Tuesday May 21, 2019
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Modi-Sharif ‘secret’ meet: Why now, Barkha?

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So renowned journalist Barkha Dutt’s much-awaited debut book is out wherein she has reportedly made some startling revelations about an hour-long secret meeting in Nepal between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in 2014.

The secret rendezvous was allegedly facilitated by Indian steel magnate Sajjan Jindal, brother of former Congress MP Naveen Jindal, in the former’s hotel room in Kathmandu during Saarc summit in November 2014, or so claims Barkha Dutt in her book ‘This Unquiet Land — Stories from India’s Fault Lines’.

Dutt writes Modi called up Jindal from Nepal and asked him to take the earliest flight to Kathmandu. “Jindal was asked to discreetly reach out to his ‘friend’ across the border”. The two leaders then met quietly “in the privacy of Jindal’s hotel room”, where they spent an hour together, reported The Hindustan Times.

All this happened while the two leaders publically ignored each other or pretended to do so during the public events of Saarc 2014.

At this juncture, we are not in a position to confirm the veracity of the claims made by Dutt as neither Modi, Sharif or Jindal have denied nor confirmed the meeting yet. Assuming that their tête-a-tête actually did take place, it was an important issue of national importance and the public had every right to know what was happening behind the closed doors.

Dutt, being a well-known Television journalist with NDTV, was in the know of the secret encounter between the two premiers in 2014. It’s been over a year since the meeting. Did she have to wait for her book to reveal this issue of national security and importance? That’s the question worth pondering over. I understand controversy sells and people do all kinds of stuff to publicize their books. The more the sensational claims, the more controversy it is likely to generate.

Most of these books by noted personalities are published around elections and in the times to float or support an existing agenda.

Sanjay Baru’s book is an apt example in this regard wherein a lot of muck was hurled at former PM Manmohan Singh in an apparent bid to damage his reputation. Shiv Sena smeared Sudhendra Kulkarni with ink at former Pakistani foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri’s book launch function in Mumbai. Kasuri also made ‘startling disclosures’ in regard to backchannel Indo-Pak talks.

I can understand a politician like Kasuri would want to reveal this information in a book considering his constraints. But for a reputed journalist to withhold the information of national importance from the public seems unethical to me. Allow me to elucidate why.

One year is a long time and much water has flown under the Indo-Pak bridge since then. People should have been informed that despite public hostility, PM Modi was secretly meeting with Sharif and all talks were being facilitated by Indian businessmen, as claimed by Dutt.

However, Dutt chose to hold back the information for her book, an apparent disservice to the profession of journalism. Besides, this episode reveals the futility of all these books written by noted journalists and bureaucrats. People do not understand what these people are trying to achieve by making ‘startling revelations’ in their books. This story of such a secret meeting could have made headlines and impact on the national political discourse had it been revealed last year itself.

What has Barkha Dutt achieved by denying this ‘news’ to the public? Increased book sales, probably.

(Image: NDTV)

  • P. B. Josh

    Even with this knowledge, she continued to attack Narendra Modi for not talking with Pakistani leader. Although, I still doubt such a meeting took place, as she is a big liar.

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Ashok Leyland Ready to Ride on Elon Musk’s India Dream

Tesla was expected to enter India with the Model 3 that sells for nearly $35,000

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Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX. Wikimedia
By Nishant Arora
Tesla CEO Elon Musk who has been moving back and forth on his India dream for couple of years and unable to take the next big step now has an invitation from commercial vehicles major Ashok Leyland.
Musk wants to make India his next big market but the question lingers: Will the electric car ever run on the bumpy ‘desi’ roads?
According to Venkatesh Natarajan, Senior Vice President and Chief Digital Officer, Ashok Leyland, the company is open to Musk for a partnership to finally let Indians experience his path-breaking autonomous Tesla electric cars.
“We are open to Musk’s offer. I truly believe that it’s not just one partner who can contribute to the electric car dream in India. There are multiple agencies who will be involved in this.
“We will be lucky to be part of that consortium,” Natarajan told IANS on the sidelines of the just-concluded AWS India Summit here in the financial capital.
“I go back to the organisation’s philosophy and culture. Whenever we see new technology, we like to try it out, just like a small kid who sees a new toy and wants to experiment. We are open in terms of technology adoption — anything that adds value to our customers,” Natarajan noted.
The company, flagship of the Hinduja Group, reported a revenue of Rs 6,325 crore in Q3 (FY 2018-19). Year-to-Date (YTD) revenues touched Rs 20,209 crore, up 15 per cent over corresponding period last year.
Rating agency ICRA recently upgraded the long-term rating of fund-based limits of Ashok Leyland to AA+ from AA with stable outlook. The agency believes that Ashok Leyland’s financial profile will remain healthy supported by stable demand outlook for the medium and heavy commercial vehicle (M&HCV) segment and light commercial vehicle (LCV) segments.
Tesla CEO Elon musk, board
Tesla CEO Elon Musk. (VOA)
Touted as India’s largest bus manufacturer and the fourth largest in the world, the company reported 10 per cent rise in the domestic vehicles sales at 13,141 units in April 2019. The commercial vehicles company had sold 11,951 vehicles in domestic market during the same month last year.
“Ultimately, we need more money. We are in the business of making money. As long as we are able to make more money and help our customers generate more money, we are game to every new technology,” Natarajan emphasised.
Ashok Leyland’s offer must be a sweet news to Musk’s ears. Breaking his silence over India plans after 10 months, Musk tweeted in March that he would love to be in India in 2019 or next year.
“Would love to be there this year. If not, definitely next! India,” Musk tweeted to a user.
Musk earlier blamed the Indian government’s policies for giving up on his India dreams. He also blamed the FDI norms for the delay in the electric car maker’s entry into the Indian market.
“Would love to be in India. Some challenging government regulations, unfortunately,” Musk tweeted in response to a Twitter user who wrote “No Tesla in India” on his Twitter handle.
Earlier this year, Tesla’s Indian-origin Chief Financial Officer Deepak Ahuja announced his retirement from the firm, bringing Musk’s India dream to a halt again.
Tesla was expected to enter India with the Model 3 that sells for nearly $35,000.
In 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Tesla headquarters at Palo Alto, California and met Musk who gave Modi a tour of the company’s electric car plant.
In January this year, Musk laid the foundation of Tesla Gigafactory in Shanghai — the first-ever outside the US — that is expected to produce 500,000 electric vehicles per year and double the production capacity. (IANS)