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Obama phones PM Modi, thanks his leadership for ensuring success of climate summit

The phone call from the American President came three days after 195 countries reached a deal to attempt to limit the rise in global temperatures.

Bacark Obama dn PM Narendra Modi
File Photo

US President Barack Obama on Wednesday spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi thanking him for his leadership, saying India played a “critical role” at the climate change summit in Paris which ensured the event was a “historic success.” During the telephone call, “The US President, Mr. Barack Obama, has thanked Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi for his positive role and leadership in the successful outcome of COP 21,” the PMO said. Obama said “India played a critical role in making climate change Paris summit an historic success,” it said. The phone call from the American President came three days after 195 countries reached a deal to attempt to limit the rise in global temperatures to less than 2C at the climate change summit in Paris after two weeks of intense negotiations.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Obama had met Modi on the sidelines of the summit in the French capital and also called him up on the PM’s return to Delhi in the midst of hard negotiations in Paris.

PM Narendra Modi now has more than 16 million Twitter followers

Narendra Modi’s Twitter account gets an addition of another million followers, taking the total follower count to 16.1 million.

Online campaigns upheave Modi’s Twitter following

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Number of followers of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, @narendramodi, on social media site Twitter has crossed 16 million mark, by adding record number of followers in last one year.”In a span of two months, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Twitter account gets an addition of another million followers, taking the total follower count to 16.1 million,” Twitter said in a statement.Modi’s follower number crossed 15 million on September 22, 2015. Since the time he was sworn into office on May 26, 2014, he has added 11.9 million followers.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”PM Modi has also set new records as the largest increase in the number of followers in a 12-month period for an Indian account (8.8 million followers from Sep 17, 2014 to Sep 17, 2015),” Twitter said.TWITTER RACEUS President Barack Obama (@barackobama) tops the list with 66.1 million followers
Modi is the most followed Indian politician, and the 2nd most followed politician in the world after Barack Obama
Amitabh Bachchan (@SrBachchan) runs with 17.8 million followers and Shah Rukh Khan (@iamsrk) at 16.2 million followers
​Modi has used twitter for campaigns like #MakeInIndia, #SwachBharat, #MannKiBaat and #SefieWithDaughter to reach and connect with the citizens for development and progress.”Recently, PM Modi’s umbrella initiative #MakeInIndia, one of the largest economic development initiatives planned by the government, became the first non-US brand to launch its own Twitter emoji to a worldwide audience,” the statement added.The #MakeInIndia emoji symbolises the success of the brand campaign on Twitter with nearly 500 million impressions this year to promote India as a great place for foreign direct investment to transform the country into a global manufacturing hub.

CIA chief’s hacked e-mail: Pak uses militant proxies to counter India’s growing influence in Afghanistan

“Pakistan’s desire to counter India’s growing influence in Afghanistan and concerns about US long-term commitments to Afghanistan increase Pakistan’s interest in hedging its bets by ensuring that it will be able to have a working relationship with the Taliban to balance Indian and Iranian interests if the US withdraws,” Brennan wrote on November 7 in 2008.

CIA chief’s hacked email: Pakistan uses militant proxies to counter India’s growing influence in AfghanistanPakistan uses militants as proxies to counter India’s growing influence in Afghanistan, according to a set of documents released by WikiLeaks from the hacked personal email account of CIA Director John Brennan.The documents, released by the whistle-blower website and deemed classified by the CIA, contained reports on Afghanistan and Pakistan, and also ideas for US policy towards Iran.Brennan, three days after Barack Obama was elected US President in November 2008, wrote to him in a position-cum- strategy paper that Pakistan uses the Taliban to counter India in Afghanistan.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Pakistan’s desire to counter India’s growing influence in Afghanistan and concerns about US long-term commitments to Afghanistan increase Pakistan’s interest in hedging its bets by ensuring that it will be able to have a working relationship with the Taliban to balance Indian and Iranian interests if the US withdraws,” Brennan wrote on November 7 in 2008.Brennan, then a top foreign policy and counter-terrorism adviser to Obama, then a president-elect, was in the running to be CIA Director. The post, however, went to Leon Panetta.Obama initially made Brennan his top counter-terrorism adviser, and in January 2013 he nominated him as CIA Director.Brennan’s views on Pakistan was disclosed in a 13-page executive summary of key findings and recommendations on Afghanistan and Pakistan.Brennan, in the summary, said efforts in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) have been challenged by Pakistan’s ambivalence towards, and perhaps outright support for, the Taliban.”While the US Intelligence Community differs on the extent of the relationships, at least some elements of Pakistan’s military and intelligence services appear to be ambivalent about the anti-Taliban and anti-militant mission in the FATA, in part due to their history of close ties to the Taliban in Afghanistan’s conflict with the Soviet Union and Pakistan’s use of militant proxies in its conflict with India,” he wrote.Coalition forces have won every major battle with Afghan insurgents, but these tactical successes have not resulted in a strategic victory, largely because insurgents are free to regroup in sanctuaries across the Af-Pak border, he wrote.On Wednesday, WikiLeaks began publishing documents from “Brennan’s non-government email accounts”. They appear to date back to 2007-09, when Brennan worked in the private sector.

Barack Obama deeply values his relationship with PM Narendra Modi: White House

President Barack Obama deeply values his relationship with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the two leaders have a strong partnership specifically on expanding economic opportunities, the White House has said.

PM Modi and Barack Obama on Republic Day

President Barack Obama deeply values his relationship with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the two leaders have a strong partnership specifically on expanding economic opportunities, the White House has said.”I can tell you that the President deeply values his relationship with Prime Minister Modi; that the United States and India have worked together very closely,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz told reporters on Friday at his daily news conference.”They have a strong partnership specifically on expanding economic opportunities. That’s something the President has worked hard on,” he said in response to a question.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”He’s directed his team here at the White House and throughout the administration to focus on our relationship there and seek opportunities to expand cooperation,” Schultz said.Related Read: India open to peace talks, rules out third party role in Kashmir: MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup

Here’s why a signed flag from PM Narendra Modi isn’t the best gift for Barack Obama

Don’t shoot the messenger. That seems to be the learning from the unexpected controversy which Chef Vikas Khanna has found himself in the middle of, while being interviewed by NDTV’s Barkha Dutt. As solace, he is not alone in this mess. Because for company he has no less than our Prime Minister Narendra Modi by his side.

Modi as every news channel and newspaper and his own Twitter feed has told us, is in New York where he was “hosting a meal for CEOs of Fortune 500 companies at the Waldorf Astoria”. Chef Vikas Khanna was chosen to prepare the seven course meal for the dinner and since Khanna is one of our most PR-savvy chefs, sure enough he was on NDTV being interviewed by Barkha Dutt. Dutt tweeted out that:

Screengrab. Image courtesy: @BDUTTScreengrab. Image courtesy: @BDUTT

Screengrab. Image courtesy: @BDUTT

I’m assuming that crumpled cloth on the left of the picture is the flag which has been inscribed by Modi. What a unique diplomatic gift from the leader of one country to another. But it’s caused a storm Khanna could not have imagined he was cooking up.

There are a number of problems which I have with the gift.

The first is aesthetic. The Gita is a thoughtful gift but why would you autograph the flag of your country and think that it would be a gift worth gifting to anyone – least of all to the President of another country? What would that President do with it?

Two, I take umbrage at the subaltern treatment of Vikas Khanna. Just because he cooked your meal, doesn’t mean he’s your courier boy. In Modi’s defense, Khanna seems pleased as punch to play delivery boy. But really, Mr Modi. Is there no other way you could get this “gift” across to Barack Obama who you were meeting anyway?

Three, what is this fascination that Modi has for seeing his name emblazoned on cloth? First it was the Hosni Mubarak-inspired suit which he wore when he met Barack Obama earlier, the less said about which the better. Now it’s the flag.

Four, let’s not forget that Narendra Modi is the prime minister of India. I’m sure he is well aware of what is kosher as far as the Flag Code Of India goes. Even if he isn’t, he has enough well-informed people around him to tell him. In Part II, Section 3, Explanation 4- point (f) of the undoubtedly outdated The Indian Flag Code, 2002, it clearly stated that putting any kind of inscription upon the Indian National Flag is considered disrespectful to the flag. Part II, Section I, 2.1 subset (iv) specifies that lettering of any kind shall not be put upon the Indian National Flag.

Barack Obama and Narendra Modi. PTIBarack Obama and Narendra Modi. PTI

Barack Obama and Narendra Modi. PTI

Most importantly, as pointed out by DNA,

“The Prevention of Insults To National Honour Act, 1971 (Amended by the Prevention of Insults to National Honour (Amendment) Act, 2003) states: ‘Whoever in any public place or in any other place within public view burns, mutilates, defaces, defiles, disfigures, destroys, tramples upon or otherwise shows disrespect to or brings into contempt (whether by words, either spoken or written, or by acts) the Indian National Flag………. or any part thereof, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.’”

Modi surely did not intend to disrespect the flag but imagine that a Shah Rukh Khan or a Sunny Leone had signed the Indian flag and gifted it to someone? I refuse to believe anyone who claims that upholders of all that is right and wonderful in this country, would not have been baying for their blood. Anyone who claims otherwise is lying. History proves it.

In 2007, Mandira Bedi and Puneet Nanda had to apologise because of a Satya Paul saree which she wore at an event. That saree was covered with images of different flags and the Indian flag happened to be positioned below her knee. The hue and cry in an age before Twitter was ear-shattering.

Sania Mirza was photographed with her feet on a table on which there was an Indian flag. Mallika Sherawat was draped in the Indian flag for her film Dirty Politics. Malini Ramani was hauled up for wearing a dress made from the Indian flag. A case was filed against both her and Sachin Tendulkar for dishonouring the flag – Sachin had cut a birthday cake in 2010, with the flag on it. All of them had to abjectly apologise and say that they had not meant to dishonour the flag.

We can argue about why a flag should be beyond all artistic interpretation but until the Flag Code Of India and The Prevention of Insults To National Honour Act, 1971 (Amended by the Prevention of Insults to National Honour (Amendment) Act, 2003) is amended to say that it’s okay to wrap yourself in the flag or scribble your name all over it, the same law applies to the PM as to the Bollywood item girl.

In the meantime though, I have a small suggestion for our Prime Minister who seems to love displaying his name to Barack Obama. (Does Obama keep forgetting it?) Please hand deliver your gifts. It adds a nice personal touch.

Those who act peacefully for change are not anti-govt: US tells India on crackdown on NGOs

New Delhi: The US on Wednesday hit out at Modi government for the punitive action against scores of NGOs, saying those who act peacefully to seek change are not anti-government and not trying to weaken national security.

US criticised India on the recent crackdown on NGOs.

US criticised India on the recent crackdown on NGOs.

US Ambassador Richard Verma further said citizens have a “inalienable right” in a democratic society to argue peacefully and ask questions or challenge laws.

“I read with some concern the recent press reports on challenges faced by the NGOs operating in India. Because a vibrant civil society is so important to both of our democratic traditions, I do worry about the potentially chilling effects of these regulatory steps focused on NGOs,” Verma said.

He was delivering a lecture on “Foundation of the US-India Strategic-Plus Relationship” at Ananta Aspean Institute, a think-tank.

In a crackdown on NGOs allegedly receiving illegal foreign funds, the government last month had cancelled licences of nearly 9,000 such entities for violation of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA).

The US-based Ford Foundation has also been put on the ‘watch list’ by the Home Ministry, which directed that funds coming from the international donor should not be released by any bank to any Indian NGO without mandatory permission from it. The government had also barred Greenpeace India from receiving foreign funds with immediate effect.

Noting that it was natural to have areas of disagreement between the two countries, he said he was looking forward to some tough discussions with India on certain issues, indicating that action against NGOs may be one of them.

“I also know there will be times when we disagree, and I look forward to those conversations, too. Yes, I look forward to the tough discussions because my argument is not that our two sovereign countries must be exactly the same,” he said.

After the Ford Foundation was put on the watch list, the US State Department had protested and the issue was also reportedly raised by under secretary for political affairs Wendy Sherman during her meetings with senior Indian officials here last week.

PTI

Muslim clerics term Obama’s religion remarks as ‘eye opener’ for Modi, BJP

Lucknow: Terming US president Barack Obama’s statement over religious tolerance as an “eye opener” for
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP, Muslim clerics and scholars today said he should control elements who with their hate speeches were hurting his development agenda.

Secretary General of All India Muslim Personal Law Board Maulana Nizamuddin told PTI, Obama has not said anything new, “but it is an eye opener for Modi government”

Barack Obama in a file photo. AFP

He asked Modi to pay attention to the prevailing situation in the country in the wake of Obama’s statement.

“The PM should take into consideration the fact that senior leaders of his party were speaking in a language which was creating hatred in the society and hurting his government’s slogan ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas,” he said.

“Scholars say that a society makes progress only in a just and peaceful environment, and it can be achieved only when efforts are not made to flare up communal passions. No person should have the freedom to speak against a particular section,” Nizamuddin said.

“Obama has left with a message, instead of being impressed with all your welcome the US President has highlighted your shortcomings and faults. He has given his reply in just one line,” he added.

Professor Ishtiyaq Ahmad Zilli, Director Professor of prominent Islamic Research Institute ‘Darul Musannefeen Shibli Academy’, said the remarks were an example of how due to the statements of some BJP leaders and associated Hindu organisations, the country was earning disrepute.

“It is a fact that the country progresses only when there is intention to take everyone along. The biggest problem with Modi is that he doesn’t say a word against these statements. He should have reacted strongly,” Zilli said.

On 5 February, US President Barack Obama had said the “acts of intolerance” experienced by religious faiths of all types in India in the past few years would have shocked Mahatma Gandhi.

The comments by Obama came a day after the White House refuted suggestions that the US President’s public speech in New Delhi in which he touched upon religious tolerance was a “parting shot” aimed at the ruling BJP.

“Michelle and I returned from India – an incredible, beautiful country, full of magnificent diversity – but a place where, in past years, religious faiths of all types have, on occasion, been targeted by other peoples of faith, simply due to their heritage and their beliefs – acts of intolerance that would have shocked Gandhiji, the person who helped to liberate that nation,” Obama said in his remarks at the high-profile National Prayer Breakfast.

Spokesman of All India Shia Personal Law Board Maulana Yassod Abbas also said that Modi should control the people making inflammatory statements related to religion.

“A series has started wherein so called Hindu organisations give statement on ‘ghar vapasi’ and ‘love
jihad’. This is disturbing communal harmony,” he said.

PTI

Azam Khan takes jibe at Modi-Obama friendship

Azamgarh (UP): Latching on to Barack Obama’s concern about religious “intolerance” in India, senior Samajwadi Party minister Azam Khan on Friday sought to puncture Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s attempts to project the US President as his bosom friend.

“Modi made tall claims about his close friendship with Obama, but at the time of returning home, he warned that communalism was a bane for India,” he said.

Azam Khan. PTI

Khan was here to attend a Samajwadi Party function here in SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav‘s Lok Sabha constituency.

“The foreigner who had come here had warned that the path of India’s development would be affected because of communalism,” he said.

Khan was reacting to Obama’s comment in Washington that the “acts of intolerance” experienced by religious faiths of all types in India in the past few years would have shocked Mahatma Gandhi.

Earlier also, Obama, at the end of his three-day visit to India, had made a strong pitch for religious tolerance, cautioning that India will succeed so long as it was not “splintered along the lines of religious faith”.

Khan said religion would survive only if the country survives.

The SP leader also slammed Modi for reportedly trivialising and humiliating media.

“If the head of the government loses control over his tongue, it will lead to anarchy in the country and we should all condemn it,” Khan added.

PTI

Government clamps down on four US NGOs

In a move that could trigger controversy before US president Barack Obama’s visit, Centre has clamped down on four American NGOs — Avaaz, Bank Information Centre (BIC), Sierra Club and 350.org – dealing with issues on climate change.Union home ministry sources said the action was taken as irregularities were found in the funds being transferred. The funds received by the NGOs were being transferred in to the individual or personal accounts and not into the accounts approved to receive foreign funding under the Foreign Control regulation Act (FCRA).Following home ministry’s observation, the Reserve Bank of India has restricted all funding to four American NGOs operating in India after the government found them allegedly violating laws related to foreign contributions.The home ministry has asked RBI to take prior permission from its foreigners’ division before clearing any aid from abroad to the four NGOs. The move, sources said, follows prolonged monitoring of the activities of four American NGOs which were allegedly violating the rules governing FCRA.Accordingly, the RBI has put on hold any direct flow of funds to these NGOs and their representatives from abroad since each transaction has to be cleared on a case-by- case basis by the home ministry.The move comes within six months of international environment group Greenpeace and Climate Works Foundation subjected to a similar restriction for allegedly opposing several development projects in India. The two NGOs have denied the charges.