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29 Tamil Nadu fishermen detained by Sri Lankan navy

Chief Minister Jayalalithaa has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi voicing concern at recurring instances of such arrests

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Complete list of countries visited by PM Narendra Modi in 2015


A Right to Information (RTI) filed by Delhi-based activist Lokesh Batra revealed that by mid-September India had spent Rs 41.1 crores over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s foreign visits in the last one year.

PM Modi departing from Delhi on his tour
File Photo

A Right to Information (RTI) filed by Delhi-based activist Lokesh Batra revealed that by mid-September India had spent Rs 41.1 crores over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s foreign visits in the last one year. As the year come to an end, he has made 27 trips and visited 25 nations in a year, while views and counter-views emerge right from Rahul Gandhi’s criticism to Arvind Kejriwal’s questions and social media potshots, some still believe that his visits would strengthen his vision of ‘Make in India’.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Let’s have a look at the nations that Modi visited this year:SeychellesDates of visit: March 10-11Purpose: Met President James Alexis Michelin as a part of Indian Ocean outreach programme and discussed maritime ties and bilateral development and cooperation.MauritiusDates of visit: March 11-13Purpose: Modi was the chief Guest at the Independence Day celebrations in Mauritius on March 12. He poured Gangajal in a sacred pond in Port Louis and commissioned an India-built naval patrol vessel for Mauritius.Sri LankaDates of visit: March 13-14Purpose: Sri Lanka released 86 fisherman prior to Modi’s visit. It was the first visit by an Indian Prime Minister in 28 years aimed at improving the relation with the island country after Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination. The visit was also to discuss increasing Chinese activities in Lanka.SingaporeDate of visit: March 29Purpose: In his first visit to Singapore, he attended the state funeral of first Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew, on the sidelines he also met several world leaders and Israeli President.FranceDates of visit: April 9-12 Purpose: To encourage French defence, civil nuclear power and food processing companies to participate in Make in India programme.GermanyDates of visit: April 12-14Purpose: To visit business leaders at Hannover Messe business fair. He also unveiled a bust of Mahatma Gandhi in Hannover.CanadaDates of visit: April 14-16Purpose: To strengthen Indian- Canadian bilateral relations in various sectors including aerospace and defence, education, energy, mining, infrastructure, sustainable technologies, information and communication technology. He also met Indians in Canada and visited Laxminarayan temple and Gurudwara.ChinaDates of visit: May 14-16Purpose: The issues for discussion included long-pending border dispute, a widening trade imbalance in favour of China, stapled visas, China taking up large infrastructure projects in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and economic matters.MongoliaDates of visit: May 16-17Purpose: Modi visited Mongolia to address Great Khural on May 17 and announced a line of credit of US $1 billion to Ulaanbaatar to develop institutions, infrastructure and human resources in Mongolia. He also gifted Mongolia a Bhabhatron for cancer treatment.South KoreaDates of visit: May 18-19Purpose: As a part of East Asia Policy, Modi upgraded the ties between two nations to ‘Special Strategic Partnership’ and signed seven agreements including one on avoidance of double taxation.BangladeshDates of visit: June 6-7Purpose: There were 22 agreements signed between the two nations including 1974 Land Boundary Agreement. Other issues discussed include business of water from the Teesta river, issues between border forces and an equal treatment for Bangladesh.UzbekistanDate of visit: July 6Purpose: Three pacts were signed to boost cooperation between foreign offices in the field of culture and tourism. Enhanced strategic, economic and regional issues like the situation in war-torn Afghanistan also made it to the agenda.KazakhstanDate of visit: July 7Purpose: Key issues discussed included fight against terrorism and extremism. Five key agreements were inked, which included a defence pact to enhance military cooperation and a contract for supply of uranium. RussiaDates of visit: July 8-10Purpose: Attended BRICS and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation ​(SCO) Summits.TurkmenistanDates of visit: July 10-11Purpose: PM Modi signed seven pacts with Turkmenistan, vowed to fight terrorism together and pitched for an early implementation of the US $10 billion TAPI pipeline project.KyrgyzstanDate of visit: July 12Purpose: Modi in Kyrgyzstan signed four agreements to boost defence cooperation and hold annual joint military exercises and discussed combating international terrorism and other crimes.TajikistanDates of visit: July 12-13Purpose: Narendra Modi unveiled a statue of poet Rabindranath Tagore in Dushanbe and discussed regional issues including Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) with President Emomali Rahmon.United Arab EmiratesDates of visit: August 16-17Purpose: Modi’s visit to United Arab Emirates was aimed at reaching out to the Indian diaspora there, wherein he announced E-migrate portal, ‘MADAD’ for Indian migrants, counsellor camps for Indian workers among other measures. The talks also focussed on enhanced energy and trade cooperation. The last prime minister to visit UAE was Indira Gandhi.IrelandDate of visit: September 23Purpose: First Prime Minister to visit Ireland in 59 years, Modi discussed global challenges like terror and radicalisation with his Irish counterpart Enda Kenny. He also hoped for relaxed visa policies for Indian IT firms. They also spoke about India’s membership of UN Security Council and international export control regimes including NSG.United StatesDates of Visit: September 24-30Purpose: Modi’s US visit was focussed towards United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), large Indian diaspora and Silicon Valley honchos.United KingdomDates of Visit: November 12-14Purpose: India and the UK sealed deals worth 9-billion pound, a civil nuclear pact was signed and collaboration in the fields of defence and cyber security was decided upon, besides talks about railway rupee bond were launched.TurkeyDates of visit: November 15-16Purpose: Modi attended G20 summit which focussed on current state of the global economy, sustainable growth, development and climate change, investment, trade and energy.MalaysiaDates of visit: November 21-22Purpose: Modi inaugrated Torana Gate, attended ASEAN and East Asia Summit, discussed Ayurveda and defence cooperation in Malaysia.SingaporeDates of Visit: November 23-25Purpose: Commemorating 50 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries, PM Modi and his Singapore counterpart signed the India-Singapore Strategic Partnership.FranceDates of visit: November 30 – December 1Purpose: Modi attended COP21 Environment Conference and laid down India’s stratergy on global warming.Russia
Dates of Visit: December 23-24Purpose: 16th India-Russia annual summit talks would focus on stepping up economic engagement and strategic ties. Deals over defence sector which includes joint manufacturing of 200 Kamov-226T helicopters and purchase of Russian S-400 Triumf air defence missile systems also hold an important place apart from access to secret Russian files to unveil mystery of the disappearance of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. AfghanistanDate of Visit: December 25Purpose: The Afghan Parliament constructed by India at the cost of US $ 90 million inaugrated by Modi.

Another engineer found murdered in Bihar; BJP says return of ‘jungle raj’ in state evident

Nitish Kumar-led government has come under sharp criticism from the opposition parties post the murder of two engineers in Bihar’s Darbhanga district.


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Air pollution levels above prescribed limits in 15 of 17 Indian cities with NAQI stations

It said the report is the first analysis of air pollution levels in Indian cities carried out using the NAQI system.

Air pollution

Air pollution levels far exceed the prescribed standards in 15 out of 17 Indian cities where National Air Quality Index (NAQI) stations are situated, Greenpeace India said on Tuesday. The NGO released a ranking report of the 17 cities covered by NAQI, which claimed to have revealed data to challenge the complacence of the central and state governments regarding cities other than Delhi. It said the report is the first analysis of air pollution levels in Indian cities carried out using the NAQI system. Greenpeace India said that the shockingly high pollution figures recorded between April and November indicate the continuing severity of the “air pollution disaster”. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The assessment report said the official data showed that pollution levels in many Indian cities, including Delhi, Ahmedabad, Varanasi, Patna, Agra and Kanpur exceed famously toxic levels in Beijing and other Chinese cities, over the period covered by the NAQI data. NAQI was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to monitor quality of air in major urban centres. “As the political capital and the most polluted of all cities, the bad air in Delhi gets the most attention. But, scratch below the murky surface and you will find concentrations of PM2.5 in several other cities – Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Muzzafarpur and Faridabad, amongst others that would justify the triggering of a ‘Red Alert’. “Even the government’s own, largely inadequate NAQI data reveals that 23 of the 32 stations across India are showing more than 70 per cent exceedance of the national standards,” said Sunil Dahiya, Campaigner, Greenpeace India. The report said that Delhi’s levels over the eight months of data were 12 times as high as the WHO annual guideline and three times as high as the national standard. Another six cities Lucknow, Faridabad, Ahmedabad, Kanpur and Varanasi — had average levels at least 10 times as high as the WHO annual guideline, it said. Comparing the situation in China and India, Delhi’s PM2.5 levels in July-November were almost twice as high as the levels in Beijing over the same period (132 vs 69 g/m3), and were even higher than the levels in the most polluted provincial capital – Jinan in Shandong, the report said. It said that PM10 levels in Delhi in the same period were more than three times as high as in Beijing. The report also referred to a modelling study carried out by two Indian researchers at IIT-Delhi which found that 60-90% of PM10 in Delhi is due to emissions outside the megacity.Noting that much of the debate on air pollution focuses on Delhi, the green NGO said “Delhi smog” is actually a “misleading” expression and satellite images of the winter-time pollution episodes show smog extending all the way from Punjab to Bihar, making “North India smog” a more appropriate label.Greenpeace India said that India’s NAQI system remains poor with most prominent cities lacking real time monitoring stations far behind the standards followed in the top 20 biggest cities of European Union, the US and China.On average, there are four air quality stations in cities in EU countries, five in US cities, and eight in Chinese cities displaying real time pollution levels, whereas 10 of India’s biggest cities do not even have a single such monitoring station, it saidDahiya went on to add that pollution levels in a few Indian cities have embarrassing distinction of having exceeded the toxic levels of Beijing and other Chinese cities, demonstrating levels at least ten times higher than the WHO standards, making air pollution truly a national emergency. As part of the first such initiative on analysing air pollution data, Dahiya said that the NAQI in its present form, fails to acknowledge the scale of the problem.”Data is only available in seventeen cities, which is a shockingly low number considering the size of our country. There is an immediate need to diversify and upgrade the manual stations to ambient air quality monitoring stations feeding data to the online NAQI portal. The existing system needs to include short and long-term solutions and advisories,” he said.The report said that the official data confirmed that exposure to toxic particulate pollution (PM2.5 and PM10) is alarmingly high in most Indian cities and National Ambient Air Quality Standards are being continuously violated.It said that the three key contributors to particulate pollution levels are emissions of dust and soot, SO2 and NOx, which form particulate pollution in the atmosphere.Analysis of the chemical composition of PM2.5 pollution indicated that during Delhi’s most polluted season, 25 per cent of the PM2.5 is secondary, meaning that controlling regional SO2 and NOx emissions can be an important approach to tackle the pollution.

Meetings with Narendra Modi and Sushma Swaraj had encouraging results: Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif

Sharif had met Modi last month at the Paris climate change summit and Swaraj at the Heart of Asia conference in Islamabad last week.

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday said his recent meetings with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj yielded “encouraging results” with both countries agreeing to resume the comprehensive bilateral dialogue.Sharif said this during his meeting with Premier Li Keqiang in the central Chinese city of Zhengzhou where he briefed the Chinese leader on his recent meetings with Modi and Swaraj. Sharif had met Modi last month at the Paris climate change summit and Swaraj at the Heart of Asia conference in Islamabad last week.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The Pakistani premier apprised his Chinese counterpart of his recent meeting with Modi and Swaraj that have yielded encouraging results,” said a press release issued by the Pakistani embassy here on the Sharif-Li meeting.”Both countries have agreed to resume the comprehensive bilateral dialogue, which is a welcome development,” Sharif said on the revival of the Indo-Pak talks.During his meeting with Li on the sidelines of the 14th Heads of Government Council Meeting of the six-member Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), Sharif said that Pakistan has established a Special Security Division (SSD) to protect “our Chinese brothers” working in his country on various projects. On the USD 45 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, Sharif said he was satisfied with progress of CPEC projects.”Pakistan wants all the projects under CPEC to be implemented in a timely and efficient manner,” he said.Sharif said the progress achieved by Chinese takeover of the strategic Gwadar Port Free Zone is a good beginning for initiating the process of building the economic zone. The Prime Minister said Pakistan valued SCO’s role and was grateful that with China’s support, Pakistan is being accepted as a full member of SCO.On counter-terrorism and security issues, Sharif apprised the Chinese premier about military operation ‘Zarb-e-Azb’ and National Action Plan to fight terror that are being successfully implemented in Pakistan.While expressing satisfaction over progress in CPEC, Li said that China will extend full support to the implementation of agreed projects and help Pakistan build its industrial capacity. Sharif also extended an invitation to the Chinese premier to visit Pakistan.

Talks with Pakistan is ‘to try and turn course of history’, says PM Modi

Speaking to India’s top military commanders on board the country’s largest aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, Modi said “we are engaging Pakistan to try and turn the course of history, bring an end to terrorism, build peaceful relations, advance cooperation and promote stability and prosperity in our region.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi inspecting a guard of honour during a welcome ceremony in Kochi on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said resumption of talks with Pakistan was to “try and turn the course of history” and to bring an end to terrorism but made it clear that the neighbouring country would be judged by its commitment on terrorism. Modi also asserted that India will never drop its guard on security as he admitted that there are many challenges and barriers on the path.Speaking to India’s top military commanders on board the country’s largest aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, Modi said “we are engaging Pakistan to try and turn the course of history, bring an end to terrorism, build peaceful relations, advance cooperation and promote stability and prosperity in our region.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”There are many challenges and barriers on the path. But the effort is worth it because the peace dividends are huge and the future of our children is at stake. So, we will test their intentions to define the path ahead. For this, we have started a new NSA-level dialogue to bring security experts face to face with each other. But we will never drop our guard on security and we will continue to judge progress on their commitments on terrorism,” he said.This is the first time that Modi has spoken on the relations with Pakistan after the two countries announced the re-engagement under bilateral comprehensive dialogue last week.The announcement came after Modi had met his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of the climate change summit in Paris on November 30 where the two also agreed to hold NSA-level talks.Addressing the first ever Combined Commanders Conference to be held outside the national capital, the Prime Minister warned against “reckless” nuclear build up and continuing military modernisation and expansion. Modi said “our neighbourhood is most critical for our future and for our place in the world.”But ours is a difficult neighbourhood with the full spectrum of security challenges. We see terrorism and ceasefire violations, reckless nuclear build-up and threats, border transgressions and continuing military modernisation and expansion. The shadow of West Asian instability is becoming longer,” he said.Modi said beyond that, “our region is marked by uncertain political transitions, weak institutions and internal conflicts. And, major powers have also increased their engagement in our land and maritime neighbourhood,” he said.Modi said that India is also pursuing closer relations with China to harness the full potential of the country’s economic partnership.”We will aim to address outstanding issues, maintain stability on the border and develop greater mutual understanding and trust in our overlapping neighbourhood,” he said.The Prime Minister also spoke about the relations with China and said he believes that India and China can engage constructively across the complexity of their relationship as two self-assured and confident nations, aware of their interests and responsibilities.”We will continue to strengthen our defence capabilities and infrastructure, engage our neighbours more closely and strengthen our regional and global partnerships, including in maritime security,” he said.Noting that in a world of rapid changes, India faces familiar threats and new ones, Modi said the country’s challenges cover land, sea and air at the same time.”It includes the full range, from terrorism to conventional threat to a nuclear environment,” he said.He said that India is confident that its defence forces are prepared to deter and defeat any misadventure.”Our strategic deterrence is robust and reliable, in accordance with our nuclear doctrine, and our political will is clear,” he asserted.Modi said that the country needs capabilities to win swift wars for we will not have the luxury of long-drawn battles.”We must re-examine our assumptions that keep massive funds locked up in inventories. As our security horizons and responsibilities extend beyond our shores and borders, we must prepare our forces for range and mobility,” he said.The Prime Minister stressed that “the armed forces must fully incorporate the power of digital networks and space assets into our capabilities.””Equally, we must be prepared to defend them, for they will be the first targets of our adversaries. And networks must be seamless and integrated across agencies and forces, and are precise, clear and quick in response,” he said.Modi said that old rivalries can play out in new theatres such as space and cyber.”And new technologies offer us new ways to be more effective against both traditional and new challenges,” he said adding that “we in India must be ready for the present and prepare for the future.”The Prime Minister noted that Kochi is at the head of the Indian Ocean and at the crossroads of India’s maritime history.”India’s history has been influenced by the seas. And the passage to our future prosperity and security also lies on this ocean. It also holds the key to the fortunes of the world,” he said.

India ranks 130th in Human Development Index: UNDP

“India’s HDI value for 2014 is 0.609, which puts the country in the medium human development category, positioning it at 130 out of 188 countries and territories.

India continued to rank low in the Human Development Index (HDI), climbing just one notch to the 130th rank in the latest UNDP report on account of rise in life expectancy and per capita income.India ranked 130 among 188 countries in Human Development Report 2015 released today by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The ranking is for the year 2014.As per the latest report, India’s rank has moved from 131 to 130. India’s HDI rank between 2009 and 2014 has risen six positions.”India’s HDI value for 2014 is 0.609, which puts the country in the medium human development category, positioning it at 130 out of 188 countries and territories.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Between 1980 and 2014, India’s HDI value increased from 0.362 to 0.609, an increase of 68.1 per cent or an average annual increase of about 1.54%,” a note circulated with the report said.Norway topped followed by Australia and Switzerland. As per the report, the HDI rank of Bangladesh and Pakistan was 142 and 147, respectively. Among the BRICS nations, India was ranked lowest. Other countries in the group are Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa.The HDI is an average measure of basic human development achievements in a country. It is a summary measure for assessing long-term progress in three basic dimensions of human development — a long and healthy life, access to knowledge and a decent standard of living.Life expectancy at birth increased to 68 years in 2014 from 67.6 in the previous year and 53.9 in 1980.Gross National Income (GNI) per capita was US $5,497 in 2014 up from US $5,180 in 2013 and US $1,255 in 1980. India’s GNI per capita increased by about 338 per cent between 1980 and 2014.However as per the report, the expected years of schooling is stagnant at 11.7 since 2011. Also, mean years of schooling at 5.4 has not changed since 2010.Between 1980 and 2014, India’s life expectancy at birth increased by 14.1 years, while mean years of schooling increased by 3.5 years and expected years of schooling increased by 5.3 years.

China reacts sharply to Japan’s inclusion in Malabar exercises

During Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to India last week, it was announced that Japan will be a partner in Malabar Naval Exercises.

Reacting sharply to India’s move of including Japan in the Indo-US Malabar naval exercises, China today said it is hopeful Tokyo will not “provoke confrontation” and “heighten tensions” in the region. “Our position is very clear. It is hoped that the relevant country will not provoke confrontation and heighten tensions in the region,” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hong Lei told a media briefing while replying to a question on Japan’s inclusion in the Malabar drills.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> During Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to India last week, it was announced that Japan will be a partner in Malabar Naval Exercises, taking it from a bilateral naval exercise between India and the US to a trilateral level on a permanent basis. In his briefing, Hong reacted mildly to references to the disputed South China Sea in the talks between Abe and Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as the agreement between the two countries to further civil nuclear cooperation. “China respects freedom of navigation enjoyed by the all countries in the SCS according to the international law,” he said. He, however, defended China’s construction of artificial islands with military facilities. “Construction undertaken by China in the reefs and islands of the SCS is within China sovereignty. There is no impact on freedom of navigation and over flight,” he said reacting to SCS references in the joint statement issued after Modi-Abe talks. “We hope that countries outside the region will respect efforts being made by the countries in the region to maintain security and stability of the SCS rather than the other way around,” he said. Territorial disputes in the South China Sea involve both island and maritime claims among several states within the region like China, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam. On the India-Japan civil nuclear deal, Hong said, “with regard to nuclear cooperation between India and Japan we always believed that on the premise of respecting nuclear non-proliferation. All countries have the right to make peaceful use of nuclear energy and carry out relevant co-operation.” “The relevant corporation should help maintain the authority and effectiveness and international nuclear non-proliferation regime,” he said.

Paris climate deal weak and unambitious: CSE

Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said that the developed nations have no legally binding targets on finance or emissions cuts in the agreement.

China and India representatives during the Paris climate talks

The climate change agreement adopted is “weak and unambitious” and does not include any “meaningful” targets and have discharged developed nations from their historical responsibility, an Indian green think tank said on Sunday. Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said that the developed nations have no legally binding targets on finance or emissions cuts in the agreement and the phrase “historical responsibility” has been erased from the agreement which weakens the obligations of developed countries to take actions due to there past emissions.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> CSE director general Sunita Narain said that the whole Paris agreement is “weak and unambitious” and does not include any “meaningful” targets. “Developing countries have got words and promise of money while the developed countries have finally got rid of their historical responsibility of causing climate change. They have no legally binding targets on finance or emissions cuts. “The phrase ‘historical responsibility’ has been erased from the agreement and this weakens the obligations of developed countries to take actions due to there past emissions.” “Without historical responsibility, equity will now be interpreted only through the words ‘respective capabilities and national circumstances” further removing differentiation between the climate actions of developed and developing countries,” said Chandra Bhushan, Deputy Director General, CSE. A landmark climate change deal was clinched here with the approval of India, China and the US after days of tough negotiations here. The legally-binding pact seeks to limit global warming to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius. CSE said that to erase any notion of historical responsibility, the developed countries have gone to the extent of mentioning in the text that the loss and damage due to climate change “does not involve or provide a basis for any liability or compensation”. “On the whole, the draft Paris agreement continues to be weak and unambitious, as it does not include any meaningful targets for developed countries to reduce their emissions.” “It (the pact) notes that climate injustice is a concern of some and it maintains that the agreement will be under the UN convention. But as it does not operationalise equity and the term carbon budget didn’t even find mention in the text. This will end up furthering climate apartheid,” said Narain. Elaborating about what India has gained and lost out on the climate change agreement, CSE said that the agreement is under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). India has got right words like equity and common but differentiated responsibilities mentioned in many places. The green body also said that India has also got the terms like climate justice, sustainable lifestyle and consumption mentioned in the agreement. But it must be noted that these are not in operational parts of the text and so there are no commitments for these things.”India also believes that it will not have to do much before 2030, but CSE analyses is that India will be under constant pressure to take more burden for mitigating climate change by 2020 and beyond, especially when the next review of all the nationally determined contributions of countries take place,” the body said.While analysing the agreement, CSE said that differentiation between developed and developing countries is maintained in the text in some parts, particularly on finance, but it must be noted that this is weak differentiation based on capabilities and not on historic responsibilities.It said that the the words ‘Equity’ and ‘Common But Differentiated Responsibilities’ has come in many places, but gets negated by the fact that the Nationally Determined Contributions of countries are not legally binding and everyone has to take on mitigation commitments.”The text does talk about support for loss and damage, but clearly specifies that this will not be considered as liability or compensation. This further weakens the obligations of developed countries and erases responsibilities of dealing with the consequences of their past emissions.”References to carbon budgets is gone and so developed countries can continue to disproportionally appropriate carbon space in the future as they have done in the past. A fair distribution of the remaining carbon space based on historical responsibilities could have avoided this inequity,” it said.After 196 nations adopted the agreement yesterday, India said it has created a “chapter of hope” in the lives of seven billion people.However, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar also said that the agreement could have been more ambitious as the actions of developed nations are “far below” than their historical responsibilities and fair shares.

India emerges as key player in final phase of Paris climate talks

With just hours remaining before negotiators hopes to close a deal addressing climate change, India has emerged as a key player.

India at COP 21

AFP photo
India has emerged as key player in the negotiations for a crucial climate change deal in Paris that has entered the final phase, according to a media report.India hit back at developed countries that have been accusing it of refusing to yield ground on emissions and funding, saying they were not showing flexibility and posing roadblocks for a comprehensive climate deal, deadline for which was extended by a day on Friday.With just hours remaining before negotiators hopes to close a deal addressing climate change, India has emerged as a key player,” the Time magazine said in a news report yesterday, which noted that Indian leaders were walking a tight rope on the issue of climate change.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Officials wanted to show that the world’s fourth-biggest carbon emitter was ready to play a constructive role in international climate negotiations, it said.Related Read: COP21 summit: Deadline arrives today, world inches closer to climate deal”On the other hand, negotiators need to show citizens back home that addressing climate change would not detract from development goals particularly the need to bring power to the quarter of the population that goes without it,” Time said.The White House said there was broad agreement about countries making a substantial commitment to reducing their carbon pollution, about specific transparency measures so that people can demonstrate their commitment to those commitments.”There has also been obviously discussion about the importance of investing in renewable energy and in other technology that could assist countries that are experiencing the impacts of climate change already, and are poised to experience even more impacts in the years ahead,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said.Negotiations for a climate change deal hit a roadblock yesterday as countries like India and China refused to yield their ground on emissions and funding. On Thursday US President Barack Obama spoke with his Chinese counterpart for about half an hour and early this week he telephoned Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the same issue.Officials did not rule out more calls between Obama and Modi as the negotiations enter last phase.”The United States and China have been playing an important leading role in getting the talks this far, and there continues to be agreement in principle on what an outcome should look like,” Earnest said.”But there’s more work to be done before we’re going to be able to come to that final agreement, and that means there will presumably be continued discussions between US and Chinese negotiators, and the negotiators with countries, including the Brazilians on and with the French, who obviously are leading the negotiations,” he said. He said given all of the differences between the United States and China on a variety of issues, the view of of the two countries when it comes to completing a climate agreement has been quite similar.

Lancet study puts India as the worst performing among BRICS nations on health indicators

Despite a certain amount of progress in the past decade or so, the report points out glaring gaps in healthcare infrastructure in the country — “low resource allocation, low emphasis on primary health care, poor utilisation of human resources,” as Professor K Srinath Reddy, one of the co-authors said.

Yet another report on India’s troubled health care system pointed out the country’s poor performance across health indicators, despite economic advantages. A report in the medical journal The Lancet — Assuring Health Coverage for all in India — by leading health researchers in the country put India as the worst performing country among the BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and well behind its more impoverished neighbours such as Nepal and Bangladesh when it came to health.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Despite a certain amount of progress in the past decade or so, the report points out glaring gaps in healthcare infrastructure in the country — “low resource allocation, low emphasis on primary health care, poor utilisation of human resources,” as Professor K Srinath Reddy, one of the co-authors said.The report also talks about high out-of-pocket expenditure that drives millions to impoverishment and a disproportionate disease burden. As the report says, India has 20 percent of the global disease burden, marginally better than 21 percent in 2005 while expenditure has dropped from 4.5 percent of the GDP in 2004-05 to 4 percent in 2015.Speaking to dna, Professor Reddy said that idea behind this most recent analysis of data was to make a case for better investment in health care better financial allocation and governance and improved utilisation of all resources.There are certain positives; increase in life expectancy at birth, lowering of infant mortality rate and the maternal mortality ratio, containing the spread of HIV, being declared free of polio and maternal and neonatal tetanus by the WHO. However, “India accounts for 27 per cent of all the neonatal deaths and 21 per cent of all the child deaths (younger than 5 years) in the world. Diarrhoea, pneumonia, preterm birth complications, birth asphyxia, and neonatal sepsis account for 68 per cent of all deaths in children younger than 5 years in the country,” reads the study.The report calls for radical measures as the only way to assure the universal health targets that the country’s own draft National Health Policy endorses, by 2022. Suj measures start with building infrastructure for primary health care. This policy, according to Reddy, provides a sound roadmap and strategic components for the way forward. However, it’s been in cold storage for almost a year as the NITI Ayog differed from it.Earlier this year, media reports said that the Niti Ayog preferred more privatisation of health care as opposed to public spending.Expenditure on health care becomes the bone of contention. Though this government, as the report details, has launched several schemes to better healthcare across regions, ages, sexes caste and classes, it also slashed the annual health budget. Says Reddy that the argument is that resources are not used properly and often allocated money is returned. However, he advocates for more front end expenditure on human resources, drugs, technology, infrastructure.A day before The Lancet study, the Indian Health Report: Nutrition, too pointed out that India’s health indicators and its economic strength were not directly proportional. Stunting affects 38.7 percent of under five children pointing to widespread malnutrition. Both reports, importantly, highlighted that causes also lay in a range of socio-economic determinants, and “widespread inequities in health outcomes that are apparent in the large morbidity and mortality differentials across socio economic status, caste, class, sex, and geographic location”. “We’re doing poorly across the board according to aggregate indicators,” explained Reddy, however, results differed states from state, along caste and class lines. “We have to push to do better not only on aggregate indicators but also address these inequities and provide universal health access.

India scores major diplomatic victory after China invites northern army commander for talks

The invitation comes five years after China refused to host the then Northern Army Commander Lieutenant General BS Jaswal on the grounds that he was posted in Jammu and Kashmir, which is a ‘disputed’ territory.

Lt Gen DS Hooda

Far from the euphoria over Bangkok handshake, India is quietly basking under a major diplomatic victory after China invited Northern Army Commander Lieutenant General DS Hooda for discussions on the border management and boundary issues.The invitation comes five years after China refused to host the then Northern Army Commander Lieutenant General BS Jaswal on the grounds that he was posted in Jammu and Kashmir, which is a ‘disputed’ territory.Lt Gen Hooda, general officer commanding in chief (GoC-in-C) of Udhampur- based Northern Command, along with other army commanders are scheduled to travel to China in mid-December to hold discussions with Chinese counterparts on varied issues relating to the boundary issues.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”He (Lt Gen Hooda) is likely to visit China in mid-December. Exact dates will be intimated later,” Colonel SD Goswami, defence spokesman at Northern Command, told dna.The four-day-long talks between Indian and Chinese military delegation will focus on a host of issues relating to the boundary disputes, border management and maintaining peace and tranquility on the line of actual control in Ladakh and other parts of the country that shares border with China.India shares a 3,488-km border with China while Jammu and Kashmir shares 646 Km of line of actual control (LAC) with China. Jammu and Kashmir is the only state in the country which shares its borders with both Pakistan and China.The incursions and transgressions by People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has been a cause of worry for the people in Ladakh division, though the number has decreased for the last one year.In September, two armies were engaged in a bitter standoff after Indian troops dismantled the watch tower constructed by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) at Burste in Depsang Plains on the LAC.In April 2013 Indian and PLA were engaged in a major face-off when the Chinese troops had come 19 kilometres deep inside the Indian Territory at Daulat Beg Oldi sector on LAC and set up tented posts. The 20-day standoff ended on May 5 2013 when troops from both sides withdrew to the pre-incursion positions on the LAC.”We hope that there will be a movement forward in the meeting between the military leaderships of the two countries. There is a major policy shift in China and a lot of goodwill towards India. We hope to carry forward the mission of friendship with China,” said an army officer.

Dalai Lama says India is 90% tolerant, only some politicians and media create ‘sensationalism’

The Tibetan spiritual leader said a lot of problems are highlighted in newspapers but they are not that serious.

Amid the raging debate over intolerance, Tibetan spiritual head the Dalai Lama on Monday said overall Indians are religiously tolerant, but there are some politicians and some sections of the media who create sensationalism out of “small things”.”Ninety nine per cent of Indians still are religiously tolerant and one per cent it is possible (to have intolerant people). I believe that. Some politicians may express different things, but that is their individual expression,” the Dalai Lama told PTI in an interview here. “Some people in the media too create small things into ….create sensationalism,’ said the Dalai Lama, on a three-day visit to Bengaluru.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Tibetan spiritual leader said a lot of problems are highlighted in newspapers but they are not that serious. “In India I feel, when we look at the newspapers, there are a lot of problems, but besides that nothing serious – Totalitarian regimes’ newspaper is smooth, but underneath a lot of problems,” he said. Asked about criticism that writers did nothing like returning awards during the Emergency and the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, the Dalai Lama said US President Barack Obama had mentioned Modi as a straightforward and a visionary leader and his visits to different countries has improved India’s image and it is on the path becoming an economic power.”President Obama sort of expressed Prime Minister Modi as brother, truthful, straightforward leader with a vision.During his visits to different countries, the image of India and also the economy, I do not know the details, but if you see his own sort of speeches, India’s economy is very rapidly increasing and India is on the path of becoming more powerful,” he said.The Dalai Lama said he doesn’t not know the details about Modi’s alleged “connection” with the post-Godhra riots, but these issues crop up during elections. “When he (Modi) was the Chief Minister of Gujarat, a Muslim friend said he (Modi) may have some doubt about his connection with post-Godhra violence. I don’t know … During elections we see more criticism of such kind,” he said.”This kind of criticism also is witnessed in Tibetan communities during elections and whenever a political matter crops up,” he added. However, this sort of criticism is better than the totalitarian regimes of China and North Korea, where there is no sort of freedom of expression for different views, he said.Asked if it was fair for writers to return their awards on the issue of “intolerance”, the Dalai Lama said, “I do not know the details, but there are some individuals – they have some reasons and resented. They also enjoy freedom. Whether that is right or wrong, we have to study very very carefully.”

Congress raises banner of revolt against labour reforms

Even as the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government plans to introduce a slew of labour reforms by converting 44 labour laws into four simplified codes, Congress on Saturday said, it will not allow tinkering with the laws, as it amounts to puncturing the social security cover. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi blasted Prime Minister Modi over his “pro-rich” initiatives to help a handful and at the same time changing the labour laws to oppress the workers.He told the 31st plenary of INTUC, the trade union wing of Congress, here that the Congress will fight for the cause of the workers and stand with them as it fought for the rights of farmers to defeat the Modi government’s attempts to change the land acquisition law in favour of the rich. He cited how 44 Congress MPs failed Modi’s bid to snatch away the farmers’ land.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Attacking Modi for his talk of growth, progress and development, he asked: “Growth for whom? Progress for whom? Vikas for whom? Development for whom? Who is gaining from growth –only 20-25 persons becoming billionaires?”Rahul criticised Modi for coining new words and new slogans and keep shifting as they are all hollow. “First achchhe din,” then “Swachchh Bharat,” then “Smart Cities,” “Make in India”, Digital India” and “Accessible India.”He wondered if Modi’s growth is only for 20-25 billionaires who fly around in private aircraft while the workers are not able to even buy the bus ticket; they live in jhuggis drinking dirty water, surrounded by gutters and heaps of dirt,A worker getting hurt is left to die without medicines. Is this development, he asked.Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also condemned the Modi government for its so-called labour reforms to reduce the scope of secure industrial jobs in favour of contract labour and hire-and-fire approach.”Dissatisfaction of workers with the anti-labour and unimaginative economic policies of the government was obvious from the one-day general strike on September 2,” he said.Rahul picked up Modi’s “Make in India” slogan, noting that the workers in India are doing it every day since everything made in India is because of the Indian workers.Endorsing Modi’s vision of turning India into a global manufacturing centre ahead of China, Rahul said Modi’s views on “Make in India” are, however, different from his.”PM thinks the worker is a cheat, shirker and that he can be made to work only with lathi and that is why he is engaged in weakening the labour laws to discipline the workers, believing that they will be thus compelled to work.”If you look at the laws made in Rajasthan, Gujarat and Haryana, you will note a big war declared by the BJP against India’s labour class. Modi thinks a policy of hire-and-fire and weakening the unions will force workers to work.”Rahul said the Indian worker is neither shirker nor indisciplined and India is not progressing in manufacturing because the Indian worker is frightened.”You talk of productivity but a worker frightened about his future cannot deliver, work efficiently. You remove his fear psychosis and promise a good future to his children and see how they leave China far behind.”Rahul said it is not the government’s job to make the workers work forcibly. He called for a partnership between workers and the industry but he said this is possible only when the government sits as a judge and not as an advocate of the rich.”I do not want to build this nation with your blood and tears. I do not want an India where your future, your children’s future is snatched away,” Rahul said, telling Modi that he cannot expect better work from workers by reducing their job security and making it difficult to form unions. “You can’t be successful with Make in India by withdrawing the basic necessities. Productivity will not rise by removing laws for eight-hour duty and overtime payments.”A worker living with fear of losing job any day cannot contribute in the progress of any industry. There is a need to give a minimum security to the poor workers to come out of poverty, he said.

Modi govt deliberately weakening labour laws, alleges Rahul Gandhi

He said that is why the labour laws were being diluted, so that the workers come to his knees.

Rahul Gandhi

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Saturday launched a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, accusing him of making deliberate attempts to weaken labour-related laws which was creating dissatisfaction among the workers.Alleging that Modi has launched a “big assault” on the workers, a combative Gandhi vowed to fight their battle like the Congress did for the farmers on the land acquisition bill.”Like we fought for the rights of farmers, we will fight for the cause of the workers and stand with them and would not retreat an inch. We will fight BJP, Modi and RSS,” he said amid applause at the 31st Plenary Session of INTUC, the trade union wing of the Congress. Gandhi said although he agreed with the Prime Minister’s idea of turning India into a global manufacturing centre to make it more competitive than China, the unanimity ends there.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>This, he claimed, was because the Prime Minister considers Indian worker as “dishonest, shirker and one who could be made to work only by wielding the stick”. He said that is why the labour laws were being diluted, so that the workers come to his knees. “If you look at the new laws being made in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Haryana, you will see that Modi has started a big assault on workers,” he said.He claimed the Prime Minister feels that there was need to weaken the labour laws and “discipline” the workers so that they could be forced to work. Modi feels that with ‘hire and fire’ policy and weakening of unions, the workers will be made to work, Gandhi claimed.”I do not agree that our worker is either shirker or indisciplined… Our worker is scared. He is scared of his future, the future of his children. The worker is scared whether the job he has today will be there tomorrow. Will the factory gate open for him tomorrow,” the Congress leader said.Insisting that the government should become “judge” between the labourers and the industry and “not advocate” of industry, he told the Prime Minister that if he is able to remove fear from the mind of the workers then India would be able to surpass China in no time.Addressing the gathering, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the “dissatisfaction” of workers with the “anti-labour and unimaginative” economic policies of the NDA government was obvious from the one day general strike observed in the country on September 2.Gandhi’s attack on the Modi dispensation came after INTUC chief G Sanjeeva Reddy accused the government of launching an assault on interests of the labourers in various ways. Reddy alleged that the government was not recognising INTUC as the largest trade union organisation in the country with 3.31 crore members despite “submission of all documents for verification”. Gandhi said Modi had attempted to acquire lands of farmers by promulgating the land ordinance thrice but Congress MPs resisted and ensured that it was not done. He alleged that now the Prime Minister’s attempt is to break the safety net for workers which was built over decades by the Congress when it was in power.Claiming that whosoever was advising the Prime Minister on labour matters was “wrongly advising” him, Gandhi said the workers would take India to greater heights if their “pain” is removed. Taking a dig at the Prime Minister, the Congress vice-president said “these are days of Twitter and selfies” and Modi has a penchant for using new words and phrases.He assured the INTUC leadership that he would accommodate their representatives in Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha and state assemblies as also in the ministries so that the issues of labour get their due attention. Former Prime Minister Singh said that in the name of structural labour reforms, attempts are being made to reduce the scope for secure industrial jobs in favour of contract labour and ‘hire and fire’ approach.”It is generally agreed that we need at least 500 million skilled workers by 2022. The actual pace on the ground is only a fraction of this target,” he said. At the same time, he said that industrial strife, strikes and lockouts are “not the best means” to resolve unrest. “We must enlarge the available space for resolving industrial problems through peaceful dialogue involving all the stake holders of the tripartite process namely workers, industry and government.”He said the trade union movement has to be made aware that at present Indian economy faces a fragile recovery and inadequate expansion of employment opportunities and public enterprises face an uncertain future.

India should focus more on renewable energy: Expert

According to media reports, US and its allies in the global North, as pushing for equal financial contributions from the developing countries, going against the principle of common but differentiated responsibility.

India needs to establish itself as a natural leader in solar energy

Negotiating its way through the climate talks in Paris, India needs to be careful of not being reactionary, yet be able to give it back in kind and focus on its ambitious renewable energy targets, to counter the spoiler tag coming its way, say experts observing the talks. US Secretary of State, John Kerry’s statement prior to Paris, calling negotiating with India a challenge, set the ball rolling on “political posturing on whom to blame”, as Dr Arunabha Ghosh, CEO of Council for Energy, Environment and Water told dna, India needed to stay it’s course and not rise to the bait.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>According to media reports, US and its allies in the global North, as pushing for equal financial contributions from the developing countries, going against the principle of common but differentiated responsibility. This has also thrown a spanner in the making that the developed world meet its pledge of $100 billion to help the developing world by 2020, and could sour this crucial stage in the climate negotiations.Srinivas Krishnaswamy, founder of Vasudha Foundation, New Delhi, told dna that “industrialised countries, particularly EU and US are pushing for language on decarbonisation goal as part of the long term goal.” India, he added, was “resisting that language” as “its stance primarily is that it is in a stage of development, where it requires all sources of energy to secure its energy future.”According to him, and Ghosh, India’s trump could be its focus on renewable energy, its ambitious plans to set it up, and establishing itself a natural leader in solar energy with the International Solar Alliance.”The Prime Minister’s speech was a one-two punch,” said Ghosh. It put on the table India’s large plans for renewables and also joined hands with other countries. Thus it maintained a positive position and couldn’t just be seen as a country that wanted to hold on to differentiation.”If countries want to talk coal, then India should talk coal,” Ghosh explained further, as the US consumed more coal today than India will in 2030. The EU used coal in the form of lignite, which was one of the dirtier kinds of coal. India’s lignite usage, said Ghosh, was 1/10th that of the EU’s.Ghosh also said that India’s renewables target had set it on the correct trajectory. It may not achieve 175GW of renewable energy by 2022, but it would get there in time. Krishnaswamy too, comparing India and China, said that “India has already an ambitious RE target until 2022 and if this is realised, could potentially ramp up its RE targets even further until 2030 and despite the head start that China has had on RE, India could very surpass China in the percentage share of RE in its mix.”

India to ban old trucks as cities choke on dirty air | Reuters

NEW DELHI India will force all commercial trucks more than 15 years old off the road from April and is reviewing how it checks vehicle emissions, a senior transport official said, as the government tries to curb soaring urban air pollution.

The World Health Organization said last year that India had 13 of the 20 most polluted cities on the planet, including the worst offender, New Delhi.

Fumes spewed by a multiplying fleet of commercial vehicles, many of them old and badly maintained, are one of the biggest contributors to air pollution nationally: the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) think-tank estimates their share of vehicular emissions at 60 percent.

“We are to make 15 years the end of the life for all commercial vehicles,” Vijay Chhibber, the top bureaucrat in the transport ministry, told Reuters, saying the order, not previously reported, would be made public within 10 days and the ban enforced next April.

“It (air pollution) will get worse every year unless we do something.”

Hauliers complained such a move would unfairly single them out, while experts said the ban was only a part of the solution.

“Taxes on cars and parking charges should be raised to curtail usage, and public transport should be expanded,” said Vivek Chattopadhyay, a pollution expert at the CSE. “Emissions are not just related to age.”

Smog has blanketed the Indian capital this week as a global climate summit began in Paris, a reminder of how hard it will be for India to achieve economic growth and prosperity without pollution getting worse.

Despite growing recognition of the problem, weak coordination and enforcement have hobbled action to clean India’s cities and tackle a health crisis that causes more than 600,000 premature deaths annually.


It was not clear how enforcement of the proposed ban would work, given faltering efforts to bar smoke-belching vehicles from the streets of New Delhi.

“There is dust, pollution in the air and I have grave difficulty breathing,” said 48-year-old asthmatic Abdul Razik Kamal, who sells tea from a roadside stall near one of New Delhi’s main entry points for commercial trucks.

“There are many more cars in Delhi today than there were a few years ago and I have to use the inhaler around the clock.”

China has declared a “war on pollution”, with Beijing pledging billions to clean up its act, close coal-fired power plants and cut new car registrations.

India said last week it would bring forward the date by which vehicles must comply with tighter emissions standards by three years to 2019, although the country is still behind emission norms followed in Europe and China.

New car sales are booming, hitting close to 200,000 in October, their fastest monthly rate of growth in three years, as more urban Indians can afford to drive.

The transport ministry also wants to overhaul emission tests on private cars to ensure the measures are age- and vehicle-specific, as in the West.


In New Delhi, where an expanding metro system has failed to slow the spread of private vehicles, 1,400 extra cars hit the streets every day.

The U.S. embassy’s monitoring station has recorded an air quality index in excess of 400 this week, a level that is hazardous even to healthy people.

Pollution typically worsens in the winter months as the cooling of temperatures combines with pollution to cover the city, home to 16 million people, in smog.

Authorities have launched monthly car-free days in some areas. They have also levied a “green” tax to encourage the 52,000 commercial vehicles that enter the city daily to take alternative routes.

Delhi-based haulier Jigyasu Wadhwa, whose company runs a fleet of 200 vehicles, said the government was wrong to cast all older trucks as culprits when many newer, badly maintained vehicles were far more polluting and never penalised.

“Generalising the impact 15-year-old vehicles have on the environment is stupid,” he said. “The government needs to ensure people get their vehicles maintained, whatever the age.”

(Additional reporting by Sankalp Phartiyal; Editing by Douglas Busvine and Mike Collett-White)

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

Modi and Hollande release Ricky Kej’s album featuring Amitabh Bachchan and Shankar Mahadevan

The music album is made in association with Vivekananda International Foundation and has 14 songs and four music videos. The album also features renowned Asian musicians from China, Vietnam, Japan, Korea and the feted voices of Indian composers Shankar Mahadevan and Hariharan.

Modi and Hollande

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and France President Francois Hollande have launched Grammy award winner Ricky Kej’s new music album ‘Shanti Samsara’ at International Solar Alliance (ISA) launch event held in Paris. Speaking about his epic music project, Ricky said his album was conceptualized through the inspiring words of Modi during his meeting with him in September.Expressing his gratitude to Prime Minister, he thanked him for helping him to channelize his creativity and art towards making a difference and for giving him a perspective on what the world needs, ‘Environmental Consciousness’ <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>’It feels like I have been a musician just so that I could see this see my music hopefully make a small difference in this world’, said the Grammy winner. Featuring over 300 musicians across the globe, the album includes seven Grammy Award Winners who joined hands to create environmental consciousness.The album, which also celebrates nature through different cultures around the world, features Sanskrit verses, spoken words by Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan, Hollywood actress Frances Fisher and BAFTA award Winner Rosanna Arquette. The music album is made in association with Vivekananda International Foundation and has 14 songs and four music videos. The album also features renowned Asian musicians from China, Vietnam, Japan, Korea and the feted voices of Indian composers Shankar Mahadevan and Hariharan.

Solar alliance shows India’s leadership in clean energy: US environmental experts

The alliance, launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with French President Francois Hollande also has the potential to propel international solar markets forward while fighting climate change, improving global health and boosting economies, Suh said.

The launch of an unprecedented international solar alliance in Paris on the sidelines of the climate change summit shows India’s leadership in clean energy, environmental experts have said.”This unprecedented international solar collaboration sets an encouraging tone as country representatives gather today to reach a new global climate agreement. India’s leading role in forming an International Solar Alliance anchors its own climate commitment to ramp up renewable energy,” said Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The alliance, launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with French President Francois Hollande also has the potential to propel international solar markets forward while fighting climate change, improving global health and boosting economies, Suh said.Launching the alliance in Paris, Modi and Hollande invited over 100 solar-rich countries to facilitate widespread implementation of solar projects and infrastructure.”This new alliance is a sign of India s leadership on the global stage. The international alliance brings together developing and developed countries to expand energy access, accelerate solar power deployment, and stimulate economic development. Backed by USD1 trillion in investment, the alliance should drive down the costs of solar power, making it affordable for a growing number of communities,” said Manish Bapna, managing director World Resources Institute.Modi, who spearheaded this partnership with leaders of several African countries, continues to show strong commitment to expand renewable energy in India. The alliance will support India in building 100 gigawatts of solar energy by 2022, he said.”With the US and China joining India, along with over 100 other nations, to support this solar alliance on the first day of the UN climate negotiations, the majority of greenhouse gas emitters are demonstrating tremendous leadership to develop sustainably while curbing climate change,” said Jing Jing Qian, China Programme Director for the Natural Resources Defense Council.Anjali Jaiswal, India Initiative Director for the Natural Resources Defense Council said coupled with its comprehensive solar programme aiming to reach 100 gigawatts by 2022, India has once again positioned itself as a global leader in clean energy.”Developing affordable solar technologies and attracting the considerable investment required to finance the envisioned solar transition are critical steps to support India and other countries to achieve their ambitious clean energy goals set as part of the Paris negotiations,” she said.Arunabha Ghosh, CEO of the Council on Energy, Environment and Water said, “India has emerged as the natural leader for this alliance, with its ambitious targets to install 175 GW of renewable energy by 2022, and non-fossil fuel electricity generating systems accounting for 40 per cent of the cumulative installed capacity by 2030.”

Modi sets stern tone at Paris climate change summit, calls for common but differentiated responsibilities

By Dinesh C Sharma

The Paris round of climate talks has begun with high expectations and hope of a workable deal. For the first time in more than two decades of climate negotiations, we have a situation in which a bulk of member countries accounting for 90 percent of greenhouse gas emissions have put on table their national plans to reduce emissions, in the form of Intended Nationally Determined Contributions or INDCs. These are mere voluntary pledges. Hard negotiations are still going to be about a legally binding treaty on emission reduction. And when comes to legally binding obligations, traditional fault lines have resurfaced although with a difference.

On Monday, India made its position amply clear that while it wants a deal at Paris it should be one that “restores balance between ecology and economy” and is based on the principles of justice and equity. “The principle of common but differentiated responsibilities should be the bedrock of our collective enterprise. Anything else would be morally wrong,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi has emphasised in an opinion piece published in The Financial Times.

This unequivocal reiteration of the principle of “common but differentiated responsibility” (CBDR), which is the guiding principle of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), sets at rest speculation about India’s stand. Equity has been the main theme of India’s position in climate talks all these years, and as the prime minister has stated, it is not going to compromise on it. Modi’s statement dashes hopes of some that India might somewhat be flexible or pragmatic on this issue under him.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with French President Francois Hollande at the Paris climate change summit. @MEAIndiaPrime Minister Narendra Modi with French President Francois Hollande at the Paris climate change summit. @MEAIndia

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with French President Francois Hollande at the Paris climate change summit. @MEAIndia

The developed world, led by America and the European Union, has consistently opposed any climate deal that is based on CBDR principle. They advocate a treaty that puts equal obligations on all countries, irrespective of their historical emissions or their present state of development. Of late, there are indications that China, which has become leading carbon emitter now, too is veering around this view. If this is so, then China will be on the side of the US and EU at Paris, breaking away from the BASIC grouping of emerging economies. In case it happens, it will be a tectonic shift in climate diplomacy and may put India in a tight spot. It may be interesting to note that BASIC had emerged as a byproduct of climate talks.

By invoking the principle of CBDR, India is certainly not shirking its responsibility of initiating steps to reduce emissions and take low-carbon trajectory. India has pledged to reduce emission intensity of its GDP by at least 33 per cent by 2030 compared to 2005 level and to planning generate 40 per cent of power from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030, besides a slew of other measures. But it is not in a position to reduce dependence on coal to produce thermal power for some time. All that India is arguing is that industrially developed countries should shoulder greater responsibility because they have historically emitted more and that developing countries should be allowed to emit more carbon as they grow.

Taking on Western critics, who argue that advanced countries powered their way to prosperity on fossil fuel when the world was unaware of its impact and since alternative energy sources are available developing countries should bear the same responsibility as the rich, Prime Minister Modi has observed that “new awareness should lead advanced countries to assume more responsibility. Just because technology exists does not mean it is affordable and accessible.” Access to technology and availability of additional finance to least developed and developing countries have been hanging fire for a long time now. Practically no money has flowed into green funds established to help developing countries.

Modi has also hit on the Western world where it hurts the most: consumptive lifestyles. “The lifestyles of a few must not crowd out opportunities for the many still on the first steps of the development ladder,” he says. India still has 300 million people without access to modern sources of energy.

The equity argument should be seen in the light of the fact that the planet has a finite carbon budget if it wants to stay below 2 degree temperature rise by 2100 to prevent catastrophic impacts of climate change. This estimate has been at 2900 billion tonne of carbon dioxide from all sources from the dawn of industrial revolution till the year 2100.

By 2011, the world had already emitted 1,900 billion tonnes of this budget, leaving only 1,000 billion tonnes to be used between now and 2100. North America, Europe and Russia together have emitted 50 per cent of the world’s carbon dioxide since the industrial revolution. In comparison, China has emitted 10.7 percent and India 2.8 percent though both of them today are among the top five emitters. If the rich continue with current level of emissions, then there will be hardly any carbon space left for those on the lower end of the development ladder.

Paris will be a test of how much carbon space the rich are willing to vacate or leave aside for others. That’s why it is often said that climate is more about economy and politics and less about ecology.

Smog chokes Indian, Chinese capitals as climate talks begin

The capitals of the world’s two most populous nations, China and India, were blanketed in hazardous, choking smog on Monday as climate change talks began in Paris, where leaders of both countries are leading participants.

The capitals of the world’s two most populous nations, China and India, were blanketed in hazardous, choking smog on Monday as climate change talks began in Paris, where leaders of both countries are leading participants.China’s capital Beijing maintained an “orange” pollution alert, the second-highest level, on Monday, closing highways, halting or suspending construction and prompting a warning to residents to stay indoors.The choking pollution was caused by the “unfavourable” weather, the Ministry of Environmental Protection said on Sunday. Emissions in northern China soar over winter as urban heating systems are switched on and low wind speeds have meant that polluted air has not been dispersed.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In New Delhi, the US embassy’s monitoring station recorded an air quality index of 372 – which put air pollution levels well into “hazardous” territory. A thick smog blanketed the city and visibility was down to about 200 yards (metres).Air quality in the city of 16 million is usually bad in winter, with thousands of coal fires lit by the poor to ward off the cold.However, the government has not raised any alarm over the current air quality and no advisories were issued to the public. Thirty thousand runners took part in a half marathon at the weekend, when pollution levels were just as high.In Beijing, a city of 22.5 million, the air quality index in some parts of the city soared to 500, its highest possible level. At levels higher than 300, residents are encouraged to remain indoors, according to government guidelines.The hazardous air underscores the challenge facing the government as it battles pollution caused by the coal-burning power industry and will raise questions about its ability to clean up its economy at the talks in Paris.Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi are both in Paris and both were scheduled to meet U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday to give momentum to the two-week negotiations. “WHEN A CHILD IS BORN, WE PLANT A TREE”Modi wrote on Monday that: “The instinct of our culture is to take a sustainable path to development. When a child is born, we plant a tree.”Since ancient times, we have seen humanity as part of nature, not superior to it,” he wrote in an opinion piece for the Financial Times. “This idea, rooted in our ancient texts, endures in sacred groves and in community forests across the land.”For Beijing’s residents, the poor air makes breathing hard.”This sort of weather, you can see that all of Beijing has been completely enveloped in smog…and for every breath, getting up every morning, your throat will feel particularly uncomfortable,” said Zhang Heng, a 26-year-old architect.The Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau said on Sunday that it had requested factories to limit or suspend output and had also stopped construction work throughout the city.The ministry said the number of cities affected by heavy pollution had reached 23, stretching across 530,000 square km, an area the size of Spain, but a cold front beginning on Wednesday would see the situation improve.State-run Xinhua news agency said more than 200 expressway toll gates in east China’s Shandong province were closed on Monday due to smog. The province issued a yellow alert.China launched a “war on pollution” last year following a spate of smog outbreaks in Beijing and surrounding regions.China has vowed to slash coal consumption and close down polluting industrial capacity, but environmental officials admit that the country is unlikely to meet state air quality standards until at least 2030.Reducing coal use and promoting cleaner forms of energy are set to play a crucial role in China’s pledges to bring its climate warming greenhouse gas emissions to a peak by around 2030.

Exports may slip below Rs 1.9 lakh-crore mark in FY16: Ministry of Commerce official

India is likely to miss its export target and may end up below the $300 billion (around Rs 1.9 lakh crore) mark in 2015-16 due to the global slowdown, says Ravi Kapoor
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The country is likely to miss its export target and may end up below the $300 billion (around Rs 1.9 lakh crore) mark in 2015-16 due to the global slowdown, a senior official said on Tuesday.”We registered exports of $312 billion (around Rs 2.07 lakh crore) last year and set a target of $325 billion (around Rs 2.15 lakh crore) this fiscal. We will be very happy if we achieve exports of $300 billion, but we may fall short of $300 billion,” Ministry of Commerce and Industry Joint Secretary Ravi Kapoor told reporters on the sidelines of ‘India Engineering Sourcing Show’ (IESS).<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The three-day exhibition is being organised by Engineering Exports Promotion Council of India (EEPC India).The country’s exports declined for the eleventh month running in October, highlighting the stiff competition faced by the country in a weak global economy.ALSO READ: China rate cut may hit Indian exportsExports in the first seven months of the year were about $154.2 billion (around Rs 1.02 lakh crore), indicating that tepid global demand continues to be a drag on economic recovery.Kapoor said the fall in exports was due to a sharp fall in the prices of petroleum products. The country’s export basket is led by petroleum products, followed by engineering, gems and jewellery, textiles and pharmaceutical goods, he said.He pointed out that the government has taken various steps to help exporters, including revision in drawback rates and providing interest subvention.ALSO READ: Trans-Pacific Partnership may impact India’s export market shareHe further said the government has decided to improve and protect the intellectual property rights of innovators by upgrading infrastructure and using state-of-the-art technology. The government is also looking at resolving the issues like transaction cost, which is very high, he added.”As the government’s ‘Make in India’ campaign has caught the imagination of global investors, major companies like manufacturers of iPhone and iPad are expected to set up their facilities in the country,” Kapoor said. He further added that big players like Xiaomi and Huawei have already set up manufacturing units, while Foxconn is expected to open its plant soon.ALSO READ: Sharp decline in India’s exports to China in first half of the yearEEPC India chairman T S Bhasin said the focus of sourcing from the country would be on key sectors like industrial supply, electrical machinery, automotive components, innovation technology, retail engineering and engineering products.Nearly 400 exhibitors, 500 overseas buyers and 10,000 trade buyers are attending the IESS 2015 event, he said. ALSO READ: Can India afford to ban export of beef?

China for closer ties with India to remove ‘cancer’ of terror

The joint action plan was finalised during the just- concluded visit of Home Minister Rajnath Singh to China

Rajnath Singh in China

Terming terrorism a “cancer” that needed to be removed jointly by world community, China today called for close cooperation between Indian and Chinese security establishments as the two countries for the first time worked out a joint mechanism to combat the menace.The joint action plan was finalised during the just- concluded visit of Home Minister Rajnath Singh to China. Commenting on Singh’s visit, first by an Indian Home Minister in a decade, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters here that during his meeting with Singh last week Premier Li Keqiang called for close cooperation between law enforcement forces of both the countries to combat terrorism, which has become a menace to the world.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”During the meeting Li pointed out that the world is filled with both conventional and unconventional security threats and the situation is becoming serious,” Hong said. He said law enforcement agencies of the two sides should enhance cooperation to jointly maintain social stability and create favourable conditions for economic development to jointly safeguard world peace and tranquillity. “Terrorism is a cancer that needs to be removed jointly by the international community,” Hong said commenting on Paris and Mali attacks.Singh winded up his visit on Monday after extensive talks between the two security establishments which have until now remained apart, especially due to China’s close ties with Pakistan and Beijing’s suspicions over Indo-US relations. He visited Chinese internal security institutions both in Beijing and Shanghai. Singh held substantive talks with China’s top security officials — Guo Shengkun, State Councillor of the ruling Communist Party and Public Security Minister; and China’s security Czar Meng Jianzhu. Both sides agreed to form a ministerial committee and a joint secretary-level mechanism to periodically meet and review cooperation.Also, the two home ministries decided to form dedicated channels for continuous communication to exchange intelligence on terrorism and other security-related issues like cross-border crimes and drug trafficking. The two sides have already completed five rounds of anti-terrorism exercises between them. Besides coordinating positions on international terrorism, both sides agreed to exchange intelligence on terrorist groups, activities and their links.The talks also covered India’s concerns over China blocking its move to get UN to take action against Pakistan for releasing Mumbai attack mastermind Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi. New Delhi’s move was stuck at UN’s Sanctions Committee after China called for more information. Singh earlier told media here that he raised the issue with his Chinese counterpart and both sides are exchanging information in this regard. India is hopeful China will reconsider its move.

Rajnath Singh visits site of founding of Communist party of China

Singh, who concluded his six-day visit to China on Monday, also visited a nearby police station in Xin Tian Di which functions as a ‘paperless’ sub-bureau of Shanghai Public Security Bureau in an attempt to understand whether such a model can be adapted in India.

Rajanth Singh

Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday paid a visit to the founding site of China’s Communist Party here, perhaps making him the first BJP leader to visit the origins of the Red Movement.Singh, who concluded his six-day visit to China on Monday, also visited a nearby police station in Xin Tian Di which functions as a ‘paperless’ sub-bureau of Shanghai Public Security Bureau in an attempt to understand whether such a model can be adapted in India. Accompanied by Vice Minister of Ministry of Public Security, Chen Zhenmin, Singh visited the site where Communist Party of China was founded and has now been turned into a small museum.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Singh earlier met Mayor Yang Xiong who hosted a banquet for him.During the meeting, Singh discussed ways to deepen sister city cooperation between Shanghai and Mumbai, particularly the strengthening of exchanges between the two city police forces. He appreciated Shanghai Municipal Government’s efforts to establish the city as a leading global financial, economic, trade and transportation hub with particular focus on innovation and technology.Singh visited Shanghai Public Security Bureau’s Central Command and Control Centre, a centralised unit responding to emergency calls, monitors traffic and manages rescue drills.He also visited China Arts Museum where an exhibit of largest ever Indian arts to reach China, “Forms of Devotion, is being showcased as part of the India Culture Week. The CPC, with a membership of over 87 million, is currently the world’s second-largest political party. Founded in 1921, chiefly by Chen Duxiu and Li Dazhao, the CPC is the sole governing party of China.

Modi in Singapore – Oceans should not become new theatres of contests: PM on South China Sea row

“Countries also must be held accountable for sanctuaries, support, arms and funds,” he said.

Amid a standoff between China and some East Asian nations over South China Sea, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said oceans, space and cyberworld should not become “new theatres of contests” but be the avenues of “shared prosperity” and offered to work in this direction. Delivering a lecture here, he talked about how India and China have kept their border region peaceful and stable despite the “unresolved issues”, including the boundary question between the two countries.”In the flux and transition of our times, the most critical need in this region is to uphold and strengthen the rules and norms that must define our collective behaviour,” he said. “…We must all come together, in East Asia Summit and other forums, to build a cooperative and collaborative future, not on the strength of a few, but on the consent of all,” Modi said in his 20-minute ’37th Singapore Lecture — India’s Singapore Story’ — soon after his arrival on a two-day visit.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In an apparent reference to the standoff between China and some East Asian Nations over South China Sea, he said, “India will work with countries in the region and beyond, including the US and Russia, our East Asia Summit partners, to ensure that our commons – ocean, space and cyber remain avenues of shared prosperity, not become new theatres of contests.” The statement is significance as tensions are growing over South China Sea with the US now getting involved and China warning it to keep away. Prime Minister Modi said India and China will engage constructively across the complexity of their relationship as two self-assured and confident nations, aware of their interests and responsibilities. “Just as China’s rise has driven the global economy, the world looks to China to help advance global and regional peace and stability,” he said. Noting that India and China constitute two-fifth of humanity and two of the world’s fastest growing major economies, Modi said, “China’s economic transformation is an inspiration for us.””As it (China) rebalances its economy, and as India steps up the pace of its growth, we can both reinforce each other s progress. And, we can advance stability and prosperity in our region,” Modi said, adding that both the nations together can be more effective in addressing the common global challenges, from trade to climate change. Prime Minister Modi also called for delinking terrorism from religion and said it does not just take a toll of lives, but can derail economies. “Nations must cooperate more with each other. Societies must reach out within and to each other. We must delink terrorism from religion, and assert the human values that define every faith,” he added.Noting that terrorism’s shadow stretches across societies and nations, both in recruitment and choice of targets, Modi said the world must speak in one voice and act in unison. “There will be political, legal, military and intelligence efforts. But, we must do more,” he asserted. “Countries also must be held accountable for sanctuaries, support, arms and funds,” he said.Though he did not name any country, his mention about sanctuaries was an apparent reference to Pakistan where several terror groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Haqqani Network are based and nurtured by the establishment.Talking about next week’s Climate Summit, Modi said, “We are a few days away from Paris, where we must achieve concrete outcome, in accordance with the principles of UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. This is especially important for our region, particularly the small island states.” Modi also promised a greater role for Singapore in India’s growth story and said the city-state will be a major trading partner for India. The Prime Minister said he was conscious of the fact that he was following the footsteps of leaders who have shaped India in delivering this lecture. “Destiny of India and Singapore are deeply linked.” Before Modi, other Indian leaders who have delivered the annual Singapore Lecture of ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute include former president Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, former Prime Ministers P V Narsimha Rao and Atal Bihari Vajpayee.”Few countries can celebrate the first fifty years of existence with a sense of pride and satisfaction that Singapore deserves to. And, I can do no better than to begin with homage to one of the tallest leaders of our time and the architect of modern Singapore Lee Kuan Yew,” Modi said. “For me, he was a personal inspiration. From his Singapore Stories, I drew many lessons,” he added.”Singapore is a nation that has become a metaphor for reality of dreams. The lack of resources is no constraint for inspiration, imagination and innovation,” he added. “It has inspired this region’s progress and led in its integration,” Modi said, adding that Singapore’s success became an aspiration for Indians. “And, in turn, India became the hope for a more peaceful, balanced and stable world.”Noting that India and Singapore have been together at many crossroads of time, Modi said, “We stood together at the dawn of freedom…Singapore success has become India’s springboard to the world and gateway to the East.” “We have comprehensive defence and security cooperation. Singapore is the biggest investment source,” Modi said.Starting from the first IT park in Bengaluru, the partnership has now moved to the newest city of Amaravathi, the new capital of Andhra Pradesh, he noted. “We are linked by geography and history in case of each ASEAN member. We look forward to a more dynamic partnership between India and ASEAN,” the Prime Minister said.

UP IPS officer Anurag Thakur writes to PM Modi over suspension for ‘working more’

He said that though he presented his reply within 24 hours of the suspension but has not been reinstated till date.

“It is my bad luck that I am being criticised for working more,” he said.

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Suspended IPS officer Amitabh Thakur has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi alleging that he has been suspended not for dereliction of duty or impropriety in official work but “for working more” and sought his intervention in the matter. In a letter sent to the PM through the state government yesterday, Thakur said he was suspended in July this year and given a chargesheet levelling 15 charges against him, none of which were related to his work as Inspector general (civil defence), but with him assisting people in getting justice or for his social works.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He said that though he presented his reply within 24 hours of the suspension but has not been reinstated till date. He said the suspension and chargesheet made him remember the Prime Minister’s statement during his China visit where he had said that he was being criticised for working more, Thakur said in a statement here quoting his letter to Modi. Addressing the Indian community in Shanghai during his China tour on May 16, 2015, PM Modi had said, “People are asking why is Modi travelling to so many countries… If you work less, criticism is normal.”If you keep sleeping, criticism is normal. But it is my bad luck that I am being criticised for working more.” Thakur has now requested the PM to get the matter inquired at his end and give him justice. The officer was suspended in July soon after he lodged a complaint against Mulayam Singh Yadav, president of the ruling Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh, for allegedly threatening him over phone. Thakur had released the purported audio clip to the media.The suspended IPS officer had alleged that he got the threat call because his social activist wife Nutan Thakur had raised the issue of corruption by a minister in state government, considered close to the SP chief.

ASEAN Summit: PM Modi calls for new strategies to combat terrorism, Obama vows to destroy ISIS

Noting that the East Asia Summit is the key forum to shape the region’s collective future, Modi told the leaders of the 18-member grouping that the world still looks to the region to address global challenges and uncertainties.

World leaders at the ASEAN Summit in Malaysia

Voicing concern over a spate of recent terror attacks in several countries, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said terrorism is no longer a “peripheral problem” for the region as its long shadow stretches across the world and called for new strategies to combat the menace.”We often thought of terrorism as a peripheral problem for this region. The barbaric terrorist strikes in Paris, Ankara, Beirut, Mali and on the Russian aircraft is a stark reminder that its shadow stretches across our societies and our world, both in recruitment and choice of targets,” Modi said in his remarks at the East Asia Summit here.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He called for a new global resolve and new strategies to combat terrorism, without balancing it against political considerations and said no country should use or support terrorism.”There is no distinction between groups. There are no sanctuaries. There are no funds. There is no access to arms. But, we also have to work within our societies and with our youth,” he added. The Prime Minister welcomed the commitment to delink religion from terrorism and the efforts to promote human values that define every faith.Noting that the East Asia Summit is the key forum to shape the region’s collective future, Modi told the leaders of the 18-member grouping that the world still looks to the region to address global challenges and uncertainties.He said that since his government assumed office 18 months ago, no region has seen greater engagement from India than the Asia Pacific and the Indian Ocean Region. “This reflects a long standing national consensus in India on the importance of this region for India and the world,” Modi said.On upcoming Paris climate talks, the Prime Minister said, “There, we must not only come together to craft a balanced and concrete outcome on climate change. But we must also stand together to send a clear message that we will not retreat in the face of terror.”Modi reaffirmed India’s active participation in the ASEAN led security dialogue and cooperation forums and said the East Asia Summit must continue to support the evolution of an inclusive, balanced, transparent and open regional architecture for security and cooperation. “We must deepen our collective commitment to strengthen and abide by international rules and norms,” he said. Noting that oceans remained the pathway to prosperity and security, Modi said India shared with ASEAN a commitment to freedom of navigation, over flight and unimpeded commerce, in accordance with accepted principles of international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.Noting that India and Bangladesh had recently settled their maritime boundary using the mechanism of UNCLOS, he said territorial disputes must be settled through peaceful means. “India hopes that all parties to the disputes in the South China Sea will abide by the Declaration on the Conduct on South China Sea and the guidelines on the implementation. Parties must also redouble efforts for early adoption of a Code of Conduct on the basis of consensus,” Modi said, without naming any country.China claims sovereignty on almost all of the South China Sea which is firmly opposed by Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan. The Prime Minister also called for stronger commitment and closer cooperation on cyber security. He listed out outer space as emerging a major area of security concern. “We must also continue to strengthen cooperation on non-proliferation,” he said.India, which shares both land and maritime boundaries with ASEAN, said it will continue to deepen bilateral security partnerships in ASEAN and with other EAS partners. “We will remain active participants in the ASEAN-led security dialogue and cooperation forums,” he added. Modi also spoke about early conclusion of a balanced and broad-based Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. “Trans Pacific Partnership is also a major development. These, I hope, will eventually not become competing regimes, but the foundations of an integrated economic community in the region,” he said.Modi said development cooperation was at the heart of the East Asia Summit. “India will continue to support the efforts of our partner countries”. He said India was taking the lead in establishing EAS Virtual Knowledge Portals on Disaster Management and Trauma Care & Nursing. The Nalanda University is shaping up as a world class centre of knowledge and learning, he added. U.S. President Barack Obama on Sunday said the United States and its allies would not relent in its fight to combat Islamic State extremists and would hunt down their leaders and cut off the group’s financing.”Destroying (Islamic State) is not only a realistic goal, were going to get it done,” he told a news conference after a meeting of Asian leaders in Malaysia.”We will destroy them. We will take back land they are currently in, take out their financing, hunt down leadership, dismantle their networks, supply lines and we will destroy them.”Obama said it “would be helpful” if Russia directed its focus on tackling Islamic State and he hoped Moscow would agree to a leadership transition in Syria that meant its president stepping down.

India to host 18-nation mega Army joint exercise with ASEAN members and dialogue partners

Senior officials in the Ministry of Defence (MoD) told dna that the exercise details are being worked out and it is likely to take place in Pune in the first week of March.

In what is slated to be the first-of-its-kind in scale, the Indian Army will hold a joint military exercise next year with 17 nations that include all the 10 member nations of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and eight dialogue partners — including India — of the regional strategic groupSenior officials in the Ministry of Defence (MoD) told dna that the exercise details are being worked out and it is likely to take place in Pune in the first week of March.The Field Training Exercise (FTX-2016) will be a week-long engagement among the armies of the 18 nations over coordination, primarily on de-mining, and the entire activity will be a part of the larger roadmap of military humanitarian understanding in the years to come between India and ASEAN members and affiliates.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Cambodia, Brunei, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam and Thailand are ASEAN member nations.Officials said that the dialogue partners apart from India, namely, China, Japan, South Korea, the US, Australia, New Zealand and Russia, are being coordinated with over their participation.The army’s mega-exercise will follow a grand Naval exercise in February next, at Vishakapatnam, where close to 50 country’s navies will come together for a five-day-long display of prowess and maritime capabilities.The Indian Army, has recently concluded a joint ‘hand-in-hand’ exercise with the Chinese army at China’s Kunming Military Academy and a two-week-long joint training in counter-terrorism operations with the Russian army at Suratgarh in Rajasthan.

PM Modi calls for ‘peaceful means’ to solve territorial disputes

“India hopes that all the parties to the disputes in the South China Sea while will abide by the guidelines on the implementation of the Declaration of the conduct of the parties in South China Sea, and redouble efforts for early adoption of a Code of Conduct on the basis of consensus,” he added.

Image Courtesy: PIB

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday called for ‘peaceful means’ to settle all territorial disputes.”India shares with ASEAN a commitment to freedom of navigation, over flight and unimpeded commerce, in accordance with accepted principles of international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the law of the Sea. Territorial disputes must be settled through peaceful means,” Prime Minister Modi said while addressing the 13th ASEAN-India Summit at the Convention Centre here.”India hopes that all the parties to the disputes in the South China Sea while will abide by the guidelines on the implementation of the Declaration of the conduct of the parties in South China Sea, and redouble efforts for early adoption of a Code of Conduct on the basis of consensus,” he added.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Prime Minister insisted that specific plans of co-operation with maritime security, counter-piracy and humanitarian and disaster relief should be evolved.Prime Minister Modi also said that he is looking forward to ASEAN leading the way in defining the regional architecture and that India attach the highest priority to this partnership.”The 1st ASEAN-India Cyber Security Conference we hosted in Jan 2015 should be the springboard for greater cooperation. ASEAN remains the largest investment partner ? both for inward and outward flows, but there is great potential for expansion,” he said.He also called for enhancing cooperation with ASEAN on terrorism and for adoption of Comprehensive Convention on international terrorism.

Rajnath Singh conveys India’s concerns over border incursions to Li Keqiang

During his 40-minute-long meeting with Li, Singh, the first home minister to visit China in 10 years, called for effective border management with emphasis on maintaining peace and tranquillity along the borders

Rajnath Singh

Expressing concern over the recurring incidents of incursions by Chinese troops, Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday told Chinese Premier Li Keqiang that there should be an effective border management until the two sides reach a settlement over the dispute.During his 40-minute-long meeting with Li, Singh, the first home minister to visit China in 10 years, called for effective border management with emphasis on maintaining peace and tranquillity along the borders. “I have expressed concern over the incursions,” he told reporters after his talks with Li and other Chinese officials. The Chinese Premier too said the incursions should stop, Singh stated while replying to a question.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He said there is a shared desire on both sides to maintain peace and tranquillity along the border which is an essential prerequisite to gain momentum in the bilateral relations. On the issue of different perceptions on border, he said “while we seek an early settlement there is need to ensure peace and tranquillity and effective border management until we arrive at a solution.”On the joint mechanisms to resolve the border dispute, he said their functioning should be made fruitful. The mechanism to resolve the border dispute is headed by National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and his Chinese counterpart and State Councillor Yang Jiechi.There have been several incidents of incursion in Indian territory by Chinese troops in the recent past. Most of these incidents took place in the Ladakh sector. India shares a 3,488-kilometre border with China, running along the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.Singh said during his talks with Li issues related to economic cooperation also figured. About concerns related to Chinese firms over security related issues, he said his ministry has cleared 20 Chinese companies including mobile firms to invest and operate in India.Singh would travel to Shanghai on Saturday by bullet train to get a feel of the Chinese technology. China is currently competing with Japan to build high speed trains in India. While China is conducting feasibility study to build Chennai-New Delhi high speed train, Japan is conducting the same for Mumbai-Ahmedabad route. Singh said he also travelled by bullet trains in Japan during his visit there.

PM Modi to focus on anti-terror, business cooperation in Kuala Lumpur

Modi will also hold talks with top leadership of Malaysia on ways to ramp up bilateral cooperation in a range of areas including defence and security and take the strategic ties to a new level

Shoring up efforts to combat terrorism and enhancing economic engagement will be the focus of Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he addresses two powerful regional blocs at the ASEAN-India and East Asia summits during his tree-day visit to Kuala Lumpur beginning Saturday.Modi will also hold talks with top leadership of Malaysia on ways to ramp up bilateral cooperation in a range of areas including defence and security and take the strategic ties to a new level. The two sides are likely to sign a number of MoUs. Combating terrorism is likely to be the major focus area of the 10th East Asia Summit and the Prime Minister will seek concerted efforts to defeat the challenge as the shock of the Paris terrorist attacks jolted the whole world, said officials.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The ASEAN is considered one of the world’s fastest growing regions and both sides are likely to seek greater economic engagement besides expanding cooperation in host of other areas such as maritime security and dealing with illicit drug trafficking and cyber crime. ASEAN is India’s fourth largest trading partner and India in turn is sixth largest trading partner for the bloc. The combined GDP of both sides is US$ 2.57 trillion.On November 21, Modi will attend the 13th ASEAN-India Summit and will address the East Asia Summit the next day.”In view of rise of non-traditional security threats ASEAN and India are looking closely in addressing terrorism, drug trafficking, cyber crime and piracy along the Malacca Straight,” said Secretary (East) in the Ministry of External Affairs Anil Wadhwa. Asked about the recent flare up in South China Sea following visit of a US ship, he said India does not favour any party and has been maintaining that any dispute in the region must be resolved through dialogue.He said India was for speedy implementation of the declaration of code of conduct and was looking forward to conclusion of a document in this regard between ASEAN and China. India and ASEAN countries are also likely to discuss ways to enhance connectivity links. A motor vehicles agreement among India-Myanmar-Thailand has just been finalised and the negotiations for ASEAN-India maritime transport agreement are also underway, he said.The leaders of East Asia Summit are expected to discuss matters of international concern including terrorism,irregular migration, South China Sea, situation in Korean Peninsula and in the Middle East.About seven statements and declarations are scheduled to be adopted at the summit, said Wadhwa. A statement on Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Negotiations is also likely to be issued by the leaders of East Asia Summit.Wadhwa said negotiations on an RCEP Agreement involving the 10 ASEAN countries and its six FTA partners including India have seen some breakthroughs and are expected to be concluded in 2016. He said RCEP will open door for Indian business in the RCEP countries having combined GDP of USD 17 trillion.At the ASEAN summit, the leaders will take note of the new Plan of Action (2016-2020) to further enhance ASEAN-India cooperation along the politico-security, economic and socio-cultural pillars. Seven statements and declarations are expected to be adopted at the EAS to reinforce its commitment to specific issues including countering violent extremism, ensuring security and enhancing regional maritime cooperation.Modi along with other East Asia Summit Heads of State and Government will also witness the signing ceremony by ASEAN’s “2015 Kuala Lumpur Declaration on the Establishment of the ASEAN Community” and the “Kuala Lumpur Declaration on ASEAN 2025: Forging Ahead Together”. India and ASEAN have 30 dialogue mechanisms including a Summit and seven Ministerial meetings in External Affairs, Commerce, Tourism, Agriculture, Environment, Renewable Energy and Telecommunications.Trade between India and ASEAN stood at US$ 76.52 billion in 2014-15. India’s exports to ASEAN were US$ 31.81 billion and India’s imports from ASEAN were US$ 44.71 billion. The ASEAN-India economic integration process has got a fillip with the creation of the ASEAN-India Free Trade Area in July this year, after the ASEAN-India Trade in Services and Investment Agreements came into force.The key members of ASEAN block include Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Philippines and Vietnam. Apart from the 10 ASEAN Member states, East Asia Summit members include India, China, Japan, Republic of Korea, Australia, New Zealand, United States and Russia.Modi’s visit to Malaysia is also a bilateral one and he will have wide-ranging talks with his Malaysian counterpart Najib Bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak. Modi will unveil a statue of Swamy Vivekananda and gift a bust of Mahatma Gandhi to Malaysia.His engagement in Malaysia will include addressing an Indian community event and interacting with a group of top businessmen. Both sides are expected to sign an MoU to enhance cooperation in cyber-security.Ties between India and Malaysia are on an upswing and bilateral trade volume last year was around US$14 billion. Around 2 million Indians live in Malaysia and constitute 8 per cent of its total population. The PM will leave for Singapore on a bilateral visit on November 23.

IISc breaks into list of top 100 universities for engineering and technology

Asian universities occupied six positions in the Top 30 this year, with Japan, China, Korea, Taiwan and India all improving their representation, while Singapore and Hong Kong maintained theirs.

The Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bangalore broke India’s poor ranking spell by making a debut in the world’s top 100 universities for engineering and technology.IISc made its entry at 99th spot in a list that remains dominated by US institutions with Stanford, CalTech and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the top three positions in the ‘Times Higher Education (THE) Ranking for Engineering & Technology’. “This year’s stand out success story has to be India, making its debut in this prestigious engineering and technology ranking, which represents the top few per cent of world universities for these subject disciplines.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Whether you look at high tech sectors such as IT or aerospace engineering or more traditional fields such as steelmaking, India’s engineering and technology prowess is highly visible the world over in the shape of companies based in India or run by people born in India, such as Google and Microsoft, Infosys and Wipro or Tata and Mittal,” said Phil Baty, Times Higher Education World University Rankings editor.THE has singled out the year as one of Asian progress, with the US holding 31 positions down from 34 last year while Asia holds 25 positions in the Top 100, up from 18 last year. Asian universities occupied six positions in the Top 30 this year, with Japan, China, Kora, Taiwan and India all improving their representation, while Singapore and Hong Kong maintained theirs.

‘Cannot eliminate all who disagree with you’: Dalai Lama joins the debate on intolerance

Chennai: Amid ongoing debate over intolerance, Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama on Tuesday called for respecting dissent and said secularism denoted respect for all religious beliefs and all the non-believers.

“You cannot eliminate all people who disagree (with) you,” he said.

Expressing unhappiness that the previous century was filled with too much violence, he said it still continued and termed it as “non-sense.”

Dalai Lama. Reuters

Dalai Lama. Reuters

The Nobel peace laureate said secularism denoted respect for all religions and to non-believers as well.

“Of the seven billion people in the world, over one billion are non-believers… one should respect the non-believers as well, as the religious belief of a person is a private business,” he said.

In his lecture on ‘Human Approach to World Peace’ at the IIT Madras, as part of the institute’s Extra Mural Lecture series, the Tibetan spiritual leader said India was an example to the rest of the world for its religions harmony.

“Wherever, the Chinese go, there start a China town. Likewise, wherever Indians go, they should start an Indian town, where they should teach the world about religious harmony.”

On the possibility of a woman being the next Dalai Lama, he said, it was very much possible.

“I have said that many times earlier. She should be beautiful. The face also makes a difference, isn’t it?,” he said with a laughter, while replying to a query (from the student-audience) on the possibility of a woman Dalai Lama.

He said the world would be more peaceful if there were more women head of states.


Climate change threatens 55 million in India’s coastal areas: Report

Homes of 55 million people in coastal areas of India are likely to be submerged in sea with a 4 degrees Celsius global increase in temperature, warned a new report published yesterday in Climate Central — a US-based non-profit research and journalism organisation.

File photo

Climate change threatens nearly 55 million people in India’s coastal areas and could lock in enough sea level rise to submerge land currently home to more than half a billion people globally if the temperature spikes by 4 degrees Celsius — humanity’s current trajectory.Homes of 55 million people in coastal areas of India are likely to be submerged in sea with a 4 degrees Celsius global increase in temperature, warned a new report published yesterday in Climate Central — a US-based non-profit research and journalism organisation.It warned that a 4 degrees Celsius increase in temperature could submerge a whopping 145 million in China.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The findings comes just weeks ahead of a UN climate summit in Paris from November 30 to December 11. The objective of the summit is to cap the rise in Earth’s temperatures to 2 C above pre-industrial levels.Achieving the two-degree goal remains a serious challenge.”A 4C warming scenario could lock in enough sea level rise to submerge land inhabited by half or more of today’s population in Shanghai and Shantou, China; Haora (Howrah), Calcutta and Mumbai, India; Hanoi, Vietnam; and Khulna, Bangladesh,” it said.The report, however, said that if the increase in global temperature is managed to 2 degrees the target set by the international community this man-made calamity could be considerably reduced.If the world temperature rises by 2 degrees Celsius, homes of 20 million people in India would be submerged in sea while the figure is expected to be 64 million in China.China has the most to gain from limiting warming to 2 degrees Celsius.Carbon emissions causing 4 degrees Celsius could lock in enough sea level rise to submerge land currently home to 470 to 760 million people, the report said.It also showed that aggressive carbon emissions cuts resulting in 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit warming equivalent to 2 degrees Celsius could bring the numbers down to 130 million.According to the report, China – the world’s leading carbon emitter – also leads in coastal risk, with 145 million people living on land ultimately threatened by rising seas if emission levels are not reduced.Twelve other nations each have more than 10 million people living on land at risk, led by India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Indonesia. The United States is most threatened outside of Asia, with roughly 25 million people on implicated land.Meeting the 3.6F goal would cut exposure by more than half in the US, China, and India, the world’s top three carbon emitters, as well as in many other nations.

India moves up on Transparency International list: PM Narendra Modi

India has seen a gradual improvement in the corruption perception index — perceived levels of public sector corruption — among the 175 countries on the list. India is now ranked at 85 among the 175 countries with an overall score of 38.

Achhe din (Happy days) are back after Transparency International (TI), the global anti-corruption watch dog, gave India a thumbs up in combating corruption. India has seen a gradual improvement in the corruption perception index — perceived levels of public sector corruption — among the 175 countries on the list. India is now ranked at 85 among the 175 countries with an overall score of 38. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while addressing a rally at Sher-e-Kashmir Cricket Stadium here, said that for the first time in 50 years, India has moved ahead of China in fighting corruption and bringing in transparency. “Our number was 95. But by bringing in transparency and fighting corruption, we have reached 85”, said Modi<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Modi said “They (TI) earlier said that China was in a better position and way ahead of India (in transparency and fighting corruption)….. India has shown that it can wage a war against corruption in the last 17 months. Once India decides to do something, it does it, come what may”, he said. Without naming anyone, Modi said that 17 months ago there was a perception in the world that India was on the brink of destruction given its economic condition, corruption and misgovernance. “Seventeen months ago, if you picked up any newspaper, saw any television debate on Youtube. there was one tune — that India was ruined and that it would not survive. So many illnesses were plaguing India,” he said. The PM said there has been a complete transformation in the country during the last 17 months. “India has recorded its name in the list of those countries whose economy is growing faster. Earlier nobody dared to equate us with China because they were way ahead.. Now it is being said India will leave China behind. It can happen in 17 months,” he said.

War with India not an option, we have always been for talks: Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif

Islamabad: War with India is not an option as use of force could only worsen the situation, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said while hoping to resolve all outstanding issues between the two countries.

Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif. Reuters

Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif. Reuters

Sharif, during a meeting with President Mamnoon Hussain on Friday, wished to resolve all outstanding issues with India through dialogue as he believed the use of force could only worsen the situation, The Nation reported quoting a senior government official who cited the conversation between the two leaders.

The Pakistan Prime Minister said war with India was not an option, according to the report.

Sharif said his government desired friendly ties with India, all its neighbours and the world at large for sustainable development.

Tariq Fatemi, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs and Dr Asif Kirmani, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Political Affairs, also attended the meeting.

“They (Sharif and Hussain) discussed the regional situation and reiterated Pakistan’s resolve to have friendly relations with all the neighbouring countries for peace and prosperity in the region,” an official statement said.

The government official said the “LoC violations by India” were discussed and Sharif told Hussain he raised the issue with the US when he recently visited Washington to meet President Barack Obama.

Sharif said the US and world powers wanted Indo-Pak dialogue but alleged it was New Delhi which was not cooperating, according to the official.

“We have always been for talks,” he was quoted as saying.

Another official said the Premier was a bit concerned about the discrimination by the US on the civil nuclear deal.

He pledged to continue efforts to convince the US for an India-like agreement.

The official statement said that Prime Minister Sharif discussed matters regarding relief and rehabilitation of earthquake affectees, overall law and order and economic situation in the country and operation ‘Zarb-e-Azb’.

The two leaders noted that work on different projects under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was proceeding at a satisfactory pace and hoped that successful completion of the CPEC will usher in an era of unprecedented development and prosperity not only in Pakistan but in the entire region.

“We will not allow any group to slit throats of others in the name of religion,” Sharif said referring to militants.

He said none of the terror groups will be allowed to dictate terms or change political structure of the country.

“Pakistan will be run according to law and not on the whims of anyone,” he said.

Sharif also criticised his political adversary Imran Khan for trying to destabilise his government through protests last year.


India less corrupt than China for the first time in 18 years, says Transparency International

India jumped 10 places to rank 85 out of 175 countries and China dropped 20 places to rank 100.

Source: Transparency International
According to Transparency International’s annual survey, India ranks less corrupt than China for the first time in 18 years. India jumped 10 places to rank 85 out of 175 countries and China dropped 20 places to rank 100, according to Wall Street Journal. It was in 1996 that India had done better than China in rankings. The Berlin-based watchdog surveyed countries based on expert opinion from around the world.The Corruption Perceptions Index measures the perceived levels of public sector corruption worldwide, and it paints an alarming picture. The company claims that not one single country gets a perfect score and more than two-thirds score below 50, on a scale from 0 to 100, 0 being highly corrupt and 100 being very clean. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A country or territory’s rank indicates its position relative to the other countries and territories in the index.According to WSJ, China slipped below India after losing more ground than any other country in the rankings. This is the first time China has been below India. Denmark ranks first followed by New Zealand and Finland. Although India has jumped 10 places to rank 185 but still it has a long way to go to join the least corrupt countries like Denmark, New Zealand and Finland.

Paradox lost? Pakistan expresses concern over ‘recent rise of extremism’ in India

The shoe, it would appear, is on the other foot now with Pakistan on Thursday releasing a statement that it was concerned about the “rise of extremism” in India, and the targeting of prominent Pakistani personalities and artists in the country.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

“Pakistan is concerned at the recent rise of extremism in India. We expect the international community to take note of it,” Foreign Office spokesman Qazi Khalilullah said at a media briefing in Islamabad.

“We have also expressed concern on disruption of functions of prominent Pakistani personalities and artists, scheduled in India, by Indian extremist organisations,” he said.

In fact, harsher words were used by Mohammad Sadiq, Secretary of Pakistan’s National Security Division, while he was speaking at a seminar in Islamabad. He said that the already tense India-Pakistan ties became even more complicated after Narendra Modi became prime minister as bilateral dialogue was suspended and the ‘Indian attitude towards Pakistan’ was marked with “belligerence and aggression”, according to a report in Dawn.

“The Hindu chauvinistic posture of Modi and his cabinet essentially caters to the sensitivities of their ideological fountainheads such as RSS and VHP. These militant groups in fact control the government’s actions,” the report quoted Sadiq as saying.

“India’s intransigence on Jammu and Kashmir dispute continues as it propagates its Hindutva agenda. This agenda now openly threatens millions of Muslims, Christians and other members of minority communities,” Sadiq further said.

He also said that India’s opposition to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was being used as part of a strategy to restrict China.

The 3,000-km-long CPEC aims to link China’s far-western region to Pakistan’s Gwadar Port (built with Chinese investment and technical expertise) and would provide 14,000 MW of electricity to the energy-starved Pakistan.

Once completed, the CPEC project would mean that the Chinese presence in Pakistan, including Pakistan-Occupied-Kashmir, becomes all pervasive and powerful. This, as Firstpost has noted in the past would be a nightmarish scenario for the Indian strategic establishment. India’s opposition to the CPEC also stems from the fact that Pakistan encouraging a project in PoK would worsen the notion that PoK is Pakistani territory.

With inputs from PTI

High share of care work keeps Indian women out of economy – McKinsey | Reuters

NEW DELHI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Women in India do almost 10 times as much unpaid work as men – a much higher ratio than the global average – leaving them out of the formal workforce and unable to contribute to the economy, consultancy firm McKinsey said in a new report.

Women are responsible for 17 percent of India’s GDP, much less than in many nations, the McKinsey Global Institute said. China’s women account for 41 percent of GDP, those in sub-Saharan Africa 39 percent and women in Latin America 33 percent.

“The below-potential contribution of women to India’s GDP today … contrasts with their higher share of unpaid care work such as cooking, cleaning, and taking care of children and older members of the family,” said the report, released on Monday.

“Globally, women spend roughly three times the amount of time spent by men on unpaid work. In India, the situation is more extreme – women perform 9.8 times the amount of unpaid care work than men.”

If that unpaid work were to be valued and compensated in the same way as paid work, it would contribute $300 billion a year to India’s economic output, it added.


Using a new index to measure gender parity across India’s states, McKinsey found that Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand had inequality levels similar to impoverished Chad and war-torn Yemen.

Other Indian states such as Mizoram, Kerala, Meghalaya, Goa and Sikkim ranked higher on the index, putting their women on par with Argentina, China and Indonesia in gender parity, it said.

Overall, the Female Empowerment Index, or Femdex – which is based on issues such as women’s autonomy, equality at work, legal protection, political voice and physical security – showed a broad range of gender equality in India.

“We find a wide variation in gender equality among India’s 32 states, which indicates where efforts to bridge gender gaps need to be focused,” the report “The Power of Parity: Advancing women’s equality in India” said.

“Advancing gender equality can deliver sizeable additional economic growth and broad-based prosperity to the world — nowhere more so than in India.”

McKinsey estimates India could boost GDP by $700 billion in 2025 if women participated in paid work at a similar level to men.

Indian women represent only 24 percent of the paid labour force, similar to countries in the Middle East and North Africa. Globally, female workforce participation is 40 percent.

To bring more women into the formal labour force, the report said India must get more girls into secondary and tertiary education, expand skills training and provide greater access to financial services.

India must also step up gender diversity in the private sector, improve infrastructure and services to address the burden of domestic work and child care and focus on dispelling deep-rooted patriarchal attitudes, it said.

(Reporting by Nita Bhalla. Editing by Tim Pearce. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit

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

U.S. Navy plans two or more patrols in South China Sea per quarter | Reuters

WASHINGTON The U.S. Navy plans to conduct patrols within 12 nautical miles of artificial islands in the South China Sea about twice a quarter to remind China and other countries about U.S. rights under international law, a U.S. defence official said on Monday.

“We’re going to come down to about twice a quarter or a little more than that,” said the official, who was not authorized to speak publicly about Navy operational plans.

“That’s the right amount to make it regular but not a constant poke in the eye. It meets the intent to regularly exercise our rights under international law and remind the Chinese and others about our view,” the official said.

U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes on Monday said there would be more demonstrations of the U.S. military’s commitment to the right to freely navigate in the region.

“That’s our interest there … It’s to demonstrate that we will uphold the principle of freedom of navigation,” Rhodes told an event hosted by the Defense One media outlet.

Rhodes’ comments came a week after a U.S. guided-missile destroyer sailed close to one of Beijing’s man-made islands in the South China Sea last week.

China’s naval commander last week told his U.S. counterpart that a minor incident could spark war in the South China Sea if the United States did not stop its “provocative acts” in the disputed waterway.

The USS Lassen’s patrol was the most significant U.S. challenge yet to the 12-nautical-mile territorial limit China claims around artificial islands it has built in the Spratly Islands archipelago.

China claims most of the South China Sea, through which more than $5 trillion of world trade transits every year. Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Taiwan all have rival claims.

Rhodes said the goal in the dispute was to come to a diplomatic framework to resolve these issues.

U.S. Vice Admiral John Aquilino, deputy chief of naval operations for operations, plans and strategies, declined to comment about when the next patrols would take place.

“We do operations like that all the time around the world. That will continue for us,” he told Reuters after his remarks at the same conference. “We’ll just keep going.”

Defense Secretary Ash Carter may visit a U.S. Navy ship during his upcoming visit to Asia, but is not expected to be on board during any Navy freedom of navigation operations, the U.S. defence official said.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal and Idrees Ali; editing by Mohammad Zargham and G Crosse)

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

Data boosts U.S. stocks but drags down oil prices | Reuters

NEW YORK U.S. stocks climbed on Monday after mixed U.S. economic data and slightly stronger-than-expected German factory activity helped European stocks, even as weak Chinese data pushed down Asian markets and crude oil prices.

While data showed U.S. manufacturing activity slowed in October for a fourth month to a 2-1/2-year low, a rise in new orders offered hope. Also, construction spending rose in September to the highest in 7-1/2 years.

U.S. stocks were led by energy and healthcare sectors as investors bought up more risky investments and some short sellers were forced to cover bets, said Michael James, managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles.

“The upward trend that was put in place last week has continued to gain steam,” said James. “I don’t necessarily think there’s a specific catalyst for it today. Risk appetite has clearly increased.”

But he noted that the direction could easily change as more U.S. companies are due to report earnings and investors await a key jobs report this week.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI rose 165.22 points, or 0.94 percent, to 17,828.76, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 24.69 points, or 1.19 percent, to 2,104.05 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 73.40 points, or 1.45 percent, to 5,127.15.

Activity in Germany’s powerful manufacturing sector dipped last month from September but beat economists’ early estimates, helping European stocks. That helped the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 .FTEU3 stocks index close up 0.3 percent, with Germany’s Dax .GDAXI ending up 0.9 percent.

China’s factory activity fell for an eighth month in October, albeit at a slower pace, pointing to continued sluggishness in the world’s second-largest economy.

Oil prices slid on the prospect of weak Chinese demand and record-high Russian production. [O/R] U.S. crude CLc1 settled down 1 percent at $46.14 a barrel while Brent crude LCOc1 settled down 1.6 percent at $48.79.

Worries over slowing growth in China had rattled financial markets in recent months despite steps by the Chinese authorities to stimulate the economy.

MSCI’s main Asia-Pacific index .MIAPJ0000PUS, which tracks shares in key markets in the region, touched its lowest in two and a half weeks after the China data.

Bond yields rose on the prospect of higher U.S. interest rates, after the Federal Reserve left the door open last week to a first increase since 2006 in December.

Benchmark 10-year Treasury US10YT=RR yields hit their highest in over five weeks, while shorter-dated yields hit their highest in over six weeks on continued expectations of a possible Fed rate hike.

“People have come to the realization that the Fed is kind of hell-bent on getting to a liftoff,” said Robbert van Batenburg, director of flow strategy at Societe Generale in New York. A hike is expected to hurt Treasuries prices, which move inversely to yields.

Gold XAU= hit its lowest since early October on bets of a Fed rate rise.

The dollar gained back some ground against the euro, which rose earlier after comments from two members of the European Central Bank’s governing council lowered expectations for a boost in its stimulus program.

The dollar was down 0.02 percent against a basket of major currencies .DXY while the euro EUR= was up 0.05 percent against the dollar.

(Additional reporting by Sam Forgione, Lewis Krauskopf and Dion Rabouin in New York; Editing by Bernadette Baum and James Dalgleish)

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

PM Modi’s foreign policy breaking new grounds: Is the current Indian media coverage enough?

By Sunil Raman

On Thursday, 41 heads of state and government from Africa gathered in Delhi for the largest such gathering in India since Independence. Never were so many African heads of state and government present either at the Commonwealth or NAM conferences in the 1980s.


South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma shakes hands with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Reuters image.

The Africa-India Summit is the third one since 2008, but this one is the most significant so far considering the big presence of African leaders at one venue. The credit is due to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for that.

But many in the Indian media have preferred to ignore the event. Would this have been the reaction had the leaders been not from Africa but from Europe? This crucial question begs for an answer.

When the first such gathering was organized by the then prime minister Manmohan Singh in 2008, 14 heads of state and government personally attended the summit. It is the sustained effort of the Government of India that has borne fruit with such a large attendance this time, which included Egyptian President Sisi and Moroccan King Mohammed VI.

Even before PM Modi came to power, India’s rising economic growth, rising young population and opportunities provided by a 300 million-plus middle class had begun to get attention. His elevation as the prime minister and his efforts to craft a muscular foreign policy got him tremendous media traction.

It is his outreach to people and countries, many of which had been ignored or taken for granted by New Delhi, is what has changed the way diplomacy is now practiced by India under PM Modi.

What is the approach of the media to developments, as India becomes more assertive and vocal about its place in an evolving world order? Unfortunately, the lack of interest in international news beyond the limited “breaking news” related to Pakistan, has changed little.

Every issue is viewed through the prism of Pakistan, while the Modi government has clearly charted a path where it seeks to engage the world on India’s terms and not letting Pakistan to dominate the narrative of India’s perception of the world.

Transforming India into a confident regional superpower has to ride on the back of a strong economy and a more assertive political leadership. While economic growth and the market have changed perception of India, the political leadership under Modi has moved the needle on positioning India as an Asian power that seeks to have a greater say in world affairs. Yet we see none of it in the media.

Dominance of television news channels in our lives has impacted newspapers as well. Every news development on India’s foreign policy is tested against the yardstick of “win or loss” for the country. Of course, there are issues of economics and trade that TV managements and editorial rooms have to be mindful of. Should that, however, be seen as the sole criteria when reporting on news from say, Sri Lanka or Maldives or Nepal? Ideally, no.

But perceptions and opinions are largely shaped by the media. While no government can dictate how it seeks media to cover a news development, probably the time has come when there is greater engagement between foreign ministry and top editorial heads of news organisations.

Informal interaction between the foreign office and senior editorial managers to discuss India’s position on issues such as Pakistan is not new. Such informal chats have been a practice since Independence. Individual foreign policy writers and journalists covering the foreign ministry are spoken to and briefed. But is it time for a more structured and regular interaction?

The Africa-India summit in Delhi could be a starting point for this exercise.

One TV news channel had a strap across the screen saying “India’s $10 billion against China’s $30 billion”. This seemed to have been the selling point of a largest gathering of African leaders in India who went beyond discussing extension of lines of credit and scholarships. Africa’s perception among most, even educated Indians, is shaped by the western media and its images of starving children or unstable political regimes.

If only one were to look at some of the other stories in recent past, the gap is wide between how India would like to be projected and the manner in which media perceives it. If Nepal earthquake coverage ended up projecting India as a colonial power, the little coverage on developments in Maldives ended up showing India as a loser against China. Understandably, diplomatic nuances might not be easy to articulate or explain but that is where the challenge of reporting on foreign policy issues lies.

Sri Lanka’s civil war is another issue on which many in the Indian media fall into the trap of their western counterparts. And, Colombo’s engagement with Beijing is interpreted again as Sri Lanka “going the China way”! Ask any Lankan diplomat and he will tell you that while Colombo wants to be free to decide on its relations with China given its proximity, it can never go against India’s interests.

Coverage of Bangladesh and India’s relations with Dhaka continue to be reported through a biased mindset. Many in India would not know about the dramatic transformation in human development indices of Bangladesh in the last decade.

Many in India are sensitive to how the country is reported by foreign media. The recent visit of Modi to US not being reported on front pages of American newspapers was frowned upon. Have we ever asked how we report and portray foreign countries particularly, our South Asian neighbours?

Ouagadougou, capital of Burkina Faso, had made news in 1995 when prime minister Narasimha Rao made an announcement on government’s policy towards Jammu and Kashmir. I recall how journalists scrambled for an atlas (there was no internet then) to locate the country and many tried to get the pronunciation of the capital right. Surely much has changed since.

Hyperbole and hysterical responses to issues that resonate beyond India’s borders need mature handling. People in these countries watch and absorb what Indian media says and that shapes opinion about us as a country. A rising India needs a more responsible coverage of foreign policy issues. Is it too much to expect from the media?

The writer is a former BBC journalist

World’s most advanced missile defence system: What India is buying from its all-weather friend Russia

Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar left for Moscow on 30 October for a three-day visit before he leaves for ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM-Plus) in Malaysia. The takeaway of this trip is however the fact that all measures are in place for India to acquire world’s most advanced anti-ballistic missile system — the S-400.

Previously known as S-300PMU-3, S-400 is a new generation anti-aircraft weapon system developed by Russia’s Almaz Central Design Bureau as an upgrade of the S-300 family. It is currently in service with the Russian Armed Forces.

The S-400 is designed to protect nuclear reactors, population centres and government installations. The system can also deflect enemy missile more than 400 km away. NDTV, however, reported that the total cost of the acquisition is not known yet.

A file picture of S-400. Image source: WikipediaA file picture of S-400. Image source: Wikipedia

A file picture of S-400. Image source: Wikipedia

The S-400 basically has three kinds of missiles, with different capabilities, that can fly at supersonic and hypersonic speeds to intercept all kinds of targets at ranges from 120 to 400 km. Russian experts even proclaim that the S-400 surface-to-air missile (SAM) system can “radar lock and shoot down” stealth fifth-generation fighters like the American F-35 jets.

The S-400 Triumf is capable of countering all air attack weapons, including tactical and strategic aircraft, ballistic missiles and hypersonic targets such as the US F-35 fighter jet. The S-400 can engage up to 36 targets simultaneously with as many as 72 missiles at altitudes of five meters to 30 km.

Elaborating on the agenda during his visit to Moscow, Parrikar told Russian news agency TASS that he hopes to finalise the S-400 deal before PM Narendra Modi visits Russia in December this year.

“They may not take a final shape during my visit but we’d like to prepare some of them for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Russia in December — for example, the project for joint production of Kamov Ka-226 helicopters… Also, the purchase of S-400 missile systems. We anticipate these projects to be coordinated by next month,” Parrikar was quoted by TASS as saying.

The deal comes around a year after China sealed a $3 billion deal with Russia for acquisition of six S-400 batteries. China is slated to get the S-400 batteries, which is designated ‘SA-21 Growler’ by Nato and rivals the anti-ballistic missile capabilities of the US Patriot PAC-3 system, from 2017 onwards, PTI reported.

Parrikar’s visit to Russia and clinching this deal might seem as an attempt by India to plug the holes in its airspace surveillance and defence network with progressive induction of a wide array of sensors and weapons.

Parrikar’s visit comes as the government’s Defence Acquisition Council cleared defence projects worth more than Rs 15,000 crores, Zee News reported.

India-Russia military technical cooperation has evolved from a simple buyer-seller framework to one involving joint research, development and production of advanced defence technologies and systems.