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With Pak visit, Modi’s foreign policy circle is complete

Ever since Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister, he has been insisting on Foreign Policy and it has been on the top agenda. He has already visited almost 55 States but was criticised for not having visited Pakistan. In fact, in the earlier Indian government between 1998 to 2003, Atal Bihari Vajpayee had visited Pakistan twice in 1999 and 2002, once before and after the Kargil war. He was the one who constituted the process of peace building with Pakistan. So it was expected that Modi would carry forward the same legacy.So Modi’s visit to Pakistan was not spontaneous, it was a well decided and pre-determined sort of move, but was obviously kept out of media glare as there was tremendous public pressure and in a way India had to break the ice.Another important reason we have to look at is that Modi first visited Russia followed by Afghanistan and then Pakistan. In the last six months, India has been growing close to the United States of America (US) and Russia is getting closer to Pakistan so that made India look at relations with Russia from a whole new perspective. India has a very crucial role to play in Afghanistan, which is being opposed by Pakistan and to avoid this, India has to normalise it’s relations with Pakistan. This will be necessary to maintain balance on regional and international issues.In the last one year, Modi may have realised that cutting off the peace process and breaking ties with Pakistan did not yield any result. On the contrary, it ultimately increased the importance of the military in Pakistan and not of the political executive.India’s policy to keep its neighbours in confidence cannot be completed until and unless it normalises its relations with Pakistan. The ultimate reality is that there is no alternative solution for resolving Kashmir, Siachen and Sir Creek issues which have been pending for decades. Initiating the talks is the only solution to find the remedy for all pending issues with Pakistan.Since Russia and China are getting closer to Pakistan the triangle that is emerging from their relations, if developed, can be disastrous to India. So it is important for India to neutralise that aspect also. Hence Modi’s visit was well-planned in the order it took place, that is, Russia, Afghanistan and Pakistan. With this the foreign policy circle is completed, which had been left incomplete by the UPA government.One more important aspect to be considered in the Kashmir issue is that just talking to the political executive is not enough, but the army, that is, the top military generals have to be involved in it. India-Pakistan policy is not being decided and dictated by the political executive but by the army. Army plays a very crucial role in framing Indian, Pakistani, American and Israeli policy. So it is important to involve the army in talks and also to take it into confidence.The ice between the countries has been broken, a very positive development and the hope is that it will continue.-As told to dnaThe author is a foreign policy analyst<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

Indian students deported: US regrets impact, says collecting facts

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US Ambassador Richard Verma came a day after India advised its students to defer their travel to the US till the matter of denial of entry to those students holding valid visas was resolved.

The US on Thursday regretted the impact of deportation of Indian students bound for two California schools and said it was closely following the situation after the incident, facts of which were still being collected. The statement by the US Ambassador Richard Verma came a day after India advised its students to defer their travel to the US till the matter of denial of entry to those students holding valid visas was resolved. “The Embassy is aware of reports that some students bound for two California schools were denied entry by Customs and Border Protection. We regret the impact this may have had on certain students and their families. “We are following this situation closely and have been in regular communication with the Department of Homeland Security, as well as the Government of India. Facts are still being collected,” Verma said in a statement here. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He also maintained that the US will continue to strongly support educational study and exchange programmes for Indian and US students, as these programmes have been a hallmark of the bilateral relationship for decades. External Affairs Ministry yesterday had issued an advisory noting that there have been several instances of denial of entry by the US Immigration authorities to Indian students having valid student visas to pursue studies in two educational institutions, namely, Silicon Valley University at San Jose and Northwestern Polytechnic University, Fremont. “Government of India has taken up this matter with the US Government. We have asked the US authorities to explain the reasons for denial of entry on a large scale to Indian students holding valid visas. The response of the US Government is awaited. “Till such time the matter is satisfactorily resolved, the students seeking admission in aforementioned two institutions are advised to defer their travel to the United States,” the advisory had said.Noting that educational ties between the US and India are strong and growing rapidly, Verma said during academic year 2014-15, the number of Indian students studying in the US increased by nearly 30 per cent over the previous year to more than 130,000, the highest number on record. He also pointed out that even travellers with a visa can be denied entry if the immigration officer finds reason to question the legitimacy of their travel documents or finds that the traveller cannot adequately answer questions about the purpose of his or her travel to the United States. “We also remind students considering studying in the United States of the free services provided by Education USA (educationusa.state.gov). Education USA’s centres throughout India and its website can assist students in choosing the most appropriate school for their course of study and personal situation.”As additional information becomes available, we will provide updates to potential travellers. We will continue to strongly support educational study and exchange programs for Indian and US students, as these programs have been a hallmark of our bilateral relationship for decades,” Verma added. Air India had on Sunday night stopped 19 Indian students heading to the two Universities from boarding a flight to San Francisco citing a communication from US Customs and Border Protection agency which said that 14 Indian students have been deported as these varsities were “under scrutiny”. India strongly raised the issue with the US. Meanwhile, the two California-based universities -Silicon Valley and Northwestern Polytechnic- claimed that they have been told by the US Customs and Border Protection that they have not been blacklisted by the US Government or any of its agencies.

Obama, Modi have strong, productive relationship: US official

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“It was a quite extraordinary fact that within the space of four months there were two head of the state visits, one first to the United States in September of 2014 and then Prime Minister Modi invited the President to India just four months later in January,” the official said.

US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have developed a strong and productive relationship between them, a top American climate change official has said.”President Obama and Prime Minister Modi have a very, strong and productive relationship, not just on climate change but broadly,” Todd Stern, the US Special Envoy on Climate Change said yesterday.”It was a quite extraordinary fact that within the space of four months there were two head of the state visits, one first to the United States in September of 2014 and then Prime Minister Modi invited the President to India just four months later in January,” the official said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Thereafter the two leaders have been close communications with each other. “They met on the margins of the UNGA in New York and they met on the first day of the Paris meeting,” Stern said.According to Stern the meeting was a very warm and positive, cordial and detailed.”In fact, they talked so long that they were both supposed to go and did go finally, but they were a little bit late to the announcement of this big Mission Innovation idea on R&D that both well, the United States, India, China, many other countries ultimately were part of,” the US official said.”So I think, that the call later, sort of more towards the end, was a check-in call to see how we were doing and to urge us all on together toward a successful conclusion. And I think it was done in that spirit, not in the spirit that there was some specific thing that had to be done before the agreement could get completed,” Stern said.

Proposed Bill to lower culpability age violates international treaties: Experts

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Currently, under the Indian law, juveniles cannot be tried as per adult laws, and the minimum age under which a juvenile can be charged for an offence under the Indian Penal Code is seven years.

As the debate to pass the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) of Children Bill, 2000, hots up in Parliament, with the Bill most likely to come up for discussion on Tuesday, several voices have come up against the Bill’s passing. Many experts argue that it needs an afterthought as it violates several international treaties.Currently, under the Indian law, juveniles cannot be tried as per adult laws, and the minimum age under which a juvenile can be charged for an offence under the Indian Penal Code is seven years. The juvenile offender, as per present law, can’t be sent to jail. If the Bill is passed, juveniles involved in cheating, theft, etc, will serve anywhere between three and seven years in prison. And for heinous crimes (murder, rape and robbery), punishments will be the same as for adults — life imprisonment with a possibility of release. There will be, however, no death penalty for juvenile offenders.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In the United States, those aged under 13 committing assault, murder, robbery, aggravated sexual abuse and drug abuse are punishable like adults, with the exception of life imprisonment and death penalty. In England, the juvenile culpability starts at 17, with those involved in murder, rape and causing explosions endangering life or property facing the same punishment as adults, without life imprisonment or death penalty.In Germany, however, children above 14 who commit sexual abuse, child abuse leading to death, and abuse of the disabled are punishable for up to 10 years. In France, children above 16 who commit murder, armed robbery, serious drug offences and rape are punishable on case by case basis with the maximum punishment being life imprisonment. In Australia, Pakistan, Syria and Thailand among others, the minimum age of criminal culpability is seven. While in Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay, the age is 18.The Justice Verma Committee, formed in the aftermath of the December 16 gang rape, recommended that the age of juvenile culpability should not be lowered to 16.Article 37 (A) of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child states that no child aged under 18 should be subjected to capital punishment or life imprisonment without the possibility of release. India became a signatory to it and ratified it in 1992. The Bill also violates Article 14 (right to equality) and Article 21 (requiring that laws and procedures are fair and reasonable) of the Indian Constitution.The Bill has also been criticised because of the number of rapes committed by juveniles formed 3.1% of all rapes, and the number of murders constituted 1.2% of all murders.

BJP eyes ordinance to change poll dynamics in Assam

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Technically, the Centre can bring in an ordinance after the end of winter session of Parliament on December 23 as government cannot promulgate ordinances when Parliament is in session.

Tarun Gogoi

To steal show over Tarun Gogoi-led Congress government in Assam ahead of assembly elections due in April next year, BJP government is preparing to grant scheduled tribe status to six communities that right now are clubbed as Other Backward Castes (OBCs).Sources said that as the bill to grant status to these six communities – Tai Ahom, Moran, Muttock, Koch Rajbongshi, 97 groups of tea tribes and Adivasis and Sooteas – is still stuck at cabinet note stage and given the current status of Parliament logjam, the government may bring in an ordinance within next two months.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Technically, the Centre can bring in an ordinance after the end of winter session of Parliament on December 23 as government cannot promulgate ordinances when Parliament is in session.Sources said that PMO could either decide to take up change in rules for granting ST status in a cabinet meeting or directly approve an ordinance in which case, the Parliament will have to pass a constitutional amendment within six months from the issuance of the ordinance.The BJP knows that promulgation of an ordinance could drastically improve its chances in coming state assembly elections as it would pave the way for sealing a peace accord with the pro-talks faction of United LiberationFront of Asom (ULFA) led by its chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa. Efforts are on an advance state to make ULFA general secretary Anup Chetia a part of it. A successful peace accord with ULFA can change the election dynamics for the BJP that is already breathing down the neck of Congress in Assam.Besides the six communities in question, a large number of native Assamese are keen to have the arrangement in place to as it would take care of the fear that stems from the influx of Bangladeshis.Granting ST status to these communities will bring more than 40 per cent population of Assam under the tribal status that in terms of assembly strength would bring as many as 80 out of 126 assembly seats under reserved tribal status.Gogoi government knows the impact the ordinance can have and is trying to assert its claim over it.In fact, the process to grant scheduled tribe status to these communities had begun during fag end of Congress led UPA-II rule, it could not pick up speed as it required inclusion of five norms to declare a community as scheduled tribe.These included socio-economic, including educational backwardness vis-à-vis rest of the population of the state; historical geographical location; consideration of autonomous religious practices where the priests or ojas are from the community; distinct language or dialect; presence of a core culture relating to life-style, marriage, songs, dances, paintings and folklore; and, endogamy or marital relationship primarily with other Scheduled Tribes. Upper handThe BJP knows that promulgation of an ordinance could drastically improve its chances in coming state assembly elections as it would pave the way for sealing a peace accord with the pro-talks faction of United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) led by its chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa. Efforts are on an advance state to make ULFA general secretary Anup Chetia a part of it. A successful peace accord with ULFA can change the election dynamics for the BJP that is already breathing down the neck of Congress in Assam.

OROP: Ex-servicemen threatens to intensify stir, if demands not met within 3 weeks

The United Front of Ex-servicemen (UFES), an umbrella body of associations of ex-servicemen which is leading the protest, demanded that the Centre appoints “formally” former Army Chief and Union Minister V K Singh as the mediator between them and the government to resolve the issue “immediately”.

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PTI
Ex-servicemen agitating over the ‘One Rank, One Pension’ (OROP) issue on Sunday threatened to intensify the protest if their demands were not met by the Centre within three weeks even as they decided to not vote for BJP in the upcoming assembly elections.The United Front of Ex-servicemen (UFES), an umbrella body of associations of ex-servicemen which is leading the protest, demanded that the Centre appoints “formally” former Army Chief and Union Minister V K Singh as the mediator between them and the government to resolve the issue “immediately”. The veterans “gave” 15 days’ time to the government to “correct” its OROP scheme in line with the protesters’ expectations — failing which a seven-day notice period will be given to the government before the protest is intensified.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”We are giving the government 15 days’ time, requesting the government for mediation and after that we will give them seven days’ notice. “Issue an order today itself empowering V K Singh to mediate with us and discuss the issue with us and resolve it within three-four days by removing seven discrepancies in the government OROP,” major general (retd) Satbir Singh, who is leading the protest, said. Singh made the demand during ‘Sainik Aakrosh’ rally organised by UFES at Jantar Mantar here.Aiming to mount pressure on the NDA government, the UFES urged its members to not vote for the BJP in the upcoming assembly elections in several including Assam. The veterans claimed it were the votes of ex-servicemen which helped BJP improve its tally in the 2014 Lok Sabha – more than what the NDA major itself had expected, they claimed. However, the government has “cheated” veterans by not giving the OROP they wanted and BJP had promised to give, Singh said.”You saw what happened to the party in Delhi and recently Bihar. We urge the members to not vote for it in upcoming polls now if our demands are ignored,” he added. The UFES also called upon ex-servicemen present at the rally to boycott Republic Day celebrations this year. Major general (retd) Singh also hit out at Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley for stating that the government’s OROP formula was accepted by most of the ex-servicemen’s organisations and that only a small section had some issues with it. “He (Jaitley) should come here and see the number of people who have turned up here,” Singh said, pointing towards the gathering.”The number would be even bigger had our other colleagues reached here in time. Jaitley claims their OROP is acceptable to most of us, it is a lie. More than 99.99 per cent of us are against it,” he claimed. Singh also challenged Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Jaitley and Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar to face a debate with UFES on the issue and added that the ex-servicemen will call of the movement if proved wrong.Singh also announced the UFES rejected 7th pay commission report, saying it is over and above OROP. The rally was also addressed by Colonel Inderjit Singh, who is considered to have begun the fight for OROP. He urged the ex-servicemen to stay “united” for their rights.The government came out with a notification on OROP on November 7 but the veterans still remain unsatisfied. They have demanded that OROP should be implemented from April 1, 2014 and not July 1, 2015 as in the government notification. OROP principle is in perpetuity and cannot be fiddled with, they maintain.

India meets global economic powers in Paris to discuss ISIS terror funding

India is a full-member of the FATF along with 33 other nations like the US, France, Germany and the United Kingdom.

ISIS fighters

India along with major world economies is participating in the first-ever global meeting being held here to discuss and evolve mechanisms to combat the clandestine and largely undetected terrorist financing network of the Islamic State terror group.The dreaded terror group, in recent times, has been held responsible for perpetrating violence and killing at least 129 people here in the French capital.The meeting at the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Secretariat office is being held between December 12-14 and is being attended by a inter-ministerial team led by senior Finance Ministry officials dealing in subjects of money laundering and combating financing of terror.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The FATF Secretariat confirmed to PTI that Indian authorities will be part in the deliberations aimed to secure the economic and banking channels of the member countries from the influence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), also called the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).”The Indian delegation will be led by the Ministry of Finance with participation from other relevant ministries and agencies,” the FATF said. Senior officials in Delhi said authorities from the elite Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) will be leading the India delegation for the talks.”There are some instances under the scanner of various investigative agencies that indicate there may be links to ISIS funds being routed from India, if not generated. The talks are expected to formalise a resolution to jointly combat the menace which is increasingly affecting jurisdictions across the globe,” they said.The FATF is an inter-governmental body established in 1989 and is mandated to set global protocols and standards to combat money laundering and other financial crimes with direct ramifications to terrorist acts across the globe.India is a full-member of this reputed global body along with 33 other nations like the US, France, Germany and the United Kingdom. The three-day meeting has been called “to discuss actions jurisdictions are taking and need to take to combat the financing of the ISIL and broader opportunities to strengthen global efforts to combat the financing of terrorism,” the FATF said.”These three days of meetings will bring together delegates representing the FATF global network, which today extends to some 200 jurisdictions, and operational experts involved in detecting, preventing and disrupting terrorism and terrorist financing.”In the wake of the increased activities of terrorist groups around the globe, including ISIS, India had recently reported to the FATF that it has frozen assets worth Euro 3 lakh (over Rs 2.12 core) of over three dozen entities on charges of terrorist financing and money laundering of illicit funds. However, India, in this report, did not mention that the action involved ISIS operatives.An exhaustive report prepared by the world body early this year had underlined the “complicated” pattern of funding being deployed to mobilise ISIS terrorists and in secretly moving their deadly weapons and ammunition.”ISIL financing is a constantly changing picture and a very difficult and complicated area to address given the operational situation on the ground…ISIL represents a new form of terrorist organisation where funding is central and critical to its activities,” the report had said. The report did not mention about any instance of ISIS terror financing in India.The report had said its preliminary investigations found that the group was generating terror funds by using illicit proceeds from occupation of territory, such as bank looting, extortion, control of oil fields and refineries, kidnapping for ransom, donations including by or through non-profit organisations, fund raising through modern communication networks.”Still, further consideration will have to be given to determine how best the international community can prevent ISIL from using or benefiting from the financial and commercial sectors under its control,” the FATF said.”The latest meeting is the obvious outcome for the latest round of talks being held here between member countries,” the officials in Delhi said. The FATF found “revenue streams (of ISIS) are inconsistent and shift based on the availability of economic resources and the progress of coalition military efforts against ISIL.”

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.

US wants India, Pakistan discussions to continue

“It is for India and Pakistan to bilaterally work out the issues between them and to continue to have a dialogue and to discuss and to reach diplomatic solutions to some of the thorny problems which the two countries still face,” Kirby said in response to a question.

Reuters
The US has said it was “encouraged” to see India and Pakistan revive the stalled dialogue process and wants the two countries to continue the discussions.”We want to see the discussions continue, so we’re encouraged by the recent dialogue between India and Pakistan.It’s exactly what we’ve been strongly trying to encourage,” John Kirby, State Department Spokesman said yesterday.He, however, said it was for the two neighbouring countries to decide on the pace and scope for such talks.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”It is for India and Pakistan to bilaterally work out the issues between them and to continue to have a dialogue and to discuss and to reach diplomatic solutions to some of the thorny problems which the two countries still face,” Kirby said in response to a question.”We would leave it to those countries to determine who’s going to have what meeting and who’s going to sit in on what discussion,” he said.When asked about the recent visit of the Pakistan Army Chief General Raheel Sharif to the US, Kirby said there was nothing new in it.”They’ve been coming to visit counterparts here in the United States for quite some time, as do our military leaders go to Islamabad. Our bilateral relations with Pakistan are important,” Kirby said.”I know they’re going to continue to be important, not just with the military but with the elected officials as well,” he said.External Affairs Minister Swaraj arrived on a two-day visit to Pakistan on Tuesday to attend the ‘Heart of Asia’ ministerial conference on Afghanistan.Swaraj’s visit here came days after talks between the National Security Advisors of India and Pakistan in Bangkok, where they discussed terrorism, Jammu and Kashmir and a range of key bilateral issues apart from agreeing to carry forward the “constructive” engagement.A joint statement issued after the meeting of NSAs said the talks were held pursuant to a meeting between Prime Ministers Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of the climate meet in Paris.

Herald case: I’m Indiraji’s bahu, not scared of anyone, says Sonia Gandhi

Combative stand by Sonia-Rahul duo against govt raises fears of a Winter session washout

“I am Indiraji’s (Indira Gandhi’s) bahu (daughter-in-law) and am not scared of anyone,” said a frail-looking Sonia on Tuesday. The Congress president had just returned from the United States – where she was undergoing a medical checkup – only to be received by news of Delhi high court rejecting her plea to quash the trial court summons in the National Herald case. The case created a political storm with the Congress paralysing Parliament, accusing the government of “political vendetta” against its president and vice-president, Sonia and Rahul, a charge strongly denied by finance minister Arun Jaitley, who asked the mother-son duo to face trial.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The government dismissed Sonia’s warning, saying it had no role in the case, and accused the Congress of mixing up a court decision with politics. The trial court hearing the case fixed December 19 for appearance of Sonia, Rahul and others after they pleaded “please give us a date of your choice and that of the convenience of Dr Subramanian Swamy.” The senior Congress leaders interpreted her assertion as the BJP digging on death knell and almost an imminent washout of the winter session. They said the government can no longer expect any kind of cooperation to get the Good and Services Tax (GST) Bill and other key legislations passed in Parliament after such vindictiveness. The party leaders said the recent case was part of a series of attacks mounted by the BJP government on its leaders be it Himachal chief minister Virbhadra Singh, former Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot, Rajasthan PCC chief Sachin Pilot and Gujarat leader Shankarsinh Vaghela or former finance minister P Chidambar’s son Kartik.The equally combative Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi also asserted that he would not back off even an inch from what he was doing. “I absolutely see a political vendetta. This is the way Central government functions. “Let them (govt) do what they want. I will do what I want. I will not back off even an inch,” Rahul said.Parliament remained stalled throughout the day with repeated adjournments as the Congress MPs stormed the well in both the Houses creating a ruckus with anti-government slogans in protest of the case, though as a strategy nobody from the party answered to repeated query by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan in the Lok Sabha and deputy chairperson J Kurien in the Rajya Sabha to know about the issue.Trinamul Congress members, who kept standing in the Lok Sabha in support of the Congress, told the House in the post-lunch session after an adjournment that they too were protesting at the vindictive government putting the opposition leaders in jails.During one such adjournments, Sonia sat in the Central Hall surrounded by a large number of journalists for nearly 40 minutes but tactfully skipped questions claiming she was observing ‘maun-vrat’ (silence), except once when she expressed concern over the Lok Sabha Speaker not allowing Congress group leader Mallikarjun Kharge speak on the Dalit issue. Later in the day, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee expressed solidarity with Sonia saying it makes her “sad” and “feel bad” that she was asked to appear in court. “Sad that Sonia was asked to appear in court. Persons who have been in politics for such a long time, it is not good that they appear in court. I feel bad about it,” she told reporters in Kolkata. What Sonia Gandhi apparently referred to stems from the historic trial that Indira Gandhi was put through between 1977-1979 when she had to make several court appearances in cases misuse of power, corruption and electoral malpractices that were slapped on her during Janata government’s rule.She was also arrested a couple of times. On 3 October, 1977, she was arrested. But the very next day, she was released by the magistrate unconditionally as the charges against her couldn’t be proved. Again, in 1978, she was found guilty of breach of privilege and contempt by the parliamentary privileges committee and sent to jail for a week. In 1979, she made another appearance before the court on charges of electoral malpractices. This time she was granted bail. But these spate of arrests and court appearances helped her revive her political career as these events brought her to the front pages of national and international dailies making her look like a victim of the Janata government’s resorting to political vendetta and reaped the benefits in 1980 when she won the Lok Sabha elections to put the Congress back in power.

US aid to Pakistan will end up being used against India, warns ex-diplomat Husain Haqqani

As the US is preparing to sell F-16s fighter jets to Pakistan, the country’s former top diplomat, Haqqani, described the sale of such military hardware as an ‘appeasement policy towards the Pakistani military’.

Pakistan’s former Ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani

Image Courtesy: Twitter
Pakistan’s former Ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani has warned Washington that its aid to Islamabad will ‘end up being used against India and not against terrorists’.As the US is preparing to sell F-16s fighter jets to Pakistan, the country’s former top diplomat, Haqqani, described the sale of such military hardware as an ‘appeasement policy towards the Pakistani military.’In a prepared remark submitted ahead of a Congressional hearing on ‘Civil Nuclear Cooperation with Pakistan: Prospects and Consequences to the Terrorism, Non-proliferation, and Trade Sub-committee of the Committee on Foreign Affairs’, Haqqani said Pakistan’s failure to tackle its jihadist challenge is ‘not the result of a lack of arms’, but a reflection of an ‘absence of will’.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>South Asia terrorism expert Daniel Markey also told American lawmakers that pursuing a civil nuclear deal with Pakistan is not only ‘unrealistic, poorly timed, and unwise’, but also counter-productive to American national interests in the near term.

Manohar Parrikar becomes first Indian defence minister to visit PACOM

Harris encouraged senior Indian military leadership to participate in next year’s Chief of Defence Conference.

Manohar Parrikar has visited the US Pacific Command headquarters in Hawaii, becoming the the first-ever Indian Defence Minister to visit the key facility in a sign of deepening of military ties between the two strategic partners. The US Pacific Command in a statement described Parrikar’s visit as a “milestone” event during which he held meetings with the PACOM Commander Admiral Harry B Harris. Harris and Parrikar discussed the growth of the strategic partnership between the two nations and how routine, regular and predictable engagements strengthen that partnership, PACOM spokesman US Army Major Dave Eastburn said. The two also emphasised the importance of expanded maritime security cooperation within the context of broader military-to-military ties, especially in the Indo-Asia- Pacific, he said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Harris encouraged senior Indian military leadership to participate in next year’s Chief of Defence Conference. He underscored that the conference is important venue to build the relationships that will underpin security and stability throughout the region. Parrikar and Harris discussed the continuance of the maritime security cooperation, the potential for joint US India maritime patrols, and the value of foundational agreements such as a logistics support agreement and a communications and information security memorandum of agreement, Eastburn said.They also discussed Exercises Malabar, Yudh Abhyas, Red Flag, Vajra Prahar, and RIMPAC, re-emphasising that the United States is still India’s partner of choice for exercises and military-to-military engagements, he said.Parrikar is scheduled to meet US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter at the Pentagon on December 10. This is his first visit to the US as the Indian Defence Minister.

India determined not to let Paris climate meet fail: Government

The statement comes a day before the crucial high level segment gets underway where ministers of 195 countries will deliberate on the draft negotiating text which emerged on Sunday to reach a final agreement to tackle the challenge of climate change.

Prakash Javadekar
File Photo

Ahead of key ministerial talks, India on Monday said it is determined not to make the Paris climate meet like past summits where nations returned with “false optimism and fictitious hopes” and would ensure that rich countries pay back their “debt for overdraft” drawn on the carbon space.The statement comes a day before the crucial high level segment gets underway where ministers of 195 countries will deliberate on the draft negotiating text which emerged on Sunday to reach a final agreement to tackle the challenge of climate change. Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar who is in Paris to attend the high level segment said that although nations are “midway” in their journey to reach a new climate agreement, substance-wise it is “sometimes at crossroads” while hinting at the various unresolved issues which remain in the draft negotiating text.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Noting that the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC) is a “fundamental global climate constitution”, India also made it clear that any attempt to rewrite or to overwrite will “not be acceptable”. “We are at this time midway on our journey to reach new climate agreement, but substance-wise we are not midway but sometimes at crossroads. India is ready and committed to work with French Presidency which has done a monumental job over the last one year to build political momentum,” Javadekar said.Noting that India will not let the Paris conference fail in reaching its objectives, Javadekar said that the country will ensure that the seminal principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR) is respected. “India is also determined not to make Paris summit like past summits where we all returned home with false optimism and fictitious hopes.””For India it is a question of present and future lives of our 1.27 billion people with aspirations to develop. We will not let this meeting fail to reach its objectives. India is here to ensure that seminal principle of CBDR is respected, and India is here to ensure that rich countries pay back their debt for overdraft that they have drawn on the carbon space,” Javadekar said. The text that was handed to ministers yesterday still contains all the unresolved options on key issues at stake. Observers have maintained that very little actual progress has been made in terms of compromises and agreements on the contentious points.”UNFCCC is a global climate constitution. It is fundamental. Any attempt to rewrite or to overwrite will not be acceptable to anybody. Our collective decision should be based on Science, CBDR and Collective Conscience,” Javadekar said.After week long negotiations, contentious issues like financing by developed nations to developing ones to tackle the challenge of climate change, CBDR, access to technologies still remain on the table. The contentious issues which has been raised by India and which still remain are positioning of the agreement visa-a-vis the convention while the second is the process by which INDC becomes nationally determined mitigation commitment (NDMCs).Another issue which India has raised is the mechanism for global stock take and updating of INDCs. India has said that global stock taking is in view of a global aggregate of the commitments that nations have made.”Mitigation, adaptation and means of implementation – that is what India would like. There is a an emerging consensus but the only issue in this particular thing is once one has stock take, how does it influence the update of INDCs. While India believes it will influence on the next INDCs others believe that it updation should occur even on the existing INDC,” a key developing country negotiator had earlier said.Developing countries need money and technology to make the switch to clean energy sources like solar and wind power. They are also asking for money to adapt to climate change. The developed countries are willing to help but reluctant to make firm commitments as negotiators from over 190 nations look to negotiate a post-2020 deal to curb emissions and limit global temperature rise.The 12-day conference, for the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations, is aiming to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2 C over pre-industrial temperatures.

With Interpol refusing to budge, India takes diplomatic route to get Lalit Modi extradited

The MHA in consultation with the external affairs ministry has given a go-ahead to the agency for further course of action.

Lalit Modi

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With Interpol inordinately delaying issuing red corner notices (RCN) against former commissioner of Indian Premier League (IPL) Lalit Modi, the government has now turned to the diplomatic power. The ministry of external affairs (MEA) has cleared the ‘extradition request’ against Lalit Modi sought by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in connection with the alleged money laundering. The decision has been taken under the provisions of the extradition treaty existing between India and the United Kingdom. Extradition is the legal process that involves transfer of a suspected or convicted criminal by a country to another.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> ED has been making constant efforts to make Interpol to act, since September. A source in ED confirmed to dna that the extradition request has been cleared by the MEA and has been resent to the enforcement agency to take it forward. On November 13, the ED had moved a formal request to the ministry of home affairs (MHA) for initiating extradition proceedings against Modi based on a non-bailable arrest warrant against him. “In a request to ministry, the probe agency has clearly mentioned that the convict they are looking for is in the UK,” an official told dna. The MHA in consultation with the external affairs ministry has given a go-ahead to the agency for further course of action. Under the extradition proceedings, the enforcement sleuths have to approach Prevention of Money laundering (PML) court for issuance of a legal extradition order against the suspect/accused. In this case, once the court issues the order, the ministry concerned will send it to the UK government. Sources said the fresh move would compel the UK government to implement the legal request and deport Modi. “If Interpol issues RCN, it would help agencies to restrict Modi’s movement across the world. Even if it does not, we will have the extradition order to get him back,” said the ED source. dna has learnt that at this point of time, ‘extradition’ is important because the international police organisation is unlikely to issue the RCN easily. In its fourth communication to ED in the first week of November, Interpol wanted the case details to be handed over to Modi as part of his fundamental rights. The Mumbai ED refused to part with any legal document against Modi as they feared that he would find some way to scuttle deportation. Even on the three previous occasions, Interpol raised “frivolous queries” delaying Modi’s deportation. ED has been probing Modi, the IPL and its executives for alleged violation of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The case relates to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), which had awarded a 10-year media right to WSG for $918 million. WSG then entered into a deal with MSM to make Sony the official broadcaster. The contract was replaced later with a nine-year deal, where MSM paid $1.63 billion.

Russia-led alliance tells India’s Muslims to back its fight against Islamic State

Participants at the Anti-terrorism Day function in New Delhi on Thursday
Manit
dna
Three decades ago when Russia invaded Afghanistan, it triggered a mobilisation in the Islamist world leading to the first modern jihad and initiating the birth of al Qaeda. Now with its military intervention in the conflict in Syria threatening to once again stoke Islamic extremism, Moscow is presenting its involvement as an effective and necessary step to fight the Islamic State group, whose trail of terror is threatening the whole world. The Russia-led alliance comprising Syria and Iran made a case in front of a gathering of Indian Muslim community to support its intervention against terrorism.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Speaking at an event labelled as “Anti-terrorism Day” organised by Anjuman-e-Haideri, a Shiite religious organisation based in Delhi, diplomats and ambassador from Russia, Syria, Iraq and Iran came together on one platform to vow to fight the militant extremist group of Islamic State of Daiesh. Both Iraq and Syria, which is currently fragmented with parts of its countries captured by the extremist group, also blamed the United States for its actions in fuelling the growth of IS.The militant group which came in power in June 2014 and declared a Caliphate thereafter became a target of airstrikes by the United States in Iraq. Since then more than seven countries have attacked the IS held territory, the latest being the United Kingdom.Since October, Russia aligned with the Syrian government in power headed by President Bashar al Assad to begin air strikes against rebel opposition groups and the IS. The Russian Air force is supported on the ground by pro-government alliance of the Syrian Armed Force and Iran backed foreign Shiite militias.Evgeny Bezeka, second secretary, Russian embassy said that Russia’s decision to fight against IS was followed after the invitation of the Bashar government. “We are fighting under the aegis of the international law with allies who understand the threat of IS.’’ Russia’s actions have been 100 per cent more effective in two months to contain IS, than the international coalition’s strikes from last one and half years.Syria’s ambassador Riaz Kamel Abbas and Iraq’s charge d’affairs Mohammad Sabri Rashid claimed that the US was not serious in its intervention to rid the region of IS. “Two decades ago, there was no terrorism in Iraq, after 9/11 and the invasion by US things changed. Even when IS infiltrated to capture parts of northern Iraq and began killing civilians, the US army stood with folded hands.’’Abbas added that the US coalition strikes has helped the militant group grow in size and capture more terrorism. “It is important to fight Daiesh but before that it’s important to know who is the power behind the group.’’India’s Muslims cannot be terroristsThe event had religious heads and representatives from the Christian, Hindu and even Sunni Muslim community. All the speakers condemned terrorism being fought under the guise of religion. “IS should first prove they are Muslims and then talk about Islam,’’ said Maulana Tauqeer Raza Khan from Bareilly. He also said that terrorism attacks in India had no involvement of Muslims and it has added a blot on the community. Acharya Pramod Krishnam said India’s Muslims were targeted as terrorists and told to go to Pakistan. “They are here in India not by chance but by choice.’’

Obama backs Modi, says he is an honest politician with a clear vision for India

On Monday Obama met Modi in Paris on the sidelines of the United Nation’s Climate Change Summit

PTI
US President Barack Obama, who has held several meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, found him to be an “honest and direct” politician having a clear vision for India, according to the White House.”President Obama has found Prime Minister Modi to be somebody who is honest and direct, somebody who has good command of the facts, somebody who has a clear understanding of the issues that confront his country and our relationship,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters at his daily news conference yesterday.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On Monday Obama met Modi in Paris on the sidelines of the United Nation’s Climate Change Summit. This was the sixth meeting between the two leaders since they met first at the White House last September. “He (Modi) also is somebody that has a clear vision for where he wants to take his country, and it makes him not just an effective politician, but an effective Prime Minister,” Earnest said. “Obama certainly does respect Prime Minister Modi and has appreciation for his skills and abilities as a politician. He also is somebody who is given a very difficult challenge of sitting atop the world’s largest democracy,” he said.”That’s not easy to work and it’s not easy work and the president of the US has special insight into how difficult it is,” he added. Referring to the frequent meetings between the two leaders, Earnest said Obama had the opportunity to consult with Modi on a number of occasions.”I think that isn’t just a testament to their good working relationship, it actually is a testament to the important issues that are at stake between our two countries and the ability of the leaders of our two countries to work through those issues and to advance our shared interests is a good thing,” Earnest said. “It’s a good thing for the world, it’s also a good thing for the citizens of our two countries,” he said.

First small sign of climate accord on 5-year review of carbon cuts | Reuters

PARIS Climate negotiators in Paris are drawing close to resolving one of the sticking points for a breakthrough emissions pact by favouring a five-year review period on promised greenhouse gas cuts, a top official said on Wednesday.

Regular reviews are seen as a crucial part of any agreement since countries’ current pledges to cut emissions – submitted by 185 nations to the United Nations – will fail to prevent temperatures from rising 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times, seen as a dangerous level.

Countries have disagreed as to how often audits of those plans should take place. While many major emitters including China, the United States and the European Union supported a five-year period, a term included in an outline U.N. text last month, others such as India have been reluctant to commit.

“It seems now there is a growing consensus that (reviews) will be every five years,” U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres told a news conference on the third day of talks.There was still little progress on thornier issues, though, such as funding for developing nations and a long-term goal for phasing out fossil fuels.

That prompted French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius to urge delegates to quicken efforts to whittle down a lengthy draft.

On the reviews, there was still uncertainty about when they would start and any conditions to ensure they result in increased action. “These are issues for negotiations,” said Ajay Mathur, director general of the bureau of energy efficiency and a leading member of the Indian delegation.

Two days after world leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping gave speeches of encouragement, delegates are locked in debating a draft text of more than 50 pages shot through with points of disagreement that have held back a deal since negotiations began four years ago in South Africa.

(Reporting by Barbara Lewis and Alister Doyle; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

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

On Day 2 of Climate Summit, India holds its ground

It was important for India and the developing nations to have access to “financial support and technological access” so as to accelerate the pace of their efforts, to achieve results quicker.

AFP
India, on the second day of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21), Paris, stood its ground as a voice for the energy needs of the developing nations, even as French President Francois Hollande seemed to back it in his speech.Speaking at the opening of the Leader’s Event segment on the first day of the 21st meeting, Hollande, heavily invested in the success of these talks, said that the agreement that emerged from Paris should be universal but differentiated and binding, where “developed countries must take the lead and developing countries must be supported in adapting”. “Hence, the need to finance climate actions,” he said, highlighting the developed world’s historical responsibility as having emitted the greenhouse gases for years.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Hollande also said that finance needed to be cleared for technology transfer, enabling the developing nations to have easier and cheaper access to clean energy. This is what India has been demanding, as laid out by India’s chief negotiator Ajay Mathur, in a video interview in Paris. The agreement, he said must protect the interests of millions of people in India, and ensure “adequate affordable energy” to increase the quality of life, especially of communities such as farmers and fishermen, who live by the coast.It was important for India and the developing nations to have access to “financial support and technological access” so as to accelerate the pace of their efforts, to achieve results quicker.Mathur also called on countries to submitted periodic Intended Nationally determined Contributions (INDCs), each “more ambitious” than the last. This in the light of the fact the current INDCs will fall short of limiting global warming to below 2 degree celsius. He called on the developed countries to “enhance” their INDCs for 2030, and for a global stocktaking that would point the countries in the right direction for the next set of INDCs.The key was, Mathur said, that no country should be able to walk out of their commitments of goals, as many did when they found they could not fulfill the goals of the Kyoto Protocol. There has been talk of Paris exploring a legal binding on countries to fulfill their INDCs, currently a voluntary commitment.However, the talk of freeing up finances for developing nations also touched a nerve with India. Hollande spoke of the $100 billion that rich nations had pledged at the Copenhagen summit in 2009 (COP15), as financial assistance by 2020, to cut greenhouse emissions. He said that in Paris, financial resources must be freed and guarantees on their sources and availability must be provided for developing nations. Last year, a report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development said that $60 billion had already been mobilised through various institutions. This India has found flawed. At the ADP2 spin off session on Monday, India claimed to be not amused by these claims.Some of the ill-will India garnered after the Copenhagen talks failed, for being “obstructionist” seemed to have continued as an undercurrent in Paris, as the developed world continues to see India as having taken an “uncompromising position” as labelled by the New York Times. However, India has staked out its role as sharing energy with the rest of the developing world, with the first meeting of the steering committee of the International Solar Alliance held today. Twenty two nations from Asia, Africa and the Americas participated, and the next meeting is be held in Abu Dhabi.

Facebook’s CEO and wife to give 99 percent of shares to couple’s foundation | Reuters

SAN FRANCISCO Mark Zuckerberg will put 99 percent of his Facebook Inc (FB.O) shares, currently worth about $45 billion, into a new philanthropy project focussing on human potential and equality, he and his wife said Tuesday in a letter to their newborn daughter.

The plan, which was posted on the Facebook founder and chief executive officer’s page and has attracted more than 360,000 ‘likes’, follows other high-profile billionaires such as Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates, who have set up foundations to dedicate their massive fortunes to philanthropic endeavours.

Zuckerberg, 31, who will control the new initiative and remain in charge of the world’s largest online social network, said he would sell or give up to $1 billion in shares in each of the next three years.

He will keep a controlling stake in Facebook, valued at $303 billion as of Tuesday’s close, for what the company called the “foreseeable future.” According to Facebook’s most recent proxy statement, Zuckerberg owned 4 million Class A shares and 422.3 million Class B shares, which have 10 times the voting power of A shares. Combined he held 54 percent of the voting power of the company’s shares.

Zuckerberg said he plans to remain CEO of Facebook for “many, many years to come.”

The move is not Zuckerberg’s first in the world of philanthropy. When he was 26, he signed the Giving Pledge, which invites the world’s wealthiest individuals and families to commit to giving more than half of their wealth to philanthropy or charitable causes over their lifetime or in their will.

“Mark and Priscilla are breaking the mould with this breathtaking commitment,” billionaire investor Buffett said on Facebook. “A combination of brains, passion and resources on this scale will change the lives of millions. On behalf of future generations, I thank them.”

Buffett himself pledged Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRKa.N) stock worth $31 billion at the time to Gates’ foundation in 2006, which was the largest single gift at the time.

Zuckerberg is relatively young to commit so much of his wealth. Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) co-founder Gates was 45 in 2000, the year he and his wife founded the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Buffett was 76 in 2006, the year he committed to give away all of his Berkshire Hathaway stock to philanthropic organizations.

About $350 billion is given away each year in the United States by charities, said Stacy Palmer, editor of the Chronicle of Philanthropy. She said Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan’s announcement was remarkable not just because of the size of the donation, but because of their ages.

“Our lists of the top donors are usually dominated by people in their 70s or 80s,” she said. “This is a message to other young people who are deciding what to do with their great wealth.”

In welcoming the birth of his first child on his Facebook page, Zuckerberg posted a photo of himself, his wife and their new daughter, Maxima, nicknamed Max, along with a post entitled “A letter to our daughter.”

In the 2,220-word letter, Zuckerberg and Chan touched on issues including health, education, Internet access and learning before announcing the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, which aims to “advance human potential and promote equality.”

They plan to give away 99 percent of their Facebook shares over their lifetimes to advance the initiative, which was formed as a limited liability company controlled by the two. It will begin by focussing on curing disease, Internet connectivity, community building and personalized learning – or the idea that technology can help students learn at different paces.

Maxima Chan Zuckerberg was born early last week — though Facebook did not specify her birth date — and weighed 7 lbs 8 ounces (3.4 kg) at birth. Last month, Zuckerberg announced he would take two months of paternity leave after the birth.

Chan and Zuckerberg have so far committed $1.6 billion to their philanthropy. They have given several donations this year, including to public schools, initiatives to bring better wireless Internet access and to San Francisco General Hospital, where Chan works as a paediatrician.

Zuckerberg and Chan said they will share more details when they return from their maternity and paternity leaves.

Zuckerberg has started his leave, a company representative said, and will be available if “absolutely needed.” Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer, and Mike Schroepfer, chief technology officer, will run the company in Zuckerberg’s absence.

(Reporting by Abhirup Roy in Bengaluru and Yasmeen Abutaleb in San Francisco; Writing by Bernard Orr; Editing by Stephen R. Trousdale, Bill Rigby and Lisa Shumaker)

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UNSC seat should not be a high priority for India: Former Diplomat

Getting a seat in the United Nations Security Council should not be a high priority for India, a former top diplomat has said.

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Getting a seat in the United Nations Security Council should not be a high priority for India, a former top diplomat has said.”I don’t think it should be a high priority for India. We have wasted enough time in this already,” Krishnan Srinivasan, former Foreign Secretary of India, said on Tuesday. He said the issue was so complicated that it was postponed year after year at the UN.”Permanent membership of the UNSC without veto is not so attractive that we should spent time on it,” he said.United Nations Information Centre director Kiran Mehra Kerpelman said the discussion on UN in India was always related to the UNSC seat.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Many complain that the UN only talks, but talking is better than bombing,” she said.

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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Why the fuss over the Modi-Sharif handshake?

Tongues have started wagging about the future of the talks.

The handshake offers a ray of hope. One hopes that this gesture turns out to be ice-breaker before the winter chill sets in.

File Photo
News and social media went into frenzy after Prime Minister Narendra Modi walked up to his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif on the sidelines of a climate change summit in Paris and shook hands. Many jumped the gun and started discussing the fate of the stalled talks between the two countries. Was the handshake a mere courtesy photo-op, or was there something more to it? And so on and so forth. Well, one just does not know what the two leaders discussed, but one thing is certain that they did not discuss the climate of Paris. But what mattered most was the handshake which replaced the most important Paris climate talks as the lead story in Indian and Pakistani newspapers.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Tongues have started wagging about the future of the talks. What a prosaic interpretation? Is there any doubt about resumption of talks? Absolutely not! It is just a matter of time when the two countries will again start talk the talk, but what is more important is whether they will walk the walk. No two neighbours can remain in a perpetual mode of denial for long. In the past also, the two countries have been involved in talks despite going to full-fledged wars three times and a brief conflict in Kargil in 1999 since their independence. But they were back to talks after sometime. It is an on and off exercise which will go on before the two nations regain trust about each other to operationalise the full-scale structured talks. The leadership of both the countries is mature enough to understand that war would only lead to catastrophe and complicate the matters beyond repairs. Dialogue can only take them forward to any meaningful and lasting solution to the issues that bedevil their relations.But for that to happen, a congenial atmosphere is the basic requirement. Incidents in the last few months have only widened the trust deficit as both the countries view each other with suspicion. The media of the two countries has also played a devilish role by resorting to jingoist rhetoric forcing the hands of the leadership of both the countries to move cautiously. The cross-border firing, increase in militant activities in Kashmir, the recent arrest of agents affiliated to Pakistan’s intelligence agency in India do not augur well for the immediate resumption of talks, even though cosmetic, in the immediate future.The handshake offers a ray of hope. One hopes that this gesture turns out to be ice-breaker before the winter chill sets in. This was their second meeting this year after they met in the Russian city of Ufa in July and decided to give a push to the stalled talks by agreeing to a meeting of National Security Advisors. But sadly, the meeting just failed to take off as both the sides stuck to unreasonable grounds. There was another opportunity a month later in the United Nations General Assembly session for them to meet. But by then the ties had soured and the two leaders intentionally decided to stay away from public glare by only waving at each other.Talks for the sake of talks should be avoided. Both the countries should do some serious introspection and adopt a pragmatic approach if they are really serious in taking the talks forward. Nawaz Sharif’s recent offer of unconditional talks with India during his meeting with British Premier David Cameron on the sidelines of the Commonwealth summit in Malta has largely gone unnoticed in India as New Delhi has not even bothered to take note of it, leave aside making any comments. Pakistan needs to understand that talks and terror can?t go hand in hand. At a time, when the world has been rattled by a series of bloody terrorist activities, the sentiments are running high against terrorist groups. And to expect India to enter into talks with Pakistan as long as it is seen as in collusion with terrorist groups is asking for too much. Pakistan needs to make some forward movement in this regard before it can hope for resumption of normal ties.The use of terrorism as a state policy is falling apart as the nations themselves are feeling the pinch. Who knows is better than Pakistan which has suffered the most? The same groups whom it cradled have started turning their back on it and are causing the maximum damage. Terrorism today poses a major threat to the world than anything else. The Paris attacks have only emboldened the resolve of the global community to formulate a common and concerted strategy to defang this monster which is spreading its tentacles.There is an opportunity before Pakistan to join the global war against terrorism to regain its bruised image. India is not the only country which views its estranged neighbour with suspicion. The list is endless. Pakistan has been ticked off by major powers from time to time. It should listen to the sage counsel and launch a war against terrorism. There is no doubt that it will feel the pain initially, but this pain is worth suffering, because if it is allowed to fester it will become a deadly disease and amputation will be the only recourse. It is up to Pakistan to decide which path it wants to tread. Talks with India can wait.Vikas Khanna is a senior journalist and the views expressed by him are personal.

Sonia Gandhi in US for regular medical checkup: Congress

Congress President Sonia Gandhi has gone to the United States for a regular medical checkup and will return after a week, her party said on Monday.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi has gone to the United States for a regular medical checkup and will return after a week, her party said on Monday.”She has gone to the US for a regular, routine checkup.She will return after a week,” party’s chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said here.Party sources said the 68-year-old leader’s checkup was due for the past two months and got delayed due to Bihar Assembly polls.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

Sonia Gandhi in US for routine medical check-up, says Congress spokesperson

New Delhi: Congress President Sonia Gandhi has gone to the United States for a regular medical checkup and will return after a week, her party said on Monday.

File photo. Image: Naresh Sharma/ FirstpostFile photo. Image: Naresh Sharma/ Firstpost

File photo. Image: Naresh Sharma/ Firstpost

“She has gone to the US for a regular, routine checkup. She will return after a week,” party’s chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said here.

Party sources said the 68-year-old leader’s checkup was due for the past two months and got delayed due to Bihar Assembly polls.

PTI

Volkswagen emission scandal: NGT issues notice to Centre, carmaker to seek ban on sales

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) issued a notice to the Centre and Volkswagen on a plea seeking ban on manufacture and sale of its vehicles for allegedly flouting emission norms.

Image Courtesy
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The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has issued a notice to the Centre and to Volkswagen on a plea seeking ban on the manufacture and sale of its vehicles for allegedly flouting emission norms. Several thousands of Volkswagen Group vehicles have been found to have flouted emission norms around the world by using a cheating device called the “defect device” which gauges that it is in testing environment and lowers emissions. However, in real-life driving situations, the car cranks up its engines and operates at full capacity for maximum performance. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The scandal was first revealed when Volkswagen admitted to its misdoings on September 18, after the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) pulled it up after detailed investigations. ALSO READ: How did Volkswagen dupe millions of customers, flout stringent emission normsIn India, the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) found a significant variation in the emission level in on-road vehicles compared to laboratory measurements. Earlier November 4, the government was expected to issue a showcause notice to the Volkswagen Group. Last month, the German auto major reportedly recalled nearly one lakh cars in the country under the diesel car emissions scandal. Prior to this it had also recalled its premium cars which included 389 units of its best selling premium hatchback Polo in India. Volkswagen’s luxury flagship Audi on Thursday, November 26, 2015, suspended two engineers after its larger diesel engines were found evading emissions limits in the United States, Audi CEO Rupert Stadler said.ALSO READ: Volkswagen cuts capital spending planAmid the scandal, Volkswagen India has announced an India-spec compact sedan with an investment of Rs 720 crore. The compact sedan will be rolled out from the company’s Pune plant, and production is expected to begin early-2016.

‘Passionate’ PM Modi not under any ‘compulsion’ in Paris, says Piyush Goyal

Asserting that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s concern towards the climate changes came from his ‘passion’ for the cause and not due to any ‘compulsions’, Union minister of state for coal, power and renewable energy Piyush Goyal said that India can be proud of its role in the Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris.

File photo

Asserting that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s concern towards the climate changes came from his ‘passion’ for the cause and not due to any ‘compulsions’, Union minister of state for coal, power and renewable energy Piyush Goyal said that India can be proud of its role in the Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris.”This is a very important conference and India is taking it very seriously. The Prime Minister is himself in Paris and he has articulated on many occasions that concerns for the environment, developing more and more green energy is an article of faith for him. It is not something that he is doing under any compulsion; rather it is something that he deeply and passionately believes in,” Goyal told ANI exclusively.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Stressing on the importance of the awareness of global warming, he added that its impact was quite visible in the past few years and the world has now realised that if the issue is not addressed soon, the end result could be catastrophic.Talking about the statement made by US Secretary of State John Kerry that India would be a ‘challenge’ at the Summit as the Indian government seemed hesitant to accept more of a role in addressing global warming, Goyal said that the formed needed to view the problem in a holistic manner.”Well I think he (Kerry) needs to look at the whole issue more holistically. The base load in India is coal base. It cannot be anything else as we don’t have gas and without a base load we can’t even do renewable energy. We are a developing nation. We are rapidly creating infrastructure, setting up manufacturing, creating jobs for our people, setting up of homes, all of which the United States and the European nations did in the last 150 years on the back of low carbon base or coal-based energy,” he said.”Having already developed their nations, they have now realised the inconvenient truth after finding low-cost shale gas. I think it’s very important that the world recognises what Prime Minister Modi articulated as convenient action,” Goyal added.The Union Minister expressed confidence that India was one of the nation’s which was showing leadership in terms of expanding renewable energy, looking at innovations, technology, ways to expand energy security and raising concerns for the environment.Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Paris on Sunday to attend the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) where about 150 heads of state and governments will gather to set agenda for the Summit.The Prime Minister will address the summit in the plenary conference hall “Seine” on Monday at the leaders’ event where the aim of the summit is to reach a landmark global deal on limiting greenhouse gas emissions.During the twelve-day conference, India’s 25 member delegation will focus on Prime Minister Modi’s call for ‘Climate Justice’ that he had made in his address at the United Nations General Assembly last month.

PM Narendra Modi’s ‘Mann ki Baat’ in sync with upcoming Paris climate change convention

“The world is concerned about climate change. Checking global warming is everyone’s responsibility and energy conservation is the best way to curb rising temperature,” Modi said.

Ahead of his visit to the 21st Conference of Parties of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change –the COP21 in Paris–Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday drew the nation’s attention towards climate change and global warming in the 14th episode of his ‘Mann Ki Baat’. Talking about the recent floods in Tamil Nadu, which has claimed around 170 lives and caused massive property damage in the state, Modi in his bi-monthly radio address said the tragedy was a result of a growing global warming that is causing an unexpected climate change in the world. “It is painful when there are crises during festivals. I have faith in the strength of Tamil Nadu that the state will recover soon and will play its role in taking the country ahead,” he said in his 27-minute talk.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The world is concerned about climate change. Checking global warming is everyone’s responsibility and energy conservation is the best way to curb rising temperature,” Modi said. Talking about increasing pollution levels in the country–another causative factor for climate change –Modi stressed on educating farmers on the ill-effects of burning post-harvest crop stubble. “Our farmers are no less than scientists, we need to train them and make them aware of the impact of burning crop stubble,” Modi said, adding that the top layer of the soil is damaged in the process destroying the fertility of the soil in the process. The leftover of farming is also of great use, it is a fertiliser and organic food in itself that can be used for better crop yield and will also be of use to farmers. It can also be used as animal food, he said. Modi was referring to the recent crop stubble burning by Punjab farmers that had submerged a major portion of northern India, including Delhi, in a thick haze for days. The incident had got international attention, with NASA taking note of the fires and the fog that added to Delhi’s existing pollution. As part of his climate change measures, he encouraged usage of renewable sources of energy, Modi gave an example of a Noor Jehan from Kanpur, who is using solar energy to provide light to the poor. “She has formed a committee of women and has set up a plant of solar energy lanterns. For a minimal cost of Rs. 100, she rents out the lanterns,” Modi said. The Prime Minister, who along with a 25-member delegate will leave for Paris in the later half of Sunday for the 12-day conference, talked about the meeting in a series of tweets, the first of which read, “Leaving for Paris, where I will join @COP21. In the Summit, we will deliberate on crucial issues relating to environment & climate change.He also said at the COP21, he would inaugurate the India Pavilion, “showcasing India’s harmony with nature, environment & commitment to mitigate climate change”, and that he would also jointly host a meeting of International Solar Alliance with French President Francois Hollande and attend the ‘Mission Innovation’ hosted by US President Barack Obama. India has set a target of availing 175 giga watt of power through renewable resources by 2022. Talking about rising natural disasters –another side effect of environmental degradation –Modi said SAARC nations should come together to work on disaster preparedness. “After the Nepal earthquake, I told Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif that the SAARC nations should conduct a joint exercise to prepare for natural disasters,” he said.

Defend to death the freedom of Aamir and Shah Rukh, but take them seriously at your peril

By Kartikeya Tanna

They are two of the biggest Hindi film industry superstars. They represent a critical component of our nation’s soft power both within India and globally. Just like any of us common men and women, they, too, will have views. Included in the 1.25 billion of us, who our Constitution guarantees the right to speak, are them too.

File photo of Aamir Khan. ReutersFile photo of Aamir Khan. Reuters

File photo of Aamir Khan. Reuters

It is, therefore, unfair to say actors like Aamir and Shah Rukh should curtail themselves to movies. Good, bad, cheerful, despondent, positive or negative – they have an inalienable right to speak their mind when they want and how they want to.  In fact, the greatest bane of our country has been to assume that it is only the ‘intellectual’ class which should venture speaking about the India that ought to be.

It is also rather ridiculous to think that they speak their minds only when a movie release is round the corner. That may be true for other less popular actors in the industry, but Aamir and Shah Rukh command a huge loyal audience base.

While their right to speak their minds is something each Indian must defend – for that is the very foundation of our democracy when we got independence from over twelve centuries of oppression and alien rule – should they be taken seriously?

In an interview with Headlines Today, Shah Rukh said, in clear words in response to a question whether he would return a Padma Shri aaward, that there is intolerance repeating it thrice. Here is an excerpt of his interview. Just a few days later, he claimed how he never said India is intolerant, lamenting that his words got misconstrued.

He used the classic “they insisted” defence adding that he was only talking of how youth should focus on making our nation a secular, progressive nation. This tweet, a collection of his differing views to different channels, encapsulates his confusion very effectively.

Rewind to 2013, when an interviewer asked him about growing intolerance given the fatwa and death threats to a Kashmiri girl band Pragaash and Muslim bodies objecting to a Kamal Hassan movie Vishwaroopam, Shah Rukh had declined answering that question since these issues were “political” and “religious”.

Of course, he has the right to speak what he wants when he wants or not speak when he does not want to. The freedom he enjoys does not obligate him to speak up every time an issue of intolerance arises.

Aamir Khan went several steps further by saying how his wife once asked him if they should move out of India. Since it has been claimed that his quote got distorted, here is a transcript of his exact words at the Ramnath Goenka Award function which included epithets like “growing disquiet” and “growing sense of despondency”. To those defending him by stating those were his wife’s feelings and not his, Aamir completed that quote by stating – “This feeling exists in me too”.

He did issue a statement in response to the criticism he faced which is as hyperbolic and inane as his original quotation at the award function, something that can be best summed up in this tweet.

It must also be noted that, just a couple of weeks prior thereto, Aamir, in an interview with Shekhar Gupta, said how there is a lot of positivity in India and that we, as a nation, are “open to change”, “open to ideas” and that he has a “lot of hope”.

Aamir, of course, is the most popular face of the Incredible India campaign where he invites people from world over to come visit India. And, as he has said numerous times, he does not lend his face to anything unless he really believes in the cause, product or idea.

May be, he believed India was incredible, but now thinks it is intolerant. The question, then, is if he would still continue to truly believe in promoting our Incredible India.

This lack of clarity in their speech begs an additional question whether the two superstars are as prone to joining the prevalent herd as many in our country, albeit in their own unique style and choice of words.

Speaking to Shekhar Gupta in 2005 when calling Modi a mass murderer was the trend, Aamir had joined the herd concluding how “Indians were being killed by a leader [i.e., Modi]”. Referring to denial of visa by the United States to “a person who has been killing innocent people” (i.e., Modi), Aamir expressed shock at people in India criticizing US decision, adding that India too should take cognizance of punishing him.

Indeed, he was also one of the celebrated signatories of a petition which sought to shame the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for issuing a “highly insensitive and irresponsible statement defending Modi”. That he is now sharing the stage rather comfortably with the same man and seeks meetings with him at 7 Race Course Road speaks volumes.

The next time you see an Aamir uttering sweeping generalisations about us and our culture, pause before you believe in it. For there may be a contradiction round the corner. The next time you hear Shah Rukh, one of the most powerful men in India, cry victim, think before you conclude how we Indians don’t deserve your hero. For he may recant as meekly what he concludes so ostentatiously.

India, our tolerant nation, defends to death their freedom to speak their mind. That is the essence of our culture spanning thousands of years. But, India, a wise nation, has the right to pause and reflect before taking them seriously.

Obama says U.S. has to do something about guns after Colorado shooting | Reuters

WASHINGTON Expressing what has become regularly repeated frustration on the issue, President Barack Obama said on Saturday the United States needs to “do something” to make it harder for criminals to get guns after a shooting in Colorado killed three people and injured nine.

“We have to do something about the easy accessibility of weapons of war on our streets to people who have no business wielding them. Period,” Obama said in a statement. “Enough is enough.”

In Friday’s shooting, an assailant opened fire at a Planned Parenthood clinic, a center that provides health services including abortions, in Colorado Springs.

It was the latest in a long series of U.S. mass shootings during Obama’s seven years in office. He has called the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, his toughest day as president.

Obama said it was too soon to know the Colorado Springs shooter’s “so-called motive” but said the tragedy was more evidence pointing to the need to reform firearms laws.

“This is not normal,” said Obama, who has become increasingly forthright in urging gun control measures when he makes statements after such events. “We can’t let it become normal.”

Obama tried to tighten up gun laws after the Newtown shootings, but met resistance in the U.S. Congress, including from some of his fellow Democrats, and failed to push a measure through.

After another deadly shooting at an Oregon community college last month, Obama said White House lawyers would pore through existing laws to look for new ways he could use his executive powers to enforce regulations.

One of those options would require more gun dealers to get a license to sell guns, which would lead to more background checks on buyers.

The White House had drafted a proposal on that issue in 2013, but was concerned it could be challenged in court. Administration officials are now hopeful they can find a way to advance the plan.

Obama has also pledged to elevate the issue of gun laws during his remaining time in office, and has denounced lawmakers for bowing to pressure from the powerful National Rifle Association lobby group.

On Saturday, he said Americans could not “offer up our thoughts and prayers” for the families of the dead police officer and of the two other victims of the shooting “with a truly clean conscience” unless they also pushed for changes to make it harder to get guns.

“May God bless Officer Garrett Swasey and the Americans he tried to save – and may he grant the rest of us the courage to do the same thing,” Obama said.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Frances Kerry)

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

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

Nuclear club eyes Indian inclusion, but risks Pakistan’s ire | Reuters

NEW DELHI Diplomats have quietly launched a new push to induct India into a club of nuclear trading nations, but rather than increasing stability in South Asia, the move could escalate strains with rival Pakistan.

The chairman of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) visited New Delhi recently to meet Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj as part of a diplomatic “outreach” that seeks to build a consensus to admit India at its annual meeting next June.

Membership of the 48-nation club would bring India into the nuclear fold 41 years after it tested its first nuclear bomb, and give the nation of 1.25 billion a vested interest in curbing the world’s most dangerous regional arms race.

“It’s a very delicate process, but I think there is less and less justification for the impasse,” Rafael Grossi, the Argentinian ambassador to Vienna who heads the NSG, told Reuters in an interview.

Yet there are doubts. For one, India has not signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty, or NPT, which seeks to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.

And Pakistan, an ally of China, also aspires to join the NSG. With a history as a proliferator, Pakistan’s accession would be a tough sell.

Because the NSG operates by consensus, admitting India alone would mean it could then bar its western neighbour from the club, potentially pushing Pakistan further to the fringes.

Meanwhile, Pakistan has been testing missiles that can reach all of India, and very short-range missiles that it insists could be used only if Indian troops cross onto Pakistani soil.

A seat at the NSG would strengthen India’s geopolitical clout and help it capitalise on nuclear trade and technology transfer opportunities, while also raising concern in Pakistan.

“India has a nuclear deal with the U.S., with France, it will soon have deals with Australia and Japan. So all this will of course complement its effort to get into NSG,” said a senior Pakistani security official with knowledge of nuclear issues.

“But people don’t understand that India will use all this additional fuel (through civil nuclear deals) to make energy and have a lot more left over to use to make weapons.

“So at the end of it, the need for even more deterrence from our side will grow, not decrease.”

UPPER HAND

Pakistan sees a nuclear lead as vital insurance against possible aggression by its larger neighbour, and it appears to be gaining the upper hand over India in the nuclear contest.

Analysts Toby Dalton and Michael Krepon estimate Pakistan is producing 20 nuclear warheads a year to India’s five.

Yet defending that lead is a “losing proposition” that imposes huge costs on Pakistan’s economy and strains its social fabric, they said.

In a report for the Carnegie and Stimson think tanks, Dalton and Krepon argued Pakistan should abandon its goal of “full-spectrum” deterrence against India and satisfy itself with “strategic” deterrence, or the ability to launch an effective counter-strike in the event of an attack.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since independence and partition in 1947, two over Kashmir. Their disputed frontier is one of the world’s most heavily militarised regions. Border clashes and incursions pose a constant risk of escalation.

The U.S. State Department declined to comment on specific discussions over Pakistan, but an official said Washington had not entered into talks on a civil nuclear pact with it. Nor was it seeking a waiver for Pakistan to trade with the NSG.

The United States was continuing to integrate India into the “global non-proliferation mainstream”, this official also said, adding that Washington supported India’s membership in the four multilateral export control regimes. One of those is the NSG.

COMFORT LEVEL

India’s long road to nuclear legitimacy began with a bilateral deal with the United States in 2005 that, three years later, yielded an exemption allowing it to trade in sensitive nuclear technology with NSG nations.

New Delhi expressed its interest in 2010 in formally joining the nuclear club.

But India’s lobbying has met with scepticism from European countries like Austria and Switzerland, who have questioned its refusal to sign the NPT and give up nuclear weapons.

Indian negotiators now detect a change of tone, and are focusing on winning over European sceptics. That, in turn, could bring round China, they calculate.

“We are optimistic; there is a desire within the NSG to bring this process to a conclusion sooner rather than later,” one Indian diplomat told Reuters. “People are comfortable with India.”

Despite two summit meetings between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping, Beijing has yet to signal its assent and may not agree, analysts caution.

Despite those concerns, India is upbeat: “France joined the NSG before ratifying the Non-Proliferation Treaty,” said the Indian diplomat.

“It’s not about arms controls. It’s about export controls.”

(Additional reporting by Mehreen Zahra Malik in Islamabad, Idrees Ali in Washington and Adam Rose in Beijing; Writing by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Mike Collett-White)

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

Don’t give permanent UNSC membership to India: Assamese group urges Ban Ki-moon

They also requested the UN to send an observer team to the North Eastern states for taking stock of the injustice meted out to indigenous people in the region.

Matiur Rahman

The Assam Sanmilita Mahasangha, a confederation of indigenous people in Assam, has written a letter to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, urging him not to give permanent membership to India in the UN Security Council till the Indian government repeals the AFSPA in the North East states of India.In a press conference held at the Manipur press club in Imphal on Wednesday, Matiur Rahman, working president of the organisation said, “The Indian government is playing a colonial role by imposing the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 (AFSPA) in the North Eastern states. Till date, about 60,000 indigenous people have been killed by the Indian Army under this Act”.The association also requested the UN to send an observer team to the North Eastern states for taking stock of the injustice meted out to indigenous people in the region.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Rahman submitted the letter to the UN Secretary General through the Director of United Nations Information Centre in New Delhi on November 4. Copies of the letter were also sent to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz – the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Mativez Cobo – Permanent Member of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.The association also protested some guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs of India. The guidelines say that anyone, including members of NGOs, companies, media and academics, intending to visit a prison for the purpose of conducting an interview, making a documentary or engaging in research work may be required to submit a security deposit of Rs 1 lakh. These guidelines have also put restrictions on visitors wishing to meet Manipur human rights activist Irom Chanu Sharmila, who is lodged in the security wards of Jawaharal Nehru Institute of Medical Science (JNIMS), Imphal for her protest against AFSPA. Sharmila has been fasting for over 15 years now, demanding the repeal of AFSPA. “In this regard, the association submitted a letter to Home Minister Rajnath Singh and state Home Minister Kiren Rijiju on 7 October, stating that Sharmila is not a criminal activist, and hence the government should not impose these guidelines. The government’s attitude to Sharmila is totally inhuman and painful. She should be free to meet anybody as she wishes,” said Rahman.Rahman added that the Mahasangha may also move the Supreme Court in protest to these guidelines.

Subramanian Swamy targets Rahul Gandhi again, says will ask ED to register FIR

“I have produced documents, submitted by the company in which Rahul Gandhi is the 65 percent shareholder, director and company secretary. He is informing the registrar of companies on his annual return that he is a citizen of Britain in writing, not for one year, but four years in a row,” he added.

Continuing his stand that Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi had taken British citizenship to set up a company in the United Kingdom, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramanian Swamy on Wednesday said that he will ask the Enforcement Directorate to register an FIR against the former.”One crime has been admitted by Congi: Buddhu did set up a company in UK. So a FIR is to be registered under FCRA, PMLA, FEMA. I will ask ED.I have traced Backops as a shell co. to companies receiving kick backs in Indian defence deals’ illegal commission. Another press conference (sic),” Swamy said in a series of tweets.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Earlier, the senior BJP leader had asked Rahul Gandhi to release all the documents that he has in his possession regarding his ‘citizenship’.”For setting up a company in Britain, if he is an Indian citizen and has not informed the Indian Government under FCRA (Foreign Contribution Regulation Act), then he is subjected to prosecution. If he has not declared it in his affidavit as a candidate for Lok Sabha, not once but twice, then he is subjected to prosecution and even removal from his membership on that basis,” Swamy had said.”I have produced documents, submitted by the company in which Rahul Gandhi is the 65 percent shareholder, director and company secretary. He is informing the registrar of companies on his annual return that he is a citizen of Britain in writing, not for one year, but four years in a row,” he added.Earlier, Swamy claimed of having evidences which could prove that the Congress vice president is a ‘British national’.Swamy alleged that Rahul Gandhi had declared himself as a British citizen between 2003 and 2009 in order to set up a private company in London, and has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding that the government strip the Congress vice-president of his Indian citizenship.However, the Congress Party rubbished the claims saying that Swamy and the BJP were repeating rehashed allegations levelled earlier on multiple occasions.”Swamy and BJP are repeating rehashed allegations levelled earlier on multiple occasions including through press conferences held in Ahmedabad and Delhi in October 2012…From the day he was born, Rahul Gandhi has held Indian citizenship and Indian passport and has never held citizenship of any other country nor has he represented as such. The allegation by Swamy is entirely false. The Certificate of Incorporation of the said company is enclosed and clearly mentions,” Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala said.

Immigration, oil, air strikes? Here’s what caused the Paris terror attacks, according to some ‘experts’

The horrific Paris terror attacks, in which at least 129 people were killed, have evoked a lot of strong reactions from leaders from across over the world. Many of them have made controversial statements on the cause of the attack, blaming immigration or the US air strikes on the Islamic State targets for the attacks.

Samajwadi Party leader and Uttar Pradesh minister Azam Khan faced a lot of criticism on Monday when he linked the Paris attacks to the air strikes on Islamic State targets. “The bombardments in Iraq and Syria on suspected IS strongholds apart from killing innocent civilians are also rendering thousands homeless. What justification do they have for this?” The Times of India quoted Khan as saying.

The Paris terror attack killed at least 129 people. Reuters

The Paris terror attack killed at least 129 people. Reuters

In what could be construed as a case of schadenfreude, Khan went on to ask, “Do you want to light up cities like Paris, known for their wine and party culture, with the money earned through illegally occupying oil reserves in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Iran?

However, Khan is not the only leader to have made such remarks. Leaders from other countries also gave controversial reasons for the Paris terror attacks, with many of them, apart from making remarks on air strikes on Islamic State targets, also linking immigration with the attack and calling for an immediate ban on immigration of Syrian refugees.

Bill Maher, host of HBO political talk show ‘Real Time‘, also said that the cause for the attack was “bombing IS”. “Bombing (IS) over there is what is causing the Paris thing to happen!” The Daily Beast quoted Maher as saying. However, Maher’s remark was less of a justification for the attack and more of a cause behind it, unlike Khan’s remark.

On Saturday, US presidential candidate Donald Trump, infamous for his views on immigration, said that it would be “insane” for the United States to accept any refugees from Syria in the wake of the Paris attacks, according to AP.

Apart from his rigid stance on immigration, Trump also said that the terror attacks in Paris would have been “a much, much different situation” had the victims been armed with guns.

Republican presidential contender Marco Rubio on Sunday said the United States should no longer accept Syrian refugees because it’s impossible to know whether they have links to Islamic militants. Another Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson said Syrian refugees should not be brought to the US because it is too easy for jihadis, intent on “wreaking havoc in this country,” to embed with them.

Other US politicians like Chris Christie, Rand Paul and Bobby Jindal also linked the attacks to immigration. “President (Barack) Obama and Hillary Clinton’s idea that we should bring tens of thousands of Syrian Muslim refugees to America: It is nothing less than lunacy,” Politico quoted US politician Ted Cruz as saying.

The new right-wing government in Poland declared that the Paris attacks showed that the European Union’s compulsory system of quotas for sharing refugees had to be rejected, according to The Guardian.

“Poland must retain full control over its borders, asylum and immigration,” the report quoted Konrad Szymanski, the new minister for European affairs, as saying.

Will McCants, an expert on terrorism and author of The ISIS Apocalypse, linked the airstrikes by France on Islamic State targets to the terror attack, although he did not blame the airstrikes for the attack and did not say that the airstrikes should be stopped. “(It could be) to say to France, ‘If you continue to bomb our positions, there’s going to be more of the same and you had better leave off or more of your civilians will die,'” Business Insider quoted McCants as saying.

Syed Akbaruddin India’s next Permanent Representative to UN

A 1985 batch IFS officer, Akbaruddin, currently serving as an Additional Secretary in MEA, is credited with bringing a whiff of fresh air into the Ministry’s External Publicity division during his three-and-half year tenure as the spokesperson

Senior diplomat and former high- profile spokesperson of the External Affairs Ministry Syed Akbaruddin has been appointed as India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, succeeding Asoke Mukerji.A 1985 batch IFS officer, Akbaruddin, currently serving as an Additional Secretary in MEA, is credited with bringing a whiff of fresh air into the Ministry’s External Publicity division during his three-and-half year tenure as the spokesperson.He had also brought an effective mix of social and digital media into the External Publicity division. As India’s Permanent Representative to the global body in New York, Akbaruddin’s main task would be to push for India’s bid to gain permanent membership of the UN Security Council as well as to strongly advocate its position on key issues.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Akbaruddin was Chief Coordinator of the recently-held Indo-Africa Summit here which was participated by heads of state and government of 41 countries from African continent. He had served at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Geneva and is considered an “expert” on the West Asia where he had served in various capacities. Vikas Swarup, author of best-selling novel “Q&A” which formed the basis for Oscar-winning movie “Slumdog Millionaire”, had replaced Akbaruddin as MEA spokesperson in April.

Nawaz Sharif encouraging separatists by writing to Asiya Andrabi, says Congress

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has written a letter to Separatist leader Asiya Andrabi appreciating her struggle in raising the Kashmir issue and said that Pakistan will continue raising this issue on all ‘international’ platforms.

Congress leader Shakeel Ahmed on Monday alleged Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of encouraging the Separatists in the valley following his letter to Asiya Andrabi appreciating her struggle in raising the Kashmir issue.”This is a very shameful step taken by the Pakistan Prime Minister. It has been decided in the Simla agreement that any issues between both countries would be resolved bilaterally. Encouraging Separatists of our nation by a foreign prime minister is not appropriate,” Ahmed told ANI here.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has written a letter to Separatist leader Asiya Andrabi appreciating her struggle in raising the Kashmir issue and said that Pakistan will continue raising this issue on all ‘international’ platforms.According to Daily Pakistan, Sharif said this while responding to a letter by Andrabi and asserted that Pakistan will continue its moral and political support to the people of Kashmir in their struggle for right to self-determination that has been acknowledged by the United Nations.He also accused India of going back on its promise to the international community that Kashmir would be given the right to choose its political future through the exercise of self determination and that this was a betrayal, the daily reports.

PM Modi urges G-20 nations to align with UN’s Sustainable Development Goals

He said that India is promoting growth and investing in skill development to create employment opportunities for youth, adding that such an initiative would make the nation more productive and resilient. ”

He further said that India can become a pillar of global growth and stability due to its sheer size and scale

PTI
Asserting that India’s goals were in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) at the United Nations, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday urged the G-20 nations to align themselves with the SDGs as it would stimulate faster and broad-based economic growth. Speaking at the G20 Working Lunch on Development and Climate Change, the Prime Minister further said that SDGs of the United Nations has a comprehensive set of goals aimed at eliminating poverty from the world by 2030.”We have adopted the Sustainable Development Goals at the United Nations. We are days away from charting a sustainable future for our planet. The SDGs area comprehensive set of goals that places complete elimination of poverty in the world by 2030 as its top goal. And, it creates the right balance between growth, development, human welfare and environment,” Prime Minister Modi said here. “G20 must align itself with the SDGs. In doing so, we will also stimulate faster and a more broad-based economic growth. India’s development goals are aligned with the SDGs,” he added.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He said that India is promoting growth and investing in skill development to create employment opportunities for youth, adding that such an initiative would make the nation more productive and resilient. “We have the world’s largest financial inclusion programme. And, we have definite target dates for meeting all the basic needs of our people. Through bold economic and governance reforms, we have achieved a growth rate of nearly 7.5% with strong prospects for a higher growth rate in the near future,” he said.He further said that India can become a pillar of global growth and stability due to its sheer size and scale. Earlier, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan welcomed leaders of the world’s 20 top economies, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to the G-20 summit being held at the Regnum Carya Hotel Convention Center here today. The town of Belek, where the summit is being held, has been declared a high-security zone following the audacious terror attacks in Paris Friday night. Over 12,000 security personnel, drone detection equipment and mobile cameras have been placed for surveillance of the area.

Oscar voters honor Lee, Rowlands, Reynolds at gala | Reuters

LOS ANGELES Oscar voters on Saturday gave honorary awards to three movie veterans, including director Spike Lee, at a gala event that shone a spotlight on Hollywood’s drive for diversity amid its glitzy awards season.

Along with Lee, whose films include “Malcolm X” and “Do the Right Thing,” the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences gave its Governors Awards for film achievement to “Singing In the Rain” actress Debbie Reynolds and Gena Rowlands, a champion of independent film and star of “The Notebook.”

The Governors Awards annually is one of the academy’s key events ahead of the Oscars, the film industry’s top awards given out in February. Hollywood A-listers including Meryl Streep and Denzel Washington turned out.

Security was tight at the dinner inside the Ray Dolby Ballroom in Hollywood following Friday’s killings in Paris. Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs took a moment at the beginning of the ceremony to mourn those killed.

“All of us here stand in solidarity and support with France and the French people,” she said, noting that country’s long history of film making and its love of cinema.

Boone Isaacs also talked of Hollywood’s need for more ethnic and gender equality in the industry, a call that struck home with Lee whose career is marked by movies dealing with race relations in the United States.

Lee, who has been twice nominated for Oscars, talked about his early career as a director and his desire to put more African Americans in acting roles and in jobs behind the camera. He said Hollywood still has a long way to go.

We “need to have a serious discussion about diversity and get some flavor up in here,” he said.

Rowlands, who like Lee received an “honorary Oscar,” is no stranger to long days on movie sets. In a career that has spanned seven decades and included films such as “A Woman Under the Influence,” Rowlands has worked with many of the industry’s greats including her husband, filmmaker John Cassavetes.

Reynolds, who was given the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian award for her charitable work, was unable to attend due to recent surgery.

The Oscars will be given out in Hollywood on Feb. 28, 2016.

(Reporting and writing by Bob Tourtellotte in Los Angeles, editing by Brendan O’Brien and Dominic Evans)

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

Russia suspended after overwhelming IAAF vote | Reuters

LONDON Athletics’ governing body has voted overwhelmingly to suspend Russia from the sport for widespread, state-sponsored doping and the ban will include the 2016 Olympics unless the country can demonstrate a major change in their approach and controls.

After a three-hour teleconference on Friday, hosted by its president Sebastian Coe, the International Association of Athletics Federations’ (IAAF) council voted 22-1 in favour of the sanction, with the Russian representative not able to vote.

The meeting was called to discuss Monday’s report by the independent commission of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which recommended the punishment — unprecedented for doping offences.

The report alleged “systemic” collusion between Russian athletes and both the country’s federation and anti-doping authorities and a “deeply-rooted culture of cheating” that enabled athletes to take performance-enhancing drugs without fear of being tested.

The report recommended suspending the Russian federation until a “new framework” was in place.

“We will get the change we want and only then will Russian athletes return to international competition,” Coe told reporters after Friday’s call.

“This is not about politics, this is about the protection of clean athletes. I cannot overstate the feeling around the conference call this evening about sending the strongest possible message that we can.

“This has been a shameful wake-up call and we are clear that cheating at any level will not be tolerated.

“But we discussed and agreed that the whole system has failed the athletes, not just in Russia, but around the world.”

REQUIRED CHANGES

Asked if Russia would be able to make the required changes in time to return for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics next August, Coe said: “It is entirely up to the Russian federation. Our verification team will be tough and will want to make sure that before there is a re-introduction to the sport for their athletes and the federation those changes have taken place.”

Russia will be stripped of hosting the world race walking and world junior championships next year while the first competition to be affected by the ban is the European cross-country championships in France on Dec. 13.

The main athletics events in 2016 are the world Indoor Championships, the European athletics championships and the Olympics.

Russia are one of the superpowers of the sport and finished second behind the United States in the track and field medal count at the 2012 Olympics in London.

“To regain membership to the IAAF the new federation would have to fulfil a list of criteria,” Coe said.

“An inspection team will be led by Independent Chair Rune Andersen, an independent international anti-doping expert (Norwegian) and three members of the IAAF Council who will be appointed in the next few days.”

Stephanie Hightower, president of US Track and Field and an IAAF council member, said of the “extraordinary” decision: “In light of the evidence, suspension was the only proper course of action… This sends a clear message to clean athletes that protecting them and protecting the sport, with a culture of accountability, is our top priority.

“Although this is a difficult time, in the long term, the sport ultimately will be stronger for it.”

SUSPENDED MEMBERS

The IAAF has previously suspended members, including South Africa during its Apartheid regime, Afghanistan, Vanuatu, Algeria and Gabon, but none of those were drugs-related.

Coe’s predecessor as president, Lamine Diack, is being investigated by French police over allegations he received bribes to cover up positive doping tests of Russian athletes but Friday’s meeting did not discuss that issue.

Other aspects of the IAAF’s actions regarding Russia were withheld from the commission’s report on Monday as they form part of an investigation by Interpol into international corruption involving officials and athletes.

Coe accepted, though, that the IAAF was also in the dock.

“The IAAF, WADA, the member federations and athletes need to look closely at ourselves, our cultures and our processes to identify where failures exist and be tough in our determination to fix them and rebuild trust in our sport,” he said.

“We find ourselves in a shameful position tonight and we need to look at ourselves.

“We have also addressed the failings of our own organisation and we have discussed strong, strong changes there,” added Coe, who said he had asked Paul Deighton, the former CEO of the London 2012 Olympics, to oversee a programme of changes within the governing body.

“The architecture of anti-doping has failed athletes worldwide,” Coe added.

(Editing by Ken Ferris)

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

Modi in UK: Here is how British media gave a not so glowing welcome to PM Narendra Modi

After it raised the issues of intolerance, Gujarat 2002 at the joint statement press conference yesterday, PM Narendra Modi’s visit to the United Kingdom was mostly received by the UK media with harsh, scathing. headlines and columns.

While David Cameron enthusiastically welcomed PM Narendra Modi, the British media was anything but complimentary about it. After it raised the issues of intolerance, Gujarat 2002 at the joint statement press conference yesterday, PM Narendra Modi’s visit to the United Kingdom was mostly received by the UK media with harsh, scathing. headlines and columns. Here is how major news media covered his visit.The TimesPM defends Modi on human rights as £9bn in deals awaitBritain will continue to pursue stronger ties with India despite Narendra Modi’s record on human rights, David Cameron insisted.The prime minister issued his defence of Mr Modi as the Indian premier’s UK visit was overshadowed by protests outside Downing Street. Mr Modi was also forced to deny accusations of “growing intolerance” under his rule and that he had once been barred from Britain. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Read more here.Hold your nose and shake Modi by the handThe egregious PM is not a man who shares our values but Britain’s relationship with India is bigger than one manRead more hereThe IndependentFour times David Cameron gave warm welcomes to leaders of countries with questionable human rights recordsIt is not the first time David Cameron’s meetings with world leaders have been met with condemnation from critics who have questioned the UK’s dealings with countries that hold poor human rights records. Read more hereDaily TelegraphAll is forgiven, Mr. ModiIndia’s prime minister, a man once shunned by Britain and the US, is greeted with all honors, untroubled by the protestersRead more here The GuardianIndia is being ruled by a Hindu TalibanNarendra Modi is clamping down on tolerance and freedom of expression. In Britain we have a responsibility to speak out against itRead more hereIndia’s prime minister is a Hindu extremist who fails to condemn lynch mobs. Yet it seems that trade deals matter more to our governmentIndia’s prime minister is a Hindu extremist who fails to condemn lynch mobs. Yet it seems that trade deals matter more to our governmentRead more here Narendra Modi’s UK visit is a historic moment for our very special relationshipWhat other politician can attract 60,000 people to Wembley? For David Cameron and the 1.5 million British-Indian community, this is about so much more than trade and politics Read more here The TelegraphFrom pariah to ‘rock star’ world leader: Narendra Modi prepares to visit BritainIt is a long way from his roots as a tea-seller’s son helping his father at a small Gujarat train station to lunch with the Queen at Buckingham Palace.And it is also a far cry from life as a political pariah shunned by Britain for a decade to the role of “rock star” world leader who will pack Wembley stadium with adoring Indian expatriates and stay overnight at Chequers.Read more here The GuardianNarendra Modi’s belated visit to Britain shows where his priorities lieAs his 29th overseas destination, the UK’s lack of real interest to the Indian PM is clear, but the trip comes at a useful time for ModiRead more here

PM Modi has always spoken about a tolerant society: BJP

“It is definitely an important visit and it consolidates co-oporation between India and UK in terms of economic issue, terrorism. The United Kingdom is supporting India’s candidature for the permanent member of the UN security council. So, there is a lot of scope of work,” he added.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Friday backed Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his ‘intolerance’ remark and affirmed that he has been tirelessly speaking about the need for a tolerant society and that the Government of India is in no way involved in any incident of intolerance.”We need to bare in mind that with regards to comments on tolerance, the Prime Minister has been consistence. He has been speaking on the need for the tolerant society and he has been speaking of his commitment to the constitution to India from day one. There is no change in that stance and the government of India is in no way involved in any intolerant incident,” said BJP spokesperson Nalin Kohli to ANI here.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”So, those who make political capital have to bare in mind that the Prime Minister and the government will work according to the constitution and they don’t need to make political capital unnecessary that hurts India’s image,” he added.Also describing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s UK visit as a vital one, Kohli said it consolidates cooperation between both countries and provides scope for a lot of work.”It is definitely an important visit and it consolidates co-oporation between India and UK in terms of economic issue, terrorism. The United Kingdom is supporting India’s candidature for the permanent member of the UN security council. So, there is a lot of scope of work,” he added.Prime Minister Modi arrived in the United Kingdom yesterday on a three day visit. He has since had delegation-level talks, addressed the British Parliament and the City of London, met representatives of the Sikh community and paid homage before a statue of Mahatma Gandhi.On Friday, he will be having another round of talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron, both in London and at Chequers, his weekend retreat, besides having lunch with Queen Elizabeth II and addressing the Indian Diaspora at the Wembley Stadium.He will also meet members of the House of Lords and Members of Parliament and attend a reception hosted by Indian High Commissioner Rajan Mathai in London.

Modi in UK: India, Britain pledge to work together on climate change

London: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his British counterpart David Cameron on Thursday pledged to work together to tackle climate change and signed a memorandum to strengthen energy cooperation between the countries.

The leaders said climate change is “one of the greatest global challenges of the century having adverse impacts at the national and international levels”, said the joint statement.

British PM David Cameron with PM Narendra Modi. PTIBritish PM David Cameron with PM Narendra Modi. PTI

British PM David Cameron with PM Narendra Modi. PTI

Cameron and Modi welcomed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to strengthen energy cooperation between the two countries building on existing successes and promoting closer future collaboration in areas such as electricity market reform, energy efficiency, offshore wind, solar power, smart grids, energy storage, and off-grid renewable energy services.

The two prime ministers also pledged to work together for a comprehensive agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at the Paris Climate Conference in December 2015.

The leaders emphasised the importance of climate finance and of developed countries honouring their commitment to mobilise jointly $100 billion a year by 2020 from a wide variety of sources, both public and private, in the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation.

The two prime ministers announced £ 10 million of joint funding from the Research Councils UK and Indian Department of Science and Technology for new joint renewable energy research centers, bringing the total value of the Indo-UK clean energy research programme to 60 million pounds.

Cameron announced the UK climate investment venture with the Green Investment Bank, which will invest up to a total of 200 million pounds of UK climate finance in renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in India and Africa. He also announced a 10 million pounds five-year programme of technical assistance to support national and state-level reforms in India’s power sector.

Cameron emphasized Britain’s commitment to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80 percent by 2050, as set out in the 2008 Climate Change Act, meeting its carbon budgets in the most cost-effective manner.

Modi also highlighted India’s commitment to reduce its emissions intensity by 33-35 percent by 2030 compared to 2005 levels and put in place 40 percent cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel based energy resources by 2030 through nationally determined development measures and priorities.

IANS

Modi in UK: PM greets Indian diaspora on his arrival

The members of the Indian community raised slogans of ‘Modi! Modi’ and ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ outside St. James’ Court, where Prime Minister Modi arrived a short while back.

PM Modi

Image Courtesy: Twitter (ANI)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who arrived in the United Kingdom on Thursday, greeted members of the Indian community here, saying that the diaspora has played a key role in the strengthening of the India-UK ties. Thank you @Number10gov. We are very proud of the Indian diaspora in UK. Their role in strengthening India-UK ties is immense,” Prime Minister Modi tweeted.The members of the Indian community raised slogans of ‘Modi! Modi’ and ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ outside St. James’ Court, where Prime Minister Modi arrived a short while back. The Prime Minister met the members of the Indian community and also exchanged pleasantries with them. Earlier, British Prime Minister David Cameron had welcomed Prime Minister Modi on behalf of Britain’s Indian community. “Welcome to the UK @narendramodi from Britain’s Indian community #ModiInUK,” UK Prime Minister’s official twitter handle said.Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is on a three-day bilateral visit, was received at the Heathrow Airport by the Indian High Commissioner to UK Rajan Mathai, UK’s High Commissioner to India James Bevan along with several senior officials of the British Government and the military attach?s of the Indian High Commission. This is Prime Minister Modi’s first visit to Britain since assuming office last year and is also the first Indian Prime Minister to visit the UK in almost a decade.Prime Minister Modi will be given a Guard of Honour at Treasury Quadrangle, Kings Charles Street before being officially welcomed by his Britain counterpart David Cameron.

Obama speaks to Modi, first call via Indo-US hotline

Noting that the conversation represented the first use of the new hotline line between the two leaders, Obama reaffirmed the importance of the US-India partnership in addressing both regional and global issues, it said.

Modi-Obama

US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have made the first use of the secure hotline set up between Washington and New Delhi as they reviewed progress on key areas of cooperation and discussed global issues ahead of the upcoming G-20 summit.”President Obama spoke today by phone with Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India to review joint efforts on key areas of bilateral cooperation and to preview global issues ahead of the upcoming G-20 summit, East Asia Summit, and Paris Climate Conference,” the White House said yesterday. Noting that the conversation represented the first use of the new hotline line between the two leaders, Obama reaffirmed the importance of the US-India partnership in addressing both regional and global issues, it said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Both leaders shared their perspectives on developments in South Asia and discussed the progress they have made on shared economic and security priorities, including implementation of the Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia Pacific and Indian Ocean Region and addressing the global challenge of climate change,” the White House said.The secure line between the two countries was agreed to in January, when Obama became the first sitting US president to visit India twice. After his visit to the United Kingdom beginning on November 12, Modi will travel to Turkey to attend the G20 Summit to be held on November 15-16. The Summit is being held at a critical juncture after the adoption of Sustainable Development Goals agenda at the United Nations and ahead of the climate change Summit in Paris.

Afghan Hazara step up protest after beheadings | Reuters

KABULThousands of members of Afghanistan’s Hazara ethnic minority demonstrated on Wednesday against government inaction over the killing of seven members of their community by Islamist militants who dumped their partially beheaded bodies.

The mainly Shia Hazara have long faced persecution in Afghanistan, with thousands massacred by the Taliban and al Qaeda in the 1990s, but a series of murders and kidnappings this year has stoked a mood of growing despair.

The demonstration in a mainly Hazara area in the west of Kabul was peaceful but there was an angry mood in the crowd that was directed both at the Islamist militants blamed for the killings and the government that failed to prevent them.

“The only way to prevent such crimes in the future is to take over all government offices until they wake up and make a decision,” said demonstrator Sayed Karim, 40, one of thousands who filled the whole of Mazari Square.

As well as adding to the daily toll of killings, the deaths of the seven Hazara, who included three women and two children, have heightened the risk that sectarian hatreds will further poison the climate in a country made up of different ethnicities.

Bearing the green-draped coffins of the dead and carrying banners with slogans like “The Taliban are committing crimes and the government is supporting them”, the crowd began to make its way to the presidential palace in central Kabul.

President Ashraf Ghani has condemned the killings and promised an investigation but they have added to a mood of insecurity that has grown since the Taliban briefly seized control of the key northern city of Kunduz in late September.

The United Nations Special Representative Nicholas Haysom also issued a statement, saying the killings violated international law. “These senseless murders may amount to war crimes and the perpetrators must be held accountable,” he said.

The killings in the southern province of Zabul occurred amid fighting between rival Taliban factions and Islamic State militants that has underlined the risk of further fragmentation, complicating any reopening of the peace process and creating the risk of more generalised anarchy.

Demonstrators said Hazara people were being killed every day on the dangerous roads between Ghazni, Bamyan and Wardak provinces to the west of Kabul, where the Taliban have control of much of the countryside.

In addition to the Taliban and Islamic State, many Hazara have directed their anger more broadly against the Pashtun, the largest ethic group from which the Islamist movements recruit most of their followers.

“We’re from this country. We have to have the same rights as other citizens,” said a demonstrator who gave her name only as Sohaila. “If the government doesn’t give us the right of citizenship, we will leave this country to the Pashtuns and other groups.”

(Additional reporting by Sayed Hassib and Samar Zwak, Writing by James Mackenzie; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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

Bangladesh hands top separatist leader over to India | Reuters

GUWAHATI, IndiaBangladesh handed the founder of a militant separatist group to India on Wednesday, intelligence sources said, a rebel leader that for years New Delhi had fought to extradite.

Anup Chetia founded the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) more than three decades ago and had been imprisoned in Bangladesh for the last 18 years after being charged with staying in the country illegally and unlawful possession of foreign currencies.

He completed a seven-year sentence but was kept in a jail on the outskirts of Dhaka, as India and Bangladesh, where he had applied for political asylum, struggled to agree to the terms for his extradition.

“He is in our custody and will be brought to India shortly,” said a senior Indian intelligence official, asking not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter.

The ULFA is one of the largest of the many rebel groups active in India’s restive northeast, a remote and underdeveloped region that is home to dozens of ethnic groups, many of whom are campaigning for greater autonomy, statehood or even secession.

The group, which once ran several bases across the border inside Bangladesh, has demanded a separate state carved out of Assam and accuses New Delhi of plundering the region’s mineral and agricultural resources.

Fighting in the northeast has killed thousands over the last few decades and although violence has subsided as some groups lay down their arms, hundreds are still killed each year.

Chetia’s transfer comes amid improving ties between India and Bangladesh, with both keen to boost trade and security along the border and to fight human trafficking.

Earlier this year the two countries signed an historic land boundary agreement, more than four decades after the neighbours first tried to resolve the complex territorial disputes.

(Reporting by Biswajyoti Das; Writing by Tommy Wilkes; Editing by Michael Perry)

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OROP protest: Over 2000 ex-servicemen return their medals

Colonel (retd) Anil Kaul, spokesman of the protesters in Delhi, said 2,000 ex-servicemen’s medals were deposited at the district collector’s office.

Ex-servicemen return their medals to Deputy Collector during their agitation for One Rank One Pension (OROP) scheme benefits and privileges near the IGI airport in New Delhi on Tuesday.
Bir Bahadur
dna Research & Archives
Over 2,000 ex-servicemen protesting against the government’s “diluted” one-pension-one rank scheme on Tuesday returned their medals in Delhi, Haryana and Punjab, the organizations spearheading the movement claimed on Tuesday as they hit back at Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar for his “unlike soldiers behaviour” remark aimed at them.Colonel (retd) Anil Kaul, spokesman of the protesters in Delhi, said 2,000 ex-servicemen’s medals were deposited at the district collector’s office.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The veterans had threatened to leave the medals on the road if we didn’t accept it. Hence, we accepted those,” District Collector Sanjay Kumar told reporters.In Chandigarh, Brigadier Kiran Krishan (retd), Convener for North Haryana of Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement (IESM), a constituent of United Front of Ex-Servicemen that had led the nation-wide protest for OROP at Jantar Mantar in Delhi, said that more than 150 war veterans returned over 150 medals which were handed over to the Additional Deputy Commissioner, Panchkula. Kaul said ex-servicemen from Ambala, Chandigarh, Moga, Jalandhar and Gurdaspur returned their medals today while those from Mumbai, Pune, Vadodara and Bangalore will follow the suit.”Our people from Mumbai, Pune, Vadodara and Bangalore will return their medals next. By the way, this is just the trailer,” he added.The veterans claimed over 20,000 of them have returned medals since their protest began in 2008 to press for OROP. Kaul reacted sharply to Parrikar’s statement that the war veterans’ protest against OROP notification is “unlike that of a soldier” and said the Parrikar’s behaviour “too doesn’t behove that of a Defence Minister.Dismissing Parrikar’s remarks that the protesters were being “misguided” and that the OROP notification issued on Saturday has been his “achievement”, the agitators shot back at the BJP leader asking him to learn English to know meanings of the two words and asked him not to “lie” to his soldiers seeking their due rights.”He says our behaviour is unlike that of a soldier. But we feel Parrikar’s behaviour is unlike that of a Defence Minister. We have been seeking our due to rights for past 149 days. But government has found no time to listen to us. Hence, we have been impelled to agitate Mr Parrikar. Your notification is not what we have been talking about. Therefore, we are returning medals,” Kaul said.

Sea level rise threatens Mumbai and Kolkata: Global report

The report has projected that China will be most severely affected due to sea level rise as some 145 million faced the prospect of getting submerge.

Picture credit: Climate Central

Millions of people living in Indian metros Mumbai and Kolkata are at the risk of getting submerged in the future if climate change triggered sea level rise is left unchecked, a new global report of Climate Central, a US-based research organization, has said. The report, released on Monday, has suggested that at the current pace of sea-rise, coastal cities won’t be threatened in the immediate future. But, maps released with the report show that if a temperature rise of four degree Celsius occurs by 2100 – due to unchecked carbon emissions – then major cities such as Mumbai, London, New York and many others could submerge.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Almost 11 million people are at a risk in Mumbai while globally 760 million people would be affected due to sea level rise. The report also added that such a scenario can be averted if 195 countries, meeting in Paris later in December to reach an agreement to tackle climate change, make a ‘sharp transition’ to clean energy.Ahead of the Paris summit, 150 nations have submitted their nationally determined plans to tackle climate change and cap global temperature rise to two degree Celsius above the pre-industrial levels. But, the United Nations said last week that even if climate action plans are implemented, greenhouse gas emissions will still be on the rise. The Climate Central report thus asks countries to evaluate the four-degree rise scenario during the Paris summit.The report has projected that China will be most severely affected due to sea level rise as some 145 million faced the prospect of getting submerge. Followed by China, India would be hit hardest with a population of 55 million exposed to these threats due to a four degree warming and 20 million due to a two degree warming. The sea level will rise by 4.7 metres in the event of a two degree warming and it would be double due to four degree warming.Climate Central’s report was based on a paper authored by their own scientists Benjamin Strauss and Scott Kulp and Anders Levermann of Germany-based Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research published last month in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences of the US.

Modi visit will tackle challenges of our time: UK minister

Swire said in a statement: “As the Minister of State for India at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, I am delighted that Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi will be visiting the United Kingdom this week. The UK and India have a natural affinity rooted in a longstanding friendship, shared values and deep links between our people.”

File Photos

The UK and India have a natural affinity rooted in a longstanding friendship and shared values, a senior minister here has said as the country paid homage to troops from the Indian sub-continent who fought alongside their British colonial leaders. “This week we also commemorate, once again, the men and women from our two countries who fought together in both World Wars for freedom and democracy. India made a huge contribution to Britain’s war effort and staggering numbers fought on behalf of the allied forces,” Britain’s minister in charge of India in the UK Foreign Office Hugo Swire said. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Today, British Indians contribute immensely to the UK and are a cornerstone of British life. We see their success in culture, business, media, public services and, increasingly, in politics too,” he said. Britain marked ‘Remembrance Sunday’ in honour of the troops who laid their lives in the wars.Swire said in a statement: “As the Minister of State for India at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, I am delighted that Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi will be visiting the United Kingdom this week. The UK and India have a natural affinity rooted in a longstanding friendship, shared values and deep links between our people.””The visit by Prime Minister Modi this week is an opportunity to celebrate the ties between our two great countries and deepen our existing bonds in business, education, security, and culture,” he said. “This visit will also ensure that our partnership plays an indispensable role in tackling the immense challenges of our time, from climate change and migration, to economic development and security.” “As the oldest democracy and the largest democracy in the world it is right that we come together and build two great futures for our two nations.”

Global temperature rise to pass 1 degree C this year – Britain’s Met Office | Reuters

LONDONThe rise in global temperatures from pre-industrial levels will this year exceed 1 degree Celsius for the first time, Britain’s Met Office said on Monday.

That would put global warming more than half way towards the 2 degree limit by 2100 that negotiators from more than 190 countries hope to set at a United Nations climate summit starting in Paris at the end of November.

Met Office scientists said the rise will partly be due to the naturally occurring El Nino weather phenomenon this year although the effects of man-made climate change will be the main contributor.

“We’ve had similar natural events in the past, yet this is the first time we are set to reach the 1 degree marker and it’s clear that it is human influence driving our modern climate into uncharted territory,” said Stephen Belcher, director of the Met Office Hadley Centre in a statement.

Plans by about 150 countries to curb greenhouse gas emissions, presented ahead of the Paris talks, will slow the rise in temperature from pre-industrial times to around 2.7 degrees, the U.N. said last month.

Scientists say warming by 2100 must be kept below 2 degrees to stave off the worst effects of climate change such as floods, droughts and rising sea levels.

(Reporting By Susanna Twidale; editing by John Stonestreet)

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

Indo-Russian joint training begins in Bikaner

The 14-day training schedule is focused on training on ‘Counter Terrorism Operations in the backdrop of Desert terrain under a United Nations Mandate’.

Representational Image

The seventh Indo-Russian joint training exercise INDRA-2015 commenced on Monday at Mahajan field firing range here. The two contingents presented a parade before the senior officers in the ceremony with unfurling of the National Flags of both the countries. The Russian contingent from an Independent Motorised Brigade comprising 250 Military personnel along with supporting staff landed at Bikaner directly from Russia on November 7, according to defence spokesperson Lt Col Manish Ojha.The 14-day training schedule is focused on training on ‘Counter Terrorism Operations in the backdrop of Desert terrain under a United Nations Mandate’. The opening ceremony was held at Mahajan Field Firing Ranges where Major General PC Thimmaya, General Officer Commanding-Red Eagle Division welcomed the Russian contingent and urged both contingents to strive to understand each others’ battle drills and procedures so as to achieve optimum cohesion and enhanced inter operability between the two forces, the spokesperson said in a release.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”He stressed upon the importance of free exchange in ideas, discussion of concepts and assimilation of best practices between the troops of the two nations. Enhancing mutual confidence and inter operability between the two armies would be a priority,” he stated. Cultural programmes were also held at the ceremony. The exercise is scheduled to finally terminate on November 20.

Disgruntled BJP MP Shatrughan Sinha meets Nitish, heaps praises; says can’t stop party from acting against him

On being asked if he thinks the party leadership will take action against him, Sinha said he has no such information.

A day after BJP crashed to a humiliating defeat in the Bihar assembly elections, disgruntled MP Shatrughan Sinha met Nitish Kumar and praised him for a victory. Heaping praises on the Janata Dal (United) leader, Sinha said that Nitish Kumar would be a strong Chief Minister.The Mahagathbandhan won 178 seats in Bihar, a commanding two-third majority in the 243-member assembly. The Bharatiya Janata Party and its allies had to settle for a mere 53 seats.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Speaking to media, he said, “A tested and successful Chief Minister has been elected by the people of Bihar. I might even visit Lalu as we are good family friends and we keep going to each other’s houses from time to time,” he said.On being asked if he thinks the party leadership will take action against him, Sinha said he has no such information. “I have not worked against the BJP in any way. If they want to take action against me, I can’t stop the party.”Earlier, asserting that his meeting with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was nothing more than a ‘friendly’ visit, Sinha had said that there was nothing objectionable in the meeting as they were ‘good, old’ friends.”It’s just a friendly visit, nothing political and no one should try to measure personal relations as political ties. Even Prime Minister Modi and Sushil Modi wished him. Don’t take my friendship with Nitish in other way and I must insist that there is no agenda to my meeting,” Sinha told the media.After BJP’s debacle on Sunday, Sinha had termed the grand alliance’s victory as “victory of democracy” and took a swipe at the top party brass, saying the issue of “Bihari versus Bahri” has been settled once and for all.In another tweet, he said,

Britain is a special partner, says PM Modi ahead of his UK visit

Describing Britain as a “special partner”, Modi said the upcoming visit will be a celebration of the “diversity and breadth” of ties.

Modi arrives in London on November 12 and a lunch with Queen Elizabeth II along with a host of engagements with his British counterpart Cameron form part of his hectic schedule.
File Photo
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Ahead of his maiden UK visit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he will chart an ambitious long-term agenda along with his British counterpart David Cameron to take the bilateral strategic ties to a new level.Expressing his “excitement” at the upcoming three-day UK tour starting November 12, Modi described the bilateral relationship as “not an ordinary one” in a special article for ‘The Sunday Times’.”I am looking forward to my visit to the United Kingdom with anticipation and excitement. Britain is a special partner, and ours is no ordinary relationship,” he wrote.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I see great promise and potential in our relationship ahead. Britain’s economic resurgence is impressive. Its culture of innovation in technology and services sustains its leadership in many areas,” Modi said.Describing Britain as a “special partner”, Modi said the upcoming visit will be a celebration of the “diversity and breadth” of ties.”Away from Westminster, the City of London and Wembley Stadium, David Cameron and I will also chart an ambitious long-term agenda to take our strategic partnership to a new level. This is a shared endeavour that our people so richly deserve and our world so clearly needs,” he wrote.Highlighting that India-UK ties address the “aspirations of our societies and the needs of our times in a significant measure”, Modi wrote, “Britain outranks nearly every country in the world in its investment in India, and Indians invest more in Britain than in the rest of European Union combined.””We are creating the human resources of the future, seeking solutions to food and health security, and addressing emerging challenges such as climate change. Our security agencies are collaborating to keep our cities safe, our citizens secure and our cyber-networks protected. Our defence cooperation enhances our confidence in standing up for our values,” he said.Talking about India’s efforts to achieve peace and stability in the Asian region, Modi said, “We seek the same future for our neighbours that we desire for India. We will be unrelenting in our efforts to achieve a stable, democratic South Asia, joined together in shared prosperity.”Calling the Indian Ocean the “world’s lifeline”, Modi said, “We will do our part to keep the Indian Ocean secure and free for commerce. We will contribute to build a peaceful and cooperative Asia Pacific region.” He highlighted that India was now engaging more in West Asia, not just to protect its vital interests but also in support of the region’s effort to be at peace with itself.”And, having just hosted 54 African countries, including its 42 leaders, India is deepening its partnership for the continent’s rise to a prosperous future,” Modi wrote.Modi arrives in London on November 12 and a lunch with Queen Elizabeth II along with a host of engagements with his British counterpart Cameron form part of his hectic schedule.

U.S. can still close Guantanamo before Obama leaves – White House | Reuters

WASHINGTONThe Obama administration still has time to close the Guantanamo Bay military prison before the president leaves office, the White House said on Friday, adding that it is continuing to work on transferring detainees from the center.

The United States is working to reach agreement with countries around the globe to transfer 53 eligible Guantanamo prisoners from the facility in Cuba, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said, adding that some transfers would take place by the end of the year.

“Absolutely it’s still possible. It’s still something that we are working very hard to accomplish,” Earnest said.

A senior U.S. official told Reuters “there is a very real possibility” that the number of inmates at Guantanamo, now at 112, could be reduced to less than a hundred by the end of the year.

“We’re aiming for this,” the official said, but added that there was no guarantee of hitting that milestone by Dec. 31.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason, Roberta Rampton, Ayesha Rascoe, and Matt Spetalnick; Editing by Christian Plumb)

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TERI official who accused RK Pachauri resigns, alleges ‘worst possible’ treatment in letter

New Delhi: The complainant in the sexual harassment case against climate scientist RK Pachauri has resigned from TERI alleging that the organisation treated her in the “worst possible manner” and harmed her “mentally, professionally and economically”.

In her resignation letter to TERI HR Director Dinesh Verma, the complainant, a research analyst, has said that despite the enquiry committee finding Pachauri guilty of misconduct, the organisation has “failed” to do the “bare minimum” to ensure that she is not impacted.

RK Pachauri. IBN LiveRK Pachauri. IBN Live

RK Pachauri. IBN Live

The woman had registered a complaint against Pachauri for sexual harassment at the workplace earlier this year. On February 13, an FIR was registered against Pachauri on charges of sexual harassment under IPC sections including 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 354 (d)(molestation) and 506 (criminal intimidation).

The court had granted him anticipatory bail while imposing the conditions that he will join the probe as and when called and not enter the TERI office premises.

In the place of Pachauri, TERI governing council had on 23 July appointed Ajay Mathur as its Director General.

Pachauri had also stepped down from the United Nations’ IPCC and the Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change.

The full text of the complainant’s resignation letter is below (emphasis hers):

Dear Mr. Verma,
This is in reference to my ICC complaint against R K Pachauri for sexual harassment at the workplace and my subsequent FIR with Delhi Police in Feb 2015. The inquiry committee did hold R K Pachauri guilty of misconduct and TERI failed to do the bare minimum in order to ensure that I am not impacted.

Your organisation has treated me in the worst possible manner. TERI failed to uphold my interests as an employee, let alone protecting them. The organisation has instead protected R K Pachauri and provided him with full immunity, despite being held guilty of sexual harassment at the work place by your own inquiry committee. The Governing Council too let me down in an unprecedented way. The council could not even suspend a man pending inquiry and took NO ACTION despite the indictment. You also created a hostile environment for me which has only escalated and showed no signs of subsiding whatsoever. It is becoming clear that the Governing Council works for the DG and under his instructions. There has been no changeover in the DG as well as stated on 23 July, 2015.

I am tendering my resignation from TERI with IMMEDIATE EFFECT.

You changed my work profile and played deaf to my requests for not doing so. I was given ZERO EXPLANATION of taking such an action and none of my emails/requests were heeded to. I only got vague responses. I refuse to be associated with an organisation such as yours for the way you have mistreated me, for not standing by the law, for not having respect for my capabilities, for doing NOTHING to ensure that my career is not harmed and instead harmed me mentally, professionally and economically.

I tender my resignation without any prejudice to my rights to claim my salary, damages and other dues/costs for the gross misconduct and mental torture meted out to me at the work place, apart from taking all pending litigation to their logical conclusion.
Best,

 With inputs from PTI

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)

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Ahead of PM Modi’s visit, Patels write to British PM David Cameron about ‘atrocities’ on them

“As our PM is visiting the UK next month, PAAS has sent a letter to the British PM to inform him about what is happening in Gujarat. We want to tell the British PM that democracy no longer prevails here, as people’s voice is being mercilessly suppressed by the government,” organisation leader Varun Patel told reporters.

Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the United Kingdom this month, Patel quota agitation leaders on Sunday said they have sent a letter to the British PM David Cameron about alleged atrocities and police crackdown on Patel community in Gujarat.The Patel leaders have also announced to stage a protest against Modi during his UK visit to highlight the issue.Through the letter, the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS), which is spearheading the movement to get reservation for Patels, said it aims at highlighting the plight of the community, which is “wrongfully targeted by the BJP-led state government for raising the voice”.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”As our PM is visiting the UK next month, PAAS has sent a letter to the British PM to inform him about what is happening in Gujarat. We want to tell the British PM that democracy no longer prevails here, as people’s voice is being mercilessly suppressed by the government,” organisation leader Varun Patel told reporters.Varun said this during a press conference held to convey the future road map of their ongoing agitation after their main leaders, including PAAS convener Hardik Patel, has been arrested by police on stringent charges of sedition and waging war against government.Hardik’s key aides Chirag Patel, Ketan Patel and Dinesh Patel are also in police custody at present.According to Varun, PAAS has also made a DVD containing clips of various video footage as well as newspaper cuttings highlighting “police atrocities” against PAAS leaders after their mega rally here on August 25.”Along with the letter, we have also sent a DVD to the British PM as well as to the leader of opposition in British Parliament. This is our way to send a strong message to Modi during his UK visit. Our Patel brothers in UK have also planned to stage protests during Modi’s visit there,” he said.Apart from the British PM, the DVD will be sent to the United Nations, national as well as international human rights commissions, international NGOs working for human rights and all the countries having democratic set up, he said.Revealing their plans for the upcoming local body elections in November, Varun said that PAAS will make an appeal to the community to ‘eliminate BJP’ in this election.”Our only aim now is to uproot BJP. PAAS will ask the Patels not to vote for the BJP candidate, even if he is from Patel community. We are also planning to field independent candidates against BJP,” he said, who was also accompanied by fathers of Hardik, Chirag and Ketan during the press conference.According to Hardik’s father Bharatbhai Patel, his son and others were wrongfully implicated by police at the behest of BJP-led Gujarat government.”Hardik was just fighting for the rights of Patel community. His acts are not subject to sedition. Even though, my son and others are arrested to crush the agitation. This is clear violation of our rights as citizens,” Bharatbhai, a farmer by profession, said.In July this year, the Patel community launched an agitation seeking Other Backward Class (OBC) status. The community, under the leadership of Hardik, had held public demonstrations, with the largest one that was held in Ahmedabad on August 25. Hardik’s detention at the Ahmedabad rally had led to incidents of violence and arson across the state resulting in curfew in several cities and towns.Hardik has been arrested in an alleged case of sedition and waging war against the government over his provocative remarks, in which he had asked his supporters to kill policemen rather than commit suicide for the cause of reservation.

Bihar Polls: JD(U) wants PM Modi Modi vs CM Nitish debate on reservation

Janata Dal (United) national spokesperson KC Tyagi on Saturday invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a debate with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on the issue of reservation.

Janata Dal (United) national spokesperson KC Tyagi on Saturday invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a debate with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on the issue of reservation.”I request Prime Minister Modi for a live debate with the Bihar Chief Minister on reservation so that the nation comes to know about their respective stand on the issue,” Tyagi said.Earlier, Nitish had said he was ready for a debate with Prime Minister Modi on the issue of reservation, asking the Prime Minister to stop misleading people and adding “communal colour” to the Bihar Polls.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Stating that President Mukherjee, RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan, international expert Moody, Nobel Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and others are worried over growing intolerance in the country, Tyagi said, “Prime Minister Modi’s encouragement to such incidents or keeping mum over such issues is dangerous for national unity.”Protests by writers, scientists, intellectuals, historians and others over growing intolerance in our society was new to Independent India, he said, adding that the President had shared his worries over growing intolerance many a times.Speaking at the Indian Institute of Technology here during a convocation programme, Rajan said, “Tolerance and respect lead to good equilibrium, where they reinforce each other. Tolerance can take offence out of debate, and instil respect. Quick resort to bans will kill all debate as everyone will be anguished by ideas they dislike.”While suggesting that it is far better to improve the environment for ideas through tolerance and mutual respect, the RBI Governor said, “Tolerance means not being so insecure about ones ideas that one can’t subject them to challenge.”Bihar goes to the fourth phase of polling on November 1, the campaign for which has already been ended. The fifth phase of polling will be on November 5, while the result will be declared on November 8.

Bihar Polls: BJP will burst crackers after PM Modi and Amit Shah’s defeat in Bihar, says JD (U)

Launching a frontal attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah, the Janata Dal (United) on Sunday alleged that the leaders of the ruling party at the Centre will burst crackers after the “two brothers” face a humiliating defeat in the Bihar Assembly polls.

Launching a frontal attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah, the Janata Dal (United) on Sunday alleged that the leaders of the ruling party at the Centre will burst crackers after the “two brothers” face a humiliating defeat in the Bihar Assembly polls.”Amit Shah’s statement on firecrackers is half truth. Except Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, all the other leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party will burst firecrackers and celebrate Diwali this year when these two brothers will be bankrupt,” JD (U) leader K.C. Tyagi said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The BJP president had earlier said at an election rally in Bihar that firecrackers will burst in Pakistan if his party loses the state assembly polls.”If the BJP loses in Bihar even by mistake then crackers will be burnt in Pakistan,” Shah had said.Meanwhile, polling is taking place for the fourth phase of the assembly elections amid tight security. Voting, which began at 7 am, will end at 5 p.m. In four Naxal-affected constituencies, it will conclude at 3 p.m., while in 8 constituencies, voting will end at 4 p.m. Voting is taking for 55 constituencies, spread over seven districts of West Champaran, Sitamarhi, Sheohar, Muzaffarpur, Gopalganj and Siwan. 776 candidates, including 57 women, are in the fray for this phase.

Palestinians hand fresh alleged war crimes evidence to ICC | Reuters

THE HAGUE The Palestinians handed a fresh dossier of evidence to the International Criminal Court in an attempt to get the war crimes tribunal to expand its existing probe of last year’s Gaza conflict to include the upsurge in violence of the past month.

Emerging from the court, Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said the new dossier, the third he has submitted this year, contained evidence of “extrajudicial killing, home demolition, collective punishment” including from the past 40 days.

“(We took) also examples of cases that have really occurred in the last 40 days of Israeli aggression against innocent Palestinians around occupied territory,” he told reporters after a meeting with prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.

The Palestinian Authority joined the ICC at the beginning of this year, over the protests of Israel, the United States and most of the court’s European backers, who have said legal action in The Hague risks delaying the course of peace.

Israel, which is not a member of the court, has declined to cooperate with both this and a previous probe relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, arguing that Palestine is not a state and so has no right to join.

Prosecutors earlier this year opened a preliminary probe of alleged crimes committed on both sides of the Gaza conflict, but, with all accessible gateways to Gaza controlled by Israel, Hague officials have not yet visited the scene of the alleged crimes.

“They promised that they would continue their efforts to get approval … for a visit. We have already responded positively and we are still waiting for the same from the Israeli side,” Maliki said.

But while this week’s visit to The Hague by Maliki, President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah appeared designed to sharpen the focus on the court at a time of increased Israeli-Palsetinian violence, the Palestinian Authority has little influence over the progress of the probe.

The court’s preliminary examinations, designed to establish if crimes within its jurisdiction may have been committed, are long drawn out affairs, carried out independently by the court’s prosecutors.

A cease-fire in August last year ended 50 days of fighting between Gaza militants and Israel in which health officials said more than 2,100 Palestinians, mostly civilians, were killed. Israel put the number of its dead at 67 soldiers and six civilians.

(Reporting By Thomas Escritt; Editing by Richard Balmforth)

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