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    INDIA AND WORLD

    Chalein Saath Saath: Celebrating Republic Day, with Barack Obama

    Marking a new energy and a milestone in the defining partnership of the 21st century, Barack Obama will become the first US president India will host as chief guest on the Republic Day in 2015.
    “This Republic Day, we hope to have a friend over…invited President Obama to be the 1st US President to grace the occasion as Chief Guest,” India’s social media-savvy prime minister Narendra Modi tweeted on the micro-blogging site November 21.
    The choice of President Obama as the chief guest at the Republic Day festivities by India sends a clear signal by the new leadership in Delhi to deepen multi-faceted strategic partnership with Washington in the years to come. The tweet announcement comes barely a couple of months after Mr Modi held his first summit meeting with Mr Obama during their meeting in Washington on September 30, which culminated in a new blueprint for galvanising the India-US strategic partnership entitled “Chalein Saath Saath: Forward Together We Go.”
    The two leaders can’t be more unlike each other in terms of their educational and social background, but what they share is far deeper. Both of them are grand self-fashioners, in the classic sense of the term.

    With Modi at helm, BJP ups stakes in J&K, Jharkhand

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    After a huge win in the general election in May this year, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has also captured political power in Haryana and Maharashtra by winning assembly election convincingly.
    Today, the BJP is in power not only at the Centre but also in Chhattisgarh, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan. While in Punjab, it is a partner in a coalition government with the Shiromani Akali Dal; in the rest seven states it is on its own.
    In the coming assembly election in states of Jammu & Kashmir and Jharkhand, the BJP is likely to emerge as the single largest party. It may, if not on its own, become the part of the government in alliance with other parties. This may bring its tally to 10 states.
    Year 2014 has witnessed unprecedented rise of the BJP and marginalisation of all other political parties. The assembly elections as well as the Lok Sabha polls have adversely impacted the political fortunes of smaller, regional parties with a number of independents also coming down.

    UK promises exceptional welcome to Modi, upbeat about India Story: Baroness Verma

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    The multifarious ties between India and Britain are headed for a marked upswing. Moments after he met India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Brisbane, British Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted: “Relations with India are at the top of the priorities of UK’s foreign policy.” “Your’s is a very inspiring vision, U.K. wants to partner in any way we can,” Mr Cameron said in another tweet.
    The British leader’s enthusiasm seems to be shared across the spectrum in Britain. Soon after the Modi-Cameron meeting, Manish Chand, Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network (www.indiawrites.org), caught up with UK Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Baroness Sandip Verma, and found her brimming with enthusiasm about the trajectory of the India-UK relations and the India growth story.
    The 55-year-old politician and businesswoman, who has been made a Conservative peer for life, is also a visible emblem of the success of the Indian diaspora in Britain. In this wide-ranging interview with indiawrites.org in New Delhi, the Amritsar-born Sandip Verma speaks about how Britain is eagerly looking forward to offering Prime Minister Modi “exceptional welcome,” the success of the Indian community in Britain and soaring expectations about the India story under the leadership of a reform-minded prime minister.

    Diplomacy/Defence

    War against ISIS: The picture is gloomy

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    On September 11, 2014 at Jeddah, US Secretary of State John Kerry got together a rather reluctant bunch of 10 Arab States to sign up⋅⋅⋅
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    President Obama’s Policy on Syria

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    The US midterm poll results have considerably reduced  President Obama’s control over US foreign policy. With the  Republicans’ seizing majority in the Senate as well⋅⋅⋅
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    India-US WTO patch-up: Will TFA really help India?

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    India and the US have temporarily resolved their disagreement regarding the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) at the WTO. The US has consented to give India⋅⋅⋅
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    Politics / Policy

    Congress Party: The irresistible death wish…

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    The Congress party suffered a crushing defeat in the last parliamentary elections, and this despite vigorous and aggressive campaigning by the mother-son duo Sonia Gandhi⋅⋅⋅
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    Fadnavis takes oath as Maharashtra Chief Minister

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    The 44-year-old Devendra Fadnavis has been sworn in as the chief minister of Maharashtra, India’s western state and the financial dynamo of the country. Mr⋅⋅⋅
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    Black money: Spotlight on 627 Indians with foreign banks accounts

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    In a decisive push to India’s battle against the scourge of black money, the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government has submitted a list to⋅⋅⋅
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    The Quote Hanger

    "Yoga embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfillment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well being," - Prime Minister Narendra Modi

    In Conversation

    UN reform process has acquired a critical mass: India’s UN envoy

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    The United Nations will turn 70 in 2015. But the world body is increasingly looking like a relic of the past and is badly in need of reform to stay relevant amid the ceaseless flux in geopolitics in the 21st century. Amid the defining shift of power from the west to the rest and the emergence of India on the global stage, the case for the reform and expansion of the UN Security Council has become all the more urgent. In his maiden address at the UNGA, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a robust pitch for reform of the UNSC to “make it more democratic and participative.” “Institutions that reflect the imperatives of 20th century won’t be effective in the 21st century. The world in the 21st century has changed and will be changing at a faster pace. It becomes imperative that we formulate according to the changing times and new ideas of 21st century to sustain our relevance,” Mr Modi told delegates at the 69th session of the UNGA.
    In this free-wheeling interview with Manish Chand, Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network (www.indiawrites.org) in New York, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Asoke Kumar Mukherji speaks about India’s strategy for accelerating the reform of the UNSC, the enthusiastic support for India’s candidature for a permanent seat in the powerful council and the way ahead on Prime Minister Modi’s initiative to get the UN to designate an International Yoga Day.

    Modi at Madison Square Garden: It will be a coming-out party for Indian-Americans

    ROnen Sen

    India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US will put the spotlight on the growing profile of the about 3-million strong Indian-American community. Cutting across castes, provinces and religions, around 20,000-odd Indian-Americans will be travelling from all over America for the largest-ever civic reception in honour of the Indian leader at the iconic Madison Square Garden.

    In this interview with Mr Manish Chand, Editor-in-Chief, India Writes Network, Ronen Sen, India’s former ambassador to the US, speaks glowingly about the multifarious success stories of Indian-Americans in their adopted homeland and their role as bridge-builders in bringing the two vibrant democracies together in an arc of intersecting national interests.

    ‘Japan is India’s all-weather friend, China needn’t worry’

    Baru

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s August 30-September 3 visit to Japan is laden with great expectations and hopes of substantive outcomes, which can transform the geopolitical dynamics of Asia. In this conversation with www.indiawrites.org, Sanjaya Baru, a well-known commentator on foreign affairs and Senior Fellow, Centre for Policy Research, speaks about the unique character of India-Japan relations, Japan’s starring role in the development of India and his expectations from the forthcoming visit of Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Japan. Baru, the author of The Accidental Prime Minister and Director of Geo-economics and Strategy at the International Institute of Strategic Studies, predicts a robust future of India-Japan relations and underlines that Japan is and will be India’s all-weather friend in days to come.

    BUSINESS WITH INDIA

    Modi kicks off economic diplomacy in Australia

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    It’s Business with capital B as India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi began the bilateral leg of his visit to Australia with a strong sales pitch⋅⋅⋅
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    Japan’s SoftBank bets $10 billion on India

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    Signalling confidence in the India growth story under the new Narendra Modi dispensation in Delhi, Japanese telecom and internet titan SoftBank has unveiled a mammoth⋅⋅⋅
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    CHINA CONNECT

    When Modi met Xi

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    On the day Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Gujarat on September 17, The Hindu newspaper published an op-ed called ‘Towards an Asian century of prosperity’ in which President Xi spoke of his country as the factory and India as the world’s back office, he referred to the new government in power bringing in new reforms. He spoke of deepened mutual trust by “strengthening strategic dialogue and enhancing political confidence.” The article was expectedly replete with bonhomie and optimism although India was not too happy being relegated to the back office. Nevertheless, Xi concluded by saying that he was “confident that as long as China and India work together, the Asian century of prosperity and renewal will surely arrive at an early date.” All this sounded wonderful.

    Hong Kong Protests: What it means for the Chinese leadership?

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    hongkong-protestsong Kong is slated to have elections for the post of Chief Executive (CE) in 2017. However, there is a disagreement between sections of the Hong Kong civil society and Beijing on how these elections are to be conducted. In a nutshell, Hong Kong wants a free and fair democratic elections and not be told the list of candidates it can choose from. Beijing wants that it vets the final list of candidates, fearing probably a CE, who would be critical of government policies. Beijing’s desire to manage the political process in Hong Kong stems from the ‘one country two systems’ model whereby it continues to retain its influence.

    Africa Rising

    Demographic shift: Africa heading for population explosion

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    Africa will herald one of the most radical demographic shifts of the century. Latest estimates indicate that by the end of the century, 40% of⋅⋅⋅
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    US raises bar for Africa ties, billions to flow

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    The first US-Africa summit ended on a high note, with US companies pledging investments worth $17 billion and President Barack Obama heralding Africa as a⋅⋅⋅
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    US ups stakes, holds first summit with Africa

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    Against the backdrop of the rise of Asian powers, most prominently China, in Africa, the United States is hosting its first summit with the resurgent⋅⋅⋅
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    Culture / Books / Ideas

    Culture

    China to be Guest of Honour at 2016 New Delhi Book Fair

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    Seeking to build a knowledge bridge between the two ancient civilisations, India has selected China as the Guest of Honour at the New Delhi World⋅⋅⋅
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    Australia’s cultural diplomacy: Ancient Shiva statues back in India

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    Modi’s trip affirms India-Japan spiritual bonds

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    Centuries-old spiritual connections came alive during India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Japan, as ancient civilisational linkages were reaffirmed by the message of harmony⋅⋅⋅
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    BOOKS / POETRY

    A conflicted family reunion

    Land where I flee

    BOOK REVIEW Book: Land Where I Flee; Author: Prajwal Parajuly; Publisher: Quercus A caustic grandmother, a lovable eunuch, and four orphaned siblings returning home to Gangtok after⋅⋅⋅
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    Demystifying Tibetan culture: Uncle Tompa’s profane adventures

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    In these 20 stories Rinjing Dorji narrates how Uncle Tompa gets the better of others through his trickery. The ‘others’ here are usually the rich, the foolish, the virtuous, and the stubborn. While tales of Uncle Tompa are very similar to those of other tricksters like the Persian Mullah Nusruddhin, or the American Cayote, Uncle Tompa’s stories differ because of the centrality of sex in his adventures.

    For Borges

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    Silence is a Forest. Rootless words Perch on filtered sunlight, shadows dance with rhythm of swaying distance, dead wind caresses.   You are welcome to⋅⋅⋅
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    Why Write?

    Anais Nin: Creating a world of one’s own

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    Why one writes is a question I can answer easily, having so often asked it of myself. I believe one writes because one has to⋅⋅⋅
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    Roald Dahl: No master except his soul

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     A person is a fool to become a writer. His only compensation is absolute freedom. He has no master except his own soul, and that,⋅⋅⋅
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    John Green: Home amid suffering

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    I believe there is hope for us all, even amid the suffering – and maybe even inside the suffering. And that’s why I write fiction,⋅⋅⋅
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    Travel

    Border-crossing: Supper in Sweden, Dinner in Denmark

    Arial photo of the bridge with ferry passing under

    For those of us living in India, crossing over casually is a distant dream. Even though India and Pakistan were one over six decades ago,⋅⋅⋅
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    At the Equator: A tryst with Assange, Darwin and sea lions

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    Ecuador is probably the only country in the world named after a geographical feature – the equator. Crossing over from the Colombian border post near⋅⋅⋅
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