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India’s projects in Africa ‘empower rather than extract’: Jaishankar

The minister didn’t refer to other countries involved in the development of Africa in his remarks, made during a virtual event organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry, but it appeared he was comparing India’s track record to that of China.

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External affairs minister S Jaishankar on Tuesday held up India as Africa’s most steadfast partner, whose projects would “empower rather than extract from local communities” and ensure sustainable development.

Jaishankar didn’t refer to other countries involved in the development of Africa in his remarks, made during a virtual event organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry, but it appeared he was comparing India’s track record to that of China.

Describing maritime security as the new frontier in cooperation between the two sides, he said India offers Africa “an honest partnership and room to maximise its space under the sun and multiply its options” in all spheres.

“Africa is, of course, not without its options and by no stretch does India claim to be the only one. However, what we can promise is to be Africa’s most steadfast partner,” he said in his speech at the CII-Exim Bank digital conclave on the India-Africa project partnership.

Pointing to India’s partnership with Africa, Jaishankar said the country has implemented 194 developmental projects in 37 African countries and is working on 77 more in 29 countries with a total outlay $11.6 billion. These projects, which are in sectors such as infrastructure, ICT, power generation, water, roads, railways and agriculture, foster entrepreneurship and “empower rather than extract from local communities”, he said.

The projects also marry transparency and technology with imperatives of social and ecological sustainability, he said. “This is the template we offer our African friends,” he added.

In recent years, China has faced criticism for bringing in large numbers of its nationals to work on projects in Africa and for “debt trap” financing of projects under its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Against the backdrop of the border standoff in Ladakh, India has stepped up developmental assistance and projects for countries in its immediate neighbourhood.

Jaishankar also highlighted the importance of the Indian Ocean in ties between India and Africa, saying it has “acquired even greater salience” and the two sides “need to cooperate to preserve and protect it”.

In the field of trade, the minister noted that India is Africa’s third-largest export and Indian investments in the continent total $54 billion. He also welcomed the coming into force of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement because of the possibility of increased business. India’s oil and gas firms have invested $7 billion in a gas field in Mozambique and $0.5 billion in South Sudan, and these make Africa a “crucial energy partner for India”, he said.

Jaishankar also pointed to India’s maintenance of critical supply chains to provide medical supplies to Africa amid the Covid-19 pandemic as another instance of its reliability as a partner. Describing the pandemic as the most debilitating global event of the past 80 years, he said it posed a challenge to the global economy, reliability of supply chains and achievement of Sustainable Development Goals.

“For India, Africa’s rise as one of the global system’s poles is not just desirable, it is absolutely necessary. In fact, it is fundamental to our foreign policy thinking. Broader global rebalancing is incomplete without the genuine emergence of Africa. Only then will the world’s strategic diversity come into full play,” he said.

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Saraswat Brahmins want ban on burning of Ravan’s effigies

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Saraswat Brahmin

Mathura (Uttar Pradesh), Oct 25 : The Saraswat Brahmin community in Mathura has sought a ban on the practice of burning effigies of Ravan, year after year.

“The Hindu religion does not permit burning of effigies of a person who has already been cremated,” Omvir Saraswat, who heads the Lankesh Mandal, said.

“Burning of effigies of Ravan amounts to ‘Brahma Hatya’ (slaying of Brahmin). Even Lord Ram, after slaying Ravan, had offered prayers for his soul in Lanka. He also asked his younger brother Laxman to take the blessings of Ravan,” Saraswat added.

He said that as per Hindu tradition, burning effigies of a dead person amounts to showing disrespect for him which is not even permitted by law. The practice must be stopped because a section of society holds Ravan in high esteem.

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‘Scared to face truth’: Rahul Gandhi takes a jibe at Mohan Bhagwat, says govt and RSS allowed China to take our land

RSS marks Vijay Dashmi as one of its biggest events when the RSS chief addresses the RSS workers on a number of issues concerning politics, society, national security and family values.

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Rahul Gandhi

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Sunday said BJP Government and the RSS allowed China to to take our land as Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat said that Indian defence forces, government and the people responded sharply to China’s boisterous efforts to invade the country’s territories.

“It’s clear to world how China encroached and is still encroaching our borders. Everyone is aware of its expansionist behaviour. This time, it has picked up fight with Taiwan, Vietnam, US, Japan, along with India. But India’s response has made China nervous,” Bhagwat said in his address at the annual Dussehra function at Maharshi Vyas auditorium, RSS headquarters in Nagpur.

Sharing screenshot of an ANI tweet, Rahul Gandhi said, “Deep inside, Mr Bhagwat knows the truth. He is just scared to face it. The truth is China has taken our land and GOI & RSS have allowed it.”

India and China are engaged in a standoff since April-May this year starting from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh in Northeast. India has deployed close to 60,000 soldiers to counter the Chinese Army which first moved troops to transgress into Indian areas in Pangong Lake and other adjoining locations.

Bhagwat asserted that securing cooperative ties with our neighbours and at international relations is the only way to neutralise the expansionist aspirations of China and “our present policies seem to be charting those very horizons”

“Rising above China economically and strategically. We intend to be friendly with all. This is our nature. But mistaking our benevolence for weakness and attempts to disintegrate or weaken us by sheer brute force is unacceptable. Our reckless detractors should know this by now,” he said.

“Until recently the philosophy of integrating the world on the basis of the market forces dominated but with the latest turn of events, the idea of safeguarding life and exercising international cooperation has started to take shape in the global mind. We should speed up our pace in making our relations more friendly with Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, our neighbours, who are also our friends and countries of similar nature to a large extent,” he added.

“The role of China in the context of COVID-19 pandemic can be said to be doubtful, but it was clear to the whole world, the manner in which China attempted to encroach on India’s borders, because of its economic strategic force. Indian defence forces, government and the people remained unfazed and responded sharply to China’s boisterous efforts to invade our territories,” he further said.

RSS marks Vijay Dashmi as one of its biggest events when the RSS chief addresses the RSS workers on a number of issues concerning politics, society, national security and family values.

(With agency inputs)

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World becoming fan of our local products: PM Modi

He added that previously there were massive fairs (melas) on the occasion of Dussehra…but in present times, they took on a different form.

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Narendra Modi

New Delhi, Oct 25 : Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said that since India is opting for ‘vocal for local’, many of the local Indian products have the potential of becoming globally popular and are attracting a lot of attention.

“World is becoming a fan of our local products. One such example is Khadi. Our Khadi is being known as nature friendly fabric plus its becoming a fashion statement,” said Prime Minister Narendra Modi while addressing the Mann Ki Baat programme.

The Prime Minister also said that Khadi has since a long time been a statement of “simplicity”. He added that the fabric has health benefits as its body-friendly and is also an all-weather fabric.

He said that on Gandhi Jayanti, the Khadi store in National capital’s Connaught Place witnessed a massive sale of Rs 1 crore.

The Prime Minister also asked the citizens to opt for local products while going out for shopping during the festive times. “When you go out to buy something during these festive times, remember the vocal for local,” he said.

“During the lockdown, we closely came to know about those members of society, without whom our lives would be miserable. Sanitation workers, brothers and sisters working as domestic helps, local vegetable vendors, milkmen, security guards….we have now felt the significance of their roles in our lives in a better way,” the PM said.

The PM said that during this crisis, these people were with us, now during the festivities, we shall make these people a part of our celebrations.

“I earnestly urge you to ensure, in whatever way, in making them a part of your celebrations. Treat them as members of your own family…you will see for yourself how your joy rises by leaps and bounds,” PM Modi said.

The Prime Minister also wished the nation on the occasion of Vijay Dashmi or Dusshera. “On this auspicious occasion, heartiest greetings to all of you. The festival of Dussehra is one of the triumph of truth over untruth. But, simultaneously, it is also the festival of victory of patience over crises,” he said.

“Today, all of you are carrying on with immense patience, celebrating the festival with restraint…and hence, in our ongoing fight, our victory too is assured, he said.

He added that previously there were massive fairs (melas) on the occasion of Dussehra…but in present times, they took on a different form.

The festival of Ramleela too was one of its major attractions….but now, that too has been restricted to some extent. Earlier during Navratra, the notes of Garba of Gujarat would reverberate all over….this time all grand events have been curtailed. Many more festivals are on the way in the days to come, he said.

The Prime Minister also asked the Indian citizens to think of the braveheart soldiers who are firmly stationed on our borders in line of duty. “Even during these festive time, all in service, security of Mother India. We have to light a lamp at home in honour of these brave sons, daughters of Mother India,” he said.

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