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China keen to strengthen Sino-Bengal ties

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Kolkata: In a bid to further the Sino-Bengal bilateral ties, China has expressed eagerness to invest in West Bengal.

“China is interested in investing in infrastructure development, tourism and auto hub and also considering to set up an economic investment zone,” said West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday.

Speaking to reporters after meeting with a delegation led by Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao yesterday, She further said, China has assured to work closely with Bengal. The 12-member delegation included four ministers from China.

Li Yuanchao disclosed during the meeting that China has chosen West Bengal as their first preferred destination for investment.

“I requested the vice president to send a strong business delegation to the Bengal Global Business Summit in January 2016 to which he responded very positively,” Banerjee told reporters.

Li  also visited Nobel laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore’s ancestral house at Jorasanko, which is now part of the Rabindra Bharati university campus.

West Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi hosted a lunch in honour of the visiting leader.

(Picture Courtesy:www.indianexpress.com)

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Plight of Pakistani Schools in Militancy-hit Tribal Regions

What will be the future of the youth in the absence of schools and education centers in a militancy-hit Pakistan?

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militancy in pakistan
A man travels on a vehicle laden with his family's belongings on the outskirts of Peshawar in an attempt to flee from the insurgency-hit Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province in Pakistan. VOA
  • Insurgency in Pakistan has destroyed most of the public infrastructure, including education institutions
  • Nearly seven million Pakistani youth do not attend school
  • Over 1,100 girls’ schools in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) have been damaged or fully destroyed by the insurgency in Pakistan

Pakistan, September 4, 2017 : Years of militancy and counterinsurgency operations in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal region have destroyed much of the infrastructure, including education centers, in the area.

More than 1,100 girls’ schools in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), which is adjacent to the restive Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, have reportedly been damaged or fully destroyed by the decade long insurgency, according to Pakistan government estimates.

While the Pakistani government claims to have rehabilitated around 900 schools, hundreds of schools have not been rebuilt or rehabilitated in FATA.

Experts say the government should take immediate steps to rebuild the destroyed schools in the tribal region.

“Several factors adversely affected education institutions in the tribal region. One factor is the Taliban who destroyed schools and education institutions, particular girls’ schools,” A.H. Nayyar, a Pakistan-based educationist, told VOA’s Urdu service. “Unless the schools are fully rehabilitated, it would be extremely difficult to give hope to the youth in the region.”

“It is important to open the doors of education for tribal youth so that they get the sense that they could achieve a lot in their life, like other citizens, particularly the girls; the government must rehabilitate their schools, utilizing all available resources,” Nayyar said.

Some tribesmen are returning home after more than one million were displaced by Pakistani military operations against the Pakistani Taliban (TTP) in parts of FATA. According to U.N. estimates, about 95,000 families fled to nearby cities within Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan’s Khost province.

Pakistan’s Army says many areas have been cleared in recent counterinsurgency operations, and it is slowly allowing the displaced tribesmen to return to their home.

U.S. military commanders until recently considered the North Waziristan region in FATA as the “epicenter” of international terrorism. The region has for years served as a training ground for Taliban and other militants groups.

During the past several years, insurgent groups, including TTP, have repeatedly targeted education institutions and schools in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA region, depriving its younger generation of acquiring education.

Nearly 58 percent of the children between the ages of five and 16 are not in school in Pakhtunkhwa, according to Dawn, a local English language daily. Besides the militancy, extreme poverty and lack of infrastructure are also blamed for the lack of schooling.

Recent statistics by Alif Ailan, an education advocacy organization in Pakistan, show 48 percent of primary and secondary schools in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa operate without adequate physical infrastructure.

Pakistan is 50 years behind in its primary and 60 years behind in secondary education targets, according to a recent United Nations report. The literacy rate in poor rural areas stands at 14 percent for females and 64 percent for males. Nearly seven million Pakistani youth do not attend school. (VOA)

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After 74-day Struggle, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J.Jayalalithaa Loses Battle with Life

Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa, one of India's most charismatic political leaders, died here on Monday night after a bitter 74-day battle for life, ending an era in Tamil Nadu politics

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Tamil Nadu CM J. Jayalalithaa passes away. Twitter

December 6, 2016: Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa, one of India’s most charismatic political leaders, died here on Monday night after a bitter 74-day battle for life, ending an era in Tamil Nadu politics and plunging the state in deep grief. She was 68.

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Jayalalithaa, a spinster, breathed her last at the Apollo Hospitals just before midnight, over 24 hours after she suffered a cardiac arrest that derailed the halting progress she had been making on the health front.

“It is with indescribable grief, we announce the sad demise of our esteemed Honourable Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Puratchi Thalaivi Amma at 11.30 p.m.,” the hospital said in a statement.

As Jayalalithaa’s death became known, a loud wail rent the air outside the Apollo hospital where thousands had gathered since her cardiac arrest on Sunday evening, hoping against hope that she would survive.

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Her body was taken to her residence at Poes Garden, where hundreds of AIADMK cadre were present. Police used batons to keep inconsolable mourners away who tried to break the security barricades outside their leader’s house.

The body will be kept at the Rajaji Hall for people to pay their respects, said the AIADMK, which the actor-turned-politician headed for nearly three decades after the death of her mentor and Chief Minister M.G. Ramachandran or MGR.

The last rites will be held at the Marina Beach later on Tuesday.

As national leaders expressed grief, the Tamil Nadu government declared a seven-day mourning. Schools and colleges in the sprawling state will be closed for three days.

In no time, the AIADMK legislators elected Finance Minister and long-time Jayalalithaa loyalist O. Panneerselvam to succeed the departed leader.

Shortly after 1 a.m. on Tuesday, Panneerselvam took the oath of office and secrecy. Thirty-one ministers were also sworn-in with him.

A veteran actor, the self-made Jayalalithaa, who was five times Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, was admitted to the Apollo hospital on September 22 with fever and dehydration, just four months after she led the AIADMK to triumphantly retain power in assembly elections.

At one time it seemed she was on the road to recovery but that proved to be an illusion.

President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the nation in paying homage to Jayalalithaa, who was elected to the Rajya Sabha at the start of her political career.

In his lengthy message, Mukherjee described Jayalalithaa as “one of India’s most charismatic and popular leaders … a visionary and (an) able administrator…

“She was progressive in her thought and pro-active in pursuing the issues that were close to her heart, such as the empowerment of women and welfare of children.

“Her life was dedicated to the socio-economic transformation of Tamil Nadu and its people. Her contribution to the progress and development of Tamil Nadu will be long remembered.”

Modi, who enjoyed a personal rapport with Jayalalithaa, said her demise had left a huge void in Indian politics.

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Defining her as a mass leader, Modi said: “Jayalalithaaji’s connect with citizens, concern for welfare of the poor, the women and marginalised will always be a source of inspiration.”

Congress President Sonia Gandhi, who too had counted the AIADMK leader as an ally for years, said Jayalalithaa lived the entire life with the same “indomitable courage with which she battled her last illness”.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee called her “popular, strong, bold, efficient, people-friendly, charismatic leader”.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar described her death as “very saddening”. He announced a day’s mourning in his state.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted: “Very sad to hear the demise of Amma. A very very popular leader. Aam Aadmi’s leader. May her soul rest in peace.”(IANS)

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US Government keen to develop Connectivity between India and its Neighbours to Boost Economies, says US Ambassador to India Richard Verma

The US government is exploring ways to build better linkage with India especially the resource-rich northeastern region

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North-east area of India, Wikimedia

Agartala, Dec 3, 2016: The US government is keen to develop connectivity between India and its neighbours in the Bay of Bengal region and its adjoining areas to boost economies, US Ambassador to India Richard Verma said here on Saturday.

“During my visit to the northeastern states, I have discussed with the governments of the region about connectivities, trade, economy and commerce, energy-related issues,” said Verma, who has since Monday visited five of the eight northeastern states – Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Nagaland and Tripura, and met Chief Ministers and other stakeholders to discuss various economic and bilateral issues.

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Talking to reporters here, he said that the northeastern region of India has huge resources and potentiality and these must be utilised for the economic development of the region.

“A two-day connectivity summit would be held in Kolkata on December 14-15. We have invited all the northeastern states of India and few other neighbouring countries to participate in the event to boost the connectivity, trade and economy,” he added.

“The US government is exploring ways to build better linkage with India especially the resource-rich northeastern region through trade, education, infrastructure or innovation. Currently, over 500 US companies are working in India and we are keen to work more with India in diverse sectors.”

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Before returning to New Delhi, he visited a 726 MW power project commissioned by state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) at Palatana in southern Tripura, 65 km south of here.

“The US-based General Electric Company has supplied the turbines for the power project,” he said, adding that the US is keen to collaborate more with India in science and technological sector.

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In Tripura, the US envoy visited famous Tripura Sundari temple and the state museum besides India-Bangladesh border at Akhaura and witnessed the beating the retreat ceremony jointly conducted by the Border Security Force (BSF) of India and Boder Guards Bangladesh.

Verma is accompanied by the US Consul General in Kolkata and other officials.

An US Consulate media official said that this visit was part of the ambassador familiarisation tour through northeast India and during this trip, he underscored several key aspects of the strong US-India partnership. (IANS)