ADVERTISEMENT

National

Jaswant says he did not realise BJP could be so "narrow-minded"

Former External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh, who was sacked by the BJP last week for his views on Jinnah and Sardar Patel, said on Sunday there was a degree of "simplemindedness" in his expulsion.

File photo of Jaswant Singh
File photo of Jaswant Singh
Former External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh, who was sacked by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) last week for his views on Pakistan founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah and India's first Home Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, today said there was a degree of "simplemindedness" in his expulsion.

"There is a degree of simplemindedness in my expulsion because distinction has to be made between the late Mohammed Ali Jinnah's personal attributes as a human being and his politics," Mr Singh told journalist Karan Thapar on the Devil's Advocate programme on CNN-IBN.

"The first, which is the personal attributes are admirable. His equations with human beings of all communities were a real example even then. His politics were abhorable, particularly after 1940," he said.

He also said that he did not realise that the party, with which he was associated for three decades, would be so "small-minded" and "narrow-minded".

Mr Singh's views on Jinnah and Sardar Patel, contained in his political biography of the founder of Pakistan published on August 17, as well as the remarks he made in a similar interview to Thapar last week, got him into trouble with his party. He was seen as having eulogised Jinnah and denigrated Patel in his book and subsequent comments.

Among other things, Mr Singh said Jinnah was a "great man" and a "nationalist" who was misunderstood and demonised by Indians.

"Why should truth be provocative? Why should attempting to find what actually happened when Partition took place," he asked.

Mr Singh said that in personal expression, in finding out the trth about India's partition, no political party can lay down red lines. "We are not living in Stalinist Russia. We are living in India where the tradition of shastrarth is foremost even in Sanatan thought," he said.

Asked if he really believed that he could afford, in his personal capacity, to hold views and write opinions of Jinnah and Sardar Patel which the party itself does not endorse and whether he expected the party would not act against him, he said, "I did certainly."

"I didn't think my party is so narrow minded, so limited or so nervous about Jinnah and/or Patel as to get so riled by what I have written. I have a feeling which I voiced also that perhaps my former colleagues hadn't really read the book when they passed the sentence on me," he said.

At the same time, he maintained he had not been naive when he wrote the book. "These are the views that I hold. I reiterate and I have not stated an untruth. On the contrary, the party should be worried if untruth becomes the core of the party," he said.

Mr Singh stressed he had not denigrated Sardar Patel in the book. "I have not denigrated an icon, I have simply pointed out the facts of history. Late Sardar Patel had the secretary in V P Menon. V P Menon was his advisor as well as Lord Mountbatten's advisor, the plan for partition was sold to Patel by V P Menon. It's a fact of history. Jawaharlal Nehru, in the month of March 1947 asks Patel, it’s an transfer or power, 'please help me with the Congress working committee'".

Asked why, when he was writing a political biography of Jinnah, he had ignored the fact that Jinnah knew of, approved of and probably authorised the Tribal Pathan invasion of Kashmir, which led to the October 1947 war, Mr Singh said he had not overlooked it, but the book had ended with Partition and Jinnah's death.

"I know but that's a separate subject. Of course, he had authorised it. I have also pointed out the great killing of Calcutta in vivid detail. I don't overlook any of the mistakes of his public life," he said.

He said going into this subject would have required altogether a different and a separate book. "Already it was running into 900 pages. The book had to be cut down. There are limits to it," he said.

"It's a decision that an author has to make and a decision that is governed by many factors," he explained.

He said he had no qualms about leaving out this particular part. "I have no qualms at all, as a former soldier I say this because that is an inquiry that goes very deep and to not just Jinnah ordering the launching but the conduct of the entire operations by Indian leaders too," he said.

Asked what he thought was the difference between what he had said about Jinnah and what Leader of the Opposition L K Advani had said about the founder of Pakistan in 2005, Mr Singh said, "One expression is by Lalji Advani and the other is by Jaswant Singh."

He said the only other difference was some phraseology. "Hadn't this question best be asked to Advaniji," he asked.

Asked if he thought there were double standards at work, Mr Singh said he was now outside of the periphery of the BJP's radar screen. But he said he wished the party had not used the word "expelled" and that they had better choices of phrases to use. He said the "expulsion" had hurt him.

He also felt the expulsion could have been handled more gracefully, with the leaders personally coming to him and telling him about it. "He hasn't even telephoned but that doesn't matter, now it's too late," he said.

Mr Singh said that when BJP President Rajnath Singh had telephoned him to tell him about his expulsion, when they were both in Shimla, he had asked if the party leaders had read the book. According to him, Mr Rajnath Singh said some of the leaders had read the book and were very angry.

Pointing out that less than 36 hours had passed since the book was released, Mr Singh said, "I believe and apprehended that it was without really reading it."

"It's quite a feat in speedreading if you read almost 700 pages. I don't believe that my prose is fiction. It is not easy. It requires attention. It would be a remarkable feat," he remarked.

He, however, said he did not question Mr Rajnath Singh on this because it was undignified and not in his make-up. "I laughed," he remarked.

"I laughed ruefully and I did tell him with some pain, I believe, I rather really wish bhai Rajnath Singhji, Advaniji aur aap personally bula kar baat kar lete (I rather Advaniji and you could have called me personally for a talk)," he said.

"He kept quiet, and said, 'phir baat karenge' (we will talk about it) and put the telephone down...But woh mauka phir baat karne ka aaj tak nahi aya? (but that promise of calling up again hasn't taken place till today?)....Woh mauka kaahaan se aayega, woh sadak toh chali gayi (where will the time come from? It's already too late)," he said.

Asked if he had lost respect for people like Mr Rajnath Singh and Mr Advani, Mr Singh said, "I don't want to answer that question. It is highly personalised comment. May God give them whatever they are looking for."

NNN

8 more H1N1 deaths, 159 new cases reported in India

Eight more deaths due to swine flu have been reported in India since yesterday, taking the toll in the country so far to 36, an official statement said on Thursday. As many as 159 new cases have also been reported from different cities.

File photo of patients in Pune waiting at a local hospital to get tested for influenza A (H1N1).
File photo of patients in Pune waiting at a local hospital to get tested for influenza A (H1N1).
Eight more deaths due to swine flu have been reported in India since yesterday, taking the toll due to the influenza A (H1N1) virus in the country so far to 36, an official statement said here today.

Delhi has reported its first two deaths, while four more patients have succumbed to the flu in Bangalore and two more in Pune, it said.

Maharashtra now accounts for 21 of the deaths caused by the flu--15 of them in Pune, the city worst-affected in India by the pandemic. Mumbai and Nasik have reported 3 deaths each.

Bangalore has reported 9 deaths, Delhi 2 and Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Chennai and Thiruvananthapuram 1 each.

Meanwhile, as many as 159 new cases of the flu were reported today, 103 in Maharashtra. These include 66 in Pune, 18 in Mumbai, 6 in Aurangabad, 4 in Dhule, 3 in Nashik, 2 in Osmanabad, and 1 each in Washim, Solapur, Beed and Parbhani.

A central team is stationed in Maharashtra to assist the State Government in instituting appropriate public health measures.
Bangalore has reported 13 fresh cases, Chennai 12, Delhi 11, Udaipur, Visakhapatnam and Davangere 3 each, Hubli 2, and Idukki, Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam, Gadag, Chengalpattu, Noida, Bareily, Rohtak and Raipur 1 each.

Most of the fresh cases are indigenous in nature, with the patients having no history of recent travel abroad.

With these, the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases of the virus reported in India has risen to 2401.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) had declared H1N1 as a phase 6 pandemic in mid-June. According to the latest WHO update, as many as 1,82,166 cases of the flu have been reported worldwide, with 1799 deaths.

NNN

BJP sacks Jaswant Singh for views on Jinnah

The BJP on Wednesday expelled former External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh from the primary membership of the party for his views on Pakistan founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah.

File photo of Jaswant Singh
File photo of Jaswant Singh
The main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) today expelled former External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh from the primary membership of the party for his views on Pakistan founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah.

The views were expressed by Mr Jaswant Singh in his book, "Jinnah--India, Partition, Independence" which was released here on Monday.

The decision to sack Mr Jaswant Singh from the party was taken by the BJP Parliamentary Board this morning in Shimla, where the party's leaders have gathered for a three-day "Chintan Baithak" (brainstorming session) to take stock of the post-election scenario and work out a plan of action for the future.

BJP President Rajnath Singh, who had issued a statement yesterday completely dissociating the party from the contents of Mr Singh's book, told reporters in Shimla that he had put the matter before the Parliamentary Board today.

He said the Parliamentary Board had decided to expel Mr Singh from the primary membership of the party.

"Mr Jaswant Singh is, therefore, not a member or office-bearer of the party as of today," Mr Rajnath Singh said.

In his statement yesterday, Mr Rajnath Singh had said that the biography of Jinnah authored by Mr Jaswant Singh did not represent the views of the party.

"The important role of M.A. Jinnah in the division of India, which led to a lot of dislocation and destabilisation of millions of people, is too well-known. We cannot wish away this painful part of our history.

"Sardar Patel played a historic role in the unification and consolidation of India amidst serious threats to its unity and integrity. The entire country remains indebted and proud of the profound vision, courage and leadership of Sardar Patel," he had said in his statement.

Ironically, Mr Jaswant Singh had been invited to attend the three-day conclave. But sources said Mr Rajnath Singh had rung up Mr Jawant Singh yesterday, asking him not to attend the meeting, but the latter had by then already reached Shimla.

No BJP leader was present at the function in the capital on Monday to release Mr Jaswant Singh's book.

Ahead of the release, Mr Jaswant Singh had, in an interview to a television channel on Sunday, described Jinnah as a "great man" and a "nationalist" who was misunderstood and demonised by Indians because of the partition of the country in 1947.

"I think we have misunderstood him because we needed to create a demon... we needed a demon because in the 20th century the most telling event in the sub-continent was the partition of the country," he told journalist Karan Thapar in the Devil's Advocate programme on CNN-IBN.

Asked if he subscribed to the popular demonisation of Jinnah in India, Mr Jaswant Singh had said, "Of course I don’t. To that I don’t subscribe. I was attracted by the personality which has resulted in a book. If I was not drawn to the personality I wouldn’t have written the book. It’s an intricate, complex personality, of great character, determination."

To a question about whether he viewed Jinnah as a great man, Mr Jaswant Singh had replied, "Oh yes, because he created something out of nothing and single-handedly he stood against the might of the Congress Party and against the British who didn’t really like him ... Gandhi himself called Jinnah a great Indian. Why don’t we recognize that? Why don’t we see why he called him that?"

Mr Jaswant Singh, who also served as Finance Minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, had said that he thought Jinnah was a nationalist because he fought the British for an independent India but also fought resolutely and relentlessly for the interest of the Muslims of India. "...the acme of his nationalistic achievement was the 1916 Lucknow Pact of Hindu-Muslim Unity," he said.

Mr Jaswant Singh had said there was a lot in Jinnah's character that he admired. "I admire certain aspects of his personality. His determination and the will to rise. He was a self-made man. Mahatma Gandhi was the son of a Diwan. All these - Nehru and others - were born to wealth and position. Jinnah created for himself a position. He carved in Bombay, a metropolitan city, a position for himself. He was so poor he had to walk to work... he told one of his biographers there was always room at the top but there’s no lift. And he never sought a lift."

He said the view, held by many in India, that Jinnah hated Hindus was totally wrong. "That certainly he was not... his principal disagreement was with the Congress Party... he had no problems whatsoever with Hindus."

Speaking about the political events that led up to the partition of India, Mr Jaswant Singh had said Jawaharlal Nehru, who went on to become the country's first Prime Minister, believed in a highly centralised polity while Jinnah wanted a federal polity, which even Mahatma Gandhi had accepted. "Nehru didn’t. Consistently he stood in the way of a federal India until 1947 when it became a partitioned India," he said.

Mr Jaswant Singh said the popular Indian view that Jinnah was the villain of the partition or the man principally responsible for it was wrong. "It is not borne out of the facts... we need to correct it."

Reacting to his expulsion, Mr Jaswant Singh, 71, told journalists in Shimla that he was saddened by the decision and the fact that his 30 years of his political life with the BJP had ended this way suddenly.

He recalled that he had been among the first lot of members of the party and had served it to the best of his ability and with dedication. He said the fact that he had been expelled on the grounds of writing a book saddened him immensely more.

He said he could understand if the contents of his book had been disputed. "But the day you start questioning thought, questioning reading, writing, publishing, you are entering a very, very dark alley," he remarked.

Mr Jaswant Singh said it would have been better if he had been told about the party's decision in Delhi itself instead of being informed it after he had arrived in Shimla for the "chintan baithak".

He also said there should not be selectivity in the party in dealing with dissent and discussion. He said there were many members of the party who were upset about such things.

Mr Jaswant Singh also expressed sadness over the fact that Mr Rajnath Singh had informed him of the decision over the telephone and not in person. He said he would have appreciated it if Leader of the Opposition Lal Krishna Advani and Mr Rajnath Singh had shown him the courtesy of informing him of the decision in person.

The former minister, who was elected to the Lok Sabha from Darjeeling in West Bengal in the recent elections, however, made it clear that he would not appeal against the decision and that he would continue in public life.

In 2005, Mr Advani had caused similar consternation within BJP ranks when he had described Jinnah as "secular" during a trip to Pakistan. It led to him stepping down as president of the party but since then Mr Advani has managed to again acquire a pre-eminent position in the organisation.

NNN

Related Stories

PM calls for state-level action plans on climate change

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday urged all state governments to create their own state-level action plans on climate change consistent with the strategies in the National Action Plan.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh speaking at the inauguration of the National Conference of Ministers of Environment and Forests from States and UTs.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh speaking at the inauguration of the National Conference of Ministers of Environment and Forests from States and UTs.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today urged all state governments to create their own state-level action plans on climate change consistent with the strategies in the National Action Plan and stressed the need for much broader consultations with the states on this issue.

"I seek your cooperation in making a success of the eight National Missions and other initiatives that are the key components of our National Action Plan on climate change," he told the National Conference of Ministers of Environment and Forests here this morning.

"Climate change is today a major global challenge. The world is seriously concerned about it. So are we. There should be no doubt in anybody’s mind that we fully recognize not just how important this issue is to our country’s future but also our own obligation to address it.

"We are conscious of our responsibilities to both the present and the future generations and we seek to enhance the ecological sustainability of our development path, he said.

The meeting has been convened by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests for a comprehensive stock-taking of the implementation of the policies and programmes related to protection of environment, forests and wildlife.

Apart from Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh, the conference is being attended by ministers of environment and forests from all the states, senior officials of the Centre and the state governments, chairmen of the Central and State Pollution Control Boards, Principal Chief Conservators of Forests of the states, Chief Wildlife Wardens, Members of the Planning Commission and representatives of non-governmental organisations.

Dr Singh said the multiple environmental crises that confronted India had created in many ways an alarming situation.

"Climate change is threatening our fragile ecosystems. We are staring at the prospect of an impending drought. Water scarcity is becoming a way of life. Pollution is a growing threat to our health and to our habitats," he said.

He said the first task was to educate people not just on the impact of the crisis but also to encourage deeper reflection on what this obliges everyone to do.

"There are fundamental choices that we have to make about our lifestyles; about how we wish to produce and consume, the things we ought to do and the things we ought not to do. I sincerely believe that the greatest challenge facing humankind today is the challenge of arriving at a new equilibrium between man and nature," he remarked.

The Prime Minister said the challenges were not insurmountable and pointed out that India was blessed with nature's bounty and its people had a deep cultural sensitivity to the environment.

He said then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had set up the Ministry of Environment at the Centre, initiated Project Tiger in 1972, and was instrumental in the enactment of the Wildlife Protection Act and the Forest Conservation Act.

"These monumental measures were ahead of their times. It is this far-sightedness, commitment and concern for our natural heritage that we need to invoke as we deal with the challenges that confront us now," he said.

Dr Singh said there was a pressing need to modernise the existing forest and wildlife management system in the country. He said the forest departments had to be modernised with improved resources, communication and improved training of personnel.

He expressed concern at the large number of positions of frontline personnel lying vacant in many states in this sector and urged the state ministers to redress this situation on a priority basis.

He said it was also critical to ensure that local communities benefited from conservation so that they could be increasingly involved in the conservation efforts.

"Our tribals are our environmental foot soldiers. They have guarded our forests and evolved a sophisticated way of living in harmony with nature over the centuries. Their wisdom and their experience should be utilised to preserve our forests, to nurse them rather than making them orphans of the environment," he said.

The Prime Minister said the Tribal Rights Act was an opportunity to guarantee the legitimate rights of forest dwellers and to bring them in the frontline of the environment movement for regeneration.

Stressing that the Green India campaign was a major initiative that will have many spin-off benefits, he said the Compensatory Afforestation Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) needed to be quickly operationalised by constituting state-level authorities.

The Prime Minister said it was a matter of concern that the degradation of the country's rivers had not been reversed yet.

"We have decided to adopt a different and more holistic approach taking the river and not the city as the unit of planning as we have done until now. The essence of this approach is not just to focus on river pollution but more comprehensively on catchment area treatment, protection of flood plains, ensuring ecological flows and restoration of the river ecosystem," he said.

He said the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) had been established as an empowered body under the Environment Protection Act, 1986. He hoped that this model would be adopted for other major rivers in the country based on the experience gained from the Ganga project.

He said the Centre had substantially increased the allocation for river conservation programme in this year’s budget, including a special provision of Rs.250 crores for the river Ganga.

"It is vital that institutional structures are set up by all States for synergizing the river conservation efforts at the national and state levels. States should explore mobilizing additional resources for river cleaning through innovative models like Special Purpose Vehicles. I would also request State Governments to effectively enforce legal provisions through State Pollution Control Boards to curtail the discharge of untreated industrial effluents that account for nearly 25% of the total pollution load in our river systems," he said.

Dr Singh drew the attention of the meeting to the view that environmental clearances had become a new form of Licence Raj and a source of corruption.

"This is a matter that needs to be addressed head-on. There are trade-offs that have to be made while balancing developmental and environmental concerns. But the procedures must be fair, transparent and hassle free. Decisions must be taken within a specified time," he emphasised.

"I am told that some times there are discrepancies in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Reports. The September, 2006 Notification of the Ministry of Environment and Forests is a major attempt to rationalize the system of giving mandatory environmental clearance. I hope that we can improve the system further in the light of the experience gained," he said.

Dr Singh urged all the states which had not yet established State EIA Authorities to do so at the very earliest, pointing out that effective coordination between the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests and the state ministry was vital for building a credible and efficient system of assessment and clearance.

He said the recent introduction of the National Green Tribunal Bill in Parliament was a positive step forward, which would strengthen environmental adjudication and settlement of disputes. He suggested the setting up of a National Environment Protection Authority supported by regional Environment Protection Authorities.

The Prime Minister said that, in dealing with the challenge of climate change and environmental degradation, the country faced the burden of past mistakes not of its making. But he pointed out that it also had the opportunity to repeat those past mistakes.

"Our growth strategy can be and should be innovative and different. It must be different. We are still at early stages of industrialization and urbanization. Our energy needs will increase sharply in the decades to come. We can and we must walk a different road, an environment friendly road," he said.

"For this we need access to new technologies that are already available with the developed countries. We must also make our own investments in new environment-friendly technologies. We need to strengthen the scientific foundations of our environment policies and strengthen our capacity to deal with the challenges that lie ahead. We must involve more stakeholders particularly our youth to lead the movement for environmental protection and regeneration," he added.

NNN

Four more swine flu deaths in India, toll goes up to 21

Four more persons died of swine flu in India on Thursday---three of them in Pune and one in Bangalore, taking the number of deaths caused by the H1N1 virus in the country so far to 21

File photo of patients in Pune waiting at a local hospital to get tested for influenza A (H1N1).
File photo of patients in Pune waiting at a local hospital to get tested for influenza A (H1N1).
Four more persons died of swine flu in India today---three of them in Pune and one in Bangalore, taking the number of deaths caused by the H1N1 virus in the country so far to 21.

A 26-year-old school teacher became the first victim of the flu in Bangalore while an 11-month-old infant and two women, aged 37 and 75, died after testing positive for the virus in Pune, the city worst hit in India by the pandemic.

The situation arising out of the spread of the virus was discussed in detail at a meeting of the Union Cabinet here today, during which Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad made a presentation on the steps being taken to cope with the pandemic.

Sources said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stressed the need to maintain confidence among the people and not to create a panic.

Mr Azad told reporters after the meeting that the Government was taking all possible steps to handle the situation. He said places in government and private hospitals were being created to admit more patients, if necessary, and private laboratories were being short-listed for testing for the flu.

Meanwhile, as many as 90 new cases of the virus were reported from different cities, including 43 from Pune, 18 from Mumbai, 16 from Delhi, 9 from Bangalore, 2 from Kolhapur and 1 each from Mangalore and Gurgaon. Most of the cases are indigenous in nature with no history of travel abroad. With these, the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases of the virus reported from India so far has gone up to 1283, an official statement said.

Maharashtra now accounts for  16 of the deaths so far, including 13 in Pune, 2 in Mumbai and 1 in Nasik. Ahmedabad and Vadodara in Gujarat, Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala and Chennai in Tamil Nadu accounted for one death each.

A central team is stationed in Maharashtra to assist the State Government in instituting appropriate public health measures, the statement said.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) had on June 11 declared the influenza A (H1N1) virus as a phase 6 pandemic.
 
According to the latest update from WHO, as on August 6, as many as 1,77,457 laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza A (H1N1) were reported from 168 countries, with a total of 1462 deaths.

Schools and colleges in Mumbai will be closed for a week and cinemas will be shut down for three days as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of the flu. Similar measures are being put in place in some other cities also.
 
The "dahi handi" celebrations on the occasion of Janmashtami, at which thousands of people gather every year, will also be scaled down this year, officials said.

NNN

Six more swine flu deaths in India, toll rises to 17

Six more persons died of swine flu in India on Wednesday, five in Pune and one in Nasik, taking the number of deaths caused by the H1N1 virus in the country so far to 17.

File photo of patients in Pune waiting at a local hospital to get tested for influenza A (H1N1).
File photo of patients in Pune waiting at a local hospital to get tested for influenza A (H1N1).
Six more persons died of swine flu in India today---five in Pune and one in Nasik, taking the number of deaths caused by the H1N1 virus in the country so far to 17.

An official statement said the five patients who died in Pune, the city worst-hit in India by the pandemic, included three men aged 35, 41 and 40 and two women aged 29 and 50. In Nasik, also in Maharashtra, a 27-year-old male doctor, who had tested positive for the virus, died today of complications, it said.

A 33-year-old man from Thiruvananthapuram, who had travelled to Andaman and Nicobar Islands via Chennai, was admitted to the Kerala Institute of Medical Sciences in the state capital and died yesterday. In Pune, a 25-year-old man, who was admitted to hospital on August 6, died yesterday of complications, it said.

Meanwhile, as many as 115 new cases of influenza A (H1N1) were reported from different parts of the country today, including 61 from Pune, 24 from Mumbai, 10 from Bangalore, 8 from Delhi, 4 from Ahmedabad, 3 each from Hyderabad and Kolkata, and one each in Shillong and Goa.

With these, the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases of the virus reported in India so far has risen to 1193. Of them, 589 have already been discharged while the rest are undergoing treatment in various hospitals.

All the new cases in Pune, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Goa, Delhi, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad today are indigenous in nature, with the patients having no history of travel abroad.

With the latest deaths, the flu has claimed 14 lives in Maharashtra---ten in Pune, two in Mumbai and one in Nasik. Chennai, Thiruvananthapuram, Ahmedabad and Vadodara accounted for one death each.

Schools and colleges in Mumbai will be closed for a week and cinemas will be shut down for three days as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of the flu. Similar measures are being put in place in some other cities also.

The "dahi handi" celebrations on the occasion of Janmashtami, at which thousands of people gather every year, will also be scaled down this year, officials said.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) had on June 11 declared the influenza A (H1N1) virus as a phase 6 pandemic.

According to the latest update from WHO, as on July 31, as many as 1,62,380 laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza A (H1N1) were reported from 168 countries around the world, with a total of 1154 deaths.

NNN

H1N1 toll in India rises to 15

Five more people have died of swine flu since last night, taking the number of people who have succumbed to the H1N1 virus in the country to 15.

File photo of patients in Pune waiting at a local hospital to get tested for influenza A (H1N1).
File photo of patients in Pune waiting at a local hospital to get tested for influenza A (H1N1).
Five more people have died of swine flu since last night, taking the number of people who have succumbed to the H1N1 virus in the country to 15.

In Kerala, a 33-year-old man died yesterday at a private hospital in Thiruvananthapuram after testing positive for the virus.

In Pune, three persons, a 29-year-old woman, a 33-year-old Balu Kulund and a six-year-old girl, have died since last night.

In Nashik, a 38-year-old doctor died of the virus at the civil hospital in the town, sources said.

With these, the flu has claimed 11 lives in Maharashtra---eight in Pune, two in Mumbai and one in Thane. Chennai, Thiruvananthapuram, Ahmedabad and Vadodara accounted for one death each.

Schools and colleges in Mumbai will be closed for a week and cinemas will be shut down for three days as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of the flu.

The "dahi handi" celebrations on the occasion of Janmashtami, at which thousands of people gather every year, will also be scaled down this year, officials said.

Meanwhile, as many as 119 new cases of the flu were reported from India today, including 62 from Pune, 24 from Mumbai and 15 from Delhi.

There were four new cases in Bangalore, three in Nagpur, two each in Manipal, Hyderabad and Thiruvananthapuram and one each in Ahmedabad, Osmanabad, Nasik, Goa and Jammu.

With these, the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases of the virus reported in India has gone up to 1078, the statement said.

Of the 62 cases in Pune, only one had a history of travel to Saudi Arabia. The rest were all indigenous cases. Similarly, only two of the 24 cases in Mumbai had travelled abroad. In Delhi, only one of the 15 cases had travelled from Manila; the rest were all indigenous cases.

The statement said the cases in Nagpur, Osmanabad and Nasik in Maharashtra, Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Mangalore also had no travel history.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) had on June 11 declared the influenza A (H1N1) virus as a phase 6 pandemic.

According to the latest update from WHO, as on July 31, as many as 1,62,380 laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza A (H1N1) were reported from 168 countries around the world, with a total of 1154 deaths.

NNN

H1N1 toll in India rises to 10 with three more deaths

Three persons---a 13-year-old girl in Pune, a 7-year-old girl in Vadodara and a 63-year-old woman in Thane---died Tuesday after testing positive for swine flu, taking the number of deaths caused by the virus in the country to ten.

File photo of patients in Pune waiting at a local hospital to get tested for influenza A (H1N1).
File photo of patients in Pune waiting at a local hospital to get tested for influenza A (H1N1).
Three persons---a 13-year-old girl in Pune, a 7-year-old girl in Vadodara and a 63-year-old woman in Thane---died today after testing positive for influenza A (H1N1), taking the number of deaths caused by the virus in the country so far to ten.

Shruti Gawade, a student of the Ahilyadevi school in Pune, had been kept on a ventilator since August 8 when she was brought to the Sassoon Hospital there in a critical condition after being referred to it by a private hospital, which had been treating her for breathlessness, cough and fever for a week. At the time of admission, she was hypoxic and tested positive for H1N1. Her condition worsened on August 9 and she died of complications early this morning, a statement said.

The girl in Vadodara, identified as Arya Borde, succumbed to swine flu in the Sir Sayajirao General (SSG) Hospital this afternoon. She was admitted to the hospital last Wednesday and had tested positive for the virus. She had been on ventilator support since August 7.

The woman in Thane district of Maharashtra, identified as Sayeeda Dorjeewala from Mumbra, was said to be suffering from diabetes and systemic heart disease. She was admitted to a local hospital on August 6 with complaints of breathlessness, chest pain and abdominal pain. On August 9 she tested positive for H1N1 and her condition deteriorated yesterday.

Maharashtra now accounts for seven of the ten deaths due to the virus in India, with Pune alone accounting for five.

With one person dying in Ahmedabad earlier, Gujarat now accounts for two of the deaths. One four-yar-old boy had succumbed to the virus in Chennai yesterday.

Doctors at the Sassoon Hospital in Pune, the city worst-hit by the pandemic in the country, said today that nine patients were currently being treated for the virus in its intensive care unit (ICU), of whom six were on ventilator and four were in a "very critical condition." A Central team is stationed in the city to assess the situation and institute appropriate public health measures.

Meanwhile, as many as 119 new cases of the flu were reported from India today, including 62 from Pune, 24 from Mumbai and 15 from Delhi.

There were four new cases in Bangalore, three in Nagpur, two each in Manipal, Hyderabad and Thiruvananthapuram and one each in Ahmedabad, Osmanabad, Nasik, Goa and Jammu.

With these, the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases of the virus reported in India has gone up to 1078, the statement said.

Of the 62 cases in Pune, only one had a history of travel to Saudi Arabia. The rest were all indigenous cases. Similarly, only two of the 24 cases in Mumbai had travelled abroad. In Delhi, only one of the 15 cases had travelled from Manila; the rest were all indigenous cases.

The statement said the cases in Nagpur, Osmanabad and Nasik in Maharashtra, Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Mangalore also had no travel history.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) had on June 11 declared the influenza A (H1N1) virus as a phase 6 pandemic.

According to the latest update from WHO, as on July 31, as many as 1,62,380 laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza A (H1N1) were reported from 168 countries around the world, with a total of 1154 deaths.

NNN

13-year-old girl dies in Pune, H1N1 toll in India rises to 8

Shruti Gawade, a 13-year-old girl in Pune, died early Tuesday morning of swine flu, becoming the eighth victim of the influenza A (H1N1) virus in India.

File photo of patients in Pune waiting at a local hospital to get tested for influenza A (H1N1).
File photo of patients in Pune waiting at a local hospital to get tested for influenza A (H1N1).
Shruti Gawade, a 13-year-old girl in Pune, died early this morning of swine flu, becoming the eighth victim of the influenza A (H1N1) virus in India.

The girl, a student of the Ahilyadevi school in Pune, had been kept on a ventilator since August 7 when she was brought to the Sassoon Hospital there in a critical condition after being referred to it by a private hospital.

Doctors at the hospital said nine patients were currently being treated for the virus in its intensive care unit (ICU), of whom six were on ventilator and four were in a "very critical condition."

Pune has been the city worst-hit by the pandemic in India, accounting for five of the eight deaths so far in the country. A Central team is stationed in the city to assess the situation and institute appropriate public health measures.

One death each has occurred in Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Chennai in the last few days.

Meanwhile, as many as 95 fresh cases of H1N1 have been reported yesterday from different cities in India, including 47 from Pune alone and 22 from Mumbai and six in Panchgani, also in Maharashtra.

Fourteen cases were reported from Delhi and one each from Noida, Gurgaon, Ajmer and Mangalore.

With these, the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases reported so far in India has risen to 959. As many as 563 of them have already been discharged from hospitals after treatment.

The statement said all the 47 cases in Pune were indigenous in nature while only one out of the 22 new cases in Mumbai had travelled recently to Austria. The six cases in Panchgani in Satara district are schoolmates of previously reported cases.

In Delhi, ten of the 14 cases were indigenous. Of the remaining four, two had travelled to the United States and two to Singapore. The case in Noida is a close contact of a previously reported positive case, while the latest case in Gurgaon has no travel history. In Ajmer, the new case is a person who had travelled recently to Dubai. In Mangalore, two of the three cases are indigenous in nature while one of them had travelled to the United Kingdom.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had talked to Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on Sunday and urged him to step up the efforts to check the spread of the virus.

He also said that there was need to create better awareness about the virus and prevent the spread of misinformation.

He said the state governments should be asked to create more isolation wards in hospitals and train more doctors and paramedical staff to deal with the flu.

Mr Azad held a review meeting with senior officials yesterday, including Cabinet Secretary K M Chandrasekhar, following which he announced several measures to step up the efforts to tackle the virus.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) had on June 11 declared the influenza A (H1N1) virus as a phase 6 pandemic.

According to the latest update from WHO, as on July 31, as many as 1,62,380 laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza A (H1N1) were reported from 168 countries around the world, with a total of 1154 deaths

NNN

H1N1 toll rises to 7 with 2 deaths in Pune, 1 in Chennai

Three more persons--two men in their 30s in Pune and a 4-year-old boy in Chennai---died of swine flu on Monday, taking the number of deaths caused by the virus in India to seven.

File photo of patients in Pune waiting at a local hospital to get tested for influenza A (H1N1).
File photo of patients in Pune waiting at a local hospital to get tested for influenza A (H1N1).
Three more persons--two men in their 30s in Pune and a four-year-old boy in Chennai---died of swine flu today, taking the number of deaths caused by the virus in the country so far to seven.

In Pune, an Ayurvedic doctor, identified as Babasahed Mane, 35 died this morning in the Sassoon Hospital.

Later tonight, a chemist, Sanjay Tilekar, also 35, succumbed to the virus at the same hospital.

With these, Pune, the city worst hit by the pandemic, now accounts for four of the seven deaths so far due to the virus in the country.

An official statement here said Mane was admitted to the Inlaks Budhrani Hospital in Pune on August 6 with a history of having fever, sore throat and body ache for the previous seven days. As his condition did not improve, he was shifted to the Sassoon Hospital the next day and was put on ventilator in the intensive care unit (ICU). His condition deteriorated and he passed away this morning, it said.

The Chennai boy, Sanjay, had been admitted to a local hospital in the Perungudi area on August 5 with complaints of fever and loose motions for the previous two days.

The next day his condition became critical due to multi-organ failure. On August 8, he was tested for H1N1 and was found to be positive. He was put on oseltamivir, but his condition worsened and he died this morning, the statement said. Officials said the boy was asthmatic and had been suffering from other problems, including kidney and liver-related complications. This was the first death due to the virus in Chennai.

A 14-year-old girl had died in Pune on August 3, the first patient to have succumbed to the virus in India.

A 42-year-old non-resident Indian on a visit home had died of the flu in Ahmedabad yesterday and a woman had succumbed to the virus in Mumbai on Saturday.

Meanwhile, as many as 95 fresh cases of H1N1 have been reported from different cities in India, including 47 from Pune alone and 22 from Mumbai and six in Panchgani, also in Maharashtra.

Fourteen cases were reported from Delhi and one each from Noida, Gurgaon, Ajmer and Mangalore.

With these, the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases reported so far in India has risen to 959. As many as 563 of them have already been discharged from hospitals after treatment.

The statement said all the 47 cases in Pune were indigenous in nature while only one out of the 22 new cases in Mumbai had travelled recently to Austria. The six cases in Panchgani in Satara district are schoolmates of previously reported cases.

In Delhi, ten of the 14 cases were indigenous. Of the remaining four, two had travelled to the United States and two to Singapore. The case in Noida is a close contact of a previously reported positive case, while the latest case in Gurgaon has no travel history. In Ajmer, the new case is a person who had travelled recently to Dubai. In Mangalore, two of the three cases are indigenous in nature while one of them had travelled to the United Kingdom.

In Pune, five other cases are still admitted in Pune's Sassoon Hospital, of which the condition of two was said to be critical. A Central team is stationed in the city to assess the situation and institute appropriate public health measures.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had talked to Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad yesterday and urged him to step up the efforts to check the spread of the virus.

He also said that there was need to create better awareness about the virus and prevent the spread of misinformation.

He said the state governments should be asked to create more isolation wards in hospitals and train more doctors and paramedical staff to deal with the flu.

Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad held a review meeting with senior officials today, including Cabinet Secretary K M Chandrasekhar, following which he announced several measures to step up the efforts to tackle the virus.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) had on June 11 declared the influenza A (H1N1) virus as a phase 6 pandemic.

According to the latest update from WHO, as on July 31, as many as 1,62,380 laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza A (H1N1) were reported from 168 countries around the world, with a total of 1154 deaths

NNN

Influenza A (H1N1) toll rises to 6 with deaths in Pune, Chennai

Two more persons---a 35-year-old Ayurvedic doctor in Pune and a 4-year-old boy in Chennai---died of swine flu on Monday, taking the number of deaths caused by the virus in India so far to 6.

File photo of patients in Pune waiting at a local hospital to get tested for influenza A (H1N1).
File photo of patients in Pune waiting at a local hospital to get tested for influenza A (H1N1).

Two more persons--a 35-year-old Ayurvedic doctor in Pune and a four-year-old boy in Chennai---died of swine flu today, taking the number of deaths caused by the virus in the country so far to six.

The doctor, identified as Babasaheb Mane, died this morning in the Sassoon Hospital in Pune, which has been the city worst-hit by the flu in the country. With this, the number of deaths in Pune has risen to three.  

An official statement here said the doctor was admitted to the Inlanks Budhrani Hospital in Pune on August 6 with a history of having fever, sore throat and body ache for the previous seven days. As his condition did not improve, he was shifted to the Sassoon Hospital the next day and was put on ventilator in the intensive care unit (ICU). His condition deteriorated and he passed away this morning, it said.

The Chennai boy had been admitted to a local hospital in the Perungudi area on August 5 with complaints of fever and loose motions for the previous two days.

The next day his condition became critical due to multi-organ failure. On August 8, he was tested for H1N1 and was found to be positive. He was put on oseltamivir, but his condition worsened and he died this morning, the statement said. Officials said the boy was asthmatic and had been suffering from other problems, including kidney and liver-related complications. This was the first death due to the virus in Chennai.

A 14-year-old girl had died in Pune on August 3, the first patient to have succumbed to the virus in India. A 42-year-old non-resident Indian on a visit home had died of the flu in Ahmedabad yesterday and a woman had succumbed to the virus in Mumbai on Saturday.

Meanwhile, as many as 95 fresh cases of H1N1 have been reported from different cities in India, including 47 from Pune alone and 22 from Mumbai and six in Panchgani, also in Maharashtra.

Fourteen cases were reported from Delhi and one each from Noida, Gurgaon, Ajmer and Mangalore.

With these, the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases reported so far in India has risen to 959. As many as 563 of them have already been discharged from hospitals after treatment.

The statement said all the 47 cases in Pune were indigenous in nature while only one out of the 22 new cases in Mumbai had travelled recently to Austria. The six cases in Panchgani in Satara district are schoolmates of previousy reported cases.

In Delhi, ten of the 14 cases were indigenous. Of the remaining four, two had travelled to the United States and two to Singapore. The case in Noida is a close contact of a previously reported positive case, while the latest case in Gurgaon has no travel history. In Ajmer, the new case is a person who had travelled recently to Dubai. In Mangalore, two of the three cases are indigenous in nature while one of them had travelled to the United Kingdom.

In Pune, five other cases are still admitted in Pune's Sassoon Hospital, of which the condition of two was said to be critical. A Central team is stationed in the city to assess the situation and institute appropriate public health measures.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had talked to Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad yesterday and urged him to step up the efforts to check the spread of the virus.

He also said that there was need to create better awareness about the virus and prevent the spread of misinformation.

He said the state governments should be asked to create more isolation wards in hospitals and train more doctors and paramedical staff to deal with the flu.

Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad held a review meeting with senior officials today, including Cabinet Secretary K M Chandrasekhar, following which he announced several measures to step up the efforts to tackle the virus.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) had on June 11 declared the influenza A (H1N1) virus as a phase 6 pandemic.

According to the latest update from WHO, as on July 31, as many as 1,62,380 laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza A (H1N1) were reported from 168 countries around the world, with a total of 1154 deaths

NNN 

India, China express satisfaction at progress on border question

India and China have expressed satisfaction at the progress being made in their talks on the boundary question and said that peace and tranquillity should , meanwhile, be maintained in the border areas.

Chinese State Councilor and Special Representative on the Boundary Question Dai Bingguo calling on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. National Security Advisor M K Narayanan can also be seen.
Chinese State Councilor and Special Representative on the Boundary Question Dai Bingguo calling on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. National Security Advisor M K Narayanan can also be seen.
India and China have expressed satisfaction at the progress being made by them in the talks on the boundary question between their Special Representatives M K Narayanan and Dai Bingguo and reiterated that, pending the settlement of the issue, peace and tranquillity should be maintained in the border areas.

In a statement issued yesterday at the end of the 13th round of the talks between Mr Narayanan and Mr Bingguo, the two sides noted that the Strategic and Co-operative Partnership established between them in 2005 was a major milestone in the relationship.

They reiterated their commitment to consolidate this partnership in all fields in a comprehensive way, it said.

The statement quoted Mr Dai, Chinese State Councillor, as saying that China took a positive view of India's development and progress and also supported a bigger role for India in international affairs.

During his visit, Mr Dai called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Chairperson Sonia Gandhi.

He conved to Dr Singh the greetings of Chinese President Hu Jintao and also handed over a written message of greetings from Premier Wen Jiabao to him.

According to the statement, the two-day talks between Mr Narayanan and Mr Dai were held in a cordial and friendly atmosphere.

Apart from the boundary issues, the discussions covered a broad agenda which included the entire gamut of bilateral relations and regional and international issues of mutual interest.

Describing relations with China as a key foreign policy priority for India, Mr Narayanan, who is the National Security Adviser, said that the joint document on a "Shared Vision for the 21st Century" signed during Prime Minister’s visit to China in January 2008 has taken bilateral relations to a new level.

There has been a significant expansion in bilateral cooperation in areas such as trade and investment, defence, culture, education and people-to-people exchanges, he said.

Reciprocating the sentiments expressed by Mr Narayanan, Mr. Dai referred to the rapid growth witnessed in the bilateral relations in recent years.

Highlighting the importance of ongoing consultations and coordination between the two countries at multilateral fora, he expressed the hope that the two countries would jointly meet global challenges in the spirit of the Shared Vision.

Apart from Mr Narayanan, the Indian delegation to the talks included Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, who was until recently, the country's Ambassador in Beijing, and other senior officials from the external affairs ministry and the Prime Minister's Office.

The Chinese team included Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei and other senior officials of the defence ministry and other ministries.

The latest round of talks has come after a gap of close to a year since the last discussions were held in September, 2008.

Mr Narayanan and Mr Dai were named by their respective governments as the Special Representatives for the talks which are aimed at finding a settlement of the boundary question between the two countries that is "fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable" and based on the Agreement on Guiding Principles and Political Parameters signed between the two countries in April 2005.

Mr Dai is the first high-level official from China to visit India after the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government led by Dr Singh began its second straight five-year term in May after wining a decisive mandate in the general elections.

External Affairs Minister S M Krishna had told the Rajya Sabha on July 31 that both countries were making efforts to find a settlement to the border issue.

"The matter, of course, is complex and requires time and lots of patience. Meanwhile, our endeavour is to ensure that peace and tranquillity are maintained in the border areas," he had said.

Mr Krishna said the two countries have a strategic and co-operative partnership, with an established architecture for dialogue through which all issues of common interest and concern are discussed.

He said bilateral trade had also grown significantly and a target of $ 60 billion by 2010 had been jointly set.

The minister had also said that the "Shared Vision of the 21st Century" signed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao in January 2008 had added a regional and multi-dimensional aspect to the bilateral ties between the two countries.

Dr Singh had, during his visit to Beijing in January last year, said that the "Shared Vision of the 21st Century" was an important milestone in the evolution of the relations between their countries, reflecting not only their common perceptions but also their desire to purposefully cooperate in the future.

Among other things, the document said the two countries had agreed to continue deepening the mutual understanding and trust between their armed forces.

They recognized that their strategic and cooperative partnership should be based on strong, diversified and mutually beneficial economic ties.

NNN

RIL breaks silence on Anil Ambani allegations, says they are baseless and motivated

RIL on Friday broke its silence on the statements by Anil Ambani about the pricing of gas from the KG D6 block saying they were baseless and motivated.

Dhirubhai-1 FPSO unit at KG D-6 block, at night.
Dhirubhai-1 FPSO unit at KG D-6 block, at night.

Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), led by Mukesh Ambani, today broke its silence on the recent statements made by his younger brother Anil Ambani over their near three-year battle on the pricing of gas from the Krishna Godavari (KG) D6 block, saying they were part of an orchestrated campaign designed to bring into public debate and prejudge the issues that are pending before the Supreme Court.

"We emphatically refute and outrightly reject the baseless, tendentious and motivated allegations and insinuations made by Mr. Anil Ambani and his associates against RIL and its Chairman, Mr. Mukesh Ambani," a statement issued by RIL today said.

The two Ambani brothers are involved in an unseemly battle over the terms of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that they signed when the Reliance empire, built by their father Dhirubhai Ambani, was split between them in 2005 after a prolonged public spat over ownership issues following his death in July, 2002.

The MoU said RIL would supply 28 mmscmd of gas from its Krishna Godavari (KG) D-6 block to RNRL on the same terms that RIL would supply gas to the public sector power major NTPC Ltd, subject to government approval.

RIL had earlier emerged as the lowest bidder for supplying gas to NTPC with its offer of a price of $ 2.34 per mmBtu. The two companies, however, are yet to sign a formal gas sale and purchase agreement, with the matter now in the Bombay High Court, after RIL objected to some of the conditions, especially those relating to liability, in the draft agreement.

RIL and Niko Resources of Canada had won the exploration contract for the block under the government's New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP). RIL owns a 90 per cent stake in the project while Niko holds the remaining ten per cent.

The Bombay High Court ruled in June that RIL should supply gas to RNRL at $ 2.34 per million metric British thermal unit (mmBtu), which is nearly half the $ 4.20 price it had set in an interim order in January. The matter is now in the Supreme Court, where RIL has gone in for an appeal and the Petroleum ministry has filed a special leave petition (SLP).

"Over the last few days, Mr. Anil Ambani and his associates have made several public statements commenting on issues arising out of the proceedings filed before the

Hon’ble Supreme Court of India by his company, Reliance Natural Resources Ltd. (RNRL), the Government of India and Reliance Industries Ltd. (RIL)," the statement from RIL.said.

"Mr. Anil Ambani’s public statements, many of which have been made directly to the press, are a part of an orchestrated campaign designed to bring into public debate and prejudge the issues that are pending before the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India," it said.

The statement said Mr Anil Ambani and his associates had attempted to convert what were essentially legal issues into public issues for a self-serving media campaign aimed at maligning RIL as also other venerable institutions of the country for private and personal gain.

"We would like to assure the people of India, the Government of India, Honourable Members of Parliament and all our shareholders that our objective is to act at all times in a manner that is fully in consonance with our respect for the law of the land and is protective of the nation’s interests.

Anil Ambani
Anil Ambani

"We have consistently maintained that in the KG Basin RIL is only a contractor engaged by the Government of India to harness the Basin’s hydrocarbon assets in the best interest of the nation," it said.

RIL said that, as a contractor to the Government, operating one of the largest and logistically one of the most difficult deep water gas discoveries anywhere in the world, it had at all times acted with a full sense of responsibility and in complete compliance with all obligations attached to its role as the contractor.

The company said it was proud of having made an important contribution to India's energy security. It said the asset that had been created by its investment of over Rs 32,000 crore would accelerate India's economic growth and create large-scale employment. It also said that this investment in developing the KG Basin had been made after the demerger of Reliance Industries in 2005.

"As a law abiding and responsible corporate citizen, RIL has chosen to refrain from reacting to the malicious propaganda unleashed by Mr. Anil Ambani in the national media. Our legal advisors have also counseled us to refrain from commenting on issues being adjudicated by the Hon’ble Supreme Court. As such, we shall continue to exercise restraint in the face of Mr. Anil Ambani’s provocative public statements. We hope that Mr. Anil Ambani and his associates will also exercise similar restraint and leave the matter to be decided by the Hon’ble Supreme Court," the statement said.

"Members of the media have rightfully sought our responses to Mr. Anil Ambani’s comments on numerous occasions. However, we believe and hope that the media will understand and appreciate that our respect for the judicial process determines that we present our views and contentions on all aspects of the dispute with RNRL only before the Hon’ble Supreme Court. During the course of his media campaign, Mr. Anil Ambani has also made several personal comments about his elder brother and the Chairman of RIL, Mr. Mukesh Ambani. While Mr. Mukesh Ambani is profoundly saddened by his brother’s remarks, he requests the media to respect his decision not to respond," the statement added.

Mr Anil Ambani has, in recent days, launched a no-holds-barred attack on RIL and the Union Petroleum Ministry, accusing his elder brother's company of corporate greed and the Union Petroleum Minister Murli Deora of being biased in favour of RIL.

The younger Ambani brother had also written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seeking his intervention in the matter.

He said the Petroleum Ministry was raising the bogey of sovereign ownership of national assets such as gas only to bail out RIL and help it renege on its contractual commitments to his company RNRL.

He has also argued that higher prices for the gas from KG D6 block would affect NTPC also.

RNRL has also suggested that RIL had "gold plated" its investments in the KG basin, a charge that has been vehemently denied by the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons.

It has also said that some of the people involved in the independent assessments carried out to evaluate RIL's capital expenditure claims had various kinds of links to the company.

Further, it wanted the audit report of the Comptroller and Auditor General in this regard to be made public. Media reports have quoted sources in the CAG's office as saying that the audit was still not complete and that they were awaiting some more information from RIL on the costs of the project.

Mukesh Ambani
Mukesh Ambani

The dispute has also figured in Parliament in recent days. Mr Deora said in the Lok Sabha last week that the government had nothing to do with the dispute between RIL and RRNL as well as the differences between the two brother but would do everything possible to protect its legal rights to regulate the utilisation of gas and its allocation.

"We have nothing to do with the private dispute of two industries or industrialists. However, we have everything to do with protecting the interests of the Government and public interest; this is our constitutional and legal obligation. We will make all endeavours to protect Government’s legal rights to regulate the utilization of gas and its allocation," he had said in a statement in the Lower House of Parliament.

NNN

India, China borders talks on Friday

National Security Adviser M K Narayanan and Chinese Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Dai Bingguo will meet in Delhi on Friday for the 13th round of the talks on the boundary question between India and China.

A file photo of National Security Adviser M K Narayanan and Chinese Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Dai Bingguo meeting in Delhi in April 2007.
A file photo of National Security Adviser M K Narayanan and Chinese Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Dai Bingguo meeting in Delhi in April 2007.
National Security Adviser M K Narayanan and Chinese Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Dai Bingguo will meet here tomorrow for the 13th round of the talks on the boundary question between the two countries.

Mr Narayanan and Mr Dai have been named as the Special Representatives for the talks and have held 12 rounds of discussions so far in an effort to work out a settlement of the boundary question that is fair, reasonable, mutually acceptable and based on the Agreement on Guiding Principles and Political Parameters signed between the two countries in April 2005.

Tomorrow's meeting is being held after a gap of close to a year, the last round of talks having been held in September, 2008.

External Affairs Minister S M Krishna had told the Rajya Sabha on July 31 that both countries were making efforts to find a settlement to the border issue.

"The matter, of course, is complex and requires time and lots of patience. Meanwhile, our endeavour is to ensure that peace and tranquillity are maintained in the border areas," he had said.

Mr Krishna said the two countries have a strategic and co-operative partnership, with an established architecture for dialogue through which all issues of common interest and concern are discussed.

He said bilateral trade had also grown significantly and a target of $ 60 billion by 2010 had been jointly set.

The minister had also said that the "Shared Vision of the 21st Century" signed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao in January 2008 had added a regional and multi-dimensional aspect to the bilateral ties between the two countries.

Dr Singh had, during his visit to Beijing in January last year, said that the "Shared Vision of the 21st Century" was an important milestone in the evolution of the relations between their countries, reflecting not only their common perceptions but also their desire to purposefully cooperate in the future.

Among other things, the document said the two countries had agreed to continue deepening the mutual understanding and trust between their armed forces.

They recognized that their strategic and cooperative partnership should be based on strong, diversified and mutually beneficial economic ties.

NNN

All-woman newspaper in Chitrakoot gets UNESCO Literacy Prize

Khabar Lahariya, a newspaper produced entirely by women in the rural areas of Chitrakoot and Banda districts of Uttar Pradesh, is among the four winners of this year's Literacy Prizes awarded by UNESCO.

Khabar Lahariyan
Photo courtesy: NIRANTAR
Khabar Lahariya, a newspaper produced entirely by women in the rural areas of Chitrakoot and Banda districts of Uttar Pradesh, is among the four winners of this year's Literacy Prizes awarded by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

The newspaper has been chosen for the award in recognition of its innovative programmes designed to teach women, adolescents and other marginalised populations how to read and write, a UN press release said today.

The weekly newspaper – distributed to more than 20,000 readers in Uttar Pradesh– is entirely created and marketed by newly literate women who are training as journalists, the release said.
The Khabar Lahariya Team which won the Chameli Devi Jain award for Outstanding Woman Media Person in 2004.
The Khabar Lahariya Team which won the Chameli Devi Jain award for Outstanding Woman Media Person in 2004.Photo courtesy: NIRANTAR

The rural newspaper is written, edited, illustrated, produced and marketed by a group of women, most of them from marginalised Dalit, Kol and Muslim communities.

The other prizes went to the Tin Tau’s reading skills programme in Burkina Faso, which focuses on gender and community development; the Pashai Language Development Project in Afghanistan, which provides literacy, livelihood, public health and nutrition education to about 1,000 ethnic minority Pashai men and women annually; and a continuing education programme in the Philippines, which attempts to eliminate illiteracy in the 49 villages of the Agoo municipality.

An honourable mention also went to a programme in Bhutan for its holistic approach to literacy and its success in reaching remote areas, with an emphasis on literacy as an integral part of the country’s "Gross National Happiness," as well as its focus on adults and out-of-school youth, particularly women and girls.
A Khabar Lahariya reporter gathering information.
A Khabar Lahariya reporter gathering information.Photo courtesy: NIRANTAR

The theme for this year’s awards was "Literacy and Empowerment," and the laureates were proclaimed by the Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, on the recommendation of an international jury.

The award ceremony will be held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on September 8 to coincide with International Literacy Day, the release added.
The newspaper being produced......and distributed.
The newspaper being produced and distributed.Photo courtesy: NIRANTAR

Khabar Lahariya, which means "News Waves" in the Bundeli language, had won the prestigious Chameli Devi Jain Award for Outstanding Woman Mediaperson in 2004. The newspaper is brought out by a collective of newly literate women with support from Nirantar, a Delhi-based non-governmental organisation (NGO) and resource group.

The newspaper began publishing in May 2002 in Chitrakoot, among the poorest districts in the country, and a second edition was launched in the adjoining Banda district four years later. It is priced at Rs 2 a copy and sold in the two districts through agents and small shops and tea stalls in the block headquarters and in more than 400 remote villages and hamlets where even established newspaper groups find it difficult to set up a distribution network.
An editorial workshop in progress
An editorial workshop in progress.Photo courtesy: NIRANTAR

The Khabar Lahariya group is now registered as an independent organisation, Pahal, which is probably the only rural women's media collective in the country.

The 8-page newspaper carries a mix of news, information and entertainment tailored to meet the needs of its Bundelkhandi audience, who are rural people with mostly low levels of literacy. Topics of coverage include current affairs and politics, functioning of panchayats, bureaucracy, schools and hospitals in the region.

Special attention is given to reporting about atrocities on women and marginalised sections of society. The process of production takes place over a two-day writing, editing and illustrating workshop.

NNN

Govt: Nothing to do with Ambanis' fight, will protect rights on gas utilisation

The government on Monday said that it had nothing to do with the dispute between the Ambani brothers, but would do everything possible to protect its legal rights to regulate the utilisation of gas and its allocation.

Dhirubhai-1, the floating production storage and offloading vessel, on the Krishna-Godavari Basin, seen at night, after commencement of production.
Dhirubhai-1, the floating production storage and offloading vessel, on the Krishna-Godavari Basin, seen at night, after commencement of production.
The government today declared that it had nothing to do with the dispute between Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), headed by Mr Mukesh Ambani (52), and Reliance Natural Resources Ltd (RNRL), led by his estranged younger brother Anil Ambani (50), but would do everything possible to protect its legal rights to regulate the utilisation of gas and its allocation.

"We have nothing to do with the private dispute of two industries or industrialists. However, we have everything to do with protecting the interests of the Government and public interest; this is our constitutional and legal obligation. We will make all endeavours to protect Government’s legal rights to regulate the utilization of gas and its allocation," Petroleum Minister Murli Deora said in a statement in the Lok Sabha.

The statement was made in response to questions raised in the House on July 29 by Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav about, among other things, the supply of gas to the Dadri power plant being set up in Uttar Pradesh by RNRL. He had also alleged discrimination against Uttar Pradesh in the matter of allocation of gas.

The two Ambani brothers are involved in a near three-year battle over terms of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that they signed when the Reliance empire, built by their father Dhirubhai Ambani, was split between them in 2005 after a prolonged public spat over ownership issues following his death in July, 2002.

The MoU said RIL would supply 28 mmscmd of gas from its Krishna Godavari (KG) D-6 block to RNRL on the same terms that RIL would supply gas to the public sector power major NTPC Ltd, subject to government approval.
Petroleum Minister Murli Deora
Petroleum Minister Murli Deora

RIL had earlier emerged as the lowest bidder for supplying gas to NTPC with its offer of a price of $ 2.34 per mmBtu. The two companies, however, are yet to sign a formal gas sale and purchase agreement, with the matter now in the Bombay High Court.

RIL and Niko Resources of Canada had won the exploration contract for the block under the government's New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP). RIL owns a 90 per cent stake in the project while Niko holds the remaining ten per cent.

The Bombay High Court ruled in June that RIL should supply gas to RNRL at $ 2.34 per million metric British thermal unit (mmBtu), which is nearly half the $ 4.20 price it had set in an interim order in January. The matter is now in the Supreme Court, where RIL has gone in for an appeal and the Petroleum ministry has filed a special leave petition (SLP).

Mr Deora said that as far as RNRL's Dadra power plant was concerned, the case for supply of gas was considered by the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM).

"This plant is neither installed nor functional. There are many other plants which are in the process of being set up in different parts of the country. The decision of EGoM dated 8.1.2009 in this regard is as follows: Quote :

"Subject to the availability of gas, necessary allocations from RIL's KG D-6 fields will be made to these projects in the pipeline, including Dadri power project, as and when they are ready to commence production. This will be without prejudice to the decision of the Court cases.' Unquote," he said.

"Hence, the intention of the Government is very clear. We will allocate gas to Dadri plant subject to availability and that Dadri plant will be treated on the same footing as other similar plants placed under similar circumstances," Mr Deora said.

The minister said that according to the production sharing contract (PSC) signed in 2000 between the Government and the Contractor (RIL), gas to be produced from the Krishna Godavari (KG) D-6 fields was to be utilised in accordance with the Gas Utilisation Policy to be approved by the Government.
Anil Ambani
Anil Ambani

He said the EGoM had approved the Gas Utilisation Policy which says that, out of the initial production, 15 mmscmd will go to existing urea plants, 18 mmscmd to existing power plants, 3 mmscmd to existing LPG plants and remaining 5 mmscmd for City Gas Distribution projects.

The EGoM had further decided that, if any gas remained unutilized against this allocation, it would be allocated to existing gas-based steel plants and existing gas-based power plants, including captive power plants, he said.

Mr Deora said gas production from the KG D-6 fields began on April 1 this year and around 31 mmscmd of gas is being produced at present. Within a year, this is expected to go up to 80 mmscmd, he said.

He said that as far as the power sector was concerned, 18 mmscmd had been allocated to various existing plants to improve their Plant Load Factor (PLF).

He pointed out that no gas had been allocated to any plant, which is not existing or functional.

As far as NTPC was concerned, Government has allocated 2.67 mmscmd gas to its plants from the 18 mmscmd allocated for the power sector.

Another 2.7 mmscmd had been allocated to Ratnagri Gas and Power Private Ltd (RGPPL) in which NTPC has 28% stake, he said.

"Gas is a scarce commodity and we would like to give gas to as many plants as possible. But, obviously, the first priority will be to supply gas to existing plants, which are not operating at all or are operating sub-optimally because of non-availability of gas," he said.
Mukesh Ambani
Mukesh Ambani

The minister said there had been no discrimination against Uttar Pradesh in the matter of gas allocation, saying that the NTPC plant in Dadri had been allocated 0.45 mmscmd of gas as it was covered under the criteria evolved by the EGoM.

He said that out of a total of 15 existing gas-based urea plants in the entire country, five were in Uttar Pradesh at Aonla, Phulpur, Shahjahanpur, Babrala and Jagdishpur, and all of them had been given gas.

Mr Deora said it was not correct to say that the Government did not present its case before the Bombay High Court. He said the government had intervened in the RIL-RNRL dispute in the court and placed before it its submissions indicating its rights under the PSC, including inter alia the Gas Utilisation Policy.

He said the Government had requested the High Court to lift the injunction on creation of third party interests by RIL, which would enable RIL to supply gas to customers subject to Government policy.

"The plea of the Government was accepted and, as a result of the interim order, gas production has started and gas supply is being made to priority sectors as per the Gas Utilization Policy approved by the EGoM," he said.

According to him, in the fertilizer sector, it is estimated that the supply of 15 mmscmd gas would result, on an annual basis, in saving of subsidy of Rs. 3000 crore.

He said that since the gas production from the KG D6 block started from April 1 this year, about 4000 MW of additional power is being generated as 18 mmscmd gas has been allotted to the power sector.

The minister said about 25 mmscmd of additional gas needs to be supplied to the power sector to enable optimum operation of existing power plants and power plants to be commissioned in 2009-10, which would lead to additional generation of over 5,000 MW of power.

He pointed out that the present cost of assets, which are lying idle/underutilized in the power sector due to non-availability of gas, prior to the commencement of KG D-6 production, was around Rs. 36,000 crore.

Further, he said that three mmscmd gas had been allotted to LPG sector, which would lead to an additional production of about one million tonnes of LPG which is presently being imported in the country.

Mr Deora said that the final order of the Bombay High Court on June 15 in the RIL-RNRL dispute had implications on the Government’s rights to formulate and implement the Gas Utilization Policy under the Production Sharing Contract.

"Notwithstanding Government policies and the provisions of the PSC, the order observes that the provisions of the MOU are binding on the parties. The MOU, as per the judgment, provides that 12 mmscmd will be given to NTPC, 28 mmscmd will be given to RNRL and the remaining, at the option of ADAG, will be shared between RIL and RNRL in the ratio of 60:40. The MoU also stipulates that this share of gas will be applicable to gas not only from reserves of KG D-6 field, but also from other fields to be explored and operated by RIL, even consequent to future bidding by RIL. Under the circumstances, it was necessary to file an SLP in the Hon’ble Supreme Court and accordingly action has been taken. I would not like to dwell further on the subject, as the matter is sub judice," the minister added.

Mr Deora's statement came a day after 30 members of Parliament (MPs) from the Left parties wrote a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in which they urged the government to take over the distribution and marketing of gas from the KG D6 block.

NNN

PM reviews security scenario at high-level meeting

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reviewed the overall security situation in the country at a high-level meeting attended by his senior cabinet colleagues and top officials on Saturday.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reviewed the overall security situation in the country at a high-level meeting attended by his senior cabinet colleagues and top officials here today.

The two-hour long meeting of the National Security Council, held at Dr Singh's 7, Race Course Road, focused in particular on the situation along the country's borders with Pakistan and China, sources said.

The meeting is also understood to have discussed the steps taken in recent months to prevent incidents like the November 26, 2008 terror attacks on Mumbai and to beef up the security and intelligence apparatus.

Apart from intelligence inputs about possible terror strikes, the meeting also discussed the implementation of the plan to boost coastal security in view of the fact that the ten terrorists involved in the Mumbai attacks had sneaked into the metropolis by the sea route.

On the internal security front, the meeting is learnt to have considered the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, the North-Eastern states and the Naxalite-affected states.

The meeting was attended by, among others, Defence Minister A K Antony, Home Minister P Chidambaram, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, the sources said.

National Security Adviser M K Narayanan, Mr T K A Nair, the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, Home Secretary G K Pillai, Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar and Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao also attended the meeting, they said.

The three service chiefs, Admiral Sureesh Mehta, General Deepak Kapoor and Air Chief Marshal P V Naik were also among those present, they added.

Officials in the Prime Minister's Office declined to give out any details of the meeting, except to say that it was a routine affair that made an appraisal of the overall security situation.

NNN

Meaningful dialogue with Pakistan only after it acts against terror: Krishna

External Affairs Minister S M Krishna said on Friday that any meaningful dialogue with Pakistan could only follow the fulfilment of its commitments not to allow its territory to be used for terrorist activities against India.

External Affairs Minister S M Krishna
External Affairs Minister S M Krishna
External Affairs Minister S M Krishna today said that any meaningful dialogue with Pakistan could only follow the concrete fulfilment of its commitments not to allow its territory to be used for terrorist activities against India.

He said the Joint Statement issued by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani after their meeting at Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt earlier this month encapsulated this view and standpoint.

"Progress is not possible in our dialogue with Pakistan in an atmosphere vitiated by violence or the threat to use violence," Mr Krishna said in his reply to a discussion in the Rajya Sabha on the working of the Ministry of External Affairs.

"The peoples of our two countries must be allowed to prosper in an atmosphere of peace. At the same time, we cannot, and will not, be oblivious to the continued threat of terrorism emanating from Pakistan," he said.

The minister's speech in the Upper House came a day after a two-day discussion ended in the Lok Sabha yesterday on the India-Pakistan Joint Statement and other issues arising out of the Prime Minister's recent visits to Italy, France and Egypt.

The Joint Statement has been criticised by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and other opposition parties for delinking action by Pakistan against terror from the Composite Dialogue process between the two countries. It has also been attacked for the reference made to Balochistan, where Pakistan accuses India of fomenting unrest.

Referring to the speech made earlier in the House by BJP leader Arun Shourie, Mr Krishna said he was now advocating a policy towards Pakistan that his own government did not follow.

He denied charges that India had removed the pressure on Pakistan to act against terrorism and had lowered its expectations.

On the contrary, he said, Dr Singh and he had left the Pakistani leadership in no doubt whatsoever that India expected action against the perpetrators of the November 26, 2008 terror attacks on Mumbai, the dismantling of the infrastructure of terrorism in Pakistan and the prevention of such attacks in the future.

"I welcome the fact that we debate, in a democratic manner, our policy towards Pakistan. But to make a point, or oppose the government, let us not give more credence to what others say over what Prime Minister and our own government have formally stated," he said.

"We are not here to question each others’ motives. We are united against terrorism period. But equally we will continue the consistent policy towards Pakistan which includes dialogue in the steps we will take provided Pakistan takes unequivocal steps," he said.

At the outset, Mr Krishna said India’s steady ascendance as an economic power had expanded her circle of interaction and engagement with the rest of the world.

"One of the main challenges of our foreign policy lies in creating and maintaining a regional and international environment which would enable us to sustain a high rate of economic growth, create more opportunities for Indian entrepreneurship and enable India to realize her vast, latent potential," he said.

"The pursuit of enhanced trade, investment inflows, technology transfers, energy security and other economic imperatives has become an overarching imperative of our foreign policy. At the same time, India's own established capabilities, particularly in the field of some of the frontier technologies like space, information technology, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, and her frontline role in the global knowledge economy have imparted a new confidence and strength to our foreign policy initiatives.

"To achieve and accelerate India’s developmental transformation through enhanced interaction with the global economy, a neighbourhood policy that ensures a peaceful periphery, and to continuously seek a supportive international environment, therefore, remain the fundamental objective of India's foreign policy," he explained.

Mr Krishna dwelt at considerable length on the working of India's foreign policy in its neighbourhood and described how it had worked for the evolution of SAARC into an effective organisation for meaningful regional integration.

He talked about India's ties with Bhutan, Nepal and Afghanistan and its significant economic assistance programmes for the development efforts in these countries.

He said India was prepared to assist the government of Sri Lanka in the recovery of war-ravaged areas in the North and East of the country and to help alleviate the humanitarian problems of the large numbers of the local population in the camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) so that they were able to lead normal lives once again.

He said India was contributing substantially to this humanitarian effort, including the setting up of a field hospital at Vavuniya, supply of shelter material, despatch of demining teams and supply of more than 1.7 lakh family packs of food and relief supplies.

He said the Prime Minister had announced Rs 500 crores assistance and, if need be, he had also promised to increase the quantum of aid.

Mr Krishna also detailed the steps being taken to develop the North-East region and increase the region's engagement with Myanmar. He also spoke about the various initiatives being taken as part of the government's "Look East" policy.

He said the Special Representatives of India and China were discussing the boundary question and both countries had agreed to seek a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable settlement to the issue. He said the matter was complex and required time and patience. Meanwhile, the endeavour is to ensure that peace and tranquility are maintained in the border areas, he said.

He said the Gulf region was an area of special focus in India's foreign policy, forming as it does part of its strategic neighbourhood. It is also an important source of energy and home to more than four and a half million Indians as well as a major trading partner, he said.

The minister said India supported a united, independent, viable, sovereign state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital, living within secure and recognised borders side by side at peace with Israel.

He said India attached importance to its relations with Iran. "These relations are civilizational and historical, but equally the relationship should be a contemporary and modern one," he remarked.

Mr Krishna emphasised that India's relations with the United States were not at the cost of its relations with any other country.

"India-US relations have been transformed in recent years and the bilateral engagement extends across a wide spectrum which includes science and technology, energy, counter-terrorism, defence, security, trade and commerce, education, space among other issues. A major development was the signing of the India-US Civil Nuclear Agreement in October 2008. This landmark agreement has been followed by similar agreements with other countries for civil nuclear cooperation.

"A clearly defined architecture for dialogue was announced during the recent visit of US Secretary of State to India this month. The firm foundation provided by this robust bilateral engagement has enabled the India-US strategic partnership to strengthen itself in areas of global engagement. The two countries interact closely on global issues of common concern such as Energy Security, Disarmament and Non-proliferation, international peace and security, multilateral trade negotiations and the G20 Process," he said.

The minister said the End Use Monitoring arrangements that India recently agreed with the US for defence purchases provided for joint consultations on modalities and in no way compromised India's sovereignty. "The arrangements that we have agreed are fully in consonance with our sovereignty and dignity," he assured the House.

With regard to the transfer of enrichment and reprocessing technologies and the recent G8 statement on the subject calling for a ban on such transfer to countries such as India which have not signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT), Mr Krishna said no decision had been taken on the subject by the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group.

He said India had been in regular touch with the NSG Troika (past, current and future chairman) and with key member-countries. He said that there was an India-NSG Troika meeting on May 11 as part of this dialogue. He said the NSG delegation was made aware of India's position and concerns. The NSG delegation said that they would convey these to the Group.

"It is India’s expectation that our international partners in civil nuclear cooperation will implement the bilateral agreements that we have entered into," he said.

Mr Krishna also spoke about India's relations with other developing countries in Africa, Latin America, and Central and South East Asia. He also spoke about the steps taken by the government in the wake of the spate of attacks on Indian students in recent weeks in Australia.

NNN

Sonia backs, Pranab defends PM on India-Pak statement, NDA walks out

The NDA walked out of the Lok Sabha on Thursday after expressing its dissatisfaction with the government's explanation about the reference to Balochistan in the recent India-Pakistan Joint Statement. .

File photos of Sonia Gandhi and Pranab MukherjeeLeader of the Opposition Lal Krishna Advani led a walk-out by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in the Lok Sabha today after expressing its dissatisfaction with the government's explanation over why it had allowed a reference to Balochistan in the India-Pakistan Joint Statement issued earlier this month.

The Joint Statement was issued by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani after their meeting on the sidelines of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit at Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt on July 16.

The opposition has been vociferously critical of the statement for the manner in which it has delinked action on terrorism from the Composite Dialogue process between the two countries and for the reference to threats faced by Pakistan in Balochistan, where it accuses India of fomenting unrest.

Dr Singh had put up a well-argued defence of the government's approach to relations with Pakistan yesterday and this was followed by a passionate defence of the official stand by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee in the Lok Sabha today.

Both of them argued that the Joint Statement only said that action by Pakistan against terrorism aimed at India from its territory need not depend on progress in the Composite Dialogue process. They also said that the unilateral reference by Pakistan to Balochistan appeared in the statement because India did not have anything to hide in this regard.

Mr Mukherjee said India had no subversive role in the Pakistani province and was not in the business of terrorism.

Later, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna, in his reply to the two-day discussion, was pushed for an explanation by the Bharatiya Janata Party's Sushma Swaraj. When Mr Krishna said the reference to Balochistan was in the statement because "we have nothing to hide", it angered the BJP and other NDA constituents who felt the explanation was not enough.

Mr Advani said such a unilateral reference to Balochistan had appeared in a Joint Statement between the two countries for the very first time and felt the issue would continue to haunt India for a long time. He said he and his colleagues were staging a walk-out because they saw no purpose in participating any further in the discussion, given the government's reluctance to explain the matter in a better way.

The intervention by the Prime Minister yesterday and by Mr Mukherjee today came during a discussion initiated by BJP leader and former Yashwant Sinha on issues arising out of Dr Singh's recent visits to Italy, France and Egypt, including the India-Pakistan Joint Statement.

Mr Mukherjee's stout defence of the Prime Minister's stand was significant because it came after several days of speculation that the Congress party leadership had developed differences with Dr Singh over the Joint Statement.

The Finance Minister's intervention came hours after Congress President Sonia Gandhi came out in support of Dr Singh at a meeting of the Congress Parliamentary Party this morning.

She said the party supported and welcomed Dr Singh's stand on the issue and made it clear, as he had done yesterday, that talks with Pakistan could resume only when it took concrete steps to bring to justice those responsible for the November 26, 2008 terror attacks on Mumbai and dismantled the terrorist infrastructure operating from that country against India.

Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi had also spoken out in support of the Prime Minister yesterday, saying that his intervention in the House was "very good" and "convincing".

Mr Mukherjee said today that the reference to Balochistan in the statement did not mean in any way that India had anything to do with the unrest in the province. He said the Indian consulates in Afghanistan was also not involved in any anti-Pakistan activities, as often alleged by Islamabad, and were only carrying out a constructive role in the rebuilding of war-torn Afghanistan.

Mr Advani repeatedly wanted to know why the Prime Minister had, when agreeing to include the reference to Balochistan, not insisted on also adding India's position in this regard.

Mr Mukherjee, who handled the External Affairs Ministry, for a good part of the first term of the Manmohan Singh government, said India's foreign policy was an extension of its national interest and was not based on any one party's whims. He asserted that the government's actions with regard to India-Pakistan relations or any other matter had not compromised the nation's sovereignty in any manner. Similarly, he said the government had not departed in any way from the country's long-held positions on foreign policy matters.

He said that it was important to keep talking to Pakistan and keep the channels of communication between the two countries open at all times.

After the Congress Parliamentary Party meeting, Mr Gandhi told reporters today that the government and party were one on the issue. He said the so-called differences between the two were a creation of the media.

NNN

PM: No normalisation of ties with Pakistan unless it acts on terror

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Wednesday it was impossible to work towards full normalisation of relations with Pakistan unless it ensured its territory was not used for terrorist activities against India.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said it was impossible for any government in India to work towards full normalisation of relations with Pakistan unless the government of that country fulfilled, in letter and spirit, its commitment not to allow its territory to be used in any manner for terrorist activities against India.

Dr Singh said India could not wish away the fact that Pakistan was its neighbour. "We should be good neighbours. If we live in peace, as good neighbours do, both of us can focus our energies on the many problems – our abject poverty that confront millions and millions of people in South Asia," he said in his intervention in the discussion in the Lok Sabha on his recent visits to Italy, France and Egypt.

The discussion came in the background of the criticism by the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the doubts expressed in several quarters about the Joint Statement issued by Dr Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani after their meeting at Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt on July 16.

The BJP and others raised questions about the manner in which the Joint Statement had delinked action on terrorism from the Composite Dialogue Process and the inclusion in it of a reference to Balochistan, where Pakistan accuses India of fomenting unrest.

BJP leader Yashwant Sinha, a former External Affairs Minister, who initiated the discussion, said India had completely reversed long-held foreign policy positions in recent weeks. Apart from the Joint Statement, Mr Sinha attacked the government for signing an agreement on End User Monitoring Arrangements with the United States for defence purchases, on the G8 statement which talks about denial of nuclear enrichment and reprocessing technology to countries such as India which have not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and on the concessions allegedly made by India on climate change in the statement issued after a meeting of the Major Economies Forum at L'Aquila in Italy this month.

On Pakistan, Mr Sinha said Dr Singh had offered to meet Pakistan more than half-way but said he had walked all the way into the Pakistani camp.

Other speakers such as Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav of the Samajwadi Party and Mr Sharad Yadav of the Janata Dal (United) wondered why the Prime Minister had agreed to talks with Pakistan after repeatedly taking the position that there could not be any resumption of the dialogue unless Pakistan brought those behind the November 26, 2008 terror attacks on Mumbai to justice and took credible action dismantle terrorist infrastructure on its soil directed against India.

The Prime Minister said it was in India's vital interest to make sincere efforts to live in peace with Pakistan.

"But despite the best of intentions, we cannot move forward if terrorist attacks launched from Pakistani soil continue to kill and injure our citizens, here and abroad. That is the national position. I stand by it," he asserted to loud applause from the treasury benches.

"As I have said many times before, we cannot wish away the fact that Pakistan is our neighbour. If there is cooperation between us, and not conflict, vast opportunities will open up for trade, travel and development that will create prosperity in both countries," he said.

"I have said time and again and I repeat it right now again: it is impossible for any government in India to work towards full normalization of relations with Pakistan unless the Government of Pakistan fulfills, in letter and spirit, its commitment not to allow its territory to be used in any manner for terrorist activities against India," he said.

The Prime Minister said this assurance was given by Pakistan to his predecessor Atal Bihari Vajpayee and repeated to him at every meeting he has had with the Pakistani leadership.

"The people of India expect these assurances to be honoured and this government recognizes that as the national consensus," he said.

Dr Singh said the Mumbai attacks had outraged the nation and cast a deep shadow over its relations with Pakistan. "The reality and the horror of it were brought into Indian homes over three traumatic days that still haunt us. The people of India demand that this must never happen again," he said.

He said that, over the past seven months, India had followed a policy, using all effective bilateral and multilateral instruments at its command, to ensure that Pakistan acted in the matter with credibility and sincerity.

"Soon after the attacks, the United Nations Security Council imposed sanctions on the Lakshar-e-Tayeba and its front organizations, including the Jamaat-ud-Dawa. It also imposed sanctions on four individuals connected with the organization, including one of the masterminds behind the Mumbai attacks, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi.

"We exercised great restraint under very difficult circumstances but made it clear that Pakistan must act. On 5th January 2009, we handed over to Pakistan the details of the links to Pakistan that were revealed by our investigators. Some action followed and Pakistan formally responded to us on two occasions regarding the progress of their own investigations - in February 2009 and then just two days before my departure for Paris and Sharm el Sheikh," he said.

Dr Singh said the latest dossier was a 34 page document that gave details of the planning and sequence of events, details of the investigations carried out by the special Federal Investigation Agency team of Pakistan, a copy of the FIR lodged and the details and photographs of the accused in custody and those declared as proclaimed offenders. It provides details of the communication networks used, financing of the operation and seizures made in Pakistan including maps, lifeboats, literature on navigational training, intelligence manuals, back packs and so on, he said.

He said the Pakistan dossier stated that the investigation had established beyond doubt that LeT activists conspired, financed and executed the attacks. Five of the accused have been arrested, including Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and Zarar Shah, and thirteen others have been declared proclaimed offenders. A charge sheet has since been filed against them under Pakistan’s Anti Terrorism Act and other relevant laws.

He said India had been told that the investigations are nearly complete and that the trial will now proceed. Pakistan had sought some more information which would be provided shortly, he said.

"This is the first time that Pakistan has ever formally briefed us on the results of an investigation into a terrorist attack in India. It is also the first time that they have admitted that their nationals and a terrorist organisation based in Pakistan carried out a ghastly terrorist act in India," he said.

"The reality is that this is far more than the NDA Government was ever able to extract from Pakistan during its entire tenure despite all their tall talk. They were never able to get Pakistan to admit what they have admitted now. So the UPA government needs no lessons from the opposition on how to conduct foreign affairs or secure our nation against terrorist threats," he asserted.

At the same time, he said the steps Pakistan had taken did not go far enough. He hoped the trial would make quick progress and that exemplary punishment would be meted out to those responsible for the Mumbai attacks.

"We need evidence that action is being taken to outlaw, disarm and shut down the terrorist groups and their front organizations that still operate on Pakistani soil and which continue to pose a grave threat to our country," he said.

The Prime Minister said that, in the final analysis, India would have to depend on itself for national security and defence, despite all the friends it had.

"Self-help is the best help. There is no substitute to strengthening our defence capabilities, our internal security structures and our emergency response mechanisms. I wish to assure the House that the government is giving these matters the highest priority and attention," he said.

He went on to list the steps taken by the government to modernise and strengthen the defence, security and intelligence apparatus and address internal security challenges.

"We will spare no effort and no expense to defend our nation against any threat to our sovereignty, unity and integrity. This is the sacred and bounden duty of any Government of this great country," he said.

Dr Singh said India does not dilute its positions or its resolve to defeat terrorism by talking to any country.

He pointed out that other major powers affected by Pakistan-based terrorism were also engaging with that country.

"Unless we talk directly to Pakistan, we will have to rely on third parties to do so. That route, I submit to this august House, has very severe limitations as to its effectiveness, and for the longer term the involvement of foreign powers in South Asia is not something to our liking," he said.

"I say with strength and conviction that dialogue and engagement is the best way forward," he stressed.

"This has been the history of our relations with Pakistan over the last decade. Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee took a decision of political courage to visit Lahore in 1999. Then came Kargil and the hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane to Kandahar. Yet, he invited General Musharraf to Agra and again tried to make peace. The nation witnessed the terrible attack on Parliament in 2001. There followed an extremely difficult phase in our relationship. The armed forces of the two countries stood fully mobilized.

"But, to his great credit, Shri Vajpayee was not deterred, as a statesman should not be. In 2004, he went to Islamabad, where a Joint Statement was issued that set out a vision for a cooperative relationship. I must remind the House that opposition parties supported these bold steps. I, for one, share Shri Vajpayee’s vision, and I have also felt his frustration in dealing with Pakistan," he said.

Dr Singh said that, at his meetings with Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari at Yekaterinburg in Russia on June 16 and with Mr Gilani in Egypt, he had conveyed, in the strongest possible terms, India's concerns and expectations. "I conveyed to them the deep anger and hurt of the people of India due to the persistence of terrorist attacks in India," he said.

"I told them that the operations of all terrorist groups that threaten India must end permanently. I urged them to make no distinctions between different terrorist organizations. I said that it was not enough to say that Pakistan is itself a victim of terrorism. They must show the same political will and take the same strong and sustained action against terrorist groups operating on their eastern border as they now seem to be taking against groups on their western border," he said.

"Both President Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani assured me that the Pakistan government was serious and that effective action would be taken against the perpetrators of the Mumbai carnage," he said.

Responding to Mr Sinha's query if the trust deficit with Pakistan had narrowed or widened in recent months, Dr Singh said, "Let me say that in the affairs of two neighbours we should recall what (former US) President (Ronald) Reagan once said – trust but verify. There is no other way unless we go to war."

He said he had told the Pakistani leaders that another attack of the kind faced by Mumbai would put an "intolerable strain" on the relationship between the two countries and urged them to take all possible measures to prevent a recurrence.

Dr Singh said the interpretation that had been sought to be given to the Joint Statement that India would continue to engage in the Composite Dialogue with Pakistan whether it took action against terrorism or not, was not correct.

"The Joint Statement emphasized that action on terrorism cannot be linked to dialogue. Pakistan knows very well that with terrorism being such a mortal and global threat, no civilized country can set terms and conditions for rooting it out. It is an absolute and compelling imperative that cannot be dependent on resumption of the composite dialogue. In the Joint Statement itself, the two sides have agreed to share real time, credible and actionable information on any future terrorist threats," he said.

On the reference to Balochistan, this is what Dr Singh said: "When I spoke to Prime Minister Gilani about terrorism from Pakistan, he mentioned to me that many Pakistanis thought that India meddled in Balochistan. I told him that we have no interest in destabilizing Pakistan nor do we harbour any ill intent towards Pakistan. We believe that a stable, peaceful and prosperous Pakistan living in peace with its neighbours is in our own interest.

"I told him then, and I say it here again, that we are not afraid of discussing any issue of concern between the two countries. If there are any misgivings, we are willing to discuss them and remove them.

"I said to him that I had been told by the leadership of Pakistan several times that Indian Consulates in Afghanistan were involved in activities against Pakistan. This is totally false. We have had Consulates in Kandahar and Jalalabad for 60 years. Our Consulates perform normal diplomatic functions and are assisting in the reconstruction of Afghanistan, where we have a large aid programme that is benefiting the common people of Afghanistan.

"But we are willing to discuss all these issues because we know that we are doing nothing wrong. I told Prime Minister Gilani that our conduct is an open book. If Pakistan has any evidence, and they have not given me any and no dossier has been given, we are willing to look at it because we have nothing to hide," he explained.

The Prime Minister said it was as much in Pakistan's vital interest, as it is in India's, to make peace. "Pakistan must defeat terrorism, before being consumed by it. I believe the current leadership there understands the need for action," he observed.

He said he got the impression that there was now a political consensus in Pakistan against terrorism, which should strengthen the hands of its leaders in taking the hard decisions that will be needed to destroy terrorism and its sponsors in their country.

"Our objective, as I said at the outset, must be a permanent peace with Pakistan, where we are bound together by a shared future and a common prosperity.

"I believe that there is a large constituency for peace in both countries. The majority of people in both countries want an honourable settlement of the problems between us that have festered far too long and want to set aside the animosities of the past. We know this, but in the past there have been hurdles in a consistent pursuit of this path. As a result, the enemies of peace have flourished. They want to make our alienation permanent, the distance between our two countries an unbridgeable divide. In the interests of our people, and in the interest of peace and prosperity of South Asia, we must not let this happen.

"That is why I hope and pray that the leadership in Pakistan will have the strength and the courage to defeat those who want to destroy, not just peace between India and Pakistan, but the future of South Asia. As I have said before, if they show that strength and that courage, we will meet them more than half way," he said.

Dr Singh agreed there were uncertainties in such matters and he could not predict the future in dealing with neighbours, two nuclear powers. "We have to begin to trust each other, but not blindly, but trust and verify. People say that we have broken the national consensus. I refuse to believe that we have broken the national consensus," he said.

He said the two sides, for the present, had only agreed their Foreign Secretaries would meet as often as necessary and report to the two Foreign Ministers who will meet on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

He pointed out that such meetings between the Foreign Secretaries and Foreign Ministers had been held even before the Joint Statement.

"As neighbours it is our obligation to keep our channels open. Look at what is happening in the world. The US and Iran have been sworn enemies for thirty years, and yet they feel compelled to enter into a dialogue. Unless we want to go to war with Pakistan, dialogue is the only way out. But we should do so on the basis of trust but verify," he said.

On the agreement on End Use Monitoring Arrangements with the US, Dr Singh said earlier such agreements were negotiated on a case to case basis by successive governments since the late 1990s.

"What we have now agreed with the US is a generic formulation which will apply to future such supplies that India chooses to undertake. By agreeing to a generic formulation, we have introduced an element of predictability in what is otherwise an ad hoc case by case negotiations on each occasion," he said.

He pointed out that India needed access to all technologies available in the world for the modernization of its defence forces.

"The threats to the country are growing and we need to have the capability to deal with them, and to be ahead of them. Our Armed Forces are entitled to the best equipment available anywhere in the world. It is also in our interest to diversify to the maximum extent possible the sources of our imports of defence items and equipment," he said.

"You have my assurance that the Government has taken all precautions to ensure an outcome that guarantees our sovereignty and national interest. Nothing in the text that has been agreed to compromises India’s sovereignty. There is no provision for any unilateral action by the US side with regard to inspection or related matters. India has the sovereign right to jointly decide, including through joint consultations, the verification procedure. Any verification has to follow a request, it has to be on a mutually acceptable date and at a mutually acceptable venue. There is no provision for on-site inspections or granting of access to any military site or sensitive areas. This is the position in regard to the end use monitoring," he said.

Dr Singh said the declaration adopted by the Major Economies Forum at L'Aquila on climate change was not a declaration of policy by India or a bilateral declaration by India and another country or a group of countries.

"It is a declaration that represents a shared view among 17 developed and developing countries, the latter category including China, South Africa, Brazil, Indonesia and Mexico. Therefore, the formulations are necessarily generally worded to reflect different approaches and positions of a fairly diverse group of countries," he explained.

"It is India’s view, which has been consistently voiced at all forums, that global warming is taking place and that its adverse consequences will impact most heavily on developing countries like India. The reference in a document to 2ºC increase as a possible threshold reflects a prevalent scientific opinion internationally and only reinforces what India has been saying about the dangers from global warming. True, this is the first time that India has accepted a reference to 2ºC as a possible threshold guiding global action, but this is entirely in line with our stated position on global warming," he said.

He recalled that 37 developing countries, including India, China, Brazil, South Africa and Indonesia, had tabled a submission at the multilateral negotiations, asking the developed countries to accept reduction targets of at least 40% by 2020 with 1990 as the baseline.

"The Major Economic Forum Declaration reaffirms the principles and provisions of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, in particular, the principle of equity and of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities. As is well-known, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change imposes emission reduction targets only on developed countries. Developing countries are committed to sustainable development. The full incremental cost of any mitigation by them must be fully compensated by transfers of financial and technological resources from developed countries. This is fully reflected in the Major Economic Forum Declaration.

"Furthermore, at the insistence of India, supported by other developing countries, the Declaration includes an explicit acknowledgement that in undertaking climate change action, the "first and overriding priority" of developing countries will be their pursuit of the goals of economic and social development and poverty eradication. This should allay any apprehension that India will be under pressure to undertake commitments that may undermine her economic growth prospects," he said.

On the statement issued at L'Aquila by the G-8 countries on nuclear issues, Dr Singh said the government was fully committed to the achievement of full international civil nuclear cooperation. Consistent with this objective, in September last year India secured a clean exemption from the Nuclear Suppliers Group, one that was India-specific. At that time also attempts were made to make a distinction. The NSG has agreed to transfer all technologies consistent with their national laws, he said.

"The ‘Statement on Civil Nuclear Cooperation with India’ approved by the Nuclear Suppliers Group on September 6, 2008 contains India’s reciprocal commitments and actions in exchange for access to international civil nuclear cooperation. It is our expectation that any future decisions of the NSG relating to the transfer of enrichment and reprocessing items and technology would take into account the special status accorded to India by the NSG. The NSG has given us this clean exemption knowing full well that we are not a signatory to the NPT.

"Prohibition by the NSG of such transfers would require a consensus amongst all the 46 countries. This does not exist at present. The exemption given to India by the NSG provides for consultations and we will hence remain engaged with that body, so that any decisions take into account the special status accorded to India by it.

"As far as the G-8 is concerned, the fact is that we have no civil nuclear cooperation agreement with the G8 bloc per se. We have, however, signed bilateral agreements with France, Russia and the United States. As I have said before, and I repeat it here, when I raised this matter with (French) President (Nicolas) Sarkozy, he was gracious enough to tell me that as far as France is concerned, there will be no restrictions. He also said that if we want him to go public on this, he will do so. Therefore, there is no consensus in the NSG to debar India from such technologies. We expect that the countries concerned will honour and implement their bilateral commitments," he said.

Dr Singh asserted that, pending global nuclear disarmament, there was no question of India joining the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear weapon State.

He also clarified that the transfer of enrichment and reprocessing items and technology had no bearing whatsoever on India’s upfront entitlement to reprocess foreign origin spent fuel and the use of such fuel in our own safeguarded facilities.

He said India had full mastery of the entire Nuclear Fuel Cycle, including enrichment and reprocessing technology.

"We have a well entrenched E&R infrastructure as well. Our domestic three-stage Nuclear Power Programme is entirely indigenous and self-sustaining. Our indigenous Fast Breeder Reactor Programme and linked technology puts us in the league of those very few nations which today possess cutting-edge technologies.

"The transfer of enrichment and reprocessing items and technology to India as part of full international civil nuclear cooperation would be an additionality to accelerate our three-stage programme," he added.

NNN

India's first indigenous nuclear powered submarine launched for sea trials

India's first indigenous nuclear powered submarine, INS Arihant, was launched for sea trials at Visakhapatnam on Sunday, marking a historic milestone in its quest for self-reliance in the most advanced areas of defence technology.

Gursharan Kaur breaking a coconut on the hull of INS Arihant, marking its launch, at Visakhapatnam.
Gursharan Kaur breaking a coconut on the hull of INS Arihant, marking its launch, at Visakhapatnam.
India's first indigenous nuclear propelled strategic submarine, INS Arihant, was launched for sea trials at Visakhapatnam today, marking a historic milestone in its quest for self-reliance in the most advanced areas of defence technology.

Prime Minister Manmmohan Singh watched as his wife, Mrs Gursharan Kaur broke a coconut and performed a "puja" before unveiling a plaque naming the submarine. "I name it INS Arihant (destroyer of enemy). All the best to the submarine," she said at the ceremony held at the Ship Building Centre in the naval dockyard of the Eastern Naval Command (ENC).

The submarine was codenamed the Advanced Technology Vehicle (ATV) during the years it was being built.

The ceremony was attended by, among others, Defene Minister A K Antony, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhar Reddy, Minister of State for Defence M M Pallam Raju, Minister of State for Human Resource Development D Purandareswari, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sureesh Mehta and high-ranking officials from the Navy, the Department of Atomic Energy and the Defence Research and Development Organisation.

Dr Singh said the launch of the submarine was a historic milestone in the country's defence preparedness and a reflection of the immense technical expertise that existed in the country and the strength of its research and development organisations.

"More importantly, the launch represents the determination and patriotism of our technologists, scientists and defence personnel who have overcome several hurdles and barriers to enable the country to acquire self-reliance in the most advanced areas of defence technology," he said.

"The construction of a submarine is a highly demanding task by itself. For the country to develop its first nuclear submarine is a special achievement," Dr Singh said, noting that India had joined a select group of five other countries---the United States, Russia, China, the United Kingdom and France---who possessed the capability to build a nuclear powered submarine.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh addressing the gathering at the launching ceremony of INS Arihant at Visakhapatnam.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh addressing the gathering at the launching ceremony of INS Arihant at Visakhapatnam.

He said he was particularly glad that this submarine was the outcome of a productive public-private partnership.

"Private industry in India has evolved considerably during the last few decades and we should leverage its strengths to achieve our defence goals," he said.

Dr Singh also expressed his appreciation to Russia for its consistent and invaluable cooperation, which symbolized the close strategic partnership that that the two countries enjoyed.

The Prime Minister said the sea was increasingly becoming relevant in the context of India's security interests and the country must re-adjust its military preparedness to this changing environment. The Indian Navy had a huge responsibility in this regard, he said.

He said the government was fully committed to ensuring the defence of the country's national interests and the protection of its territorial integrity. The government would continue to render all support to the constant modernization of the armed forces and to ensuring that they remain at the cutting edge of technology, he said.

"We do not have any aggressive designs nor do we seek to threaten anyone. We seek an external environment in our region and beyond that is conducive to our peaceful development and the protection of our value systems. Nevertheless it is incumbent upon us to take all measures necessary to safeguard our country and to keep pace with technological advancements worldwide. It has rightly been said that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty," he said.

Dr Singh said the years of hard work, dedication and perseverance that had gone into today's launch were an example worthy of emulation.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, his wife Gursharan Kaur, Defence Minister A K Antony, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Rajashekhar Reddy and other dignitaries at the INS Arihant launch.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, his wife Gursharan Kaur, Defence Minister A K Antony, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Rajashekhar Reddy and other dignitaries at the INS Arihant launch.

"They show that no task is difficult and that there is no greater power than the power of self-belief. I am confident that the lessons learnt from this launch will enable the ATV Programme to achieve even better results in the coming years," he added.

Dr Singh congratulated the Director General of the ATV Programme Vice-Admiral D S P Verma (Retd.) and all the personnel associated with the project for achieving this milestone.

The 6000-tonne submarine is expected to be commissioned into full service after about two years of sea trials, including harbour trials of its nuclear reactor and other systems.

When commissioned into service, the submarine is expected to strengthen the country's strategic deterrence capabilities. Two more Arihant-class vessels are expected to be inducted into service by 2015.

Mr Antony told the gathering that the industrial capacity, know-how and trained manpower that had been built up by the project would sustain the construction of not only strategic platforms but would kick-start a new age in ship construction in the country.

The ATV Programme has involved cooperation and synergised efforts among the DRDO, the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), the Navy, public sector undertakings and the private sector.

NNN

Musharraf says Kargil was big success for Pakistan

Former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has said that the Kargil operation was a "big success" from the Pakistani point of view because it had an impact on Indian attitudes and made India agree to discussions on Kashmir.

Pervez Musharraf
Pervez Musharraf
Former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has said that the Kargil operation was a "big success" from the Pakistani point of view because it had an impact on Indian attitudes and made India agree to discussions on Kashmir.

In the second part of a two-part interview to journalist Karan Thapar for the Devil's Advocate show on CNN-IBN, Gen Musharraf also insisted that his decision to sack former Pakistani Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry was constitutionally correct though handled badly and admitted he had reached a deal with former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in the run-up to the elections before she was assassinated.

According to him, he would still be President of Pakistan if she had become Prime Minister after the elections. The interview, which marks the 10th anniversary of the Kargil war, is to be telecast on Sunday at 2030 hours.

"Yes, indeed, it was a big success because it had [an] impact even on the attitudes of the Indian side. How did we start discussing the Kashmir dispute? How was it that the Indians agreed that we will discuss Kashmir and there must be a negotiated settlement? Before this there was no such thing at all. Kashmir couldn't be spoken. Kashmir must not be mentioned even in United Nation's speeches by our leaders. This was the Indian side. [So] how did the Indians come on the negotiating table on Kashmir?" Gen Musharraf said in the interview.

Asked if he thought Kargil had changed the Indian attitude and response to Kashmir, the former military ruler said, "Yes, many things [did] - Kargil, the mujahideen activity, the India-Pakistan confrontation every time. All that, yes. [As a result] the Indian leadership perceived that Pakistan is now beyond coercion. And therefore there has to be some political negotiated settlement of this dispute."

He said he did not wish to make any comment in response to a question if he would repeat the Kargil operation given the fact that it represented, among other things, one of most serious downturns in India-Pakistan relations.

"Those downturns happen. What happened when India came into Siachen? Where was the downturn then? We don't think of that. What happened in 1971 when India was supporting Mukti Bahini in East Pakistan and made Bangladesh? Let's close this chapter... You cannot take Kargil alone [otherwise] I would like to take Siachen, I would like to take East Pakistan. We have to stop maligning each other. We have done enough harm to each other. If you want to go on the course of peace we need to resolve these disputes. And Pakistan has its own honour and dignity to be guarded. That's what I always say. Don't try to dominate or don't try to affect our sovereignty," he said.

Asked about the impression created by his 2006 memoirs that forces from the Pakistani army's Rawalpindi Corps and Force Command Northern Areas were involved in the Kargil Operation - contrary to a earlier Pakistani claim that they were conducted by alleged freedom fighters and the Pakistani army was not involved - the General stood by what he has written in his book. All he claimed was that these were "second line forces" but accepted they were commanded by the army's Rawalpindi Corps and FCNA.

"What I have written is final. I am not going to get into the details at all," he said.

"You must understand the arrangement. The Rawalpindi Corps has divisions under it and one of them is FCNA. FCNA has under it the NLI (the Northern Light Infantry), a second line force. Anywhere other than Siachen, it was the NLI which was deployed, which are the second line forces," he explained.

Gen Musharraf claimed the Kargil operation had ended with Pakistani forces in a "very favourable position."

"It was certainly very favourable. It was not supposedly favourable. Because if you are talking about India-Pakistan, Indians had moved all their forces against Kargil and there was [as a result] weakness elsewhere. So we knew what the Indian forces are capable [of] and what we are capable [of]... the situation was very favourable in Kargil, in Kashmir and on the entire border. We were capable of responding to any Indian action," he said.

As detailed in his memoirs, "In the Line of Fire", Gen Musharraf said he had left the decision on a ceasefire to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, even though the military situation was favourable, because the prime minister's own political position was weak and he could not sustain international pressure for a ceasefire.

"One, there was a ground military position, the other is that there was a lot happening internationally. Internationally there was the United States element putting a lot of pressure on the government to stop or whatever. So there was international pressure. And then there was the [domestic] political pressure. Whether the political situation was good enough to sustain that pressure. I therefore decided to only talk of the military [situation]," he said.

"Those are the decisions of the prime minister. What kind of pressure he can sustain and what is the political picture. He knows it better. I only talk of the military side and I told him there's no problem on the military side," he said.

Gen Musharraf refused to accept that it was a mistake for him to have sacked the Chief Justice, which had led to a series of events that finally culminated in his own resignation.

"No. What happened after that was bad. It led to a lot of turmoil in Pakistan. Certainly. But if you say it was a mistake - no. I took action which was absolutely constitutional and legal," he said.

He said he stood by that decision. "Absolutely. Yes. The handling, I would say, was shabby. Certainly. Handling of the Chief Justice was shabby," he said.

But he said he could not be blamed for this. "No. I don't blame myself because I don't get into the nitty gritty of which Deputy Superintendent of Police was rude to him, some cars were taken [away] or something of that sort. Now I am not passing such orders at all."

On the reported understanding with Ms Bhutto, he said, "There was an understanding. I did talk to her, yes. I had been talking to her twice. She was not supposed to come back before the elections."

He said Ms Bhutto would still be alive if she had not broken that understanding and come back to Pakistan in October, 2007. "I think so. I think so. Absolutely. She would have lived."

Asked if Ms Bhutto had lived to become prime minister again he would still be president of Pakistan, Gen Musharraf said, "I think I would have been. Yes... if she did get elected and she did become prime minister I would have continued as the president. Because I was elected by the [then] Parliament. So that would have continued."

Asked if his resignation had been a voluntary decision to step down or if he had been pushed aside, the former president said, "A combination. The environment had become such that remaining a rubber-stamp President with nothing to do literally was absolutely counterproductive and the political situation was evolving in a manner that my continuation was amiss, was purposeless."

He agreed that circumstances developed in such a way that he was gently eased out. "Yes but I took my own decision, yes, to leave."

He repeatedly said he was not involved in any understanding between the civilian government and the Pakistani army to grant him indemnity against future prosecutions for his actions in office. "I didn't get involved in any such understanding at all," he said, adding that he was prepared to fight any legal cases brought against him.

Gen Musharraf agreed that Pakistan had become a more complicated country after his fall from power. "Yes it has. A lot of complications [are there] – political, economic and law and order."

Asked if the successor government headed by President Asif Ali Zardari was weaker than his own, he replied: "Certainly, yes. I think at this moment, yes."

He agreed with observations that the present government was politically fragile and unable to deliver services effectively to the Pakistani people.

He refused to comment on the perceived rivalry between President Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. But he said that the rivalry between Mr Zardari and Mr Nawaz Sharif was "destabilising" and distracting attention from the fight against terrorism and extremism.

On the possibility of another military takeover in Pakistan, Gen Musharraf said, "[The] army has to ensure the integrity, territorial integrity and security, of Pakistan. So it's entirely the army's decision and the Chief's decision. But [so far] they go along with the government. I don't want to comment. These are sensitive issues."

NNN

Thousands in India witness century's longest total solar eclipse

The Indian Air Force flew sorties to help scientists study the longest total solar eclipse of the century on Wednesday, an NGO organised a special flight and people gathered in different places to witness the celestial event.

Solar eclipse photograph taken from an IAF AN-32 aircraft.Solar eclipse photograph taken from an IAF AN-32 aircraft.Solar eclipse photograph taken from an IAF AN-32 aircraft.Solar eclipse photograph taken from an IAF AN-32 aircraft.
These photographs of the solar eclipse were taken from the IAF AN-32 aircraft at a height of 25,000m.
The Indian Air Force today flew sorties to help scientists study the longest total solar eclipse of the century that took place today, an NGO organised a special flight for enthusiasts and thousands of people of all age groups gathered in Delhi and other parts of the country to witness the much-awaited celestial event.

In Delhi, more than 2000 people were present by 0500 hours at the Nehru Planetarium, where arrangements had been made for them to watch the eclipse.

In the areas that lay in the path of the dark shadow of the moon, the conical shaped umbra, starting with the landfall point in Gujarat at 0630 hours, it was a case of darkness soon after dawn.

But enthusiasts at many places were disappointed by the thick clouds that had gathered in the skies during that period.

The eclipse began at 0528 hours IST when the shadow of the moon touched the Earth at local sunrise at a point in the Arabian Sea close to the western coast of India. The eclipse ended at 1042 hours IST when the Moon's shadow finally left the Earth at local sunset at a point in the South Pacific Ocean.

At approximately 6:23 am IST, the umbra of the eclipse touched the earth at sunrise at a point in the Gulf of Khambat in the Arabian Sea, near the southern coast of Gujarat.

At this time, the path of totality was about 200 km wide and the duration of totality at the central line was about 3 minutes 30 seconds.

The shadow crossed over central India, passed through south-east of Nepal, crossed North Bengal, southern part of Sikkim, most of Bhutan and north-western tip of Bangladesh. Then it entered Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, touched Myanmar and entered China.

The umbra swept over China, entered East China Sea and then passed through Japan's Ryukyu Island. The maximum duration of totality of 6 minutes 44 seconds occured at 0805 hours IST in the north Pacific Ocean where the width of the path was about 258 Km. The rest of the path did not pass through major land areas. It curved south-east through Pacific Ocean hitting some small atolls in the Polynesia. The totality ended at 0948 hours IST when the umbral cone left the earth at a point in the Pacific Ocean.

A spokesman for the Air Force said two separate missions were flown from Agra and Gwalior and they were deemed hugely successful by scientists associated with the experiment.

An AN-32 transport aircraft carrying scientific equipment, cameras and scientists that took off from Agra landed back after a three-hour flight. A Mirage-2000 trainer from Gwalior took spectacular images of the celestial spectacle from an altitude of 40,000 feet. With weather being clear at the altitudes and coordinates planned by the IAF pilots, both the AN-32 and Mirage-2000 pilots were able to accomplish the mission successfully, he said.

"The mission was a huge success. We got excellent footage of the eclipse. This was made possible by the perfect planning and execution by the IAF pilots," said Dr.Vinay B. Kamble, Director, Vigyan Prasar while addressing media persons at Agra airbase after the flight.

The AN-32 mission was flown at 25,000 feet. The aircraft flew a south-westerly course from abeam Khajuraho, descending and aligning along the central axis of the eclipse. The Mirage-2000 fighter flew at an altitude of 42,000 feet bisecting the central axis in a north-south direction to film the eclipse.

"Since flying with the ramp open involves depressurisation, inhaling of oxygen separately becomes absolutely necessary at that altitude. We flew a practise mission to train everyone for the sortie", explained Wing Commander D Singh, captain of the flight. "Ensuring the Sun at six-o-clock position at the correct angle for cameras to be able to catch the phenomenon demanded a high degree of accuracy in flying," he added, satisfied with the results.

As the eclipse progressed towards the totality phase, darkness descended across the morning sky metamorphosing rapidly from bright daylight to the twilight zone, transiting to dark phase. The pilots switched on rheostats illuminating their instrument panel for a brief phase of night flying before resuming daylight flying after the total solar eclipse. For those who witnessed the rare spectacle in air, the experience was truly ethereal, the spokesman added.

At the Nehru Planetarium here, two telescopes were set up and pictures from them were projected on a large screen.

The path of eclipse began in India and crossed through Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan and China.


The Indian cities through which the shadow of total eclipse passed are Surat, Ujjain, Indore, Bhopal, Sagar, Jabalpur, Varanasi, Allahabad, Gaya, Patna, Bhagalpur, New Jalpaigudi, Guwahati and Dibrugarh.

While the solar eclipse was visible in 13 Indian cities in totality, only 88 per cent of the eclipse could be seen in the national capital.

The eclipse began at 0528 hours and ended at 0740 hours and lasted for about four minutes from 0626 to 0630 hours in India. The total eclipse lasted for six minutes and 39 seconds.

For most people who woke up early to watch the eclipse, it was an opportunity of a lifetime, given the fact that the next total solar eclipse in India will be on March 20 in 2034. An annular solar eclipse will occur on January 15 next year.

Science Popularisation Association of Communicators and Educators (SPACE), a Delhi-based non-governmental organisation (NGO) working to popularise science and astronomy, had also organised a special flight to watch the eclipse in collaboration with Cox and Kings India, a well-known travel agency. Technical guidance for the special flight was given by Eclipse Chasers Athanaeum, a wing of the NGO.

The NGO had chartered an aircraft, a Boeing 737-700 from JetLite, for the three-hour flight from New Delhi to Gaya in Bihar, where it hovered for some time while the eclipse was on.

The flight had 72 passengers who had paid Rs 79,000 for the 21 sunside window seats, Rs 67,000 for the middle seats, Rs 59,000 for the aisle seats and Rs 29,000 for the earth-side seats.

NNN

India, US sign 3 pacts, including on defence end-user monitoring arrangements

India and the US on Monday signed three agreements, including one on the end-use monitoring arrangements for defence equipment and technology that India procures from the US.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meeting the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meeting the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
India and the United States today signed three important agreements, including one on the end-use monitoring arrangements that will henceforth be referred to in letters of acceptance for Indian procurement of US defence technology and equipment.

The other two pacts are a Technical Safeguards Agreement which will permit the launch of civil or non-commercial satellites containing US components on Indian space launch vehicles and on the creation of a Science and Technology Endowment Board.

"The new dialogues that Secretary Clinton and I announce today - on health, education, science & technology and women’s empowerment – will impact positively on areas of vital interest and concern to the daily lives of our two peoples," External Affairs Minister S M Krishna said at a joint press conference with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton after delegation level talks between the two sides.

"We have issued a Joint Statement on all these initiatives. A fact sheet on the new bilateral dialogue architecture has also been put out. We will now have frequent high level contacts to reinforce these dialogues," Mr Krishna said.

At the outset, Mr Krishna pointed out that Ms Clinton was no stranger to India and that her deep and abiding interest and commitment to India had helped shape the US policy of close engagement with India.

He recalled that Ms Clinton not only had a key role in the founding of the India Caucus in the US Congress, the largest congressional grouping focused on strengthening relations with any foreign country, but has also been a staunch and sincere advocate of the strengthening of US-India relations.

"She was one of the key supporters of the historic agreement between our two countries on Civil Nuclear Cooperation which was realized through a bipartisan effort in the US Congress and the desire to add qualitative substance to the US-India relationship," he said.

Mr Krishna said their talks covered a comprehensive agenda encompassing the full range of global and bilateral issues of mutual concern and interest.

"India and the United States of America regard each other as global partners. Our two democracies can play a leading and constructive role on the global level in addressing the urgent global challenges of our times. The agenda of our dialogue today reflects this global dimension of our partnership. With that vision to guide our path, we have created new forums for meaningful dialogue on climate change, disarmament and non-proliferation. We also recognize the importance of ensuring that the steps planned to revive the global economy should safeguard the priorities of sustainable development and the goals of poverty alleviation in the developing world. Ours is a shared commitment to a rule-based multilateral trading system and we will continue to speak out against protectionism. Cooperation, trade and investment between India and the United States can play a constructive role in the revival of the world economy," he said.

The Minister said he and Ms Clinton had also held useful discussions on the situation in the region. "In our discussions today, she and I also reaffirmed the unequivocal commitment of both our countries to resist the threats to our two democracies from the scourge of terrorism," he said.

He said that, in the bilateral partnership, he and Ms Clinton had focussed on the new agenda for US-India v. 3.0, "in which we will build on the excellent economic and political partnerships that already exist, redefine some of our dialogues to make them more result oriented and create new dialogues for achieving shared objectives in areas of mutual interest."

He said he was confident that the initiatives that the two governments would work on would benefit both their peoples.

The meeting between the two leaders came at the end of a hectic five-day trip to India for Ms Clinton during which she spent two days in Mumbai and met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Leader of the Opposition Lal Krishna Advani during the day.

Ms Clinton said she had conveyed to Dr Singh an invitation from US President Barack Obama to visit Washington on November 24, which will be the first state visit by any world leader to the US after the new administration took over in January this year.

The Joint Statement said Mr Krishna and Ms Clinton had committed themselves to building an enhanced India-US strategic partnership that seeks to advance solutions to the defining challenges of our time.
Secretary Clinton addresses an audience of 700 students, faculty and guests at the Convention Hall in the Old Vice Regal Lodge, University of Delhi.
Secretary Clinton addresses an audience of 700 students, faculty and guests at the Convention Hall in the Old Vice Regal Lodge, University of Delhi.

They agreed to strengthen the existing bilateral relationships and mechanisms for cooperation between the two governments while leveraging the strong foundation of economic and social linkages between the people, private sectors, and institutions of the two countries.

"Recognizing the new heights achieved in the India - U.S. relationship over the last two Indian and U.S. Administrations, they committed to pursuing a third and transformative phase of the relationship that will enhance global prosperity and stability in the 21st century," it said.

The statement said Mr Krishna and Ms Clinton would chair an "India-US Strategic Dialogue" that will meet once annually in alternate capitals and focus on a wide range of bilateral, global, and regional issues of shared interest and common concern, continuing programmes currently under implementation and taking mutually beneficial initiatives that complement Indian and U.S. development, security and economic interests.

Mr Krishna will travel to Washington for the first round of the Dialogue in the coming year, it said.

The two leaders reaffirmed the commitment of both governments to build on recent increased coordination in counter-terrorism. Ms Clinton invited Home Minister P Chidambaram to visit Washington in the near future. They also reaffirmed their commitment to early adoption of a UN Comprehensive Convention against International Terrorism.

The two sides reiterated the commitment of both governments to pursue mutually beneficial cooperation in the field of defence.

The statement said India and the US shared a vision of a world free of nuclear weapons and the two leaders agreed to move ahead in the Conference on Disarmament towards a non-discriminatory, internationally and effectively verifiable Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty.

"India and the United States will also cooperate to prevent nuclear terrorism and address the challenges of global nuclear proliferation. A high-level bilateral dialogue will be established to enhance cooperation on these issues," it said.

The two countries said they would, building on the success of the India-US Civil Nuclear Initiative, begin tomorrow consultations on reprocessing arrangements and procedures, as provided in Article 6 (iii) of the 123 Agreement for Peaceful Nuclear Cooperation between India and the United States.

Ms Clinton affirmed that multilateral organizations and groupings should reflect the world of the 21st century in order to maintain long-term credibility, relevance and effectiveness. Both leaders expressed their interest in exchanging views on new configurations of the UN Security Council, the G-8, and the G-20.

Mr Krishna and Ms Clinton reaffirmed the commitment of both Governments to facilitating a pathway forward on the WTO Doha Round.

"They pledged to co-operate to not only preserve the economic synergies between the two countries that have grown over the years, but also to increase and diversify bilateral economic relations and expand trade and investment flows. The two sides noted that negotiations for a Bilateral Investment Treaty would be scheduled in New Delhi in August 2009. They resolved to harness the ingenuity and entrepreneurship of the private sectors of both countries with a newly-configured CEO Forum that will meet later this year," the statement said

The statement talked about expanding cooperation in the area of education, space, science and technology and innovation.

Both sides welcomed India’s participation in the FutureGen Project for the construction of the first commercial scale fully integrated carbon capture and sequestration project and India’s participation in the Integrated Ocean Development Project, an international endeavour for enhancing the understanding of Earth and Ocean dynamics and addressing the challenges of climate change.

The two leaders agreed to continue the agenda and the initiatives of the bilateral High Technology Cooperation Dialogue to facilitate smoother trade in high technology between the two economies reflecting the present strategic nature of the India-U.S. relationship.

It was also agreed that working groups would be formed to focus on new areas of common interest in nano-technology, civil nuclear technology, civil aviation and licensing issues in defence, strategic and civil nuclear trade.

The two sides pledged to intensify collaboration on energy security and climate change. Efforts will focus on increasing energy efficiency, renewable energy, and clean energy technologies through the India-U.S. Energy Dialogue and a Global Climate Change Dialogue.

Both sides also agreed to launch a process of bilateral scientific and technological collaboration to support the development, deployment and transfer of transformative and innovative technologies in areas of mutual interest, including solar and other renewable energy, clean coal and energy efficiency, and other relevant areas.

India and the U.S. affirmed their commitment to work together with other countries, including through the Major Economies Forum, for positive results in the UNFCCC Conference on Climate Change in Copenhagen in December 2009.

They agreed to work together on strengthening democracy and capacity building in democratic institutions as co-founders of the UN Democracy Fund. They also agreed to develop a Women’s Empowerment Forum (WEF) to exchange lessons and best practices on women’s empowerment and development and consider ways to empower women in the region and beyond.

"Minister Krishna and Secretary Clinton reaffirmed that the excellent relations between India and the United States rests on the bedrock of kinship, commerce and educational ties between the Indian and American people," the statement added.

The meeting between Ms Clinton and Dr Singh took place at the 7, Race Course Road, the official residence of the Prime Minister, where Ms Clinton reached directly from the Delhi University, where she addressed students and faculty this morning.

Former Indian Ambassador to the US Karan Singh and Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi were present at her meeting with Ms Sonia Gandhi.

Ms Clinton had arrived in Delhi yesterday afternoon on the second leg of a five-day visit to India and drove to the ITC Green Centre in Gurgaon soon after. There she said, in the context of climate change, that the US would not do anything that would limit India's economic progress, which, she felt, was in everyone's interest. At the same time, she said she also believed that there was a way of eliminating poverty while ensuring sustainability.

Ms Clinton, who is accompanied on the visit by US Special Envoy on Climate Change Todd Stern, held talks at the Centre with Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh and Mr Shyam Saran, the former Foreign Secretary who is now the Prime Minister's Special Envoy on Climate Change.

At those discussions, Mr Ramesh made it very clear that India was simply not in a position to accept any "legally binding" reduction targets for carbon emission.

Ms Clinton also visited the Indian Agricultural Research Institute here yesterday for discussions with Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and others on enhancing cooperation between the two countries in the agricultural sector.

Ms Clinton had arrived in Mumbai on Thursday night and spent Friday in the metropolis interacting with a broad cross-section of Indian society.

She met staff of the Taj Mahal and the Trident hotels, who had survived the 26/11 terror attacks on Mumbai and saved the lives of many guests, and interacted with top Indian businessmen. She also visited the Mumbai office of the Ahmedabad-based non-governmental organisation Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA) headed by Magsaysay Award winner Ela Bhatt.

She will leave here tomorrow for the second leg of her Asia visit that will take her to Thailand, where apart from bilateral meetings, she will attend the ASEAN Post-Ministerial Conference and the ASEAN Regional Forum in Phuket.

Before leaving for India, Ms Clinton had said that she would be engaging in a very broad, comprehensive dialogue in Delhi that was the most wide-ranging that had ever been put on the table between the two countries.

"It has six pillars to it, one of which, of course, is foreign policy, strategic challenges, along with other matters, like health and education and agriculture and the economy," she had said in a question-answer session after her Foreign Policy Address to the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington last Wednesday.

Ms Clinton had said that India had a tremendous opportunity and a growing responsibility, which it acknowledges, to play not just a regional role, but a global one as well.

"How they choose to define that, we will explore in depth during the course of our discussions. But obviously, there are a number of areas where we would welcome Indian leadership and involvement that are difficult," she had said.

Ms Clinton is the highest-ranking US leader to visit India after the Barack Obama administration assumed office in January. Since then, Dr Singh, who began his second term as Prime Minister in May, has met Mr Obama at multi-lateral events, such as the G-20 Summits in Washington and London, the most recent being the G8/G5 Summits at L'Aquila in Italy last week.

In the run-up to Ms Clinton's visit, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William J Burns and National Security Adviser General James L Jones had visited New Delhi in June.

In her Foreign Policy Address, Ms Clinton had outlined six foreign policy approaches that the US would follow, the first of which was to build stronger mechanisms of cooperation with its historic allies, with emerging powers and with multilateral institutions and to pursue that cooperation in a pragmatic and principled way.

She had said that, as part of this approach, the US would put special emphasis on encouraging major and emerging global powers---China, India, Russia and Brazil, as well as Turkey, Indonesia and South Africa---to be full partners in tackling the global agenda.

"I want to underscore the importance of this task, and my personal commitment to it. These states are vital to achieving solutions to the shared problems and advancing our priorities – nonproliferation, counterterrorism, economic growth, climate change, among others. With these states, we will stand firm on our principles even as we seek common ground.

"This week, I will travel to India, where External Affairs Minister Krishna and I will lay out a broad-based agenda that calls for a whole-of-government approach to our bilateral relationship," she had added.

NNN

Clinton meets PM, discusses ways of enhancing strategic partnership between India, US

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here on Monday and is understood to have discussed with him ways of enhancing the strategic partnership between the two countries.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meeting the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meeting the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here today and is understood to have discussed with him ways of enhancing the strategic partnership between the two countries.

Details of their discussions were not immediately available, but it is understood that the two leaders also discussed the fight against terrorism, especially Pakistan's role in this regard and the need for Islamabad to take credible steps to bring those behind the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks to justice and to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure working against India from its territory.

Ms Clinton is understood to have raised the issue of India's willingness to take more steps to reduce carbon emissions and advance the cause of nuclear non-proliferation and to take on greater global responsibilities. The two leaders are also learnt to have talked about areas such as agriculture, education and health in which the two countries are aiming for greater cooperation.

The two leaders are also understood to have talked about the implementation of the India-US civil nuclear cooperation agreement, which was signed during the tenure of then US President George W Bush but which the present Barack Obama administration is fully committed to implement.

The meeting took place at the 7, Race Course Road, the official residence of the Prime Minister, where Ms Clinton reached directly from the Delhi University, where she addressed students and faculty this morning.

Later today, Ms Clinton is due to meet Leader of the Opposition Lal Krishna Advani and ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Chairperson Sonia Gandhi before holding delegation-level talks with External Affairs Minister S M Krishna at Hyderabad House this evening.

The two sides are expected to sign several bilateral agreements at the end of her talks with Mr Krishna.

Ms Clinton had arrived in Delhi yesterday afternoon on the second leg of a five-day visit to India and drove to the ITC Green Centre in Gurgaon soon after. There she said, in the context of climate change, that the US would not do anything that would limit India's economic progress, which, she felt, was in everyone's interest. At the same time, she said she also believed that there was a way of eliminating poverty while ensuring sustainability.

Ms Clinton, who is accompanied on the visit by US Special Envoy on Climate Change Todd Stern, held talks at the Centre with Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh and Mr Shyam Saran, the former Foreign Secretary who is now the Prime Minister's Special Envoy on Climate Change.

At those discussions, Mr Ramesh made it very clear that India was simply not in a position to accept any "legally binding" reduction targets for carbon emission.

Ms Clinton also visited the Indian Agricultural Research Institute here yesterday for discussions with Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and others on enhancing cooperation between the two countries in the agricultural sector.
Secretary Clinton greets the crowd at the ITC Green Centre. To her left is Minister for Forests and Environment Jairam Ramesh, to her right (back to camera) Meera Shankar, Indian Ambassador to the U.S. and Timothy J. Roemer, U.S. Ambassador-Designate.
Secretary Clinton greets the crowd at the ITC Green Centre. To her left is Minister for Forests and Environment Jairam Ramesh, to her right (back to camera) Meera Shankar, Indian Ambassador to the U.S. and Timothy J. Roemer, U.S. Ambassador-Designate.

Ms Clinton had arrived in Mumbai on Thursday night and spent Friday in the metropolis interacting with a broad cross-section of Indian society.

She met staff of the Taj Mahal and the Trident hotels, who had survived the 26/11 terror attacks on Mumbai and saved the lives of many guests, and interacted with top Indian businessmen. She also visited the Mumbai office of the Ahmedabad-based non-governmental organisation Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA) headed by Magsaysay Award winner Ela Bhatt.

She will leave here tomorrow for the second leg of her Asia visit that will take her to Thailand, where apart from bilateral meetings, she will attend the ASEAN Post-Ministerial Conference and the ASEAN Regional Forum in Phuket.

Before leaving for India, Ms Clinton had said that she would be engaging in a very broad, comprehensive dialogue in Delhi that was the most wide-ranging that had ever been put on the table between the two countries.

"It has six pillars to it, one of which, of course, is foreign policy, strategic challenges, along with other matters, like health and education and agriculture and the economy," she had said in a question-answer session after her Foreign Policy Address to the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington last Wednesday.

Ms Clinton had said that India had a tremendous opportunity and a growing responsibility, which it acknowledges, to play not just a regional role, but a global one as well.

"How they choose to define that, we will explore in depth during the course of our discussions. But obviously, there are a number of areas where we would welcome Indian leadership and involvement that are difficult," she had said.

Ms Clinton is the highest-ranking US leader to visit India after the Barack Obama administration assumed office in January. Since then, Dr Singh, who began his second term as Prime Minister in May, has met Mr Obama at multi-lateral events, such as the G-20 Summits in Washington and London, the most recent being the G8/G5 Summits at L'Aquila in Italy last week.
Secretary Clinton with Ambassador-Designate Timothy J. Roemer, and Sharad Pawar, Minister of Agriculture; Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, examine wheat samples at the Indian Council for Agricultural Research’s (ICAR) Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) in Pusa, New Delhi.
Secretary Clinton with Ambassador-Designate Timothy J. Roemer, and Sharad Pawar, Minister of Agriculture; Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, examine wheat samples at the Indian Council for Agricultural Research’s (ICAR) Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) in Pusa, New Delhi.

Dr Singh is expected to visit Washington later this year and Mr Obama is likely to travel to India sometime next year.

In the run-up to Ms Clinton's visit, US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William J Burns and National Security Adviser General James L Jones had visited New Delhi in June.

In her Foreign Policy Address, Ms Clinton had outlined six foreign policy approaches that the US would follow, the first of which was to build stronger mechanisms of cooperation with its historic allies, with emerging powers and with multilateral institutions and to pursue that cooperation in a pragmatic and principled way.

She had said that, as part of this approach, the US would put special emphasis on encouraging major and emerging global powers---China, India, Russia and Brazil, as well as Turkey, Indonesia and South Africa---to be full partners in tackling the global agenda.

"I want to underscore the importance of this task, and my personal commitment to it. These states are vital to achieving solutions to the shared problems and advancing our priorities – nonproliferation, counterterrorism, economic growth, climate change, among others. With these states, we will stand firm on our principles even as we seek common ground.

"This week, I will travel to India, where External Affairs Minister Krishna and I will lay out a broad-based agenda that calls for a whole-of-government approach to our bilateral relationship," she had added.

NNN
Syndicate content
© Copyright 2012 NetIndian. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of NetIndian content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of NetIndian Media Corporation. Write to info[AT]netindian[DOT]in for permission to use content. Read detailed Terms of Use.