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Dream to make India $20 trillion economy: Modi

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Photo credit: travelbeats.indianeagle.com
source: timesofindia.com
source: timesofindia.com

San Jose: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said he dreamt of making India a $20 trillion economy and that he was pleasantly surprised by the change of perception about his country in a short period of time.

Attending a question and answer ‘town-hall’ session with Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg at their office at Hackers Square here, the prime minister also said that a lot had to be done to bridge the digital divide in India.

“We are an $8 trillion economy today. My dream is for India to become a $20 trillion dollar economy,” Modi said, adding: “Amazing, how perception about India has changed in a very short time. We have brought in a new level of confidence.”

Zuckerberg said India was personally very important to the history of Facebook.

“Early on, before things were going well, we saw Steve Jobs,” he said, referring to the legendary chief executive of Apple Inc, now deceased.

Modi also sought to tell Zuckerberg that India has other things to offer as well.

“When you came to India, you went to a temple. And look where you have reached today,” he said.

The Facebook chief had announced the Indian prime minister’s visit on his page earlier this month and invited users to post questions. Tens of thousands of comments were made in reply, with questions on internet expansion in India, unemployment and also Modi’s human rights record.

“We’ve received more than 40,000 questions for this town-hall,” Zuckerberg said.

Typical to the US, a town hall meeting refers to an informal public event, open to all, where those who attend ask questions from invited guests, generally public figures or functionaries, and also give ideas and seek their grievances to be redressed.

Modi said that in the last one to one-and-half years, “the perception of India has changed a lot”.

“If you look at tourism for example, India has tremendous potential. Technology has really helped the industry and has brought the world together,” Modi said.

Prompted by Zuckerberg to talk about his experience of being an early adopter of internet in India, Modi said: “I did not have the privilege to become a very educated person growing up. My world could revolve around a few words.

“But social media has filled the gap for me,” he said.

“You are associated with the service sector, and I have seen the power of it,” Modi said.

Before the townhall began, Modi and Zuckerberg had a one-on-one meeting.

Patriotic songs like ‘Des Rangila Rangila’ and ‘Dhoom Machale’ from Bollywood films played in the hall.

The insights wall at the Facebook headquarters flashed about its ‘India Connection’.

Earlier, as Modi, dressed in a white shirt and black pants and a black Nehru jacket arrived for the townhall, he was greeted by Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan.

In the background, the music of ‘Chak De India’ played to welcome Modi and the gathered crowd chanted “Modi, Modi”.

At the usually very casual Facebook headquarters, Zuckerberg came dressed in a black suit and purple tie. There were many others also dressed in suits and ties.

Ahead of his interaction with Modi, Zuckerberg changed his profile picture to support ‘Digital India’. Within minutes, Modi too changed his picture to thank him.

I changed my profile picture to support Digital India, the Indian government’s effort to connect rural communities to the internet and give people access to more services online. Looking forward to discussing this with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Facebook today,” posted Zuckerberg on Facebook.

Within minutes, Modi also changed his profile picture to thank him.

Zuckerberg’s new picture shows his side profile overlaid with the saffron, white and green colours of the Indian flag.

Modi’s new picture shows his front with the colours of India similarly overlaid.

(IANS)

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Physicians Happy While Traders in Shock on Ban on E-Cigarettes in India

With the Union Cabinet directing a blanket ban on e-cigarettes in the country, physicians welcomed the step while e-cigarette traders expressed shock and anger

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e-cigarettes, health, union, ban, india
A man exhales while smoking an e-cigarette, Aug. 28, 2019. VOA

With the Union Cabinet directing a blanket ban on e-cigarettes in the country with complete suspension of their manufacturing, import, export, distribution and storage, physicians welcomed the step while e-cigarette traders expressed shock and anger over the decision.

“Although, e-cigarettes are little less lethal then the conventional cigarettes, we cannot shun away the fact that it contains harmful ingredients. These chemicals can potentially affect the lungs and overall health of the individual in the long run,” Rajesh Chawla, Senior Pulmonologist at Indraprastha Apollo Hospital in New Delhi, told IANS.

Industry body TRENDS which represents importers, distributors and marketers of ENDS, or Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems in India, termed the decision to ban e-cigarettes “ironic and erratic”.

“This ban on e-cigarettes on the basis of ‘selective sourcing of scientific and medical opinion’ and without holding a single stakeholder meeting is nothing short of a complete murder of democratic norms,” said Praveen Rikhy, Convenor, TRENDS (Trade Representatives of ENDS).

“All our representations sharing best practices from other countries – 70 developed countries have allowed regulated sale of e-cigarettes, have been completely ignored. We will now initiate a formal campaign to help MPs understand the issue, clarify misapprehensions and misinformation spread by lobby groups and support the farmer groups who see the growth of the e-cigarette sector as a global market opportunity for nicotine,” Rikhy said.

e-cigarettes, health, union, ban, india
The Donald Trump administration on September 12 said that it plans to ban the sale of non-tobacco-flavoured e-cigarettes in the US following six deaths. Pixabay

While e-cigarettes have been marketed as a way for adults to quit conventional smoking, a recent outbreak of lung illness associated with use of vaping products in the US has raised concerns about the safety of these products.

The Donald Trump administration on September 12 said that it plans to ban the sale of non-tobacco-flavoured e-cigarettes in the US following six deaths linked to vaping.

Health authorities have documented a total of 450 cases involving e-cigarettes, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which issued a health warning against vaping.

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“I entirely support the idea of a ban on e-cigarettes; it is a step in the right direction,” Manoj Luthra, CEO, Jaypee Hospital in Noida, told IANS.

“E-cigarettes have been projected as a means to help people to quit smoking tobacco and also being non-polluting. However, these have their own health hazards and are addictive as well. These contain nicotine and other chemical vapours which will certainly have ill effects on the heart and lung and other organs as well,” he said. (IANS)