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Pressed against time, bureaucrats unhappy with timing of international education summit

The HRD ministry plans to hold a three-day conference from November 27 to 29 at Gandhi Mandir in Gandhinagar, a venue that has been hosting the Vibrant Gujarat summit.

Smriti Irani’s hurried plan of holding the international summit on education has left the bureaucracy in a tizzy as very little time is left for preparation. It has also left the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) affiliated education bodies upset for being left out of the grandiose plan for hosting educationists and education ministers from 180 countries.Both are also confused about how an event of this scale be organised in less than four months time. The minister for Human Resource and Development plans to hold the summit in Gujarat in the month of November.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The plan to hold a conference was first mooted in February, but the issue was then put in the back burner. It is now at the intervention of the Prime Minister’s Office that the ministry has started reworking on the project.The HRD ministry plans to hold a three-day conference from November 27 to 29 at Gandhi Mandir in Gandhinagar, a venue that has been hosting the Vibrant Gujarat summit. Sources in the government informed that the venue was chosen over Vigyan Bhavan in Delhi. As a practice, all international meets take place at Vigyan Bhawan.”It was decided that Gandhi Mandir is better equipped and more experienced in handling seminars of a bigger scale than Vigyan Bhawan,” said an official of the ministry.What has however left both the saffron brigade and the bureaucracy agitated is the pace and the manner in which the things are being pushed. “The meeting is just two months away and till now the agenda of the meeting has not been finalised. We don’t know which countries are participating. We need to set our agenda,” said a functionary of an RSS-affiliated education establishment.The ministry has written to the PMO seeking Modi’s presence on the inauguration day. But it is yet to receive a conformation. It will take at least two weeks for the ministry to create a website for the summit. “We have started writing to the education department of countries apprising them about the event. The details will follow later,” informed a source in the ministry.It will take atleast two weeks for the ministry to launch its website for the meet. “For events like these, details of the program are available on the website and the countries are asked to register there,” added the source.Pressed against time, in a highly unprofessional style, the HRD ministry has decided to write the letter first, just making the countries aware about the event, the details would follow later. After the agenda for the meeting is finalised, Indian missions in foreign capitals will be asked to share the details with these countries.Internationally, November is not considered to be the ideal time of the year for holding these meets. The semester is about to come to an end and academicians remain busy. “Most of the people we interact with internationally have appointments planned a year in advance. We have doubts about the kind of people who will be attending the meet,” said the Sangh functionary. The Sangh sources also informed that there has so far not been consulted in deciding the panel. The tentative agenda suggests that both school and higher education will be discussed in the meeting. India will be sharing its achievements and will try to pick up good education practices from the western countries. Gandhinagar choosen over Vigyan BhavanThe HRD ministry plans to hold a three-day conference from November 27 to 29 at Gandhi Mandir in Gandhinagar, a venue that has been hosting the Vibrant Gujarat summit. Sources in the government informed that the venue was choose over Vigyan Bhavan in Delhi. As a practice all international meets take place at Vigyan Bhawan.

PM Narendra Modi talks counter-terror with US, Canada leaders

Prime minister Narendra Modi on Sunday discussed counter-terror cooperation, among other issues such as greater economic ties, with senior leaders of the US and Canada visiting India for the Vibrant Gujarat Summit here.In his meeting with the US secretary of state John Kerry, discussions primarily focused on the upcoming visit of US president Barack Obama and issues like counter-terror co-operation, while economic matters and matters of regional interest also figured in the talks.“Both sides agreed that the visit would add momentum to the India-US strategic partnership. They also noted that issues relating to WTO Trade Facilitation had been satisfactorily resolved,” an official statement from the Prime Minister’s Office said.Counter-terror cooperation was also a key theme in the prime minister’s meeting with Canada’s Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Chris Alexander. “The prime minister condemned the attack on Canada’s Parliament, and stressed the need for a zero-tolerance approach to terror,” the statement said.Modi also said he looked forward to visiting Canada.Besides, Modi met Israel’s Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir and both sides sought to further enhance cooperation in the agriculture sector.The Prime Minister invited Israel to take advantage of the Make in India initiative and establish high-end manufacturing centres in India. In Modi’s meeting with Akbar Torkan, senior advisor to the president of Iran, both sides reviewed progress in the implementation of the Chahbahar Port Project. Energy cooperation and regional issues also came up for discussion.Separately, Modi also met World Bank president Jim Yong Kim wherein climate change and clean energy came up for discussion. In his meeting with the Prime Minister of Macedonia, both sides agreed on the need to enhance trade and investment ties. The governor of Astrakhan, Russia, Alexander Zhilkin, invited investment from India in his meeting with Modi.On Day 1 of Vibrant Gujarat, cos commit 2 lakh croreBig corporates — including Ambanis, Adanis and Birlas as also Suzuki and Rio Tinto from abroad — on Sunday committed to investing about Rs2 lakh crore and creating more than 50,000 jobs, as prime minister Narendra Modi promised to make India the ‘easiest’ place to do business with a stable policy and tax regime.Modi also promised truly unlimited development across sectors and regions, while business leaders lined up huge investment commitments and signed 31 MoUs across sectors on the first day of the three day Vibrant Guwwjarat Summit (VBS).Addressing an audience, with US secretary of state John Kerry, UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon and World Bank president Jim Yong Kim and top CEOs in attendance, Modi expressed government’s commitment to creating a policy environment that is predictable, transparent and fair and a stable tax regime.“Ease of doing business in India is a prime concern for you and for us. I assure you that we are working very seriously on these issues. We want to make them not only easier than earlier; not only easier than the rest; but we want to make them the easiest,” he said, seeking to address concerns of investors with regard to red tap and problems that had emanated from retrospective tax amendment of the previous UPA government.Participating in the deliberations, several CEOs made lavish investment commitments.Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani announced Rs 1 lakh crore investment across businesses in the next 12-18 months in the state, while Aditya Birla Group chief Kumarmangalam Birla promised to pump in Rs20,000 crore over a period of time to ramp up capacities across various existing facilities.Adani Group and US-based SunEdison committed to investing Rs25,000 crore for solar park and Welspun Renewables announced Rs8,300 crore to set up about 1,000 MW solar and wind capacities in Gujarat. Commitments were also made by other business houses like Kalyani Group.Hong Kong-based China Light & Power Holdings Ltd is planning a 2000 Mw coal-based power plant in Gujarat. The project cost is estimated at around USD 2 billion (approximately Rs 12,400 crore).On Saturday, wind turbine maker Suzlon had committed Rs 24,000 crore over 5 years to generate 3,000 mw in Gujarat.

Country should not be dependent on defence imports: Manohar Parrikar

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said on Sunday government proposes to come up with an industry friendly policy on defence manufacturing and procurement in 2-3 months, a move aimed at promoting local production and reduce imports.Speaking at a seminar on the sidelines of Vibrant Gujarat Summit here, he said a US $20 billion import bill for defence was not affordable. “Such a huge import bill has undesirable consequences for the economy, development and unemployment in the country,” he said, adding that for strategic reasons too the country should not be dependent on defence imports. In the light of this background, the Minister said, the “government hopes to come up with a document in 2-3 months on a suitable model for defence manufacturing and procurement”.He said defence manufacturing will get a major thrust in line with ‘Make in India’ policy. He also stated that his ministry would soon be in a position to decide which items should be manufactured in India and gradually that list would be increased over a period of time. Later talking to PTI, Parrikar said the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) 2015 will have an “industry friendly” approach for defence production. India has recently taken steps like relaxed foreign direct investment norms to boost local manufacturing.Observing that there are “some gaps” in the current DPP, he said “since we are the only consumer and the buyer so whenever you deal with anyone there has to be guarantee of purchase from Make in India. Unless, you guarantee a purchase on successful production, there is no chance of anyone coming forward”. Current policies, Parrikar added, are “too cumbersome and bureaucratic nightmare” for the industry and needs to be reviewed. He hoped that with change in the business climate and setting up of new guidelines and principles, the process of local investment will start.

Israel to open centres of excellence for farmers in India

Israel will start centres of excellence for farmers in India to encourage research in agriculture sector and for the growth of animal husbandry.”Israel will start ‘centre for excellence’ in India for research in farm sector and to boost milk industries in India,” Minister of Agriculture in Israel, Yair Shamir told reporters here on the sidelines of Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit-2015. He said Israel was likely to open these centres in the states of Haryana, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal.Shamir said his country was relying upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s appeal for white revolution in India.”Israel also wants to help India to fight against hunger and to provide ample food security by providing some good researches in agriculture sector,” he added.

Barack Obama ‘excited’ to be at Republic Day celebrations: John Kerry

President Barack Obama is “very excited” that he will be the first US President to be honoured as the chief guest at India’s Republic Day celebrations, Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday.Speaking at the 7th Vibrant Gujarat Summit, he said: “President Obama is very excited and particularly pleased with the fact that he will be the first US President to be honoured as the chief guest on Republic Day commemoration.” Prime Minister Narendra Modi had invited the US President to be the chief guest at this year’s Republic Day celebrations on January 26. Obama accepted the invitation in signs of expanding ties between the two nations. “And he will the first sitting US President to visit India twice while in office,” Kerry said. “Let me make it clear we believe in values that both countries share.” India traditionally invites a head of state to participate as chief guest at Republic Day celebrations that culminates in a military parade.Last year’s chief guest was the then Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Modi met Obama on a his visit to the United States in September and they have spoken on telephone since then. Obama, who had visited India in 2010, would also be the first US President to visit the country twice while in office.

John Kerry meets PM Modi, discusses Indo-US ties

US Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with PM Narendra Modi at the Vibrant Gujarat Summit in Ahmedabad.

Days ahead of US President Barack Obama’s India visit, Secretary of State John Kerry met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday and discussed “ties between the world’s oldest and largest democracies” with regard to economic growth and climate issues, among others.Kerry, who attended the Vibrant Gujarat Summit in Ahmedabad and lauded Modi for his ‘Make in India’ and other initiatives, later tweeted that he held a “good” meeting with the Indian Prime Minister regarding ties between the US and India, their economic growth and the upcoming visit of the US President.Kerry said he also went for a “moving visit to Gandhi Ashram” earlier in the day and participated in a discussion with “dynamic Indian women” regarding furthering economic opportunity and empowerment. He was accompanied by Nisha Biswal, the Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, among other senior US officials. Biswal, who hails from Ahmedabad, also tweeted that it was “wonderful to be back in Ahmedabad, where I lived as a child, with my boss John Kerry”.”Welcome Nisha Biswal back to her childhood home!” Kerry said.Kerry said his visit is focused on US-India economic growth and investment.Obama would be the first US President to be the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations on January 26. Obama, who had visited India in 2010, would also be the first US President to visit the country twice while in office.

United Nations asks India to set target to cut down carbon emissions

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Sunday asked India to set an ambitious target to cut down carbon emissions, saying it is in a unique position to lead sustainability, energy efficiency and fight against climate change.”India should come out with an ambitious target to cut down carbon emissions,” he said addressing the ‘Vibrant Gujarat Summit’ at Mahatma Manadir. His call came after the recent announcement by China and the US to cut down carbon emissions and failed climate change talks among various countries during a UN summit in September last year.”India is in a unique position to lead sustainability, energy efficiency and fight against climate change. India has a young population and it is a great opportunity,” he said, referring to the greater role the country can play at the global level. Ban, who is attending the Vibrant Gujarat Summit for the first time, started his speech in Gujarati while greeting the audience and said he was glad to be here.This vibrant state is a gateway for the world to do business in India, he said.”I wish India will play a full role in this mission for social security, health care and environment,” he said. “2015 is a historic and most important year for the humanity as it could be the time we end poverty, avoid worst impacts of climate change through sustainable development.This is the 70th year of foundation of the United Nations,” he said.”This is the year to achieve millennium development goals – access to energy, eradication of poverty. In December, Paris will hold conference to arrive at a universal and meaningful climate change agreement. In July, Addis Ababa will hold a conference to find solutions to fund development agenda of the world,” he said.”This will pave the way for inclusive growth and action against climate change. It will provide access to health care and education, find solutions to eradicate poverty, build huge infrastructure, and India will be playing a huge role in it,” he said.

World Bank praises Indian economy, red flags enduring caste bias

World Bank said India can grow at 6.4% in 2015 and accelerate further next year, but cautioned that an enduring “bias” on the basis of caste and other factors can impede prosperity.The government, however, is well aware of this issue and the World Bank sees India as “a bright spot in an otherwise mediocre global economic outlook,” the multilateral lending agency’s President Jim Yong Kim said here. “Indian society has an enduring exclusion that is based, among other things, on caste identities. This bias can impede shared prosperity, serving as a basis for discrimination in many spheres, including in employment and other markets, as well as in public services,” he said.Acknowledging the government’s efforts to address such issues, Jim said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has focused on programmes to promote “broad-sharing of its benefits”, in addition to action that will accelerate growth. “Its (government’s) special allocation of a fund for entrepreneurs from among the Scheduled Castes, and its focus on fixing bottlenecks so that money earmarked for the Scheduled Tribes reaches them, are both ethically just and economically sound responses,” he added.Speaking at the Vibrant Gujarat summit, inaugurated today by Modi, the World Bank chief said that there is much reason for optimism among investors, entrepreneurs and CEOs thinking of doing business in Gujarat and the country as a whole. “According to our projections, its (India’s) economy is expected to grow 6.4% this year and even faster in 2016, he said.He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government are quickly putting in place the building blocks for even more rapid growth, streamlining the national regulatory structure, using public funds more efficiently, and promoting social inclusion. After slowing to sub-five% growth in the previous two financial years, the economy has started showing signs of pick-up as it expanded by 5.7% and 5.3% in the second and third quarter of 2015.

Gujarat government responsible if bandh turns violent says Shankarsinh Vaghela

The Congress said on Friday that the Gujarat government would be solely responsible, if the statewide bandh on January 10, barring four major cities, against the Vibrant Gujarat Investors’ Summit becomes violent.”Gujarat will observe the bandh in its rural areas and in the entire state, barring four major cities, tomorrow. If the bandh gets violent, the Gujarat government will be solely responsible,” Leader of Opposition (LoP) in the Gujarat assembly Shankarsinh Vaghela told reporters in Ahmedabad.Alleging that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led union government had adopted an ‘anti-farmer’ policy, Vaghela said that the farming sector is on the road to destruction after the UPA rule. Vaghela took a dig at the Gujarat Government for not providing due facilities during the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas event at Mahatma Mandir Gandhinagar.”The so-called Mahatma Mandir has become an example of anarchy and misery. It is difficult even to get water or food at Mahatma Mandir. It is the biggest example of anarchy,” Vaghela said. “When Gujarat’s middle class is suffering to meet their two ends, the Gujarat government is offering food costing between Rs 2,200 and Rs 12,000. This is an insult of Gujarat’s middle class. Who will pay the bills of this lavish food and hotel stay of VVIPs,” Vaghela asked.Vaghela compared the functioning of the central and state governments’ functioning with the Moghul and British eras.”People are not even allowed to walk on roads and they (governments) force us to take law and order into our hands. Such authoritarian functioning put the British to shame. Even Moghul emperors did not waste money like water like today’s state and union governments,” Vaghela said.”At the salt-mound, sculptures of Gandhiji were shown nude. This is against the pride of Gujarat. This is an insult to Mahatma Gandhi. They call it Dandi Kutir but it is actually a palace. It is an insult to the kutir (hut),” he said.Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) president Arjun Modhvadia said that Gujarat would observe a bandh on January 10 and criticised the Modi-led union government for adopting the ‘ordinance-route’ to introduce the land acquisition bill recently.

US secretary of state John Kerry has tight diplomatic schedule during Vibrant Gujarat

Sushma Swaraj (right) with Priti Patel, British MP, at the launch of Youth Pravasi Bhartiya Divas in Gandhinagar on Wednesday

AFP
The Vibrant Gujarat Summit scheduled next week in Ahmedabad will have high-profile guests, including the UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon and the US secretary of state John Kerry. The US secretary is leading a delegation of business executives and innovators at the summit and will also hold bilateral talks with external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and prime minister Narendra Modi in Ahmedabad on January 10, to prepare an agenda for the forthcoming visit of president Barrack Obama on January 24. For the first time, the US is joining as the partner country in the Vibrant Gujarat Summit.Ban Ki-moon is also travelling to Gujarat to deliver a keynote speech at the inaugural session of the 7th Vibrant Gujarat Summit on January 11. “Addressing world leaders, policy makers, and representatives from the business community and academia, the secretary-general will stress the need to promote inclusive and sustainable development in India,” said Ban’s spokesperson Stephane Dujarric.The focus, however, will be on the US secretary of state John Kerry’s visit, who will meet Indian leaders in the run up to the Obama trip, who is the chief guest of 2015 Republic Day parade on January 26. Apart from security issues, cooperation in the energy sector, especially in renewables, is likely to be high on the agenda. India will also push for the US support for its bid for membership to the Nuclear Suppliers Group. Other issues on table are to convince Washington to ease up business for Indian pharmaceutical companies, visa rules for the IT industry and a waiver on mandatory social security contributions.Since Kerry will directly fly to Islamabad form Ahmedabad, India, Pakistan tensions along the borders and the US likely certifying Pakistan’s action against terror groups to Congress will also figure during talks. Though, the US has denied any certification, it appears that a decision with this regard may be at some stage in the US bureaucracy. Under the Kerry-Lugar-Berman Act, Pakistan received $1.5 billion a year between 2010 and 2014 as non-military assistance from the US.

John Kerry has tight diplomatic schedule during Vibrant Gujarat

Sushma Swaraj (right) with Priti Patel, British MP, at the launch of Youth Pravasi Bhartiya Divas in Gandhinagar on Wednesday

AFP
The Vibrant Gujarat Summit scheduled next week in Ahmedabad will have high-profile guests, including the UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon and the US secretary of state John Kerry. The US secretary is leading a delegation of business executives and innovators at the summit and will also hold bilateral talks with external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and prime minister Narendra Modi in Ahmedabad on January 10, to prepare an agenda for the forthcoming visit of president Barrack Obama on January 24. For the first time, the US is joining as the partner country in the Vibrant Gujarat Summit.Ban Ki-moon is also travelling to Gujarat to deliver a keynote speech at the inaugural session of the 7th Vibrant Gujarat Summit on January 11. “Addressing world leaders, policy makers, and representatives from the business community and academia, the secretary-general will stress the need to promote inclusive and sustainable development in India,” said Ban’s spokesperson Stephane Dujarric.The focus, however, will be on the US secretary of state John Kerry’s visit, who will meet Indian leaders in the run up to the Obama trip, who is the chief guest of 2015 Republic Day parade on January 26. Apart from security issues, cooperation in the energy sector, especially in renewables, is likely to be high on the agenda. India will also push for the US support for its bid for membership to the Nuclear Suppliers Group. Other issues on table are to convince Washington to ease up business for Indian pharmaceutical companies, visa rules for the IT industry and a waiver on mandatory social security contributions.Since Kerry will directly fly to Islamabad form Ahmedabad, India, Pakistan tensions along the borders and the US likely certifying Pakistan’s action against terror groups to Congress will also figure during talks. Though, the US has denied any certification, it appears that a decision with this regard may be at some stage in the US bureaucracy. Under the Kerry-Lugar-Berman Act, Pakistan received $1.5 billion a year between 2010 and 2014 as non-military assistance from the US.

US Secretary of State John Kerry to highlight US technology’s role at Vibrant Gujarat

US Secretary of State John Kerry will highlight the critical role that American technology plays in supporting sustainable economic growth across India during his visit to the country to attend the Vibrant Gujarat Summit next week, his spokesperson said on Tuesday.”The Secretary will join leading US business executives and innovators at the Summit to highlight the critical role that US technology plays in supporting sustainable economic growth across India and the Indo Pacific region, as well as strengthening trade and investment between the two countries,” State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki, told reporters.The Vibrant Gujarat Summit in Gandhinagar will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”This is the first time the United States will join the event as a partner country,” Psaki said.Kerry may travel to additional countries, but any other stops would be announced separately, she said.

Sushma Swaraj, Gujarat CM Anandiben Patel to inaugurate Global Trade Show tomorrow

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Gujarat Chief Minister Anandi Patel will inaugurate the Vibrant Gujarat Global Trade Show 2015 as well as Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) exhibitions in Gandhinagar tomorrow.The trade show is part of the Vibrant Gujarat Summit that will be held here between January 11 and 13, whereas the PBD is scheduled to be held between January 7 and 9. Prime Minister Narendra Modi would officially inaugurate the PBD on January 8 and Vibrant Summit on January 11.Giving details of the trade show, Gujarat Finance Minister Saurabh Patel said that the main exhibition area of the trade show is spread across 1.25 lakh sq meters. “It will be the largest exhibition in India. Through 17 large domes, this trade show will provide a platform to over 2,000 companies of 25 different sectors to showcase their products. Over 2 million visitors and over 2,500 international delegates from over 150 countries are expected to attend the exhibition,” he said.Two separate domes have been set up at the Trade Show venue for the PBD exhibition, Patel added.”Other attractions of the trade show include a miniature version of the ‘Statue of Unity’ installed at the venue. We have also arranged a laser show for the guests. The trade show will remain open for general public on January 9 and 13, but reserved for delegates on the remaining days,” Patel said.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar downplays US Secretary of State John Kerry’s Pakistan statement

Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Monday avoided commenting on United States Secretary of State John Kerry praising Pakistan for its action against terrorist organisations, saying terrorism in all forms is bad.”We are trying to ensure that terrorism does not grow or penetrate into India. I do not get into a discussion on ‘good’ and ‘bad’ terrorism. All terrorism is bad,” Parrikar told the media here.Earlier in the day, Kerry praised the Pakistani Government for acting against terror groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM). He also signed off a certification that makes Islamabad eligible for an aid package, reportedly in the region of USD 500 million.Kerry’s statement comes ahead of his visit to India, where he is scheduled to attend the Vibrant Gujarat summit. Kerry will also visit Pakistan later this month to hold the strategic dialogue in Islamabad.

Vigilance enhanced in Gujarat following boat incident

After a Pakistani boat carrying explosives was intercepted in Indian waters, the security agencies have enhanced vigilance along the Indo-Pak border to avert any terrorist attack ahead of Vibrant Gujarat Global Investors’ Summit-2015 in the state.Indian Coast Guard, Border Security Force and Gujarat police have initiated a high vigil after the incident in the Arabian sea. Inspector General Kuldip Singh Sheoran, Commander, Coast Guard Region (North-West) today said the ICG has been monitoring the coastal area closely and has pressed six aircrafts into service. A high-ranking BSF official said the force has been putting in extra efforts to ensure that no terrorist incident took place ahead of the summit.”We are taking extra efforts to ensure foolproof security as the guests are coming from different countries,” he said. Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit-2015 which will be held in Gandhinagar from January 11 to 13, is to be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with heads of some foreign countries.”Gujarat police is already on alert due to upcoming summit. Though the Pakistani boat was spotted almost 360 km away from Porbandar, I have asked the IG of Coastal Security to keep a strict vigil across Gujarat coast and supervise the whole security setup in co-ordination with Coast Guard, Navy as well as BSF,” said Gujarat Director General of Police (DGP) P C Thakur.