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INDIA AND WORLD

India launches ‘Save Indians in Yemen’ mission, deploys ships, aircraft

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Amid the intensifying war between Houthi militias and Saudi Arabia-led coalitions in Yemen, India has launched a multifaceted rescue operation to bring back Indian nationals who are still stranded in the strife-torn country.
With the coalition continuously bombing Yemen with a mission to destroy the militias who have seized large swathes of the Gulf country, India is not taking any chances. According to Syed Akbaruddin, the official spokespersons of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), 400 Indian nationals out of 4,000 stuck stranded in the conflict zone will be evacuated on March 30 by a ship from Aden. It is expected that they will be moved from Aden to Djibouti, where arrangements have been made India’s honorary council who will be handling matters at the end.
Minister of State for External Affairs Gen. V.K. Singh will oversee this effort, and he will be leaving for Djibouti on March 31. Five other senior diplomatic officials from the missions in the region as well as their headquarters are being move to Djibouti for further assistance in this effort.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is spearheading the ‘Save in Indians’ mission and held an intra-ministerial meeting on March 30, where the IAF chief, officers of the Navy as well as the Ministry of Shipping and the Ministry of Defence were present. There were also the officials of Air India present at the meeting

Pakistan wakes up, says India’s growth crucial for SAARC’s success

Abdul-Basit

Signalling a turnaround in Islamabad’s attitude towards the India story, Pakistan’s High Commissioner Abdul Basit has underscored that India should continue to achieve higher growth rate and termed the country a major driving force in the success of entire South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries.

“If India rises, confidence of the entire region rises. We in South Asia do believe that India does have a wherewithal and resolves to step to the plate and ensure that it achieves its economic goals, because if India rises we are confident the entire region will rise with India,” said Mr Basit at a meeting organized by industry body ASSOCHAM in New Delhi on March 30.

The envoy also stressed on the importance of creating a level playing field among the members of SAARC, and said that economic development shouldn’t be muted in the political noise.

Flood in Kashmir again, Modi govt. springs into action

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Before Jammu and Kashmir could fully recover from the disastrous flood of September last year, the valley woke up to another nightmare due to the incessant rain, which has created havoc in the state.

The unseasonal heavy rain in the most part of Kashmir destroyed homes, crops and raised fears of flash- flood in the state. Hundreds of people fled their homes to safer places as the main rivers started to swell. People in the state witnessed continuous power cuts, water logging and landslides, bringing back the dreadful memory of the flood last year. The weather department has forecasted torrential rain in coming week.

According to the J & K government officials, water level of Jhelum River has passed the danger level at 22.4 feet and 18.8 feet at Sangam in South Kashmir and Ram Munshi Bah Srinagar city respectively. If the water level crosses 23-feet mark, state will have to undertake massive rescue operations to evacuate people stranded in areas adjoining the river.

Diplomacy/Defence

Heavens cried as Singapore bids farewell to Lee Kuan Yew

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Mourning and grief engulfed Southeast Asia’s economic powerhouse as the people of Singapore braved heavy rains to bid farewell to their beloved leader Lee Kuan⋅⋅⋅
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Modi in Singapore: Lee a global thinker, believed in India’s potential

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India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi joined world leaders at the funeral for Singapore’s founding father and poured tributes to “a global thinker” who transformed the⋅⋅⋅
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Myanmar’s conflicts and its regional dimensions

The delicate relationship between Myanmar and China has once again been exposed following Myanmar’s air bombing on March 13, targeting ethnic rebels. Instead, the bombing⋅⋅⋅
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Diplomacy, In Pictures

Politics / Policy

Bharat Ratna for Malaviya, Padma Vibhushan for Advani

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India’s President Pranab Mukherjee conferred the country’s highest civilian honour, Bharat Ratna, to Madan Mohan Malaviya posthumously, at the Rastrapati Bhavan (presidential house) in New Delhi. Besides⋅⋅⋅
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Rise and Rise of BJP: The world’s largest political party

Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), India’s ruling party which currently leads the National Democratic Alliance coalition, has become the largest political party in the world, with⋅⋅⋅
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Triumph of freedom of speech: Supreme Court strikes out Section 66A

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Almost three years ago, the arrest of two Mumbai girls –-Shaheen Dhada and Rinu Shrinivasan — for an innocuous post on Facebook left law graduate⋅⋅⋅
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The Quote Hanger

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

In Conversation

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.

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.

BUSINESS WITH INDIA

India targets SMEs for growth, jobs

In the Union Budget this year, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley seems to have tried his best to address the numerous issues being faced by the⋅⋅⋅
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Ford to triple exports from India with new plant

Ford Motor Co chief executive Mark Fields speaks during the launch of Ford Motor's new plant at Sanand in the western Indian state of Gujarat

In what could be a major boost to the “Make in India” campaign, Ford, one of world’s largest automobile companies, inaugurated its new factory in⋅⋅⋅
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CHINA CONNECT

China worried about Xinjiang’s links with Islamic State

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A top Chinese official said that some people from the northwest province Xinjiang are participating in the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group activities. “The organisation⋅⋅⋅
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China flags off new normal 7 per cent growth rate

China, the most powerful emerging economy known for its expectations of double-digit growth rates, has lowered its 2015 economic growth expectations to about 7%. Speaking⋅⋅⋅
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Africa Rising

Boko Haram pledges alliance with Islamic State

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Marking an entwining of pan-Islamist terror groups, Boko Haram, the brutal Nigerian militant group, has promised an allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and⋅⋅⋅
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Increasing Boko Haram pressure on Nigerian President

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Recently, Nigeria has been under tremendous pressure from armed rebels of Boko Haram. More than 100 people have been killed by this brutal terrorist group⋅⋅⋅
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Demographic shift: Africa heading for population explosion

Africa

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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Culture / Books / Ideas

Culture

Art of Living versus bullying: Sri Sri Ravi Shankar under ISIS scanner

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After he conducted his Art of Living discourse and addressed around 70,000 people at the Batu Kawan Stadium on “Discourse, Music and Meditation”  in a  multi-ethnic Muslim majority⋅⋅⋅
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Pads against sexism: No longer mum about the chum

Sometimes you need to state the obvious. Yes, women menstruate. There is blood, and mess and it is not as rosy as they portray in⋅⋅⋅
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Secularism has worked for India: Dalai Lama

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Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader has showered rich praise on India’s practice of secularism and underlined the need for reducing conflicts based on religion in the⋅⋅⋅
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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?

John Updike: Of Heroes and Kings

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“We’re past the age of heroes and hero kings. … Most of our lives are basically mundane and dull, and it’s up to the writer⋅⋅⋅
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Jack Kerouac: Of talent and genius

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“Genius gives birth, talent delivers. What Rembrandt or Van Gogh saw in the night can never be seen again. Born writers of the future are⋅⋅⋅
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Elmore Leonard: Of verbs and adverbs

Elmore Leonard

“Never use an adverb to modify the verb ‘said’ . . . he admonished gravely. To use an adverb this way (or almost any way)⋅⋅⋅
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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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