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All eyes on China: PM Narendra Modi’s visit is strong indication of India showing its friendship, camaraderie, solidarity with Vietnam

Modi's Hanoi stopover, which will make him the first Indian prime minister to visit Vietnam in over a decade, comes one day before he'll join the Group of 20 Summit in Hangzhou, China

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FILE - Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks in New Delhi, India, Aug. 15, 2016. Image source: VOA
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September 2, 2016: Hanoi’s need for bolstered maritime defenses against an increasingly assertive China in the territorially disputed South China Sea is expected to be high on the agenda when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits Vietnam later this week.

Professor Sukh Doe Muni, fellow at the Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses in New Delhi, says the Indian leader’s arrival Friday comes as “the question of South China Sea has come up in a big way.”

FILE - A Chinese Coast Guard ship (top) is seen near a Vietnam Marine Guard vessel in the South China Sea, about 210 km (130 miles) off shore of Vietnam, May 14, 2014.
FILE – A Chinese Coast Guard ship (top) is seen near a Vietnam Marine Guard vessel in the South China Sea, about 210 km (130 miles) offshore of Vietnam, May 14, 2014. Image source: VOA

“Narendra Modi’s visit actually is the strong indication of India showing its friendship, camaraderie, solidarity with Vietnam, particularly at the time when Vietnam is facing lots of pressure in the region from China,” said the former senior Indian diplomat, who once worked in Southeast Asia.

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Modi’s Hanoi stopover, which will make him the first Indian prime minister to visit Vietnam in over a decade, comes one day before he’ll join the Group of 20 Summit in Hangzhou, China.

According to Ngo Xuan Binh, director of the Institute of Indian and Southwest Asian Studies in Hanoi, defense is a key part of “traditional” Hanoi-New Delhi relations, and there are mixed reactions among the Vietnamese public.

“Some say Modi’s visit to Vietnam before participating in the G20 summit shows how important Hanoi is to New Delhi, and it’s also a signal to China,” he said. “However, others say the visit has little impact on China, as it is a big partner of Beijing in many aspects.”

FILE - India's Brahmos supersonic cruise missiles, mounted on a truck, pass by during a full dress rehearsal for the Republic Day parade in New Delhi, January 23, 2006.
FILE – India’s Brahmos supersonic cruise missiles, mounted on a truck, pass by during a full dress rehearsal for the Republic Day parade in New Delhi, January 23, 2006. Image source: VOA

But Binh also says the recent tribunal ruling in The Hague, which dealt a legal blow to China’s maritime claims, may bring India and Vietnam into closer diplomatic orbit. Vietnamese experts on Indian affairs, for example, have cited sources claiming that Hanoi entered high-level negotiations in June with New Delhi to buy BrahMos cruise missiles — the world’s highest-velocity anti-ship cruise missile currently in operation — which has prompted concerns from Beijing.

According to IHS Janes, “talks in Hanoi included the option of stationing a team of Indian technicians in the Southeast Asian country to offer the Vietnamese assistance in using the [BrahMos] system,” and that New Delhi officials suggest the weapons transfer might be imminent.

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Vietnamese media quoted Indian Ambassador to Hanoi P. Harish as saying this week that New Delhi also hopes to reach agreements with Hanoi in areas of cooperation such as science, technology, defense, and security. But it is unclear whether the two sides will sign any deal on BrahMos.

The Stockholm-based International Peace Research Institute recently reported that Vietnam was the eighth-largest arms importer in the world from 2011 to 2015, up from 43rd in the previous five-year period and that India is one of the largest weapons exporters to Vietnam.

Rising tensions over the South China Sea maritime region in recent years have driven Vietnam to buy arms to defend itself. (VOA)

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Star ICC Asks Anonymous Accuser Of Sexual Assault Charges To Step Forward

The accuser said that while she was at the company, there were "clear instructions" given to make the sales team fulfil the targets.

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#MeToo: Star India internal panel writes to anonymous accuser to come forward

The Internal Complaints Committee of Star India on Sexual Harassment (Star ICC) has written to the anonymous accuser — who had alleged “sexual exploitation” of women employees — asking her to reach out to the committee or its external member on allegations made by her in tweets.

In a Twitter post on Friday, Star ICC, formed under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 said it had reached out to the accuser through two emails on the ID provided by her through her tweets. The committee’s external member is Veena Gowda, a Mumbai-based woman rights lawyer.

The accuser, who tweeted through handle @ApurvaS17 — saying she would remain anonymous — had made sexual harassment allegations against the company’s officials in an open letter.

Star ICC
Star believes that the allegations made in the tweet without the complainant coming forward and giving any further detail, is a malicious attempt.

Asked to comment on the allegations, a Star India spokesperson said in a statement that despite no response by the anonymous accuser to the messages sent, the Star ICC had “suo moto conducted a preliminary inquiry and found no basis or factual accuracy” in respect of the allegations.

“We strongly urge any genuine complainant to approach the Star ICC. At Star, we stand with women in drawing the line on any behaviour that violates human dignity or the ability for women to pursue their dreams with respect and freedom. We have a zero-tolerance policy towards sexual harassment,” read the statement in response to an email query by IANS.

It also said that the anonymous tweet shared on October 13 raised an allegation that “runs completely counter to everything we believe in and the norms and values that we deeply embrace.”

The statement further said: “Star believes that the allegations made in the tweet without the complainant coming forward and giving any further detail, is a malicious attempt to malign and defame the reputation of the company and the CEO.” It said that Star reserves its right to initiate appropriate legal proceedings in this regard.

Star ICC
The Star ICC had “suo moto conducted a preliminary inquiry and found no basis or factual accuracy.

The accuser in her tweets had said that the #MeToo movement had encouraged her to come forward and that she had quit her job at Star India in the Airtime Sales section after 26 months and nine days and was now a homemaker, “taking care of my baby and hubby in a beautiful country, far away from Mumbai.”

The accuser said that while she was at the company, there were “clear instructions” given to make the sales team fulfil the targets in case they want to continue with their employment contract, “for which even if you have to take the clients to a hotel room and sleep with them for days.”

She said there were many instances when she and three of her female colleagues (interns) had clear instructions to reach a hotel after office hours for a private party hosted for influential friends.

Also Read: India’s Junior Foreign Minister M.J. Akbar Quits Following #MeToo Harassment Allegation By Women

She says the influential friends were “mostly bureaucrats and sometimes politicians and foreign nationals” who were “all ready to violate you, force you to dance against your wishes, drink with them, make drink(s) for them, exchange your numbers and even quietly accompany them to their respective rooms if they want you to”.

Veteran writer-director Vinta Nanda, who earlier this month accused actor Alok Nath of sexually violating her 19 years ago, wrote on Twitter: “I’m neither shocked nor surprised. I salute your courage to have come out and spoken out. The rot runs deep.” (IANS)