Iran To India: ‘Expect a friend to order oil’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES NEWS)

 

‘Expect a friend to order oil’: Iranian envoy messages India on US sanctions

Though the Iranian port of Chabahar, which India is developing as a gateway to Afghanistan, isn’t under sanctions, Chegeni said US actions had created uncertainty in the minds of investors and bankers.

INDIA Updated: Jul 03, 2019 08:49 IST

Rezaul H Laskar
Rezaul H Laskar
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
indo iran,us iran trade talsk,india weapon gatherer
New Delhi stopped Iranian oil purchases after Washington ended on May 2 a six-month waiver that had allowed the top buyers, including India, to continue imports. (REUTERS)

India will decide on oil purchases in line with its national interests but Tehran is hopeful New Delhi will resume Iranian oil imports that have been hit by American sanctions, Iranian ambassador Ali Chegeni said on Tuesday.

New Delhi stopped Iranian oil purchases after Washington ended on May 2 a six-month waiver that had allowed the top buyers, including India, to continue imports.

The US imposed sanctions on Iran after pulling out of the 2015 nuclear deal last year.

“We understand India will act according to its national interests. We know India is under pressure (but) India’s relationship with any other country is not against us,” Chegeni told reporters after the opening of an exhibition of Iranian arts.

“We are not deciding on behalf of the Indian government and we respect all their decisions, but we expect a friend…(to place orders for oil) in future…Iran is ready to be the biggest protector of India’s energy security,” he added.

Referring to external affairs minister S Jashankar’s recent remarks about India’s need for affordable, stable and predictable energy supplies, Chegeni said Iran fulfilled all these conditions.

“We didn’t get any negative signal from the Indian government that they won’t buy in future…We are hopeful that our relationship will continue,” he said.

Though the Iranian port of Chabahar, which India is developing as a gateway to Afghanistan, isn’t under sanctions, Chegeni said US actions had created uncertainty in the minds of investors and bankers.

“They are saying Chabahar is not under sanctions, but the banks don’t dare to come, the private companies say the future is not clear for them. Somehow this is a sanction,” Iranian ambassador Ali Chegeni said, adding that operations at the port had picked up in recent months.

Chabahar is key to the plans of Central Asian states to trade with India, he said. “Nobody can ignore the importance of Chabahar,” Iranian ambassador Ali Chegeni added.

First Published: Jul 02, 2019 23:31 IST

Trumps Trade War With India

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

No official confirmation from US on H-1B cap for Indians: Centre

Trade tensions between the two sides have increased in recent weeks, with India imposing higher tariffs on some American goods on June 16 after the US withdrew export benefits under GPS programme.

WORLD Updated: Jun 20, 2019 23:58 IST

Rezaul H Laskar
Rezaul H Laskar
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
india-US,India-US trade,H-1B
Asked about the H-1B visa issue at a news briefing on Thursday, external affairs ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, “We have not heard anything officially from the US government on this matter. (SONU MEHTA/HT PHOTO)

There are no immediate plans to impose caps on H-1B work visas in retaliation for New Delhi’s data localisation plans though India and the US will have to contend with a full plate of trade-related issues during secretary of state Mike Pompeo’s visit next week, people familiar with developments said.

Trade tensions between the two sides have increased in recent weeks, with India imposing higher tariffs on some American goods on June 16 after the US withdrew export benefits under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) programme. The US has opposed India’s data storage plans that could hit firms such as Wal-Mart and Amazon.

“We are not aware of such plans,” a person familiar with developments said in the wake of a Reuters report that the US is considering a 15% cap on H-1B visas for countries that force foreign companies to store data locally. India is the largest beneficiary of the programme, with about 70% of the 85,000 H-1B visas issued each year going to Indians.

Asked about the H-1B visa issue at a regular news briefing on Thursday, external affairs ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said, “We have not heard anything officially from the US government on this matter.

“We remain engaged with the US administration…and we have emphasised time and again at all our high-level interactions the contributions of Indian skilled professionals to the growth and development of the US economy.”

Kumar said consultations are underway within the Indian government and between the government and industry on data localisation or the storage of private data of users by foreign firms. The use of such data will have to be balanced with “national priorities and sensitivities,” he said.

“India’s position is in line with global best practices. We will remain engaged with the US on this matter and see how we can dispel any misconceptions on data localisation which they might have,” he added.

The Indian side is looking to Pompeo’s visit during June 25-27 – the first high-level engagement with the US since the general elections – as an opportunity to clear the air on differences over trade-related issues, which are in marked contrast to the robust cooperation on strategic security and defence issues.

Kumar said Pompeo’s visit will be “an important opportunity for both sides to explore ways to further strengthen the India-US strategic partnership and continue the high-level engagement on matters of mutual interest”.

Besides holding talks with his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar, Pompeo will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval on June 26, the main working day of his visit.

The external affairs ministry sought to play down trade-related differences, with Kumar saying, “In a relationship that is as diverse and as deep as the one we have with the US, that there will be certain issues which will be on the table…The overall direction of the relationship remains very positive.”

First Published: Jun 20, 2019 23:57 IST

PM Modi condemns Chhattisgarh attack that killed 5

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

‘Deeply anguishing’: PM Modi condemns Chhattisgarh attack that killed 5

In Delhi, the Election Commission said it had asked the state government and Chhattisgarh’s top election official for a report on the attack.

INDIA Updated: Apr 09, 2019 20:04 IST

HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PM Modi,Dantewada attack,BJP MLA
PM Modi said Bhima Mandavi, an MLA from the Dantewada constituency, was a dedicated party worker who assiduously served the people of the province.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned the Dantewada attack that killed a Bharatiya Janata Party legislator and four security personnel on Tuesday in south Chhattisgarh’s Dantewada region.

“Strongly condemn the Maoist attack in Chhattisgarh. My tributes to the security personnel who were martyred. The sacrifices of these martyrs will not go in vain,” PM Modi tweeted on the Maoist attack that comes days before Bastar votes in the first phase of Lok Sabha on Thursday.

PM Modi said Bhima Mandavi, an MLA from the Dantewada constituency, was a dedicated party worker who assiduously served the people of the province.

“Shri Bhima Mandavi was a dedicated Karyakarta (worker) of the BJP. Diligent and courageous, he assiduously served the people of Chhattisgarh. His demise is deeply anguishing. Condolences to his family and supporters. Om Shanti,” PM Modi added.

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel has called a high-level meeting to review the security situation in the state.

In Delhi, the Election Commission said it had asked the state government and Chhattisgarh’s top election official for a report on the attack.

The Election Commission had settled for voting in three phases for the state’s 11 Lok Sabha seats to give security personnel enough time to move from one constituency to another and familiarise themselves with the area that they have to secure.

Tuesday’s attack took place between Kuakonta and Syamgiri in Dantewada.

Maoists had blown up an IED on the road when the legislator’s convoy was passing through the district. One SUV was blown up in the attack that left a crater on the road. A reinforcement of CRPF contingent has been rushed to the explosion site.

First Published: Apr 09, 2019 20:01 IST

Uttar Pradesh Police Team Sent To Jammu To Arrest An Army Jawan

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

A Uttar Pradesh police team was sent to Jammu to arrest an Army jawan allegedly involved in the murder of a police inspector during the Bulandshahr violence, and five more people were nabbed in the case, taking the total number of arrests to nine, officials said Friday.

Sedition is one of the 17 charges in the FIR in which 27 people have been named besides 50-60 unidentified people. They were allegedly involved in the violence that led to the killing of Inspector Subodh Singh and Sumit Kumar, 20. The violence was triggered after cattle carcasses were found in nearby fields.

Jeetu alias Fauji of Mahav village is a named accused in the case, Inspector General (Crime) S K Bhagat told reporters in Lucknow when asked about his alleged involvement in the mob violence.

Jeetu’s actual name is Jeetendra Malik and he is the 11th suspect named in the first information report (FIR) lodged at Siyana police station on December 4.

According to preliminary information, he is posted in Jammu and a police team has been sent there, Bhagat said.

“We hope that he will be arrested soon,” the IG said, adding the Special Investigation Team (SIT) formed to probe the case would be able to ascertain his actual role.

Army sources in New Delhi confirmed that the police have contacted the Northern Command and they are cooperating in the probe.

The five people arrested were identified as Chandra, Rohit, Sonu, Nitin and Jitendra but their names were not mentioned in the FIR lodged for the murder of the Syana SHO, Bhagat said.

They were nabbed on the basis of video footage and eyewitness accounts, he said. Police teams were conducting raids to make more arrests, the IG said.

The IG said that the confidential report of an inquiry conducted by ADG Intelligence S B Shirodkar has been handed over to senior officials.

The cattle carcasses were found outside Mahav village strewn in the fields of former village head Rajpal Chaudhary, who too has been named in the FIR along with five more men from the village. All of them are absconding.

Sources that PTI spoke to in the village revealed that Jeetu had come to the village on leave and was “present at the site of violence” but left soon after the incident on Monday afternoon. His elder brother is also in the Army.

“Both of my sons are in the Army. They are not here, they on duty,” his mother Ratan Kaur told PTI, adding the police had raided her house around 1 am Tuesday, assaulted her daughter-in-law, vandalised the house and picked up her husband, Rajpal Singh.

The 60-year-old woman said she was away in Pipala village at the house of her elder daughter-in law as her family had suffered a bereavement recently. She said she returned home only on Wednesday Speaking to a TV news channel, she Friday said, “Jeetu is in Kargil and if any evidence like a picture or a video emerges showing he killed the policeman then I will kill him myself. I’m not so heartless, I’m equally pained by the death of the policeman and the other boy from Chingrawathi and also for what the entire village and its people are going through.” Jeetendra’s wife Priyanka, 24, also supported her mother-in-law’s claim of post midnight vandalism and assault by the police.

“I was at home with my father-in-law and my three- month-old baby when the police came to our house. They assaulted me so badly that my hand got fractured and I suffered an injury in one ear,” she told PTI over phone from a hospital in Meerut. Sumit Kumar, from Chingrawathi village, who died in the clash is among those named in the FIR which also accuses Bajrang Dal’s Bulandshahr unit convenor Yogesh Raj, local BJP worker Shikhar Agarwal among others of instigating violence.

According to the FIR, the suspects were booked on the charges of mischief by fire or explosive substance, murder, attempt to murder, sedition, rioting, voluntary assault on public servant to obstruct them from performing their duty and endangering life or personal safety of others.

They have also been booked for destroying public property, among others. PTI SAB/KIS SMI AAR

First Published: Dec 07, 2018 20:36 IST

India: Thousands Of Farmers March On Parliament Today Demanding Fair Prices

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

With photos, skulls and placards, thousands of farmers march to Parliament today

Thousands of farmers at Ramlila Ground walked to Sansad Marg in the morning. Farmers want demands to be discussed in the Winter session of the Parliament.

DELHI Updated: Nov 30, 2018 13:52 IST

Gulam Jeelani and Dhamini Ratnam
Gulam Jeelani and Dhamini Ratnam
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Farmers march in Delhi,Farmers march today,Delhi news
The demands of the farmers is passing of two bills seeking ‘freedom from indebtedness’ and the ‘right to guaranteed remunerative minimum support price (MSP)’, which were introduced in the Lok Sabha in August this year.(HT Photo/ Sanchit Khanna)

Ashwini’s father, D Ramesh, a cotton farmer, had committed suicide in 2003. Twelve years later, P Chandrayi, Ramiah’s father — also a cotton farmer —killed himself in 2015. Both the farmers died for the same reason—their inability to pay debts.

With many things in common among them, the two girls from Warangal district of Telangana held the photo frames of their late fathers in their hands as they marched inside Ramlila Maidan with a group of farmers on Thursday to take part in the ‘Kisan Mukti March’ — a two-day farmers’ protest to demand a three-week special session of the Parliament to discuss the agrarian crisis.

“We had taken a few acres of land on lease and we grew cotton on it. There was no profit and my father couldn’t pay back the landlord. He couldn’t bear the burden and killed self,” said Ashwini, who works as a labourer, in broken mix of Hindi and English.

Thousands of farmers, like Ashwini and Ramiah, both 20, from across the country are marching towards Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan to participate in a peaceful, yet emphatic, protest march on Thursday, a week after their counterparts staged a similar march in Maharashtra’s Mumbai.

Read live updates here

Many farmer leaders will address the gathering at the street next to iconic Jantar Mantar, once the site for dissent in central Delhi. Representatives from political parties will also give speeches in support of the two-day “Kisan Mukti March” demanding a 21-day special session of Parliament to discuss agrarian crisis.

Among leaders expected to attend include Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah, Loktantrik Janata Dal’s Sharad Yadav, to name a few.

Read: Joint House session, loan waiver and MSP on protesters’ wish list

The farmers, in groups representing different organisations, started walking from five different locations entering the National Capital to be part of the march to press for their demands. Enroute, the marching farmers were provided with food and water by volunteers of different farmer organisations.

Ramabai, 45, who left home in Kolhapur, Maharashtra on Monday, reached Delhi on Thursday morning. She donned a red T-shirt of All India Kisan Sabha before joining the march at Shri Bala Sahib Gurudwara.

“There are 10 people in my house and the prices of rice, wheat and dal have shot up. It’s difficult to sustain the household,” said Ramabai, who works in the field of her landowner.

Organised under the banner of the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), an umbrella body of about 200 farmer organisations from across the country, the march moved towards Parliament for a rally on Friday morning after halting for the night at Ramlila Ground.

Among the groups, a farmers’ delegation from southwest Delhi’s Bijwasan on Thursday was led by Yogendra Yadav, the president of Swaraj India and one of the working group members of AIKSCC. Yadav termed the protest as ‘one of the biggest marches’ of farmers in recent times. The biggest congregation, however, was of over a thousand farmers who walked from Sarai Kale Khan under AIKSCC’s banner reaching the ground at around 3.30pm.

A group of farmers from Tamil Nadu also arrived carrying skulls and bones to symbolise the suicides of their colleagues. The group threatened to go naked if they are not allowed to march to the Parliament on Friday.

“We are expecting a gathering of 35,000-40,000 people to march towards Parliament Street on Friday morning,” said Vijoo Krishnan, member of one of the many AIKSCC-affiliated bodies. In the night, food was served to the farmers at Ramlila Ground, where a cultural programme was also organised. Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal is expected to reach the venue on Friday.

Kiran Jangaiah, a 38-year-old farmer from Ranga Reddy district in Telangana, said, “I wanted to represent people like me in court so that our voices don’t get drowned.” The lake that used to sustain his farm, he added, has gone dry. To make ends meet, his mother Poshamma, works as a farm hand in other farms. Nearly 95 per cent of his district lies in the drought-hit Krishna river basin, which has been experiencing a severe drought.

The demands of the farmers is passing of two bills seeking ‘freedom from indebtedness’ and the ‘right to guaranteed remunerative minimum support price (MSP)’, which were introduced in the Lok Sabha in August this year. In 2004, the National Commission for Farmers headed by MS Swaminathan submitted five reports, which contain a draft of recommendations that safeguarded the interest of farmers. The formation of national and state disaster relief commissions that can declare a region or a crop as distress-affected, and provide necessary relief, is also a demand.

“The politicians are only interested in mandir and masjids. Our mandirs are our livestock and our crops,” said Rakesh Chaudhary, a farmer leader from Uttar Pradesh’s Bijnor district. “The new season of sugarcane farming has started and we are yet to get prices of previous crop,” he added.

First Published: Nov 30, 2018 07:16 IST

India says Pak denying access to Sikh pilgrims

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

India says Pak denying access to Sikh pilgrims

The fact that pro-Khalistani posters, banners and slogans were raised near the holy shrines – Gurdawara Nanakana Sahib and Gurdawara Sacha Sauda – only added to India’s anger.

INDIA Updated: Nov 24, 2018 00:01 IST

HT correspondent
HT correspondent
Hindustan Times
kartarpur corridor,nanaksahib gudwara,guru nanak
India on Friday lodged a strong protest with Pakistan after Indian diplomats were harassed and denied access to Indian Sikh pilgrims visiting the neighbouring country to mark the start of celebrations of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, which falls next year.(PTI)

India on Friday lodged a strong protest with Pakistan after Indian diplomats were harassed and denied access to Indian Sikh pilgrims visiting the neighbouring country to mark the start of celebrations of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, which falls next year.

The fact that pro-Khalistani posters, banners and slogans were raised near the holy shrines – Gurdawara Nanakana Sahib and Gurdawara Sacha Sauda – only added to India’s anger.

The efforts to “promote secessionist tendencies” to undermine India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity is of “grave concern,” the ministry of external affairs (MEA) said in New Delhi.

Refused access and prevented from entering the shrines, Indian diplomats returned to Islamabad without performing their diplomatic and consular duties vis-a-vis Indian pilgrims, the MEA said. This is the third time in a row that Indian diplomats in Pakistan have been harassed and not allowed to meet Sikh pilgrims citing security reasons, it said.

The spat came just a day after New Delhi and Pakistan decided to develop a corridor on their respective sides of the border to let Sikh pilgrims visit the historic Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur on the banks of river Ravi in Pakistan. The incident is an indication of the fragile relationship between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.

“It is not surprising that this happened. Pakistan is using Khalistan issue like before. Now, of course, with elements from Canada and the UK, Pakistan is trying to rekindle the issue. Pakistan provides support to these people in the gurdwaras, then prevents our diplomats from getting access to the gurdwaras and pilgrims,” said Kanwal Sibal, former foreign secretary.

Recently, in Amritsar – another holy site for the Sikh faith – grenades were launched at a religious congregation, killing three people and injuring several others.

Later, investigations by the Punjab police showed the grenades were Pakistani-made. The attack, Punjab police said, had been instigated by Pakistan’s spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and leftover pro-Khalistan elements sheltered by Pakistan.

Interestingly, among those who prevented Indian diplomats was the controversial figure Gopal Singh Chawla, who has earlier been seen with Hafiz Sayeed of the Jammat-Ud-Dawa who is wanted in India for several terror strikes, including the November 26, 2008 Mumbai terror strikes in which 166 people were killed and over 300 were injured.

“India has today lodged a strong protest with the government of Pakistan that despite having been granted prior travel permission by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan, the Consular officials of the High Commission of India in Islamabad were harassed and denied access on November 21 and 22 at Gurudwara Nankana Sahib and Gurudwara Sacha Sauda,” the MEA said in a statement.

New Delhi also said that “Pakistan has been called upon to take all measures to not allow its territory to be used for any hostile propaganda and support for secessionist tendencies against India in keeping with the commitments made under the Simla Agreement, 1972 and endorsed in the Lahore Declaration, 1999.”.

The Indian pilgrims are visiting Pakistan under a bilateral protocol.

“Pakistan has been reminded that such actions are not in consonance with the stated intentions of Pakistan to facilitate the visits of Indian Sikh pilgrims, especially as we commemorate the 550th Birth Anniversary of Guru Nanak Devji,” the MEA said.

The MEA called the denial of access an attempt to deflect attention from Pakistan’s violation of international legal instruments and conventions like the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.

Pakistan has been reminded that this is in contrast to the treatment meted out to their high commissioner and the consular officials in New Delhi who have been provided full access to meet the Pakistani pilgrims who are currently in India on a pilgrimage to Kalyar Sharif, the MEA said.

First Published: Nov 23, 2018 23:31 IST

India set to sign S-400 missile deal during Vladimir Putin’s visit next week

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Amid US sanctions, India set to sign S-400 missile deal during Vladimir Putin’s visit next week

India will sign the S-400 missile system deal with Russia during the annual summit between PM Narendra Modi and President Vladimir Putin next week, hoping for a US sanction waiver, and to prevent Russia from directly selling weapon systems to Pakistan if India says no to the deal.

INDIA Updated: Sep 30, 2018 09:15 IST

Shishir Gupta
Shishir Gupta
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
India,Russia,Narendra Modi
Russian servicemen drive S-400 missile air defense systems during the Victory Day parade, at Red Square in Moscow.(Reuters/File Photo)

India will sign the S-400 missile system deal with Russia during the annual summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Vladimir Putin next week, hoping that it has done enough business with the US to secure a waiver from sanctions, and to prevent Russia from directly selling weapon systems to Pakistan if India says no to the deal.

Hindustan Times had first reported in April that the deal would be signed during the October summit and, in May, that New Delhi would go ahead with the purchase despite US sanctions against countries buying arms from Russia.

South Block officials said that the deal is also in line with India’s efforts to maintain strategic autonomy and not be dependent on any one nation for its military hardware imports.

The South Block officials told Hindustan Times on condition of anonymity that while the purchase of five units of the S-400 missile system was cleared this week by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), the deal to build four stealth frigates in collaboration with Russia is stuck on technical aspects.

Even though India has apprised US of its intentions to purchase the S-400 system and has requested a presidential waiver of CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act), the Modi government has had to tread a fine balance between a new partner and an old ally which could cut off hardware spares in case the missile system acquisition is either delayed or shelved.

More than 60% of Indian military equipment, including fighters, tanks and missiles, come from Russia and without the spares, the armed forces’ fighting capability will be significantly emasculated. For instance, the Indian Air Force Sukhois and Indian Army T series of tanks and Indian Navy’s aircraft carrier Vikramaditya are all from Russia.

The other reason why the Modi government is keen to push the deal through is because it is worried, the officials added, that an upset Russia may directly sell arms to Pakistan just as it is doing so to China, skewing the military balance in the region.

Diplomatically too, deferring or shelving the S-400 deal will sour the close relationship shared by Prime Minister Modi and President Putin. PM Modi has personally invested a lot in building close ties with Putin, the officials said, although this has not come at the cost of India’s relationship with the US.

According to the officials, while Russian hardware may not be top of the line as compared to the US platforms in terms of technology, it is much cheaper initially and comes without additional conditionals on the buyer. While the tussle between the US on one side and Russia/China on the other have made a fit case for Indian state-owned defense manufacturers to step up to manufacture indigenous weapons at a rapid rate, the fact is that most have been found wanting.

For instance, the officials pointed out, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) cannot keep up with the requirements of the Indian Air Force for light combat aircraft (LCA). Nevertheless, the government is clear that the only way out of this imbroglio is to manufacture indigenous systems and platforms rather than be dependent on anyone, the officials admitted.

Meanwhile, the Modi government has deepened its military ties with the Pentagon by placing over $5 billion worth of orders with US defense contractors for strike platforms. India has placed orders for one more C-17 heavy lift transport aircraft (it already has 10), four additional P8I Neptune anti-submarine warfare aircraft, six additional Apache attack helicopters for the army, 24 Sikorsky helicopters for the navy, and M-777 lightweight howitzers. US F-18 and F-35 fighters are also in contention for the additional fighter order the Indian Air Force is evaluating.

First Published: Sep 30, 2018 06:59 IST

Are India’s Men As Sexually Immature As Islamic Men? Their Actions Say Yes

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES NEWSPAPER)

 

Maids to managers: Sexual abuse haunts India’s working women

Women across India – from executives in gleaming corporate towers to those toiling behind closed doors of middle-class homes, in factories or farms – face the same dangers of sexual violence and harassment.

INDIA Updated: Jun 26, 2018 14:32 IST

Annie Banerji
Annie Banerji
Thomson Reuters Foundation, New Delhi
Crimes against women in India spiked more than 80 percent between 2007 and 2016, according to government data.
Crimes against women in India spiked more than 80 percent between 2007 and 2016, according to government data.(Shutterstock Photo)

Pepper spray, safety apps and covered clothing – a mental list Kanika Johri checks off before stepping out of her house in New Delhi, dubbed “India’s rape capital”.

These are also must-haves for her friends and family in India, where official data show nearly 40 crimes against women take place every hour.

For Johri, 28, who worked for seven years in the city as a marketing professional, fending off daily threats from men who ogle, cat-call, stalk, flash and grope is a “disturbing reality”.

“It was packed, this bus, and suddenly I felt something hard pressing up against my thigh and I froze and tears streamed down my cheeks, just uncontrollably,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation about one of her experiences from early 2017 as she travelled to work.

“First you deal with creeps on the streets, the buses, the metro … Then at office, there’s another nightmare waiting – flirty messages, winking, lingering hugs. It was too much,” said Johri, who quit her job last year.

Her story is common in India, which was named on Tuesday as the world’s most dangerous country for women in a Thomson Reuters Foundation poll of experts.

Women across India – from executives in gleaming corporate towers to those toiling behind closed doors of middle-class homes, in factories or farms – face the same dangers of sexual violence and harassment.

Those in the private sector opt for company-paid taxis rather than public transport, with many women telling the Thomson Reuters Foundation that they skip office or networking events at night over safety concerns.

“We need safe transportation and zero tolerance of sexual harassment in the office,” Annette Dixon, World Bank South Asia vice president, said at a women’s forum in New Delhi in March.

“We must also raise our sons to respect girls and women, and make it clear that there is zero-tolerance for gender-based violence … We need families to see their girls as capable future professionals.”

“FEAR OF BACKLASH”

Crimes against women in India spiked more than 80 percent between 2007 and 2016, according to government data.

Nearly 40,000 rapes were reported in 2016 despite a greater focus on women’s safety after the fatal gang rape of a student in New Delhi in 2012 that sparked nationwide protests and led to tougher laws against sexual abuse.

Rekha Sharma, head of the National Commission for Women (NCW), said it was a case of more women reporting crimes rather than a greater incidence of sexual violence.

But local media carry daily reports of sex crimes – from girls molested in school, professional women raped by taxi drivers, to teens trafficked and sold to brothels.

An Air India flight attendant made headlines in May when she took to Twitter to accuse a “predator” senior officer of sexually harassing her over six years, describing him as “Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby put together”.

When she approached the airline’s internal complaints committee (ICC) – a legal requirement for Indian firms to investigate sexual harassment at the workplace – the chief brushed it off, saying “you know how he talks”.

“I have almost never seen ICC members go against the person who has been accused,” Sharma of the NCW told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“They have a tendency to say ‘oh, the woman was at fault’.”

India recorded 539 cases of sexual harassment at the workplace in 2016, up 170 percent from 2006, a joint report by EY and Indian industry body FICCI from last year showed.

But campaigners say the figures are just the tip of the iceberg. A 2017 survey by India’s National Bar Association found nearly 70 percent of sexual harassment victims did not report their cases.

Nishtha Satyam, deputy chief of U.N. Women in India, attributed this to a “fear of backlash”.

“There is a culture of silence not because women are okay to put up with it, but because women do not draw enough confidence from the way the issue is going to be dealt with, because those in power continue to be men,” she said.

End of the affair in Jammu and Kashmir: Why BJP dumped PDP

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

End of the affair in Jammu and Kashmir: Why BJP dumped PDP

The scale of security operations in the Valley, a deteriorating law and order situation, increased cases of attack on security personnel and feedback from party leaders made the BJP decide to pull out, sources say.

INDIA Updated: Jun 20, 2018 07:34 IST

Kumar Uttam
Kumar Uttam
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
BJP president Amit Shah in New Delhi on June 13, 2018.
BJP president Amit Shah in New Delhi on June 13, 2018. (PTI)

The decision of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to withdraw from the Jammu and Kashmir government stemmed from its desire to protect its “core support base”, especially in Jammu, avoid future “political costs” at the national level that would have come with staying on in the alliance in the run-up to the 2019 general elections, scale up “internal security operations” both in the state and “across the border”, and exercise direct control through
Governor’s rule, said two party leaders involved in formulating the BJP’s Kashmir strategy.

The BJP had two primary concerns, said one of the leaders quoted above, who is also a Union minister.

First, Mehbooba Mufti’s approach towards issues such as the scale and intensity of security operations was not in sync with the BJP’s, and the divergence was growing.

The ceasefire during Ramzan was announced at her instance and she wanted the gesture to continue even after Eid, he said. The BJP wanted to scale up operations; Mufti wanted to scale them down.

The BJP wanted a muscular approach towards Pakistan; she favoured talks with the western neighbour. A major point of disagreement was the space that security forces should be allowed while operating in the Valley.

The suspicion of foul play in a matter relating to Major Leetul Gogoi and a woman, reports about trouble-makers from the Valley being let off without much action, a deteriorating law and order situation, increased cases of attack on security personnel and feedback from party leaders made the BJP decide to pull out.

“2017 was largely peaceful and many terrorist were eliminated,” the minister said. “2018 turned out to the bad.” The government was, he said, carrying out offensives across the line of control, but the PDP was not forthcoming in dealing with the elements on this side of the border.

All this prompted the second concern in the BJP: the growing unease among its “nationalist” constituency in Jammu and outside that the party was going “soft”. The party, the second leader said, realised the need to reach out to this support base, which gave it an unprecedented 25 assembly seats in the November-December 2014 election.

“J&K is an emotive issue for our supporters – from Kanyakumari to Kashmir,” the second leader said. “Concerns of our support base, and its growing sense of hurt, were factored in before pulling the plug on the alliance,” the minister said.

Governor’s rule, which will bring the state under the Centre’s direct control, helps the BJP address both its concerns.

First, the first BJP leader and Union Minister said, the central political leadership will give security forces more elbow room to operate. The offensive will grow both “across the Line of Control” and “in the Valley”, to flush out troublemakers. “The ceasefire helped us identify who wanted peace, and who wanted to create trouble,” a senior government official said.

Any increase in the offensive against Pakistan, terror groups sponsored by it, the separatist and other terror outfit helps BJP address its second concern.

More direct control also helps the BJP in deciding how money is spent between the three regions of J&K: Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. “In three years, the outgoing government could not spend even Rs 35,000 crore, out of total 1 lakh crore of the Kashmir package,” the first BJP leader said.

“We have ensured that J&K gets sufficient funds for its development projects and there is equitable distribution of resources between the three regions,” Jitendra Singh, a junior minister in Prime Minister’s office, said.

This motivation — of enabling unimpeded security operations to ramp up political advantage or “avoid political costs” — led the BJP to withdraw support and clear the way to bring Jammu and Kashmir under direct control of the Central government.

Indore India: 4 Story Hotel Collapsed Killing At Least 10

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME NEWS)

 

(NEW DELHI) — A four-story rickety hotel building collapsed in central India, killing at least 10 people and injuring three, police said Sunday.

Rescuers working through the night with sledgehammers and chain saws pulled alive 10 people from the debris of the building, which came crashing down Saturday night in Indore, a city in Madhya Pradesh state, said police officer Sanju Kamle.

Up to five people may still be trapped under the rubble, said Nishant Warwade, the district collector.

The Times of India newspaper said the dilapidated building collapsed after a car smashed into its front portion.

The hotel with 25 rooms was located in the commercial hub of Indore, close to railway and bus stations. Indore is around 900 kilometers (560 miles) south of New Delhi.

Building collapses are common in India as builders try to cut corners by using substandard materials, and as multi-story structures are erected with inadequate supervision. The massive demand for housing around India’s cities and pervasive corruption often result in builders adding unauthorized floors or putting up illegal buildings.

In August 2017, 33 people were killed when an apartment building collapsed in India’s financial capital of Mumbai.