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PM Modi opens IEF16, calls for responsible oil, gas pricing



New Delhi, April 11: Noting that India will be a key driver of global energy demand in the next quarter century, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday called for “responsible” pricing in the hydrocarbons market so as to balance the interests of oil and gas producers and consumers.

Inaugurating the 16th International Energy Forum (IEF) ministerial here, being held in India after a gap of 22 years, Modi said that a massive transformation has been underway in the energy market with consumption growth shifting from the developed world to the emerging and developing economies.

“The world has seen prices on a roller coaster for much too long. We need responsible prices to balance the interests of both producer and consumer,” Modi said.

The Prime Minister said energy demand in India is projected to grow at 4.5 per cent in the next 25 years, while gas demand was expected to triple.

“We need a transparent and flexible market…there has to be a mutually supportive relationship between producers and consumers. Efforts at artificially distorting prices are self-defeating as history has shown us,” he said.

“Let us build a global consensus on responsible pricing which will serve both producer and consumer. In a period of global uncertainty, India needs energy security,” Modi added.

He pointed to the transformation in the energy market with the Shale Revolution in the US that would soon make America the largest oil producer, the move by oil companies to invest more in renewables and the use of technology like the “internet of things (IoTs), artificial intelligence, robotic process, automation, machine learning and 3D printing” by the industry.

In view of these changes, “India provides a perfect setting for discussing the future of the energy section”, Modi said.

Hosted by India, and co-hosted by China and Korea, IEF16 aims to focus on how global shifts, transition policies and new technologies influence market stability and future investment in the energy sector around the theme of “The Future of Energy Security”.

Among ministers from overseas attending the meeting this year are those from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Iran, Qatar, Nigeria, Japan, China, Russia and the US.

Saudi Arabian Petroleum Minister Khalid Al-Falih in his address called for creating “an enabling environment along the entire value chain” as fossil fuels “will be there for some time to come”.

Noting that the future supply situation of energy sources, particularly of oil, is “not reasssuring”, he said the producers in the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) “remain committed to the long-term market”.

“Saudi Arabia and Russia are discussing extending the cooperation and monitoring of the market to extend stability,” he said referring to the crude output cuts agreed in 2017 between OPEC and Russia in a move to stop the slide in oil prices that had fallen to around $25 a barrel two years ago. Crude currently is averaging around $70 a barrel.



PNB fraud: Mehul Choksi seeks cancellation of NBW over threat to life on TV



Mehul Choksi

Mumbai, Sep 21 (IANS) Gitanjali Group owner Mehul Choksi, wanted in Rs 13,500 crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case, on Friday moved a special CBI court claiming danger to his life after his return to India and sought cancellation of a non-bailable warrant issued against him.

In an application filed through his lawyer Sanjay Abbott, Choksi said his “apprehensions over his safety are based upon what transpired during a recent television debate on the fraud”.

In his application, Choksi informed the court that he was shocked to watch a TV debate on July 27, 2018 in which two callers on live television suggested that a special team consisting of special agents should be formed and suggested that the team should track the whereabouts of the present applicant and he (Choksi) should be “shot down”.

Choksi further said that the anchor also did not criticise the comment made by the caller and tactily agreed to it without any retaliation or without condemning the comment, “he laughingly said ok”.

Choksi said the caller also declared that the applicant (Choksi) is guilty and said that “killing of one person will set an example”.

“The above facts make it clear that the present applicant (Choksi) has serious threat to life on his return as if a person is having the audacity to suggest to shoot the applicant on national television, then one can easily imaging the threat that the applicant (Choksi) is facing if he returns to India,” it said.

Choksi, who had acquired Antiguan citizenship ealier this year, through his lawyer also sent some audio and video CDs claiming that they contained the cited footage from the news channel debate.

He has urged the court to make his submission a part of the court records and, in light of the same, to cancel the non bailable warrant issued against him.

On May 22 this year, the court had issued the NBW against Choksi after taking cognisance of the second charge sheet filed in the PNB fraud case by the CBI.

Choksi’s lawyer speaking to IANS said, “The court has directed the CBI to file reply on the submissions made by Choksi by October 3 which is the next date of hearing.”

Earlier in June this year, Choksi had filed a plea claiming that he had been advised bed rest on account of his ill health following a “heart operation”.

In his plea Choksi also said that he feared that once in India, the probe agencies would not help him secure the kind of medical treatment and supervision he required.

He had also raised the issue of “trend of mob lynching” in the country, and he feared that he might become a victim of such lynching.

Choksi and Nirav Modi are under probe by both the CBI and ED. The ED had on May 24 and 26 filed the chargesheets against both. The court took cognisance and issued non-bailable warrants against them.

Nirav Modi left India along with his family in the first week of January, weeks before the scam was reported to the CBI. His wife Ami, a US citizen, left on January 6 and Choksi on January 4.

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Women continue to be casualties of paternalistic traditions, mindset should change: Sonia



Sonia Gandhi

St. Petersburg, Sep 21 : Former Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Friday said women in India continue to be the “casualties of paternalistic traditions” and still suffer the brunt of discrimination and gender inequality. She said her party is striving to fight these forces and called for a “change in mindset”.

Gandhi said her party has always championed the rights of women and maintained a strong commitment towards empowering them as it is committed to introducing reservations for women in one-third of the seats in Parliament.

“In the 70 years that have passed since we gained our Independence, women in India have fought against poverty, disease, discrimination, and patriarchy. Yet, they continue to be the casualties of paternalistic traditions that dominate many of our communities,” said Gandhi.

“Women still suffer the brunt of discrimination and gender inequality, even violence. While we strive to work against these forces in India, I am struck by how common are the challenges that women across the world face today in impediments to a life of dignity and equality,” she added addresing the second Eurasian Women’s Forum here.

Gandhi recollected how Russia in 1941, Hitler’s blitzkrieg of mighty tanks and armies was stopped in its tracks not just by the men of the Krasnaya Armiya, but by the combined effort of over one million women who were on the front line as soldiers, fighter pilots, doctors, tank drivers, aircraft gunners, partisans, and snipers as well as support staff.

Gandhi also said the integral role that women will play in the future of humanity is well recognised in the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. “We all understand that these goals will only be attained if we ensure the full participation, and even leadership of women,” she said.

The Congress leader also said: “We will not be able to reverse this reality overnight. But it is my hope that in alliance with progressive male counterparts, we can help open up this space.

“In our country, it is a matter of pride for me that the Congress party is committed to introducing reservations for women in one-third of the seats in the national parliament. Such legislation will be an important stepping stone for our women,” she added.

Stressing that mindset should change, Gandhi said: “As we all know, laws alone do not change the world. It is far more important to change mindset. This is the challenge before us as we embark on our discussions today.”

She further said: “We must also pay tribute to women elsewhere who were in the political frontline of earlier battles, to the powerful ideas unleashed by women’s movements that have changed society’s outlook across the world.”

“we must recognise that, as women who have been able to exercise political authority and privilege, we have a moral obligation and duty to ensure that we help give voice to women across the world, who have been kept silent so far,” said Gandhi.

Gandhi also said the movement to advance and secure the lives of women must be one that is inclusive of all sections and accepting of all differences.

“We must also recognise that the majority of women continue to remain victims of oppression, violence and discrimination. All too often, inequality has been imposed on women in the name of ‘tradition’ within the family and community. That needs to change. We cannot accept recurring mistreatment, as a way of life,” said Gandhi.

“We must work to create a climate where women are given an equal share in the workplace and in public office,” she added.

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Shock, anger in India after French Prez’s revelation on Rafale deal



Kapil Sibal

“It’s a significant revelation. A website in France disclosed that French President Hollande made a statement that Dassault didn’t choose Mr Ambani’s company and it was GOI which insisted on choosing him as a partner with Dassault. It contradicts what GOI has been saying,” ANI quoted senior Congress leader and former Law Minister Kapil Sibal as saying.

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