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India, US cooperation on mega-city governance growing: Indian envoy

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Washington, Oct 9 (IANS) India-US cooperation in governance of mega-cities is part of a whole new paradigm of working together and forming habits of cooperation between the world’s two largest democracies, according to the Indian ambassador Arun K Singh.

“It takes diplomacy beyond the nation-state,” he said at an event at Atlantic Council, a Washington think tank, on the Megacity Challenge ahead of a conference on Megacity Security in Mumbai next month.

“As our bilateral partnership goes forward under the motto of “Sanjha Prayas, Sab Ka Vikas” or “Shared Effort, Progress for All,” we need to take our cities along in this endeavour – with their myriad challenges and their limitless opportunities,” Singh said.

Noting that an expert committee had in 2011 indicated a requirement of investment in urban infrastructure to the tune of $1 trillion over the next 20 years, he said: “For us in India, the megacity challenge is a living challenge of massive proportion.”

The US government, private sector, businesses and the civil society, Singh said had been associated in several transformative initiatives in India.

The Bloomberg Philanthropies have supported the India Smart Cities challenge, he noted. The US has been identified as the lead partner in developing smart cities in three Indian cities — Ajmer, Visakhapatnam and Allahabad.

The USAID, through the Urban India Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Alliance, is serving as knowledge partner to support the Prime Minister’s 500 cities National Urban Development Mission and Clean India Campaign.

There was also growing bilateral cooperation for making the two countries’ megacities safe and secure, Singh said observing “the designs of terrorists over mega-cities was evident to both countries — during 9/11 in New York City and during 26/11 in Mumbai.”

To meet the challenges of modern day policing in megacities, Government of India has undertaken Megacity Policing initiative with focus on building the technology capability of Police forces.

Currently, police forces in seven cities – Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata and Ahmedabad — are being modernized under this scheme.

Megacities Policing is one of the six major components of India-US bilateral homeland security cooperation pursued under the Ministerial Homeland Security Dialogue, Singh noted.

“Whether it is tackling terrorism, investigation of modern crimes, identification of suspects, managing intelligent traffic system or building effective command and control system or fusion centres, the US has capacities that can be considered and adapted in India for mutual benefit,” he said.

“They will create security in our cities and potential for business and technology partnership,” Singh said.

“Of course, megacity policing is only one small part of our growing cooperation in the field of homeland security,” he said citing several areas from building capacity in cyber security to a partnership for counter-IED cooperation.

“Security cooperation in turn is a small subset of our wide-ranging strategic and global partnership,” Singh added.

 

(Arun Kumar, IANS)

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Find Out Those 28 US Goods on Which India Increases Tariffs Amid Trade Spat

The retaliatory move came days after Washington removed New Delhi from a list of countries that have preferential access to its market

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FILE - Containers are piled up at a terminal at the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust in Mumbai, India, June 29, 2017. India’s commerce ministry says it will not try to hold onto its preferential zero-tariffs status with the United States. VOA

India has hiked tariffs on 28 goods imported from the United States as a trade spat between the two countries intensifies. The retaliatory move came days after Washington removed New Delhi from a list of countries that have preferential access to its market.

“India has put its cards on the table,” says trade expert Biswajit Dhar at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. “The U.S. has upped the ante and it is also threatening to take further action. This required India to respond.”

The trade spat has escalated ahead of a visit later this month to New Delhi by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who has pushed India to allow American companies more access to its markets and to lower barriers.

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FILE – A female laborer winnows almonds inside a small-scale factory unit in New Delhi, Jan. 15, 2011. India is by far the largest buyer of U.S. almonds. VOA

Experts fear the growing tensions could cast a shadow over a deepening India-U.S. strategic partnership that aims at countering China’s growing influence.

The American goods that attract higher tariffs beginning Sunday include almonds, apples, walnuts, chickpeas and lentils, as well as some stainless steel products. New Delhi is the largest importer of U.S. almonds and the second largest buyer of apples. The total impact of the Indian tariffs is estimated to be about $240 million.

Increase deferred several times

The hike in duties by New Delhi was announced a year ago in retaliation for Washington’s imposition of higher tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, but deferred several times as both sides held talks to bridge their differences.

But India went ahead after the U.S. earlier this month imposed another punitive measure: removing New Delhi from a trade program to aid the economies of developing countries. Washington said the preferential status was revoked because India has failed to provide adequate access to its markets for U.S. firms. It will impact Indian imports worth $5.6 billion. New Delhi was the largest beneficiary of the Generalized Systems of Preferences program. India’s commerce ministry has called the decision unfortunate.

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A shop in New Delhi sells almonds and walnuts, which are among the 29 U.S. products on which India has announced retaliatory tariffs starting August 4. India is the largest market for U.S. almonds. (A. Pasricha/VOA)

US markets

U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly named India as one of the countries that follow trade practices unfair to the United States. Washington wants New Delhi to address a trade imbalance, the $142 billion bilateral trade is skewed in New Delhi’s favor by about $30 billion.

Dhar says among the sticking points are the demands by Washington that India lower tariffs on dairy and poultry to encourage U.S. agricultural imports. But these are areas where New Delhi faces domestic challenges.

“India is battling with this very large population of small and marginal farmers. It is very difficult for India to drop tariffs specially as we know U.S. agricultural products are being subsidized,” according to Dhar.

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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addresses the India Ideas Summit in Washington, June 12, 2019. VOA

The United States is also concerned about recent rules that it says adversely impact the operations of its e-commerce companies such as Amazon and Walmart in India. Even though the moves by New Delhi and Washington signal that each is taking a tougher stand, they could also push both sides to more serious negotiations to resolve their differences.

ALSO READ: Trump Announces Migration Deal with Mexico, Averting Threatened Tariffs

“We remain open to dialogue and hope that our friends in India will drop their trade barriers and trust in the competitiveness of their own companies, their own businesses, their own people,” Pompeo said at policy speech at the U.S. India Business Council in Washington on Thursday. He said that countries that have provided American companies access to their markets have seen “real opportunity.”

Pompeo will in New Delhi on June 25-26 to hold talks with his Indian counterpart. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and U.S. President Trump are also expected to meet on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Japan later this month. (VOA)