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US dismisses China’s suggestions to tackle North Korea’s threats

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North Korea has been arming itself massively for Nuclear War and the provocative developments of test firing missiles of high intensity  and long range having the capability to strike US ,US bases in the East Asia and the allies is threatening the stability in the Korean Peninsula.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in his inaugural visit to East Asia has announced the termination of “strategic patience” policy with North Korea.This  policy was based on maintaining sanctions against Pyongyang  for  halting their  nuclear ambitions .Kim Jong Un after taking power in March 2014 pushed tensions to extraordinary levels  by conducting over 150 missile,rocket and artillery tests  with threats of nuclear strikes against Seoul and Washington to deter regular US-South Korea joint military drills.

 

Recently in March 2017 Kim simultaneously test-fired four missiles in the direction of Japan towards the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station at Iwakuni in Japan stating that Pyongyang was testing its capacity “to strike the bases of the US imperialist aggressor  forces in Japan.”

 

During his trip Trump’s top diplomat Tillerson promised to follow a “new approach” to deal with North Korean ballistic missile and nuclear threat but did not elaborate on the details of what this new approach would entail  but he however clarified  all options are on the table  including possible pre-emptive strike  and negotiations are no longer an option.

 

On reaching Tokyo,Tillerson reassured Japan of protecting it against any aggression and stated that efforts over the past 20 years to halt North Korea’s nuclear development had failed.In China, Tillerson dismissed Chinese suggestions of resuming long abandoned six-party talks on Pyongyang  and also declined  to stop Washington-Seoul joint military exercises.

 

Referring the tensions in Korean peninsula  to a “dangerous level”, Tillerson advised China to give up its opposition to the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile  which is being deployed in Seoul.

Trump is not inclined to continue financial aid to North Korea because America has invested $1.3 billion since 1995 but got nothing in return.The continued provocations of North Korea would likely bring US, China , South Korea closer to each other for maintaining the stability in the region and they may  negotiate some interim agreement  that freezes North Korea’s nuclear weapons programs in return for lifting some economic sanctions .

arti bali

By : Arti Bali

Senior Journalist

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Modi’s informal summits with Jinping, Putin : A big failure

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi started his tenure by pledging to take India to new heights by declaring it a power of South Asia but has ended into becoming subservient to China with a weak economy.

The informal summits undertaken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Wuhan with Chinese president Xi Jinping and at Sochi with Russian President Vladimir Putin has been necessitated due to the rapidly changing global equations involving Korean Peninsula,China’s rise, China’s militarisation of the South China Sea, US-China economic estrangement and US withdrawing from the Iran Nuclear Deal.

Modi’s decision of making India a defence and logistically of United States has not brought any dividends rather President Donald Trump has reiterated its intention to undo the existing policy enabling spouses of H-1B workers to get work permits. Trump’s announcement of US unilaterally quitting the Iran deal also presented tough walk ahead for India.

Modi has realized how he has wasted his four years traveling across the world with inconsistent and random foreign policy initiatives as Americans have always kept their economic, strategic and military interests paramount even during their bilateral relations.

In his “America First” national security strategy, President Trump has explicitly named China and Russia as “competition” that seek to “challenge American power, influence, and interests” and attempt “to erode American security and prosperity”.

Last year, US President Donald Trump had signed a law, ‘The Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act’, CAATSA, imposing sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea. China has invested heavily in the economies of Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka to the tune of more than $150 billion thus encircling India and it has huge trade

volumes with US and exports rebounded more strongly in April and outperformed other Asian trade-reliant economies amid a heated trade dispute with the United States. But Modi is again misguiding people of India as no country in South Asia is interested to build close ties with New Delhi.

The divergence in policy and ideas can be seen on the statements issued by India and China. There was no convergence between the two sides on terrorism as China made a mention of the word ‘terrorism’ only once and that too in a generalised form while India elaborately describes terrorism in Pakistan.

After displaying muscle power at Doklam, India sought mutual trust and ‘predictability and effectiveness in the management of border affairs but China justifies its actions by terming that it will never compromise on defending its sovereignty. Indian statement stressed that the trade should be balanced, sustainable and that we should take advantage of the complementaries between the two economies to enhance the trade and investment.

The word ‘balance’ was conspicuously absent in Chinese document .”India’s trade deficit with China increased more than two-fold (219 percent) from $16 billion in 2007-08 to $51 billion in 2016-17, according to the Commerce Ministry data.

China has begun large-scale mining operation in Lhunze county under its control adjacent to Arunachal Pradesh where a huge trove of gold, silver and other precious minerals has been found. Beijing has defended mining operations, saying that the area belongs to it India’s weak economy due to faulty decisions of Modi government has emboldened China who are constructing “permanent hangers” in upgraded airfields that include Hotan, Hoping and Lhasa -in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) that face India. China has 14 airbases in the Lanzhou and Chengdu regions, opposite to Ladakh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim.

It is right to mention that it’s the economy stupid that proclaim a country superpower and China has penetrated the global market with Xi Jinping’s OBOR initiative and has huge investments in different sectors like in digital, telecom, power, engineering in Indian economy as well. Modi has realised that time has slipped away and he cannot build strong economy through his personalised approach in the present scenario where only economic ties with rivals and other competitors can flourish Indian economy.

As India knitted close ties with the United States under Modi, Russia has stepped up its strategic ties with India’s arch-rival Pakistan. Russia in December 2017 also signed the joint declaration of the six-nation conference asking for resolution of Kashmir issue under the UNSC resolution. Modi’s informal talks with Putin focussed on defence ties including  the S-400 Triumf anti-aircraft missile systems which are required by India to counter the emerging air threats. AS major defence purchases from Russia would attract sanctions from US while delivery of the systems is to begin within 54 months from the date of signing.

Modi is in search of good slogans for 2019 Lok Saha elections, in these 4 years, Modi has described his critics as doomsayers, blamed the previous Congress government for India’s economic ills, painted himself as an outsider. He gets nervous about being criticised and showcases himself as a victim.

By Arti Bali,
arti

(Senior Journalist)

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What a governor must do

Supreme Court must now address itself to protecting the institution from political machinations.

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Had the governor played by the rules, the nation would have been saved an unsavoury spectacle. There was no doubt that the post-poll Congress-JD(S) alliance had the numbers. The BJP, with only 104, could not have manufactured a majority except through dubious means. In such situations, it is important for constitutional authorities to act in accordance with their oath of office and preserve and protect the Constitution rather than act in a blatantly partisan manner.

Let us examine the fall-out of the decision of the governor transgressing constitutional norms. First, governors are consistently being seen as the long arm of the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah axis, whether in Goa, Manipur or Meghalaya and earlier in Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Governors are playing to the tune of the Pied Piper in New Delhi. The institution of governor has become suspect. Second and perhaps more serious is the impact of such existential playouts on the common man. People understand the nature of electoral politics. But when they see institutions being consistently devalued, they start losing faith not only in the institutions and those who occupy them, but also in democracy. That is truly worrisome.

The third element of concern is the manner in which the governor decided to administer the oath of office on May 17 to B S Yeddyurappa and to later prove his majority on the floor of the Assembly. That decision was taken late on Wednesday evening. The governor knew that the Congress-JD(S) alliance was likely to challenge the order and that by fixing the swearing-in at 9 am the next morning, it was highly unlikely for the court to give a hearing in the intervening period. Luckily, the Chief Justice of India was gracious enough to grant a hearing. That window of opportunity gave the Congress-JD(S) alliance some hope that the battle could still be won.

The court was confronted with the decision of the governor to swear in Yeddyurappa the next morning and ask him to prove his majority on the floor of the Assembly within 15 days. This was an invitation to the BJP to carry out political poaching. The court was aware that the Congress-JD(S) alliance, pursuant to the notifications issued by the Election Commission of India, had within its fold 116 MLAs with the support of an independent, taking the tally to 117.

The decision of the governor, therefore, to swear in Yeddyurappa could not have been based on numbers. The court should then have considered as to why Yeddyurappa was favoured in preference to an alliance which clearly had majority support in the Assembly. The letter to the governor by Yeddyurappa on May 15 was not before the court. It was clear that there was nothing on record to show that Yeddyurappa could claim support of any of the MLAs belonging to the Congress-JD(S) alliance. In these circumstances, it is settled law that the governor should not have invited Yeddyurappa and instead invited H D Kumaraswamy, leader of the JD(S), to form the government since the Congress had on May 15 written to the governor extending support to the JD(S).

On the 15th evening, a communication had been sent by the JD(S) as well as the Congress party to the governor along with signatures of all the MLAs, barring two, extending their support to the leadership of Kumaraswamy. These communications were on record. Despite these facts, the court declined to stay the order of the governor on the basis that he was not represented and that no such order could be passed in his absence. Whether such an order could have been passed or not is now history.

But the consequences of not granting stay of the order of the governor inviting Yeddyurappa were somewhat serious. The order of the governor in the light of the statement of the prime minister — “Sarkar toh hamaari hi banegi (It is only our government which will be formed)” — was a clear indication that the governor was on his side and was doing his bidding and that by all means, fair or foul, the BJP will install its government in Karnataka. This only meant that the message from the party leadership, with Amit Shah waxing eloquent in Karnataka, the Bellary brothers at work, allegedly keeping a couple of MLAs of the Congress-JD(S) alliance in captivity, was that all means would be adopted to manufacture a majority.

Had the BJP got a majority, what would have happened? The court would have been presented with a fait accompli of a government firmly in the saddle: A government born with taint but clothed with legality. It would have been impossible to render a judicial verdict holding such a formation to be unconstitutional. Corruption, illegality and impropriety, all put together, would have triumphed and the court would not have been able to dislodge the government. Not granting a stay gave an impetus to use illegal means to manufacture a majority. It goes to the credit of the Congress and the JD(S) that they were able to keep their flock together. The two who were allegedly captive came back home.

Perhaps the watchful eye of the Supreme Court made all the difference along with its sagacious decision to order a floor test on May 19 almost eliminating the scope of political poaching. Public view of the assembly proceedings made the taking of the trust vote transparent.

There are two lessons to be learnt. First, that the institution of the governor must be protected from the machinations of political parties. Two, that the Supreme Court must, once and for all, give a clear verdict on the role of the governors in such situations. When next the curtain rises after another assembly election, the country should not be witness again to the destruction of constitutional values, the protection of which alone is of seminal importance. In an era of declining political morality, constitutional values are under siege. As in this case, the courts must be ever vigilant.

The writer, a former Union minister, is a senior Congress leader

Courtesy: This article is published in Indianexpress on 22 May 2018

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Four years of PM Narendra Modi: What worked, what didn’t and what still can

In the 2018 budget, the government was widely expected to announce a National Employment Policy, which would lay a comprehensive roadmap for job creation, but that did not happen.

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Narendra Modi

On 26 May, Prime Minister Narendra Modi completes four years as the head of India’s first majority government since 1984. While campaigning for the 2014 general elections, Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had made a slew of promises to end the 10-year rule of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance. A corruption-free regime, 10 million new jobs a year and doubling farm incomes by 2022 were among those promises.

With less than a year to go before the next election, VCCircle takes a look at the Modi government’s four big achievements and failures during its tenure and four major opportunities it can still tap into.

Hits

Goods and Services Tax: Although the landmark legislation that overhauled the country’s indirect tax regime had been in the works for more than a decade and a half, the Modi government does deserve credit for getting the GST implemented in July 2017. However, the GST was not without its controversies that stretched India’s federal fabric to the hilt, resulting in strained centre-state relations at various junctures.

Moreover, what finally emerged was a complex multi-slab system instead of the one tax regime it was initially envisaged to be, even as key commodities like fuel and liquor remain outside the ambit of the GST. Further, owing to implementation glitches, tax numbers took a hit, at least in the initial few months following the GST rollout. Yet, the implementation of the GST did alter the country’s indirect tax regime for good.

Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code: The Modi government can pat itself on the back for implementing a comprehensive bankruptcy law, India’s own version of the Chapter 11 regulation in the US Bankruptcy Code. Ever since its implementation in 2016 though, the IBC has been the subject of legislative and regulatory tinkering by parliament, the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Board of India and the Reserve Bank of India.

These encumbrances notwithstanding, available data analysed by BloombergQuint show that operational creditors have overwhelmingly outnumbered corporate debtors in using the provisions of the law—by as much as 87%—so much so that the latter are beginning to pay them even before they trigger the IBC.

Also in the news have been 12 large cases of defaulters as identified by the RBI. Just last week, debt-laden Bhushan Steel was acquired by Tata Steel for Rs 35,200 crore, making it the first big settlement under the IBC, with several other big deals set to close in the coming months.

No allegations of big-ticket corruption: The Manmohan Singh-led UPA was under fire during the last leg of its tenure as several of its ministers and members of parliament were embroiled in corruption cases. The Modi government can take some heart from the fact that no one among its top leadership or the cabinet has been accused of serious corruption thus far.

Rival political parties and some media reports have sought to target BJP leaders, but the charges haven’t really stuck enough for investigating agencies to get involved. Having said that, the Modi government has been accused of being in cahoots with some top industrial houses and going soft on high-profile defaulters like diamond merchants Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi and former liquor baron Vijay Mallya.

Aggressive foreign policy: In March, the Foreign Policy magazine reported that, until then, Modi had made 35 foreign trips as prime minister, having visited 53 countries, rubbing shoulders with nearly all of the world’s top leaders. Although Modi has been accused by foreign policy wonks of conflating action with achievement, he has succeeded in making significant rapprochement with key neighbors like China, evidenced by the amicable settlement of the Doklam standoff, which was threatening to snowball into a major armed skirmish.

However, Modi’s Pakistan policy and his overtures of peace, including an impromptu visit, have not paid off, as the Pakistani intelligence and army continue to back insurgent groups in the Kashmir valley. Moreover, the government’s trade policy, too, has seen average success at best, with the country actually reducing tariffs and ceding ground much beyond what the World Trade Organisation guidelines had demanded.

Misses

Make in India /Startup India: The Modi government had promised to make India a global manufacturing hub catering to both the export and domestic markets. The government followed through on this promise by launching its flagship ‘Make in India’ programme in a bid to significantly boost local manufacturing and creating a new skills development ministry to provide vocational training to unskilled youth. It also launched a much-hyped ‘Startup India’ programme with the ostensible goal of making India the startup capital of the world, just like Israel.

But none of these initiatives seem to have gone very far. In fact, how dismally India has done in export terms is borne out by the fact that the country’s trade deficit with China remains skewed in the latter’s favour by a ratio of four to one. According to a status report on the Startup India website, only 74 startups had been identified to receive tax benefits as of January first week.

Black money: On 8 November 2016, Modi banned the use of high-value notes, sucking 86% of the currency in circulation in one swoop, with the ostensible aim of delivering a body blow to black money hoarders. But the government had perhaps not factored in the fabled Indian ingenuity to subvert the system. So, while the government had hoped that as much as a third of India’s unaccounted wealth would go out of the system, in the end, nearly all the currency found its way back, riding pillion on hundreds of thousands of poor Indians who acted as mules, for a cut, filling up their hereto dormant Jan Dhan accounts, or simply exchanged cash over the counter. The move brought the country’s informal economy to a standstill and dented growth.

Bad loans: This was a problem the Modi government inherited and promised to resolve. Bad debts—now at more than Rs 9 trillion—continue to weigh heavily not just on government-controlled banks but also on its fiscal health. Last year, the government implemented a massive Rs 2.11 trillion recapitalisation plan to keep public-sector banks afloat. But its efficacy is in doubt, especially after Punjab National Bank was hit by a Rs 13,000-crore fraud.

The government also merged the State Bank of India with its subsidiary banks, and could merge several of the remaining 22 state-owned banks among themselves. But it remains to be seen whether these measures will take the massive load of bad debt off their books. It can, however, be safely said that the next regime too will inherit this problem, only at a much bigger scale.

Agriculture: One of Modi’s key poll promises in 2014 was to double farm incomes by 2022. Instead, farm incomes have fallen in real terms, primarily on account of food price deflation and the breakdown in the cash-based rural economy in the wake of the November 2016 demonetisation. In fact, if one compares India’s real GDP growth to expansion of its farm sector, the latter has consistently lagged the former since 2012.

Moreover, the 2018 pre-budget Economic Survey notes that on account of climate change, farm incomes could see a further 25% decline in the long term. Not only has farm distress exacerbated the issue of farmer suicides, it has also brought farmers on to the streets, as happened in Mumbai, when in March this year 20,000 farmers converged upon India’s wealthiest city demanding a complete waiver of loans and power dues. Farmer unrest could cost Modi dearly especially in areas of rural Maharashtra, Karnataka and even Uttar Pradesh, where the BJP’s rival political parties could be quick to cash in on it.

Opportunities

Direct Tax Code: After GST, the Direct Tax Code is the other big tax reform that the Modi government is reportedly looking at implementing. News reports say a draft bill could be introduced in the upcoming monsoon session of parliament. The code could introduce new income tax slabs and cap the corporate tax at 25%.

With these changes, Modi aims to bring some cheer to middle-class Indians by reducing their actual tax outgo and make corporate houses more competitive by reducing their tax liability. If he does manage to pass the direct tax code, the BJP could reap rich dividends in the 2019 elections.

GDP growth: India’s economic growth slumped in the quarters following demonetisation. However, the momentum seems to be back in the recent past, with the December quarter clocking 7.2% growth and India reclaiming the tag of the world’s fastest-growing economy from China. The Modi government would do well to try and keep this momentum going.

But there are some risks ahead. Global crude oil prices have topped $80 a barrel and are unlikely to go down by much in the near term. This could hurt the balance of payments, and lead to a spike in inflation and interest rates. In fact, consumer prices in April rose 4.58% reversing a three-month slide. The Modi government will have to keep its fiscal math in check amid a tough global economic scenario before the next general elections.

Infrastructure (Roads/ Railways// Power): In September 2017, Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe laid the foundation stone for the Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train project, which is to be completed by 2022. Although the Modi government has been criticized for prioritising the Rs 1.1 trillion project over other necessary development projects, it does underscore the fact that India’s infrastructure needs an urgent facelift.

In fact, the 2018 Economic Survey says India faces a $526 billion infrastructure investment gap by 2040. In October last year, the government had said it planned to build 83,000 km of roads at a cost of Rs 7 trillion. Railways, power and ports are the other major infrastructure sectors where the government will invest in a bid to kick-start the country’s sputtering economy. Now, if only it could follow through with these lofty promises.

Jobs: If the Modi government plays its cards well, this could well be its biggest trump card yet, even as four-fifths of its time in office is already gone. In 2014, during its election campaign, the government had promised to create 10 million jobs a year. Instead, it ended up creating less than a million in the four years it has been in power.

In the 2018 budget, the government was widely expected to announce a National Employment Policy, which would lay a comprehensive roadmap for job creation, but that did not happen. The government could usher in such a policy now to focus on employment-intensive sectors, especially in the small and medium enterprises space.

Credit : VCCircle

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