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Trump phones Modi; Says India, a true friend and partner

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Washington, January 25: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump discussed the security situation in South and Central Asia during their phone conversation on Tuesday night and resolved that India and US will “stand shoulder to shoulder” to fight global terrorism, the White House said.

Strengthening Defence partnership was among the topics that came up during their talks about furthering cooperation between the two nations, according to the White House.

“Trump emphasised that the United States considers India a true friend and partner in addressing challenges around the world,” the White House said.

This was reflected in the fact that conversation between the leaders of the world’s two greatest democracies came before Trump had talked to leaders of important allies like Britain, Germany and Japan or major powers like China and Russia since formally taking office last Friday.

During his campaign, Trump praised Modi as a “great leader” and sought a kinship of ideas with him as a “pro-growth leader” when he attended a rally organised by the Republican Hindu Coalition (RHC) in New Jersey in October. He added that after his election India would have true friend in the White House.

White House said that Trump invited Modi to visit him later this year.

President Pranab Mukherjee invited Trump to visit India when he congratulated him on assuming the presidency. The real estate investor-turned-politician has visited India several times for business.

Another topic Trump and Modi discussed was strengthening the partnership in the economy, but the statement did not give any details of what they might have discussed.

Modi and Trump have parallel priorities of job creation, especially through manufacturing, and increasing investments which may appear headed for a collision.

Earlier in the day, Trump met with auto industry leaders to promote his programme of “Make in America” and on Monday, he met union and industry leaders and emphasised his campaign mantra of “Buy American, Hire American”.

Shalabh Kumar, the founder and head of the Republican Hindu Coalition who is close to both leaders, told IANS that trade need not be a zero sum game and both nations can mutually benefit from their respective “Make in India” and “Make in America” domestic manufacturing programmes.

As an example, he said that while the US increases manufactured exports to India in defence, technology and energy sectors, India will have an opportunity to take advantage of Trump’s move away from China and increase its own manufactured exports in a balanced manner. This would help create jobs in both countries and enable both leaders to achieve their priorities, he added.

Trump has also spoken about limiting the use of temporary professional visas known as H1-B, which he has repeatedly said is abused and is used throw Americans out of jobs.

That is a matter of great concern for India as the visas are the lifeblood of technology sector exports to the US.

Tuesday was a special day to hold their conversation. Nikki Haley became the first Indian American to get a cabinet-level appointment when the Senate approved on that day Trump’s nomination of her to be the US ambassador to the United Nations.

On Monday, Trump appointed Ajit Pai to be the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, the powerful agency that regulates mobile phones and the spectrum, telephones, radio, television and cable.

A third senior administration appointee of Trump is Seema Verma, who will be in charge of the government healthcare programmes and have a key role in reforming President Barack Obama’s health insurance plan.

Before the call with Modi, Trump had spoken only with the neighbours, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Pena Nieto, with premier ally Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who will have a major role in helping Trump deal with the Middle East and with terrorism.

IANS

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Is operating ratio of Indian Railways the worst: Chidambaram

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New Delhi, April 21: Congress leader P. Chidambaram on Saturday asked if the operating ratio of Indian Railways is the worst and added that if the ratio is close to 100 per cent or has exceeded it, that indicated a “comprehensive failure of management.”

He also asked if it was true that the accounts are being “dressed” to show an Operating Ratio just a little less than 100 per cent.

“What is the Operating Ratio of Indian Railways in 2017-18? Is it the worst ratio in recent years,” Chidambaram tweeted.

“Is it correct that the true Operating Ratio has exceeded 100 per cent? Is it correct that the accounts are being ‘dressed’ to show an Operating Ratio just a little less than 100 per cent,” he asked.

“If the Operating Ratio is close to 100 per cent or has exceeded 100 per cent, that indicates a comprehensive failure of management of the Indian Railways,” Chidambaram said.

IANS

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No parole for mafia don Abu Salem to get married

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A file photo of gangster Abu Salem being taken to jail after a Mumbai court sentenced him life imprisonment in the Pradeep Jain murder case in 2015.

Mumbai, April 21: The Maharashtra government on Saturday rejected an application by incarcerated mafia don Abu Salem seeking 45 days parole for getting married, official sources said here.

Among the grounds cited by the authorities are that parole is not permitted for those accused or convicted of terror charges under the revised parole rules of the Maharashtra government in 2016, an official, who declined to be identified, told IANS.

Abu Salem, who is currently undergoing life imprisonment in Taloja Central Jail, Navi Mumbai, had applied in March to the Konkan Divisional Commissioner for parole for his second marriage with Sayed Bahar Kauser alias Heena.

The marriage was scheduled for May 5 in Mumbai and he had also provided the names and details of two of his cousins who were willing to stand guarantee for him.

He planned to stay temporarily at the Mumbai home of his prospective wife Heena during the parole duration.

In his application, Abu Salem cited how he was in jail continuously since the past more than 12 years without stepping out on parole/furlough even once.

In September 2017, Abu Salem – a close confidante of absconding mafia don Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar – was convicted and sentenced to a life sentence for his role in the March 1993 serial bomb blasts in Mumbai which killed 257 and wounded over 700 others.

IANS

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Cabinet approves restructured scheme for making local bodies self-sustainable

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (File Photo: IANS)

New Delhi, April 21 (IANS) The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on Saturday approved a restructured Rashtriya Gram Swaraj Abhiyan (RGSA) scheme aimed at making rural local bodies self-sustainable, financially stable and more efficient.

Addressing a press conference here, Union Panchayati Raj Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said Prime Minister Narendra Modi — who chaired the CCEA meeting — will officially launch the scheme on April 24 in Madhya Pradesh’s Mandla.

The total outlay for the scheme during 2018-19 to 2021-2022 would be Rs 7,255 crore, of which 60 per cent would be borne by the Centre.

Tomar said the RGSA will help more than 2.55 lakh Panchayati Raj Institutions to develop governance capabilities to deliver on sustainable development goals through inclusive local governance, with a focus on optimum utilisation of available resources.

IANS

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