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Modi's domestic barbs abroad could undermine his dignity
Donnerstag, 9. Juni 2016

It has now become almost a routine feature of Narendra Modi's trips abroad to take a dig or two at his opponents back home. True, he generally does so while addressing the Indian diaspora who are able to understand his references to a controversial "damaad" (son-in-law) or the sarcastic linking of Sanskrit with secularism. Even then, his jibes have disconcerted the Congress to the extent that it is considering asking its spokespersons to tail Modi on his journeys with ready ripostes to his taunts. It is worth examining, however, why the prime minister has taken a path where none of his predecessors had gone before since they scrupulously adhered to the unwritten code of not washing the dirty linen of domestic politics outside India. However, by breaking with tradition, Modi has embarked on an acrimonious course in which he may not always emerge with flying colours because, in politics, no one's hands are clean. There are probably two reasons why he has ventured into this new territory. One is that he hasn't forgotten the constant sniping from his critics for nearly a decade after the 2002 Gujarat riots. It has taken considerable grit for him to emerge from the effects of the scorn which he faced when even the mild-mannered Manmohan Singh said that he wouldn't care to have a "strong" image if it meant presiding over the massacre of innocent citizens. Having routed his adversaries politically, Modi is apparently unable to resist the temptation of occasionally having a go at them. However, there is possibly another reason. It is that notwithstanding the Bharatiya Janata Party's majority in the Lok Sabha, there is still a feeling in the party and among its leaders that they are seen as interlopers by the so-called left-liberal chatterati who ruled the roost for decades after Independence. It is this sense of being outsiders which is apparently behind the frequent claims that the new dispensation intends to rescue the nation not only from the clutches of what remains of the ancient regime but also steer the country away from the flawed paths which the old order took in communal and cultural matters. Since this "battle" relating to changing directions is already being fought at home, the need to take it abroad may be questioned. Doubts about these tactics are likely to be all the greater since at least for the present, Modi is far better placed politically than his enemies. To a considerable extent, the latter are down and out. The Congress, for instance, evidently has a leadership problem with neither Sonia nor Rahul Gandhi being able to perceptively climb the popularity charts or articulate policies beyond the cliched one-liners about the government being pro-rich and anti-poor. While the Congress is unlikely to bounce back in the near future from its 2014 drubbing, the only party which gave the BJP a scare in the Delhi elections - the Aam Admi Party - has dissipated much of its energy by tilting at windmills inside the party - Yogendra Yadav, Prashant Bhushan - and outside, Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung. × Arguably, Modi doesn't appear to have any worthwhile opponents with even his ostensible adversaries like Mulayam Singh Yadav and the Communists coming to his rescue by scuttling the anti-BJP "secular" alliance in Bihar by setting up their own candidates. Even inside the saffron brotherhood, Modi has been having his own way. He has placed his Man Friday, Amit Shah, at the BJP's head, breaking the practice of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) choosing the party president as it once did with regard to Rajnath Singh and Nitin Gadkari. Few leaders of democracies can expect a political climate as propitious as it is for Modi at present. His only difficulties are economic because of the roadblocks put up by the Congress through its disruptive tactics in parliament in the matter of pro-reforms laws like the amendment of the land acquisition act and the goods and services bill. But he may be able to get around some of these hurdles by leaving it to the states to woo investors. As an ad by the Uttar Pradesh government says, the state is facilitating a one-window Nivesh Mitra, or investor-friendly, clearance for industrial projects. Punjab, too, is holding an investors' conclave in the last week of October. News about the high inflow of foreign investment will also dispel the gloom from the economic scene at a time when the IMF chief, Christine Lagarde, sees India as the only ace bright spot" when the global growth is slowing down. For Modi, therefore, to flog the proverbial dead horse of his opponents seems unnecessary and can even undermine his dignity, especially if the Congress takes to criticizing him on foreign soil. Hinting that the prime minister may have violated the Lakshman Rekha of restraint, the BJP's ally, Shiv Sena, has pointed out that Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi, too, were popular abroad even in times when there was no social media. The normally irascible Sena has words of praise for former Congress prime ministers, PV Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh, as well for laying the foundation of economic progress. Will the BJP heed these "home truths", as the Sena calls its words of advice?

Source: http://www.sify.com/news/modi-s-domestic-barbs-abroad-could-undermine-his-dignity-news-nri-pkflJFjccigec.html

US backs India's NSG bid, Modi thanks 'friend Obama'
Mittwoch, 8. Juni 2016

Washington: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday thanked United States President Barack Obama for extending his support to India's membership in the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and the Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG).

Prime Minister Modi in a joint statement at the White House said: "I am thankful for the help and support that my friend Obama has extended with regard to India's membership to MTCR and NSG."

Source: http://www.sify.com/news/us-backs-indias-nsg-bid-modi-thanks-friend-obama-news-national-qgijq2hhaaaeb.html

Cancer drug prices highest in US., least affordable in India, China - study
Dienstag, 7. Juni 2016

Americans pay the highest prices in the world for cancer drugs, but the treatments are least affordable in lower income countries, according to the results of a new study released on Monday.

The study of cancer drug prices in seven countries, which did not take into account discounts or rebates to list prices, was presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago.

The lowest drug prices were found in India and South Africa. But after calculating price as a percentage of wealth adjusted for the cost of living, cancer drugs appeared to be least affordable in India and China.

Researchers at Rabin Medical Center in Petah-Tikvah, Israel, calculated monthly drug doses for 15 generic and eight brand-name cancer drugs used to treat a wide range of cancer types and stages. List prices in Australia, China, India, South Africa, the United Kingdom, Israel, and the United States were obtained from government websites.
The high prices commanded by modern cancer drugs are generating increased resistance and demands for price discounts from politicians, health care providers, insurers, patients and some doctors.

Drug companies argue that they need to make a profit to pay for the billions of dollars needed for drug research. Many companies also have extensive low-cost or free access schemes for patients who cannot afford their medicines.

The study researchers used gross domestic product and cost of living statistics from the International Monetary Fund to estimate drug price affordability.

Median monthly prices for branded drugs ranged from $1,515 in India to $8,694 in the United States. For generics, median prices were highest in the United States, at $654, and lowest in South Africa, $120, and India, $159.

In terms of ability to pay, the study found cancer drugs to be most affordable in Australia, where generic drugs were priced at 3 percent of "domestic product per capita at purchasing power parity" and patented drugs were 71 percent of the same measure.

In China, the study found generic drug prices were 48 percent and patented drugs were 288 percent of wealth adjusted for the cost of living.

In India, the cost of generics was 33 percent of that measure, while patented drugs were 313 percent.

In the United States, generics were found to be priced at 14 percent of wealth adjusted for the cost of living, and patented cancer drugs were 192 percent of the same measure.

The study did not take into account that drug costs are paid by either the government, health insurers, or patients themselves, depending on each country's health insurance system.

Worldwide spending on cancer medicines will exceed $150 billion by 2020, driven by the emergence of expensive new therapies that help the immune system to attack tumors, according to a forecast earlier this year from IMS Health Holdings.

Source: http://www.sify.com/finance/cancer-drug-prices-highest-in-us-least-affordable-in-india-china---study-news-health-qggrvabbibjha.html

Stocks, dollar, bond yields tumble as weak U.S. jobs data stuns
Samstag, 4. Juni 2016

U.S. and European shares, the dollar, oil and bond yields dived on Friday after data showed the slowest pace of U.S. job growth in more than five years, dashing most investors' expectations for a Federal Reserve interest rate hike later this month.
U.S. non-farm payrolls rose by just 38,000 in May, the smallest gain since September 2010 and far below an expected 164,000. All 105 economists polled by Reuters had expected a higher number.
While the jobless rate fell three-tenths of a percentage point to 4.7 percent, the lowest since November 2007, that was partly due to people dropping out of the labor force.
U.S. shares sank and European stocks reversed gains. The dollar hit its lowest in more than three weeks against a basket of major currencies, and benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury yields hit 1.702 percent, their lowest level in nearly three weeks.
A fall in bank stocks led the decline in U.S. shares, with the S&P 500 financial index down 2.06 percent in late morning trading. Europe's auto sector index fell 2.27 percent as the euro gained more than 1.6 percent against the dollar.
"This was a shocking miss," said Mark Grant, fixed income strategist at Hilltop Securities in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on the U.S. jobs report. "I think this puts into serious question if the Fed is going to do anything for the year (in terms of rate hikes)."
MSCI's all-country world equity index was little changed, adding just 0.76 point, or 0.19 percent, to 403.25.
The Dow Jones industrial average was down 81.94 points, or 0.46 percent, at 17,756.62. The S&P 500 was down 13.06 points, or 0.62 percent, at 2,092.2. The Nasdaq Composite was off 44.52 points, or 0.9 percent, at 4,926.85.
Europe's broad FTSEurofirst 300 index was down 0.88 percent at 1,339.04 after gaining around 0.7 percent before the U.S. jobs data.
The plunge in U.S. 10-year yields was on track to mark the biggest one-day fall since early February, while U.S. two-year note yields were on track for their biggest one-day tumble since last September.
Fed funds futures, based on the CME Group's FedWatch, moved to price in a 4 percent perceived chance of a June rate hike after the U.S. jobs report, from 21 percent late Thursday.
The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, was last down 1.52 percent at 94.107 after hitting a session low of 93.986.
"People were positioned for the idea that this was going to be a good enough number for the Fed to move forward in June, and now they have to adjust," said Kathy Jones, chief fixed income strategist at Charles Schwab.
The U.S. jobs numbers also weighed on oil prices.
Brent crude was last down 41 cents, or 0.82 percent, at $49.63 a barrel. U.S. crude was last down 41 cents, or 0.83 percent, at $48.76 per barrel.
Gold surged more than 2 percent and was on track for its biggest one-day jump in more than a month.

Source: http://www.sify.com/finance/stocks-dollar-bond-yields-tumble-as-weak-us-jobs-data-stuns-news-market-qgeiF1befddbh.html

President Mukherjee holds delegation-level talks with Chinese counterpart
Freitag, 27. Mai 2016

President Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday held delegation- level talks with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in a bid to bolster bilateral ties between both nations.
Apart from bilateral, regional and international issues, borders problems and China's role in blocking India's bid in the United Nations body to ban JeM chief Masood Azhar are likely to be discussed between the two leaders.
President Mukherjee had earlier said that New Delhi and Beijing should comprehensively resolve all challenges, including the boundary question. In his address to the Peking University earlier today, he noted that there is bipartisan commitment to strengthening partnership with Beijing and said political understanding between both nations is vital for closer developmental partnership.
Asserting on building a people-centric partnership, he said that the two countries must have mutual trust predicated on mutual respect and a better appreciation of their respective political and social systems.

He was earlier today accorded with a Guard of Honour at the 'Great Hall of the People'.

Source: http://www.sify.com/news/president-mukherjee-holds-delegation-level-talks-with-chinese-counterpart-news-international-qf0rTQiajifff.html

Hillary Clinton picks Indo-American Neera Tanden for panel
Donnerstag, 26. Mai 2016

Washington: Indian-American Neera Tanden has been appointed by the Democratic party to a panel that would draft its policy agenda for the November presidential election.
Tanden, 45, a long-time associate of Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton, is being touted as a potential cabinet member if Clinton is elected as the US president in the November general elections.
Tanden is currently the CEO of the Center for American Progress, a top US think-tank.
The Drafting Committee is responsible for developing and managing the process through which the Democratic party's National Platform is established. Tanden is the only Indian- American in this committee of 15 members.
The platform committee would draft the party's policy agenda which is akin to election manifesto in India.
Tanden was the policy director for Clinton's campaign in 2008. She was a key protagonist in developing President Barack Obama's healthcare reform proposals - the Affordable Care Act - during her tenure in the Obama administration. × "We are delighted to bring together this talented group of Democrats. These individuals represent some of the best progressive thinking from across the nation. I am confident that the members of this committee will engage Americans in a substantive dialogue of ideas and solutions that will inform our Party Platform," Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultzshe said.

Source: http://www.sify.com/news/hillary-clinton-picks-indo-american-neera-tanden-for-panel-news-national-qf0laeigcgaif.html

After benefits of cheap oil, India counts cost of reduced Gulf remittances
Mittwoch, 25. Mai 2016

Having quit his low-paid job with a contractor in Qatar, electrician Kurian Joseph scrabbles for work each day in his hometown in Kerala, a southwestern state that has one of India's highest unemployment rates. He's a casualty of the global oil price collapse. Stories like Joseph's explain why remittances from Indians working abroad slumped 27 percent in the fiscal year through March to $48 billion - the lowest since the 2008 global financial crisis. Making $250 a month, and faced with a pay cut as construction jobs in Qatar became scarcer, Joseph realised he could no longer afford monthly instalments on his house and son's education. In January, after 15 years in the Gulf, he decided to go home. "Working conditions became bad after the oil crisis hit construction. Our company could not sustain its large work force," Joseph, 56, told Reuters from Changanassery, a ramshackle town strung along Kerala's main north-south road. "I am told the company is planning to retrench workers. Many of my friends are planning to return." Most of India's remittances come from the oil-rich Gulf, where some seven million Indians have been working, but more and more are being forced to come home. Earlier this year, 1,000 Indian professionals were laid off by Qatar Petroleum . The prospect of further falls in remittances is a hindrance for the Reserve Bank of India, as it seeks to "bullet-proof" the economy against sudden capital outflows. Whereas India's external balances are in a far better shape than three years ago, when a sudden burst of portfolio investment outflows put the rupee in a tailspin, there are still risks of external shocks. Chances of U.S. interest rates going up, Britain voting to leave the European Union, and China's economy worsening all pose risks for emerging markets like India. Portfolio investment is typically the most volatile source of inflows, but last year's $18 billion drop demonstrated how unreliable remittances can be. Taking note, an RBI panel warned last month that the likely impact on remittances should be factored into any monetary policy decisions. "LONG-TERM ADJUSTMENT" Though oil prices have recovered more than 50 percent since late January, the rally could easily peter out before the labour market tightens in the Gulf once again. Marie Diron of Moody's Investors Service warned there could be worse to come for remittances. "We have highlighted the risks of a marked fall in remittances as the Gulf economies' long-term adjustment to lower oil prices has only just started," said Diron, a senior vice president in the rating agency's Sovereign Risk Group. Having covered 50 percent of India's trade deficit in the previous two years, remittances only covered 40 percent in 2015/16 even though the trade gap had shrunk significantly. "Essentially an improvement in the trade balance is being offset by worsening private transfers," said Pronab Sen, country director for the UK-based International Growth Centre's India programme. On balance, of course, India has benefited massively from cheap crude over the past two years. It halved the oil import bill, cooled inflation and improved public finances, all of which helped the RBI to cut interest rates. Economists expect a balance of payments surplus close to $25-30 billion for 2015/16, as foreign direct investment inflows into the world's fastest growing major economy remain robust, and foreign exchange reserves stood at $361 billion on May 13. All of which makes lower remittances a far smaller headache for India than for its neighbours - Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Meantime, down in Kerala, Joseph has sold his house and cleared his debts. He plans to build a smaller home and start a business with what money he's got left.

Source: http://www.sify.com/finance/after-benefits-of-cheap-oil-india-counts-cost-of-reduced-gulf-remittances-news-economy-qfzeEgfihibhj.html

India to boost Chabahar port project, links to Afghanistan
Dienstag, 24. Mai 2016

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday pledged up to $500 million to develop the southern Iran port of Chabahar, in a move to give his country trade access to Iran, Afghanistan and central Asia. The route is currently all-but blocked by Pakistan, long at odds politically with India. The deal, which runs in conjunction with the development of road and rail links through Iran to Afghanistan, also represented a strategic victory for India over China, which has been competing to develop the port. Modi signed the development deal on the first visit by an Indian leader to Iran in 15 years. He was joined by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his Afghan counterpart Ashraf Ghani. "This deal will be like spring for all three countries," Rouhani said at a joint news conference, a play on the name of the Chabahar port. The word "bahar" means spring in Farsi. The project means India will be able to tap into the Iranian and Afghan markets, and land-locked Afghanistan will also get an alternate to the port of Karachi in Pakistan. "This is a corridor of peace and prosperity," Modi said of the trilateral deal in a tweet. "It will positively impact the lives of people and deepen economic ties." Talks to develop the port have been underway for some years, but the nuclear deal that Iran signed with Western powers last summer, as well as the removal of some sanctions earlier this year, gave the project momentum. Chabahar is about 100 km from Pakistan's Gwadar seaport which China is developing as part of a $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. The Chinese project, coming on top of investments in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and the Maldives raised some disquiet in India about China's expanding reach in the region and prompted faster movement on the Iranian project.

Source: http://www.sify.com/finance/india-to-boost-chabahar-port-project-links-to-afghanistan-news-industry-qfxtFzjeddfhc.html

India pays part of Iran oil dues ahead of Modi visit
Sonntag, 22. Mai 2016

Indian refiners have cleared part of the $6.4 billion owed to Iran for crude oil imports in euros through Turkey's Halkbank, three sources privy to the payment said on Saturday. This is the first payment to Iran by India since the lifting of Western sanctions against the Persian Gulf nation earlier this year and comes just ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit beginning on Sunday. State refiner Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd paid $500 million while Indian Oil Corp has settled $250 million through the Union Bank of India, the sources said. The refiners had been holding back 55 percent of the oil payments to Iran after the route to make payments through Halkbank was stopped in 2013, although payment of some of those funds was allowed after an initial temporary deal to lift the sanctions. It is not yet known when the second instalment will be paid, the sources said. × India is one of the biggest buyers of Iranian crude, and is set to import at least 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) from Iran in the year from April 1. But it built up a backlog of payments when Iran was under sanctions. Modi is making a first trip to Iran since he took office in 2016, aimed at deepening energy ties. During the visit, India will sign a contract to build and operate the port of Chabahar on the southern Iranian coast that is aimed at boosting connectivity with Afghanistan and central Asia.

Source: http://www.sify.com/finance/india-pays-part-of-iran-oil-dues-ahead-of-modi-visit-news-commodities-qfvoEiegehaga.html

US leader calls China thief, says it helps Pakistan with missiles
Freitag, 29. April 2016

Washington: A top US lawmaker has alleged that China was helping Pakistan with intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and claimed that it was also engaged in bullying its neighbours in Asia. "They (China) are thieves. They steal our intellectual property. Cyber attacks, I believe they're responsible for those, they're bullying Asia, trying to make new sovereign territory in the South China Sea and then claim the area around it," Congressman Ted Poe alleged during a Congressional hearing on Asia yesterday. "They're helping Pakistan with ICBMs, and then you get to human rights, they're the worst offender I think in the world," he alleged. "They persecute Christians and other religious minorities, and then they have this practice of putting people they don't like, like the Falun Gong, in prison and charging them with trumped-up political crimes and then harvesting their body organs and sell those on the marketplace," he said. "That's probably the worst type of crime in the world, in my opinion," Poe said during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Challenges and Opportunities in Asia. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken testified before the committee but did not respond to the allegation of Poe that China is helping Pakistan with intercontinental ballistic missile. Earlier this week Poe and Congressman Mike Rogers in a letter to US Secretary of State, John Kerry, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper sought more information on report that China has enabled a Pakistani nuclear missile capability. Rogers is Chairman of the Subcommittee on Strategic Forces and Ted Poe is Chairman of Subcommittee on Terrorism, Non-proliferation and Trade. In their letter Rogers and Poe referred to a recent research by well know Chinese military technology expert Richard Fisher who has noted the design similarities between the Shaheen III TEL (transporter erector launcher), the Sanjiang Special Vehicle Corporation of the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC) WS51200 TEL, and a Chinese provided TEL North Korea's new KN-08 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). This led Fisher to conclude, "CASIC has again enabled a Pakistani nuclear missile capability," the two lawmakers wrote in their letter to Kerry, Carter and Clapper. "We are deeply concerned that the TEL displayed in Pakistan was acquired from China," Rogers and Poe said in the two-page letter.

Source: http://www.sify.com/news/us-leader-calls-china-thief-says-it-helps-pakistan-with-missiles-news-international-qe3ozehgaibih.html

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