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Lalit Modi case: Chidambaram to continue with questioning

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

The Congress on Thursday rejected the arguments given by the government during a debate on the Lalit Modi issue in the Lok Sabha and said it would continue to raise its voice and ask questions on the matter.

“The monsoon session of parliament has come to an end. It began with BJP’s acrimony and ended with more acrimony on their part. Is anyone wiser at the end of the session on Modigate issue that was the cause of so much debate,” senior Congress leader and former finance minister P. Chidambaram asked at a press conference here.

He said while putting forward the government’s views on the Lalit Modi issue on Wednesday, both Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj failed to answer the questions posed by the Congress.

“Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley made last ditch efforts. They did everything except answer the crucial questions that arose out of Sushma Swaraj’s intervention on behalf of Lalit Modi,” he said.

“Why did she think Lalit Modi needed a British travel document and not an Indian travel document? Why did she keep her ministry in the dark,” he asked.

Chidambaram asked why the government was refusing to release the letters between the finance ministers of the two countries. “Why are Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj selectively quoting a few words from the letters instead of releasing the full texts of the letters?”

The Congress leader said some facts that tumbled out were that the external affairs minister intervened with the British High Commissioner on behalf of Lalit Modi at a time when his passport had been cancelled and the case was pending in the high court and that her ministry has so far not appealed against the high court order setting aside the cancellation of the passport.

The former finance minister said: “I am afraid that the two ministers have failed the government and the people. Instead of a debate, we got a diatribe. Instead of answers, we got sermons. Instead of facts, we got a fudge.”

“If the ministers think these questions will go away, I am afraid they will not,” he said.

The monsoon session of parliament saw repeated disruptions and ruckus as the opposition, led by the Congress, created uproar over the alleged help to Lalit Modi by Sushma Swaraj and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and the Vyapam recruitment scam in Madhya Pradesh.

Chidambaram also demanded an “unqualified apology” from Sushma Swaraj over her references to the Bofors case and the Gandhi’s family’s role in it.

“We take strong exception to the blatantly false references made by her to the late Bofors case  and alleged payments to him by Quattrocci,” he said.

Chidambaram quoted from judgments that said the charges against Rajiv Gandhi had been quashed.

On the Congress’ stand on a special session for the passage of Goods and Services Tax Bill, he said it was his party which scripted the bill.

“We have three fundamental objections; if those are addressed the other differences can be resolved,” he said.

 

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India-Pakistan Ties: India Grants Medical Visa to another Pakistani National

The action was termed "highly regrettable" by Islamabad, which said that asking for such a letter violated diplomatic norms and such a requirement had not been prescribed for any other country.

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Sushma swaraj addressing a press conference. Wikimedia

New Delhi, November 10, 2017 : India on Friday issued a medical visa to another Pakistani national following a promise made by the Ministry of External Affairs on Independence Day.

“Amna – We have approved medical visa for your father Mr Shamim Ahmed,” External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted in response to a request from one Amna Shamim through the Twitter handle of Karachi’s Muhammad Talha.

Shamim also posted a reference letter dated October 9 from a doctor in Sri Ganga Ram Hospital who stated that the patient was being considered for a liver transplant.

On Independence Day, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had announced that India would provide medical visas to all bonafide Pakistani patients.

As ties between the two countries soured over various issues, the ministry had announced in May that only a letter of recommendation by then Pakistan Prime Minister’s Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz would enable a Pakistani national to get a medical visa for India.

The action was termed “highly regrettable” by Islamabad, which said that asking for such a letter violated diplomatic norms and such a requirement had not been prescribed for any other country.

However, a patient from Pakistan-administered Kashmir, seeking treatment in New Delhi for liver tumour, was given a visa on July 18.

Sushma Swaraj then said that he needed no recommendation from the Pakistani government for a medical visa because the territory “is an integral part of India”.

Since August 15, however, Pakistani nationals seeking medical treatment have not been denied visas. (IANS)

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Food processing will be a main industry in future: Jaitley

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Food processing will be a main industry in future: Jaitley

New Delhi: The entire Indian agriculture value chain is set to change drastically and food processing is going to be one of the main industries of the country in the future, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Friday.

“The farm to kitchen chain is going to change in India, like elsewhere, with increased agricultural production, better storage facilities, more food processing and changing consumer food preference,” Jaitley said at the inaugural session of the World Food India 2017 here.

 “Food processing is going to be one of the principal industries of India in future, and an entrepreneur in 2017 should think of the industry from the perspective of where it will be in 2040, 2050,” he said.

In terms of market size, the Indian food market was worth $193 billion in 2016 and is expected to cross $540 billion in 2020, officials said here. The sector has been growing at the rate of 12 per cent annually.

“There is a silent revolution ongoing in India. There is an expanding middle class and below that there is a growing aspirational class, which is building up reasonable purchasing power,” the Finance Minister said, noting that this provided an enormous potential market for food products in the country.

About the potential, Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal said that only about 10 per cent of agricultural produce is processed in the country, leading to a lot of wastage.

The industry enjoys many fiscal incentives, including preferential credit under priority sector lending, she said.

“There is 100 per cent FDI (foreign direct investment) allowed into the sector through the automatic route and we have seen inflows increase 40 per cent over the last year,” she said.

“The proposal for a Food Processing Bank is also under active consideration.”

In the presence of delegates from many countries, the event was inaugurated earlier by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who pointed out that India is the biggest producer of milk in the world and the second in rice, wheat, fish and vegetable output.(IANS)

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Myanmar Must Take Back Displaced Rohingya Refugees : India

Sushma Swaraj did not use the word Rohingya to refer to the thousands who have taken shelter in Bangladesh and instead referred to them as displaced persons from Rakhine state

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A group of Rohingya refugees walk on the muddy road after traveling over the Bangladesh-Myanmar border. VOA

Dhaka, October 22, 2017 : India on Sunday said Rohingya refugees who have poured into Bangladesh must be taken back by Myanmar from where they have been displaced.

“Normalcy will only be restored with the return of the displaced persons to Rakhine state,” Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said at a media meet also attended by her Bangladeshi counterpart Abula Hassan Mahmood Ali.

This followed the fourth India-Bangladesh Joint Consultative Committee meeting.

ALSO READ US will Provide $32 Million to Rohingyas As Humanitarian Aid Package

Sushma Swaraj did not use the word Rohingya to refer to the thousands who have taken shelter in Bangladesh and instead referred to them as displaced persons from Rakhine state, bdnews24.com reported.

She said India was “deeply concerned at the spate of violence in Rakhine state of Myanmar”.

According to latest figures from the UN office in Bangladesh, over 600,000 refugees have entered the country since August 25 after the Myanmar Army cracked down on the Rohingyas after a series of attacks on security personnel in Rakhine.

Bangladesh Minister Ali said India was urged to contribute towards exerting sustained pressure on Myanmar to find a peaceful solution to the crisis, including return of Rohingyas to their homeland. (IANS)