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‘SAARC region can be made commercial arbitration hub’

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New Delhi: The SAARC countries can collectively work towards making the region a hub for international commercial arbitration, an Indian official said here on Saturday. Speaking at a seminar organized by Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) in association with Indian Council of Arbitration (ICA) and SAARC Arbitration Council (SARCO), Suresh Chandra, joint secretary, law and justice, also noted that institutionalizing of arbitration in SAARC is the key instrument to make arbitration a success story.

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He emphasized that stability, certainty and predictability of the arbitration system in this region can be introduced through adoption of best practices in the world. L. Savithri, director at the SAARC secretariat in Kathmandu, said that as the SAARC region fast tracks movement towards South Asian Economic Union, free trade area in both goods and services will be the first building block. Arbitration is the best dispute resolution mechanism for businesses of the SAARC region since majority of the countries are members of the New York Convention, 1958, and hence there is easy enforce ability of awards, said advisory and FICCI’s assistant secretary general Arun Chawla.

(IANS)

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National Book Trust (NBT) Chairman: Nurturing Creativity and Innovation in Children at an Early Age are Much Needed

How should current school curriculum be modified for an overall development of Children?

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Nurturing creativity and innovation in children
Nurturing creativity and innovation in children. Pixabay
  • Education should work in the direction of expanding the horizon of knowledge children
  • There is a need to shift educational learning for school goers from content mastery to competency mastery
  • To compete with the children worldwide, they need to have an understanding that is beyond books

New Delhi, August 21, 2017: There is a need to look beyond the world of text books and inculcate in children qualities like empathy towards society, humanity, sensitivity towards other human beings and nature.

Baldeo Bhai Sharma, Chairman of National Book Trust (NBT), talked about nurturing creativity, innovation in young minds for nation’s economic and spiritual development.

He was speaking at the FICCI’s first-ever Children’s Publishing Conclave called ‘Scrapbook’. Mr. Sharma said that it is crucial to observe and spot the creativity in children. To not just bound them to the school curriculum. The Supplementary books in school should teach them about the life lessons, that they should be good human beings. Such books will help them in the developing a good and positive personality; it will also strengthen their thinking and imaginative skills.

ALSO READ: 11 Facts about Education System Around the World: Do they prove to be Beneficial for Children?

In the conclave, he talked about how brave soldiers can inspire kids to be like that when they grow up and fight for their country someday. If not, even then such books will inculcate a feeling of patriotism in them. According to ANI reports, Mr. Sharma (pointing towards NBT’s efforts) said, “‘The Veergatha’ series had been introduced by NBT, which talks of the great acts of bravery by Indian soldiers.” The first series has a set of 5 books in English and Hindi, they are written so as to inspire the young minds and evoke feelings of patriotism in children from an early age.

Children are sometimes overburdened with books.  UNESCO encourages learning in mother tongue, especially at the early stage.  Sharma said that education should work in the direction of expanding the horizon of knowledge in a child and he agrees with UNESCO that teaching a child in mother tongue should be encouraged to retain cultural values.

Dr. Hrushikesh Senapaty, Director of NCERT, said: “There is a need to shift educational learning for school goers from content mastery to competency mastery, where competencies should be classified into character, intellectual and social.” He stressed upon the need to make the classroom environment vibrant where teachers would play the role of a facilitator- will provide them with an opportunity where they can develop and strengthen their competencies as well as communication ability. He added, “The Indian education system is moving from knowledge construction to knowledge processing with the help of technology, enabling children to explore, innovate and create.”

ALSO READ: Ragas for Preschool Children: Combining Classical Music with Fun Exercises

Appreciating FICCI’s initiative, Dr. Senapaty said that the goal of this publishing conclave is to produce content which is rich in quality and is innovative. It will enable them to learn in a collaborative environment. He added, “Indian children have performed well when they follow a prescribed school curriculum but to compete with the children worldwide, they need to have an understanding that is beyond books and focus on skills like building their applied knowledge.”

Children should explore, innovate and create
Children should explore, innovate and create. Pixabay

Ms. Urvashi Butalia, Chairperson, FICCI Publishing Committee and Director, Zubaan, said that the conclave focused on:

  • promoting book reading amongst young minds
  • government and children’s publishers- enhance learning outcome in educational space
  • policy advocacy- nurture collaboration between schools
  • addressed- gender misrepresentation in children’s books
  • concerns- children’s content in school books
  • implementing theory of multiple intelligence on children’s content- enhance learning outcome
  • changing role of technology in children’s content and its impact on K-12 (kindergarten (K) and the 1st -12th grade) education

Dr. A. Didar Singh, Secretary-General, FICCI, said that this platform will help to explore possible collaboration between children, content creators, offline and online service providers, publishers, technology disruptors, schools, teachers, parents, and policymakers. The conclave focused on the important aspects like learning requirements of an individual child, crucial role publishers can play to address it.

The conclave also had some interesting workshops for school children. The workshops had activities like creative writing, story-telling and received appreciation from the young minds.


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FICCI and Carnegie India launch a report on ‘Bringing the Diaspora Home: India’s Expatriate Evacuation Operations’

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Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and Sushma Swaraj, External Affairs Minister of India at the 2014 Regional Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Convention in London. Wikimedia

January 6, 2017: With the increase in diaspora, India faces more challenges to protect to protect the geographically dispersed and diverse population. The Indian government has been strengthening its diplomatic and military capabilities and trying to improve coordination with other countries. Since 1947, India has conducted more than 30 diaspora evacuation missions across Asia and Africa.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be inaugurating the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) this weekend. The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), launched the report by Dr Constantino Xavier ‘Bringing the Diaspora Home: India’s Expatriate Evacuation Operations’, in partnership with Carnegie India. The report outlines the economic importance of the subject. It tries to bring awareness of accomplishments of India in its evacuation operations, mentioned ANI.

The event was attended by former Foreign Secretary, Ambassador Ranjan Mathai. He outlined the importance of different approaches for different contexts associated with each operation. Also, we need to have a good understanding of the destination country.

Retired Vice-Admiral Anup Singh stressed on the significance of maritime diplomacy and international relations in easing the evacuation operations.

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Around 10 million Indian passports are issued every year. There are more than 11 million Indian citizens residing worldwide. Every year, more than 20 million Indians travel internationally.

The Indian diaspora plays an important role in India’s economic development. Overseas Indians have become a priority for India’s Foreign and Security policies. Their remittance accounts for more than 3 percent of its GDP. After the recent crisis in Gulf region, the Indian government has been giving committed and unparalleled attention to the diaspora’s safety.

However, the credit for the success of the India’s evacuation project should be given to the officials who sacrificed their lives and bought back the diaspora. There hasn’t been any formal doctrine or an emergency plan. The Indian government needs to go beyond quick-fix solutions and punctual efforts. We cannot always depend on heroic and ad hoc efforts.

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On the basis of new data and interviews with Indian officials, Dr Xavier, in his paper, has assessed India’s experience in dealing with the evacuation missions. He has recommended some policy changes.

According to ANI report, he said that these measures must be included to institutionalise best practices as emergency plans and standard operating procedures. We need to improve operational coordination between agencies and ministers and train the diplomatic cadre to function in the hostile environment. The Indian government needs to increase cooperation and operational coordination with foreign governments. Armed forces should be given a greater role. There is a need for a balance between civil and military in decision making.

Prepared by Diksha Arya of NewsGram. Twitter: @diksha_arya53

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India pulled out of SAARC meeting that is to be held in Pakistan

Modi's decision to stay away from the South Asian meet came a day after India's Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj told the U.N. General Assembly in New York it is time to identify nations that nurture, peddle and export terrorism

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Pakistani Kashmiris carry placards to show their solidarity with Indian Kashmiri Muslims during an anti-Indian protest in Islamabad, Sept. 26, 2016. VOA

Update: 1120 AM IST, Sept 28,2016: After Modi pulled out of SAARC meeting to be held in November in Pakistan, 3 other countries- Afghanistan, Bhutan and Bangladesh – have also pulled out, further isolating Pakistan.

New Delhi, September 28, 2016: On Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that he will not be attending the South Asian regional summit to be held in Islamabad in November because of increasing cross-border attacks in the region.

The decision was announced days after Modi said that he will mount a global campaign to diplomatically isolate Pakistan in the wake of a terror attack on an Indian army base in Kashmir that killed 18 soldiers.

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Tensions between the two countries have spiked after India blamed the attack on Pakistan-based militants. Islamabad has denied any role in the assault and said it could be a reaction to the situation in Indian Kashmir, which has been wracked with widespread civilian unrest since July.

Coffins containing bodies of Indian soldiers G. Doloi and Biaswajit Garai, killed in an attack at the Indian army base in Kashmir, arrive at the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International airport in Kolkata, India, Sept. 19, 2016.VOA
Coffins containing bodies of Indian soldiers G. Doloi and Biaswajit Garai, killed in an attack at the Indian army base in Kashmir, arrive at the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International airport in Kolkata, India, Sept. 19, 2016.VOA

In a statement, the foreign ministry said that “increasing cross-border attacks in the region and growing interference in the internal affairs of the member states have created an environment that is not conducive to the successful hosting of the SAARC [South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation] summit.”

Other countries’ concerns

Without elaborating, the statement said that other countries have also conveyed their reservations about attending the South Asian gathering.

They are believed to be Afghanistan and Bangladesh, which also blame Pakistan for supporting terror groups. Neither country has publicly disclosed such reservations.
She said Pakistan believes terrorist attacks will allow it to gain territory it covets in Kashmir. “My firm advice to Pakistan is: Abandon this dream. Let me state unequivocally that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and will always remain so,” Swaraj said.

A demonstrator hits a poster of Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during a protest organized by India’s main opposition Congress party against Sunday's attack at an Indian army base camp in Kashmir's Uri in Jammu, India, Sept. 21, 2016. VOA
A demonstrator hits a poster of Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during a protest organized by India’s main opposition Congress party against Sunday’s attack at an Indian army base camp in Kashmir’s Uri in Jammu, India, Sept. 21, 2016. VOA

‘Litany of falsehoods’

In a sharp response to the Indian foreign minister, Pakistan’s envoy to the United Nations, Maleeha Lodhi, called the Indian allegations a “litany of falsehoods” and said Kashmir was an “internationally recognized dispute.”

Lodhi said the attack on the Indian army base had all the hallmarks of an operation designed to divert attention from “India’s atrocities” in Kashmir.

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While New Delhi accuses Pakistan of backing and supporting militant groups that mount terror strikes in India, Islamabad holds India responsible for human rights violations in Kashmir, the Himalayan territory divided between them and claimed by both. About 80 civilians have been killed since July in the largest anti-India protests in recent years.

On Tuesday, India also summoned Pakistani High Commissioner Abdul Basit in New Delhi for the second time in less than a week and presented him with what it said was proof of Pakistan’s involvement in the militant strike on an Indian army base in Kashmir that killed 18 soldiers.
India’s foreign ministry said it gave the Pakistani diplomat details on two “handlers” of the four militants who attacked the army base. Officials say the “handlers,” who are in Indian custody, and one of the militants killed in the attack were from Muzaffarabad in Pakistani Kashmir.

Regional isolation is one among a range of retaliatory measures New Delhi has been weighing against Islamabad.

India summoned Pakistani High Commissioner Abdul Basit in New Delhi on Sept. 27, 2016, and presented him with what it said was proof of Pakistan’s involvement in the militant strike on an Indian army base in Kashmir.VOA
India summoned Pakistani High Commissioner Abdul Basit in New Delhi on Sept. 27, 2016, and presented him with what it said was proof of Pakistan’s involvement in the militant strike on an Indian army base in Kashmir.VOA

Water exploitation

On Thursday, Modi is due to hold a meeting to review the Most Favored Nation status that New Delhi has granted to Pakistan.

Indian officials have suggested they are also exploring ways in which New Delhi can increase the exploitation of water from three Himalayan rivers that flow into Pakistan. India has a right to use roughly 20 percent of the water under a 1960 pact but says it has not done so.

New Delhi says there is no plan to scrap the treaty, but it will see how it can utilize more water allowed under its terms.

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Such a move could further heighten tensions between the two countries. The waters of the three rivers are crucial for Pakistan.

SAARC includes India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and the Maldives.

Modi’s decision to stay away from the South Asian meet came a day after India’s Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj told the U.N. General Assembly in New York it is time to identify nations that “nurture, peddle and export terrorism.” (VOA)