Tuesday December 11, 2018
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PM begins France tour, eyes on Rafale fighter jet deal and nuclear energy

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

On a three-nation tour, Prime Minister Narendra Modi landed in Paris on Thursday night. He will hold talks with French President Francois Hollande, and meet the business leaders and influencers.

During PM’s four-day stay in France, the focus of the talks will be on defense, trade and civil nuclear energy.
Ahead of the dialogues between PM Modi and French President Hollande, the government said that it expects “movement” on a proposal for setting up French nuclear reactors in Jaitapur in Maharashtra as well as Rafale fighter jet deal, which are pending for long.

The agenda of the substantive discussions between Modi and Hollande will focus high on trade, nuclear energy and fighter jet deal. It is also anticipated that the PM will try to seek France’s participation in India’s ‘Make in India’ program. In addition, a deliberation on terrorism, against the backdrop of an attack in Paris, will also be there between Modi and Hollande.

Jaitapur is where a French company, Areva, is to set up six nuclear reactors with total power generation capacity of about 10,000 MW. The project is stuck from long time over the differences on the cost of electricity to be generated.

Similarly, the clash over price has almost created a dead end for a deal to supply 126 Rafale fighter planes.

When asked whether the two leaders will discuss about the much awaited Jaitapur nuclear project and multi-billion dollar Rafale jet deal, External Affairs Ministry spokesman, Syed Akbaruddin, said that, “India and France are strategic partners. In this context, the issues of civil nuclear and defense cooperation will be discussed. The issues you referred to will also be discussed. We expect movement on these issues. There will be substantive discussions on defence and nuclear issues. Wait for the outcome.”

However, the highlight of the tour will be ‘Naav Pe Charcha,’ PM’s chat with Hollande during a boat ride when they will go for a cruise on River Seine.

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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)