Modi’s Central Asia visit will focus on fighting Islamic State menace
- Countering the spread of Islamic State (IS) terror will be a key part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s eight-day visit to five Central Asian states
- Mr Modi will also travel to the Russian city of Ufa to attend the BRICS and SCO summits affording him two opportunities to meet the Central Asian leaders and discuss counter-terrorism cooperation
- The Prime Minister will discuss counter-terror technology, training forces and also countering radicalism
- The countries in the Central Asian region, all of whom have sizeable Muslim majority populations have been particularly worried recently about the growing numbers of their youth attracted to the IS terror group.
- In particular the announcement this week of Colonel Gulmurod Khalimov, commander of Tajikistan’s Interior Ministry Special Forces, joining the IS forces in Syria has sent shockwaves through these states that are known for practising a moderate, multi-ethnic version of Islam.
- In June, the U.S. State Department’s report on terrorism criticised many of the Central Asian countries for a crackdown on extremism, including Tajikistan for “prohibiting children under 18 from attending mosques”, and accused Turkmenistan’s government of “viewing conservative Islam with suspicion and exercising strict controls over the population.”
CAG slams Delhi for poor fund allocation
- Delhi Government’s allocation of funds was “less productive” and its social welfare schemes showed serious discrepancies in implementation.
- Besides, there was unrealistic budgeting and deficient financial management by several departments.
- The CAG also rapped the Delhi Government for its failure to obtain fund utilisation certificates from various institutions.
- The implementation of mid-day meal scheme, MLA local area development scheme and welfare schemes for persons with disabilities as well as management of jails, mechanisation of sanitation and performance of Delhi Tourism and Transport Development Corporation also came in for adverse remarks
DNA test can be ordered even in maintenance cases, says HC
- Judicial Magistrates dealing with petitions seeking maintenance amount for minor children under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure can order DNA test if the person from whom the amount is claimed disputes the fact of having fathered the children and if there is no conclusive proof for establishing paternity, the Madras High Court Bench here has ruled.
Energy cooperation high on Modi agenda
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s discussions with the Central Asian leaders during his week-long visit next week are also significant for national security strategy, as the countries border or are neighbours with Afghanistan, where India is watching the post-pullout security situation closely.
- Energy cooperation including gas, oil and uranium, defence training and exercises, as well as trade transit through the newly opened avenues via Iran will also be high on the agenda
- At present the five Central Asian republics account for trade of only about $1.6 billion with India, compared to about $50 billion with China that has made them a key to its Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB) initiative.
Modi brushes aside protocol for Kazakh visit
- delays to the 1,078-mile Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline from security concerns and said all the beneficiary countries are on the same page pushing for early implementation of the project.
- Continued violence in Afghanistan has been considered a reason for the delay in the execution of works related to the pipeline with a capacity to carry 90 million metric standard cubic metres of gas, of which India and Pakistan will get 38 mmscmd of gas, while the remaining 14 mmscmd will be supplied to Afghanistan.
- India and Ashgabat are also expected to ink deals on the setting up of a fertilizer factory in Turkmenistan, on urea and potash supply and transport and energy sectors.
- The PM’s visit to Kazakhstan is expected to give a fillip to the civil nuclear deal signed in 2009, to the proposed joint mining of uranium in Kazakhstan and to the Caspian Sea oil block drilling agreement, that India has 25 per cent stake in.
- India and Kazakhstan could also be finalising agreements on mining, mineral and oil and gas projects, which include iron ore, coal and potash exploration.
- In 1992, India was the first country outside Commonwealth of Independent States region visited by President Nazarbayev after Kazakhstan became independent.
- Tajikistan, where India has an air base, is looking to firm up ties with New Delhi on security, trade and investment during the PM’s visit.
Swamy favours ‘strategic triangle’
- Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) National Executive, Subramanian Swamy has called for a strategic partnership among India, China and the United States to promote world peace.
- Swamy said that a new global power paradigm has emerged. It is underscored by the US, China and India jointly accounting for 43 per cent of the global population, leadership in GDP contribution, in PPP rates of exchange, and possession of the three largest armed forces. The three countries have also emerged as the drivers of global economic growth.
- The rise of religion-based terrorism dominated by radical religion-driven forces and which is facilitated by cyber technology, particularly computer websites, and internet banking, reinforces the emergence of a new paradigm in the partnership of nations
Bangladesh to open mission in Assam
- India has given clearance to Bangladesh to open its fifth diplomatic mission in India
- The new mission in Guwahati will have consular jurisdiction over Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh. Bangladesh has missions already in Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, and Agartala.
‘Digital India Week’ could provide investment boost
- The Department of Electronics and IT (DeitY), which is implementing the government’s ambitious Digital India programme, is expecting commitments of investments to the tune of Rs. 2 lakh crore from domestic and foreign firms at the launch of ‘Digital India Week’ by Prime Minister Narendra Modi
- While Taiwanese firm Delta Electronics is likely to announce the setting up of an electronics manufacturing facility at an investment of half-a-billion dollars, the home-grown mobile phone maker Lava will commit Rs.1,200 crore for opening a factory. “The Lava unit is expected to manufacture 10 lakh phones annually and create employment for about one lakh people,” the source said
- The Prime Minister, while sharing the road map for Digital India, will unveil e-governance schemes such as Digital Locker, e-education and e-health.
Corruption charges dent Karnataka Lokayukta’s image
- Karnataka was one of the first States in India to implement the idea of a Lokayukta in 1984
- As recently as 2011, former Lokayukta of Karnataka Justice Santosh Hegde’s reports on illegal mining led to the end of arguably the most powerful illegal mining mafia in the country, led by Gali Janardhan Reddy and his brothers.
- In the same year, the anti-corruption ombudsman’s report on land de-notification, led to the resignation of B.S. Yeddyurappa as Chief Minister.
- Such cases gave it the reputation of being one of the strongest Lokayuktas, but in the last few days that reputation has been severely eroded if not destroyed.
- In May, an executive engineer of the State government “orally complained” to the Superintendent of the Lokayukta police, Sonia Narang, that he was called to the Lokayukta office and a person claiming to be joint commissioner had threatened to “fix” him with a raid if he did not pay Rs. 1 crore.
Green Climate Fund to become operational soon
- The $100-billion Green Climate Fund will soon become operational in India and the process of accrediting organisations which can access the funds is going on
- Some international agencies has already accessed funds to work towards climate change mitigation and adaptation,
- Climate change dialogue, titled “How can long-term and sustained financing be structured for mitigation and adaptation”, hosted by the French Ambassador to India here
- He clarified that the fund would be made available to organisations such as NABARD that made development investment decisions and NGOs might not qualify.
- “Countries spend trillions of dollars on waging wars, but they are reluctant to commit more to mitigate climate change and this is an imminent disaster,”
- While the world GDP is close to 88 trillion dollars as of 2013, the 100 billion dollars committed to fight climate change was only a speck as of now
Mercury pollution victims seek justice
- ex-workers of the thermometer manufacturing unit of Hindustan Unilever Ltd. (HUL) in Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu, who resigned from the company after exposure to hazardous mercury. The unit was shut down on March 7, 2001, after a spate of protests, but workers claim that tonnes of hazardous mercury waste continue to lie scattered around the unit compound in Kodaikanal.
- “Since 1983, 48 workers have died for various reasons related to mercury poisoning,”
- A 2005 study on mercury pollution published by Elsevier Ltd., which had four experts from the BARC, Department of Atomic Energy, and Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, Hyderabad, had concluded that the water, sediment and fish samples from Kodai lake showed elevated levels of mercury even four years after the stoppage of mercury emissions.
Industries under 24x7 pollution watch: Javadekar
- The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF)) has started 24x7 real-time monitoring of polluting agencies in order to crack down on industries violating environmental norms
- British Petroleum report ‘Statistical Review of World Energy 2015’ launched in June, which has pointed out that India had become the largest contributor to emissions growth, at 157 metric tonnes of CO2, the Minister said that such reports emanating from the West were meant to put pressure on developing countries to curb emissions, whereas the responsibility to mitigate climate change primarily lay with the developed economies.
- The latest BP report has also referred to China (+2.6%) and India (+7.1%) as recording the largest national increments to global energy consumption.
- Sensors tracking pollution levels of effluents discharged and polluted air released from the chimneys of factories were now in place in 920 industries, from which the ministry was tracking data on a minute-by-minute basis.
- “The sensors installed at effluent discharge points can pick up the Bio Oxygen Demand (BoD), Chemical Oxygen Demand (CoD) and other similar parameters to reveal the actual compliance levels of various industries. Measures are also under way to strengthen penal provisions for violating industries and the draft of the new legal measures would be made available soon,”
Corruption, crackdown on NGOs, a concern: U.S.
- Commenting on some of the issues that Mr. Jaishankar and Ms. Rice discussed, the White House issued a statement saying they touched upon “ongoing efforts to implement the bilateral partnership that the President and Indian Prime Minister Modi articulated in January in New Delhi... [and] regional developments and cooperation, and ways to deepen collaboration to solve global challenges such as climate change, terrorism, and Internet governance.”
- In addition to talking about India’s role in South Asia and the Indian Ocean Region for promotion of connectivity and economic integration, Mr. Jaishankar and Mr. Blinken explored deeper collaboration and engagement to address emerging global challenges like terrorism, climate change and cyber issues.
- Modi administration for the action it has taken in terms of pro-business reforms, including Mr. Modi’s overall commitment to fighting corruption and his public remarks regarding improving India’s position in the World Bank’s “Ease of Doing Business report.
- Toner’s comments came in the context of a broader discussion at the briefing on the Modi government’s crackdown on foreign NGOs such as the Ford Foundation and Greenpeace.
New case marks Ebola’s return to Liberia
- Liberian authorities on Tuesday quarantined the Nedowein area where the corpse of a 17-year-old boy was found with Ebola, sparking fears this West African country could face another outbreak of the disease nearly two months after being declared Ebola-free.
- The World Health Organization declared Liberia Ebola-free on May 9, after it went 42 days without a new case. Liberia had been hardest hit before by the outbreak with a death toll of more than 4,800 people.