Time for ‘Act East Policy’ and not just ‘Look East’: Swaraj

News4u-News Desk- External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Sunday said the time has come for India to adopt an “Act East Policy” as she began her three-day visit to Vietnam during which she will hold talks with the top leadership of the Communist nation.

Swaraj said that India had adopted a “Look East Policy” under the Atal Behari Vajpayee government.

“Now it is time to not just look but act. Under the (Narendra) Modi government, we will have an Act East Policy,” the Minister said addressing a gathering of the Indian community soon after her arrival.

Swaraj, who will hold bilateral meetings with her Vietnamese counterpart Pham Binh Minh tomorrow besides calling on President Truong Tan Sang and Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, said she will discuss a number of issues during her interaction. She said that Vietnam is an important partner and expressed her satisfaction with the bilateral cooperation in security and defence.

Talking about the Lok Sabha elections, the minister emphasised that the BJP has been given a clear majority after 30 years.

“When we first talked about target 270 plus, people made fun of us. But people gave us 282 seats and with alliance we are more than 300,” she said adding that the 2014 election was one of “hope”.

“And hence people have lot of expectations from this government and we will not discourage them.

We will live up to their dreams,” she said amid rousing applause. She spoke about the three months in government and said that it had implemented steps so that the feeling of “dejection” that had crept in over the last three years.

Swaraj’s visit comes just days after Vietnam renewed India’s lease of two oil blocks in the South China Sea for another year, a move that could rile China.

It also comes ahead of next month’s visit by President Pranab Mukherjee.

During her visit, Swaraj will also chair a meeting of the heads of Indian Missions in the region besides inaugurating the 3rd Roundtable of the ASEAN-India Network of Think Tanks.

Swaraj arrives in Vietnam on 3-day visit

Seeking a more dynamic relationship with strategically-important Vietnam, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj arrived here today for talks with the country’s top leadership during which cooperation in defence, agriculture, pharmaceuticals and textiles would be in focus.

The crucial three-day visit comes just days after Vietnam renewed India’s lease of two oil blocks in South China Sea for another year, a move that could rile China.

It also comes ahead of next month’s visit by President Pranab Mukherjee.

During her visit, Swaraj will also chair a meeting of the heads of Indian Missions in the region besides inaugurating the 3rd Round-table of the ASEAN-India Network of think tanks.

“India and Vietnam enjoy excellent political relations. We expect that the External Affairs Minister’s visit to Vietnam will pave the way for high-level exchange of visits between India and Vietnam during the course of the year,” MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin had said.

India and Vietnam have a tradition of exchanging high- level visits.

The last high level visit from Vietnam was by the Secretary General of Vietnamese Communist party Nguyen Ph Trong, last November.

Both the countries also have fairly robust economic ties and the bilateral trade stands at USD 8 billion, of which Indian exports to the country is about USD 5.4 billion.

“We see prospects in the current situation in terms of enhancing our ties including in areas such as textile, pharmaceuticals and agricultural products,” Akbaruddin had said.

Asked if the issue of defence cooperation, which Vietnam is keen for, will be discussed, he said “in the world of diplomacy, some things are better left unsaid and defence cooperation is one of those”.

The Southeast Asian nation had recently renewed India’s lease of two oil blocks off its coast in an area disputed with China in the South China Sea.

According to Indian diplomats, Indian oil companies have felt, for techno-commercial reasons, that they would like to avail the opportunity to explore those oil blocks for a further period of one year.

Earlier the companies had found that it would be difficult to utilise those because of lack of availability of deep sea rigs there.


External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Lakhs appear in civil services prelims exam

News4u-News Desk- Lakhs of students appeared for Civil Services preliminary examination on Sunday, which was mired in controversy over demand of change in its pattern, at various centres across the country.

The preliminary examination consisting of two papers (Paper I and Paper II) of two hours duration each was held without any reported incidents of protests, official sources said.

The first paper began at 9:30 AM and second started at 2:30 PM.

Some of the students complained of few alleged errors in Hindi translation of questions asked in English language in Paper I. There were no comments either from the government or Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) on the students claim over errors in the translations. About nine lakh students have applied for the examination.

A controversy had recently erupted over the pattern of examination as students demanding change in the pattern of Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT) or Paper II, had taken to the streets waging a violent agitation.

In the wake of such protests, Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions Jitendra Singh had on August 4 said in Parliament that marks of the English section questions, asked in Paper II, will not be included for gradation or merit in civil services exam.

The Department of Personnel and Training, and UPSC had issued separate instructions not to attempt questions of English language comprehension skills asked in Paper II of the examination as their marks will not be included in the gradation or deciding on merit.

The Paper II carries questions on comprehension, interpersonal skills including communication skills, logical reasoning and analytical ability, decision-making and problem- solving, general mental ability, basic numeracy and English language comprehension skills (of Class X level).

However, a group of students said they will continue with the protest. “We are against the pattern of civil services examination. We want a change in its pattern,” said Sampoornanda, who is part of a students’ movement ‘Nagrik Adhikaar Manch’ for the cause.

Another aspirant, who had enrolled for the exam but did not take it, said, “We will not disturb the examination and those taking it. But we will continue with our demands of scrapping Paper II of the preliminary examination unless government brings necessary changes in it.”

The prestigious civil services examination is conducted in three stages-preliminary, main and interview- by the UPSC to select IAS, IFS and IPS officers among others.

Hearing an eleventh-hour petition filed by a group of protesting students, the Supreme Court had yesterday declined to postpone today’s preliminary examination.


Lakhs appear in civil services prelims exam

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

UPA pressured me to drop names from CWG, coal reports: Rai

News4u-News Desk- Ex-CAG Vinod Rai has claimed he was pressurised by the UPA regime to drop certain names from audit reports in Coalgate and Commonwealth Games scams, triggering a political row.

Rai claimed yesterday that some UPA coalition functionaries had deputed politicians to get him leave out certain names in this regard.

Congress today questioned the integrity of Rai and accused him of indulging in “senstionalism” while BJP demanded that the identity of leaders who “approached” him be revealed.

In remarks damning the previous dispensation, he has also claimed that UPA functionaries had roped in even his colleagues in the IAS, to which he belonged before his appointment as CAG, to persuade him to leave out names.

Like some of the books that have recently hit the stands including those by the media adviser of the former prime minister Sanjay Baru, former External Affairs Minister K Natwar Singh and former Coal Secretary P C Parakh that have been severe on Singh and his government, Rai is penning his views in his forthcoming book “Not Just An Accountant” to be released in October, that will be critical of the UPA regime.


Ex-CAG Vinod Rai

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Maharashtra Governor quits after transfer order

News4u-News Desk- Maharashtra Governor K Sankaranarayanan on Sunday resigned from the post hours after he was transferred to Mizoram by the government.

“I sent my resignation today to the President of India…. It is not possible for me to go to Mizoram,” Sankaranarayan said in a press conference here.

“I will return to active politics,” said the 82-year-old veteran Congress leader from Kerala.

He was among the UPA-appointed Governors who were asked to resign by the new BJP government.

But, he had refused to do so. His tenure ends in 2017.

He said as governors in various states, he never played any politics.

“I was friendly with all political parties, friendly with the BJP also…Shiv Sena…all the political parties. Because I have no politics, because I am the governor,” he said.

The governors are appointed by the President and the President has powers to transfer the governors, he said.

“My feeling is that I have to honour the Constitution-the Magna Carta for governors. I have to abide that, I did that,” he said.

Sankaranarayanan thanked the people of Maharashtra for the support they extended to him during his tenure.

Asked whether the move is part of political vendetta, he said, “That is up to you people to comment about it. Our press people are so shrewd, so capable, so intelligent.”

“I actually supported the Constitution,” he said, adding, “We want the prestige and status of the governors in future also.”

“In a democratic set up, no government is permanent… no post is permanent, that will change. Democracy is bigger than anything, we are one of the biggest democratic countries in the world,” he added.

Sankaranarayanan was among the first batch of governors telephoned by Home Secretary Anil Goswami to put in their papers after change of government at the Centre.

In an apparent bid to ease him out, the government shunted him to Mizoram after he had refused to quit.

A Rashtrapati Bhawan communique issued late last night had said that Sankaranarayanan has been shifted to Mizoram and Gujarat Governor OP Kohli has been asked to discharge his duties.

He has been serving as Governor of Maharashtra since 22 January, 2010. He took oath as Governor of Maharashtra for a second time on May 7, 2012 after the President granted him a fresh term of five.


Maharashtra Governor K Sankaranarayanan

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Quality of higher educational institutes saddening: President

News4u-News Desk- President Pranab Mukherjee today said poor standards of higher educational institutes in India compared to international benchmarks saddens him.

“The standards of higher educational institutes in India when compared to international benchmarks is abysmally low. This saddens me,” Mukherjee said while inaugurating the first Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology (IIEST) at Shibpur in Howrah district.

“Though we boast of a vast higher education network of over 720 degree-awarding institutions and 37,000 colleges, the quality of standards in many is a cause for concern”.

“It is indeed a sad commentary that a country like India which in the distant past boasted of universities like Nalanda and Takshashila does not today have a single educational institution in the top 200 universities in the world. “Why? This is the question which haunts me,” Mukherjee said, adding that why can’t India create an ambiance in Indian universities to create Nobel laureates.

“In order to accomplish this, a culture of excellence must be promoted in our higher academic institutions and core competencies nurtured. Academic cooperation between institutions must be encouraged,” the President said.

He said research and innovation must go hand in hand and should be focused on solving our country’s myriad developmental problems.


President Pranab Mukherjee

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

India responding adequately to Pak provocations: Jaitley

News4u-News Desk- Amid repeated ceasefire violations by Pakistan, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley on Sunday said there has been a series of “provocations” by Pakistani Army and the country’s armed forces are “responding adequately”.

“I have said yesterday and repeating it today that there has been a series of provocations from the Pakistani Army in the last few fays,” he told reporters on the sidelines of inauguration of Murshidabad campus of Management Development Institute (MDI).

He said the country’s armed forces on the LoC and BSF on the international border are “fully protecting both our territory and people”.

“Whatever response is required are being adequately made by them,” the defence minister said.

Pakistani troops shelled and fired upon 25 Border Out Posts (BoPs) and 19 villages along the International Border in Jammu sector throughout the night, prompting the BSF to retaliate.

Yesterday, Pakistani troops had indulged in heavy unprovoked shelling and firing on 22 border outposts and 13 villages, killing two civilians and injuring six others, including a BSF jawan along the international border in Jammu sector.


Defence Minister Arun Jaitley

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Ebola spreads in Nigeria, Liberia; UN expert infected

News4u-News Desk- The World Health Organization today announced the first Ebola infection among its experts, describing the infected person as an epidemiologist who had been deployed to Sierra Leone.

The outbreak also continues to spread elsewhere in West Africa, with 142 more cases recorded, bringing the new total to 2,615 with 1,427 deaths, the World Health Organisation said yesterday.

The WHO did not provide information about the sex, age or nationality of the person but said the patient was “receiving the best care possible”.

The UN organisation said it was considering “the option of medical evacuation to another care facility if necessary”. Since the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa this year, the WHO has sent 400 people to help battle the epidemic.

More than 225 health workers have contracted the contagious tropical disease while treating people in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria, and 130 of them have died, the WHO said.

Most of the new cases are in Liberia, where the government was delivering donated rice to a slum where 50,000 people have been sealed off from the rest of the capital in an attempt to contain the outbreak.

New treatment centres in Liberia are being overwhelmed by patients that were not previously identified.

One centre with 20 beds opened its doors to 70 possibly infected people, likely coming from “shadow-zones” where people fearing authorities won’t let doctors enter, the UN health agency said.

“This phenomenon strongly suggests the existence of an invisible caseload of patients who are not being detected by the surveillance system,” the agency said.

This has “never before been seen in an Ebola outbreak.”

The two new cases in Nigeria were infected by their spouses, both medical workers who had direct contact with Liberian-American Patrick Sawyer, who flew into Nigeria from Liberia and Togo and infected 11 others before he died in July.

The male and female caregivers also then died of Ebola, Health Minister Onyebuchi Chukwu said yesterday.

Nigerian officials initially claimed the risk of exposure to others was minimal because Sawyer was whisked into isolation after arriving at the airport.

Lagos state health commissioner Jide Idris later acknowledged that Sawyer was not immediately quarantined.

The two new cases were quarantined two days ago while being tested, Chukwu said.

They had previously been under surveillance, meaning they were contacted daily to see if they developed any symptoms, but their movements were not restricted.

Once they showed signs of the disease, they were brought in.

Authorities are now trying to identify and monitor everyone they have been in contact with.

In all, 213 people are now under surveillance in Nigeria, including six people, all “secondary contacts” like the caregivers’ spouses, being monitored in the state of Enugu, more than 310 miles (500 kilometres) east of Lagos. Nigeria’s total of confirmed infections is now 16.

Five of them have died and five have recovered; the rest are being treated in isolation in Lagos, the commercial capital where Sawyer’s flight landed.

The damage has been far greater in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, each dealing with hundreds of cases.

Liberia has been hit hardest, recording 1,082 cases and 624 deaths.


Ebola spreads in Nigeria, Liberia; UN expert infected

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

8 killed in Israeli air strikes on 48th day of Gaza war

News4u-News Desk- At least eight Palestinians were killed on Sunday in Israeli air strikes on Gaza with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowing that the military offensive would continue as long as necessary, even as the death toll in the 48-day war neared 2,200.

Israel today took its military campaign to a new level by flattening a 13-storey apartment tower in Gaza following a warning to residents to evacuate.

The strikes in the southern town of Rafah came just hours after Israel bombed an apartment tower in Gaza City, collapsing the 12-storey building with 44 apartments.

Around 30 people were wounded in the strikes, but no one was killed, Palestinian officials said.

The targeting of large buildings appears to be part of a new military tactic by Israel.

Over the weekend, the army began warning Gaza residents in automated phone calls that it would target buildings harbouring “terrorist infrastructure” and that they should stay away.

Elsewhere, Israeli air strikes killed eight Palestinians in Gaza today and militants kept up rocket fire into Israel.

Likening Hamas to the brutal Islamic State (IS) terror group in Iraq, Netanyahu today vowed to continue with Israel’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza “until all of its goals are achieved and this can take time”.

“We decided that there will be no immunity for anyone who fires rockets, and that is relevant for every front and any person,” Netanyahu told his cabinet at its weekly meeting in reference to rocket fire at Israel.

“We are not alone in this Hamas is ISIS (IS) and ISIS is Hamas…these are groups that execute their own members and have no issue killing children. Hamas recently admitted to kidnapping and killing Eyal, Naftali and Gilad (the three Israeli teenagers) and the world is wising up to this with every passing day,” he said.

“They do not want human rights but rather a Caliphate,” Netanyahu emphasised.

Addressing growing anger by residents of Israel’s south, who were told that they could return home before ceasefire efforts collapsed and fighting started anew, Netanyahu said that he respects their endurance and feels their pain.

“Our enemies will not exhaust us, and they will receive attrition instead.

We will continue to hit Hamas and Gaza terror groups,” the Israeli Premier asserted.

The Palestinian death toll in Gaza since the start of Israel’s military operation on July 8, is now well over 2,100 with more than 10,500 injured.

68 Israelis have died, 64 of them soldiers, and the Jewish state has come under heavy rocket and mortar attack with an overwhelming majority of its population now requiring protection from such attacks.


8 killed in Israeli air strikes on 48th day of Gaza war

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Strong 6.0-magnitude quake hits northern California

News4u-News Desk- A strong 6.0-magnitude earthquake jolted California early Sunday, the US Geological Survey said, though there were no immediate reports of deaths or serious damage.

The quake struck at 3:20 am local time (1020 GMT) northwest of American Canyon, California, USGS said, at a depth of just 10.8 kilometres below the surface.

The power was out in Napa, about six miles from the earthquake’s epicentre, as well as in other towns and cities nearby, affecting more than 10,000 households, according to the Pacific Gas and Electric Company.

The California Highway Patrol in the San Francisco Bay Area tweeted that it was “checking over crossings and bridges for obvious signs of structural integrity,” and asked residents to report any signs of problems. Residents of the cities of San Francisco, some 40 miles southwest, and Davis, just over 40 miles northeast, quickly took to Twitter reporting also feeling the quake.

Twitter user Tyson Winter wrote: “Shook violently here in Napa. Power’s out.” Ann Marie Christy,wrote that her mother, also in Napa, said the shaking “was very violent with a lot of broken glass.”

And in San Francisco, Om Malik posted “Damn, woke me up. Was super long. # quake # sf.” Further north, Tim Kerbavaz tweeted: “Felt it in Davis too. Quite long.”


earthquake

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter

Antarctica: a new dream destination

News4u-Travel Desk- As the sun sets, the cloudy sky melds with the glaring white of the frozen terrain. Tourists trudging in single file line marvel over blue glaciers in Antarctica, a hip new vacation destination.

The group paid a small fortune — $3,000 per head — for a quick five-hour visit to the frozen continent, arriving by plane.

“Coming to Antarctica was a dream for me and my wife,” American John Reiss, 81, said as he stood beside his wife Sharon, 73.

“We signed up a couple years ago, but we couldn’t get on it, so we went on a waiting list. This year we signed an year in advance and we made it.”

The couple boarded a cruise ship in Florida, where they live, to head to Punta Arenas in the south of Chile, where they caught a two-hour flight to Antarctica.

The tourists visited the island of King George, in the South Shetlands archipelago and the neighboring Russian station of Bellingshausen with its out-of-place Orthodox church. They also saw the small Chilean hamlet of Villa Las Estrellas home to just 64 people and colonies of penguins. Another option is to tour Half Moon Island, a habitat of seals and penguins that is home to the Argentine base of Teniente Camara.

There they can sip a hot cup of coffee, send a postcard and get their passport stamped with a picture of a krill, a kind of small shrimp that is the symbol of the base. “It was a fantastic experience. The first thing that makes this trip special is being able to visit such a well-preserved, untouched continent,” said Canadian Maureen Malone, 69.

Read: Unexplored coastal spots you must visit

“The second is being able to see the penguins. Everybody loves the penguins. Also, I was able to see around the bases, see how the different countries are sharing the region.” Tourism is one of the few economic activities allowed by the Treaty of the Antarctic and the Madrid Protocol, which bans mineral extraction on the white continent.

The Antarctic draws more than 30,000 tourists per year, from November to March, when there is no problem landing on the frozen sea. Most arrive on ships that cross Drake Passage in the Southern Ocean, which has some of the world’s worst weather, setting off from Ushuaia in southern Argentina and from Punta Arenas.

“Ninety percent of the tourists from around the world who come to Antarctica leave from Ushuaia. The cruises last an average of 11 days. The cheapest ones cost $5,000. The most expensive, which last 15 days and go to the South Pole, cost $12,000,” Brazilian Gunnar Hagelberg, owner of Antarctica Expeditions, told AFP.

More than 35,350 people will have visited Antarctica by the end of this year — 1,000 more than last season and 8,000 more than in 2011-2012, according to the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators.

“We carry from 120 to 130 people per season. We have seen a 15 to 20 percent increase in the number of tourists who want to see the continent,” said Nicolas Paulsen, deputy commercial director of the Chilean airline Dap, which offers logistical and tourist flights. Paulsen said tourism in Antarctica is rising three percent more per year than tourism to Chile, which is up seven percent. Most visitors come from the United States, Australia, China, Russia and, more and more, from Brazil.

“Antarctica is vital for us. It affects the climate, the sea currents. Tourism is important because the more people get to know it, the more they will want to protect it,” said Paulsen.AFP

Antarctica: a new dream destination

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter