Posts tagged ‘Pakistan’

02/11/2016

India to launch clean energy equity fund of up to $2 billion – sources | Reuters

The Indian government and three state-run firms will jointly set up an equity fund of up to $2 billion for renewable energy companies to tap into to help New Delhi meet its clean energy goals, two government sources told Reuters on Wednesday.

Private and public companies will be able to dip into an initial amount of more than $1 billion starting next fiscal year, said the sources with direct knowledge of the decision taken after a meeting of government officials more than a month ago. India’s government hopes the Clean Energy Equity Fund (CEEF) will attract pension and insurance funds from Canada and Europe.

Around $600 million of the initial pool will come from the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund, under the finance ministry, and the rest from state entities NTPC Ltd, Rural Electrification Corp and the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency, according to one of the sources.

The sources declined to be named as they are not authorised to talk to the media. Officials at the finance ministry, new and renewable energy ministry, NTPC, Rural Electrification, and Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set a target of raising India’s renewable energy target to 175 gigawatts by 2022, more than five times current usage, as part of the fight against climate change by the world’s third-biggest greenhouse gas emitter and to supply power to all of the country’s 1.3 billion people.

The program will depend on getting as much as $175 billion in funding with 70 percent of that likely in bank loans and the rest as equity, the sources said.

The government reckons loans are not a problem but providing equity to investors may be difficult due to uncertainties over returns, one of the sources said.

“As we expand our clean energy capacity, there may be a shortage of equity next year,” said the source. “Private equity is seen as risky in India but if the government itself creates a fund, that gives a lot of confidence.”

India’s clean energy push was set back earlier this year when U.S. solar company SunEdison filed for bankruptcy. The company is now looking to secure partners to see through its planned India projects.

Nevertheless, companies are still keen to invest in clean energy.

Japan’s Softbank Corp, Taiwan’s Foxconn and India’s Bharti Enterprises have pledged to invest about $20 billion in India’s renewable sector. Global solar giants like First Solar Inc, Trina Solar Ltd and Fortum are also expanding their presence.

Source: India to launch clean energy equity fund of up to $2 billion – sources | Reuters

31/10/2016

The Economist explains: Why some Indians want to boycott Chinese goods | The Economist

ON OCTOBER 30th India celebrates Diwali, the most important festival in the Hindu calendar. Over five days, millions of lamps and candles will be placed on doorsteps and rooftops; prayers will be offered to Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity; and fireworks will go off in the skies over the streets of nearly every town and village. A festival that celebrates the victory of light over darkness, Diwali has in recent years brightened the mood of Chinese exporters as well: many Indian households favour cheaper, electric decorations made in China over the traditional earthen diyas (pictured).

But this year’s edition could take a dark turn. The country’s noisy social media are cluttered with posts calling for Indians to shun Chinese goods. A fake letter championing the boycott, ostensibly signed Narendra Modi, the prime minister, has gone viral. Politicians from India’s ruling Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have endorsed the cause. What is going on?

The economic roots of the boycott are not new. China is India’s largest trading partner, with $71bn worth of goods exchanged between them in the past financial year. But China is also the nation with which India has its largest trade deficit, an imbalance that rose 9% to $53bn in 2015-2016. In contrast, China’s trade surplus with America reached $367bn in 2015. What the deficit is made of matters most. China’s light-industry goods compete directly and with overwhelming success against India’s small industries, the lifeline of its manufacturing sector and a reservoir of jobs. So India exports mostly raw materials to its neighbour. That has the government worried: of the 572 anti-dumping measures India took between 1995 and 2015, 146 were aimed at Chinese-made goods. The “Make in India” campaign, which has been championed by Mr Modi and sees foreign investment as crucial to boosting his country’s manufacturing power, has been careful not to advocate protectionism. Yet in a country where economic boycotts were first popularised as a non-violent strategy to combat British rule, such appeals carry emotional and historical heft. Geopolitics provided the spark for the current call. India has long been trying to get Masood Azhar, the boss of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), a Pakistan-based jihadist group, listed as a terrorist by the United Nations. India suspects JeM of carrying out the January attack on an air-force base in Punjab, which killed eight Indians, including one civilian. JeM is also the alleged perpetrator of last month’s massacre at the Kashmiri garrison of Uri, in which 19 soldiers were killed (though another group claimed responsiblity). Yet twice this year, China used its Security Council veto to block Mr Azhar’s addition to the UN sanctions list. The move underscored Beijing’s all-weather support for the Pakistani establishment, elements of which India suspects of harbouring Mr Azhar. Some Indians don’t understand why they should have to trade with a nation working against their interests. This perception of China was compounded by its decision in June to oppose India’s accession to the Nuclear Suppliers Group, a 48-nation body that governs the global nuclear trade.

Yet calls for a boycott of Chinese-made goods are unlikely to have much effect. Both India and China are members of the World Trade Organisation, which forbids arbitrary bans on foreign goods. India’s commerce minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, recognised as much earlier this month when she said blocking imports was not a feasible option. A BJP leader deleted his tweets, blaming staff for the text; the opposition is silent on the issue. Nor is the wider business community likely to embrace the cause. Traders and industrialists, who have come to rely heavily on Chinese-made merchandise and machinery, form powerful lobbies. Yet with Mr Modi’s government promoting an increasingly assertive brand of nationalism, anger over China’s snubs will not easily go away. Expect further diplomatic fireworks.

Source: The Economist explains: Why some Indians want to boycott Chinese goods | The Economist

06/10/2016

Does Britain owe a debt to India for its 200 years of colonisation? – Oxford Union Society

Dr Shashi Tharoor, MP speaks eloquently on why, in his view, Britain owes a huge debt to India for its 200 years of colonisation.  If this notion interests you – regardless of whether you agree with it or not – I urge you to watch this short video from You Tube – Dr Shashi Tharoor. You will not be disappointed.

26/08/2016

The Economist explains: Why Kashmir is erupting again | The Economist

TODAY marks the 48th consecutive day of protests in Jammu & Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state. Young Kashmiri men have been on the streets calling for independence from India and throwing stones at security forces. Indian security forces have responded with tear gas and shotguns that fire small-bore pellets instead of buckshot.

A strict curfew has also been imposed across the Kashmir valley, which includes Srinagar, the region’s largest city. So far, 66 civilians and two police officers have been killed in the violence. Why are Kashmiris protesting?

The region has been disputed since the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947. Both sides claim the territory and have fought three wars over it. Kashmir has been living under India’s Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, which gives special powers to the army, since the eruption in 1990 of an armed insurgency that was covertly supported by Pakistan. Some 40,000 people have been killed since. Even in the relatively peaceful past decade, unrest has flared up, most notably in the summers of 2008 and 2010. The current protests started on July 9th after Indian security forces killed Burhan Wani, a young and charismatic Islamist militant. Resentment had been building for months. Kashmiris worried when Narendra Modi’s Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in 2014 that his national government would make life difficult for Muslims. At state elections later that year, the local Peoples Democratic Party formed a coalition with the BJP, leaving them feeling betrayed. Wani’s killing has mobilised a generation that had grown up under what it sees as an illegitimate Indian occupation.

The result has been a seven-week cycle of violent protests and retaliatory action by the police and paramilitary forces. Their supposedly non-lethal pellets have blinded dozens and injured hundreds. Shops and businesses have remained closed since the protests started, either under curfew orders or because of calls for strikes from separatist leaders. Many Kashmiris have not left their homes for weeks. Few expect the situation to improve any time soon, despite soothing words this week from Mr Modi and a visit to the region by India’s home minister.An obstacle to any lasting solution is India’s insistence on seeing Kashmir through the prism of its rivalry with Pakistan. The Indian government’s immediate reaction to this summer’s unrest was to accuse its neighbour of meddling. In fact, Wani was a home-grown insurgent; the young men on the streets are locals. Unemployment is widespread and economic opportunities are few. The state was also promised special status, guaranteeing autonomy, in India’s constitution. And many Kashmiris now want more: a survey in 2010 by Chatham House, a think-tank, found overwhelming support for independence. Kashmiris are at best ambivalent about their attachment to India. Until the government recognises their demands, the anger is unlikely to dissipate.

Source: The Economist explains: Why Kashmir is erupting again | The Economist

18/08/2016

India ready for Pakistan talks; U.N. alarmed by Kashmir violence | Reuters

India is ready to send its top diplomat to Pakistan for talks focused on fighting cross-border terrorism, sources at foreign ministry said on Wednesday, after a spike in tension in the disputed northernmost region of Kashmir.

Foreign Secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar was willing to attend talks on the invitation of his Pakistani counterpart, the sources said, stressing cross-border terrorism was central to the situation in Jammu and Kashmir state.

The olive branch comes after 40 days of violent protests in Indian-ruled Kashmir set off by the killing by security forces of a field commander of Pakistan-based Islamic militant group Hizbul Mujahideen who enjoyed wide support.

At least 64 people have died and thousands injured in clashes with security forces, denounced by Pakistan, which also claims the right to rule Jammu & Kashmir in a territorial dispute that dates back to partition in 1947.

The Indian sources, who declined to be identified, made it clear, however, that India “rejects in their entirety the self-serving allegations regarding the situation in J&K, which is an integral part of India.”Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) is the name of India’s only Muslim-majority state that includes the disputed Kashmir region.

A spokesman for Pakistan’s foreign ministry declined to comment late on Wednesday, saying the government was preparing a response to the proposed Indian visit.

A U.N. human rights official expressed “deep regret” at the failure of both the Indian and Pakistani authorities to grant access to the separate parts of Kashmir that each run to investigate allegations of serious human rights violations.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said in a statement issued in Geneva it was unfortunate that sincere attempts by the United Nations to independently assess the facts in relation to reports of human rights violations had failed.

“Without access, we can only fear the worst,” said Zeid.

The nuclear-armed neighbours, which have fought three wars since independence in 1947, both claim Kashmir in full but rule it in part.

In the latest violence on Wednesday, militants killed three members of the security forces when they ambushed an army convoy and then fired on a police jeep that came to the scene.

In a worrying escalation the previous day, security forces fired live rounds at a crowd of stone-throwing protesters in Baramulla district, killing five and wounding 10.

Earlier, police and troops trying to control crowds had resorted to the use of shotguns, whose pellets are meant to incapacitate but not kill.

But residents of Kashmir say the shotguns have inflicted severe injuries and even blinded hundreds of people including bystanders.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi ratcheted up tensions in his annual Independence Day speech on Monday, accusing Pakistan of glorifying terrorism.

In a tit-for-tat escalation in the war of words between the neighbours, Modi said he had received messages of support from leaders in restive regions of Pakistan, in particular the troubled southwestern province of Baluchistan.

India accuses Muslim Pakistan of supporting Kashmiri fighters while Pakistan accuses India of meddling in Pakistani trouble spots, in particular of helping separatists fighting the Pakistani state in resource-rich Baluchistan.

Both sides deny the accusations.

Source: India ready for Pakistan talks; U.N. alarmed by Kashmir violence | Reuters

16/08/2016

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day Speech in 10 Quotes – India Real Time – WSJ

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday made the annual Independence Day speech at Delhi’s Red Fort.

With the end of his colorful turban blowing in the wind, he outlined his government’s achievements and took a swipe at Pakistan.

Here are 10 quotes from the 90-minute speech, based on the official translation from Mr. Modi’s office:

On India’s progress:   “India is not 70 years old but this journey is 70 years long.

”On governance:   “Now turning self governance to good governance is the resolve of 1.25 billion countrymen.”

On India’s problems:   “If India has thousands of problems, it also has 1.25 billion brains that have the ability to resolve them.

”On economic growth:   “As far as GDP growth rate is concerned, we have left behind even the big economies of the world.”

On the goods-and-services tax:   “The GST regime is to become a powerful tool to strengthen the economy.

”On toilets:   “More than 20 million toilets have been constructed in our villages. Over 70,000 villages have been free from open defecation.

”On stalled projects:   “Blocking projects, delaying them and wasting money amounts to criminal negligence.

”On inflation:   “I will not allow the poor man’s dish to become costlier.”

On Pakistan and the Kashmir region:   “The way the people of Balochistan, Gilgit and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir praised me, has enhanced the prestige of my 1.25 billion countrymen.”

On caste and minority divisions:    “Serve all people without discrimination. Do not disregard anyone for his age or caste, Respect all.”

Source: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day Speech in 10 Quotes – India Real Time – WSJ

27/07/2016

Why India’s Lack of Toilets Is Hurting Its Children’s Development – India Real Time – WSJ

India’s lack of toilets and poor access to sanitation are holding back its children, causing stunted growth and curbing their development, a new report says.

Is India Winning the Fight Against Childhood Malnutrition?

Why Is Indian Children’s Growth So Stunted? It’s Not Why You ThinkT

he country has more than 48 million under fives with impaired growth, the largest number in the world, the report from London-based international development charity WaterAid said.

India also has 774 million people without access to adequate sanitation, and 76 million without safe water, the report said.

Children who are stunted because of malnutrition tend to be shorter and lag behind their peers cognitively. Poor access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene cause diarrhea and expose children to other intestinal infections during the crucial first two years of life.

Around 140,000 under-fives die in India every year because of diarrhea and other diseases caused by lack of access to these basic services, the report said.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said in the past that he would rather build toilets than temples — setting a goal for every home in the country to have a place to go to the bathroom by 2019. But the program has suffered challenges: some Indians prefer to relieve themselves outdoors.

India is making some progress, however. The report said the percentage of its children who were stunted reduced from 48% in 2006 to 39% in 2014, the year Mr. Modi came to power.

Pakistan, India’s closest neighbor, ranked third with more than 9.8 million children who are stunted, according to the WaterAid study.

Source: Why India’s Lack of Toilets Is Hurting Its Children’s Development – India Real Time – WSJ

24/06/2016

China rejects bending rule for India to join nuclear club | Reuters

China maintains its opposition to India joining a group of nations seeking to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons by controlling access to sensitive technology, said the head of the arms control department in China’s Foreign Ministry.

The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) met this week in Seoul, but China said it would not bend the rules and allow India membership as it had not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the main global arms control pact.

“Applicant countries must be signatories of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of nuclear weapons (NPT),” Wang Qun, the head of arms control department in China’s Foreign Ministry, was quoted as saying in Seoul on Thursday night.

“This is a pillar, not something that China set. It is universally recognized by the international community,” Wang said according to a statement released by the Chinese foreign ministry on Friday.China is leading opposition to a push by the United States to bring India into the NSG which aims to prevent nuclear weapons proliferation by stopping the sale of items that can be used to make nuclear arms.

The issue of India’s membership was not formally discussed at the NSG meeting this week, Wang said on Friday.

The United States, which has a nuclear cooperation deal with India, considers it a nuclear power that plays by the rules and is not a proliferator, and wants to bring Asia’s third largest economy into the 48-member group.

India already enjoys most of the benefits of membership under a 2008 exemption to NSG rules granted to support its nuclear cooperation deal with Washington.

On Friday, on the sidelines of the plenary meeting of the NSG, Wang stressed China considered it important to handle new memberships under a consensus and that there was no move yet to allow a non-NPT state to join.

“International rules will have to be respected, big or small,” Wang told Reuters. “Big like NPT. Small like the rules and procedures of this group.”   “The important question of which we are concerned, is how to deal with the question of participation of countries within the group of non-NPT states. It’s a formidable task.”Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi raised the issue on Thursday at a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at a regional summit in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, but there was no breakthrough.

One diplomat at the NSG plenary in Seoul said the group’s outgoing chairman, Argentinian diplomat Rafael Grossi, would act as a “facilitator” to continue to search for an accession deal.

Opponents argue that granting India membership would further undermine efforts to prevent proliferation. It would also infuriate India’s rival Pakistan, an ally of China’s, which has responded to India’s membership bid with one of its own.Pakistan joining would be unacceptable to many, given its track record. The father of its nuclear weapons program ran an illicit network for years that sold nuclear secrets to countries including North Korea and Iran.

Source: China rejects bending rule for India to join nuclear club | Reuters

09/06/2016

China leads resistance to India joining nuclear export club | Reuters

China is leading opposition to a push by the United States and other major powers for India to join the main club of countries controlling access to sensitive nuclear technology, diplomats said on Thursday as the group discussed India’s membership bid.

Other countries opposing Indian membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) include New Zealand, Ireland, Turkey, South Africa and Austria, diplomats said.

The 48-nation NSG aims to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons by restricting the sale of items that can be used to make those arms.

India already enjoys most of the benefits of membership under a 2008 exemption to NSG rules granted to support its nuclear cooperation deal with Washington, even though India has developed atomic weapons and never signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the main global arms control pact.

Opponents argue that granting it membership would further undermine efforts to prevent proliferation. It would also infuriate India’s rival Pakistan, which responded to India’s membership bid with one of its own and has the backing of its close ally China.

“By bringing India on board, it’s a slap in the face of the entire non-proliferation regime,” a diplomatic source from one of a handful of countries resisting India’s push said on condition of anonymity.

A decision on Indian membership is not expected before an NSG plenary meeting in Seoul on June 20, but diplomats said Washington had been pressuring hold-outs, and Thursday’s closed-door meeting was a chance to see how strong opposition is.U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry wrote to members asking them “not to block consensus on Indian admission to the NSG” in a letter seen by Reuters and dated Friday.

China, however, showed no sign of backing down from its opposition to India joining unless Pakistan becomes a member. That would be unacceptable to many, given Pakistan’s track record — the father of its nuclear weapons program sold nuclear secrets to countries including North Korea and Iran.

“China, if anything, is hardening (its position),” another diplomat said.

Most of the hold-outs oppose the idea of admitting a non-NPT state such as India and argue that if it is to be admitted, it should be under criteria that apply equally to all states rather than under a “tailor-made” solution for a U.S. ally.

Mexico’s president said on Wednesday his country supports India’s membership bid, but one Vienna-based diplomat said it still opposed the idea of it joining under conditions that did not apply equally to all.

Source: China leads resistance to India joining nuclear export club | Reuters

20/02/2016

Pathankot Attack: Pakistan Begins Formal Police Investigation – India Real Time – WSJ

Pakistan has launched a formal police investigation into the alleged involvement of Pakistan-based militants in a deadly attack on an Indian air force base last month, senior government and police officials said Friday.

Six heavily-armed militants attacked the Pathankot air force base on Jan. 2, sparking a battle with Indian forces that lasted more than 40 hours, killed seven Indian security personnel and threatened to dismantle a tentative improvement in relations between Islamabad and New Delhi.

India suspected Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad, a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist group, was behind the Pathankot attack, and demanded Pakistan take action against the perpetrators.

Source: Pathankot Attack: Pakistan Begins Formal Police Investigation – India Real Time – WSJ

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