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Manohar Parrikar to raise issue of cross-border terrorism by Pakistan with US counterpart Ashton Carter

India’s concern about the US policy in Middle-East relates to the rise of the Islamic State (IS) which recently carried out terror strikes in Paris killing more than 120 people.

Manohar Parrikar

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar is likely to do some ‘plain talking’ on cross border terrorism by Pakistan and articulate India’s stand on the situation in Afghanistan and the Middle East during a crucial meeting with his American counterpart Ashton Carter this week.Top Defence sources said Parrikar, at the meeting on December 9 and 10, will “plainly” tell the US that its policy of engaging Pakistan was not working.Parrikar will also be telling Carter that the American military and foreign policy in the Middle-East and Afghanistan “are not very sound” and not working properly, sources said. Parrikar, who is already in the US on his maiden visit as Defence Minister, will also express his concern over Islamabad’s “threat” to use tactical nuclear weapons against India.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Parrikar’s visit comes against the backdrop of reported US plans to sell eight F-16 fighters and 15 Bell AH 1Z Viper attack helicopters to Pakistan. He is also likely to articulate India’s stand on this.India’s concern about the US policy in Middle-East relates to the rise of the Islamic State (IS) which recently carried out terror strikes in Paris killing more than 120 people. Besides Pakistan and the security situation, Parrikar will also take forward the Defence Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI) as both countries work towards greater collaboration in joint development and manufacture of next-gen military technology, sources said.Both Parrikar and Carter will review the functioning of the joint working group on aircraft carrier and identify technologies India could acquire in future. The two are also expected to discuss possible programmes that could be taken up under the ‘Make in India’ initiative.US’ Lockheed Martin has already offered to manufacture its planes here in line with the government’s ‘Make in India’ push. Indicating its growing interest in the Indian market, Lockheed recently entered into a joint venture with the Tatas to manufacture parts of C-130J aircraft at a newly built facility in Hyderabad.A forward movement is also expected in India’s decision to acquire 145 pieces of M777 Ultra-Light Howitzers from the US under a government-to-government deal that would see its manufacturer BAE Systems invest over US $200 million in India as offset.Parrikar is also scheduled to visit the powerful Hawaii-based US Pacific Command, the first by an Indian Defence Minister. Its area of responsibility includes China, Japan, India, South Korea, Australia and Vietnam.

Tata signs up China’s ICBC for financial services | Reuters

MUMBAI Tata Sons Ltd, the holding company of India’s salt-to-software Tata conglomerate, said on Wednesday it had signed up Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd (ICBC) to provide it with a host of banking services.

Under the alliance, ICBC will provide the Tata group with financing products, global cash management, consulting, international trade finance business, investment banking, foreign exchange, derivatives trading, and other global financial services, Tata Sons said in a statement.

ICBC will provide services to Tata in locations including India, China, the United States and Europe, the statement said.

(Reporting by Devidutta Tripathy; Editing by Anand Basu)

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Rajan says banking system liquidity balanced | Reuters

MUMBAI Cash conditions in the Indian banking system are balanced and the central bank will inject long-term funds if needed, said Governor Raghuram Rajan on Tuesday.

Interbank liquidity tightened sharply in November with banks seeing large amount of deposit withdrawals by the public for festival spending. That has created a shortage of funds as this cash typically comes back to banks after a lag of few months.

Tight liquidity was one of the factors to push up the benchmark 10-year bond yield 15 basis points in November.

Rajan was speaking to analysts at a teleconference after announcing the monetary policy statement, where he kept the policy rate unchanged at 6.75 percent.

On India’s growth prospects, RBI Deputy Governor Urjit Patel said the economy was on a recovery path and is expected to pick up pace going ahead.

(Reporting by Neha Dasgupta and Suvashree Dey Choudhury; Editing by Sunil Nair)

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India restores federal funding for AIDS programme after criticism | Reuters

NEW DELHI India will fully fund its AIDS control programme federally, the health minister said on Tuesday, restoring support months after it was criticised for slashing its contribution and asking individual states to fill the gap.

India’s globally-lauded AIDS programme has been in disarray since last year due to payment delays that worsened after Prime Minister Narendra Modi slashed the federal budget in February by a fifth and asked states to pitch in.

Several states complained of lack of clarity about how much they need to contribute and payment delays have left thousands of health workers unpaid and hampered prevention activities.

Health Minister J.P.Nadda said Modi had decided the expenses incurred in running the nationwide programme will be borne by New Delhi, effectively restoring the earlier funding arrangement.

“We can’t be complacent … the government of India is very serious on this issue,” Nadda said while addressing a gathering on the occasion of World AIDS Day in New Delhi.

It was not immediately clear whether the budget cut would be restored, but an official at the National AIDS Control Organisation said they were in talks with the finance ministry.

The United Nations envoy for AIDS in Asia and the Pacific told Reuters in October new HIV infections in India could rise for the first time in more than a decade, as states were mismanaging the prevention programme.

Government data released on Tuesday showed 86,000 new HIV infections were recorded in 2015, compared to 128,000 in 2007, but the rate of decline has slowed.

“The slowdown identified in the rate of decrease of new HIV infections in last few years is a key issue,” the government said in a statement. “The current estimates highlight key challenges that will need to be addressed with urgency.”

India’s AIDS programme has been largely successful — estimates showed HIV prevalence during 2007-15 declined from 0.34 percent to 0.26 percent among adults, while annual HIV-related deaths declined by more than half to 67,000.

(Reporting by Aditya Kalra/Ruth Pitchford)

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Nepal unrest leaves millions of children facing food, medicine shortages – U.N. | Reuters

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Unrest over Nepal’s new constitution has led to severe shortages of fuel, food, medicines and vaccines, putting more than three million children at risk of disease during the harsh winter months, the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF said on Monday.

Nepal has been in turmoil since September when it adopted a new constitution, sparking protests by members of the ethnic Madhesi groups, who argue that the country’s charter does not reflect their interests.

Protesters have blockaded trucks from India, leading to acute shortages of fuel and medicine in the landlocked Himalayan nation of 28 million people.

UNICEF said child survivors of two major earthquakes in April and May could be worst hit by the shortages. The tremors killed nearly 9,000 people and damaged or destroyed nearly 900,000 houses. Many remain homeless.

Newborn babies are at particular risk, as fuel shortages mean fewer women can get to hospitals and health centres to give birth, UNICEF said.

“The plight that children and their families are facing in the country has been worsening by the day and will deteriorate further in the winter months,” UNICEF’s regional director for South Asia, Karin Hulshof, said in a statement.

“There is no time to lose,” she added.

The fuel shortage has led to an increase in the use of firewood in homes, which raises the risk of pneumonia. More than 800,000 Nepali children under five contracted the illness last year, and around 5,000 died, the agency said.

The government’s regional medical stores have already run out of BCG vaccines against tuberculosis, and stocks of other vaccines and antibiotics are critically low, UNICEF said.

“The risks of hypothermia and malnutrition, and the shortfall in life-saving medicines and vaccines, could be a potentially deadly combination for children this winter,” UNICEF’s executive director, Anthony Lake, said in a statement.

“During my recent visit to Nepal, I witnessed first-hand the precarious living conditions of many of the earthquake survivors,” he added.

“They could now be facing a new disaster – without adequate food, protection from the cold, or healthcare.”

(Reporting by Alex Whiting, Editing by Katie Nguyen; 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 www.trust.org)

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India needs Rs 9 lakh crore annually for 25 years to sustain energy demand: IEA

New Delhi: India needs more than Rs 9 lakh crore in energy investment per year by 2040 as it is set to contribute more than any other country to the rise in global energy demand, International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Friday. Of this, it needs around Rs 7 lakh crore per year in energy supply — 75 per cent of which is required to meet India’s burgeoning need for electricity and a further Rs 2 lakh crore per year to improve energy efficiency, IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol said.

Representative Image. ReutersRepresentative Image. Reuters

Representative Image. Reuters

Releasing IEA’s India Energy Outlook 2015, he said, “India’s energy transformation requires three things: investment, investment and investment,” he said. “A lot is being done already to overhaul the energy regulatory system and get the incentives in place; this is vital, as India will need to call upon a wider range of investors and sources of finance than it has in the past.”

He said over than next 25 years, 315 million people, almost the population of the United States today, will be added to India’s urban population, raising demand for energy.

By 2040, India will become the largest source of worldwide coal demand growth, most of which is met by expanded domestic production.

Oil demand also increases by more than in any other country, approaching 10 million barrels per day by 2040, but in this case is met by increased imports, particularly from the Middle East, that push India’s oil import dependence above 90 per cent.

“India is set to contribute more than any other country to the rise in global energy demand over the next 25 years, underlining its ever-greater influence in Asia and on the world stage; even so, its energy demand per capital in 2040 would still be 40 per cent below the world average,” he said.

PTI

Brilliant Billings fires England to opening win | Reuters

DUBAI Sam Billings played an inspired innings to help England to a comfortable 14-run victory in the first Twenty20 international against Pakistan on Thursday.

Billings smashed 53 off 25 balls to lift England to a competitive total of 160 for five on a slow pitch and Pakistan lost wickets at regular intervals in their reply.

“I’ve been on the sidelines watching the guys smash it everywhere. It’s the nature of the job – you’ve just got to be ready,” man-of-the-match Billings told Sky Sports.

“How I played is a credit to Morgy (captain Eoin Morgan) – he said ‘play your way, play exactly how you got here in the first place’. Against a seriously decent attack, it’s really pleasing to make a contribution.”

England, who won the toss, slumped to 19 for three before James Vince, who made 41 on his debut, shared a third-wicket partnership of 76 with Morgan.

That laid the platform for Billings to use terrific improvisation to plunder runs all round the ground.

The young wicketkeeper, deputising for the rested Jos Buttler, hit two sixes and five fours in a stand of 65 with Morgan who finished unbeaten on 45.

Pakistan lost three early wickets and never looked like chasing down their target, Sohail Tanvir top-scoring with 25 not out as seamers Reece Topley and Liam Plunkett took three wickets each.

“Tonight was a really strong performance in which we showed a lot of character. To come back from 19-3 and then to defend 160 was really good,” Morgan said.

“It is always a good sign of a changing-room when players who haven’t played all tour come out and perform – I’m really proud of them.”

Pakistan captain Mohammad Hafeez tried to remain upbeat.

“It was a chaseable total. But we batted very poorly. I know we lost this game but we’ve got some positive things from it,” he said.

The second match in the three-game series is in Dubai on Friday.

(Reporting by Ed Osmond; Editing by Tony Jimenez and Ken Ferris)

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Volkswagen to begin production of compact sedan in India in 2016 | Reuters

NEW DELHI German carmaker Volkswagen AG will begin producing a compact sedan at its plant in India in 2016 and has invested 85 million euros ($90 million) in the car, the company’s local unit said in a statement on Wednesday.

The investment is part of the 176 million euros the company said in 2014 it would invest in the country, Volkswagen India Private Ltd said in an emailed statement.

($1 = 0.9439 euros)

(Reporting by Aditi Shah; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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Obama to meet Modi, China’s Xi at Paris climate talks – White House | Reuters

WASHINGTON U.S. President Barack Obama will meet China’s president and India’s prime minister on the first day of Paris climate talks on Nov. 30 to give momentum to the two-week U.N. negotiations, White House officials said.

Obama’s meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the start of the two-week climate summit “send a strong message to the world about their strong commitment to climate change,” White House Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said.

Nearly 140 world leaders confirmed their attendance at the opening day of the U.N. Climate Change conference that runs until Dec. 11, even after the Nov. 13 attacks by Islamic State militants rattled the host city.

Rhodes said Obama is likely to pay tribute to the people of Paris during his trip, and said he and other world leaders will attend the climate talks as a “clear sign of strength and resilience in the face of terrorism.”

Paul Bodnar, senior director for energy and climate change at the White House National Security Council, said Obama’s meetings with Xi and Modi are not expected to yield new announcements but to consult on key issues of the negotiations.

“These two countries are two of our most important partners in dealing with global climate change,” he said.

Obama will also meet with French President Francois Hollande, as well as with leaders of island nations such as the Seychelles and Marshall Islands that are threatened by rising sea levels.

The administration officials said Obama will be joined in Paris by key members of his cabinet, including Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.

(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici and Jeff Mason; Editing by Eric Walsh and Chizu Nomiyama)

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PDP’s Mehbooba Mufti promises ‘new era of inclusiveness’ in Jammu and Kashmir

Srinagar: Resolution, reconciliation and development constitute the ruling Peoples Democratic Party’s core agenda and it would continue to pursue the same with unflinching consistency to ensure political stability and economic prosperity of Jammu and Kashmir, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti said on Sunday.

“It is with this objective that, despite all odds, PDP entered into an alliance with BJP to revive the process of political reconciliation and economic rejuvenation in Jammu and Kashmir which was initiated by the PDP-led coalition government in 2002,” Mehbooba who is a member of parliament from South Kashmir’s Anantnag said.

Maintaining that gun is no solution to any problem, she expressed hope that the country’s leadership would take a cue from the events in the Middle East and work with a fresh resolve towards fostering a new era of inclusiveness and reconciliation in the South Asian region.

Mehbooba Mufti. AFPMehbooba Mufti. AFP

Mehbooba Mufti. AFP

“The lesson to be learnt from the death and destruction in Afghanistan and now in Middle East is that gun is no solution to any problem, whether used by the state or the non-state actors, and only way to ensure stability is through dialogue and reconciliation.

“I am sure that India’s political leadership will take a cue from the tragic events in the Middle East and work, with fresh resolve, towards fostering a new era of inclusiveness and reconciliation in the country and the region,” Mehbooba said while addressing a party workers convention.

She said in the emerging global scenario where some “dubious fringe elements” are resorting to atrocious violence in the name of Islam, reconciliation in the sub-continent has become an inevitability to keep such elements away from destabilizing the region.

“J&K can become the torch-bearer of such a reconciliatory process in the region as the State and its people have exhibited the mellowness and highest levels of religious tolerance even during the worst times of the sub-continent’s history,” she said.

She said at the time of partition, the State’s then political leadership did not accept the “two nation theory” and preferred India over Pakistan.

“In lieu of this, J&K was granted special status in the Indian Constitution which distinguishes it from the other states of the country in many ways,” Mehbooba said, adding, “While, it has been made clear in the PDP-BJP ‘Agenda of Alliance’ that the State’s present position will be maintained on all the constitutional provisions pertaining to J&K including the special status in the Constitution of India, the state government is continuing its efforts to catalyze reconciliation and confidence building process within and across the Line of Control (LoC) to create an enabling environment for sustainable peace, all round economic development and prosperity of J&K.”

Mehbooba said the reconciliatory and developmental process facilitated by the then PDP-led government between 2002 and 2005 had sparked political, economic and social activity on a phenomenal scale in the state facilitating complete transformation of the ground situation on almost
every front.

“We are looking forward and working towards facilitating a similar scenario in the State and the region so that Jammu and Kashmir could become a bridge of friendship between India and Pakistan instead of a bone of contention,” she said.

“The process of political and economic transformation in J-K has already been set into motion and the results will be visible on the ground soon with people reaping the benefits of a new era of peace and development,” the PDP leader said.

Mehbooba said the biggest challenge for the PDP is to be with the people, show solidarity with them and give them the much needed sense of security and relief on development front and the party is committed to its resolve of bringing prosperity to J-K and its people.

“We are firm in our resolve to mark a new beginning and with the support of the people end the gloomy scenario of despair, alienation and development deficit, in the state,” she said.

She said with the announcement of the Rs 80,000 crore economic package by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the State Government is going to revive the process of rehabilitation, reconstruction and economic rejuvenation on a massive scale.

“The package would not only ensure fresh relief for the flood-affected people, but also bring a turnaround in key sectors like road communication, health, education, tourism, power, urban development and employment generation with huge resources being made available for new initiatives in these sectors,” she said.

PTI