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President Pranab Mukherjee and Israeli Counterpart Reuven Rivlin to Inaugurate CII Agro-Tech 2016 in Chandigarh

Israel is the partner country while 12 other countries are actively participating at the event this time

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President Pranab Mukherjee. Flickr

Chandigarh, Nov 18, 2016: The 12th edition of the Confederation of Indian Industry’s (CII) biennial agro technology and business fair, Agro Tech 2016, will be inaugurated by President Pranab Mukherjee and his visiting Israeli counterpart Reuven Rivlin here on Sunday.

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Presidents Mukherjee and Rivlin will inaugurate the fair at the Parade Ground, CII vice president and Bharti Enterprises Vice Chairman Rakesh Bharti Mittal told media here on Friday.

“CII Agro Tech 2016 is India’s premier biennial agro technology and business fair with 92 domestic participants and significant international presence, including 47 foreign exhibitors from as many as 13 countries this year.

“The 12th edition of CII Agro Tech 2016 is one of the biggest confluences of stakeholders from agriculture and allied sectors. For the first time in the history of Agro Tech, since its inception in 1994, two heads of the states – President Pranab Mukherjee and President of Israel Reuven Rivlin, are coming together to inaugurate the fair,” Mittal said.

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Punjab and Haryana are the host states for the four-day international agricultural expo while Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat are the partner states.

Israel is the partner country while 12 other countries are actively participating at the event this time.

Mittal said that Agro Tech 2016 is focusing on ‘Technology Intervention’ in a big way.

“On the international participation, we are proud that Israel is the partner country with Canada and Germany as focus countries and Great Britain as guest country. 47 overseas companies from 13 countries, including Canada, China, Denmark, Germany, Israel, Italy, Malaysia, South Africa, Spain, The Netherlands, Turkey, United Kingdom, USA, have made it a global event,” he said.

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Chairperson, CII Northern Region Rumjhum Chatterjee said that the Agro Tech was providing a common platform for technological innovation, industry and the farming sector. (IANS)

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Claiming Bias, U.S.A. And Israel Pull Out Of UNESCO

The U.S. could potentially seek that status during UNESCO Executive Board meetings in April.

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UNESCO, U.S.
The logo of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) is seen druing a conference at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France, Nov. 4, 2017. VOA

The United States and Israel officially quit of the U.N.’s educational, scientific and cultural agency at the stroke of midnight, the culmination of a process triggered more than a year ago amid concerns that the organization fosters anti-Israel bias.

The withdrawal is mainly procedural yet serves a new blow to UNESCO, co-founded by the U.S. after World War II to foster peace.

The Trump administration filed its notice to withdraw in October 2017 and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu followed suit.

The Paris-based organization has been denounced by its critics as a crucible for anti-Israel bias: blasted for criticizing Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem, naming ancient Jewish sites as Palestinian heritage sites and granting full membership to Palestine in 2011.

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UN Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation. Image Source: www.mid-day.com

The U.S. has demanded “fundamental reform” in the agency that is best known for its World Heritage program to protect cultural sites and traditions. UNESCO also works to improve education for girls, promote understanding of the Holocaust’s horrors, and to defend media freedom.

The withdrawals will not greatly impact UNESCO financially, since it has been dealing with a funding slash ever since 2011 when both Israel and the U.S. stopped paying dues after Palestine was voted in as a member state. Since then officials estimate that the U.S. — which accounted for around 22 percent of the total budget — has accrued $600 million in unpaid dues, which was one of the reasons for President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw. Israel owes an estimated $10 million.

UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay took up her post just after Trump announced the pullout. Azoulay, who has Jewish and Moroccan heritage, has presided over the launch of a Holocaust education website and the U.N.’s first educational guidelines on fighting anti-Semitism — initiatives that might be seen as responding to U.S. and Israeli concerns.

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Migrants wait in line for food at a camp housing hundreds of people who arrived at the U.S. border from Central America with the intention of applying for asylum in the U.S., in Tijuana, Mexico, Dec. 12, 2018. VOA

Officials say that many of the reasons the U.S. cited for withdrawal do not apply anymore, noting that since then, all 12 texts on the Middle East passed at UNESCO have been consensual among Israel and Arab member states.

In April of this year, Israel’s ambassador to UNESCO said the mood was “like a wedding” after member nations signed off on a rare compromise resolution on “Occupied Palestine,” and UNESCO diplomats hailed a possible breakthrough on longstanding Israeli-Arab tensions.

The document was still quite critical of Israel, however, and the efforts weren’t enough to encourage the U.S. and Israel to reconsider their decision to quit.

In recent years, Israel has been infuriated by repeated resolutions that ignore and diminish its historical connection to the Holy Land and that have named ancient Jewish sites as Palestinian heritage sites.

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Israel Flag, Pixabay

The State Department couldn’t comment because of the U.S. government shutdown. Earlier, the department told UNESCO officials the U.S. intends to stay engaged at UNESCO as a non-member “observer state” on “non-politicized” issues, including the protection of World Heritage sites, advocating for press freedoms and promoting scientific collaboration and education.

Also Read: Israel Unanimously Approves Medical Marijuana Exports

The U.S. could potentially seek that status during UNESCO Executive Board meetings in April.

The United States has pulled out of UNESCO before. The Reagan administration did so in 1984 because it viewed the agency as mismanaged, corrupt and used to advance Soviet interests. The U.S. rejoined in 2003. (VOA)