Archive | August, 2016

Pak a victim of terror, needs to eliminate sanctuaries: Kerry

Posted on 31 August 2016 by admin

AIHRA News Thursday 01st September 2016

New Delhi, Aug 31 (PTI) US Secretary of State John Kerry today said it is clear that Pakistan has to do more for eliminating sanctuaries of terror on its soil and push harder against indigenous groups engaged in terrorist activities.

However, he conceded that Pakistan itself has also been a victim of terrorism and lost over 50,000 people.

In what is seen as a clever balancing act, while pitching for strong action by Pakistan against terror outfits, Kerry said when Islamabad takes action there is usually “pretty intense pushback and blowback which makes it harder”.

Addressing a session at IIT-Delhi here, he said terror groups like Daesh, Al Qaeda, LeT and JeM cannot be fought by a single nation.

“We are working on it. I have been working on this issue very hard. I have had many engagements with (Pakistan Prime Minister) Nawaz Sharif. We have been talking on the sanctuaries in the western part of the country, how to deal more effectively with the Haqqani network and the LeT.

“It is clear that Pakistan has work to do in order to push harder against its indigenous groups that are engaged in terrorist activities. They must work with us to help clear sanctuary of bad actors who are affecting not only India- Pakistan relationship but also our ability to achieve peace and stability in Afghanistan,” Kerry said.

Without elaborating, Kerry said said he believes that in the last few months, progress has been made and the Pakistanis are moving at a greater pace.

The US Secretary said that “in fairness” Pakistan has suffered greatly from terrorism.

“More than 50,000 people have been killed… people define a great religion Islam in a way that doesn’t reflect that religion. They steal it, hijack it. When Pakistan do take action there’s usually pretty intense pushback and blowback which makes (tackling terror) it harder,” he said.

The Secretary of State said leading nations can no longer ignore threats beyond its borders.

Kerry appreciated Prime Minister Narendra Modi for extending an invitation to Sharif, who came for his oath-taking ceremony.

“There have been communication (between India and Pak).

That’s the way to begin the process,” he said.

Praising his host country, Kerry said a rising India will play a critical role in resolving challenges posed by poverty and terrorism.

Underlining the importance of ties with India, he said the US is India’s biggest trade market now.

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India, US speak in one voice on South China Sea, NSG, terror

Posted on 31 August 2016 by admin

AIHRA News Thursday 01st September 2016

New Delhi, Aug 31 (PTI) Nearly two months after an international court ruled against China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea, India and the US today called for “utmost respect” for global law, maintaining that there must be “unimpeded lawful commerce” throughout the disputed region.

The two countries, which held their annual Strategic and Commercial Dialogue yesterday, also said they will “redouble” efforts towards India’s early entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) which was opposed by China. The US urged the NSG member countries to support India’s bid for their “common interest”.

In a joint statement issued today summerising outcome of Tuesday’s meeting, the two strategic partners condemned terrorism in all its forms and reaffirmed their commitment to dismantle safe havens for terrorist and criminal networks such as IS terror outfit, Al-Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e- Mohammad, D Company and its affiliates, and also the Haqqani Network.

“The sides also called on Pakistan to bring the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai and 2016 Pathankot terrorist attacks to justice. The sides will continue to review and consider other organizations that warrant terrorist designations including those that engage in cross-border terrorism,” according to the joint statement

About South China dispute, the two sides “stressed the importance of maintaining freedom of navigation, freedom of overflight, and unimpeded lawful commerce throughout the region, including in the South China Sea.

Calling for “utmost respect” for international law, as reflected in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), they reiterated that States should resolve disputes through peaceful means, and exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that could complicate or escalate disputes.

China has been increasing its assertiveness in South China sea notwithstanding the verdict of an arbitration court in The Hague that China had no historical title over the South China Sea.

On India’s NSG bid, the statement said, “In a further effort to strengthen global non-proliferation and export controls, the sides committed to redouble their efforts towards India’s early entry into the NSG”

The US also re-affirmed its support for India’s early membership of the other export control regimes — Australia Group and the Wassenaar Arrangement.

China had objected to India’s candidacy when the NSG plenary had taken up its application in Seoul in July.

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LG transfers top Delhi govt bureaucrats; CM fumes

Posted on 31 August 2016 by admin

AIHRA News Wednesday 31st August 2016

New Delhi, Aug 30 (PTI) Several top bureaucrats overseeing implementation of a number of ambitious projects of AAP government were today transferred by Lt Governor Najeeb Jung, prompting angry reaction from Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal who alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was behind the reshuffle.

Jung went ahead with the transfers notwithstanding requests by Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia not to transfer bureaucrats handling flagship programmes including Health Secretary Tarun Seem, handling setting up of Mohalla Clinics, and PWD Secretary Sarvagya Srivastava, overseeing construction of school buildings.

It was the first major bureaucratic reshuffle in Delhi administration by Jung after the Delhi High Court judgment earlier this month ruling LG is is the administrative head of the national capital.

Environment Secretary Chandrakar Bharti has been transfered as Secretary Health while Social Welfare Secretary Ashwani Kumar has been appointed as new PWD Secretary in place of non-IAS cadre officer Srivastava.

“Today, several officers transferred by LG directly. Files not even shown to CM or any minister. Is this Modi model of democracy?… Manish Sisodia requested LG not to transfer these two officers looking after works of setting mohalla clinics and new schools till March 31, but he (LG) did not relent,” Kejriwal tweeted.

The Chief Minister alleged that the Prime Minister was “hell bent” to “destroy” Delhi.

Addressing a press conference, Sisodia also targeted Modi for the transfers and said he will be responsible if quality of health services and education deteriorates.

“We have got to know that Modiji has asked LG on phone to transfer these two offices. Modi can go to any extent. If education and health quality deteriorates, Modiji will be responsible for this,” he alleged.

In another order, Jung has given specific directions for transfer and postings of officers of IAS, DANICS and DASS cadres, principal private secretaries, while suspending all previous orders of the AAP government.

In the order, Jung said the LG will be the approving authority for transfer and postings of IAS, DANICS, All India Service Officers, equivalent officers of central civil services. The Chief Secretary will be the approving authority for transfer and postings of DASS Grade I/II, private secretaries and senior personal assistants.

Jung has also ordered withdrawal of Delhi government’s suspension order of the chief minister’s former Principal Secretary Rajendra Kumar.

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Kerry’s visit to religious sites cancelled after heavy rains

Posted on 31 August 2016 by admin

AIHRA News Wednesday 31st August 2016

New Delhi, Aug 31 (PTI) US Secretary of State John Kerry’s proposed visit to three religious sites in the city was cancelled today as heavy rains lashed the national capital since morning.

Kerry was scheduled to visit the Gauri Shankar temple, Jama Masjid and Gurdwara Sisganj Sahib in the old Delhi area around 11 AM today.

“The visit had to be cancelled due to heavy rains in Delhi,” sources in the US Embassy said.

Kerry, who is on a three-day-visit to India, was supposed to visit the sites yesterday itself but it was postponed.

The US leader has had a difficult time with the city’s traffic since he landed on Monday night.

His convoy was stuck on Satya Marg in Lutyens Delhi for an hour on Monday by a “spillover effect” owing to waterlogging in the main carriageways.

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WhatsApp to share user data with Facebook: HC seeks govt reply

Posted on 31 August 2016 by admin

AIHRA News Tuesday 30th August 2016

New Delhi, Aug 30 (PTI) WhatsApp’s recent decision to share user data with parent company Facebook today reached the doorsteps of Delhi High Court, which sought the government’s response on the modification of the new privacy policy.

A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra issued notice to the Centre on a plea by two users of the most popular instant messaging service, alleging that WhatsApp, Facebook Inc and Facebook India Online Pvt Ltd’s new private policy “compromises the rights of its users”.

Taking note of the concern by petitioners Karmanya Singh Sareen and Shreya Sethi, the high court wished to examine the issue and asked the concerned authorities to file their reply by September 14.

“The privacy policy is in stark contrast to the Privacy Policy existing from July 7, 2012. In its first revised modification on August 25, 2016, Respondents (WhatsApp, Facebook Inc. and Facebook India Online Pvt Ltd) have introduced this policy which severely compromises the rights of its users and makes the privacy rights of users completely vulnerable,” the plea alleged.

The new policy, which is likely to come into force from September 25, has sought to change the “most valuable, basic and essential feature” of WhatsApp, which commenced operations in 2010, by “unilaterally threatening to take away the protection to privacy of details and data of its users and sharing the same with Facebook and all its group companies including for the purpose of commercial advertising and marketing.”

Senior advocates Sandeep Sethi and Pratibha M Singh, appearing for the petitioners, submitted before the court that it is a “very serious breach of policy”.

“The manner in which so-called consent is sought to be taken is highly deceptive in as much as almost the entire community of users of WhatsApp in India are not equipped to even read, much less comprehend, the consequences of the terms and conditions on the basis whereupon, WhatsApp is pretending to obtain consent of the users,” the plea filed by advocate Tanoodbhav Singhdev said.

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Scope to do lot more in area of counter-terrorism: India to US

Posted on 31 August 2016 by admin

AIHRA News Tuesday 30th August 2016

New Delhi, Aug 30 (PTI) India and the US today discussed terrorism emanating from Pakistan and other issues of strategic importance as well as of commercial interest with New Delhi asserting that there was a “scope to do a lot more” in the area of counter-terrorism.

During the 2nd Indo-US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue (S&CD), co-chaired by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman along with US Secretary of State John Kerry and US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker here, the two sides also discussed ways to enhance cooperation in key areas of energy and trade and business.

The co-chairs were accompanied by high-level inter-agency delegations.

In her initial remarks, Swaraj stressed on the need to enhance cooperation in counter-terrorism, saying “there is a scope to do a lot more.”

Apart from bilateral issues, substantive discussions were held on important regional and global developments including the security situation.

She also stressed on the need to take care of “aspirations and interests” of companies while enhancing bilateral commercial ties.

On his part, Kerry noted that the two countries have deepened their cooperation in defence, energy and cyber security.

The US was looking forward to finalise a cyber framework that will help the two countries protect from new global cyber threats, he said.

He further said the US would want its civil nuclear cooperation with India to take shape in setting up of reactors that deliver reliable electricity to Indian households.

On the commercial front, ease of doing business and visa regimes were among other aspects of trade ties taken up.

The two-way trade between the countries stood at about USD 109 billion last year. .

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Countering terrorism an important shared objective: Parrikar

Posted on 31 August 2016 by admin

AIHRA News Tuesday 30th August 2016

Washington, Aug 30 (PTI) Countering terrorism is an important objective shared by India and the United States, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said here, while appreciating American support in India’s efforts to eliminate extremism in its neighbourhood.

“We resolved to continue our cooperation on counter-terrorism. Our open and diverse societies are committed to peace. However, as the United States has shown, there can be no compromise when we are faced with terrorism,” Parrikar said at a joint news conference with US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter yesterday.

“The forces that seek to undermine our progress and our ways of life require our comprehensive and robust response. We appreciate the support from United States in our efforts to eliminate terrorism in India’s neighbourhood,” Parrikar said.

“Secretary Carter and I agreed that countering terrorism is an important shared objective. The partnership between India and the United States is driven by our shared values and interests. This was underlined by the enthusiasm of the US Congress with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in June this year,” Parrikar said.

Responding to a question, Carter said that not only Indian civilians but its military also has been a victim of terrorism, in an apparent reference to the terrorist attack on Pathankot military base, carried out by Pakistani intruders.

“Terrorism is one of the many missions on which we cooperate…We oppose terrorism affecting anyone and us.

That’s certainly true with respect to terrorist acts perpetrated against the Indian people, and also I should mention the Indian military, which has happened as well. And this gives new scope for that, as well,” Carter said.

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PM holds talks with Myanmarese President

Posted on 31 August 2016 by admin

AIHRA News Monday 29th August 2016

New Delhi, Aug 29 (PTI) Prime Minister Narendra Modi today held extensive talks with Myanmarese President U Htin Kyaw to bring a new momentum in bilateral ties between the two neighbours.

This was the first top-level engagement between the two countries after iconic leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy wrested power in Myanmar from the military junta.

Earlier, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj called on the Myanmarese President who is on a four-day India visit.

This is Htin Kyaw’s first overseas trip after assuming charge of the top office nearly five months back following the landslide victory of Suu Kyi’s party.

He arrived in the Buddhist pilgrimage town of Gaya on Saturday where he visited the Mahabodhi Temple, the most sacred of Buddhist shrines, Daijokyo Buddhist Temple and Myanmar Buddhist Vihara. He travelled to Agra yesterday and paid a visit to Taj Mahal before arriving here.

China has been increasing its footprint in Myanmar and making huge investments in several major projects. For India too, Myanmar is a strategic neighbour and External Affairs Minister during her visit to the country earlier this week conveyed to its leadership that India was ready to provide “all help” to the country in its march ahead.

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India promises whole-hearted support to Myanmar

Posted on 31 August 2016 by admin

AIHRA News Monday 29th August 2016

New Delhi, Aug 29 (PTI) As Myanmar sets out on a new path after decades of military rule, India today promised whole-hearted support to it in “every step” of its journey as the two countries resolved to deepen ties and actively cooperate to combat terrorism and insurgent activities in the region.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi held extensive talks with Myanmarese President U Htin Kyaw, in first top level engagement with the new government of Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy, and conveyed India’s full support to Myanmar’s internal peace process.

The two sides inked four MoUs to boost cooperation in areas of connectivity, medicine and renewable energy, besides resolving to deepen ties in a range of other sectors, including agriculture, banking and power.

Reading out a statement to media, Modi later said both sides recognised that each other’s security interests are closely aligned and that both countries agreed to work together to combat terrorism and insurgent activities in the region.

“We recognised that our security interests are closely aligned. And, we agreed on the need to remain sensitive to each other’s strategic interests and concerns.

“To this end, President and I agreed to work together for the safety and security of our people. And, actively cooperate to combat the common challenges of terrorism and insurgent activity in our region,” Modi said, with Htin Kyaw by his side.

Myanmar, considered one of India’s strategic neighbours, shares a 1,640 km long border with a number of North Eastern states including militancy-infested Nagaland and Manipur.

India has been raising with Myanmar the issue of several North East militant outfits having training camps in that country.

Referring to new Myanmarese government’s agenda of ushering a all round growth and development in the country, Modi said, “Let me assure you that at every step of the way 1.25 billion people of India will stand by you- Both as partners and as friends.”

Reassuring India’s support to Myanmar, Modi said India wants to take the relationship to “new heights”, adding “A bright future for Myanmar is not just your objective. It is also our aspiration.”

The Prime Minister said both sides have also agreed to work towards a long-term and a mutually beneficial arrangement for trade in pulses.

Calling Myanmar a “bridge” that connects India with South East Asia, Modi said “our discussions today have enabled us to evolve a road map and an action agenda for our cooperation.”

The Myanmarese President on his part said his government wants to strengthen ties with India.

China has been increasing its footprint in Myanmar and making huge investments in several major projects.

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Swamy targets GSTN again, to write to Amit Shah, BJP CMs

Posted on 27 August 2016 by admin

AIHRA News Sunday 28th August 2016

New Delhi, Aug 27 (PTI) Sharpening his attack against GSTN, the company set up to create IT backbone for GST rollout, BJP MP Subramanian Swamy today said he will write to party president Amit Shah and chief ministers of BJP-ruled states to oppose its structure.

“I am writing to Amit Shahji and all BJP chief ministers that while ratifying the constitutional amendments for GST Bill, they should oppose GSTN,” Swamy tweeted.

So far, eight states have ratified the GST Constitutional Amendment Bill. These include 5 BJP-ruled states — Assam, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.

The Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN) is the special purpose vehicle that was formed under the previous UPA regime to set up the information technology framework for rolling out the indirect tax regime that will replace a string of local levies.

According to Swamy, the equity structure of GSTN is “anti-national”.

The government of India holds 24.5 per cent stake in GSTN while state governments, including NCT of Delhi and Puducherry, and the Empowered Committee of State Finance Ministers, together hold another 24.5 per cent. The balance 51 per cent equity is with non-government financial institutions.

Earlier this month, Swamy had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi raising strong objection to the majority stake for private entities in GSTN to manage and control accounting and collection of GST.

He had urged the Prime Minister to ensure it is replaced by a government-owned structure.

Referring to ownership details of the GSTN company, he had said central and state governments will jointly have only 49 per cent stake in it and the rest with private entities like HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank and LIC Housing Finance that have foreign shareholding.

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