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Modi to become first PM to visit all five Central Asian countries in one go during his upcoming tour

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New Delhi: Prime Minister, Narendra Modi leaves on Monday on an eight-day tour that will take him to the five Central Asian countries of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, and to Ufa in Russia where he will attend the BRICS and SCO back-to-back summits.

Modi will he the first Indian prime minister in recent times to visit all five Central Asian countries at one go.

Trade with the resource-rich region, in which China has made major inroads, stands at a paltry $1.6 billion.

Connectivity, especially through the proposed North-South Transport Corridor, will be on top of the talks agenda between Modi and the Central Asian leaders.

India will seek to boost energy cooperation and trade with the five nations, which were part of the erstwhile Soviet Union.

In Ufa, the summit of the five BRICS countries — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — come as the board of governors of the BRICS bank, called the New Development Bank, which will hold its first meet in on Tuesday. The bank’s president is India’s M.V. Kamath.

Writing about the visit on his Facebook page, Modi said his first stop will be Uzbekistan, where he will hold talks with President Islam Karimov and both sides would ink key agreements to strengthen cooperation.

Modi said he would be interacting with Indologists, students learning Hindi and members of the Indian community.

“It was in Tashkent that we lost one of our most popular and respected leaders, Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri ji, who ignited our nation with the clarion call of ‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan’. I will be paying my tributes to this proud son of India during the visit,” Modi said.

In Kazakhstan, his next stop which he will visit on July 7-8, Modi said he will hold talks with President, Nursultan Nazarbayev, and Prime Minister, Karim Massimov.

“There will be delegation level talks with President Nazarbayev followed by the signing of documents and a joint press statement,” he said.

Modi said he looks forward to interacting with the youth of Kazakhstan at the Nazarbayev University.

He will also inaugurate the India-Kazakhstan Centre for Excellence in Information and Communication Technology at the L.N. Gumilev Eurasian National University and also join a wreath-laying ceremony and planting of sapling at the Monument of Defenders of Motherland.

Modi will then visit Ufa for the 7th BRICS Summit and SCO Summit.

He expressed hope that the BRICS summit would build on the ground covered during the last summit in Fortaleza, Brazil.

“I expect positive outcomes in economic cooperation and cultural ties among the BRICS nations.”

Modi said he will be meeting the leaders – Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff, China’s Xi Jinping, Russia’s Vladimir Putin and South Africa’s Jacob Zuma – individually too, apart from at Ufa, and also will be meeting business leaders.

At the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit, India is an observer but is hoping to be included as a permanent member.

He flies to Turkmenistan on July 11 — in the first visit by an Indian prime minister since P.V. Narasimha Rao in 1995.

Modi said he will hold talks with President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, which would be followed by signing of agreements and a meeting with the press.

Areas for boosting ties include tourism, fertilizers, space, science and technology and defence.

“Our bilateral trade is way below its potential and I am confident we can improve it,” Modi said.

He will also inaugurate a statue of Mahatma Gandhi and a Traditional Medicine and Yoga Centre and also lay wreath at the mausoleum of the first president.

His next visit on July 12 would be to Kyrgyzstan, in the first prime ministerial visit in the last 20 years.

Modi would hold talks with President Almazbek Atambaye and also meet Prime Minister Semir Tariyev and Speaker of the Parliament Asylbek Jeenbekov.

India is gifting medical equipment to Kyrgyz Field Hospital.

Modi will inaugurate tele-medicine links, which shall promote medical tourism from Kyrgyzstan to India. A statue of Mahatma Gandhi will also be unveiled.

“I will have the opportunity to visit the Kyrgyz-India Mountain Biomedical Research Centre and join the Wreath Laying Ceremony at the Victory Monument in Bishkek,” he said.

On Tajikistan, his last stop, Modi said the last prime ministerial visit from India was by former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in November 2003.

He said India and Tajikistan have a strategic partnership and very strong defence cooperation, but economic cooperation has been limited and the scope of growth was immense. Bilateral trade has huge potential.

“My visit will build on the existing strong diplomatic and defence ties and script a fresh chapter in our economic ties. I look forward to meeting President Emomali Rahmon. Key agreements will also be signed after our meeting. I will gifting medicines for the India-Tajikistan Friendship Hospital,” he said.

A statue of Rabindranath Tagore will also be unveiled in Dushanbe. (IANS)

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The Answer to The Impending Questions On Demonetization Are Here

While it did broaden the country’s tax base, it was a nightmare for the immense, cash-dependent informal economy.

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Indian Currency. Pixabay

Nearly all of the currency removed from circulation in a surprise 2016 attempt to root out illegal hoards of cash came back into the financial system, Resever Bank of India  has announced, indicating the move did little to slow the underground economy.

Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi’s currency decree, which was designed to destroy the value of billions of dollars in untaxed cash stockpiles, caused an economic slowdown and months of financial chaos for tens of millions of people or demonetization.

Modi announced in a November 2016 TV address that all 500-rupee and 1,000-rupee notes, then worth about $7.50 and $15, would be withdrawn immediately from circulation. The banned notes could be deposited into bank accounts but the government also said it would investigate deposits over 250,000 rupees, or about $3,700. The government eventually released new currency notes worth 500 and 2,000 rupees.

 

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An activist of Congress party hold the banned 500 and 1000 rupee notes.

 

In theory, the decree meant corrupt politicians and businesspeople would suddenly find themselves sitting on billions of dollars in worthless currency, known here as “black money.”

“A few people are spreading corruption for their own benefit,” Modi said in the surprise nighttime speech announcement of the order. “There is a time when you realize that you have to bring some change in society, and this is our time.”

But even as the decree caused turmoil for those in India who have always depended on cash — the poor and middle class, and millions of small traders — the rich found ways around the currency switch. In the months after the decree, businesspeople said that even large amounts of banned currency notes could be traded on the black market, though middlemen charged heavy fees.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with mayor, flickr

The reserve bank of India report said in its Wednesday report that 99.3 percent of the $217 billion in notes withdrawn from circulation had come back into the economy. Some officials had originally predicted that number could be as low as 60 percent.

Also Read: Diverse Gathering To Be Addressed This World BioFuel Day: PM Narendra Modi

“Frankly, I think demonetization was a mistake,” said Gurcharan Das, a writer and the former head of Proctor & Gamble in India. He said that while it did broaden the country’s tax base, it was a nightmare for the immense, cash-dependent informal economy.

“You can’t overnight change that in a country which is poor and illiterate. Therefore, for me it’s not only an economic failure but a moral failure as well,” Das said. (VOA)