Spying on India is not acceptable, Mr Kerry

John KerryNEW DELHI: In India’s strongest statement on the issue yet, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj called the U.S. surveillance of Indian entities “unacceptable”, and said she had taken up the issue of “snooping” by the National Security Agency (NSA) with Secretary of State John Kerry during the India-US strategic dialogue here on Thursday.

“I did raise the snooping issue with Mr. Kerry,” Swaraj told presspersons at a joint press conference. Continue reading

South India must not become hub for human trafficking

boat-peopleCHENNAI: Reiterating that Australia was firm on not allowing illegal immigration, Australian High Commissioner to India Patrick Suckling cautioned that South India should not be allowed to become a hub for “people smuggling.”

“If people smuggling gets entrenched in India, it will lead to other forms of crime relating to narcotics and terrorism. Australia and India have a shared interest in ensuring that this does not happen,” said Suckling, on Thursday. Continue reading

Pakistan squeezing out minorities with its intolerance

pakistanCOMMENT: The latest incident should be viewed as part of a tragic pattern that has evolved over decades. Ironically, the intolerance that is now widely associated with Pakistan had little to do with its founder’s vision of a country where “in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the State.”

The Ahmadis consider themselves Muslim but their beliefs are deemed by the orthodox as falling outside the tenets of Islam. Continue reading

John Kerry in India to rekindle ‘potentially transformative’ ties

KerryNEW DELHI: US secretary of state John Kerry flew into New Delhi on Wednesday evening  on a mission to break the ice with new Prime Minister Narendra Modi and repair a rut in a once warm relationship.

For the past two decades, the world’s two largest democracies have described themselves as natural allies as they share similar concerns over China’s rise and Islamic extremism. Continue reading

Is Rajapakse Sri Lanka’s Modi?

rajapakseCOMMENT, COLOMBO: It is a measure of Sri Lanka’s return to “normal” democratic politics that conspiracy theories are once again resonating in Colombo.

Compared to the situation just three years ago when “politics” continued to centre on the 30-year-long bloody civil war that mercifully came to an end in May 2009, the sub-text of political discussions today is the presidential election, due some time in early-2015. Continue reading

Peace needs private sector support, social and political will

peaceCOMMENT, NEW DELHI: Over the last fortnight, we have had a ground attack on Palestine killing over 1,000 people, a Malaysia airlines plane being shot down, in which more than 300 died, and ISIS declared Iraq’s dwindling Christian population to convert, pay tax, or die.

The numbers of the World Bank estimation of 1.5 billion people around the world living in conflict countries which means one out of seven people live in conflict just got escalated even more. Continue reading

Media blitz to draw investors to India

fdi-investmentNEW DELHI: The Commerce and Industry Ministry is planning a media blitz — print, electronic and social — to hard sell India as an attractive investment destination.

“The objective of the campaign is to generate awareness about the investment opportunities and prospects of the country to promote India as a preferred investment destination in the source markets overseas and to increase Indias share of global FDI,” said a DIPP notice inviting request for qualification-cum-request for proposal. Continue reading

Will Modi’s Nepal visit see an upswing in ‘do-able’ issues?

modiNEPAL-INDIACOMMENT NEW DELHI: Although India and Nepal have shared cordial and friendly ties without much tensions, there was a perception in Kathmandu that New Delhi no longer took the Himalayan country seriously.

According to many observers in Nepal, this was evident from the one-way, high-level political visits from the Nepalese side during the last decade, which mostly went unreciprocated from the Indian side. Continue reading

Biotech, GM crops: India agriculture’s delimma?

biotechCOMMENT, NEW DELHI: A quirky anthropologist once exclaimed: “Biotechnology is sheer drama.” He explained his cryptic headline by saying all great contemporary philosophical and ethical debates intersect around it.

He added that the city might be the basis for the 21st century imagination but it is the fate of Indian agriculture that would trigger some of the great dilemmas of the century. Continue reading