Saturday January 19, 2019
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PM Modi heads to Belgium, USA and Saudi Arabia

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Image source: cnbc.com

New Delhi: Following is the text of the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi’s departure statement prior to his visit to Belgium, USA and Saudi Arabia today:

“On 30th March, I will be in Brussels to meet with the Belgian Prime Minister Mr. Charles Michel. I would also be holding the 13th India-EU Summit with the E.U. leadership.

No words are enough to salute the resilience and spirit of the people of Belgium. We stand shoulder to shoulder with them in the wake of the horrific attacks in Brussels and share the grief of those who lost their loved ones.

Our relations with Belgium are deep rooted and have stood the test of time. Within the E.U., Belgium is India’s 2nd largest trading partner. My meeting with the Prime Minister aims to expand trade, investment and high technology partnership with this important E.U. member.

Along with Prime Minister Charles Michel, I would remote activate the India-Belgium ARIES (Aryabhatta Research Institute for Observational Sciences) Telescope.

The European Union is a vital trading partner and the biggest export destination for India. This Summit will advance our multifaceted engagement across a whole range of domains.

In Brussels, I would also be meeting with the Members of European Parliament (MEPs), Indologists, Belgian CEOs as well as a wide cross section of the Indian diaspora in Belgium. I would also interact with the Board Members of the Association of Diamond Traders in Belgium.

The same evening, I will address a Community Programme and interact with the Indian community.

After Belgium, I will be in Washington DC on 31st March to participate in the 4th Nuclear Security Summit, where several nations and global organisations would be represented.

The Summit would deliberate on the crucial issue of threat to nuclear security caused by nuclear terrorism. Leaders would discuss ways and measure through which to strengthen the global nuclear security architecture, especially to ensure that non-state actors do not get access to nuclear material.

On the sidelines of the Summit, I would meet with several world leaders to carry forward the agenda of bilateral cooperation with those nations.

I also look forward to my interaction with the scientists associated with LIGO project.

On 2nd and 3rd April, at the invitation of H.M. King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, I will be visiting Saudi Arabia.

India’s ties with Saudi Arabia are special. Robust people-to-people ties constitute a key component of our engagement. I plan to work with the Saudi leadership to expand and deepen our bilateral relations. Discussions on the regional situation would also be on the agenda.

Our economic ties are also expanding. Saudi Arabia is India’s 4th largest trading partner, and is also India’s largest crude oil supplier.

In addition to meeting with H.M. King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, I also look forward to my discussions with other important members of the Royal family.

We want the prominent Saudi businesses to partner with India’s development priorities. That would be one of the key objectives of the business event planned in Riyadh.

I will visit the Masmak Fortress, ‘L&T Workers’ Residential Complex and TCS All Women IT & ITES Center in Riyadh.”

Credits: PIB

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As The Election Nears, India’s Opposition Promises Several Economic Steps

Modi said at the Delhi convention that the opposition was working on a "desperate alliance," while the BJP would give a "strong government."

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Rahul Gandhi, Election
Rahul Gandhi, president of India's main opposition Congress Party, speaks at a rally ahead of October's 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Jan. 11, 2019. VOA

India’s main opposition Congress Party will simplify the goods and services tax (GST) and make “rational economic decisions” to attract foreign investment if voted back to power in a general election due by May, leader Rahul Gandhi said Saturday.

Launched in 2017, the GST was initially hailed as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s biggest economic reform as it replaced more than a dozen federal and state levies and unified Asia’s third-largest economy.

But its chaotic implementation and complexities — months after a shock ban by Modi on high-value bank currency aimed at unearthing untaxed wealth — badly hurt small businesses and led to millions of job losses in the cash-driven economy, presenting the biggest challenge to Modi’s re-election chances.

India,India, elections, BJP
India’s Congress party President Rahul Gandhi displays documents in New Delhi, India. VOA

 

Gandhi, scion of India’s Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, said during a visit to Dubai that foreign investment was at a multiyear low in India because of the “ill-advised and badly thought out economic moves” such as the currency ban and a “poorly designed GST.”

Quick growth promised

“We will take some rational economic decisions,” he told a press conference, which was broadcast live on Twitter. “We will restructure the GST and we will embrace investments from the Middle East and other parts of the world. We are the party of [India’s economic] liberalization; we are the party that gave the fastest economic growth in the first decade of the century, and will do that again.”

He said his main priority would be to create jobs, simplify the GST, rebuild confidence in institutions such as the Reserve Bank of India — whose governor resigned recently after a fight over autonomy with the government, and the Supreme Court.

Modi, election
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, center, is garlanded by BJP leaders on the first day of the two-day Bharatiya Janata Party national convention in New Delhi, Jan. 11, 2019. VOA

 

Four Supreme Court judges held a rare press conference early last year, saying that “unless this institution is preserved and it maintains its equanimity, democracy will not survive in this country.”

Modi told a BJP convention in New Delhi on Saturday that for Congress “every institution was wrong and only they were right.”

The Congress press conference was organized by the Indian Overseas Congress, which is present in about 35 countries, as Gandhi tries to reach out to rich Indians living abroad for funds and social media support for the party that has dominated the country’s politics for decades before being nearly decimated in the last general election in 2014 by Modi.

But back home, Gandhi received a jolt when bitter rivals, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Samajwadi Party (SP), announced an election tie-up without Congress in Uttar Pradesh state, which sends the highest number of lawmakers to the lower house of parliament.

Narendra Modi, India, election
Elaborate preparations for PM’s election rally. VOA

“The BSP and SP have made a political decision,” Gandhi said. “It’s on us on how to strengthen the Congress Party in Uttar Pradesh and we will fight with our full capacity. Whether we do or their alliance does, the BJP is not winning there.”

Also Read:China, India Keen on Joint Ventures For e-vehicles

Modi said at the Delhi convention that the opposition was working on a “desperate alliance,” while the BJP would give a “strong government.”

The Hindu nationalist BJP lost power in three key states recently, forcing the government to announce a flurry of measures to woo small businesses and the less well-off since then. (VOA)