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Narendra Modi’s show in Antwerp to take place despite Brussels Attack

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New Delhi, March 25: Antwerp’s diamond traders will ensure that the dazzle doesn’t go out of Narendra Modi’s March 30 show in Brussels for the Indian diaspora.

After Tuesday’s serial explosions, Modi’s event managers were doubtful whether they would be able to go ahead with the civic reception to be hosted at the Expo Centre with an estimated gathering of nearly 5,000 Indians, including PIOs and NRIs.

But Manoj Ladwa, the director of the 2014 Modi for PM campaign who landed in Brussels before the bombs detonated and camped there, asserted that the Prime Minister’s show would go on as scheduled.

“The theme is ‘Stronger India’. Our team is working tirelessly and fearlessly for the PM’s visit. It will be a display of solidarity by the Indian diaspora,” claimed Ladwa, a London-based lawyer who had put together a reception for Modi at London’s Wembley Stadium last year.

Modi will stop over at Brussels for a couple of days en route to the US.

Antwerp, Belgium’s commercial capital, is 50km away from Brussels and is central to Modi’s interaction with the country’s Indians, most of them from Gujarat.

Antwerp’s diamond business, long controlled by its orthodox, largely Hasidic Jewish community, has been taken over by the Shahs, Kotharis and Mehtas who, recent estimates say, control almost three-quarters of the trade.

Modi should have many reasons to be comfortable in the company of the Gujarati-speaking Indian Belgians who have made kosher Jain cuisine an integral part of the country’s menus, even in posh restaurants.

A member of the BJP’s overseas cell, in Belgium recently to assemble and put together the nuts and bolts for the civic reception at the Brussels Expo Centre with Ladwa’s team, recalled that at a pizza place his local hosts had surprised him by ordering something called “Jeetu’s pizza”.

It turned out that this version was named after a Gujarati who trained the eatery’s chefs to dish out a lean, mean pizza sans meat, onion and garlic but spiced appropriately to gratify an Indian palate.

Modi is unlikely to dine out. But if he does, he would discover that most Antwerp eating-houses serving cosmopolitan cuisines list separate “Jain” fare.

Apart from propagating their dietary preferences, Belgium’s Gujarati diamond businessmen have sponsored their “Antwerp IPL teams” of 11 players each that are auctioned to a bidder, mostly diamond traders, as teams and not as individual players.

Although Belgium ought to have been ideal for the diaspora to organise itself under the RSS or the BJP’s banner, as Indians in many western countries have, it remained out of bounds for the Sangh “parivar”.

“Maybe, the migrants who are just three decades old, were busy setting up their businesses and making profits to bother about social and political activities,” a BJP source said.

Therefore, the BJP’s overseas cell also roped in Surat MLA and diamond merchant Harsh Sanghvi to network with the Belgian communities.

The BJP’s Antwerp leadoff person is Mehul Kothari, who heads the city’s Indian association.

Aside from the sparkle, the BJP’s overseas cell is trying hard to mobilise other Indian communities from IT and academia.

Source: http://www.telegraphindia.com/

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The Rafale Deal: Corporate Rivalry Impacting National Interest

A deeper look found a correlation between the end of Shourie's dreams of being appointed Union Finance Minister and the beginning of his tirade against the Prime Minister on one issue or the other.

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Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has been obtuse in accusing the Congress of becoming a pawn in corporate rivalry. She made the comments during a recent seminar on 'India's strategic interest in the context of the Rafale deal'.Pixabay

A recent European Union intelligence sharing exercise with India has revealed that Lockheed Martin, the US-headquartered company which manufactures the F-16 fighter jets, has been up to mischief mongering on the Rafale issue.

The Rafale jets, which India wants, is manufactured by the French aerospace company Dassault Aviation, a rival of Lockheed Martin.

That Lockheed Martin could be working in the shadows to sour the Rafale deal for India so that it could move in with its own deal was validated when Vivek Lall, Lockheed Martin’s high-profile head of strategy and India operations, said that the company was in the process of finalising the sale of 200 fighters to India.

During the UPA regime, the government had signed an MoU for 126 Rafale fighter jets to replenish a major shortcoming in air defence preparedness because the Indian Air Force did not have quality fighter jets. When the NDA government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power, this deal was revised and an inter-government deal was struck to receive 36 fully-loaded Rafale jets. The controversy now raging in India is related to the pricing for the fighters negotiated by the NDA.

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Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has been obtuse in accusing the Congress of becoming a pawn in corporate rivalry. She made the comments during a recent seminar on ‘India’s strategic interest in the context of the Rafale deal’. Pixabay

In December when the Rafale case came before the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi observed that processes were generally followed over the procurement. He also noted that the controversy had been triggered by comments by former French President Francois Hollande over the selection of the offset partner and that mere comments could not form the basis for a probe.

However, this has not prevented the Rafale purchase controversy from becoming a high-octane political battle between the Congress party and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Repeatedly over the past few months and more stridently now in the lead-up to the Lok Sabha elections, Congress President Rahul Gandhi has led a no-holds barred attack on the government and the Prime Minister specifically on the issue. From the earlier public disinterest on the controversy, it is now now getting some traction — the Congress party believes this could be possible because it has relentlessly raised the matter at all public forums.

Bringing up the case of the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) was said to be part of the orhestrated plan to present the case of the American companies while also appearing nationalistic. In the government’s estimate, HAL’s record is abysmal and it cannot be given a big responsibility like building fighter jets — more so in the light of the safety record of MiG fighters purchased from Russia and made under licence from HAL.

The BJP-led government at the Centre believes — and it is certain it has evidence of this — that the Congress party is doing this as it has become a party to corporate rivalry between the US and French aerospace companies. For the record, Lockheed Martin is believed to have found a sympathetic ally in another US aerospace major, Boeing, which manufactures the F-18. Dassault has another rival in French manufacturer Airbus Industrie, which is associated with BAE for the manufacture of the Eurofighter. It is also angling for a fighter jet contract with India.

Rahul Gandhi’s attacks on the government over the Rafale issue started after his visit to the US in August 2017 when he met several defence lobbyists, CEOs of US defence companies and Pentagon officials.

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has been obtuse in accusing the Congress of becoming a pawn in corporate rivalry. She made the comments during a recent seminar on ‘India’s strategic interest in the context of the Rafale deal’.

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Contrary to popular perception, the Trump administration is said to be extremely unhappy with India because the NDA government under Modi has been successful in building strong relationships with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. Pixabay

The government’s efforts to trace the footprints of the dramatis personae at the forefront of the campaign to target the government over the Rafale deal has produced surprising results. It has found what it believes are eye-opening linkages between Prashant Bhushan, Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie — who filed a PIL in the Supreme Court accusing the Prime Minister of corruption in the deal — and arms dealers and defence manufacturers. At least in one case, the linkages show deep connections between members of Shourie’s family with aerospace companies, arms dealers and defence lobbies.

A deeper look found a correlation between the end of Shourie’s dreams of being appointed Union Finance Minister and the beginning of his tirade against the Prime Minister on one issue or the other.

Also Read: The Craft of Distilling Is Ancient, Different Story Behind Every Bottle

The government is also aware of the links between a top BJP leader’s son-in-law and a French manufacturer. The son-in-law is said to be advising Rahul Gandhi and is believed to be making government documents available to him for the campaign against Rafale.

Lockheed Martin’s alleged actions to work the political ecosystem to pull down the Rafale procurement deal also has a larger strategic context. Contrary to popular perception, the Trump administration is said to be extremely unhappy with India because the NDA government under Modi has been successful in building strong relationships with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.  (IANS)