Category Archives: Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Modi Considers Excluding $7 Billion of Air India Debt to Lure Buyers

 India is considering a plan to exclude more than half of Air India Ltd.’s $11 billion of debt in the government’s latest attempt to lure investors to the struggling carrier, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration plans to ask proposed investors to take over 300 billion rupees of the airline’s debt, which are backed by the carrier’s aircraft, the people said, asking not to be identified, citing private information. The government may call for the so-called expression of interest as early as Dec. 15, the people said.

Modi’s administration, which failed to attract any bidder for the carrier last year, is keen to sell the company to help bridge a widening fiscal deficit following dismal tax collections and cuts to corporate tax rates worth $20 billion. Last week, the government decided to sell its entire stake in the country’s second-largest state refiner, and its biggest shipping company.

Unprofitable for a decade with taxpayers bailing it out repeatedly, Air India’s appeal to any investor is contingent on the government’s ability to write off the debt not backed by assets. The government has pumped in 560 billion rupees in the last past decade in a bid to keep the carrier afloat, the people said.

A spokesman at India’s finance ministry, which handles assets sales, was not immediately available for a comment.

The government will absorb 500 billion rupees worth of obligations, the people said. Air India Assets Holding Ltd., a special purpose vehicle, holds about 300 billion rupees of the state-owned carrier’s debt and some of its assets, they said.

The SPV expects to raise 100 billion rupees selling the assets, the people said.

26 Dead, 300 Injured As Strong Earthquake Jolts Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir

The death toll mounted to 26 in a powerful 5.8-magnitude earthquake that jolted Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and several cities. At least 300 people were injured.

The epicentre of the earthquake was near New Mirpur in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), which was severely affected by the quake. The depth of the quake, which occurred at 4.02 pm (local time), was at 10 kilometres, according to the US Geological Survey.

According to the Home Department, 26 people were killed and over 300 injured in Mirpur and surrounding areas due to the powerful quake.

Pakistan Meteorological Department’s earthquake centre said the 5.8-magnitude earthquake was located near the mountainous city of Jehlum in Punjab province. However, Minister for Science Fawad Chaudhry said that the intensity of the quake was 7.1.

Some houses collapsed in Mirpur following the earthquake, Deputy Commissioner Raja Qaiser said. Parts of a mosque also collapsed in the area. Emergency has been declared in hospitals across PoK.

TV channels showed the footage of heavily damaged roads in Mirpur, with many vehicles overturned. Several cars fell into the deep cracks on the roads. The building of the state-run Broadcasting House in Mirpur was badly damaged.

The quake was powerful and created panic as people ran out of the building, eyewitnesses said.

Several cities including Peshawar, Rawalpindi, Lahore, Skardu, Kohat, Charsadda, Kasur, Faisalabad, Gujrat, Sialkot, Abbottabad, Mansehra, Chitral, Malakand, Multan, Shangla, Okara, Nowshera, Attock and Jhang felt the tremor.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, who is in New York to attend the UN General Assembly session, expressed grief over the loss of human life. He directed all the concerned departments to provide immediate assistance to the quake-hit areas. President Arif Alvi also expressed deep sorrow over the loss of lives.

Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa directed “immediate rescue operation in aid of civil administration” for victims of the earthquake in PoK. Army troops with aviation and medical support teams have been dispatched, the media wing of the army tweeted.

“Pakistan Army aviation helicopters have completed an aerial survey for damage assessment in Mirpur, Jarikas and Jatlan areas. Army teams have reached earthquake-hit areas of Mirpur, Jatlan and Jarikas. Rescue efforts initiated,” state-run PTV tweeted.

Lt Gen Muhammad Afzal, chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority, said that most of the damage was done in Mirpur and Jhelum.

He said all departments, including NDMA, Pakistan Army, and State Disaster Management have started rescue operation in quake-affected areas.

Afzal said Mangla to Jatalan road and three bridges were damaged in the quake. “We have enough resources to cope with the disaster,” he said.

He said the exact magnitude of disaster will be known by Wednesday.

Pakistan’s major water reservoir Mangla Dam located near Mirpur remained safe, officials said. Mangla dam powerhouse has been closed, cutting off 900 MW power supply to the national grid, they said.

However, the Upper Jhelum canal was damaged and water inundated various villages. The breach in the Upper Jhelum Canal was fixed due to the timely intervention of officials, PoK Information Minister Mushtaq Minhas said.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed grief at the loss of lives and damage to property due to the earthquake.

Baloch, Sindhi, Pashto groups gather in Houston to seek help from Modi, Trump

Representatives of Sindhi, Baloch and Pashto groups have gathered in Houston to hold a demonstration in front of the NRG stadium on Sunday to draw the attention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump for gaining freedom from Pakistan.

Scores of members of the Balochi American, Sindhi American and Pashto American communities landed in Houston on Saturday from various parts of the US to hold the first-of-its-kind demonstration in America, wherein they will collectively urge the leaders of India and the United States to help them get freedom from Pakistan.

Members of these groups alleged on Saturday that the Pakistani establishment was carrying out gross violation of human rights against their communities.

“We demand freedom from Pakistan. India and the US should help us in the same way as India had helped the people of Bangladesh in 1971,” Nabi Baksha Baloch, the US representative of the Baloch National Movement, told PTI.

“We are here to request Prime Minister Modi and President Trump to support our cause. There has been gross violation of human rights against the Baloch people by the Pakistani government,” he said.

More than 100 Sindhi Americans arrived in Houston on Saturday. They are planning to gather outside the NRG stadium, where the “Howdy Modi” event is scheduled to be held on Sunday, with the hope that their posters and banners of freedom will catch the attention of Modi and Trump.

“This is a historic rally by the leaders of the free world — the largest and oldest democracies. We the people of Sindh want freedom from Pakistan. Just like India supported for the freedom of Bangladesh in 1971, we want a separate nation for the people of Sindh. Pakistan is a theocratic country,” Zafar Sahito, from the Jeay Sindh Mutahida Muhaz, said.

Manmohan blames ‘politics of vendetta’ for economic slowdown

NEW DELHI: Former Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday urged the Modi government to shun its politics of vendetta which he blamed as a factor in India’s worrying economic outlook.

In a recorded message to Prime Minister Narenda Modi he said the 5 percent growth in India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) signalled a prolonged slowdown.

“Our youth, farmers and farm workers, entrepreneurs and the marginalised sections deserve better. India cannot afford to continue down this path. Therefore, I urge the government to put aside vendetta politics, and reach out to all sane voices and thinking minds, to steer our economy out of this man-made crisis.”

Dr Singh said the state of the economy was “deeply worrying” and the near zero percent growth of the manufacturing sector proved that it had not fully recovered from the “blunders of demonetisation and a hastily implemented GST.”

“The last quarter’s GDP growth rate of 5 percent signals that we are in the midst of a prolonged slowdown. India has the potential to grow at a much faster rate but all-round mismanagement by the Modi government has resulted in this slowdown,” he said.

“It is particularly distressing that the manufacturing sector’s growth is tottering at 0.6%.”

Projecting a grim picture of the economy – depressed demand and consumption, lower tax revenues, job losses in formal and informal sector, negative investor sentiment and tax terrorism – Dr. Singh also attacked the Modi-led government for eroding the autonomy of the independent institutions and credibility of government data.

On the Modi government taking 1.76 lakh crore from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) reserves, Dr. Singh, who has been a former RBI Governor himself, said the resilience of the RBI will be tested after this record transfer to the government.

“In addition, the credibility of India’s data has come under question under this government. Budget announcements and rollbacks have shaken the confidence of international investors. India has not been able to increase its exports to take advantage of opportunities that have arisen in global trade due to geopolitical realignments. Such is the state of economic management under the Modi government,” he said.

Dr Singh also claimed that the low inflation figures ‘showcased’ by the Modi government has come at the cost of farmers.

“Rural India is in terrible shape. Farmers are not receiving adequate prices and rural incomes have declined. The low inflation rate that the Modi government likes to showcase comes at the cost of our farmers and their incomes, by inflicting misery on over 50% of India’s population,” he said.

“The Modi government’s policies are resulting in massive jobless growth. More than 3.5 lakh jobs have been lost in the automobile sector alone. There will similarly be large scale job losses in the informal sector, hurting our most vulnerable workers,” he added.

Dr Singh’s scathing attack comes after the country reported a slow GDP growth rate of 5 percent for the first quarter of this fiscal, with sharp deceleration in manufacturing output and subdued farm sector activity.

Imran Khan Accuses Modi of Nazi-Like Ideology, Offers Recipe for Peace in Kashmir

In a New York Times op-ed, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan alleges that his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi is adopting the Nazi agenda of exterminating undesirable ethnicities and religions. Still, the Pakistan PM continues to call for peace and negotiation in a bid to avoid nuclear confrontation.

In an opinion editorial published by The New York Times, Khan commented on Kashmir and offered a solution to achieving peace between the two nuclear-armed nations.

According to the Pakistani prime minister, he has called for peace with India since day one of his tenure beginning in 2018. He has repeatedly written to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi calling for dialogue, but his offers do not receive a reply. Khan’s administration initially assumed that Modi was ramping up his anti-Pakistani rhetoric in view of the upcoming May elections. But as of now, Khan adopted a different view of Modi as a consecutive follower of Nazi ideology.

In the article, the Pakistani prime minister claims that PM Modi and a number of his ministers are members of Rashtriya Swyamsevak Sangh (RSS), which he calls a “Hindu supremacist group,” whose leaders openly express their admiration for Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler. He quotes M.S. Golwalkar, a founding father of the group, whom Modi allegedly admires, calling for India to take Nazi Germany’s purge of Jews as a ‘final solution’ to the adminstration’s concerns.

Khan says that Modi’s first term was marked by the “lynching of Muslims, Christians and Dalits by extremist Hindu mobs,” as well as “increased state violence against Kashmiris.”

After a February suicide bombing carried out by a “young Kashmiri” against Indian forces, Delhi blamed officials in Islamabad for the attack and sent fighter jets to bomb what were alleged to be terrorist camps in Pakistan. Pakistan retaliated by bombing Indian assets in Kashmir, which resulted in a dogfight. One Indian jet was taken down and its pilot was captured. Still, writes Khan, Pakistan continued attempts to initiate dialogue and work for peace, and even released the pilot without preconditions, but these calls fell on deaf ears, as India kept “lobbying to get Pakistan placed on the ‘blacklist’ at the intergovernmental Financial Action Task Force.”

On 5 August, Modi revoked Kashmir’s special status, which, according to Khan, violates the Indian Constitution, the United Nations Security Council resolutions on Kashmir, and the Shimla Agreement between India and Pakistan.

Modi justified the move by claiming that Jammu and Kashmir’s special status stripped Kashmiris of freedoms and benefits enjoyed by the rest of India. However, the Swarna Bharat Party’s (SBP) Sanjeev Sabhlok wrote in his blog that the Indian Prime Minister skipped essential steps required by the Constitution. The move is now being challenged in Indian courts.

The status removal in Kashmir was accompanied by a curfew which included cuts to phone lines and Internet access, followed by a “purge” in which thousands of Kashmiris were reportedly imprisoned by Indian authorities.

Khan has called on the international community to take action against India as a means of avoiding a nuclear standoff.

“If the world does nothing to stop the Indian assault on Kashmir and its people, there will be consequences for the whole world, as two nuclear-armed states get ever closer to a direct military confrontation,” Khan writes, adding that India made “not-so-veiled nuclear threats towards Pakistan,” saying that the no-first-use policy “depends on circumstances.”

“World War II happened because of appeasement at Munich. A similar threat looms over the world again, but this time under the nuclear shadow,” he warned.

Khan noted that a nuclear conflict is not the only option, suggesting that the situation can be defused via dialogue and negotiations. 

“On Kashmir, the dialogue must include all stakeholders, especially the Kashmiris. We have already prepared multiple options that can be worked on while honoring the right to self-determination the Kashmiris were promised by the Security Council resolutions and India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru,” he writes.

A dialogue can only commence, however, after “India reverses its illegal annexation of Kashmir, ends the curfew and lockdown, and withdraws its troops to the barracks,” Khan wrote.

Pakistan considering closing air space to India, says minister

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan is considering a complete closure of air space to India and blocking Indian land trade to Afghanistan via Pakistan, the minister for science and technology said on Twitter.

“PM is considering a complete closure of Air Space to India, a complete ban on use of Pakistan Land routes for Indian trade to Afghanistan was also suggested in Cabinet meeting, legal formalities for these decisions are under consideration… #Modi has started we’ll finish!,” Fawad Chaudhry wrote.

The tweet gave no more details on why Pakistan would be considering the moves against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government now.

Officials were not immediately available for comment.

Pakistan had reopened its airspace in mid-July after a nearly four month closure imposed in February after an attack by a Pakistan-based militant group in Indian-controlled Kashmir led to clashes between the nuclear-armed neighbours.

Each country carried out air strikes on the other’s territory and warplanes fought a dogfight above the disputed Kashmir region in which an Indian fighter jet was shot down.

The months of restrictions forced long detours that cost airlines millions of dollars.

Modi’s surprise move this month to withdraw the special privileges of Muslim-majority Kashmir has also increased tension with Pakistan.

France’s Macron Calls for End to Suspension on Iranian Crude Sale to India Amid US Pressure

New Delhi (Sputnik): Despite vowing not to give in to any sort of pressure from a third country while dealing with trade with Iran, the Indian government stopped purchasing Iranian crude in May this year after the re-imposition of US economic sanctions came into effect. On the contrary, China has not followed US sanctions and has continued its oil purchases from the Persian Gulf nation.

A day after US President Donald Trump indicated that there is room for negotiations with Tehran, French President Emmanuel Macron urged him to usher in peace by revoking the suspension on the sale of Iranian crude to India. Iran is the third-largest supplier of crude oil to India.

The development came against the backdrop of Iranian Foreign Minister Jawad Zarif attending the G7 summit in the seaside town of Biarritz in France for talks as part of Macron’s diplomatic initiative aimed at de-escalating tensions in the Gulf.

It is reported that Iran wants to coordinate the exports of at least 700,000 barrels of oil, ideally up to 1.5 million barrels per day, in exchange for an agreement to maintain the 2015 nuclear deal.

At the same time, China and India are among the recipients of Iranian oil that could be excluded from the American sanctions.

Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani reiterated on Tuesday that the situation will change only if the “US removes all sanctions” against the Islamic Republic.

“If they wish for more security in the region and want to have better relations with regional countries; if they claim that they want nothing from Iran, then they have to step back from sanctions”, the president added.

In the last week of June, while meeting Trump on the side-lines of the G20 meeting in Osaka, Japan, Indian Prime Minister Modi pointed out that “although Iran supplies 11% of our energy, India had reduced oil imports from Iran”.

Modi said that India had reduced the import of crude from Iran and that despite “the effect it had on the Indian economy we had been able to sustain this position”.

A senior government official told Sputnik that since May this year, India has increased the import of crude oil and gas from the US to fill the gap created in the wake up of stopping the Iranian crude oil imports.

On Monday, Prime Minister Modi, while meeting with President Trump, said that $4 billion worth of imports are already in the pipeline and that “we expect to step it up”. Modi will also hold a round table with the top CEOs of energy companies in Houston during his visit to the US in September.

India had initially opted to bow to the US sanctions after the Trump administration decided to end the waivers on 2 May that it had granted to eight of Iran’s top oil customers — China, India, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Greece, and Turkey, which were issued last November.

India is a major importer of Iranian oil. In 2018-19 alone, it imported 23.5 million tonnes of crude oil from the Islamic country.

PM Modi awarded UAE honour, Imran Khan awarded 5-star Uber rating: Pak PM mocked for driving Saudi Prince

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was conferred with Order of Zayed, UAE’s highest civilian award by Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan on Saturday. The award on PM Modi is being compared with the incident when Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan chauffeured for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman when the latter visited the country.

While PM Modi was conferred with the UAE’s highest civilian award on Saturday, the incident where Pakistani prime minister broke protocol and personally drove Mohammad Bin Salman in a Mercedes Benz to his official residence happened just after the Pulwama terror attack in February.

The February incident came to the fore yet again when a Pakistani MP brought it up in Parliament. She said that Prime Minister Imran Khan had promised to make Pakistan better than any other country but now, she said, “he has become a driver of the Uber company and asks for five-star on every ride”.

As the Pakistani Parliamentarian’s statement surfaced on social media, Twitterati started poking fun at Imran Khan for driving the crown prince by saying that while PM Modi got the highest civilian award, the Pak PM received the “best driver of UAE prince award”.

Recently former Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar had slammed Imran Khan for making Pakistan a global laughing stock with his knowledge of history and geography on World War II. Speaking in the Pakistan Parliament, Hina Rabbani Khar said that the prime minister completely distorted both history and geography.

“The PM went on at length to explain how Germany and Japan are neighbours and post World War II, in which they were in the same team, that’s what history tells us and Japan is in East Asia and Germany is in Europe but the PM says that they are neighbours. PM says they were adversaries. He is our prime minister. You make Pakistan a global laughing stock,” Hina Rabbani Khar said.

India’s top opposition leaders sent back from Srinagar airport to Delhi

A delegation of opposition parties, led by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, boarded a flight to visit Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday, their first since the abrogation of Article 370 on Aug.5.

However, sources said the delegation would be sent back from the airport as the state administration urged them not to visit the state, saying attempts should not be made to disturb the gradual restoration of normalcy there. Jammu and Kashmir has been under a security clampdown since the abrogation of Article 370, that accorded the state a special status.

Other leaders in the delegation, include Communist Party of India (CPI) leader D. Raja, Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury, Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma and K.C. Venugopal, Loktantrik Janata Dal (LJD) chief Sharad Yadav, Dinesh Trivedi, Tiruchi Siva, Majeed Memon, Manoj Jha and D. Kupendra Reddy.

CPI leader D. Raja told reporters that they were not going to the Valley to create any law and order problem.

“We are citizens of the country. So is everyone in Jammu and Kashmir. We are not people who will make things difficult for anyone. We just want to go and see the situation on the ground,” Sharad Yadav told reporters.

Ghulam Nabi Azad also assured the media that they were not going to break any law as they were leaders of responsible political parties.

“The government says the situation in J&K is normal. But then they don’t allow leaders to go there? Haven’t seen such contradiction. If things are normal there, why aren’t we allowed to visit the place?” Azad wondered.

Modi launches RuPay card in UAE

The RuPay card was officially launched in the UAE on Aug.24 at the Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi in the presence of PM Modi.

The UAE is the first country in the Gulf where the Indian RuPay card has been launched. Twenty-one business groups from the UAE: NMC Healthcare, Lulu Group, Aster DM Healthcare, Landmark Group, Sobha Ltd, Apparel Group, Nikai Group, Regal Group of Companies, ITL Cosmos, Jashanmal National Company LLC, Allana Group FMCG Products, Petrochem Middle East, Transworld Group, Al Dobowi Group, VPS Healthcare, UPL Group, Conares, Al Maya Group, EPS Facilities Services Group, Emaar & DP World, were present during the event and pledged to accept RuPay as a mode of payment and stated that the initiative will go a long way in bringing India and UAE businesses together.

Simon Haslam, Group Chairman, on behalf of Mercury Payments Services LLC and Arif Khan Pyarebhai, Chief Digital Officer on behalf of National Payments Corporation of India, exchanged an MoU on RuPay Card in the presence of the Prime Minister.

PM Modi swiped his RuPay card for buying Indian sweets. The business community welcomed this step and stated that the initiative will go a long way in bringing India and UAE businesses together.

Dr Azad Moopen, Founder Chairman & Managing Director, Aster DM Healthcare, said, “The launch of RuPay card in UAE will boost the financial independence and would help Indians travelling to UAE as well as those based in UAE. It is our privilege to accept the RuPay card for all payments in our 351 establishments comprising Aster, Medcare and Access brand of Hospitals, clinics and pharmacies in 6 GCC countries. We already accept RuPay in our Indian hospitals.”

The UAE receives close to three million Indian tourists annually. Acceptance of RuPay card in UAE will lower the charges as tourists will save on the exchange rate. The National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI) is association with Mercury Payments Services – UAE’s Domestic Scheme has made RuPay Cards acceptable at 175,000 merchant acceptance locations and 5,000 ATM and cash access locations within UAE.

RuPay is the first-of-its-kind India’s domestic debit and credit card payment network, with wide acceptance at ATMs, POS devices and e-commerce websites across India. It is a highly secure network that protects against cyber hacks and is India’s version of MasterCard and Visa.