Archive for ‘Politics’

03/03/2015

Modi Eats 28-Rupee Lunch at the Parliament’s Canteen – India Real Time – WSJ

Last year President Xi ate at a local restaurant and caused a furore – http://chindia-alert.org/2013/12/31/tale-of-xis-dumplings-draws-crowd-society-chinadaily-com-cn/. 

Now it’s Prime Minister Modi’s turn to mix with the ‘common man’. though in this case it is with fellow parliamentarians.

“He may sometimes wear expensive, custom-made suits with his name stitched into the pinstripes but Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi can also sit comfortably with the common man.

The leader of the world’s largest democracy surprised everyone Monday by showing up to eat lunch with the regular riff-raff of Parliament.

Around midday he sat down at canteen used by members of Parliament and dug in to a vegetarian lunch. While the canteen is inside India’s grand Parliament building, the prime minister’s meal was simple.

Not unlike what most Indians ate on Monday, Mr. Modi nibbled on some vegetables and dal with rice and chapati.

His dessert was a bit fancy though, a fruit salad.

“We were stunned,” said Madhu Sheel Kalra, the canteen’s supervisor, who has worked there for 20 years and never seen a Prime Minister stop by for a meal.

Ramashankar, the waiter who served Mr Modi at table number three, said it was one of the proudest moments of his life.

“I felt so happy,” said Mr.  Ramashankar, who goes by just one name.

Meanwhile a new factoid about India’s popular prime minister emerged: He’s not a practicing member of the clean-plate club.

“He didn’t finish everything but he enjoyed what he had,” said Ramashankar.

Mr. Modi paid the bill himself. The subsidized meal was only 28 rupees. That’s about half a dollar.

Waiters said he didn’t leave a tip–few parliamentarians do–but he left a nice comment in the guest book, in Sanskrit.

“Blessed are those who serve food,” he wrote.”

via Modi Eats 28-Rupee Lunch at the Parliament’s Canteen – India Real Time – WSJ.

03/03/2015

Sri Lankan doubts on loans, submarines seen as rebuff to Beijing | Reuters

If last week’s visit to Beijing by Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera was meant to allay fears that the island nation’s new government was distancing itself from China, it failed.

China's Premier Li Keqiang (R) speaks with Sri Lanka's Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera during their meeting at the Zhongnanhai Leadership Compound in Beijing, February 27, 2015. REUTERS/Wu Hong/Pool

If anything, Samaraweera’s comments on the prospect of Chinese submarines using Sri Lanka as a stopover on long-distance westward missions and of bankrolling it through big loans underlined Colombo’s hardening position, experts said.

That would be welcomed by India, which, as Sri Lanka’s neighbour and traditional protector, had grown alarmed at its lurch towards China under the leadership of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, ousted in a shock election defeat in January.

“Some people say the (Sri Lankan) government had put too many eggs in the China basket,” said Sinderpal Singh, an India expert at the National University of Singapore.

“It’s a symbol to say ‘we would like to recalibrate our policy to one equidistant between India and China’.”

During his trip, Samaraweera said he did not envisage any more visits by Chinese submarines in the near future.

India voiced concern in November when Rajapaksa’s government allowed a Chinese submarine and warship to dock in Colombo, seven weeks after another submarine called at the same port.

One of the submarine dockings coincided with a state visit by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, himself wary of China’s increasingly assertive projection of naval power.

“…We will ensure that such incidents, from whatever quarters, do not happen during our tenure,” Samaraweera said of the potential diplomatic embarrassment.

Samaraweera made the remarks to the press and did not discuss warships or submarines during talks with Chinese officials, according to a member of the Sri Lankan delegation.

And while his comments do not preclude the future use of Sri Lankan facilities by Chinese submarines, they pointed to greater caution both in economic and military relations.

via Sri Lankan doubts on loans, submarines seen as rebuff to Beijing | Reuters.

28/02/2015

China to spend 26 billion yuan to register rights ahead of rural reforms | South China Morning Post

China will spend about 26 billion yuan (HK$33 billion) to help identify and register the contractual rights over the nation’s arable land to pave the way for rural reforms.

Uygur farmers prepare potato beds in Xinjiang province. Photo: Reuters

More than 200 million rural households around the nation will be interviewed to help prepare the accurate record of farming rights.

Calling the task a “massive systematic project”, the Ministry of Agriculture said on Friday that clarifying land tenure and issuing certificates to farmers would form the basis of a series of expected reforms which aimed to help free up the rural land market.

Nearly 200,000 villages around the country – or one third of the total – have begun with the task, by aerial photography or site measurement, said MOA officials in a press conference.

Zhao Kun, a deputy inspector of the ministry’s rural economic system department, said local governments had appropriated a total of 8 billion yuan to carry out the job.

The central government has promised to provide 10 yuan for each mu of arable land – the Chinese unit of land area, which measures 666 square metres – a total of 18 billion yuan according to official data that states the mainland had 1.82 billion mu of farmland up to the end of 2011.

The Land Administration Law states that the ownership of rural land belongs to village collectives, with farmers given contractual rights to the land they farm for 30 years.

The central authorities decided to increase the security of land tenure in 2008. A directive issued that year said that contractual land management rights for farmers should “remain unchanged for a very long time”.

However, unlike urban home owners, rural residents do not yet hold any certification to prove their legal rights to their homes and farmland.

This makes it hard for them to transfer the land, which is forbidden by existing regulations but now being reformed in order to encourage larger scale farming and improve utilization efficiency of rural land.

Zhang Hongyu, head of the rural economic system department, said when farmers were given contractual rights of farmland in the first round of rural reform a few of decades ago, there were only rough estimates made about the size of their land plots owing to limitations over measuring methods at the time.

“Any related document the farmers previously had – either a contract or some other sort of certificate – showed different figures from what we are now finding,” he said.

Zhao said the project was not only a technical issue of measurement.

“It also involves interviews with each of the more than 200 million rural households [around the nation], which are really important for farmers as they need to know how big their plots are and where they’re located,” he said.

via China to spend 26 billion yuan to register rights ahead of rural reforms | South China Morning Post.

27/02/2015

Mufti-Modi meeting clears decks for BJP-PDP government in J&K – The Hindu

Decks were cleared for the first ever formation of a BJP-PDP coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir following a “historic” meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and PDP chief Mufti Mohammed Sayeed where the two leaders gave their approval for a common minimum programme (CMP) for governance. The swearing-in will be on March 1.

PDP patron Mufti Mohammed Sayeed and Prime Minister Narendra Modi during their meeting in New Delhi on Friday. Photo: PIB

Clearly the PDP expects the NDA government to resume dialogue process with Pakistan and Hurriyat leaders as Mr. Sayeed emphasised, after the meeting, the need to engage with Islamabad. The government, he said, must take off from where former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee left when he had extended a hand of friendship to the then Pakistan leadership. “History has given us another chance. We want to repeat history.’’

“It was a war of nerves,” he admitted to a questioner when asked about the BJP and the PDP reconciling two extreme ideologies but added that “common ground has been found” and both sides were “flexible”.

Repeating the BJP slogan of sab ka saath sab ka vikas, he said, the Prime Minister has won the mandate of the people of the country and has full legitimacy to decide on this alliance and adding that “this had to be done’”.

“We will now give a healing touch to the State,” he said.

via Mufti-Modi meeting clears decks for BJP-PDP government in J&K – The Hindu.

26/02/2015

China’s top court unveils deadlines for legal reform | Reuters

China’s top court set a five-year deadline on Thursday for legal reforms to protect the rights of individuals, prevent miscarriages of justice and make its judiciary more professional as the ruling Communist Party seeks to quell public discontent.

Zhou Qiang, President of China's Supreme People's Court, attends National People's Congress (NPC) in Beijing, March 7, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer

A statement on the Supreme Court’s website promised specific deadlines for each goal, including support for a “social atmosphere of justice” by 2018.

It gave more details of a decision reached at a four-day meeting last year, when the party pledged to speed up legislation to fight corruption and make it tougher for officials to exert control over the judiciary.

Despite the legal reforms, Chinese President Xi Jinping‘s administration has shown no interest in political change and has detained dozens of dissidents, including lawyers.

China’s top court stressed that one of the five basic principles of legal reform was adhering to the party’s leadership and “ensuring the correct political orientation”.

He Xiaorong, the director of the Supreme People’s Court‘s reform division, said the court “would make officials bear responsibility for dereliction of duty” for cases that have a wide impact.

“Only through the establishment of such a system can we ensure that we can guarantee social fairness and justice in every case,” He told a news conference, according to a transcript on the court’s website.

The measures reflect worries about rising social unrest. Anger over land grabs, corruption and pollution – issues often left unresolved by courts – have resulted in violence between police and residents in recent years, threatening social order.

via China’s top court unveils deadlines for legal reform | Reuters.

25/02/2015

Delhi’s AAP Provides More Free Water and Power to the People – India Real Time – WSJ

Once again, Delhi’s Aam Aadmi Party, has opened up a big bag full of freebies.

Eleven days after being sworn into power again, Delhi’s new government has taken a big step forward in delivering on its promise to make power and water more affordable.

The beneficiaries of the electricity rate cut: households consuming less than 400 units of electricity. Starting next month, electricity tariffs will be cut in half for this section of consumers, Manish Sisodia, Delhi’s deputy chief minister, said Wednesday.

More than 90% of consumers in the capital- more than 3.5 million families- fall in this bracket, he said. The state government will set aside 700 million rupees, or about $113 million, to pay for the power handout.  For the full, new fiscal year starting in April, the Delhi government estimates the cost of the subsidy will be around $230 million.

In Delhi, one of the world’s biggest megacities, power generation and distribution lies in the hands of both the state government and private companies. It taps neighboring states for most of its power as it only produces about 20% of the electricity it consumes.

via Delhi’s AAP Provides More Free Water and Power to the People – India Real Time – WSJ.

25/02/2015

Xi Jinping Hopes to Count in Chinese Political History With ‘Four Comprehensives’ – China Real Time Report – WSJ

Connoisseurs of Chinese political numerology can finally take a breath: After more than two years in office, Chinese President Xi Jinping has uncorked his own ordinal political philosophy.

In the past, Chinese leaders have tended to fall into two camps when expounding their theories of development: those who favor numbered lists, and those who opt for more conventional proclamations. Late Premier Zhou Enlai and former President Jiang Zemin were in the former camp, pushing the “Four Modernizations” and “Three Represents,” respectively. Meanwhile, Deng Xiaoping (“Reform and Opening Up”) and former President Hu Jintao (“Scientific Outlook on Development”) opted to eschew the integers.

Questions have loomed about what slogan Mr. Xi, who replaced Mr. Hu at the helm of the Communist Party in November 2012, would use to represent himself in the party’s theoretical pantheon. For a time, some thought he might follow his non-numeric predecessor and go with the “Chinese Dream” of national rejuvenation, a notion he put forward shortly after taking power.  It now appears he has decided otherwise.

On Wednesday, the Communist Party’s flagship newspaper People’s Daily and other Chinese media gave blanket coverage to what Mr. Xi has taken to calling the “Four Comprehensives,” a set of principles emphasizing the need to “comprehensively build a moderately prosperous society, comprehensively deepen reform, comprehensively govern the nation according to law and comprehensively be strict in governing the party.”

Aside from the idea of a moderately prosperous society — a Confucian ideal revived and popularized under Mr. Hu — the other catch-phrases are all closely associated with Mr. Xi, who has cracked down hard on corruption in Communist Party ranks while pushing for legal reforms and warning of the need to be resolute about reforms in general.

It wasn’t the first mention of “Four Comprehensives” in the Chinese press. Mr. Xi introduced the idea during an inspection tour in eastern China’s Jiangsu province in mid-December, according to People’s Daily, and the phrase made a few scattered appearances on Chinese-language news websites earlier this month. But Wednesday was the first time the theory was propagated on a wide scale, suggesting that it had earned widespread acceptance at the top of the party.

via Xi Jinping Hopes to Count in Chinese Political History With ‘Four Comprehensives’ – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

24/02/2015

Modi’s bid to ease land for companies could impact reforms | Reuters

A bid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to make it easier for businesses to buy farm land for infrastructure and industry has sparked a backlash that could stymie his efforts to get reforms through a parliament session that began on Monday.

Labourers work along the construction site of a road at Ghilot in Rajasthan, October 1, 2014.  REUTERS/Adnan Abidi/Files

While the change is aimed at unlocking hundreds of billions of dollars worth of projects, which have been stuck for want of land, opposition parties and rights activists say it discriminates against farmers.

“We will protest and fight the government on this issue inside and outside parliament,” Ghulam Nabi Azad, a senior leader of the opposition Congress party, told the Indian Express.

Modi issued an ordinance in December to exempt projects in defence, rural electrification, rural housing and industrial corridors from provisions of a law enacted by the previous Congress party government that mandated the consent of 80 percent of affected landowners for any deal.

He had also ended the need for companies to conduct a social impact study of such projects, which would involve public hearings and, industry executives fear, drag on for years.

The ordinance is a temporary order and needs the approval of both houses of parliament to come into force. It will lapse if parliament does not ratify it this session.

via Modi’s bid to ease land for companies could impact reforms | Reuters.

22/02/2015

China protests Modi’s visit to disputed border region | Reuters

China said on Friday it had lodged an official protest against Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s visit to a border region claimed by both countries.

China disputes the entire territory of Arunachal Pradesh, calling it south Tibet. Its historic town Tawang, a key site for Tibetan Buddhism, was briefly occupied by Chinese forces during a 1962 war.

“The Chinese government has never recognized the so-called ‘Arunachal Pradesh’,” a statement on the Chinese Foreign Ministry‘s website said on Friday.

It said Modi’s visit was “not conducive to the overall development of bilateral relations”.

Modi visited Arunachal Pradesh on Friday to inaugurate the opening of a train line and power station. He did not mention China but pledged billions of dollars of investment to develop infrastructure in the region.

“I assure you that you will witness more development in the state in the next five years than it has seen in the last 28 years,” Modi said, addressing a huge crowd.

Faster transport links and exploitation of Arunachal Pradesh’s hydro-electric potential are the keys to fighting poverty and bringing about rapid development in the frontier state, he said.

In January, China objected to statements by Japan’s foreign ministry supporting India’s claim to the region.

A visit by U.S. President Barack Obama to India in January was widely seen as a sign Modi is moving closer to the United States, to offset rising Chinese influence in Asia and, in particular, intensifying activity by the Chinese navy in the Indian Ocean.

via China protests Modi’s visit to disputed border region | Reuters.

20/02/2015

Turkey eyes deal with China on missile defense despite NATO concern | Reuters

Turkey‘s defense minister said on Thursday the country does not plan to integrate a new missile defense system with NATO infrastructure and officials said a $3.4 billion deal with China was still under consideration.

NATO member Turkey chose China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp as a preferred bidder in 2013, prompting U.S. and Western concern about security and the compatibility of the weaponry with NATO systems.

Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz, in a written response to a parliamentary question, indicated Ankara planned to go ahead with the Chinese system, saying the evaluation of bids had been completed and no new offers received.

“The system in question will be integrated with the national system for Turkey’s defense and will be used without integrating with NATO,” Yilmaz said.

However, other government officials later made clear that did not mean a final decision had yet been reached.

“We are continuing discussions with all the bidders,” the undersecretariat for defense industries said in a statement.

via Turkey eyes deal with China on missile defense despite NATO concern | Reuters.

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