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US not yet cured of racism: Obama

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Washington: President Barack Obama used the politically incorrect ‘n-word’ during an interview to assert that racism persists in the US, including many forms that are not overt, and the nation was not “cured of it”.
“Racism, we are not cured of it. And It’s not just a matter of it not being polite to say nigger in public,” he said in a podcast interview with comedian Marc Maron released Monday. “That’s not the measure of whether racism still exists or not. It’s not just a matter of overt discrimination. Societies don’t, overnight, completely erase everything that happened 200 to 300 years prior,” he said.

The White House insisted that Obama didn’t set out to shock or provoke. His spokesman Josh Earnest said the President’s use of the taboo word was not part of a premeditated strategy to talk about race in a more challenging and overt way.

“I would acknowledge it is understandably notable that the President chose to use this word,” he said. “But the argument that the President is making is one that is familiar to those who have been listening.”

Obama said there has been progress on race relations over the decades, citing his own experience as a young man who was born to a white mother and an African father.  He added, “I always tell young people, in particular, do not say that nothing has changed when it comes to race in America, unless you’ve lived through being a black man in the 1950s or ’60s or ’70s”.

“It is incontrovertible that race relations have improved significantly during my lifetime and yours,” Obama said.

But he also explained that  “the legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, discrimination” exists in institutions and casts “a long shadow and that’s still part of our DNA that’s passed on.”

The White House later released a statement saying that this is not the first time the President has used the N-word.

“Truth is, he uses the term about a dozen times in Dreams from my Father,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz said.

Echoing comments he made in the immediate aftermath of last week’s horrific massacre at a historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, Obama also lamented Congress’s lack of action on gun control in the face of a powerful gun lobby.

“It’s not enough just to feel bad. There are actions that could be taken to make events like this less likely. One of those actions we could take would be to enhance some basic common sense gun safety laws,” he said.

“Unfortunately, the grip of the NRA (National Rifle Association) on Congress is extremely strong. I don’t foresee any legislative action being taken in this Congress.”
(IANS)

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India Urges China to Open Markets For Trade

“When people make a price comparison and want to move towards the cheapest goods, those are usually Chinese products.”

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india-china trade
Sampad Yadav, the owner of a shop carrying electrical goods in a market in Gurugram near New Delhi, says people are drawn to Chinese products such as LED lights because they are more competitively priced. VOA

Sampad Yadav, who sells electrical goods in a shop in the business hub of Gurugram on the outskirts of New Delhi, says Chinese goods such as LED lamps are popular with customers. “When people make a price comparison and want to move towards the cheapest goods, those are usually Chinese products.”

As in many other countries, Chinese products such as lamps, electronics, smartphones and engineering goods from the manufacturing giant have flooded Indian markets.

However, India has long fretted that areas in which it is strong such as generic drugs and Information Technology services, which make up some of its main exports to Western markets, remain shut out of China. That has made it difficult to bridge a ballooning trade deficit of about $50 billion between the two countries.

ALSO READ: China emerges as one of the fastest-growing sources of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into India

But there is optimism this could change following a meeting this week between the commerce ministers of the two countries in New Delhi.

“The Chinese side have agreed to work on the issue, prepare a roadmap to bring the trade to balanced level over a period of time,” Indian Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu said after discussions with his Chinese counterpart, Zhong Shan.

Trade experts hope the growing tensions on trade issues between the United States and China will prompt Beijing to open up its markets more to Indian exports. “I think China is definitely under pressure now, looking into the kind of initiation which has happened against China,” says Ajay Sahai, who heads the Federation of Indian Exports Organization.

The meeting between the Indian and Chinese commerce ministers this week came amid efforts to de-escalate tensions between the Asian neighbors following a period of rocky ties and a tense 70-day face-off between their troops in the Himalayas last year.

india-china trade
Products such as lights and lamps sold in Indian shops are predominantly Chinese.Products such as lights and lamps sold in Indian shops are predominantly Chinese. VOA

Despite a long-lingering boundary dispute and an often-fraught diplomatic relationship, trade ties between the Asian giants have gained significant momentum and China is now India’s largest trading partner. Bilateral trade in 2017 topped $80 billion rising by more than 20 percent over the previous year.

But worryingly for New Delhi, the trade deficit remains high despite a marginal growth in Indian exports – they add up to about $16 billion versus Chinese imports into India of about $68 billion.

ALSO READ: India China’s Fight Over the Doklam Plateau Explained

Market access a key issue

India exports mainly raw materials like iron ore, copper and cotton yarn to China. “In whatever value-added exports where we are competitive, unfortunately, the market is not open for us,” says Sahai.

However, China has promised to give greater market access to Indian goods, particularly pharmaceuticals and agricultural goods such as rice, as well as service exports, according to the Indian commerce minister. “They have decided to work in a way that will address security issues from their side as well as introduce Indian companies to those who can buy these products in China,” says Prabhu.

New Delhi, which is trying to ramp up domestic manufacturing, is also urging China to manufacture more goods exported to India within the country.

india-china trade
Generic drugs produced by Indian pharmaceutical companies make medicines affordable, but India says that China does not provide market access to its generic drugs. VOA

ALSO READ: China is likely to get involved if India disrupts $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in restive Balochistan

Whether the promised actions translate into concrete outcomes remains to be seen. But exporters are hopeful. Sahai points out that China has invited Indian traders to what is being billed as the country’s first importers fair to be held in Shanghai later this year – it is being showcased as a measure to further open up China’s market.

The positive tenor of talks between the two countries comes days after U.S. President Donald Trump announced plans to impose tariffs on Chinese imports valued at $60 billion.

New Delhi could also face U.S. ire on trade issues – although its exports to the United States are comparatively small, it has a high trade deficit in its favor and Washington has often complained of protectionist barriers in India. In February, Trump called out India for imposing higher duties on Harley-Davidson motorcycles than the U.S. does on Indian motorbikes.

Amid growing fears that global trade faces uncertain times, analysts have called on countries like India to focus on increasing trade within the region.

India and China also said they will strengthen cooperation in the World Trade Organization and other multilateral and regional frameworks to maintain their common interests. VOA