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Why Northeast matters for India-Japan collaboration in Indo-Pacific

This will include the Dhubri-Phulbari bridge project, which will be the longest river bridge in India when completed, as the third phase of the Northeast Road Network Connectivity Improvement Project.

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shinzo abe modi

New Delhi, Oct 31 : With India’s northeastern region being a pivot area of New Delhi’s Act East Policy, its importance again came into focus during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s annual bilateral summit with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe in Tokyo on October on 28-29.

With Modi describing Japan as the cornerstone of India’s Act East Policy and the two countries agreeing to work together in more concrete terms for the development of the Indo-Pacific region, the Northeast has emerged as a key link in this chain.

The Indo-Pacific region stretches from the east coast of Japan to the east coast of Africa and both India and Japan agree that the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) regional bloc has to play a central role for the peace and prosperity of the region.

According to an India-Japan Vision Statement issued following the Tokyo summit, both Modi and Abe “reiterated their unwavering commitment to working together towards a free and open Indo-Pacific.

“The two leaders also affirmed that Asean unity and centrality are at the heart of the Indo-Pacific concept, which is inclusive and open to all,” it stated.

Under the Act East Policy, the Northeast, which shares historical and traditional bonds with the Asean region, is seen as the springboard for India’s increasing engagements with Southeast Asia and for this New Delhi has roped in Tokyo in a big way.

Japan’s role in development work in the Northeast is also expected to boost connectivity between the member-states of the Bimstec sub-regional grouping.

The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (Bimstec), which came into existence in 1997, comprises seven countries lying in the littoral and adjacent areas of the Bay of Bengal — Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

Membership in the bloc allows India to engage more with the extended neighbourhood in Southeast Asia under New Delhi’s Neighbourhood First Policy via northeastern India.

This will also help keep in check China’s growing influence in the region through Chinese President Xi Jinping’s pet Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) project.

India has not joined the BRI on the grounds that it has put participating nations in debt traps and also does not respect the territorial integrity of other countries.

Last year, India and Japan established the Act East Forum to serve as a driving force for cooperation between the two countries in the Northeast and the second meeting of the Forum was held on October 8 in which key infrastructure projects, including road development, in the region were identified.

“The two Prime Ministers welcomed the progress made for the development of India’s northeastern region through the India-Japan Act East Forum by identifying and implementing projects for enhancing connectivity, sustainable forest and ecological management, disaster risk reduction and people-to-people exchanges,” the Vision Statement said.

At an interaction organised by the New Delhi-based think tank Brookings India ahead of Modi’s visit to Japan, Japanese Ambassador Kenji Hiramatsu referred to a statement by Modi that Japan is the only country with which India will partner on the connectivity agenda.

Hiramatsu said that India and Japan can not only contribute to some infrastructure project in the Pacific, his country is also keen to support development work in the northeastern part of India.

He said that the Act East Forum was set up to discuss how Japan and India can collaborate together in many areas, including infrastructure, people-to-people exchange and disaster management in the Northeast.

He also mentioned some of the key infrastructure projects in the region identified during the second meeting of the Act East Forum.

These include National Highway 40 between and Shillong and Dawki, National Highway 51 between Tura and Dalu — both in Meghalaya — and National Highway 54 between Aizawl and Tuipang in Mizoram.

The possibility of a corridor linking Gelephu, the border area between Assam and Bhutan, and Dalu, the border town between Bangladesh and Meghalaya, in collaboration with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) is also being explored.

This will include the Dhubri-Phulbari bridge project, which will be the longest river bridge in India when completed, as the third phase of the Northeast Road Network Connectivity Improvement Project.

Development of main district roads (MDRs) and other district roads (ODRs), which will have positive socio-economic effect, is also being considered.

“We are very happy to have connectivity projects together in the Northeast to eventually connect with neighbouring countries like Myanmar or Bangladesh,” Hiramatsu said at the interaction.

Disaster management is another area of cooperation India and Japan are discussing and Hiramatsu said that his country has a lot of experience to share with the Northeast, a region that is prone to floods and earthquakes.

The October 8 Act East Forum meeting decided to expedite Japan’s contribution to resilient infrastructures in the Northeast and through capacity development project on highways in the mountainous regions.

Both sides are also discussing knowledge sharing on the issue through a Japan-India workshop on disaster risk reduction.

Following the October 29 summit in Tokyo, India and Japan also exchanged notes on seven yen loan agreements for key infrastructure projects in India, including two in the Northeast — renovation and modernisation of the Umiam-Umtru Stage-III hydroelectric power station in Meghalaya, and sustainable catchment forest management in Tripura.

Biodiversity conservation and forest management projects in Nagaland and Sikkim are also under consideration.

People-to-people ties also form a key aspect in Japan’s engagement with northeastern India and for this it has been decided to promote Japanese language education in the Northeast.

Gauhati University and Cotton University in Assam, English and Foreign Languages University in Meghalaya, and the National Institute of Technology in Nagaland have expressed interest in this.

(Aroonim Bhuyan can be contacted at [email protected])

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International Day of Persons with Disabilities: Theme, Date and history of the day

International Day of Persons with Disabilities: It aims to increase public awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with disabilities and celebrate their achievements and contributions.

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International Day of Persons with Disabilities

International Day of Persons with Disabilities is an international observance promoted by the United Nations since 1992. It is celebrated on December 3 all around the world. It aims to increase public awareness, understanding and acceptance of people with disabilities and celebrate their achievements and contributions.

IDPD mobilizes support for critical issues relating to the inclusion of persons with disabilities, promotes awareness-raising about disability issues and draws attention to the benefits of an inclusive and accessible society for all.

UN agencies, civil society organizations, academic institutions and the private sector are motivated to support IDPD by collaborating with organizations for people with disabilities to arrange events and activities.

International Day of People with Disability: Theme

The theme for IDPwD 2020 is “Building Back Better: toward a disability-inclusive, accessible and sustainable post COVID-19 World”.

Every year the UN announces a theme to observe for International Day of People with Disability. The annual theme provides an overarching focus on how society can strive for inclusivity through the removal of physical, technological and attitudinal barriers for people with disabilities.

This has been occurring since 1992 when the General Assembly announced 3 December as the International Day of Disabled Persons.

National Disability Strategy 2010–2020

In Australia, the National Disability Strategy 2010–2020 commits all governments to a nationwide approach aimed at improving the lives of disabled people, their families and carers.

The Strategy’s ten-year national framework for reform concentrates on better inclusion for people with disabilities and seeks to create a society that enables people with disabilities to fulfill their potential as equal citizens.

On the 2012 International Day of People with Disability, the United Kingdom government introduced mandatory work for disabled people who received welfare benefits in order to “Improve disabled peoples chances of getting work by mandatory employment”.

A program is also launched on December 3 across India to serve the differently-able community of the country as an initiative called Accessible India Campaign under the Article 9 of UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD)

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BJP leaders brainstorm for second day, say govt ready for talks with farmers

Union Home Minister Amit Shah met Agriculture Minister Narender Singh Tomar earlier in the day to discuss the strategy to break the logjam.

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Farmers on Protest

Eager to break the deadlock with famers who are agitating for scrapping the new farm laws, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leadership held meetings for a second consecutive day on Monday and sent out the message that the Union government is ready for talks.

Union home minister Amit Shah met Union minister for agriculture, NS Tomar earlier in the day to discuss the strategy to break the logjam. A senior party functionary said, “The message from the top is clear that the laws are not anti-farmers and that the farmers are being misled. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has reiterated that laws will offer better opportunity for the farmers.”

The functionary said the government is ready to sit across the table and discuss the new laws and “address whatever concerns” the farmers have.

Speaking in Varanasi, the PM on Monday said the laws have given farmers new options and legal protection. He lashed out at the opposition for “misleading” the farmers and said earlier decisions of government were opposed now rumours have become the basis for opposition and propaganda is being served even though the laws favour the farmers.

The party has also opted for a cautious, measured response to the agitation. Even though it is pinning the blame on the opposition for provoking the protest, it is taking care not to rile the farmers. “The farmers are innocent. They are being misled by those with vested interests. The laws have barely been implemented and their impact is yet to be ascertained, so how can people rush to call these anti-farmers,” said Rajkuamr Chahar, head of the BJP’s Kisan Morcha.

He said the Punjab unit of the Morcha has been communicating with the farmers’ representatives and has relayed the government’s willingness to address their concerns.

On Monday, even as the party tried to diffuse the anger against the bills, its ally the Rashtriya Loktantrik Party (RLP) joined the chorus for the rollback of the laws. Rajasthan lawmaker and RLP chief, Hanuman Beniwal, shot off a letter to Shah, seeking the reversal of the laws.

“….In view of the countrywide sentiment in support of the ongoing farmers’ movement, the recently introduced three bills related to agriculture should be immediately withdrawn. (The Centre must) implement all recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission, and immediately hold dialogue with farmers in Delhi,” he said.

The BJP, however, played down the ally’s demand. Its national spokesperson on economic issues, Gopal Krishna Agarwal said, “We assure all, including our NDA partners that farmers’ well-being and welfare are in our heart. Large scale market reforms are needed and that has always been the consensus.”

He went on to add that while the BJP opposes misgivings about the APMC mandis being dismantled and MSP being withdrawn, the opposition is politicizing the issue along with the Arhtiyas (commission agents) and middleman.

“We have offered all the basic facilities to farmers, drinking water, toilets, shelters and medical facilities. They have been given permission to protest and also been invited for dialogue. We are open for all discussions on the merits or demerits of the three bills. If farmers have certain serious concerns, we are ready to listen to them,” he said.

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Lunar Eclipse: Chant these mantras for peace during Chandra Grahan

Check out the Chandra Beej Mantra, Dhanvantari Mantra, Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra and Shanti Path given below to ward off the ill-effects of this celestial movement.

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Lunar eclipse

Lunar Eclipse 2020: The fourth and the last Upachaya Chandra Grahan (Penumbral Lunar Eclipse) of 2020 will take place today. Though Sutak is not applicable during Upachaya Chandra Grahan, the constant movements of the Grahas (planets) may cast an impact on zodiac signs. It may influence people’s natal charts. Hence, people must chant mantras to negate the negative effect of Grahan.

The Lunar Eclipse will have a duration of 4 hours and 18 minutes. It will begin on Monday at 1.04 pm and reach its peak at 3.13 pm. The Lunar Eclipse will end at 5.22 pm and will have a magnitude of 0.82.

Check out the Chandra Beej Mantra, Dhanvantari Mantra, Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra and Shanti Path given below to ward off the ill-effects of this celestial movement.

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