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    INDIA AND WORLD

    Vietnam is India’s all weather-friend: Vietnam envoy

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    India’s multifaceted ties with Vietnam are poised to acquire greater strategic and economic weight. The visit of India’s External Affairs Minister to Vietnam August 25-26 is set to impart a fresh momentum to this burgeoning partnership, bound by a confluence of strategic, economic and energy interests. Sushma Swaraj’s trip will set the stage for the state visit by India’s President Pranab Mukherjee to Vietnam in September.

    In this exclusive interview with Manish Chand, Editor-in-Chief, India Writes Network (www.indiawrites.org), Vietnam’s ambassador to India Nguyen Thanh Tan speaks about Vietnam’s expectations from the forthcoming visit by India’s foreign minister, the growing knowledge partnership between India and Vietnam and predicts an all-round acceleration in bilateral ties in days to come.

    India asks Pakistan to stop meddling, calls off foreign secretaries’ talks

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    In a strong signal to Pakistan to refrain from meddling in its internal affairs, India has unilaterally called off talks between the foreign secretaries of the two countries, which was scheduled in Islamabad on August, over Pakistani envoy’s “unacceptable” invitation to meet separatist leaders of Kashmir.

    The unilateral cancellation of the scheduled talks, which aimed at exploring ways to revive the dialogue process, bodes ill for bilateral ties, which started off on a positive note with the visit of Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to New Delhi for the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May. The talks between Mr Modi and Mr Sharif in Delhi had kindled hopes for improved relations under the new dispensation in New Delhi with both leaders asking their foreign secretaries to meet and explore ways to take the engagement process forward.

    India and SCO: Greater Engagement in Extended Neighbourhood

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    While the Modi government’s focus on SAARC and Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) countries is important, it should also include Central Asia within its matrix of co-development. Geo-strategically, Central Asia constitutes a part of India’s extended neighbourhood and it is, therefore, necessary to safeguard our legitimate national interests in the region. Central Asia is strategically located and without a doubt, its strategic importance in international affairs has been steadily growing. For India, Central Asia is important because of old cultural and civilizational linkages, the region’s strategic location, energy resources and trade opportunities. Central Asia’s energy reserves will be vital to the global economy over the coming decades.

    Diplomacy/Defence

    Pakistani media upset over India’s decision to cancel talks

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    After India unilaterally called off the foreign secretary-level talks following the meeting between Pakistan’s High Commissioner Abdul Basit and Hurriyat leader Shabir Shah in New⋅⋅⋅
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    India-Kazakhstan: Finding New Synergies

    Kazakhstan has emerged as a dominant actor in the evolving regional political, social and economic scenario in Central Asia by effectively harnessing its natural resources⋅⋅⋅
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    India, China set for high-profile visits

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    India and China are poised for a string of high-profile engagements, with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj heading to Beijing on her maiden visit August⋅⋅⋅
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    Politics / Policy

    Modi to spearhead clean-up Ganga mission

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    The holy river Ganga has cleansed the body and soul of Indians since the dawn of civilization; it is now time to cleanse the Ganga⋅⋅⋅
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    Modi’s per drop more crop dream needs a digital cover

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    Three seemingly unrelated developments have put food on the front pages after a long time, and I am not even including the Centre for Science⋅⋅⋅
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    Financial inclusion: Mobile banking set for upsurge in India

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    In a potential game-changer for internet and banking services in India, the government is planning to launch the Financial Inclusion Mission to ensure that every⋅⋅⋅
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    The Quote Hanger

    The most important triumph of the idea of India is that the dreams of 1947 still have force and value –Azim Premji

    In Conversation

    ‘India’s Look East Policy 3.0 is turning real’

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    In this conversation with India Writes Network, Rajiv Bhatia, Director-General of Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) and a former Indian envoy to Myanmar, speaks about the future trajectory of India’s multi-layered relation with Myanmar, the importance of the minister’s first visit to the South Asian country and New Delhi’s burgeoning relations with ASEAN and the East Asia region.

    Modi’s visit to Nepal: A fresh start, full of possibilities

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    In this wide-ranging conversation with Manish Chand, Editor-in-Chief, India Writes Network, www.indiawrites.org, Mr Jayant Prasad, a former ambassador of India to Nepal, speaks about the importance of Prime Minister Modi’s August 3-4 visit to Nepal, the potential of hydropower cooperation which can transform Nepal into the richest country in South Asia, and his response to speculation about a developing India-China rivalry in the Himalayan state, a nascent democracy which is navigating its journey to national renewal.

    India must be inside UN Security Council, BRICS can help: Puri

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    you can’t have a country of India’s size: 1.2 billion people, a 2 trillion dollar economy, a country of Mahatma Gandhi and with a great story to tell, the world’s largest democracy, in which 660 million people turn out to vote, somewhat raucous sometimes, not be the member of the Security Council as a permanent member.

    BUSINESS WITH INDIA

    Clean India: Indian top companies pledge ₹100 crore

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    The corporate sector in India has responded to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for a “Clean India,” with much enthusiasm. During his Independence Day speech,⋅⋅⋅
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    SAIL poised for massive expansion

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    Steel Authority of India (SAIL), India’s largest steel-maker, is gearing for the biggest expansion drive in its history as it aims to double its capacity⋅⋅⋅
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    CHINA CONNECT

    China pushes austerity drive: Salaries for top executives to be pruned

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    It’s time for high-flying pampered executives of China’s state-owned enterprises to take a reality check. Going by the latest commandment by China’s president Xi Jinping,⋅⋅⋅
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    China state TV show on Deng creates a buzz

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    Chinese state television CCTV is airing a show on late leader Deng Xiaoping, which is creating much buzz about the Communist Party of China (CPC)⋅⋅⋅
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    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

    Prayers at Pashupatinath: Connecting spiritually with Nepal

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    Blessings, prayer and healing. After charming Nepal with his stirring speech in parliament, it was time for India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi to offer prayers⋅⋅⋅
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    Germany beckons Indian students

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    Destination Germany. Indian students seem undaunted by language barriers as they fly to the West European economic dynamo in staggering numbers to pursue higher education.⋅⋅⋅
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    The Spanish Way: Discovering Karma and Dharma in India

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    A tea stall hangs in the middle of the air. It is just a normal tea stall in the midst of a lonely highway. Dressed⋅⋅⋅
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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?

    Ngugi wa Thiongo: Writing for Peace

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    There are certain images in literature, especially children’s literature, which live long in one’s memory. The encounter between Sindbad and the old man of the⋅⋅⋅
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    Virginia Woolf: The creative benefits of keeping a diary

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    I got out this diary and read, as one always does read one’s own writing, with a kind of guilty intensity. I confess that the⋅⋅⋅
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    Chinua Achebe: You have struggle and story, and these two are quite enough for me.

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    Good stories attract us and good stories are also moral stories. I’ve never seen a really good story that is immoral, and I think there⋅⋅⋅
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    Travel

    Border-crossing: Supper in Sweden, Dinner in Denmark

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    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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