Meeting strengthens India-B.C. partnerships

Minister of Finance Michael de Jong met with Indian Finance Minister, Minister of Corporate Affairs in the cabinet of India, Arun Jaitley,  in New Delhi to discuss ways to continue to strengthen economic ties between India and British Columbia.
“I was impressed by Minister Jaitley’s interest in mutual economic investments in both India and Canada by companies, such as Indian Oil. India is an important economy with a young and growing middle class that represents an important opportunity for B.C. partnership, trade and investment, particularly in the areas of forestry, energy, international education and clean technology, ” says Minister of Finance Michael de Jong.

The meeting builds on bilateral discussions and activities since the visit by Prime Minister Modi to Vancouver in 2015, where the prime minister and senior Indian government officials showed great support and enthusiasm for formalizing relations between India and British Columbia. Meeting topics included: the recent approval by the Canadian federal government of the Pacific North West LNG project; the successful issuance of B.C.’s Indian Rupee (INR) bond; and future opportunities to expand two-way trade and investment.

By 2030, India is expected to be the world’s third-largest economy behind the United States and China. By 2030, India is expected to be the world’s third-largest economy behind the United States and China.

The Government of British Columbia has been actively working to make India and B.C. long-term partners in economic and social prosperity. It’s a strategy that’s focused on:

  • Building the foundation of the India-B.C. relationship based on mutual economic growth;
  • Identifying targeted opportunities for B.C. to help address specific needs of the Indian market and;
  • Making India top-of-mind among B.C.’s exporters.

On Sept. 9, 2016, British Columbia was the first foreign government to issue a bond in the Indian Rupee (INR) offshore market – or what is known colloquially as a Masala bond. The bond issue demonstrates the Province’s confidence in the outlook for India, and positions B.C. to participate in internationalization of the INR and India’s economy.

B.C. exports to India have jumped from $201 million in 2011 to $623 million in 2015, making India B.C.’s fifth-largest trading partner.  Real GDP in India was 7.2% in 2014, and estimated to grow to 7.6% in 2015, and in 2016 is expected to be 7.4%.

In addition, with Budget 2016, the Government of British Columbia committed $5 million over three years to promote a stronger B.C. wood brand in India. This investment is helping B.C. companies establish themselves as the world’s leading suppliers of sustainably harvested wood products to a market that includes the world’s largest middle class.

British Columbia’s work to build a strong relationship with India has proven successful. Earlier this week, Air Canada launched a direct flight from Vancouver to Delhi, demonstrating that India and B.C. are closer than ever before. This flight now provides a direct link for businesses to come together, and families to stay connected.

Indian police say men gang-raped Israeli tourist in car after she accepted their ride offer

NEW DELHI — Police were questioning two men Monday in the alleged gang rape of a 25-year-old Israeli tourist who accepted a car ride while traveling in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh.
The woman, who had been looking for a taxi, got into the car in the hill resort of Manali before dawn Sunday to travel to a nearby town, said Padam Chand, a police superintendent in Manali.
There were six men in the car and two of them raped the tourist after stopping at a desolate spot, he said.
Two of the men were in police custody and a search was on for the other four. Chand said the men would be arrested if police found evidence that they were the ones involved in the gang rape.
Manali police were in touch with officials at the Israeli Embassy in New Delhi.
The picturesque hill resorts of Himachal Pradesh are very popular with young Israelis who travel in India after their military service, despite concerns about the safety of women.
Reports of rapes of women highlight the persistence of such violence in India despite a public outcry following the fatal gang rape of a young woman in a moving bus in New Delhi in 2012.
Public fury over that case led to more stringent laws that doubled prison terms for rape to 20 years and criminalized voyeurism and stalking. But many women say daily indignities and abuse continue unabated and that the new laws have not made the streets any safer.

The Associated Press

Narendra Modi Bolsters India’s Ties With U.S., Thanks (Partly) to Donald Trump

New York Times

WASHINGTON — After decades of mistrust and fitful reconciliation efforts,India and the United States made a turn toward cooperation on Tuesday, and Donald J. Trump can claim at least some of the credit.

India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, making his second visit to the White House in two years, announced a crucial step toward ratification of the Paris agreement to limit greenhouse gases, bringing the accord close to full implementation.

The two sides also announced that they intended to complete a deal in which India will buy six nuclear reactors from Westinghouse by June 2017, fulfilling an agreement struck in 2005 by President George W. Bush. The price is still under discussion, but more difficult issues like liability have been resolved.

“We continue to discuss a wide range of areas where we can cooperate more effectively in order to promote jobs, promote investment, promote trade and promote greater opportunities for our people, particularly young people, in both of our countries,” President Obama said in the Oval Office during the meeting.

Mr. Modi responded with his own praise of the burgeoning partnership. When President Obama visited India in January 2015, Mr. Modi referred to him as “Barack” and thanked him for his “deep personal commitment” to their friendship. In the Oval Office on Tuesday, Mr. Modi referred to the president as “my friend Obama.”

“The United States is well aware of the talent that India has,” Mr. Modi said in Hindi. “We and the United States can work together to bring forward this talent, and use it for the benefit of mankind and use it for the benefit of innovations and use it to achieve new progress.”

Mr. Modi has made clear that he intends to set aside decades of standoffishness — rooted in India’s colonial experience — to cement closer ties with Washington, in part because the next American leader may not share President Obama’s enthusiasm for India.

The news media in India has extensively chronicled comments by Mr. Trump that critics have said were racist, his “America First” views and his unorthodox campaign. While Mr. Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has said little about India, his vows to tighten immigration policies worry Indian officials.

“Modi wants to get as much as he can out of Obama’s last months in office,” said Ashley J. Tellis, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

For the Americans, the most important part of Mr. Modi’s visit was his announced intention to formally join the Paris climate change agreement by the end of this year. So far, countries representing about 50 percent of global emissions have announced that they will submit legal paperwork to the United Nations documenting their compliance with the deal.

The pact will become binding when at least 55 countries representing 55 percent of global emissions formally join. The inclusion of India, the world’s third-largest emitter after China and the United States, would guarantee that the deal will go into effect before the next American president takes office.

Mr. Trump has vowed to “cancel” the Paris climate agreement if elected, something Mr. Obama is eager to prevent. Once the accord enters into legal force, no nation can legally withdraw for four years.

“If the Paris agreement achieves ratification before Inauguration Day, it would be impossible for the Trump administration to renegotiate or even drop out during the first presidential term,” said Robert N. Stavins, the director of the environmental economics program at Harvard.

Mr. Obama and Mr. Modi also announced a separate agreement to cut the use of hydrofluorocarbons, potent planet-warming chemicals produced by coolants in refrigerators and air-conditioners. India and the United States have been at odds on the details of such a deal, but the agreement announced on Tuesday means both governments now expect in October to sign on to an international accord to phase out the chemicals. Phasing out the chemicals could reduce by 25 percent the expected warming of the planet by the end of the century.

“This is the most significant step the international community could take” to reduce climate warming, Brian Deese, a senior adviser to Mr. Obama, said in a call with reporters.

The two sides also announced joint efforts for the United States to invest in India’s renewable energy development, including the creation of a $20 million finance initiative.

The last time Mr. Modi visited, in September 2014, he was invited to dinner but announced that he was observing a religious fast. So Mr. Obama had the awkward task of eating before a guest who sipped only water. This time, at a working lunch, Mr. Modi ate.

On Wednesday, Mr. Modi will become the fifth Indian prime minister to address both houses of Congress.

The two countries finalized a deal that allows their forces to help each other with crucial supplies, and the United States formally recognized India as a major defense partner, which should allow India to buy some of the most sophisticated equipment in the United States arsenal.

India’s increasing willingness to form military partnerships with the United States is, in part, a result of its deepening worries about China. Recent patrols by Chinese submarines in the Bay of Bengal have unnerved New Delhi, and a 2014 visit to India by the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, did nothing to soothe Indian sensibilities, as Chinese troops made an incursion into border territory that India claims as its own.

China’s refusal in the months since to resolve the territorial claims at the heart of the standoff has quietly infuriated Indian officials.

Another reason Washington and New Delhi have grown so close is the increasingly testy relationship between the United States and Pakistan, India’s longtime rival. Although Pakistan is formally an ally of the United States, American officials have made clear that India has displaced Pakistan in American interests and hearts.

“We have much more to do with India today than has to do with Pakistan,” Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter said in April. “There is important business with respect to Pakistan, but we have much more, a whole global agenda with India, agenda that covers all kinds of issues.”

CBSA officers find suspected opium in shipment from India at the John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) announced today the seizure of 15 kg of suspected opium at the John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport.

On April 15, 2016, CBSA officers were conducting routine examinations at a courier facility on the airport grounds. A shipment originating from India and described as “toiletries” was selected for further inspection. An X-ray of one of the bottles inside the shipment showed anomalies and once opened, officers discovered that it was filled with a brown tar-like substance with an earthy odour. Subsequent drug testing proved positive for suspected opium. In total, 15 bottles were found to contain suspected opium.

“Smugglers will go to any extent to conceal contraband but our officers used their training and experience to deter the shipment from making it to its intended destination.” says  Mark Leonard, CBSA Director, Outports and Postal Operations District, Greater Toronto Area Region.

The suspected opium was turned over to York Regional Police.

Wild elephants kill five people in two separate attacks in India

KOLKATA, India — Wild elephants have killed five people in two separate attacks in eastern India, an official said Monday. One of the animals died after being tranquilized.

Senior forest official Ajay Das said one man was killed Monday after he walked out of his home in a village in Burdwan district of West Bengal state. The man encountered five elephants, and was tossed in the air and trampled by one of them.

In a separate incident Sunday in another part of the district, four people were killed when three elephants attacked them.

Das said one elephant in that group, a male, was tranquilized and later died. An adult female and a calf ran away. The three elephants left a trail of destruction, he said.

As rapid urbanization cuts into India’s forests, animals and humans have come into increasing conflict.

The Associated Press

PM Modi relives Madison Square Garden moment, woos Indian diaspora in UAE

Dubai, Aug. 17: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday wooed the Indian diaspora in the UAE, saying that he saw a mini India in Dubai where all Indians living in the gulf nation are connected to each and every corner of India.

The crowd cheered the Prime Minister as he praised the NRIs for their praiseworthy conduct and their perseverance in everyday endeavours.

“I can see a ‘mini India’ in front of me. I salute all Indians, who have come from every corner of UAE. You are among those who are earning livelihood here for 15-20 years and continue to make India proud through your conduct,” he said while addressing the Indian diaspora in the Dubai Cricket Stadium.

“People from Kerala are in UAE in large numbers. And I am especially talking about them due to the New Year festival today. Dubai is not just ‘mini India’ but a ‘mini world’. People from across the world live here. Even those from the coldest region come in the country despite hot temperature,” he added.

The Prime Minister’s speech was punctuated with the chants of ‘Modi Modi’ which the packed stadium erupted into every time he paused.

Amid the chants, the Prime Minister conveyed that he is overwhelmed by the love Dubai has given him.

“His Highness Crown Prince came to receive me at the airport with all his five brothers. But this love is not just for me. It is the welcome of the 1.25 crore people of India, it is the respect for a change India,” he said.

Recalling when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister and India had carried out nuclear tests that had stunned the whole world, Prime Minister Modi said, “Sanctions were imposed overnight on India, we were pushed into trouble. It was then that Vajpayee had asked Indians across the globe to help India. Today, I can proudly say, Vajpayee’s request of helping India has been fulfilled by Indians in Gulf countries.”

The Prime Minister emphasized that the world’s inclination towards India has increased, adding that Indians must take advantage of this and take the nation to new heights of development. (ANI)

PM Modi arrives in Abu Dhabi to warm welcome by Crown Prince

Abu Dhabi, Aug. 16 (ANI):  Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived at the Abu Dhabi Presidential Airport on Sunday for his maiden official visit to the gulf nation.

Upon his arrival, he was received by the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

There was a ceremonial greeting for Prime Minister Modi, who was accompanied out of the airport by the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.

Prime Minister Modi then met with the UAE dignitaries and exchanged pleasantries with them.

This is the first visit by an Indian Prime Minister to the gulf nation in 34 years.

Indian ambassador to UAE, T.P. Seetharam, had yesterday said that Prime Minister Modi’s visit can open up great possibilities and deepen existing relations.

“The diplomacy gets a boost when the Prime Minister of a country comes for a visit. A visit like this would open up greater possibilities for the huge Indian community here,” Seetharam said. (ANI)

Kejriwal Govt. to waive off electricity bills of defaulters

By Ashutosh Mishra

New Delhi, Aug. 16 (ANI): The Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Government, which had earlier given a subsidy of 50 percent in electricity tariff, has come up with a resolution aimed at bringing relief to the people facing disputes with the power companies (discoms).

Under this scheme, all criminal and civil proceedings related to electricity disputes will be withdrawn.

Following the complains regarding alleged inflated bills, defected meters and penalties imposed and theft cases, the government has planned a massive drive to ensure that the power companies provide early resolution to such grievances.

The Delhi Government would launch a one-time settlement scheme to provide relief to the consumers of the national capital. The scheme would lead to minimizing power theft and reduce the aggregate technical and commercial losses in Delhi and allow them to settle their cases amicably outside the court.

As per the scheme, the consumers residing in JJ clusters who could not pay their dues in the past will be charged Rs. 250 per month only for the period for which they have not paid the dues. The late payment surcharged would also be fully waived off. The dues can be settled in the period of six months, as per the government.

However, the domestic consumers with load up to 11KW who are booked for direct theft of electricity ,will be waived off their two-third of outstanding amount and 100 percent late payment surcharge will also be waived off when they come to settle their dues.

In the case of meter tampering, the small and medium domestic commercial consumers booked for offence of meter tampering will be allowed wavier of 100 percent in the late payment surcharge and two-third of their outstanding dues during their final settlement with the power companies.

The bill of the consumers, who have been booked for misuse and unauthorized use of electricity, will be waived off by 50 percent as per the scheme.

The government, which is to expected to make a formal announcement in this regard next week, has asked the discoms to implement the scheme by organizing special camps.

‘Great scientist, wonderful president, inspiring individual; India mourns Kalam’s death: PM Modi

New Delhi, July 27 (ANI): Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday condoled the sudden demise of former president A.P.J Abdul Kalam, saying that India mourns the loss of a great scientist, a wonderful president and above all, an inspiring individual.
“It is extremely sad news. He took India to new heights as a scientist and as a president and even after that. He was a great visionary and has inspired me to a great extent. I had got a chance to work closely with him. India mourns the loss of a great scientist, a wonderful president and above all an inspiring individual,” the Prime Minister said.
“Dr. Kalam, my mind is filled with so many memories &and interactions with him. Always marvelled at his intellect, learnt so much from him. Dr. Kalam enjoyed being with people; people and youngsters adored him. He loved students and spent his final moments among them. He used to say that he is a teacher and that teaching was his passion,” he added.
Kalam, 84, passed away in Shillong earlier today after he was admitted to a hospital in the city.
The former president collapsed during a lecture at the Indian Institute of Management. He was in a critical condition and had been admitted to the city’s Bethany Hospital.
Kalam served as the 11th President on India from 2002 to 2007. (ANI)