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We will work together to build the Silk Route of the 21st century: PM Modi in Kazakhstan

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Astana: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday called for closer defense and security cooperation between India and Central Asia to defend peace in the region and defeat terrorism and extremism.

In his address at the Nazarbayev University in the Kazakh capital, Modi also said that India’s engagement with Central Asia has been short of promise and potential, and added that he is determined to change it with closer cooperation.

Speaking at length on terrorism and extremism, he said: “We live at the frontier of instability. We live close to the crucible of extremism and terrorism.

“We see terrorism spawned by nations and groups. Today, we also see cyber space become a platform without borders for terror to draw recruits to its cause.

“From theatres of conflicts to the calm neighborhoods of distant cities, terrorism has become a global challenge as never before.”

Modi said India and Central Asia would combat terrorism through the “strength of our values, and our commitment to humanism”.

He said India is the new frontier of opportunities for the world, and Central Asia is a region of immense resources, talented people, rapid growth and a strategic location.

“So, I am here to start a new era in our relationship with Central Asia. India is prepared to invest more in a new partnership of prosperity,” he said.

Modi said India’s membership of Shanghai Cooperation Organization will deepen the regional partnership.

“And we have begun a study on a Free Trade Agreement with them and also spoke about boosting physical connectivity for trade, transit, and energy.”

He expressed hope that all of Central Asia would become members of the International North South Transport Corridor and said that India is keen to join the Ashgabat Agreement on trade and transit.

He said India’s upgradation of Iran’s Chahbahar Port would open up routes into Central Asia. “I also hope that we can restore the traditional route to Central Asia through Pakistan and Afghanistan.”

“India is at the crossroads of Asia’s land and sea routes. We understand our responsibility and we are working with a sense of priority to connect ourselves to the East and the West by land, and success of connectivity through and across Central Asia is important.”

He said both sides would work together in the sector of minerals, industry, pharma, engineering, and small and medium industries.

Modi also called for Central Asia to regain its central role in Eurasia. “From Europe to Asia, all nations must foster a climate of cooperation and collaboration, not competition and exclusion, in this region.”

“The region must remain stable and peaceful, free from conflict and the violence of extremism and terrorism,” he said.

“We will all work together to build the Silk Route of the 21st century. We will connect through space and cyber as we will by air, land and sea.”

Later, he inaugurated the India-Kazakhstan Centre of Excellence in Information and Communication Technology.

Earlier, Modi held talks with his Kazakh counterpart Karim Massimov after his arrival here on Tuesday from Uzbekistan on the second leg of his Central Asian tour.

(IANS)

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Report Claims, As Many As 1 Billion Indians Live in Areas of Water Scarcity

The report also highlighted that India uses the largest amount of groundwater -- 24 per cent of the global total and the country is the third largest exporter of groundwater -- 12 per cent of the global total.

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Global groundwater depletion - where the amount of water taken from aquifers exceeds the amount that is restored naturally - increased by 22 per cent between 2000 and 2010, said the report, adding that India's rate of groundwater depletion increased by 23 per cent during the same period. Pixabay

As many as one billion people in India live in areas of physical water scarcity, of which 600 million are in areas of high to extreme water stress, according to a new report.

Globally, close to four billion people live in water-scarce areas, where, for at least part of the year, demand exceeds supply, said the report by non-profit organisation WaterAid.

This number is expected to go up to five billion by 2050, said the report titled “Beneath the Surface: The State of the World’s Water 2019”, released to mark World Water Day on March 22.

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Pure water droplet. Pixabay

Physical water scarcity is getting worse, exacerbated by growing demand on water resources and and by climate and population changes.

By 2040 it is predicted that 33 countries are likely to face extremely high water stress – including 15 in the Middle East, most of Northern Africa, Pakistan, Turkey, Afghanistan and Spain. Many – including India, China, Southern Africa, USA and Australia – will face high water stress.

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Globally, close to four billion people live in water-scarce areas, where, for at least part of the year, demand exceeds supply, said the report by non-profit organisation WaterAid. Pixabay

Global groundwater depletion – where the amount of water taken from aquifers exceeds the amount that is restored naturally – increased by 22 per cent between 2000 and 2010, said the report, adding that India’s rate of groundwater depletion increased by 23 per cent during the same period.

Also Read: Beware! Sipping Hot Tea Raises Risk of Esophageal Cancer

The report also highlighted that India uses the largest amount of groundwater — 24 per cent of the global total and the country is the third largest exporter of groundwater — 12 per cent of the global total.

The WaterAid report warned that food and clothing imported by wealthy Western countries are making it harder for many poor and marginalised communities to get a daily clean water supply as high-income countries buy products with considerable “water footprints” – the amount of water used in production — from water-scarce countries. (IANS)