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INDIA AND WORLD

Why BJP chose Yogi Adityanath as UP chief minister

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The installation of five-time parliamentarian Yogi Adityanath as the chief minister of India’s most populous state Uttar Pradesh has come a surprise for the media mainly due to his controversial remarks targeting the minority community. What came as an even bigger surprise is that Adityanath, who has represented Gorakhpur Lok Sabha constituency in eastern part of UP since 1998, occupies the top post in the state without any previous experience as an administrator. It is not that the BJP did not have leaders with administrative track record for the post of UP chief minister. There were persons like federal ministers like Rajnath Singh and Manoj Sinha. And yet the mantle fell on Aditynath. In political circles, Adityanath’s appointment as chief minister is being viewed as a powerful signal to the electorate in UP ahead of the national elections in 2019. The BJP is convinced that the consolidation of votes in recent assembly elections in the state was no flash in the pan as was evident in Lok Sabha polls in 2014. This is a trend which the party believes has come here to stay at least till the 2019 national elections in a state where the politics of erstwhile ruling parties, Congress, Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party, thrived on pandering to caste and religious fault lines.
By choosing Adityanath to govern India’s largest state, the top BJP leadership has sent across a strong message that it will not be apologetic about its Hindu nationalist credentials and that the country must be ready to expect the unexpected from the party. If BJP finds that the political message of having Adityanath as chief minister works till the next parliamentary polls, it’s fine. But if development take a back seat in the next two years, there is always scope for a mid-course correction because there will be still three years left for the next assembly elections in the state.

Needed a “new approach” to deal with N Korea: US

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US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reached Seoul on the second leg of a six-day sweep of Japan, South Korea and China, a nuclear hotspot gripped by high tensions following North Korea’s testing of missiles last week, on his first overseas visit since being appointed to the post.
As North Korea fired four missiles in quick succession, which splashed not far from the coast of Japan, the nuclear and military threat posed provoked the neighbouring countries to forge a plan on how best to confront a defiant Pyongyang and slow or halt its move to launch a nuclear strike.
North Korea’s military had launched an unprecedented 21 ballistic missiles in 2016 and set off two nuclear detonations. It has launched five missiles in the first 69 days of this year, making the region a potential nuclear flashpoint.
In both Tokyo and Seoul, the US top diplomat told the media that Washington is in search of a “new approach” for North Korea after what he described as two decades of failed efforts to denuclearize the country. In Tokyo on March 17, Mr Tillerson said two decades of diplomatic and other efforts, including a period when the US provided North Korea with $1.35 billion in assistance “to take a different pathway”, had come to nothing, an apparent dig at previous President Barrack Obama’s policy of “patience and engagement” with North Korea.
In China, Mr Tillerson is expected to convey to the Chinese leadership that the Donald Trump administration is keen on pursuing a constructive relationship with Beijing while remaining firm to ensure that China abides by international rules and that trade between the two countries is not eschewed in favour or disfavour of any side unfairly and conducted on a level playing field. He is also likely to sound out how China could give more opportunities for U.S. firms to export goods and services to that country.

Unravelling Modi tsunami in UP

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Call it the Modi tsunami or the strong desire of voters for a new political and development narrative in one of India’s most impoverished and caste-fragmented state of Uttar Pradesh. Either way, it is historic, as Mr Modi himself termed the spectacular show by India’s ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party in legislative assembly elections in the key political battleground state of Uttar Pradesh.
More than anything else, it reflects a huge consolidation of votes cutting across caste and religion affiliations. The BJP and its minor allies have won 312 of 403 state legislative assembly seats — a stunning mandate that even BJP chief Amit Shah acknowledged was “unexpected.”
The elections in UP and the other states were the first major test of Modi’s popularity in the wake of the banning of high-denomination currency notes in November-December last year in a bid to cleanse the country’s financial from the menace of black money.Analysts said the poll results in UP, which is largely an agrarian state, showed Mr Modi had succeeded in tapping into popular anger over corruption and black money with the demonetization move in a country where most transactions are cash-based. Clearly, people were more struck by the act of Mr Modi itself than by its consequences. It was a move that went beyond party and caste and affected everyone equally, especially the rich.

Diplomacy/Defence

India slams Pakistan’s Gilgit-Baltistan move as illegal

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India has termed as “illegal and completely unacceptable” reports emanating from Pakistan that Islamabad is trying to declare Gilgit-Baltistan, also known as the Northern Areas,⋅⋅⋅
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UNSC permanent seat: India, G4 tries new ‘pause’ veto power strategy

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India has made a fresh bid to win permanent membership of an expanded UN Security Council and laced it with an offer to renounce veto⋅⋅⋅
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26/11 terror: What’s new in what Pakistan’s ex-NSA said? It’s time for Pakistan to act

More than eight years after the Mumbai mayhem, there is no end to vacillation by Pakistan despite clinching evidence presented by India many a time

More than eight years after the Mumbai mayhem, there is no end to vacillation by Pakistan despite clinching evidence presented by India many a time⋅⋅⋅
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The Quote Hanger

We tell ourselves stories in order to live. _JOAN DIDION

In Conversation

Vietnam wants India to play a more active role in Southeast Asia: Envoy

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It’s a milestone year in India-Vietnam relations as the two strategic partners celebrate the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. This period has seen a marked acceleration of India-Vietnam relations across the spectrum, including in areas of trade and defence and development. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Vietnam in September 2015 saw the elevation of bilateral ties to the level of Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. The ongoing churn in South China Sea has imparted an added traction to enhancing strategic cooperation between India and Vietnam.
In this wide-ranging interview with Manish Chand, Editor-in-Chief, India Writes Network, Vietnam’s ambassador to India Ton Sinh Thanh outlines a vibrant picture of the trajectory of this crucial relationship and underlines the need for a more active role by India in Southeast Asia and the extended region. The envoy also underscored that the burgeoning India-Vietnam relations is not targeted at China or any third country and stressed on peaceful resolution of the South China Sea dispute through dialogue.
“Vietnam advocates an independent foreign policy and good relations with all nations in the world, including China. The growing India-Vietnam relationship is to serve the interests of both countries and for the sake of peace, stability and cooperation in the region. It is not targeted against any third party,” says the envoy.

Manmohan Singh was accidental finance minister, Narasimha Rao led 1991 reforms and foreign policy reset: Sanjaya Baru

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Who was the architect of India’s path-breaking economic reforms of 1991? No prize for guessing it? Think again, it’s time to get it right! In this wide-ranging conversation with Manish Chand, Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network, Dr Baru, a former media advisor to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and a veteran journalist, speaks about defining events of 1991, the pivotal year in not just India’s economic journey, but also in the country’s politics and foreign policy, and the crucial role of Narasimha Rao in shaping outcomes conducive to India’s national interests. In the realm of foreign policy, Dr Baru outlines defining steps taken by Narasimha Rao in response to emerging global power shifts, including the launch of Look East policy, resetting relations with the US and China and the outreach to Israel. Commenting on the ongoing political churn in India, the author says that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 2004 election victory has brought a quarter century of accidental prime ministers in the country to an end, but he needs a second term to leave a lasting legacy. Excerpts from the interview) – Read more….

The world is within you: Jack Makani

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At 72, Jack Makani defies his age. He is the epitome of fitness. He stands tall and looks suave, attired in his signature blue shirt tucked into a black trouser. A matching black leather belt and black shoes complete the look. A blue cardigan carelessly slung around his shoulder is quite a style statement at his age. He may be beyond all that, but it’s hard to miss his overall persona that spells enigma and magic, literally. On his fourth visit to India, Makani continues to propagate his philosophy of healing with the same zeal as he did years ago.

He is the founding Chairperson of Makani Academy and International Coach and Trainers Association (ICTA), a non-profit firm in Cyprus. He is an internationally certified NLP Master Trainer who has trained and certified several thousands in Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) which is an approach to communication, personal development, and psychotherapy. Makani is also the founder of Akasha Healing, a kind of spiritual and intuitive healing. For over three decades, Makani has been teaching his version of NLP and, Akasha Healing along with personal and spiritual development in many countries. He recently developed Hug and Heal campaign to provide psychological refuge to the earthquake survivors in Nepal and people around the world. His self-coaching books have been well-received by audience across the world. And how it all happened is quite a story.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has described his Bharatiya Janata Party’s stunning victory in assembly elections in India’s biggest state Uttar Pradesh as historic and underlined

BJP’S UP VICTORY A VOTE FOR DEVELOPMENT: MODI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has described his Bharatiya Janata Party’s stunning victory in assembly elections in India’s biggest state Uttar ...

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Basking in the glory of astounding electoral victory in India’s largest state of Uttar Pradesh, the head of India’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party Amit

UP VERDICT REJECTION OF POLITICS OF CASTE AND DYNASTY: AMIT SHAH

Basking in the glory of astounding electoral victory in India’s largest state of Uttar Pradesh, the head of India’s Hindu ...

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It’s set to be a special ‘Holi’ for India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party he leads. Saffron is the reigning colour as wild celebrations erupted outside the BJP’s national headquarters in Delhi and UP’s capital city of Lucknow. Swamped by fervour of this huge victory, party activists splashed a rainbow of colours, distributed sweets and set off crackers.

HISTORIC MOMENT FOR BJP IN UP, CONGRESS SCORES IN PUNJAB

It’s set to be a special ‘Holi’ for India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party he leads. ...

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In a spectacular saffron sweep, the Bharatiya Janata Party is heading for a landslide victory in assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, India’s largest state and the epicentre of the country’s politics.

SAFFRON SWEEP FOR BJP IN UP, MODI WAVE SWAMPS RIVALS

In a spectacular saffron sweep, the Bharatiya Janata Party is heading for a landslide victory in assembly elections in Uttar ...

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Exit polls broadcast by Indian television channels have projected India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi

EXIT POLLS UPBEAT ABOUT BJP’S PROSPECTS IN UP

Exit polls broadcast by Indian television channels have projected India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi

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What they Say

Modi heralds a “New India”

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“I am seeing a new India, the India of the dreams of the youth. A new India that fulfils the aspirations of our women. A⋅⋅⋅
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BJP’s UP victory a vote for development: Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has described his Bharatiya Janata Party’s stunning victory in assembly elections in India’s biggest state Uttar Pradesh as historic and underlined

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has described his Bharatiya Janata Party’s stunning victory in assembly elections in India’s biggest state Uttar Pradesh as historic and underlined⋅⋅⋅
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Apple will not exist without immigration:Cook

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The company (Apple) “would not exist without immigration, let alone thrive and innovate the way we do.” -Apple CEO Tim Cook on  US President Donald⋅⋅⋅
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BUSINESS WITH INDIA

Transform, Energise & Clean Budget: Tax relief for middle class, MSMES; boost for farmers

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With the overarching mantra of Transform, Energise and Clean India, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presented the Union Budget 2017 in parliament on February 1. “Our agenda for next year is to transform, energise and clean India,” said Mr Jaitley.

Budget Session: President focuses on financial inclusion, empowerment of poor

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India’s President Pranab Mukherjee kicked off the Budget session with his speech to a joint session of both houses of the parliament, in which he underscored the BJP-led NDA government’s vision of inclusive economy and governance by highlighting a slew of schemes directed at empowering the poor, the underprivileged and women. Mr Mukherjee described the move to merge the Railway and Union Budgets this year as “historic.”

CHINA CONNECT

Why India is wary of CPEC & OBOR: It’s sovereignty issue

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The China challenge or the China threat emerged as a leitmotif in a high-profile international conference in New Delhi, with India being upfront about its political differences with Beijing and asking the latter to respect India’s sovereignty in the course of building the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
India, however, took care to eschew a negative adversarial construct of India-China relations, with Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar making it clear that in New Delhi’s assessment, the rise of India and China can be “mutually supportive.” Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on his part, outlined briefly a template of harmonious India-China relations, saying “respect and sensitivity for each other’s core interests” holds the key.
“China is very sensitive on matters concerning its sovereignty. We expect they will respect other people’s sovereignty,” said Mr Jaishankar at the second edition of Raisina Dialogue, co-organised by India’s Ministry of External Affairs and Observer Research Foundation.

Decoding Tibet’s Investment Boom: A reality check

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The term ‘miracle’ recurs as a leitmotif in any discussion on China’s much-touted economic growth rates. Behind this miracle lies massive investments by the Chinese state. Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) are an additional yet enormous factor behind the miracle.
In trying to understand how investments could lay the foundations of future growth, a case study of the Tibet Autonomous Region becomes pertinent. Tibet, which is still one of the poorest provinces in the country, massively lacks infrastructural bases for industrial growth to take off. Tibet’s case stands out even more when compared with the southern and eastern provinces of China. However, given the “new normal” under which the country is currently operating, which means slower growth rates from the medium to long term, provinces which have traditionally not been the best performers in terms of contribution to China’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), are now being focussed upon by the state.

Africa Rising

Modi’s African Safari may yield major economic gains for India

At first sight, it may appear that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s African safari that begins on July 7 is yet another manifestation of his itch⋅⋅⋅
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As PM eyes new horizons in Africa, China factor looms

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When was the last time an Indian prime minister travelled to four African countries in one stretch? It’s a tough one, and is sure to evoke a long pause, followed by silence and murmurs of can’t remember. This question has been asked with a tinge of anguish many a time in Africa circles, but with Prime Minister Narendra Modi heading to Mozambique, South Africa, Kenya and Tanzania early this week, it’s going to be replaced, mercifully, by what’s next.

11 Indians held in Nigeria released

The ordeal of eleven Indians languishing in a Nigerian prison for two years has come to an end with their release. External Affairs Minister Sushma⋅⋅⋅
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Culture / Books / Ideas

Culture

Cultural diplomacy poised for a bigger role, to promote Brand India: ICCR chief Amarendra Khatua

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Politics divides, culture connects. In Shanghai, a pact was signed between India and China to recreate Raj Kapoor’s 1951 classic Awaara into a contemporary Chinese opera.
Amarendra Khatua, the new director-general of Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), who was in Shanghai to deliver the keynote address at the 18th China Shanghai International Arts Festival (CSIAF), struck an upbeat note on long-standing civilisational ties and promoting cultural exchanges in Tier-II and Tier-III cities in India and China. The joint theatrical remake of Awaara, which remains the most popular Indian movie in China, hints at more such collaborative cultural tie-ups India is set to pursue in days to come.
“Cultural diplomacy is poised to play a bigger role in India’s foreign policy calculus in days and months to come and promote Brand India,” said Khatua, a veteran diplomat who is also famous as an accomplished poet who writes and translates in English, Hindi and other Indian languages.

Namaste France: Celebrating Indo-French cultural connect

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Namaste France, Bonjour India! The cultural alchemy between India and France is for real, and is now seen in all its glory and myriad splendour in the moveable feast of Indian culture, songs, dance, films, plays and performances which has rolled out across cities in France, inviting the French to soak in the eternal wonder that is India.
The sheer scale of Namaste France festival is staggering and attest to the expanding canvas of India-France cultural relations: 75 days, 23 cities and the crème de la crème of India’s performing arts dazzling the French audience.

Indian Muslims have forged an Indo-Islamic Culture: VP Ansari

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Hailing the Indian Muslims who have lived in a religiously pluralistic society over the years and for intermingling with the local culture, India’s Vice President⋅⋅⋅
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BOOKS / POETRY

Garden of Enchanted Stones: Amarendra Khatua

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Amarendra Khatua’s anthology “Garden of Enchanted Stones & other poems” encircle around love, longing, exile, despair and the ephemerality of existence. Half-made songs of love⋅⋅⋅
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Diwali: The Bowl of Light

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Inner Darkness primordial, sempiternal, deep As you sow, so shall you reap. You think, earthlings, lighting up a few candles and Diwali diyas, will brighten⋅⋅⋅
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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

Nevada bets on India, to open tourism office soon

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Nevada, the US’ western state known for casinos and picturesque landscape, is betting big on luring more tourists from India. Nevada Lt Governor Thomas Hutchinson⋅⋅⋅
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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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