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Modi to hold breakfast meet with top US CEOs today

New Delhi: When Prime Minister Narendra Modi sits down to breakfast with the CEOs of top US companies Monday, he will be speaking to them with the knowledge and authority of a business honcho who knows what he wants and can possibly market India as an investment destination better than anyone else.

The prime minister, who has embarked on a five-day visit to the US, has not taken along any minister or official with a commerce background as part of his entourage. Reason: He is the best negotiator, and he knows exactly what he wants for the country from the top CEO of any global multinational.

Modi will hold a breakfast meeting with the CEOs of 11 top US companies on Monday, and follow it up with one-on-one meetings with six individual CEOs of top US companies and institutions. He will spend around 15-20 minutes with each CEO during the one-on-one.

The array of names he is to meet is formidable:On the list of one-on-one meetings are: W. James (Jim) McNerney Jr, chairman of Boeing; Laurence D. Fink, CEO of American multinational investment management firm Black Rock; Ginni Rometty, president and CEO of IBM; Jeffrey R. Immelt. chairman and CEO of General Electric; Lloyd Blankfein, chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs; and Henry Kravis, CEO of American private equity fund Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Co. (KKR).

During the breakfast meeting he would be interacting with 11 leading individual CEOs, including Google's Eric Schmidt, David M. Rubenstein of The Carlyle Group, Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat, Doug Oberhelman of Caterpillar Inc, Indra Nooyi of Pepsico and Michael Ball of US-based global pharmaceutical company Hospira Inc. and Kenneth C. Frazier of Merck and Co.

Modi, who has launched and made the Vibrant Gujarat investors summit a successful brand, is very conversant with business talk, according to people in the know.

He does not need anyone to help him with the business talk. He does it with great confidence and elan, officials who have seen him in action say. In Japan too, Modi was deep in biz talk -- placing the needs of investment before the CEOs clearly, promising all help, and getting firm answers.

Modi, who launched the ambitious 'Make in India' campaign in the presence of global and domestic CEOs in New Delhi Thursday to attract investments and business into India, has promised a red carpet treatment for investors minus the frustrating red tape.

At the event, top CEOs including Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani, Tata Group chief Cyrus Mistry, Mahindra Group chief Anand Mahindra and ITC chairman Y.C. Deveshvar were present.

The Vibrant Gujarat biennial event was launched in 2003. It has grown in the last 12 years to emerge as "a global business hub" and has established Gujarat as a major investment destination. The next year's summit, to be held in January, is being billed as the "Davos of the East".

Modi had taken along Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to Brazil for the BRICS summit, but this time he is going alone. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is already in New York and will join him when he arrives there. Among the other top officials accompanying the prime minister on this major trip are National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh.-IANSBack












Modi overshadowed Nawaz Sharif at UN: Pakistani daily

ISLAMABAD: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's speech at the UN was everything his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif's was not, said a Pakistani daily on Monday.

An editorial "Modi at the UN" in the Daily Times said: "Modi continued his charm offensive in the west with a speech to the UN General Assembly that was everything Nawaz Sharif's was not." Modi began with a quaint reference to India's ancient Vedic culture, a running theme in his speech. 

He took the opportunity following this to rebut Nawaz Sharif's speech from the day before. 

"He (Modi) was correct of course; the General Assembly is no longer a platform for serious discussion, it is a way for heads of state to build an image for their country and themselves," said the editorial.

It noted that Modi's speech, with its references to Indian spiritual traditions was "written for the US public to consume, while Sharif's bland, narrow focus was everything that western publics feel is wrong with Pakistan - an obsession with India, desire for territory and a total lack of charisma and likeability".

It went on to say that the Indian prime minister's speech did not focus on Pakistan except by implication. 

"Also not lost were his references to India's large population, a way to position India as a major global market...Climate change and poverty eradication, alongside terrorism, made up Modi's three main talking points." The daily said that it is a credit to Modi's political acumen that he understands how important western public opinion is to shaping policy. 

"India's insistence that Kashmir is a 'non-issue' bilaterally reflects Pakistan's continuance of supporting jihadi proxies to achieve strategic goals. Workable solutions exist and have been discussed but Kashmir remains unresolved, while Pakistan's support for proxies has cost it dearly in lives and money. Neither position is tenable but India's appears less so, partly because it de facto controls the territory." –IANS Back















Indian and Israeli PMs discuss strengthening ties 

NEW YORK: With India-Israel ties on the upswing after Narendra Modi's election, the prime ministers of the two nations met Sunday to discuss cooperation in areas ranging from agriculture and water management to defence and cybersecurity.

The "sky is the limit" for relations between the two countries, Benjamin Netanyahu told Modi, The Jerusalem Post reported.

"We are two old people, some of the oldest civilizations on earth. But also two democracies, proud of our tradition, but also eager to seize the future," Netanyahu said according to the newspaper. 

"I believe that if we work together it will be for the benefit of both our peoples." Sunday's meeting was the first high level meeting between India and Israel since Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's 2003 visit to India. As chief minister of Gujarat, Modi had visited Israel in 2006 and Netanyahu invited Modi to visit Israel again., this time as prime minister.

A sign of the ties between India and Israel becoming closer is the refusal of the Modi government to condemn Israel in parliament for its actions in the Gaza as demanded by the Congress and some other parties. 

This led to a walkout from the Lok Sabha by the Congress and two other parties. Modi has not held meetings with Palestinian or other West Asian leaders during his visit here.

In discussing defence relations, Modi told Netanyahu about his "Make in India" program and pointed out that 49 percent investment was possible in defence industries, Syed Akbaruddin, the External Affairs Ministry spokesman said. Cooperation in cybersecurity was also discussed.

Modi made a pitch for Israeli investments and they discussed boosting bilateral trade that now stands at about 6 billion US dollars.

Israel has developed methods and technologies for farming in arid land and for water management. Modi wanted more cooperation in these areas, Akbaruddin said. 

Modi also wanted Israel to work with India in water management and solid waste treatment in urban areas as part of his vision for smart cities.

While discussing cooperation in the fields of software and computers, Netanyahu mentioned that when he had worked in areas relating to technology he found in California that a large number of workers were Indians or Israelis.

Netanyahu briefed Modi on how Israel perceives developments in West Asia.

Modi told him - and an earlier delegation of Jewish leaders from the American Jewish Congress - that India is proud of its tradition of tolerance towards Jews and and absence of discrimination against them. Netanyahu and the Jewish leaders acknowledged that anti-Semitism was never in India.

The AJC delegates discussed how ties between India, Israel and the US can be strenghened. -IANS Back














India won’t accept any Chinese intrusion along the border: Rijiju

NEW DELHI: India will not accept any kind of intrusion by China along the border and will defend its territory, Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said here today. 

“These incidents are happening. But we are very, very clear this time that we will not accept any kind of their (Chinese) intrusion into our territory and we will not concede. This is something we are not going to accept,” he said on the sidelines of a function here.

Rijiju insisted that India wants peaceful atmosphere and tranquillity along the border and there is nothing aggressive about its stand. He said some of the areas along the Sino-Indian border are not very well demarcated and Indian forces “go to the very point and Chinese PLA also come and sometime cross the area, which India sees as its territory.

“But we are very firm about our position and we should not let our territory or our perceived territory to go into the hands of the other side. We are every clear on that. This should not be construed as we are being too aggressive or trying to destabilise the situation along the border,” he said.

The Minister, at the same time, said security forces would not carry out any kind of “misadventure” or get into confrontation which will lead to unnecessary strains in ties or escalate tension in the border areas. “But if they carry out any construction activity in our territory or in our perceived territory, then we have to stop them. That is why this tension goes along. We are very particular about our concerns and we stand by that,” he said.

The Indo-Tibetan Border Police guards the Sino-Indian border. The ITBP comes under the Home Ministry. Tension in the area erupted two weeks back when some Chinese workers, who were constructing a road on their side, crossed into the Indian side and also claimed that they had orders to build a road up to Tible, 5 km deep inside Indian territory.

Chinese troops had pitched their tents in Chumar and their helicopters were seen dropping food packets for soldiers. Chumar was at the centre of the fortnight-long stand-off last year in Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO) as the Chinese side had objected to overhead bunkers erected by the Indian side.

India and China on September 25 held a flag meeting in Chushul in Ladakh and two days later Chinese troops started withdrawing from Chumar area in Ladakh. — PTIBack



















Jaya moves HC against conviction, seeks bail

BANGALORE: Jailed AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa on Monday filed a petition in the Karnataka High Court challenging her conviction and seeking bail in the disproportionate assets case against her.

The 66-year-old leader sought relief two days after a Special Court here sentenced her to jail for four years, as a fallout of which she lost her Assembly membership and consequently Chief Minister's post.

Jayalalithaa's aide Sasikala, her relatives V N Sudhakaran and Ilavarasi also approached the Court, seeking bail and challenging their conviction in the case.

The three were also sentenced to four years of jail term and fined Rs 10 crore each on Saturday last by Special Judge John Michael D'Cunha, who has slapped a staggering fine of Rs 100 crore on Jayalalithaa in the 18-year-old Rs 66.65 crore corruption case.

In the landmark judgement that saw the first conviction of a sitting Chief Minister in a corruption case, all the four were held guilty of amassing wealth disproportionate to their known sources of income under the Prevention of Corruption Act and criminal conspiracy under the Indian Penal Code.

The High Court is on Dasara holidays from September 29 to October six and the petition may be taken up tomorrow during a scheduled hearing by a vacation bench.

Since the sentencing is for a period more than three years, only the High Court can grant bail in Jayalalithaa's case.

A stay on the conviction would nullify the disqualification of Jayalalithaa as MLA. Unless the conviction is overturned by a superior court, Jayalalithaa runs the risk of being barred from contesting elections for 10 years -- four years when she is in jail and six years after release.

Jayalalithaa is presently lodged in the Parappana Agrahara central jail in Bangalore, as also three others. — PTI























Bhagat Singh's sister passes away in Canada

CHANDIGARH: Parkash Kaur, the younger sister of revolutionary and freedom fighter Bhagat Singh, has died in Canada, a family member said here on Monday.

Kaur, 96, was the only surviving member of the martyr's immediate family. She was living in Toronto.

Her son-in-law Harbhajan Singh Dhatt, who lives near Hoshiarpur in Punjab, said Kaur passed away late Sunday.

Kaur, in recent years, had pursued the case of the killing of Kuljit Singh Dhatt, brother of her son-in-law, by the Punjab Police in a staged shootout. The police officers involved were, earlier this year, convicted by a court.

Bhagat Singh has been one of the most influential revolutionaries in the Indian Independence movement against British rule. 

He was awarded capital punishment for killing a British police officer in Lahore in 1928. He was hanged to death in March 1931.

The 107th birth anniversary of Bhagat Singh was celebrated on September 28. — IANSBack















J-K: Rahul, Sonia assure full support to flood-affected people 

ANANTNAG (JK): Visiting Jammu and Kashmir for the first time since it was struck by devastating floods, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi today said their party is with the people of the state and assured all help to mitigate their suffering.

"The Congress party is with you. We will take up your issues with the Government and help you in whichever way we can," Rahul said while addressing a gathering of flood affected people at Dehruna village, 12 km from here.

He said the party shares the grief of the people and has been helping them since the floods hit the Valley.

"Our organisation, including Congress party, Youth and Women Congress, NSUI, RGF and local leaders have been working here since the floods hit. It is a time of grief and we came here to see for ourselves (the destruction caused by floods).We will visit other places as well," Rahul said.

The mother and son duo, who are on a two day visit to the state, accompanied by senior party leaders including Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad visited a rehabilitation camp at the village and distributed relief material.

Eighteen families, whose houses were destroyed by the floods, are living in tents at the camp supported by Rajiv Gandhi Foundation (RGF).

The Congress leaders visited each tent while distributing relief materials like ration-kits, cloth material, traditional Kashmiri cloak 'Pheran', for both men and women and other daily use items. 

"Sonia said she would take up our issues with the government and do everything she can to help us," said Riyaz Ahmad Malik, whose house was washed away by the floods that wreaked havoc here earlier this month.

Riyaz said they had taken refuge at a High School nearby when struck by floods, but were later shifted to a rehabilitation camp by their Congress MLA and state Tourism Minister Ghulam Ahmad Mir and were provided relief material.

Mir, who represents South Kashmir's Dooru constituency in the state Assembly, said Sonia and Rahul assured every help to the affected people. Shelter is currently the main demand of the people, he added.

"As winters are approaching, people asked Sonia and Rahul to provide them with some sort of shelter. Congress party will pool in resources to provide a house to live in for these 18 families," said Mir. -PTI Back
















More than half of US unlikely to do business in India: study

NEW YORK: More than half of executives in the US are less likely to do business in India because of infrastructure issues, according to a new study.

The study was conducted by APCO, a global communication, stakeholder engagement and business strategy firm, in close association with the Alliance for US India Business (AUSIB).

The study found that IT highlights the fact that leaders in both nations wish to evolve from diplomatic stand-still and breed friendly ties with each other motivated by the economic benefits and political stability.

Noting that business Executives in both countries see huge opportunities as far as economic growth is concerned, the survey said most US executives see India as top destination for investment and 70 per cent US traders acknowledge that the economic relations are headed in right direction.

Ninety five per cent of Indian executives want India to focus on infrastructure.

"52 per cent investors from the US don't invest in India only because of poor infrastructure facilities. Both nations rank first as Investment destination," the report said.

The study pointed relationship health checker against the negative pointers that can hamper the evolution of trade.

"Major concerns are Visa restrictions, Chinese grip on market and Outsourcing challenges. Executives are willing to settle in the other country if stability is provided in the long-run based on ethical backing and lower tariffs and taxation," the report added. -PTI




















Durga Puja Pandal dedicated to J-K flood victims

NEW DELHI: Flood affected people from Jammu and Kashmir have found a show of support at one of the city's Durga Puja Pandal, which has dedicated this year's theme to the flood victims as well as to the valour of the Indian Army.

"This year we are paying tribute to our 'Shaktimans' - the Indian Army who are guarding our borders and rescuing citizens in distress across the country be it is Jammu and Kashmir floods this year or the Uttarakhand floods last year," says Debashis Saha, Chairman, Organising Committee, Matri Mandir Durga Puja Samity, Safdurjung Enclave.

The main structure of the Samity's pandal has been dedicated to the flood victims and the entrance gate to the pandal pays homage to the soldiers of the country's army.

"Just like Durga Puja symbolises the reverence of "Maha-shakti Maa", festivity of life and freedom is synonymous with celebration of the brave men," says Saha.

The entrance of the pandal is fashioned like a 'Shaktiman' truck - the great war-horse of the valiant Indian armed forces -using materials like bottle caps, thermocol glasses, kettles and other household waste.

"We have used the engines of the 'Shaktiman Truck' to build the gate. It will be fitted with various kinds of lights to emphasise the façade of the truck. We hope it will be the main attraction," says Saha. 

The organisers say they have spent about Rs 40 lakhs on the pandal this year which has used 10,000 pieces of themocol glasses, 20,000 or more pieces of disposable paper plates, 3,000 pieces of tires, around two ton of metal scraps and 100 pieces of various sizes of kettles.

"This year our vision is celebration of the common. We shall be utilising a myriad collection of everyday objects, starting from wooden and metal scrap to kettles, automobile parts like tyres, ball bearings, clutch-plates, newspapers, rags, worn out brushes and transform it into art pieces to decorate the pandal," says Saha.

In previous years the Samity has earned fame for erecting pandals with concepts and themes ranging from Egyptian civilization to recreating the ambiance of London Olympics to a representation of a vibrant Gujarat.

"We are planning to donate a hefty amount for the Jammu and Kashmir flood victims to the Prime Minister's relief fund.

During the pujas we will also ask visitors to donate clothes and other relief materials so that we can donate them to the victims," Saha told PTI.

The Puja Samity, in its 48th year of celebrations, have always been the centre point for cricketers, celebrities and politicians and have won many awards and accolades in the past.

"From VVS Laxman to Sachin Pilot, Sourav Ganguly, former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dixit have visited the Pandal.

This year Congress leader Ambika Soni will be inaugurating the Puja. We are expecting singer and Trinamool Congress leader Babul Supriyo to make a visit one of the days during the Pujas," says Saha. -PTI
















Sikh leaders share ideas with Modi on Punjab 

NEW YORK: Sikh community leaders from the United States and Canada shared their ideas with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on how they could work together on matters relating to Punjab.

They raised with him issues relating to consular matters, some of which were common to all overseas Indians, said Syed Akbaruddin, the External Affairs Ministry spokesman.

But he added that there were also issues specific to them when they wanted to go back to India and the leaders gave Modi a petition about the problems. Some issues related to those who had left India in the wake of 1984 riots. 

Others related to those who did not have their passports and wanted their eligibility to travel back reinstated even though documentary evidence is not available. Modi told them that he will have the matters looked into by the concerned authorities.

Before the meeting, Jasdip Singh, president of the South Asian Democratic Caucus, told IANS that an issue troubling Sikhs overseas is the plight of those who had sought asylum abroad in the 1980s and 1990s "because the situation was so bad in Punjab and today cannot go back" since they received asylum. He said they would ask Modi to intervene and resolve the problem.

Akbaruddin said Modi told them that he was very proud of the contributions that the Sikhs had made in India, especially to Indian security.-IANS Back














J-K to submit list of losses to Centre 

SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir will submit a memorandum of losses amounting to Rs 1,00,000 crore to the central government as the recent devastating floods have caused colossal damage to property besides claiming more than 280 lives, a top official said here on Monday.

In its first media interaction after the September 7 floods, the state government said the memorandum of losses would be submitted to the central government after the state cabinet approves it later this week.

"We are living through unusual times. In living human memory, no disaster of such monumental dimensions has hit Kashmir and I am sure all of us realise this was no ordinary event," state Chief Secretary Muhammad Iqbal Khanday said.

The state government said the Jhelum River had a discharge of 1.40 thousand cusecs of water Sep 7, the like of which had never been recorded even 112 years ago during the floods of 1902.

"The rains started Sep 1 and continued uninterrupted for a week, but perhaps rains would not have created such a havoc if the tributaries of the Jhelum River had not been hit by multiple cloudbursts during this period," he said.

Khanday said 281 people died in these floods -- 196 of them in the Jammu province and 85 in the Kashmir Valley.

"A total of 5,642 villages were affected by the floods of which 800 villages remained submerged for more than two weeks and 12.50 lakh families were directly or indirectly affected by the floods. 

"Lakhs of people were rescued by various government agencies, including the army, air force, NDRF and the state administration," Khanday said. He said private properties suffered heavy damage during the floods.

A total of "83,044 concrete houses were damaged completely while 96,089 houses were damaged partially. Besides, 21,162 semi-concrete houses were completely damaged and 54,264 such houses suffered partial damage", he said.

"Other structures, including granaries, damaged in the floods number 353,864. Livestock, including 10,050 milch animals, perished besides 33,000 sheep and goats.

"Damage to agricultural crops has been to the tune of Rs.4,043 crore while horticultural crops suffered losses amounting to Rs.1568 crore. A total of 6.51 lakh hectares of land were affected.

"Damage to public utility services and infrastructure, including roads, electric power supply, water supply schemes, have been estimated at Rs.3,000 crore," the chief secretary said.

Khanday said these were initial estimates of the damage caused and multi-disciplinary teams were working overtime to arrive at the final figures.

He said 90 percent electric supply has been temporarily restored across the state while 3,000 km of roads have been temporarily restored so far out of the 6,000 km damaged by the floods.

The chief secretary said despite huge damage to healthcare facilities, including major hospitals in Srinagar city, all the hospitals in the city were functioning now. –IANS Back


















Panneerselvam, ministers break down at swearing-in

CHENNAI: There was no happy note as AIADMK leader O. Panneerselvam and his party colleagues took oath as Tamil Nadu's new Chief Minister and ministers here on Monday.

Panneerselvam, a staunch loyalist of the now jailed former Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa, choked and looked crestfallen as he read the oath of office and secrecy. He wiped away his tears.

Some legislators broke down. They included R. Vaithilingam, B. Valarmathi and P. Thangamani.

The atmosphere at the oath-taking ceremony was sombre. There were no celebratory noises at the event that came two days after Jayalalithaa was sent to jail for four years and fined Rs 100 crore for corruption.

Panneerselvam, 63, elected leader of the AIADMK legislature party Sunday evening. A farmer from Theni district, Panneerselvam, or OPS as he is known in the party, is a staunch loyalist of Jayalalithaa.

He entered politics in 1996 and became the head of a local body. In 2001, he was elected to the Assembly from Periakulam and became the Minister for Public Works Department.

He become the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu in 2001 in similar circumstances. He was also Leader of the Opposition, when the AIADMK was voted out in 2006.

Panneerselvam and a few other AIADMK leaders met Jayalalithaa in the Bangalore Central Jail earlier Sunday.

A special court in Bangalore on Saturday sentenced Jayalalithaa to four years in prison and fined her Rs 100 crore for amassing wealth illegally, when she was the Chief Minister in 1991-96.  -IANS Back



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