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Sri Lanka India’s special, trusted partner: Narendra Modi

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New Delhi, July 21: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday described Sri Lanka as special and trusted friend of India in South Asia and the Indian Ocean region. 

“When I look at Sri Lanka, I see not only a neighbour, but a very special and trusted partner of India in South Asia and in the Indian Ocean,” Modi said while jointly-e-flagging off with Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe the second phase of the pre-hospital emergency ambulance service set up with Indian aid.

“I believe that our development aid cooperation with Sri Lanka is an important means for translating our vision of shared progress into reality,” he said.

Addressing the gathering in Jaffna in Sri Lanka’s Northern Province via video link from New Delhi, Modi recalled that during his visit to Sri Lanka in 2015, Wickremesinghe had first broached the idea of Indian aid for an island-wide emergency ambulance service and the first phase was rolled out in the country’s Western and Southern Provinces in July 2016.

“During my visit last year, I had promised that India will work for expanding the pre-hospital emergency ambulance service all over Sri Lanka,” he said.

“I am happy that India has fulfilled its promise in a timely manner and we have marked the beginning of the second phase of the service.”

Stating that it is not just a coincidence that India had the privilege to be Sri Lanka’s partner in establishing this first responder service and in its expansion, Modi said: “In good times and bad, India has been, and will always be the first responder for Sri Lanka.”

He urged the people of both countries to be in constant touch with each other so that both sides know each other better and become even closer friends.

On his part, Wickremesinghe said that this free emergency ambulance service became possible only because Modi kept a promise that he had made earlier.

“We are investing a lot in health and education services and for this we are getting a lot of aid from the Indian government,” he said while thanking his Indian counterpart.

Wcikremesinghe also congratulated Modi for winning the no-confidence motion in the Indian Parliament on Friday.

IANS

India

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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Stubble Burning: 332 villages identified as red zones in Haryana

Additional chief secretary (ACS), agriculture, Sanjeev Kaushal said the Haryana government has also decided to provide financial assistance to 11,311 individual farmers who have applied for agricultural implements under the crop residue management scheme.

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In anticipation of stubble burning incidents across the state, the Haryana agriculture department has identified red, yellow/orange and green zones in every district on the basis of incidences of crop residue burning last year. An official spokesperson said 332 villages fall under the red zone and 675 in yellow zone.

Additional chief secretary (ACS), agriculture, Sanjeev Kaushal said the Haryana government has also decided to provide financial assistance to 11,311 individual farmers who have applied for agricultural implements under the crop residue management scheme ‘Promotion of Agricultural Mechanization for In-Situ Management of Crop’, in the current growing season. The total assistance of about ₹155 crore at the rate of 50 % will be given.

The department will also provide 454 balers, 5,820 super seeders, 5,418 zero till seed drills, 2,918 choppers/mulchers, 260 happy seeders, 389 straw management systems, 64 rotary slashers/shrub masters, 454 reversible mould ploughs and 288 reapers to the beneficiaries.

Online applications for agricultural implements were invited from individual farmers and societies till August 21. As many as 11,311 farmers applied for 16,647 implements, against a target of 2,741, in the individual category, he said.

The state government has also decided to give preference to small and marginal farmers in hiring of machinery from Custom Hiring Centres (CHCs), and in providing equipment to individual beneficiaries under the scheme. A comprehensive plan has been approved for crop residue management to prevent stubble burning. It included fusion of in-situ and ex-situ crop residue management techniques, apart from monitoring activities through a dedicated control room, and registration of FIRs against violators.

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Rajya Sabha holds crucial meeting as Opposition boycotts Parliament proceedings

The Opposition parties have alleged that they were informed just an hour ago about the BAC meeting, leaving them little time to attend the meeting.

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New Delhi: The Rajya Sabha has called its Business Advisory Committee (BAC) meeting on Tuesday after a day-full of hectic activities, protests and passage of several bills.

But the Opposition, which announced to boycott the Upper House for the remainder of the session, will not attend the meeting.

TMC’s Derek O’Brien, SP’s Ram Gopal Yadav, Congress’s Anand Sharma and Jairam Ramesh and RJD’s Manoj Kumar Jha are the five Opposition leaders who will skip 11-member committee meeting.

The BAC is a panel led by Rajya Saha chairman Venkaiah Naidu to discuss the weekly agenda of the House.

The meeting has been called amid indications that the House might be adjourned in a day or two.

The Opposition parties also alleged that they were informed just an hour ago about the BAC meeting, leaving them little time to attend the meeting.

Rajya Sabha officials pointed out that the meeting was decided at a short notice and all efforts were made to inform the members of the panel as quickly as possible.

On Sunday, the Rajya Sabha passed the two key farm bills – Farmer’s Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020, amid fierce protests in the house.

While the Opposition claimed that the bills were anti-farmer, the government says that these bills will help boost the farming sector through private investments. On Monday, eight Opposition MPs were suspended for unruly behaviour.

On Monday, the opposition demonstrated its disapproval in the Upper House of Parliament against the suspension of MPs and passage of these bills and boycotted the Rajya Sabha for the remaining part of the session.

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