Posted on

Jal Manthan –III to be held on January 13, 2017

With a view to have wider consultations among various stakeholders to brain-storm new ideas for solutions to various issues of water sector the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation has organized the third National conference called “Jal Manthan-III” on January 13, 2017 in New Delhi. Union Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Sushri Uma Bharti will inaugurate the conference.

 

The daylong event will have consultations and discussions on Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana, River Basin Management, River Rejuvenation and Ecology, Flood management, Water use efficiency and Participatory irrigation management. The focus will be on refining policies of the Ministry to make them more people friendly and responsive to the needs of the states.

 

About 700 participants comprising Union Ministers of related Ministries/Departments, Chief Ministers of some States/Union Territories, Irrigation/ Water Resources Ministers of States/UTs, eminent experts in water sector, representatives of NGOs and senior officers of the Central and State Governments will be attending the event.

 

It may be recalled that the Union Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Sushri Uma Bharati has emphasized the need to hold wider consultations amongst various stakeholders engaged in water resource development and management to achieve synergy of water resource development with environment, wild-life and various social and cultural practices. Jal Manthan programmes are being held to achieve this purpose.  The earlier Jal Manthan Programmes held in November, 2014 and February, 2016 were hugely successful.

Posted on

Announcement of new Passport Rules

Announcement of new Passport Rules

  1. In order to streamline, liberalize and ease the process of issue of passport, the Ministry of External Affairs has taken a number of steps in the realm of passport policy which is expected to benefit the citizens of India applying for a passport. The details of these steps are given below:-

PROOF OF DATE OF BIRTH

  1. As per the extant statutory provisions of the Passport Rules, 1980, all the applicants born on or after 26/01/1989, in order to get a passport, had to, hitherto, mandatorily submit the Birth Certificate as the proof of Date of Birth (DOB). It has now been decided that all applicants of passports can submit any one of the following documents as the proof of DOB while submitting the passport application:

(i) Birth Certificate (BC) issued by the Registrar of Births & Deaths or the Municipal Corporation or any other prescribed authority whosoever has been empowered under the Registration of Birth & Deaths Act, 1969 to register the birth of a child born in India;
(ii) Transfer/School leaving/Matriculation Certificate issued by the school last attended/recognized educational board containing the DOB of the applicant;

(iii) PAN Card issued by the Income Tax Department with the DOB of applicant;

(iv) Aadhar Card/E-Aadhar having the DOB of applicant;
(v) Copy of the extract of the service record of the applicant (only in respect of Government servants) or the Pay Pension Order (in respect of retired Government Servants), duly attested/certified by the officer/in-charge of the Administration of the concerned Ministry/Department of the applicant, having his DOB;

(vi) Driving licence issued by the Transport Department of concerned State Government, having the DOB of applicant;
(vii) Election Photo Identity Card (EPIC) issued by the Election Commission of India having the DOB of applicant;
(viii) Policy Bond issued by the Public Life Insurance Corporations/Companies having the DOB of the holder of the insurance policy.
Report of the Inter Ministerial Committee

  1. A three-member Committee comprising of the officials of the Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Women and Child Development was constituted to examine various issues pertaining to passport applications where mother/child has insisted that the name of the father should not be mentioned in the passport and also relating to passport issues to children with single parent and to adopted children. The Report of the Committee has been accepted by the Minister of External Affairs.

The following policy changes have been made inter-alia on the basis of the recommendations of this Committee:

 

(i) The online passport application form now requires the applicant to provide the name of father or mother or legal guardian, i.e., only one parent and not both. This would enable single parents to apply for passports for their children and to also issue passports where the name of either the father or the mother is not required to be printed at the request of the applicant.

 

(ii) The total number of Annexes prescribed in the Passport Rule, 1980, has been brought down to 9 from the present 15. Annexes A, C, D, E, J, and K have been removed and certain Annexes have been merged.

 

(iii) All the annexes that are required to be given by the applicants would be in the form of a self declaration on a plain paper. No attestation/swearing by/before any Notary/Executive Magistrate/First Class Judicial Magistrate would be henceforth necessary.

 

(iv) Married applicants would not be required to provide Annexure K or any marriage certificate.

(v) The Passport application form does not require the applicant to provide the name of her/his spouse in case of separated or divorced persons. Such applicants for passports would not be required to provide even the Divorce Decree.

(vi) Orphaned children who do not have any proof of DOB such as Birth Certificate or the Matriculation Certificate or the declaratory Court order, may now submit a declaration given by the Head of the Orphanage/Child Care Home on their official letter head of the organization confirming the DOB of the applicant.

 

(vii) In case of children not born out of wedlock, the applicant for the passport of such children should submit only Annexure G while submitting the passport application.

(viii) In case of issue of passport to in-country domestically adopted children, submission of the registered adoption deed would no longer be required. In the absence of any deed to this effect, the passport applicant may give a declaration on a plain paper confirming the adoption.

(ix) Government servants, who are not able to obtain the Identity Certificate (Annexure-B)/ No-Objection Certificate (Annexure-M) from their concerned employer and intend to get the passport on urgent basis can now get the passport by submitting a self-declaration in Annexure-‘N’ that he/she has given prior Intimation letter to his/her employer informing that he/she was applying for an ordinary passport to a Passport Issuing Authority.
(x) Sadhus/ Sanyasis can apply for a passport with the name of their spiritual Guru mentioned in the passport application in lieu of their biological parent(s) name(s) subject to their providing of at least one public document such as Election Photo Identity Card (EPIC) issued by the Election Commission of India, PAN card, Adhar Card, etc wherein the name of the Guru has been recorded against the column(s) for parent(s) name(s).

  1. Necessary notifications would be soon published in the Official Gazette to give effect to these changes. Instructions are also being issued to the Passport Issuing Authorities in India and abroad on these revised regulations.
  2. The Ministry of External Affairs expects that the above changes in the Passport Rules would further ease the process for passport applicants in getting their Passport. At the same time, it would enable this Ministry to continue to deliver passport related services to the citizens in a timely, transparent, more accessible, reliable manner and in a comfortable environment through streamlined processes and committed, trained and motivated workforce.

Posted on

India on the cusp of a leap towards higher growth trajectory, says President

The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee addressed the Centenary Year Celebrations of the Federation of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FTAPCCI) today (December 23, 2016) in Hyderabad.

Speaking on the occasion, the President said India is on the cusp of a leap towards a higher economic growth trajectory. A decade after the 2008 global economic crisis, major economies of the world are still limping. But, the Indian economy is growing fast. He expressed confidence that if we work hard and collectively, we can ensure a rightful place for our country in the comity of nations. The President at the same time stressed the need to address problems of basic human requirements that include health, education, employment and food to realise India’s demographic advantage.

Underlining that political freedom achieved after the over throw of colonial forces was an opportunity to achieve social and economic freedom for the masses in India, the President pointed out that during the last three consecutive years the annual income of India exceeded that of Great Britain. Indian investments were also the highest in United Kingdom and provided the largest employment in that country.

The President called upon the industrialists present and the Corporate Sector of the country to come forward and take pro-active part in the various programmes initiated by the Government of India such as Digital India, Clean India, Make in India, Start up India etc. He expressed the hope that these programmes would help the country continue to progress in the growth trajectory of the past 15 years. He highlighted the fact that the nation’s growth rate in the last decade and half had not only been high but the country was also shielded from the worst effects of the global economic crisis of 2008.

Posted on

The Science of Yoga – Swami Vivekananda

THE SCIENCE OF YOGA

image(Fragmentary notes of a lecture recorded by Ida Ansell and reprinted from Vedanta and the West, July-August 1957.)

(Delivered at Tucker Hall, Alameda, California, on April 13, 1900)

The old Sanskrit word Yoga is defined as [Chittavrittinirodha]. It means that Yoga is the science that teaches us to bring the Chitta under control from the state of change. The Chitta is the stuff from which our minds are made and which is being constantly churned into waves by external and internal influences. Yoga teaches us how to control the mind so that it is not thrown out of balance into wave forms. . . .

What does this mean? To the student of religion almost ninety-nine per cent of the books and thoughts of religion are mere speculations. One man thinks religion is this and another, that. If one man is more clever than the others, he overthrows their speculations and starts a new one. Men have been studying new religious systems for the last two thousand, four thousand, years — how long exactly nobody knows. . . . When they could not reason them out, they said, “Believe!” If they were powerful, they forced their beliefs. This is going on even now.

But there are a set of people who are not entirely satisfied with this sort of thing. “Is there no way out?” they ask. You do not speculate that way in physics, chemistry, and mathematics. Why cannot the science of religion be like any other science? They proposed this way: If such a thing as the soul of man really exists, if it is immortal, if God really exists as the ruler of this universe — He must be [known] here; and all that must be [realised] in [your own] consciousness.

The mind cannot be analysed by any external machine. Supposing you could look into my brain while I am thinking, you would only see certain molecules interchanged. You could not see thought, consciousness, ideas, images. You would simply see the mass of vibrations — chemical and physical changes. From this example we see that this sort of analysis would not do.

Is there any other method by which the mind can be analysed as mind? If there is, then the real science of religion is possible. The science of Raja-Yoga claims there is such a possibility. We can all attempt it and succeed to a certain degree. There is this great difficulty: In external sciences the object is [comparatively easy to observe]. The instruments of analysis are rigid; and both are external. But in the analysis of the mind the object and the instruments of analysis are the same thing. . . . The subject and the object become one. . . .

External analysis will go to the brain and find physical and chemical changes. It would never succeed [in answering the questions]: What is the consciousness? What is your imagination? Where does this vast mass of ideas you have come from, and where do they go? We cannot deny them. They are facts. I never saw my own brain. I have to take for granted I have one. But man can never deny his own conscious imagination. .

The great problem is ourselves. Am I the long chain I do not see — one piece following the other in rapid succession but quite unconnected? Am I such a state of consciousness [for ever in a flux]? Or am I something more than that — a substance, an entity, what we call the soul? In other words, has man a soul or not? Is he a bundle of states of consciousness without any connection, or is he a unified substance? That is the great controversy. If we are merely bundles of consciousness, . . . such a question as immortality would be merely delusion. . . . On the other hand, if there is something in me which is a unit, a substance, then of course I am immortal. The unit cannot be destroyed or broken into pieces. Only compounds can be broken up. . . .

All religions except Buddhism believe and struggle in some way or other to reach such a substance. Buddhism denies the substance and is quite satisfied with that. It says, this business about God, the soul, immortality, and all that — do not vex yourselves with such questions. But all the other religions of the world cling to this substance. They all believe that the soul is the substance in man in spite of all the changes, that God is the substance which is in the universe. They all believe in the immortality of the soul. These are speculations. Who is to decide the controversy between the Buddhists and the Christians? Christianity says there is a substance that will live for ever. The Christian says, “My Bible says so.” The Buddhist says, “I do not believe in your book.” . . .

The question is: Are we the substance [the soul] or this subtle matter, the changing, billowing mind? . . . Our minds are constantly changing. Where is the substance within? We do not find it. I am now this and now that. I will believe in the substance if for a moment you can stop these changes. . . .

Of course all the beliefs in God and heaven are little beliefs of organised religions. Any scientific religion never proposes such things.

Yoga is the science that teaches us to stop the Chitta [the mind-stuff] from getting into these changes. Suppose you succeed in leading the mind to a perfect state of Yoga. That moment you have solved the problem. You have known what you are. You have mastered all the changes. After that you may let the mind run about, but it is not the same mind any more. It is perfectly under your control. No more like wild horses that dash you down. . . . You have seen God. This is no longer a matter of speculation. There is no more Mr. So-and-So, . . . no more books or Vedas, or controversy of preachers, or anything. You have been yourself: I am the substance beyond all these changes. I am not the changes; if I were, I could not stop them. I can stop the changes, and therefore I can never be the changes. This is the proposition of the science of Yoga. . . .

We do not like these changes. We do not like changes at all. Every change is being forced upon us. . . . In our country bullocks carry a yoke on their shoulders [which is connected by a pole with an oil press]. From the yoke projects a piece of wood [to which is tied a bundle of grass] just far enough to tempt the bullock, but he cannot reach it. He wants to eat the grass and goes a little farther [thereby turning the oil press]. . . . We are like these bullocks, always trying to eat the grass and stretching our necks to reach it. We go round and round this way. Nobody likes these changes. Certainly not! . . . All these changes are forced upon us. . . . We cannot help it. Once we have put ourselves in the machine, we must go on and on. The moment we stop, there is greater evil than if we continued forward. . . .

Of course misery comes to us. It is all misery because it is all unwilling. It is all forced. Nature orders us and we obey, but there is not much love lost between us and nature. All our work is an attempt to escape nature. We say we are enjoying nature. If we analyse ourselves, we find that we are trying to escape everything and invent ways to enjoy this and that. . . . [Nature is] like the Frenchman who had invited an English friend and told him of his old wines in the cellar. He called for a bottle of old wine. It was so beautiful, and the light sparkled inside like a piece of gold. His butler poured out a glass, and the Englishman quietly drank it. The butler had brought in a bottle of castor oil! We are drinking castor oil all the time; we cannot help it. . . .

[People in general] . . . are so reduced to machinery they do not . . . even think. Just like cats, dogs and other animals, they are also driven with the whip by nature. They never disobey, never think of it. But even they have some experience of life. . . .

[Some, however,] begin to question: What is this? What are all these experiences for? What is the Self? Is there any escape? Any meaning to life? . . .

The good will die. The wicked will die. Kings will die, and beggars will die. The great misery is death. . . .All the time we are trying to avoid it. And if we die in a comfortable religion, we think we will see Johns and Jacks afterwards and have a good time.

In your country they bring Johns and Jacks down to show you [in Seances]. I saw such people numbers of times and shook hands with them. Many of you may have seen them. They bang the piano and sing “Beulah Land”: America is a vast land. My home is on the other side of the world. I do not know where Beulah Land is. You will not find it in any geography. See our good comfortable religion! The old, old moth-eaten belief!

Those people cannot think. What can be done for them? They have been eaten up by the world. There is nothing in them to think. Their bones have become hollow, their brains are like cheese. . . . I sympathise with them. Let them have their comfort! Some people are evidently very much comforted by seeing their ancestors from Beulah Land.

One of these mediums offered to bring my ancestors down to me. I said, “Stop there. Do anything you like, but if you bring my ancestors, I don’t know if I can restrain myself.” The medium was very kind and stopped.

In our country, when we begin to get worried by things, we pay something to the priests and make a bargain with God. . . . For the time being we feel comforted, otherwise we will not pay the priests. A little comfort comes, but [it turns] into reaction shortly. . . . So again misery comes. The same misery is here all the time. Your people in our country says, “If you believe in our doctrine you are safe.” Our people among the lower classes believe in your doctrines. The only change is that they become beggars. . . . But is that religion? It is politics — not religion. You may call it religion, dragging the word religion down to that sense. But it is not spiritual.

Among thousands of men and women a few are inclined to something higher than this life. The others are like sheep. . . . Some among thousands try to understand things, to find a way out. The question is: Is there a way out? If there is a way out, it is in the soul and nowhere else. The ways out from other sources have been tried enough, and all [have been found wanting]. People do not find satisfaction. The very fact that those myriads of theories and sects exist show that people do not find satisfaction.

The science of Yoga proposes this, that the one way out is through ourselves. We have to individualise ourselves. If there is any truth, we can [realise it as our very essence]. . . . We will cease being driven about by nature from place to place. . . .

The phenomenal world is always changing: [to reach the Changeless] that is our goal. We want to be That, to realise that Absolute, the [changeless] Reality. What is preventing us from realising that Reality? It is the fact of creation. The creative mind is creating all the time and gets mixed up with its own creation. [But we must also remember that] it is creation that discovered God. It is creation that discovered the Absolute in every individual soul. . . .

Going back to our definition: Yoga is stopping the Chitta, the mind-stuff, from getting into these changes. When all this creation has been stopped — if it is possible to stop it — then we shall see for ourselves what we are in reality. . . . The Uncreated, the One that creates, manifests itself.

The methods of Yoga are various. Some of them are very difficult; it takes long training to succeed. Some are easy. Those who have the perseverance and strength to follow it through attain to great results. Those who do not may take a simpler method and get some benefit out of it.

As to the proper analysis of the mind, we see at once how difficult it is to grapple with the mind itself. We have become bodies. That we are souls we have forgotten entirely. When we think of ourselves, it is the body that comes into our imagination. We behave as bodies. We talk as bodies. We are all body. From this body we have to separate the soul. Therefore the training begins with the body itself, [until ultimately] the spirit manifests itself. . . . The central idea in all this training is to attain to that power of concentration, the power of meditation.

Posted on

Text of the Prime Minister’s address to the Joint Session of U.S. Congress

Mr. Speaker,
Mr. Vice President,
Distinguished Members of the U.S. Congress
Ladies and Gentlemen.
I am deeply honoured by the invitation to address this Joint Meeting of the U.S. Congress.Thank you, Mr. Speaker for opening the doors of this magnificent Capitol.This temple of democracy has encouraged and empowered other democracies the world over.

It manifests the spirit of this great nation, which in Abraham Lincoln’s words, “was conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

In granting me this opportunity, you have honoured the world’s largest democracy and its 1.25 billion people.

As a representative of world’s largest democracy, it is indeed a privilege to speak to the leaders of its oldest.

Mr. Speaker,

Two days ago, I began my visit by going to the Arlington National Cemetery -the final resting place of many brave soldiers of this great land.

I honoured their courage and sacrifice for the ideals of freedom and democracy.

It was also the seventy-second Anniversary of the D-Day.

On that day, thousands from this great country fought to protect the torch of liberty on the remote shores of a land that they did not know.

They sacrificed their lives so that the world lives in freedom.

I applaud …India applauds, the great sacrifices of the men and women from ‘The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave’ in service of mankind.

India knows what this means because our soldiers too have fallen in distant battlefields for the same ideals.

That is why the threads of freedom and liberty form a strong bond between our two democracies.

Mr. Speaker,

Our nations may have been shaped by differing histories, cultures, and faiths.

Yet, our belief in democracy for our nations and liberty for our countrymen is common.

The idea that all citizens are created equal is a central pillar of the American constitution.

Our founding fathers too shared the same belief and sought individual liberty for every citizen of India.

There were many who doubted India when, as a newly independent nation, we reposed our faith in democracy.

Indeed, wagers were made on our failure.

But, the people of India did not waver.

Our founders created a modern nation with freedom, democracy, and equality as the essence of its soul.

And, in doing so, they ensured that we continued to celebrate our age old diversity.

Today, across its streets and institutions, in its villages and cities, anchored in equal respect for all faiths; and in the melody of hundreds of its languages and dialects.

India lives as one; India grows as one; India celebrates as one.

Mr. Speaker,

Modern India is in its 70th year.

For my government, the Constitution is its real holy book.

And, in that holy book, freedom of faith, speech and franchise, and equality of all citizens, regardless of background, are enshrined as fundamental rights.

800 million of my countrymen may exercise the freedom of franchise once every five years.

But, all the 1.25 billion of our citizens have freedom from fear, a freedom they exercise every moment of their lives.

Distinguished Members,

Engagement between our democracies has been visible in the manner in which our thinkers impacted one another, and shaped the course of our societies.

Thoreau’s idea of civil disobedience influenced our political thoughts.

And, similarly the call by the great sage of India Swami Vivekananda to embrace humanity was most famously delivered in Chicago.

Gandhi’s non-violence inspired the heroism of Martin Luther King.

Today, a mere distance of 3 miles separates the Martin Luther King memorial at Tidal Basin from the statue of Gandhi at Massachusetts Avenue.

This proximity of their memorials in Washington mirrors the closeness of ideals and values they believed in.

The genius of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar was nurtured in the years he spent at the Columbia University a century ago.

The impact of the U.S. constitution on him was reflected in his drafting of the Indian constitution some three decades later.

Our independence was ignited by the same idealism that fuelled your struggle for freedom.

No wonder then that former Prime Minister of India Atal Bihari Vajpayee called India and the U.S. ‘natural allies’.

No wonder that the shared ideals and common philosophy of freedom shaped the bedrock of our ties.

No wonder then, that President Obama has called our ties the defining partnership of the 21st century.

Mr. Speaker,

More than fifteen years ago, Prime Minister of India, Atal Bihari Vajpayee stood here and gave a call to step out of the ‘shadow of hesitation’ of the past.

The pages of our friendship since then tell a remarkable story.

Today, our relationship has overcome the hesitations of history.

Comfort, candour and convergence define our conversations.

Through the cycle of elections and transitions of Administrations the intensity of our engagements has only grown.

And, in this exciting journey, the U.S. Congress has acted as its compass.

You helped us turn barriers into bridges of partnership.

In the fall of 2008, when the Congress passed the India-U.S. Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement, it changed the very colours of leaves of our relationship.

We thank you for being there when the partnership needed you the most.

You have also stood by us in times of sorrow.

India will never forget the solidarity shown by the U.S. Congress when terrorists from across our border attacked Mumbai in November of 2008.

And for this, we are grateful.

Mr. Speaker,

I am informed that the working of the U.S. Congress is harmonious.

I am also told that you are well-known for your bipartisanship.

Well, you are not alone.

Time and again, I have also witnessed a similar spirit in the Indian Parliament, especially in our Upper House.

So, as you can see, we have many shared practices.

Mr. Speaker,

As this country knows well, every journey has its pioneers.

Very early on, they shaped a development partnership even when the meeting ground was more limited.

The genius of Norman Borlaug brought the Green Revolution and food security to India.

The excellence of the American Universities nurtured Institutes of Technology and Management in India.

And, I could go on.

Fast forward to today.

The embrace of our partnership extends to the entirety of human endeavour-from the depths of the oceans to the vastness of the space.

Our S&T collaboration continues to helps us in cracking the age-old problems in the fields of public health, education, food, and agriculture.

Ties of commerce and investment are flourishing. We trade more with the U.S. than with any other nation.

And, the flow of goods, services and capital between us generates jobs in both our societies. As in trade, so in defence. India exercises with the United States more than we do with any other partner. Defence purchases have moved from almost zero to ten billion dollars in less than a decade.

Our cooperation also secures our cities and citizens from terrorists, and protects our critical infrastructure from cyber threats.

Civil Nuclear Cooperation, as I told President Obama yesterday, is a reality.

Mr. Speaker,

Our people to people links are strong; and there is close cultural connect between our societies.

SIRI tells us that India’s ancient heritage of Yoga has over 30 million practitioners in the U.S..

It is estimated that more Americans bend for yoga than to throw a curve ball.

And, no Mr. Speaker, we have not yet claimed intellectual property right on Yoga.

Connecting our two nations is also a unique and dynamic bridge of three million Indian Americans.

Today, they are among your best CEOs; academics; astronauts; scientists; economists; doctors; even spelling bee champions.

They are your strength. They are also the pride of India. They symbolize the best of both our societies.

Mr. Speaker,

My understanding of your great country began long before I entered public office.

Long before assuming office, I travelled coast to coast, covering more than 25 States of America.

I realized then that the real strength of the U.S. was in the dreams of its people and the boldness of their ambitions.

Today, Mr. Speaker, a similar spirit animates India.

Our 800 million youth, especially, are particularly impatient.

India is undergoing a profound social and economic change.

A billion of its citizens are already politically empowered.

My dream is to economically empower them through many social and economic transformations.

And, do so by 2022, the seventy-fifth anniversary of India’s independence.

My to-do list is long and ambitious. But you will understand.

It includes:

• A vibrant rural economy with robust farm sector;
• A roof over each head and electricity to all households;
• To skill millions of our youth;
• Build 100 smart cities;
• Have a broad band for a billion, and connect our villages to the digital world;
• And create a twenty-first century rail, road and port infrastructure.
These are not just aspirations; they are goals to be reached in a finite time-frame.

And, to be achieved with a light carbon foot print, with greater emphasis on renewables.

Mr. Speaker,

In every sector of India’s forward march, I see the U.S. as an indispensable partner.

Many of you also believe that a stronger and prosperous India is in America’s strategic interest.

Let us work together to convert shared ideals into practical cooperation.

There can be no doubt that in advancing this relationship, both nations stand to gain in great measure.

As the U.S. businesses search for new areas of economic growth, markets for their goods, a pool of skilled resources, and global locations to produce and manufacture, India could be their ideal partner.

India’s strong economy, and growth rate of 7.6% per annum, is creating new opportunities for our mutual prosperity.

Transformative American technologies in India and growing investment by Indian companies in the United States both have a positive impact on the lives of our citizens.

Today, for their global research and development centres, India is the destination of choice for the U.S. companies.

Looking eastward from India, across the Pacific, the innovation strength of our two countries

comes together in California.

Here, the innovative genius of America and India’s intellectual creativity are working to shape new industries of the future.

Mr. Speaker,

The 21st century has brought with it great opportunities.

But, it also comes with its own set of challenges.

Inter-dependence is increasing.

But, while some parts of the world are islands of growing economic prosperity; other are mired in conflicts.

In Asia, the absence of an agreed security architecture creates uncertainty.

Threats of terror are expanding, and new challenges are emerging in cyber and outer-space.

And, global institutions conceived in 20th century, seem unable to cope with new challenges or take on new responsibilities.

In this world full of multiple transitions and economic opportunities; growing uncertainties and political complexities; existing threats and new challenges; our engagement can make a difference by promoting:

• Cooperation not dominance;
• Connectivity not isolation;
• Respect for Global Commons;
• inclusive not exclusive mechanisms; and above all
• adherence to international rules and norms.

India is already assuming her responsibilities in securing the Indian Ocean region.

A strong India-U.S. partnership can anchor peace, prosperity and stability from Asia to Africa and from Indian Ocean to the Pacific.

It can also help ensure security of the sea lanes of commerce and freedom of navigation on seas.

But, the effectiveness of our cooperation would increase if international institutions framed with the mindset of the 20th century were to reflect the realities of today.

Mr. Speaker,

Before arriving in Washington D.C., I had visited Herat in Western Afghanistan to inaugurate Afghan-India Friendship Dam, a 42 MW hydro-electric project built with Indian assistance. I was also there on the Christmas day last year to dedicate to that proud nation its Parliament, a testimony to our democratic ties.

Afghans naturally recognize that the sacrifices of American have helped create a better life.

But, your contribution in keeping the region safe and secure is deeply appreciated even beyond.

India too has made an enormous contribution and sacrifices to support our friendship with Afghan people.

A commitment to rebuild a peaceful, and stable and prosperous Afghanistan our shared objective.

Yet, Distinguished Members, not just in Afghanistan, but elsewhere in South Asia, and globally, terrorism remains the biggest threat.

In the territory stretching from West of India’s border to Africa, it may go by different names, from Laskhar-e-Taiba, to Taliban to ISIS.

But, it’s philosophy is common: of hate, murder and violence.

Although it’s shadow is spreading across the world, it is incubated in India’s neighbourhood.

I commend the members of the U.S. Congress for sending a clear message to those who preach and practice terrorism for political gains.

Refusing to reward them is the first step towards holding them accountable for their actions.

The fight against terrorism has to be fought at many levels.

And, the traditional tools of military, intelligence or diplomacy alone would not be able to win this fight.

Mr. Speaker,

We have both lost civilians and soldiers in combating it.

The need of the hour is for us to deepen our security cooperation.

And, base it on a policy:

• that isolates those who harbour, support and sponsor terrorists;
• that does not distinguish between “good” and “bad” terrorists; and that delinks religion from terrorism.
Also, for us to succeed, those who believe in humanity must come together to fight for it as one, and speak against this menace in one voice.

Terrorism must be delegitimized.

Mr. Speaker,

The benefits of our partnership extend not just to the nations and regions that need it most.

On our own, and by combining our capacities, we are also responding to other global challenges including when disaster strikes and where humanitarian relief is needed.

Far from our shores, we evacuated thousands from Yemen, Indians, Americans and others.

Nearer home, we were the first responders during Nepal’s earthquake, in the Maldives water crisis and most recently during landslide in Sri Lanka.

We are also one of the largest contributors of troops to UN Peace Keeping Operations.

Often, India and the U.S. have combined their strengths in science, technology and innovation to help fight hunger, poverty, diseases and illiteracy in different parts of the world.

The success of our partnership is also opening up new opportunities for learning, security and development from Asia to Africa.

And, the protection of environment and caring for the planet is central to our shared vision of a just world.

For us in India, to live in harmony with mother earth is part of our ancient belief.

And, to take from nature only what is most essential is part of our civilizational ethos.

Our partnership, therefore, aims to balance responsibilities with capabilities.

And, it also focuses on new ways to increase the availability and use of renewable energy.

A strong U.S. support for our initiative to form an International Solar Alliance is one such effort.

We are working together not just for a better future for ourselves, but for the whole world.

This has also been the goal of our efforts in G-20, East Asia Summit and Climate Change summits.

Mr. Speaker and Distinguished Members

As we deepen our partnership, there would be times when we would have differing perspectives.

But, since our interests and concerns converge, the autonomy in decision making and diversity in our perspectives can only add value to our partnership.

So, as we embark on a new journey, and seek new goals, let us focus not just on matters routine but transformational ideas.

Ideas which can focus:

• Not just on creating wealth but also creating value for our societies;
• Not just on immediate gains but also long term benefits;
• Not just on sharing best practices but also shaping partnerships; and
• Not just on building a bright future for our peoples, but in being a bridge to a more united, humane and prosperous world.
And, important for the success of this journey would be a need to view it with new eyes and new sensitivities.

When we do this, we will realise the full promise of this extraordinary relationship.

Mr. Speaker,

My final thoughts and words would reiterate that our relationship is primed for a momentous future.

The constraints of the past are behind us and foundations of the future are firmly in place.

In the lines of Walt Whitman,

“The Orchestra have sufficiently tuned their instruments, the baton has given the signal.”

And to that, if I might add, there is a new symphony in play.

Thank you Mr. Speaker and Distinguished members for this honour.

Thank you very much.

Posted on

India-US Joint Statement during the visit of Prime Minister to USA

1. The Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi and the President of the United States of America Barack Obama met today in the White House during an official working visit of Prime Minister Modi to the United States. Marking their third major bilateral summit, the leaders reviewed the deepening strategic partnership between the United States and India that is rooted in shared values of freedom, democracy, universal human rights, tolerance and pluralism, equal opportunities for all citizens, and rule of law. They pledged to pursue new opportunities to bolster economic growth and sustainable development, promote peace and security at home and around the world, strengthen inclusive, democratic governance and respect for universal human rights, and provide global leadership on issues of shared interest.

2. The leaders welcomed the significant progress made in bilateral relations between India and the United States during their tenure, in accordance with the roadmaps set out in the Joint Statements issued during Prime Minister Modi’s visit to the United States in September 2014 and President Obama’s visit to India in January 2015. The leaders affirmed the increasing convergence in their strategic perspectives and emphasized the need to remain closely invested in each other’s security and prosperity.

Advancing U.S.-India Global Leadership on Climate and Clean Energy

3. The steps that the two Governments have taken in the last two years through the U.S.-India Contact Group, including by addressing the nuclear liability issue, inter alia, through India’s ratification of the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage, have laid a strong foundation for a long-term partnership between U.S. and Indian companies for building nuclear power plants in India. Culminating a decade of partnership on civil nuclear issues, the leaders welcomed the start of preparatory work on site in India for six AP 1000 reactors to be built by Westinghouse and noted the intention of India and the U.S. Export-Import Bank to work together toward a competitive financing package for the project. Once completed, the project would be among the largest of its kind, fulfilling the promise of the U.S.-India civil nuclear agreement and demonstrating a shared commitment to meet India’s growing energy needs while reducing reliance on fossil fuels. Both sides welcomed the announcement by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd, and Westinghouse that engineering and site design work will begin immediately and the two sides will work toward finalizing the contractual arrangements by June 2017.

4. The United States and India share common climate and clean energy interests and are close partners in the fight against climate change. Leadership from both countries helped galvanize global action to combat climate change and culminated in the historic Paris Agreement reached last December. Both countries are committed to working together and with others to promote full implementation of the Paris Agreement to address the urgent threats posed by climate change. India and the United States recognize the urgency of climate change and share the goal of enabling entry into force of the Paris Agreement as early as possible. The United States reaffirms its commitment to join the Agreement as soon as possible this year. India similarly has begun its processes to work toward this shared objective. The leaders reiterated their commitment to pursue low greenhouse gas emission development strategies in the pre-2020 period and to develop long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies. In addition, the two countries resolved to work to adopt an HFC amendment in 2016 with increased financial support from donor countries to the Multilateral Fund to help developing countries with implementation, and an ambitious phasedown schedule, under the Montreal Protocol pursuant to the Dubai Pathway. The leaders resolved to work together at the upcoming International Civil Aviation Organization Assembly to reach a successful outcome to address greenhouse gas emissions from international aviation. Further, the two countries will pursue under the leadership of the G20 strong outcomes to promote improved heavy-duty vehicle standards and efficiency in accordance with their national priorities and capabilities.

5. The leaders welcomed the signing of an MOU to Enhance Cooperation on Energy Security, Clean Energy and Climate Change, and an MOU on Cooperation in Gas Hydrates.

6. Reflecting Prime Minister Modi’s call to embrace wildlife conservation as a development imperative, the leaders welcomed the signing of an MOU to enhance cooperation on Wildlife Conservation and Combating Wildlife Trafficking.

Clean Energy Finance

7. The United States supports the Government of India’s ambitious national goals to install 175 GW of renewable power which includes 100 GW from solar power.

8. The United States welcomes the launch of the International Solar Alliance (ISA), recognizes the critical role it can play in the development and deployment of solar power, and intends pursuing membership in the ISA. To this end, and to strengthen ISA together, the United States and India will jointly launch the third Initiative of the ISA which will focus on off-grid solar for energy access at the Founding Conference of ISA in September, 2016 in India. The United States also remains committed, with other developed countries, to the goal of jointly mobilizing $100 billion per year by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries in the context of meaningful mitigation and adaptation action.

9. The United States is committed to bring to bear its technical capacity, resources and private sector, and is jointly launching with India new efforts, to spur greater investment in India’s renewable energy sector, including efforts that can serve as a model for other ISA Member Countries. In particular, the United States and India today are announcing: the creation of a $20 million U.S. – India Clean Energy Finance (USICEF) initiative, equally supported by the United States and India, which is expected to mobilize up to $400 million to provide clean and renewable electricity to up to 1 million households by 2020; a commitment to establish the U.S.-India Clean Energy Hub as the coordinating mechanism to focus United States Government efforts that, in partnership with leading Indian financial institutions, will increase renewable energy investment in India; a $40 million U.S.-India Catalytic Solar Finance Program, equally supported by the United States and India, that, by providing needed liquidity to smaller-scale renewable energy investments, particularly in poorer, rural villages that are not connected to the grid, could mobilize up to $1 billion of projects; the expansion of handholding support to Indian utilities that are scaling up rooftop solar and continuation of successful cooperation with USAID on “Greening the Grid”.

10. The United States and India also remain committed to the goals of Mission Innovation, which they jointly launched during COP-21 in Paris to double their respective clean energy research and development (R&D) investment in five years. Toward this end, the two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to cooperate on research and development, including through the announcement of an upcoming $30 million public-private research effort in smart grid and grid storage.

Strengthening Global Nonproliferation

11. The President thanked the Prime Minister for his substantive contribution to and active participation in 2016 Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D.C., and welcomed his offer to host a Summit on Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Terrorism in 2018. The United States and India will work together to combat the threat of terrorists accessing and using chemical, biological, nuclear and radiological materials.

12. Recalling their shared commitment to preventing proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, the leaders looked forward to India’s imminent entry into the Missile Technology Control Regime. President Obama welcomed India’s application to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), and re-affirmed that India is ready for membership. The United States called on NSG Participating Governments to support India’s application when it comes up at the NSG Plenary later this month. The United States also re-affirmed its support for India’s early membership of the Australia Group and Wassenaar Arrangement.

Securing the Domains: Land, Maritime, Air, Space, and Cyber

13. The leaders applauded the completion of a roadmap for cooperation under the 2015 U.S.-India Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region, which will serve as a guide for collaboration in the years to come. They resolved that the United States and India should look to each other as priority partners in the Asia Pacific and the Indian Ocean region.

14. They welcomed the inaugural meeting of the Maritime Security Dialogue. Owing to mutual interest in maritime security and maritime domain awareness, the leaders welcomed the conclusion of a technical arrangement for sharing of maritime “White Shipping” information.

15. The leaders affirmed their support for U.S.-India cooperation in promoting maritime security. They reiterated the importance they attach to ensuring freedom of navigation and overflight and exploitation of resources as per international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and settlement of territorial disputes by peaceful means.

16. The leaders applauded the enhanced military to military cooperation between the two countries especially in joint exercises, training and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HA/DR). They expressed their desire to explore agreements which would facilitate further expansion of bilateral defense cooperation in practical ways. In this regard, they welcomed the finalization of the text of the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA).

17. Noting that the U.S.-India defense relationship can be an anchor of stability, and given the increasingly strengthened cooperation in defense, the United States hereby recognizes India as a Major Defense Partner. As such:

o The United States will continue to work toward facilitating technology sharing with India to a level commensurate with that of its closest allies and partners. The leaders reached an understanding under which India would receive license-free access to a wide range of dual-use technologies in conjunction with steps that India has committed to take to advance its export control objectives.

o In support of India’s Make In India initiative, and to support the development of robust defense industries and their integration into the global supply chain, the United States will continue to facilitate the export of goods and technologies, consistent with U.S. law, for projects, programs and joint ventures in support of official U.S.-India defense cooperation.

18. The leaders also committed to enhance cooperation in support of the Government of India’s Make in India Initiative and expand the co-production and co-development of technologies under the Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI). They welcomed the establishment of new DTTI working groups to include agreed items covering Naval Systems, Air Systems, and other Weapons Systems. The leaders announced the finalization of the text of an Information Exchange Annex under the Joint Working Group on Aircraft Carrier Technology Cooperation.

19. President Obama thanked Prime Minister Modi for his government’s support for the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) missions in India, including a recovery mission that resulted in the recent repatriation of remains of the United States Service Members missing since the Second World War. The leaders announced their commitment to future DPAA‎ missions.

20. As space faring nations, India and the United States acknowledge that outer space should be an ever expanding frontier of human endeavour, and look forward to deepening their cooperation on earth observation, Mars exploration, space education and manned space flight. The leaders welcomed the progress toward establishment of an ISRO-NASA Heliophysics Working Group as well as toward finalization of a Memorandum of Understanding for exchange of earth observation satellite data.

21. The leaders emphasized that cyberspace enables economic growth and development, and reaffirmed their commitment to an open, interoperable, secure, and reliable Internet, underpinned by the multistakeholder model of Internet governance. They committed to deepen cooperation on cybersecurity and welcomed the understanding reached to finalize the Framework for the U.S.-India Cyber Relationship in the near term. They committed to enhance cyber collaboration on critical infrastructure, cybercrime, and malicious cyber activity by state and non-state actors, capacity building, and cybersecurity research and development, and to continue discussions on all aspects of trade in technology and related services, including market access. They have committed to continue dialogue and engagement in Internet governance fora, including in ICANN, IGF and other venues, and to support active participation by all stakeholders of the two countries in these fora. The leaders committed to promote stability in cyberspace based on the applicability of international law including the United Nations Charter, the promotion of voluntary norms of responsible state behavior during peacetime, and the development and implementation of practical confidence building measures between states.

22. In this context, they affirmed their commitment to the voluntary norms that no country should conduct or knowingly support online activity that intentionally damages critical infrastructure or otherwise impairs the use of it to provide services to the public; that no country should conduct or knowingly support activity intended to prevent national computer security incident response teams from responding to cyber incidents, or use its own teams to enable online activity that is intended to do harm; that every country should cooperate, consistent with its domestic law and international obligations, with requests for assistance from other states in mitigating malicious cyber activity emanating from its territory; and that no country should conduct or knowingly support ICT-enabled theft of intellectual property, including trade secrets or other confidential business information, with the intent of providing competitive advantages to its companies or commercial sectors.

Standing Together Against Terrorism and Violent Extremism

23. The leaders acknowledged the continued threat posed to human civilization by terrorism and condemn the recent terrorist incidents from Paris to Pathankot, from Brussels to Kabul. They resolved to redouble their efforts, bilaterally and with other like-minded countries, to bring to justice the perpetrators of terrorism anywhere in the world and the infrastructure that supports them.

24. Building on the January 2015 U.S.-India Joint Statement commitment to make the U.S.-India partnership a defining counterterrorism relationship for the 21st Century, as well as the September 2015 U.S.-India Joint Declaration on Combatting Terrorism, the leaders announced further steps to deepen collaboration against the full spectrum of terrorist threats.

25. The leaders committed to strengthen cooperation against terrorist threats from extremist groups, such as Al-Qa’ida, Da’esh/ISIL, Jaish-e Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, D Company and their affiliates, including through deepened collaboration on UN terrorist designations. In this context, they directed their officials to identify specific new areas of collaboration at the next meeting of U.S.–India Counterterrorism Joint Working Group.

26. Recognizing an important milestone in the U.S.-India counterterrorism partnership, the leaders applauded the finalization of an arrangement to facilitate the sharing of terrorist screening information. They also called for Pakistan to bring the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai and 2016 Pathankot terrorist attacks to justice.

27. The leaders affirmed their support for a UN Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism that advances and strengthens the framework for global cooperation and reinforces that no cause or grievance justifies terrorism.

Bolstering Economic and Trade Ties

28. The leaders highlighted the strong and expanding economic relationship between the United States and India and committed to support sustainable, inclusive, and robust economic growth, and common efforts to stimulate consumer demand, job creation, skill development and innovation in their respective countries.

29. In order to substantially increase bilateral trade, they pledged to explore new opportunities to break down barriers to the movement of goods and services, and support deeper integration into global supply chains, thereby creating jobs and generating prosperity in both economies. They look forward to the second annual Strategic and Commercial Dialogue in India later this year to identify concrete steps in this regard. They also commended the increased engagement on trade and investment issues under the Trade Policy Forum (TPF) and encouraged substantive results for the next TPF later this year. They welcomed the engagement of U.S. private sector companies in India’s Smart City program.

30. The leaders applauded the strong bonds of friendship between the 1.5 billion peoples of India and the United States that have provided a solid foundation for a flourishing bilateral partnership, noting that two-way travel for tourism, business, and education has seen unprecedented growth, including more than one million travelers from India to the United States in 2015, and similar number from the United States to India.The leaders resolved to facilitate greater movement of professionals, investors and business travelers, students, and exchange visitors between their countries to enhance people-to-people contact as well as their economic and technological partnership. To this end, they welcomed the signing of an MOU for Development of an International Expedited Traveler Initiative (also known as the Global Entry Program) and resolved to complete within the next three months the procedures for India’s entry into the Global Entry Program.

31. The leaders recognized the fruitful exchanges in August 2015 and June 2016 on the elements required in both countries to pursue a U.S.-India Totalization Agreement and resolved to continue discussions later this year.

32. Recognizing the importance of fostering an enabling environment for innovation and empowering entrepreneurs, the United States welcomes India’s hosting of the 2017 Global Entrepreneurship Summit.

33. The leaders welcomed the enhanced engagement on intellectual property rights under the High Level Working Group on Intellectual Property and reaffirmed their commitment to use this dialogue to continue to make concrete progress on IPR issues by working to enhance bilateral cooperation among the drivers of innovation and creativity in both countries.

34. The United States welcomes India’s interest in joining the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, as India is a dynamic part of the Asian economy.

Expanding Cooperation: Science & Technology and Health

35. The leaders affirmed their nations’ mutual support in exploring the most fundamental principles of science as embodied in the arrangement reached to cooperate on building a Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) in India in the near future and welcomed the formation of the India-U.S. Joint Oversight Group to facilitate agency coordination of funding and oversight of the project.

36. The leaders look forward to India’s participation at the September 2016 Our Ocean Conference in Washington, D.C. as well as holding of the first India-U.S. Oceans Dialogue later this year, to strengthen cooperation in marine science, ocean energy, managing and protecting ocean biodiversity, marine pollution, and sustainable use of ocean resources.

37. The leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the Global Health Security Agenda and the timely implementation of its objectives. The Prime Minister noted India’s role on the Steering Group and its leadership in the areas of anti-microbial resistance and immunization. The President noted the United States’ commitment to support, undergo, and share a Joint External Evaluation in collaboration with the World Health Organization.

38. The leaders recognized the global threat posed by multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) and committed to continue collaboration in the area of tuberculosis and to share respective best practices.

39. The leaders noted the growing threat of non-communicable diseases and the urgent need to address the risk factors by, inter alia, promoting healthy lifestyles, controlling sugar and salt intake, promoting physical activity especially among children and youth and strengthening efforts to curb tobacco use. The leaders also reiterated the importance of holistic approaches to health and wellness, and of promoting the potential benefits of holistic approaches by synergizing modern and traditional systems of medicine, including Yoga.

40. The leaders strongly endorsed expansion of the Indo-U.S. Vaccine Action Program, which is fostering public-private research partnerships focused on the development and evaluation of vaccines to prevent tuberculosis, dengue, chikungunya and other globally important infectious diseases.

Global Leadership

41. The leaders reaffirmed their resolve to continue working together as well as with the wider international community to augment the capacity of the United Nations to more effectively address the global development and security challenges. With the historic adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in September 2015, and recognizing its universality, the leaders reaffirmed their commitment to implement this ambitious agenda domestically and internationally and work in a collaborative partnership for the effective achievement of Sustainable Development Goals.

42. The leaders reaffirmed their support for a reformed UN Security Council with India as a permanent member. Both sides committed to ensuring that the Security Council continues to play an effective role in maintaining international peace and security as envisioned in the UN Charter. The leaders are committed to continued engagement on Security Council reform in the UN Intergovernmental Negotiations (IGN) on Security Council Reform.

43. The leaders welcomed the successful convening of the Leaders’ Summit on UN Peacekeeping and committed to deepening engagement on UN peacekeeping capacity-building efforts in third countries, through co-organizing the first UN Peacekeeping Course for African Partners in New Delhi later this year for participants from ten countries in Africa. The leaders also reiterated their support for ongoing reform efforts to strengthen UN peacekeeping operations.

44. Building on their respective bilateral engagements with Africa, such as the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit and India-Africa Forum Summit, the leaders reflected that the United States and India share a common interest in working with partners in Africa to promote prosperity and security across the continent. The leaders welcomed trilateral cooperation with African partners, including in areas such as agriculture, health, energy, women’s empowerment and sanitation under the Statement of Guiding Principles on Triangular Cooperation for Global Development. They looked forward to opportunities to deepen the U.S. – India global develop pment cooperation in Africa, as well as in Asia and beyond.

Building People-to-People Ties

45. Both sides committed to open additional consulates in each other’s country. India will be opening a new consulate in Seattle and the United States will open a new consulate at a mutually agreed location in India.

46. The leaders announced that the United States and India will be Travel and Tourism Partner Countries for 2017, and committed to facilitate visas for each other’s nationals.

47. Reflecting on the strong educational and cultural bonds between the two countries, the leaders welcomed the growing number of Indian students studying in the United States, which increased by 29 percent to nearly 133,000 students in 2014-2015, and looked forward to increased opportunities for American students to study in India. The leaders also appreciated their governments’ joint efforts through the Fulbright-Kalam Climate Fellowship to develop a cohort of climate scientists to confront the shared challenge of global climate change.

48. Recognizing its mutual goal of strengthening greater people-to-people ties, the leaders intend to renew efforts to intensify dialogue to address issues affecting the citizens of both countries that arise due to differences in the approaches of legal systems, including issues relating to cross-country marriage, divorce and child custody.

49. Prime Minister Modi welcomed the United States’ repatriation of antiquities to India. The leaders also committed to redouble their efforts to combat the theft and trafficking of cultural objects.

50. Prime Minister Modi thanked President Obama for his gracious invitation and warmth of hospitality. He extended an invitation for President Obama to visit India at his convenience.

Posted on

Swachh Yug : Gram Panchayats along the Ganga to be made Open Defecation Free

ganges-river-view-1-rishikeshThe Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, in partnership with Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, and Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, is intensifying support to the five States of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal, to make all villages along the banks of the Ganga Open Defecation Free (ODF). There are 5,169 villages along the river Ganga that fall under 1,651 Gram Panchayats (GPs), 52 districts, and 5 States.

The campaign, being a collaborative effort between the Swachh Bharat Mission, local youth leaders (युवा) and the Namami Gange project (गंगा) – is being called ‘Swachh यु, which translates into ‘the age of Swachh’.

The Ministry of Youth Affairs, under the coordination of the Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan, is enlisting the support of youth agencies such as the Bharat Scouts and Guides, Nehru Yuva Kendras and National Service Scheme. These organizations will be called upon to provide a large number of local youth volunteers to support a behaviour change campaign in the 52 districts under the Swachh Bharat Mission.

To take this initiative forward, a nodal officer has been identified for each district to work on making their district Open Defecation Free (ODF) in mission mode, as well as to focus on ‘Swachhta’ at the village through proper Solid and Liquid Waste Management and maintaining general cleanliness. In addition to the monetary incentive offered by the government under the Swachh Bharat Mission, extensive interpersonal behaviour change communication training will be given to local trainers through a network of virtual classrooms across the 5 Ganga States.

The first Virtual Classroom will be launched tomorrow, June 7, 2014, with 12 districts of Bihar undertaking a 5 day training for 50 youth volunteers in each location, connected to the trainer virtually. The training will be a mixture of a classroom interactive component, as well as a field visit component. Youth volunteer organizations will assist in these districts through massive local youth involvement.

All relevant government departments would also be involved to contribute towards making this initiative a success. The local district administrations of the 5 States, through a series of video conferences, have been advised to mobilize local NGOs, associations, private sector organizations, faith-based organizations and developmental agencies to support this work.

The districts and States have been assured of full support from the Central government in these efforts. The State teams have, in turn, expressed their enthusiasm for and commitment towards the initiative.

Posted on

List of MOUs signed during the visit of Prime Minister to Qatar

S.No Qatari Side Indian Side Name of MOU/Agreement   Remarks
           
1 HE Sheikh Abdulla Bin Mohammed Bin Saud Al Thani, CEO Qatar Investment Authority Sh. Amar Sinha, Secretary (Economic Relations) Ministry of External Affairs MoU between National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF), Ministry of Finance, Government of India and Qatar Investment Authority (QIA)   The MoU aims at establishing framework for facilitating participation of Qatari institutional investors in Infrastructure projects in India under NIIF.
2 H.E. Khalaf Bin Ahamed Al Mannai, Under Secretary, Ministry of Finance Sh. Amar Sinha, Secretary (Economic Relations) Ministry of External Affairs Agreement on Cooperation and Mutual Assistance in Customs Matters between the Government of Republic of India and Government of the State of Qatar   This agreement promotes cooperation and mutual assistance between the two countries on matters pertaining to customs administration through exchange of information and intelligence.
3 H.E. Sheikh Ahamed Bin Eid Al Thani, Head of Qatar Finance Information Unit Sh. Amar Sinha, Secretary (Economic Relations)Ministry of External Affairs MoU between Financial Intelligence Unit – India (FIU-IND) and the Qatar Financial Information Unit (QFIU) concerning cooperation in the exchange of intelligence related to money laundering, terrorism-financing and related crimes   The MoU facilitates exchange of intelligence related to money laundering, terrorism-financing and related crimes and persons connected thereto.
4 H.E. Rabeea Mohammed Al Kaabi, Under Secretary, Ministry of Education and Higher Education Sh. Amar Sinha, Secretary (Economic Relations) Ministry of External Affairs MoU between the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, the Government of Republic of India and the National Qualifications Authority/Supreme Education Council, Government of the State of Qatar for Cooperation in Skill Development and Recognition of Qualifications   This MoU aims to enhance cooperation between the two countries on skill development and mutual recognition of qualifications to facilitate mobility of skilled workers from India to Qatar.
5 Mr. Hassan Bin Abdul Rahman Al Ibrahim, Head of Tourism Development and Acting Head of General Tourism Authority HE Mr. Sanjiv Arora, Ambassador of India to Qatar MoU on cooperation in Tourism between the Government of the Republic of India and Government of the State of Qatar.   The MoU aims at bilateral cooperation in the field of planning and developing of tourism, through marketing and promotion as also to support cooperation between private sector stakeholders.
6 H.E. Ahamed Bin Abdulla Al Khulaifi, Assistant of Minister of Health For Administrative Affairs Sh. Sanjiv Arora, Ambassador of India to Qatar MOU between India & Qatar for Cooperation in the field of Health the Government of the Republic of India and Government of the State of Qatar.   This MoU provides cooperation in areas of health, including interalia in occupational and environmental health, pharmaceuticals, medical education, exchange of the best practices in the field of primary healthcare, research in the field of health care, technology, health care system and exchange of medical experts and scientists.
7 Mr. Faleh Bin Mubrarak Al Hajri, Director, Department of Culture and Arts, Ministry of Culture and Sports Sh. Sanjiv Arora, Ambassador of India to Qatar The First Executive Programme for MoU in the field of Youth and Sports between the Government of Republic of India and Government of the State of Qatar   As a follow up to the existing MoU in the field of Youth and Sports, the first Executive Programme provides for exchanges and cooperation in sports activities, training camps for sports teams and exchange visits of leaders and officials etc between the two countries.

 

Posted on

India-Qatar Joint Statement during the visit of Prime Minister to Qatar

  1. At the invitation of His Highness Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar, Hon’ble Prime Minister of the Republic of India, Shri Narendra Modi paid a two-day official visit to the State of Qatar from 4-5 June, 2016.
  2. His Highness the Emir received Prime Minister Modi on 5 June at the Amiri Diwan and exchanged views on bilateral, regional and multilateral issues of common interest. The wide-ranging discussions were held in a cordial and friendly atmosphere.
  3. During the visit, Prime Minister Modi also met His Excellency Sheikh Abdullah Bin Nasser Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior of the State of Qatar.
  4. During the official meetings, the two sides recalled the historical ties between India and Qatar and noted that the mutually beneficial and traditionally close interaction, which has existed between the peoples of the two countries over several generations, had stood the test of time.
  5. The leaders of the two sides expressed satisfaction with the current state of bilateral relations underpinned by the regular exchange of high-level visits. They welcomed the conclusion of various agreements/ MOUs during the visit of Prime Minister Modi to Qatar. They acknowledged that these agreements and those already existing would strengthen the framework for the consolidation of friendship and cooperation between India and Qatar.
  6. Both leaders appreciated the well-functioning bilateral institutional mechanisms in the fields of trade and investment, energy, defence and manpower and emphasized that the sectoral Joint Working Groups should continue to meet regularly to further strengthen cooperation between the two countries. The two sides agreed to constitute an inter-ministerial High Level Joint Committee to regularly review all bilateral matters, as well as regional and global issues of mutual interest.
  7. Recognizing the existing goodwill, the two leaders agreed to further broaden and deepen bilateral engagement in diverse fields of mutual interest. They agreed to further enhance high-level political exchanges, defence and security cooperation, trade and economic relations and people-to-people linkages. They stressed upon the need for building a strong partnership for the 21st century between the two countries in keeping with their responsibility for promoting peace, stability and security in the region and the world.
  8. Acknowledging that the agreement on Defence Cooperation signed in November 2008 provided the required framework to strengthen bilateral defence ties, the two leaders agreed to provide further impetus to these relations, including through joint exercises and enhanced training of naval, air and land forces, as also in the area of coastal defence. The Qatari side evinced interest in the opportunities offered under the ‘Make in India’ initiative for joint production of defence equipment in India.
  9. The Indian side appreciated Qatar’s participation in the International Fleet Review and DEFEXPO in India in February and March 2016, respectively, and the increasing visits of Qatari delegations to India’s Naval and Coast Guard establishments. The Qatari side thanked India for its high-level participation, along with an indigenously designed and built guided missile frigate of the Indian Navy during DIMDEX in March 2016, and the regular goodwill visits of the ships of Indian Navy and Coast Guard. The Qatari side expressed appreciation for India’s offer to conduct special training programmes for the personnel of Qatar Armed Forces and Coast Guard in India and in Qatar.
  10. The two leaders agreed to enhance cooperation to strengthen maritime security in the Gulf and the Indian Ocean regions, vital for the security and prosperity of both countries.
  11. The two leaders expressed strong condemnation of the phenomenon of international terrorism, reiterating their firm resolve to cooperate together to root out this global menace which threatened all nations and societies. They noted that the spread of terrorist organisations at the global and regional level, and the significant rise in acts of terrorism directly undermined the international peace and security environment and endangered efforts to ensure sustainable growth and development.
  12. Both leaders condemned all acts of violence, terrorism and extremism, which cannot be justified under any circumstances, regardless of their motivation, in all their forms and manifestations. They reaffirmed that terrorism could not and should not be associated with any religion, civilisation or ethnic group.
  13. The two leaders highlighted the need to isolate the sponsors and supporters of terrorism and agreed that urgent action against all such entities, which support terrorism and use it as an instrument of policy, must be taken.
  14. Both sides noted that addressing the menace of global terrorism should be based on a comprehensive approach which should include, but not limited to, countering violent extremism, combating radicalisation and recruitment, disrupting terrorist movements, stopping all sources for financing of terrorism, stopping flow of Foreign Terrorist Fighters, dismantling terrorist infrastructure, and countering terrorist propaganda through the internet.
  15. The two sides discussed ways and means to further promote cooperation in cyber security, including prevention of use of cyber space for terrorism, radicalization and for disturbing social harmony. They welcomed exchanges and dialogue between religious scholars and intellectuals of both countries and the organization of conferences and seminars to promote values of peace, tolerance, inclusiveness and welfare, inherent in all religions.
  16. Expressing appreciation of their ongoing bilateral cooperation in the area of security, the two leaders agreed to enhance cooperation in counter-terrorism operations, intelligence-sharing, developing best practices and technologies, capacity-building and to strengthen cooperation in law enforcement, anti-money laundering, drug-trafficking and other transnational crimes. The two sides further agreed to take action against illegal transfer of money. Both leaders welcomed the signing of an MOU on cooperation in exchange of intelligence related to money laundering, related crimes and terrorism financing.
  17. Both leaders highlighted that countering terrorism required a strong collective action by the global community. They further agreed to strengthen their cooperation in combating terrorism within the relevant multilateral institutions.
  18. The two sides described bilateral trade ties as an abiding link between the two countries. Taking note of the excellent trade engagement, with the two countries being among the top trading partners for each other, both sides agreed upon the need to further strengthen these ties, particularly through diversifying the trade basket. They agreed to encourage regular participation in each other’s trade fairs and exhibitions and to facilitate trade promotion measures. The two sides expressed satisfaction at the growing presence of Indian and Qatari companies in each other’s market and agreed to further encourage such participation. To promote business to business and tourism linkages, they also agreed to put in place appropriate mechanism for expeditious grant of visas to businessmen and tourists of the two countries.
  19. The Qatari side welcomed the participation of Indian companies in the infrastructure development projects in Qatar in preparation for the FIFA 2022 World Cup and the development plans under “Vision 2030 for Qatar”.
  20. Prime Minister Modi highlighted the major initiatives taken by the Government of India for ‘Ease of Doing Business’ through simplification and rationalization of existing rules and relaxing of foreign direct investment caps in key areas, including interalia, railways, defence and insurance. Informing about the plans to create world class infrastructure in India through 100 smart cities; metro projects for 50 cities; modern waste management system for 500 cities; affordable healthcare within everyone’s reach; sanitation for all by 2019; and a roof over every head by 2022, Prime Minister Modi invited Qatar to be a partner in India’s growth story.
  21. Expressing his appreciation for Prime Minister Modi’s vision to further accelerate India’s growth and development, His Highness the Emir expressed his confidence in India’s growth narrative. Noting their strong potential to provide Indian economy a positive thrust for growth, His Highness the Emir lauded the new initiatives of Prime Minister Modi including, “Start Up India”, “Make in India”, “Smart City”, and “Clean India” etc.
  22. Recognizing the high growth rate and the existing potential of the Indian economy, the importance of partnering in India’s growth and acknowledging Qatar’s significant investment capacity, the two sides discussed various avenues/instruments for Qatari investments in India, particularly in different asset classes and various infrastructure sectors as well as the disinvestments of Indian Public Sector Undertakings.
  23. The two sides agreed to increase the level of participation in infrastructure projects in both countries. They further deliberated upon the importance of cooperation between Qatar Investment Authority and National Infrastructure and Investment Fund set up by the Government of India. The two leaders welcomed the signing of the framework agreement for participation of the Qatari institutional investors in the National Infrastructure and Investment Fund.
  24. The two sides agreed for regular and timely exchange of information on available investment opportunities. Both sides also recognized the need for arranging regular meetings between Qatar Investment Authority and relevant Indian authorities and public and private sector companies.
  25. The two sides expressed satisfaction at the growing bilateral trade in the energy sector, with Qatar being the largest supplier of LNG and LPG to India. The Indian side appreciated Qatar’s contribution to India’s energy security.
  26. The two sides agreed to focus on enhancing cooperation in energy, covering the areas of training and human resources development and cooperation in research and development and through promotion of joint ventures in petrochemical complexes and cooperation in joint exploration in India and other countries.
  27. The Indian side highlighted the interest of its energy companies to pursue opportunities of mutual interest in Qatar, with Qatar Petroleum and other companies, in order to jointly explore new fields as well development of discovered oil and gas assets and exploit the existing resources of natural gas and crude oil in Qatar.
  28. The Indian side invited Qatar to invest in India’s exploration & production sector by bidding for the exploration blocks in India under the new “Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing” Policy and “Discovered Small Fields” Policy.
  29. The Indian side invited Qatar to participate in the second phase of the strategic reserves storage facility being created in India.
  30. The two leaders deliberated upon the need for strengthening bilateral cooperation in the financial services sector, including banking, insurance and capital markets. They decided to expand cooperation between the financial institutions of the two countries like Securities and Exchange Board of India and the respective Central Banks.
  31. Recognising that India offers world class medical treatment facilities at competitive cost, the two sides agreed to work towards enhancing cooperation in the health sector, including in the areas of health services, exchange of health personnel, health education and pharmaceuticals. Both leaders welcomed the signing of anMoU on bilateral Cooperation in the Field of Health between the Government of the State of Qatar and the Government of the Republic of India.
  32. The Qatari side appreciated the initiative taken by Prime Minister Modi leading to the formation of International Solar Alliance. They acknowledged the importance of this Alliance in advancing new solar technologies worldwide.
  33. The two leaders emphasized that the overwhelming response to the International Day of Yoga was a reflection of the global community’s desire to come together to seek a balanced, healthier and sustainable future for the world. Prime Minister Modi thanked Qatar for its support to the First International Day of Yoga on 21 June 2015, including through the issue of commemorative stamps by the Qatar Post to mark the occasion.
  34. The two leaders noted the role cultural exchanges played in bringing the peoples of India and Qatar together. The two sides agreed to expand bilateral cultural and sports cooperation, including frequent exchange of cultural groups and sports teams, and by collaborating in the field of cinema. Prime Minister Modi expressed appreciation to the Qatar Museums for its decision to celebrate Qatar-India Year of Culture in 2019. Both leaders welcomed the signing of the Agreement of Cooperation and Mutual Assistance in Custom Matters; the MoU on Tourism Cooperation; and the First Executive Programme for the MoU in the field of Youth and Sports between the Government of the State of Qatar and the Government of the Republic of India.
  35. The two leaders noted that people-to-people contacts were at the heart of India-Qatar relations and both sides would continue to nurture these relations. HH the Emir appreciated the role and contribution of the Indian community for the development and progress of the State of Qatar. The Qatari side briefed the Indian side on the reform in labour laws which would protect the interest of skilled and unskilled labour in Qatar. Prime Minister Modi conveyed sincere thanks to the Qatari leadership for hosting the Indian community and for ensuring their continued welfare and safety. Both leaders welcomed the signing of the MoU for Cooperation in Skill Development and Recognition of Qualifications.
  36. The two leaders exchanged views on regional and international issues of mutual interest, including the security situation in West Asia, Middle East and South Asia. They also expressed grave concern regarding security situation in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen and reiterated the importance of peaceful resolution of these issues through dialogue and political negotiations.
  37. In the context of the UN reforms, both leaders emphasized the importance of an effective multilateral system, centred on a UN reflective of contemporary realities, as a key factor in tackling global challenges. They stressed upon the urgent need to pursue UN reforms, including of the Security Council through an expansion in both categories of its membership, to make it more representative, credible and effective.
  38. Prime Minister Modi expressed his sincere gratitude to His Highness the Emir for the warm welcome and gracious hospitality. He invited His Highness the Emir to pay an official visit to India at mutually convenient time, which was gladly accepted.

Posted on

Decoding Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India

Narendra Modi Full Hd Wallpaper - srahir.tumbr_.com (10)_0When NDA lost the elections to UPA in 2004, Atal Behari Vajpayee told the media that the loss may be due to their improper handling of the Gujarat riots. Then Narendra Modi was the Chief Minister of Gujarat. But then Narendra Modi was given the benefit of doubt. Communal riots used to happen in India almost regularly. So the citizens in general do not attribute all the damage to one person. Once the dust settles down, people forget things and move on. But for some strange reasons, the Gujarat communal violence was kept in the public view for a very long time. It’s not that other states in India didn’t have communal violence of similar scale but it was only Gujarat that the media and political parties decided to keep alive. Of course most Indians didn’t know what exactly happened in Gujarat but they accepted it as they did all throughout their history.

Now Modi wasn’t seen as a serious contender at the national stage. But the nation was looking for a strong leader. The lack of firepower in the UPA belly, unending corruption and shameless loyalty to a family wasn’t going well with the arising India. The Youth started to question and what they found in Congress was utter rubbish. I haven’t met a single fellow citizen of my country who was happy with the Congress rule. Raising inflation didn’t help the cause either.

On the other side there was RSS, one of the largest volunteer networks in the world. It’s no secret that Congress and RSS do not love each other. RSS on its part is largely a patriotic organization with a slight dislike for the appeasement policies of the Congress. And there is this huge Hindu Spiritual Movement in India with hundreds of organizations. The Congress, for various reasons chose to be silent on attacks on the Hindu religion and favoured many policies for the minorities. So much so that the patience of the many traditional Hindus was tested and they seriously looked for an alternative. And Narendra Modi was one leader who was acceptable to youth with his strong oratorical skills, charisma and a wonderful approach to development, businessmen cutting across sectors loved him for his bold decision making skills and the speed with which he did them, common man who suffered a lot under corruption and inflation found in Modi a new ray hope and of course the traditional Hindus were more than happy to accept Modi who promised them relief from all religious oppression. It’s amazing how one man was acceptable to a huge populace of India with their different inclinations.

Then came the elections, which the BJP approached so meticulously leaving no stone unturned. From what I heard, Narendra Modi himself supervised the name of each Candidate who contested the elections. Indian elections have been fought on caste grounds and Narendra Modi was too good a politician to overlook that sentiment. Tickets were mostly given to those candidates with a strong caste background and reasonably acceptable other skills. I can’t debate whether it’s the right thing to do from a democratic point of view but caste is a harsh reality in India. It’s rather sad on Indian Society than on Mr. Modi. You need not conclude that all BJP candidates were angels but they were the ones whom BJP thought stand the best chance to win and most of them did win. Narendra Modi’s relentless campaign will go down in the History as one of the most dynamic election campaigns that was ever attempted. For such a large geography as India, and to give an assurance to all the corners of the country that “Acche Din” will come under the BJP government, it was nothing but an herculean task and Mr. Modi did a remarkable job in that front. Probably post the JP Movement in 1970s, this was the first time India voted collectively hoping for a change, and Narendra Modi did win.

The fact that Narendra Modi is a democratically elected leader is a testimony in itself about his acceptance as a mass leader. But there are certain doubters who believe that he is fake. To them all that Narendra Modi does is fake.

Though it’s not necessary to give too much importance to such people, it’s always good to see if they have some truth in what they say. I had been to Gujarat myself and traveled quite a distance by both Bus and Train and got a ground picture of Gujarat. Gujarat is certainly no Singapore. But Narendra Modi has done appreciable work in his tenure. Improvement of infrastructure, new industries, supply of water and electricity to every corner of Gujarat and an improvement in the quality of government schools are some of his notable works in Gujarat. As such there is no strong reason to believe that he is fake. On the contrary there’s sufficient evidence to suggest that he is a man of action.

Ever since he has taken over as the Prime Minister of India, the nation has come together.. that is the first thing. There was this large gap between the Government and Indians.. Now that gap seems to have narrowed down. He is able to connect with everyone – Scientists, Saints, Businessmen, Children and sportsmen alike. He’s someone who seems to be deeply rooted in the Indian culture but with a modern outlook. Campaigns like Swacch Bharat and Make in India have been long due. It’s wonderful to see a Prime Minister who is able to take the country along with him. His own tune has changed for the better. He seems to have found a greater purpose and so do the Indians.