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PM Narendra Modi (M) with Chinese President Xi Jingping (R). (Source: AP/File)
The Seoul plenary of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) ended on June 24 without a “conclusive” decision on India’s membership bid. This has sparked partisan sniping in India, where the Congress party has accused the Modi government of showing “desperation” in its diplomacy. It has also spurred a flurry of commentary about the “failure” of India’s bid. Both statements are untrue, and miss the larger picture: India has made significant progress toward its quest for NSG membership, a long and complicated multilateral pursuit. This effort did not begin in June 2016, but has been underway for several years. India should keep pressing for a decision.
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Related Article Rahul Gandhi takes a dig at PM Modi, calls NSG bid a 'failed diplomacy' Congress targets Modi over failed NSG bid PM Modi opens a window, NSG doors still shut; 7 nations hold out at Seoul Seoul: India's NSG bid likely to be discussed at a special meeting David Cameron calls PM Modi, extends UK support for India's NSG bid India's NSG bid to be taken up in next plenary in Seoul
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For those who woke up to India’s interest in NSG membership only over the past month, it likely appears that the run-up to the June plenary — with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visits to Switzerland, the US, and Mexico — was a fast-and-furious diplomatic press with a disappointing outcome. A positive decision certainly would have been a welcome result, for New Delhi and for its supporters in Washington and in many other capitals around the world. But imagine the counterfactual: Had India sat back quietly, mentioning its NSG bid only in passing, the participating governments in the NSG would have concluded that New Delhi placed little priority on membership. I doubt that would have positioned India’s candidacy more favourably.
This leads to lesson number one. The 48 members of the NSG are seeing India’s clear interest in making the rules that organise the world, in consonance with its larger position in the global economy and rising global power. The fact that the prime minister made clear his search for support at the highest levels around the world shows leadership, not “desperation.”
India has interests in joining a number of other multilateral organisations in which it presently does not hold membership, from the UN Security Council to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum to others, and will need to keep up active diplomatic strategies across multiple levels to advance its candidacies. That each of these will not come to fruition exactly when India wants is no reason for New Delhi to either stop trying or downplay its diplomatic efforts.
On the question of the NSG, India’s membership bid has always been a complex and ideological affair. The organisation was originally formed as a result of India’s 1974 nuclear test, and over the years it has developed its own “Factors to be Considered” for membership. India’s stance as a non-signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty — for its own well-documented reasons — means that it will appear to a number of countries for which the NPT looms large as not meeting a basic threshold.
The US has stated publicly on numerous occasions that it views India, based on its record of responsible nuclear technology stewardship, its unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing, its export control laws, its safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency, and its publicly stated commitments to disarmament and nonproliferation, as ready for NSG membership. Essentially, Washington has argued that India’s responsible stance illustrates that India approaches advanced nuclear technology in the same way that the NSG members do. But some countries that have staked much of their international diplomacy on nonproliferation matters, like Ireland and New Zealand, may require further convincing still.
Which brings us to the matter of decision by consensus. A consensus-based organisation functions very differently from a majority or super-majority voting process. If the NSG used a majority vote process, India likely already would have been inducted as a member. However, it does not, and that means even one holdout can prevent a decision. As a US government official explained to me, at Seoul only a handful of countries continued to have process concerns. Notably, the NSG plenary public statement from Seoul does not speak of a negative decision on the question of how to induct non-NPT countries into the NSG. Rather, it “decided to continue the discussion.”
Lesson number two: Continuing the discussion is not a diplo [...]
Nationalism is not the issue. There is no point being a nation if you do not want nationalism.
In the very same week that politics was shredding history’s most ambitious League of Nations, football was embracing Europeans in the fold of sports, proving, once again, that competition does not have to escalate into conflict. Football is terribly noisy, and fans can become boorish, but there is never real rancour — nothing that cannot be washed away at the corner pub once the hurly-burly’s done. Disruptive (as distinct from constructive) politics, on the other hand, feasts on the fear of the unknown, the most dangerous territory in human psychology. Sports limits consequences; it is only a game without quite being only a game.
Nationalism is not the issue. There is no point being a nation if you do not want nationalism. The problem is the imbalance, which tips whole populations towards aggression in the name of some higher cause. The key to both existence and co-existence is not non-violence because violence is sometimes a practical necessity against killers; it is the balance.
An international competition is meaningless without national spirit. Each country has a character, which is over and above the psyche of an individual. A footballer changes when he shifts from club to country. The evidence is there on your television set; just watch closely. The French surge best from embattled positions. The Germans prefer surgery, calm, clinical, precise. They score a goal in quite the same way that they make a Mercedes. The English do not hit and run, for that would be uncharacteristic. They run and hit — and mostly, these days, miss. In European politics, they miss the point, on a European playing field they miss the goalposts. The Spanish have become a bit like their national anthem, all music and no words. Win or lose, the Irish never give up. The great puzzle, however, is Italy. They are playing measured, thoughtful and sometimes thought-provoking football as if the tempest in their arteries has been bottled in the container of discipline. I believe that they have placed their consuming flair and flamboyance in the safe custody of their coach, whose behaviour on the sidelines, consequently, is reassuringly bizarre. Italy wants to win.
Do I detect proof of Europe’s anger over Brexit in the pre-match support and post-match celebrations of Iceland’s victory over England? Ten per cent of Iceland’s population flew to France to watch the game, and an astonishing 98.8 per cent watched the game. Patriotism, or even exultation at Iceland’s progress, cannot quite explain this for even the most optimistic Viking could not have hoped for victory. Consider the facts: Iceland’s captain can only manage to find a place in the second division of the English league; their goalkeeper is a part-time filmmaker; and their coach, till very recently, was a dentist. But never underestimate the rage of the aggrieved in a one-sided divorce.
Now that the Brexit typhoon has made landfall, and wreckage is being counted, the law of unintended consequences is beginning to kick in. England has gained a nation, but, seven decades after it lost an empire, it has now abandoned a kingdom. Europe could, counter-intuitively, emerge stronger, for nothing is more restorative than a wake-up call. Its leaders must admit that they must cull the reach of Brussels and pack off the tailor who insists that one-size-fits-all. Here is a further suggestion. Europe’s biggest mistake is to ignore the vicious war that is going on at its geographical doorstep, literally a few miles from its easternmost Mediterranean island, across the Levant, Iraq and north Africa, perpetrated by theocrats living centuries behind reality. Europe may want to leave the war alone. The war will not leave Europe alone. Terrorists who strike cities from Istanbul to London and beyond are telling us that. The despairing and desperate refugees fleeing from this war are telling us that. Why do we refuse to listen? Wars are not won by long and bitter conferences about refugee camps. They are won by meeting the enemy on its preferred battlefield.
The things one learns from a football tournament: There are apparently four countries, and not just Spain, with anthems without words. Spain did have lyrics for 217 years until it discovered the virtues of democracy in 1978. Their anthem had too much of the ethos of ancient regimes. Since 1978 the Spanish have not been able to achieve consensus on any alternative set of verses. The fault lies not in poets, dear reader, but in the usual suspects. Perhaps by the Euro of 2116 the people of Spain will get a complete anthem. [...]
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Juan Martin Del Martin celebrates as he beats Stan Wawrinka in the the second round. (Source: Reuters)
Juan Martin Del Potro proved that multiple wrist surgeries had not robbed him off his flowing racket skills as he knocked out fourth seed Stan Wawrinka with a 3-6 6-3 7-6(2) 6-3 in the second round of Wimbledon on Friday.
The Argentine, making his first appearance at Wimbledon since reaching the semi-finals in 2013, held aloft his arms in triumph after condemning twice grand slam champion Wawrinka to his earliest defeat at the All England Club for three years.
Wawrinka broke once to take the first set but by the time the players swapped serves for four successive games at the start of the third set, the Swiss knew he was in for a torrid afternoon against the 2009 U.S. Open champion.
Playing under a closed Centre Court roof, Wawrinka whipped a backhand wide on match point to complete another miserable outing at the only major in which he has yet to reach at least a semi-final. [...]
Nirmala Sheoran has become a strong candidate for the 4X400m relay team too. (Source: PTI File)
Nirmala Sheoran qualified for Rio 2016 Olympics in the women’s 400 metres category with a timing of 51.48 seconds at the 56th National Inter State Senior Athletics Championship in Hyderabad.
The sprinter from Haryana has beaten the qualification mark of 52.20 seconds in the process on day 4 of the meet organised by the Telangana Athletics Association.
She joins Dutee Chand as the other athlete to qualify for the Olympics with the Odisha girl qualifying in the 100 metre category.
Her performance in the competition in Hyderabad also saw her finish at the top with Kerala’s Jisna Mathew coming in second (53.14 seconds) and Sowndharya P N coming in third (53.85). [...]
A protester wrapped in the European Union flag in London. (AP File Photo)
FOR Anyone who attended the fourth conference of the Trade Unions International of Workers in Agriculture, Food, Commerce, Textiles and Allied Industries in Paris from June 13 to 16, with delegates from 86 countries of the world, or participated in the million strong demonstration through the Paris streets on June 14, the Brexit vote was no surprise. In fact, what was surprising was it took so long to materialise.
Delegate after delegate highlighted how in different countries, inequalities of income were growing, assets of the people were being plundered by a handful of rich and the multinationals, inflation was eroding incomes while unemployment kept increasing. In this background, policy decisions were imposed on governments by financial institutions that have amassed huge reserves well above the total debt burden of developing countries. Yet they continued to squeeze the majority of their citizens, in the name of austerity measures, increasing workload, and hire and fire policies under the cover of creating flexibility in employment.
Every country in Europe has seen the dismantling of the post-war welfare state that evolved as a response to the Soviet bloc straddling nearly half of the continent. But it has taken a generation for the truth to dawn on the mass of Europeans. We have seen upsurges in Spain, Greece, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, Poland, Portugal and Italy. Countries like Iceland could survive the austerity noose as they were not a part of the European Union.
To some, the British rejection is inspired by events in that country. So Brexit was coming, but the British collusion in the wars of West Asia, Afghanistan and the Balkans under the flag of NATO delayed the process.
There are still two major aspects of the people’s consciousness to tackle. The first is immigration. The immigrants are mostly refugees from countries attacked and destroyed by the US and NATO: Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Somalia and Yemen, backed up by those from West and Central Africa. They were the targets of attack because of their wealth in terms of natural resources and for strategic reasons linked with the new Cold War with its imagined threat from Russia, China and North Korea that helped to bolster the arms trade. So the Brexit fear of immigrants from Eastern Europe is as much a myth as the war threat from the East is. But it creates confusion in minds suffering from the collapse of the welfare state services, stagnant wages and crushing unemployment.
It is from this angle then that we have to cope with confusion because it exacerbates the faultlines that exist in society as the Brexit has done in the case of Northern Ireland and Scotland, both of whom voted at sharp variance with England. The history of hundreds of years of oppression of the Irish people, who even succeeded in liberating a part of their country in the face of British obduracy, has now found a voice in the pro-EU vote they have cast. Scotland too, while it gave the Stuart Kings to Britain, never really integrated with the United Kingdom as it became the happy hunting ground of landlords, who drove out the peasants and found an outlet for them in the colonies.
Today what is far worse is the xenophobia that has afflicted individuals. The sense of losses going into trillions of dollars afflicting the predatory classes is also sought to be covered up by blaming immigrants and not the policies of the very people who followed the free market dispensation. Rather than becoming the targets of their own working class, they are looking for convenient scapegoats. They will not only create tensions between themselves over rising and falling currencies and their effect on the imports and exports, but they will divert the anger of the people from themselves to relatively helpless immigrant communities as Hitler did with the Jews. Worse, weaker economies will look for plunder in fresh pastures to make up for their losses, actual or imagined. What they need is empty threats and xenophobia rather than any real basis for conflict. In such conditions, destructive conflicts have been unleashed by the NATO and its allies, but they are getting too close to Russia for comfort.
The only way to counter this is by uniting the working people as the French unions are doing and to extend the struggles against unemployment, for food security, keeping prices of food and education down, as well as respect for the sovereignty of all national and international boundaries on the basis of mutual trust, freedom of movement and respect for democratic rights and principles of all concerned. [...]
The latest financial stability report, a bi-annual publication by the Reserve Bank of India, has painted a grim picture about the state of India’s banking sector. The risks to the sector have increased since the last FSR in December. The level of gross non-performing advances (or GNPAs) has risen sharply from 5.1 per cent in September 2015 to 7.6 per cent in March 2016. This follows the asset quality review pushed by the RBI, which involves re-classification of restructured advances to NPAs. The bad news doesn’t stop there. According to the FSR, even at baseline assumptions, the GNPAs are likely to rise to 8.5 per cent by March 2017. But if the macroeconomic situation worsens — for instance, if growth falters — the GNPAs could swell to 9.3 per cent by March, to double the level of GNPAs since September last.
There is some good news though. Studies show that the corporate sector is slightly better off since the last FSR. In the study sample, the proportion of “leveraged” companies declined sharply from 19 per cent in March 2015 to 14 per cent in March 2016. The proportion of “highly leveraged” companies also declined from 14.2 per cent to 12.9 per cent over the same period. In terms of the ability to service debt, too, companies were better off. The proportion of companies classified as “weak” fell from 17.8 per cent in March 2015 to 15 per cent in March this year. The overall assessment then is: “India’s financial system remains stable, even though the banking sector is facing significant challenges.”
Even as companies and businesses de-leverage, it is the banking sector, especially public sector banks, which account for 70 per cent of the overall banking in the country, that needs more attention from the government. There are two broad things that the government must do. One, it needs to propel growth by raising capital expenditure because the private sector is still too weak to take the lead in investments. When the Seventh Pay Commission payouts start taking their toll, the government will have to choose its battles in terms of spending money. Additionally, the government must focus on removing any administrative and policy hurdles that have led to stalled projects and, in turn, to GNPAs. The second thing the government must do is to take targeted measures to ensure that PSU banks do not get mired in such a mess in the future. For this, the NDA government must push for structural reforms in the governance of bank boards, and try and act on the P.J. Nayak committee’s recommendation of a radical surgery. [...]
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In the letter issued by the Law Ministry - India Today has a copy of it -
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The three suicide attackers who struck Istanbul's main international airport this week are believed to have been planning to take dozens of people hostage
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Between 22 and 25 June, Brexit overtook porn in the search game.
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Someone at the health ministry has used his or her imagination, and a rating system has been proposed to incentivise government facilities — and state governments by extension — which keep their premises and services in good working order. Initially covering community health centres, it is an intelligent step towards a transparent, responsive and responsible health system, though the proposal is only foundational and admittedly requires development. A minimum head count of doctors, nurses and laboratory technicians assures a single star rating. More stars are earned according to pharmaceuticals available, services offered and success in engaging patients. The fifth and final star is to be earned by benchmarks like the performance of at least five Caesarean sections and implantation of at least three intrauterine devices every month.
Points aggregated by states can be redeemed for a 5 per cent incentive in the outlay from the National Health Mission. The innovation is designed to spark competition and should have a salutary effect, encouraging states to compete for extra funds. Institutions which contribute significantly to state aggregates will naturally earn prestige, and perhaps better allocations. However, statutory warnings must be issued against indiscriminate competition. For instance, Caesarean sections are already preferred in India for non-medical reasons like a favourable astrological chart, and further enthusiasm for the procedure would harm public health. IUDs should be cautiously used as a benchmark too, since the choice of contraceptive method is the patient’s right.
Besides, the criteria for earning stars must be sharpened. The trouble with the delivery of state services is not the lack of qualified personnel, but absenteeism and poor application. Specifying a minimum number of personnel only lays down a baseline. Other human resource criteria must be applied to measure the quality of their work. Similarly, the mere presence of services and equipment indicates nothing. Government hospitals are junkpiles of clinically dead equipment which remains on the record. Patients often have to seek private providers for radiological and imaging tests, for instance, and lives are tragically lost because a ventilator or resuscitator is kaput. It is not uncommon for hospitals to acquire equipment and then leave it crated, for want of space or support facilities. The condition of equipment matters more than mere numbers. However, the availability of drugs, which is often conditioned by local interests, will certainly improve under scrutiny. A points system will improve over time, and we must not cavil at its initial deficiencies.
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It has received well over 20,000 bookings.
Toyota Kirloskar Motors director of sales & marketing, Mr. N Raja, has stated that the top-end Z grade of the Innova Crysta has a waiting period of three months, which constitutes a majority of the bookings received.
Over 60 percent of the bookings are for the top-end 2.8 Z AT variant, which is priced from INR 20.78 Lakhs (ex-showroom Mumbai).
Apparently, over 60 percent of the bookings are for the top-end 2.8 Z AT variant, which is priced from INR 20.78 Lakhs (ex-showroom Mumbai). It’s powered by a 2.8L GD turbo-diesel engine that produces 174 PS & 360 Nm of torque, and is paired to a 6-speed automatic gearbox. The 2.8 AT variant is capable of averaging an ARAI-certified fuel mileage of 14.29 km/L.
There’s also a less powerful 2.4L GD diesel engine with 149 PS & 343 Nm of torque, which is paired to a 5-speed manual gearbox. The base variant with this powertrain is priced from INR 13.84 Lakhs (ex-showroom Mumbai), and it’s capable of an ARAI-certified 15.10 km/L.
There’s also a less powerful 2.4L GD diesel engine with 149 PS & 343 Nm of torque, which is paired to a 5-speed manual gearbox.
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Later this year, Toyota will introduce a petrol variant of the Innova Crysta as a solution to the ban on diesel-powered vehicles displacing over 2000 cc that was imposed in Delhi NCR by the Supreme Court. Reports suggest that the production of the petrol variant will commence on July 18.
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