India & World (Major Issues)
The G20 countries at Busan, South Korea
- Bank bailouts — India’s stand
- India is not keen on any tax on banks to fund future bailouts, but is all for better regulation, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee is reported to have told in an interview on the sidelines of a meeting of finance ministers from the G20 countries at Busan, South Korea.
- The proposal to tax banks is likely to be considered at the meeting. The crux of the idea under debate is that public money cannot be used to fund future bank bailouts. Instead, banks should be taxed to build a corpus for future bailouts.
- India is not the only one opposed to the tax. Australia and Canada—whose banking system survived the financial meltdown unscathed—too are opposed to such a tax. The US and European countries favour a bank tax to pay for future bailouts.
US to check Chinese plans to build Pak reactors
- The Obama Administration has decided to oppose China’s plans to build two civilian nuclear reactors in Pakistan. The deal is expected to be discussed at the NSG meeting being held in New Zealand next week.
- China National Nuclear Corporation plans to finance two more civilian reactors at the Chashma site despite concerns raised about the safety of nuclear material in Pakistan. China earlier built two reactors for Pakistan. The deal oversteps the guidelines of the 46-country Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), which bars nuclear commerce between Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) members like China and nonmember states like Pakistan.
- A special leave of the NSG is required before such a deal can be finalised, as was done in the case of the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal, as India too is not a signatory to the NPT.
- China disagrees. For its part, Beijing has maintained that the deal had been grandfathered before it joined the NSG in 2004 because it was completing work on two earlier reactors for Pakistan at the time. Washington appears unconvinced by the argument. Additional nuclear cooperation with Pakistan beyond specific projects that were grandfathered in 2004 would require consensus approval by the NSG.
- The challenges to increased India focus by Britain
- UK is reportedly trying to forge a new special relationship with India. What are the challenges it faces on its way?
- From India’s point of view, New Delhi has been taking note of the criticisms by various organisations in India and the UK of the new government’s determination to cap immigration from non-EU countries and the more stringent visa rules for students, spouses and tourists brought into force recently.
- Secondly, while the Cameron government is eager to take its ties with India to a higher level, it is aware of the competition from the US on that issue. Britain had been partially eclipsed by the US, which signed a nuclear co-operation deal with India in 2008. That was a game-changer for India in terms of its relationship with the US, when it came in from the cold after its nuclear tests and sanctions were lifted.
After strategic dialogue, big push to U.S.-India cooperation
- At the end of the first round of strategic dialogue,India and the United States have significantly expanded the breadth of their collaboration across a range of areas.
- These include counter-terrorism, disarmament and non-proliferation, United Nations Security Council reform, trade and investment, science and technology, climate change mitigation, energy and food security, education, agriculture, healthcare and empowerment of women.
- In a rare symbolic gesture designed to underscore the importance of the U.S.’ relationship with India, President Barack Obama made a brief visit to the State Department during a reception for select officials and the media. He announced that his much anticipated visit to India would come in “early November.”
- The dialogue, led by External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, saw both sides pledging to “continue to consult each other closely on regional and global developments and remain sensitive to each other’s interests,” given their role as strategic partners.
- ‘Tackle terror, be it in Mumbai or Manhattan’
- President Obama also emphasised the transnational nature of terror threats. He said tackling these threats would require “making progress for the Afghan people and preventing terrorism, whether it’s in Manhattan or in Mumbai.” It would include securing vulnerable nuclear materials, a goal that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had furthered by committing India to building a new centre of excellence for nuclear energy and security.
S.M. Krishna three-day visit
- India, South Korea to discuss nuclear deal
- The meeting of the India-South Korea Joint Commission in Seoul will consider expanding trade and business ties, cooperation in the defence sector and explore a civilian nuclear agreement.
- He will meet his counterpart Yu Myung-hwan and Defence Minister Kim Tae-young, address the Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security and call on President Lee Myung-bak.
- India and South Korea identified a number of high priority areas. These included IT, and knowledge-based industries, science and technology, high-technology, energy, automobiles and components, small and medium enterprises, defence, space, cultural ties, parliamentary and people-to-people exchanges.
- Bilateral trade stood at $15 billion during 2008, and the two countries decided to double it by 2014. India and South Korea signed a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement in August last and it became operational in January.
- “Civil nuclear cooperation will be discussed during the meeting. We do not know the direction it would take, but we will have something at the end of the meeting,” Gautam Bambawale, Joint Secretary (East Asia), said.
Buddha relics enshrined at Chinese temple
- Relics believed to be part of the skull of Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, found three years ago, were enshrined on Saturday at the Qixia Temple in Jiangsu province in China.
- The relics were sent to the country from India by Emperor Ashoka and buried beneath a Chinese temple over 1,000 years ago.
- The casket, in which the relics known as sarirars (parts of the body of Buddha) were preserved in two different boxes, was opened amid chanting by the monks.
- The casket, containing a small-size stupa of Emperor Ashoka in which the relics were preserved, is the largest and finest ever found in China.
- “Its complicated techniques are rarely seen as it was made 1,000 years ago” and it was discovered during excavations of the temple three years ago, according to one Buddhist scholar.
- The casket made of gold, silver and sandalwood was found among scattered objects in an underground chamber. The relics were kept carefully in a small box made of gold, which also contained a bottle of perfume.
- According to Buddhist scriptures, Emperor Ashoka collected all of Buddha’s’s sarira and stored them in pagoda-shaped shrines, before sending them to different parts of the world.
- China is believed to have received 19 of them. Search is on for the rest. These caskets were not opened fearing bad luck.
Queen Elizabeth honours NRIs
- Kartar Singh Lalvani, founder of pharmaceutical major Vitabiotics in Britain, has been awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Queen Elizabeth II in her Birthday Honours List announced on Saturday.
- He recently established Indali Lounge, recognised as the ‘healthiest curry house in world.’ Channel4 listed Indali Lounge as United Kingdom’s No.1 among the top 10 healthy restaurants. “I am happy that the work done by an Indian in the pharmaceutical field in the U.K. has been recognised,” Dr. Lalvani told PTI.
- Besides him, 18 other Non-resident Indians figure in the List — 10 OBEs, eight Members of the British Empire (MBEs) and one Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order (LVO).
- Anil Kumar Bhanot has been honoured for services to the Hindu Community and to Inter-Faith Relations, while Janti Champaneri figures in the list for services to the local government in Birmingham, and Kailash Chand Malhotra for services to healthcare in Cheshire.
- World Sikh University vice-chancellor Sukhbir Singh Kapoor has been honoured for services to community relations in Harrow.
- Deepak Lakwani, the India director at London stockbroker Astaire and Partners, is also among the awardees.
- Launde Primary School Headteacher Inderjit Kaur Sandhu has been honoured for services to education in Leicestershire.
- Reading-based Prem Dutt Sharma is included in the list for services to community relations, while Baljit Ubhey has been honoured for services to the Crown Prosecution Service.
- Daljit Singh Ahluwalia has been awarded the OBE for voluntary service to community and inter-faith relations in Derbyshire, and Prakash Daswani, founder and CEO of Cultural Co-operation, for services to the arts. Preihdath Joyram, who is involved with the Cruse Bereavement charity organisation that offers free, confidential help to the bereaved in Lancashire, also figures in the list.
- Also honoured in the list is Veena Kumari Mohindra, Executive Officer of Jobcentre Plus in Eastleigh, Hampshire. Also hnoured are Mukesh Patel, administrative officer, Revenue and Customs in Leicestershire, and Balvinder Singh Sokhi, for services to the community in Nottingham.
- The list, drawn up independently of government, was seen in draft form by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown and cleared by successor David Cameron before being approved by the Queen.
Courtesy: Dialogue India By Om Prakash (Goldy sir)