updated 12:07 PM UTC, Jun 27, 2017

'Catastrophic Results' Possible From India-US 'Cozying Up': Chinese Media

BEIJING: Prime Minister Narendra Modi's meeting with US President Donald Trump has provoked a strong reaction from China, where state-run media warned of "catastrophic results" if New Delhi works with Washington to counter Beijing.

"Washington and New Delhi share anxieties about China's rise. In recent years, to ratchet up geopolitical pressure on China, the US has cozied up to India," said an article in China's state-run newspaper, the Global Times.

Underlining that India is not a US ally like Japan or Australia, it said, "To assume a role as an outpost country in the US' strategy to contain China is not in line with India's interests. It could even lead to catastrophic results."

The newspaper said that if India becomes a "pawn" for the US in countering China, new geopolitical friction will be triggered in South Asia.

After their meeting at the White House last night, PM Modi and Mr Trump, who bear-hugged, agreed that a close partnership between the United States and India is central to peace and stability in the region.

With an eye on China and its growing military ambitions in the Asia-Pacific area, both sides called for freedom of navigation and resolving of territorial and maritime disputes peacefully in accordance with international law, a reference to Beijing's aggression in the disputed waters of the South China Sea.

President Trump also endorsed India's objections to the new economic corridor that China is building through Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir as part of its gigantic initiative to unlock new land and sea routes to Central Asia. India says the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, being developed at a cost of at least $54 billion, violates its territorial sovereignty.

Thought President Trump has sought to curb China's regional clout, in part by questioning the "One China" policy employed by the US for decades, he has been courting China to persuade it to do more to rein in North Korea.

Eliminating Terrorism Top-Most Priority, Says PM Modi At White House

WASHINGTON/NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, after his first meeting and delegation-level talks with US President Donald Trump, said eliminating terrorism was among the top priorities for the two countries. In a joint briefing today with Mr Trump at the White House in Washington DC, PM Modi said, "We talked about terrorism, extremism and radicalisation and agreed to cooperate on this. Fight against terrorism and their safe havens is an important part of our cooperation." Ahead of the meeting, the US State Department declared Syed Salahuddin, chief of the terror group Hizbul Mujahideen, a Specially Designated Global Terrorist in a move that India called a vindication of its stand against cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan.

At the joint press briefing, President Trump said the relationship between India and the US has never been stronger and better. "India has a true friend in the White House," he said, adding "India is the fastest growing economy in the world. We hope we will be catching up with you very soon."

"When he (President Trump) came to India in 2014... he was full of very warm remarks and observations about me, I still remember them," said PM Modi in the White House, thanking Mr Trump and his wife Melania Trump for their warm welcome. Praising Mr Modi, the US President said, "You've done a great job. Economically, India's doing very well."

The two leaders spent more than four hours together, ending with a working dinner. PM Modi is the first foreign dignitary to be hosted for dinner by President Trump at the White House.

This was PM Modi's first meeting with President Trump; they have spoken thrice on the phone since the latter took office earlier this year. Today's meeting was aimed at building a personal rapport and senior government officials said they hope for "chemistry" between the two leaders.

The initial signs were upbeat, with President Trump describing Prime Minister Modi as a "true friend!" on Twitter, and PM Modi posting that he "greatly looked forward" to the one-on-one.

'New India' Meets 'Make America Great Again': PM Narendra Modi's

WASHINGTON: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump addressed a joint press meet following their first meeting at the White House. Mr Modi was welcomed to the White House by Mr Trump and First Lady Melania Trump. The two then chaired delegation level talks at the White House's Cabinet Room. After the address, Mr Modi was hosted at a reception by First Lady Melania Trump, followed by a dinner at the White House.

I am sure that convergence between my vision for 'New India' and President Trump's vision to 'Make America Great Again' will add new dimensions to our cooperation.

I am sure that under your leadership, our mutually beneficial strategic partnership will gain new strength and positivity. Your vast and successful experience in the business world will lend an aggressive and forward-looking agenda to our relations.

Under your leadership, our ties will scale new heights. I will be a driven, determined, decisive partner to you.

We are global engines of growth. The all-round comprehensive economic growth and joint progress of both countries and societies are the priorities of India and US.

The top priority of both, myself and President Trump, is to protect our societies from global challenges. The fight against terrorism is our main priority.

Not A Single Stain On My Government, Says PM Narendra Modi In US

WASHINGTON DC: Prime Minister Narendra Modi spent the first day of his US visit in meeting top industry titans and then the Indian community in the America. While he billed India's business-friendly face to the roundtable of 21 CEOs, highlighting reforms like the Goods and Services Tax or GST that would untangle a complex jumble of central and state taxes, he spoke of his government's "stain-free" reputation and augmented international clout while interacting with the Indian community. "Not one country questioned India's surgical strikes (on terror launch-pads across the Line of Control)," he said.

"The whole world is looking at India... India's growth presents a win-win partnership for India and US both. US companies have a great opportunity to contribute to that," he said at the meeting of CEOs, adding his government had introduced 7,000 reforms, including GST, to cut red tape. PM Modi heard the executives, whose chief concerns were said to include the economic scenario in India post demonetisation, the question of jobs and intellectual property regulation. Among those who attended were Google's Sundar Pichai, Amazon's Jeff Bezos, Apple's Tim Cook and Mastercard's Ajay Banga.

Next, the PM attended a reception at a hotel in McLean where he addressed about 700 members of the Indian community. Here, he exhorted the corruption-free credentials of his administration, saying, "In three years, there has not been one stain on my government. Indians detest corruption." He also raised India's much-publicised surgical strikes against Pakistani terrorists across the Line of Control. "Surgical strikes proved that India, which normally follows restraint, can also defend its sovereignty if needed," he said.

His address also included generous praise for Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, popular for her prompt Twitter-driven interventions. "It is now well known in India, anyone in trouble tweets to Sushma ji, she promptly replies and the government takes action," he said.

As PM Modi Reaches US, President Trump Calls Him 'A True Friend'

WASHINGTON: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today arrived in Washington DC where he will hold his first bilateral meeting with US President Donald Trump who, in a tweet just hours earlier, called him a "true friend" with whom he had "important strategic issues to discuss". "Greatly look forward to my meeting and discussions with you," PM Modi said, replying to President Trump's tweet, thanking him for the "warm personal welcome". Ahead of the much-anticipated meeting on Monday, the White House on Saturday said that it was "seeking to roll out the red carpet" for PM Modi, adding that it "will be the first dinner for a foreign dignitary at the White House under this administration".

On Monday afternoon, President Trump will host PM Modi at the White House where the two leaders will spend around five hours together, beginning with a bilateral discussion, delegation-level talks, a reception and a working dinner.

Among the key issues likely to be discussed between leaders of the world's two largest democracies are defence cooperation, boosting economic ties, combating terrorism and security cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region.

President Trump's review of the H-1B visa programme, a key concern for India, is not expected to figure in the talks.

Climate change, though, would be an important topic of discussion; the US has said it will "seek common ground" on the issue. President Trump, while announcing America's withdrawal from the Paris climate deal earlier this month, had made sharp comments on India saying it had made its participation "contingent on receiving billions and billions and billions of dollars in foreign aid."

After the talks, PM Modi and President Trump will deliver a joint statement along with individual statements. But there will be no press meet, "as preferred by both leaders".

PM Modi Dials Chandrababu Naidu, Wants Him To Speak To Mamata Banerjee

NEW DELHI:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi today spoke to Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu to formally seek support for Ram Nath Kovind, who has been chosen he presidential candidate of the NDA. He asked Mr Naidu to speak to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who left this morning for a three-day trip to The Hague, Netherlands.

After the Bihar Governor was picked for the top job at a meeting of the parliamentary party - the BJP's top decision making body - the Prime Minister has spoken to a number of opposition leaders. Among them were Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.  

 

Mr Naidu's office said he has praised PM Modi's choice. Mr Kovind, he said, is an "intellectual from the Dalit community and deserves the position of president".

Prime Minister Narendra Modi Launches Kochi Metro, Says Coaches Reflect 'Make In India' Vision

KOCHI: Kerala's first metro line was flagged off in Kochi by Prime Minister Narendra Modi today. PM Modi, along with Kerala Governor P Sathasivam, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and other dignitaries, travelled by the metro. Union minister M Venkiah Naidu was also present.

E Sreedharan, better known as India's "metro man" also accompanied PM Modi during the maiden ride. PM Modi travelled in the metro coach, which has green coloured seats from Palarivattom to Pathadippalam. Seated to his right was the Kerala Chief Minister and to his left was Governor Sathasivam.

"Kochi metro integrates the city's entire public transportation network into a single system," PM Modi, who began his speech in Malayalam, said at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium during the formal inauguration. He said the coaches of the metro reflect the 'Make in India' vision. Chief Minister Vijayan presented a hand-carved wooden model of the Kochi Metro car to the Prime Minister.

Donald Trump 'Looking Forward' To Meeting PM Modi On June 26: White House

NEW DELHI/WASHINGTON: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on June 26 will hold talks with US President Donald Trump on a range of issues, including India's concerns over possible changes in H1B visa rules and terrorism, in their first bilateral meeting after the new administration took over in the US.

The External Affairs Ministry in New Delhi said on Monday that their meeting would provide a new direction for a deeper bilateral engagement "on issues of mutual interest and consolidation of multi-dimensional strategic partnership."

In Washington, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Trump "looks forward" to his meeting with PM Modi on June 26 and discuss ways to strengthen the bilateral ties to "advance our common priorities: fighting terrorism, promoting economic growth and reforms, and expanding security cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region."

"President Trump and Prime Minister Modi will look to outline a common vision for the US-India partnership that is worthy of their 1.6 billion citizens," Spicer said.

Last week, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in her annual press meet said that PM Modi would raise the issues surrounding the US plans to reduce the number of H-1B visa slots that are mainly used by Indian IT workers.

Almost 1.8 million H-1B visas have been distributed in fiscal years 2001 through 2015, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of government data. From fiscal years 2001 to 2015, workers from India received the largest share (50.5 per cent) of all H-1B visas for first-time employment.

Regional security situation including Pakistan-sponsored terrorism and other international issues are expected to figure prominently during the meeting of the two leaders.

Apart from ways to enhance trade and business cooperation, the two leaders are expected to discuss defence ties.

US Defence Secretary James Mattis has already made it clear that his country recognises India as a major defence "partner partly out of respect" for New Delhi's "indispensable role" in maintaining stability in the Indian Ocean region.

The US was exploring "new ways" to address new challenges as well from maritime security to the growing threat posed by the spread of terrorism in Southeast Asia, Mattis has said.

PM Modi's visit also comes in the backdrop of Trump's announcement to withdraw the US from the historic Paris Climate Agreement signed by nearly 190 other countries.

Trump had blamed India and China for the US withdrawal.

"India makes its participation contingent on receiving billions and billions of dollars from developed countries," he said.

Strongly rejecting Trump's contention, India has said it signed the Paris deal not under duress or for lure of money but due to its commitment to protect environment.

During his visit to France this month, PM Modi even said that India would "go above and beyond" the Paris deal to protect climate for the future generations.

PM Narendra Modi Greets Nawaz Sharif, To Meet China's Xi Jinping Today

NEW DELHI: On his second day in Kazakhstan capital Asthana, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping this morning on the margins of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation or SCO - a consortium that focuses on security and trade. This will be the first meeting of the two leaders to build on common interests in eight months; much of it spent under the shadow of differences ranging from controversies linked to the boundary question and blocking India's attempt to join the Nuclear Supplier Group that Beijing claims has become "more complicated". Later in the day, India and Pakistan will also be formally inducted into the SCO as members.

PM Modi greeted his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif and exchanged pleasantries when they met at a cultural gala. This was the first time that they have spoken in a year but New Delhi has insisted that "talks and terror cannot go together. There is no meeting of any kind planned between the two leaders at Astana but they will be in the same room along with six other heads of government for the SCO Summit.

At his meeting with President Xi, PM Modi is expected to discuss steps to ease the strain the ties between two nations have come lately over issues such as the One Belt, One Road or OBOR project that India had skipped, China's opposition to India's membership in the exclusive nuclear club NSG, renaming of 6 locations in Arunachal Pradesh and the "artificial controversy" created by Beijing over Dalai Lama's visit to Arunachal Pradesh.

The progress made in the discussions on the border question will also be reviewed along with reported transgressions. Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj had called the first air space violation by two helicopters of the Chinese People's Liberation Army that last week hovered over Chamoli district in Himachal Pradesh as "unacceptable".

The two leaders are also expected to discuss the fallout of President Donald Trump's announcement to pull the US out of the Paris Agreement on climate change, something that experts believe leaves scope for India and China to take a leadership role.

PM Modi is also expected to seek support for designating Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar as a terrorist in the United Nations, a move that China has blocked in the past. The PM is likely to stress that Beijing should not let political considerations, its close relations with Pakistan, stand in the way.

China Repeats 'No' For Nuclear Group NSG, India Looks To Other Nations

BEIJING: China has made it clear that it will continue to block India’s attempt to join the elite Nuclear Supplier Group, claiming that Delhi’s bid has become “more complicated “ under “new circumstances” without elaborating.

The Nuclear Suppliers Group or NSG has 48 member countries who control trade in sophisticated civil nuclear technology. Through last year, China was among the countries that objected to India’s admission to the bloc, ratcheting up tension between the two countries.

The group goes by consensus approach on the admission of new members.

"About the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), it is a new issue under the new circumstances and it is more complicated than the previously imagined," China's Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs Li Huilai said to reporters today.

Pakistan has also applied for entry to the NSG. China has not openly backed Islamabad but has said that the rules require members of the NSG to be signatories of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the main global arms control pact. Countries like the US have pointed out that India’s record of nuclear non-proliferation is in sharp contrast to Pakistan’s. But China has ruled out bending the rules for India.

India was granted an NSG waiver in 2008 that allows it to engage in nuclear commerce, but deprives it of a vote in the organisation's decision making.

The NSG aims to prevent nuclear weapons proliferation by stopping the sale of items that can be used to make nuclear arms. The nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) recognises the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council - the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France - as nuclear weapons powers but not others.

This month, member countries of the NSG will meet in Switzerland.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping later this week at a summit in Kazakhstan.

PM Narendra Modi Tells French President Emmanuel Macron India Will 'Go Beyond' Paris Climate Accord

PARIS: Prime Minister Narendra Modi vowed after meeting French President Emmanuel Macron today to go "above and beyond" the Paris Agreement on climate change, after the US said it would quit the deal.

Speaking two days after US President Donald Trump announced plans to withdraw from the deal on curbing carbon emissions, PM Modi said it was "part of the world's shared heritage" and that India would "continue working...above and beyond the Paris accord".

The agreement signed by 195 countries in the French capital in 2015 "can protect future generations and give new hope," the prime minister said.

However, PM Modi avoided direct criticism of Donald Trump's move.

President Macron said that during two hours of the talks that encompassed trade, defense and the anti-terror fight, PM Modi and he had "mainly discussed our commitment to the climate".

Arun Jaitley Addresses Media On 3 Years Of Modi Government

NEW DELHI: On completion of the NDA government's three years in office, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is addressing a press conference in the national capital. Claiming to have "restored the credibility of the economy", the Finance Minister said, "We have shown decisiveness, even the ability to take difficult decisions." He said the government has taken key initiatives to reduce scope of corruption. Ahead of July rollout of the national tax GST, Mr Jaitley said it will usher in a revolution in taxation administration. Last week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on his monthly radio address Mann ki Baat, said he was happy with the feedback the government was receiving on its work. "I am very happy people are evaluating our work in great detail. I welcome this. Constructive criticism strengthens our democracy," PM Modi had said.On May 26, the day PM Modi took oath of office three years ago, he had put up a series of data showcasing the performance of his government.

highlights of his address:

  • Three years ago, there was a slowdown in policy reform 
  • The perception of our economy in the world was poor 
  • We had poor monsoon in the 2 of the last 3 years
  • We restored the credibility of the economy
  • There are three reasons for this 1) Decisiveness: the ability to take strong steps 2) We ended governmental discretion 3) The direction of growth
  • We took Policies that boosted growth and ensure the benefits of growth reach everyone
  • FDI played a key role. We became the largest recipients of FDI
  • We also made efforts to strengthen states
  • In India, a federal taxation has been created for the first time with consensus. This is in its final stage
  • Once this is implemented, we will witness a benefit in taxation policy
  • All economic leakages have been checked
  • Through Demonetisation, the government has created a new normal in the economy
  • We ensured that there will be an elimination of a parallel economy
  • There have been three advantages: 1) Movement towards digitalisation 2) Increase in taxpayers 3) A message has been conveyed, loud and clear that it is no longer safe to deal in cash
  • We made transformational changes in solvency and insolvency laws
  • There have been challenges, through the way
  • The work for revolution of banking is still under progressing. It is a major challenge
  • Linked to this, is the challenge of wanting to increase private sector investment - even though public and FDI investment has increased
  • There is a significant impact of global trends as well
  • When we started 3 years ago, in the first year revenue increase was 9.4 per cent. Second year was 17, third year was 18. This has also benefited the poor
  • We have tried to provide rural electrification, direct benefit transfers, infrastructure creation, bank accounts to the poor
  • Many issues related to defence were pending. We passed One Rank One Pension (OROP) and ensured better defence procurement
  • We also want to stress upon defence manufacturing. We have introduced strategic partnership for the same
  • There are challenges from our padosi (neighbours) and insurgency
  • There are several factors which can contribute to the GDP of a particular quarter
  • There was some slowdown visible even prior to demonetisation last year
  • There was impact of global factors. There was also the impact of various sectors: the 9 per cent 
  • growth in the service sector had come down
  • I am sure as the impact of all our policies hold out, this will be beneficial
  • GST: GST, by itself, will add to growth
  • So far we have succeeded in maintaining the consensus with GST
  • Initially, critics said there are no big bang reforms
  • Once GST was passed, and they had no issue, they started talking about jobless growth
  • You have a mechanism in the GST council to discuss individual cases; officials meet to decide rates, and the council takes decision
  • Media propaganda won't affect any decision of the council
  • People who have deposited cash disproportionate to their income, during demonetisation, were asked to explain by authorities
  • Authorities are also investigating benami properties
  • As far as defence procurement proposals are concerned, there is a particular mechanism through which decisions are taken
  • As far as FDI is concerned, it has been liberalised in phases. FDI changes merely open the door - they are enabling. They themselves do not ensure the entry of participants. The reason being, there is only one purchaser: Government of India. There are no two procurers Hence, the strategic partnership policy is going to supplement the procurement policy
  • India-Pak relations: Govt has taken steps to ease the problem
  • PM Modi invited SAARC leaders including Pakistan Prime Minister to the swearing in; he visited Lahore. These were all steps to ease the tension Each has been responded with a Pathankot, Uri and mutilation of our soldiers. The environment for talks have been prevented by Pakistan
  • Lalu Yadav and P Chidambaram raids: I have said that whatever evidence an investigative agency gets, it has to present it to a court. Only the court will decide whether it is valid or not
  • Beef controversy: Every state has its own legislature 
  • We have directive principles in the constitution which states that certain types of animals need to be protected 

Focus on Kudankulam Power Plant Pact As PM Modi Reaches Russia

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has landed in Russia's St Petersburg- a visit that's expected to be crucial for India's largest nuclear power plant, Kudankulam. The last two units of the plant are expected to be built in collaboration with a Russian company. If successful, the deal will be the centrepiece of the meet in which 12 other agreements are likely to be inked. The meeting between PM Modi and President Vladimir Putin is expected to help boost trade and resolve tensions over shifting alliances. A traditional ally of India, Russia has lately developed its ties with China and Pakistan.

The two reactors in Tamil Nadu's Kudankulam plant are being built by India's Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd and Russian firm Atomstroyexport, a subsidiary of Rosatom, the regulatory body of the Russian nuclear complex. The units will have a capacity to produce 1000 MW of electricity each.

Under an agreement with PM Modi and Mr Putin in 2015, a deal to build units 5 and 6 of Kudankulam was to be signed by 2016. But the line of credit to be extended by Russia proved a hurdle. News agency Press Trust of India quoted sources as saying that last-minute talks are on to iron out details and language of the agreement.

"Reached the historic city of St. Petersburg. Looking forward to a fruitful visit aimed at cementing India-Russia relations," PM Modi tweeted after landing.

PM Modi's visit will officially begin on Thursday with a visit to the Piskariovskoe cemetery, a memorial for 500,000 Russians killed in Leningrad during World War II. Later, he would be received by President Putin at the sprawling Konstantin Palace, his official residence. After the summit, Mr Putin will host PM Modi at a private dinner.

The 12 agreements that are expected to be inked between the two nations covers various sectors -- from trade science and technology, railways, cultural exchanges and other business areas.

PM Narendra Modi Visits Berlin, 'Bursting With Friendliness': Foreign Media

Reflecting on the fraught new era of U.S. relations with Germany, and Europe at large, German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke on Sunday at a beer hall, and contended that her continent-mates "really must take our fate into our own hands."

Those jitters about already weakening trans-Atlantic alliances were surely heightened as President Trump took to Twitter on Tuesday morning and accused Germany of maintaining a trade imbalance and under-contributing to NATO. Trump has also suggested that he might withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement on combating climate change, which Merkel has championed.

 

Merkel on Tuesday reiterated her sense that Europe must seek new alliances, telling reporters in Berlin, "The times in which we can fully count on others are somewhat over, as I have experienced in the past few days."

"Others," in this case, seems to be a euphemism; Merkel was clearly talking about the United States.

On Tuesday, Merkel met with Indian Prime Minster Narendra Modi, and on Wednesday she will meet with Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang. Although Merkel has sought to dampen the notion that she wants to pivot Germany and Europe away from the United States and toward Eastern powers, Tuesday's meeting with Modi could not have been more positive and cordial.

"We are meant for each other," Modi told Merkel, smiling widely.

 
 


"India wants the world not just to be interconnected but also that it should be sensibly run," Merkel said by way of endorsing a trade agreement in the works between India and the European Union.

"Whether it be bilateral relations, humanitarian issues, regional or global issues, every discussion with the chancellor has been very beneficial for me," Modi said. "The pace of development of our relations is fast, the direction is positive, and the destination is clear. Germany will always find India as a powerful, prepared and capable partner."

India and Germany are two of the largest economies in the process of trying to implement the Paris Agreement, and Merkel made special note of Modi's demonstrated commitment to solar power. While India is massively expanding its coal production, Modi has pledged to simultaneously grow solar such that it will make up more than half of the world's production by 2022.

'Mind Boggling' Reform That Will Reshape India's $2 Trillion Economy

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government is set to dramatically reshape Asia's third-largest economy with the biggest tax reform since independence in 1947.

After finding common ground among India's 29 states, the finance ministry on Friday released detailed rates for the incoming goods and services tax, slotting more than 1,200 items -- from sugar to steel pipes and motorcycles -- into five tax brackets between zero and 28 percent. With that done, India is almost ready to implement a tax code that unifies more than a dozen separate levies, effectively creating a single market with a population greater than the U.S., Europe, Brazil, Mexico and Japan combined. 

"It is a tax revolution, in many ways, because the indirect tax structure in India was hopelessly chaotic," said Raghbendra Jha, head of the economics department at Australian National University. "It's mind boggling, the sheer magnitude of the reform taking place."

 

The sweeping tax reform will gradually reshape India's business landscape, make the world's fastest-growing major economy an easier place to do business and is likely to raise government revenues by widening the tax net in the country's largely informal $2 trillion economy. That means India could spend more on desperately needed infrastructure and training programs for a workforce that is growing by 1 million people each month, laying the groundwork for longer-term growth. 

With tax experts praising the rates as moderate and generally lower-than-expected, it seems possible Modi might be able to roll out this reform without a politically damaging rise in inflation. However some economists and analysts see a July 1st deadline as unrealistic, raising the possibility that less than 10 months after demonetization, India's economy could again be upturned as businesses struggle to comply with the new tax code.

PM Narendra Modi Shares Why He Banned Mobile Phones In His Meetings

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his session with the country's top bureaucrats, shared many nuggets of governance including why he had banned mobile phones in his meetings. He also stressed on the merits of anonymity while working on schemes.

Being faceless is a "big strength", advised the PM. "Many officers would have had vision, implemented something and the entire country benefited from the idea. But if you go looking for who came up with the idea, you will not be able to find them. This is the best quality of the Indian civil service," he said.

Of late, he complained, this had not been the case. "If I go and have my picture on Facebook administering two drops (polio campaign) then a question arises on the anonymity of officials," he commented.

Social media, he said, should be used to reach people for their welfare and benefit.

"These days... I see district officials so busy, busy, busy (with their mobiles)...so I banned mobiles in meetings," he said, mimicking furious tapping on a phone keypad as he addressed bureaucrats at a function to mark Civil Services Day.

"People have moved from e-governance to mobile governance, it is a reality today."

Since coming to power with a huge mandate in 2014, PM Modi has stressed on an efficient workforce. Sweeping changes in the bureaucratic ways of functioning began with his office.

Spelling out the need to revamp the mindset and style of working, the Prime Minister said, "there is a burden of hierarchy culture" that had been going on since the British rule. "If seniors or superiors feel that new entrants are doing good work and it is intimidating them, this is the pressure of hierarchy culture," he said.

Urging officials to use their experience well, PM Modi advised, "There is no way that there could be better suggestions and recommendations than yours." He urged bureaucrats to "think out of the box" and take collective ownership to bring change.

On His Way To Airport, PM Narendra Modi Stops Car To Meet 4-Year-old

SURAT: Prime Minister Narendra Modi stopped his convoy in Gujarat today for a four-year-old girl who caught his attention from the sea of supporters gathered for a glimpse.

PM Modi was in Surat as part of his two-day Gujarat visit when he made the unscheduled stop.

In a video, the little girl - whose name was revealed later to be Nancy - is seen hesitantly approaching the PM's car but being stopped by commandos. The girl was called back and taken by the security men to the Prime Minister, who was seen stepping out of the SUV, reaching for the child and saying a few words before sending her back to her parents.

The crowd cheered wildly and chanted "Modi, Modi" as it watched the interaction.

The prime minister launched many projects today in the state.

This is the second time in a month that he has surprised many by breaking security protocol.

Earlier this month, PM Modi went to the Delhi airport to receive his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina without the traffic restrictions usually in place to facilitate smooth VIP movement.

The PM arrived yesterday in Surat and took out a roadshow embellished by huge television screens, flags, flashing lights and a 10,000-bike cavalcade. For two-hours, he rode an SUV, waving through its sun-roof to the crowd that lined the route from the airport to the city.

This is his eighth visit in nine months to his home state, which will vote for a new government in November. Buoyed by recent election victories, the BJP is prepping to campaign for a fifth straight term in Gujarat.

By-Election Results 2017: BJP Wins 5 Of 10 Assembly Seats In By-Elections

NEW DELHI: In by-elections held for 10 assembly seats in eight states, the BJP is in position to win six. It had held three of these seats and is gaining three from other parties, including Delhi's Rajouri Garden, where last time's winner Aam Aadmi Party has lost its deposit ahead of key civic elections. In Karnataka, the Congress has won both Nanjangud and Gundlupet, seats it held. In Jammu and Kashmir's Srinagar, where fresh elections were ordered in 38 polling booths after violence on Sunday, less than one per cent have turned up to vote.

Today's big winner the BJP, has already taken Bhoranj in Himachal Pradesh, a seat it had held. It also snatched Dholpur seat in Rajasthan from Mayawati's BSP. The ruling BJP asserted its hold in Madhya Pradesh retaining the Bandhavgarh assembly seat and heading to win Ater.

West Delhi's Rajouri Garden seat fell vacant early this year after AAP's legislator Jarnail Singh quit to contest the Punjab Assembly polls. A win has taken the BJP's tally from three to four in the Delhi assembly, dominated by AAP that had swept the 2015 elections.

The by-election was held only weeks before crucial civic elections in Delhi and the BJP will hold up a win today to assert that it has the support of Delhi's voters. For Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's AAP it's more bad news after its poor showing in the Punjab and Goa assembly elections last month.

As the trends indicated big win for the BJP and a massive loss for the ruling AAP, Delhi' Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia earlier this morning said, "need to revisit people connect." The ruling Congress celebrated in Karnataka, retaining both the Nanjangud assembly seat and Gundulpet. The by-polls became a prestige battle for the Congress and the opposition BJP ahead of assembly polls next year. "We bow our heads and accept the decision of the people," said the BJP's BS Yeddyurappa, conceding defeat.

Nanjangud is in Chief Minister Siddaramaiah's home district of Mysuru and it is crucial for him to retain the seat. His close aide-turned-rival V Srinivas Prasad, who held the seat earlier, joined the BJP after he was dropped as minister and is now contesting as the BJP candidate.

Ahead Of PM Narendra Modi's Landmark Israel Trip, 2 More Deals For 8,000 Missiles

India is close to signing two defense deals with Israel as it seeks to deepen ties with the Middle Eastern nation before Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit in July, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The deals include anti-tank missiles and a naval air defense weapon system, the people said, asking not to be identified given the information is private. Still, the plan for the first trip to Israel by an Indian prime minister indicates that cooperation goes beyond Delhi's status as the largest buyer of Israeli military hardware.

"The visit is a big milestone," said Shailesh Kumar, senior Asia analyst at political risk firm Eurasia Group. "Officials in both countries believe they face a common external threat: terrorism. Working with Israel fits into Modi's bigger pivot of deeper relations with the U.S. given the U.S.-Israel friendship."

The deals for Spike anti-tank missiles for India's army and Barak-8 air defense missiles for its navy are expected to be finalized in the next two months, the people said. The pacts are worth $1.5 billion, they said, and will see the delivery of the 8,000 missiles two years after the contracts are signed.

 

The missile deals follow transactions finalized last week for India to obtain medium- and long-range surface-to-air missiles worth $2 billion.

 


They're part of PM Modi's $250-billion plan to modernize the armed forces by 2025 amid tensions with neighbors China and Pakistan.

Since PM Modi came to power in May 2014, his government has shed his predecessors' reservations on talking about India's ties with Israel. 

John Kerry meets Modi

 

New Delhi: US Secretary of State John Kerry called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi here on Wednesday, the concluding day of his three-day visit to India.

"Capping off an important visit, Secretary of State @JohnKerry calls on PM @narendramodi," External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted along with pictures of the two leaders.

Kerry met Modi at 7 Race Course Road here on Wednesday afternoon.

Earlier in the day, Kerry addressed students at the Indian Institute of Technology here.

On Tuesday, Kerry co-chaired the Second India-US Strategic and Commercial Dialogue with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

Minister for State for Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman and US Secretary for Commerce Penny Pritzker also attended the Dialogue.

The India-US Strategic Dialogue was upgraded to Strategic and Commercial Dialogue last year at the initiative of Modi and US President Barack Obama.