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INDIA AND WORLD

India backs Kazakhstan’s bid for rotating UN seat

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India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi began his two-day visit to Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, on July 7, the second leg of his five-nation visit to Central Asia and Russia. He met his Kazakh counterpart Karim Massimov after touching down at Astana. The two leaders discussed a wide array of bilateral and regional issues. In an outreach to young Kazakh students, Prime Minister Modi spoke at Nazarbayev University, Astana in which he spoke about cultural linkages in form of yoga and Bollywood and outlined a robust vision of India’s expanding relationship with the resource-rich Central Asia. Describing Kazakhstan as a voice of responsibility in international affairs, Mr Modi backed Astana’s bid for non-permanent seat in the UN for 2017-18. Looking ahead to the SCO summit in Ufa, Russia, on July 9-10, Mr Modi said: “India’s membership of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation will deepen our regional partnership.”

Greece’s ‘No': What next for Europe and Greece?

Greece has given a resounding vote in the referendum to reject austerity measures imposed by the creditors in the terms and conditions for a bailout. The vote was 60-40 in favour of the ‘No’ side. The massive vote is a setback to the Eurozone and the dream project of a single currency which was implemented to remain permanent and strengthen the union. While the vote is a rejection for austerity, it is by no means an indicator that it is a vote to exit EU.

Many Greeks feel it is important to stay within the EU, but that does not mean they are ready to be coerced into accepting what the elite nations of Europe try to impose. Even Greece Prime Minister Alexis Tspiras, while acknowledging that the vote was a mandate for sustainable future, said it was by no means a mandate against Europe and warned that there would be no easy solutions. The outcome for millions of Greeks was an angry message to creditors that Greece can longer accept repeated rounds of austerity that, in five years, had left one in four without a job.

Reconnecting to Central Asia: Modi’s visit to Stans states a game-changer

If I say Amir Khusrau is our poet, I would be stoned in India,” the Tajik ambassador said recently in New Delhi, a shade dramatically. In Dushanbe, don’t be surprised if Tajiks recite to you soulful couplets of Zebn-un-Nisa, Aurangzeb’s eldest daughter better known by her pen-name Makhfil (The Hidden One). Mahabharata and Ramayana are prime time shows on Uzbek TV. And this will be a revelation for those not in the know: on Valentine’s Day, Uzbeks celebrate their love for the 16th century Mughal emperor Babur.
From Bollywood and kathak to yoga and Hindi, Central Asia is suffused with the glow of Indian culture and spirituality. It was, therefore, fitting when India launched its Connect Central Asia policy in 2012 as the two regions have been conjoined intimately through historical and cultural ties for centuries. It’s a relationship that has been enriched by culture and poetry, but geopolitically it’s only now this strategically located region is zooming back into the focus of India’s diplomatic-strategic establishment. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the five Central Asian states is a compelling statement of India’s reawakened interest in the region that is critical to the country’s interlinked strategic, economic and energy interests. The forthcoming visit of Mr Modi, the first by an Indian prime minister to all five post-Soviet Stans states in one go, is a game-changer of sorts that’s set to transform India’s multifarious relations with the energy-rich Central Asian region, where China has firmly positioned itself as the leading economic power and dispenser of largesse.

Diplomacy/Defence

India, Uzbekistan to step up counter-terror cooperation, fast-track uranium deal

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India and Uzbekistan, the strategically-located resource-rich country, have decided to step up their counter-terror cooperation against the backdrop of the unfolding transition in Afghanistan and⋅⋅⋅
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PM Modi’s well-timed visit to Central Asia

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday began another important foreign visit, this time to all the five Central Asian republics (CARs). The visit began⋅⋅⋅
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Connect Central Asia: Modi begins visit to Stans states with Uzbekistan

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has begun his eight-day journey focused on upscaling India’s multifarious relations with Central Asia. His first stop is Uzbekistan, the⋅⋅⋅
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Diplomacy, In Pictures

Politics / Policy

India scores on drinking water access, reducing open defecation: UN Report

A  UN report has underscored that India has made moderate progress in reducing open defecation, and has been able to provide access to improved drinking water to⋅⋅⋅
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Modi flags off India’s urban renewal dream

India’s urbanisation dream has moved one step forward with Prime Minister Narendra Modi launching three signature projects of urban renewal. On June 25, Mr Modi,⋅⋅⋅
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India’s lack of respect for liberty could pave the way to another Emergency

Allusions are not new in politics. In 1975 – the year of our own Emergency – Chairman Mao’s views of the Water Margin, a Song⋅⋅⋅
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The Quote Hanger

"Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence."

In Conversation

Modi’s France visit to bolster strategic ties, focus on smart cities: Rakesh Sood

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India and France are set to galvanise their multifarious relations during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s maiden trip to Paris. The two countries have a robust strategic partnership over the years, and are looking to push the envelope in a host of areas.
In this interview with Manish Chand, Editor-in-Chief, India Writes Network, (www.indiawrites.org), Rakesh Sood, India’s former ambassador to France, speaks about a cluster of issues that will be on the table when Prime Minister Modi holds talks with the French President Francois Hollande in Paris on April 10. He provided an overarching view of what makes India-France relations unique and how the forthcoming prime ministerial visit will impart a renewed momentum in areas of defence, nuclear energy and space and open up new avenues of bilateral cooperation.
(Excerpts from the interview)
Q) How do you look at the trajectory of the India-France relations at this moment? And how do you see the importance of Prime Minister Modi’s visit to France, which is also his first visit to Europe?
A) India and France have had one of the oldest strategic partnerships. What do I mean by a strategic partnership? I mean that we have had long-standing cooperation in areas of defence, nuclear energy and space. Three areas that normally constitute strategic partnership, and particularly in recent decades we have also strengthened our cooperation in the area of counter-terrorism and intelligence-sharing. So I think it is a very substantive relationship and French President Hollande was here in February 2013. Obviously, in 2014 we had our elections and so it is very opportune that Prime Minister Modi is now visiting Paris and other locations in France.

Reshaping Indonesia-India relations critical to 21st century Asia

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Vibrant democracies, emerging powers, and partners in the unfolding Asian resurgence. India-Indonesia relations have a rich past, and is looking to zoom into a rich future, bristling with possibilities. Co-founders and fellow-travellers of the Non-Aligned Movement, India and Indonesia have imparted a contemporary strategic dimension to their multi-faceted relationship. From President Sukarno gracing the first Republic Day celebrations of 1950 to India hosting Indonesia’s then President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono as Chief Guest at the Republic Day celebrations in 2011, the India-Indonesia partnership in the 21st century is acquiring new layers and depth.
The year 2014 saw a change of guard in both New Delhi and Jakarta, propelling self-made politicians from humble backgrounds to the top of the power ladder. The new leaderships in both countries are keen to seize the moment to infuse a new energy and vitality into this robust relationship.
Manish Chand, Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network (www.indiawrites.org), caught up with Indonesia’s Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Dino Patti Djalal in New Delhi for a free-wheeling conversation on the entire gamut of India-Indonesia relations, and much more. In this probing conversation, the suave and eloquent deputy minister shares his views on the future trajectory of India-Indonesia relations, how the two countries can collaborate in areas like pro-poor technologies, a new kind of creative politics emerging in Indonesia and a radical transformation of the image of India from a country ridden with poverty to a country synonymous with enterprise and innovation. India used to be known as a country with a rich past, but now it is seen as a country with a rich future, he says presciently.

Africa has high hopes from Modi govt: Ethiopia envoy

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India’s multifarious relations with the resurgent African continent has deepened and acquired a new traction over the last decade or so, especially since the inaugural India-Africa Forum Summit (IAFS) in New Delhi in 2008. India is set to host the third edition of IAFS early next year, which will bring the leaders and representatives of all 54 African countries to the capital Delhi, and is expected to mark an all-round acceleration of this burgeoning partnership. This will also be the first India-Africa Forum Summit, which will be hosted by the Narendra Modi government in New Delhi.

In this wide-ranging conversation with Manish Chand, Editor-in-Chief, India Writes Network (www.indiawrites.org) and Editor of “Two Billion Dreams: Celebrating India-Africa Friendship,” Ethiopian ambassador to India Gennet Zewide strikes an upbeat note about the future trajectory of the India-Africa relations and hopes that this partnership will “tripled, multiplied and even quadrupled” under the new dispensation in New Delhi. The Ethiopian envoy, a former education minister of the East African country, the seat of an ancient civilization, also speaks about the win-win partnership unfolding between India and her country, and the transformative impact of India’s Line of Credit for the country’s sugar industry, which promises to turn Ethiopia from an exporter into an importer of sugar in days to come.

BUSINESS WITH INDIA

PM Modi vows to make India hub of innovation & enterprise

After Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the “Digital India” programme, which is aimed at transforming lives of about 1.2 billion people in the country by⋅⋅⋅
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Make in India: Airbus to expand its operations in Indian defence sector

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Looking to make India as its major defence and space manufacturing hub, Airbus expressed its keen interest to invest in India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led⋅⋅⋅
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CHINA CONNECT

China’s stock markets in free fall

The Chinese bull is no longer roaring as the markets have been in free fall for the past three weeks. The main index, the Shanghai⋅⋅⋅
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India, China to hold boundary talks, focus on LAC peace

India and China are looking to fast-track the resolution of their decades-long boundary dispute even as they focus on confidence building measures to sustain peace⋅⋅⋅
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Africa Rising

AU Summit 2015: Africa vows to end conflicts, xenophobia

Underlining the need to eliminate a host of armed conflicts that most of the African states have been facing, African leaders have vowed to eradicate⋅⋅⋅
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Behind Al Shabaab terror in Kenya

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Al-Shabaab, a Somali militant group believed to be a part of the African terror syndicate comprising of groups such as the Al Qaeda in Maghreb⋅⋅⋅
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Al-Shabaab rocks Kenya University, massacre 147

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Barely a couple of years after the spectacular mall terror attack in the heart of Nairobi, Somalia-based al-Shabaab militants targeted a college campus in the⋅⋅⋅
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Culture / Books / Ideas

Culture

Kerala Tourism plays it smart: Steffi Graf is Ayurveda’s brand ambassador

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God’s Own Country could not have got a more charismatic poster girl.  There is no visible connection between Kerala and tennis, but the state’s tourism⋅⋅⋅
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Yoga diplomacy

The impressive participation around the world on International Yoga Day is indeed a testimony to India’s immense reservoir of soft power. In his energetic engagement⋅⋅⋅
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Yulin dog eating carnival outrage: The politics of food

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There has been a major outcry for banning the Yulin Festival, a dog-and-cat meat eating carnival held annually on the occasion of the summer solstice on June 21st in the city of Yulin in China. Many gruesome images of dogs and cats jam packed in cages, being cooked in stewing pots and hung in slaughter houses have been circulated on social media to rouse public opinion against the ‘ghastly’ tradition.
Whilst the ban may or may not actually take place (China had earlier banned a dog eating festival in 2011), and the uproar has raised legitimate concerns about animal torture and human health risks (such as rabies), it may be helpful to look at the issue as placed within some larger debates- animal rights vs. humans rights, perceptions of barbarism in oriental cultures through ethnocentric norms and relevance of (‘outdated’) culture in today’s modern times- which constitute the politics of food.
Different cultures have varying conceptions of what can and cannot be eaten. In India the pervasive caste system bans consumption of meat for the upper castes, but Dalit communities have long eaten meat, even beef, as a source of protein.

BOOKS / POETRY

And Then One Day: Naseeruddin Shah tells it all…

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Naseeruddin Shah comes across as an actor who knows his craft but does not take filmdom or stardom with any degree of seriousness. A rare ability to laugh at oneself, coupled with an acute understanding of the world of theatre and Bollywood. It is difficult to talk about one’s life with any kind of objectivity and Shah manages just that with his funny bone absolutely intact. Be it the boarding school at Nainital, the hallowed portals of NSD or the Film Institute of Pune, Shah breezes through it all, seeing it with the critical eye of the present and looking at this intelligent non-conformist young Naseeruddin as he hems and haws through life. Not having set goals and not having made the obvious choices, the journey is tough as the young protagonist stumbles along in the haze of marijuana.
Shah’s book has an extremely humane side to it where the reader does not feel in awe of a star but a human being on a journey that continues with all its rough and tumble in place. The book too, plays by its own rules – deciphering but not revealing the man who refuses to be slotted as a hero or a character artist in Bollywood and who chooses to be remembered and not revered for some of the most virtuoso acting skills in the industry.

My Book Story: When Things Fall Apart…

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“Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon⋅⋅⋅
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Booker glory beckons Amitav Ghosh

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The Booker glory beckons Indian novelist and essayist Amitav Ghosh yet again. Having narrowly missed the Anglophone world’s most coveted literary honour in 2008, the⋅⋅⋅
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Why Write?

Mickey Spillane: The older, the better

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If you’re a singer you lose your voice. A baseball player loses his arm. A writer gets more knowledge, and if he’s good, the older⋅⋅⋅
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Samuel Johnson: Reading and making of a book

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The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make⋅⋅⋅
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Eudora Welty: Taking Life as it Exists

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“The writing of a novel is taking life as it already exists, not to report it but to make an object, toward the end that⋅⋅⋅
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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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