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The A to Z of 2016

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A is Apple, Android, AI: And other state-of-the-art techB is for Brexit: A decision Britain may regretC is for Clinton: Her emails and her shimmyD is for Demonetization: The idea for a cashless economyE is for EU: That claims it has a migrant crisisF is for Fight: The war against terrorism, particularly ISISG is for Gandhis: India’s self-proclaimed first familyH is for Hombres: The good, the bad, and the uglyI is for ISIS: a group that’s anything but rationalJ is for Jingoism: If you don’t believe it, you’re anti-national K is for Kim, Kanye, Kyle and the other celebrities L is for Live streaming: so you’re a part of big storiesM is for Michelle: the Obama who is loved moreN is for Note: The phone that lost Samsung crores and croresO is for Orange: In the United States, it’s the New BlackP is for Potter: The Cursed Child (was it good or did it face flak?)Q is for Questions: For which answers we have noneR is for Russia: Because everyone assumes Putin’s scumS is for Stars: Many left us in 2016 and are now shining brightT is for Trump: Did America play its cards right?U is for Ugly: What we feel about 2016 dailyV is for Virat: Or as fans say, Kohli, Kohli, Kohli!W is for War: It gets murkier, will there be a WW III?X is for X-travagent wedding: Money spent by Janardhan ReddyY is for Yolo: the mantra employed to surviveZ is for Zika: A virus that had a 2016 thrive

U.N. Security Council denounces Israeli settlements, U.S. abstains | Reuters

By Michelle Nichols
| UNITED NATIONS

UNITED NATIONS The United States on Friday allowed the U.N. Security Council to adopt a resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlements, defying pressure from President-elect Donald Trump, Israel and some U.S. lawmakers who urged Washington to wield its veto.An abstention by the United States paved the way for the 15-member international body to approve the resolution, with 14 votes in favour, prompting applause in the council chamber.”Israel rejects this shameful anti-Israel resolution at the U.N. and will not abide by its terms,” the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has encouraged the expansion of Jewish settlements in land captured by Israel in a 1967 war with its Arab neighbours, said in a statement.The Obama administration’s action broke with the long-standing American approach of shielding Israel, Washington’s long-time ally that receives more than $3 billion in annual U.S. military aid, from such action. The United States, along with Russia, France, Britain and China, has veto power on the council.The resolution, put forward by New Zealand, Malaysia, Venezuela and Senegal a day after Egypt withdrew it under pressure from Israel and Trump, was the first adopted by the council on Israel and the Palestinians in nearly eight years.U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the resolution and Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin called on Israel to “respect international law.”The U.S. abstention was seen as a parting shot by outgoing President Barack Obama, who has had an acrimonious relationship with Netanyahu and whose efforts to forge a peace agreement based on a “two-state” solution of creating a Palestinian state existing peacefully alongside Israel have proven futile. His administration has argued that continued Israeli settlement building has undermined chances of a peace deal.Israel and Trump had called on the Obama administration to veto the measure. Trump wrote on Twitter after the vote, “As to the U.N., things will be different after Jan. 20th,” referring to the day he succeeds Obama.Israel for decades has pursued a policy of constructing Jewish settlements on territory captured by Israel in a 1967 war with its Arab neighbours including the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. Most countries view Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as illegal and an obstacle to peace. Israel disagrees.The Obama administration has deemed settlement expansion “illegitimate.” Successive administrations of both parties have criticized settlement activity but have done little to slow their growth.

INDEPENDENT STATE
The Palestinians want an independent state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. The resolution demanded that Israel “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem” and said the establishment of settlements by Israel has “no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law.”After the vote, the White House defended the U.S. abstention, saying that in the absence of any meaningful peace process, Obama took the decision to abstain. Criticizing Israel’s settlement policy, it said it had repeatedly warned Israel privately and publicly that settlement activity was increasing Israel’s international isolation.Ben Rhodes, White House deputy national security adviser, dismissed Trump’s criticism, noting that Obama remains president until Jan. 20.

“We could not in good conscience veto a resolution that expressed concerns about the very trends that are eroding the foundation for a two-state solution,” Rhodes told a conference call.Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said, said the United States did not raise a veto because the resolution “reflects the facts on the ground and is consistent with U.S. policy across Republican and Democratic administrations.”MORE THAN SYMBOLIC
The passage of the resolution changes nothing on the ground between Israel and the Palestinians and likely will be all but ignored by the incoming Trump administration.

But it was more than merely symbolic. It formally enshrined the international community’s disapproval of Israeli settlement building and could spur further Palestinian moves against Israel in international forums.The U.N. action was “a big blow to Israeli policy, a unanimous international condemnation of settlements and a strong support for the two-state solution,” a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said in a statement published by the official Palestinian news agency Wafa.Israel’s U.N. ambassador, Danny Danon, called the resolution disgraceful, adding he had no doubt the incoming Trump administration and Ban’s successor as U.N. chief, former Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres, “will usher in a new era in terms of the U.N.’s relationship with Israel”Israel has said the final status of the Jewish settlements should be determined in talks on Palestinian statehood. The last round of U.S.-led peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians collapsed in 2014.Trump, who called for a veto along with Netanyahu, is likely to be a more staunch supporter of Netanyahu’s right-wing policies. He named a hardline pro-Israel ambassador and vowed to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.Some U.S. lawmakers of both parties condemned the Obama administration’s abstention. Republican Senator John McCain said the abstention “marks a troubling departure from our nation’s long, bipartisan history of defending our ally Israel in the United Nations.”U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, who heads the Senate subcommittee that oversees American U.N. funding, threatened to pull financial support for the international body.The council last adopted a resolution on settlements in 1979, with the United States abstaining. Then it approved a resolution saying Israeli settlements had “no legal validity and constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.” (Writing by Will Dunham and Yara Bayoumy; Additional reporting by Maayan Lubell in Jerusalem, Lesley Wroughton and Susan Heavey in Washington, Matt Spetalnick in New York and Ali Sawafta in Ramallah; Editing by Bill Trott and Cynthia Osterman)

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

First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 21:18 IST

Obama says told Putin to ‘cut it out’ over cyber attacks | Reuters

Obama says told Putin to ‘cut it out’ over cyber attacks | Reuters

Dec 16, 2016 21:21 IST

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WASHINGTON U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday said he warned Russian President Vladimir Putin in September to stop meddling in American political campaigns after hacks of Democratic Party emails in the lead-up to the Nov. 8 elections.In a pre-Christmas holiday press conference, Obama said he told Putin to “cut it out” during a face-to-face encounter in China where a G20 meeting was being held.Obama added that after warning Putin, there was no further evidence of Russian tampering. Russia has denied U.S. accusations of cyber attacks against U.S. political figures and institutions ahead of the presidential and congressional elections.Two senior government officials told Reuters that the FBI backs the CIA’s view that Russia intervened to help Republican Donald Trump win the presidential election.

Obama left open the door to U.S. retaliation against Russia to discourage it and other nations from further computer hacking.The president also said that he hoped that Trump, who takes office on Jan. 20, should be similarly concerned about Russia’s actions and that the investigation should not become “a political football” between Republicans and Democrats.

Trump has maintained that he won the election fairly and has bristled at suggestions that Moscow influenced the outcome.But Democrats have repeatedly noted that Trump during his campaign has spoken glowingly about Putin and since winning the election has picked top aides in the incoming administration with ties to Russia.

At one point during the heated presidential campaign, Trump publicly encouraged Russia to hack Democratic rival Hillary Clinton’s emails. (Reporting By Roberta Rampton, Jeff Mason and Julia Harte; Writing by Richard Cowan; Editing by Alistair Bell)

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

First Published On : Dec 16, 2016 21:21 IST

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India-US ‘major defence partnership’ must address New Delhi’s strategic concerns

US Ambassador to India Richard Rahul Verma has recently stated that the US-Pakistan relationship is “complex”, while US relations with India are more broad-based.

In saying so, Verma will be acutely aware that the US-Pakistan relationship is already on the trajectory towards becoming far more complex with Pakistan being inexorably subsumed by China, the CIA-ISI relationship notwithstanding. With China gearing up to establish an oceanic front in the Gwadar-Omari-Karachi region, a future US-China Cold War-like situation may be inevitable no matter the pretenses, and how and in what timeframe the transition from lukewarm to cold takes place, which will be resisted by China.

President-elect Donald Trump’s statement that the US may not necessarily be bound with the ‘One China’ policy raised hackles in China with Beijing hitting back that it would help the foes of America. Only time will tell how Trump’s remarks about the ‘One China’ policy are followed through in future. However, in all probability he will act against China’s economic policy of ‘dumping’ goods abroad at the cost of target countries. But if China says it will help America’s foes, it is already doing so through proxies of Pakistan as well as through its own links with the Taliban.

File image of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar with Defence Secretary Ash Carter at a joint news conference at the Pentagon. News18

File image of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar with Defence Secretary Ash Carter at a joint news conference at the Pentagon. News18

What will affect South Asia most is how the Trump administration deals with Pakistan now that Generals Michael T Flynn (former director of US Defence Intelligence Agency) and James Mattis (former commander of US Central Command) will be the next National Security Advisor and Secretary of Defence respectively. This is particularly so given their firm views about countering terrorism. Notwithstanding the joint statement on conclusion of the recent ‘Heart of Asia’ Summit categorically naming Pakistani proxies operating in Afghanistan, this had already been explicitly brought out in the report of the United Nations Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA) in July 2016. These facts have been ignored by the US in the past despite Pakistani proxies, Haqqani Network in particular, targeting US-Nato forces in Afghanistan

With the US Senate clearing a bill characterising India as a “major defence partner”, India-US relations have taken a leap. The 2017 National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA) was passed by the US House of Representatives by 375 votes to 34. When Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visited Washington in June this year, President Barack Obama had said he looks at India as a major defence partner of the US. The US Senate has now cleared the decks to put an official seal on it before it goes for signatures to Obama, which should be a mere formality. It is significant to note that after the passage of the bill — within 180 days, the secretary of defence and the secretary of state are required to jointly submit to the Congressional Defence Committee, the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate and Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives a report on how the US is supporting its defence relationship with India.

The India-US joint statement issued during the visit of Secretary of State John Kerry to India in August 2016 had noted that robust defence ties were the “bedrock” of bilateral strategic and commercial ties, making reference to the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) and the title of “major defence partner” for India that Obama envisaged. In December 2016, Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter made an official visit to India for the seventh institutionalised interaction with Indian counterpart Manohar Parrikar. The joint statement issued during Carter’s visit finalised India’s designation as a “major defence partner” of the US. This special status is unique to India and institutionalises the progress made to facilitate defence trade and technology sharing with India to a level on par with that of America’s closest allies and partners, ensuring enduring cooperation in future.

The emergence of the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative ( DTTI) as an integral and enduring component of India-US security cooperation is a sign that the relationship has matured to a level of strategic importance. The DTTI will strengthen India’s ‘Make in India’ initiative and both sides committed to convening all-new DTTI working groups prior to the next DTTI group meeting anticipated for February 2017. India-US defence relations in recent years have been on an escalating trajectory. The signing of the Defence Framework Agreement in 2015 was a major signpost.

This along with other agreements laid the blueprint for collaboration between defence establishments of both nations, enabling deeper cooperation. Joint exchange opportunities, in both personnel and training exercises, have expanded and strengthened our bilateral cooperation. The signing of the LEMOA has facilitated additional opportunities for practical engagement and exchange.

What does ‘major defence partner’ imply?

Logically, it should result in greater sharing of defence technologies (state-of-the-art ones), co-production of armaments as part of ‘Make in India’ and dovetailing defence plans with the US approach through coordination in military logistics, and in strategic and satellite communications and sensors. The US is also looking at early signing of the Communication and Information Security Memorandum Agreement (CISMOA) and Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geospatial Cooperation (BECA) joint agreements that would complete the trinity of foundational agreements for bilateral defence ties.

File image of Donald Trump and James Mattis. AP

File image of Donald Trump and James Mattis. AP

Admiral John Richardson had visited India in February 2016 coinciding with India hosting the spectacular international fleet review, in which the US Navy also participated. The year 2016 also saw the navies of India, US and Japan participating in the MALABAR exercise in the Western Pacific, much to the chagrin of China. The India-US Maritime Dialogue has been ongoing with strategic interests converging with respect to the Indo-Pacific region.

But while the US interests in the bilateral relationship centre mainly on cooperation on the seas and defence industry cooperation, the ‘major defence partnership’ must also address India’s concerns in South Asia. These include the China-Pakistan nexus exporting terrorism to India and Afghanistan. Pakistan’s newly appointed DG ISI, Naveed Mukhtar, has called for Pakistan to be more aggressive against Indian interests in Afghanistan. Pakistan is in illegal occupation of PoK and China-occupied Shaksgam and Aksai Chin — all Indian Territories. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor together with Chinese naval vessels and submarines at Gwadar have strategic implications both for India and the region including on future operations in the IOR. Similarly, the PLA’s lodgment in Gilgit-Baltistan, and deployment of strategic weapon platforms have serious implications.

Now that President Vladimir Putin has indicated he will work with Trump in countering terrorism, attention must be paid to Pakistan as the epicentre of terrorism which is supported and abetted by China. The India-US Defence Partnership must focus on these issues, particularly targeting the epicentre of terrorism, ensuring stability and economic progress of Afghanistan and connectivity within South Asia.

The author is a veteran Lieutenant-General of the Indian Army

First Published On : Dec 15, 2016 13:00 IST

Trump and Silicon Valley look to smooth over frictions | Reuters

By Dustin Volz and David Shepardson
| WASHINGTON

WASHINGTON U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and Silicon Valley executives have a chance to smooth over frictions when they meet at his Manhattan tower on Wednesday, after both sides made no secret of their disdain for each other during the presidential campaign.The meeting may skirt the numerous disagreements the tech industry has with Trump — including immigration, trade relationships with China and other nations, and digital privacy — in favor of a focus on shared priorities, sources said. “If he can reform the tax code, reduce regulation, and negotiate better trade deals, the U.S. technology community will be stronger and more competitive than ever,” Oracle Chief Executive Safra Catz, who will attend the meeting, said in a statement. The tech luminaries, including Apple Inc’s Tim Cook, Facebook Inc’s Sheryl Sandberg and Tesla Motors Inc’s Elon Musk, will meet with Trump as U.S. corporations worry about his challenges to long-established policy toward China, a key market for Silicon Valley.A senior Chinese state planning officials told the China Daily newspaper Wednesday that Beijing could slap a penalty on an unnamed U.S. automaker for monopolistic behavior, a warning that came days after Trump questioned acknowledging Taiwan as part of “one China.”The tech summit is being billed as an introductory session, said four sources briefed on the talks, all of whom requested anonymity to discuss a private meeting.Other expected participants include Alphabet Inc’s Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, Amazon.com’s Jeff Bezos, Microsoft Corp’s Satya Nadella, and Ginni Rometty from IBM, sources said. Cook and Musk will join Trump for a smaller meeting after the other technology executives leave, a spokesman for Trump’s transition team said.The CEOs of Airbnb and Uber were invited but are not attending. Uber’s Travis Kalanick will instead be traveling in India all week, according to a person familiar with his plans.

‘SOME HESITATION’
Trump clashed with Silicon Valley on several issues during the campaign, including immigration, government surveillance and encryption, and his surprise victory last month alarmed many companies that feared he might follow through on his pledges. He has said that many tech companies are overvalued by investors.”You look at some of these tech stocks that are so, so weak as a concept and a company and they’re selling for so much money,” he told Reuters in an interview in May.

Those concerns have not been assuaged in recent weeks as Trump has threatened to upset trade relationships with China and appoint officials who favor expanded surveillance programs. “For some of the companies, there was some hesitation about whether to attend” because of sharp political and personal differences with Trump, one tech industry source said.More than 600 employees of technology companies pledged in an open letter on Tuesday to refuse to help Trump’s administration build a data registry to track people based on their religion or assist in mass deportations.Silicon Valley enjoyed a warm rapport with President Barack Obama and heavily supported Democrat Hillary Clinton during the presidential campaign.

Schmidt was photographed on election night at Clinton headquarters wearing a staff badge, and Musk said in interviews before the election that Trump’s character reflected poorly on the United States.Despite those tensions, Trump named Musk to a business advisory council that will give private-sector input to Trump after he takes office on Jan. 20. Uber’s Kalanick was also appointed to the council.From the employees of the 10 largest Fortune 500 tech companies, Trump raised just $179,400 from 982 campaign donors who contributed more than $200. Clinton raised $4.4 million from the employees of the same companies, with more than 20,400 donations, a Reuters review of contribution data found. Trump publicly bashed the industry during the campaign. He urged his supporters to boycott Apple products over the company’s refusal to help the FBI unlock an iPhone associated with last year’s San Bernardino, California, shootings, threatened antitrust action against Amazon and demanded that tech companies build their products in the United States.Trump has also been an opponent of the Obama administration’s net neutrality rules barring internet service providers from obstructing or slowing consumer access to web content. Two advisers to his Federal Communications Commission transition team are opponents of the rules, as are the two Republicans on the FCC. Last week, the two Republicans on the panel urged a quick reversal of many Obama policies and one, Commissioner Ajit Pai, said he believed that net neutrality’s “days are numbered.” (Additional reporting by Andy Sullivan, Grant Smith, Heather Somerville, Steve Holland and Jim Finkle; Editing by Peter Cooney and Alistair Bell)

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

First Published On : Dec 14, 2016 23:31 IST

Trump and Silicon Valley elite seek to smooth over frictions | Reuters

By Dustin Volz and David Shepardson
| WASHINGTON

WASHINGTON U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and Silicon Valley executives have a chance to smooth over frictions when they meet at his Manhattan tower on Wednesday for talks, after both sides made no secret of their disdain for each other during the presidential campaign.Sources said the meeting may skirt the numerous disagreements with Trump — who has accused tech companies of being overvalued — in favor of a focus on shared priorities.”If he can reform the tax code, reduce regulation, and negotiate better trade deals, the U.S. technology community will be stronger and more competitive than ever,” Oracle Chief Executive Safra Catz, who will attend the meeting, said in a statement.The tech luminaries, including Apple Inc’s (AAPL.O) Tim Cook, Facebook Inc’s (FB.O) Sheryl Sandberg and Tesla Motors Inc’s (TSLA.O) Elon Musk, will get a chance to promote their priorities like strong encryption and liability protections from content shared by their users.The meeting is billed as an introductory session, said four sources briefed on the talks, all of whom requested anonymity to discuss a private meeting.Other expected participants include Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, Amazon.com’s (AMZN.O) Jeff Bezos, Microsoft Corp’s (MSFT.O) Satya Nadella, and Ginni Rometty from IBM (IBM.N), sources said.The CEOs of Airbnb and Uber were invited but are not attending. Uber’s Travis Kalanick will instead be traveling in India all week, according to a person familiar with his plans.

‘SOME HESITATION’
Trump clashed with Silicon Valley on several issues during the campaign, including immigration, government surveillance and encryption, and his surprise victory last month alarmed many companies that feared he might follow through on his pledges. He has said that many tech companies are overvalued by investors.”You look at some of these tech stocks that are so, so weak as a concept and a company and they’re selling for so much money,” he told Reuters in an interview in May.Those concerns have not been assuaged in recent weeks as Trump has threatened to upset trade relationships with China, a key market for U.S. tech companies, and appoint officials who favor expanded surveillance programs.

“For some of the companies, there was some hesitation about whether to attend” because of sharp political and personal differences with Trump, one tech industry source said.Nearly 600 employees of technology companies pledged in an open letter on Tuesday to refuse to help Trump’s administration build a data registry to track people based on their religion or assist in mass deportations.Silicon Valley enjoyed a warm rapport with President Barack Obama and heavily supported Democrat Hillary Clinton during the presidential campaign. Schmidt was photographed on election night at Clinton headquarters wearing a staff badge, and Musk said in interviews before the election that Trump’s character reflected poorly on the United States.

Despite those tensions, Trump named Musk to a business advisory council that will give private-sector input to Trump after he takes office on Jan. 20. Uber’s Kalanick was also appointed to the council.From the employees of the 10 largest Fortune 500 tech companies, Trump raised just $179,400 from 982 campaign donors who contributed more than $200. Clinton raised $4.4 million from the employees of the same companies, with more than 20,400 donations, a Reuters review of contribution data found. Trump publicly bashed the industry during the campaign. He urged his supporters to boycott Apple products over the company’s refusal to help the FBI unlock an iPhone associated with last year’s San Bernardino, California, shootings, threatened antitrust action against Amazon and demanded that tech companies build their products in the United States.Trump has also been an opponent of the Obama administration’s net neutrality rules barring internet service providers from obstructing or slowing consumer access to web content. Two advisers to his Federal Communications Commission transition team are opponents of the rules, as are the two Republicans on the FCC. Last week, the two Republicans on the panel urged a quick reversal of many Obama policies and one, Commissioner Ajit Pai, said he believed that net neutrality’s “days are numbered.” (Additional reporting by Andy Sullivan, Grant Smith, Heather Somerville, Steve Holland and Jim Finkle; Editing by Peter Cooney and Alistair Bell)

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

First Published On : Dec 14, 2016 21:26 IST

PM Modi shortlisted for Time Person of the Year along with Putin and Trump

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been shortlisted by Time magazine for its annual honour of Person of the Year alongside US President-elect Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Time editors shortlisted 11 candidates for the 2016 Person of the Year the publication’s annual selection of the person who most influenced the news, for better or for worse. On Modi, Time said the Indian Prime Minister has guided his country’s economy into position as the “emerging-market world’s most positive story.” Late in the year, however, he also stoked concern when he unexpectedly banned Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes a move that aimed to curb untaxed wealth but now threatens to slow the country’s economic growth, it said. Modi won the online readers’ poll conducted by Time magazine for Person of the Year 2016, the second time he emerged winner of the reader’s choice poll.The other contenders are Trump, Putin, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage, US gymnast and Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles, ex-US secretary of state Hillary Clinton, CRISPR Scientists who developed a groundbreaking new technology that can edit DNA, the Flint Whistleblowers who along with civil-engineering professor Marc Edwards and local pediatrician Mona Hanna-Attisha, blew the whistle on the lead-poisoned water in Flint, Mich and singer Beyonce.Time said after campaigning as an anti-establishment, populist candidate, Trump was elected the 45th President of the United States a stunning end to a presidential bid that repeatedly broke with political precedent.On Zuckerberg, it said the CEO has also faced pressure to take responsibility for the site’s role in spreading fake or misleading news, amid criticism that those stories influenced the outcome of the US presidential election.Modi won the online reader s poll, beating out other world leaders including Trump, Barack Obama and Putin. He won with 18 per cent of the vote when the poll closed Sunday at midnight, getting significantly more votes than his closest contenders, including Obama, Trump and Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange, who all received 7 per cent of the ‘yes’ vote.Time’s editors decide the final Person of the Year but the online poll results provide a look at how the world sees these figures and Modi emerged as the most influential figure in 2016, according to the online poll.It is for the second time that Modi has won the online readers’ poll for Time Person of the Year title, securing the honour in 2014, when he had got more than 16 per cent of the almost five million votes cast.For the fourth year in a row, he is among the contenders for Time ‘Person of the Year’ honour, which the US publication bestows every year to the one “who has most influenced the news and our world in the past year, for good or ill”. Last year German Chancellor Angela Merkel was Time’s ‘Person of the Year’.

PM Modi wins online reader’s poll for TIME Person of the Year

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi has won the online reader’s poll for TIME Person of the Year 2016, beating out other world leaders like US President-elect Donald Trump, incumbent US leader Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin.Modi won with 18 per cent of the vote when the poll closed last night, getting significantly more votes than his closest contenders, including Obama, Trump and Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange, who all received 7 per cent of the ‘yes’ vote.Modi was also placed far ahead of other prominent figures of this year, like Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg (2 per cent) and US Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton (4 per cent), Time said.Time’s editors will decide the final Person of the Year later this week, but the online poll results provide a look at how the world sees these figures and Modi emerged as the most influential figure in 2016, according to the online poll.Time said the reader poll is an “important window” into who they think most shaped 2016.It is for the second time that Modi has won the online readers’ poll for Time Person of the Year title, securing the honour in 2014, when he had got more than 16 per cent of the almost five million votes cast.For the fourth year in a row, Modi is among the contenders for Time’s ‘Person of the Year’ honour, which the US publication bestows every year to the one “who has most influenced the news and our world in the past year, for good or ill”.Last year German Chancellor Angela Merkel was Time’s ‘Person of the Year’.Time said in recent months, Modi saw high approval ratings from Indians, according to a September Pew poll. It added that Modi has come under scrutiny recently for getting rid of 500- and 1,000-rupee notes, impacting cash-based businesses and threatening India’s economy.Current poll results, analysed by poll host Apester, found that preferences differed across the world and the United States. Modi performed particularly well among Indian voters as well as those in California and New Jersey.Modi had been in the lead in this year s online poll and according to the initial votes cast, he had got 21 per cent voting in his favour.For a while Assange had overtaken Trump for the lead in the online poll, getting 10 per cent of all the “yes” votes cast by participants, Time had said.Among the contenders this year are former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, FBI Chief James Comey, Apple CEO Tim Cook, parents of slain Muslim-American soldier Humanyun Khan, Khizr and Ghazala Khan, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, British Prime Minister Theresa May and Chinese leader Xi Jinping.Time had also analysed the moments from 2016 when this year’s poll contenders were most talked about. For Modi it was October 16 when the Indian leader had suggested during a summit of BRICS nations in Goa that Pakistan is the “mothership” for terrorism.​

US doctor fired for calling Michelle Obama ‘monkey face’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> A US doctor has been fired after calling First Lady Michelle Obama “monkey face” and saying she spoke in “poor ebonic English”, weeks after a police officer was fired for posting her racist Facebook memes. Michelle Herren, a pediatric anesthesiologist, was fired from from the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine where she held an unpaid faculty position. She also quit her post as a pediatric anesthesiologist at Denver Health Medical Center, the facility confirmed. Herren on a Facebook comment rant after she read a post praising the First Lady. She posted an unflattering photo of Obama and wrote, “Doesn’t seem to be speaking too eloquently here, thank god we can’t hear her!” “Monkey face and poor ebonic English!!! There! I feel better and am still not racist!!! Just calling it like it is!” she wrote, New York Daily reported. In the crass comment, she also claimed that Harvard where Obama studied law is for “entitled folks” and “all the liberals.” The Denver medical school announced it would terminate Herren after several students complained about the insensitive post.The doctor, who had worked at the hospital for 10 years, was placed on administrative duty after news of her aggressive Facebook comments surfaced. She was not allowed to treat patients or provide anesthesia services before she formally resigned on Friday. Last month, a police officer in Alabama was fired for posting racist Facebook memes, including one about Obama. In a separate incident, West Virginia mayor Pamela Ramsey Taylor lost her job for calling Obama “ape in heels”.

Mahatma Gandhi’s Charkha among 100 ‘Most Influential Photos of All Time’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A 1946 picture of Mahatma Gandhi with his Charkha (spinning wheel) in the foreground is among the 100 most influential images of all time, according to a compilation by Time magazine of “images that changed the world.”The black and white photo of a bespectacled Gandhi taken by Margaret Bourke-White shows Gandhi sitting on a thin mattress on the floor, head bent down as he is reading the news while his spinning wheels sits in the foreground.The picture was taken for an article on India’s leaders but less than two years later it was featured prominently in a tribute published after Gandhi’s assassination.”It soon became an indelible image, the slain civil- disobedience crusader with his most potent symbol, and helped solidify the perception of Gandhi outside the subcontinent as a saintly man of peace,” Time said.The Time collection includes 100 of the most iconic and history-altering images, dating from the 1820s to 2015 that have remained engrained in the human psyche from the time they were taken.Among the pictures is the tragic photo of the lifeless body of three-year old Syrian Alan Kurdi lying face down on the shore near the coastal town of Bodrum, the 2011 Situation Room photo where US President Barack Obama and his team of senior officials watching the secret operation to kill Osama Bin Laden in real time.The 2001 image of man falling from the Twin Towers in a desperate attempt to save his life as well as the 1993 heart-renching photo of an emaciated toddler being stared at by a vulture as the young boy collapsed on the way to a feeding centre in famine-ravaged Sudan.

PM Modi leads Trump, Putin in Time’s ‘Person of the Year’ poll

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Narendra Modi is leading an online poll of readers’ choice for Time magazine’s ‘Person of the Year’ in 2016 honour, which has contenders like US President-elect Donald Trump, the outgoing US leader Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin.For the fourth year in a row, Modi is among the contenders for Time’s ‘Person of the Year’ honour, which the US publication bestows every year to the one “who has most influenced the news and our world in the past year, for good or ill.” Last year German Chancellor Angela Merkel was Time’s ‘Person of the Year’.While each year Time’s editors make the ultimate decision as to who from among world leaders, presidents, protesters, astronauts, pop icons and disrupters should be person of the year, it also asks readers to cast their votes and decide who they think most shaped a particular year.Time said the reader poll is an “important window” into who they think most shaped 2016.According to initial votes cast in the readers’ poll, Modi is leading with 21 per cent voting in his favour. For a while Wikileaks founder Julian Assange had overtaken Trump for the lead in the online poll, getting 10 per cent of all the “yes” votes cast by participants, Time had said.However, Modi has so far got 21 per cent votes, way ahead of Putin’s 6 per cent, Obama’s 7 per cent and Trump’s 6 per cent. It remains to be seen if Modi will maintain his lead as votes polled may change by the time voting on the reader’s choice poll ends on December 4.Time also analysed the moments from 2016 when this year’s poll contenders were most talked about. For Modi it was October 16, when the Indian leader had suggested during a summit of BRICS nations in Goa that Pakistan is the “mothership” for terrorism.Among the contenders this year are former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, FBI Chief James Comey, Apple CEO Tim Cook, parents of slain Muslim-American soldier Humanyun Khan, Khizr and Ghazala Khan, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, British Prime Minister Theresa May and Chinese leader Xi Jinping.Modi had won the readers’ poll of Time’s Person of the Year in 2014, securing more than 16 per cent of the almost five million votes cast. He was again among the contenders for the annual honour in 2015 but was not among the final eight candidates shortlisted by Time magazine editors for the title.”In 2016, the news and our world were subject to a wide range of influences. A presidential campaign in the United States exposed deep-seated fissures and led to the election of a president without precedent in the nation’s history.Elsewhere, leaders like Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan commanded the spotlight on a global stage,” Time said.

‘Viva Fidel!’ – Tens of thousands pay last respects to Cuba´s Castro | Reuters

By Nelson Acosta and Sarah Marsh
| HAVANA

HAVANA Tens of thousands of Cubans, some wrapped in red, white and blue Cuban flags, paid final respects in Havana on Monday to Fidel Castro, who led a leftist revolution, ruled for half a century and resisted the United States throughout the Cold War.Castro died on Friday at the age of 90, a decade after stepping down due to poor health and ceding power to his brother Raul Castro. While he had been retired as an active leader, his death removed any impediment on his brother to pursue deeper relations with Washington if U.S. President-elect Donald Trump warms to the idea of improved ties. Castro was admired by leftists and people of the developing world who saw him as a revolutionary champion of the poor, but vilified by those who viewed him as a dictator who oppressed Cubans and ruined the economy through socialism.”Long live Fidel! We can hear him, we can feel him, he´ll always be here,” a crowd gathered near Havana’s Revolution Square chanted, holding up a banner that read “We are Fidel”.The government invited people to the square for a two-day commemoration that started with a 21-gun salute heard throughout much of the capital.While some world leaders have sent admiring messages of condolences, Castro has been condemned by critics, including Trump, who in a weekend statement called him “a brutal dictator who oppressed his own people.”Before Castro’s death, Trump had threatened to reverse President Barack Obama’s rapprochement with Cuba, which has included restoring diplomatic ties, increasing trade and pressing the U.S. Congress to end years of economic embargo.The Republican Trump, who takes office on Jan. 20, reiterated that on Monday, saying in a Twitter message he would end the U.S. “deal” with Cuba if the government in Havana did not reciprocate with “a better deal for the Cuban people.” He did not give details of what this might entail.Castro was cremated on Saturday and the government has declared a nine-day period of mourning. His ashes will be carried in a cortege to a final resting place in Santiago de Cuba, the city in eastern Cuba where he launched the revolution.While many Cubans report a certain pressure to attend the government’s many staged events and Castro was hated by many who fled for Miami, he was also widely loved and people appeared to shed genuine tears on Monday.

“I’m devastated because it’s as if my own father had died, he was like my second father. Everything we have, my education as a doctor, it’s thanks to him,” said Maria del Carmen, 57, who had been standing in line since before dawn, and who gave only her first name.Some people arrived as early as 4 a.m. to be at the head of one of three lines of mourners entering a square that has been central to Cuba’s recent history, and where Castro gave many of his rousing, lengthy speeches.Each of the lines of people paraded by a photo of a young Castro dressed in military fatigues, with a rifle and pack slug over his back. At each station, a military honour guard and some civilians standing at attention flanked the photo and an arrangement of white flowers.Among the mourners was Belkis Meireles, a 65-year-old civil engineer who arrived two hours before the start.”I am very sad. I came to pay homage to our father, friend, commander,” Meireles said in a hushed voice. “He was a man who freed us and sent doctors and teachers everywhere around the world.”

Political opponents stayed away or kept quiet, allowing admirers to say goodbye to a man who elevated the island to the world stage during the Cold War by forging a communist-run state just 90 miles (145 km) from Florida and then resisting Washington’s long efforts to force change.”He wasn’t perfect. Nobody is,” said Roberto Videaux, a 72-year-old retiree who was nonetheless proud of Castro. “Fidel was a teacher, a patriot.”OBAMA’S DETENTE THREATENED
After decades fighting what he termed the “empire to the north,” Castro was distrustful about the rapprochement his brother achieved with Obama, publicly expressing his reservations in columns published in the Communist Party newspaper.

Obama, a Democrat, began the opening to Washington’s old Cold War foe after he won his second term in office, and has brought about his policy change through executive actions, including allowing scheduled commercial airline flights. A scheduled flight from the United States landed in Havana on Monday for the first time in more than 50 years: an American Airlines plane that made the hop from Miami. Scheduled service from U.S. airports to the Cuban provinces restarted in August.The only Cuba-focused stock fund in the United States rallied more than 13 percent Monday, a sign investors expect detente to prosper despite Trump´s rhetoric.Given Castro was no longer in office and the mixed feelings abroad over his legacy, Tuesday’s ceremony in Havana was likely to attract only a scattering of world leaders.The Kremlin said Russian President Vladimir Putin would not attend as he was preparing for a major speech, while Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was also skipping after warm comments he made about Castro triggered a backlash.Brazilian President Michel Temer was also not attending. But Robert Mugabe, the 92-year-old president of Zimbabwe, was expected to arrive.North Korea called for three days of mourning and said it would keep flags at half mast to honour Castro, its state news agency said.Cuba’s rich variety of music, a soundtrack on the streets of Havana, has been muted since Friday night and the government has also temporarily banned alcohol sales and suspended the professional baseball season. (Additional reporting by Maria Tsvetkova in Moscow, Tony Munroe in Seoul, William Mallard in Toyko, Susan Heavey in Washington; Writing by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Simon Gardner and Frances Kerry)

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

First Published On : Nov 29, 2016 03:04 IST

Leaders pay tribute to Fidel Castro, but critics scathing of tyrant | Reuters

By Vladimir Soldatkin and Diego Oré
| MOSCOW/CARACAS

MOSCOW/CARACAS World leaders paid tribute on Saturday to Fidel Castro, the Cuban revolutionary leader who built a communist state on the doorstep of the United States, but in death just as in life he divided opinion, and critics labelled him a “tyrant”.Castro died on Friday aged 90, his younger brother and successor Raul Castro announced on state television.U.S. PRESIDENT, BARACK OBAMA:
U.S. President Barack Obama in a statement on Saturday offered his condolences to Fidel Castro’s family and added that history would judge Castro’s impact on Cuba and around the world.”At this time of Fidel Castro’s passing, we extend a hand of friendship to the Cuban people,” Obama said. “History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him.”Obama added that during his own presidency he had worked to “put the past behind us,” while working on a future that was built on those things that were in common.RUSSIAN PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN:
“The free and independent Cuba, built by him and his comrades, has become an influential member of international society and served as an inspiring example for many countries and people. Fidel Castro was a frank and tried and true friend of Russia. He has make a great contribution into establishing and developing of Russo-Cuban ties, close strategic cooperation in all the spheres,” the Kremlin said, citing Putin’s condolences telegram to Raul Castro.FORMER LEADER OF USSR, MIKHAIL GORBACHEV:
Mikhail Gorbachev, the final leader of the Soviet Union which had long acted as an economic and political prop for Cuba, said Castro left a lasting mark on his country and on world history.”Fidel held his ground and strengthened his country at the time of the harshest American blockade, at the time of massive pressure on him,” Gorbachev was quoted by Interfax news agency as saying.”Nevertheless he led out his country from the blockade to the path of self-sustained and independent development.”In a telegram of condolence to Raul Castro, Russian President Vladimir Putin called the late leader an “inspiring example for many countries”.”Fidel Castro was a frank and tried and true friend of Russia,” the Kremlin quoted the message as saying.CHINA PRESIDENT XI JINPING:
Chinese President Xi Jinping said in a statement that: “the Chinese people have lost a close comrade and a sincere friend”.Xi hailed Castro for his contribution to the development of communism both in Cuba and around the world.FRENCH PRESIDENT, FRANCOIS HOLLANDE:
French President Francois Hollande mourned the loss of a major figure on the world stage and welcomed the rapprochement between Havana and Washington, while noting concerns over human rights under the Castro regime.”Fidel Castro was a towering figure of the 20th century. He incarnated the Cuban revolution, in both its hopes and subsequent disillusionments,” Hollande said in a statement.”France, which condemned human rights abuses in Cuba, had equally challenged the U.S. embargo on Cuba, and France was glad to see the two countries re-establish dialogue and open ties between themselves,” added the Socialist party leader.

Hollande met Fidel Castro in May, 2015 during the first ever visit by a French head of state to Cuba since the Cuban revolution.UK FOREIGN MINISTER, BORIS JOHNSON:
“The UK expresses its condolences to the government and people of Cuba, and to the former President’s family. Fidel Castro’s death marks the end of an era for Cuba and the start of a new one for Cuba’s people.””Fidel Castro’s leadership of the 1959 Cuban Revolution marked him out as an historic if controversial figure. The UK will continue to work with the government of Cuba on a wide range of foreign policy priorities, including on human rights.”EU COMMISSION PRESIDENT, JEAN-CLAUDE JUNCKER:
“Fidel Castro was one of the historic figures of the past century and the embodiment of the Cuban Revolution. With the death of Fidel Castro, the world has lost a man who was a hero for many. He changed the course of his country and his influence reached far beyond. Fidel Castro remains one of the revolutionary figures of the 20th century. His legacy will be judged by history.”VENEZUELA PRESIDENT, NICOLAS MADURO:
In Venezuela, a long-time ally of Cuba and staunch opponent of the political stance of the United States, President Nicolas Maduro said Castro had inspired and would continue to inspire his country.”We will keep on winning and keep fighting. Fidel Castro is an example of the fight for all the people of the world. We will go forward with his legacy,” Maduro told television station Telesur by telephone.BOLIVIA PRESIDENT, EVO MORALES:

In Bolivia, where Ernesto “Che” Guevara died in 1967 in a failed bid to export Cuba’s revolution, President Evo Morales said in a statement: “Fidel Castro left us a legacy of having fought for the integration of the world’s peoples … The departure of Comandante Fidel Castro really hurts.”ECUADOR PRESIDENT, RAFAEL CORREA:
Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa said: “A great has left us. Fidel has died. Long live Cuba! Long live Latin America!”SOUTH AFRICA PRESIDENT, JACOB ZUMA:
South African President Jacob Zuma had warm words, thanking the Cuban leader for his help and support in the struggle to overthrow apartheid.”President Castro identified with our struggle against apartheid. He inspired the Cuban people to join us in our own struggle against apartheid,” Zuma said in a statement.CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER, JUSTIN TRUDEAU:
“A legendary revolutionary and orator, Mr. Castro made significant improvements to the education and healthcare of his island nation.”While a controversial figure, both Mr. Castro’s supporters and detractors recognized his tremendous dedication and love for the Cuban people who had a deep and lasting affection for “el Comandante”, Trudeau said in a statement.

VIETNAM PRIME MINISTER NGUYEN XUAN PHUC AND PRESIDENT TRAN DAI QUANG:
In a letter to the Cuban people:”In the hour of this infinite suffering, the Communists and the people of Vietnam again reaffirm the solidarity and steadfast fighting spirit with the Communists and the Cuban brothers.””The bright life and immortal career of comrade Fidel Castro will forever live in the glorious revolutionary mission of the Cuban people and other nations striving to build a fair, civilized, democratic, prosperous and happy life.”SYRIA PRESIDENT, BASHAR AL-ASSAD:
President al-Assad said in a telegram to the Cuban leadership:”Cuba, our friend, managed under his leadership to withstand the strongest sanctions and oppressive campaigns witnessed in our recent history, becoming a beacon of liberation for the people of South America, and the people of the entire world. Fidel Castro’s name will live forever in the minds of generations and will inspire those aspiring to true independence and liberation from the yoke of colonialism and hegemony.”TURKISH FOREIGN MINISTRY STATEMENT:
The Turkish foreign ministry said Castro “left a legacy of values and ideals that will set a path for the young generations in Cuba.””The struggle to which he dedicated his life aroused respect, even in different political camps, and resounded not just in Cuba but around the world. He stood up against global injustice and worked for the establishment of a world with greater equality and solidarity,” it said in a statement.LEBANESE PRESIDENT MICHEL AOUN:
In a telegram to Raul Castro:”The commander of the cuban revolution left for almost a century a mark on the world’s conscience thanks to his long experience, his power to persuade and the esteem with which he was beheld, so that his political attitudes and national debates became a unique approach of its own.” “Fidel Castro’s memory will remain an impetus for Cuba’s present and future.”KENYA OPPOSITION LEADER, RAILA ODINGA:
Veteran Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga, whose son born in 1973 was named Fidel Castro Odhiambo Odinga in honour of the Cuban leader, said in a statement:”In many ways, Castro was a great friend and true friend of Africa and other parts of the world that had to fight long and bitter wars to attain freedom from colonialism.”Castro stood very firmly on the side of Africans who were fighting for the continent’s liberation from colonialism especially in Congo (now DRC), Angola, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa.”In the case of Apartheid South Africa, Castro was one of the very few voices to speak against that system that was founded on a false sense of racial superiority with dire economic consequences for black people.”Odinga’s son Fidel died in 2015. (Additional reporting by Reuters bureaus.; Editing by Mike Collett-White)

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

First Published On : Nov 26, 2016 21:19 IST

DNA Evening Must Reads: Lodha panel moves SC, Demonetization protest in Parliament, and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>1. Demonetization:10 Opposition parties including Left and TMC get together to corner govtLeaders of Congress, Trinamool Congress, JD(U), BSP, CPI(M), CPI, NCP, RJD, JMM and DMK held a meeting here this morning to forge a common plan of action with an aim of mounting attack on the government. At the meeting, which was attended by Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, it was decided that these parties will continue to press for an adjournment motion in Lok Sabha and a debate under a rule which entails voting. Read more here2. Will speak for American ‘values and ideals’ if necessary: Obama on Trump presidencyUS President Barack Obama on Sunday said that people should take a “wait-and-see” approach on President-elect Donald Trump as the real estate mogul works to assemble his choices for senior administration posts. Obama said he could not guarantee Trump would not pursue the policy positions he took during the campaign, but said the realities of the White House would force him to adjust how he approaches many issues. Read more here3. Relief for govt employees: Group-C staffers get Rs 10,000 cash in advance amid demonetizationGovernment employees of Group-C of all Ministries, Departments and associate organisations are given the salary advance in cash, a senior Home Ministry official said. In the Home Ministry, those who availed the facility got the cash in the denomination of Rs 2000 and Rs 100. Read more here4. Lodha panel moves SC to remove rule-breaking BCCI officials, appoint GK Pillai as observerThe apex court-appointed Justice RM Lodha committee has moved the Supreme Court seeking a direction to appoint former home secretary G K Pillai as an observer to “guide” BCCI in the administrative works including award of contracts, transparency norms and holding of future domestic, international and IPL matches. Read more here5. India v/s England: Visitors paid for lack of intent, says Virat KohliChasing an improbable 405 to win the second test, Cook and Hameed added 75 for the first wicket but both fell before the close on day four. The touring side were all out for 158 shortly after lunch on the fifth and final day to lose by 246 runs, all 10 of their second-innings wickets going down for 83 runs. Read more here

DNA Evening Must Reads: Updates on demonetization; supermoon sighting today; and more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Live | Demonetization: Opposition parties meet ahead of Winter session of ParliamentRead all the updates on the demonetization plan here Indian High Commissioner Gautam Bambawale summoned over killing of 7 Pakistan soldiersPakistan’s ISPR reported that 7 Pakistani soldiers were killed at the LoC in cross border firings by Indian soldiers late last night. Read more here Here’s how to catch the supermoon today in India!The moon today will be the brightest it’s been in 68 years, and will appear larger than you’ve ever seen it. Read more He told me the good things and the bad things with a sense of humour: Trump on conversation with ObamaPresident elect Donald Trump is all praise for Potus after their 90 minute chat. Read more here Bigg Boss 10: Surprise twist in nomination process tonight!Bigg Boss has introduced yet another twist in the nominations this week. Read more here

US election 2016: For Indian markets, Hillary will be a relief but for short term

Continue reading: US election 2016: For Indian markets, Hillary will be a relief but for short term

US lauds PM Modi’s agenda for improving business; says India-US trade relationship to grow

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Describing the reforms undertaken by the Indian government as “work in progress”, a top Obama Administration official has linked the growth in bilateral trade between the two countries to India opening up and liberalising its economy.”Prime Minister Modi came in with a very ambitious agenda, including to improve the business environment, the Make in India initiative, the Digital India initiative,” US Trade Representative Michael Froman told PTI in an exclusive interview ahead of his next week’s travel to India to attend the US-India Trade Policy Forum meeting.There have been a number of important reforms – the Goods and Services Tax bill, the Bankruptcy Law, the creation of commercial courts, the issuance of a national IP strategy, the opening of certain sectors to investment that are important and help contribute to a better business environment, he said. “However, it is a work in progress, and there continues to be issues around investment and restrictions that can be addressed in order to improve the business environment,” said Froman who is scheduled to travel to Mumbai and New Delhi next week.One of the key architects of India-US trade relationship in the Obama Administration, Froman said India had been successful in increasing its growth rate, and is now one of the fastest growing economies in the world. “And as it opens up to further trade and investment, I think we will see the relationship expanding further,” he said when asked about the timeline to achieve the goal set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama to increase the bilateral trade to US $500 billion a year.”The United States is quite an open economy, so the key is that as India continues down the path of reform, and opens and liberalises its economy, it will help grow the US-India trade relationship,” Froman said.In Mumbai on October 19, Froman is expected to meet with the private sector, and on the next day he would be in New Delhi for the US India Trade Policy Forum meeting.The Indian delegation would be led by Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman.”This is a good opportunity to have another Trade Policy Forum. Over the last few years, we have seen enhanced engagement through the Forum on a whole array of issues, and it has proven to be a useful Forum for getting the issues on the table,” he said.”The US and India have a US $109 billion trade relationship, but given the size of our economies, and how much we have in common, we could be doing a lot more. The TPF is one mechanism for us to address the issues so that we can expand our trade and investment relationship,” he said. Froman said the Obama Administration had worked with India on an array of intellectual property rights issues.”We both care a lot about strong copyright protection and the enforcement of copyrights, and the new (Indian) National Policy includes a focus on trade secrets, which we think is important. We appreciate the process that India went through in developing its IPR Policy,” he said.”We continue to work in the pharmaceutical area, and we very much believe that there is no contradiction in promoting innovation and promoting access,” Froman said.Asserting that the US is very much committed to the public health objective, Froman said with the government of India, the Obama Administration had talked about a whole array of issues about access to medicines, including tariffs on imported medicine and opening up the health services market so that there are more providers in the market. “We try to take a holistic approach to this,” he noted.The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has a very high safety standards, he said, when asked about the delay in FDA’s clearances for Indian drug and pharma companies. “We do not compromise that for anybody. The primary mandate of the FDA is safety. I’m sure it is a process that takes some concerted effort, but at the end of the day, it means that Indian firms will be meeting a very high standard,” he observed.

US rules out treaty alliance with India, says that era is over

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The US has ruled out any kind of treaty alliance with India, saying the 21st century is not an era of alliances and a mutual agreeable concept of major defence partner is a very apt description for India.”21st century is not an era of alliances. It is an era of identifying interest, common values and working together in solving all those problems. I do not think that anyone in the United States Government or the Indian Government has any compulsion at all to form a treaty alliance,” said Peter Lavoy, Senior Director for South Asia at the National Security Council (NSC), White House.He was responding to a question at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a top American think-tank.”Why have that shackle (of being a treaty alliance). I think, the friends that benefit from that are probably satisfactory. I would highlight a phrase that should not be underestimates Major Defence Partner (with India),” he said.”There was an understanding, growing perception that we have been doing so much together that we have expanded, deepened the boundaries of co-operation. But there was no brand or phrase or some term that qualified what this relationship is about. I think, the mutual agreeable concept of major defence partner is a very apt description,” he said.”It was largely driven by the extent of deepening co-operation. India achieves success rate of 99 per cent in licenses applied for. That is really astounding. Other kinds of technology is being transferred much more easily and readily than ever before. So there are very significant changes to our own policies and rules and procedures that enabled this defence partnership,” Lavoy said.Lavoy said even before India places a request for something, the United States is ready and prepared.”Well before a challenge arise, we are already working with India to try to prevent the things from occurring,” he said.”Each of the (US) departments have installed in them the critical importance of this partnership and have internalised thinking about India’s interest, thinking about our joint interest as a driving force and how we do business.That is completely transformational. That was not the case even in the beginning of the Obama Administration,” he said.

New President should meet PM Narendra Modi in 100 days: US think tank

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With just 100 days left in Barack Obama’s presidency, a top American think-tank has suggested the new US president should meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi within first 100 days to strongly signal importance of continuing close relations between the two countries.In a major report on ‘India-US Security Co-operation’, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) urges the upcoming administration to ensure that India signs the foundational agreements, which it believes is important for strengthening the India-US defense relationship.The absence of such agreements will also make it nearly impossible (if not completely impossible) for the US to provide to India certain advanced sensing, computing and communications technologies that India believes are necessary for its own defense capabilities, it said.”The next administration should work with Australia, India and Japan to establish a quadrilateral security dialogue, led by the US State Department and foreign ministries. The dialogue should focus on issues of common interest across the Pacific and Indian Ocean regions,” the report said.It said creating a specific opportunity for the US president and Indian Prime Minister to meet in the first 100 days will send a strong signal about the importance of bilateral ties.CSIS in its report recommends that the US and India should deepen announced efforts on submarine safety and anti-submarine warfare to include combined training and exercises to expand the capability of both countries as well as their interoperability with each other.Seeking to increase the FDI limit in defense sector to 100%, the report also calls for strengthening and expanding the homeland security dialogue.The think-tank recommends the new president should invite India to participate (as an observer or stakeholder) in the Quadrilateral Coordination Group talks with the Taliban.It also urges for establishing a US-India dialogue on the Middle East, modeled on the “East Asia Consults” of the US State Department and India’s Ministry of External Affairs.CSIS said Modi’s emergence as a strong leader, just as the US was seeking to consolidate its strategy of re-balance to the Asia Pacific, gave America an opportunity to engage with a rising leader in India, and India an opportunity to reprioritise and rethink its engagement with the world.Obama continues a bipartisan run of three presidents who have seen India as key to US strategy in Asia, it said.Observing that Obama has built a strong relationship with Modi, and maintained a high tempo of engagements at the highest levels, the report said the US engagement with India has increasingly focused on the security aspects and India has responded with uncharacteristic warmth to this outreach.

India tries to hasten defence deal to buy drones from US amid election uncertainty

New Delhi: India is trying to hasten a deal with the United States to buy Predator drone aircraft for military surveillance, one of several defence and nuclear projects the two sides are pursuing in the final months of the Obama administration.

India’s request for 22 Predator Guardian drones made in June is in an advanced stage of negotiations. The two sides hope to make enough progress so only administrative tasks remain by the time President Barack Obama leaves office, government officials in New Delhi said.

“It is progressing well. The aim is to complete the main process in the next few months,” said one of the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has built personal ties with President Barack Obama, whose signature foreign policy move has been a strategic pivot to Asia from the Middle East.

The United States has dislodged Russia as the top arms supplier to India. New Delhi is also on the cusp of sealing a US nuclear reactor deal worth billions of dollars.

In return, Washington has given New Delhi access to high-end military technology, such as a new system to launch planes off aircraft carriers, and leaned on other countries to give India membership in the Missile Technology Control Regime, which cleared the way for the sale of the unarmed Predator.

File image of US President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

File image of US President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

India’s military has also asked for the armed version of the Predator to help target suspected militant camps in Pakistan but US export control laws prohibit such a transfer.

US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter, who visited India in April, is expected to make a final trip there towards the end of the year.

“The administration is eager to get as much done as is humanly possible. They believe the conditions and the personnel in both capitals are uniquely favourable at the moment, and are eager to consolidate and institutionalize the progress,” said Jeff Smith, director of Asia Security Programs at the American Foreign Policy Council.

‘AMERICA FIRST’

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s “America First” foreign policy statements have raised questions in India and other Asian nations about a US pullback from Asia.

Trump has said US allies, such as Japan and South Korea, should pay more towards their defence. He told the The New York Times in an interview in March he could withdraw US troops from bases in Japan, and raised the idea of letting Japan and South Korea develop their own nuclear arsenals.

“It is a serious concern, and may lead to Chinese pre-eminence in Asia far sooner than expected,” said Dhruva Jaishankar, a specialist on India-US ties at Brookings India.

But Trump adviser Walid Phares, an American scholar and expert on Islamist radicals and counter-terrorism, said India had no reason to worry.

“With India, there is the ongoing partnership against terror and both countries have suffered from jihadi urban attacks. One can only project cooperation,” Phares said.

Modi’s office set up a six-member research group in July to help identify ways to engage with Trump, an aide said.

India’s diaspora in the United States, led by the Overseas Friends of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, has also opened a line to both presidential campaigns.

The comfort level is much higher with the Democratic candidate, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton, said a member of the Overseas Friends of BJP who is based in New Delhi.

Manoj Ladwa, a London-based political strategist who served as communications director for Modi’s 2014 campaign, said Trump had sent contradictory messages to India.

“On the one hand, he says he values business relations with India, but then mimics Indian call centre workers, and disregards the competitiveness that a partnership with India could provide the US,” he said.

“His unpredictability is worrisome in a world that requires steady and mature statesmanship.”

STRATEGIC AGENDA

The centrepiece of the military collaboration is the help the United States is giving India in developing its biggest aircraft carrier.

Washington has offered flight launch technology that is being inducted into its own carriers to fly heavier fighter planes off the deck, which could allow the Indian navy to leapfrog a generation of technology.

In June, the United States reached agreement on exchanging confidential information on development of carriers with India – its only non-treaty ally with such an arrangement.

“They have already started helping us on our first indigenous carrier, in terms of certification, quality testing,” said the Indian government official. “The challenge will be to sustain the momentum over the next decade.”

In August, the Modi government signed a logistics agreement giving each country access to the other’s military bases, after 10 years of negotiations. Also on the table are two other defence agreements, one on securing communications and the other on sharing spatial data that Washington has been pushing for.

Modi has shown he won’t hesitate to “reach down and choke someone,” to get things done, Smith at the American Foreign Policy Council said, quoting a Pentagon official.

With 613,830 signatures, White House petition seeking to declare Pak ‘terror sponsor’ creates record

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>More than 50,000 new signatures have been added to the final count of the White House petition seeking to designate Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism, making it the most popular US petition so far.The petition, “We the people ask the administration to declare Pakistan, State Sponsor of Terrorism (HR 6069)”, was archived by the White House on Monday with 613,830 signatures.By Tuesday afternoon, the number of signatures on the petition had increased to 665,769, a jump of 51,939 signs.This is believed to be the most popular White House petition so far as the highest number of signatures received by any White House petition so far had not crossed 350,000.There has been no explanation from the White House so far.However, it is possible that these signatures, which were signed before the petition was closed by the White House, were added to the final tally after being duly verified.In that case, the chances of a fraud being committed appears unlikely.Another possibility could be that the petition was flooded with signatures. And since the petition had already reached the mandatory threshold of 100,000 to earn a response from the Obama administration, a decision could have been taken to archive it stop accepting any new signature.The White House is expected to have an official response to the petition within stipulated 60 days.Meanwhile, the White House is still looking for signatures that did not meet the criteria for the petition which was created on September 21 by someone who identified himself with initials R G, after Congressman Ted Poe and Dana Rohrabacher introduced a bill in the US House of Representative, seeking to designate Pakistan as a State Sponsor of Terrorism.It met the threshold of 100,000 signatures in less than a week. With various groups both inside and outside the US actively campaigning on the social media for people to support the petition, the signature count increased at a fast pace, sometimes more than 100,000 signatures in less than 24 hours.In the process, it became the first-ever petition to cross half a million mark. A day after it was closed for signature, the final count as of now stands at 665,769 signatures.While there is no official ranking of popular petitions, the one seeking “charges against the 47 US Senators in violation of the Logan Act in attempting to undermine a nuclear agreement” in April 2015 appears to be the second most popular petition with 320,000 signatures.According to a website WHpetitions.info that keeps track of unanswered petitions, so far 323 White House petitions have met their signature thresholds.The White House has responded to 318 of them (98 per cent) with an average response time of 117 days. Average waiting time so far for five unanswered petitions is 36 days. This does not include the latest petition.Baloch-Americans have also launched their own petition on “Free Balochistan from Pakistan’s illegal occupation”.

Indians have carried on Gandhi’s legacy: Barack Obama on India’s ratification of Paris deal

Washington/New Delhi: The US today welcomed India’s ratification of the Paris climate agreement with President Barack Obama saying that by joining the pact Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Indian people have carried on Mahatma Gandhi’s legacy.

“Gandhiji believed in a world worthy of our children. In joining the Paris Agreement, @narendramodi & the Indian people carry on that legacy,” Obama tweeted.

Obama, whose presidential term comes to an end in January next year, wants to be remembered as the president who saved the world from climate change and he played a significant role in concluding the Paris climate deal last year.

Obama and Modi, on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Laos last month, had discussed climate change issues as an immediate priority of Indo-US ties.

A file photo of Barack Obama. AP

A file photo of Barack Obama. AP

Terming it as a “bold and decisive” step, US Ambassador to India Richard Verma in New Delhi also lauded India’s ratification of the Paris climate agreement.

“In joining the Paris climate agreement today, India has taken a bold and decisive step in combating climate change,” Verma said.

He also commended Prime Minister Modi for his leadership and thanked all those who have worked on the agreement over many years.

“India’s ratification provides indispensable political momentum to securing entry into force of the Paris Agreement this year, sending an enduring and irreversible market signal that low-carbon development is 21st century development,” Verma said.

“… (It) will yield tremendous benefits not only for producers and consumers in India, but for those around the world,” he said.

India, the world’s third largest carbon emitter, today ratified the landmark Paris climate deal, giving a major boost to the deal which appeared tantalisingly close to enter into force by the end of this year.

Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Syed Akbaruddin handed over the Instrument of Ratification signed by President Pranab Mukherjee, to Santiago Villalpando, the Head of the Treaties Division at the UN, at a special ceremony here attended by top UN officials and senior diplomats to commemorate Mahatma Gandhi’s 147th birth anniversary.

“We look forward to continuing our close friendship with India and furthering our work together on climate change and clean energy, so that we may provide future generations a world to be proud of and treasure,” Verma said.

The ratification formalises pledges made by each country, including India, to take actions to curb or lower greenhouse gas emissions from 2020 onwards and try to keep the rise in average global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius and to strive for 1.5 degrees Celsius.

India, the world’s third biggest carbon emitter after China and the US which are responsible for around 40 per cent of the global carbon emissions, accounts for 4.1 per cent of global emissions.

US objects to Pakistan’s threats of nuclear warfare against India

Washington: The United States has strongly objected to threats of nuclear warfare made by Pakistan against India and has conveyed its displeasure to that country in this regard.

“We made that (American objection on nuclear threat) clear to them (Pakistan). Repeatedly,” a senior State Department official said.

The official who spoke on condition of anonymity, however, would not reveal the level at which the message was conveyed to Pakistan.

Pakistan Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif. AFP

Pakistan Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif. AFP

“It is very concerning. It is a serious thing,” the official said when asked about Pakistan Defence Minister Khawaja Asif’s assertions, twice in the last 15 days, that his country could use nuclear weapons against India “We will destroy India if it dares to impose war on us,” Asif had told a Pakistani news channel in his latest interview.

“Pakistan army is fully prepared to answer any misadventure of India.”

“We have not made an atomic device to display in a showcase. If a such a situation arises we will use it (nuclear weapons) and eliminate India,” Asif had said.

The statements raised eyebrows in the Obama Administration and are seen as “irresponsible” behaviour by top Pakistani leadership.

In a tacit acknowledgement that it has concerns over the safety of nuclear weapons in Pakistan, the official said the US is closely monitoring the safety and security of those weapons of mass destruction.

“The safety of these weapons is always a concern for us. So we are always monitoring it, regardless of what they said on this particular occasion,” said the State Department official.

Meanwhile, Deputy State Department Spokesman Mark Toner told reporters at his daily news conference that nuclear-capable states have “a very clear responsibility to exercise restraint regarding nuclear weapons and missile capabilities”.

The United States, meanwhile, continued to urge both India and Pakistan to take steps to de-escalate tension following the Uri terror attack that has claimed the lives of 19 Indian soldiers.

“At the same time we have made it very clear that what happened in the Indian army base (Uri) is an act of terror,” the senior State Department official said.

According to another official of the department, “everyone knows” where the perpetrators of the Uri terrorist attack came from.

At his news conference, Toner said the US continues to follow the situation on the ground very closely.

“From our perspective, we urge calm and restraint by both sides. We understand that the Pakistani and Indian militaries have been in communication and we believe that continued communication between them is important to reduce tensions.

“I think we certainly don’t want to see any kind of escalation and certainly any kind of break in that communication. We have repeatedly and consistently expressed our concerns regarding the danger that cross-border terrorism poses for the region, and that certainly includes the recent
attacks – terrorist attacks in Uri,” he said. “We continue to urge actions to combat and de-escalate –

“We continue to urge actions to combat and de-escalate – and delegitimise terrorist groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba, Haqqani Network, as well as Jaish-e-Mohammad,” Toner said.

US strongly objects to Pakistan’s nuke threats against India; conveys displeasure

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The United States has strongly objected to threats of nuclear warfare made by Pakistan against India and has conveyed its displeasure to that country in this regard.”We made that (American objection on nuclear threat) clear to them (Pakistan). Repeatedly,” a senior State Department official said.The official who spoke on condition of anonymity, however, would not reveal the level at which the message was conveyed to Pakistan.”It is very concerning. It is a serious thing,” the official said when asked about Pakistan Defence Minister Khawaja Asif’s assertions, twice in the last 15 days, that his country could use nuclear weapons against India “We will destroy India if it dares to impose war on us,” Asif had told a Pakistani news channel in his latest interview. “Pakistan army is fully prepared to answer any misadventure of India.””We have not made atomic device to display in a showcase. If a such a situation arises we will use it (nuclear weapons) and eliminate India,” Asif had said.The statements raised eyebrows in the Obama Administration and is seen as “irresponsible” behaviour by top Pakistani leadership.In a tacit acknowledgement that it has concerns over the safety of nuclear weapons in Pakistan, the official said the US is closely monitoring the safety and security of those weapons of mass destruction.”The safety of these weapons is always a concern for us. So we are always monitoring it, regardless of what they said on this particular occasion,” said the State Department official.Meanwhile, Deputy State Department Spokesman Mark Toner told reporters at his daily news conference that nuclear-capable states have “a very clear responsibility to exercise restraint regarding nuclear weapons and missile capabilities”.

Paris climate deal to be ratified on 2 October: All you need to know about India’s COP21 stand

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday announced that India will ratify the Conference of Parties (CoP) protocol on combating climate change on the occasion of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary on 2 October.

“Now the time has come to ratify the COP21 protocol. India will do it on Gandhi Jayanti on 2 October,” Modi said while addressing the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) national executive meet in Kozhikode, Kerala.

In the UN climate change conference COP21 in Paris, 195 countries adopted the first universal, legally binding global climate deal. The agreement sets out a global action plan to put the world on track to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2°Celsius. The agreement is due to enter into force in 2020.

A file photo of Narendra Modi. AFPA file photo of Narendra Modi. AFP

A file photo of Narendra Modi. AFP

Modi said India will formally join the landmark accord struck in 2015 in Paris, through which countries commit to take action to stem the planet’s rising temperatures.

The step by India, the world’s third largest greenhouse gas emitter, will help bring the deal a step closer to reality.

The ratification and India’s stand

The accord needs ratification from 55 countries that account for at least 55 percent of the planet’s greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate change.

Specifically, it seeks to limit global temperature rise to well below 2°Celsius and to strive for 1.5°Celsius.

A total of 60 countries so far have deposited their instruments of ratification of the agreement, representing more than 47.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Modi said he had chosen that date, 2 October, because Indian Independence leader Mahatma Gandhi had lived his life with a low carbon footprint.

The treaty moved closer to taking effect earlier this month when a string of countries joined during the UN General Assembly.

UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon voiced confidence then that the accord would come into force by the end of the year.

China and the United States, the two largest emitters, gave a major boost to the accord when they signed on during a summit earlier this month between presidents Xi Jinping and Barack Obama.

After a meeting with Obama in Vientiane, Modi said India would formally join the agreement later this year.

Points of divergence

India has not agreed to cap or cut its carbon emissions outright like some countries, maintaining that the burden of fighting climate change cannot be put on the shoulders of the poor after decades of industrial development by the rich nations.

Instead, it says it will hike its use of green energy and reduce its emissions relative to its gross domestic product by up to 35 percent by 2030 from 2005 levels — meaning emissions will continue to grow but at a slower rate.

India has announced plans to quadruple its renewable power capacity to 175 gigawatts by 2022 as part of the government’s plan to supply electricity to every household.

It also seeks to add 100 gigawatts of photo-voltaic capacity, 60 gigawatts of wind power, 10 gigawatts of biomass and five gigawatts of hydro projects.

India, which relies heavily on coal-fired power plants for electricity, argues that stricter emissions targets would compromise efforts to boost living standards of more than a quarter of its 1.2 billion population which lives in poverty.

UN chief lauds decision

Ban lauded India for its “swift action” over the decision to ratify the Paris pact on climate change, saying he is looking forward to receiving New Delhi’s instrument of accession.

“The Secretary-General has made clear his hopes for the ratification of the Paris Agreement by a large number of states as early as possible, so he would be pleased by swift action by India. He looks forward to receiving India’s instrument of accession,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s deputy spokesman Farhan Haq told PTI.

Ban said this week that since more than 55 countries have formally joined the Paris Agreement on climate change, a critical threshold has been crossed that will help bring into force the landmark pact that seeks to put the world on a path towards low-carbon growth and a more sustainable future.

“I am confident that, by the time I leave office, the Paris Agreement will have entered into force,” the UN chief has said.

“This will be a major achievement for multilateralism,” he said.

With inputs from agencies

Rahul Gandhi takes a dig at PM Modi over his suit

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Sunday took a dig at Narendra Modi over a suit worn by him making it to the Guinness World Records, saying it was a “just reward” for the Prime Minister’s “immense sacrifice”.”Just rewards for Modiji’s immense sacrifice,” tweeted the Congress Vice-President.Gandhi also tagged the news report regarding the suit being described by the Guinness Records as the “most expensive suit (clothing) sold at auction”. The monogrammed suit donned by Modi during his meeting with US President Barack Obama here last year, which had kicked up a controversy, entered the Guinness World Records as “the most expensive suit sold at auction”. The suit had gone under the hammer in February last year and was purchased for Rs 4.31 crore by Surat-based diamond trader Lalji Patel, who owns Dharmananda Diamond Company.The suit has stripes with the name ‘Narendra Damodardas Modi’ woven into it in glittering gold letters. The suit was reportedly prepared at a cost of Rs 10 lakh and was auctioned at a base price of Rs 11 lakh.The money raised from the auction of the suit has been earmarked for the Centre’s clean Ganga mission. The suit, which Modi had worn during Obama s three-day state visit to India in January last, had kicked up a political row with opposition parties accusing the PM of ‘narcissism’.Rahul had latched on it to accuse Modi of heading a “suit-boot ki sarkar” which worked only for the rich. The government had hit back, saying it is in fact a “soojh-boojh ki sarkar”(a government with wisdom).

Rahul Gandhi takes a dig at Modi over his suit

New Delhi: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Sunday took a dig at Narendra Modi over a suit worn by him making it to the Guinness World Records, saying it was a “just
reward” for the Prime Minister’s “immense sacrifice”.

“Just rewards for Modiji’s immense sacrifice,” tweeted the Congress Vice-President.

Gandhi also tagged the news report regarding the suit being described by the Guinness Records as the “most expensive suit (clothing) sold at auction”.

The monogrammed suit donned by Modi during his meeting with US President Barack Obama in New Delhi last year, which had kicked up a controversy, entered the Guinness World Records as “the most expensive suit sold at auction”.

The suit had gone under the hammer in February last year and was purchased for Rs 4.31 crore by Surat-based diamond trader Lalji Patel, who owns Dharmananda Diamond Company. The suit has stripes with the name ‘Narendra Damodardas Modi’ woven into it in glittering gold letters.

The suit was reportedly prepared at a cost of Rs 10 lakh and was auctioned at a base price of Rs 11 lakh.

The money raised from the auction of the suit has been earmarked for the Centre’s clean Ganga mission.

The suit, which Modi had worn during Obama’s three-day state visit to India in January last, had kicked up a political row with opposition parties accusing the PM of ‘narcissism’.

Rahul had latched on it to accuse Modi of heading a “suit-boot ki sarkar” which worked only for the rich. The government had hit back, saying it is in fact a “soojh-boojh ki sarkar”(a government with wisdom)

Member who blocked India’s entry into NSG must be held accountable, says US

A week after India failed to get entry into Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) due to China-led opposition, the US today said one country can break consensus in the atomic trading bloc and insisted that such member should be held accountable.US Under Secretary for Political Affairs Tom Shannon asserted that the US is committed to ensuring India’s entry into the NSG while expressing “regret” that Washington was unsuccessful in making India a member of the bloc in its pleanary in Seoul last week.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”We understand that in a consensus-based organisation, one country can break consensus. But in order to do so it must be (held) accountable not isolated.”I think what we need to do going forward is, for both of us India and the US, sit down and take a call what happened in the Seoul, take a close look at the diplomatic process which is significant and see what more we can do and how we can ensure that next time we are successful,” he said during an interactive session at the Foreign Service Institute.Calling India an “anchor of stability” in the Asia Pacifc region, US Under Secretary for Political Affairs Tom Shannon also said what China was doing in South China Sea is “madness” and it wants New Delhi to play a major role in the Indian Ocean.Shannon said managing the rise of China was a major challenge and that the US wants to work with India to have a strong and comprehensive presence in the Indian Ocean.Describing India a responsible and important player in the sphere of nuclear non-proliferation, Shannon said, “We are committed to having India join the Nuclear Suppliers Group. We believe that through the kind of work we have done, the civil nuclear agreement, the way India conducted itself, it is worthy of this.”On India’s NSG bid, he said the US would continue to work for India’s inclusion in the group.Shannon, who met Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar earlier in the day, said India’s recent entry into the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) highlighted that the country is a “responsible and important player in the road to non- proliferation.””We regret, in Seoul we and India, were unable to open space necessary to allow India to move into the NSG at this moment,” he said.When asked whether he thinks India will ratify the Paris climate deal before Obama administration’s tenure got over and, at the same time, it will become a member of the NSG, he said “I hope so”.He said India has given a commitment to ratify the climate deal.Shannon said that Indo-US civil nuclear cooperation was a very important symbol of friendship between the two countries.”Just a few weeks ago, President Obama and Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi welcomed the start of preparatory work on a site in Andhra Pradesh for six AP 1000 reactors to be built by an American company.”This is expected to provide jobs in both countries and bring clean, reliable electricity that will help meet India s growing energy needs while reducing reliance on fossil fuels,” he said.

US Senator seeks to end issuing immigrant and non-immigrant visas to India, 22 others

A top American Senator has asked the Obama Administration to discontinue issuing immigrant and non-immigrant visas to citizens from 23 countries, including India and China, while alleging them of being non-cooperative in taking back illegal immigrants from the US.”Dangerous criminals, including murderers, are being released every day because their home countries will not cooperate in taking them back,” Republican Senator Senate Chuck Grassley said in a letter to the Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In fiscal year 2015 alone, 2,166 individuals were released in the US because of this decision and the non-cooperation from recalcitrant countries; more than 6,100 were released in the preceding two years, Grassley, who is the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman said.Currently, 23 countries are labelled by the US as uncooperative, with the top five most recalcitrant countries being Cuba, China, Somalia, India, and Ghana, Grassley said.In addition, US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement is monitoring another 62 nations where cooperation is strained, but which are not yet deemed recalcitrant.In the letter to Johnson, Grassley reminded him that, Congress addressed this problem when it enacted section 243(d) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.”Under section 243(d), the Secretary of State is required to discontinue granting immigrant or non-immigrant visas to a country upon receiving notice from you that the country has denied or is unreasonably delaying accepting a citizen, subject, national or resident of that country,” he said.”This tool has been used only once, in the case of Guyana in 2001, where it had an immediate effect, resulting in obtaining cooperation from Guyana within two months,” Grassley said.

Glimmer of hope: NSG likely to meet again before end of the year to discuss entry of non-NPT countries

NSG is likely to meet again before the end of the year to discuss membership of non-NPT signatories like India, which on Sunday made it clear to China, responsible for torpedoing its recent bid, that it was necessary to take care of India’s “interests” for forward movement in bilateral ties.The 48-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is likely to meet again before the end of the year specially to discuss the process for granting membership to non-NPT signatories, thus providing another chance to India to press its claims after it failed to seal its entry into NSG at the plenary which concluded in Seoul on Friday. India faced strong opposition from China and a few other countries and the fact that it is not a signatory to the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was used for foiling India’s bid.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>However, diplomatic sources today said that at the suggestion of Mexico, it has now been decided that another meeting of NSG should be held before the end of the year to consider the entry criteria for non-NPT countries. Normally, the next meeting of NSG would have been held sometime next year. Even as it emerged that NSG is likely to meet in the next few months, Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said, “We will keep impressing upon China that mutual accommodation of interests, concerns and priorities is necessary to move forward bilateral ties.” His comments assume significance in the backdrop of Chinese Foreign Ministry’s assertion that Beijing’s opposition at NSG, which is a multi-lateral platform, will not impact the India-China ties adversely.Swarup also said that though India did not get “expected results” at the Seoul meeting, the country will continue to make determined efforts to get into NSG. “Today, the Indian diplomacy doesn’t have fear of failure. If we don’t get desired results it only means that we redouble our efforts,” Swarup said. “There are some processes which take longer, I would evaluate the NSG membership process in that category,” he said. China had voiced its opposition to Mexico’s suggestion for an early NSG meeting on non-NPT countries’ membership but the proposition found support from a large number of countries including the US. A panel for informal consultations on India’s membership has also been set up by the NSG and it will be headed by Argentine Ambassador Rafael Grossi. Grossi’s appointment came even as a top US official said that the NSG session in Seoul had ended with a “path forward” for India’s acceptance as a member. “We are confident that we have got a path forward by the end of this year. It needs some work. But we are confident that India would be a full member of the (NSG) regime by the end of the year,” the Obama administration official told PTI in Washington.China was unrelenting in thwarting India’s NSG bid despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging Chinese President Xi Jinping during a meeting in Tashkent on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit to support India’s case on its merits. An upset India later accused “one country”, a clear reference to China, of persistently creating procedural hurdles during the discussions on its application.

India to get access to almost 99% of US defence technologies: US official

India will be the only country outside US’ formal treaty allies that will gain access to almost 99% of latest America’s defence technologies after being recognised as a ‘Major Defence Partner’, a senior Obama administration official has said. “India (now) enjoys access to (defence) technologies that is on par with our treaty allies. That is a very unique status. India is the only other country that enjoys that status outside our formal treaty allies,” the official said explaining what ‘Major Defence Partner’ status means for India.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Early this month, after a meeting between US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the White House, the US, in a joint statement, recognised India as a ‘Major Defence Partner’. “We were looking for something unique. This language you would not find in any arms transfer legislation or any of our existing policies. This is new guidance and new language that is intended to reflect the unique things that we have done with India under our defence partnership,” the senior administration official said.”This is intended to solidify the India-specific forward leaning policies for approval that the (US) President and (Defense) Secretary (Ashton) Carter…and our export control system have implemented in the last eight years,” the official said.Under this recognition India would receive license-free access to a wide range of dual-use technologies in conjunction with steps that New Delhi has committed to take to advance its export control objectives. Acknowledging that the impression in New Delhi is that India is not getting access to the kind of technology it needs from the US, the official said it is a constant source of discussion. “(In reality), less than one per cent of all exports (requests) are denied (to India). They are not denied because of India. They are denied because of global US licensing policies. We do not share certain technologies with anybody in the world,” the official asserted.The perception in India that the denial of such technologies is reflective of India-US relationship is far from the truth, the official said. According to the official, India being recognised as a “major defence partner puts it on par with our treaty allies”. Inside the American bureaucratic system, such a recognition removes a number of major export control hurdles for India.

Might visit India if invited for Global Entrepreneurship Summit: Obama

Washington: US President Barack Obama on Friday said he might visit India next year if invited for the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES).

US president Barack Obama. AP

US president Barack Obama. AP

“You know, I’ll try to stop by, if I’m invited,” Obama said in his address to GES at Stanford University in California.

GES is a personal initiative of Obama to bring entrepreneurs from across the globe on one platform.

After meeting Obama at the White House early this month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced that India would host the next GES.

The Obama Administration has thanked India for continuing Obama’s legacy.

“It is really fitting that we are all gathered here for this, the final gathering of the GES under President Obama. But it will continue, and as you all know, will take place next year in India,” the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, had said in his address to the summit yesterday.

The first GES was held in the US in 2010 thereafter it has been hosted by Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Morocco and Kenya.

Over 700 entrepreneurs and more than 300 investors from 170 countries are attending the 2016 Global Entrepreneurship Summit. India has also sent a large contingent.

During his visit to the US early this month, Modi had invited Obama to India.

Obama is the first American president to visit India twice.

A senior administration official said Obama is unlikely to visit India in the remaining seven months of his presidency, but did not rule out his travel along with that of the First Lady after they leave the White House next year.

China bars India’s NSG entry: We must rely on our own wits, develop tech

Early on Friday morning, Indian time, the verdict from Seoul was announced: India was denied entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). For many, this had been a foregone conclusion, but the strenuous efforts of the Indian government raised hope that things would ultimately come out in India’s favour as they did in 2008. They were wrong.

At Seoul, Beijing played a spoilsport. Stubbornly insisting on creating an admissions process for countries not signatories to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), it refused to consider the specifics of India’s case. For China, it was a purely geopolitical calculation — Indian admission to the nuclear high table would bring the South Asian country on a par with itself. Additionally, it would put India in a position of advantage over China’s client, Pakistan. Obfuscating these realities behind the rhetoric of non-proliferation, China, one of the worst proliferators in recent years, gained the support of other NSG participating governments for its “principled” stand.

Although India insists that its application was foiled by one obstinate country, other reports suggest that Austria, Brazil, Ireland, New Zealand, Switzerland, and Turkey all supported a process-based entry. Turkey may have been keeping an eye on Israel while China is the largest trading partner for Brazil and New Zealand. According to diplomats, accession to the NPT was the recurring theme during the negotiations.

Technically, the NSG is a consensus-based body and it does not have rules, at least not legally binding ones. Furthermore, as Indian diplomats have repeatedly pointed out, France joined the NSG while not a member of the NPT. Nonetheless, if the sense of the group has now changed to requiring NPT membership, there is very little that India can do about it. However, given the support for India’s candidacy, that does not seem to be the sense. Were China to acquiesce to Indian membership, or even abstain from making a decision, it remains a question whether the others would still hold firm to their “principles.” Admittedly, there have been complaints about pressure to vote in favour of India but such behaviour is certainly the norm for any important decision in any forum.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Reuters

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Reuters

India will not — and should not — sign the NPT as is, and an amendment to the treaty that would recognise India as the sixth nuclear weapons state would be tougher to achieve than a NSG membership. Even the George W Bush administration, which was rather sanguine about India’s nuclear programme, did not attempt to modify the NPT during the 2008 Indo-US nuclear deal for that was too high a mountain. After nearly half a century of having its arbitrariness and hypocrisy enshrined, no state would want to be reminded of the fundamental flaw in the nuclear non-proliferation regime. Nuclear weapons states, at least one of them, would not want another competitor. And non-nuclear weapons states would feel the fool for accepting discriminatory laws all this time while a country that rejected the system for so long is admitted to its highest echelon.

How did India manage to get a waiver in 2008 and not in 2016? Several things have changed in these eight years. US president Barack Obama is not George W Bush, nor is Xi Jinping his predecessor. In 2008, the Bush administration is rumoured to have twisted arms to get India the NSG waiver; the Obama administration, though supportive of India, was probably not willing to go so far. Additionally, Sino-American relations were calmer: it was not unthinkable for Bush to personally call his counterpart, Hu Jintao, in Beijing on India’s behalf. Xi Jinping is different, intent on refashioning a Chinese empire during his time at the helm. The troubles in the South China Sea have also changed the tone of the relationship. Additionally, the 2008 waiver for India helped China in some ways: it gave them an excuse to openly sell more reactors to Pakistan against the NSG’s wishes and with no such waiver coming for Pakistan, it made Islamabad entirely dependent on Beijing for nuclear assistance. The 2016 waiver holds no such benefits for China.

The most important question now is, what next? There are several options on a broader diplomatic canvas but it is not clear whether Delhi has the courage to do so. Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who campaigned like a hawk in the general elections two years ago, has turned into a meek businessman since he moved to Raisina. To be fair to him, however, India cannot bite off more than it can chew — economically as well as militarily and diplomatically, India is much inferior to China and repercussions must be carefully considered.

Yet within the narrow arena of nuclear affairs, India is restricted to developing its own technology for the complete nuclear supply chain. This is easier said than done: industry will not be interested in partnering with government if there is no demand for their wares. An overt commitment to large-scale domestic growth of nuclear power with Make-in-India components will create the incentive for the private sector to develop nuclear-grade components. Furthermore, India has plenty of expertise in designing, building, and operating small to medium reactors. These also cost less than the larger Western models and may be more suitable for developing countries just embracing nuclear energy. Given India’s lower cost of labour, it may even be able to become part of nuclear supply chains of Western vendors.

Were India to commit to emerging as a nuclear manufacturing hub within the next ten years, its clout at the negotiating table would be significant. At that point, the NSG would run the risk of fuelling a parallel nuclear market were it to continue to ignore India. The value of NSG membership, for Delhi, at least since 2011, has not been the acquisition of technology but the prevention of the adoption of discriminatory guidelines in the future. It is also unrealistic to expect countries to sell their latest technology to India even if an NSG membership had been in the stars. For now, the failure to become an NSG member does not create additional burdens to the development of Indian manufacturing; that should be the point of focus.

A nuclear renaissance would need a considerable boost in India’s budget for the Atomic Energy Commission. It would also require greater private participation in the sector, perhaps even in operations. This has been a taboo subject so far for no good reason. Public-Private partnerships will catalyse capacity growth and have a ripple effect on several sectors such as labour, the environment, and, of course, the economy.

India can also speed up its languishing Fast Breeder Reactor programme. These reactors irk the non-proliferation lobby because of their excellent capacity to breed plutonium. With several of these reactors operating, India can offer to put most of them under safeguards in exchange for a seat at the nuclear high table. The investment in FBRs will not be wasted for India’s primary purpose is to use them to fuel the third stage of its civilian three-stage nuclear energy strategy.

Yet for any of this to occur, nuclear issues need to receive generous political attention that they have lacked since the days of Jawaharlal Nehru. Reforms bringing greater transparency and a focus on outcomes must be introduced to shake up what is until now a sluggish governmental behemoth. If India cannot join the NSG, it must be made largely irrelevant to India.

Hope Obama’s successor takes India-US ties further: White House

Washington: The White House hopes that the outgoing US President Barack Obama’s successor would understand the significance of India-US ties and take it further.

“Hopefully, the President’s successor in the oval office will be somebody who recognises how important it is to build on the strong US-India relationship that’s been established under the leadership of President Obama and Prime Minister Modi,” the White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters at his daily news conference.

Representational image. News 18

Representational image. News 18

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he said, was just at the White House a couple of weeks ago.

“That gave both leaders an opportunity to spend time together and to, not just deepen their personal relationship, but actually strengthen the relationship between our two countries,” he said in response to a question.

“In the seven months that the President has remaining in office, I’m confident that he will continue to work closely with Prime Minister Modi to advance our shared goals,” he said.

Earnest said there is a shared commitment between India and the US to fight against terrorism.

“There is a shared commitment to the idea that using violence or threat to accomplish a political goal, goes against everything that we believe in,” he said.

“It goes against everything that we stand for and it is a testament to the world’s two largest democracies that we are committed to resolving our differences — our political differences through a political process, that something is messy, that sometimes is less than efficient, that sometimes takes longer than it should,” he noted.

“But a commitment to resolve our differences peacefully and in the context of an established political process and the rule of law, is something that binds the United States and India as the commitment to these principles is important,” Earnest said.

“That is why the United States and India have been able to work effectively to combat terrorism and we obviously value that a counter-terrorism relationship between our two countries and our cooperation on those issues has been enhanced under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi and as a result of the effective working relationship between Prime Minister Modi and President Obama,” the White House Press Secretary said.

Pakistan’s nuclear programme has increased risk of conflict with India: US Congressional report

Pakistan’s “full spectrum deterrence” nuclear doctrine and increasing fissile production capability have increased the risk of a nuclear conflict with India, a Congressional report has said amid Pakistan’s efforts to drum up support for its NSG membership bid.”Islamabad’s expansion of its nuclear arsenal, development of new types of nuclear weapons, and adoption of a doctrine called ‘full spectrum deterrence’ have led some observers to express concern about an increased risk of nuclear conflict between Pakistan and India, which also continues to expand its nuclear arsenal,” the bipartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) said in its latest report. Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal probably consists of approximately 110-130 nuclear warheads, although it could have more, said the report ‘Pakistan’s Nuclear Weapons’, authored by Paul K Kerr, analyst in non-proliferation, and Mary Beth Nikitin, specialist in non-proliferation.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>According to the copy of the report dated June 14, which was obtained by PTI, Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is widely regarded as designed to dissuade India from taking military action against it. CRS is the independent research wing of the US Congress, which periodically prepares reports on issues of interest to American lawmakers for information purpose only and does not represent the official position of the US Congress.Running into 30 pages, the report comes in the wake of Pakistan lobbying at the Capitol Hill and before the US government in support of its membership to the 48-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group.Though noting that Pakistan in recent years has taken a number of steps to increase international confidence in the security of its nuclear arsenal, the CRS report observed that instability in Pakistan has called the extent and durability of these reforms into question.”Some observers fear radical takeover of the Pakistani government or diversion of material or technology by personnel within Pakistan’s nuclear complex. While US and Pakistani officials continue to express confidence in controls over Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, continued instability in the country could impact these safeguards,” CRS said in its report meant for the lawmakers to take an informed decision. CRS said the current status of Pakistan’s nuclear export network is unclear, although most official US reports indicate that, at the least, it has been damaged considerably.Referring to Pakistan’s NSG membership application, the CRS said according to US law, the Obama Administration could apparently back Islamabad’s NSG membership without congressional approval. In the past few weeks, top Pakistani leadership including its Ambassador to the US has been writing letters to lawmakers and meeting Government officials to push for its NSG bid.

US urges NSG members to support India’s membership

The US has urged members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group to support India’s membership into the elite grouping. “The United States calls on Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) participating governments to support India’s application when it comes up at the NSG plenary, which I think is next week,” State Department Spokesman John Kirby told reporters at his daily news conference yesterday.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I’m not going to get ahead of how that’s going to go or hypothesise and speculate about where it’s going to go, but we’ve made clear that we support the application,” Kirby said in response to a question.During the US visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week, US President Barack Obama welcomed India’s application to the 48-member grouping. The US has been pushing for India’s NSG membership.Earlier, ahead of a meeting here US Secretary of State John Kerry had written a letter to the NSG member countries which are not supportive of India’s bid, saying they should “agree not to block consensus on Indian admission”.A joint statement issued after talks between Modi and Obama said the US called on NSG participating governments to support India’s application when it comes up at the NSG Plenary later this month. India, though not a member, enjoys the benefits of membership under a 2008 exemption to NSG rules for its atomic cooperation deal with the US.The NSG looks after critical issues relating to nuclear sector and its members are allowed to trade in and export nuclear technology. The NSG works under the principle of unanimity and even one country’s vote against India will scuttle its bid. The US support has come a day after China’s official media expressed concern about India’s entry, saying it will “shake” the strategic balance in South Asia and make India a “legitimate” nuclear power.

Congressional resolution introduced backing India’s bid for permanent seat in UN Security Council

A resolution has been introduced in the US House of Representatives supporting India’s bid for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council, with the lawmakers saying a permanent spot for the country on the Council would strengthen democracy around the world.The resolution was introduced yesterday in the House by Congressman Frank Pallone, the co-founder of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans and Congressman Ami Bera, the only Indian-American in the Congress and current co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India is the only country which has been endorsed by the Obama administration for a permanent member of the UN Security Council.”At a time when international relations are being redefined, we should acknowledge and empower those nations that share our enduring core values,” Pallone said in a statement after he introduced the bill in the House.”It’s in the interests of the United States and the world to have a UN Security Council whose members combine military strength with respect for democracy and pluralism, and an appreciation of the dangers posed by rouge states and terrorist groups,” he said.Last week, Pallone and Bera applauded Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call to strengthen ties between the US and India during a speech before a joint session of Congress.”I was honoured to meet with Prime Minister Modi during his visit and I am more committed than ever to the bond between our two nations share and the positive impact that India would have on the UN Security Council,” said Pallone, who along with Bera served on the escort committee that led Modi into the House chamber for the speech.”As the world’s oldest democracy and the world s largest democracy, the United States and India share common values and a growing partnership on many fronts, especially on defence cooperation,” said Bera.”India plays a critical role as a strategic partner to the United States, and as a pillar of stability in South Asia.Securing a permanent spot for India on the UN Security Council would be beneficial for India and the United States, and would strengthen democracy around the world,” he said.In a statement Pallone and Bera said the UN Security Council still reflects the world as it was in 1945 when the United Nations was created. Despite the fact that the UN has grown from 51 member nations at its inception to nearly 200, the Security Council has not grown to reflect these dramatic changes, they said.There are currently five permanent members of the Council including the US, the UK, Russia, China, and France.The resolution reflects the sense of the US Congress and it does not has any legislative implications on the Obama administration.

Growing Indo-US relationship facilitated by Modi-Obama: pro-RSS journal

The growing Indo-US relationship facilitated by the Modi-Obama chemistry is going to move forward irrespective of the outcome of impending Presidential elections in United States, a pro-RSS journal has said.”Modi-Obama chemistry has certainly facilitated in overcoming the hesitations and irrespective of outcome of impending Presidential elections this relationship is going to move forward. The key lies in the ability of US to come out of Euro-centricism and accept the historical reality that Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region is the theatre of the world,” the editorial in ‘Organiser’ has said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The editorial titled “The path-breaking partnership” said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to US “formally accepted Modi as a statesman of global stature”.Lauding the visit and his address to the joint sitting of US Congress, which saw many standing ovations, the pro-RSS journal said, “This is a resounding victory for Modi as a leader and nationalist school of thought he represents”.The journal also said that Indo-US relations that were governed by the Cold-War mindset and primacy of Pakistan in the US foreign policy calculus, but “the reticence of historical baggage never allowed the two greatest democracies to realise the potential of bilateralism”. It said, “The biggest sign of Cold-War restrictions such as MTCR and NSG were let off by the US administration by formally recognising Bharat as a nuclear power.””The US has realised the fact that India will continue to retain autonomy in foreign policy matters and therefore, cannot be like her conventional allies. On the other hand, India has also shown the willingness to accept the US not just a manipulator or dominator but an equal partner in bridging the mutual requirements of technological innovations and quality human resource,” it further said.The editorial said Modi’s visit helped develop an “equal and dignified” partnership between both countries who are in a position to deal with the global concerns in a more pragmatic manner instead of getting into rhetoric of realism and idealism.”The range of issues dealt by the India-US Joint Statement titled The United States and India: Enduring Global Partners in the 21st Century is of ample evidence of changing dynamics. Besides the agreed issues of democratic values and bilateral trade, the complex matters of environment, energy, terrorism, maritime security, etc are addressed cautiously but with definite action plans,” it said.

Indian government is going to be America’s ‘great ally’, we have better security cooperation: Speaker Paul Ryan

The Indian government is going to be America’s “great ally” and there is a need to nurture this relationship, Speaker of the US House of Representatives Paul Ryan has said.In a major foreign policy speech here in which he was highly critical of President Barack Obama’s policies, the US-India relationship was the only aspect of it which was appreciated by Ryan.”I think you need, and in particular, specifically under Modi’s leadership, and he and I have discussed this at great length yesterday, (US-India) have a great potential for the future particularly with the seas, in the Pacific and in the Indian Ocean, making sure that we help police the global commons and international order, namely China building, you know, runways on islands in contested areas,” Ryan said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He said this in the speech at the Council on Foreign Relations on Thursday, a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed a joint meeting of the US Congress at his invitation.Modi was the first foreign leader to be invited to address a joint sitting of the Congress under Ryan’s speakership.
ALSO READ Modi in US: ‘President Obama’s ‘robust support’ shows India ready for NSG membership’On Wednesday, Modi and Ryan had a one-on-one interaction before the Prime Minister’s address. Ryan also hosted a lunch for the visiting leader.A day later, Ryan was all in praise for Modi.
ALSO READ There is a new symphony in play: Top quotes by PM Modi in US Congress “I think the Indian (government), the new Indian government, is going to be a great ally of ours and we have better security cooperation with them. That’s one thing that we need to nurture and grow,” Ryan told the audience at the Council on Foreign Relations, a top American think tank.”And those of us who are fans of Modi, you know, he’s a conservative who wants, who embraces free enterprise. He’s bringing needed reform to the country,” Ryan said, according to the remarks released by his office.
ALSO READ Modi in US: PM Modi’s speech to the US Congress the work of a spinmeister”That’s the kind of an alliance that we need to forge and build upon. That stands in stark contrast, I would argue, to the Obama foreign policy of the last eight years where we have neglected our allies and we have basically rewarded our enemies, our adversaries,” said the Speaker of the US House of Representatives.Except for his comments on India, Ryan slammed Obama’s foreign policy.”We know that this new Obama foreign policy concept, leading from behind, can now be declared an unambiguous failure. It is making us unprepared. It is reducing our military capability and strength,” he alleged.

Will Barack stay in Gujarat after retirement? Sena mocks Modi-Obama bonhomie

In a sarcastic take on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s bonhomie with Barack Obama, key BJP ally Shiv Sena on Friday wondered if the US President will shift to India when his term gets over.The Sena also slammed the US for pursuing a “dual policy” towards India and Pakistan. “US President has become a good friend of PM Modi. Their relationship is so deep that we wonder if the Obama family will shift to Surat, Rajkot, Porbandar, Manali, Mahabaleshwar or Delhi post his retirement. No other Indian PM would have got so much love from an American President in the past,” the Sena said in an editorial in party mouthpiece ‘Saamana.’ Obama’s presidency is set to end on January 20, 2017.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Sena said that Modi thanking America for standing by India in its times of need is only an example of his courteous nature. “But, it is the same America, which has not stopped its policy of helping Pakistan financially or providing them with arms and ammunition. On one hand, America helps India fight terrorism and on the other, sells F-16 fighter jets to the terrorist nation. This policy of America is dangerous,” it said.Noting that it was true that America has warned Pakistan to take action against the perpetrators of terror at Pathankot IAF base, Sena sought to know who will take action against the terrorists. “America enters a country where its enemy (apparently referring to Osama Bin Laden) is hiding and guns him down, but for India, it only gives warnings. This duplicity needs to be understood,” the Sena said.Treating Pathankot attack on par with 26/11, Obama in a clear message asked Pakistan to punish the perpetrators and vowed to stand with India against terror threats emanating from Pakistan-based groups like JeM, LeT and D-company.

PM Modi returns home after six-day, five-nation tour

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi returned home today after a five-nation tour whose highlight was his meeting with US President Barack Obama and address to US Congress in Washington.

During his six-day tour, Modi also visited Afghanistan, Qatar, Switzerland and Mexico with an aim to bolster ties.

He returned home early this morning from Mexico which was the last stoppage of his trip.

Before leaving for home, Modi had tweeted, “Thank you Mexico. A new era in India-Mexico ties has begun and this relationship is going to benefit our people and the entire world.”

A file photo of Narendra Modi. PTIA file photo of Narendra Modi. PTI

A file photo of Narendra Modi. PTI

“Five days, five countries! After a productive visit to Mexico, the last leg of his journey, PM departs for Delhi,” External Affairs Ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup had tweeted.

Besides addressing a joint sitting of the US Congress, Modi received the backing of two key Nuclear Suppliers Group members – Switzerland and Mexico – for its bid to secure the membership of the 48-nation bloc.

He also held wide-ranging talks with President Obama at the White House following which the US recognised India as a major defence partner”.

PM Modi returns home after 5-nation tour

After visiting USA, Mexico, Afghanistan, Qatar, Switzerland, PM Modi returned home early morning on Thursday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi returned home today after a five-nation tour whose highlight was his meeting with US President Barack Obama and address to US Congress in Washington.During his six-day tour, Modi also visited Afghanistan, Qatar, Switzerland and Mexico with an aim to bolster ties.He returned home early this morning from Mexico which was the last stoppage of his trip.Before leaving for home, Modi had tweeted, “Thank you Mexico. A new era in India-Mexico ties has begun and this relationship is going to benefit our people and the entire world.”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Five days, five countries! After a productive visit to Mexico, the last leg of his journey, PM departs for Delhi,” External Affairs Minister Vikas Swarup had tweeted.
ALSO READ Modi in US: Full text of PM Modi’s speech in US Congress Besides addressing a joint sitting of the US Congress, Modi received the backing of two key Nuclear Suppliers Group members – Switzerland and Mexico – for its bid to secure the membership of the 48-nation bloc.He also held wide-ranging talks with President Obama at the White House following which the US recognised India as a “major defence partner”.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon welcomes PM Modi’s call for early implementation of Paris deal

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s support for early implementation of the Paris climate agreement during his just-concluded US visit.Ban said a record-number of UN member states had signed the Paris Agreement on Climate Change in April and now the countries need to bring the agreement into force this year.”I welcome the announcement two days ago by Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India that he will join this effort,” Ban told reporters here yesterday.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ban said that to help advance the process, he will convene an event during the September high-level week of the General Assembly for countries to deposit their instruments of ratification.In a joint statement, Modi and US President Barack Obama said that both India and the US recognised the urgency of climate change and share the goal of enabling entry into force of the Paris agreement as early as possible.Following the announcement, Ban had encouraged all countries to accelerate their domestic processes to join or ratify it.”The Secretary-General welcomes the domestic steps being undertaken by both countries to join the Paris Agreement as soon as possible, including in 2016, and their collaborative efforts to address climate change,” a statement issued by Ban’s spokesperson had said.The Paris Agreement was adopted by all 196 Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change at the UN climate change conference in Paris last December, where all countries agreed to work to limit global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius, and to strive for 1.5 degrees Celsius.In April, 175 countries signed the agreement, which according to the UN was by far the largest number of countries ever to sign an international agreement in one single day.For it to enter into force, 55 countries accounting for 55 per cent of global greenhouse emissions need to implement the accord at the national level.As of today, 177 parties have signed, and 17 have ratified it.Ban had said that he is encouraged by the resolve of India and the US to pursue low greenhouse gas emission development strategies and successful outcomes this year to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the Montreal Protocol, the International Civil Aviation Organisation Assembly, and the G20,” the statement added, noting that the joint announcement by India and the US also follows on the heels of the G7 Ise-Shima Leaders’ Declaration.During his three-day visit to Washington at the invitation of Obama, climate change was one of the major topics of discussion between the two leaders.During the meeting at the White House, Obama and Modi had reiterated their commitment to pursue low greenhouse gas emission development strategies in the pre-2020 period and to develop long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies.

dna Morning Must Reads: Obama endorses Hillary; Rajnath Singh’s role in UP elections; Salman-Arijit controversy; and more

1. Resistance to India joining nuclear suppliers group softens, but China defiantA US-led push for India to join a club of countries controlling access to sensitive nuclear technology made some headway on Thursday as several opponents appeared more willing to work towards a compromise. Read more here<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>2. Rajnath Singh to be BJP’s chief ministerial candidate in UP?The party leadership has reportedly conveyed the plan to Rajnath Singh and awaiting his acceptance. Read more here3. ‘I’m with her’: Obama formally endorses Clinton for president; Sanders vows to help defeat TrumpThe US President Barack Obama today endorsed Hillary Clinton as the Democratic party’s presidential nominee, praising his former secretary of state’s experience and grit. Read more here4. Your airfare will stay high as government says no capAirlines say solution lies in the creation of aviation infrastructure that will help them add capacity to tackle the demand and supply mismatch and keep the fares low. Read more here5. Why we need an Indian coachAnshuman Gaekwad and Madan Lal, who have been in similar roles, are for a local guiding the fortunes of Indian cricket team rather than a foreigner. Read more here6. Salman Khan-Arijit Singh controversy: Aditya Chopra at fault?It wasn’t Salman who had Arijit’s song Jag Ghoomeya dropped from Sultan. Read more here

Modi in US: Magic of Modinama, the answer to India’s long wait for a global leader

Way back in March 2000, when US President Bill Clinton finished his address to a joint session of Parliament in New Delhi, and walked down the aisle in Central Hall, a number of MPs cut across party lines from both Houses of Parliament, jumped over benches and jostled for space to somehow shake hands with him.

More than what the visiting dignitary spoke about, the honourable parliamentarians’ over-enthusiasm and joy to meet the visiting dignitary — including those who till the other day had never missed an opportunity to deride America and its leadership — made the news.

A decade later, in November 2010, when President Barrack Obama was to address a joint session of Parliament, the MPs were especially told to “behave in a dignified manner” during and after his address. The advisory was official, sent by the parliamentary affairs ministry to leaders of all parliamentary parties to ensure that “decorum and dignity” of India’s temple of democracy was maintained.

The decision to send that advisory was guided by the spectacle that was created during Clinton’s visit and the leadership in the UPA government keen to avoid that.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses a joint meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington. APPrime Minister Narendra Modi addresses a joint meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington. AP

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses a joint meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington. AP

It was also the occasion when those sitting in the audience — in the visitors and media gallery in Central Hall of Parliament — wondered if ever an Indian leader would possess the same oratorical flourish and energy to speak like a world leader at such forums.

It was also informally debated then, among media persons, that whether Obama had spoken extempore or was making a smart use of a teleprompter to read his speech and make it appear like extempore.

Jump to 8 June, 2016, the United States Capitol, Washington DC. The occasion: Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s address to a joint session of the US Congress.

The manner in which Modi spoke, the substance and flourish of it, despite the fact that he spoke in a (English) language which for a long time in his life must have been alien to him, and the kind of rapturous applause he received from the US Congressmen, would make every Indian feel happy and confident of oneself and the nation, whether in India or abroad. On Wednesday, Modi accomplished something that a vast majority of Indians had only dreamed about for long.

The thunderous applause when he finished, continuing for over a minute from all corners of the hall in the Capitol, was comparable to the one Modi received at BJP’s National Council meeting at the Talkatora Stadium in New Delhi in 2013, after then BJP President Rajnath Singh had almost made it clear that Modi was going to lead and be the face of the party in the 2014 parliamentary polls.

A clearly overwhelmed Modi kept waving at the audience in all corners, accepting the cheers with gratitude. The two places were thousands of kilometres apart — in two different continents — but at both the places, there was recognition that Modi had arrived as a leader and was here to stay; at the national level back then, and now on the global platform.

If over a decade and a half ago, Indian parliamentarians had vied to shake hands with Clinton, a number of American Congressmen and women, or their aides on Wednesday (as Mani Shankar Aiyar claimed that such Joint sessions of Congress are attended not just by Congressmen but by their aides as well) took turns to take Modi’s autograph and shake hands.

If something like this had happened during 2000-2010 (in between Clinton and Obama’s addresses to the joint sessions of the Indian Parliament) then the Parliamentary affairs ministry in consultation with the Speaker wouldn’t have considered issuing an advisory to the MPs to maintain decorum as it did in the year 2010. Full marks to Modi on that count.

One lost count of the number of times Modi received a standing ovation from the US Congressmen. The number of times they stood to applaud him, and the number of times they clapped and cheered could not just have been for courtesy. They felt for him and for what he spoke. All this in a country that had denied him a visa, just two years ago.

Only the now-famous “Modi Modi” chant was missing.

When the chant had begun, first in Ahmedabad after he was elected as chief minister for the third successive time, and subsequently all over the country in the run-up to parliamentary elections, and later at Indian diaspora meets abroad, there were many in the BJP and outside, who suspected that a group of specially-hired and trained youth had been planted to do so.

They could never make out the difference between spontaneous cheers and a rehearsed drill. What would his critics say now, following his reception by the US Congress?

Yes, the key issue here, domestically, is the delivery of goods to people at large in a fair and transparent manner. He spoke of his dream on that count. The fact that his successful five-nation tour has coincided with the ‘two years in office’ celebrations at home has boosted the morale of his party cadre, and enthused those in the government.

That he did say things that the American leaders would have loved to hear from him is also true: “Today, our relationship has overcome the hesitations of history. Comfort, candour and convergence define our conversations. Through the cycle of elections and transitions of administrations the intensity of our engagements has only grown. And, in this exciting journey, the US Congress has acted as its compass. You helped us turn barriers into bridges of partnership.”

He said what millions of Indians wanted to hear him say, on terrorism and Pakistan, without mincing words in front of the US Congress — which for long has pampered Pakistan. “Not just in Afghanistan, but elsewhere in South Asia, and globally, terrorism remains the biggest threat. In the territory stretching from West of India’s border to Africa, it may go by different names, from Laskhar-e-Taiba, to Taliban to IS.

“But its philosophy is common; of hate, murder and violence. Although its shadow is spreading across the world, it is incubated in India’s neighbourhood. I commend the members of the US Congress for sending a clear message to those who preach and practice terrorism for political gains.  Refusing to reward them is the first step towards holding them accountable for their actions,” Modi said.

There were also concerns among certain quarters over whether or not he would reflect on an important issue — intolerance, which has been a much debated issue among many in India and abroad.

Broadly, he began with the same theme that he had spoken on at a gathering of Christian priests at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi recently. “India lives as one; India grows as one; India celebrates as one. For my government, the Constitution is its real holy book. And, in that holy book, freedom of faith, speech and franchise, and equality of all citizens, regardless of background, are enshrined as fundamental rights. All the 1.25 billion of our citizens have freedom from fear, a freedom they exercise every moment of their lives.”

For those who for long had thought (rightly so) that Indian leaders did not have a sense of humour, Modi went on a different take: “I am informed that the working of the US Congress is harmonious. I am also told that you are well-known for your bipartisanship. Well, you are not alone. Time and again, I have also witnessed a similar spirit in the Indian Parliament, especially in our Upper House. So, as you can see, we have many shared practices.”

Speaking on the practice of Yoga, he said, “And, no Mr Speaker, we have not yet claimed intellectual property right on Yoga”.

President Obama backs Indian entry to nuclear technology

US President Barack Obama backs Indian access to missile technology and nuclear trade during talks in Washington.

Modi’s US visit: India cannot rise by ‘containing’ China, says Chinese state media

India cannot rise by “containing” China or picking one side against the other, a Chinese state- run paper said on Wednesday, taking note of the Indo-US ties which are being ramped up to an “unprecedented level”.”Four visits to the US and seven meetings with President Barack Obama in two years – Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has ramped up the India-US relationship to an unprecedented level. How the two countries will engage with each other has raised heated discussions,” an op-ed article in state-run Global Times said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Picking one side or camp against the other is not the way India will rise. New Delhi is looking into a multi-faceted diplomacy. The well-performing Indian economy will give incentives to the country to be more confident with multilateralism and to seek balanced international relations.
ALSO READ Modi in US: India-United States announce joint clean energy finance, pledge to ratify Paris deal”Although rivalling China in many aspects, India knows its great vision cannot be realised by bashing or containing China. Instead, they should expand cooperation, explore the potentials and build mutual trust for their own good. China is more of a help than a competitor for India. This will eventually constitute India’s fundamental understanding of China,” it said referring to Modi’s current visit to the US.With Modi’s visit, New Delhi hopes there will be breakthroughs in many aspects, especially business and trade, security cooperation and nuclear issues, the article titled ‘India’s vision cannot be realised by containing China’ said.
ALSO READ Modi in US: ‘President Obama’s ‘robust support’ shows India ready for NSG membership'”The transformation of the geopolitical landscape is the major driver drawing the US and India much closer.Washington’s rebalance to the Asia-Pacific makes the US realise India’s strategic significance, economic potential and ideological commonality,” it said.
ALSO READ In PM Modi, Obama has found partner to boost Indo-US ties: White House”India hopes that by consolidating its relationship with the US, it could gain leverage in development and forge an international status that is worthy of its potential. Modi has riveted his interactions with the US on this simple outlook to make India a veritable powerhouse. He was eager to boost a broader and better economic relationship with the US.”He urged the signing of the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement, a landmark deal promoting logistics and defence cooperation with the US and he also expects an endorsement from the US to help India become a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the last step to solidify India’s status as a nuclear powerhouse,” the article said.As for Washington, it is always hoping that India could serve as its right hand to counterbalance China’s rise. But so far, Washington’s calculations donot work well. Turning down Washington’s invitation to join a patrol in the South China Sea, New Delhi has no intention to cast away its founding principles: independence and non-alignment, it said.”In the process of fulfilling its ambition to be a major power, India has always employed independent and pragmatic approaches. A balance between other major powers will be its primary and optimal choice,” the article added.

Modi in US: Bilateral Cyber relationship accord to be inked soon

Ushering in a new era of collaboration in the cyber sphere, India and the US will sign a framework for the bilateral cyber relationship between the two countries within the next two months.The announcement in this regard was made in a joint statement after the White House meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama. During the meeting the two leaders emphasised that cyberspace enables economic growth and development, and reaffirmed their commitment to an open, inter operable, secure, and reliable Internet, underpinned by the multi stakeholder model of Internet governance.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”They committed to deepen cooperation on cyber security and welcomed the understanding reached to finalise the Framework for the US-India Cyber Relationship in the near term,” the joint statement said.
ALSO READ Modi in US: Full Text of the India-US joint statement after PM Modi met President ObamaA fact sheet issued by the White House said the framework would be signed within 60 days. During the meeting Modi and Obama committed to enhance cyber collaboration on critical infrastructure, cyber crime, and malicious cyber activity by state and non-state actors, capacity building, and cyber security research and development, and to continue discussions on all aspects of trade in technology and related services, including market access.They have committed to continue dialogue and engagement in Internet governance, including in ICANN, IGF and other venues, and to support active participation by all stakeholders of the two countries in these arena.
ALSO READ In PM Modi, Obama has found partner to boost Indo-US ties: White HouseKey component of the bilateral relationshipObama and Modi committed to promote stability in cyberspace based on the applicability of international law including the United Nations Charter, the promotion of voluntary norms of responsible state behaviour during peacetime, and the development and implementation of practical confidence building measures between states. According to the White House fact sheet, cooperation on cyber issues is a key component of the bilateral relationship between India and the United States. The two countries have a strategic cyber relationship that reflects their shared values, common vision, and shared principles for cyberspace.
ALSO READ India to be new engine of global growth: PM Modi at US India Business CouncilBoth sides recognise the value of enhancing and further institutionalising their broad-based cooperation on cyber issues, and in that respect, intend to complete a framework based on the following shared principles and intended forms of cooperation, it said. The fact sheet said the two countries committed to voluntary norms under which a state should not conduct or knowingly support online activity that intentionally damages critical infrastructure or otherwise impairs the use of critical infrastructure to provide services to the public.”A state should not conduct or knowingly support activity intended to prevent national Computer Security Incident Response Teams (CSIRTs) from responding to cyber incidents. States should also not use CSIRTs to enable online activity that is intended to do harm,” the fact sheet said.Cooperation in cyber activitiesThe two countries agreed that a state should cooperate, in a manner consistent with its domestic law and international obligations, with requests for assistance from other States in investigating cyber crimes, collecting electronic evidence and mitigating malicious cyber activity emanating from its territory. They also agreed that a state should not conduct or knowingly support ICT-enabled theft of intellectual property, including trade secrets or other confidential business information, with the intent of providing competitive advantages to companies or commercial sectors.Shared principles for the US-India cyber relationship include, a commitment to an open, inter operable, secure, and reliable cyberspace environment; a commitment to promote the Internet as an engine for innovation, economic growth, and trade and commerce; and a commitment to promote the free flow of information.It also includes a commitment to promote cooperation between and among the private sector and government authorities on cyber crime and cyber security; a recognition of the importance of bilateral and international cooperation for combating cyber threats and promoting cyber security; and a commitment to respect cultural and linguistic diversity.

Modi, Obama discuss extremism challenge; no discussion on human rights

Washington: Prime Minister Narendra Modi Tuesday discussed the challenges posed by extremism with US President Barack Obama and the two leaders underlined the need to ensure the participation of civil society and minority communities to address the issue, officials said.

The Prime Minister and the President had a very extensive and thoughtful conversation about the rise of extremism and the need for all countries to work together to address this challenge, a senior administration official said.

The two leaders also underlined the need to ensure that the civil society and the minority communities are fully participating in addressing the issue, the official said.

However, there was no specific discussion on human rights issues and religious freedom on India, officials said.

Washington : President Barack Obama meets with Indian Prime Minister India Narendra Modi in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, June 7, 2016. AP/PTI Photo(AP6_7_2016_000273B)Washington : President Barack Obama meets with Indian Prime Minister India Narendra Modi in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, June 7, 2016. AP/PTI Photo(AP6_7_2016_000273B)

PM Modi with President Barack Obama at the White House in Washington. PTI 

“No, I do not believe the subject came up today in the discussions,” Indian Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar said.

Meanwhile, Tom Lantos, Human Rights Commission held a hearing to examine the current state of human rights in India, challenges to fundamental freedom and opportunities for advancement.

Testifying before the Commission, several experts expressed their concern over the human rights condition in India.

In a related development, a bipartisan group of 18 House members – led by Representatives Trent Franks and Betty McCollum– wrote to the House Speaker Paul Ryan urging him to prioritize religious freedom in India during his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, especially in light of ongoing
violence and harassment against religious minorities, including Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, and Sikhs.

Modi is scheduled to address a joint session of the US Congress today.

“We respectfully request that during your meetings with the Prime Minister, the ‘shared value’ of the fundamental right of religious freedom will be a priority in your conversation.

“Religious minority communities have endured ongoing violence and harassment for decades in India, and continue to live in a climate where known perpetrators commit violence with impunity,” the Members of Congress wrote.

“It is in the best interest of the US and India to reaffirm religious freedom as a shared value in this growing partnership, and ensure that conversation concerning justice and accountability for such horrific acts of violence continues,” the letter said.

In the letter, the lawmakers cite several specific examples of violent attacks that have killed or displaced
religious minorities.

Human rights groups in India have investigated and traced these attacks to specific groups, but a current climate of impunity exists in India around such attacks and many victims never receive justice, they said.

“As we consider the shared values of the US and India, due attention to the fundamental human right of religious freedom is of the utmost importance,” Franks said.

“Religious minority communities in India have endured incidents of harassment, discrimination, intimidation and violent attacks for decades, often with little hope for justice.

“It is my sincere hope that every person in India will experience true freedom of faith, regardless of religion,” he said.

“The important relationship between India and the US is based on our shared democratic values. Religious minorities in India deserve the freedom to live out their faith without fear,” McCollum said.

The Congressmen who signed on the letter were Chris Smith, Juan Vargas, André Carson, Keith Ellison, Patrick Meehan, Keith Rothfus, Randy Weber, Dan Kildee, Mike Honda, John Conyers Jr, John Garamendi, Robert Aderholt, Anna Eshoo, Joe Pitts, Barbara Lee, and David Valadao.

Historic climate change agreement in Paris was unlikely without India’s leadership: US

The historic climate change agreement in Paris may not have been possible if it was not for the leadership shown by India in making some “substantial commitments”, the White House said on Tuesday after Prime Minister Modi’s meeting with US President Barack Obama.”We’ve said on many occasions that India’s role in that process was significant and it’s unlikely that we would have actually reached an agreement in Paris last December had the Indians not stepped up and shown some leadership in making some substantial commitments,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He made the remarks while responding to questions on the meeting between Obama and Modi wherein the two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to join the Paris agreement by the end of this year.”The announcements or the discussion with the Prime Minister, there was extensive discussion about the leading role that India played in achieving an international agreement to fight climate change and fight carbon pollution,” he said.Earnest said Modi’s role at Paris last year is a testament to his willingness to take a political risk to do what he thinks is right, not just for his country, but for the planet.”And he deserves a lot of credit for that,” Earnest said.”What I’ll also say is that Prime Minister Modi recognises that there’s an important economic opportunity here. President Obama certainly recognises that and we’ve made the case that as more countries around the world consider the move to low-carbon economy, that creates important opportunities in the alternative energy sector,” he said.There certainly are important opportunities for American businesses even in India in the solar sector and in the wind energy sector, Earnest said, adding that there also is an opportunity for the United States to work with countries around the world to develop further nuclear energy technology.”And there was a discussion between the two leaders about the investment in infrastructure in India, and we were pleased to see India announce that it intends to build six Westinghouse nuclear reactors in India. This is a project that would create and sustain tens of thousands of good paying jobs in the United States and in India,” he said.”So this is a good example of how smart decisions about renewable energy and fighting climate change can have an important and positive economic impact in the United States and in countries around the world,” Earnest said.In response to another question, Earnest referred to Modi’s remarks that India shares the objective that the United States has laid out, which is to see the Paris agreement come into force of this year and India has committed to doing their part to working toward the goal, a shared goal, of entering the agreement this year.

India to open new consulate in Seattle for Indians in northwest US

Washington: India will soon open another consulate in Seattle to cater to the needs of large number of Indian-Americans living in the northwestern part of the US.

“We hope to open a new Indian consulate in Seattle,” Indian Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar said after the conclusion of the talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama at the White House.

This was reflected in a joint statement issued after Modi-Obama talks.

Modi ObamaModi Obama

U.S. President Barack Obama (R) shakes hands with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi after their remarks to reporters in the Oval Office. Reuters

“Both sides committed to open additional consulates in each other’s country. India will be opening a new consulate in Seattle and the US will open a new consulate at a mutually agreed location in India,” the joint statement said.

In the joint statement the two countries also announced a series of measures to encourage people-to-people contacts.

Modi and Obama announced that the United States and India will be Travel and Tourism Partner Countries for 2017, and committed to facilitate visas for each other’s nationals.

According to a senior administration official the US plans to increase its number of people to issue visas at its diplomatic missions in India.

Reflecting on the strong educational and cultural bonds between the two countries, Modi and Obama welcomed the growing number of Indian students studying in the US which increased by 29 per cent to nearly 1,33,000 students in 2014-2015.

They also look forward to increased opportunities for American students to study in India. They also appreciated their governments’ joint efforts through the Fulbright-Kalam Climate Fellowship to develop a cohort of climate scientists to confront the shared challenge of global climate change.

Recognizing its mutual goal of strengthening greater  people-to-people ties, the two leaders intend to renew efforts to intensify dialogue to address issues affecting the citizens of both countries that arise due to differences in the approaches of legal systems, including issues relating to cross-country marriage, divorce and child custody, the joint statement said.

The US Embassy and Consulates in India issued more than 76,000 student visas in Fiscal Year 2015. Indian students accounted  for the second-largest group of foreign students in the United States in the 2014-2015 school year, with the number of students from India in the US increasing by over 29 per cent to a record high of nearly 1,33,000. Through the Passport to India program, the US government encourages American students to study in India. At the same time, more than a million Americans traveled to India in 2015.

“The announcement that the US and India will be Travel and Tourism Partners in 2017 aims to develop joint efforts and programs to grow these people-to-people and economic linkages. Similarly, the implementation of the Global Entry Program will facilitate travel between the two countries,” the White House said in a fact sheet.

Modi In US: Obama backs India’s NSG bid, vows to be with India in fight against Pak-based terror

President Barack Obama has backed India’s bid for membership of the elite Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) amid a major push to the strategic ties between the two countries which finalised a “roadmap” to give India the status of US’ close partner in the defence sector.Obama, who held over hour-long talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi here, also promised to cooperate with India against terrorist threats from groups such as Pakistan-based Jaish-e Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba as well as ‘D’ Company, a reference to underworld don Dawood Ibrahim.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”In this context, they (the two leaders) directed their officials to identify specific new areas of collaboration at the next meeting of US India Counterterrorism Joint Working Group,” said a Joint Statement issued after the talks.Significantly, the American side also committed itself to treating Pathankot attack at par with 26/11 terror strike in terms of ensuring punishment to perpetrators based in Pakistan.The two countries also decided to start work on construction of six American nuclear reactors in India amid affirmation that the Liability issue has been addressed.Six pacts, including one on exchange of screening of terror information, besides two other documents were signed after the talks that mainly covered issues like terrorism, clean energy, climate change, defence, regional security, cyber security, economic ties and people-to-people contacts.Addressing the media jointly with Modi at his Oval office, Obama said it was natural for India and the US, two biggest democracies, to “deepen and broaden” partnership.Progress made in the Civil Nuclear agreement was among the issues discussed, Obama said.”I indicated support to India being a part of NSG,” the US President said in remarks which assume significance since China is opposing such a move.Obama underlined that India needs technology, which is critical for its progress and prosperity.The 50-point Joint Statement said, “President Obama welcomed India’s application to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), and re-affirmed that India is ready for membership. The United States called on NSG Participating Governments to support India’s application when it comes up at the NSG Plenary later this month.”The United States also re-affirmed its support for India’s early membership of the Australia Group and Wassenaar Arrangement.”Modi later said, “I am ever thankful for the help and support that my friend President Obama has extended with regard to membership in MTCR and NSG.”

Pariah to friend: Narendra Modi and the US come full circle

Narendra Modi and the US come full circle

India clears final hurdle to join missile control group, diplomats say

The members of the Missile Technology Control Regime, an international anti-proliferation grouping, have agreed to admit India, diplomats said, in a win for Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he met US President Barack Obama in Washington on Tuesday.Diplomats with direct knowledge of the matter said a deadline for members of the 34-nation group to object to India’s admission had expired on Monday without any raising objections. Under this ‘silent procedure’, India’s admission follows automatically, diplomats from four MTCR member nations told Reuters on condition of anonymity.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Obama was expected to say he was looking forward to India’s “imminent entry” into the MTCR when he and Modi address the press after their seventh bilateral meeting, sources aware of its agenda said. Admission to the MTCR would open the way for India to buy high-end missile technology, also making more realistic its aspiration to buy surveillance drones such as the Predator, made by General Atomics.ARMS EXPORTERIndia makes a supersonic cruise missile, the Brahmos, in a joint venture with Russia that both countries hope to sell to third countries, a development that would make India a significant arms exporter for the first time.Membership of the MTCR would require India to comply with rules such as a maximum missile range of 300 km (186 miles) that seek to prevent arms races from developing.Italy had objected to admitting India but, after an unrelated bilateral dispute was resolved, did not object this time within a 10-day deadline after the group’s chair, the Netherlands, wrote to members suggesting India be welcomed.An Italian marine, held for four years at the country’s embassy in New Delhi over the killing of two Indian fishermen in an anti-piracy operation in 2012, was recently allowed to return home. A US congressional source confirmed that India’s membership in the missile control group was expected, as Modi visited Washington. “In my mind, the hurdle was the Italian veto over the Indian arrest of the Italian marine. Now that the marine has been released, I think it appears that yes, admission will be granted,” he said.No formal meeting is required for India to complete its entry into the group, set up in 1987 to limit the spread of unmanned systems capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction.The MTCR is one of four international non-proliferation regimes that India, which in recent decades has gone from being a non-aligned outsider to a rising nuclear-weapons power, has been excluded from.New Delhi has also applied to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), a 48-nation club that governs trade in commercial nuclear technology and was originally set up in response to India’s first atomic weapons test in 1974.Joining the NSG will be much more difficult because China is a member and has backed the membership aspirations of Pakistan, its ally and India’s arch-rival. Still, the breakthrough on the MTCR will be welcomed in the US Congress, which Modi will address on Wednesday. Congress ratified a civilian nuclear agreement with India in 2008 that seeks to build commercial ties, while at the same time binding New Delhi into the global security order.Ahead of the summit, US-based nuclear reactor maker Westinghouse, a unit of Japan’s Toshiba Corp, has made progress towards a deal to build six reactors in India’s southern state of Andhra Pradesh. A deal, if completed, would be the first to stem from the civil nuclear accord.

As Modi meets Obama, activists call for talks on human trafficking in India

US President Barack Obama should press the visiting prime minister of India to strengthen his country’s anti-trafficking laws and deliver justice to victims, human rights campaigners said on Tuesday.Obama was due to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the White House on Tuesday to discuss economic growth, climate change, clean energy and defence cooperation.However, activists called on Obama to use Modi’s fourth visit to the United States since becoming prime minister in 2014 to focus on India’s anti-slavery record.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India has the most slaves in the world with more than 18 million people trapped in debt bondage, forced into marriage, sold to brothels or born into servitude, according to the 2016 Global Slavery Index.”More people are enslaved in India than in any other country in the world, with millions of Indian men, women, and children trapped in debt bondage and forced to perform strenuous work,” said Amy Sobel of the Washington-based Human Rights First pressure group.
ALSO READ Modi in US: Obama, Modi welcome work on 6 nuclear reactors in India”Prime Minister Modi’s trip to the United States is an opportunity for President Obama to raise concerns over India’s progress in combating modern slavery while ensuring that the US-India relationship is grounded in respect for human dignity and fundamental rights.”Forty percent of the world’s estimated 45.8 million slaves are in India, although the scourge exists in all 167 nations surveyed in last month’s Global Slavery Index, according to researchers behind the list.The US State Department’s 2015 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report shows that India’s primary trafficking problem is forced labour.Often trapped in debt, victims including women and children are forced to work in brick kilns, rice mills, agriculture, embroidery factories, and other industries to pay off what they owe to their traffickers.The TIP report ranks India as a Tier 2 country which means the government has not fully complied with US standards but is making significant efforts to meet those standards.Last week a senior US lawmaker raised concerns over India’s human rights record, noting that the 2015 TIP report indicated that Indian officials at various levels of government were complicit in human trafficking.”The government did not report investigations, prosecutions or convictions of government officials complicit in human trafficking offences,” said Senator Ben Cardin, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, during a speech in New Delhi.Indian officials, however, have pointed to a slew of initiatives taken by Modi’s government over the last two years which they said was proof that New Delhi was taking the issue seriously.These include the introduction of a new anti-trafficking law, an online platform to find missing children and increased focus on the rehabilitation of victims of slavery.Last week India unveiled a draft of its first comprehensive anti-human trafficking law, which provides for more shelters, a rehabilitation fund, fast-track courts to ensure speedy trials, a federal investigative agency to boost convictions.

Modi in US: PM Modi-Obama meeting to last for over two hours

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama are scheduled to meet at the White House on Tuesday for over two hours that will include a working lunch to be attended by Vice President Joe Biden.The seventh Modi-Obama meeting will highlight the deepening of the US-India relationship in key areas since the President’s visit to New Delhi in January 2015, the White House said. “This is a pretty significant amount of time for the President and Prime Minister. They would be able to cover every single issue in the time allotted,” a senior US official said,adding that the actual time has been expanded to provide ample opportunity to cover all issues.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The President looks forward to discussing progress made on our climate change and clean energy partnership, security and defence cooperation, and economic growth priorities,” the White House said, adding that Biden would will also attend.After an hour-long meeting, the two leaders are briefly scheduled to address the press inside the Oval Office for about 15 minutes. Soon thereafter Obama would host Modi for a working lunch in the Cabinet Room of the White House.Biden would also be present for the lunch. “They have two pretty lengthy meetings. One would be in the Oval Office. Then there is a little bit of a press spray. Then they would shift to a lunch meeting as well. It is pretty significant,” the official said.Modi is currently on a three-day US visit. On Wednesday, he would address a joint meeting of the US Congress.

US will aid India’s defence whether or not it chooses to operate with us: US

Washington: The US is “committed” to help India build its defence capabilities until it can be the “net provider of security” in the Asia-Pacific region, a senior Obama administration official has said.

“There is a recognition that as India grows and develops the capacity to protect its interests, not just in immediate region, but also broadly throughout Asia Pacific particularly in the Indian Ocean region. It is in the US interest to build India that capacity until it can truly be the net provider of security,” the official told PTI.

Modi on his arrival at Washington. The Indian PM is on a two-day tour to US. PTIModi on his arrival at Washington. The Indian PM is on a two-day tour to US. PTI

Modi on his arrival at Washington. The Indian PM is on a two-day tour to US. PTI

“Whether India decides to operate with us or not, we are committed to help India develop that capacity to protect its own interest and to ensure that the Indian Ocean region is free from the kind of threats to maritime transport, shipping, the way it is being in the South China Sea,” he said.

Enhanced global co-operation with greater role for India, strengthening of defence and security relationship and initiating steps to boost bilateral trade are believed to be on top of the agenda for US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi when they meet at the White House on Tuesday.

The official said the India-US relationship has now “emerged at the world stage” and is no longer a “restricted to narrow” South Asia or subcontinental set of issues.

“This level of engagement between an American President and an Indian Prime Minister is absolutely unprecedented,” the official said.

India recognises that it now has a tangible and active role to play in protecting its interest, the official said moments after Modi landed at the Andrews Air Force Base for his three-day visit to Washington. So “it drifted away” from previous governments insisting on values and ideals like disarmament, non-discrimination to being “much more practical” in really reaching out protecting that interest.

The first manifestation of this was at the Paris Climate Change Summit last November.

The summit was successful largely because “Modi made a personal decision” to shift away from the integrated north-south narrative to one of really joining in with other world leaders to solving these problems, the official said.

“I think the President and the Prime Minister are likely to talk about how they continue their co-operation on world problems. That would come up in the meeting on different issues. And that would be reflected in the joint statement as well,” said the official.

“Secondly the other major convergence that has taken place in recent years is in the realm of security. Again you have a country that historically was non-aligned, probably more closely aligned to the Soviets than with any other country. The US on the other hand was a major cold war protagonist and preferred operating with close alliances,” the official said.

“What we have seen from the joint strategic vision from last year is that there is really a strong convergence of perspectives on security matters including regional security matters,” the official added.

At the same time, the officials conceded that the convergence is not complete yet.

“There are areas where US still prefers to operate with partners and do operations together as we do elsewhere in the world. India is still hesitant to operate with any other country. It prefers to be autonomous and truly non-aligned,” the official said.

“There was a statement made by one of our military commanders that created kind of push back, blow back inside India. But that is the kind of issue where we are on the edge where our co-operation is today. But I think in the years to come, we would look back at this period and say well we managed to get that through as well,” observed the official, who is privy to the discussions between the two countries.

The official also conceded that America’s security partnership with Pakistan over the years still poses challenge to India-US relationship.

“But even there you would see there is going to be a much greater convergence again that no country should allow territory to use to launch terrorist attack against neighbours. And I think that is a very strong point of convergence between these two,” said the senior administration official.

Economic front is one area, where there is less convergence as compared to security and global issues, the official said.

“On economic front, historically we had a socialist command economy in India and US promoting global liberalised trade. This is an area where convergence is far from complete,” the official said.

“I think, as US is working with other countries in the Asia Pacific region, trans-pacific partnership, we have envisioned of a liberalised high standard trade and investment system in the Asia Pacific region. And India is not yet comfortable with that,” the official said.

“It (India) still has an approach that is more protectionist which is internally oriented to advance its own industry and make its own industry more competitive. Of course, we understand that. But we are working and we are intensifying discussions including in the Oval Office on Wednesday between the President and the Prime Minister, how we can come on board and find areas to c-operate on in the trade investment area,” said the official.

NSG: Swiss says a big Yes, but China wall ahead

Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi scored a diplomatic victory on Monday, by managing to win the crucial support of Switzerland for India’s entry into the elite 48-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), Chinese wall still stands in India’s way in clinching NSG membership.Modi, who held bilateral talks with Swiss President Johann Schneider-Ammann ahead of his crucial Washington visit, also got a commitment on black money stashed in Swiss banks. The PM said that both countries will start early talks on the Agreement on Automatic Exchange of Information to combat the menace of black money.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Swiss support is significant, considering that it – along with other North European countries – has been fiercely opposing entry of those countries which have not signed the non-proliferation treaty (NPT) into the nuclear trading club. The tiny country in the middle of Europe is part of 12 nuclear and disarmament related clubs, which include the UN Disarmament Commission and NPT.The nuclear club countries are meeting on June 9 in Vienna and June 23 in Seoul to discuss India’s membership. Experts here believe that India’s diplomatic efforts may convince several NSG members like Switzerland to back its membership, but China is equally determined to put roadblocks, unless Pakistan is also given entry into the grouping, despite its poor proliferation record.Chinese opposition will come up at discussions between Modi and President Barack Obama on Tuesday, when they will discuss India’s route to the NSG. Modi, who is visiting a series of countries currently, added Mexico and Switzerland to his itinerary because both had expressed reservations about India being included in the NSG. Modi also expressed India’s readiness to resume free trade agreement (FTA) talks with EFTA – the grouping of Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein. The talks stand stalled on a host of issues like Intellectual Property Rights and data safety. The negotiations for the Free Trade Association were launched in 2008.In Washington, President Obama – whom Modi is meeting for the seventh time since he assumed office on Tuesday – will have his work cut out. He needs to find a way out to neutralise Chinese opposition to India’s entry into the NSG. He will also have to make up his mind for formal signing of the key logistics agreement that would enable the US to refuel and repair vehicles at Indian ports and bases. The two countries have now agreed “in principle” to the deal, but the final draft has not been signed. Two other agreements – one that would provide access for India to US’ advanced radio and satellite communications systems, and the second that would provide exchange of geospatial data for military and civilian use – are also pending. India had long been reluctant to sign the logistics agreement because of fears it would obligate India to support a US role in future military conflicts.”There are certain apprehensions in our minds because of past experience,” said Alok Bansal, director of the Center for Security and Strategy at the India Foundation in Delhi. On Wednesday, Modi would address a joint meeting of the US Congress, the first foreign leader to do so this year.

PM Modi, US likely to discuss Pakistan on NSG meet sidelines

A senior US lawmaker has said that there is every likelihood that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Barack Obama would discuss ongoing developments in Pakistan and their impact on India and the larger South Asian region on the sidelines of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) meeting scheduled to be held in Washington this week. At a congressional hearing last week, ranking Democratic Senator Ben Cardin hoped that Prime Minister Modi’s visit would also pave the way for greater understanding of Washington’s position on Pakistan, the Dawn reports.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”And, clearly, Pakistan is going to be in the discussions. How do we advance the regional security, and how do we handle what India can do in regards to the Pakistan relationship?” Senator Cardin asked.Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is on a five nation tour is scheduled to arrive in Washington today on a three-day visit. He is expected to pay tributes at the Arlington National Cemetery and also meet heads of a number of American think tanks and will attend an event to repatriate Indian antiquity by the US On Tuesday, the Prime Minister will meet President Barack Obama at the White House where the two will have a working lunch.PM Modi will address the 40th AGM of the USIBC (US India Business Council) and meet US business leaders who he said have, over the past two years, shown renewed confidence in India. The Prime Minister will also interact with members of the House of Representatives and the Senate, many of whom have been valued friends of India and strong votaries of deepening India-USA ties. The United States and India could also announce a major defence deal during PM Modi’s visit.

PM Modi’s visit will highlight Indo-US ties, shared leadership on world stage: White House

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit will highlight the growing collaboration between India and the US and their “shared leadership” on the world stage, the White House said on the eve of his arrival here.”This visit celebrates the remarkable transformation in US-India ties. Over the last seven years, the United States and India have cemented an enduring bond of friendship, built on democratic values, open societies, and a respect for a rules-based order,” a senior administration official told PTI.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>At the invitation of President Barack Obama, Modi arrives in the US capital tomorrow afternoon as he and Obama are scheduled to meet at the Oval Office.
ALSO READ Indian-Americans keen about Narendra Modi’s address to US CongressThe President will host a lunch for the Prime Minister after the meeting.”The Prime Minister’s visit will also highlight the growing collaboration between our two countries and, more consequentially, our shared leadership on the world stage,” the official said.
ALSO READ NSG membership, black money high agenda as Modi starts five-nation tour”From addressing climate change and providing clean energy solutions, to deepening our economic and trade ties, to preserving cyberspace as an engine for growth and development, to protecting our shared spaces on the sea, in the air, and in space, the world is better when the United States and India lead together,” the official said.On Wednesday, Modi would address a joint meeting of the US Congress, the first foreign leader to do so this year and also the first to address a joint meeting of the Congress under Speaker Paul Ryan.
ALSO READ India should open talks with Pakistan and China to push for NSG’s membership: NYTMeanwhile two leading US dailies the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal have said that Obama building a relationship with Modi is primarily aimed at China.The two leaders “have each invested in developing a close relationship”, Benjamin J Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor was quoted as saying by NYT.The daily said the US is encouraging the rise of India as a giant Asian partner to balance China, and India is trying to accelerate its economy with an injection of investment from American companies.The Wall Street Journal said among the factors propelling India-US the relationship is China’s growing footprint in India’s traditional sphere of influence in the Indian Ocean.The White House is looking to increase economic and defence cooperation during the visit and to cement the new momentum in ties before turning the relationship over to the next US president, WSJ reported.

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