of the United Nations to apply such measures. These may include complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio, and other means of communication, and the severance of diplomatic relations.”The resolution requires countries to immediately freeze funds, financial assets or economic resources of individuals and entities designated by the UNSC with terrorism and terrorist financing.China was the only member in the 15-nation UN body to put a hold on India’s application.
New Delhi: China on Friday finally blocked India’s proposal to list Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief and Pathankot mastermind Masood Azhar as a designated terrorist by the UN, triggering a sharp reaction from New Delhi which termed it as “unfortunate blow” and a step that confirms prevalence of double standards in the fight against terrorism.
With China blocking India’s proposal, which was submitted in February to the 1267 Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council, New Delhi has to make a fresh listing request for Azhar to be banned by the global body, officials said.
After its submission, China twice imposed “technical” hold on the Indian proposal.
However, India said it will continue to push forward with resolute determination “through the use of all options available with us to bring perpetrators of terrorist violence to justice”.
Asserting that its submission received the strong backing of all other members of the 15-member Sanctions Committee, External Affairs Ministry said, “We note with concern China’s decision to block the proposal to list Masood Azhar…”
The international community is aware that the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed which is proscribed by the United Nations, has been responsible for innumerable terrorist attacks on India including the Pathankot Air Base attack.
“The inability of the international community to list its leader Masood Azhar is an unfortunate blow to the concerted efforts to effectively counter all forms of terrorism, and confirms prevalence of double standards in the fight against terrorism.”
MEA Spokesperson Vikas Swarup also said the decision by Beijing is surprising as China itself has been affected by the scourge of terrorism and has declared opposition to all forms of terrorism.
“As a consequence of this decision, the UN Security Council has again been prevented from acting against the leader of a listed terrorist organisation. We had expected China would have been more understanding of the danger posed to all by terrorism and would join India and others in fighting the common challenge of terrorism,” he added.
First Published On : Dec 30, 2016 18:10 IST
By Shihar Aneez
COLOMBO Sri Lanka’s former leader Mahinda Rajapaksa on Thursday criticised a government plan to grant 15,000 acres for Chinese investment in his constituency, saying it will deprive people of agricultural land.Rajapaksa, chided by the West and India for his close relations with China during his rule, is now agitating against President Maithripala Sirisena government’s moves to attract investment as he seeks to rally support under a new party.Despite his shock defeat in January 2015, Rajapaksa is still popular among Sinhala Buddhists, who accounts for 70 percent of the population, because of his leadership to end a 26-year war against Tamil Tiger separatists.He is backed by a newly formed party with around 45 legislators from the Sirisena-led Sri Lanka Freedom Party.However, while Sirisena’s coalition still has a two thirds majority in parliament and, under the constitution, the legislature cannot be dissolved until early 2020, local and provincial elections in 2017 could see Rajapaksa making gains.Sirisena government has agreed to give 15,000 acres of land to China in Rajapaksa’s constituency of Hambantota, where China Merchants Port Holdings Company will get 80 percent stake in a $1.5 billion port on a 99-year lease.
The government says the investment zone will create thousands of jobs. “These are people’s agricultural lands. We are not against Chinese or Indians or Americans coming here for investment. But we are against the land being given to them and the privatisation they are doing,” Rajapaksa told the Foreign Correspondents’ Association at his official residence in Colombo.He said he had discussed his concerns with Chinese officials when he visited Beijing on a one-week visit last month.
It is not clear whether his opposition and close ties to China could scupper the investment, creating further economic and diplomatic headaches for the government. China is Sri Lanka’s largest lender.But any groundswell of opposition to giving the land to the Chinese could cause problems, especially if the government ends up having to remove local residents and farmers by force. Some of the land is owned by the government. It is planning to pay compensation for the land it does not own. The deal is expected to be signed in early January.
“We’re worried about it. We don’t mind about an industrial park coming in, but not like this. 15,000 acres is too much. We wanted to give 750 acres (under the last regime). When they (China) asked for 1,000 acres, I said no,” Rajapaska said. Rajapaksa, now a legislator in opposition benches, oversaw $7 billion Chinese financing into Sri Lanka’s infrastructure. Sirisena stopped most Chinese projects, including a $1.4 billion land reclamation project launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping, citing corruption and lack of proper procedures, resulting in a bitter diplomatic relationship with China. However, later Sirisena allowed the resumption of projects with China. (Reporting by Shihar Aneez)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
First Published On : Dec 29, 2016 21:55 IST
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>China hopes for better ties with India in 2017 by resolving differences over India’s admission into elite Nuclear Suppliers Group and listing of JeM chief Masood Azhar as terrorist by the UN as the two nations signed off their most engaging year bogged down by the twin issues.”This year has seen a steady development of China-India relations, with the two countries marching towards the goal of building a more closely-knit partnership for development,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said summing up Beijing’s perception of the outgoing year and its vision of Sino-Indian ties for the next year.”The leadership of the two countries have maintained frequent contacts” despite the differences, she said, referring to a number of meetings between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping at multilateral foras like G-20 and BRICS summit.
ALSO READ Won’t prejudge Chinese action on UN resolution on Masood Azhar: IndiaShe said that the dialogues and consultations have been going on in an orderly fashion at all levels and practical cooperation in various fields has been carried out steadily.”As close neighbours, it is natural for our two big countries to have differences, and we have been exploring ways to resolve them through diplomatic channels. The main theme of China-India relations remains friendship and cooperation,” she said, holding out hope for a more fruitful year for bilateral ties next year with the resolution of the two major issues.
ALSO READ UK reaffirms support to India’s bid for UNSC, NSG membership”For the year 2017, China would like to work with India for better implementation of the important consensus reached between the leadership, greater political mutual trust, wider mutually beneficial cooperation and properly management of differences so as to ensure a sustained and steady development of China-India relations,” she said.The strength of the deep diplomatic engagement between the two sides virtually begins with the New Year as China’s second “technical hold” on India’s application for listing Azhar as terrorist under UN’s 1267 Committee will expire on December 31, opening a new window for both the countries to address the issue which cast a shadow on Beijing s claim to fight terrorism in all forms as the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Muhammad is already listed by the UN as terror group.With the end of the second technical hold by China, India is expected to submit a fresh application backed by a charge sheet filed recently by the National Investigation Agency against Azhar for his involvement in the Pathankot terror attack.The charge sheet was expected to further reinforce India’s case for a UN ban against Azhar. Other members of the Committee including UNSC permanent members, US, Russia, France and UK had backed it earlier.Indian officials hope that the charge sheet provides strong basis for the case for China to take a relook as Beijing in the past argued that sufficient evidence has not been provided.”Listing in the 1267 Committee must be in line with the relevant resolutions of the UNSC and the rules of procedure of the Committee,” Hua had said, replying to question on Azhar’s issue days after NIA filed charge sheet.On India s admission into the Nuclear Suppliers Group too Indian and Chinese officials hope for a way out next year as China, after blocking India’s bid, began an exercise to work out a “non-discriminatory formula” to admit new members.It is unclear yet whether a formula can be worked out where the other members of the NSG will agree for admission of China’s close ally Pakistan, whose record in nuclear proliferation during the time of its disgraced nuclear scientist Dr A Q Khan will be a stumbling block.China is advocating a two step approach for admission of countries who have not signed nuclear-Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in the NSG. As per the new stand announced by Beijing last month, it first wants to find a solution that is applicable to the admission of all non-NPT members followed by discussions to admit specific non-NPT member.Indian officials say it will make it another engaging year in Sino-Indian diplomacy on both Azhar and NSG fronts and hope that it would not be a futile exercise as happened this year.However, even after the resolution of the two issues, the larger issues like the USD 46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor remain. Modi himself raised this issue with Xi during their meeting at the Chinese city of Hangzhou in September.Significantly, as the year draws to a close, Lt Gen Amir Riaz, Commander of the Pakistan’s Southern Command which is based in Quetta, asked India to “shun enmity” with Pakistan and “join the USD 46-billion CPEC along with Iran, Afghanistan and other Central Asian countries and enjoy its benefits”.Chinese officials say Riaz’s comments are significant as they point to the backing of the Pakistan army.Hua said China is open for such a proposal and wondered “what is India s take on this whether this is a good sign from Pakistan”.While relations appears to have been bogged down over the NSG, Azhar and CEPC which involves Pakistan, officials on both sides say that 2016 was an year of deep engagement between both the countries covering almost all aspects of the relations including the military.
Islamabad: Power-starved Pakistan on Wednesday received a major boost as a China-backed 340 MW nuclear power plant in its Punjab province was inaugurated by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who termed it as an “important milestone” in the government’s efforts to end the menace of load shedding.
The fourth nuclear plant Chashma-3 is located about 250 kilometres southwest of capital Islamabad at Chashma in Mianwali district where another plant Chashma-IV is also being built.
Sharif described the completion of C-3 as “another important milestone in the journey to eliminate the menace of load shedding from the country,” Radio Pakistan reported. He said the project is reflective of closer cooperation between Pakistan and China in science and technology.
“This cooperation is also beginning of a new era of development in the region,” he said. Sharif expressed confidence that Chashma-IV nuclear power plant would also become operational before its deadline of mid next year.
Chashma two and three power plants are the most efficient plants in the country, providing more than 600 MW of electricity to the national grid. Pakistan’s first nuclear plant was supplied by Canada in 1972.
Sharif appreciated Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) for its efforts for self reliance in fuel fabrication and said his government would extend every possible assistance to the Commission to help overcome the shortage of electricity in the country.
Referring to the generation target of 8,800 MW of nuclear energy by 2030, Sharif urged the Commission to accept the challenge of producing more than the target and play its full role in the development of the country.
Noting that there has been a marked reduction in load shedding during the last three years, Sharif pledged that the menace of load shedding would be over in 2018. Sharif said generation of additional 2200 MW of electricity through K-II and K-III would contribute towards this effort.
Pakistan has been grappling with power shortage and the unusually long hours of power outages has been haunting its people for about a decade. Sharif urged PAEC to take all possible measures to strengthen safety of existing and future power plants as per international standards.
Sharif thanked China for extending cooperation in nuclear field and said the two countries are actively cooperating in many other areas, including construction of roads, motorways, airports and upgradation of Pakistan Railways.
He said many projects were initiated under CPEC and their impact was now visible.
These projects are being implemented speedily and this would result in overcoming challenges of unemployment, poverty, backwardness and accelerating the pace of socio economic development, besides bringing all regions of the country more closer, he said.
First Published On : Dec 28, 2016 20:27 IST
By Cate Cadell
BEIJING It was strangely muted when George Michael, as part of the British pop duo Wham!, took the stage at the Workers Gymnasium in Beijing in April 1985, recalled one of those who attended that now legendary first Western pop act in Communist China.Around 15,000 concert-goers watched Michael and bandmate Andrew Ridgeley sing hits such as “Careless Whisper” and “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go” – as police grimly stared at them.”I’d never seen so many police in my life,” Mao Danqing, a now well-known Chinese writer who attended the concert, told Reuters on Monday. The security presence was so intimidating people were too timid to make any noise during the songs, Mao said. “When you see that many police you feel terrified. Everyone sat in separate sections and each section had police lined up in front, facing the crowd,” Mao said.Michael, who became one of the pop idols of the 1980s with Wham! and then forged a career as a successful solo artist with sometimes sexually provocative lyrics, died at his home in England on Sunday. He was 53.CHINA OPENING UP
China maintained strict controls on Western music and film in the 1980s, just a few years after adopting historic economic reforms in 1978 following the chaos of the Cultural Revolution. The music of Wham! and their contemporaries remained banned and authorities tightly controlled reports of the concert.The group’s manager at the time, Simon Napier-Bell, said it took 18 months to negotiate the two performances on Wham!’s two-week tour – the other concert was in Guangzhou. Napier-Bell said in a book published on the 20th anniversary of the tour, “I’m Coming to Take You to Lunch”, that he undermined Queen’s candidacy for the tour by presenting Michael as a more “wholesome” alternative to Queen’s frontman, Freddie Mercury. The book’s title was a reference to Napier-Bell’s relentless wooing of Chinese authorities with lunch meetings.A film documenting the tour called “Foreign Skies: Wham! in China” is available on YouTube. It shows Michael and Ridgeley getting chased by photographers along the Great Wall, chatting about cricket at a British Embassy cocktail reception, touring a traditional market and playing an impromptu game of soccer. Mao, the Chinese writer, received his concert ticket from his university – one of several that were given allocations of tickets for students studying literature.
“We were like blank pages back then. I’d never seen anything like this before in my life,” said Mao, who said he was seated behind students from North Korea.”In front of me, the foreign students jumped up to dance, the police quickly came and told them to sit down,” Mao said.’HE CHANGED CHINA’
Despite the tense atmosphere, the Beijing concert has since become legendary among China’s rock royalty. “They certainly had an impact on China,” said Kaiser Kuo, the front man of a popular Chinese metal band in the 1980s called the Tang Dynasty. “Everyone knew Wham! songs, even people who would go on to play music that diverged starkly from pop.” Chinese took to social media on Monday to mourn Michael, whose 1984 hit “Careless Whisper” was particularly popular in China. “That performance marked the beginning of China’s opening up its gate (to Western music),” said one user. “He changed China!”Michael said in music video for the release of Wham!’s single “Freedom” in 1985 that “nobody had any idea what to expect from Chinese audiences”.”I did feel that although we were very privileged to actually be put in the position, that we were acting as ambassadors of a sort.” (Reporting by Cate Cadell; Editing by Bill Tarrant and Alex Richardson)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
First Published On : Dec 26, 2016 21:11 IST
India successfully conducts a fourth test launch of its nuclear-capable ballistic missile.
There has been much noise about a Pakistan Lieutenant General Aamir Riaz asking India to become a part of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Consider for a moment that India agrees, Pakistan itself will regret the invitation. As a much bigger economy, India will become a key player, and take some of the shine away from Pakistan. The strategic equation in Asia as we know it at present would go into a tailspin and could even finally hit the “all weather” China-Pakistan friendship as the entire region would be transformed. In an ideal world, this would be a game changer as countries become stake holders for peace.
But even a leader like Prime Minister Narendra Modi, given to thinking out of the box, cannot risk this bold initiative so long as anti-India terror groups continue to target Indian forces in Kashmir. Without bringing the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai terror strikes, the Uri and Pathankot kingpins to book, no Indian leader can risk making peace. Modi as the leader of a nationalist right-wing party, who had long decried the UPA’s soft approach to terror, cannot dream of it now with tension escalating and daily killings across the Line of Control (LoC).
India-China and India-Pakistan ties are unlikely to change dramatically in the next few months, with Pakistan especially, till such time as elections in UP, Punjab and other states are done and dusted. Modi’s greetings to Nawaz Sharif on his birthday is an indication that Modi wants to leave a door open to his counterpart. India-Pakistan ties are more emotive than its relationship with China, but with Pakistan becoming a key element of President Xi Jinping’s pet one-road-one-belt project, Beijing, much more than earlier is an integral element in the relationship.
Though India is a member of China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), it has never warmed up to the New Silk Road project. Beijing had earlier been keen for India to join its one-belt-one-road scheme but with the $46 billion investment in Pakistan, it is impossible. India has often protested that some of the CPEC infrastructure will be passing through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), which India claims as its own. China and Pakistan’s friendship has been further cemented by the $46 billion investment in the CPEC.
India-China ties have also taken a hit in the last one year. China has halted India’s entry to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), it is cool to Delhi’s ambitions of being a member of an expanded UN Security Council. It has also blocked Pakistan-based terror group leader Masood Azhar from being declared on the UN list of terror, though his organisation, the Jaish-e-Mohammed is a designated terror outfit. All this on “technical grounds” according to China. More acrimony in India-China ties lie ahead.
The visit of Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama to Arunachal Pradesh in February is likely to further hit India-China ties. Not that this will be his first visit. He was in the Tawang monastery in 2008 also. But now the Chinese are slightly more nervous. US President-elect Donald Trump’s phone call to Taiwan’s president has made China uneasy and Beijing will be watching closely whether Washington’s new incumbent will continue the long accepted one-China policy which the world seemed until now to have accepted. Taiwan and Tibet are key elements of the one China theory. The Dalai Lama’s visit to any country, remember Mongolia, leads to loud and angry protests by Beijing. The fact that most of its neighbours, aware of China’s economic and military power finally gave in, has emboldened Beijing.
The Tibetan leader’s meeting with President Pranab Mukherjee in Rashtrapati Bhavan has elicited similar noise from China. US ambassador Richard Verma was given rare permission to travel to Arunachal Pradesh. Now, when it is already vulnerable about Taiwan, a visit to the state, which China claims as an extension of South Tibet, will lead to more raucous protests from Beijing.
China usually is circumspect and has long-term policy visions, but over both Taiwan and Tibet it is ultra sensitive. With an unknown individual ready to shake up the Washington consensus China remains nervous. Moreover, it has been closely monitoring the growing warmth in India-China ties and believes the US is using New Delhi to balance China’s clout in the Asia-Pacific region.
All this does not bode well for relations between the two Asian giants. China is also aware that Modi is not the run of the mill Indian leader, and can take extraordinarily bold decisions and can even be adventurist if required.
China’s one-road-one-belt policy is hard to resist for most countries in the neighbourhood. Everyone needs funds for infrastructure, whether it is Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal or the Maldives. China’s footprints are writ large around India’s neighbourhood. This is of concern to India. But India’s frustration should not lead to arm-twisting of smaller neighbours. What it needs instead is a viable development alternative, something much more than the Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (Bimstec). So long as China is flushed with funds, its influence in the region will remain intact. But as many economists predict, China is living in a bubble and chances of the bubble bursting in the next couple of years are high. Without the abundance of cash, Beijing’s competitiveness will dim for awhile. India needs to think of a viable option to carry its neighbours with it. 2017 is likely to be an interesting year as the Trump presidency plays out its cards. India is hoping it will gain in the process.
First Published On : Dec 25, 2016 18:26 IST
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>China will strongly oppose any attempt to label Pakistan as “supporting terrorism”, Chinese official media said on Friday and suggested India to accept the “olive branch” extended by a top Pakistani military General to participate in the $46 billion economic corridor. “Surprise aside (over General’s call), New Delhi should consider accepting the olive branch Pakistan has extended in a bid to participate in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor,” said an article in the state-run Global Times.The comments came after Lt Gen Riaz, Commander of the Pakistan’s Southern Command which is based in Quetta, this week reportedly said India should “shun enmity” with Pakistan and “join the $46-billion CPEC along with Iran, Afghanistan and other Central Asian countries and enjoy its benefits”.”Such an opportunity could be transient. There is a possibility that the open attitude toward India joining the CPEC will quickly be overwhelmed by opposition voices from Pakistan if New Delhi does not respond in a timely manner to the General’s overture,” the article said. “The best way to reduce hostilities is by establishing economic cooperation based on mutual benefits to put aside what cannot be reached by a consensus,” it said.
ALSO READ India should ‘shun enmity’ and join CPEC: Top Pakistan GeneralIt said that India could boost its exports and slash its trade deficit with China via new trade routes that would be opened up by the CPEC. In addition, the northern part of India bordering Pakistan and Jammu and Kashmir will gain more economic growth momentum if India joins the project, it said.Another article in the same daily said “Riaz’s invitation, which came as a surprise to New Delhi, is mainly intended as a gesture. While he hinted at India’s intervention in the CPEC, he welcomed India’s participation in the project, demonstrating Pakistan does not want to exclude India.” At the same time, it said, “if any country wants to label Pakistan as ‘supporting terrorism’ and discredit the country, then China and other countries who uphold justice will oppose such behaviour strongly”.The article said that since President Xi Jinping visited Pakistan in April, 2015, the CPEC has advanced considerably. “However, some international forces, and India in particular, are accustomed to look at the CPEC and the One Belt and One Road initiative from a geopolitical perspective.On one side, this is relevant to the geopolitical competition mindset they insist on, on the other, this is because of their excessive speculation on the strategic implications of the CPEC and the Belt and Road,” it said. “To ensure the smooth advancement of the CPEC, it is necessary for Pakistan to have a stable and peaceful domestic and periphery environment and a favourable profile,” it said.On anti-terrorism, the Afghanistan peace process, and the peace and stability of Kashmir, Pakistan is making efforts to show international society its wish to pursue peace, it said. “The CPEC is not only a bilateral cooperation, but also a multilateral project in the long-run, which aims at regional economic integration. So it’s open and inclusive, and China and Pakistan hope India, Afghanistan, Iran and Central Asian countries can participate and become stakeholders,” it added.
Beijing: China will strongly oppose any attempt to label Pakistan as “supporting terrorism”, Chinese official media said on Friday and suggested India to accept the “olive branch” extended by a top Pakistani military General to participate in the $46 billion economic corridor.
“Surprise aside (over General’s call), New Delhi should consider accepting the olive branch Pakistan has extended in a bid to participate in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor,” said an article in the state-run Global Times.
The comments came after Lt Gen Riaz, Commander of the Pakistan’s Southern Command which is based in Quetta, this week reportedly said India should “shun enmity” with Pakistan and “join the $46-billion CPEC along with Iran, Afghanistan and other Central Asian countries and enjoy its benefits”.
“Such an opportunity could be transient. There is a possibility that the open attitude toward India joining the CPEC will quickly be overwhelmed by opposition voices from Pakistan if New Delhi does not respond in a timely manner to the General’s overture,” the article said.
“The best way to reduce hostilities is by establishing economic cooperation based on mutual benefits to put aside what cannot be reached by a consensus,” it said.
It said that India could boost its exports and slash its trade deficit with China via new trade routes that would be opened up by the CPEC. In addition, the northern part of India bordering Pakistan and Jammu and Kashmir will gain more economic growth momentum if India joins the project, it said.
Another article in the same daily said “Riaz’s invitation, which came as a surprise to New Delhi, is mainly intended as a gesture. While he hinted at India’s intervention in the CPEC, he welcomed India’s participation in the project, demonstrating Pakistan does not want to exclude India.”
At the same time, it said, “if any country wants to label Pakistan as ‘supporting terrorism’ and discredit the country, then China and other countries who uphold justice will oppose such behaviour strongly”.
The article said that since President Xi Jinping visited Pakistan in April, 2015, the CPEC has advanced considerably.
“However, some international forces, and India in particular, are accustomed to look at the CPEC and the One Belt and One Road initiative from a geopolitical perspective.
On one side, this is relevant to the geopolitical competition mindset they insist on, on the other, this is because of their excessive speculation on the strategic implications of the CPEC and the Belt and Road,” it said.
“To ensure the smooth advancement of the CPEC, it is necessary for Pakistan to have a stable and peaceful domestic and periphery environment and a favourable profile,” it said.
On anti-terrorism, the Afghanistan peace process, and the peace and stability of Kashmir, Pakistan is making efforts to show international society its wish to pursue peace, it said.
“The CPEC is not only a bilateral cooperation, but also a multilateral project in the long-run, which aims at regional economic integration. So it’s open and inclusive, and China and Pakistan hope India, Afghanistan, Iran and Central Asian countries can participate and become stakeholders,” it added.
First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 13:32 IST
In a setback to Indian travellers, Hong Kong has withdrawn the visa-free entry facility for Indians and they will now have to complete a pre-arrival registration from January. There is also some good news in store — Thailand has halved the visa on arrival fees for Indian tourists.
“The pre-arrival registration for Indian nationals will be implemented from 23 January, 2017. The online service for it is now open,” the Hong Kong immigration department said in an announcement on its official website.
“Indian nationals must apply for and successfully complete pre-arrival registration online before they can visit or transit the HKSAR visa-free (if seeking to enter the HKSAR during transit). Pre-arrival registration is not required for Indian nationals in direct transit by air and not leaving the airport transit area,” it said.
This is a major set back for over half a million Indians who visit Hong Kong for business, trade and holidays.
Till now Hong Kong, which is now a Special Administrative Region of China, has permitted Indians to enter with valid passport for a period up to 14 days without a visa.
Indian officials say that Hong Kong is using the asylum seekers as a pretext to deny the visa-free entry to Indians who are one of the largest spenders contributing to the local economy.
There is also concern whether the move is being brought about by Hong Kong due to pressure from China.
For Indians visiting Thailand, the visa on arrival fees will now be 1,000 Baht (about Rs 2,000). The change was announced less than two months after visa fees was increased to 2,000 Baht on 27 September.
Thailand’s economy relies heavily on foreign tourists. The move is intended to boost tourist arrivals, which is a key economic engine for the country.
“The fees will be cut to 1,000 Baht,” the Thailand Tourism Ministry announced.
Thailand currently offers visa on arrival for citizens of India, Andorra, Bulgaria, Bhutan, China, Cyprus, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, the Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Romania, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.
Meanwhile, the Cabinet extended to 10 years from one the long-stay visa for foreigners aged 50 or more.
However, they must report to immigration police every 90 days.
The visa will be valid initially for five years and could be renewed for another five, Col Apisit Chaiyanuwat, vice-minister at the Prime Minister’s Office, said.
The visa fee was set at 10,000 Baht (Rs 20,000), he said.
Apart from the age requirement, the visa requires eligible foreigners to have a monthly salary of at least 100,000 Baht or a bank deposit of at least 3 million Baht, to be maintained for at least one year after receiving the visa.
Besides, they must have health insurance coverage for at least $1,000 for outpatient care and $10,000 or more for inpatient care per policy per year.
The revised rule aimed to promote medical and wellness tourism in line with the government’s policy.
Indians can avail of visa on arrival facility in 43 countries, barring Hong Kong. Some of the countries that allow Indians to get a visa on arrival are Indonesia, Maldives and Cambodia in Asia; Mauritius and Seychelles in Africa; Ecuador in South America; Georgia and Macedonia in Europe and several tiny islands in the Atlantic and Pacific.
With inputs from PTI
First Published On : Dec 21, 2016 17:30 IST
A US team in India recovers possible remains of soldiers who died in a crash during World War Two.
New Delhi: Wrapping up investigations in the Pathankot airbase attack case, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Monday filed a chargesheet against Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Maulana Masood Azhar, his brother and two others for hatching the conspiracy of the January two audacious terror strike that left seven personnel dead and 37 others injured.
The chargesheet was filed in the NIA court at Panchkula in which all the four have been slapped with charges under Indian Penal Code, Explosive Substances Act, Arms Act and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Besides Azhar, his brother Mufti Abdul Rauf Asghar and two handlers — Shahid Latif and Kashif Jan — have been named in the exhaustive charge sheet. While Interpol Red Corner Notice against three has been issued, the same was pending against Jan, the NIA said.
The chargesheet will also put to rest speculation about the number of terrorists involved in the attack as the agency gave details of only four militants. There was confusion about the number of terrorists as Defence Minister Manohar Parikar and Home Minister Rajnath Singh had informed that the number was six.
The charge sheet also hinted of lax security at the strategic IAF base in Pathankot and said that the four terrorists — Nasir Hussain, Hafiz Abu Bakar, Umar Farooq and Abdul Qayoom — who were Pakistani nationals belonging to Jaish, had entered the premises at 0840 hours of January one and entrenched themselves in a drain and adjacent shed belonging to Military Engineering Services.
The terrorists were engaged in a gunfight only at 0320 hours of January two, 19 hours after they had entered the IAF base.
The charge sheet is likely to be used by India in advocating its case for imposing sanctions against Azhar, released in 1999 in exchange of IC-814 hijacked Indian Airlines Plane, under the United Nations anti-terror law, officials said.
The terror case saw an unusual move from India and Pakistan as Islamabad had sent its probe team to Pathankot. They were handed over all the documents and allowed to question everyone except security personnel involved in foiling the attempts of the terrorists.
However, the Pakistani team, upon their return, claimed that India neither shared much of evidence nor allowed it to interrogate the security personnel involved in dealing with the attack.
Giving details about the infiltration and activities of the four terrorists, the NIA said in its charge sheet that all the four terrorists underwent extensive motivational, physical, military and tactical training and were radicalized to carry out terror strikes in India.
The four terrorists armed with ammunition and other logistical items illegally crossed the Indo-Pak international border through the forest area near the Simbal Border Outpost on 30 December. Empty food packets manufactured in Pakistan and other food articles from the neighbouring country were recovered from the forest area near the Simbal Border Outpost, during investigation.
After infiltrating into the Indian side, these terrorists reached the road from Bhagwal village to Janial. On 31 December, at around 2130 hours, they hijacked a taxi bearing registration number PB06-G-0061, along with the driver, Ikagar Singh, who was going from village Bhagwal to Janial.
The terrorists snatched the mobile phone of Ikagar Singh and used the same to communicate with their handler, Kashif Jan and senior leaders and operatives of the Jaish-e-Mohammad in Pakistan, on three Pakistan mobile numbers 923453030479, 923213132786 and 923017775253. Their vehicle met with an accident at the Dhusi turn near the Ravi River Bridge after which the terrorists brutally killed Ikagar Singh and dumped his dead body in the nearby bushes.
Thereafter, the terrorists drove the damaged vehicle and abandoned it at a service station at Kolian Morh in Pathankot. During investigation, the DNA profiles recovered from the dagger, seized from the possession of one of the dead terrorists (Nisar), matched with that of Ikagar Singh, thereby conclusively establishing that he had killed Ikagar Singh.
Similarly, DNA profile of two terrorists was found on an energy drink can, recovered from the vehicle of Ikagar Singh. After abandoning the damaged vehicle of Ikagar Singh at Kolian Morh, the terrorists hid in the nearby sugarcane fields and waited for a vehicle to come.
They hijacked a Mahindra XUV bearing registration number PB02-BW-0313 of Salvinder Singh, Superintendent of Punjab Police, and moved towards the Air Force Station, Pathankot after taking control of the vehicle. They snatched the mobile phones of the victims and used them to communicate with their handler, Kashif Jan and senior leaders and operatives of the JeM in Pakistan on the four Pakistan numbers — 923453030479, 923466746667, 923000957212 and 923024880619.
After some time, the terrorists tied, blindfolded and dumped Salvinder Singh and his cook Madan Gopal at an abandoned place in a forest area near village Gulpur Simli on way to the Air Force Station, Pathankot. However, they took the third occupant, Rajesh Verma, a jeweller, along with them.
Singh and his cook managed to untie themselves and rushed to the nearby Gulpur Simli village on foot for help, the charge sheet said, adding the terrorists, on learning later from Verma that Singh was a police officer, informed their handler who directed them to go back and look for him.
Since the duo had already left the spot, the terrorists resumed their journey to the Air Force Station. At around 0400 hrs on January one, the terrorists reached village Akalgarh near the Air Force Station in Pathankot and tied Rajesh Verma.
They slit his throat with an intention to kill him and abandoned him and the vehicle in the sugarcane fields at around 0400 hrs. Thereafter, they moved towards the IAF Station on foot.
Meanwhile, Rajesh Verma managed to untie himself and rushed to the Akalgarh village for help, the NIA said, adding as per the forensic report collected during investigation, the DNA profile of the genetic material lifted from the energy drink can, recovered from the Mahindra XUV vehicle, matched with that of a deceased terrorist.
The DNA profile of the genetic material lifted from the dagger recovered from the possession of another terrorist matched with that of the victims Verma and Ikagar Singh. Similarly, the profile of the trace DNA lifted from the handle of the dagger, matched with that of another terrorist. The seat belt of the Mahindra XUV was cut and used to tie one of the victims.
As per the forensic report, the seat belt pieces recovered from the forest area, where the terrorists had dumped Singh and his cook, matched with the remaining seat belt pieces of the Mahindra XUV vehicle.
One walkie-talkie set belonging to the terrorists and one slip written in English were recovered from the Mahindra vehicle. The terrorists had left the slip in which it was written, “Jaish E Muhamad Zindabad Tanghdar se le kar Samba Kathua Rajbagh Aur Delhi tak Afzal Guru Shadeed Kay Jan nisar Tum ko meltay rahege. Insha Allah. A.G.S. 25-12-15″.
The iPhone of Rajesh Verma, which was snatched by the terrorists, was recovered from the ‘nallah’ near the perimeter wall inside the IAF station where the terrorists had hidden before carrying out the attack.
Investigation showed that after abandoning the Mahindra XUV vehicle, the terrorists moved to the western side of the IAF station on foot and forced their entry after cutting the wire fencing over the western side of the perimeter wall before getting inside the airbase in the wee hours of January one.
As per the forensic analysis report, the marks of the cutting tool recovered from the terrorists, matched with the marks on the cut portion of the fencing wire. Also the climbing rope used by them and recovered from the perimeter wall matched with the rope recovered from the Mahindra XUV vehicle.
A glove and a woollen cap, similar to those recovered from the terrorists, were recovered entangled with the wire fencing over the perimeter wall. Further there were marks of climbing over the eucalyptus tree, just outside the perimeter wall panel and also on the other side of the perimeter wall.
After getting inside the IAF Station, the terrorists hid themselves inside the ‘nallah’ and the dilapidated MES Store sheds till the time they launched the assault.
As per the forensic report, the shoe imprints lifted from the ‘nallah’ matched with the shoes of a terrorist.
One of the four terrorists identified as Nasir made attempts to call a Pakistan telephone number 923466746667, belonging to one Khayam Bhatti who runs a merchandise shop in Sailkot, using the snatched Indian mobile number but could not converse.
He again made a call to a different Pakistani number 923000957212 and during this conversation, he disclosed the names of his other three associates as Major, Abu Bakar and Umar.
During the day, as they were hiding, he again called and expressed his desire to the person on the other side to talk to a woman whom he addressed as his mother and the call lasted for 18 minutes.
Nasir told the woman that they had infiltrated into the Indian territory at ‘do baje (0200 hours)’ on Wednesday (which was 30 December) and also told her that he had killed two persons referring to Ikagar Singh and the injured victim Rajesh Verma, whose throat was slit by the terrorist but he happened to survive.
He also spoke to his brother and cousin, who is referred to by the name Babar, and to another person whom he called Munna.
While speaking to the woman addressed as his mother, Nasir asked her to record his conversation on the mobile set. During his conversation with her, Nasir mentioned about one “Ustad” who was supposed to come to her with his “Wasihat” (will) after his death.
He also disclosed that they were hiding inside the IAF station (referred to as Camp in conversation) and waiting to carry out the terror attack.
The terrorists launched the attack early in the morning on 2 January and the gunfight between the Garud commandos and the terrorists started in the MES yard at about 0320 hrs.
The terrorists fired and lobbed grenades indiscriminately towards the Garud Commandos, while moving out of the yard, the NIA said, adding during the gunfight one Garud Commando was killed and two others were injured.
The terrorists also specifically targeted fuel tanks of the vehicles parked in the section setting them on fire, causing severe damage to the vehicles and the buildings, so as to cause panic.
The four terrorists then moved southwards firing indiscriminately and lobbing grenades in which an IAF personnel
lost his life.
Thereafter they crossed the billets near the Peer Baba Mazar and kept on firing indiscriminately injuring one personnel, on the first floor verandah of the billet.
They then entered the mess area where they killed Hon Capt Fateh Singh and later two more IAF personnel, the NIA said, adding one of the terrorists was killed in the retaliatory fire by then.
The remaining terrorists hid in the thick dry vegetation near the DSC lawns and the NSG and Army units then cordoned off this area and, subsequently, neutralized these three terrorists on January two.
During the operation, seven persons were martyred and 37 persons were injured inside the IAF Station.
NIA investigators collected sufficient evidence in terms of statements of the witnesses to establish that the terrorists had been trained, motivated and radicalised by Maulana Masood Azhar and Mufti Abdul Rauf.
It has also been established through legal intercepts and statements of witnesses, that Kashif Jan and Shahid Latif had guided, equipped and launched the four terrorists, who carried out the terrorist attack at the IAF Station.
The recoveries from the scene of crime, material and documentary evidence, forensic reports and extensive call data analysis, conclusively establish the complicity of the terrorists of JeM, in the attack at the Airbase, the agency said.
First Published On : Dec 20, 2016 12:05 IST
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> In a direct attack on the Prime Minister, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Monday alleged that Narendra Modi visits the US and China “using” the aircraft of his wealthy “friends” and has “made fun” of 99 per cent honest people through demonetization.”Maximum wealth lies with 50 families… Modi goes to America and China with their family members, using their aircraft,” Rahul said at a ‘Janakrosh Rally’ here. This was his first rally in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh after the Winter Session of Parliament was washed out over demonetization. Last week, Rahul had threatened to “expose personal corruption of Modi” while claiming that he was not being allowed to speak in Parliament as it would lead to an “earthquake”.Insisting that “All cash is not black and all black money is not in cash”, the Congress leader said, “94 per cent black money is stashed away in foreign banks, real estate and investment in land deals and gold. But why is PM running after only the rest 6 per cent?” He said only one per cent people have 60 per cent of the country’s wealth and that “Modi has made fun of 99 per cent honest people through demonetization”. Rahul alleged that Modi had waived Rs 1,200 crore loan of Vijay Mallya and Rs 1.10 lakh crore taken by 50 wealthy families, but did not care about writing off farmers’ loans.The Congress leader, who had undertaken a ‘Deoria to Delhi’ padayatra to highlight the plight of farmers, said he had met the Prime Minister to seek waiver of farmers’ loans but the latter was non-committal.The purpose of note ban was “Garib ka khincho, Amir ko sincho (extract from the poor and help the rich)”, he said. Interestingly, at the rally, when some workers shouted slogans against Modi, Rahul asked them to desist from making personal attacks. “Our fight against Narendra Modi is political, please don’t raise ‘murdabad’ slogans against him…such language is used by fascists and RSS, not Congress,” he told them.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Becoming wary of increasing Chinese activity in India’s neighbourhood, especially in Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar and along the international border, the Centre has decided to revive the Special Service Bureau (SSB), the erstwhile avatar of the Sashastra Seema Bal.Sources said that National Security Advisor Ajit Doval has shot a missive to Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) chief RN Ravi and Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi, asking them to work out the revival plans of the SSB.The SSB was constituted in 1963, immediately after the 1962 war debacle, to act as a bulwark to keep the Chinese manoeuvres in the region at bay by recruiting local foot soldiers in large numbers.Organised for winning over the border population in Arunachal Pradesh and Bangladesh, Nepal and even Jammu borders to serve as the eyes and ears of the security forces, the Bureau played a key role in gathering intelligence along the border and in neighbouring countries on Chinese designs.The move to revive the Bureau, in addition to a dedicated Mountain Corps and deployment of the Brahmos missiles along the Indo-China border, has been taken by the top securityestablishment in view of the increasing footprints of China in the neighbouring countries and along the international border, sources told DNA.The recent Chinese manoeuvres (Belt and Road Initiative) of opening up new rail and road trade route with Nepal linking Guangdong, Tibet and Kathmandu, the under-construction Shigatse-Gyirong rail link, that would leave Kathmandu merely 84 km away, and the plan to build a tunnel under Mount Everest have made the Indian security establishment very apprehensive of Chinese designs.Besides, China is also increasing its footprints in Bangladesh and Myanmar. Bangladesh recently showed keen interest in increasing Chinese FDI and support for developing infrastructure. During Chinese President Xi Jinping’s recent visit, the two countries signed 28 MoUs and deals.The Chinese dominance can also lead to change in dynamics of relations with neighbouring countries and it is important for India to prepare for future threats, said sources. Moreover, Pakistan’s ISI is also trying to make India’s eastern borders active and use them to fuel disturbance. The role of SSB will come in very handy in countering these threats, sources said.The SSB had thousands of locals — well trained in intelligence-gathering, firearms and combat role — spread out in the border areas, who not only served wonderfully well by way of penetration and intelligence-collection but also by countering the propaganda that Chinese tried to feed near the border areas and in neighbouring countries.In its new avatar, the SSB will have to undergo sophisticated training and deeper penetration, said sources. It would take quite some time to put the plan on the ground as the SSB has lost touch with much of its old assets after it got into the new mould.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>1. NDA govt did what Congress should have done in 1971: Narendra ModiPM uses the BJP parliamentary party meeting platform to take on the Opposition on demonetization, an issue which had stalled the Winter Session. Read more.2. It is clearly marked as ours’: US asks China to return seized drone immediatelyChina seized US underwater drone in South China Sea. Read more.3. Rahul Gandhi’s ‘bomb’ explodes: Why the Opposition split ahead of meeting with PM ModiOpposition parties accused Rahul of breaking an understanding by going alone to meet the PM and fixing an appointment with President Pranab Mukherjee in his own name. Read more.4. Demonetization: Supreme Court says it will not ‘interfere’ in govt’s decisionThe SC’s order came in response to a petition filed on November 10, against the government’s November 8 announcement of demonetizing Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes. Read more.5. IND vs ENG: Kohli as good as Ajinkya Rahane in slips – R SridharThe value of Ajinkya Rahane in slips for the spinners is realised when he is absent from the team. Read more.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India remains one of the fastest-growing countries in the world, the White House has said even as it underlined that inefficiencies persist in the country’s public sector the poor still lacking healthcare coverage and access to financial services. “India remains one of the fastest-growing countries in the world, with real GDP expanding at 7.3% in the four quarters through 2016:Q3,” said the Economic Report of the President for the year 2017, which was sent to the Congress.The voluminous report running into nearly 600 pages says that economic growth in India continues at a solid pace of a projected 7.4% over the four quarters of 2016. “Private consumption has been a major driver in economic growth, contributing 4.3% points to its 7. 3% real GDP growth rate in the four quarters through 2016:Q3,” the report said, adding that lower inflation and fiscal consolidation over the past year has created additional policy space for India to stimulate growth should a crisis occur. “Macroeconomic risks revolve around inflationary pressure stemming from increasing commodity prices, which could weigh on the current account and fiscal deficit,” it said.”Inefficiencies remain in the public sector, with India’s poor still lacking healthcare coverage, educational attainment, and access to financial services. Further, inequality in India remains high,” the White House report said.The report also noted the countries that export to China and the advanced economies have suffered due to the slowdown in those important markets, the report added. “Economic growth in China has been on a downward trend since a brief rebound after the global financial crisis. China has been attempting to re-balance from an investment- and export-driven economy to an economy driven more by private consumption,” it said.The White House said as China’s economy grew to 15% of global GDP in 2015, targeted industrial policies have made it the world’s largest manufacturer and the dominant producer of some key goods in the global marketplace, as well as a major source of demand for an array of goods, magnifying the effects of changes in its domestic economy on global prices and growth.
BEIJING China expressed dissatisfaction on Friday after exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama met President Pranab Mukherjee, saying it hoped India would recognise the Nobel Peace Prize winning monk as a separatist in religious guise.Mukherjee hosted the Dalai Lama and other Nobel Peace laureates at a conference on children’s rights at the presidential palace on Sunday.Those who attended, and spoke, included Princess Charlene of Monaco and the former president of East Timor, Jose Ramos-Horta.The Indian government had ignored China’s “strong opposition and insisted” on arranging for the Dalai Lama to share the stage with Mukherjee, and meet him, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a daily news briefing in the Chinese capital. “China is strongly dissatisfied and resolutely opposed to this,” he said, adding that the Dalai Lama used the guise of religion to engage in separatist activities and China opposed any form of official contacts with him.
China wanted India to recognise the “anti-China, separatist essence of the Dalai Lama clique and take steps to banish the negative impact of this incident” to avoid disrupting ties between the Asian giants, Geng said.While the Dalai Lama has had private meetings with Indian leaders, Sunday’s conference was the first public event, said the political head of the Tibetan government in exile based in the hill town of Dharamsala. “There are many European governments shying away from hosting His Holiness,” he told Reuters. “Here you have the president of India hosting His Holiness. I think is a powerful message to the world, and particularly to Beijing.”
China regards the Dalai Lama as a separatist, though he says he merely seeks genuine autonomy for his Himalayan homeland Tibet, which Communist Chinese troops “peacefully liberated” in 1950.The Dalai Lama fled into exile in India in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule.
China also expressed displeasure with India this month over the visit to a sensitive border region of another senior Tibetan religious figure, the Karmapa Lama, Tibetan Buddhism’s third-most-senior monk, who fled into exile in India in 2000.India is home to a large exiled Tibetan community. (Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Additional reporting by Sanjeev Miglani in New Delhi; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
First Published On : Dec 16, 2016 16:29 IST
Closer maritime cooperation between India and Indonesia is the key takeaway from President Joko Widodo first visit to Delhi.
Though China was not mentioned, the stock diplomatic phrases used in a statement issued after talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the visiting dignitary, is a clear give away. The same language was used when Modi and US President Barack Obama issued a joint statement on the South China Sea after his 2015 visit. Freedom of navigation, reference to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), are all there.
Clearly all Asian countries, including Indonesia which does not have a maritime dispute with China, (unlike Japan, Phillipines, Vietnam, Taiwan), are wary of Beijing’s growing overreach in the East and South China Seas and the larger Pacific and Indian Ocean region. Land reclamation and fortifications to ensure that airstrips are available for Chinese fighter jets have alarmed the world.
“Both leaders committed to maintaining a maritime legal order based on principles of international law, as reflected notably in the UNCLOS,’’ a statement on maritime cooperation released after talks in Hyderabad House on Monday said. The references cannot be missed.
Like every nation, India and Indonesia want to ensure that the sea lanes of the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean region, through which trillions of dollars worth of trade passes must run smoothly. “Both leaders recognised the importance of freedom of navigation and overflight on the high seas, unimpeded lawful commerce, as well as resolving maritime disputes by peaceful means,’’ the statement went on to add.
This emphasis on peaceful resolution of disputes and respect for international law comes in the face of China’s refusal of an international arbitration tribunal which had earlier this year ruled against China in a case with the Phillipines about Chinese fishermen landing in what the tribunal ruled was Filipino waters. Beijing refused to accept the arbitration ruling.
The fear of an economic powerhouse like China, which now has both the funds and the naval and military might to coerce smaller neighbours is making Asian nations look to building a network of maritime alliances among themselves. This is why, Asians generally had welcomed Obama’s pivot to Asia policy. A strong American presence could act as a confidence booster for small Asian nations.
India on its part is looking to build maritime cooperation with all its Indian Ocean neighbours as well as countries like Vietnam. In 2015, Modi visited Seychelles, Sri Lanka and Mauritius in an attempt to shore up naval ties with these island nations.
After talks with Widodo, Modi in his media address, said: “We agreed to prioritise defence and security cooperation. As two important maritime nations that are also neighbours, we agreed to cooperate to ensure the safety and security of the sea lanes, in disaster response and environmental protection.’’
“The joint statement on maritime cooperation outlines the agenda of our engagement in this field,’’ the prime minister added.
Modi and Widodo directed their respective defence ministers to upgrade the existing defence cooperation to a substantive bilateral defence cooperation pact. At present, the Indian and Indonesian Army and Naval officers of both nations meet regularly for talks. Now the Airforce officers will also be included. There will also be increased defence exercises, including among special forces as well preliminary work on joint production of defence equipment and technology transfer, obviously from the Indian side.
Modi as prime minister has been paying a lot of attention to naval cooperation and the Indian Navy now holds regular exercises with more and more countries. Indian ships are now regularly visiting ports across Aisa, Africa and Europe. The highlight of defence cooperation are the Malabar exercises between India and the US Navies which started in 2002. Japan had once been part of the exercises, but stayed out after China’s vehement protests. But from 2016, Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) have joined the US and Indian Navies for trilateral manouevres at sea. Malabar exercises will be held annually between the three navies, alternately in the Western Pacific (near Japan) and the Indian Ocean. This decision not to heed Chinese protests was taken by the Modi government.
Since 2002, India and Indonesia have been expanding maritime cooperation by holding joint coordinated naval patrols biannually. This got a much needed political boost on Monday with Modi and Widodo calling for greater closer maritime cooperation.
“Maritime cooperation has a wider reach than mere naval strategy,” said Gautam Mukhopadhya, former ambassador to Myanmar, who was also MEA’s representative in the Defence Ministry. “Widodo is completey geared to boosting Indonesia’s economic potential. Strategically he wants to make sure that the scattered smaller islands of the country are well protected and so cooperation with the Indian Navy will also help in capacity building,’’ the former envoy added.
“Our partnership will also extend to combating terrorism, organised crime, drugs and human trafficking,’’ Modi said, signaling the cooperation is not just limited to defence.
A memorandum of understanding between India and Indonesia is on the cards to accelerate maritime cooperation in maritime safety and security, and promotion of maritime industries, as one of the important pillars towards enhancing the bilateral relationship. The two nations also spoke of the need to combat and eliminate “illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing” and recognised transnational organised fisheries crime as one of the emerging crimes, which has become an ever-growing threat to the world.
First Published On : Dec 13, 2016 15:39 IST
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Congress Party on Tuesday asked how Prime Minister Narendra Modi will tackle China after it categorically stated that it will not change its position on India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers? Group or on designating Masood Azhar as a terrorist.”China’s adamant attitude on the issue of infamous terrorist Masood Azhar and India entry into the NSG is worrisome,” Congress leader Randeep Surjewala said.”The country wants to know how the Indian government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will tackle this issue,” he added.He further questioned as to why the Indian government not taking a tough stand on this and why the Prime Minister is unable to talk to his Chinese counterpart about the same.Surjewala asked, “India is a responsible nuclear power, then, why is China objecting to its membership? And, how will you (India) gather other countries on your side.”On Monday, China said there was no shift in its position either on New Delhi’s inclusion in the 48-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) or on imposition of UN sanctions on the chief of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), Masood Azhar.
China launches WTO complaint against U.S., EU over dumping rules | Reuters
By Ben Blanchard
BEIJING China said on Monday it had launched a complaint at the World Trade Organisation over the approach used by the United States and European Union to calculate anti-dumping measures against Chinese exports.When China joined the WTO in 2001, its accession terms allowed other WTO members to treat it as a non-market economy when assessing dumping duties for 15 years. That gave trade partners the advantage of using a third country’s prices to gauge whether China was selling its goods below market value.But part of that clause expired on Dec. 11, which China says means trading partners must drop their use of such surrogate pricing.U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker said in November the time was “not ripe” for the United States to change the way it evaluates whether China has achieved market economy status, and there was no international trade rules requiring changes in the way U.S. anti-dumping duties are calculated.China’s Commerce Ministry said in a statement on its website that 15 years on, all WTO members had an obligation to stop using the surrogate country approach.
“Regretfully, the United States and European Union have yet to fulfil this obligation,” the ministry said.The European Commission said it had received the request for consultations, the first step in a WTO dispute.”We regret that China is launching this dispute now despite the fact that the Commission has already made a proposal to amend the legislation in question,” a Commission spokesman said.
The Commission proposed last month a new way of treating China, but its plans await approval from the EU’s 28 members and the European Parliament.Last week it angered Beijing by launching an anti-dumping case under the old system – using the prices of a third country – just days before the Dec. 11 deadline.Separately, a Chinese ministry official said in another statement a U.S. investigation into what it regards as Chinese dumping of plywood products launched last week amounted to abuse of emergency trade relief measures.
The United States and European Union are some of the biggest levellers of anti-dumping measures under this process against China. The measures have seriously affected exports and employment for Chinese firms, the ministry added.”China reserves the right under WTO rules to resolutely defend its legal rights,” it added, without elaborating.The United States has repeatedly argued that China’s market reforms have fallen short of expectations, especially in aluminium and steel, where state intervention has led to overcapacity, threatening industries around the world. (Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Additional reporting by Philip Blenkinsop in Brussels and Beijing monitoring team; Editing by Clarence Fernandez, Robert Birsel)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
First Published On : Dec 12, 2016 21:09 IST
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Pakistani media has hailed the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project as a game changer. Pakistan is optimistic that China is about to transform their country with the $46 billion project. Interestingly, this corridor also runs through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), which is likely to make Prime Minister Narendra Modi uncomfortable.
There is, however, a new player in this game. Donald Trump — the President-elect of the United States — recently held talks with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. According to a report by Pakistani daily Dawn, Trump said, “Your country is amazing with tremendous opportunities. Pakistanis are one of the most intelligent people. I am ready and willing to play any role that you want me to play to address and find solutions to the outstanding problems.”
Trump’s remarks on Pakistan’s ‘outstanding problems’ has posed a serious question over US’ involvement in India-Pakistan ties and his stance on the CPEC project which makes China a dominant player in the South-Asian region. Many hailed Trump’s phone call and the upcoming CPEC project which will provide Pakistan the economic boost it requires.
Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, 43, who is under house arrest, told The Economic Times, “We had zero expectation from Trump, considering the discourse during his election campaign. However, Trump’s phone call to Pakistan, and the remarks of Vice-President-elect Mike Pence on Kashmir are very important. I guess South Asia is going to be the focus for the new dispensation in the US. If Trump administration gets involved in the region, it will be a huge diplomatic shift, which would help us.”
When asked how does he thinks CPEC will impact Jammu and Kashmir politics, he said that the project poses a good opportunity for J&K and allows them to be a part of the Silk Route once again. He said, “We can be part of the CPEC, even before the resolution of Kashmir issue and become a part of the Central Asian discourse rather than South Asian discourse. Kashmir can be gateway for India as well.” He was optimistic about India’s involvement in the project and noted 2017 will be an interesting year as economic and political equations are changing amid Trump’s victory and the engagement of many countries in CPEC.
However, it is a well-known fact that Pakistan has been feeling the pressure from global powers after India took a strong stance against Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in light of the 2016 Uri attack in which 18 Indian soldiers were killed. The dip in relations with America was reflected in the US bill introduced on 20 September which sought to officially designate Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism.
Pakistan in turn has taken the route to gaining grace in China and treating it as a new source of weapons and economic growth. The CPEC reflects the growing friendship between China and Pakistan. As an emerging superpower, China has proven to be a thorn in America’s side. The US has been monitoring the Pakistan-China relations, but has not directly intervened.
India, on the other hand, is trying to balance the scales with Pakistan by trying to make its own inroads in China through the development of a road spanning Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar (BCIM) which is a 2,800 km-long corridor that starts from Kolkata and passes through Bangladesh and Myanmar before ending at Kunming in China.
China’s growing favour towards the success of CPEC has made Modi uneasy which was reflected during the bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 summit in September where Modi raised India’s concerns over the CPEC being laid through PoK.
Besides a host of energy-related projects, the CPEC consists of rail, road and pipelines to ferry oil and gas from Gwadar port on Arabian Sea to Kashghar in China’s Muslim-dominated Xinjiang province through PoK.
Maybe Trump’s victory will play a significant role in the growing tension between India-Pakistan, but the official stance as of now is that the US will be a ‘peaceful mediator’. Only time will tell if that is the case.
With input from agencies
First Published On : Dec 12, 2016 20:14 IST
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Accusing the Pakistan Army of having the licence to ‘kill, rape and torture Baloch people and to take out their organs to sell them, Baloch Kurd liberation activist and World Baloch Women’s Forum president Naela Quadri Baloch has demanded that the United Nations, which has ‘turned blind and has closed its ears and mouth’, to wake up and listen what is going on in Balochistan.”The Pakistani Army has (a) licence to kill us, licence to rape us, licence to torture, licence to take out organs and sell them, because the Pakistani Army is involved in the organ trade of the Baloch people with the help of the Edhi Foundation; and, Pakistan is running rape cells, where Baloch women are abducted, kept and raped. Pakistan is doing all kinds of those atrocities that a sane human mind cannot imagine,” Naela told ANI.Stating that Pakistan is committing this genocide of the Baloch people with the full support of China as a form of ‘ethnic cleansing’, Naela said: “The International Day of Human Rights was announced by the UN, but it is silent despite the atrocities and the level of genocide going on in Balochistan by the Pakistan Army and the Pakistani establishment. It’s like a kind of situation where Baloch people have no rights that even your animals have.”Buttressing her claims, the Baloch activist said, “We have found more than 100 mass graves with more than 100 bodies in each, and doctors say they were alive when they were buried in those mass graves.”They are burning Baloch villages and towns, it is a situation that no human heart can see and keep silent, she said, adding, “But we are surprised and we are worried about the legal status of the UN now.”She said that what is going on in a part of the world (Balochistan) is very much needed for connecting the Indian Ocean to the Central Asia; it’s very much needed to be a route; it’s very much needed for people’s trade; and it’s very much needed for the economic corridor (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor-CPEC). “It is not a corridor; it is our home; it is a corridor for outsider; it is a corridor for occupiers and passersby; for us it is our home,” she said.Naela said, “The United Nations is blind and has closed its ears and mouth to what?s going on in this part of the world. And this is the seventieth 10th December that the Baloch people are facing, and the UN is silent. So, on this day, on the behalf of the Baloch nation, on this International Day of Human Rights, we demand the UN to please wake up and to please listen what is going on in Balochistan.”Yes, you are the United Nations, a nation of 40 million people, one of the biggest nations on the earth is living without a country and needs you, said Naela, adding: “A nation is going to be finished from the face of the earth, so we are an endangered nation.””You (UN) work for the endangered species and animals, the world is working for them but what if we are endangered? So, the Baloch nation is going to be finished from the face of the earth and the U.N. is silent and the international community is silent, it’s a very-very worrisome situation for us,” she added.Meanwhile, to mark International Human Rights Day on December 10 (Saturday), Baloch political activists across world, including the UK, Canada, Australia, South Korea, Germany and many other European nations held protests against the atrocities committed by the Pakistan establishment on their people back home.It was on December 10, 1948, when the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.In Geneva (Switzerland), Abdul Bugti of Baloch Republican Party said, “The objective of the protest demonstration is to highlight the abuses in Balochistan on this occasion. There are massive human rights abuses going on in Balochistan by the ‘terror-state’ of Pakistan, its army and intelligence agencies.””They are engaged in killing and enforced disappearances of Baloch civilians on daily basis. We have been highlighting these issues and we want international community to stop Baloch genocide,” he added.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Calling for respecting each other’s legitimate aspirations, India on Friday said China should not give a political colour to New Delhi’s efforts to access civilian nuclear technology, in reference to Beijing’s opposition to its NSG bid.In his address to India China Think-Tanks Forum, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar also pitched for bilateral cooperation in dealing with “fundamentalist terrorism”, expressing dismay over the two countries not being able to come together on the issue at critical international forums. His remarks are seen as a reference to China opposing India’s move to get Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar designated as a global terrorist by the United Nations.Jaishankar also said, “At a time of change, we should obviously pay great attention to strategic communication. This could help avoid misunderstanding and promote greater trust and cooperation.”Without mentioning India’s NSG bid, Jaishankar said there was a need for broad-basing the nuclear technology control group and stressed on deeper Indo-China cooperation on major global issues like implementation of the Paris climate agreement.”In India’s case, predictable access to civilian nuclear energy technology is key. The broad-basing of the nuclear technology control group is also helpful to a more representative international order.”Keeping in mind this solidarity of major developing states, it is important that China view this as a developmental aspiration and not give it a political colouring,” he said. Seeking deeper bilateral engagement, he said “Let us at least respect each other’s strong sense of independence and legitimate aspirations while seeking accommodation and building trust.”Talking about threat of terrorism, he said “As diverse and pluralistic societies, we both face threats from fundamentalist terrorism. Yet, we do not seem to be able to cooperate as effectively we should in some critical international forums dealing with this subject.” The Foreign Secretary, without elaborating, also said “Even on sovereignty, surely there can be more sensitivity and understanding.” In an apparent reference to China not supporting India’s bid for permanent membership of the UNSC, he said, “Though we have a commitment to a more democratic world order, our actions in respect of the reform of the UN Security Council are in contrast to our approaches to usher in a more equitable international economic order through reform of the existing multilateral institutions.”Jaishankar said there was need for greater convergence between the two sides in dealing with various regional and global issues and that both should not see each other as a competitor. “There are few precedents for the near-simultaneous rise of two major powers, that too in close proximity. When these powers have a tangled contemporary relationship, the process becomes even more complicated,” he said, adding “look at the similarities between ‘India as a Leading Power’ and the ‘China Dream'”.Jaishankar said a narrative that both the countries have always been distant from each other was successfully created by western powers which had an interest in doing so. “Although India was among the earliest governments to establish ties and promote cooperation with the People’s Republic of China, the three lost decades compel us to still play catch up with relationships that came very much later.”Viewed from the perspective of our bilateral ties, the progress in the last 28 years since we have normalised ties has been commendable,” he said. He said there has been peace and tranquillity at the Sino-India border while both sides agreed on political parameters and guiding principles for settlement of the boundary question. “Inevitably, challenges that emanate from differential logistical capabilities and a lack of commonly agreed line of actual control continue. But hopefully, as these gaps narrow, we will see a greater stability that would be helpful towards arriving at a final boundary solution,” he added.Talking about bilateral trade, he said there has been efforts to bridge the trade deficit which is in China’s favour. The Foreign Secretary said in recent years, Sino-India ties were projected and analysed by some quarters in primarily competitive terms. “This is an imbalance picture, if only because it ignores the substantive cooperation that we have so painstakingly developed in so many fields,” he said adding, “one obstacle to developing greater common ground is an undue attachment to the concept of balance of power.” “Major powers have to work with each other even if their interests diverge on some issues. Those powers who have more distance between them will be at a disadvantage in such a situation. It is in the mutual interest of India and China not to be in that predicament,” he said.The Foreign Secretary said policy changes on the Indian side have significantly improved the investment conditions for Chinese companies in India. “In fact, the sharpest change in FDI commitments since 2014 has been by Chinese companies a testimony, in equal measure, to their confidence and our openness,” he added.
New Delhi: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Wednesday said India is all for peace, adding that peace can be ensured only by a strong country. He also said that he had never used the Army for political gains.
Speaking at the ‘Agenda Aaj Tak 2016’ conclave, the minister said bilateral relations with China are improving, and that ceasefire violations along the border areas have come down.
“Peace is the best thing; war is not the preferred option. We are for peace,” Parrikar said, adding that India had never initiated a war in the past.
On China, he said, “Our relations with China are improving. Those who compromise due to fear of war are called cowards. I don’t intend to call myself a coward. Peace is established by a strong country. You should be able to decide when to use power,” he said. “In order to have peace, you will have to increase your power and show it sometimes.”
Commenting on the situation along the India-Pakistan border, Parrikar said, “There is peace right now. At this moment, cross-border firing is not that much.”
He said he had never tried to use the Indian Army for political benefits. “We are not politicising the army. West Bengal chief minister (Mamata Banerjee) did it. I felt it was wrong, so I spoke in Parliament,” Parrikar said. “Let the army do its work; they are not part of politics.”
Claiming that the concept of surgical strike had become a brand, Parrikar said the success of the September strikes had made others jealous. “I never used the army on a political platform. All I have said is that we took a decision. You can call it good or bad. Surgical strike took place, the status quo of not crossing the LoC (Line of Control) was rejected. Only the forces can cross the border, not political leadership. But this decision, whether good or bad, the marks should be given to political leadership,” Parrikar said.
“Had something gone wrong, I don’t think anyone would have said anything but that it was an ill-managed operation, political leadership was not prepared, there was a shortage of bulletproof helmets or jackets,” he said.
“There are many fathers of success and few of failure. There was success, so everyone was jealous that the government would get credit,” the minister said.
Parrikar said during the surgical strikes — across the LoC in September, and one earlier along the Myanmar border — he could not sleep all night. “I didn’t sleep the whole night when the eastern operation was underway. The pressure of decision-making was definitely on me,” he said.
The minister said the government “introduced unpredictability on the Kashmir border for the first time”.
First Published On : Dec 7, 2016 22:12 IST
Beijing: Reacting mildly to India allowing Tibetan spiritual leader Karmapa to visit Arunachal Pradesh, China on Monday expressed hope that New Delhi would refrain from taking any action that might complicate the boundary dispute.
The 17th Gyalwang Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje last week visited Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims as a part of southern Tibet.
Replying to a question on his visit, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said, “China’s position on the East section of the China-India border is clear and consistent. We hope India can abide by relevant consensus and refrain from any action that might complicate the boundary question.”
“To ensure the peace and stability of the border areas and sound and stable development of the bilateral relationship serves the common interest of the two sides,” he said. Asked whether China has lodged any protest with India in this regard, he said China and India are in “constant communication on this”.
“The Indian side is clear about solemn position when it comes to boundary question,” he said. The 17th Karmapa during his first visit to Arunachal Pradesh toured West Kameng district and reached to the Tibetans at Gyuto Monastery at Tenzingang before leaving for Kalaktang.
Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju had thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for doing away with the restrictions imposed in the previous eras and for facilitating the Karmapa’s visit to any part of the country and elsewhere.
China’s reaction to Karmapa’s visit appeared far more guarded and mild compared to its response on India granting permission in October this year to the Dalai Lama to visit Arunachal Pradesh.
There is also no direct criticism of Karmapa unlike the Dalai Lama, whom Beijing calls a separatist and a politician in the garb of religious leader.
China routinely objects to visits by the Dalai Lama, Indian leaders as well as foreign dignitaries to Arunachal Pradesh.
On 24 October, China took exception to the visit of Richard Verma, the US envoy in India, to Arunachal Pradesh. The border dispute between India and China covers the 3,488-km long Line of Actual Control (LAC).
India asserts that the dispute covered Aksai Chin area which was occupied by China during the 1962 war.
First Published On : Dec 5, 2016 15:41 IST
In diplomacy, the subtext is often as important as the text. As the sixth edition of the annual Heart of Asia Conference came to a close on Sunday, between the comments and declarations, the narrative and the counter-narrative, lay the contours of a new, deviatory foreign policy under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
A nation’s strategic affairs are usually the result of well-curated gradualism. Major shifts are rare unless there is a confluence of circumstances and a strong leadership willing to shake off hesitations of history. At the end of the two-day summit, it does appear that India is on the cusp of a bold revision. Two things are immediately clear.
One, India is no longer coy about its relationship with Afghanistan and sees the Central Asian nation as an important pivot. Two, it is fast recalibrating its historic ties with Russia. We are still a long way away from hearing the last word of an enduring strategic partnership but New Delhi is close to accepting (after staying in long denial) that the Cold War-era bonhomie with Moscow is over. Indo-Russian ties, too, have fallen prey to the sweeping currents of realignment triggered by the end of American exceptionalism and the simultaneous rise of China.
Though major regional and global players met in Amritsar ostensibly to guide Afghanistan through its political and economic transition, in reality Heart of Asia platform was reduced to staging just another boxing bout between India, Pakistan and Afghanistan with Russia trying to play the referee and media in Islamabad and New Delhi in breathless anticipation for resumption of talks.
As if that would serve any purpose.
The way the pugilists threw their punches, it became abundantly clear that Kabul and New Delhi now see no point in downplaying the convergence of their strategic and commercial interests. In setting diplomatic niceties aside and blasting Pakistan’s complicity in sponsoring terror within its borders and inflicting an “undeclared war”, Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani reflected his growing frustration with a delinquent neighbour. The ferocity of his charge not only laid bare Pakistan’s duplicity but also ratified New Delhi’s line on cross-border terrorism.
This growing closeness stays true to a trajectory in bilateral relations that saw New Delhi supply Afghanistan with four attack helicopters, the first supply of lethal military hardware to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF). As a Defenseworld.net article points out, “The first three Mi-24 gunships were delivered in December 2015, before Modi visited Kabul to inaugurate the new Parliament, constructed through India’s assistance.”
These Russian-made choppers are expected to aid Afghan Air Force in their battle against the Taliban who still occupy 10 percent of territory and is in direct confrontation with Afghan forces for control over another 25 percent of land. Ghani accuses Pakistan of harbouring Taliban masterminds and reiterated before a full house of foreign delegates in Amritsar that were it not been for Islamabad’s duplicity, the Taliban wouldn’t last even a month.
Quoting a Taliban leader, the Afghanistan President said: “As Kakazada (Mullah Rahmatullah Kakazada), one of the key figures in the Taliban movement, recently said, if they did not have sanctuary in Pakistan, they would not last a month,” according to a report in The Indian Express. In words that leave no space for ambiguity, Ghani rejected Pakistan’s $500 million pledge to “rebuild Afghanistan” and asked its foreign affairs advisor Sartaj Aziz to instead use the money to “check extremism” on its soil.
Ghani didn’t stop there. According to the report, he accused Pakistan of selectively displacing terror networks in North Waziristan, betraying Afghanistan’s trust and inflicting on its soil a war that has grown in intensity during 2016 and has caused the highest number of civilian casualties and military-related deaths in the world.
In contrast, Ghani was effusive in his praise for India. News agency PTI quoted the Afghan President as saying that “India’s assistance is transparent and with no strings attached… there are no hidden deals between India and Afghanistan.” He also mentioned the “spontaneous celebrations” all over the country following the inauguration of Salma Dam by Modi during his Afghanistan visit and thanked India for further assistance of $1 billion apart from $2 billion.
Though Pakistan has long felt insecure about an India-Afghanistan axis that circumvents it and renders ineffective its geostrategic positioning, Islamabad’s obstructionist policies — refusing to let Afghanistan carry on trade with India through its territory — and subversive use of terror have ironically served to catalyse the very thing it dreads. There is now an even greater likelihood — with Modi and Ghani meeting on the sidelines and agreeing on a joint air corridor to bypass Pakistan and enhance bilateral trade — that the relationship will now be taken to the next level.
A commercial-strategic tie-up with Afghanistan — whose unique position as a central Asian country that provides connectivity to several Asian and even European nations — may offer India the chance to counter China’s strategic depth through the CPEC.
And in Ghani, Modi has a counterpart who’s willing to take India on board. While talking later to Suhasini Haidar of The Hindu during an interview, Ghani said, “India is converging with Afghanistan. There is nothing secret. It is a transparent state to state relationship. We are driven by common goals and opportunities.” He even quoted Tagore’s Kabuliwala to underline the historic bond between the nations.
But while one historic bond is being revived, another one fell by the wayside. In an extraordinary manouvre that reflected the depths of disparity in which Indo-Russian ties have fallen, Vladimir Putin’s envoy Zamir Kabulov rejected India and Afghainstan’s criticism of Pakistan and lectured on the need to “avoid scoring brownie points” on multilateral platforms such as these.
Pakistan media expectedly went to town with Kabulov’s statements but it became clear where the show pinches when a question was posed on the Russia-Pakistan military exercise. “India has close cooperation with the US, does Moscow complain? Then why complain about much lower level of cooperation with Pakistan,” he said.
Foreign affairs are based on narrow self-interests, not foggy sentimentality. It makes sense for Russia, whose relationship with the US is at an all-time low since the Cold War, to migrate to a more Sino-centric axis. That shouldn’t discourage India from pursuing its own self-interests. In coming out in the open over its relationship with Afghanistan, Modi has taken the right step.
First Published On : Dec 5, 2016 15:14 IST
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>China on Friday said it will remain in touch with India and “relevant parties” on Beijing blocking India’s bid for a UN ban on Pakistan-based JeM chief Masood Azhar, as it mulled further options after its technical hold on the ban expires this month.”On the issue of listing in the UNSC 1267 Committee, I have already explained China’s position many times,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said. “China will continue to keep in touch with relevant parties including India on this issue,” he said in a written response to Minister of State for External Affairs M J Akbar’s comments that India has urged China to reverse its technical hold on New Delhi’s request.Akbar said in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday that India’s request on Azhar’s ban is co-sponsored by several prominent countries. Akbar said China has often repeated its concern on the spread of terrorism and its desire to cooperate with India on the issue.Geng’s response to Akbar’s comments came as the second technical hold put by China in October following the Uri terrorist attack which was also blamed on the JeM, is due to expire later this month. On March 31, China, a veto-wielding permanent member of the UN Security Council, had blocked India’s move to impose a ban on Jaish-e-Mohammed leader and Pathankot terror attack mastermind Azhar under the Sanctions Committee of the Council. China was the only member in the 15-nation UN body to put a hold on India’s application with all other 14 members of the Council supporting New Delhi’s bid to place Azhar on the 1267 sanctions list that would subject him to an assets freeze and travel ban.The two foreign ministries have been holding talks on this issue which was also discussed during the recent two meetings between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping. The two leaders met at the G20 meeting in Hangzhou and BRICS summit in Goa.
New Delhi: Government has urged China to reverse its technical hold on India’s request, which is co-sponsored by several prominent countries, to get Masood Azhar designated as terrorist by the UN, Minister of State for External Affairs MJ Akbar said on Thursday.
In a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha, Akbar said China has often repeated its concern on spread of terrorism and their desire to cooperate with India on this issue.
On several occasions, China has reiterated with India their resolute opposition to terrorism in all its forms and manifestations with “zero tolerance”, and has agreed that there is no justification for terrorism.
“Government has consistently highlighted to China regarding the threat of cross border terrorism emanating from Pakistan and affecting the region, including India.”
“Specifically, we have emphasised forcefully that while the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed has been proscribed by the UNSC Sanctions Committee…for its well-known terror activities and links to the Al Qaeda, the designation of JeM’s main leader, financier and motivator Azhar has been repeatedly put on a technical hold.”
“Accordingly, we have urged China to reverse its technical hold on India’s request to list Azhar under 1267 provisions. India’s request is co-sponsored by several prominent countries,” the Minister added.
First Published On : Dec 1, 2016 15:56 IST
New Delhi: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar will on Wednesday embark on a two-day visit to Bangladesh during which he will call on the top leadership there and firm up defence cooperation initiatives ahead of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s trip here next month.
Parrikar, who will be the first Indian Defence Minister to visit Bangladesh, will call on President Abdul Hamid in Dhaka on Wednesday and hold talks with the security advisor to prime minister, officials said.
On 1 December, the minister, who will be accompanied by the vice-chiefs of the army and air force, deputy chief of navy besides coast guard chief, will visit the military academy in Chittagong and meet Hasina, who also holds the defence portfolio.
Top defence ministry officials said the focus of the trip was to deepen security ties and firm up a defence cooperation agreement that is likely to be signed when Hasina visits here around 17 December. They said that Parrikar was originally scheduled to travel to Bangladesh much earlier this month but the visit was delayed. They also ruled out any link between the visit and the sale of two submarines by China to Bangladesh.
Hasina announced the plan to purchase two submarines in 2013 as part of her government’s move to build a modern navy.
When Bangladesh Navy chief Muhammad Farid Habib had visited India in November last year, he had said Bangladesh is going to buy two used submarines from China for “training” its surface crew and Sonar crew in anti-submarine warfare.
“Since the delimitation of maritime border problem has been solved, we are now trying to cooperate. We are trying to patrol in our areas. So in our sea, we also expect lot of gas and oil,” Habib had said then. He also said Bangladesh wants to work with the Indian Navy as there are many “non-traditional threats” in sea, a reference to piracy, floating armouries among others.
“We cannot tackle those threats alone. It requires cooperation so that we can together fight non-traditional threats and make the area peaceful,” the visiting navy chief had said.
Areas of naval cooperation that are proposed include option of coordinated patrolling along International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL), bilateral exercises between both navies, joint surveillance of Exclusive Economic Zone and cooperation in hydrography.
First Published On : Nov 29, 2016 14:35 IST
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>General Qamar Javed Bajwa, an expert in PoK affairs, on Tuesday took over as Pakistan’s new army chief succeeding Gen Raheel Sharif, who warned India against adopting an “aggressive stance” in Kashmir.Gen Raheel handed over the command of world’s sixth-largest army by troop numbers to 57-year-old Bajwa at a ceremony held in the Army Hockey Stadium, close to the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday appointed Bajwa as Chief of Army Staff (COAS) by elevating him to the rank of four-star general. Raheel in January had declared that he would not seek extension. There were speculation that the PML-N government would give him extension at the eleventh hour citing reasons that he was needed by the country to lead war on terror. The post of Army chief is the most powerful in Pakistan.In his final speech as the army chief, 60-year-old Gen Raheel cautioned India against adopting an aggressive stance in the region. He said that in recent months “India’s increasing terrorism and aggressive stance” in Kashmir have “endangered” the region. “India should know that mistaking our policy of patience for weakness would be dangerous,” he said. “This is reality, that in South Asia, lasting peace and progress is impossible without solution of the Kashmir issue. For that, international community’s special attention is necessary,” he said.He also stressed the need for institutions to work together for the nation’s progress. “It is important that all institutions work together against external threats and internal threats. For this, we will need to follow the National Action Plan in letter and spirit,” Gen Raheel said. “The army will remain alert to threats, whether external or internal,” he said.For regional peace, he said, issues should be resolved politically. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is a major factor in ensuring regional peace, he said. “The departure of the first cargo from Gwadar port has shown this journey cannot be halted now,” he warned. “The time is here now that the enemies of CPEC stop working against it and become a part of it.” Bajwa was eariler serving as Inspector General of the Training and Evaluation and also commanded the famed 10 Corps, the army`s largest, which is responsible for the area along the Line of Control (LoC).(
Given the commotion within and outside Parliament (some sullen, some outrageous statements, threats and boasts), demonetisation sure has raised considerable political heat. Black money stashes of political parties apparently suffered hits across the board in varying measures; even some chief ministers — including prospective ones — are struggling to hide their frustration, while others are distributing free laptops publicly.
Then you have this spent fellow cackling about the PoK, even though an inquiry into ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits could have nailed him good and proper. There is a rumour that just after 2018, new currency notes of Rs 2,000 denomination may also be withdrawn. Surely, this will hit black money stashes for the 2019 General Election, but given the hint, trust the Indian system of jugaad for alternatives. Besides, foreign donations to political parties have been legalised, so why fret?
How much black money demonetisation will scrap and to what extent it can be regenerated will depend on multiple factors, which the government will have examined, but given the fixation with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, faking new currency notes should not take Pakistan too long. Interestingly, while the government recovered X amount of money from the voluntary income disclosure scheme (IDS) that ended in September 2016, Indonesia reportedly recovered 100 times this amount with a smaller penalty imposed on disclosed amounts.
Economists agree that black money can’t be stamped out completely. The NN Vohra Committee, constituted vide MHA Order No S/7937/SS(ISP)/93 dated 9 July, 1993, had significantly revealed the criminalisation of politics and the nexus between government functionaries and mafias; a major conclusion being that “any leakage whatsoever about the linkages of crime syndicates and senior government functionaries or political leaders in the states or at the Centre could have a destabilising effect on the functioning of the government”.
When the Vohra Committee said that money power is used to develop a network of muscle-power which is also used by the politicians during elections, the reference was not to any particular political party. Corruption obviously is across the board. We may say that a majority of scams occurred between 2004 and 2014, but why are the culprits walking free, some even in Parliament? That’s why a scam like the Tatra Truck Scam is frozen because it ran through many governments. The Vohra Committee also spoke of “pressures exerted whenever corrupt and undesirable officers are shifted from sensitive assignments”, but we have scamsters deserving prosecution nominated to the Rajya Sabha. Live and let live may be a global norm but if the big fish remain untouched, the war against corruption and black money will remain incomplete.
Demonetisation was very much needed albeit the collateral damage due to lack of adequate logistical management, certainly could have been reduced with better planning. Digital India, going cashless and optimal digitisation has much potential in curbing black money and transforming the economy in the long run, even as there is the fear of losing your money with worldwide incidents of hard-earned savings wiped out partially or in full through cyber crimes by individuals and syndicates. India too has had its share of this, some reported, some not.
But the reason for political temperatures going through the roof with demonetisation is the forthcoming slew of elections in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Manipur, Goa, Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh in 2017 — the exact dates for which are to be announced in January. So the gloves are off. John Lyly said “All is fair in love and war” in his novel Euphues: The Anatomy of Wit in 1579, but politics has preceded love and war since then. And if technology has empowered one and all including non-state actors, it has done so for political parties too. Already, the demonetisation digital war on social media is growing by the day with dedicated teams of political parties trying to outdo their opponents.
But first, considering the considerable cyber prowess of our adversaries, are we building adequate safeguards in our Digital India programs?
Given the stated financial outlays, the answer is no, as it appeared in discussions on the sidelines of an international cyber-security conference. One question being debated was that given our fixation of caste, creed and reservations (the latter has been prolonged by decades in contradiction of what Dr BR Ambedkar wanted), what havoc will it cause if demographic and individual statistics at the state and Centre levels are hacked and ‘changed’?
The manner in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched demonetisation can best be described as a ‘revolution’, not ‘evolution’, and a revolution always causes much turbulence which is absent in the case of evolution. At the same time, demonetisation would also have caused discomfort to some from his own political party, of which he would be acutely aware. It is no secret that when he disbanded the Planning Commission (functioning under the UPA-I and UPA-II) that was pocketing 10 percent of whatever money was sanctioned to states, plenty eyebrows went up — why now when it is our turn?
So let us see dispassionately examine who will want Modi to win a second tenure as Prime Minister of India in 2019:
Pakistan and China? Certainly not
Opposition parties? Most definitely not
Coalition partners? Some may, some won’t
His own party? Some may not, no matter the numbers.
In addition, there will be other internal and external forces inimical to India including those who simply don’t want India to grow beyond a point. China, who wants India boxed in within South Asia, has already referred to Modi’s demonetisation drive as a “gamble”. The simple inference therefore is that multiple methods will be employed by political parties in conjunction their local and foreign benefactor; financial muscle, perception-building and optimising technology etc, but what else?
In a civil appeal No 9093 of 2013 (Arising out of SLP (Civil) No. 13735 of 2012), Dr Subramanian Swamy, the appellant contended that the present system of electronic voting machines (EVMs) did not meet all international standards and although ECI maintains EVMs cannot be tampered with, EVMs like all electronic equipments, are open to hacking. The requirement of a printout apprising the voter of his or her vote was rightly registered, and was to be deposited in a box for use by ECI in case of dispute.
According to the counsel for ECI, apprehension that EVMs could be tampered with were baseless and ECI was exploring possibility of incorporating viable Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) system in EVMs to make elections more transparent. The court ruled that the VVPAT is indispensable for free and fair elections and must be introduced in a phased manner. The VVPAT is a printer-like machine that is attached to individual EVMs that allows voters to verify that their vote has been cast correctly.
Whether the VVPAT has been installed in all EVMs is not known. But VVPAT is a separate issue, not very relevant to cyber crime. Symantec Security Response has already demonstrated that EVMs can be hacked by devices that are easy to acquire and cost no more than $16 (~Rs 1,100). Such hacking can be undertaken before the voting or ‘after’ the voting. While the Hillary Clinton camp accuses Russia of tampering with the recent US Presidential Election, trust our ECI to keep insisting our EVMs are ‘different’ and tamper proof. But guess what professional hackers in India including those who have worked for government have to say about our EVMs?
One, they are highly rudimentary in terms of cyber safety; two, they can be hacked 100 percent and three, they ‘have been tampered with’ on some occasions in the past.
The above indicates that mass-scale rigging is possible in elections by optimising technology. The government will do well to examine the above issues. Much will be at stake during elections in the six states next year, with a direct bearing on the 2019 General Election.
The author is a veteran Lieutenant-General of the Indian Army
First Published On : Nov 28, 2016 12:52 IST
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Assuring severe retribution, Pakistan Defense Minister Khawaja Asif has asserted that they will kill three Indian soldiers for every Pakistani soldier they neutralise.Speaking in the National Assembly on Friday, Asif said that dire consequences would be faced by India if it went to war against Pakistan.Asserting that the situation at the LoC was intentionally being intensified by the Indian government to win people’s support in the upcoming general elections, the Defense Minister alleged that India was behind terrorism in Pakistan and they have credible evidence against it.”We have sent dossiers and video films to the UN and other countries showing Indian involvement in terrorism in Pakistan,” Asif said.He also accused India of creating hurdles in the way of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as they were scared that the project would prove a game changer for Pakistan.Acknowledging that Pakistan might be economically weaker than India, Asif said that India knows that once the CPEC is complete, Islamabad will rise stronger. However, he said that Pakistan would try to maintain a balance of power in the region and would not respond to India in any kind.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Terming Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s demonetization move as “very bold”, China’s official media on Saturday said it was a “gamble” that would create a precedent irrespective of whether it succeeds or fails and China will draw lessons from its impact on corruption. “Modi’s move is very bold. We cannot imagine what would happen in China if the country bans its 50 and 100 yuan notes,” said an editorial in the state-run Global Times titled ‘Modi takes a gamble with money reform’. 100 yuan is China’s highest currency note.”To prevent a leak of information jeopardising the implementation of the demonetization reform, the roll out of the plan had to be kept confidential. Modi is in a dilemma as the reform aims to render the black money useless but the process goes against the governance principle of winning support of the public before initiating a new policy,” the editorial said. “As more than 90% of transactions in India are made with cash, banning 85% of the currency in circulation brings a lot of trouble to people’s daily life” sparking fierce criticism including from “former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who termed it as organised loot”, it said.”demonetization can crackdown on corruption and shadow economy but it is obviously unable to solve the deeper social and political issues that help breed the aforementioned problems,” the editorial said.However, it stated that as far as the root causes of corruption exist, the problems will always resurface. In other words, the Modi government wishes to turn a long and arduous reform into a one-off deal,” it said. “demonetization is a gamble for Modi. He bet on both the execution ability of the government and the tolerance level of the Indian society, hoping that the benefits of this reform can outrun the negative social impacts and low morale,” the editorial said.It asserted that the “Western-style” democratic system of India allows little room for such bold moves. “However, he is really carrying it out, and will create a precedent no matter he succeeds or fails,” it said.”Reform is always difficult and requires more than just courage. Modi’s demonetization came with good intention but whether it can succeed depends on the efficiency of the system and the cooperation of the entire society. More and more people are growing pessimistic about the ability of Modi’s government to control the process,” the editorial said.Noting that China’s reform and opening-up has been going on for nearly 40 years, the editorial said it had ups and downs but remained largely stable. “Its success is based on broad public support,” it said. “The strong execution capabilities of the Communist Party of China are built on the consensus of the entire country. By observing India’s reforms we will draw lessons, which would in turn help us understand our own reforms,” it said.
New Delhi: George Yeo, the second Chancellor of Nalanda University after Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen, on Friday resigned from the post saying the varsity’s autonomy was being affected as he was “not even given notice” of the leadership change in the institution.
“The circumstances under which the leadership change in Nalanda University has been suddenly and summarily effected is disturbing and possibly harmful to the University’s development,” he said in a statement to the members of the earlier Board of the university.
The Board was reconstituted by President Pranab Mukherjee as its Visitor on 21 November which severed Sen’s nearly a decade-long association with the institution after the government reconstituted the governing body of the prestigious institution.
“It is puzzling why I, as Chancellor, was not even given notice of it. When I was invited to take over the responsibility from Amartya Sen last year, I was repeatedly assured that the University would have autonomy. This appears not to be the case now.
“Accordingly, and with deep sadness, I have submitted my letter of resignation as Chancellor to the Visitor,” Yeo said.
Sources said the President, in his capacity as the Visitor of the university, approved the reconstitution of the Governing Board in accordance with provisions of the Nalanda University Act, 2010.
He also approved giving temporary charge of Vice Chancellor to senior-most Dean of the University as the current VC Gopa Sabharwal’s one year extension expired on Thursday. It will be a stop-gap measure until the new Vice Chancellor is appointed.
The new governing board will be a 14-member body which will be chaired by the chancellor. It will also comprise vice-chancellor, along with five members nominated by India, China, Australia, Laos PDR and Thailand.
Former revenue secretary NK Singh, who was also member of the Nalanda Mentors Group, will represent India.
“For reasons not entirely clear to me, the Government of India has decided to form the new Governing Board with immediate effect before the Act is amended. This is of course entirely the prerogative of the Government of India,” Yeo, the former Foreign Affairs Minister of Singapore, said.
He said that pending the appointment of a new Vice Chancellor, the incumbent Gopa Sabharwal, whose term ended on Thursday, was to stay in place “to ensure that there is no hiatus in the leadership of the University.”
This was also provided in the university statutes and “fully supported by the old Governing Board.”
“However, on 22 November, the Visitor overruled the Governing Board and directed the senior-most Dean be appointed instead,” Yeo said.
He said when he was appointed Chancellor in July this year, “I was told that a new Governing Board would be formed under an amended Act, core aspects of which the Ministry of External Affairs sought my views on.”
The amended Act, he said, would have removed “a major flaw” which “in essence offers Governing Board seats to East Asian Summit countries making the highest financial contributions in the last three years.”
“This provision, which was never recommended by the Nalanda Mentor Group (NMG), would not have been a good way to constitute the Governing Board and was the reason the Government of India requested the NMG to continue functioning as the Governing Board for a number of years until the Act could be amended,” he said.
“It has been an honour and a privilege for me to be associated with the revival of Nalanda over the last decade, to serve as a member of the NMG and the Governing Board under the leadership of Amartya Sen, and to be appointed its second Chancellor.
“Despite difficult circumstances, the University has made remarkable progress through the tireless effort of Dr Gopa Sabharwal and her colleagues …. Nalanda is an idea whose time has come and larger than anyone of us,” Yeo said.
First Published On : Nov 25, 2016 14:10 IST
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has accused India of taking a softer line towards the Maithripala Sirisena government over its policies towards China, as he embarked on a week-long visit to Beijing to meet top Chinese leadership.Ahead of his trip to China on the invitation of the Chinese government, Rajapaksa while talking to reporters yesterday recalled the “tensions” his administration encountered with India.Recalling an incident where Chinese submarines had docked at the Colombo port, the former President said, “They (India) were furious when submarines docked at Colombo. From what I know, the Chinese inform the Indian embassy in Beijing before a submarines enters the Indian Ocean. But they made a huge cry about it.”On the contrary, he said, India is now silent as the present government of his successor Maithripala Sirisena handing over to China the port in Hambantota.China was Rajapaksa’s main international ally when it supported him at international fora and funded his mega development projects, mainly in his home district of Hambantota. “They (New Delhi) made a big issue about the submarines, but today even if you give the entire port (to China), it is not a problem for them (India). This shows the difference in diplomatic relations,” he said, accusing India of taking a softer line towards the Sirisena government. “The government is trying to give land from Trincomalee to India. To China from Hambantota. They are trying to give 1,000 acres to Japan to grow vegetables,” he said.During his week-long visit to China, Rajapaksa will meet the leaders of the Chinese Government on November 28 and is scheduled to stay in Guangzou and Beijing. He will visit the Dafo Monastery, free trade zones and the city of Shenzen. The former president is accompanied by Parliamentarian Lohan Ratwatte, former foreign minister Prof GL Peiris and others. Rajapaksa’s visit to China assumes much significance in the wake of a recent public spat between Beijing and Colombo.Chinese Ambassador Yi Xianliang called a rare press conference and criticised Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake for his statement that Chinese had lent money to Rajapaksa government at high rates of interest. Ambassador Yi said minister Ravi Karunanayake was asking for more Chinese loans after publicly criticising the Chinese funding as “expensive loans.”The Sri Lankan finance minister said he was happy to pay back Chinese loans at 2 per cent if the Ambassador says he would be happy to lower the interest rates.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>1. Jammu and Kashmir: 3 soldiers killed, India warns Pakistan of heavy retributionBAT, a mix of Pak special forces and jihadis, kills 3 Army jawans, mutilate one’s body after an ambush on LoC. Read more.2. Demonetization: Not an end, but beginning, says PM ModiModi also asks BJP MPs to refrain from calling demonetization a ‘surgical strike’. Read more3. NIA gives Zakir Naik two more worries: sister Nailah and IS linkThe arrested individual, identified as Abu Anas, had claimed that he had received a scholarship from Naik’s organisation last year. Read more.4. DNA Exclusive: NHAI to foot Rs 700 crore bill for no-toll dayAs the days progressed, the exemption limit was extended till November 24. Read more.5. Donald Trump’s TPP bombshell sets off trade tremors in IndiaCompared to the previous UPA government’s preference to steer clear of the US-China rivalry, Prime Minister Modi’s tenure so far has been responsive towards US proposals for cooperation in the defence sector. Read more.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>US President-elect Donald Trump’s policy outline to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) within his first 100 days in the Oval Office has sounded alarm bells in India. The policy means the death knell for outgoing President Barack Obama’s strategic outline of a “pivot” to rebalance Asia, in which India and Japan would be the two anchors. Though an economic alliance, the TTP was meant to counter China’s rise through enhanced military, political and economic cooperation with regional allies.Compared to the previous UPA government’s preference to steer clear of the US-China rivalry, Prime Minister Modi’s tenure so far has been responsive towards US proposals for cooperation in the defence sector. Soon after taking over, the PM has pushed for active partnership with the US ensuring Obama’s strategic outline of the pivot was very much on the cards.Professor Harsh V Pant, author of the book ‘The US Pivot and Indian Foreign Policy: Asia’s Evolving Balance of Power’, said there was a convergence of interests in India’s Act East policy and the US pivot to Asia.Former foreign secretary Nirupama Rao said the scrapping of TPP would lead to a more assertive China. “Do we have a dog in this fight? We were never part of TPP. Perhaps the way forward for the region is to intensify efforts towards a Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). Watch the Asia-Pacific space for an even more assertive China.” The RCEP includes 10 members of the Southeast Asian grouping ASEAN plus China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. Notably, it excludes the US.Rao’s remarks struck a chord. Commenting on the China factor, senior analyst Ambassador P Stobden said that China had already made a significant move to counter the American ‘Asia Pivot’ strategy. “When President Xi visited Southeast Asia in October, he outlined a maritime Silk Road plan to expand sea-lane connectivity. Xi also scored many strategic points during the East Asia Summit where President Obama failed to turn up due to domestic reasons,” he said.The Ambassador also added that India’s strategic community had failed to highlight the point that China had long ‘Pivoted West’ by seeking out backdoor territorial advantages since the Soviet collapse.”The Chinese have moved beyond the former-Soviet space to enter Europe, Africa, West Asia, Latin America, and even in South Asia. Remarkably, Beijing has found development partners in all these continents without pursuing containment strategy. Even in the maritime domain,” he said.Earlier, the US President-elect said the TPP, signed in 2015 between a dozen countries that comprise 40 per cent of the global economy, was “a potential disaster” for his country. He said his administration would instead “negotiate fair bilateral trade deals that bring jobs and industry onto American shores”.Trump’s remarks come as a disappointment for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who last week became the first foreign leader to sit down with the President-elect during a 90-minute meeting in New York City. Just hours before Trump’s YouTube clip, Abe had warned him that TPP would be “meaningless” without the US’ participation.The TTP is a 12-nation trade arrangement which came up after seven years of negotiations aiming to liberalise the flow of goods amongst the Pacific Rim countries and also to counter China’s rise in the region. It was seen as a signature achievement of Barack Obama’s presidency, cutting tariffs on thousands of items and attempt to unify copyright laws across its members.But with Trump seeking to revoke it, the balance of power could drastically shift in Asia, which according to experts may also mean a review of Act East policy.
Islamabad: Amid rising Indo-Pak tensions, Pakistan on Tuesday said “credible minimum deterrence” was needed for regional stability and warned that instability has consequences with “far more dangers”.
Pakistan Prime Minister’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said the imperative of strategic stability was an important dimension of Pakistan-India relations.
“There is need for credible minimum deterrence as instability has consequences with far more dangers,” he said while addressing an international conference on ‘Strengthening Peace and Cooperation in South Asia: Incentives and Constraints’ organised by Islamabad Policy Research Institute.
Aziz claimed that Pakistan is maintaining “minimum nuclear deterrence” for peace and stability in the region and called upon the international community to desist from policies and actions that undermine strategic stability in South Asia.
He stated that supply of weapon systems widens the existing conventional capabilities in the region.
Aziz regretted that the world has not fully recognised the dangers posed to the peace and stability in the region.
On the Kashmir issue, Aziz was quoted as saying by Radio Pakistan that, “India was responding to indigenous struggle of Kashmiris for their right of self-determination by denial and illusion.”
He criticised India for terming the “Kashmiri struggle” as terrorism and declaring Jammu and Kashmir as an integral part.
“India must understand ground realities and recognise the indigenous nature of right to self-determination movement” in Kashmir, he was quoted as saying.
Aziz said during negotiations with India, Pakistan would continue to seek normalisation of relationship and promoting steps that would pave the way for settlement of all lingering disputes including the core dispute of Jammu and Kashmir.
On the NSG issue, Aziz called for criteria-based and non-discriminatory approach for the membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), asserting that otherwise it will affect the strategic stability in the region.
He said Pakistan’s application for NSG membership should be evaluated on the basis of fair criterion.
Aziz regretted India’s opposition to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor project, saying it is based on “no apparent reason”.
Aziz alleged that India is doing so to obstruct Pakistan’s path towards progress and development.
He claimed that the “Indian hegemonic temptations” and aggressive posture undermine regional cooperation.
Aziz said Pakistan believes in peaceful co-existence based on mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity but at the same time it cannot remain aloof from the prevailing situation in the region.
He accused India of “sponsoring and fomenting” terrorism in Pakistan. Aziz also alleged that India had increased violations along the Line of Control to put constraints on Pakistan’s ability to deploy more troops on the western border.
First Published On : Nov 22, 2016 17:27 IST
By Alison Saldanha
Delhi’s smog may have made national headlines in early November 2016 – when air-quality levels exceeded by 40 times safe limits set by the World Health Organisation (WHO) – and subsequently receded from public attention. But as IndiaSpend was interviewing Pallavi Aiyer, author of Choked, a new book that investigates Delhi and India’s air-pollution crisis, the air was unhealthy or worse in the majority of 17 cities where our sensors are installed. Aiyer, a journalist who’s lived and reported from some of the most polluted cities in the world, including Beijing and Jakarta, argues that many countries have been in India’s situation, and India would do well to learn from their experiences. For instance, China – long regarded as an example of what not to do in controlling air pollution – has rapidly and efficiently improved its policies and air quality.
IndiaSpend’s Alison Saldanha spoke to Aiyer.
1) Recently, Delhi and the region around the capital reported 24-hour average air pollution levels (over 900 µg/m³ of PM 2.5, fine, toxic particles that embed themselves in respiratory and cardiac systems) nearly 40 times above the WHO’s guidelines (25 µg/m³). How hazardous is this? What makes our situation unique and particularly dangerous?
It is hazardous, with most pollutants at several times the acceptable limits. Fine particulate matter that is less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter has been linked to up to 16,200 premature deaths (and a staggering six million asthma attacks) per year in Delhi alone. There are reports that one of every four children in the Indian capital suffers from a serious lung disorder. Other constituents of air pollution such as Sulfur Dioxide, Ozone and Nitrogen Oxides are associated with a range of short-term and long-term health effects from reduced lung capacity, shortness of breath, to heart disease and even cancer.
But Delhi’s air pollution is not unique. India is a large, industrialising, populous, developing country and all countries in similar circumstances have undergone extensive episodes of polluted air.
Pollution is a multifaceted phenomenon that results from a combination of vehicular, industrial and household sources. The burning of fuels such as coal leads to noxious gases such as Sulfur Dioxide. Diesel engines spout huge amounts of Nitrogen Oxides. Construction dust contributes to coarse particulate matter. And all of these sources are responsible for finer particulate matter, what we call PM 2.5. The burning of trash and leaves in the winter, which is a common practice in northern cities, adds to the toxicity as does agricultural burning.
In addition to all these, Delhi also suffers from its geography. The Indian capital is landlocked, with few avenues for flushing toxic air out of the city unlike, say, Mumbai. It is also located in a highly polluted air-shed and badly affected by the industrial and agricultural activity across the northern plains of India.
2) PM 2.5 of over 250 µg/m³ can adversely affect even healthy persons, particularly posing a risk to infants and the elderly, says India’s Central Pollution Control Board. What makes these age groups disproportionately vulnerable?
Children are the most vulnerable because their respiratory defenses have not reached their full capability. They also breathe in more air per kilo of body weight than adults; so they take in more toxins per kilo of body weight than adults do. Moreover, children generally exercise outdoors more than adults.
The elderly are often frail and with failing immunity. They are also likely to have pre-existing medical conditions that can exacerbate and further complicate the effects of air pollution.
Source: World Health Organization’s 2016 report on ambient air pollution: A global assessment of exposure and burden of disease
3) Beijing no longer features in the WHO’s list of 20 most polluted cities. What are the lessons we can learn from their robust efforts to improve air quality? Could you elaborate on what they are doing that we aren’t, particularly with industries?
Although Beijing may still be a poster child for what not to do on the issue of pollution in the international imagination, China has actually undertaken far-reaching and difficult measures to ensure that the worst is over.
According to Nasa satellite data, the PM 2.5 levels across India got worse by 13 percent between 2010 and 2015, while China’s steadily improved. Last year was the worst on record for India in terms of particulate pollution and the best in China. PM 2.5 levels across China fell by 17 percent between 2010 and 2015, with quite a dramatic improvement towards 2015 (Beijing saw a 16 percent annual fall in PM 2.5 levels).
Source: Analysis by Greenpeace India, based on monthly Aerosol Optical Depth measurements from the NASA MODIS Aqua satellite.Note: Drag the slider to compare air pollution in 2011 and 2015.
China has instituted a broad, regionally coordinated system of air pollution monitoring, installed high-tech pollution abatement equipment on a majority of its power plants, as well as devised means to restrict car ownership in major cities. It has also developed a network of 1,500 air quality-monitoring stations in over 900 cities (India has only 39 such stations covering 23 cities). Significantly, China has instituted regional air quality regulations to ensure that air pollution is addressed jointly across city and state boundaries.
When it comes to industrial pollution, China’s biggest success has been the installation of basic pollution abatement equipment on a majority (95 percent) of its thermal power plants. In contrast, only 10 percent of Indian power plants have similar equipment. China’s coal use is also down and coal-fired power plants are increasingly efficient. Finally, the country has emerged as a leading producer of pollution-abatement equipment.
4) What are the systemic problems in implementation that need immediate attention to help India achieve better air quality nearly as soon as China has? (For example, staffing).
Setting deadlines for meeting national air quality standards, as well as five-year interim targets for reducing pollution at state and city levels is one measure. Regional action plans that cover entire air-sheds/regions and address all major sources of pollution, rather than focusing on just some, is another. More empowered and better-staffed pollution control boards are needed. India’s Central Pollution Control Board has 550 employees. The Delhi pollution control board has less than 200 staff. In contrast, the environmental protection bureau (EPB) of the city of Yantai in China’s Shandong province alone has 4,000 staff. We also need to develop more local-level environmental institutions to regulate and implement anti-pollution policies. India only has pollution control boards at the national and state levels. China has EPBs at national, provincial, prefectural, city or county, and district levels. It even has some EPBs at the multi-provincial level. Finally, it’s important to create a large network of monitoring stations in all major urban centres.
5) What are the notable international great smog events in history that Delhi seems to have paralleled this year after Diwali? What made these similar? And what makes Delhi different from those horror stories?
The path to clean air for even the countries that are today rich and safe is littered with horror stories. One example is the small industrial town of Donora, Pennsylvania, in the United States, which was engulfed by a putrid fog on 26 October, 1948. Unlike usual fogs, it did not dissipate, staying on the ground for five days. Twenty people died in Donora and 7,000 were hospitalised with respiratory problems. The cause was a weather anomaly that trapped toxic waste emissions from the town’s zinc smelting plant close to the ground. The Donora disaster brought air pollution into focus in the United States, and paved the way for the Clean Air Act of 1963 that was later strengthened in 1970.
The air pollution levels in Lucknow, New Delhi, Allahabad, Chandigarh, Patna and Varanasi were 11 to 28 times above the World Health Organization’s guidelines when this story was uploaded at 8 PM on November 20, 2016, according to IndiaSpend sensors.
Similarly, in London, toxic smog trapped in a thermal inversion during a week in December 1952 is thought to have killed 4,000 people prematurely. This incident helped pave the way for England’s Clean Air Act in 1956.
Much closer to home, geographically and temporally, was last winter’s smog in Beijing which forced the city to trigger its first ever Red Alert, the highest tier of the four-colour smog warning system China set up in 2013. During this time, PM 2.5 levels in the Chinese capital exceeded 900-1000 µg/m³ in some parts of the city (the safe limit is about 50 µg/m³).
What makes Delhi’s fight against pollution today different from historic episodes is that research on the ill effects of dirty air is both more advanced and more widely disseminated. There is no need for us to reinvent the wheel. Technologies including pollution abatement equipment, renewable energy and better-grade fuel exist, that did not a half-century ago. Moreover, we now have a substantial urban middle class for whom making a daily wage is no longer the driving force of life–allowing health to become a motivating concern.
6) In your book, you’ve talked about pollution in the industrialisation phase in developed countries. How did they improve their air quality to present standards and what solutions can we in India takeaway from those experiences?
There was no magic wand. Air pollution is a man-made problem with practical solutions available. In the wake of horrific pollution and growing citizen disenchantment with dirty air, countries such as the US and UK enacted environmental laws. The US Clean Air Act established a national programme with allocated funding to research techniques for monitoring and controlling air pollution, as well as to enforce interstate air pollution regulations pertaining to vehicles and industry. It paved the way to the setting up of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), an institution that consolidates pollution-related research, monitoring, standard-setting and enforcement activities into one body. The EPA has about 18,000 full-time employees.
‘Choked’ by Pallavi Aiyar is exclusively available on the Juggernaut app.
The UK Clean Air Act introduced “smoke control areas” in some cities whereby only smokeless fuels could be burned. It helped shift homes towards using cleaner sources of heat such as electricity and gas, reducing smoke pollution and Sulphur Dioxide from household fires. The Act also included measures to relocate power stations away from cities.
7) Simply put, what should India’s to-do list be, when should action begin and how long do you think it will be before we see some improved air quality in the National Capital Region?
Concerted action should begin now for improved air quality to become a sustainable reality in about 15-20 years. It’s a long slog, but it will allow our children and grandchildren to stop choking and start breathing. The to-do list is long. Here are some essentials:
– Expanding the scope and quality of public transport.
– Stringent vehicular emissions norms and availability of high-grade fuel.
– Congestion charges and higher parking fees are steps to consider.
– Installing pollution abatement equipment on all power plants.
– Reducing coal usage.
– The development of a large network of monitoring stations in all major urban centers.
Since the general power grid regularly fails in Delhi and other Indian cities, wealthy residents, hospitals and businesses use diesel-generators in the city centre. A focus on making the grid more reliable will therefore also help slash ambient pollution during the summer months.
Finally, given the high percentage of PM 10 that originates from road dust, paving more roads to reduce the amount of dust is a must.
8) What is your take on government air pollution monitoring sensors vis-à-vis the growing citizens’ movement of crowd-sourcing air pollution data from their own sensors, using laser eggs etc.?
The two should exist in conjunction. Government data can be usefully supplemented by crowd-sourced data. The former gives a broad overview while the latter can tell you what the situation in a specific location, at a given time, is. Laser eggs might not give the most accurate readings, but they give estimates that are good enough to base certain decisions on, like whether or not to exercise outdoors.
9) What is the to-do list for citizens in this movement toward better air quality?
Carpooling, composting and consuming with care. Avoiding polluting behaviours like trash burning or bursting firecrackers. Demanding change from elected representatives.
(The author is an assistant editor with IndiaSpend.)
First Published On : Nov 21, 2016 17:11 IST
Every time I feel I want to hug the Prime Minister for lugging $30 billion into the treasury in the first fourteen days of his turning big money into ruddi (garbage), someone rains on my parade.
I was sitting next to an economist on a plane, and he said that the Rs 2,000 note expedites the new black money surge by cutting the time to replenish it by half. By sheer volume, goes his argument, it will amass that much faster so what we should have done was bring out the Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes in the same size and different colour.
Look at the people in the queues, he said, they are not millionaires there, just staff being ordered to stand in line divvying up the spoils of the wealthy.
Money exchange companies are not giving out foreign exchange remittances, they are sitting on the money.
The Rs 2,000 note doesn’t work (because the colour runs) and no one is taking it at the common person’s level because no one has suitable change. Then he bites into a biscuit and says this whole thing has been done to infuse saline into ailing banks and raise their liquidity.
All this money they are putting into the banks will now be given as loans to the creamy rich so that the fiscal enslavement of the common man is guaranteed for another generation. The top ten loan takers have taken more than what’s come in and they are not standing in line.
That’s the beauty of it, he says, the people are grateful and they are running around like mice with their tails cut shoving money into the bank and getting nothing for it. But they don’t realise they are the targets, the next step will be very easy loans even for them on very harsh interest rates. Trap, trap, entrap, are you with me?
Am I? Are we? Everyone is making sense of some sort and every theory is bed-rocked in a kind of twisted logic and what has happened is most of us are so thoroughly confused we have lost track of what is good, bad or ugly.
I try to defend it all by saying the world has acknowledged it as the feat of a maestro, a stroke of genius.
He nods wisely. Why wouldn’t they, he smiles wryly like he is talking to a money moron (which he is) you think the US, Russia and China want us to be a superpower? No way. If this was such a stroke of genius they would have criticized it, they will praise it to the skies, it is a fiscal oligarchy, we will stay poor as a nation and finally point 5 percent of Indians will own 95 percent of the economy.
Tell me, he says, which western media organ praises India unless they wish to push us into the abyss?
He is now on a roll. Says, people are being hired to open accounts under Rs 2.5 lakhs, many of them are ignorant, illiterate, sent by dispatch, but they will feed the banks their master’s money through proxy because legally there is no stereotype, no line in the sand, you cannot be stopped because that would be racist and casteist and against our Constitution. The poorest of the poor can have a bank balance of that sum and it all adds up.
You could hire a whole village, truck in people from the slums, so much saved. As for the ATMs don’t be naïve, no government is so foolish they did not think of recalibrating the mahcines for a change in the size, it is part of the plan, don’t you see, you cannot withdraw from the machines so it is all controlled. You could take out Rs 25,000 a day now it is gone, more money to stack up the bank coffers.
But you cannot deny that people have thrown sacks of money into rubbish bins, I said, holding my valiant own.
He laughs the laugh of the learned and said, that is all the counterfeit stuff, who would throw away their notes regardless of how much they have, show me anyone who has flung even one note into the garbage, it is against human nature.
As we go into descent he says, the bankers are falling over with glee imagine nearly every Indian with lakhs in his account, no tax, just fields of green, lush clover to give to the big boys for loans they never return, it is the game of the century.
Yes, but we have sucker punched the gangs, the racketeers, blocked funding to terrorists, stopped hawala and hundi, come on, the underground mafia is in upheaval.
He agrees and then spoils it all by saying, by 30 December they will have made their arrangements.
We part with a sigh of regret from my side but I truly don’t get it. It has become so that you don’t know who to believe or which theory to run with. The moment I convince myself that the right thing has been done for the right reason and I feel that a warm embrace is warranted someone sends a message or writes an email or prints an indepth article dissing the whole thing.
The latest is that brokers have stepped in and become middlemen…just received one of those pass on messages. You have to pay them to jump the queue and they are taking Rs 1,000 notes. Another friend writes and says he ‘bought’ five Rs 100 denomination notes for Rs 600 using a Rs 500 note.
Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. The more things change the more they stay the same.
First Published On : Nov 18, 2016 21:11 IST
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India is “immensely underestimating” the threat of a water crunch despite being a downstream state with China, Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian said in Mumbai on Friday as he made a strong case for the “right pricing” of natural resources.”For India, especially being a downstream state with China, we do underestimate the water resource crunch immensely,” Subramanian said at the Mumbai LitFest, when asked about the impact of finite natural resources like water on economic growth. The northern plains support over 40% of the country’s 1.25 billion people which are supported by perennial rivers originating in upper Himalayas, including Chinese territory.People have “massively” under-priced the usage of natural resources, Subramnaian said and made a case for right pricing, saying this will help solve any potential problems in that regard. “There are things which we as government, communities or individuals can do to try and adjust the problem…and one of them is we try and price them better,” he said.Referring to the high degree of pollution around Diwali time in Delhi which also saw the visit of British Prime Minister Theresa May, he said it was largely due to burning of paddy which gets government incentives. Underlining the need to look at “social externalities” while setting the prices of foodgrains, he said crops like pulses need to be incentivised because they fix nitrogen and consume less fertilisers.Commenting on recent events like Brexit and election of the far-right Donald Trump as US President, Subramanian said he hoped such developments do not take the world to “crude nativism”. However, the senior Finance Ministry official, otherwise known to be very vocal with his views, chose not to comment when asked about demonetization.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Admitting perhaps for the first time that Kashmir dispute “does hinder” the US $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project, a state media report on Friday said that this does not mean China should “appease” India to prevent it from playing “little tricks”.”The dispute over Kashmir between India and Pakistan does hinder China’s efforts in pushing the (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) forward, but this does not mean China should ‘appease India’ to prevent the country from playing little tricks,” said the article in the Global Times – part of the People’s Daily group of the ruling Communist Party of China.It said “India should be aware that its ambition of becoming a great power won’t be realised if it contributes little to promoting regional integration and regional economic development.”The article was in response to a piece by US-based analyst Panos Mourdoukoutas in Forbes magazine yesterday criticising Beijing over the ambitious project. The Forbes piece has said that China has done “very little to appease India.” The daily has regularly carried articles critical to India for the past few months. Today’s was, however, a rare admission that the Kashmir dispute hinders the CPEC project, which runs through the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).India has expressed reservations over the project that links western China to Gwadar Port in the restive Balochistan province in southern Pakistan. The project gives China easy access for trade to Central Asian states and European markets.China has defended the project, saying it is a commercial project aimed at improving people’s lives.In the Forbes piece, Mourdoukoutas said that “China should make peace with India for forget about the project”.He said China desperately needs CPEC. It’s part of China’s vision “to write the rules of the next stage of globalisation” and help its export and investment engines grow for years.”So far, China has done very little to appease India. In fact, it has done quite the opposite: repeatedly blocking India’s efforts to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group,” he said.”And things could turn worse, if pro-Indian forces in Pakistan sabotage China’s CPEC route. That raises the possibility of an open confrontation between China and Pakistan on the one side, and India and its allies on the other,” he said.Countering Mourdoukoutas, the Chinese media article said, “India’s strategic suspicions toward China’s rising presence in South Asia may hobble its ambition to be a great power, even though some observers think otherwise.” The CPEC “does not target India, and we believe that China’s efforts to improve infrastructure in Pakistan have no intention of supporting the country’s dispute with India,” it said. It said China has made efforts to boost regional economic integration with Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Myanmar.”However, as a strategic location connecting East Asia, Southeast Asia and Central Asia, India’s poor infrastructure is a challenge for Asian nations to become interconnected.Although China has offered an olive branch to India to help upgrade its infrastructure facilities, it seems that India is reluctant to participate in the initiative. Additionally, New Delhi’s suspicions toward China have left the country vigilant as Beijing strengthens ties with India’s neighbours,” it said.”Some neighbouring countries have not benefited significantly from India’s rapid economic growth. This will hamper New Delhi in improving its regional influence,” it said.”However, India cannot hinder China’s efforts in promoting regional integration. Additionally, Asian countries like Pakistan keep a positive attitude toward Chinese efforts to improve infrastructure in the region.””If India still holds suspicions toward China and excludes itself from the moves of promoting regional integration, the country will perhaps end up simply watching China’s influence among its neighbouring countries rise,” it claimed.
Beijing: Indians living in China cannot deposit the scrapped currency notes of Rs 500 and 1,000 at Indian bank branches in Beijing.
The Indian embassy in an advisory said the demonetised bank notes “cannot be deposited at branches of Indian banks located in China or Hong Kong”.
One will have to authorise in writing enabling another person in India to deposit the notes into his or her bank account.
“The person so authorised has to go to the bank branch with the specified bank notes, the authority letter given by you and a valid identity proof,” the embassy said.
Thousands of Indians live in China, mostly in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.
Of the seven India banks in Beijing, two are from the private sector.
“I couldn’t be more grateful,” Isha Luthra, who works in Beijing, reacted sarcastically. “I am glad I have a trip back home before 30 December,” Luthra told IANS.
30 December is the last date to deposit or exchange the spiked currency.
India on 8 November announced the scrapping of Rs 500 and 1,000 rupee notes to battle corruption and black money.
First Published On : Nov 17, 2016 12:20 IST
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Opening ceremony of the sixth India China Joint Training Exercise, Exercise Hand in Hand 2016 was held, on Wednesday, at the parade ground in Aundh Military Camp, in Pune.The joint exercise was held in the presence of Major General YK Joshi, ADGMO of Indian Army and Major General Wang Haijiang of the People’s Liberation Army and other senior Army officers of both the countries, said a defence release.The parade was commanded by Lt Col Li Guanghua, Commanding Officer of People’s Liberation Army.”Both the senior military officers of the Indian Army addressed the contingents before Major General Wang Haijiang of Chinese Army declared the Joint Exercise open. The aim of the joint exercise is to acquaint both the Armies with each other’s operating procedures in the backdrop of counter terrorism environment,” it added.”The opening ceremony was followed by both the contingents displaying their weapons which included assault rifles, grenade launchers and other sophisticated equipment.The ceremony concluded with an enthralling and mesmerising display of India martial arts of Kalyaripattu, Khukri dance and Malkhamb by soldiers of Indian Army and a massed martial arts display by the Chinese contingent. The exercise will terminate on November 27,” the statement said.Earlier on November 15, the Chinese contingent from the 13 Group Army, Chengdu Military Region comprising of one Infantry Company along with supporting staff landed at the Lohegaon airfield in two IL- 76 Aircrafts from China.The statement said the 13-day schedule is focused upon training on crossing of obstacles, special heliborne operations, firing of various weapons, handling & neutralisation of improvised explosive devices and conduct of cordon & search operations in insurgency and terrorism environment.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>China’s first aircraft carrier is now ready for combat, a key breakthrough for a navy that has been trying to flex its muscles far beyond its shores amid territorial disputes with several neighbouring countries.The Liaoning carrier, made from an empty hull of a Soviet era ship, recently left its shipyard in Qingdao in east China to start a new training mission to test its combat capacity as it is prepared to “fight against enemies”. The construction of China’s second indigenously-built aircraft carrier is already underway at a feverish pitch.Liaoning, which had previously been described in Chinese media as a surface platform for tests and training, has now “formally been described as having a real combat capacity,” the state-run Global Times said.”As a military force, we are always combat ready and our combat capacity also needs to be tested by war. At this moment, we are doing our best to promote our strength and use it to prevent war. But we are preparing for actual combat at any time,” Senior Captain Li Dongyou, the political commissar of the vessel, told the daily.The refurbished ship was launched by former president Hu Jintao in 2012.There are more than 1000 non-commissioned officers (NCOs) on the Liaoning, and they are the main part of China’s aircraft carrier. “Among them, we have 42 Chief Petty Officers with an average age of 40 and experience of serving in the navy for more than 20 years,” Li said.”Weaponry is the key for combat capability on the carrier. As China’s first generation of NCOs on the carrier, these officers’ capability on how to operate, repair and maintain equipment is irreplaceable. And they are the source of our confidence,” Li said.The report did not elaborate on how China plans to use the carrier, but Liaoning is seen as to put more muscle behind the Communist giant’s increasing assertive moves in the South China Sea, where territorial claims by neighbouring nations have dogged China’s expansionist idea, and where it faces challenges from the US.The South China sea, through which $5 trillion of trade passes annually, has been a centre of dispute between China and Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.”As a combat platform, China still lags behind the US in technology and capability to execute missions, but three senior US officials who visited the Liaoning before all gave a positive evaluation on the management of the carrier – officers and soldiers’ daily lives and training are well organised and the equipment maintenance is fine,” Li said.Chinese media reports have said that as the construction of the second aircraft carrier picked up pace, China has stepped up preparations to deploy the first carrier force by putting in place a new batch of carrier-based fighter pilots.With plans to build two more carriers, the PLA as built up its largest carrier-based pilot team after more than three years of intensive training, media reports had said in August.Speculation is rife that China may deploy one of the aircraft carriers in the South China Sea.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>1. Live | War on black money: BJP says ‘decision of the century’, Cong slams ‘arrogant’ PM ModiWhile banks remained closed yesterday on account of Guru Nanak Jayanti in many parts of the country, cash-starved customers again were disappointed today with most of the ATMs running out of the cash. Even at some ATMs which had cash were facing server issues, making people wait in the queue frustrated. Follow the live updates here.2. Supreme Court backs PM Modi’s war on black money, refuses to stay demonetization driveSupreme Court refused to stay the government’s notification demonetizing Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes but asked it to spell out the steps taken to minimise public inconvenience. “We will not be granting any stay,” a bench comprising Chief Justice TS Thakur and DY Chandrachud said. Read more here.3. India’s NSG bid: China sticks to tough stand; calls for ‘non-discriminatory’, applicable solutionChina’s remarks came as the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) at its meeting in Vienna November 11 discussed a formula acting on India’s application to join it. “We believe that the solution should be non-discriminatory and applicable to all non-NPT members and it must not damage the core value of the NSG,” said China, which has been blocking India’s NSG bid. Read more here.4. India v/s England: Fit KL Rahul added to hosts’ squad for 2nd Test”The All India Senior Selection Committee has decided to add India batsman KL Rahul to the Indian squad ahead of the second Test of the Paytm Test Series – 2016 between India and England to be played at Vizag from November 17, 2016,” Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) Secretary Ajay Shirke said in a statement. Read more here.5. War on black money: This app can help you find an ATM that actually has cash!Luckily, we now have an app which will save the day. Pune-based money management and payment service Walnut has launched a new feature for its mobile app that will allow users to find a working ATM with cash. Check out how to download the app here.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> India-China Joint Military Training exercise, ‘Hand in Hand 2016’ will be held in Pune from Tuesday to November 27.The exercise is in continuation of the series of joint exercises between India and China, a Defence release issued here said on Monday. “This will be the sixth joint training exercise by the Indian Army with People’s Liberation Army of China. It is held annually, alternately, in India and China,” it said. The first exercise was held in China at Kunming of Yunnan province in 2007 and the last exercise was held in October 2015 in Kunming Military Academy, Yunnan Province in China, it said.As per the release, the aim of joint training is to share expertise in drills and practices while tackling insurgency and terrorism, thereby promoting healthy military to military relations between the two armies and developing joint strategies for conducting operations in a counter terrorism environment. It also said forming part of the different levels of the military to military engagement across the entire spectrum of operations, this exercise will enrich the two contingents in further honing basic military skills.”The exercise is planned at the company level with respective battalion headquarters controlling the training. The exercise is supervised by a Joint Directing Panel comprising senior officials of both the countries,” the release said. ‘Exercise Hand in Hand 2016’ will be conducted in three phases. The first phase consists of familiarisation with the weapons and equipment.The second phase consists of the conduct of basic training which includes combat conditioning, firing of personal weapon, support weapon and practice of drills like establishment of covert observation post, house clearing, cordon & search and humanitarian and disaster relief operations. The third phase is the conduct of joint exercise. The exercise will be attended by the senior military observers of both the countries, the release said.
Pakistan has evinced interest in acquiring the export variant of China’s first fifth-generation fighter aircraft (FGFA). China recently showcased two of its advanced J-20 stealth fighters in a fly-over at an air show in Zhuhai, Guangdong province of China on 1 November 2016. This was the first, public show of the J-20 warplane which is regarded as a major breakthrough for China. The country otherwise mostly relies on Russian aircraft including advanced versions of Sukhois. The Pakistani Air Force also took part in the air show in Zhuhai flying its J-17 Thunder jets which are jointly manufactured by China. Pakistan reportedly is already in talks with China to buy the FC-31 – an export variant of the same aircraft. The FC-31 too was briefly flown in the 2014 Zhuhai air show.
The Zhuhai air show was a weeklong affair and the J-20 flew for the weeklong show every day, taking off from an airfield in nearby Foshan. The J-20 is a long-range radar-evading fighter jet equipped with air-to-air missiles, resembling Lockheed Martin’s F-22 Raptor. China has reportedly built six prototypes of this FGFA. China is also developing the J-31 which is supposed to sequel American F-35 Lightning II. A People’s Liberation Air Force (PLAF) official told the media that the J-20 was not being showcased on ground as public display as visitors could not be permitted to come close because of secrecy, stating, “J-20 contains many of China’s top technologies in stealth aircraft plus other military secrets that include the J-20’s body shape, the proportion of its wing and body and other secrets as aircraft experts can easily calculate its stealth parameters from its exterior.”
India is going in for the development of its own FGFA jointly with Russia. In February this year, India and Russia revived talks on the delayed FGFA project after Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar approved the deal. The fifth-generation fighter jet will be on par with the capabilities of Russia’s PAK-FA T-50 aircraft, a fifth-generation fighter, but since the jet will be designed over the next few years, it is likely to exceed in some specifics, in that it may be more advanced than the present version of Russia’s PAK-FA T-50.
“The agreement has been completed on our end; we are ready to sign it. It is now down to the Indian side. There are some formalities to figure out, but I think it will be signed by the end of this year,” Sergi Chemezov, CEO of Russia’s Rostech State Corporation told The Economic Times. “The FGFA project will produce a state of the art fighter jet, and it will be the result of the work on Russia’s most modern technology done by both Russian and Indian engineers. As Fifth Generation, it means fifth generation speed, ballistics and military equipment, avionics and stealth capabilities among other qualities,” he said.
India and Russia have already inked military deals worth Rs 60,000 crore during the Brics summit held in Goa. Now, Russia is hoping to get another order on FGFA by end of the current year. Under the new offer, India will need to contribute $3.7 billion instead of $6 billion towards technological know-how and some three prototypes of the fighters. During the recent India-Russia Intergovernmental Commission on Military and Technical Cooperation co-chaired by Parrikar and his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu the FGFA project and upgrades of SU-31 aircraft in service with the IAF were discussed.
China’s J-20 had earlier made news when its picture covered under a tarpaulin at Daocheng Yading airport in Tibet appeared during September 2016. This raised speculations that this FGFA may be deployed on the India-China border. However, the China Military Online then stated, “it is said that J-20 will be put into service soon but the China-India border is apparently not the ideal place for its deployment”, adding, “In addition, the world’s highest airport there does not have a complete set of supporting facilities and such shortage will impede the function of J-20.” But then the aircraft parked there obviously had come for trials and necessary support and maintenance facilities at high altitude airbases in Tibet can be created concurrent to fielding of the J-20 albeit the China Military Online also commented, “If India is to deploy the BrahMos missile on the China-India border, then the Daocheng Yading airport will likely become its target.”
It is apparent that the FGFA race will be speeding up in the sub-continent over the next few years. The China-Pakistan nexus has shown exponential growth since the PLA has made its strategic lodgment in Gilgit-Baltistan under the pretext of developing hydel projects. This has been further reinforced through the development of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in which China is investing $46 billion; $11 billion by the Chinese government and balance $35 billion by private companies of China. The CPEC is actually the strategic highway of China for land access to the Indian Ocean that is emerging as the centre of gravity of future conflict. Gwadar is coming as a Chinese naval base under the pretext of a trade base or ‘Strategic Support Base’ as China would like to portray.
The IMF and economists have warned that the CPEC may be a debt trap for Pakistan as repayment obligations that come with this investment will be serious. But there should be no doubt that China will see it through because of her own strategic interests, especially given that the Pakistani military hierarchy has more or less acquiesced to let Pakistan become a satellite state of China. That is why China is developing Gwadar port and its infrastructure including airfield through Chinese companies on a gratis basis. Gwadar, together with Pakistani naval bases at Omari and Karachi would give China extended reach and dominance over the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf. Purchase of export version of the Chinese J-20 may draw Pakistan more into the debt trap but then China can always extend soft long-term repayment plan, even lease some of these aircraft for long periods. At the same time, basing of these aircraft flown by PLAF is also very much possible under the pretext of training, exercises etc. India needs to accelerate its proposed FGFA development jointly with Russia.
The author is a veteran Lieutenant General of the Indian Army.
First Published On : Nov 12, 2016 21:46 IST
Given the weight of expectations over the civil nuclear agreement between India and Japan, it is but natural that signing of it would dominate the headlines. Yet, lopsided focus on the much-anticipated deal may undermine the depth and gamut of Indo-Japan strategic embrace that we got to witness as Narendra Modi schmoozed with Shinzo Abe in Tokyo during the annual bilateral summit.
The kumbaya on display wasn’t superficial. Ever since Modi stepped onto Japanese soil in 2014 and caught Abe in a warm embrace, Indo-Japan relationship has become stronger in scope and wider in mutual interest. The atmospherics around Modi’s visit this year, coupled with the revised global order following Donald Trump’s rise in the US have clearly put the partnership on steroids. There has never been a shortage of mutual admiration between the two leaders, but both now evidently realise that the time is ripe to take the alliance beyond the borders of shared interest and strike a greater geostrategic understanding.
It is largely due to this compulsion that the civil nuclear agreement finally saw the light of day after breaking a six-year-old shackle of hesitancy, which Japan as the sole victim of nuclear weapons had to get over after working through a minefield of domestic ethical boundaries in inking such a deal with a non-NPT signatory country in India.
But it still happened, and came about at an opportune moment for India, which now has the ability to exploit the success of this deal and enjoy a greater moral authority in calling for a berth in the exclusive NSG club, members of which are shortly going to ponder over India’s inclusion during a meeting in Vienna. Japan backed India’s candidacy and ensured that four stages of the entire deal was squeezed into a single agreement unlike with the US where signing of the 123 agreement in 2007 was followed by NSG clearance in 2008, reprocessing in 2010, and inking of the administrative arrangements in 2015.
This deal will also make it more difficult for China to keep India out of the NSG club because terms of the civil nuclear deal with Japan, de facto brings India within the NPT framework. The “termination and cessation clause” built within the agreement permits signatories to stop nuclear cooperation in case India conducts nuclear tests and hence the need for NPT is much reduced.
Foreign policy isn’t built on the bedrock of friendship but shared mutual interests. If Abe walked an extra mile to ensure signing of the agreement, it may have something to do with the decreased domestic demand, since the 2011 Fukushima disaster that is forcing Japan’s nuclear industry to increasingly look for markets abroad. Close on the heels of Vietnam scuppering a deal, the agreement with India gives Prime Minister Abe the necessary breathing space.
It is this dovetailing of interest that came through as India and Japan jotted nine other agreements and then in the joint declaration, proceeded to address the $10 trillion gorilla in the room — China.
Right from the moment that Modi set about in his journey, the dragon’s shadow loomed large. China’s nervousness about a greater Indo-Japanese synergy has remained latent, but this time the gloves were off as its state-controlled media came out with a scathing series of editorials, nakedly warning India against toeing Japan’s line on South China Sea and issuing an open threat that were such a thing to happen, New Delhi will stand to greatly lose by way of trade and commercial relations.
In the intriguing world of foreign policy, such naked threats are more a signal of nervousness than strength. India and Japan both understand this, and therefore Modi and Abe’s joint statement pressed down hard on Beijing’s South China Sea wound, making no bones about the fact any maritime or territorial disputes must be solved without the “use of force” and in accord with UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) for free and fair navigation and commerce.
Ever since Modi stepped onto Japanese soil in 2014 and caught Abe in a warm embrace, Indo-Japan relationship has become stronger in scope and wider in mutual interest
India and Japan, read the statement, “urged all parties to resolve disputes through peaceful means without resorting to threat or use of force and exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities, and avoid unilateral actions that raise tensions… Regarding the South China Sea, the two prime ministers stressed the importance of resolving the disputes by peaceful means, in accordance with universally recognised principles of international law including the UNCLOS.”
For a country that regularly provokes Japan over the Senkaku islets and claims almost whole of South China Sea through a self-styled “nine-dash line” in flagrant violation of the Hague tribunal ruling, China would quite possibly be furious with India’s stand. So far, Modi has shown himself to be insular to threats and his ‘look East policy’ is a barely concealed effort to balance China’s many machinations.
Similarly, the confrontational stance taken by both India and Japan vis-à-vis Beijing is the greatest indication that both countries now want to extend their partnership between the booming trade and share economic interests into a greater geostrategic alliance. China is aware of such a curve in India and Japan’s trajectory. A recent editorial in China’s state-controlled Global Times elaborates on a “strategic diamond” that Japan is trying to engineer along with India, Australia and the US.
“For Japan and India, technological cooperation will enhance their cooperation in security, a critical way for Japan to contain China’s growing strength. At the beginning of his term, Abe envisaged a strategic diamond involving the US, Japan, Australia and India, and attempted to draw India over to his side so as to encircle China. In the second half of the year, he invited the top leaders of a number of countries to visit Japan, many of them China’s neighbors. India is relatively powerful, and is of vital importance to Abe’s strategic diamond. Therefore, Japan has made particular efforts to enhance its diplomatic ties with India.
One crucial arm of this “strategic diamond”, US, may fall off the radar with conjecture gaining ground that Trump might make America look a lot more inwards and reduce its strategic footprint in Asia. If that happens, Asia’s fate will depend on how quickly and effectively India and Japan balance out China’s assertive territorial and geopolitical ambitions. Modi and Abe have shown a good understanding of this changed reality.
First Published On : Nov 12, 2016 17:02 IST
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India will not become a “pawn” for Japan to contain China, a Chinese state-run media today said, accusing Japan of exploiting Sino-India disputes for its own interests.”Japan wants to use the disputes between China and India to court India to help contain China. Japan seeks to urge India to meddle in the South China Sea issue, even at the cost of changing its long-held position of reducing nuclear usage to offer special benefits of civil nuclear cooperation to India,” Global Times said in an editorial on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s three-day visit to Japan. “Looking at Japan’s diplomatic policies over the past few years, (Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo) Abe administration has become more active trying to sway regional powers to encircle China,” the daily said.It said that India is in need of acquiring nuclear and military technology from Japan and attracting more investment for its manufacturing industries and infrastructure, like high-speed railways.The daily, however, said that India is not likely to change its position according to the wishes of Japan. “India takes a multilateral approach to diplomacy and pursues a status as a leading power. Japan’s plans are full of antagonism, which contradict India’s policies. Therefore India will practically assess specific cooperation with Japan case by case,” the daily said.”India will not become a pawn for Japan to contain China, as it wants to become a power on par with China and Japan and benefit from both sides. India will get closer to Japan but will not enter into a brotherhood relationship,” it said.The editorial, which was apparently written before India and Japan issued joint statement yesterday, said that “both sides hinted they would include the South China Sea Arbitration in their joint statement”.India and Japan yesterday sought a peaceful solution to the territorial disputes in the strategic South China Sea, saying parties involved in the matter must not resort to “threat or use of force”, in remarks that could anger China which is opposed to any outside interference.There is no official reaction by China yet about the outcome of Modi’s visit, but ahead of his visit Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang told media that New Delhi and Tokyo should respect the legitimate concerns of their neighbours.A Chinese state media report on Wednesday warned India that it may suffer “great losses” in bilateral trade if it joins Japan in asking China to abide by an international tribunal’s ruling quashing Beijing’s claims over the SCS.China has been making aggressive advances in the strategic region – parts of which are also claimed by Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei – by rapidly building artificial islets that experts fear could be potentially used as military posts.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat said India will not be able to realise its potential and glory and act as guiding force to the world for peaceful coexistence till its woman power comes forward. “Till India’s ‘matra shakti’ (women power) turns active and comes forward, India will not be able to achieve its potential and pristine glory and act as a guiding force to the world to show it the new path of peaceful coexistence,” he said while speaking at the inauguration of the 3-day training camp of Rashtriya Sevika Samiti, the women wing of RSS. Bhagwat said India through its rich traditions has the potential to act as a guide to the world and that can only be realised when Hindus, including women, unite and get together.The RSS chief added that in this fast-emerging world where science is progressing rapidly, India has the potential to show the world the path to future where there is peace and coexistence without discrimination of any kind.”India has the potential to take the world forward and no other nation,” he said.Bhagwat said while the world order changed from being bipolar to unipolar, America’s supremacy was waning and Russia was again emerging and China was also fighting with the two in this competition to outdo each other, but lamented that no one talks about India as of now. “But India has the potential to emerge. It may not be visible today, but it will emerge,” he said. “India does not just follow tolerance, its rich traditions also follow the principles of acceptance and respect,” he said. He added that while the world is full of conflicts and “fault lines” continue to exist in the fast-emerging world and India has the potential to lead the world and show it the future path. H also called for a world free from conflicts Talking about technological and scientific advances, he said, today the Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes have turned defunct and tomorrow a new world may emerge where there could only be financial transactions through electronic or cashless mode. He said a time may come when 90 per cent of the work may be done through instruments of technology. The RSS chief said fanaticism and communalism give rise to conflicts and the world has to realise the goal of peaceful coexistence. PTI SKC
E-commerce major eBay has laid off about 100 employees at its technology centre in Bengaluru and is shifting work to other global centres.
In his run-up to presidential polls, president-elect Donald Trump had repeatedly remarked about how jobs were being taken up other countries. ““They are taking our jobs. China is taking our jobs. Japan is taking our jobs. India is taking our jobs. It is not going to happen anymore, folks!”
Trump told to thunderous applause from the audience. “Right now, 92 million Americans are on the sidelines, outside the workforce, and not part of our economy. It’s a silent nation of jobless Americans. Under this American System, every policy decision we make must pass a simple test: does it create more jobs and better wages for Americans?”
Is eBay’s decision a reaction to what Trump has been promising the electorate?
When contacted, an eBay India spokesperson said eBay regularly reviews its operational structure as a normal course of business. “Today, we announced some changes to our global product and technology team. As a result, we are reducing our overall technology workforce in Bangalore and shifting work to other global centres around the world,” the spokesperson said.
The Bengaluru centre will now focus on eBay India – dedicated product and development work, the spokesperson further said.
While the company did not disclose the number of people to be impacted by the decision, sources said about 100 people have been laid off. The centre had over 300 people.
“We remain committed to India and will continue to invest in core product and technology development for eBay India,” the spokesperson said adding that there is no other reductions plans in near future.
(With inputs from PTI)
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The stunning and largely unforeseen victory of Donald Trump as the 45th US president poses new and formidable challenges to India’s foreign policy and security establishment as well as to its economy, business and industry.The situation calls for quick reflexes on the foreign policy front followed by more studied responses to issues such as the new administration’s impact on the IT and pharmaceutical sectors and H1B visas, on which it is too early to expect clarity at this stage.There would be much interest in India’s first responses to a Trump presidency, which is expected to find expression in some form during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s summit meeting with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe in Tokyo on Nov 10 and 11. The post-summit statement would be read as a message to Trump as well as to Beijing. At the same time, what is stated in Tokyo would only be a teaser of what remains to be spelled out in due course.In external affairs, India’s top priorities are relations with Pakistan and China. In dealing with these two neighbours — one dangerous and the other difficult — South Block has reasons to see Trump as a powerful ally, mainly in its bid to isolate Pakistan globally in the aftermath of the Uri attack. The President-elect has called Pakistan as “probably the most dangerous country in the world” which matches New Delhi’s view of it as “the mothership of terrorism”. New Delhi’s evolving wavelength with a Trump presidency may well determine the course of events that began with the surgical strikes.New Delhi may also look forward to Trump’s tenancy of the White House for getting the better of China, which has not relented on India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group or the sanctioning of JeM chief Masood Azhar of Pakistan as a “terrorist”.Trump has been openly contemptuous of China, which he considers an “adversary”. He has threatened to penalise China if it fails to renegotiate trade deals on Washington’s terms. Regardles of whether a Trump Administration can walk its election campaign talk, the fact that he seems set against China might be to India’s advantage. Prime Minister Modi’s perception of such an advantage, if any, may be indicated in the India-Japan joint statement — for instance, it could be by way of a reference to the international tribunal’s order dismissing China’s claims over the South China Sea.After Pakistan and China, the ‘great game’ in Afghanistan is a big security and foreign policy challenge facing India. Trump has so far rooted for a wider Afghan-India security partnership, also with an eye on containing Pakistan. In fact, his case for continuing US troops in Afghanistan is to use that country as a base to contain Pakistan, prevent Pakistan-backed depredations in Afghanistan and hold up Afghanistan from collapsing as a state. The continued presence of US troops under a US President uncompromisingly opposed to Pakistan and its role in Afghanistan would be a big strategic and security boost to India.The author is an independent political and foreign affairs commentator
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India may suffer “great losses” in bilateral trade if it joins Japan during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to ask China to abide by an international tribunal’s ruling quashing Beijing’s claims over disputed South China Sea (SCS), Chinese media warned on Wednesday.”India should beware of the possibility that by becoming embroiled in the disputes, it might end up being a pawn of the US and suffer great losses, especially in terms of business and trade, from China,” an oped article in state-run Global Times said.Citing media reports that India is seeking support from Tokyo during Modi’s visit to Japan this week to issue a joint statement asking China to abide by July ruling of the tribunal on the SCS, it said, “India and China should put more efforts into resolving problems like the imbalance of their trade ties”.”India won’t benefit much by balancing China through Japan. It will only lead to more mistrust between New Delhi and Beijing,” it said.”India’s proposal to make new waves in the SCS first came to Singapore last month, but Singapore, a master of the rebalancing strategy, snubbed it. The rejection shows India lacks legitimacy and leadership in making new waves in the SCS,” the article said.It also pointed out that with the recent visit to China of Rodrigo Duterte, the new President of Philippines, the country that filed arbitration case against Beijing, the SCS dispute “passed pinnacle of tensions”.”India should realise that the SCS disputes have passed the pinnacle of tensions after the announcement of the arbitration result, and some involved parties have begun to reflect on their old way of addressing the disputes – creating conflicts without seeking productive bilateral negotiations.The Philippines, once a major aggressive claimant against China, has restored its relationship with China,” it said.The article which comes in the backdrop of recent meeting at Hyderabad between National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi said India wants to scale up its stand on the SCS in retaliation to Beijing blocking India’s bid to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).”India knows that it is not yet qualified for membership in the NSG, according to the organisation’s rules. China’s decision was simply a fulfillment of its international duties.It is preposterous for Indian media and government to scapegoat China as a troublemaker, and seek revenge by making more troubles,” it said.”As a non-claimant to the South China Sea and an outsider that has no traditional influence on the region, India has been paying keen attention to any activity, because the country has adopted a ‘Look East’ foreign policy since Modi took office,” the article said.”India, however, seems to have overestimated its leverage in the region. Although China’s major rivals in the dispute, such as the US and Japan, have been trying to draw India into their camp, the country will be likely regarded as having a token role,” it said.The article said as “regional major power in Asia, India does not feel at ease with China, a larger and more powerful neighbour”.”It admires China’s imposing changeover, especially its economic takeoff, but it has never relaxed its wariness of China’s rise,” it said, adding that “the complicated feelings could drive India to make mistakes in its China policy”.Another article in the same daily – titled ‘India won t be Japan s geopolitical tool’ – criticised Japan for relaxing its rules to sign a civil nuclear deal with India.”India has refused to sign the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and meanwhile possesses nuclear weapons. Under this situation, selling nuclear technology to New Delhi will taint Tokyo’s reputation of advocating for a nuclear weapons-free world. In fact, Abe is using international law as a tool to safeguard his self- interest, only referring to it to satisfy his needs. Japan is so pragmatic in its diplomacy. The technology agreements are de facto political deals between Japan and India,” it said.It also questioned the bullet train agreement between the two countries. “Given Japan’s costly high-speed technology and India’s relatively under-developed economy, whether the rail project will produce profits is unknown,” it said.China is also bidding for building high speed train network in India and is currently conducting a feasibility study for Delhi-Chennai railway corridor.For Japan and India, technological cooperation will enhance their cooperation in security, a critical way for Japan to contain China’s growing strength, it said.”But containing China is not Modi’s ultimate purpose.Despite its rapid economic growth, India’s development is still backward in many ways. What Modi therefore cares most about is reviving the nation’s economy and enhancing its strength,” it said.”India has no intention and cannot afford to join Japan and contain China since it needs China’s investment and financial support for development. However, considering its disputes with China, India to some extent wants to use Japan to bargain with China.”What Modi wants is to benefit from Tokyo and Beijing when they are at odds, like Duterte has done. Hence the so-called Japan-India cooperation is a tool for the two sides to use each other for political gains,” it said.At present, top leaders in some East and South Asian countries like Japan, India, Myanmar and the Philippines, are tough in their domestic policies to develop and upgrade their industries, it said.”This has given China an opportunity to break US-Japan containment and expand its influences. If China can share common interests with India as emerging industrial countries, it will counterbalance the mutual benefits of India and Japan being democratic countries,” it said.”As emerging countries, China and India have common economic interests in many aspects, and need to jointly face challenges posed by developed countries. How to boost cooperation between China and India is a key issue concerning the economic development of developing countries in the future,” it said.
What does Donald Trump has common with Maharashtra MNS chief Raj Thackeray or PM Narendra Modi? Not much, except that Trump is the proponent of the American version of certain ideals and vision both Thackeray and Modi have stood for long — ‘Marathi manus’ politics and the idea of ‘Make in India’.
In the US, Trump is Thackeray’s counterpart of ‘American Manus’ politics and is the Modi of ‘Make in America’ campaign. Trump despises anything other than American and has so far played inflammatory politics projecting his ‘American Manus’ stand, calling out to make ‘America great again’ and save jobs and private investments for locals, no matter what happens to the immigrant worker.
Trump wants, at least he says so, to put an end to the cross-border outflow of jobs and wouldn’t hesitate to accuse even IBM of shutting jobs in the US and shifting some to India.
Trump is a great admirer of ‘Make in America campaign’ much like Modi’s ‘Make in India’ programme. He wants people to make things in America, using Americans workers and for American people.
In this backdrop, for Indo-Americans in US and other non-American workers, Donald Trump should symbolise everything that they should fear about — further restrictions on work permits and policies such as massive tax deductions favouring the local businesses that would logically put Indians there at a disadvantage.
“We don’t really know what is going on in his mind,” said Anshul Prakash, associate partner at Khaitan & Co, who is an expert in labour law. “Anyway, it can’t be good for Indians given his stated policies.
Even there, he has conflicting views and the core idea seems to be protecting the local Americans,” Prakash said.
Hence, the choice shouldn’t be difficult for Indo-Americans between Hillary Clinton and Trump. While Clinton is considered to have better chances to emerge victoriously, any upset by Trump would mean an uncertain, worrying future for not just Americans, the Indian professionals in that country too.
Trump’s victory would mean nothing short of a disaster for Indian professionals in the US, especially with regard to his planned policies on H1-B Visa restrictions. Even companies, including Indian firms, need to fear Trump if he comes to power for he has openly declared that the Trump administration will make it difficult for them to move out of America.
“If a company wants to leave Minnesota, fire their workers and move to another country and then ship their products back into the United States, we will make them pay a 35 percent tax,” Trump said in his recent speech at Minnesota state.
Trump seems to have no mercy for those who compete for American jobs and companies which take jobs out of US. He even calls them thieves. As Firstpost noted in a recent article, just the other day, Trump blamed India and China for the ‘greatest job theft’ in US.
“America has lost 70,000 factories since China entered the World Trade Organisation, another Bill and Hillary backed disaster. We are living through the greatest jobs theft in the history of the world,” Trump said in Tampa, Florida on Monday.
“Goodrich Lighting Systems laid off 255 workers and moved their jobs to India. Baxter Health Care Corporation laid off 199 workers and moved their jobs to Singapore. Essilor Laboratories laid off 181 workers and moved their jobs, surprise, to Mexico. It’s getting worse and worse and worse,” Trump said.
Trump is a bigger fan of the ‘son of the soil’ politics Thackeray practices here and is even more passionate about his ‘Make in America’ plan much like Modi admirers his ‘Make in India’ movement.
If Trump becomes the next president of world’s largest economy, eight times bigger than that of India, it will be no good news for the Indo-Americans. Hence a choice shouldn’t be difficult for them today.
United Nations: India has strongly criticised the Security Council for taking months to consider sanctioning leaders of groups it has itself designated as terror entities, in an obvious reference to the “technical hold” on India’s bid to get JeM chief Masood Azhar banned by the UN.
Asserting that the Security Council is stuck in its own “time warp and politics”, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin on Monday slammed the Council’s inability to sanction the leaders of terrorist organisations.
“While our collective conscience is ravaged everyday by terrorists in some region or another, the Security Council gives itself 9 months to consider whether to sanction leaders of organisations it has itself designated as terrorist entities,” Akbaruddin said at a session on equitable representation and increase in the membership of the Security Council.
Earlier this year, China had extended the “technical hold” on India’s move to get Azhar designated as a terrorist by the UN. The six-month validity of the technical hold lapsed in late September and China sought another three-month extension on India’s bid.
He lamented that the snail-paced and “never-ending carousel of discussions” on United Nations Security Council (UNSC) reforms, saying “it is time to break the impasse” to urgently reform the body that is “unresponsive” to the current global situation.
The inability to respond to humanitarian situations, terrorist threats and peacekeeping vulnerabilities during this year itself are part of the price that is being paid for the international community’s lack of progress on the critical matter, he noted.
“On issues pivotal to international security such as Syria, there is inaction, and on other situations like dealing with the peacekeeping crisis in South Sudan we see fragmented action which is not implemented even months after being agreed upon,” Akbaruddin said.
“The Security Council, stuck in its own time warp and politics, can only be described as working randomly on the basis of a mix of ad-hocism, scrambling and political
paralysis. Need one say more about the urgency of the need for reform of this relic which has long been unresponsive to the needs of our time,” he said.
Akbaruddin said the never-ending carousel of discussions on UNSC reforms leaves many in the international community perplexed as the crucial reform of the Security Council has been delayed despite both its importance and its urgency.
He pointed out that the Council’s global governance structure does not cease to surprise the international community with its persistent inability to even effectively
engage with the tasks at hand.
“The lack of representativeness of its membership, especially in the permanent category, which was decided upon 70 years ago adds to its lack of legitimacy and credibility,” he added.
The ambassador expressed hope that under the current UN General Assembly President Peter Thomson, a process on furthering the reform will be put in place that can help move from discussions to negotiations.
“It is time to break the impasse. It is time to reflect the different hues in a text so that everyone can discern the trend lines and trajectory of thinking of Member States,” he said.