Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Tata Says Yes To Clean Chai!
Adil Hussain
Sep 30 at 5:22 PM
Greenpeace India
Hi Naresh,
Yes, you heard that right. Thanks to the constant support of over 40,000 people like you, Tata said yes to clean chai.
That’s four of India’s leading tea companies, Tata, Unilever, Girnar and Wagh Bakri,committing to removing pesticides from our tea cultivation, in less than two months after launching our report titled, Trouble Brewing. How awesome is that!
This wasn’t fate and it most definitely wasn’t an accident. The collective voice of this nation’s people made this happen.
Today is the clearest proof yet that change is inevitable.
Let’s take a moment to revel in this victory and tell all our friends and family how we made a huge difference to our national drink.
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Adil Hussain
Adil Hussain
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Medal Tally : India at 10th spot

Medal Tally : India at 10th spot with 45 Medals (6 Gold, 8 Sillver & 31 Bronze)
Embedded image permalink

Bike Festival of India all set for kick-off at Buddh International Circuit


South Asia’s Largest Biking Extravaganza to host XDL Championship Series for the first time in India

30th September 2014, New Delhi: The inaugural edition of Bike Festival of India (BFI) – an initiative by Rhiti Sports Management & Event Capital –  is all set to start on 4thOctober 2014 till 5th October 2014 at the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida. BFI will be a unique platform for biking enthusiasts to come together and be a part of this first-of-its-kind biking adventure in India. The biking festival will bring together over 120 biking communities from across the nation to participate in a series of events as part of the two-day festival.

Indian Cricket Team Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who is also an avid biker, is the face of the Bike Festival of India.

Bike Festival of India will also feature for the first time in India the XDL India Championship, which is the top level for motorcycle stunt riding in the world, and the only professional series of its kind. Riders like Jesse Toller, Chris Tice & AaronTwite will be participating in this championship.

XDL Championship Series is the premier stunt riding championship in the world and attracts competitors from the U.S., Asia and Europe. No other stunt riding championship has been around as long as XDL, which over the years has led to a large international following in countries such as India, Indonesia, Thailand, France, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and many other countries.

Stunt riding is fast becoming one of the most powerful international action sport, and XDL is regarded as the leading competition brand. To put it simply, XDL is the F1 or NASCAR of stunt riding. XDL is the only official sports league for street freestyle stunting in the whole world. The winners at the XDL India Championship Series will participate in the XDL World Championship next year.

Apart from other races such as Drag Racing, Lap Time championship, adventure enthusiasts can get their adrenaline rush from rappelling, paragliding, engine gliding, rock climbing and many more. Among many other activities, BFI will also host an exclusive vintage motorcycle exhibition and live performances from music bands likeMidival Punditz, Hari & Sukhmani, Tides of Nebula, Parikrama amongst others.

Also, for the first time ever, Camping will take a whole new meaning when it is at Buddh Circuit. Participants can live at the F1 circuit, visit the pit-lanes and feel the rush of the fast lanes. A two day camping at the Mecca of Motorsport in India will be a dream come true for any motorsport fan.

Bike Festival of India has partnered with bookmyshow.com for the ticket sales & participation registration and is receiving massive registrations from around the country.

Commenting on the kick-off of Bike Festival of India, Mr Arun Pandey, CMD, Rhiti Sports said, “Bike Festival of India is our vision towards fostering the biking culture and passion while inculcating the idea of responsible biking amongst youth and who can be a better youth icon for this than Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who is the brand ambassador of BFI.  We are extremely thrilled to see the excitement build up amongst everyone for the festival. We have received good response from bike enthusiasts and it will be a phenomenal experience as the first edition of South Asia’s largest biking festival unfolds.”

As a prelim initiative, The Bike Festival of India also hosted a month long National Safety Ride covering 8170kms in just 30 days mapping each and every state of India.

Aug 2014 Gross Bank Credit grows at 10.2%


Aug 2014 Gross Bank Credit grows at 10.2%

On a year-on-year basis, gross bank credit stands at 10.2% in Aug 2014 as compared to 12.6% in July 2014. The growth of food credit stands at 9.5% in Aug 2014 as against 14.8% in July 2014 and the non-food bank credit increased by 10.2% in Aug 2014 as compared to 12.6% in July 2014.

The credit to NBFCs increased by 4.1% in Aug 2014 as compared with 11.5% in July 2014. The credit to agriculture increased by 18.8% in Aug 2014 as compared with 19.5% in July 2014.

The gross bank credit stands at Rs. 57,293 billion as on Aug 2014 as compared to Rs. 51,991 billion as on Aug 2013, posting a growth of about 10.2%.

       Monthly trend in growth of gross bank credit (%)                                                                                   (YoY)
   Source: PHD Research Bureau, compiled from RBI

Credit to industry increased by 7.6% in Aug 2014 as compared with 10.1% in July 2014. Deceleration in credit growth to industry was observed in all major sub-sectors, barring construction, glass and glassware, rubber plastic and their products, leather and leather products, beverages and tobacco and mining and quarrying.

The services sector credit increased by 8.9% in Aug 2014 as compared with 12.3% in July2014Personal loans stand at 12.8% in Aug 2014 as compared with 14.5% in July 2014. Growth in the components of personal loans in Aug 2014 stood at housing (15.4%), advances against fixed deposits ((-) 10.2%), advances to individuals against shares, bonds, etc. (24.9%), education (8.6%) and vehicle loans (17.4%).

       Deployment of Gross Bank Credit by major sectors                                                                                           (Rs. Billion)
July  2014^
(Y-O-Y growth)
August  2014^^
(Y-O-Y growth)
Gross Bank Credit
Food Credit
Non-food Credit
Agriculture & Allied Activities
Industry (Micro & Small, Medium and Large)
Personal Loans
Priority Sector
Source: PHD Research Bureau, compiled from RBI
Note: Data are provisional and are collected on a monthly basis from select 47 scheduled commercial banks accounting for about 95% of the
 total non-food credit deployed by all scheduled commercial banks;
* Data pertains as on July 25, 2014, ** Data pertains as on August 22, 2014
^ Data pertains as on July 25, 2014 over July 26, 2013, ^^ Data pertains as on August 22, 2014 over August 22, 2013

Warm regards,

Dr. S P Sharma
Chief Economist

Sagar media inc@ UN ESCAP Release


Sagar media inc@ Launch of Mercedes-Benz GLA – Class


West Asian turmoil, Shia-Sunni dive may impact India


Following the Arab Spring that began in December 2011, the situation in West Asia and North Africa, particularly in Iraq and Syria is taking an ugly turn and has not only put Indian diplomacy to test but is likely to pose a challenge to India’s security concerns and economic interests. The region has brought both local and external powers in play. The sectarian divide between Sunnis and the Shias has aggravated the situation and questioned the Sykes-Picot boundaries between existing nation states. Further the formation of a Caliphate by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) is an indication that the knotty problem may not be resolved in the immediate future. Adding to India’s security concerns is the Sunni terrorist organisation, Al Qaida forming its new arm for the Indian sub-continent.

Though the present crisis has not impacted on global oil and gas prices due to ample stocks, the turmoil in the region is likely to impact future investment climate and production in the long run.

If the Sykes-Picot boundaries, arbitrarily fixed by the British and the French after World War I, are replaced and new boundaries drawn based on sectarian divide, the entire geopolitics and geo-economics of the region would change. The ISIS Caliphate has begun the process of earmarking its areas and capturing oil fields and a refinery at Mosul. It still holds 40 Indian construction workers in captivity. In this emerging situation, India needs to carefully play its diplomatic card keeping in view its security and economic interests.

The region, long known as a playground for external powers, is undergoing reconfiguration in its geopolitics which would impact the geo-economics also. Though the region has a love-hate relationship with external players, it cannot resolve most of its core problems without external influence, interference or intervention. Despite its declining influence, the US continues to be the power that has the political will and military capability to exert itself in the region. But its attitude towards the Arab Spring and its policy of ‘rebalancing towards Asia Pacific’ has drawn criticism from its regional allies.

Russia is seen coming back as a player in the region with its support for Iran and the Assad regime in Syria and ongoing efforts to cultivate a stronger relationship with Egypt. Russia’s handling of the Ukraine issue has demonstrated its growing assertiveness in world affairs. China, which sources about 50% of its imported oil from the region, is continuing to strengthen its economic leverage. Concerns are also high in Japan and South Korea that look to this region to meet their energy needs.

The sectarian divide between Sunnis and Shias has made Saudi Arabia and Iran active in mobilising their influence in the region. The six-member body, Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) that is supposed to anchor the region, is suffering from intra-GCC rivalry which is threatening the fragile balance within the group. The emergence of Qatar-Saudi rivalry is a major issue.

Iran is coming out of its isolation after the interim agreement with P5+1 resulting in partial lifting of sanctions. Iran-Saudi Arabia rivalry has taken new dimensions with Iran harbouring the ambition to lead the Shias in the region. Way back in 2004, King Abdullah of Jordon apprehended the emergence of a Shia Crescent embracing Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. This fear was echoed by the then Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al Faisal. However, with the emergence of Hezbollah in Lebanon, rule of the minority Alawite Shias in Syria, the nascent Shia empowerment and leadership in Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein and US withdrawal and emergence of new Zaydi (Shia) fighting force in Yemen, the Shia Crescent seems to be a reality.

In the global Muslim population of 1.4 billion, Shias constitute 13%, but the maximum concentration of Shias is in Iran and the Arab world. If Iran is excluded, Arab Shia constitute one-third of the total native population. In Iraq, Shias constitute about 60% of the total population of 35 million. In Bahrain two-third of the native population of half million is Shia. In Kuwait, 30% of the native population of 1.2 million is Shia, while in Saudi Arabia out of the total native population of 20 million, 13 % is Shia. But Ismaili Shias in Saudi Arabia are concentrated in Eastern Province, Najran and Jizan Province. In Syria, Alawi Shias constitute just 12% of the total population of 23 million. Assad family of Alawi Shia sect has been ruling Syria since 1971.

All Shia sects in the region have the support of Iran which is determined to emerge as a major player in the region. Saudi Arabia is the natural leader of Sunnis in the region. But both Iran and Saudi Arabia were in the forefront of supporting the Palestine cause. However, in the recent Israeli operation in Gaza that took place in the backdrop of ISIS occupation of over 40,000 sq km of Iraq, the response from both Iran and Saudi Arabia was negligible.

The sharp sectarian divide between Sunnis and Shias in the region may have a spillover effect on the Muslim population in India and elsewhere in the world. India has the third largest Muslim population in the world. There are already reports of some Sunni Muslims from India joining the ISIS in Iraq and some Shias willing to go to Iraq to defend Najaf and Karbala. The sectarian divide between Shias and Sunnis in India may result in a new problem.

The challenge facing India is to balance its political equations and economic interests with major regional and external players in the region. India’s energy imports from the region are about 63% of total oil imports. West Asia and North Africa are also home to 47% of the world’s natural gas reserves.

The region is a leading trading partner for India with a total trade of about $200 billion. The region hosts about seven million Indian expatriates who send substantial remittances back home. The Gulf countries have huge Sovereign Funds that can be invested in several infrastructure projects in India.
(8The writer is a senior journalist writing on strategic and policy issues in various Indian and international newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at ashokbsharma@gmail.com His mobile no 09810902204)

Between Abe and Abbott, Modi has his way


Between Abe and Abbott, Modi has his way

From: Ashok B Sharma <ashokbsharma@gmail.com> Mon, 29 Sep ’14 8:26p
To: You and others
1 attachment
Between Abe and Abbott, Modi has his way

Australia and Japan are two important players in the Indo-Pacific region, the main geo-political global theatre. Modi has won over Japan through his civilisational diplomacy and Australia through civil nuclear cooperation. The civil nuclear energy deal matters to an energy starved India. Though a deal of this nature could not be signed during the recent visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Japan, a similar pact was waiting to be signed in the country on his return; thus the deal during the visit of Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Australia will now be a long-term uranium supplier to India. Australia will also cooperate in the production of radio isotopes and nuclear safety. Before signing the accord Mr Abbott said, “In a sign of the mutual trust and confidence that our two countries have in each other, Prime Minister Modi and I will today sign a nuclear cooperation agreement that will, finally, allow Australian uranium sales to India.”  He said he “trusts” India to doing the right thing in this area.

Nuclear apartheid on India ended after the India-US Civil Nuclear Agreement on July 18, 2005; subsequently India separated her defence and civil nuclear establishments. India’s first nuclear reactor was set up in Rajasthan with Canadian assistance. After India conducted her first nuclear test in 1974 and then in 1998, the world powers withheld civil nuclear cooperation and demanded that India sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. India refused, calling the treaty discriminatory and unequal.

India has signed bilateral deals on civilian nuclear energy technology cooperation with several countries, including France, United States, United Kingdom, Canada and South Korea. She has uranium supply agreements with Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Argentina and Namibia. An Indian private company won a uranium exploration contract in Niger.

India has low deposits of uranium and needs deals with uranium suppliers. The question arises why a deal could not fructify with Japan during Mr Modi’s five-day visit there. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe indicated that negotiations are at an advanced stage and are expected to be finalised soon. He commended India’s efforts in non-proliferation, including the affirmation that goods and technologies transferred from Japan would not be used for delivery system for WMD. Japan has removed six of India’s space and defence-related entities from its foreign end user list. Both Japan and Australia support India’s full membership to four international export control regimes – Nuclear Suppliers Group, Missile Technology Control Regime, Wassenaar Agreement and Australia Group.

Mr Modi won over Mr Abe with Buddha diplomacy and successfully raised the relationship between the two countries to the level of Special Strategic and Global Partnership. This is a signal to China that if it can have “all-weather” friendship with Pakistan to checkmate India, the latter can have a significant relationship with its island neighbour. Mr Modi has said that adding “special” is not just a “play of words”; it signifies Japan’s increasing role in India’s economic development, increased political dialogue and a renewed push to defence cooperation.

The references to “expansionist” mind-set of the 18th century, some countries “encroaching” upon others, some “entering the seas” and some “capturing the territory of a country” have perplexed, if not annoyed, the Chinese leadership. Mr Modi’s remarks came when Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to visit India in the third week of September. Reacting to the same, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Qin Gang said, “I want to stress that China and India are major countries. We both advocate and practice the five principles of peaceful coexistence”. But the official Chinese media accused Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of dividing China and India and termed the attempt as “crazy fantasy”.

India and China has a longstanding border dispute. China has occupied thousands of sq km of Indian territory in the western and eastern sector and continues to claim other parts of Indian territory. China also possesses parts of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir gifted by its “all-weather” friend. This had prompted Mr Modi to say during an election rally in Arunachal Pradesh (claimed by China), “China should shed its expansionist policy and forge bilateral ties with India for peace, progress and prosperity of both the nations.”

Mr Modi’s words sounded like music to Mr Abe as China continues to claim Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. It remains to be seen how Mr Modi deals with President Xi Jinping when he arrives in New Delhi. Will he insist on the Johnson Line and McMahon Line fixed by the British as the boundary between India and China and represented by the official map of the country; or will he try to resolve the dispute over Indian presence in the South China Sea?

Mr Modi has promised to work together with all South Asian (SAARC) countries. The presence of SAARC leaders at his swearing-in ceremony was a symbolic gesture. He wanted to reopen dialogue with Pakistan, but increased ceasefire violations at the border and dialogue with Kashmiri separatists resulted in the scheduled talks at foreign secretary level being called off. The Modi government is of the view that dialogue should be on the basis of Shimla Agreement and Lahore Declaration with peace at the border. India, however, remains confident that the situation would improve.

The tilt in India’s foreign policy under Mr Modi government is visible. The trump card is Buddha diplomacy. The Prime Minister’s first foreign tour was to Bhutan and then to Nepal (both South Asia), with Japan the first visit outside South Asia. This was the first time an Indian Prime Minister stayed in an Asian country for five days.

Buddha diplomacy is being extended to many south-east Asian countries. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s recent visits to Singapore, Vietnam and to Myanmar for the 21st ASEAN Regional Forum Meeting and 4th East Asia Foreign Ministers’ Meeting has set the tone for the NDA’s future interaction with east Asian countries.

India and Japan have agreed to take forward the India-Japan-US trilateral process to the level of foreign ministers and continue with joint naval exercises. But Australia is unwilling to join in as yet. Australia currently holds the chair of the Indian Ocean Rim Association and is eager to cooperate with India. South Korea too, is unwilling to join the trilateral as it has problems with Japan. But both Australia and South Korea have bilateral arrangements with India.

On the economic front, Mr Modi’s visit saw Japan rolling out of 3.5 trillion yen public and private investment and financing within a span of five years. Prime Minister Abe also pledged ODA loan of 50 billion yen to India Infrastructure Finance Company Ltd for a public-private partnership infrastructure projects in India. Cooperation between Varanasi and Kyoto was inked for the development of India’s holy city. Japan is a major investor in the project to revive the ancient Nalanda University, along with other south-east Asian and east Asian countries. The development of the Buddhist Tourist Circuit in India has drawn Japan’s attention. Feasibility study on Ahmedabad-Mumbai Bullet Train with Japanese assistance is at an advanced stage.

India and Japan have also agreed to work jointly for the development of Africa. This effort would check the growing Chinese influence in this continent. All in all, Mr Modi’s visit gives hope that India will play a major strategic role in South-east Asia and east Asia and check China’s ambition to dominate the entire Indo-Pacific region, including South Asia, South-East Asia and East Asia.
(*The writer is a senior journalist writing on strategic and policy issues in various Indian and international newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at ashokbsharma@gmail.com. His mobile phone no 09810902204)

‘Historicizing Climate Change:

Nehru Memorial Museum and Library
cordially invites you to a Public Lecture
(in the ‘Science, Society and Nature’ series)

at 3.00 pm on Wednesday, 1st October, 2014
in the Seminar Room, First Floor, Library Building


‘Historicizing Climate Change:
Or, what could climate change history be?’


Prof. Sverker Sorlin,
KTH/the Royal Institute of Technology,
ABE, Division of History of Science, Technology and Environment, Stockholm,

There has been a revolution in knowledge about climate change in the past couple of decades. The same is true for our knowledge of the history of climate change. We have had a broad range of books and papers mostly in environmental and science history that have made us understand the chronology and the context of the science that has brought us to our current understanding.

However, given the pervasive nature and complex politics of the issue, wouldn’t it be useful to consider the future historicizing of climate change as an undertaking that would engage wider strands of history and related disciplines? Could climate change history be fruitfully sorted as a dimension of the history of global capitalism? As part of a nowadays much-debated ‘species’ history of mankind (Chakrabarty), or a Big History on the planetary level?  Should it be located in a historical discourse which is much more to do with justice, distribution, rights and that engaged postcolonial scholars and social historians?

In this lecture the speaker will address these questions against the background of the intense debates on global equity and sustainability issues spurred in recent years by the concept of Anthropocene — the current era when human societies impact nature on the planetary level. The speaker’s ambition is to arrive at identifying some possible ways forward for the necessary undertaking to locate climate change more centrally in our historical understanding of human societies and the human enterprise.

Prof. Sverker Sörlin’s work focuses on the environmental history of modernizing societies and especially the role of science and policy. Among his recent books are The Future of Nature (Yale UP 2013) andNature';s End (Palgrave 2009). His policy oriented work has appeared in NatureNature Climate Change,Global Environmental Change, and other journals. He has advised the Swedish government on research and environmental research and policy since 1994. In 2012 he was a co-founder of the KTH Environmental Humanities Laboratory in Stockholm.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Global news


US doctor exposed to Ebola virus in Sierra Leone admitted to NIH

A US doctor who was exposed to the Ebola virus in Sierra Leone has been admitted to a hospital at the National Institutes of Health near Washington, AP said. The patient, who was not identified, arrived at NIH’s Clinical Center about 4pm on Sunday, NIH said. The physician, who volunteered in Sierra Leone, was admitted to a special isolation unit out of “an abundance of caution.” The center said that an exposure to Ebola doesn’t necessarily mean someone will become sick. Four other American aid workers who were sickened by Ebola have been treated at hospitals in Georgia and Nebraska. Three have recovered, and one remains hospitalized.

Mexico arrests 22 police after violence in Guerrero state

Twenty-two local police have been arrested following the deaths of six people in the Mexican state of Guerrero. Unidentified gunman and numerous officers were involved in several violent incidents late Friday and early Saturday in Iguala, about 200km south of Mexico City, AP said. Three students were killed in two separate incidents, according to State Attorney General Inaki Blanco Cabrera. Another three people died in an attack on a bus – a minor, a woman and the bus driver. The violence began when police clashed with students from a teachers college who had seized three buses. Gunmen later fired shots at two taxis and a bus carrying a local soccer team.

Rescuers suspend recovery of bodies at Japanese volcano

Toxic gases and ash forced Japanese soldiers to suspend the recovery effort at the peak of a still-erupting volcano in the early afternoon on Monday. They earlier managed to bring down eight more bodies from 3,067-meter Mt. Ontake by helicopter, AP said. At least 31 people are believed to have died. Four victims were flown down Sunday, and rescuers had returned to the mount to try to recover the remaining 27. It remains unclear how the people died, whether from gases, suffocating ash, falling rocks or other causes.

Blast hits near Kabul Airport as people gather for new president’s inauguration

A suicide bomber attacked a security checkpoint near the airport in Afghanistan’s capital on Monday, security sources say. The attack came minutes before new President Ashraf Ghani was sworn in, Reuters reported. There were casualties, according to witnesses. Dignitaries had gathered in Kabul for Ghani’s inauguration, who is taking over from longtime leader Hamid Karzai.

Hong Kong govt withdraws riot police as protests calm down

Hong Kong authorities say they have withdrawn riot police from city streets after protests began to calm down, AP reported. A government spokesman called on protesters to leave protest areas as peacefully as possible. Pro-democracy demonstrators upset over Beijing’s decision to limit political reforms earlier defied onslaughts of tear gas and appeals from Hong Kong’s top leader to go home. Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying reportedly reassured the public that speculation that the Chinese army might intervene was untrue.

Afghanistan inaugurates new president

Ashraf Ghani  the Afghanistan’s new president, in a historic democratic power handover which has seen President Hamid Harzai step down. The technocrat Ghani is to head a power-sharing government that was put together after months of deadlock over a vote in which both Ghani and opponent Abdullah Abdullah claimed victory. One of Ghani’s first acts as president is expected to be signing a bilateral security agreement to allow American forces to remain. Karzai has refused to sign it, but both Ghani and Abdullah are in favor of sealing the deal.

Le Pen’s far-right party claims first ever seats in French Senate

The far-right National Front won its first ever seats in France’s upper house of parliament on Sunday, while the Socialist party of President Francois Hollande’s lost its Senate majority, Reuters reports. The party, led by Marine Le Pen, took two seats in the Senate, following on from its surprise victory in European parliamentary elections in May and its strong showing in municipal elections in March. Early results showed that the main opposition party, the UMP, and the center-right UDI party took at least 20 seats from the Social party, which had a Senate majority of just six heading into the election. Final results are to be released later on Sunday.

15 dead in Al-Qaeda-linked car bomb attack in Yemen

A suicide bomber linked to Al-Qaeda drove a car laden with explosives into a hospital used as a base by Yemen’s Shi’ite Muslim Houthi movement, killing at least 15 people, Reuters reports. “Dozens of dead and wounded from the rejectionist Houthis in a martyrdom operation by Ansar al-Sharia using a booby-trapped car in Maarib,” the militant group wrote on Twitter. Houthi fighters seized the country’s capital Sanaa last week from the Sunni Muslim Islah party and refuse to leave the city despite an agreement they signed with the president to make them a part of the government.

US-led airstrikes destroy three ISIS makeshift refineries in Syria

Air strikes believed to have been carried out by the US-led coalition hit three Islamic State makeshift oil refineries in Syria’s Raqqa province, Reuters reports. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the attacks occurred shortly after midnight, adding that a plastic factory was also targeted. However, the group stressed that the destruction of refineries didn’t affect ISIS much, but led to sharp increase in the price of diesel for ordinary Syrians. The US-led forces began performing airstrikes aimed at weakening the Islamic State in Iraq on August 8, with the operation spreading to Syria on September 16.

Islamic State’s leader from Kuwait killed in a fight with PKK

One of the Islamic State’s leaders Kuwaiti Khalid al-Anzi was killed by PKK fighters when the IS stormed the group’s headquarters in the mainly Kurdish town of Ain al-Arab, Kuwaiti newspaper Alrai reported. After the beginning of the Syrian unrest in 2011, al-Anzi joined the terrorist group al-Nusra, but then left it to join the ISIS. He became known after a video was posted online showing al-Anzi beheading one of the Kurds.

8 killed as 4.9 magnitude quake hits Peruvian village

At least eight people have died as a 4.9-magnitude earthquake hit a remote Andean village near Cuzco, Peru, destroying homes late Saturday night, a Peruvian civil defense official said. The quake was at a depth of 8 kilometers. It destroyed a total 15 homes, leaving 75 people homeless, local RPP Radio reported. Emergency authorities are continuing to search for victims.

USGS: 4.8 earthquake shakes Iceland

A 4.8 magnitude earthquake has hit Iceland, some 217 kilometers (135 miles) from the capital, Reykjavik, the US Geological Survey has reported. The epicenter of the quake was located at a depth of 7 kilometers. There have been no reports of damage and injuries.

Iranian President heads to Russia for Caspian Sea summit

Iran President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday flew to Astrakhan, in Russia, where he will participate in the 4th Caspian Sea Summit. Iran, Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan are the five littoral states of the Caspian Sea, which acquired special geopolitical significance following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the emergence of newly independent countries. Rouhani flew to Russia following a trip to New York, where he attended the 69th annual session of the United Nations General Assembly.

​6 killed in wave of violence in Mexico

Authorities are investigating the killing of six people in the town in Guerrero in southwest Mexico, about 200 kilometers (125 miles) south of Mexico City. State Attorney General Inaki Blanco Cabrera said the initial violence, which occurred late Friday and early Saturday, involved a clash between police and students who had seized three buses with the intention of driving them to the state capital of Chilpancingo for a demonstration, AP reported. Blanco Cabrera said police killed two protesters. Several hours later, a bus carrying a local soccer team was hit by gunfire, killing three. An investigation into the violence is under way.

​Explosion hits Kabul ahead of president’s inauguration

An explosion has struck the diplomatic quarter of Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, a day before the inauguration ceremony for the country’s new president, Ashraf Ghani. The blast took place in Zanbaq Square, close to the Iranian and Turkish embassies, journalists in the city reported, adding that the explosion might be a result of a magnetic bomb on an Afghan army vehicle.”At 9:15 this morning, a sticky bomb attached to an Afghan army vehicle exploded in Zanbaq Square … only injuring the driver,” Najib Danish, Interior Ministry deputy spokesman, told Reuters. Ghani succeeds outgoing president Hamid Karzai, the only Afghan leader since the 2001 US-led invasion.

​Russian Proton-M rocket launches comms satellite

A Proton-M heavy rocket has successfully put into orbit a Russian Luch communication satellite. It is now being boosted to the designated geostationary orbit by the rocket’s third state. The launch on Saturday night was the first for Proton since a crash in May, when a rocket’s third stage with payload failed to detach on time and fell back to Earth. The incident prompted a delay of Proton launches while an investigation was carried out.

​Canadian CEO sentenced to 15 years in prison in Cuba for bribery, corruption

A Cuban court has sentenced 74-year-old Canadian automobile executive Cy Tokmakjian to 15 years in prison for bribery and other economic and corruption-related charges, his company, the Tokmakjian Group, announced on Saturday, describing the case as “absurd” and a “travesty of justice.” His two aides received sentences of 12 and 8 years, the Ontario-based transportation firm said in a statement. The company’s Cuban offices were raided in 2011 in an anti-graft investigation and round $100 million worth of the company’s assets were seized.

​ US to bomb ISIS positions for three years, Syrian FM says

The United States plans to launch strikes against so-called Islamic State (IS) targets in Syria over a three year period, Russian news agencies cite Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem as saying. Muallem said that Damascus had been informed of the US strikes, but“that does not mean we approve of them.” A US-Arab coalition began bombing IS militants in Syria on Tuesday. On Friday, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said that the Pentagon had already launched 43 airstrikes in the country. Additional strikes were launched in the central province of Homs and the northern region of Raqqa on Saturday, The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Hong Kong police arrest over 60 protesters, nearly 30 injured

Police in Hong Kong arrested more than 60 people on Saturday after a night of clashes with student protesters in which nearly 30 people were injured, according to security forces. The protesters, led by a group called Occupy Central, rallied against Beijing’s control over the elections of the city’s leader in 2017. Chinese authorities earlier decided that any potential candidates must first be approved by a Beijing-friendly committee.

Egyptian court postpones verdict in Mubarak retrial

An Egyptian court has postponed its ruling in the retrial of former President Hosni Mubarak until November. The court needs more time to complete its “justifications” in the case, Judge Mahmoud Kamel el-Rashid said. After the decision was announced, clashes broke out between Mubarak’s supporters and opponents, in which several people were reportedly injured. The 86-year-old former president is charged with complicity in the killings of protesters during the 2011 revolt that led to his ouster.

Top Liberian doctor goes under Ebola quarantine

Liberia’s chief medical officer has placed herself under quarantine after her assistant died of Ebola. Bernice Dahn, a deputy health minister told AP she had not exhibited any symptoms of Ebola, but wanted to be certain she had not been infected. Liberia’s government had asked people to undergo a 3 week quarantine if they believed they had been exposed. Dahn, acknowledging that “we made the rules,” said “I did it on my own.”The minister has represented Liberia at regional conferences to battle the ongoing epidemic, which has killed more than 3,000 people worldwide, according to the latest World Health Organization (WHO) figures. Liberia has been hit particularly hard by the outbreak, with 150 people reportedly dying in just two days.

Iran ready to counter possible Islamic State attack – military commander

Iran’s Armed Forces are “fully prepared” to repel any potential threats from the Islamic State militants, Brigadier General Ahmadrez Pourdastan, Commander of the Iranian Army’s Ground Forces, said. “If the ISIL terrorist group intends to come near the country’s borders, we will target them deep inside the Iraqi territory,”Pourdastan is cited by PressTV. Iranian forces have been deployed in the country’s western border regions to beef up security there, he added. The jihadist Islamic State has claimed large parts of land in Iraq and Syria, and plans to expand its territory, despite the ongoing airstrikes by the US and its allies.

​US-led airstrikes against IS continue in Syria

The US-led strikes against Islamist militants have entered a fifth day in Syria, media report, citing unanimous military officials. In the previous strikes dozens of Islamic State militants and 10 civilians, including children, were killed in northeast of the country, according to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The US is aided by several Arab countries in the Syrian bombings. The campaign in neighboring Iraq is supported by France, the UK, Denmark, Belgium, The Netherlands and Australia.

​Hong Kong police clash with students in occupied govt HQ

Hong Kong police used pepper spray to disperse a crowd of student protesters, which last night took over the governmental HQ close to the city’s financial district. Several thousand people are taking part in a week-long protest campaign, but it didn’t turn violent before. The protesters from the Occupy Central movement object to Beijing’s refusal for electoral reform in the Asian financial center, which would provide for a general election in 2017. The Beijing central government agreed to some changes in the current electoral college system, but the protesters demand a complete overhaul.

​Ontake volcano erupts in Japan

The Ontake volcano in Japan’s Nagano prefecture 200 kilometers west of Tokyo started erupting, reported NHK citing Japan’s Meteorological Agency. It began at about 11:00 local time (02:00 GMT) as a column of ash rose some 3 kilometers high. A level 3 volcano alert was declared on a 1 to 5 scale. Ontake is the second highest volcano in Japan at 3,067 meters. It was inactive until 1979, but then it underwent a series of eruptions. The latest was in 2007.

Sharad Yadav on To integrated Janata Dal


            In an effort to unite the disintegrated Janata Dal parivar, it has been decided by Janata Dal (U) and Indian National Lok Dal ( INLD) to go together in the ensuing Assembly elections in the State of Haryana.  JD (U) and INLD had good political relations since the time of late Chaudhary Devi Lal, and our endeavour is to re-unite in the same way as was in the past in view of the present political situation in the country.  We have understood that the political challenges which have emerged recently can be faced only when the old Janata parivar comes together immediately, otherwise it will be too late.
Further, INLD has assured that JD(U) would be part and parcel of their Government if comes to power in order to face the emerging challenges in the country.  Since the State of Haryana is an immediate neighbour of Delhi, it is in the fitness of things to bring back old Janata Dal parties together so that the message travels to the Capital of the country to keep the dividing forces away from power.   My personal efforts are to energize our relations with our old party colleagues. Also, I am sure that our initiative to go together would bring results in the coming elections in Haryana in favour of the above alliance of JD(U) and INLD.
                                                                          SHARAD YADAV )
                                                                                    National President

America’s business is business: Improving Indo-US ties depends on getting the economics right

Dr. Rajiv Kumar
Today at 1:30 PM
Dear Mr. Sagar
The article below appeared in the Times of India on September 24th 2014.
Your feedback and response will be truly appreciated.
Best regards
Rajiv Kumar 


Improving Indo-US ties depends on getting the economics right

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s upcoming visit to the US has aroused great interest in India — expectedly so — but surprisingly also here. In Pakistan they are speculating, for obvious reasons, about how strong the India-US relationship is likely to become and hoping that Modi and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will meet on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting. The visit, coming as it does after Modi’s sojourns in Nepal and Japan and the Chinese president’s visit to India, is seen as the culmination of his bilateral foreign policy priorities.
During his US visit, Modi will hopefully focus sharply on improving business to business (B2B) ties between the two countries. He must already know that the principal drivers of US foreign and geostrategic policy are underlying interests of US big business and its MNCs. On our part too, Indian exporters need greater access to the $15 trillion US market to be able to achieve a qualitative jump in our export effort, essential for generating much-needed employment.
Our SMEs have an insatiable appetite for new products, process technologies and access to marketing networks. It is therefore imperative that Modi is successful in enthusing US private business into joining his ‘Make in India’ campaign. It is worth remembering that no emerging economy has successfully undertaken its economic transition in recent decades without access to the US market, its frontline technologies and MNC networks.
This effort will admittedly be transactional in nature. However, there is nothing illegitimate about focussing on transactional issues if that serves India’s national interest. We have to overcome mistrust in India-US B2B relations to build a truly strategic partnership without joining or appearing to join the US camp.
To build trust, Modi will have to convince hard-headed US business leaders. He can do so by: listening though not necessarily agreeing to all that is said; finalising the bilateral investment treaty (BIT); clearly identifying a major defence project for a US consortium; assuring that the insurance Bill will be passed in the next parliamentary session along with the one for foreign universities, permitting high quality US universities to open campuses in India; proposing a large scale and ambitious green energy R&D project involving collaboration bet-ween the two countries; tackling the vexed intellectual property protection issue by urging US corporates to distinguish bet-ween executive action and judicial activism in India; and renewing the 10-year India-US defence agreement.
He should not waste his poli-tical capital by bringing up the issue of India’s membership of the UN Security Council. He knows that India’s time will come when it has built the needed economic and strategic clout.
But most of all, Modi will rise hugely in the estimation of the US people and their corporate and political leaders if he does not stand on protocol or personal ego and chooses to address gathered businessmen at the US Chamber of Commerce. Ideally he should walk across from there for his summit at the White House! This will lay the foundation for his sustained popularity in the US, which he needs given that he is starting his innings and President Obama’s administration is in its final phase already.
Modi could achieve another major breakthrough by meeting Nawaz Sharif in New York. Let’s hope it is not already too late to be on his agenda. It will further endear him to his US hosts who are keen to see an Indo-Pak rapprochement. This will surely raise Sharif’s political stature in these beleaguered times in Pakistan. India owes this to Sharif who made improvement in Indo-Pakistan ties a central plank of his election campaign and accepted Modi’s invitation to attend the swearing-in ceremony, reportedly against explicit advice from powerful stakeholders in Pakistan.
Modi could additionally offer to finalise the long pending bilateral MoU on power exports from India to Pakistan and increase the frequency of high level political contacts between the two countries. While presenting all our security concerns for Sharif’s attention, Modi should make the unilateral offer of normalising our bilateral visa regime and open some more land borders bet-ween the two countries.
There is strong support among Pakistani civil society and businessmen for improving ties with India. There is also the perception that with his pragmatic approach and unprecedented democratic mandate, which is even larger than the one received by A B Vajpayee, Modi can afford to take the calculated risk of initiating an improvement in Indo-Pak ties, while drawing deeper red lines on anti-terrorist concerns.
It is important for him to prevent anti-Indian segments in Pakistan from gaining more ground vis-a-vis those who support better ties between the two countries. A gesture in New York has the potential to dramatically alter the scene in the subcontinent. Given his unambiguously stated priority of improving India’s relations in the neighbourhood, i expect Modi to make that gesture and earn gratitude not only from all South Asians but the entire global community that is concerned about the stability and prosperity of South Asia.

Author is a Senior Fellow at the Centre for Policy Research. He is also the Director of 
Pahle India Foundation and his most recent book is Exploding Aspirations.