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Gandhinagar

Rear Admiral Sanjay Roye takes over as new FOC, Gujarat Naval Area

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Rear Admiral Sanjay Roye took over as the third Flag Officer Commanding of the Gujarat, Daman and Diu Naval Area (FOGNA) from Rear Admiral Sandeep Beecha at a ceremony at Gandhinagar near here today.
 
Gujarat, in view of its strategic location and vast coastline of 1600 km, plays a very significant role in the security and economic dynamics of the nation. 
 
FOGNA is responsible to the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Naval Command for all naval operations in Gujarat, Daman and Diu Naval Area, security of its coast and Offshore Development Areas which contribute significantly to India’s commercial and maritime economic activities.
 
Rear Admiral Roye joined National Defence Academy in 1983 and was commissioned in the Indian Navy in 1986. He is a recipient of the coveted ‘Binoculars’ and ‘CNS Gold Medal’ for being adjudged the ‘Best All-round Cadet’ and ‘First in Order of Merit’ during cadets and midshipman training, respectively.
 
The officer belongs to the Submarine Arm of the Indian Navy and is a Navigation and Direction Specialist. He has held a number of staff appointments on board submarines and has commanded Indian Naval Submarines Sindhurakshak, Sindhuraj and Chakra.
 
He has also held a number of key ashore appointments, including Commodore Commanding Submarines (West) and Commanding Officer, INS Vajrabahu. Prior to the present appointment as the Flag Officer Commanding, Gujarat Daman and Diu Naval Area, the Flag Officer held the appointment of Project Director (Operations & Training) at Headquarters, Advance Technology Vessel Project in New Delhi.
 
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Rahul Gandhi hits out at Modi, says voice of Gujarat's youth can't be suppressed

Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi on Monday launched one of his fiercest attacks on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP government in Gujarat and asserted that the voice of the youth in the poll-bound state could not be suppressed or bought.

Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi with OBC leader Alpesh Thakor at the Navsarjan Janadesh Mahasammelan in Gandhinagar, Gujarat on October 23, 2017.
Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi with OBC leader Alpesh Thakor at the Navsarjan Janadesh Mahasammelan in Gandhinagar, Gujarat on October 23, 2017.
Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi today launched one of his fiercest attacks on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Gujarat and asserted that the voice of the youth in the poll-bound state could not be suppressed or bought.
 
Addressing a rally here, at which Other Backward Classes (OBC) leader Alpesh Thakor formally joined the Congress, Mr. Gandhi said the youth of Gujarat, whichever caste or community they belonged to, would no longer remain silent and their voices could not be "suppressed" or "purchased".
 
Elections to the Gujarat Legislative Assembly are due to be held in the next few weeks, and both the BJP, which has been in power for more than two decades, and the Congress, which is making a bid to regain power after years in the wilderness, are going all out to woo the voters.
 
In an effort to strengthen the anti-BJP camp, the Congress had recently invited Mr. Thakore, Patidar leader Hardik Patel and Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani to join its fold. 
 
Mr. Gandhi's remarks came just hours after the BJP suffered two jolts when, first, Narendra Patel, an aide of Mr. Hardik Patel, who had joined the ruling party yesterday along with two others, held a press conference late last night to say that he was offered Rs. 1 crore to join the BJP.
 
He said he had been given Rs. 10 lakhs as advance by Mr. Varun Patel, who had also joined the BJP with him, after they had met the BJP leadership together. He produced before journalists the Rs. 10 lakh in cash that he had allegedly received from Mr. Varun Patel, adding that he had been promised the remaining Rs. 90 lakh on Monday.
 
"But even if they give me the entire Reserve Bank (of India), they cannot buy me," Mr. Narendra Patel said.
 
Mr. Varun Patel was one of the key aides of Mr. Hardik Patel in the Patidar community's agitation for reservation in state government jobs. The third person who joined the BJP on Sunday was Ms. Reshma Patel, anotehr aide of Mr. Hardik Patel.
 
Mr. Narendra Patel said he had decided to take the money and display it before the media to expose Mr. Varun Patel and the BJP.
 
This morning, another Patidar leader, Nikhil Sawani, announced his resignation from the BJP, which he had joined a fortnight ago, citing unfulfilled promises made by the party to the community.
 
The BJP denied Mr. Narendra Patel's allegations and said it was all a conspiracy hatched by the Congress to embarass the ruling party.
 
At today's rally, organised by Mr. Thakor's organisation, Mr. Gandhi latched on to the bribery allegation made by Mr. Narendra Patel.
 
“This Gujarati voice is not an ordinary voice. This voice of Gujarat cannot be silenced or suppressed. You can offer any thing, one crore, 10 crore, 50 crore,  1,000 crore, the entire budget of India, the entire money in the world, but this Gujarati voice cannot be bought," Mr. Gandhi said.
 
 
Rahul Gandhi mocks Modi on demonetisation
During Mr. Gandhi's address, Mr Thakor had asked the crowd to remain silent and listen to the speech. At this, Mr. Gandhi said, “You want to make the crowd silent, Alpeshji. But they cannot remain silent. Modiji has harassed them so much that they cannot remain silent.”
 
“There are thousands of youths in Gujarat who cannot remain silent now. They belong to all castes. There are two more youths like you. They are Hardik and Jignesh. Both of them cannot remain silent,” he said.
 
He said there were attempts in the past, too, to suppress this voice, referring to the efforts by the then rulers to muzzle Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel, who hailed from Gujarat.
 
“Sardar Patelji, Gandhiji were from this land and they used to protect the voice of Gujarat,” he said. “But today this government wants to suppress Gujarat’s voice. They are so scared that they want to buy this voice.
 
"Modiji, there is no price tag for this voice. Modiji, you cannot purchase Gujarat’s voice," he said.
 
Mr. Gandhi began by saying that, for the first time, almost all sections of people in Gujarat were in agitation mode. He said that this was because, for the past 22 hours, the Gujarat government was working not for the people of the state but for just five or ten industrialists.
 
He went on to speak about the lack of enough jobs for the youth in the state and the rest of the country.
 
He said that while Mr. Modi goes regularly on radio to speak about his Mann Ki Baat, if the Congress were to be voted to power in Gujarat it would listen to the voice of the people and try and meet their aspirations. 
 
He said that, in Gujarat, education had been privatised in many cases and students had to pay huge amounts as fees, which they could ill afford. And when they pass out of these institutions, the state has no jobs to offer them, he said.
 
Similarly, he said the state's health infrastructure was dominated by the private sector, putting it out of the reach of the poor.
 
Mr. Gandhi said the government had written off loans worth Rs. 1.30 lakh crore taken by the industry, but did not want to waive the loans of farmers, who were reeling under debt. He spoke about the huge incentives offered to industries in the state and there were no signs that any of it had benefited the people of the state.
 
He also took yet another swipe at Mr. Modi for remaining silent on the allegations in media reports against BJP President Amit Shah's son Jay Shah's company which had allegedly registered a sharp rise in its revenues from just Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 80 crore after the present government assumed office at the Centre in 2014. "He won't utter a word, this is the reality," he said.
 
Mr. Gandhi said that, if voted to power, the Congress would provide a government in Gujarat that worked from Gandhinagar and for all sections of people and all communities, including the youth, women, farmers, workers. "Whatever I can do for the youth -- education, health, employment, I will do with all my heart and strength," he promised.
 
The Congress Vice-President also attacked the Modi government for the November 8, 2016 demonetisation of Rs. 1000 and Rs. 500 banknotes and for the "hasty" implementation of the Goods and Service Tax (GST). He said the BJP's version of the GST law was vastly different from what the Congress had proposed during its tenure in office and felt that the government would have to listen to the people and simplify the regime and reduce the number of tax slabs.
 
Descrbing GST as "Gabbar Singh Tax", in a reference to the villain in the blockbuster Hindi movie Sholay of 1975, he said the new system and the demonetisation had imposed untold misery on the people, especially small traders.
 
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Heat waves projected to become more frequent in India

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Heat waves in India are projected to become more frequent during the current century under different climate change scenarios, a new study has concluded.
 
Even if the global mean temperature is limited to 2 degrees above pre-industrial conditions – as being targeted under global climate change negotiations - the frequency of severe heat waves will rise by 8 times in the middle of the century (2021–2050), and 30 times the current level by the end of the century.
 
Under the 2 degree temperature rise scenario, population exposure to severe heatwaves is projected to increase by about 15 and 92 times the current level by the mid- and end-21st century, respectively, according to the study led by scientists at Water and Climate Lab of the Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar.
 
The increasing trend of heat waves in India is already visible. Data shows that there has been a substantial increase in the frequency of heat waves during the period of 1951-2015. Based on the heat wave magnitude (an indicator of heat wave severity), the five most severe heat waves out of the top ten heat waves in the entire record (1951-2015) have occurred after 1990 – in 1995, 1998 and 2012.
 
Researchers said strategies to reduce population growth in India during the century may provide only limited mitigation of heat wave exposure mostly late in the century. “Limiting global temperatures to 1.5 degree above pre-industrial levels would reduce the exposure by half relative to Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP8.5) by the mid-21st century. If global temperatures are to exceed 1.5 degree then substantial measures will be required to offset the large increase in exposure to severe heat waves in India,” the study said.
 
Heat waves have a direct impact on human health, even causing large scale mortality. If global temperatures are to reach 2 degree threshold, these impacts will exacerbate unless measures are taken to reduce exposure to heat. Such steps will include modification of land cover, construction of shelters, promoting use of passive and active cooling systems, modification in daily behavioural patterns, and development of emergency public services.
 
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 “India currently has a low penetration of air conditioning; increased penetration could substantially reduce exposure for many people, though not for those who labour outdoors,” the study notes.
 
“Extremely hot days and heat waves have become more frequent in India during recent years. The 2015 heat wave caused over 2000 deaths. The heat waves that can have a large mortality are projected to become common in the coming decades. More alarming is that even if we mitigate the climate change and limit global warming to below two degrees, severe heat waves are projected to occur every year,” explained Dr Vimal Mishra of IIT Gandhinagar, who led the study.
 
“We find the not only these severe heat waves will become more frequent but they will cover the large area of the country in coming decades, which will result in a significant number of people getting exposed to it. The only way we can reduce the negative impacts is to reduce greenhouse gases emissions otherwise the cost of adaptation (in terms of healthcare, cooling systems, energy demands) can be enormous,” Dr. Mishra added.
 
The study is based on past temperature data from the India Meteorological Department (IMD), while projections about future changes are based on gridded observed data of maximum air temperature as well as simulations from global climate models.
 
The research team included Vimal Mishra and Sourav Mukherjee from IIT Gandhinagar, Rohini Kumar (UFZ-Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Leipzig, Germany) and Dáithí A. Stone (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley). The study has been published in journal Environmental Research Letters. 
 
(India Science Wire)
 
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PM dedicates IIT Gandhinagar campus to nation during Gujarat visit

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi today dedicated the campus of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Gandhinagar to the nation and said his government was working on spreading digital literacy to every part of India, among all age groups and sections of society.
 
"In this day and age, we cannot afford to have a digital divide," he asserted, adding that a Digital India guarantees transparency, effective service delivery and good governance. 
 
Addressing a public meeting here, at which a large number of IIT students were also present, Mr. Modi said, "You are IIT-ians, I was a Tea-ian when I was young," referring to the times when he used to sell tea on railway platforms.
 
"On this day, a few years ago, I took oath as Chief Minister for the first time. Till then, I had never even been an MLA. I had decided that whatever I will do, I will do to the best of my abilities," the Prime Minister said. 
 
He also felicitated trainees under the Pradhan Mantri Gramin Digital Saksharta Abhiyan. 
 
Mr. Modi said academics should not be examination-driven and there should be focus on innovation.
 
Earlier in the day, Mr. Modi began his two-day visit to the state by offering prayers at the Dwarkadheesh Temple at Dwarka. 
 
He also unveiled plaques to mark the laying of foundation stones for a bridge between Okha and Beyt Dwarka; and other road development projects. 
 
The Prime Minister said he saw a new energy and enthusiasm in Dwarka today. He said the bridge whose foundation stone has been laid, is a means to reconnect with our ancient heritage. It will boost tourism, which will generate employment, he added, noting that development will be the key to promoting tourism. 
 
He recalled how lack of infrastructure, led to difficulties and challenges for the people of Beyt Dwarka, some years ago. 
 
Mr. Modi said that the development of the tourism sector cannot happen in isolation. He said that if we want to draw more tourists to Gir, we should also inspire the tourists to visit other nearby places like Dwarka. 
 
Building of infrastructure should enhance economic activities and add to the atmosphere of development, the Prime Minister said. "We want development of ports and port-led development; the blue economy should help further the progress of India," he added. 
 
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The Prime Minister said that the Government of India is taking steps towards the empowerment of fishermen. He said Kandla Port is seeing unprecedented growth because resources were devoted to improve the port. He said a new lease of life has been given to Alang, and steps taken for the welfare of the labourers working there. 
 
He said that the Government is modernising the marine security apparatus. An institute for this will be set up in this Devbhoomi of Dwarka, he added. 
 
Speaking on the decisions taken by consensus in the GST Council meeting yesterday, the Prime Minister said that when there is trust in a government and when policies are made with best intentions, it is natural for people to support it for the best interests of the nation. 
 
The Prime Minister asserted that the Government wants to help fulfil the aspirations of the people, and fight poverty. 
 
He said that the world's attention is being drawn to India, and people are coming to invest here. "I see Gujarat contributing actively to the development of India and congratulate the Gujarat Government," he said.
 
Mr. Modi later addressed a public meeting at Chotila, in Surendranagar district. He laid the foundation stones for a greenfield airport for Rajkot; six-laning of Ahmedabad-Rajkot National Highway; and four-laning of Rajkot-Morbi State Highway. He also dedicated to the nation, a fully automatic milk processing and packaging plant; and a drinking water distribution pipeline for Joravarnagar and Ratanpur area of Surendranagar. 
 
The Prime Minister said that it was hard to imagine an airport in Surendranagar district. He said such development works empower citizens. 
 
He said aviation cannot be about rich people. We have made aviation affordable and within reach of the lesser privileged, he added. 
 
The Prime Minister said that the definition of development has changed. From the days when handpumps were seen to be a sign of development, today the waters of the Narmada River have been brought for the benefit of citizens. He said Surendranagar district tends to benefit a lot from the waters of the Narmada. He urged people to use water responsibly, and conserve every drop. The Prime Minister said that the Sursagar Dairy would bring enormous benefit to the people. He also recalled how former Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel had worked towards making better and safer roads. 
 
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Modi invites more Japanese to invest, live and work in India

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi today invited more and more Japanese people and companies to come, live and work in India, stressing that Japan could benefit tremendously with the size and scale of the country's potential an the skilled hands that it offered.
 
"In fact, all of India’s development agenda is relevant for Japanese companies," he said in his address at the India-Japan Business Leaders Forum here, at which Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was also present.
 
"To allow entry of capital and technology, we have worked hard on opening our economy. Every day we are making it easier to invest and do business in India. We have already resolved a number of regulatory and policy issues facing the businesses and companies. We have got very good results of these efforts," he said.
 
Mr. Modi said India and Japan were ancient civilizations and vibrant democracies which knew how to distribute the fruits of progress and prosperity to the common man.
 
"India needs affordable solutions and processes which can ease the delivery of government services to its citizens. Japan needs opportunities where it can deploy its hard earned knowledge and technology. I have been saying that 21st Century is Asia's Century. I have also been saying that India and Japan will play a major role in Asia's emergence. The growing convergence between India and Japan on strategic and economic issues has the capacity to stimulate the global economy. I am confident that Strong India and Strong Japan will also be a stabilising factor in Asia and the world.
 
"In this mutual and global pursuit I thank Prime Minister Abe and Japan for being a perfect partner," he said.
 
Mr. Modi said his personal engagement with the leadership, government, industry and people of Japan was now a decade old.
 
"When I first visited Japan as Chief Minister of Gujarat, I had said that.... I want to see a mini Japan in Gujarat. Today, that dream has come true. I am happy to see so many friends from Japan happily living and doing business in Gujarat. It also gives me great pleasure to see so many familiar faces here. I am also happy to see that dedicated townships, clusters and institutions have come up to make the Japanese life and work experience better. Today also, one Japanese township has been announced. Gujarat's Industry and Government still cherish the fact that Japan became the first partner country in the Vibrant Gujarat event. Not only did this partnership continue, but our engagement has kept growing. It has resulted in much greater level of engagement of the Japanese industry with the Indian economy. I thank Keidanren, JETRO and other organisations for helping us in this process. The mechanism of Japan Plus has also helped in the process of hand holding," he said.
 
"The Government and the people of Japan have always shown great affection towards me and my country. In fact, 1.25 billion people of India have the same affection for the Japanese people. I am particularly grateful to Prime Minister Abe for his encouragement and support at a personal level. Prime Minister Abe and I do not miss any opportunity to meet. This closeness and understanding has helped us bridge a number of gaps in our bilateral relations. Last year has seen the highest ever disbursement of Official Development Assistance from Japan in a financial year. Similarly, the number of Japanese companies working in India has gone up steadily in the last few years. From the activities launched today, you can see the depth of relationship between the two countries," he said.
 
In this context, he referred to the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail Project, for which Mr. Abe and he laid the foundation stone in Ahmedabad today.
 
"We are grateful for the support of the Japanese Government for this project. I hope that the construction of the 500-km long bullet train will begin soon and it would become operational by 2022-23. Along with the High Speed Rail project, a training institute is also taking shape. It will prepare the makers of a New India – the highly skilled manpower required to build, operate and maintain the high speed railway.
 
"Second is the development of Japanese Industrial Townships: countrywide, four locations have been finalized. Apart from Gujarat, they are located in Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
 
"Third is our cooperation in automobiles: The Suzuki plant at Maandal is exporting cars worldwide, and foundation has been laid for production of lithium-ion batteries to power the next generation hybrid and electric vehicles.
 
"Fourth is for Human Resource Development through the Japan-India Institutes of Manufacturing They are being developed by Japanese companies. In addition to Gujarat, they will be developed in Karnataka, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu.
 
"You know that the ancient and holy city of Varanasi is my second home. The project of Varanasi Convention Centre is a symbol of cultural co-operation between Kyoto city of Japan and Varanasi. It was conceived by Prime Minister Abe and I when we visited Varanasi together in 2015. I have named it Rudraksh – the symbol of love, and a Prasad of Lord Shiva to Humanity. This Rudraksh will be a garland of love of Japan for Varanasi. It will also be a tribute to our shared Buddhist heritage present at Sarnath too. For Japan’s financial assistance to this project, I extend my warmest personal thanks to Prime Minister Abe. 
 
"You have also seen some other announcements for investment by Japanese companies. On political and strategic side too, this visit of Prime Minister Abe has been very productive. We have concluded a number of agreements on very important matters. All this shows the depth of our understanding and the comfort and confidence which we have with each other," he said.
 
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Mr. Modi said that, over the last three years, the Government had worked very hard on the Ease of Doing Business front. He said a series of administrative reforms had significantly improved the business sentiment in the country. 
 
"These reforms and initiatives are all aimed at preparing India for the 21st century. They are aimed at transforming the country and making a New India. Powered by the energy of our youth, we are positioning India as a global manufacturing hub. For this purpose, we have launched the ‘Make in India’ campaign. We are also developing India into a knowledge based, skill supported and technology driven society. A grand beginning has already been made through our drives like Digital India and Skill India. For the same purpose, we have started the Start-up India campaign. India is ranked 3rd in the Global Start-Up Eco-system, and has seen a momentous rise in the past couple of years. The Start-Up India initiative also aims to build a strong eco-system of innovation. On infrastructure side also, my Government has launched ambitious initiatives. These projects create and present life time opportunities to investors. This includes 100 Smart Cities Mission, Housing for 50 million homeless, building roads, bridges, ports, railways tracks as well as stations," he said.
 
Mr. Modi listed various global recognitions received by India in recent times, including moving up in the index of Ease of Doing Business of the World Bank.
 
"We have moved up 32 places in last two years in the Global Competitiveness Index of the World Economic Forum – this is higher than any other country; We have also moved up 21 places on the Global Innovation Index of WIPO, the World Intellectual Property Organization in two years. We moved 19 places on the Logistics Performance Index of 2016 of World Bank; and We are 3rd among the top 10 FDI destinations listed by UNCTAD the UN Conference on Trade and Development. India’s biggest tax reform, the GST has been introduced recently. With this, we are also moving towards a modern tax regime, which is transparent, stable and predictable. 
 
"Today, India has one of the most liberal FDI regimes in the world. More than 90 percent of the FDI approvals have been put on automatic route. We have abolished the Foreign Investment Promotion Board. This liberalization has seen India’s FDI reach 60 billion dollars in the last financial year. FDI flows from Japan have almost tripled in last three years. The new Insolvency & Bankruptcy Code will make it easier for investors to have an exit. We are setting up commercial courts and commercial divisions to ensure speedy disposal of commercial matters. Arbitration proceedings will now become faster as the Arbitration law has been amended. We have also announced a new Intellectual Property Rights policy. These are just a few examples of the direction in which we are moving. We will do more and more; better and better; faster and faster," he added.
 
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India-Japan Joint Statement

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, at Mahatma Mandir, in Gandhinagar, Gujarat for the 12th  India-Japan Annual Summit, on September 14, 2017.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, at Mahatma Mandir, in Gandhinagar, Gujarat for the 12th India-Japan Annual Summit, on September 14, 2017.
Following is the text of the Joint Statement issued by India and Japan during visit of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan to India on September 14, 2017:
 
Toward a Free, Open and Prosperous Indo-Pacific
 
H.E. Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan is paying an official visit to India from 13 September to 14 September, 2017 at the invitation of H.E. Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India. On 14 September, the two Prime Ministers held strategic discussions on a wide range of issues under the Special Strategic and Global Partnership between the two countries.
 
1. The two Prime Ministers welcomed significant deepening of bilateral relations in the past three years and the growing convergence in the political, economic and strategic interests, based on the firm foundation of common values and traditions, as well as on an emerging consensus on contemporary issues of peace, security and development. They decided to work together to elevate their partnership to the next level to advance common strategic objectives at a time when the global community is faced with new challenges.
 
2. The two Prime Ministers affirmed strong commitment to their values-based partnership in achieving a free, open and prosperous Indo-Pacific region where sovereignty and international law are respected, and differences are resolved through dialogue, and where all countries, large or small, enjoy freedom of navigation and overflight, sustainable development, and a free, fair, and open trade and investment system.
 
3.  The two Prime Ministers underlined that India and Japan could play a central role in safeguarding and strengthening such a rules-based order. To this end, they pledged to reinforce their efforts to:
 
- align Japan’s Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy with India’s Act East Policy, including through enhancing maritime security cooperation, improving connectivity in the wider Indo-Pacific region, strengthening cooperation with ASEAN, and promoting discussions between strategists and experts of the two countries;
- enhance defence and security cooperation and dialogues, including the MALABAR and other joint exercises, defence equipment and technology cooperation in such areas as surveillance and unmanned system technologies, and defence industry cooperation.
- ensure partnerships for prosperity through the India-Japan Investment Promotion Partnership, speedy implementation of key infrastructure projects including the Mumbai Ahmedabad High Speed Railway (MAHSR), and advancing cooperation in the fields of energy, smart cities, information and communication technology, space, science and technology, bio-technology, pharmaceuticals and health.
- strengthen people-to-people and cultural ties through enhanced Japanese language teaching in India and collaboration in the fields of tourism, civil aviation, higher education, women’s education, skills development and sports;
- work together on global challenges such as proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs), terrorism, space and cyber security, United Nations Security Council (UNSC) reform, climate change and environment;
- strengthen trilateral cooperation frameworks with the United States, Australia and other countries.
 
Reinforcing Defence and Security Cooperation
 
4. The two Prime Ministers emphasised the significance of defence and security cooperation in enhancing the strategic partnership between the two countries. In this context, they welcomed the regular and institutionalised engagement through the annual Defence Ministerial Dialogue, the National Security Advisers' dialogue, the "2+2” Dialogue, the Defence Policy Dialogue and Service-to-Service staff talks.
 
5. The two Prime Ministers commended the significant progress achieved in maritime security cooperation evidenced by the expansion in scale and complexity of the MALABAR Exercise in the Bay of Bengal in July 2017 (MALABAR-17). They noted the ongoing close cooperation between the Indian Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSDF) in various specialised areas of mutual interest, including anti-submarine aspects. They also acknowledged the importance of bilateral cooperation in maritime security by strengthening and enhancing exchanges in expanding maritime domain awareness (MDA) in the Indo-Pacific region.
 
6. The two Prime Ministers shared the intention to expand joint exercises and cooperation in such areas as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR), peacekeeping operations(PKOs), counter-terrorism including the possibility of joint field exercises between Indian Army and Japan’s Ground Self-Defence Force (JGSDF) in 2018, and reciprocal visits by air assets to each other’s country. They welcomed significant development in the long-standing partnership between the two Coast Guards, including the 16th High Level Meeting and the joint exercise in Yokohama in January 2017 between the two coast guards.
 
7. The two Prime Ministers noted recent progress in bilateral cooperation on defence equipment and technology, including the commencement of the technical discussion for the future research collaboration in the area of Unmanned Ground Vehicles and Robotics. Japan’s readiness to provide its state-of-the-art US-2 amphibian aircraft was appreciated as symbolising the high degree of trust between the two countries. The two governments decided to continue their discussions in this regard.
 
8. The two Prime Ministers welcomed the recently held annual Defence Ministerial Dialogue and the first Defence Industry Forum in Tokyo on 5 September, which was addressed by the two Defence Ministers as well as the discussions covering other promising initiatives in defence industry cooperation. They recognised the importance of enhancing interactions between governments and defence industries of the two countries in order to encourage equipment collaboration including defence and dual-use technologies.
 
9. The two Prime Ministers welcomed the holding of the Second India-Japan Cyber Dialogue in New Delhi on 17 August this year and reaffirmed their commitment to an open, free, secure, stable, peaceful and accessible cyberspace, enabling economic growth and innovation as well as mutual cooperation in this regard. 
 
Working Together for a Better Connected World
 
10. The two Prime Ministers expressed their strong commitment to work together to enhance connectivity in India and with other countries in the Indo-Pacific region including Africa. They welcomed the deepening of their connectivity dialogue aimed at achieving concrete progress, and decided to further accelerate such an initiative.
 
11. The two Prime Ministers also underlined the importance of all countries ensuring the development and use of connectivity infrastructure in an open, transparent and non-exclusive manner based on international standards and responsible debt financing practices, while ensuring respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, the rule of law, and the environment. They also reaffirmed the importance of "quality infrastructure” which, among others ensures alignment with local economic and development strategies, safety, resilience, social and environmental impacts, and job creation as well as capacity building for the local communities.
 
12. The two Prime Ministers welcomed the efforts to explore the development of industrial corridors and industrial network for the growth of Asia and Africa, which will benefit various stakeholders in the Indo-Pacific region including Africa. They shared the desire to further promote cooperation and collaboration in Africa in line with the priority measures identified through the India-Japan dialogue on Africa and the processes of the India Africa Forum Summit (IAFS) and Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD).
 
13. The two Prime Ministers welcomed the India-Japan cooperation on development of India’s North Eastern Region (NER) as a concrete symbol of developing synergies between India’s Act East policy and Japan’s Free and Open Indo Pacific Strategy. In this context, they noted with satisfaction the setting up of the India-Japan Act East Forum. They appreciated the cooperation between Japan and North Eastern Region of India, ranging from key infrastructure such as road connectivity, electricity, water supply and sewage, to social and environmental sustainability such as afforestation and community empowerment, as well as people-to-people exchanges including the "IRIS Program” inviting youth from the NER to Japan.
 
14. The two Prime Ministers also stressed the importance of the development of the smart islands to enhance regional connectivity and decided to further accelerate consultations to identify technologies, infrastructure and development strategies for the purpose.
 
Partnership for prosperity
 
15. The two Prime Ministers welcomed the commencement of the project on the ground at the Sabarmati Station for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Rail (MAHSR), which will be an important symbol of a new era marked by the 75th Anniversary of India’s Independence. Expressing satisfaction at the steady progress, they directed their teams to multiply their efforts for achieving the target schedule.
 
16. The two Prime Ministers welcomed the exchange of notes for 100 billion yen as the first ODA loan for the MAHSR project. They also witnessed commencement of the construction of the HSR training institute in Vadodara. They appreciated the commencement of the JICA technical cooperation program for the capacity development of the National High Speed Rail Corporation.
 
17. The two Prime Ministers committed to advancing "Make in India” and transfer of technology in HSR projects, and expressed optimism in this direction. They welcomed the series of business matching efforts to establish India-Japan cooperation, such as the prospective technology collaboration between Kawasaki and BHEL. Both sides will explore further strengthening of partnership in high speed railways. They also recognised that there is potential for further collaboration between India and Japan in the modernisation and expansion of the conventional railway system and the construction of metro rails in India. They also highlighted the importance of the safety of conventional railways, and appreciated the commencement of the JICA technical cooperation program by the dispatch of railways safety experts of Japan in August 2017,followed by a railway safety seminar and other programs.
 
18. Prime Minister Modi updated Prime Minister Abe about his Government’s efforts for the country’s economic and social development. Prime Minister Abe reiterated Japan’s strong support for the initiatives such as "Make in India”, "Digital India”, "Skill India”, "Smart City”, "Clean India,” and "Start-Up India”. Prime Minister Abe highly appreciated Prime Minister Modi’s economic reforms, especially the historic introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), which facilitates ease of doing business and promotes market integration in India by realising a simple, efficient and nation-wide indirect tax system.
 
19. The two Prime Ministers welcomed the expansion of Japan’s Foreign Direct Investment in India under the "India-Japan Investment Promotion Partnership”, committed to by both sides in 2014. They shared the view that the India-Japan Roadmap for Investment Promotion will provide greater impetus to "Make in India” through investment promotion activities, expanding the scope of professional services and assistance provided by JETRO to Japanese Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) operating in India, Review Mechanisms for Issue Resolution and Approvals, Single Window Clearance Procedures, Japan Industrial Townships and infrastructure development. Prime Minister Abe expressed appreciation for the facilitation provided by "Japan Plus”, and the coordination by the Core Group. They also welcomed the progress in the projects of the Western Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC), through JICA, the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) including the DMIC Logistic Data Bank Project and expressed expectations of promoting industrial investment in DMIC cities. They welcomed the signing of "the Joint Statement on the Development of the New Capital City and Industrial Cooperation in Andhra Pradesh”. They also welcomed Japanese cooperation for smart city projects in Ahmedabad, Chennai as well as Varanasi.
 
20. The two Prime Ministers welcomed the signing of the Memorandum of Cooperation on the joint development of the "Japan and India Special Program for Make in India” in Mandal-Becharaj-Khoraj, Gujarat, as a regional development project driven by manufacturing cluster, and the plan to establish a JETRO’s Business Support Centre in its Ahmedabad office to promote Japanese SMEs investment in Gujarat.
 
21.  The two Prime Ministers welcomed the start of the first four Japan-India Institutes for Manufacturing (JIMs) in the States of Gujarat, Karnataka, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu in 2017,under the Manufacturing Skill Transfer Promotion Program, and looked forward to more JIMs. They also welcomed the commencement of the first Japanese Endowed Courses (JEC) in Andhra Pradesh from September 2017. They strongly hoped that this program will introduce Japanese manufacturing practices and accelerate training of future shop floor leaders and engineers.
 
22. The two Prime Ministers expressed the confidence that synergy between Japan’s advanced technology and India’s rich human resources can transform both countries into new centres of production in the global industrial network. They underscored the potential to further cooperate in human resources development and exchanges, including through utilising such frameworks as Japan’s "Innovative Asia” initiative and the Technical Intern Training Program(TITP).
 
23. The two Prime Ministers noted with satisfaction the significant contribution of Japan’s ODA to the socio-economic development of India, especially the historically highest ever amount of ODA loan provided through JICA in the last two consecutive years. Prime Minister Abe expressed Japan’s intention to continue to support India’s efforts for social and industrial development including building key infrastructure projects.
 
24.  Prime Minister Modi appreciated the provision of ODA loan to the following projects, in addition to the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High Speed Railway (MAHSR) Project and its related training institute:
 
- Project for Upgradation of Environmental Management for Ship Recycling in Alang and Sosiya in Gujarat
 
- North East Road Network Connectivity Improvement Project (Phase 2)
 
- Kolkata East-West Metro Project (III)
 
- Gujarat Investment Promotion Program
 
In this regard, the two Prime Ministers welcomed progress in the ODA projects in urban transportation sector such as the Delhi, Chennai, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata and Ahmedabad Metro, the Mumbai Trans-Harbour Link Project, and the introduction of the Intelligence Transport System along with the Eastern Peripheral Highway in Delhi.
 
25. The two Prime Ministers expressed satisfaction at the entry into force of the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of India and the Government of Japan for Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy. They looked forward to a working group to strengthen bilateral cooperation in this field and reiterated their shared view that the Agreement reflects a new level of mutual confidence and strategic partnership in the cause of clean energy, economic development and a peaceful and secure world.
 
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26. The two Prime Ministers recognised that access to reliable, clean and affordable energy is critical for the economic growth of both countries. In this regard, they decided to strengthen bilateral energy cooperation and welcomed the India-Japan Energy Partnership Initiative as well as early convening of 9th Energy dialogue. They appreciated Japan’s proposal for India-Japan Clean Energy and Energy Efficiency Cooperation Plan. They also welcomed the efforts to promote renewable energy, including the establishment of the International Solar Alliance (ISA), and the progress of New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO)’s demonstration project such as a micro grid system using solar power in Neemrana. They looked forward to further acceleration of cooperation in areas of energy saving, energy efficiency and energy storage as well as manufacturing of eco-friendly vehicles including hybrid and electric vehicles.
 
27. In this regard, the two Prime Ministers welcomed the opening of the first lithium-ion battery factory in India by a joint venture of three Japanese companies – Suzuki, Toshiba and Denso as well as a new automotive factory this year. They decided to further promote public and private sector collaboration to make environmentally friendly and energy efficient technologies accessible and affordable to the general public, recognising that such investments facilitate India’s National Electric Mobility Mission Plan 2020 (NEMMP) and Faster Adoption of Manufacturing of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles (FAME) vision, and underlined the importance of support measures to promote eco-friendly vehicles including in terms of "Make in India” and transfer of technology.
 
28. The two Prime Ministers also stressed that sustainable ship industry is one of the key areas for sustainable growth of India, and reaffirmed their intention to achieve an early conclusion of the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, 2009.
 
29. The two Prime Ministers recognised the important role of science and technology in dealing with both developmental and societal challenges, and underlined the importance of enhanced bilateral cooperation in such fields as IoT, ICT, marine science, biomedical sciences, genetics, stem cell technology, and heavy ion radiotherapy. In this regard, they welcomed the successful holding of the 9th India-Japan Joint Committee on Science and Technology Cooperation in January 2017 in Delhi.
 
30. The two Prime Ministers welcomed the progress made in the bilateral IT and IoT cooperation through the bilateral Joint Working Group on IT and Electronics, in particular by the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) of India and IoT Acceleration Consortium (ITAC) of Japan.
 
31. The two Prime Ministers directed their respective sides to work closely to establish an India Japan Startup Hub, which will serve as a platform for promotion of information exchange, business collaboration and investments between the vibrant and innovative Startup ecosystems of two countries.
 
32. The two Prime Ministers acknowledged that outer space is an ever-expanding frontier of human endeavour and welcomed the deepening of cooperation between the space agencies of the two countries in the field of earth observation, satellite based navigation, space sciences and lunar exploration. They welcomed establishment of the ISRO-JAXA Joint Working Group under the space cooperation MoU signed in November 2016. They also welcomed co-hosting by India and Japan of the 24th Session of the Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum (APRSAF-24) in November 2017 in India. They stressed the importance of enhancing comprehensive space cooperation.
 
33. The two Prime Ministers noted with satisfaction the progress in the health sector and the joint efforts by their medical experts on medical device development. They also noted the opportunities for collaboration between Indian and Japanese pharmaceutical companies in light of the target regarding the quantitative share of generic medicines in Japan.
 
34. The two Prime Ministers shared the importance of strengthening cooperation in the fields of agricultural and food related sectors. They welcomed Japan’s participation in World Food India 2017 as a partner country.
 
35. The two Prime Ministers welcomed the efforts to develop cooperation in disaster prevention, response, recovery and reconstruction as envisaged in the Memorandum of Cooperation on disaster risk reduction between the Ministry of Home Affairs of the Government of India and the Cabinet Office of the Government of Japan . They underlined the importance of identifying and disseminating best practices to "build better” and thus reducing losses arising from infrastructure damage during natural disasters, as aimed by the international coalition proposed by Prime Minister Modi at the Asia Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction(AMCDRR)-2016.
 
36. The two Prime Ministers recognised the importance of the empowerment of women to maximise their national potential, and decided to strengthen cooperation in this area, including through conferences such as the World Assembly for Women (WAW!). They welcomed the convening of the "Indo-Japan Consultation on ‘Women at Work and Changing Social Norms’” in Delhi in July 2017.
 
Expanding vistas of People-to-People Cooperation
 
37. The two Prime Ministers renewed their commitment to strengthening human and cultural ties commensurate with their Special Strategic and Global Partnership.In this context, the two Prime Ministers welcomed a series of cultural events successfully held through the Year of India-Japan Friendly Exchanges in 2017.
 
38. The two Prime Ministers recognised the importance of expanding Japanese language education in India, for achieving wider and closer industrial cooperation. In this regard, they decided to endeavour towards establishing Japanese language certificate courses at 100 higher educational institutions in India as well as training1,000 Japanese language teachers, over the next five years.
 
39. The two Prime Ministers welcomed the exchange of notes for the construction of a state-of-art Convention Centre in Varanasi as a symbol of friendship between India and Japan and expressed their hope for its early completion.
 
40. The two Prime Ministers expressed satisfaction at the increased interaction at all levels of the government, between Members of Parliament, and between prefectures and states. They welcomed the strengthening of parliamentary exchanges through mutual visits of parliamentarians from both sides.
 
41.With a view to achieving greater policy coordination and deepening intellectual exchanges between the two countries, the two Prime Ministers encouraged interactions among senior officials, strategists and experts in leading think tanks and universities on wide-ranging issues in the Indo-Pacific region.
 
42. Prime Minister Modi welcomed the growing interest in celebrating the International Day of Yoga in Japan and, in particular, welcomed the first-ever Parliamentary League for Promotion of Yoga set up in the Japanese Diet in April 2017.
 
43. The two Prime Ministers underscored the importance of promoting tourism exchange between the two countries and hoped that the opening of the Japan National Tourism Organisation (JNTO) office in Delhi in March 2017 and further relaxation of visa requirements will facilitate business and tourism links between the two countries.
 
44. The two Prime Ministers welcomed the expansion of civil aviation connectivity between India and Japan, utilising the recently updated open sky policies between the two countries.
 
45. The two Prime Ministers noted the steady increase in the number of Indian students in Japan. They welcomed the SAKURA Science Plan (Japan-Asia Youth Exchange Programme in Science) and the Japan East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youths (JENESYS) which contributed to increase in numbers of young Indian students and researchers in science and technology visiting Japan and hoped for further strengthening of collaboration in these fields.
 
46. Aiming to enhance the positive influence of traditions of non-violence, tolerance and democracy in Asia, the two Prime Ministers welcomed the SAMVAD II conference held in Yangon, Myanmar, in August 2017 and looked forward to the next conference in 2018.
47. Prime Minister Abe welcomed the support offered by Prime Minister Modi for Japan’s efforts towards the successful organisation of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The two Prime Ministers noted with satisfaction the institutional linkages set up between India and Japan. They also acknowledged that the Olympic and Paralympic Games offer a unique opportunity for the two countries to further deepen their cooperation.
 
Working with Partners on Regional and Global Challenges
 
48. Welcoming the 50th anniversary of the establishment of ASEAN, the two Prime Ministers renewed their commitment to strengthening political, economic, and security cooperation with ASEAN countries, with a view to supporting the ASEAN’s unity and its centrality to regional architecture. They welcomed deepening bilateral policy coordination, including the launch of the India-Japan Dialogue on ASEAN in March 2017, and determined to work together to shape and strengthen the evolving regional architecture through ASEAN-led fora such as the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus, the Expanded ASEAN Maritime Forum.
 
49. The two Prime Ministers reaffirmed that regular convening of the East Asia Summit (EAS) Ambassadors Meeting in Jakarta and the establishment of EAS Unit within the ASEAN Secretariat have contributed to ensuring that the EAS process, as the premier leaders-led forum to discuss broad strategic, security and economic issues of common concern, continues to retain its dynamic proactiveness in responding to emerging issues of global importance. They decided to work in unison to enhance physical and digital connectivity within the EAS framework while striving to ensure greater economic benefits to all in an equitable and balanced manner. They also decided to continue to enhance their cooperation in the maritime domain bilaterally as well as in multilateral fora.
 
50. The two Prime Ministers reaffirmed the importance of freedom of navigation, overflight and unimpeded lawful commerce in accordance with international laws. They also highlighted the importance of peaceful resolution of disputes, including through full respect for legal and diplomatic processes, without resorting to the threat or use of force, and in accordance with the universally recognised principles of international law, notably the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The two Prime Ministers also reiterated their desire and determination to work together to maintain and promote peace, stability, and development in the Indo-Pacific region.
 
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51. The two Prime Ministers reaffirmed the importance of securing the maritime domain and combating piracy, armed robbery at sea and other transnational organised crimes through regional and international mechanisms such as the ARF, the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP), the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS) and Shared Awareness and Deconfliction (SHADE) Mechanism, and expressed their commitment to pursue regional and international cooperation to combat these activities.
 
52. The two Prime Ministers welcomed the renewed momentum for trilateral cooperation with the US and Australia. They stressed on the strategic importance of these cooperative frameworks and shared willingness to expand concrete cooperation. They resolved to work with other countries and regional partners to ensure a rule-based order in the Indo-Pacific Region.
 
53. The two Prime Ministers condemned in the strongest terms North Korea’s continued development of its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs, including the latest nuclear test conducted by North Korea on 3 September as well as its uranium enrichment activities. Recognising that North Korea’s continued pursuit of nuclear and ballistic missile programmes and its proliferation links, including the launch of a ballistic missile flying over Japanese territory on 29 August 2017, pose grave and real threat to international peace and stability and the international non-proliferation efforts, the two Prime Ministers strongly urged North Korea to abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes and not to take any further provocative actions, and to fully comply with its international obligations under relevant UNSC resolutions including the newly and unanimously adopted resolution 2375, and other international commitments. They pledged to work together to deal with the current serious situation and called on the international community to rigorously and fully implement relevant UNSC resolutions to maximise pressure on North Korea. They stressed the importance of holding accountable all parties that have supported North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes. They also urged North Korea to address at the earliest the abductions issue.
 
54. The two Prime Ministers also condemned in the strongest terms the growing menace of terrorism and violent extremism. They shared the view that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations is a global scourge that must be forcefully combatted through concerted global action in the spirit of "zero tolerance”. Accordingly, the two Prime Ministers called upon all UN member countries to implement the UNSC Resolution 1267 and other relevant resolutions designating terrorist entities. They also called upon all countries to work towards rooting out terrorist safe havens and infrastructure, disrupting terrorist networks and financing channels and halting cross-border movement of terrorists. They underlined the need for all countries to ensure that their territory is not used to launch terrorist attacks on other countries. They emphasised the need for stronger international partnership in countering terrorism and violent extremism, including through increased sharing of information and intelligence. They called for enhanced bilateral cooperation in this regard. The two Prime Ministers also called for Pakistan to bring to justice the perpetrators of terrorist attacks including those of the November 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai and the 2016 terrorist attack in Pathankot. They looked forward to the convening of the fifth India-Japan Consultation on Terrorism and to strengthening cooperation against terrorist threats from groups including Al-Qaida, ISIS, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Lakshar-e-Tayyiba, and their affiliates.
 
55. The two Prime Ministers reaffirmed their shared commitment to expedite the reform process of the United Nations, in particular the UN Security Council, in order to make it more legitimate, effective and representative, given the contemporary realities of the 21st century, and emphasized the importance of building upon the recent developments in the Intergovernmental Negotiations (IGN) aimed at launching text-based negotiations during the 72nd session of the General Assembly. In this regard, they also called for collaboration among reform-oriented countries through the "Group of Friends” on UNSC reform. They reiterated their support for each other’s candidature, based on the firmly shared recognition that India and Japan are legitimate candidates for permanent membership in an expanded UNSC.
 
56. The two Prime Ministers reaffirmed their shared commitment to the total elimination of nuclear weapons. Prime Minister Abe stressed the importance of early entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). They called for an immediate commencement and early conclusion of negotiations on a non-discriminatory, multilateral and internationally and effectively verifiable Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT) on the basis of Shannon Mandate. They expressed their resolve towards strengthening international cooperation to address the challenges of nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism.
 
57. Prime Minister Abe welcomed India's accession to the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and the Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (HCOC) and its intensified engagement with the export control regimes. The two Prime Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to work together for India to become a full member in the remaining three international export control regimes: Nuclear Suppliers Group, Wassenaar Arrangement and Australia Group, with the aim to strengthen the international non-proliferation efforts.
 
58. The two Prime Ministers emphasised the need for concerted global action to combat climate change reflecting the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in the light of different national circumstances and to preserve the environment for future generations. They reiterated their commitment to work together to finalise the work programme for implementation of the Paris Agreement adopted under the UN Framework Convention for Climate Change by 2018. They also decided to accelerate further consultations on the Joint Crediting Mechanism (JCM). Prime Minister Modi welcomed Japan’s cooperation on Clean India, including the Clean Ganga project.
 
59. The two Prime Ministers underlined the crucial role of the rules-based multilateral trading system, and enhancing free, fair, and open trade, for achieving sustainable growth and development. They committed to resist protectionism including unfair trade practices and underlined the need to remove trade-distorting measures. They reaffirmed their commitment to work together to implement the Bali and Nairobi Ministerial decisions and make the eleventh WTO Ministerial Conference a success. They also decided to steadily implement WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement.
 
60.  Recognising India as the largest democracy and a fast growing large economy in the Asia-Pacific region, and acknowledging India’s robust macro-economic stability and its efforts at financial reforms, Japan reaffirmed its support to India’s membership in the APEC. The two Prime Ministers decided to work towards liberalisation and facilitation of trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region. They reaffirmed to cooperate towards conclusion of a modern, comprehensive, high quality and mutually beneficial Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement, in order to achieve a balanced outcome. They reaffirmed their commitment to further strengthening cooperation and to working with partners to tackle excess capacity in steel. In this regard, they called for the removal of market-distorting subsidies and other types of support by governments and related entities. They also reaffirmed their commitment to developing concrete policy solutions at the Global Forum on Steel Excess Capacity by November 2017.
 
Conclusion
 
Prime Minister Abe thanked the Government and the people of India for their warm hospitality and extended a cordial invitation to Prime Minister Modi to visit Japan at a mutually convenient time for the next annual summit meeting. Prime Minister Modi accepted the invitation with appreciation. 
 
Prime Minister of the Republic of India             ----               Prime Minister of Japan 
Signed at Gandhinagar, Gujarat on 14 September 2017.
 
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Japan's PM Shinzo Abe arrives in Ahmedabad for annual dialogue with Modi

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrived in Ahmedabad on a two-day visit during which he and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold the 12th India-Japan Annual Summit at Gandhinagar and set the future direction for the Special Strategic and Global Partnership between the two countries.

 
Modi, Abe in roadshow from Ahmedabad airport to Sabarmati Ashram
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrived here today on a two-day official visit to India during which  he and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold the 12th India-Japan Annual Summit at Gandhinagar, the capital of Gujarat, and set the future direction for the Special Strategic and Global Partnership between the two countries.
 
This will be the fourth annual summit between Mr. Modi and Mr. Abe, during which the two leaders will review the recent progress in the multi-facted bilateral cooperation.
 
Mr. Modi dispensed with protocol to personally receive Mr. Abe and his wife Akie when they landed here this afternoon in his home state. Mr. Modi welcomed Mr. Abe with a hug before the Japanese Prime Minister inspected a guard of honour at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport.
 
From the airport, Mr. Modi and Mr. Abe travelled in an open jeep in a motorcade along an eight km route to the Sabarmati Ashram of Mahatma Gandhi. Along the way, students and artistes staged cultural performances at different points, highlighting the rich and diverse cultural traditions of the country. This was the first time that two Prime Ministers have participated in such a road show.
 
Mr. Abe and his wife changed into Indian attire for the road show -- with the Japanese Prime Minister wearing a royal blue Nehru jacket and Ms. Abe dressed in a pink silk kurta.
 
Mr. Abe and his wife, accompanied by Mr. Modi, also visited the iconic Sidi Saiyyed Mosque here, built in 1573, and noted for its beautifully carved ten latticework windows (Jalis) on the side and rear arches.
 
The two bays flanking the central aisle have reticulated stone slabs carved in designs of intertwined trees and foliage and a palm motif. This intricately carved lattice stone window is the Sidi Saiyyed Jali, the unofficial symbol of city of Ahmedabad and the inspiration for the design of the logo of the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Ahmedabad.
 
Mr. Modi explained the history and the importance of the mosque to Mr. Abe. The two Prime Ministers also posed for photographs in front of the monument.
 
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Later in the evening, Mr. Modi hosted dinner for the Japanese leader and his wife at a heritage hotel here. The fare was vegetarian and a mix of Japanese and Gujarati dishes.
 
The India-Japan Summit will be held tomorrow at the Mahatma Mandir in Gandhinagar. The two leaders will deliver statements to the media. An India Japan Business Plenary is also scheduled tomorrow.
 
The highlight of the visit will be a public function to mark the commencement of work on India’s first high-speed rail project, based on Japanese technology, between Ahmedabad and Mumbai, tomorrow. The train is expected to significantly reduce travel time between the two cities. Japan is a pioneer in high-speed rail networks, and its Shinkansen bullet train is among the fastest in the world.
 
The $ 16.87 billion bullet train project will be 81 percent funded by Japan through a concessional long-term loan. The bullet train is expected to cut the 500 km journey from Ahmedabad to Mumbai, the commercial capital of India, to just 2 to 3 hours as compared to the 7-8 hours it takes now.
 
Mr. Abe will not be visiting New Delhi on this trip, with all his engagements confined to Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar.
 
In September 2014, Mr. Modi had hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping in Ahmedabad.
 
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Oil PSUs contribute Rs 15 crore towards Gujarat CM Flood Relief Fund

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Six Central oil public sector undertakings (PSUs) -- ONGC, IOC, BPCL, HPCL, GAIL and OIL -- under the administrative control of the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas have contributed Rs 15 crore to the Gujarat Chief Minister's Flood Relief Fund to aid the flood-affected people of the state.
 
While Oil and Natural Gas Corporation  (ONGC) and Indian Oil Corporation  (IOC) have contributed Rs. 3.2 crore each, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL), Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL), GAIL (India) Limited and Oil India Limited (OIL) -- have contributed Rs. 2.15 crore each, a press release from ONGC said.
 
A cheque for Rs. 15 crore was handed over to Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani by the representatives of the oil companies led by ONGC Chairman and Managing Director D. K. Sarraf in Gandhingar, near here,t oday.
 
This is an initiative taken by the Central Oil PSUs under the leadership of Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, the release said.
 
Additionally, as part of its corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative, ONGC’s Ahmedabad and Mehsana Asset had carried out flood relief activity through distribution of food packets, drinking water, preventive medicine, utensil sets and hygiene kits in association with the district administration in the districts of Banaskantha, Palanpur and Patan. 
 
A state-of-the-art dewatering unit was also pressed into service for removal of flood water from a 66 KV power sub-station which supplies electricity to Gandhinagar district.
 
The Chief Minister appreciated and thanked all the oil PSUs for extending their helping hand to the flood affected people of Gujarat.
 
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Ahmed Patel of Congress, Amit Shah, Smriti Irani of BJP win RS seats from Gujarat

Ahmed Patel, the hugely influential Political Secretary to Congress President Sonia Gandhi, won a fifth straight term in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday in one of the most fiercely contested elections to the Upper House of Parliament, outwitting the ruling BJP, which pulled out all the stops to try and prevent his re-election.

Ahmed Patel
Ahmed Patel
Ahmed Patel, the hugely influential Political Secretary to Congress President Sonia Gandhi, won a fifth straight term in the Rajya Sabha today in one of the most fiercely contested elections to the Upper House of Parliament, outwitting the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which pulled out all the stops to try and prevent his re-election.
 
BJP President Amit Shah and Union Minister Smriti Irani won their seats comfortably, while the party's third candidate Balwant Singh Rajput, who had switched over from the Congress on July 27, failed to make the cut at the end of high political drama.
 
In one of the closest electoral battles that he has ever faced in a long political career, Mr. Patel, 67, who has also served three terms as a member of the Lok Sabha from Bharuch in Gujarat, literally scraped through with 44 votes, the minimum required to win on first preferences votes to pick up the third of the three seats up for grabs.
 
For Mr. Shah, 52, this is his first term as a Member of Parliament while Ms. Irani, 41, has secured a second consecutive term in the Rajya Sabha.
 
In the normal course, Mr. Patel should have sailed through the election, but a series of dramatic developments over the past few weeks made it a contest that literally went to the wire.
 
Polling began in Gandhinagar, the capital of Gujarat, at 9 am on Tuesday and ended at 4 pm and counting of votes was scheduled to be taken up at 5 pm, but the process was held up after the Congress complained about the two MLAs.
 
Counting of votes was delayed by more than eight hours, beginning only around 1 am on Wednesday morning after the Election Commission directed the Returning Officer to reject the votes cast by two rebel Congress MLAs who had voted against the party's Mr. Patel.
 
In its order on a petition by the Congress, the Commission said this could be done at the time of counting of votes by segregating the ballot papers concerned. 
 
"Such segregation can be done at the time of counting with reference to the serial numbers of the ballot papers issued to the electors concerned as per the record maintained on the counter foils of ballot papers under Rule 38A.
 
"For this purpose, before commencement of counting, the ballot papers in question shall be segregated by verifying the serial numbers printed on teh reverse side of the ballot papers. While so segregating, the ballot papers shall be kept by the Returning Officer upside down because the serial numbers of the ballot papers are printed on the reverse side of the ballot papers. After so segregating the said two ballot papers, the Returning Officer shall proceed with the counting as per the law," the order, signed by Chief Election Commissioner A. K. Joti and Election Commissioner O. P. Rawat, said.
 
The objections raised by the Congress on the votes cast by the two rebel Congress MLAs, Raghavji Patel and Bholabhai Gohil, delayed the counting of votes in the election, which has turned out to be the most fiercely contest ever for a Rajya Sabha seat.
 
The two MLAs were accused by the Congress of having shown their ballot papers to BJP President Amit Shah and Union Minister Smriti Irani before putting it in the ballot box. The rules clearly say that the MLA must show the ballot paper to his or her party's authorised agent but not to anyone else. Doing so would lead to cancellation of the votes.
 
A Congress delegation consisting of Mr. Randeep Singh Surjewala and Mr. R. P. N. Singh, among others, first approached the Election Commission of India (ECI) in Delhi in this regard. 
 
In its memorandum, the Congress said the two Congress MLAs had shown their ballot papers to persons other than the authorised Congress agent and thus violated the provisions of Rule 39 of Conduct of Election Rules, 1961. Therefore, it said the votes cast by the two MLAs should be cancelled for the reason of "voting procedure violated".
 
The memorandum said the Congress had protested about this to the Returning Officer and had urged him to cancel the votes of the two MLAs. "The videography of the entire process is available with the Returning Officer and he may be immediately directed to follow the law in letter and spirit," it said.
 
"In view of the above, we request your good offices to kindly forthwith issue directions to the concerned RO to cancel the votes cast by the aforesaid MLAs," it added.
 
Shortly after that, a high-level BJP delegation, led by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and including Union Ministers Ravi Shankar Prasad, Piyush Goyal, Nirmala Sitharaman and Dharmendra Pradhan, met the Election Commission and urged it to reject the Congress plea and start the process of counting of votes immediately.
 
Mr. Prasad, the Law Minister, told newspersons that the Congress had not raised any objections throughout the day and had raked up the issue only when it realised that Mr. Patel was losing. According to him, the Congress had also not raised the issue when the Returning Officer issued the Form 6 detailing the number of votes cast in the election and such other details.
 
In Ahmedabad, Mr. Patel said they had, in fact, complained to the Returning Officer about the votes of the two MLAs but no action had been taken. About the delegation of Ministers meeting the Election Commission, he said it was a sign of the panic within the ruling party.
 
The two MLAs against whom the Congress has complained belong to the Shankarsinh Vaghela group, which has dissociated itself from the Congress on July 21 but had not resigned their seats in the State Legislative Assembly.
 
"They had voted for the BJP. After showing their ballot to me, they also flashed their ballot to the side where Amit Shah was sitting, and there is a video of this," Gujarat Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil said.
 
Shortly after the BJP delegation left, a delegation of top Congress leaders, including Mr. P. Chidambaram, Mr. Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mr. Ashok Gehlot and others, met the Chief Election Commissioner.
 
Mr. Chidambaram told newspersons later that the Conduct of Election Rules, read with circulars issued by the Election Commission, clearly require the Commission to cancel the two votes. He cited the precedents of the June 11, 2016 Rajya Sabha elections in Haryana, when a vote was cancelled for a similar reason, and another in 2000 in Rajasthan.
 
"There is ample evidence that the votes of the two MLAs were seen by two or three persons other than the authorised person. Those two ballot papers, which were in favour of the BJP, must be rejected. The Election Commission cannot folow anything except its own precedents in this matter," he asserted.
 
Mr. Chidambaram said the delegation had also impressed upon the Commission that it was the only Constitutional authority in the matter and it must decide the issue. He said the Returning Officer was an appointee of the Commission tasked with the conduct of the elections on the ground. "It must reject the two votes as it did in Haryana," he said.
 
About the BJP's argument that the Congress had raised the issue only when it feared it would lose the election, he said it was completely irrelevant. The question is whether the votes are liable to be rejected or not, he stressed. He also said the matter had been reported to the Returning Officer and the matter was taken to the Election Commission only when he did not act on their complaint.
 
Mr. Surjewala said the Commission had assured that it would look into the matter and uphold the Constitution and the secrecy of the ballot. He said the BJP, by sending a team of senior Ministers, was trying to put pressure on the Commission.
 
Mr. Jaitley and his colleagues in the BJP delegation returned to the Commission for another meeting with Mr. Joti and his colleagues. Mr. Prasad said they had once again impressed upon the Commission that the election process was over and counting of votes cannot be stalled in this manner. He also said the Congress allegations were baseless.
 
Both parties came back to the Commission a third time, as each side presented more documents to support their arguments.
 
The Commission said in its order that, as per the report of the Returning Officer after completion of poll, which was received by it at about 5.19 pm, during the course of poll, the election agent of the Congress candidate Shailesh Bhai Parmar submitted two written applications of votes tendered by the two voters, Bholabhai Gohil and Raghavji Patel, for violation of the procedure laid down by the Rules, besides authorised representatives of the Congress, even to others.
 
He said that he had examined the complaints and the video recording of the polling process and rejected the objection raised. He had accordingly sought permission of the Commission to commence the counting of votes
 
Amit Shah
Amit Shah
The order went on to refer to its meetings with the delegations of the Congress and the BJP in this regard. The Congress contended that the Returning Officer had improperly rejected its objection. Mr. Patel also sent an email to the Commission with the same request for cancellation of the two votes.
 
The BJP delegation contended that the Returning Officer was the statutory authority to conduct the polling and counting process and to decide the validity or otherwise of a ballot paper.
 
The Commission said it obtained and viewed the video recording of the polling process to ascertain the facts.
 
The order pointed out that an elector at the Rajya Sabha election has to show his marked ballot paper to the authorised representative of the political party to which he belongs, before inserting it into the ballot box. It also said the rule is very clear that the elector has to show his ballot paper only to the authorised representaive of his party and to no one else.
 
"Consequently, if a marked ballot paper by an elector is shown to or be seen by anyone other than the said Representative, which may violate the secrecy of vote has to be rejected by the Returning Officer...," it said.
 
"The Commission has viewed the video recording of the votes cast by the said two MLAs and it has been observed therefrom that the said two electors violated the voting procedure and secrecy of the ballot papers cast by them when they exercised their right to vote," the order added.
 
The cancellation of the two votes meant that the minimum number of votes required by a candidate for a win fell further to 44 first preference votes 
 
The Congress said Mr. Patel had secured the votes of 43 of the 44 MLAs the party had taken to a resort to Bengaluru in Karnataka for about two weeks and for one day ahead of today's voting to a resort in Anand, about 80 km from Ahmedabad, to prevent alleged poaching attempts by the BJP.
 
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It was not clear which of the other MLAs had voted for Mr. Patel, with one legislator from the Janata Dal (United), one of the two Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) representatives and another member claiming they have voted for him.
 
"Satyameva Jayate", Mr. Patel said on micro-blogging site Twitter as counting of votes ended. 
 
"This is not just my victory. It is a defeat of the most blatant use of money power,muscle power and abuse of state machinery.
 
"I want to thank each & every MLA who voted for me despite unprecedented intimidation & pressure from BJP. They voted for an inclusive India," he added.
 
The run-up to the election was marked by high political drama as the BJP pulled out all stops in a determined bid to deny Mr. Patel another term in the Rajya Sabha.
 
Given its 121 seats in the Assembly, the BJP was certain to win two seats, but it decided to field a third candidate in an effort to try and lure away some votes away from Mr. Patel and prevent his re-election.
 
Mr. Rajput was the Congress' chief whip in the state legislative assembly until recently and is one of the six Congress MLAs who had resigned from the party on July 27 and 28. Mr. Rajput and two others had joined the BJP on July 27 itself and was named as the BJP's nominee for the third seat the same evening.
 
With the resignation of the six MLAs, the effective strength of the House has come down to 176. The strength of the Congress in the Assembly has come down to 51. 
 
The resignations of the six MLAs had come only a few days after Mr. Shankarsinh Vaghela, one of the seniormost Congress leaders in the state, who was leader of the Opposition in the Assembly and is a former Chief Minister and Union Minister, parted ways with the Congress on July 21.
 
Soon after casting his vote today, Mr. Vaghela told journalists that he did not vote for Mr. Patel. "I have to say that I did not vote for my friend Ahmedbhai, and I regret that. But when it is clear that Mr. Patel that will not win, there was no point in wasting my vote on him," he said.
 
However, he did not indicate who he had voted for or whether he had exercised the "None of the above" (NOTA) option. "You will come to know that in the evening," he said. Along with Mr. Vaghela, six of his supporters are also understood to have not voted for Mr. Patel.
  
Mr. Vaghela's move had come just a day after the results of the Presidential election, which indicated that about 11 of the 57 Congress MLAs in the state then had voted for NDA candidate Ram Nath Kovind and against the Opposition nominee Meira Kumar.
 
Amidst fears of alleged poaching attempts by the BJP, the Congress had moved 44 of its MLAs on July 29 to a resort near Bengaluru in Karnataka, a state ruled by the party.
 
The MLAs returned to Gujarat yesterday morning and were taken to a resort near Anand. They travelled together in a bus to Gandhinagar to cast their votes.
 
The Congress had accused the BJP of using "money and muscle power" to engineer defections of its MLAs and complained to the Election Commission about the events in Gujarat.
 
The MLAs' stay in the Eagleton resort was not without drama. On the one hand, the BJP mounted strong criticisim of their travel outside the state when it was reeling under heavy  floods. On the other hand, Karnataka Energy Minister D. K. Shivakumar, who tasked by the Congress to look after the MLAs, found himself being raided by Income Tax officials. The Congress protested, saying the raids were politically motivated, while the Income Tax Department insisted they were part of an ongoing investigation against Mr. Shivakumar.
 
The latest developments have acome only a few months ahead of the elections to the State Assembly, expected to be held late this year. The Congress has been out of power in the state for more than two decades.
 
The biennial elections were necessitated by the expiry of the terms later this month of Mr. Patel, Ms. Irani and a third sitting member from Gujarat, Mr. Dilip Pandya.
 
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Gujarat RS poll: ECI orders cancellation of votes cast by two rebel Congress MLAs

In a significant move, the Election Commission on Tuesday night directed the Returning Officer for the elections to the Rajya Sabha from Gujarat to reject the votes cast by two Congress MLAs who had voted against the party's candidate Ahmed Patel, the hugely influential Political Secretary to Congress President Sonia Gandhi.

Ahmed Patel
Ahmed Patel
In a significant move, the Election Commission today directed the Returning Officer for the biennial elections for three seats to the Rajya Sabha from Gujarat to reject the votes cast by two Congress MLAs who had voted against the party's candidate Ahmed Patel, the hugely influential Political Secretary to Congress President Sonia Gandhi.
 
In its order on a petition by the Congress, the Commission said this could be done at the time of counting of votes by segregating the ballot papers concerned after it found that the MLAs had violated the procedures by showing the ballot papers to persons other than their party's authorised agent.
 
"Such segregation can be done at the time of counting with reference to the serial numbers of the ballot papers issued to the electors concerned as per the record maintained on the counter foils of ballot papers under Rule 38A.
 
"For this purpose, before commencement of counting, the ballot papers in question shall be segregated by verifying the serial numbers printed on teh reverse side of the ballot papers. While so segregating, the ballot papers shall be kept by the Returning Officer upside down because the serial numbers of the ballot papers are printed on the reverse side of the ballot papers. After so segregating the said two ballot papers, the Returning Officer shall proceed with the counting as per the law," the order, signed by Chief Election Commissioner A. K. Joti and Election Commissioner O. P. Rawat, said.
 
The objections raised by the Congress on the votes cast by the two rebel Congress MLAs, Raghavji Patel and Bholabhai Gohil, delayed the counting of votes in the election, which has turned out to be the most fiercely contest ever for a Rajya Sabha seat.
 
The two MLAs were accused by the Congress of having shown their ballot papers to BJP President Amit Shah and Union Minister Smriti Irani before putting it in the ballot box. The rules clearly say that the MLA must show the ballot paper to his or her party's authorised agent but not to anyone else. Doing so would lead to cancellation of the votes.
 
Mr. Patel, 67, is seeking a fifth consecutive term in the Rajya Sabha, but a series of dramatic developments over the past few weeks made it a contest that literally went to the wire.
 
The BJP has fielded Mr. Shah, Ms. Irani and former Congress MLA Balwant Singh Rajput for the three seats, for which polling was held today.
 
Polling began at 9 am and ended at 4 pm and counting of votes was scheduled to be taken up at 5 pm, but the process was held up after the Congress complained about the two MLAs.
 
A Congress delegation consisting of Mr. Randeep Singh Surjewala and Mr. R. P. N. Singh, among others, first approached the Election Commission of India (ECI) in Delhi in this regard. 
 
In its memorandum, the Congress said the two Congress MLAs had shown their ballot papers to persons other than the authorised Congress agent and thus violated the provisions of Rule 39 of Conduct of Election Rules, 1961. Therefore, it said the votes cast by the two MLAs should be cancelled for the reason of "voting procedure violated".
 
The memorandum said the Congress had protested about this to the Returning Officer and had urged him to cancel the votes of the two MLAs. "The videography of the entire process is available with the Returning Officer and he may be immediately directed to follow the law in letter and spirit," it said.
 
"In view of the above, we request your good offices to kindly forthwith issue directions to the concerned RO to cancel the votes cast by the aforesaid MLAs," it added.
 
Congress approaches EC, demands quashing of two MLAs' votes
Shortly after that, a high-level BJP delegation, led by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and including Union Ministers Ravi Shankar Prasad, Piyush Goyal, Nirmala Sitharaman and Dharmendra Pradhan, met the Election Commission and urged it to reject the Congress plea and start the process of counting of votes immediately.
 
Mr. Prasad, the Law Minister, told newspersons that the Congress had not raised any objections throughout the day and had raked up the issue only when it realised that Mr. Patel was losing. According to him, the Congress had also not raised the issue when the Returning Officer issued the Form 6 detailing the number of votes cast in the election and such other details.
 
In Ahmedabad, Mr. Patel said they had, in fact, complained to the Returning Officer about the votes of the two MLAs but no action had been taken. About the delegation of Ministers meeting the Election Commission, he said it was a sign of the panic within the ruling party.
 
The two MLAs against whom the Congress has complained belong to the Shankarsinh Vaghela group, which has dissociated itself from the Congress on July 21 but had not resigned their seats in the State Legislative Assembly.
 
"They had voted for the BJP. After showing their ballot to me, they also flashed their ballot to the side where Amit Shah was sitting, and there is a video of this," Gujarat Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil said.
 
Shortly after the BJP delegation left, a delegation of top Congress leaders, including Mr. P. Chidambaram, Mr. Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mr. Ashok Gehlot and others, met the Chief Election Commissioner.
 
Mr. Chidambaram told newspersons later that the Conduct of Election Rules, read with circulars issued by the Election Commission, clearly require the Commission to cancel the two votes. He cited the precedents of the June 11, 2016 Rajya Sabha elections in Haryana, when a vote was cancelled for a similar reason, and another in 2000 in Rajasthan.
 
"There is ample evidence that the votes of the two MLAs were seen by two or three persons other than the authorised person. Those two ballot papers, which were in favour of the BJP, must be rejected. The Election Commission cannot folow anything except its own precedents in this matter," he asserted.
 
Mr. Chidambaram said the delegation had also impressed upon the Commission that it was the only Constitutional authority in the matter and it must decide the issue. He said the Returning Officer was an appointee of the Commission tasked with the conduct of the elections on the ground. "It must reject the two votes as it did in Haryana," he said.
 
About the BJP's argument that the Congress had raised the issue only when it feared it would lose the election, he said it was completely irrelevant. The question is whether the votes are liable to be rejected or not, he stressed. He also said the matter had been reported to the Returning Officer and the matter was taken to the Election Commission only when he did not act on their complaint.
 
Mr. Surjewala said the Commission had assured that it would look into the matter and uphold the Constitution and the secrecy of the ballot. He said the BJP, by sending a team of senior Ministers, was trying to put pressure on the Commission.
 
Mr. Jaitley and his colleagues in the BJP delegation returned to the Commission for another meeting with Mr. Joti and his colleagues. Mr. Prasad said they had once again impressed upon the Commission that the election process was over and counting of votes cannot be stalled in this manner. He also said the Congress allegations were baseless.
 
Both parties came back to the Commission a third time, as each side presented more documents to support their arguments.
 
The Commission said in its order that, as per the report of the Returning Officer after completion of poll, which was received by it at about 5.19 pm, during the course of poll, the election agent of the Congress candidate Shailesh Bhai Parmar submitted two written applications of votes tendered by the two voters, Bholabhai Gohil and Raghavji Patel, for violation of the procedure laid down by the Rules, besides authorised representatives of the Congress, even to others.
 
He said that he had examined the complaints and the video recording of the polling process and rejected the objection raised. He had accordingly sought permission of the Commission to commence the counting of votes
 
The order went on to refer to its meetings with the delegations of the Congress and the BJP in this regard. The Congress contended that the Returning Officer had improperly rejected its objection. Mr. Patel also sent an email to the Commission with the same request for cancellation of the two votes.
 
The BJP delegation contended that the Returning Officer was the statutory authority to conduct the polling and counting process and to decide the validity or otherwise of a ballot paper.
 
The Commission said it obtained and viewed the video recording of the polling process to ascertain the facts.
 
The order pointed out that an elector at the Rajya Sabha election has to show his marked ballot paper to the authorised representative of the political party to which he belongs, before inserting it into the ballot box. It also said the rule is very clear that the elector has to show his ballot paper only to the authorised representaive of his party and to no one else.
 
"Consequently, if a marked ballot paper by an elector is shown to or be seen by anyone other than the said Representative, which may violate the secrecy of vote has to be rejected by the Returning Officer...," it said.
 
"The Commission has viewed the video recording of the votes cast by the said two MLAs and it has been observed therefrom that the said two electors violated the voting procedure and secrecy of the ballot papers cast by them when they exercised their right to vote," the order added.
 
Meanwhile, the Congress claimed that Mr. Patel, the hugely influential Political Secretary to Congress President Sonia Gandhi, had got enough votes to retain his seat. The BJP, on the other hand, claimed that all its candidates would win.
 
In one of the closest electoral battles that he has ever faced in a long political career, Mr Patel, like the other candidates, needed 45 first preference votes to get through.
 
If Mr. Patel wins, it will be his fifth consecutive term in the Upper House of Parliament after earlier serving three terms as a Member of the Lok Sabha from Bharuch in Gujarat.
 
For Mr. Shah, it will be his first time as a Member of Parliament while it will be her second consecutive term for Ms. Irani.
 
The Congress claimed Mr. Patel had secured the votes of 43 of the 44 MLAs the party had taken to a resort to Bengaluru in Karnataka for about two weeks and for one day ahead of today's voting to a resort in Anand, about 80 km from Ahmedabad, to prevent alleged poaching attempts by the BJP.
 
The party said he had got the vote of the lone Janata Dal (United) MLA Chhotubhai Vasava and one of the two Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) representatives in the Assembly. The other NCP MLA Kandhal Jadeja had said that he would vote for the BJP.
 
The run-up to the election was marked by high political drama as the BJP pulled out all stops in a determined bid to deny Mr. Patel another term in the Rajya Sabha.
 
Given its 121 seats in the Assembly, the BJP was certain to win two seats, but it decided to field a third candidate in an effort to try and lure away some votes away from Mr. Patel and prevent his re-election.
 
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Mr. Rajput was the Congress' chief whip in the state legislative assembly until recently and is one of the six Congress MLAs who had resigned from the party on July 27 and 28. Mr. Rajput and two others had joined the BJP on July 27 itself and was named as the BJP's nominee for the third seat the same evening.
 
With the resignation of the six MLAs, the effective strength of the House has come down to 176. The strength of the Congress in the Assembly has come down to 51. A candidate required one-fourth of the total votes plus one to get elected -- 45 votes at that stage.
 
With the cancellation of the two votes, the minimum number required for winning has come down to 44, something that would benefit Mr. Patel.
 
The resignations of the six MLAs had come only a few days after Mr. Shankarsinh Vaghela, one of the seniormost Congress leaders in the state, who was leader of the Opposition in the Assembly and is a former Chief Minister and Union Minister, parted ways with the Congress on July 21.
 
Soon after casting his vote today, Mr. Vaghela told journalists that he did not vote for Mr. Patel. "I have to say that I did not vote for my friend Ahmedbhai, and I regret that. But when it is clear that Mr. Patel that will not win, there was no point in wasting my vote on him," he said.
 
However, he did not indicate who he had voted for or whether he had exercised the "None of the above" (NOTA) option. "You will come to know that in the evening," he said.
 
Along with Mr. Vaghela, six of his supporters are also understood to have not voted for Mr. Patel.
 
While dissociating himself from the Congress at a function to celebrate his 77th birthday in Gandhinagar, the state capital near here, Mr. Vaghela had made it clear that he was not joining the BJP. He claimed the Congress had actually expelled him the previous day, something which the party denied.
 
Mr. Vaghela, who had turned a rebel within the BJP nearly two decades ago, had floated his own outfit, the Rashtriya Janata Party (RJP), which he finally merged with the Congress 17 years ago. 
 
The Congress said Mr. Vaghela had wanted to be appointed as the Gujarat Congress chief, a demand that the party could not accept. 
 
Mr. Vaghela's move had come just a day after the results of the Presidential election, which indicated that about 11 of the 57 Congress MLAs in the state then had voted for NDA candidate Ram Nath Kovind and against the Opposition nominee Meira Kumar.
 
Amidst fears of alleged poaching attempts by the BJP, the Congress had moved 44 of its MLAs on July 29 to a resort near Bengaluru in Karnataka, a state ruled by the party.
 
The MLAs returned to Gujarat yesterday morning and were taken to a resort near Anand. They travelled together in a bus to Gandhinagar to cast their votes.
 
The Congress had accused the BJP of using "money and muscle power" to engineer defections of its MLAs and complained to the Election Commission about the events in Gujarat.
 
The MLAs' stay in the Eagleton resort was not without drama. On the one hand, the BJP mounted strong criticisim of their travel outside the state when it was reeling under heavy  floods. On the other hand, Karnataka Energy Minister D. K. Shivakumar, who tasked by the Congress to look after the MLAs, found himself being raided by Income Tax officials. The Congress protested, saying the raids were politically motivated, while the Income Tax Department insisted they were part of an ongoing investigation against Mr. Shivakumar.
 
The latest developments have acome only a few months ahead of the elections to the State Assembly, expected to be held late this year. The Congress has been out of power in the state for more than two decades.
 
The biennial elections were necessitated by the expiry of the terms later this month of Mr. Patel, Ms. Irani and a third sitting member from Gujarat, Mr. Dilip Pandya.
 
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Polling begins for three RS seats from Gujarat; Ahmed Patel faces close contest

Polling began on Tuesday morning in the crucial biennial elections for three Rajya Sabha seats from Gujarat in which senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel is facing one of his toughest electoral battles against the ruling BJP, which is determined to deny him a fifth consecutive term in the Upper House of Parliament.

Ahmed Patel
Ahmed Patel
Polling began here this morning in the crucial biennial elections for three Rajya Sabha seats from Gujarat in which senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel is facing one of his toughest electoral battles against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is determined to deny him a fifth consecutive term in the Upper House of Parliament.
 
Voting, which  began at 9 am, will end at 4 pm. Counting of votes will be taken up at 5 pm and the results are expected shortly thereafter.
 
The run-up to the elections has been marked by high political drama and all indications are that today's exercise will see a nail-biting finish.
 
The BJP is contesting all three seats up for grabs and has fielded its president Amit Shah, Union Minister Smriti Irani and Mr. Balwant Singh Rajput as its candidates. Mr. Rajput was the Congress' chief whip in the state legislative assembly until recently and is one of the six Congress MLAs who had resigned from the party on July 27 and 28. Mr. Rajput and two others had joined the BJP on July 27 and was named as the BJP's nominee for the third seat the same evening.
 
With the resignation of the six MLAs, the effective strength of the House has come down to 176. The strength of the Congress in the Assembly has come down to 51. A candidate requires one-fourth of the total votes plus one to get elected -- 45 votes in the present situation.
 
These developments came only a few days after Mr. Shankarsinh Vaghela, one of the seniormost Congress leaders in the state, who was leader of the Opposition in the Assembly and is a former Chief Minister and Union Minister, parted ways with the Congress on July 21.
 
Soon after casting his vote today, Mr. Vaghela told journalists that he did not vote for Mr. Patel. "I have to say that I did not vote for my friend Ahmedbhai, and I regret that. But when it is clear that Mr. Patel that will not win, there was no point in wasting my vote on him," he said.
 
However, he did not indicate who he had voted for or whether he had exercised the "None of the above" (NOTA) option. "You will come to know that in the evening," he said.
 
While dissociating himself from the Congress at a function to celebrate his 77th birthday here on July 21, Mr. Vaghela had made it clear that he was not joining the BJP. He claimed the Congress had actually expelled him the previous day, something which the party denied.
 
"They expelled me 24 hours ago because they were not sure about what I would say here today...Vinashkale vipareet budhdhi," he had said on that day. 
 
"I am freeing myself from the Congress. I have resigned as the Leader of the Opposition. I will resign as Congress MLA after the (August 8) Rajya Sabha elections," he told the cheering crowd.
 
He said he had assured Congress President Sonia Gandhi that he would not betray her trust. He said he had told her that he would not join the BJP.
 
Mr. Vaghela, who had turned a rebel within the BJP nearly two decades ago, had floated his own outfit, the Rashtriya Janata Party (RJP), which he finally merged with the Congress 17 years ago. 
 
The Congress said Mr. Vaghela had wanted to be appointed as the Gujarat Congress chief, a demand that the party could not accept. 
 
 
Voting underway for Gujarat Rajya Sabha elections
Mr. Vaghela's move had come just a day after the results of the Presidential election, which indicated that about 11 of the 57 Congress MLAs in the state then had voted for NDA candidate Ram Nath Kovind and against the Opposition nominee Meira Kumar.
 
By fielding Mr. Rajput, a relative of Mr. Vaghela, as its third candidate for the Rajya Sabha, the BJP is hoping to attract some votes from the Congress MLAs and try and prevent the re-election of Mr. Patel.
 
Mr. Patel, however, was confident that he would win. Apart from the Congress MLAs, he is counting on the support of two NCP MLAs and one of the Janata Dal (United). 
 
Amidst fears of alleged poaching attempts by the BJP, the Congress had moved 44 of its MLAs on July 29 to a resort near Bengaluru in Karnataka, a state ruled by the party.
 
The MLAs returned to Gujarat yesterday morning and were taken to a resort near Anand, about 80 km from here. They travelled to Gandhinagar today to cast their votes.
 
Apart from his four terms in the Rajya Sabha, Mr. Patel has also served three terms as a member of the Lok Sabha from Bharuch constituency in Gujarat.
 
Mr. Shah is seeking entry into Parliament for the first time, while Ms. Irani is looking for a second consecutive term in the Upper House. 
 
Given the numbers in the Assembly, the BJP can easily get two of its candidates elected. Similarly, if there is no cross-voting, the Congress can also get one candidate elected.
 
The Congress has accused the BJP of using "money and muscle power" to engineer defections of its MLAs and complained to the Election Commission about the events in Gujarat.
 
The MLAs' stay in the Eagleton resort was not without drama. On the one hand, the BJP mounted strong criticisim of their travel outside the state when it was reeling under heavy  floods. On the other hand, Karnataka Energy Minister D. K. Shivakumar, who tasked by the Congress to look after the MLAs, found himself being raided by Income Tax officials. The Congress protested, saying the raids were politically motivated, while the Income Tax Department insisted they were part of an ongoing investigation against Mr. Shivakumar.
 
The latest developments have acome only a few months ahead of the elections to the State Assembly, expected to be held late this year. The Congress has been out of power in the state for more than two decades.
 
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Polling today for three RS seats from Gujarat; Ahmed Patel faces close contest

Polling will be held in Gandhinar on Tuesday in the biennial elections for three Rajya Sabha seats from Gujarat in which senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel is facing one of his toughest electoral battles against the ruling BJP, which is determined to deny him a fifth consecutive term in the Upper House of Parliament.

Ahmed Patel
Ahmed Patel
Polling will be held in Gandhinagar near here today in the biennial elections for three Rajya Sabha seats from Gujarat in which senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel is facing one of his toughest electoral battles against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is determined to deny him a fifth consecutive term in the Upper House of Parliament.
 
The run-up to the elections have been marked by high political drama and all indications are that today's exercise will see a nail-biting finish.
 
The BJP is contesting all three seats up for grabs and has fielded its president Amit Shah, Union Minister Smriti Irani and Mr. Balwant Singh Rajput as its candidates. Mr. Rajput was the Congress' chief whip in the state legislative assembly until recently and is one of the six Congress MLAs who had resigned from the party on July 27 and 28. Mr. Rajput and two others had joined the BJP on July 27 and was named as the BJP's nominee for the third seat the same evening.
 
With the resignation of the six MLAs, the effective strength of the House has come down to 176. The strength of the Congress in the Assembly has come down to 51. A candidate requires one-fourth of the total votes plus one to get elected -- 45 votes in the present situation.
 
These developments came only a few days after Mr. Shankarsinh Vaghela, one of the seniormost Congress leaders in the state, who was leader of the Opposition in the Assembly and is a former Chief Minister and Union Minister, parted ways with the Congress on July 21.
 
While dissociating himself from the Congress at a function to celebrate his 77th birthday in Gandhinagar, the state capital, Mr. Vaghela had made it clear that he was not joining the BJP. He claimed the Congress had actually expelled him the previous day, something which the party denied.
 
"They expelled me 24 hours ago because they were not sure about what I would say here today...Vinashkale vipareet budhdhi," he had said on that day. 
 
"I am freeing myself from the Congress. I have resigned as the Leader of the Opposition. I will resign as Congress MLA after the (August 8) Rajya Sabha elections," he told the cheering crowd.
 
The former Chief Minister said he had assured Congress President Sonia Gandhi that he would not betray her trust. He said he had told her that he would not join the BJP.
 
Mr. Vaghela, who had turned a rebel within the BJP nearly two decades ago, had floated his own outfit, the Rashtriya Janata Party (RJP), which he finally merged with the Congress 17 years ago. 
 
The Congress said Mr. Vaghela had wanted to be appointed as the Gujarat Congress chief, a demand that the party could not accept. 
 
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Mr. Vaghela's move had come just a day after the results of the Presidential election, which indicated that about 11 of the 57 Congress MLAs in the state then had voted for NDA candidate Ram Nath Kovind and against the Opposition nominee Meira Kumar.
 
By fielding Mr. Rajput, a relative of Mr. Vaghela, as its third candidate for the Rajya Sabha, the BJP is hoping to attract some votes from the Congress MLAs and try and prevent the re-election of Mr. Patel.
 
Mr. Patel is, however, confident that all the Congress MLAs, including Mr. Vaghela and his supporters, will vote for him. He is also counting on the support of two NCP MLAs and one of the Janata Dal (United). But there are doubts about which the two parties would vote this time. There are media reports that the NCP has asked its MLAs to vote for the BJP. The JD (U), on the other hand, has only recently ended its alliance with the Congress and the RJD in Bihar and get back to the NDA fold.
 
Amidst fears of alleged poaching attempts by the BJP, the Congress had moved 44 of its MLAs on July 29 to a resort near Bengaluru in Karnataka, a state ruled by the party.
 
The MLAs returned to Gujarat yesterday morning and were taken to a resort near Anand, about 80 km from here. They will travel to Gandhinagar later today to cast their votes.
 
Apart from his four terms in the Upper House, Mr. Patel has also served three terms as a member of the Lok Sabha.
 
Mr. Shah is seeking entry into Parliament for the first time, while Ms. Irani is looking for a second consecutive term in the Upper House. 
 
Given the numbers in the Assembly, the BJP can easily get two of its candidates elected. Similarly, if there is no cross-voting, the Congress can also get one candidate elected.
 
The Congress has accused the BJP of using "money and muscle power" to engineer defections of its MLAs and complained to the Election Commission about the events in Gujarat.
 
The MLAs' stay in the Eagleton resort was not without drama. On the one hand, the BJP mounted strong criticisim of their travel outside the state when it was reeling under heavy  floods. On the other hand, Karnataka Energy Minister D. K. Shivakumar, who tasked by the Congress to look after the MLAs, found himself being raided by Income Tax officials. The Congress protested, saying the raids were politically motivated, while the Income Tax Department insisted they were part of an ongoing investigation against Mr. Shivakumar.
 
The latest developments have acome only a few months ahead of the elections to the State Assembly, expected to be held late this year. The Congress has been out of power in the state for more than two decades.
 
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Modi says India is amongst most attractive global investment destinations

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday that India, which was being described as a bright spot in the global economy, had emerged as one of the most attractive global investment destinations, thanks to a series of sustained policy initiatives by the Government.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi visiting the Textiles India 2017 Exhibition, in Gandhinagar, Gujarat on June 30, 2017.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi visiting the Textiles India 2017 Exhibition, in Gandhinagar, Gujarat on June 30, 2017.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said India, which was being described as a bright spot in the global economy, had emerged as one of the most attractive global investment destinations, thanks to a series of sustained policy initiatives by the Government.
 
"More than seven thousand reforms have been implemented to improve the ease of doing business. Processes have been simplified and made transparent. Government has repealed over twelve hundred outdated laws. These are just a few examples," he told a gathering at Mahatma Mandir here after inaugurating Textiles India 2017, the country's first ever mega textiles trade fair.
 
Urging industrialists and businessmen from around the world to invest in the textiles sector in India, he said India had moved up by 32 places in the last two years in the Global Competitiveness Index of the World Economic Forum, the highest for any country. 
 
"India moved up 19 places on the World Bank Logistics Performance Index of 2016. We have also moved up 16 places on the Global Innovation Index of the World Intellectual Property Organisation in 2016. We are third among the top ten FDI destinations listed by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development," he said.
 
Mr. Modi said that, based on the Make in India initiative, the organized textile industry was being infused with the mantras of ‘skill, scale, speed’ and ‘zero-defect, zero-effect’ for scaling up employment, production and exports. 
 
"We have one of the most liberal investment policies for foreign investment in the textile and apparel sector. We allow 100 percent FDI through automatic route in textile and apparel sector," he said.
 
He said the textiles industry had a pivotal position in the Indian economy. 
 
"It is strong and competitive across the value chain. India has an abundant supply of raw material, like cotton, wool, silk, jute, and man-made fibre. In fact, it is the world’s largest producer of cotton and jute, and second largest producer of silk and man-made fibre. This provides us the distinct advantage of backward integration, which many other countries may not have. In addition, India has strong spinning, weaving, knitting and apparel manufacturing capacities. Young, skilled labour is available at a reasonable cost," he said.
 
"Our high economic growth has resulted in higher disposable income. The resulting higher demand for products offers a huge domestic market. Ours is a nation of aspirational youth, who wish to spend on textiles, apparel, and handcrafted lifestyle products. The domestic market for apparel and lifestyle products, currently estimated at US dollars 85 billion, is expected to reach US dollars 160 billion by 2025. This growth will be driven by the rising middle class," he said.
 
Mr. Modi said there was also a high global demand for textiles and apparel manufactured in the country.
 
He said India is the world’s second largest exporter of textiles, commanding a global share of around five percent. Indian textiles, including traditional handloom and handicraft products, are exported to more than a hundred countries. 
 
He said the textiles sector offered significant employment opportunities, being the second largest employer after agriculture. Over 45 million people are employed directly in the sector, and over 60 million people are employed in allied activities. 
 
Mr. Modi said an integrated skill development scheme was also being implemented to address the critical gap of skilled manpower, through industry-oriented training programs. 
 
"Our strengths in manufacturing and export are backed up by our ability to develop world-class training and research institutes. The National Institute of Fashion Technology has a network of sixteen professionally managed campuses. It has been playing a crucial role in benchmarking performance and processes in the areas of fashion education, research and development, training and consultancy. 
 
"In the last few years we have witnessed a very healthy competition amongst States to attract investment and industries in their respective States. As a result, there have been some major reforms that have taken place in States. Each State in its own way has tried to facilitate the establishment of new industries including textiles. I think, the time has now come for us to concentrate on textile exports in a big way. 
 
"India is a country with diverse culture, fashion and traditions. This diversity is clearly reflected in the clothing present in different regions. We should catalogue and map our clothing diversity and clearly earmark strengths and specialties of each state or region. Each State should appoint nodal officers dedicated to a few well-known products, who would facilitate producers and traders across the value chain. The intervention should start from production to export of garments. It should meet the specific requirements of domestic as well as export markets," he said.
 
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The Prime Minister underlined the need to formulate an action plan to study and map the requirements of people in large global markets and monitor new trends in fashion and textiles in these areas on a real time basis. "Government Councils and Industry Bodies should rise to the occasion, in a spirit of cooperation. This would enable us to channelize our energies in meeting those requirements and give a boost to our exports," he said.
 
"Innovation and research are new mantras for growth and wealth generation. The textile industry will have to constantly innovate and research for growth and to tap new markets. For example, physiques may be larger in some parts of the world. This may require clothing of greater width than the normal size used in our country. For this, you may need to increase the width of the loom. Elsewhere, requirements may be different. Such attention to detail is necessary to attain leadership in export markets. 
 
"Today, there is a demand for products with zero carbon footprint. Holistic lifestyle has become a buzzword. The market for Organic Dyes, clothes and fabrics made of organic products is growing. Our effort should be to innovate in organic products. 
 
"Apart from cotton and jute, we already have fabrics made of banana and bamboo fibres. There is a niche market for such products. Thus, there is a need for further research by our institutions like National Institute of Fashion Technology and Scientific and Industrial Research institutes to develop fabrics from other sources," he said.
 
"Our integrated textile clusters are compliant to global standards of environment and health safety. Textile producing States also have pro-industry policies in place, to facilitate the required infrastructure for investments in textiles," he said. 
 
Textiles Minister Smriti Irani said participants from 106 countries, 15,000 Indian buyes and sellers, 2,500 international buyers, artistans and weavers are participating in the exhibition.
 
Those present on the occasion included Gujarat Governor O. P. Kohli, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, and Ministers and senior officials from several states.
 
Also present were US Polo Association President David Cummings, UK-India Business Council CEO Richard Heald, Arvind Mills Managing Director Sanjay Lalbhai, Raymond Managing Director Gautam Hari Singhania, Aditya Birla Group Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla and Korea Federation of Textile Industries Chairman Kihak Sung.
 
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Modi assures African nations that India will always stand with them

Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaking at the inaugural ceremony of the 52nd African Development Bank Annual Meetings, in Gandhinagar, Gujarat on May 23, 2017.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaking at the inaugural ceremony of the 52nd African Development Bank Annual Meetings, in Gandhinagar, Gujarat on May 23, 2017.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today assured African nations that India would always stand with  them, shoulder to shoulder, supporting them in the long and difficult race for a better future.
 
"India’s partnership with Africa is based on a model of cooperation which is responsive to the needs of African countries. It is demand-driven and free of conditions," he said at the inauguration of the Annual Meeting of the African Development Bank (AfDB) here.
 
He said that, as one plank of this cooperation, India extends lines of credit through India’s Exim Bank and as many as 152 credits have been extended to 44 countries for a total amount of nearly $ 8 billion so far.
 
He recalled that, during the Third India-Africa Forum Summit, India had offered $ 10 billion for development projects over the next five years. It had also offered grant assistance of $ 600 million.
 
Mr. Modi spoke about the strong ties between India and Africa over the centuries. "Historically, communities from western India, especially Gujarat, and the eastern coast of Africa have settled in each other's lands. The Siddhis of India are said to have come from East Africa. The Bohra communities in coastal Kenya date back to the twelfth century. Vasco da Gama is said to have reached Calicut with the help of a Gujarati sailor from Malindi. The dhows of Gujarat took merchandise in both directions. Ancient links between societies have also enriched our cultures. The rich Swahili language includes many Hindi words," he said.
 
He mentioned the thousands of Indians who went to Kenya to build the iconic Mombasa-Uganda railway and stayed back to start small businesses. During the colonial years, merchants, artisans and later officials, teachers, doctors and other professionals went to East and West Africa creating a vibrant community which combines the best of India and Africa, he said.
 
Mr. Modi also spoke about Mahatma Gandhi, another Gujarati, who perfected his tools of non-violent struggle in South Africa.
 
"Over decades, our ties have become stronger. After assuming office in 2014, I have made Africa a top priority for India’s foreign and economic policy. The year 2015 was a watershed. The third India Africa Summit held that year was attended by all fifty-four African countries having diplomatic relations with India. A record forty-one African countries participated at the level of Heads of State or Government," he said.
 
The Prime Minister said that, since 2015, he had visited six African countries:  South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya, Mauritius and Seychelles. India's President has visited three countries -- Namibia, Ghana and Ivory Coast -- and the Vice-President visited seven countries -- Morocco, Tunisia, Nigeria, Mali, Algeria, Rwanda and Uganda. "I am proud to say that there is no country in Africa that has not been visited by an Indian Minister in the last three years," he sai
 
"From a time when we mainly had mercantile and maritime links between Mombasa and Mumbai, we have today this Annual meeting which connects Abidjan and Ahmedabad; business links between Bamako and Bangalore; cricketing links between Chennai and Cape Town; development links between Delhi and Dakar," he said.
 
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Mr. Modi said India was proud of its educational and technical ties with Africa. Thirteen current or former Presidents, Prime Ministers and Vice-Presidents in Africa have attended educational or training institutions in India. Six current or former chiefs of armed forces in Africa trained in India’s military institutions. Two current Ministers of the Interior have attended Indian institutions. Under the popular India Technical and Economic Cooperation Programme, more than thirty three thousand scholarships have been offered to officials from African countries since 2007, he said.
 
He also mentioned the training of “solar mamas”, as part of which every year eighty African women are trained in India to work on solar panels and circuits. "After their training they go back and literally electrify their communities. Each woman is responsible for electrifying 50 houses in her community on return. A necessary condition for the women to be selected is that they be illiterate or semi-literate. They also learn several other skills, like basket making, bee keeping, and kitchen gardening during their stay," he said.
 
"We have successfully completed the Pan Africa e-network project for tele-medicine and tele-network covering 48 African countries. Five leading universities in India offered certificate, under graduate and post graduate programmes. Twelve super-speciality hospitals offered consultations and Continuous Medical Education. Around seven thousand students have concluded their studies. We will soon launch the next phase. 
 
"We will soon successfully complete the Cotton Technical Assistance Programme for African Countries launched in 2012. The project was implemented in Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Malawi, Nigeria and Uganda," he said.
 
Mr. Modi said Africa-India trade has multiplied in the last 15 years. It has doubled in the last five years to reach nearly $ 72 billion in 2014-15. India’s commodity trade with Africa in 2015-16 was higher than its commodity trade with the United States of America, he said.
 
"India is also working with United States and Japan to support development in Africa. I gladly recall my detailed conversation with Prime Minister Abe during my visit to Tokyo. We discussed our commitment for enhancing growth prospects for all. In our joint declaration, we mentioned an Asia Africa Growth Corridor and proposed further conversations with our brothers and sisters from Africa. 
 
"Indian and Japanese research institutions have come up with a Vision Document. I congratulate RIS, ERIA and IDE-JETRO for their efforts in putting it together. This was done in consultation with think tanks from Africa. I understand the Vision Document would be presented at the Board meeting later. The idea is that India and Japan, with other willing partners, would explore joint initiatives in skills, health, infrastructure, manufacturing and connectivity," he said.
 
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Mr. Modi said their partnership was not confined to Governments alone and India's private sector was at the forefront of driving this impetus.
 
"From 1996 to 2016, Africa accounted for nearly one-fifth of Indian overseas direct investments. India is the fifth largest country investing in the continent, with investments over the past twenty years amounting to fifty four billion dollars, creating jobs for Africans. We are encouraged by the response of African countries to the International Solar Alliance initiative, which was launched at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in November 2015. The Alliance is conceived as a coalition of countries rich in solar resources, to address their special energy needs. I am happy to note that many African countries have extended their support to this initiative," he said.
 
He said that as a founder of the New Development Bank, popularly called the “BRICS Bank”, India has consistently supported establishment of a Regional Centre in South Africa. This will provide a platform to promote collaboration between NDB and other development partners including the African Development Bank, he said.
 
He recalled that India joined the African Development Fund in 1982 and the African Development Bank in 1983. India has contributed to all of the Bank’s General Capital Increases. For the most recent African Development Fund replenishment, India pledged $ 29 million. It has contributed to the Highly Indebted Poor Countries and Multilateral Debt Reduction Initiatives.
 
Mr. Modi said that, on the sidelines of the annual meetings, the Government of India is organising a Conference and Dialogue in partnership with the Confederation of Indian Industry. There is also an exhibition in association with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry. The focus areas range from Agriculture to Innovation and start-ups and other themes. 
 
The theme of this event is “Transforming Agriculture for wealth creation in Africa”. This is an area where India and the Bank can fruitfully join hands, he said, mentioning in particular the Cotton Technical Assistance Programme. 
 
"Here in India, I have launched an initiative to double farmers’ incomes by 2022. It will require concerted steps, ranging from improved seeds and optimal inputs, to reduced crop losses and better marketing infrastructure. India is keen to learn from your experiences as we proceed on this initiative. 
 
"Many of the challenges we face are the same: uplifting our farmers and the poor, empowering women, ensuring our rural communities have access to finance, building infrastructure. We have to do these within financial constraints. We have to maintain macro-economic stability so that inflation is controlled and our balance of payments is stable. There is much for us to gain by sharing our experiences on all these fronts. For example, in our push to a less-cash economy, we have learnt from the great strides that African countries like Kenya have made in the area of mobile banking. 
 
"I am happy to share that India has, in the last three years, improved on all macro-economic indicators. The fiscal deficit, balance of payments deficit, and inflation are down. The GDP growth rate, foreign exchange reserves and public capital investment are up. At the same time, we have made big strides in development," he said.
 
"Mr. President of the African Development Bank, it is reported that you have described our recent steps as text book chapters for other developing nations and called us a development beacon. While thanking you for these kind words, I am also glad to know that you have spent quite some time training in Hyderabad earlier. However, I must say that I remain focused on the many challenges ahead. In that context, I thought I could share with you some of the strategies we have used in the last 3 years. 
 
"By paying subsidies directly to the poor rather than indirectly through price concessions, we have achieved large fiscal savings. In cooking gas alone we have saved over 4 billion dollars in three years. In addition, I appealed to well-off citizens to voluntarily give up their gas subsidy. Under the ‘Give it up’ campaign, we promised the saving would be used to provide a connection to a poor family. You will be surprised to know that over 10 million Indians volunteered to do so. Thanks to the savings, we have launched a programme to provide gas connections to 50 million poor families. More than 15 million connections have already been provided. This transforms the lives of rural women. It frees them from the health hazards of cooking with firewood. It also protects the environment and reduces pollution. This is an example of what I call ‘reform to transform’: a concerted set of actions which transform lives. 
 
"Some of the subsidised urea fertiliser intended for farmers used to get illegally diverted to non-agricultural uses, like production of chemicals. We introduced universal neem-coating of urea. This makes the fertiliser unsuitable for diversion. Not only have we got substantial financial savings but in addition, studies have shown that neem coating has improved the effectiveness of the fertiliser. 
 
"We are also providing our farmers with soil health cards which tell them the exact nature of their soil, and advise on the best mix of inputs. This promotes optimal use of inputs, and increases crop yield. 
 
"We have made unprecedented increases in capital investment in infrastructure, covering railways, highways, power, and gas pipelines. By next year, no village in India will be without electricity. Our Clean Ganga, Renewable Energy, Digital India, Smart Cities, Housing for All and Skill India missions are preparing us for a cleaner, more prosperous, faster growing and modern new India. Our aim is that India must be an engine of growth as well as an example in climate friendly development in the years to come. 
 
"There are two crucial factors which have helped us. The first set of changes is in the banking system. In the last three years, we have achieved universal banking. We launched the Jan Dhan Yojana or People’s Money campaign under which over two hundred and eighty million bank accounts have been opened for the poor in urban and rural areas. Thanks to that initiative, virtually every Indian family has a bank account. Normally banks are associated with helping businesses and the rich. We have enlisted them for helping the poor in their quest for development. We have strengthened our state-owned banks by freeing them from political decisions and appointing professional chief executives on merit through a transparent selection process. 
 
"Our universal biometric identification system called Aadhaar has been the second crucial element. It prevents claiming of benefits by those who are not eligible. It enables us to ensure that those who deserve government aid receive it with ease, while excluding non-genuine claims," he added.
 
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Five African nations join International Solar Alliance

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Four African nations -- Djibouti, Cote d’Ivoire, Somalia and Ghana -- signed the ISA framework agreement to join the International Solar Alliance here today while Comoros is expected to sign and submit its ratification instrument tomorrow. 
 
Nauru also submitted its instrument of ratification, a press release from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said.
 
An ISA event was held on the sidelines of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Annual Meeting in Gandhinagar. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was present at the signing and ratification ceremony organised by MEA.
 
A total of 30 countries (Bangladesh, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, Fiji, France, Guinea Bissau, India, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Nauru, Niger, Republic of Guinea, Senegal, Seychelles, Sudan, Tanzania, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu) signed the ISA Framework Agreement in Marrakech on 15 November 2016 (within 41 days of finalizing the text of the agreement, a record in itself). 
 
Rwanda signed the Framework Agreement on 9 January 2017, taking the total number of signatories to 25 countries, the release said.
 
Within seven months of the opening of the Framework Agreement for signature in November 2016, the total number of signatories to the ISA framework agreement has reached 31, with six countries ratifying the agreement, a record in itself. The ISA as a legal entity will come into existence once 15 countries ratify and deposit the framework agreement.
 
India and France were the first two countries to ratify the Framework Agreement. Fiji has also completed the ratification process and will deposit its instrument with the MEA in the next few weeks, the release said.
 
The ISA initiative was launched at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris on 30 November 2015 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Francois Hollande. It is conceived as a coalition of solar resource rich countries to address their special energy needs and will provide a platform to collaborate on addressing the identified gaps through a common, agreed approach. 
 
The Prime Minister of India and the President of France jointly laid the foundation stone of the IDS Headquarters and inaugurated the interim Secretariat of the ISA in National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE), Gurugram, Haryana on 25th January, 2016. 
 
Launching the Secretariat, Mr. Modi had stated that the ISA as a potent tool for cooperation among the member countries for mutual gains through enhanced solar energy utilization.
 
The total Government of India support including the normative cost of the land will be about Rs. 400 crore (US$ 62 million). Of this, Rs. 175 crore (US $ 27 million) will be utilized for creating building infrastructure and recurring expenditure. The recurring expenditure on ISA will be met from voluntary contributions from member countries, bilateral and multilateral agencies; other appropriate institutions; and from interest earned from the augmented corpus to be built up. In addition to contribution for creating ISA corpus fund, Government of India has offered training support for ISA member countries at National Institute for Solar Energy (NISE) and also support for demonstration projects for solar home lighting, solar pumps for farmers and for other solar applications. 
 
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The Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) and Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) also announced contribution of US $ 1 million each to the ISA corpus fund. 
 
The International Steering Committee of the ISA, open to all 121 prospective member countries of the ISA (those falling between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn) held its meetings in Paris (1 December 2015), Abu Dhabi (18 January 2016), and New York (22 April 2016). The ISC held its 4th meeting on 5 October 2016 in New Delhi.
 
At the 4th ISC meeting in New Delhi, the draft Framework Agreement on establishment of the ISA was circulated among the prospective member countries. Prospective ISA countries were requested to convey their acceptance, suggest comments (if any) or seek clarifications (if required) on the Draft Framework Agreement of the ISA by 17 October 2016. The finalized ISA Framework Agreement, which seeks to establish ISA as a treaty-based organization was opened for signature at the 22nd Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-22) in Marrakech, Morocco from 7-18 November 2016. MEA's Economic Diplomacy Division has been spearheading the process of getting the prospective countries to sign up and ratify the framework agreement. 
 
The Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India has set aside US$2 billion for solar projects in Africa out of Government of India's US$10 billion concessional Line of Credit for Africa. The LOC will be extended to all those African countries that have signed and ratified the International Solar Alliance Framework Agreement, the release added.
 
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Modi on two-day visit to Gujarat, to attend AfDB Annual Meetings in Gandhinagar on Tuesday

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be on a two-day visit to Gujarat, during which he will inaugurate and lay foundation stones for various development projects in Kutch on Monday.

File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi
File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will  be on a two-day visit to Gujarat, during which he will inaugurate and lay foundation stones for various development projects in Kutch today.
 
Tomorrow, Mr. Modi will participate in the opening ceremony of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Annual Meetings in Gandhinagar.
 
“Tomorrow I will begin a two day Gujarat visit, during which I will join programmes in Kutch and Gandhinagar," he said on micro-blogging site Twitter.
 
"I shall inaugurate & lay the foundation stone for various projects of the Kandla Port and address a public meeting at Gandhidham. In Bhachau, a pumping station would be inaugurated & I shall join a public meeting. Watch it on your mobile.
 
"Kutch has a very special place in my heart. It is blessed with wonderful people and a remarkable spirit of resilience. From suffering unimaginable destruction due to the 2001 quake, Kutch is today known as one of India’s fastest growing districts.
 
"On Tuesday, I will be in Gandhinagar to participate in the opening ceremony of the meetings of the @AfDB_Group. #AfDBAM2017
 
"The Annual Meetings of @AfDB_Group have chosen the very relevant theme of ‘Transforming Agriculture for Wealth Creation in Africa.’
 
On the sidelines of @AfDB_Group Annual Meetings, I shall meet some of the distinguished delegates who will be taking part in #AfDBAM2017,” Mr. Modi added.
 
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Naidu launches 352 housing projects in 53 cities to build more than 200,000 houses

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Aiming to build more than 200,000 houses with an investment of over Rs. 38,000 crore, Union Minister for Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation M. Venkaiah Naidu launched 352 housing projects in 53 cities in 17 States across the country here yesterday.
 
These housing projects to be taken up by the members of Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Associations of India (CREDAI) across the country is the first major private investments initiative in affordable housing. These projects were launched in the Gujarat capital.
 
As per the details furnished by CREDAI, the cost of construction will be in the range of Rs. 15 lakh to Rs. 30 lakh with average cost of construction coming to Rs. 18 lakh per house.
 
The event was held in the backdrop of several initiatives by the Union Government to promote affordable housing for Economically Weaker Sections, Low and Middle Income Groups including sanction of ‘infrastructure status’ for the housing sector.
 
Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel, Gujarat Minister of Urban Development Shankar Chaudhary, outgoing President of CREDAI Gitambar Anand and more than 3000 delegates from across the country were present at the function.
 
Mr. Naidu complimented CREDAI and its members for coming forward to invest in affordable housing projects and assured them that his Ministry and Central nodal agencies like the National Housing Bank and HUDCO will extend full cooperation in reaching the benefits prescribed under PMAY (Urban) to the beneficiaries.
 
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Foundation stone laid for first training centre for para athletes

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As the first step towards setting up the first ever training centre of excellence dedicated for para athletes in the country, Union Minister for Youth Affairs & Sports Vijay Goel has laid the foundation stone of the boundary wall for the centre here.
 
Para athletes had won four medals at the Rio Olympics and Prime Minister Narendra Modi after meeting gold medallist Devender Jhajharia expressed the desire to open a world class para athletic centre. Accordingly, the Sports Minister approved a Centre of Excellence for Differently Abled Sportspersons at Sports Authority of India, Gandhinagar, an official press release said.
 
Speaking on the occasion here yesterday, Mr Goel said a Talent Search Portal would be launched soon to spot budding sportspersons in the country. 
 
He said the centre would help para ahtletes to showcase their skills and talent further at national and international levels.
 
The centre is proposed to be built at an estimated budget of over Rs. 50 crore. It will have world class facilities where para athletes will be trained for various international competitions.
 
It will also host seminars, educational programmes and workshops throughout the year with the help of International Paralympic Committee.
 
The centre will have a fully air-conditioned indoor hall, 100-bed elite hostel, VIP accommodation for foreign guests and open land for warm-ups.
 
The entire project will be completed by the CPWD in coordination with the various experts and consultants.
 
Earlier in the day, Mr Goel inaugurated SAI Training Centre (Para) at SAI NSWC Gandhinagar. This centre will provide facilities for training boys and girls in the in the age group of 14 – 20 years in athletics, swimming and power lifting.
 
With a total strength of 50 (Boys & Girls), the annual budget for this scheme is Rs. 50 lakh.  All the selected para athletes will be accommodated in Elite Hostel.
 
Synthetic Athletic Track, International Standard Swimming Pool and modern fitness centre with world class equipment will be available at the centre along with qualified coaches in each discipline.
 
Facilities like Lodging / Boarding, Sports Kits, Competition exposure, Medical Insurance will be provided under the STC Scheme.
 
Selection trials were conducted on February 3 and 4 and the selected probables will be joining the centre after the completion of their examination.
 
The dignitaries, players and coaches at the foundation laying ceremony included Devender Jhajharia, Vijay Muneshwar, Arjuna awardee, Power-Lifting, R. D. Singh, Dronacharya Awardee (Athletics) and senior officials of Department of Sports and SAI.
 
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Tough decisions like demonetization difficult but needed for clean-up: Jaitley

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Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today said tough decisions initially pass through difficult phases resulting in temporary pain, in an apparent reference to the Government's November 8 announcement on demonetization of Rs. 1000 and Rs. 500 notes.
 
India needed such bold decisions as it was time now to clean up the table, he said at a seminor on "GST: The Game Changer for Indian Economy" on the second day of the Vibrant Gujarat Global Investors Summit at Mahatma Mandir here.
 
"Demonetization will have an impact over the course of our present and future lives," he said.
 
Mr. Jaitley said most of the issues regarding implementation of the Goods & Service Tax (GST) had been resolved. A few critical ones are left which will be resolved in the next few weeks. The GST Council is deliberative democracy in action and the impact of both GST and demonetization will be felt this year, he said.
 
He said that when GST merges all the taxes and makes India into one entity, it would be an advantage to the asessee. Once the GST is implemented, the combination of a more digitized economy along with a more efficient tax system will make India better, he said.
 
Since people want transparency, government is emphasizing on bringing transparency and elimination of discretion. Indian economy has opened up significantly in the last two years, he added.
 
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India offers unprecedented opportunities for investors: Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday that India's development agendra was ambitious and it was taking a leap towards next generation infrastructure in both core and social sectors, in rural and urban areas, offering unprecedented opportunities for investors.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit 2017, at Mahatma Mandir, in Gandhinagar, Gujarat on January 10, 2017.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit 2017, at Mahatma Mandir, in Gandhinagar, Gujarat on January 10, 2017.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said India's development agendra was ambitious and it was taking a leap towards next generation infrastructure in both core and social sectors, in rural and urban areas, offering unprecedented opportunities for investors.
 
"Most of you can work with us in a number of areas which include: from hardware to software; from soft skills to scientific temper; from defence systems to cyber security; and from medicine to tourism," he said 
 
"I daresay, that India alone offers the opportunities that could rival those of an entire continent. It offers today, the possibilities of a full century. And we want to do all this in a cleaner, greener and sustainable way. We are committed to protect the environment and uphold our responsibility towards Nature. Ultimately, this is what India has stood for since ages," he said.
 
Mr. Modi said India's strength lay in the three Ds: Democracy, Demography and Demand.
 
"Our biggest strength is the depth of our Democracy. Some people say that democracy cannot deliver effective and fast track governance. But we have seen in the last two and a half years that it is possible to deliver quick results in a democratic set up as well. Over the last two and a half years, we have also evolved a culture of healthy competition among states. States are being rated on parameters of Good Governance. The World Bank is helping us in this process.
 
"Coming to Demography, ours is a nation of vibrant youth.  The disciplined, dedicated, and talented youth of India offers a globally unmatched work-force. We are the second largest English-speaking country. Our youth are not merely looking for jobs. They have begun taking risks and often prefer to become entrepreneurs.
 
"On the Demand front, our rising middle class offers a huge domestic market. The seas that surround the Indian peninsula, connect us to some of the world’s biggest markets, including Africa, the Middle East and Europe.
 
"Nature has been kind to us. Our three crop seasons enable us to grow food, vegetables and fruits in abundance. The diversity in our flora and fauna is unparalleled. The richness of our culture and its living symbols is unique. Our Institutions and scholars are recognised the world over. India is now an emerging R&D hub. We produce the world’s second largest number of scientists and engineers.
 
"Our entertainment industry is making waves worldwide. All this helps ensure a good quality of life, at relatively low cost," he said.
 
The Prime Minister said his Government was elected first and foremost on the promise to provide clean governance and end the "prevailing regime of corruption and nepotism".
 
"It is our vision and mission to bring a paradigm shift in the ways of our polity and economy. We have taken a series of decisions and steps in this direction. To give you some examples, we are bringing a shift: from relation based governance to system based governance; from discretionary administration to policy based administration; from random interference to technological intervention; from favouritism to level playing field; from Informal economy to formal economy," he said.
 
"In doing this, digital technology has played a key role. I have often said that e-governance is easy and effective governance. I have also emphasized the need for policy driven governance. Online processes help bring speed and openness in decision making. Towards this end, we are working to adopt and absorb newer technologies, to bring about transparency, and to end discretion. Believe me, we are on the threshold of becoming the world’s most digitised economy. Most of you wanted this change in India. I am proud to say that it is happening before you," he said.
 
Mr. Modi said that, over the last two and a half years, the government had worked relentlessly to realise India’s potential, and to set right the economy. He said the results had been very encouraging and there had been substantial improvement in key macro-economic indicators like GDP growth, inflation, fiscal deficit, current account deficit as well as foreign investments.
 
"India has become the fastest growing major economy in the world. Despite the global slowdown, we have registered excellent growth.Today, India is a bright spot in the global economy. We are seen as the engine of global growth.
 
"World Bank, IMF and other institutions have projected even better growth in the coming days. In 2014-15, India contributed 12.5 per cent of global growth. Its contribution to global growth is sixty eight per cent higher, than its share of the world economy.
 
"Creating an enabling environment for business, and attracting investments, is my top priority. We have to do this in order to create opportunities for our youth. With that spirit, we are moving towards implementation of some historic initiatives. This includes the Goods and Services Tax.
 
"The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, the National Company Law Tribunal, a new arbitration framework and a new IPR regime are all in place. New commercial courts have also been set up.  These are just a few examples of the direction in which we are going. My government is strongly committed to continue the reform of the Indian economy," he said.
 
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Mr. Modi said the Government had placed the highest emphasis on Ease of Doing Business. He said it had taken decisive steps to ease licensing processes, and rationalize provisions and procedures relating to clearances, returns, and inspections. 
 
"We are monitoring implementation of hundreds of action points across various sectors, aimed at improving the regulatory framework. This is part of our promise of Good Governance.
 
"The outcomes of our efforts are visible in India’s global rankings on various indicators. A number of global reports and assessments over the last two years have shown that India has improved its policies, practices and hence its economic profile.
 
"India’s rank has improved considerably, in the World Bank’s Doing Business Report. India is ranked third in the list of top prospective host economies for 2016-18 in the World Investment Report 2016 released by UNCTAD. Our rank also improved by thirty two positions in World Economic Forum’s ‘Global Competitiveness Report 2015-16 and 2016-17'," he said.
 
Mr. Modi said India had moved up 16 ranks in the ‘Global Innovation Index 2016’ brought out by WIPO and other institutions. It had moved up 19 positions in the World Bank’s ‘Logistics Performance Index of 2016'.
 
"You can see that we are moving closer to global best practices. Day by day we are getting more and more integrated with the world. Our confidence has been boosted by the positive impact of our policies and practices. This also gives us the motivation to further simplify our processes to become the easiest place to do business.
 
"Every day, we are further rationalising our policies and procedures, to make it simple for businesses to establish and grow. We have liberalised our FDI regime in many sectors and in various ways. India is today among the most open economies. This change in environment has been recognized by both domestic and foreign investors.
 
"An encouraging Start-up eco-system is now taking shape in the country. This unleashing of the youth power is heartening.
 
"The total FDI inflows in the last two and a half years have touched US $ 130 billion. The FDI equity inflow in the last two financial years was 60 per cent higher as compared to previous two financial years. In fact, the total FDI inflows received during the last year have been the highest ever," he said.
 
The Prime Minister said the number of countries from where FDI is coming in and the sectors in which they are being routed have also diversified in the last two years. India is now the leading recipient of capital investment in the Asia-Pacific. It also continues to be among the top ten countries globally in terms of FDI inflows.
 
"But the story does not end here. India has left every other country behind in terms of providing return on investment. In 2015, India has risen to first position in the Baseline Profitability Index," he said.
 
Mr. Modi said Make in India had become the biggest brand that India has ever had. It is directed towards making India a global hub for manufacturing, design and innovation, he said.
 
"I am delighted to share that we have become the sixth largest manufacturing country in the world, up from ninth largest previously. Our Gross Value Added in manufacturing has recorded a growth of nine per cent in 2015-16. This is much higher than the five to six per cent growth in the previous three years. All this is helping us expand the job market and raise the purchasing power of our people. But the real potential is even higher.
 
"To give you a few examples: India’s Food Processing Industry is expected to increase almost five fold in the next ten years. Similarly, India's low vehicle penetration makes it one of the world's most attractive auto markets.
 
"At the Government level, we have to ensure that our growth process is inclusive and embraces both rural and urban communities. We are committed to an India with: better job opportunities; better income; better purchasing power; better quality of life; and better living standards," he said.
 
"Our development needs are huge. Our development agenda is ambitious. For instance: we want to provide a roof over every head; we want to provide jobs to every hand; we want to produce energy that is cleaner; we want to build roads and railways faster; we want mineral exploration to become greener; we want to build urban amenities that are sturdier; we want to see our quality of life getting better and better," he said.
 
"We are taking a leap towards next generation infrastructure: in both core and social sectors; in both rural and urban areas. This includes Freight Corridors, Industrial Corridors, High Speed and Metro Rail projects, Logistics Parks, Smart Cities, Coastal Zones, regional airports, water, sanitation and energy initiatives. Our per capita electricity consumption must rise. Even as we do so, we are committed to promoting renewable energy.
 
"We are keen to promote tourism in a big way and this needs tourism infrastructure. The targets for construction of roads and laying of railways have been increased manifold. India is going to emerge as one of the world’s largest construction markets as it adds millions of homes. 
 
"Welcome to India: the land of tradition and tranquillity; the land of empathy and excitement; the land of experiment and enterprise. The land of openings and opportunities.
 
"Once again, I welcome you and invite you to be part of - India of Today; and India of Tomorrow. I assure you that I will be available to hold your hands whenever required," he added.
 
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India to be made a great destination for science, says Modi

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi has stated that the Government's vision in science and technology was to make India a great destination for science where the youth could be well trained and prepared for the future to make them employable in the best places.
 
Inaugurating the Nobel Exhibition at Science City here yesterday, Mr Modi said, “My Government has a clear vision of where we want India to be in the next 15 years. Science and Technology is the pivot on which that vision will translate into strategy and action."
 
“Our vision in Science and Technology is to make sure that opportunity is available to all our youth. That training and future preparedness should make our youth employable in the best places. That India should be a great science destination. That we should take major inspirational challenges such as deep sea exploration and cyber systems,” he added.
 
The five-week exhibition is organised by the Department of Biotechnology, Government of Gujarat and Nobel Media.
 
“We have a plan that will take this vision through action. Our scientists have been asked to develop programmes on science teaching in our schools across the country. This will also involve training teachers,” Mr. Modi said.
 
“At the next level they have been asked to create new programmes both in skilling and high-tech training," he said.
 
“These programmes will make you employable in the new knowledge economy and make you effective entrepreneurs and thinking scientists. You will be able to compete for positions and jobs here and anywhere in the world,” he added.
 
“Next, our scientists will link our laboratories in cities. You can share ideas, seminars and resources and equipment. This will allow us to do more and better collaborative science,” the Prime Minister said.
 
“Our science agencies will expand science-driven entrepreneurship and commercialisation in a big way in each state according to local needs. Your start-ups and industry can then compete globally,” he added.
 
He urged the youth to take advantage of the opportunity India offers by way of “an enabling and unique opportunity of a large demographic dividend and the best teachers.”
 
Referring to the challenge of overcoming poverty, Mr Modi said scientists had a role to play in this regard, along with the task of environment protection.
 
“The maturity of our science will also be judged by a responsible treatment of our planet by the wise use of science and technology,” he said.
 
“Globally, science and technology has emerged as one of the major drivers of socio-economic development. In the fast growing Indian economy, there are increasing expectations for scientific interventions,” he added.
 
The Prime Minister said there were three outcomes he wanted to see from the Nobel Prize series.
 
First, follow up with students and their teachers. The students and teachers here have come through a national ‘Ideathon’ competition and hail from all over the country. Do not lose track of them, he said.
 
During the exhibition period, sessions could be held for school teachers from all over Gujarat.
 
Secondly, entrepreneurship could be stimulated locally as there is a great entrepreneurial zeal among the youth. “Our science ministries have incubators here in Gujarat. In the next five weeks, you should have a workshop on how cutting edge science and technology-driven start-ups can be boosted,” he said.
 
“Prize winning Physics can both save electricity bills and the planet. The 2014 Nobel Prize in Physics was for the blue LED. This came from basic research by three Japanese scientists Akasaki, Amano and Nakamura. When combined with the previously known red and green LED, white light devices can be made that last a hundred thousand hours. There are many such exciting discoveries being made that we can apply through enterprise,” he said.
 
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Thirdly, many Nobel Prize winning discoveries have had a huge impact on the society through health and agriculture. “For example, precision medicine using the tools of gene-technologies is now a reality. We must use this tool to study cancer, diabetes and infectious diseases,” Mr Modi said.
 
“India is already a generics and bio-similar leader, with a major hub in Gujarat, but we must now strive to become a leader in new bio-tech discoveries as well,” he added.
 
Expressing happiness that the exhibition has been planned at the Science City which connects community to science, Mr Modi said,” It is an ideal platform to engage citizens to learn about solutions to global challenges we face.
 
“We will strive to make this Science City a truly attractive, world-class place for young students and science teachers from all over the country and the world to come and be inspired by the exhibits. Centre and State should collaborate and take up this challenge this year,” he added.
 
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Modi inaugurates India's first international stock exchange

Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated India's first international stock exchange -- the India International Exchange -- at GIFT City in Gandhinagar on Monday and described it as a momentous occasion for India's financial sector.

 
Modi inaugurates India International Exchange at GIFT City
Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated India's first international stock exchange -- the India International Exchange -- at GIFT City here today and described it as a momentous occasion for India's financial sector.
 
The excange is part of the International Financial Services Centre, - IFSC - at Gift City.
 
"The concept of an International Financial Services Centre is simple but powerful. It aims to provide onshore talent with an offshore technological and regulatory framework. This is to enable Indian firms to compete on an equal footing with offshore financial centres. Gift City IFSC will be able to provide facilities and regulations comparable to any other leading international finance centres in the world," he said.
 
Mr. Modi said it was not easy to create an offshore-like environment in a large country like India with a huge domestic market.
 
"India cannot be compared to small city states. Such countries have very small local markets and hence can afford to have specially favourable tax and regulatory regimes. Large countries cannot do the same. Creating an offshore-like centre within a large country like India, therefore did pose regulatory challenges. I am glad that the Ministry of Finance, the Reserve Bank and SEBI have found solutions to the regulatory issues," he said.
 
The Prime Minister said there had been criticism for long that a lot of trading, even in Indian financial instruments, was currently taking place abroad. 
 
"It is said that India has stopped becoming the price setter for even some Indian financial instruments. Gift City will be able to mitigate many of these criticisms. But my vision for Gift City is larger. My  vision is that in ten years from now, Gift City should become the price setter for at least a few of the largest traded instruments in the world, whether in commodities, currencies, equities, interest rates or any other financial instrument," he said.
 
Mr. Modi also said India needed to create 30 crore new jobs over the next 20 years.
 
"It is a huge endeavour. Skilled and well-paying jobs in the service sector will have to be part of this job revolution. Indian youth can do it.  The international exposure which our youth will be able to get from Gift City will ensure that more and more of them will be able to join this important field. I urge Indian companies, exchanges and regulators, to help create a pool of experienced and world beating finance professionals. They can work out of this great new city and provide services to the entire world. Over next ten years, I expect this city to generate several lakh jobs," he said
 
Mr. Modi recalled that the Gift City project took shape in  2007, when he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat.
 
"The vision was to create a world class Finance and IT zone for India, to provide services not only to India but the entire world.
 
"In those days, as now, wherever I went, I would meet some of the top financial brains of those countries. Whether in New York, London, Singapore, Hong Kong or Abu Dhabi, I would find many of them to be of Indian origin. I was impressed by their understanding of the financial world, and also their contributions to their adopted countries.
 
"I used to think, 'How can we bring this talent back and at the same time, provide leadership to the entire financial world?'
 
"When the Gift city was conceptualised, I was Chief Minister of Gujarat. Technological progress had accelerated manifold. We had world class talent of Indian origin working in India and abroad. India had a leadership position in Information Technology. Finance was being increasingly married to technology. It was becoming very clear to us that finance combined with technology, or 'fintech' as it is sometimes called, would be an important part of India’s future development.
 
"I deliberated a lot with experts about how to make India, a thought leader, in the field of Finance. It was clear that we would need to have the best facilities and the ability to transact in all markets in the world. Gift city was born out of this vision. Our aim was to provide world class facilities to India’s world class talent in finance and technology. Today, with the inauguration of this exchange, we have reached an important landmark in achieving that vision," he said.
 
Mr. Modi recalled that he had, in June 2013, invited the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) to set up a world beating International Stock Exchange. In 2015, during the Vibrant Gujarat event, they signed an MoU with Government of Gujarat. "Today, I am delighted to be here to inaugurate the new India International Exchange. It is an important milestone not just for Gift City but for India, in creating 21st century infrastructure," he said.
 
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"I am told this exchange will trade in equity, commodities, currencies and interest rate derivatives in the first phase. Later, it will trade equity instruments of Indian and foreign companies. I am told Masala bonds will also be available for trading here. Many more companies from Asia, Africa and Europe should be able to raise funds from this important International Finance Centre. This exchange is set to be among the fastest exchanges in the world with most modern trading, clearing and settlement systems. India is in an excellent time-zone between West and East. It can provide financial services through the day and night to the entire world. The exchange, I am told, will work 22 hours a day, starting when the Japanese markets start, and closing when US markets close. I am sure, this exchange will set new standards for quality of service and speed of transactions across time zones.
 
"You are aware of the importance I attach to the development of smart cities. Gift City is the first ground up truly smart city in the country. All the 100 smart cities will do well to understand how Gift City has been able to create its underground infrastructure which can compete with the best in the world. I have said before that India can become a developed country in one generation. New cities will be important in creating the new India of our dreams: a confident India; a prosperous India; an inclusive India; our India," he added.
 
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Rwanda President Paul Kagame to visit India from January 9-12

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Rwanda President Paul Kagame will be on a working visit to India from January 9-12 at the invitation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
 
The two leaders will hold official talks on January 9 in Gandhinagar, a press release from the Ministry of External Affairs said.
 
Mr. Kagame, who will be accompanied by a business delegation, will attend the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit in Gandhinagar and address a National Business Seminar on Rwanda. 
 
Rwanda will also be participating in the Global Trade Show 2017, the release added.
 
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Vijay Rupani sworn in as new Chief Minister of Gujarat

Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Vijay Rupani was sworn in as the new Chief Minister of Gujarat at a ceremony in Gandhinagar on Sunday.

 
Vijay Rupani sworn in as new Gujarat Chief Minister
Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Vijay Rupani was sworn in as the new Chief Minister of Gujarat at a ceremony here today.
 
Mr. Nitin Patel, who was the Health Minister in the previous government headed by Ms. Anandiben Patel and who was considered the front-runner for the top job, was sworn in as the Deputy Chief Minister.
 
Mr. Rupani, Mr. Patel and 23 other members of the new Council of Ministers were administered the oaths of office and secrecy by Gujarat Governor O. P. Kohli.
 
The new Ministers include seven of Cabinet rank and 16 Ministers of State. The Cabinet Ministers sworn in today are Mr. Bhupendrasingh Manubha Chudasama, Mr. Ganpatbhai Vestabhai Vasava, Mr. Chimanbhai Dharamshibhai Sapariya, Mr. Babubhai Bhimabhai Bokhriya, Mr. Atmarambhai Makanbhai Parmar, Mr. Dilipkumar Viraji Thakor, and Mr. Jayeshkumar Viththalbhai Radadiya.
 
The Ministers of State include Mr. Shankarbhai Lagdhirbhai Chaudhary, Mr. Pradipsinh Bhagvatsinh Jadeja, Mr. Jayantibhai Ramjibhai Kavadiya, Mr. Nanubhai Bhagvanbhai Valani, Mr. Purushottam Odhavji Solanki, Mr. Jashabhai Bhanabhai Barad, Mr. Bachubhai Maganbhai Khabad, Mr. Rajendra Suryaprasad Trivedi, Mr. Keshaji Shivaji Chauhan, Mr. Rohitbhai Patel, Mr. Vallabhbhai Vashrambhai Vaghashiya, Dr. Nirmalaben Sunilbhai Vadhwani, and Mr. Shabdsharan Bhailalbhai Tadvi.
 
Mr. Shah, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and former Deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishna Advani were amongst those present at the ceremony. Others who attended the ceremony included Ms. Patel, Union Ministers Purushottambhai Rupala, Mansukhbhai Mandaviya and Jashvantsinh Bhabhor and Chief Ministers Devendra Fadnavis of Maharashtra, Manoharlal Khattar of Haryana and Raghuveer Das of Jharkhand.
 
Mr. Rupani, 60, who was the State BJP President, was chosen as the new leader of the BJP Legislature Party at a meeting on Friday. He was the Minister for  Transport, Water Supply, Labour and Employment in the previous Cabinet.
 
He had later met the Governor and staked his claim to form the new government, following which he had resigned as president of the state BJP unit.
 
Ms. Patel had, on August 1, written to BJP President Amit Shah, offering to resign from the Chief Minister's position, citing the BJP's "tradition" of leaders quitting their posts when they attain the age of 75. The BJP Parliamentary Board met in Delhi on August 3 and accepted her offer to quit.
 
Mr. Rupani is a prominent Jain leader and is considered to be close to both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Mr. Shah. He will have a tenure of less than 18 months before the state goes in for elections to choose a new legislative assembly in late 2017. He represents the Rajkot West constituency in the state legislative assembly.
 
Born on August 2, 1956, Mr. Rupani started his political career as a student activist and later joined the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Jana Sangh, the precursor of the BJP, in 1971.
 
He has served as a municipal corporator in Rajkot and as mayor of the city. He also served one term as member of the Rajya Sabha from 2006 to 2012. He was elected to Gujarat Assembly in August 2014 in a bye-election. He was inducted as a Minister by Ms. Patel when she expanded her Cabinet.
 
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Mr. Rupani has a B.A. and an LL. B. from the Saurashtra University.
 
Ms. Patel had, in her letter to Mr. Shah, said that she would complete 75 years of age in November but, given the fact that Assembly elections are due to be held in the state towards the end of 2017 and it was also slated to host the next edition of the Vibrant Gujarat Summit in January 2017, she felt she should step aside right away so that the new Chief Minister would have time to prepare for these events.
 
She had succeeded Mr. Modi as Chief Minister after he became Prime Minister in 2014 after more than 12 years at the helm of the state. In the process, she became the first woman to hold the position of Chief Minister in Gujarat.
 
Her resignation ended months of speculation about whether she would be able to complete her term, especially in the wake of criticism of the way her Government had handled the agitation by members of the influential Patidar community in the state for reservation in jobs and educational institutions as well the more recent protests by Dalits against atrocities against members of the community.
 
Even as the reservation issue raised by the Patidars remains very much alive, more than 30 Dalit organisations organised a huge rally in Ahmedabad last week to protest atrocities against the community in Gujarat.
 
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Kotak Bank opens IFSC Banking Unit at International Financial Services Centre at GIFT

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Kotak Mahindra Bank Limited has become the fourth bank to open its IFSC Banking Unit (IBU) at India’s first and only International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) at Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT) in Gandhinagar.
 
With over $ 250 million worth of business transactions done at the IFSC in the past six months, GIFT is attracting a lot of interest from the Banking, Financial services and Insurance (BFSI) sector in India, especially from banks, insurance companies and other financial services players who want to tap the global markets, a press release from GIFT said.
 
IFSC Banking Unit (IBU) allows an Indian bank to deliver a complete range of products to its clients with foreign currency funding requirements. IBU can actively offer products such as external commercial borrowings to its customers, an area where it had limited capabilities hitherto. IBU will also be able to meet the funding requirements of overseas entities which may be joint ventures or subsidiaries of its domestic clients or part of the value chain of its existing customers
 
Mr. Ajay Pandey, MD & Group CEO of GIFT Company Ltd. said, “We are happy to have Kotak Mahindra Bank at GIFT IFSC. It’s an important addition for us to have one of India’s leading private sector bank set up base at India’s first IFSC. Setting up of IFSC in India has been the vision of the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, as this would be a major game changer for the financial services sector in India. The major tax incentives announced in the last Union Budget have made the IFSC at GIFT a globally competitive player and many more BFSI players are swarming to this new global financial hub.”
 
Kotak Mahindra Bank is one of India's leading banking and financial services group, offering a wide range of financial services that encompass every sphere of life. It offers transaction banking, operates lending verticals, manages IPOs and provides working capital loans.
 
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Mr.K. V. S. Manian, President – Corporate, Institutional and Investment Banking, Kotak Mahindra Bank, said, “Indian corporates have expanded business operations across geographies, which in turn has led to increased requirement for financial products and services in overseas markets. Our IBU in GIFT City will cater to this growing demand. We will offer a host of products and services including External Commercial Borrowings (ECB), buyers’ credit for imports, and factoring / forfaiting of export receivables for Indian corporates in international markets.”
 
The release said development of completed unique infrastructure, project single window clearance and conducive regulatory environment has made GIFT City a favoured destination for various players to be a part of the city’s development. GIFT City has made allotment of more than 15 million square feet of built up area (BUA) in the SEZ and Non-SEZ area for development of office towers, residential apartments and social facilities to be developed at an estimated total investment of over Rs 10,000 crore.  
 
It is estimated that GIFT would provide 5 lakh direct and an equal number of indirect jobs which would require 62 million square feet of commercial, residential and social facilities with total investment of about Rs. 78,000 crore over next 10 years.
 
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