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India, Russia sign St Petersburg Declaration for enhanced ties across the board



Putin Modi

St Petersburg, June 1 : Marking 70 years of diplomatic ties, India and Russia on Thursday signed the St Petersburg Declaration – an action plan for deepening not only political and economic development of the two countries but also to ensure a benchmark of stability in times of global instability.

The Declaration was signed following the annual bilateral summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Stating that the economies of India and Russia complement each other in the energy sector, it said that they would “strive to build an ‘Energy Bridge’ between our states and expand bilateral relations in all areas of energy cooperation, including nuclear, hydrocarbon, hydel and renewable energy sources and in improving energy efficiency”.

It said both countries have noted that wider use of natural gas, an economically efficient and environmentally friendly fuel, which has become an integral part of the global energy market, was highly significant for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“Cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy has emerged as one of the hallmarks of the strategic partnership between the two countries, contributing to India’s energy security and energizing broader scientific and technological cooperation,” said the declaration.

“With concerted efforts on both sides, there has been a series of steady and demonstrable achievements in our civil nuclear partnership, including advancing nuclear power projects at the Kudankulam site and transforming it into one of India’s largest energy hubs. We welcome the conclusion of the General Framework Agreement and Credit Protocol for Units 5 and 6 of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant.”

According to the Declaration, the growing nuclear power partnership between India and Russia has opened opportunities for developing advanced nuclear manufacturing capabilities in India in line with its ‘Make in India’ initiative.

It also stated that both countries were interested in launching joint projects on exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons in the Arctic shelf of Russia.

The Declaration sets major economic objectives including expanding trade and investment and diversification of trade in goods and services, in particular increasing the share of high-technology products, fostering industrial cooperation, improving environment for entrepreneurship and investments and developing cooperation in banking and financial matters.

On connectivity, it said this must be strengthened based on dialogue and consent of all parties concerned with due respect to sovereignty, while reiterating their commitment to build effective infrastructure for the International North South Transport Corridor and implementation of the Green Corridor.

It said given Russia’s strength in shipbuilding, river navigation and desalination technologies, both countries would work together to develop joint projects through transfer of technology and experience sharing for developing inland waterways, river embankments, ports and cargo containers towards effective utilisation of India’s extensive river systems.

They also would work on development of high speed railways, dedicated freight corridors, and application of newer technologies for efficient rail transport.

On defence cooperation, it said both countries upgrade and intensify this cooperation, “through joint manufacture, co-production and co-development of military hardware and military spares, with increasing reliance on the adoption and sharing of future technologies, in compliance with the obligations of the sides under the existing agreements on military-technical cooperation”.

Regarding the new world order, the Declaration said both India and Russia “regard the establishment of the multi-polar global order in international relations as a reflection of natural and inevitable process of evolution of interstate relations in the 21st century”.

Thus, they would enhance collaboration to democratize the system of international relations based on the principles of the rule of law and the central role of the United Nations.

Russia reaffirmed its support for India’s bid for permanent membership in the UN Security Council and the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

Both countries strongly condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and stressed “that there can be no justification whatsoever for any acts of terrorism, whether based upon ideological, religious, political, racial, ethnic or any other reasons”.

They urged all countries and entities to “work sincerely to disrupt terrorist networks and their financing, and stop cross-border movement of terrorists” and called for “early conclusion of negotiations on the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism to strengthen the global counter-terrorism normative and legal framework to combat this scourge”.


AMU students re-invite Hamid Ansari

The students’ union of Aligarh Muslim University has again invited former vice-president of India, Hamid Ansari for delivering a lecture at the university. Student leaders also want to confer him with lifetime membership of the students’ union.



Hamid Ansari

The students’ union of Aligarh Muslim University (AMUSU) has again invited former vice-president of India, Hamid Ansari for delivering a lecture at the university. Student leaders also want to confer him with lifetime membership of the students’ union.

AMUSU president Mashkoor Ahmad Usmani was in Delhi on Saturday and met Ansari at his residence in this regard.

“On behalf of AMUSU, we extended an invitation and requested the former vice president to visit our campus and deliver the lecture which was earlier scheduled on May 2,” stated Usmani.

“We also wish to confer lifetime membership to the former vice- president during his visit sometime in future. The vice-president is yet to schedule his visit and it would materialise once the dates are finalized,” added Usmani.

To recall, the former vice-president had visited AMU on May 2 for delivering a lecture. The schedule included conferring of life-time membership to him by the AMUSU.

However, the event could not materialise as a conflict took place due to the controversy over the Jinnah portrait at AMU. Right wing activists marched towards the AMU, but students accused the police of ‘allowing’ them into the campus.

In protest, angry students of AMU marched towards the Civil Lines police station but were allegedly cane-charged. Seeking judicial probe into these matters, AMU students went on strike and resorted to hunger strike which was finally called off on Wednesday.

Ansari had recently extended support to the AMU students’ agitation while urging them not to let their studies get affected.

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Delhi govt planning free dialysis at pvt hospitals: Jain




New Delhi, May 21 : The Delhi government is planning to make the dialysis procedure free at private hospitals and dialysis centres on a public-private-partnership basis, subject to conditions, Health Minister Satyendar Jain said today.

Jain said only those private hospitals and standalone centres which have more than 10 dialysis machines and are empanelled under the Delhi Government Employees Health Scheme or the Central Government Health Scheme would be eligible to become a partner in the project.

Delhi government through the Delhi Arogya Kosh will pay them Rs 1,274 per dialysis.

Delhi residents who have been living in the city for the past three years and having an annual income of less than Rs 3 lakh shall be eligible to avail the facility, Jain said.

The government is also installing dialysis machines at its own hospitals.

“We have installed 15 machines out of the 75 machines that we intend to install at various hospitals,” he said.

Jain said the idea behind providing the facility at private hospitals or dialysis centres is to cut the travel time for patients, who otherwise may have to go long distance to avail that facility at a government hospital.

“This would be like a reverse referral facility where patients would be referred to an empanelled hospital or centre nearby their home,” he said.

Jain said the government was in an “expansion mode” as far as health services were concerned.

“Five of our hospitals have already earned NABH entry-level accreditation – Pt Madan Mohan Malviya Hospital, Shri Dada Dev Matri Avum Shishu Chikitsalaya, Acharya Shree Bhikshu Hospital, Guru Gobind Singh Hospital and Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar Hospital,” he said.

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PNB fraud: ED attaches Rs 170-cr assets of Nirav Modi

According to data till March, the ED had attached over Rs 7,600 crore worth of assets of all the accused in this case.



Nirav Modi

Mumbai, May 21 : The Enforcement Directorate took fresh action against Nirav Modi and attached assets worth Rs 170 crore of the absconding diamantaire in connection with its money laundering probe in the over USD 2 billion PNB fraud case, officials said today.

They said the central probe agency issued a provisional order under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) attaching a number of bank accounts, immovable assets and share investments of Nirav Modi, his associates and business-linked firms.

Last week, the agency had seized over 34,000 pieces of jewellery worth Rs 85 crore from Gitanjali Group, owned by Nirav Modi’s uncle and jeweller Mehul Choksi, also wanted in this case.

Nirav Modi and Choksi are being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for allegedly cheating Punjab National Bank, the country’s second largest lender, to the tune of more than USD 2 billion or over Rs 13,000 crore.

The agency had recently also summoned at least four family members of Modi, including his father, brother, sister and borther-in-law, and his US-based business partner Mihir Bhansali in this case.

This case is being also being probed by the CBI and other investigative agencies.

These agencies now suspect that Nirav Modi and Choksi could now be in the United States (US).

According to data till March, the ED had attached over Rs 7,600 crore worth of assets of all the accused in this case.

The duo and others are being probed under various criminal laws after the fraud came to light this year following a complaint by PNB that they allegedly cheated the nationalised bank to the tune of over Rs 13,000 crore, with the purported involvement of a few employees of the bank.

The Central Bureau of Investigation and the ED have registered two first information reports each in the case.

The CBI, last week, had filed two charge sheets in the case before a Mumbai court, while the ED is expected to file its own prosecution complaint soon.

The ED complaint or charge sheet will focus on the money laundering aspect and the role of Nirav Modi, Choksi and others in perpetrating the alleged fraud.

Both Nirav Modi and Choski are said to have left the country before criminal cases were lodged against them.

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