Modi, Joe Biden To Discuss Ways To Combat Terrorism

Cementing bilateral ties, stabilization of Afghanistan, counterterrorism, Indo-Pacific and climate change are expected to be on the agenda when Prime Minister Narendra Modi goes on a three-day visit to the US this week.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Joe Biden, during their bilateral meeting on September 24 in Washington, are expected to discuss ways to stem radicalization and combat terrorism, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said on Tuesday, September 21, 2021. Modi and Biden are also expected to discuss ways to bolster defence and trade ties between the two countries, he added. “PM Modi and President Biden expected to discuss ways to stem radicalisation and combat terrorism. They are also expected to discuss ways to bolster defence and trade ties. Regional developments are also expected to figure in bilateral meeting,” Shringla said.

Modi_Joe_BidenHe added, “Modi and Biden will review the robust and multifaceted ties between the India and the US. They will also deliberate on ways to further enrich India-US global partnership.” As per a tentative schedule, PM Modi’s visit will take place between September 22-27. During his trip, the Prime Minister is expected to visit both Washington and New York.

PM Modi, Joe Biden to discuss ways to fight ‘common enemy terrorism’, says senior US official here in DC, adding that they would discuss ways to working together to fight a common enemy of terrorism. During a briefing, the official said: “This will be the first face-to-face meeting [of President Biden] with Prime Minister Modi on Friday, and it will be an opportunity to really step up from the perspective of our global partnership with India, working together to defend a free and open Indo-Pacific and our two countries were both essential in the global fight against COVID-19. And by taking conservative action to deal with the climate crisis. “

Biden will host Modi for their first in-person bilateral meeting at the White House on September 24. Later on the same day, Modi is expected to participate in the first in-person Quad — India, US, Australia, and Japan — leaders’ summit in Washington on September 24 being hosted by US President Joe Biden at the White House. Apart from addressing the crisis unfolding in Afghanistan, the two sides will also be working on an ambitious agenda concerning the Indo-Pacific region.

A statement by White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that “President Biden is looking forward to welcoming to the White House Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia, Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of Japan.” Modi will later address the General Debate of the 76th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) on September 25 in New York. This will be Modi’s first visit to the United States since President Joe Biden assumed charge early this year. The two have met virtually on at least three occasions – the Quad summit in March, the climate change summit in April, and the G-7 summit in June this year.

Modi was supposed to travel to the UK for the G-7 summit where he could have met Biden, but had to cancel the trip due to the second Covid-19 wave across India. Centre says it will resume vaccine export, ahead of Modi’s US visit India will resume the export of Covid-19 vaccines in October to fulfil the country’s commitment to the WHO-supported COVAX programme, union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya announced on Monday. “The surplus supply of vaccines will be used to fulfil our commitment towards the world for the collective fight against Covid-19,” he said.

Meanwhile, India expects a supply of 300 million doses of the Covid vaccines in October from different makers, the minister added. Separately, news agency Reuters report that India could receive 43.5 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine next month. India had stopped vaccine exports in April amidst the devastating second wave, allowing it to accelerate the vaccination of its population but derailing the COVAX program that supplies vaccines to low- and middle-income countries. COVAX depends on the Serum Institute of India-made AstraZeneca doses to meet its goals.

The decision to resume exports comes ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the US, where he will address the UN General Assembly as well as sit with fellow leaders of the Quad group. Vaccine distribution is to be on the agenda at both the UN meet and Quad summit. PM is to address the UN on September 25. At the Quad summit, the leaders will review the “vaccine initiative” announced in March, the ministry of external affairs had said. Reports say, a plan to distribute vaccine doses to Indo-Pacific nations, largely by leveraging India’s production capabilities, is on the agenda.

Following the Quad virtual summit, the US said it will provide financial support to help Hyderabad-based Biological E to produce a billion doses of the Covid vaccine by the end of 2022. Modi’s visit to the US is his first visit abroad in six months—the prime minister had visited Bangladesh in March for the 50th anniversary celebrations of Bangladesh’s emergence as a separate country. Modi was supposed to visit Europe in May but the trip was called off after India was hit by a particularly brutal second wave of covid-19 infections.

The US statement said that the “Biden-Harris Administration has made elevating the Quad a priority, as seen through the first-ever Quad Leaders-level engagement in March, which was virtual, and now this Summit, which will be in-person. Hosting the leaders of the Quad demonstrates the Biden-Harris Administration’s priority of engaging in the Indo-Pacific, including through new multilateral configurations to meet the challenges of the 21st century.”

Protesting Indian Farmers Call For 2nd Strike In A Week By SHONAL GANGULY (AP News)

Tens of thousands of protesting Indian farmers called for a national farmers’ strike on Monday, the second in a week, to press for the quashing of three new laws on agricultural reform that they say will drive down crop prices and devastate their earnings.

The farmers are camping along at least five major highways on the outskirts of New Delhi and have said they won’t leave until the government rolls back what they call the “black laws.” They have blockaded highways leading to the capital for three weeks, and several rounds of talks with the government have failed to produce any breakthroughs.

Scores of farmer leaders also conducted a token hunger strike on Monday at the protest sites. Heavy contingents of police in riot gear patrolled the areas where the farmers have been camping.

Protest leaders have rejected the government’s offer to amend some contentious provisions of the new farm laws, which deregulate crop pricing, and have stuck to their demand for total repeal.

At Singhu, a protest site on the outskirts of New Delhi, hundreds of farmers blocked all entry and exit routes and chanted anti-government slogans. Some of them carried banners reading “No farmers, no food.”

About two dozen leaders held a daylong hunger strike at the site, while a huge communal kitchen served food for the other protesters.

“It’s the government’s responsibility to provide social benefits (to people.) And if they don’t give those, then people will have to come together” to protest, said Harvinder Kaur, a government employee who came from her home in Punjab state to help at the kitchen.

Another protester, Rajdeep Singh, a 20-year-old student who helps his farming family back home in Punjab, said the protest would continue until their demands are met.

“Now it’s their (government’s) ego and the question of our pride,” he said.

Farmer leaders have threatened to intensify their actions and have threatened to block trains in the coming days if the government doesn’t abolish the laws.

The farmers filed a petition with the Supreme Court on Friday seeking the quashing of the laws, which were passed in September. The petition was filed by the Bharatiya Kisan Union, or Indian Farmers’ Union, and its leader, Bhanu Pratap Singh, who argued that the laws were arbitrary because the government enacted them without proper consultations with stakeholders.

The farmers fear the government will stop buying grain at minimum guaranteed prices and corporations will then push prices down. The government says it is willing to pledge that guaranteed prices will continue.

With nearly 60% of the Indian population depending on agriculture for their livelihoods, the growing farmer rebellion has rattled Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration and its allies.

Modi’s government insists the reforms will benefit farmers. It says they will allow farmers to market their produce and boost production through private investment.

Farmers have been protesting the laws for nearly two months in Punjab and Haryana states. The situation escalated three weeks ago when tens of thousands marched to New Delhi, where they clashed with police.

Amidst Pandemic, Poverty, Indian PM Lays Foundation For New Parliament Building

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday laid the foundation stone of the new Parliament building which will be equipped with all modern audio visual communication facilities and data network systems — making it a symbol of Atmanirbhar Bharat.

Modi also performed ‘Bhoomi Poojan’ for the construction of the four-storied new Parliament building, one of the most magnificent buildings in the country, would be built in an area of 64,500 square meter at an estimated cost of Rs. 971 crore.

While laying the foundation stone for the new Parliament Building for India, Modi said the new Parliament building, for which the ground-breaking ceremony was held, would channel and reflect the aspirations of 21st century India.

Each Member of Parliament would also be provided with a 40 square metre office space in the redeveloped Shram Shakti Bhawan, construction for which is slated to be completed by 2024. The new Parliament building has been designed by HCP Design and Management Pvt Ltd Ahmedabad and the construction would be carried out by Tata Projects Ltd, keeping the needs and requirements for the next 100 years in mind.

Critics say the 200 billion rupees ($2.7bn) that the Hindu-nationalist government is reportedly spending on the vast project could be better directed to fighting COVID-19 and repairing the pandemic-battered economy. The project has also run into legal trouble with several petitions in India’s top court questioning its validity on the grounds of land and environmental rules. The Supreme Court on Monday expressed unhappiness over the government’s rush to inaugurate the project before it had considered the pleas.

The ceremony was attended by Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, Deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha Harivansh, Union Minister Hardeep Puri and Pralhad Joshi along with senior members of the Union Cabinet, diplomats, and Members of Parliament. The ceremony included an all-faith prayer as well, while priests from the Sringeri Math, Karnataka, did the rituals.

“The new building will be the amalgamation of the new and the ancient, and reflects also the spirit of fostering change in oneself adapting to changing circumstances,” said Modi. “Our Constitution was framed and given to us in the current parliament building and it is the repository of much of our democratic legacy but it is important to be realistic as well. Over the last 100 years, several modifications have been made to the current building to the point where even the building requires rest. Which is why the decision was taken to construct a new Parliament building”.

The Prime Minister spoke of some of the new features added to the new building, including a space where people from constituencies could meet their MPs on visiting the building, something lacking in the current building.

The building will have a seating capacity for 888 members in the Lok Sabha chamber with an option to increase to 1,224 members during Joint Sessions. Similarly, the Rajya Sabha Chamber would have a seating capacity for 384 members.

India’s glorious heritage too will find a place in the building. Artisans and sculptors from all over the country would contribute to and showcase India’s cultural diversity in the building.

Modi called upon MPs to keep the spirit of optimism alive around democracy by being always accountable to people and the Constitution. He spoke of the spirit of conversation and dialogue, quoting the first Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Nanak Devji: “as long as the world exists, conversations must continue”, noting that it was the spirit of democracy, a comment significant with regard to the stalled negotiations between his own government and agitating farmers groups over three farmer-specific laws passed by Parliament in the last session. While there could be disagreements, there cannot be space for disconnect, he pointed out.

While pointing out that many nations felt Indian democracy would not last, the country had proven naysayers wrong, especially because of the ancient roots of democracy in India as elaborated in the concept of the 12th century Anubhava Mantapam set up by Basaveshwara; a 10th century stone inscription in a village near Chennai, describing a panchayat mahasabha and its elaborate rules, including the need for members to disclose their income; and the ancient republics of the Lichchavis and Shakyas.

“As a nation we must pledge to keep the spirit of democracy and public service alive,” he observed. “The day isn’t far when the world acknowledges that India is the mother of democracy,” he added.

Due for completion in 2022, when India marks 75 years of independence from Britain, the much larger new parliament will replace an old building that the government says is showing signs of “distress”. Designed by British architect Edwin Lutyens in the early 20th century, the current Parliament building is the commanding centerpiece of the British Raj, with the adjoining grand Rajpath boulevard, the president’s residence, government offices, the national museum and the India Gate war memorial.