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Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appoints Indian Ovais Sarmad to high-level UN climate change post

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Antonio Guterres, Source: UN Foundation (Twitter)
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United Nations, May 16, 2017: Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has appointed Ovais Sarmad of India as the Deputy Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the forum where the historic Paris Agreement on Climate Change was negotiated.

Sarmad’s appointment comes as the Paris Agreement faces a potential crisis if the US goes through with President Donald Trump’s threat to disown it.

Stephane Djuarric, the spokesperson for Guterres, said Monday that Sarmad’s position will be at the Assistant Secretary-General level.

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The highest ranking Indian in the UN bureaucracy is Atul Khare, the Under-Secretary-General, Department of Field Support, who plays a crucial role in the peacekeeping operations.

Sarmad is currently the Chief of Staff to the Director General of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), the UN body that deals with international international migration issues and assists migrants as well as governments.

Djuarric said that Sarmad “was a key team member negotiating the agreement” that led to the US joining the IOM.

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Now Sarmad’s diplomatic skills may be called upon as the landmark Paris Agreement is at risk of being reneged by its most important party, the US, which is the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.

A 1982 commerce graduate of Osmania University in Hyderabad, he has a chartered management accountancy qualification from London and is an expert in finance and management.

After a career in public and private sectors in London, Sarmad joined IOM in Geneva in 1990.

During his 27-year career at the IOM, he has also worked as Chief of Budget, Director of Resource Management, Director of the Global Administrative Centre and Chief of Mission to the Philippines.

He succeeds Richard Kinley of Canada. The UNFCC is headed by Patricia Espinosa, the Executive Director appointed by then Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last year. (IANS)

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Government ends Haj subsidy as part of a new policy

Announcing the decision, Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said it was in line with the government's agenda to empower minorities without appeasing them.

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A total of 1.75 lakh Indian Muslims can go for Haj this year. Wikimedia Commons
A total of 1.75 lakh Indian Muslims can go for Haj this year. Wikimedia Commons
  • The government had drafted the policy after the Supreme Court asked it in 2012 to withdraw it gradually by 2022
  • The government would utilise the funds saved from withdrawing the subsidy for the education of minorities, particularly girls
  • This year, the highest number of Indian pilgrims are likely to go for the pilgrimage

The central government on Tuesday said it has decided to withdraw subsidy given to hundreds and thousands of Muslims for the annual Haj pilgrimage.

Announcing the decision, Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said it was in line with the government’s agenda to empower minorities without appeasing them.

“This is part of our policy to empower minorities with dignity and without appeasement,” Naqvi told reporters here.

He said the government would utilise the funds saved from withdrawing the subsidy for the education of minorities, particularly girls.

Also Read: Muslim women can now travel to Haj without Mahram

The government had drafted the policy to abolish the Haj subsidy in a phased manner after the Supreme Court asked it in 2012 to withdraw it gradually by 2022.

This year, the highest number of Indian pilgrims are likely to go for the pilgrimage after Saudi Arabia increased India’s quota by 5,000.

A total of 1.75 lakh Indian Muslims can go for Haj this year. IANS

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