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India, Germany aim to ink a plethora of agreements

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NewsGram Staff Writer

New Delhi: The bilateral meeting between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday aims at cementing the bilateral relation between the two countries. In the second bilateral meeting being held after six months, issues including trade, security and the India-EU trade agreement are expected to be tabled.

Merkel, who arrived here on Sunday night, is on an India visit from October 4-6. She will be accompanied by a large delegation comprising of cabinet ministers and businesspersons and will also be visiting Bengaluru.

The German leader, who met Modi at Hannover Messe in April, is coming here for the 3rd Inter-Governmental Consultations (IGC) between the two countries.

Earlier, German Ambassador Martin Ney said the IGC were expected to lead to the inking of “substantial agreements”.

Ney said that the German side would seek resolution of certain issues like “questions of corruption, questions of framework for investments, safety of taxation, Intellectual Property Rights” and legal redressal for “ease of doing business”.

“Industries say we need greater progress in order to implement these planned investments. The two leaders will address these issues definitely in a friendly manner,” the German envoy said earlier.

The two leaders are also expected to take up the India-European Union free trade agreement (FTA), which has been under negotiations for years.

The ministers accompanying Merkel are Foreign Affairs Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Food and Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt, Education and Research Minister Johanna Wanka and Economic Cooperation and Development Minister Gerd Muller.

The focus of the IGC will be on economy, security, vocational training, science, technology, clean energy, climate and development cooperation. The signing of a plethora of agreements is envisaged. Furthermore, regional and global issues will be discussed, said a German embassy statement.

The IGC is a unique summit-level dialogue with cabinet participation of both governments to help advance the bilateral partnership across priority areas of mutual interest.

The 3rd IGC will seek to build on Modi’s visit to Germany in April 2015 to participate in the Hannover Messe where India was the partner country, said an external affairs ministry statement.

On Monday, Merkel will be accorded a ceremonial welcome at Rashtrapati Bhavan, followed by a visit to Rajghat and official meetings between the two leaders and IGC between the two delegations.

Merkel will also call on President Pranab Mukherjee.

(With inputs from IANS)

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Women In India Turn To Technology To Stay Safe From Harassment

Police in many Indian cities are also encouraging women to use apps to register complaints

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Women, Harassment
Women stand at a crowded place in the southern Indian city of Bangalore, Oct. 9, 2006. Safety is the biggest concern for women using public and private transport, according to a survey Thursday. VOA

New web and phone apps in India are helping women stay safe in public spaces by making it easier for them to report harassment and get help, developers say.

Women are increasingly turning to technology to stay safe in public spaces, which in turn helps the police to map “harassment prone” spots — from dimly lit roads to bus routes and street corners.

Safety is the biggest concern for women using public and private transport, according to a Thomson Reuters Foundation survey released Thursday, as improving city access for women becomes a major focus globally.

“Women always strategize on how to access public spaces, from how to dress to what mode of transport to take, timings and whether they should travel alone or in a group,” said Sameera Khan, columnist and co-author of “Why Loiter? Women And Risk On Mumbai Streets.”

#MeToo, Victim, Harassment
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) politician M.J. Akbar takes the oath during the swearing-in ceremony of new ministers, July 5, 2017, at the Presidential Palace in New Delhi. The Indian minister and veteran newspaper editor announced his resignation, Oct. 17, 2018, while still insisting that the accusations of sexual harassment are false. VOA

Reported crimes up 80 percent

Indian government data shows reported cases of crime against women rose by more than 80 percent between 2007 and 2016.

The fatal gang rape of a young woman on a bus in New Delhi in 2012 put the spotlight on the dangers women face in India’s public spaces.

The incident spurred Supreet Singh of charity Red Dot Foundation to create the SafeCity app that encourages women across 11 Indian cities to report harassment and flag hotspots.

“We want to bridge the gap between the ground reality of harassment in public spaces and what is actually being reported,” said Singh, a speaker at the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s annual Trust Conference on Thursday.

India, Harassment
Students and teachers of Jawaharlal Nehru University participate in a protest demanding suspension of a professor accused of sexual harassment, in New Delhi. VOA

The aim is to take the spotlight off the victim and focus on the areas where crimes are committed so action can be taken.

Dimly lit lanes, crowded public transport, paths leading to community toilets, basements, parking lots and parks are places where Indian women feel most vulnerable, campaigners say.

Stigma attached to sexual harassment and an insensitive police reporting mechanism result in many cases going unreported, rights campaigners say.

Apps are promising

But apps like SafeCity, My Safetipin and Himmat (courage) promise anonymity to women reporting crimes and share data collected through the app with government agencies such as the police, municipal corporations and the transport department.

Students and teachers of Jawaharlal Nehru University participate in a protest demanding suspension of a professor accused of sexual harassment, in New Delhi
People hold placards at a rally condemning the rapes of two girls, aged 8 and 11, in Ahmedabad, India. VOA

“The data has helped in many small ways,” said Singh of the Red Dot Foundation. “From getting the police to increase patrolling in an area prone to ‘eve-teasing’ to getting authorities to increase street lighting in dark alleys, the app is bringing change.”

Also Read: Women And Girls In Poor Countries Are Using Contraceptives More: Report

Police in many Indian cities, including New Delhi, Gurgaon and Chandigarh, are also encouraging women to use apps to register complaints, promising prompt action.

“Safety apps are another such strategy that could be applied by women but I worry that by giving these apps, everyone else, most importantly the state, should not abdicate its responsibility towards public safety,” Khan said. (VOA)