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India, US ties: Biswal to visit India to discuss strategic ties

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nisha desai biswal

Washington: US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Nisha Desai Biswal is headed to India to make preparations for the first India-US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue in Washington in September.

Biswal, who will be in New Delhi July 16-17, “will meet with senior Indian government officials to discuss shared priorities and increased US-India cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region, as well as upcoming engagements,” a State Department announcement said.

The first Strategic and Commercial Dialogue announced after the January summit between President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will showcase Indo-US cooperation “from outer space to cyberspace.”

To be co-hosted by Secretary of State John Kerry and Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, the dialogue will also provide “a new platform to build on past results and work toward future progress,” Biswal said at an event to mark the tenth anniversary of India-US nuclear deal Monday.

Over the next ten years, India and US will work toward greater convergence on trade, she said.

In 2005, bilateral trade was less than $30 billion – today it is over $100 billion, and the two countries want to get that to $500 billion.

The two sides will also continue to bring international pressure on terrorist groups around the world who target Indians and Americans alike, Biswal, one of the many officials of Indian heritage in the Obama administration, said.

Over the next ten years, India and US, she said, “will build upon their Joint Vision for the Asia-Pacific and the Indian Ocean Region to promote regional development, a rules-based order, and trade that is free and fair.”

“In September, our first US-Japan-India ministerial will move us closer to this goal as we strengthen our cooperation on humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, and economic connectivity,” Biswal said.

As India will need to provide 400 million of its citizens with reliable energy, the US and India through their clean energy partnerships have mobilised nearly $3 billion dollars in renewable energy investments since 2009, she said.

(IANS)

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Tea Body of Assam Slam ‘Chaiwala’ Modi

The tea labourers of Assam live in the most deplorable conditions without some of the basic amenities, Gowala said

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Assam tea body slam 'chaiwala' Modi,

The largest tea body of Assam on Sunday slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who often refer to himself as a “chaiwala”, for not being considerate towards the state’s tea garden workers’ plight and urged him to implement the promised minimum wage of Rs 350 before the new year starts.

The Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha (ACMS) General Secretary Rupesh Gowala said while Modi often refers to himself as a “chaiwala”, he is yet make good on his promises towards a million tea garden labourers in the state in the last four years.

“Before the Lok Sabha elections of 2014, Modi addressed several rallies in Assam and assured that the tea garden labourers would be paid a minimum wage of Rs 350 per day,” Gowala said.

“If this happens, the 10,00,000 tea garden labourers will lose Rs 30 each day for two months. Is it a “chaiwala” Prime Minister who is doing this to his own community?” said Gowala.

The tea garden workers in Brahmaputra Valley in Assam are presently drawing Rs 167 per day while the tea garden workers in Barak Valley are getting Rs 145 per day.

“The existing wage agreement between the Assam government and the ACMS and other tea workers bodies expired on December 31, 2017.

Narendra Modi
Narendra Modi (Wikimedia Commons)

“The government had announced an interim hike of Rs 30 per day. The tea garden labourers are supposed to get this interim hike from January 1, 2018, but the government is saying the hike will apply from March 1, 2018.

“This would make them lose Rs 30 per day for two months,” he said.

The Bharatiya Janata Party-led government in Assam is yet to fix that minimum wage, Gowala said, urging Modi to announce the promised Rs 350 per day minimum wage before 2019.

Gowala said the condition of all those tea gardens run by the Assam government was far worse.

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“While the labourers in company-owned garden are receiving a wage of Rs. 167 per day now, the 26,000 workers under the 14 gardens of state-owned Assam Tea Company Limited (ATCL) are receiving a wage of Rs 115 only per day,” he said.

Assam has over 800 medium and large size tea gardens that produces over 50 per cent of the country’s total tea produce.

The tea labourers of Assam live in the most deplorable conditions without some of the basic amenities, Gowala said. (IANS)