Naidu launches 352 housing projects in 53 cities to build more than 200,000 houses

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.

Foundation stone laid for first training centre for para athletes

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.

Tough decisions like demonetization difficult but needed for clean-up: Jaitley

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.

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.
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.

India to be made a great destination for science, says Modi

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.
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.

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.
"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.

Rwanda President Paul Kagame to visit India from January 9-12

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.

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.
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.

Kotak Bank opens IFSC Banking Unit at International Financial Services Centre at GIFT

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.
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.

IndusInd Bank gets nod for IFSC Banking Unit in Gujarat International Finance Tec City

Private sector bank IndusInd Bank today said it had received approvals to set up an International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) in Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT City) at Gandhingar.
A press release from the bank said its International Banking Unit (IBU) will provide the bank access to international financial markets and will allow IndusInd to deliver a complete range of products to its clients with foreign currency funding requirements. 
"The bank will now be able to actively offer products such as external commercial borrowings to its customers, an area where it had limited capabilities hitherto," it said.
The bank 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, it said.
Mr. Suhail Chander, Head, Corporate & Commercial Banking, IndusInd Bank said, “The opening of IBU in GIFT city will be yet another milestone in our growth trajectory. This development will benefit us in servicing foreign currency funding requirements which would help us in meeting our objective of being a complete banking partner to our customers with global aspirations.”

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Kerry: US, India could help end extreme poverty through sustainable economic growth

US Secretary of State John Kerry speaking at the Vibrant Gujarat Summit in Gandhinagar on January 11, 2015.
US Secretary of State John Kerry speaking at the Vibrant Gujarat Summit in Gandhinagar on January 11, 2015.
United States Secretary of State John Kerry today said the US and India could turn sustainable economic growth opportunities into a rich prosperity they have never seen before and help end extreme poverty in their lifetimes.
"If we work together, with partners who are here and some who are not here today, I am convinced that the world’s oldest democracy and the world’s largest democracy can help to forge a new era of shared possibility and security for hundreds of millions of people in India, but indeed, across Asia, and across the world," he said at the Vibrant Gujarat Summit that began here earlier in the day.
"We can do more together, and we must do more together, and we have to do it faster. That’s why I’m here this week, because I want to ensure that our economic relationship grows stronger in every respect," he said.
Mr Kerry said the US shared Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s goal of increasing the two countries’ annual trade fivefold in the years ahead, and it wanted to expand their commercial ties and change the way their businesses talked with one another so that they could take these relationships to the new heights that they envisioned.
Mr Kerry said US President Barack Obama was "very excited and particularly pleased" with the fact that he would be the first US president to be honored as Chief Guest on India's Republic Day later this month and that he would be the first sitting US president to visit India twice while in office.
"Let me make it clear: We believe that that purposefully says something important about the value that both countries place on our critically important relationship," he said.
Mr Kerry spoke about both the US and India being the lands of diversities and opportunities. He said that, in his many visits to Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore over the years, he was overwhelmed by "the sense of possibility, by the promise, by the entrepreneurial passion".
"And I believe very strongly that today the moment has literally never been more ripe to deliver on the incredible possibilities of relationships between all of our countries," he said.
He said the bilateral economic partnership had grown nearly five-fold since 2000. "Bilateral foreign direct investment now stands at nearly $30 billion. And our trade and investment supports hundreds of thousands of jobs in both of our countries and in other countries that are partnering here. The fruits of this kind of partnership are extraordinary, and the supply chain for goods and services now stretches not just one country to another but between many different countries," he said.
He said the US did not see this as a zero-sum game. "When you consider ...  the number of people living in extreme poverty around the world today, the numbers of schools that need to be built, the number of hospitals that need to be built, the roads that need to be built, the energy grids that need to be changed, the unbelievable opportunity to tourism, ... we are building an endless set of possibilities, and it through this kind of meeting that we will harness the energy to make the most of those possibilities," he said.
He said global climate change was a major challenge which required leaders to act responsibly through a sustainabl enrgy policy, which would benefit all countries.
"The world we’re looking at today, the energy market, is a $6 trillion market with four to five billion users today, potentially, and up to 9 billion users by the year 2050, if population meets the current trends. My friends, that’s the greatest market human beings have ever known. And if we seize it properly, our ability to bring modern resources to the task is unlimited," he said.
"Together, we can create an environment where all of our companies play leading roles in bringing cutting-edge technologies, equipment, capital, and know-how not just to India but to countless countries that need this growth and development now. That’s how we will turn Prime Minister Modi’s 'Make in India' initiative a win-win opportunity for the planet as a whole," he said.
"I can’t think of a moment in the years I’ve been in public life when our destinies are converging as significantly as they are today. India and the United States I think have a common responsibility, together with our other country partners, a common opportunity to prove that democracies can deliver for their citizens, and frankly, that by doing so that is when we are at our strongest. It is also when we’re at our most secure. And that’s how we will capitalize on the full potential inherent in this partnership now and for generations to come," he added.

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Modi discusses security cooperation with Bhutan PM Tshering Tobgay

Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Bhutan Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay on the sidelines of the Vibrant Gujarat Summit here today and discussed security cooperation between the two countries in the light of the recent incidents of violence in Assam.
Mr Modi appreciated the efforts made by Bhutan for intensive vigilance in the border areas and real-time sharing of information.
The two leaders also discussed cooperation in the hydro-electric sector. A total of ten Indian-assistd hydropower projects in Bhutan will have a combined capacity of over 6400 MW by 2022-23.
Mr Modi also met Lord Ian Livingstone, the Minister of Trade and Investment, United Kingdom, and appreciated the extensive cooperation extended by the UK as a partner country for the Vibrant Gujarat Summit. 
Both sides expressed keenness to deepen cooperation in areas such as education, science and technology. Mr invited investment from UK, especially in sectors such as telecom, defence, railways and other manufacturing. Counter-terror cooperation was also discussed, particularly in light of the recent attacks in Paris. 
Trade and counter-terror cooperation were the main topics of discussion at his meeting with Australian Trade Minister Andrew Robb and New South Wales Premier Mike Baird. The Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) also came up for discussion. 
In his meeting with Mr. S Iswaran, Second Minister for Trade and Industry, Singapore, the Prime Minister expressed happiness at Singapore's participation in Vibrant Gujarat as a partner country. The Prime Minister said he looked forward to Singapore President Tony Tan's visit to India next month. Both sides discussed cooperation in sectors such as smart cities, urban planning, water management and skill development. 
Mr Modi welcomed the Deputy Prime Minister of Poland, Mr. Janusz Piechocinski, on his first visit to India. Both sides discussed cooperation in the mining sector, and cooperation in defence manufacturing as part of the Make in India vision. 
He also met Mr. Yosuke Takagi, Minister for Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan. Both sides agreed to quickly implement the agreement between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Mr Modi on doubling Japanese investment in India.

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PM holds bilateral meetings on the sidelines of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas

Prime Minister Narendra Modi held bilateral meetings with Guyana President Donald Ramotar and other leaders on the sidelines of the 13th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD), the annual gathering of the Indian diaspora, here today.
At his meeting with Mr Ramotar, Mr Modi recalled his interaction with South American leaders on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit last year and said India would set up its first IT Centre of Excellence in South America in Guyana.
India has approved a new Line of Credit of $ 50 million for the East Bank Demerara-East Coast Road Link Project. India has also agreed to concessional credit to supply a passenger ferry to help Guyana overcome transportation problems in the northern region. 
During his meeting with the Vice Prime Minister of Mauritius, Mr Showkatally Soodhun, Mr Modi congratulated the Prime Minister of Mauritius, Sir Anerood Jugnauth on his recent election victory and renewed an invitation to him to visit India. Sir Anerood has also invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit Mauritius. Both sides expressed keenness to enhance cooperation in infrastructure projects and matters related to ocean economy. 
During his meeting with Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Foreign Minister of South Africa, recalled that today was the Founding Day of the African National Congress. He also recalled the common heritage of the two countries, including struggle against colonial rule. Both sides are keen to deepen cooperation in sectors such as infrastructure and defence manufacturing; and to strengthen partnerships in multilateral fora, an official press release added.

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Modi releases commemorative stamps on 100 years of Gandhi's return

Prime Minister Narendra Modi released a set of two commemorative postage stamps to mark 100 years of the return of Mahatma Gandhi from South Africa to India at a function here today during the 13th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD), an annual gathering of the Indian diaspora.
Mahatma Gandhi had gone to South Africa at the age of 24 years as the legal counsel of Indian traders based in the city of Pretoria. He spent more than two decades in South Africa, where he developed the concept of Satyagraha while fighting against the injustice, discrimination and racism prevailing there. 
He returned to India with a formidable reputation to lead the Indian masses struggling for freedom from colonial domination through civil disobedience and non-violence, which proved to be a highly effective moral weapon in  India’s struggle for independence from British rule.

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Modi urges Indian diaspora to unite as a positive force for the benefit of humanity

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday called upon the Indian diaspora across the world to unite as a positive global force for the benefit of humanity and told them that there were opportunities waiting for them in India, which is rising with great strength.
Modi: India more capable now, offers better opportunities
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today called upon the Indian diaspora across the world to unite as a positive global force for the benefit of humanity and told them that there were opportunities waiting for them in India, which is rising with great strength.
Inaugurating the 13th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, the annual gathering of overseas Indians -- persons of Indian origin (PIOs) and non-resident Indians (NRIs) -- here, he recalled that, exactly 100 years ago, an NRI, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, had returned to India to serve the people.
Today, he said, he was welcoming NRIs from across the world as a "non-resident Gujarati".
Noting that NRIs were present in more than 200 countries across the world, he said, "India is global because of you."
He said that, in the past, Indians had travelled across the world in search of opportunity, or to gain knowledge and exposure. "Today, opportunities beckon you in India," he asserted.
"Today, the world looks at India with hope. The times are changing quickly, and India is rising with great strength," he said.
Mr Modi urged the diaspora to contribute to India's development in any way possible, including through their knowledge, expertise or skills. He mentioned in particular the Namaami Gange project to clean river Ganga and to make it a source of economic empowerment for 40 per cent of India's population. He said he was sure all NRIs would be inspired to contribute to this cause.
He welcomed the dignitaries from Guyana, South Africa and Mauritius. He recalled how Indian festivals such as Holi and Diwali are enthusiastically celebrated in Guyana. He recalled that today - January 8 - was the founding day of the African National Congress in South Africa. He mentioned that Mahatma Gandhi's birth anniversary - October 2 - is observed in Mauritius with even greater vigour than it is observed in India. 
He called upon NRIs across the world to forge and take pride in a common identity and heritage, and to use this strength collectively. He said even if a solitary NRI is present anywhere in the world, India is alive and present in that corner of the world through him. 
Mr Modi said he had met representatives of 50 countries since assuming office in May last year, and could say with confidence that rich or poor, all nations across the world, today felt that their goals and objectives could be met in partnership with India. He said this was a rare opportunity, and it was now upto everyone to use this opportunity for the benefit of humanity, and for India's benefit. 
He said the world was showering affection on India, as seen from the fact that a record 177 nations out of 193, had co-sponsored India's resolution on International Day of Yoga at the United Nations. 
He said he firmly believed that NRIs were a big source of strength for India and the country could make a global impact by reaching out to them. 
He also said he was happy to announce that he had fulfilled all promises he had made to overseas Indians, such as lifelong visas for PIO cardholders, merging of PIO and Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) schemes, visa on arrival for 43 countries and electronic travel authorisation.
In her welcome address, External Affairs and Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said the 25 million-strong Indian diaspora had become a unique force in world culture.
Stating that the government was keen on working closely with the Indian diaspora, she invited investors and professionals to partner with India. “I promise, it will be a mutually rewarding experience," she said.
Recalling India’s close ties with nations having significant population of people of Indian origin, Ms Swaraj said Mauritius calls itself a ‘chhota Bharat’ and celebrates its national day on March 8, the day when Mahatma Gandhi began his historic Dandi March. 
She said the government is setting up a monument of arrival of indentured labour in Guyana. She also mentioned about India’s close bilateral relations with South Africa, the other ‘karm-bhoomi’ of Gandhiji, which is also the partner country at the Vibrant Gujarat summit. 
Guyana President Donald Ramotar, the chief guest at the event, and South African Foreign Minister Nkona Mashabane also spoke on the occasion.
Mr Ramotar recalled the influence the Indian independence movement had in shaping political and economic destinies of other colonial countries. Referring to India’s growing economic clout, he urged India to provide leadership to other developing countries, who have no voice, to realize their potential. 
Stressing upon the need for reforming the UN system,  Mr Ramotar said “the global struggle for equality continues”.  
Ms.Mashabane claimed Mahatma Gandhi to be the national hero of South Africa, as much he is of India. She expressed South Africa’s keenness to deepen ties with India in the fields of information and communication technology, healthcare and clean energy.
Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel said her state was elated to be the partner state of Pravasi Bharatiya Divas on the centenary of Mahatma Gandhi's return to India.
Earlier, Mr Modi inaugurated the ‘Dandi Kutir’ museum located opposite the Mahatma Mandir, the venue of the event. 
The three-storey exhibition, housed in a dome shaped structure, traces the life and times of Mahatma Gandhi through various phases – as barrister, his struggles in South Africa, return to India and successfully leading the freedom struggle.  Depiction of Gandhiji breaking the salt law after the Dandi March  is  a major draw.  Key concepts of Gandhian thoughts like Satyagraha, non-violence, self reliance and gram swaraj are elaborately explained through a number of exhibits.  There is also an audio-visual presentation of milestone incidents of the freedom movement. The contents of the museum are expressed through a combination of traditional and contemporary media.
Nearly 4,000 delagates from 44 countries are attending the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2015.  A mega exhibition spread over 1.1 million sq ft has also been organized as part of the programme.

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Swaraj urges young overseas Indians to connect with motherland, contribute to its development

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj today urged young overseas Indians to connect with their motherland, celebrate its history and civilizational heritage, which is their cultural inheritance, and contribute to the development of the country.
Inaugurating the Youth Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, on the sidelines of the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) that will be held here for two days from tomorrow, she said the event was about discovering their roots and learning and appreciating their heritage through the three Cs -- connect, celebrate and contribute.
She said an estimated 25 million persons of Indian origin (PIOs) and non-resident Indians (NRIs) today live and work outside India and the PBD was essentially a platform to connect the Indian diaspora with the motherland.
She recalled that then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had started the initiative in 2003 to develop consciousness of the concept of the global Indian family, define India’s new approach towards the diaspora, provide a forum to discuss issues and concerns of people of the diaspora and to involve them in the development and advancement of India. 
"With this PBD we have come full circle. Not only are we doing this event in Gujarat, we are also holding it at a time when we mark 100 years of the return of the greatest ‘Pravasi Bharatiya’, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, who arrived back in India from South Africa on January 9, 1915," she pointed out.
"Friends, the India of 2015 is very different from the India that Mahatma Gandhi returned to in 1915. No longer does the world consider it as a country mired in poverty and underdevelopment. Today, India is seen as a rising power, and appreciated across the world for the way it has converged strong democratic institutions with rapid development," she said.
Ms Swaraj, who also handles the portfolio of Overseas Indian Affairs, said the biggest asset of this new India was its youth, with more than 50 per cent of its population under the age of 25, which means that soon one-fifth of the world's working age population would be in India.
"This is also the platform for you to connect with the new generation of Indians who are confident, aspirational and transcending the old boundaries of caste and class," she said.
She said the government wanted the young overseas Indians to take pride in the history and civilizational heritage of India and know about their roots.
She said the first session of the youth PBD was called "Bharat ko Jano" to know more about India, its traditions and its art and culture.
"‘Bharat ko Jano’ will tell you that zero and the decimal system were India’s gift to the world. The value of ‘Pi’ was first calculated by Budhayana in the sixth century. The world’s first university was established in Takshila in 700 BC. The earliest school of medicine known to humans was Ayurveda which was consolidated by Charaka, the father of medicine, some 2,500 years ago. 
"Of even greater importance are the ideas and ideals that India has bequeathed to the world. Ideas such as non-violence, tolerance and respect for diversity and difference. These are enshrined in our way of life and have shown the world the way to live with peace and harmony. That is why India is today hailed as the world’s largest democracy where 1.25 billion people are reaching for their destiny through the medium of pluralist politics. Just last month the people of Jammu and Kashmir voted overwhelmingly for peaceful change by braving the bullets of the separatists to register the highest voter turnout in 25 years," she said.
Ms Swaraj said the second session called "Bharat ko Mano", which will tell them about the remarkable strides that modern India had taken, especially in the fields of science and technology.
"The nation which gave the world the concept of zero, has also mastered the nuclear cycle, sent expeditions to Antarctica and even unmanned missions to the moon and Mars," she said.
She said India's soft power had also been spreading around the world. "Whether you have Californians doing yoga, Britishers taking to chicken tikka masala, Brazilians hooked to a TV serial set in India, or Egyptians dancing to Hindi film songs, they have all contributed to the image of the new India," she said.
Ms Swaraj said the intensity of India’s international engagement had also increased manifold. She said this could be seen from the calendar of high level visits both to and from India. "Prime Minister Modi’s out-of-the-box initiatives and whirlwind tours have raised India’s global profile. In a few days from now  (United States) President (Barack) Obama will grace our Republic Day parade as the Chief Guest," she said.
"What excites the world most about India today is the Indian economy which is now the third largest in terms of purchasing power parity and is showing new dynamism under the NDA government. Our government was elected on the platform of pro-people good governance. And though we have been in office for less than eight months, we have been able to effect a complete transformation in the business sentiment vis-à-vis India. 
"We have addressed both policy and regulatory issues, which have resonated well with global rating agencies and major financial institutions which are projecting increased economic growth in India after two years of depressed growth. Those of you who want proof need not step out of this city. Because just three days from now the Vibrant Gujarat Summit is being held with an attendance by more than 10,000 delegates, including global political and business leaders," she said.
Ms Swaraj said that, to enhance ease of doing business, the Government had taken multiple steps to simplify procedures, rationalize rules and increase use of technology for efficient and effective governance. "Efforts are on to identify obsolete laws and regulations which need to be repealed. Skilling our people, particularly the young, is also a priority," she said.
"There is also a clear focus on infrastructure. Several steps have been taken to enhance financing of infrastructure, and we have moved towards a more transparent policy on natural resources. Given the enormous requirements for infrastructure development over the next few years, foreign investment is going to be extremely important," she said.
Ms Swaraj urged the overseas Indians to contribute to the development of India and participate in the vision that Mr Modi had for the country's future.
"We have launched several programmes that have the potential to transform India. The Jan Dhan Yojana, the world’s largest programme of financial inclusion, has just crossed the 100 million mark and 98.4 per cent of households in India now have bank accounts. The Swachh Bharat campaign for cleanliness has become a mass movement. This is an issue that affects not only people’s health but is also an attack on social ills like untouchability and manual scavenging," she said.
In this context, she also spoke about the Make in India, the Digital India and Smart Cities programmes.
"There are tremendous opportunities today for you to join us, especially in the fields of manufacturing, infrastructure development, education, health, skills development, science and technology, research and innovation, knowledge economy and youth development as part of our effort to realise India’s full potential," she said.
"Through your work abroad as software gurus, tech wizards, eminent academics and trail blazing businesspersons, a clear and powerful message of India’s capabilities has been conveyed to the world. Your honest work-ethic, law abiding and hard working nature have contributed to the global image of India and Indians.
"Most important of all, you have retained a bit of India in your hearts. Even though situated thousands of miles away, you have kept the spirit of Bharat alive. For some of you this may be the very first visit to the land of your fathers or forefathers. For some others it may be yet another link in the voyage of discovery that you have embarked upon. But for all of you, I am sure, it is an occasion to reflect upon your heritage, and to touch base with a country which will always consider you as one of its own, regardless of the colour of your passport or the land of your citizenship.
"So Global Indians come, Connect, Celebrate, Contribute and become a part of the momentous transformation taking place in the country to build Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat," she added.

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Guyana President Donald Rabindranauth Ramotar to be chief guest at Pravasi Bharatiya Divas

Guyana President Donald Rabindranauth Ramotar will pay an official visit to India from January 7-12, during which he will be the chief guest at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas being held in Gandhinagar, Gujarat on January 8-9.
Pravasi Bharatiya Divas is the annual gathering of overseas Indians, including non-resident Indians (NRIs) and persons of Indian origin (PIOs) to help forge links between them and India.
While in India, he will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and other senior leaders.
A press release from the Ministry of External Affairs said that relations between India and Guyana are embedded in historical, cultural and traditional links. The presence of a large Indian diaspora in Guyana adds to the close relationship between the two countries, it said.
"The visit will contribute to further strengthening and deepening the close bilateral relations between India and Guyana," it added.

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GIFT City, GCCI and World Trade Centre in pact for trade development

Gujarat International Finance Tec-City Company Ltd (GIFT City), Gujarat Chamber of Commerce & Industry (GCCI) and World Trade Centre India Services Council (WTCS) have entered into a cooperation agreement to promote trade and commerce for the members of GCCI and WTCS.
The agreement will facilitate setting up of operations by GCCI members in Gujarat’s first World Trade Centre at GIFT City at Gandhinagar, the state capital, near here.
Under the agreement, WTCS will focus on small and medium enterprises (SME) as well as large enterprises and would promote trade in the form of arranging events and delegations from within and outside Gujarat, holding conferences, seminars, training and provide incubation facilities and various opportunities for global connect, a press release from GIFT City.
Being a member of WTC Association, the WTCS has access to a large database of buyers and sellers, products and markets and thereby would help in promoting trade and commerce for its members, it said.
The release said the agreement would enable exchange of information on various products, markets, buyers & sellers for benefit of members of GCCI and WTCS. 
WTCS and GCCI will facilitate exporters setting up their operations at WTC-GIFT City, by providing various services, information, certifications and data for smooth operations. It will work out modalities for Skill Development & Training Centre for the benefits of members of GCCI, it said.
Mr. Ramakant Jha, MD & Group CEO of GIFTCL said, “Under this agreement, GIFT City would facilitate in developing the synergies between GCCI and WTCS stakeholders. Our aim is to attract SME entrepreneurs to set up their services related operations at WTCS by providing a world-class working environment, high quality manpower and world class services. We believe that GCCI will play its part of creating a conducive environment for growth of trade and industry. WTCS would provide services relating to promoting business, trade and bringing in investments, thereby offering an unrivalled business environment to global and local financial and services sector."
Ms. Khair Ull Nissa, Director, WTC Services said, “The World Trade Centre at GIFT City will promote trade and business under one roof. It would be a Hub for export oriented, financial and allied services which would cover all major cities of Gujarat through the ‘Hub & Spoke’ model. It would also connect businesses around 343 locations worldwide of WTCS and provide greater impetus to the State’s economic activities. It will help small and medium enterprises in accessing overseas markets for their products and services."
Mr. Rakesh Shah, President, GCCI said, “The members of GCCI will get benefits of robust and most modern infrastructure facilities at GIFT City and world-class services by World Trade Centre. Through this combination, the competitiveness and productivity of players who set up base at WTC in GIFT City would increase. We also plan to set up a Skill Development & Training Centre for the benefits of members of GCCI as part of this agreement.” 
Mr Vijay Shah, Treasurer (GCCI) said, “This will be a unique internationally acclaimed new city which will compete globally”.

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EC asks Gujarat authorities to file FIR against Modi for press meet during polling

The Election Commission today directed the authorities in Gujarat to file complaints against BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and others involved in the convening and holding of an impromptu press conference by him in Ahmedabad after casting his vote in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections on Wednesday .
BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi talking to mediapersons
The Election Commission today directed the authorities in Gujarat to file complaints against Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and all others involved in the convening and holding of an impromptu press conference by him in Ahmedabad after casting his vote in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections this morning.
In a letter to the Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police (DGP) of Gujarat, the Commission said it was of the view that, by holding the meeting and addressing it when polling was going on in the entire state of Gujarat and in different parts of the country, Mr Modi had violated the provisions of Sections 126 (1) (a) and 126 (l) (b) of the Representation of the People (RP) Act, 1951.
Mr Modi, who is seeking to enter the Lok Sabha for the first time from Vadodara in Gujarat, cast his vote in the Gandhinagar constituency, from where BJP veteran leader Lal Krishna Advani is hoping to win a sixth term. 
Mr Modi, who is the Chief Minister of Gujarat since late 2001, is also in the fray from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, where polling will be held on May 12.
The Commission said it had seen the video recording of the address by Mr Modi at the press conference, at which he was also seen displaying his party's election symbol, Lotus.
"From the substance, tone and tenor of the address made by Mr. Modi and the statements made by him and the manner in which the symbol 'Lotus' of the BJP was being displayed by him at the said meet, thereby displaying to the public election matter by means of television in polling areas going to polls today, it is evident that the said address was in the nature of political speech intended and calculated to influence and affect the result of elections in the constituencies going to polls today, not only in Ahmedabad but also in all other constituencies in the State of Gujarat and elsewhere in the country," it said.
"Therefore, the Commission directs under Article 324 of the Constitution and all other legal provisions enabling it in this behalf that complaints/FIR as the case may be, should be filed against Mr Narendra Modi and all others who were involved in the convening and holding of the said meeting, under the provisions of Sections 126 (l) (a) and 126 (1) (b)," it said.
BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi taking a 'selfie' of himself after casting his vote in the Lok Sabha elections in Ahmedabad on April 30, 2014.
BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi taking a 'selfie' of himself after casting his vote in the Lok Sabha elections in Ahmedabad on April 30, 2014.
The Commission also said that, if any restrictions had been imposed by the competent authority in Ahmedabad under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cr.PC), banning the assembly of five or more persons in the area, then complaints should also be filed under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
"The Commission further directs that all the TV channels and other electronic media which carried the proceedings/images of the said meeting and display of election matter (as defined in section 126(3) of R.P. Act, 1951) on their channels should also be proceeded against under Section 126 (l) (b) by filing separate complaints/FlRs against those channels," the letter said.
The Commission said compliance reports in this regard should be sent to it latest by 6 pm today, along with copies of the complaints and first information reports (FIRs).
The action by the Commission came after the Congress complained to it this morning, soon after Mr Modi addressed the press conference after casting his vote and was seen displaying the BJP's election symbol on one of his fingers in such a way that television cameras could capture it.
Mr Modi was also seen taking "selfies" of himself, with the indelible ink mark on his finger, a sign of the fact that he had cast his vote, and the party's election symbol with his mobile phone.
Under Section 126 (1) (a) and (b) of the RP Act, public meetings cannot be held during the period of 48 hours ending with the hour fixed for conclusion of the poll.
It says that "no person shall: (a) convene, hold or attend, join or address any public meeting or procession in connection with an election and (b) display to the public any election matter by means of cinematograph, television or other similar apparatus." 
The Congress said in its complaint that Mr Modi had campaigned for the BJP in his speech at the meeting and had also displayed his party's election symbol to the public.
The Election Commission had, on April 9 this year, issued an order which said people could not enter a polling station with caps, shawls and clothes bearing the symbol of any political party.
Polling was held in 89 constituencies today spread across nine states and Union Territories in the seventh phase of polling in the nine-phase Lok Sabha elections.

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US ends nine-year boycott as Nancy Powell meets Modi

US envoy Nancy Powell meets Modi in Gandhinagar
United States Ambassador Nancy J. Powell met Gujarat Chief Minister in Gandhinagar today, ending Washington's nine-year boycott of him for allegedly failing to stem the 2002 post-Godhra violence in the state which claimed more than a thousand lives.
A statement from the US Embassy in New Delhi said the meeting was part of its outreach to senior leaders of India’s major political parties in advance of the upcoming national elections.
Mr Modi is the Prime Ministerial candidate of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, and Ms Powell's decision to meet him, just weeks before the crucial polls, has come as a major boost for him.
"During her visit to Gujarat, Ambassador Powell will meet with representatives from non-governmental organizations and US and Indian businesses. Her discussions focus on the importance of the US-India relationship, regional security issues, human rights, and American trade and investment in India," the statement said.
"The United States and India are moving forward with a strategic partnership that is broad and deep.  Starting last November, Ambassador Powell has shared and listened to views on the US-India relationship.  She continues to emphasize that the U.S.-India partnership is important and strategic, and that the United States looks forward to working closely with the government that the Indian people choose in the upcoming elections," it added.
The meeting took place this morning at the residence of Mr Modi, who greeted Ms Powell with a bouquet of roses.
The meeting lasted for about an hour, and Ms Powell did not speak to waiting journalists outside the Chief Minister's residence.
Mr Modi, 63, was denied a visa by the US in 2005 and he has not travelled to the US since then, though he had been invited for various events, opting to address audiences there through video links instead.
The US had always maintained that Mr Modi was free to apply for a visa again and that his application would be considered on merit as per US laws.
In the past few years, some European nations have restored ties with Mr Modi and now the US appears to have decided to follow suit.
Ms Powell is on a three-day visit to Gujarat during which she is scheduled to attend events at the Deendayal Petroleum University and the Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA), among others.
On Tuesday, the US State Department had made it clear that the meeting between Mr Modi and Ms Powell did not indicate any change in its long-standing visa policy or its strong advocacy of human rights around the world.
"Well, there has been no change in our longstanding visa policy. When individuals apply for a visa, their applications are reviewed in accordance with U.S. law and policy. This is not a reflection of any change," State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said at her daily briefing.
"This is simply a meeting that we’re going to be having that the Ambassador is going to be having on the ground. Nothing has changed about our visa policy. We don’t speak to that, given it’s private. So this is not a reflection of that changing, and certainly not a reflection of anything changing regarding our longstanding and strong advocacy for human rights around the world," she said
Responding to a question whether the US had allowed business interests and the possibility of Mr Modi being a future Prime Minister to take precedence over human rights, she said, "As you know, we don’t speak to that. This is simply a meeting happening on the ground in India. It’s not a reflection of anything else than outreach to a broad range of officials."
"We began doing that months ago, if not years ago – in different scales, of course – to highlight and continue our U.S.-India relationship. There have been no – there’s no changes in our policy per se. This is an effort in that engagement," she said.
Asked if the meeting between Ms Powell and Mr Modi had anything to do with the fact that the Gujarat Chief Minister is a potential prime minister in a few months, she said the US did not take positions in elections and the meeting was not an example of it taking a position.
"We don’t take positions. So no, it wouldn’t be a reflection of that. It is just a reflection, as I’ve stated a few times, of us reaching out to a range of individuals from different backgrounds, different political affiliations, which we do in countries around the world," she said.
"Not at all," Ms Psaki said, when asked if the meeting had succumed to the lobbying efforts of sections of the Indian diaspora, American industry and the US Congress.

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Air Chief inaugurates SWAC Commanders' Conference


The Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne, inaugurated the Annual Commanders` Conference of all Air Force Units under South Western Air Command (SWAC) at Gandhinagar, near here, today.
All commanders of the Air Force units in the states of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharastra are attending the three-day conference.
Earlier on his arrival at Ahmedabad airport, the Chief of the Air Staff and Mrs Kiran Browne, President of Air Force Wives Welfare Association(AFWWA), were received by Air Marshal Daljit Singh, AOC-in-C, SWAC and Mrs Harjeet Kaur, President AFWWA (Regional). 
In his inaugural address, Air Chief Marshal Browne acknowledged the high degree of professionalism and hard work displayed by the Air Warriors in achieving the goals and targets and highlighted the need for operational preparedness with optimal utilisation of resources.
He emphasised the need to stay abreast of the latest technologies and focused on the exacting demands that the latest technology places, while the IAF marches through a transition phase of large scale upgradation of capabilities and infrastructure. 
The Chief underlined his vision statement `People First, Mission Always` and urged upon every Air Warrior to imbibe the qualities of discipline and integrity. 
The annual conference is a forum for the Station Commanders to exchange views on operations, maintenance and administrative matters requiring deliberation with Senior Officers at Command Headquarters. 
During the conference, the Air Chief awarded trophies to various units for their noteworthy performance in different aspects of operations, maintenance and administration. 

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Modi hits out at UPA in live video address to Indian diaspora in US

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on Monday hit out at the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre, saying that the country was moving from crisis to crisis because its rulers were weak, and made a strong pitch for his model of development which he said had helped his state achieve progress on all fronts.
UPAs misgovernance has broken trust of 120 Crore Indians: Modi

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi today hit out at the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the Centre, saying that the country was moving from crisis to crisis because its rulers were weak, and made a strong pitch for his model of development which he said had helped his state achieve progress on all fronts.

Citing examples of the Centre's allegedly weak governance, Mr Modi spoke of how then External Affairs Minister S M Krishna had read out the address of the foreign minister of another country at the United Nations.
He also ridiculed the present External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid for hosting the Pakistan Prime Minister for lunch in Jaipur recently despite the fact that Pakistani troops had beheaded Indian soldiers some months ago.
"Heads of our soldiers are cut but then their Prime Minister is fed chicken biryani. Then questions are raised," Mr Modi said in an address to Indian diaspora in 18 cities in the United States via a video broadcast from here this morning. The event was organized by various Gujarati organizations in the US as part of Gujarat Day celebrations.
Mr Modi also wondered why India had agreed to pull back its own forces from the border with China even as the Chinese government had agreed to withdraw its troops which had made an incursion in Eastern Ladakh, leading to a stand-off between the two sides that had lasted for a few days earlier this month.
"There are claims of a strong government in Delhi but we are worried about the safety of our women," he said, adding that the cases of corruption being heard about now were unprecedented.
"And no one is bothered. No even coal is left," he said, referring to the ongoing controversy about alleged wrongdoings in the allocation of coal blocks to private firms for captive mining. "Ghar ko ag lagi ghar ke chirag se," he remarked.
Mr Modi is being seen by many as the likely Prime Ministerial candidate of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and today's address to the audience in the US is one of a series of events organised in recent weeks to showcase the Gujarat Chief Minister's achievements and to provide him a platform to reach out to Indians across all states in India and also those living abroad.
Mr Modi said there was a need to integrate "Yuva Shakti" and "Matru Shakti" in the country's development efforts. "The events of last six-eight years are disappointing," he said.
"I feel the biggest crisis is lack of confidence. We need to get this trust back. This cannot be merely done by words. In the recent US elections, 'hope' was a big thing, a rape of hope. There must be faith," he said.
"Once the trust is broken, people use different means. This break of trust is due to actions of some people occupying high office. This trust is a very big thing. This development in Guajrat is because each has trust in the other," he said.
"Let us assure people through our thoughts and fill the void," he said.
Mr Modi recalled the contributions of leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and "think of how this trust can increase".
He said the Gujarat government planned to build the tallest statue in the world, twice the size of the Statue of Liberty in the US, in memory of Sardar Patel, to be called the Statue of Unity and to be installed near the Sardar Sarovar dam in the state.
He urged Gujaratis and non-resident Indians everywhere to contribute to this cause.
Mr Modi dwelt at length on the progress made by Gujarat on various fronts during his tenure as Chief Minister. "If you want to see the truth, see the awards the Government of India has given to Gujarat," he said.
He said 18,000 villages in Gujarat had broadband connectivity and the state government wanted to use technology to improve governance and transparency. He said Gujarat had set up the world's largest network of pipelines to carry water from the Narmada river to different parts of the state.
He said the latest report of the Comptroller and Auditor General had lauded Guajrat for reducing malnutrition by 33 per cent after his government had identified this as a major problem and taken steps to address it.
"Due to 24 hours electricity, there is so much change. It has changed the economy. We focussed on small things," he said.
Mr Modi spoke about his government's success in increasing the number of Asiatic lions in the Gir Forests, despite no help from the Centre, which was spending huge resources of saving the tiger.
"No one looked at lion but it is due to Gujarat efforts that number of lions is rising. World has to see, how as a family we can save lions," he said.
Similarly, he spoke about his efforts to improve tourism to areas such as the Rann of Kutch and through events like the Kite Festival. He mentioned his government's efforts to boost handicrafts, exports, education, sports.
"I am saying it again, Narendra Modi has not done it. The credit goes to 6 crore Gujaratis and those who love Gujarat," he said, claiming that his government had, in the last 12 years, taken development to new heights and worked for the well-being of every person in the state.
He also hit out at critics of his government's efforts, who accuse him of taking credit for things that  existed before he arrived on the scene. But he claimed that it was his government that had taken advantage of Gujarat's human and natural resources and taken development to new heights.
"This is a path that will take Gujarat to newer heights in the coming centuries. We changed the nature of development. I know people say everything due to politics. I am sure after my speech Feku people will be active," he said, referring to the Twitter handle of that name that is used by some of his critics to ridicule him.

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Modi meets US delegation, invited to visit America

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi meeting a high-powered delegation from the United States in Gandhinagar on March 28, 2013
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi meeting a high-powered delegation from the United States in Gandhinagar on March 28, 2013

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who has been denied a visa by the United States since 2005 for his alleged failure to stem the 2002 post-Godhra violence in the state, today met a high-powered delegation, comrpising Congressmen and businessmen, who invited him to visit their country.

Talking to mediapersons after the meeting, members of the delegation were all praise for Mr Modi and his efforts for development of the state.
"We have extended an invitation to Chief Minister Modi and requested him to show us there what he has achieved here in his state," Mr Aaron Schock, the Congressman from Illinois, said.
On the denial of a visa to Mr Modi by the US State Department, he said it was a matter for the US administration to decide but members of the delegation, along with other Republican lawmaker, would work in this regard with the administration.
"We have invited him to the US to show us some of what he has done here in the state. We were impressed with what we have seen here, specially with his statement of `minimum government, maximum governance'. And as a Congressman of the Republican Party, I also believe in limited government," he said.
The delegation, which is on a visit to India to promote people-to-people contacts, also included Representative Cathy Rodgers, who is the Chair of the House Republican Conference and Representative Cynthia Lummis. Official sources described Mr Schock as an "old friend of Gujarat".
"Mr Modi has brought a change in people’s lives. Looking forward to how we can work together," Ms Rodgers said.
"Workers are valued here, it is a desirable place to live in because of Mr Modi’s leadership qualities," Ms Lummis said.
Mr Modi told the delegation that Gujarat had, in recent years, adopted faster and yet inclusive and environment friendly process of development.
"People’s participation is the key to our development model. With hard work, we have been able to create an impact in the country.However, there is a lot which has to be still done. Gujarat is ready to work with dedication and work with the rest of the world to make further impact in these fields," he said.
"Gujarat has substantial business linkage with the USA.  Also, we have a sizeable population living there. Our coming together will have a positive impact in terms of confidence building among our people and businesses.I am grateful to the three parliamentarians for making a good beginning. We have to take this process forward. On my side, I am committed to work for the betterment of lives and relationships of the global community," he added.

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GSPC signs MoU with British Gas for long-term sales, purchase of LNG

British minister meets Modi, signs gas deal

The Gujarat Government's public sector enterprise Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation (GSPC) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with British Gas for long-term sales and purchase of liquefied natural gas (LNG).

The agreement was signed in Gandhinagar yesterday by GSPC Managing Director Tapan Ray and British Gas President Shalin Sharma in the presence of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and British Foreign and Commonwealth Minister Hugo Swire.
The 20-year multi-million dollar agreement is one of the largest trade deals between India and the United Kingdom.
“This deal is great news for the companies, for Gujarat, for the UK, and for India.  Following the Prime Minister’s highly successful visit last month this is further evidence that the UK and India are making real progress in building a stronger, wider and deeper partnership," Mr Swire said.
“It is significant that a British company is helping to increase energy security in one of the world’s fastest growing economies. India is already one the world’s largest markets for liquefied natural gas and demand is certain to grow.
“We are well on course to double trade with India by 2015 and I hope this is further encouragement to UK companies to trade, invest and build their presence in India," he said.
Mr Swire is the first British Minister to visit Gujarat since the 2002 post-Godhra violence in the state and comes five months after the British government’s decision in October 2012 to re-engage with the senior political leadership of Gujarat.
Mr Swire also met Mr Modi and discussed with him a wide range of issues of mutual interest, including human rights, a press release from the British High Commission said.
“My visit today has been the logical next step since our decision to re-engage with the democratically elected leadership of this important state. I am confident that active engagement is the best way to pursue British interests in Gujarat. This includes support for the British nationals in Gujarat, for the large Gujarati community in the UK, for human rights and good governance. I hope we can forge a closer partnership in areas where the UK and Gujarat are world leaders such as education, science and technical innovation," he said later.
He also interacted with senior political figures, civil society representatives including various faith groups and British consular wardens.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Mr Modi said Britain and Gujarat had a long-standing relationship which would be strengthened by the agreement.
"It should help energy security, check effects of climate change and bridge the gap between demand and supply," he said.
He said the presence of a British minister at the ceremony indicated the UK government's intent to build stronger relations with Gujarat and would give a boost to trade relations.
Mr Modi said Gujarat had India’s largest network of gas pipelines. It has two LNG terminals which handles 80 per cent of the country’s total cargo in the commodity. There are 11-lakh households with gas connection and seven lakh vehicles in the state run on compressed natural gas (CNG), he said.

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Air Marshal Daljit Singh takes over as AOC-in-C, South Western Air Command

Air Marshal Daljit Singh took over as Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief (AOC-in-C) of South Western Air Command (SWAC) of the Indian Air Force (IAF) at Gandhinagar in Gujarat today.
On taking over, the Air Mshl inspected a ceremonial guard of honour and addressed all air warriors and other IAF personnel there.
Air Marshal Daljit Singh was commissioned in the fighter stream of the IAF in June 1976. An alumnus of the National Defence Academy, he has flown over 3500 hours on various aircraft which include Gnats, Ajeets, MiG-21s, Su-30 MKI and Mirage-2000 aircraft. He is a qualified flying instructor and a graduate of Defence Services Staff College, Wellington. 
Air Marshal Daljit Singh has held a variety of operational and staff appointments. His operational assignments include command of a frontline fighter squadron, Chief Operations Officer of an operational base and command of a premier fighter base. The staff appointments include tenures at Air Headquarters and ARTRAC in addition to diplomatic assignment abroad. 
He was Director General Air (Operations) at Air Headquarters prior to assuming the post of AOC-in-C, an official press release added.

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