Tuesday June 18, 2019
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Merkel visit: 18 MoUs inked, economy, security, languages in focus

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New Delhi: India and Germany on Monday gave a major boost to their bilateral ties, especially in the economic field, by inking 18 MoUs, including one for setting up a fast-track system for German companies in India, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and German Chancellor Angela Merkel held talks here.

The range of MoUs, signed during Merkel visit, includes one on security cooperation, and another for promotion of German as a foreign language in India and for the promotion of Modern Indian languages in Germany.

Modi, in his speech, termed the bilateral mechanism of Inter-Governmental Consultation (IGC) as unique, saying it had helped bring growth in relations.

“We see Germany as a natural partner in achieving our vision of India’s economic transformation. German strengths and India’s priorities are aligned. And, so is our mutual goodwill,” he said, after holding the 3rd IGC with Merkel here.

He said both sides had convergence of views and rapidly growing cooperation in the field of clean energy and combating climate change.

Both agreed on the India-Germany Climate and Renewable Alliance for combating climate change, Modi said, and thanked Germany for its over one billion euro aid each for India’s Green Energy Corridor project and for solar projects in India.

“We look forward to a concrete outcome at COP21 (Conference of Parties) in Paris,” Modi said.

He said both sides will see a boost in partnership in areas of defence manufacturing, trade in advanced technology, intelligence, and countering terrorism and radicalism.

He thanked Germany for its strong support for India’s membership of the international export control regimes.

“As we discussed in the G4 Summit in New York, Chancellor and I are committed to pursue reforms of the United Nations, especially the Security Council,” Modi said.

He also thanked Merkel for the return of a 10th century statue of Durga in her Mahishasurmardini avatar from Jammu and Kashmir.

Modi said the statue is a symbol of the victory of good over evil.

He said: “This also suggests that in this age of transitions and turmoil, India-Germany partnership will be a force of good for the world.”

Merkel, in her media statement, said both sides held very good IGC and bilateral talks. She said the IGC mechanism has underscored the intensity of bilateral ties with India.

She said the inking of so many agreements is a “testimony to the dynamic relations”. She said more than 1,500 German companies are in India and more would be glad to open up in India. She commended the inking of the fast track agreement on German companies. “The speed at which you grant licences has increased, which is a good thing,” Merkel said.

She said Germany can help India in the area of sustainable development in the villages.

On expansion of the UN Security Council, Merkel referred to the meeting of the G4 countries of India, Germany, Japan and Brazil last week in New York and said the members of G4 are trying to seek permanent seat at the UNSC.

Both sides inked an agreement on security cooperation; an MoU on Solar Energy Partnership; for cooperation in the field of Skill Development and Vocational Education and Training; on Security Cooperation; railways and for cooperation in disaster management.

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India’s President ‘Ram Nath Kovind’ Designates ‘Narendra Modi’ as PM for Second Term

The Election Commission announced that the BJP won 303 out of 542 seats in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of Parliament

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Newly elected lawmakers from India's ruling alliance led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party raise their hands in support of Narendra Modi's election as their leader in New Delhi, May 25, 2019. VOA

India’s president on Saturday appointed Narendra Modi as the prime minister soon after newly elected lawmakers from the ruling alliance, led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, elected him as their leader following a thunderous victory in national elections.

President Ram Nath Kovind said in a tweet that he also asked Modi to forward the names of those to be appointed as ministers in his government and the date for the swearing-in for his second five-year term as prime minister. Modi and some leaders of his alliance met the president on Saturday.

Media reports said Modi was likely to be sworn in by Kovind on Thursday.

BJP president Amit Shah announced Modi’s name as the leader of the National Democratic Alliance in a meeting of the lawmakers in the Central Hall of Parliament in New Delhi.

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, second right, hugs senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader M.M. Joshi as L.K. Advani, left, watches after Modi’s election as ruling alliance leader, in New Delhi, May 25, 2019. VOA

The Election Commission announced that the BJP won 303 out of 542 seats in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of Parliament, after the official vote count from the six-week-long election was completed on Friday. That is well beyond the simple majority a party in India needs to form a government.

The BJP’s top rival, the Indian National Congress led by Rahul Gandhi, won 52 seats, and the All India Trinamool Congress led by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee won 22.

Unity movement

Critics say Modi and his party have applied divisive policies and used a Hindu-first strategy. But Modi said after Saturday’s vote that “this election has become a movement of social unity.” “It is generally said that the election divides, creates distances, makes walls. But the 2019 elections have worked to break the walls,” he said in his address.

On Friday, Modi met with his outgoing Cabinet ministers and later presented his resignation to the country’s president. The president asked the officials to continue to serve until the new government assumes office.

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The Election Commission announced that the BJP won 303 out of 542 seats in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of Parliament. VOA

Gandhi, whose great-grandfather, grandmother and father were all prime ministers, personally conceded his seat, long a Congress party bastion, to his BJP rival, India’s textiles minister, marking the end of an era for modern India’s most powerful political dynasty.

Counting of the estimated 600 million ballots cast over six weeks of staggered polling — the world’s largest democratic exercise — began early Thursday.

ALSO READ: Here’s How TikTok Made PM Modi Popular Among Young Voters

Hindu-first politics

The victory was largely seen as a referendum on Modi’s Hindu-first politics that some observers say have bred intolerance toward Muslims and other religious minorities, as well as his muscular stance on neighboring Pakistan, with whom India nearly went to war earlier this year after suicide attacks killed more than 40 Indian security officials in Indian-controlled Kashmir.

Modi effectively used the incident as a major campaign tool after responding to the attack with an airstrike in Pakistan that triggered nationalist sentiments, with the BJP saying Modi is the right person to ensure India’s national security. (VOA)