Wednesday December 13, 2017
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Defence Minister terms Russia as an “all weather friend” of India

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Picture Courtesy:www.dailyamin.com

New Delhi: Ahead of his Moscow visit Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar in an interview to Russian news agency TASS on Thursday called Russia an “all weather friend” of India.

Parrikar expressed hope that the visit would enhance India-Russia relationship.

“I have always seen Russia as an all-weather friend for India – the two countries have always had a great relationship. I believe that this relationship should be enhanced. My visit to Moscow will be an attempt to help the relationship blossom further,” Parrikar said.

“There are many issues that can always be in such relationships, and I think the best way is to have them resolved. I see a certain enthusiasm to resolve them from both sides as well as possibilities to involve Russia in the ‘Make it in India programme’.”

The defence minister will leave India for Russia on October 30, and will be there till November 2, after which he will leave for ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM-Plus) in Malaysia.

Asked if any joint projects under Make in India programme were expected to be inked during his visit, Parrikar said there will be discussions to prepare ground for inking some deals when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits Russia in December.

“They (projects) may not take final shape during my visit but we’d like to prepare some of them for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Russia in December – for example, the project for joint production of Kamov Ka-226 helicopters. I hope to use my visit to have it inked on paper when the prime minister arrives. Also the purchase of S-400 missile systems. We anticipate these projects to be coordinated by next month,” he said.

The minister added that there are also proposals for small private-sector companies interested in tying up with Russian companies to manufacture spares for Su-30 jets.

“Then there are Mi-17V-5 helicopters, which we also intend to negotiate and finalize procurement for 48 more. With that, we will have some 280 Mi-17 helicopters,” he said.

Another report by the agency quoting sources meanwhile said that Parrikar during his visit will also discuss leasing of another nuclear submarine, and a deal for it may be inked during Modi’s visit.

(IANS)

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Will India be able to travel in the Bullet Train Soon? Yes, Say Railway Officials; Indian Railways Target Completing the Project Before the August 2022 Deadline

The foundation stone for the Rs 1.08 lakh crore ($17 billion) 508-km Ahmedabad-Mumbai Bullet Train was laid in Ahmedabad by Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe on September 14

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Bullet Train
Railway Board Chairman held a high-level meeting in Rail Bhavan last Thursday which was attended by Japanese Ambassador Kenji Hiramatsu, and Niti Aayog Vice Chairman. (representative image) Wikimedia

New Delhi, November 10, 2017 : Unfazed by opposition criticism, Indian Railways is working overtime to push ahead with the much-talked about the “Bullet Train” project, aiming to complete it ahead of the August 2022 deadline set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Railway Board Chairman Ashwani Lohani, who has a reputation of a turnaround man, has taken up the task of monitoring and chairing the periodic review meetings of the project that is estimated to cost over Rs 1 lakh crore ($15 billion).

Lohani held a high-level meeting in Rail Bhavan last Thursday which was attended by Japanese Ambassador Kenji Hiramatsu, Niti Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar, Central government officials, Principal Secretary-rank officials of Gujarat and Maharashtra, officials of NHSRCL (National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited), officials of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the General Manager of Western Railway.

A senior railway board member, requesting anonymity, told IANS, “The railways is in no mood to delay the Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet Train project. Lohani will now hold a review meeting once every three months… And even on weekly basis, if required.”

Emphasising on the government’s intention, the official said, “The attendance of the Niti Aayog Vice Chairman, the Japanese Ambassador and the CRB in the review meeting is a clear signal that the government is taking the project seriously and there is no scope for any delay.”

“The CRB wants Indian Railway officials to take lessons from their Japanese counterparts about meeting deadlines,” he said.

The opposition has attacked the government for taking up a project at a huge cost instead of focusing on safety, a dire need of the time, and on schemes to improve passenger amenities.

The official said it was also decided at the meeting that “a road map for consultancy and civil engineering works will be prepared by January 2018”.

A ministry official associated with the Bullet Train project said a report on the signalling system and electrical reports would be ready by April 2018. According to him, the tracks and most of the signalling system would be brought from Japan.

The foundation stone for the Rs 1.08 lakh crore ($17 billion) 508-km Ahmedabad-Mumbai Bullet Train was laid in Ahmedabad by Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe on September 14.

Of the Rs 1.08 lakh crore, Japan is giving a loan of Rs 88,000 crore at a minimal interest of 0.1 per cent for 50 years. And the repayment will begin only after 15 years.

The railway official said that to encourage the Prime Minister’s ambitious ‘Make in India’ programme, “an appeal will be made to Indian and Japanese companies to make use the opportunity to work together”.

Meanwhile, the officials of the government of Maharashtra and Gujarat assured the railways of their help in land acquisition and smooth shifting of raw materials to construction venues.

A three-level monitoring committee was also constituted, including the Vice Chairman of Niti Ayog and Special Advisor to Japanese Prime Minister.

A working group led by Managing Director of NHSRCL Achal Khare and consisting of representatives of the ministries concerned, and the representative of JICA, has been formed. Besides the two committees, a technical expert committee led by the Managing Director of NHSRCL has also been formed.

Of the 508 km stretch, 92 per cent (468 km) of the route will be elevated, six per cent (27 km) will be in tunnels and the remaining two per cent (13 km) will be on the ground .

The high-speed train would also pass through the country’s longest tunnel of 21 km, of which seven km will be under the sea.

Twelve stations have been proposed that include Mumbai, Thane, Virar, Boisar, Vapi, Bilimora, Surat, Bharuch, Vadodara, Anand, Ahmedabad and Sabarmati.

The distance will be covered in two hours and seven minutes if the train stops at four stations — Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat and Mumbai. If the train stops at all 12 stations, it will cover the distance in two hours and fifty-eight minutes.

According to Railway Ministry officials, the operating speed of the bullet train would be 320 kmph and the maximum speed would be 350 kmph.

 

(Editorial note : This article has been written by Anand K. Singh and was first published by IANS. Anand can be contacted at can be contacted at anand.s@ians.in)

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With 100% FDI, Narendra Modi calls Food Sector a Priority in Make in India Programme

Modi said India with its rich legacy of spices could provide solutions and offer a win-win partnership as the world was becoming increasingly averse to the use of artificial colours, chemicals and preservatives.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Wikimedia

New Delhi, November 3, 2017 : Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said the food sector that allows 100 per cent foreign investment was the priority in the government’s ambitious Make In India programme.

Launching a three-day global conference on the food industry here, Modi said food processing was an age old practice in India and simple, home-based techniques like fermentation had resulted in the creation of our famous pickles, papads, chutneys and murabbas that now excite both the elite and the masses across the world.

He said the government had taken a range of transformational initiatives to make the country most preferred investment destination in this sector.

It is priority sector in our ‘Make in India’ programme. 100 per cent Foreign Direct Investment is now permitted for trading including through e-commerce of food products manufactured or produced in India, Modi told the World Food India conference that will see the participation of over 2,000 delegates from 200 companies from some 30 countries.

Apart from representatives of 28 states, it will also see participation of 18 ministerial and business delegations, nearly 50 global CEOs along with heads of all leading domestic food processing companies.

Modi said a single-window facilitation cell provided hand-holding for foreign investors and there were attractive fiscal incentives from the Union and state governments.

Loans to food and agro-based processing units and cold chains are classified under priority sector lending, making them easier and cheaper to obtain, the Prime Minister said.

Modi said the recently launched unique portal – Nivesh Bandhu (investor’s friend) – would bring together information on central and state government policies and incentives provided for the food processing sector.

He said private sector participation had increased in many segments of the value chain but sought more investment in contract farming, raw material sourcing and creating agri linkages.

There were opportunities in post-harvest management such as primary processing and storage, preservation infrastructure, cold chain and refrigerated transportation, the Prime Minister asserted.

There is immense potential for food processing and value addition, especially in niche areas such as organic and fortified foods.

Modi said India with its rich legacy of spices could provide solutions and offer a win-win partnership as the world was becoming increasingly averse to the use of artificial colours, chemicals and preservatives.

Modi said the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sampada Yojana aimed at creating world class food processing infrastructure was expected to leverage investment of $5 billion, benefit two million farmers and generate more than half a million jobs over the next three years.

Narendra Modi said the government was planning to link agro-processing clusters with production centres through Mega Food Parks, which will offer immense value proposition in crops such as potato, pineapple, oranges and apples.

Minister of Food Processing Industries Harsimrat Kaur Badal in her address said agreements worth $10 billion were expected to be signed during the three-day global event.

Our demand of food is set to double over the next five years. Being six largest food and grocery market in the world, India is a destination that merits global attention in the food sector.

She said there was a need to wage war on food waste to ensure adequate food for all and to avoid a food crisis as the world’s population was set to increase by 25 per cent and the demand for food by 50 per cent by 2050. (IANS)

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Challenges to the Narendra Modi government before the Upcoming 2019 Elections

Modi needs to come up with an efficacious plan to tackle this fast approaching apocalypse

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Wikimedia

By Gaurav Tyagi

August 12, 2017: India would be celebrating 70 years of independence from the British rule on 15th August. The current state of affairs, in the country despite tall claims by Indian establishment is bleak. There are enormous challenges that face the Modi government in India before the 2019 elections.

‘Make in India’ scheme was launched with much fanfare in September 2014 to overhaul the out-dated policies and processes thereby, making India a global manufacturing hub.

An NDTV report reveals the ground realities.

An entrepreneur, Saurabh Ahuja tried to import a $ 600 3D printer for manufacturing drones at his workshop in Delhi. He had to shell out another extra $900 in taxes and bribes for the customs department to release his consignment and that too after a period of three months.

The aforementioned case of Mr. Ahuja discloses that ‘red tapism’ is still highly prevalent in India. Big companies donate large funds to all major political parties therefore, they have easy access to the ‘corridors of power’ but a small budding entrepreneur is made to ‘run from pillar to post’ for getting various permissions from several government departments.

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India’s bureaucracy is based on the British colonial model. British officers used to be in charge of administrative affairs when India was a British Colony. To ease their workload, they used to hire Indians at the clerical level. These Indians who served the British Empire thought very highly of themselves and regarded their fellow Indians with contempt.

Indian bureaucracy thus inherited a pretentious, rigid hierarchical functioning style from its colonial masters. These bureaucrats don’t have much accountability and continue in their plum posts till retirement. Their attitude towards ruling party politicians is servile while with general public they are disdainful.

They remain contented in their comfort zone of out-dated ideas and models.
Dealing with Indian authorities is a nightmare for every common citizen. These officials create hurdles and blocks at each step and expect gratification in form of bribes.

The situation is best summarized by Rajiv Bajaj, head of Bajaj Auto, a big industrial house of India. This is what he said in a recent speech this year, “If your innovation in the country depends on government approval or the judicial process, it will not be a case of ‘made in India’ but ‘mad’ in India.”

World Bank’s recent rankings for countries regarding ‘ease of doing business’ ranks India as 130th out of 190 nations.

Jobs in the Indian Information technology (IT) sector were highly sought after.  The rapid strides made by automation coupled with a strict visa regime in the United States have now turned Indian IT upside down.

There are estimates of heavy retrenchments in the IT field.

Kris Lakshmikanth, the Chairman and CEO of ‘The Head Hunters India’ say that the year 2017-18 will serve as a ‘wakeup’ year for the IT/BPO industry. He states that there would be a ‘Tsunami’ of IT layoffs in India with approximately 200,000 IT/BPO personnel losing their jobs per year during the next 3-4 years.

Also Read: We need to take Action Against the ‘Communal Violence in the name of Cow’ : PM Narendra Modi

Therefore, Indian Prime Minister; Modi’s recent statement, wherein he said that Information Technology plus Indian Talent=India Tomorrow (IT+IT=India Tomorrow) is way ‘off the mark’.

India is poised to overtake China as the world’s most populous country by 2024 according to a UN report.

Modi can talk all he wants and come up with fancy slogans but the harsh truth is that a corrupt, lethargic bureaucracy, swift population growth and cutting down of jobs in the IT sector are immense challenges and cannot be tackled by mere ‘catchy phrases’.

Lack of jobs to absorb a large number of fresh graduates passing out from Indian universities every year. The predatory attitude of bureaucracy, which discourages entrepreneurship in the country, sharply point towards looming mass unemployment in India.

This would turn India’s so called demographic dividend into a huge demographic liability in the very near future. Modi needs to come up with an efficacious plan to tackle this fast approaching apocalypse.

The author is a Master Degree holder in International Tourism & Leisure Studies from Netherlands and is based in China.