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Conflict between Western Europe and US over Russian pipeline

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Angela Merkel

There is a greater likelihood of an economic conflict breaking out between Europe and US over the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project with Russia. Fearing that the project would result in increase Russia’s influence in Europe, the Trump administration has threatened Germany of harsh economic sanctions if Berlin proceeds ahead with the Nord Stream 2.

United States main aim is to counter Russia and China that have flooded the global markets with cheap products and for this President Donald Trump has turned on tariffs plan as a part of his economic agenda but in the process, it is hurting American allies.

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline is projected to deliver 55 billion cubic meters of Russian natural gas annually from newly tapped reserves in Siberia across the Baltic Sea to Germany, bypassing Ukraine.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed US criticism of the pipeline project due to the transit route through Ukraine with President Vladimir Putin during a meeting in Sochi, Russia, on Friday.

Merkel said, “The question of what sort of guarantees can be offered to Ukraine in the industrial project of Nord Stream 2.”

Meanwhile, U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, as well as the White House, has been opposing Russia’s gas export monopoly Gazprom PJSC from completing the Nord Stream 2 link under the Baltic Sea and is in favour of imposing sanctions on Germany to prevent it.

Sandra Oudkirk, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Diplomacy, said in Berlin that Washington is concerned about Nord Stream 2 that could increase Russia’s “malign influence” in Europe. “There are security issues linked as Russia could install undersea surveillance equipment in the Baltic Sea, a sensitive military region.”

The United States is opposing the project as it seeks to export its own LNG to Europe.

Germany is switching off coal and all nuclear plants by 2022 and making gas the only fuel to be used to fulfill the country’s pledge to sharply reduce carbon emissions and it also promises much-needed jobs in Berlin.

Some of the most vocal critics have been the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, whose foreign ministers traveled to Washington last week to meet Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula in 2014 — prompting EU sanctions in response.

The Trump administration has announced that it is giving Europe 30 days to strike a deal with the US that would limit the amount of steel and aluminum it exports to the US. If no deal is struck, the US will initiate a 10 percent tariff on Europe’s aluminum exports and a 25 percent tariff on its steel exports to the US.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker threatened to put tariffs on goods like blue jeans, bourbon, and Harley-Davidson motorcycles in response to Trump’s move. That could decrease demand for those products and lead to US workers losing their jobs.

Acknowledging that America  is facing the re-emergence of great power competition among the US, Russia and China, the US Department of Defence considers the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR’s) analysis and recommendations are grounded in a realistic assessment of today’s strategic environment.

Army Secretary Mark T. Esper said the U.S. military must be prepared for a high-end fight as these evolving challenges reflect the changing character of war. “We are entering an era where our forces will be under constant observation, disrupted communications – if not nonexistent communications,” he said.

The 2018 review takes all the challenges under consideration and maintains the traditional deterrence strategy to shape potential adversaries calculations, with some tweaks to ensure there is no miscalculation of America’s intent.

By Arti Bali,
arti

(Senior Journalist)

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Aatmanirbhar Bharat: Tribal Affairs Ministry to ink 2 MoUs with KVIC

A Tribal Affairs Ministry source related to development said that the two MoUs will be signed later this week.

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Employment Generation programme

New Delhi, Jan 17 : Giving a major thrust to the government’s ambitious Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan, the Tribal Affairs Ministry is all set to sign two MoUs with the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) for procurement of Khadi fabric for tribal students and for partnering with KVIC in implementing the flagship employment generation scheme – Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP).

The ministry will purchase over 6 lakh metres of Khadi fabric worth nearly Rs 15 crore for uniforms of tribal students studying in Eklavya residential schools across the country.

As part of the second MoU, National Scheduled Tribe Finance Development Corporation (NSTFDC), an agency of the Tribal Affairs Ministry, will be roped in as KVIC’s partner in implementing PMEGP scheme. NSTFDC is an agency that provides concessional loan schemes for economic development of tribals in India for funding entrepreneurial ventures of aspiring scheduled tribes in all sectors of the economy.

A Tribal Affairs Ministry source related to development said that the two MoUs will be signed later this week.

The MoUs are in line with the government’s Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan by creating local and self employment for Khadi artisans and the tribals. The huge purchase of Khadi fabric will create additional employment and income for artisans, a government official said. Similarly, roping in the Tribal Affairs Ministry with PMEGP will increase its ambit and also include more entrepreneurs from the ST community with local manufacturing.

Officials said the first MoU for purchase of Khadi fabric will be between NESTS and KVIC while the other one one will be between NSTFDC and KVIC.

The source said that the Tribal Affairs Ministry, which runs Eklavya residential schools where at present 75,000 students are studying, proposes to establish a total of 750 schools by 2022. He said that with 750 more schools, a total of 3.6 lakh students will be enrolled in these schools, which has been envisioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The source said that each school will have 480 students.

He further explained that the ministry has recently standardised school uniform design for the students in the schools with a distinct logo in partnership with National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) based in New Delhi.

The source said that keeping in view the focus of the government and the call of the Prime Minister to embrace Khadi as a philosophy and recently as a critical component of the Aatmanirbhar Bharat strategy, the Tribal Affairs Ministry felt it appropriate to source the fabric for uniforms of Eklavya residential schools from KVIC after several rounds of discussions.

He said that current requirement of around 6 lakh metres will increase in subsequent years as enrolment in the schools will go up.

“In order to take this forward, the Ministry through NESTS shall be entering into an MoU for procuring the fabric at an approximate cost of Rs 14.77 crore for 2020-21.”

The source further said that as two dresses are given each year and number of students will increase every year with establishment of new schools, this would be an annual affair and procurement is likely to multiply every year and expected to be of Rs 50 crore by 2022.

He also said that it would not only give quality dress material to the students but also give employment to thousand of artisans and workers across the country.

The source said that based on the success of school uniform initiative, other requirements of schools like bedding, towels, ‘dari’, and others can also be procured from KVIC in future.

“Therefore the proposed MoU between NSTFDC and KVIC will formalise this arrangement and will be a landmark initiative to bring synergy between NSTFDC and KVIC in reaching out to tribal entrepreneurs under the larger ambit of PMEGP scheme,” the source added.

The source further said that the MoU will be signed in presence of Union ministers Nitin Gadkari and Arjun Munda.

(Anand Singh can be contacted at [email protected])

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Horror of Jan 1990 continues to haunt migrant Kashmiri Pandits

For a common Kashmiri, both Muslim and Hindu, world has never been the same after January 1990.

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kashmiri pandit

Jammu, Jan 17 : The world for 70-year-old Autar Krishan Raina has never been the same place, not after he left his home in Srinagar in the aftermath of that horrifying night in January 1990.

“I never believed that old wounds could hurt so hard. I have often been jolted out of sleep as if those frightening slogans are still going on outside my home.

“We lived peacefully among our Muslim neighbours in Aaali Kadal area of downtown Srinagar. I had grown up alongside my best friend, Afzal, who would sit beside my mother like her second son.

“My mother loved Afzal like she would have if I had a blood brother,” Raina recalls the good old days walking down the memory lane to identify his home in Aali Kadal which today is a half-fallen ruin.

He now lives in Jammu city where his son and daughter grew up.

The daughter is a doctor while his son is working in Mumbai as a software engineer. Raina lost his wife two years after the family migrated with hundreds of other Kashmiri Pandits to take shelter away from home.

“My tragedy is that I did not only lose my home and friends. I have lost faith in the goodness of humankind,” he recalled with moist eyes requesting not to be pushed to relive the horror he has been through.

The exodus of Kashmiri Pandits has haunted both local Hindus and Muslims. For centuries, the two communities had co-existed with intertwined destinies. Eid and Maha Shivratri had been common festivals.

The shrine of Sheikh Humza Makhdoom atop the Hari Parbat hillock in old Srinagar city has wonderfully blend with the neighbouring temple of Sharika Devi.

Muslims and local Pandits have paid obeisance at these two places of faith to pray for brotherhood, love and mutual respect. Their societal interests have been common. Imagining life without each other was impossible till 1990.

All that was shattered and lost during the January of 1990. Slogans of ‘Azadi’ (Freedom) had achieved just one objective, Kashmiri Pandits lost their home and hearth while the local Muslims lost their innocence.

For a common Kashmiri, both Muslim and Hindu, world has never been the same after January 1990.

Local Muslims have suffered immensely at the hands of those who hated their lofty traditions and the ideals of religious tolerance. Local Hindus have become refugees in their own country.

“We lost our homeland. Living as refugees in your own country is perhaps a tragedy only the Kashmiri Pandit has suffered. The future of my children is safe, but they have lost their roots,” Raina ends his story as he closes the door of his house away from home.

Will Kashmir ever be the same as it was before January 1990? Might be it will, but the wounds in the hearts and minds of those who suffered the horror of those days and nights will continue to fester because some wounds are never fully healed.

(Sheikh Qayoom can be contacted at [email protected])

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Congress’s women wing to observe ‘Mahila Kisan Diwas’ on Monday

Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi and former party chief Rahul Gandhi joined the protest march here on Friday to show solidarity with the protesting farmers.

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Mahila Kisan Diwas

The women wing of the Congress has decided to observe “Mahila Kisan Diwas” (Women Farmers’ Day) on Monday, to show solidarity with the thousands of farmers’ protesting against the three controversial farm laws.

All India Mahila Congress president Sushmita Dev said: “The All India Mahila Congress which has been at the forefront of the fight for women’s rights wholeheartedly welcomes this and will support this call to observe Mahila Kisan Diwas.”

The Congress’ women wing said that the farmers have played a critical role in the fight for justice and have shown the country the importance of women in agriculture and in revolution.

They have not only left their homes to protest against the farm laws, but also worked to ensure more awareness amongst people on how these legislations will destroy their livelihood.

Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi and former party chief Rahul Gandhi joined the protest march here on Friday to show solidarity with the protesting farmers.

Speaking on the occasion, Rahul Gandhi said: “Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not respect the farmers… the party is in farmerss support till these laws are withdrawn.”

Slamming the BJP, the Congress leader said the government is working for businessmen and these laws are not in favour of the farmers.

The Congress on Friday staged protests at all Raj Bhavans (Governor’s House) across the country and demanded the withdrawal of the farm laws.

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