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Modi’s foreign policy fuels ‘alliance of properity’

modig20LONDON: Investment and job creation were the ‘fundamental pillars’ of the foreign policy of the Narendra Modi government’s, which was keen to forge an international ‘alliance of prosperity’ rather than adhere to the old idea of non-alignment, BJP spokesman MJ Akbar said in London on Friday.

Addressing a select audience at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) on Modi’s foreign policy challenges and opportunities, Akbar said the ‘Make in India’ campaign reflected India’s new foreign policy approach that has seen increasing focus on ‘Act East’.

Cautioning Pakistan on what he called a ‘deep freeze’, Akbar said ‘goodwill’ did not go far in international relations: “There was 10 years of unrelenting goodwill from the Manmohan Singh government (towards Pakistan), but it achieved nothing in return”.

Terming the challenge posed by ISIS as a ‘war between modernity and the romance of regression’, he said the Islamic State (IS) was not the first state in history formed on the basis of religion; the credit went to Pakistan, which was formed on the basis of religion.

India, Akbar said, would be ‘happy to partner’ in international efforts to eliminate regressive ideologies, and hoped that a strategic agreement in this regard could be reached with Britain.

According to him, Modi had a ‘logical mind, interested in ideas than ideology’, and recalled the impact his Nepal visits had on leaders such as Prachanda, when he travelled to Kathmandu with a message of accommodation. – From the Hindustan Times

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Fear runs deep among Pandits as polls loom

panditsNEW DELHI: Kashmiri Pandits are ecstatic yet wary of the BJP’s Mission 44+.

They are happy that the party has become a contender in the Valley. But some also see the BJP’s presence in the hive of a decades-old separatist movement as a reminder of the early ’90s when the community was uprooted from their homes and forced to migrate.

Srinagar’s Habbakadal, home to some 16,000-odd Pandit voters, is one constituency where the BJP hopes to open its account — at least to make a psychological point that the party is not confined only to the Jammu region.

It has fielded Moti Kaul, a Kashmiri Pandit, based on a political calculation that voters from the community will help the party win Habbakadal, which has always responded to separatists’ poll boycott calls.

In 2008, the constituency saw only 11% polling and in this year’s parliamentary election, a mere 4% votes were cast.

The Mission 44+ mathematics has, however, triggered unprecedented polarisation, prompting Pandits in Habbakadal to speak to Hindustan Times in hushed tones and on the condition of anonymity.

“I didn’t migrate in 1990. I had decided then to take a bullet and die in my own home. There is palpable fear again because our neighbours think we will favour the BJP. I prefer staying indoors because I don’t want to have a political conversation with my neighbours,” said a Pandit during an interaction with families belonging to the community at an ashram and their homes.

A Pandit woman waited for the Kashmiri Muslim driver to leave the room before she opened up.

“Only the BJP can abrogate Article 370 and only that can pave the way for the migrant community to return,” she whispered.

Will she vote? “Only if my neighbours do … We Pandits can’t be seen as the only ones going to the polling booth. The neighbours are talking of not boycotting because they want to keep the BJP out and if they go to the polling stations, we will too.”

Fear runs deep for families that have seen the horrors of militancy and the same anxiety has returned to haunt them as Pandits have become a part of the campaign discourse.

Candidates in Habbakadal are politically correct, but only just.

“I have joined the PDP (Peoples Democratic Party) to save Kashmir from the BJP onslaught. They are trying to divide Pandits and Muslims. We don’t want a Gaza here. We welcome the migrants but among us and not in separate colonies,” said Zafar Meraj, the PDP’s Habbakdal candidate and a journalist.

Kaul too sounded politically correct. “Yes, all parties make political calculations and look at winnability but I am trying to convince the majority community that only Modi can deliver development and that Article 370 is not a political plank. I don’t talk about 370 unless asked to.”

The candidates are not the only ones side-stepping political landmines that litter Habbakadal’s labyrinth. Its bylanes are once again being identified as Hindu and Muslim.

The cloak of anonymity that the Pandits cling to in 2014 is a reminder of the political resolution the state still needs. - From the Hindustan Times

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Will Modi discuss ‘non-taffic barriers’ at SAARC?

narendra-modi-COMMENT, NEW DELHI: As Prime Minister Narendra Modi embarks on a trip infused with the neighbourhood spirit this week to attend the 18th Saarc summit in Kathmandu, he may reflect on a certain irony — that while the Indian subcontinent was one of the economically most active regions of the world despite the fact that its GDP remained somewhat stagnant in the last four decades of colonial rule, the collection of countries of the South Asia region is economically among the most sluggish in our own day. Continue reading

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Saving newborns: Nepal women volunteers brave terrain, taboos

NEPAL-HEALTH-INFANTS-WOMENBADALAMJI (NEPAL): On a wet and windy morning, Nepalese housewife Bhumisara Upadhyay (photo) is out visiting pregnant women, on a mission to slash newborn deaths in the Himalayan nation with a simple tube of gel.

Upadhyay is among thousands of volunteers at the front line of a campaign that has dramatically cut neonatal mortality in a country where nearly two-thirds of babies are born at home. Continue reading

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Modi wowed by Abbot’s ‘truly generous hospitality’

modikidscricketMELBOURNE: Cricket diplomacy was in abundance at a rare reception given to Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground with the PM saying a “new journey” in India-Australia relationship has begun.

Addressing the select gathering at the reception hosted by Australian PM Tony Abbott and attended by cricket greats like Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev, Allan Border and Dean Jones among others, Modi heaped effusive praise on Australia’s sporting culture and thanked his Australian counterpart his “truly generous hospitality”. Continue reading

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Modi govt playing into hands of US drug companies?

medicationCOMMENT, NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi may be patting himself on the back because President Barack Obama has agreed to India’s position on food stockholding norms in World Trade Organisation (WTO).

However, New Delhi seems to be bending over backwards to accommodate the American government and giant multinational corporations (MNCs) in the pharmaceutical industry, which will work to the detriment of our country’s interests. Continue reading

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Superstar Rajnikanth hints at politics, excites BJP

rajnikanthmodiCHENNAI: Skeptics may want to dismiss it as movie release publicity, but Rajnikanth’s hint on Sunday night that he may enter politics has sent Tamil Nadu into a tizzy.

“I am not afraid of politics, but hesitant… I have been moving in the direction shown by God. If he desires that I should come to politics, I will serve the people,” the 63-year-old actor said at the launch of the audio and trailer of his new movie ‘Lingaa’. Continue reading

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Shrink in Japan’s economy worries FDI-dependent India

modiabeNEW DELHI: Indian policymakers will be keenly watching the developments as Japan’s economy shrank for the second quarter in a row.

With the US fully tapering its asset purchase programme, emerging countries such as India have been receiving large slices of cheap money that Japan had been injecting into the system to make world’s third-largest economy grow and reverse decades of contraction. Continue reading

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‘Sky-scraper’ Lord Krishna temple for Vrindavan soon

vrindavanVRINDAVAN (UTAR PRADESH): Five years from now, the holy land of Vrindavan in Uttar Pradesh will boast of the world’s largest and the first “skyscraper” temple for Lord Krishna, who is believed to have born and raised in Mathura and Vrindavan, with a height of 700 feet in a sprawling campus that will also resemble the verdant forests of some 5,000 years ago. Continue reading

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Nehru, a consummate worker and just leader

nehruNEW DELHI: Jawaharlal Nehru’s two speeches “A tryst with destiny” and “The light has gone out” are famous.

What is not known is the statement Nehru made at his trial in Gorakhpur on November 4, 1940: “It is not me that you are seeking to judge and condemn, but rather hundreds of millions of the people of India and that is a large task even for a proud empire. Continue reading