Posts tagged ‘Prime Minister Narendra Modi’

21/08/2015

India-Pakistan Talks Hang in the Balance Over Kashmir – India Real Time – WSJ

When rival neighbors India and Pakistan plan to meet, it often comes down to the wire – and this week is no exception.

Two days before Pakistan’s National Security Advisor Sartaj Aziz is scheduled to land in New Delhi for meetings with his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval, statements from India’s foreign ministry Friday morning cast doubt over whether the talks would actually take place.

The reason: another planned meeting between Mr. Aziz and separatists from the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir at a reception at the Pakistan High Commission on Sunday.

Through a series of tweets, a televised interview and a media statement, India hardened its stand against Pakistan’s decision to consult with Kashmiri separatists. The Kashmir region lies at the center of decades of enmity between India and Pakistan. Both countries administer parts of the territory but claim it in full.

Vikas Swarup, spokesman for India’s foreign ministry, said in a tweet posted on his verified Twitter TWTR -6.19% account on Friday: “India has advised Pakistan yesterday that it would not be appropriate for Mr. Sartaz Aziz to meet with Hurriyat representatives in India,” referring to a group of Kashmiri separatists.

Pakistan says these men must be consulted before India and Pakistan hold discussions concerning Kashmir. India resists the involvement of groups that have clashed with the Indian establishment for decades, boycotting elections and stoking tensions in the Kashmir Valley. Security officials in New Delhi accuse them of facilitating militancy in the region and colluding with Pakistan-based terrorist groups.

If India cancels the hard-won meetings over the issue of Kashmiri separatists, it won’t be the first time. In July last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called off planned talks between the countries’ foreign secretaries after separatist leaders met with Pakistan’s ambassador to India, in defiance of New Delhi’s warnings not to do so. By cancelling the meet, Mr. Modi sought to set new ground rules of engagement between India and Pakistan – one Islamabad appears not to have been willing to accept.

Mr. Swarup repeated India’s concerns publicly Friday, taking a stand that could threaten the upcoming talks unless Pakistan yields. He said a meeting between separatists and Mr. Aziz “would not be in keeping with the spirit and intent” of an understanding between Mr. Modi and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at a meeting in July – when the NSA talks were firmed up — “to jointly work to combat terrorism.”

His statements are a second warning shot, after Indian authorities in Jammu and Kashmir temporarily detained separatist leaders on Thursday in an apparent signal of New Delhi’s objections. But Pakistan has so far given no indication it’s in the mood to compromise. Pakistani foreign ministry officials said the reception would go on as scheduled.

 

The meetings may also fall apart over another disagreement: What will the two sides talk about?

Pakistan has said the dispute over Kashmir will figure on the agenda when the countries’ top security officials get together. India says the meetings will focus only on terrorism.

India accuses Pakistan of harboring militants who launch attacks on India and wants to press Pakistan further to take stern action against such groups. Pakistan denies allegations it backs militants, saying it too is grappling with terror against its citizens.

In recent days, Pakistan has stepped up efforts to draw attention to the Kashmir dispute, raising hackles in New Delhi. It pulled out of organizing a conference of Commonwealth countries that was scheduled to begin next month saying it didn’t want to host lawmakers from the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan’s foreign ministry said on Thursday that Islamabad would “raise all issues during the meetings in India, including Kashmir.”

In an attempt to clarify its position, Mr. Swarup said in another tweet Friday that India has “sought confirmation of our proposed agenda for the NSA level talks” – a typically behind-the-scenes detail whose public declaration by Mr. Swarup points to the lack of trust and widening gulf between the two sides.

via India-Pakistan Talks Hang in the Balance Over Kashmir – India Real Time – WSJ.

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06/07/2015

Rivals Pakistan, India to start process of joining China security bloc | Reuters

Nuclear-armed rivals Pakistan and India will start the process of joining a security bloc led by China and Russia at a summit in Russia later this week, a senior Chinese diplomat said on Monday, the first time the grouping has expanded since it was set up in 2001.

Photo

The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) groups China, Russia and the former Soviet republics of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, while India, Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan and Mongolia are observers.

“As the influence of the SCO’s development has expanded, more and more countries in the region have brought up joining the SCO,” Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Cheng Guoping told a news briefing.”India and Pakistan’s admission to the SCO will play an important role in the SCO’s development. It will play a constructive role in pushing for the improvement of their bilateral relations.”

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since 1947, two of them over the divided Muslim-majority region of Kashmir which they both claim in full but rule in part. Pakistan also believes India is supporting separatists in resource-rich Baluchistan province, as well as militants fighting the state.

India applied to join the regional security grouping last year and SCO foreign ministers gave a positive recommendation when they met in June. “We await further developments,” said Sujata Mehta, a senior foreign ministry official.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be in Moscow for a summit of the BRICS group of emerging markets and both he and his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif, will attend a special SCO “outreach” session as part of the gathering.

Pakistan’s application is being considered, said foreign ministry spokesman Qazi Khalilullah. “We hope they will support us for full membership,” he added.

The grouping was originally formed to fight threats posed by radical Islam and drug trafficking from neighboring Afghanistan.

Cheng said the summit, to be attended by Chinese President Xi Jinping, would also discuss security in Afghanistan.

Beijing says separatist groups in the far western region of Xinjiang, home to the Muslim Uighur minority, seek to form their own state, called East Turkestan, and have links with militants in Central Asia, as well as Pakistan and Afghanistan.

China says Uighur militants, operating as the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), have also been working with Islamic State.

“It can be said that ETIM certainly has links with the Islamic State, and has participated in relevant terrorist activities. China is paying close attention to this, and will have security cooperation with relevant countries,” Cheng said.

via Rivals Pakistan, India to start process of joining China security bloc | Reuters.

01/06/2015

Pranab in Sweden, key pacts to be signed – The Hindu

President Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday arrived here on the first leg of his five-day state visit to Sweden and Belarus, the first ever by any Indian head of State, during which a number of key agreements on sustainable development, scientific research are likely to be signed.

Sweden's Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel receive President Pranab Mukherjee at Arlanda airport, north of Stockholm.

On his arrival, Mr. Mukherjee was received by Crown Princess Victoria at the Arland airport. Later, he was received at the Royal Mews by the King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia from where he was taken on a horse-drawn cortege to the Royal Palace, where the traditional welcoming ceremony took place.

Earlier in New Delhi, he was given a ceremonial send-off at Rashtrapati Bhavan by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Vice President Hamid Ansari, Delhi Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and the three Service Chiefs.

During his three-day State visit in Sweden, the President will meet Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, the Speaker of the Swedish Parliament, and the Leader of Opposition, Anna Kinberg Batra besides number of meetings with the King and the Queen. The visit will focus on innovation, sustainable development, urban development and scientific research with both countries exploring ways to enhance mutual exchange in the areas of trade and science.

via Pranab in Sweden, key pacts to be signed – The Hindu.

09/04/2015

India’s Credit Outlook Gets Boost From Moody’s – India Real Time – WSJ

India has inched farther away from junk-bond status.

Moody’s Investors Service MCO +0.71% on Thursday changed its ratings outlook on Asia’s No. 3 economy to positive from stable, citing the “increasing probability that actions by policy makers will enhance the country’s economic strength.” But it maintained its Baa3 rating, one level above junk, saying the Indian economy is still heavily exposed to external and financial shocks. Moody’s has rated India at Baa3 since 2004.

The move is a vote of investor confidence in the economic management of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Reserve Bank of India Gov. Raghuram Rajan. Standard & Poor’s raised its India outlook to stable last fall. Fitch Ratings has had a stable outlook on India since 2013.

All three of the big agencies currently assign Indian debt their lowest investment-grade ratings. They cite similar reasons. Inflation is high. The public sector—the federal government plus the states—is highly indebted. Infrastructure is sorely deficient. The banking system is burdened with bad assets.

“While policies are beginning to address each of these factors, the extent of likely improvements is as yet unclear,” Moody’s said Thursday.

via India’s Credit Outlook Gets Boost From Moody’s – India Real Time – WSJ.

08/04/2015

Cabinet amends real estate bill to stamp out illegal practices | Reuters

The cabinet has amended a bill to regulate the real estate sector, protect home buyers and curb undeclared “black money” in property markets that costs the exchequer billions of dollars in lost taxable income.

Labourers work at the construction site of a residential building in Mumbai's central financial district April 6, 2015. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

The decision by Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s government to amend the bill, which was submitted by the previous government in 2013 but not passed by the upper house, aims to boost investor confidence and stamp out illegal practices.

The new rules, applicable to residential and commercial developments, will make it mandatory for all projects and brokers to be registered with the real estate regulator who will oversee transactions and settle disputes.

“The bill seeks to ensure accountability and transparency, which will in turn enable the real estate sector to access capital and financial markets essential for its long-term growth,” the government said in a statement on Tuesday.

During recent years sluggish economic growth and delays in getting approvals stalled several real estate projects, leaving buyers waiting for their homes and developers holding high debt.

“This will be a game-changer for the sector,” Rajeev Talwar, executive director at DLF Ltd, India’s top real estate developer.

via Cabinet amends real estate bill to stamp out illegal practices | Reuters.

24/03/2015

China says it agrees with India to maintain border peace | Reuters

China and India have agreed to maintain peace and tranquillity along their Himalayan border while they work on resolving a long-festering boundary dispute, China’s foreign ministry said after talks in New Delhi.

China's State Councilor Yang Jiechi (L) and India's National Security Advisor Ajit Doval shake hands during a photo opportunity before their meeting in New Delhi March 23, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer

The talks are aimed at fixing a dispute over the border that divides Asia’s largest nations, part of a push to make progress on the festering row before Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits China.

China’s foreign ministry said in a statement released on Monday both countries would build on the results of previous negotiations and push forward in “the correct direction”.

“Both sides reiterated the appropriate management and control of the dispute and joint maintenance of the peace and tranquillity of the border region before the border issue is resolved,” the ministry said.

As major neighbours and developing countries, the development of relations is good for both peoples as well as for regional and global peace and development, it said.

“Both sides ought to work together to push for practical cooperation in all areas, and further increase coordination on global and international issues.”

The talks are the first since Modi took office. The nationalist Indian prime minister is keen to resolve a dispute that has clouded rapidly expanding commercial links. Any progress would throw a positive light on his expected visit to Beijing in May.

However, there is no simple solution to a conflict that largely dates back to British colonial decisions about Tibet.

The disagreement over the 3,500-km (2,175-mile) border led to a brief war in 1962 and involves large swaths of remote territory.

China claims more than 90,000 sq km (35,000 sq miles) disputed by New Delhi in the eastern sector of the Himalayas. Much of that forms the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, which China calls South Tibet.

India says China occupies 38,000 square km (14,600 sq miles) of its territory on the Aksai Chin plateau in the west.

In September, the two armies faced off in the Ladakh sector in the western Himalayas just as Chinese President Xi Jinping was visiting India for the first summit talks with Modi.

via China says it agrees with India to maintain border peace | Reuters.

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.

05/11/2014

India to foreign CEOs: ‘We’re waiting for you’ – Businessweek

India’s finance minister is urging foreign investors to help plug enormous gaps in the country’s infrastructure blamed for holding back growth.

“We are waiting for you,” Arun Jaitley told a roomful of international and Indian CEOs attending the India Economic Summit, one of the World Economic Forum’s satellite summits held around the globe.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has enchanted Indians with his vision of a country crisscrossed by modern roads, high-speed trains, dozens of high-tech smart cities and universal Internet cables.

To get there, India has a long way to go.

The country is beleaguered by a patchy network of pot-holed roads, lumbering railway service and a lack of warehouses that leads to some 40 percent of the country’s produce and grains going to rot.

The country loses about a quarter of the electricity it generates through a leaky, inefficient grid. And hundreds of millions still have no proper home or access to sanitation facilities.

Economists estimate India needs a staggering $1 trillion in infrastructure investment alone. That’s more than half India’s entire gross domestic product for 2013 of $1.87 trillion.

“Infrastructure, let me tell you, we welcome large investment participation, even international participation,” Jaitley said. He said legislative reforms to open industries such as real estate, railways services and even defense would be easy to sell in a country sometimes wary of big change.

Modi, under pressure since taking office in May to boost the economy, has visited countries including Japan, the United States and Australia with the goal of building business ties. He also hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping in September and plans to host Russia’s President Vladimir Putin in December.

via India to foreign CEOs: ‘We’re waiting for you’ – Businessweek.

03/09/2014

In Modi’s first 100 days, foreign ministry moves fastest on Raisina Hill

With her many visits abroad, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has been running the busiest ministry in the new government.

India’s new foreign minister, Sushma Swaraj, seems to be running the busiest ministry on Raisina Hill ─ the area of Lutyen’s Delhi that houses key government buildings ─ for the regime led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Modi’s decision to invite all the heads of state in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation group to his swearing-in ceremony, widely hailed as a good and forward-thinking move, meant that Swaraj had to be on her toes from the get-go. In no time at all, Swaraj and Modi embarked on trips to neighbouring countries such as Bangladesh and Nepal, which an Indian head of state had not officially visited since 1997.

Swaraj has had her hands full, visiting neighbours such as Bangladesh and Myanmar in quick succession while overseeing the successful evacuation of hundreds of stranded Indian citizens from hotspots such as Iraq and Libya and formulating India’s position on the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian territory of Gaza. She has just returned from Vietnam and was set to go to Beijing for a trilateral meeting with the Chinese and Russian foreign ministers but the government called off her trip, perhaps in deference to the sensitivities of Japan, where Prime Minister Modi arrived on Sunday for a summit.

On Israel, despite the BJP’s highly favourable stance towards the country, India eventually stuck to its historical position by voting in favour of Palestine at the United Nations Human Rights Commission. Many BJP supporters questioned the government’s move, with some saying it was unable to break out of a Congress-era mindset.

The new order at the Ministry of External Affairs has a spring in its heels. From looking to invite all heads of state in the African Union to New Delhi to attracting mixed responses for allowing Modi to cancel talks with Pakistan after its high commissioner met Kashmiri separatist leaders from the Hurriyat Conference, the ministry has been hogging the limelight on Raisina Hill.

via Scroll.in – News. Politics. Culture..

07/08/2014

Rahul Gandhi Wakes Up to New Role as Rebel Leader – India Real Time – WSJ

There’s nothing particularly newsworthy about boisterous Indian lawmakers blocking debate on the floor of Parliament when they don’t get their way, unless one of the lawmakers is the usually-reticent Rahul Gandhi.

The typically uninvolved Parliamentary back-bencher and Congress party vice president made the front pages of Indian newspapers Thursday after he and others mobbed the desk of the lower house of Parliament’s speaker, demanding to be heard.

“Rip Van Winkle Rahul Finally Rises Out of Slumber,” read an Economic Times headline paired with a recent photograph of Mr. Gandhi nodding off during a parliamentary session.

Mr. Gandhi, who is part of a diminished Congress camp of 44 representatives in the 545-member Lok Sabha, also made a rare statement to reporters outside Parliament complaining that opposition parties were not being allowed to speak. He accused speaker Sumitra Mahajan of bias after she shot down a proposal to discuss recent communal violence.

“There is a mood in Parliament that only one man’s voice counts,” Mr. Gandhi said in an apparent reference to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

On the campaign trail a few months ago, Mr. Gandhi had said a Modi-led government would polarize Indians and trigger religious unrest.

Mr. Gandhi’s outburst was described as “surprisingly belligerent” in the Times of India that also carried a front-page story about what they called his “new-found combativeness.”

The fourth-generation scion’s occasional public outbursts are closely covered by the national media. In October when he called an executive order by his own party’s government “complete nonsense,” his tantrum was reported, discussed and debated for days.

On Wednesday, television news channels questioned what may have prompted a reaction from a leader who in his decade-long career in Parliament has rarely engaged in debate or taken the lead on policy issues.

The governing Bharatiya Janata Party offered one theory.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said Mr. Gandhi’s show of aggression was a result of internal rumblings – a “palace coup” – in the beleaguered Congress that is struggling to bounce back after its worst ever electoral defeat in national elections.

The party’s dynastic leadership by president Sonia Gandhi and her son, Rahul, must be struggling and Mr. Gandhi’s actions Wednesday were an attempt “to show they are also capable of aggression,” Mr. Jaitley said.

Congress spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewala said there “wasn’t an iota of doubt or question” within his party on the Gandhis’ leadership. Some “disgruntled elements hankering for immediate power” had abandoned the Congress after the electoral defeat, Mr. Surjewala said, but added that his party had weathered numerous challenges in the past and, like before, would emerge stronger.

He said the Modi-led government couldn’t run away from a discussion on religious violence by making personal attacks against Congress or its leaders.

via Rahul Gandhi Wakes Up to New Role as Rebel Leader – India Real Time – WSJ.

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