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Wednesday,04-August-2021

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Tensions rise in South China Sea, Rajnath Singh calls for negotiations

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Rajnath-Singh

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday said that the Code of Conduct negotiations will lead to positive outcomes in the South China Sea as tension escalated in the waters, causing concern all the nations in the region and beyond.

The minister asserted that India supports freedom of navigation, over flight, and unimpeded commerce in these international waterways.

Singh was referring to escalating territorial tensions in the South China Sea in recent weeks. China lays claim to nearly all of the South China Sea while other countries also claim parts of the region leading to territorial disputes in the region.

China’s sweeping claims of sovereignty over the sea have antagonized competing claimants Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam.

Earlier this month, Malaysia scrambled jets to intercept Chinese aircraft it accused of breaching its airspace.

The persistent presence of Chinese vessels in its economic zone, Philippines has protested. Seeing threats from China, Vietnam expanded its maritime forces and Indonesia decided to bolster its Navy.

Addressing the 8th meeting of defense ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Singh said India calls for a free, open and inclusive order in the Indo-Pacific, based upon respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of nations, peaceful resolution of disputes through dialogue and adherence to international rules and laws.

The ministers gathered online for a meeting hosted by Brunei, this year’s ASEAN chair.

“India has strengthened its cooperative engagements in the Indo-Pacific based on converging visions and values for promotion of peace, stability, and prosperity in the region,” the minister said.

Premised upon the centrality of ASEAN, India supports utilization of ASEAN-led mechanisms as important platforms for implementation of our shared vision for the Indo-Pacific, he asserted.

India’s engagement with the South East Asian region, of which ASEAN has been a primary component, is based on its ‘Act East Policy’ announced by Prime Minister Narender Modi in November 2014.

Key elements of this policy are to promote economic cooperation, cultural ties and develop strategic relationships with countries in the Indo-Pacific region through continuous engagement at bilateral, regional and multilateral levels.

“Maritime security challenges are another area of concern to India,” the minister said.

The Sea lanes of Communication are critical for peace, stability, prosperity and development of the Indo-Pacific region. In this regard, developments in the South China Sea have attracted attention in the region and beyond, Singh said.

“India supports freedom of navigation, over flight, and unimpeded commerce in these international waterways,” he said.

India hopes that the Code of Conduct negotiations will lead to outcomes that are in keeping with international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and do not prejudice the legitimate rights and interests of nations that are not party to these discussions.

The minister also spoke about terrorism and cyber threats during his address to his counterparts.

Talking about terrorism, Singh said terrorism and radicalization are the gravest threats to peace and security that the world is facing today.

India shares global concerns about terrorism and believes that, in an era when networking amongst terrorists is reaching alarming proportions, only through collective cooperation can the terror organizations and their networks be fully disrupted, the perpetrators identified and held accountable, and strong measures be undertaken against those who encourage, support and finance terrorism and provide sanctuary to terrorists.

“As a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), India remains committed to combat financing of terrorism,a the minister said.

Cyber threats loom large as demonstrated by incidents of ransomware, Wannacry attacks and crypto currency thefts and are a cause of concern.

A multi-stakeholder approach, guided by democratic values, with a governance structure that is open and inclusive and a secure, open and stable internet with due respect to sovereignty of countries, would drive the future of cyberspace.

He also said that India shares a deep connect with ASEAN and has continued its active engagement in many areas contributing to regional peace and stability, particularly through ASEAN led mechanisms.

National News

‘Official work’: Sharad Pawar says amid speculation over meeting with Amit Shah

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Sharad-Pawar

NCP supremo Sharad Pawar on Tuesday met Union Home and Cooperation Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi, sparking off speculations.

Pawar himself sought to clear the air, terming it an official meet. “Had a brief meeting with Union Co-operation Minister Shri Amit Shah in New Delhi today along with Shri Jaiprakash Dandegaonkar, President of NFCSF (National Federation of Cooperative Sugar Factories Ltd) & Prakash Naiknavre to discuss issues faced by the sugar co-operative sector,” he said.

The meeting gained significance as it came on the same day as Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule attended the breakfast meeting of opposition leaders hosted by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.

The Congress and the Shiv Sena, who are the Nationalist Congress Party’s allies in the Maharashtra, however, dismissed any political significance of the meeting.

The meeting came a day after Shiv Sainiks went on a rampage, tearing down a brand new hoarding erected by the Adani Airport Holding Ltd (AAHL) outside Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA) to protest against what they alleged was AAHL’s unilateral move to abruptly ‘change’ the name of CSMIA and replace it with the Adani Group brand name.

Pawar has been meeting the ruling party leaders and ahead of monsoon session on July 17, met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and talked for about 50 minutes, the Prime Minister’s Office said.

The meeting took pace amid reports over fissures in the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) coalition government in Maharashtra.

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Delhi Cabinet approves increased salary of MLAs

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Arvind-Kejriwal

The Delhi Cabinet on Tuesday approved salary hike of the members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) after getting approval from the Centre.

With the approval from the cabinet, Delhi MLAs will now get a salary of Rs 30,000 per month.

As per a provision of the Bill cleared by the Delhi Assembly in 2015, the basic salary of legislators will increase from the current Rs 12,000 to Rs 50,000.

However, the AAP government said that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has scuttled the proposal and restricted it and capped the salary of the MLAs to only Rs 30,000. They will be getting a total of Rs 90,000 per month including Rs 30,000 basic salary and other allowances.

The restriction imposed by the Centre has forced Delhi’s MLAs to be amongst the lowest paid among all states in the country.

“The salary of Delhi’s MLAs hasn’t increased since 2011 and the Delhi Government had requested the MHA that it should be at par with MLAs of other states, however the MHA refused to do so,” said Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) in a statement.

The Delhi Government had proposed a salary of Rs 54,000 for the MLAs.

“Now the salary plus allowances of the MLAs of Delhi has been restricted by the MHA to Rs 90,000,” it said.

Proposal for an increase in salary and allowances of Delhi MLAs was pending with the MHA for the last 5 years.

The cabinet has also approved salaries and other allowances of Ministers of Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi, (Amendment) Bill, 2021 and MLAs under the Legislative Assembly of Delhi (Amendment) Bills, 2021.

“After Cabinet approval, the proposal and draft bills will be sent for MHA’s approval before being placed in the Delhi Assembly,” CMO said.

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Uttar Pradesh Congress plays caste game, woos Dalits

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Congress

In order to regain its lost ground in Uttar Pradesh, the Congress on Tuesday observed a ‘Dalit Swabhiman Diwas’ to woo the community and highlight the atrocities on the weaker sections in the non-Congress governments.

While it is wooing Dalits and OBCs, the Brahmins are being ignored by the Congress, say state party insiders.

State head of the Congress Dalit cell, Alok Prasad, said that the significance of August 3 was that the proposal to appoint Dr B.R. Ambedkar as the Union Law Minister in the Nehru cabinet was passed on this day.

“We are taking out Dalit Swabhiman Yatras on this day to create awareness among Dalits and pay tributes to Ambedkar,” he said. The Congress also plans to hold a Dalit panchayat.

The state Congress has already held caste conferences for Nishad, Maurya-Shakya, Kushwaha and Pal-Gaderia-Dhanger caste groups.

The move by the state unit to focus on castes has irked the senior party leaders who feel that the Congress is simply following in the footsteps of the regional parties.

“We slam other parties for playing the caste and communal card but this is exactly what we are doing. Instead of focussing on issues, we are following the caste path which is detrimental to party interests,” said a former UPCC president.

Interestingly, the Congress state leadership has started criticizing other non-BJP parties instead of focusing its attention on the ruling BJP.

Uttar Pradesh Congress minority cell chairman Shahnawaz Alam has been attacking the Samajwadi Party for ignoring the victimisation of its leader Mohd Azam Khan and not opposing it.

Alam said that if anything untoward happens to Azam Khan, Akhilesh would be equally responsible for it.

A senior party leader said, “What exactly is the state leadership trying to do? We should be attacking the BJP but we are shooting down regional parties with whom we could have a post-poll alliance.”

While SP and BSP are trying to woo Brahmins who are disgruntled with the BJP, the Congress has chosen to ignore Brahmins completely-even those within the party.

A senior political analyst said, “The problem with Congress is that it is completely directionless. They have no strategy and policy for the elections and each one is pulling in a different direction.”

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