Tuesday, March 26, 2019


Agni 5 Missile That Can Strike China Set To Enter India’s Arsenal

India's Nuclear Missile

HYDERABAD, Jan 19 – India’s longest range missile Agni 5 is all set to be inducted into the armed forces, a top defence ministry official has told. This comes a day after the fifth consecutively successful launch of the inter-continental ballistic missile that has a range of nearly 5000 kilometres. India now joins a select club of six countries capable of making missiles that can carry nuclear weapons across continents. Agni 5 has been made by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). The missile can reach almost all of China, most of Europe and Africa but not the United States of America.

“Developmental trials of Agni 5 Missile have been completed and now induction phase into the armed forces begins,” the official said.

The test conducted on Thursday was the same version as the last two trials and the missile had a ‘text book performance in its full range’. The test done from Dr Abdul Kalam Island off the Odisha coast was the third consecutive one from a canister on a road mobile launcher.

The canister version of the missile gives India the flexibility to launch it in all weather, day or night and from any location. More than 80 per cent of its components are made by the Indian industry.

The United States, Russia, France, Germany, China and the United Kingdom are the other countries that have similar capabilities.

India took 10 years to develop Agni 5, a feat that took most other countries over 15 years. More than 300 scientists and engineers from DRDO have been involved in making the missile.

India already has in its arsenal long range nuclear-tipped missiles like Prithvi, Agni 1, 2 and 3 and supersonic cruise missiles like Brahmos. Important subsonic cruise missiles like Nirbhay are still under development. – NDTV

Swiss Prez To Discuss Trade Pacts With PM Modi In Davos

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. | PTI File Photo

NEW DELHI/BERN, Jan 19 – Negotiations on a bilateral investment protection pact will figure prominently during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with Switzerland’s President Alain Berset in Davos next week, the Swiss
government has said.

The two leaders will also discuss, among other trade and business matter, the envisaged free trade agreement between India and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), of which Switzerland is a member.

The Swiss government statement on topics for the meeting of the two leaders did not mention black money, an issue which has been central to most of the high-level deliberations between the two countries.

India has framed a model Bilateral Investment Protection Agreement (BIPA) and is now negotiating it with several countries. Besides, the talks have been going on for a long time for a free trade agreement between India and the four-member EFTA ((Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein).

The trade pact talks had started in October 2008 and several rounds of negotiations have taken place since then.

The proposed agreement covers trade in goods and services, investments, trade facilitation, customs cooperation, protection of intellectual property and public procurement.

The two-way trade between the regions dropped to USD 19 billion in 2016-17, from USD 21.5 billion in 2015-16. The trade gap is highly in favour of the EFTA group.

Under an FTA, trading partners give market access to each other with a view to promoting bilateral trade in goods and services, besides investments.

“Topics on the agenda of the working meeting (of President Berset) with Indian Prime Minister Modi on Monday include business and trade matters, particularly the ongoing negotiations on a BIPA and the envisaged free trade agreement between the EFTA and India,” the Swiss government said.

Federal Councillor Johann Schneider-Ammann, also the head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research, will also be attending the talks with the Indian prime minister, the Swiss government statement added.

PM Modi, accompanied by six union ministers, will be in Davos on January 22-23 to attend the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting, where he will give the opening plenary. On the sidelines of the high-profile event, PM Modi will hold a number of important bilateral meetings with various world leaders.

Announcing schedule of its various leaders, the Swiss government said Berset will also meet US President Donald Trump, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, the British Prime Minister Theresa May, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, among other leaders.

Ammann will also meet India’s Trade and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu and will host the traditional informal WTO ministerial meeting on the sidelines of the WEF summit.

The Swiss government said Ammann will focus on fostering bilateral economic relations and free trade negotiations in his various meetings.

The five Federal Council members will be attending the Davos event this year and will hold around 60 bilateral meetings on the sidelines during the five-day summit starting January 22.

At the invitation of President Berset, European ministers of culture will gather in Davos prior to the WEF summit for a conference on ‘Baukultur’ — a term used for preservation and development of high-quality cultural heritage.

The results of the conference will be documented in a ‘Davos Declaration’ on January 22 to launch the European Year of Cultural Heritage 2018.

Federal Councillor Ueli Maurer, the vice president of the Federal Council and head of the Federal Department of Finance (FDF), will hold meetings with numerous counterparts and representatives from international bodies. Maurer is also expected to meet Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, among other world leaders. – NDTV

Parliamentary Panel Raises Questions Over Proxy Voting For NRIs


NEW DELHI, Jan 17 – A parliamentary panel today questioned the “credibility” of proxy voting for Non-Resident Indians (NRIs), saying it opened the doors for malpractices and added that the option of using technology or postal ballots could be explored instead.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs, headed by Congress lawmaker Shashi Tharoor, was today briefed on the “Voting Rights to NRIs” by Vijay Keshav Gokhale, Secretary (Economic Relations) in the External Affairs Ministry, and G Narayana Raju, Secretary, Legislative Department.

At the meeting, the members expressed concerns over the credibility of proxy voting, saying that it could lead to malpractices, one of them said. The members suggested the use of technology and a mechanism for online voting, instead of proxy voting, he added.

One of the members said polling booths could be set up at the Indian embassies and consulates across the world to enable the NRIs to exercise their franchise.

The committee also asked the officials to brief them about the practices followed by other countries to register the votes of their non-resident citizens.

In August last year, the Union Cabinet had cleared a proposal to extend the facility of proxy voting to overseas Indians by amending the electoral laws.

While NRIs and overseas Indians are free to cast their votes in constituencies where they are registered, according to the proposal, they would also be allowed to use the option of a proxy, which as of now are available only to the service personnel.

An expert committee of the Election Commission working on the issue had, in 2015, forwarded the legal framework to the law ministry for amending the electoral laws to allow overseas Indians use proxy voting. – NDTV

India Attends Its First Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Military Cooperation Meeting

indian national flag

BEIJING, Jan 17 – India for the first time took part in a meeting of the international military cooperation departments of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) since joining the bloc last year.

An Indian delegation led by Major General Ajay Seth participated in the meeting, which discussed issues of practical cooperation among SCO nations, an Indian Embassy press release Beijing said Tuesday.

The two-day meeting concluded today.

This is the first meeting attended by India in the field of defence cooperation under the SCO framework.

India and Pakistan were admitted last year into the grouping in which China plays an influential role.

The SCO is comprised of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, India and Pakistan.

Officials say both India and China look to SCO as a major platform for improving bilateral ties bogged down by a host of differences, including the 73-day military standoff at Doklam last year. – NDTV

In Fighting Terror In Kashmir, Police Strategy To Go Beyond Encounters

Lesson from #Kashmir: There is urgent need for trained riot police

SRINAGAR, Jan 08 – Homegrown terror has always been a major challenge for security forces in Jammu and Kashmir. But the recent involvement of two local youth in the New Year’s eve suicide attack on the CRPF camp in south Kashmir’s Pulwama has served as a chilling reminder of how huge the challenge still is.

In a video message recorded just before he set out to die, 16-year-old Fardeen invoked religion to carry out the suicide attack. That video, the police say, is part of the strategy of terrorists to lure impressionable youth for such attacks. This means, if the police have to measure up to the challenge, they will also need to address the ideological dimensions of the problem. Swiftly.

According to official records, 117 local youth joined various terror groups in 2017, the highest in the last one decade.

“Besides other measures, we will have to tackle them at religious level, at madrassa and school level. The biggest challenge and threat is from social media and we have deal with that as well,” said Munir Khan, the police chief of Kashmir region.

“They are catching them very young. 16 is no age to understand what’s good and what’s bad. They catch them young, lure them,” said Mr Khan.

Shamsul Vikar agrees. He should know.

The budding cricketer had gone missing from home in March last year to join the Hizbul Mujahideen. It was a mistake, Shamsul Vikar, who was arrested by the police in November last year.

“I believed that Jihad was obligatory. I did not have enough knowledge and understanding of Quran but I heard speeches in gatherings, sermons and saw video clips on my phone. I joined militancy so that God accepts my martyrdom,” he said.

Now he wants to play cricket again once he is released.

It was after his arrest that at least 10 local youth including footballer Majid Khan kicked the gun and returned home. Majid Khan retuned after his mother’s appeal went viral on social media.

Shamsul hopes more youth do not get carried away, as he once did.

“If someone tells you to join Jihad, tell him to do it yourself first. I have realised that 80 per cent of the youth who join the ranks of the groups come from poor families,”.

It is a message that the police prays reaches young Kashmiris before they repeat his mistake. If they do, a police officer said, it cannot get any more dangerous: When death becomes a goal for the fresh recruits. – NDTV

At Minus 6 Degrees,Coldest Night In Srinagar; Dal Lake Partially Frozen

Dal Lake freezes as Srinagar records season's coldest night

SRINAGAR, Jan 08 – Srinagar is freezing at sub-zero temperatures and recorded the coldest night of the season at minus 6.1 degrees Celsius yesterday. Water froze in taps, causing a shortage of supply in parts of Srinagar as the temperature plunged in the Jammu and Kashmir capital and other cities.

Other parts of the state are also experiencing severe cold. Pahalgam recorded minus 8.9 Celsius and Gulmarg, minus 9.4 degrees Celsius. In Jammu, the minimum temperature dipped to four degrees Celsius, which is 3 degrees below normal.

In Srinagar, the streets were almost deserted this morning and small nallahs and springs were also seen frozen. The famous Dal Lake is partially frozen, particularly near the banks. The famous lake was frozen solid last in January 2006. Before that, in 1986 and in 1965, there were reports of vehicles on the lake. Local media reports say tourist Shikaras are facing problems along the lake shores.

The intense cold has also brought a power crisis that is common in these months in Jammu and Kashmir. There have been outages of several hours through the day in parts of the state, especially rural Kashmir.

Water and power crises are a recurrent problem every year during winter in the state.

In Leh and Kargil, the temperature was recorded at minus 16.8 degrees and 18.8 degrees Celsius respectively.

Katra, the base camp for Vaishno Devi pilgrims recorded a low of 5 degrees Celsius. – NDTV

Suspected Intruder Shot Dead Along International Border In Jammu

Gurdaspur: Pakistani intruder shot dead by BSF

JAMMU, Jan 03 – An intruder was gunned down as the Border Security Force (BSF) troops stopped an infiltration bid along the International Border in Jammu district this morning, an official said.

Troops observed suspicious movement of two-three people along the International Border near Nikowal Border Out Post (BoP) in Arnia sector around 5.45 am. The BSF troops tried to stop them and opened fire when they tried to escape, a senior BSF official, Ram Awtar told PTI. One of them was shot dead while the others managed to escape, he said.

Retaliating to the unprovoked firing from the Pakistani side in Samba sector in which a soldier was killed on Wednesday, the security forces destroyed two Pakistani posts late on Wednesday.

Two Pakistani mortar positions were “located, targeted and destroyed by BSF troopers yesterday night only. The coordinated precision fire of BSF troopers silenced Pakistani guns,” a BSF spokesman said.

On Wednesday, a BSF jawan was killed in unprovoked firing by Pakistan, the first this year, in Samba sector of Jammu and the force had since then launched retaliatory fire. – NDTV

Indian Railways All Set to install GPS-enabled anti-fog device

Encompassing ...

NEW DELHI, Jan 03 – A device to track railway signals and the situation on the tracks will soon be installed in railway engines which will help trains move safely even during the crippling winter fog in north India. Sources say the “anti-fog” devices, which work on the basis of Global Positioning System, will be installed in about 900 trains. The Railways have ordered around 2,400 pieces of this machinery.

Over the last few days, hundreds of trains and flights have been delayed due to dense fog in North India. Today, too, the National Capital Region woke up to blinding fog and over 50 trains have been affected.

The anti-fog device, which will be installed in train engines in front of the driver, tracks the location of the next signal in real time. The device has sensors and digital display boards inside the engine which gives a near accurate picture of the condition of the track.

Yesterday, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said the safety of passengers and timely arrival and departure of trains are priorities during the winter months and fog devices have been given to all trains in North India. “During winters a maximum speed limit of 60 km/hr is permissible. But it is up to the driver to decide the speed for the safety of passengers of the train,” he said, adding “most modern” signaling system will be installed.

“We have used GPS technology in the device with a map of tracks, signals, stations and level crossing of Northern Railway in it,” said Nitin Chowdhary, an officer of the Railways. The machine, he said, alerts loco pilots about level crossings and signals. “When drivers know there are no hurdles, they can increase the speed,” he added. – NDTV

Himachal Pradesh Assembly Election Result 2017: All You Need To Know

Voting during 8th phase of Parliamentary election...epa04194527 Indian women show their voting

NEW DELHI, DEC 17 – Exit polls for the 2017 Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections, including NDTV’s poll of exit polls, have shown that Prem Kumar Dhumal from the BJP will be victorious by a huge margin. Mr Dhumal’s victory in the Himachal Pradesh elections would mean that his rival Virbhadra Singh from the Congress, who is the current Chief Minister of the state, will be on his way out. While the final tally for the Himachal Pradesh elections will be revealed on Monday, current estimates show that the BJP would clinch 47 seats out of a total 68 seats, while the Congress would have to settle for a paltry 20 seats.

Himachal Pradesh has set itself apart from other states by having alternating governments between the BJP and the Congress for 24 years. This unique power tussle between the BJP and Congress governments assumed significance because of the rivalry between Mr Dhumal and Mr Singh, both charismatic leaders of their respective parties.

Mr Singh became the Chief Minister of the state in 1993 and the rivalry between them kicked off ever since. The rivalry does not show signs of stopping as the sons of both Mr Dhumal and Mr Singh, have made their respective entries into politics with the 2017 elections.

For Himachal Pradesh, a political party needs 35 seats or more in order to cross the halfway mark and form the government. The previous assembly elections in 2012 had been a close contest with the Congress winning 36 seats while the BJP had won 26 seats.

Thus, the predictions of the BJP winning in the 2017 Himachal Pradesh assembly elections, if they translate into reality, are sure to be a huge blow to the Congress and to Mr Singh, who is and has been the face of the Congress in Himachal Pradesh.

The exit poll estimates assume even more importance as voter turnout on November 9, the polling day, was 74 per cent.

Along with the prediction from the exit polls and NDTV’s poll of exit polls show the BJP retaining Gujarat, the results from Himachal Pradesh could be a double blow to the Congress and serve as a boost to the BJP.

Counting of the votes in Himachal Pradesh will begin at 8 am on Monday and the results can be tracked here, while NDTV’s live coverage of the Himachal Pradesh Assembly Elections can be seen here. – NDTV

PM Modi Discusses Bilateral Issues With Ex-Afghan President Hamid Karzai

Official Photograph of Prime Minister Narendra Modi

NEW DELHI, DEC 17 – Prime Minister Narendra Modi today held talks with former Afghan President Hamid Karzai on key bilateral issues as well as security situation in the region.

“Delighted to meet my friend Karzai in New Delhi,” PM Modi, who also hosted dinner for the Afghan leader, tweeted.

According to officials, the two leaders discussed strategic bilateral ties, including India’s development assistance as well as cooperation in other key areas.

They also discussed the security situation in the war- torn country and in the region, the officials said. – NDTV

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