A T E S T N E W S
G20 endorses India's stance on black money
BISBANE: In a major gain for India, the G20 Summit today endorsed the government's line on the need for transparency and disclosure of tax information as Prime Minister Narendra Modi sought a new global standard on automatic exchange to tackle the issue of black money.
Raising the pitch on the black money issue, Modi in his intervention at the summit of the Group of 20 industrialised and major emerging economies called for close global coordination to address the challenge posed by it.
The new standard will be instrumental in getting information relating to unaccounted money hoarded abroad and enable its eventual repatriation, Modi said, utilising the forum of G20, which accounts for 85 per cent of world's GDP.
Modi while voicing India's support for it urged every jurisdiction, especially tax havens, to provide information for tax purposes in accordance with treaty obligations.
He also extended India's backing for all initiatives to facilitate exchange of information and mutual assistance in tax policy and administration.
The Prime Minister while flagging his concern over cross border tax avoidance and evasion also noted that increased mobility of capital and technology have created new opportunities for avoiding tax and profit sharing.
The Prime Minister made the remarks at the plenary session on the subject of "Delivering Global Economic resilience" on the second and final day of the summit held at the Brisbane Exhibition and Convention
He also expressed the hope that Base Erosion and Profit Sharing (BEPS) system would fully address concerns of developing and developed economies.
BEPS is a technical term referring to the effect of tax avoidance strategies used by multinational companies on countries' tax basis. BEPS is known more commonly as "Transfer pricing". This term is used in a project headed by the OECD that is said to be an attempt by the world’s major economies to try to rewrite the rules on corporate taxation to address the widespread perception that the corporations don’t pay their fair share of taxes.
The Prime Minister also said that increased mobility of capital and technology have created new opportunities for avoiding tax and profit shifting.
Modi underpinned the need for the world community to take coordinated decisions although each country has its domestic priority.
"Need for policy coordination among major economies remains strong," Modi said.
"Close coordination is important not just for addressing the challenge of black money but also security issues like terrorism, drug trafficking and arms smuggling," he said.
Touching upon the resilience of the financial system in the world, Modi said it will also depend on cyber security.
At the end of the two-day summit, a three-page communique was released which welcomed the "significant progress" on the G20/OECD Base Erosion and Profit Shifting Action Plan to modernise international tax rules.
"We are committed to finalising this work in 2015, including transparency of tax-payer specific rulings found to constitute harmful tax practices," it said.
Briefing newsmen, Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu and External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said the reference to transparency, which was not there in the draft communique, was incorporated in the final communique after Prime Minister's strong intervention at plenary session.
After Prime Minister's intervention, several countries, notably Brazil and South Africa wanted a reference to be made to transparency in the final
communique, Akbaruddin said.
"After the Prime Minister's own and strong intervention (on repatriation of black money), several countries shared his sentiments and wanted the views to be reflected in the final communique," he said.
"We are taking actions to ensure the fairness of the international tax system and to secure countries' revenue bases. Profits should be taxed where economic activities deriving the profits are performed and where value is created," the G20 communique said.
"The G20 has sent a strong message on taxpayer-specific ruling," Dr Usha Titus, who assisted Prabhu, said. The Railways Minister was Modi's sherpa at the deliberations.
Prabhu said Indian concerns on "jobless growth" prospects and the need to create more jobs to kickstart the world economy were also reflected in the G20's final document.
Modi also proposed to the G20 to set up a global virtual centre for clean energy research and development.
"Our actions to increase investment, trade and competition will deliver quality jobs. But we must do more to address unemployment, raise participation and create quality jobs," the communique said.
Ahead of the summit, Modi felt that focusing on transforming the quality of life of people and not just on issues like the health of the financial markets was necessary for creating employment-generating economic growth.
At today's news conference, Prabhu said that development issues like creating more jobs was occupying a "key place" at the G20, adding that tackling unemployment was of prime concern for the Indian government.
"Creating more jobs is now coming at the centre of discussions (of G20)," he added.
G20 host and Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has vowed a crackdown on tax evasion by MNCs and wanted the G20 countries to have intense cooperation in this regard. — PTI
India, Australia share 'special bond', says Modi
BRISBANE: Highlighting that India and Australia share a “special bond”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said relations between countries can prosper fully if states and cities are involved in international engagements.
Starting his bilateral visit to Australia on Sunday from Brisbane, Modi said that in the India-Australia partnership, Queensland had been at forefront for its contribution in powering India with its resources and research.
“We truly welcome the engagement between states and cities. That is why I am also very keen to involve states in India in our international engagements,” Modi said at a reception held here in his honour by Campbell Newman, premier of the Australian state of Queensland.
“Brisbane has emerged as centre of advanced technology. Hyderabad is known as Cyberabad. It is natural that two cities have sister-relationship. Relations between countries can prosper fully if we truly bring the engagement between states and cities,” Modi said.
Earlier in the day, Modi also unveiled the statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Brisbane in his first bilateral engagement.
“There is a special bond between India and Australia. This is a symbol of values we share, the ideals we aspire to and the world we wish to build,” he said in reference to Gandhi’s statue.
Modi lauded the partnership between India and Queensland in sectors ranging from technology and research to supplying resources to India.
“Several Queensland business delegations are visiting India this year. It has emerged as major source of resources to power India’s development. It is also a major destination for Indian investment. You have supported partnership in education and skills. Queensland research universities are collaborating closely with India,” Modi said.
“The credit for the strong partnership goes to Premier Campbell Newman and Lord Mayor. Your mission to India is very productive and brought businesses and our people closer,” he said.
The Prime Minister also said this is the time to forge partnership with India because of the “welcoming environment”.
“This is an exciting moment in Indian filled with optimism and desire for change and confidence to achieve it driven by the energy and enterprise of our youth.
“This is time to forge partnership in India. You will find a welcoming environment that makes it possible and smooth,” Modi said.
“Joint research (between India and research institutes in Queensland) will help farmers in dry areas and contribute to food security in India. Queensland fruits and vegetables are really good. There is a lot of potential to work together,” Modi said, adding that Queensland and India can learn a lot from each other in field of tourism.
Emphasising the role of Indian diaspora in strengthening the relationship between the two countries, the Prime Minister said, “They breed friendship and understanding” between the two countries.
He also congratulated Brisbane for hosting the G20 Summit.
“You did and outstanding job. I know you have often lived in the shadow of Melbourne and Sydney. This week you have shown the world what a great city and host you are,” Modi said. — PTI
Modi meets Merkel, Saudi Crown Prince
BRISBANE: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday had a keenly-anticipated meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel here during which she said her country is looking forward to his visit, amid deepening bilateral ties.
During the meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit, Merkel told Modi that Germany is looking forward to his visit.
"Our relations are deepening...Waiting for your visit," a tweet posted by External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said.
Modi, who could not meet Merkel when he made an overnight stopover in Berlin while en route to Brazil in July to attend the BRICS Summit because she had to go to Rio de Janeiro for the FIFA World Cup final, agreed to meet with her at the earliest opportunity.
As his bilateral meetings with leaders continued for the sixth day today, Modi also met Saudi Crown Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz.
"Congrats PM of a friendly country, we are ready to cooperate in all sectors," a MEA tweet quoted the Saudi Prince as having told the prime minister.
On Saturday, Modi also had a pull aside meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, the MEA tweet said.
Just ahead of the second day's plenary session, Modi, along with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and US President Barack Obama posed for a photo op.
"Griffin guys. After anecdote of Walter Burley Griffin's ties to USA-Australia-India there is talk of the Griffin guys," a MEA tweet said.
Prime Minister Modi yesterday shared with Abbott and Obama the fascinating story of American architect Griffin who had an emotional link with their countries.
The well-known American architect designed Australian capital Canberra and is buried in Lucknow.
A photo of the final resting place of Griffin at Lucknow Christian Cemetry was also posted on the spokesperson's Twitter account.
Griffin, who died on February 11, 1937 at the age of 61 years, was a landscape architect who hailed from the US.
Putin cites 'need to sleep' on leaving tense G20 summit
BRISBANE: Vladimir Putin jetted out of Australia on Sunday after a testy G20 summit where he faced concerted Western fire over the Ukraine crisis, saying he left slightly early because he needed to get some sleep.
The Russian strongman, a judo black belt who prides himself on his stamina, left before the final communique from the weekend talks was issued, but attended the annual forum's wrap-up lunch and praised the "constructive" discussions.
Speaking at a news conference just before flying out of Brisbane, he thanked Tony Abbott for hosting the event, despite the Australian prime minister threatening to confront him over the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over Ukraine in July.
Putin added in comments reported by the RIA Novosti news agency that the decision to leave Brisbane early had nothing to do with tensions over Ukraine.
Instead, he wanted to catch up on some sleep ahead of a full day's work back home tomorrow.
"We need nine hours to fly from here to Vladivostok and another nine hours from Vladivostok to Moscow," he said.
"Then we need to get home and return to work on Monday.
There's a need to sleep at least four to five hours." –AFP
Saina, Srikanth create history in China
FUZHOU: In a historic day for Indian badminton, top shuttlers Saina Nehwal and K Srikanth clinched the women's and men's singles title of the USD 700,000 China Open Super Series Premier respectively, here
While Olympic bronze-medallist Saina had to draw from her reservoir of experience to
stave off the challenge of the Akane Yamaguchi of Japan, young Srikanth notched up a stunning straight-game victory over two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan of
China to register his maiden Super Series title.
In her sixth appearance in the prestigious tournament, World No. 5 Indian prevailed over the 17-year-old Akane 21-12 22-20 in the women's singles final that lasted 42 minutes at the Haixia Olympic Sport Center.
The 21-year-old Srikanth showed nerves of steel to produce a dominating performance which helped him see off five-time world champion Lin 21-19 21-17 in the men's singles final which lasted 46 minutes here.
This is the first time any Indian male shuttler has won a Super Series Premier event ever since the Super Series and Premier tournaments were introduced.
In a battle of nerve, Srikanth led 11-7 initially but Lin came back to narrow it down to 11-10. The 31-year-old showed tremendous control in his strokes but the Indian used his sharp angled net dribbles and powerful smash to keep his nose ahead at 14-12.
Lin, however, soon started bothering the Indian with his delayed and precise strokes to turn the tables, reaching 19-17. Srikanth found his bearing in time and not only clawed his way back with a couple of points but also earned his game point after winning a referral.
The Indian then produced a body line smash to snatch the opening game from his fancied rival.
The second game started on a similar note as both the shuttlers put their best foot forward to move together till 8-8 before Lin entered the interval with a 11-9 lead.
Srikanth, however, soon drew parity at 12-12 and then moved neck and neck till 15-15.
Srikanth then slowly eked out a lead and soon gained a healthy four-match point lead. Lin saved one but the Indian grabbed the next point to etch his name in the history books.
Srikanth, who won the Thailand Open Grand Prix Gold last year, had finished runners-up at the 2014 India Open Grand Prix Gold event in Lucknow and was a quarter-finalist in this year's Malaysian Open. -PTI
Time for Modi govt to handover Chandigarh to Punjab: Badal
TARN TARAN: Charging successive Congress-led governments at the Centre for depriving Punjab of it's capital, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today said time has come for Narendra Modi-led government to make Chandigarh the capital of the state.
Chandigarh was made the joint capital of Punjab and Haryana, following the carving of Haryana as a separate state in 1966.
"Since long Punjab has been the victim of the injustice of Union government but now the time has come when Modi government must give justice to the state by handing over Chandigarh to it (Punjab)," Badal said here on Sunday.
Badal said as per universally accepted law, Chandigarh was part and parcel of Punjab and added, "Chandigarh was and would remain an integral part of Punjab".
"The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has always struggled for safeguarding the interests of the state and we will continue our endeavour to get back Chandigarh" he added.
The Chief Minister said time and again the Congress-led governments at the Centre had done a grave injustice to the state by denying its capital, legitimate share in river waters and even the Punjabi speaking areas.
He said there is barely an example in the country other than Punjab, where the parent state has been deprived of its capital, after the formation of linguistic states.
Replying to a query, the Chief Minister said the everlasting alliance between SAD and BJP was in the interest of the state and the country.
He said the alliance was necessary for the sake of ensuring progress, peace and communal harmony in the state.
Earlier, Badal had underscored the need for imparting 'purposeful education' to youth so as to enable them to earn their livelihood with self esteem and pride.
He said thrust must be laid on imparting skill training to youth so to make them self reliant.
Badal said the state government has laid special emphasis on opening a network of skill training institutes in the state so as to open new vistas of employment through education for the youth. PTI
IS claims beheading of US aid worker, 18 Syrians
BEIRUT: The Islamic State jihadist group on Sunday claimed to have executed Peter Kassig, a US aid worker kidnapped in Syria, as a warning to the
The same video showed the gruesome simultaneous beheadings of at least 18 men described as Syrian military personnel, the latest in a series of mass executions and other atrocities carried out by ISIS.
"This is Peter Edward Kassig, a US citizen of your country," said a black-clad militant wearing a balaclava, the same outfit worn by the man who beheaded two American journalists and two British aid workers in earlier videos.
The man stood over a severed head bearing a resemblance to Kassig, a former American soldier who risked his life to provide medical treatment and aid to those suffering from Syria's civil war.
Kassig, a 26-year-old from Indiana who was kidnapped in 2013 in Syria's Deir Ezzor province, also worked in hospitals and clinics treating Syrians who fled to neighbouring Turkey and Lebanon.
He wrote to his parents saying: "If I do die, I figure that at least you and I can seek refuge and comfort in knowing that I went out as a result of trying to alleviate suffering and helping those in need."
The militant in the video made no mention of Kassig's aid work, only referring to his time as a US soldier in Iraq.
"Here, we are burying the first American crusader in Dabiq, eagerly waiting for the remainder of your armies to arrive," the militant said.
Dabiq is the site of a major 16th century battle in what is now northern Syria that saw the Ottomans defeat the Mamluks and begin a major expansionist phase of an empire the IS group considers to have been the last caliphate.
In a highly choreographed sequence earlier in the video, jihadists marched at least 18 prisoners said to be Syrian officers and pilots past a wooden box of long black military knives, each taking one as they passed, then forced them to kneel in a line and decapitated them.
"Today, we're slaughtering the soldiers of Bashar," the same black-clad militant said, referring to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
"Tomorrow, we'll be slaughtering your (US) soldiers. And with Allah's permission, we will break this final and last crusade, and the Islamic State will... begin to slaughter your people on your streets."
IS spearheaded a militant offensive that overran much of Iraq's Sunni Arab heartland since June after seizing major territory in neighbouring Syria, and carried out a series of atrocities in both countries.
The group has killed hundreds of Iraqi and Syrian tribesmen who opposed it, attacked religious and ethnic minorities, sold women as slaves, executed scores of Iraqi security personnel and carried out beheadings on camera. — AFP
Tension mounts as Haryana sect complex surrounded
BARWALA: Tension mounted outside the Satlok Ashram complex near Haryana's Barwala town on Sunday as troopers and hundreds of police personnel surrounded the complex of self-styled godman and sect leader Rampal.
A crackdown by security forces looked imminent with talks between the administration and police as well as followers of the sect leader failing to break the impasse over his arrest.
The sect leader has to be produced in the Punjab and Haryana high court Monday morning.
Police sources said two Bharatiya Janata Party leaders of the area had gone to have another round of talks with Rampal's followers to ask them to let the sect leader be taken into custody peacefully.
Informed sources said 15 battalions of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), five companies of the Rapid Action Force and nearly 10,000 personnel of Haryana Police were stationed near the Satlok Ashram complex near Barwala town in Hisar district, 210 km from Chandigarh.
The Hisar-Chandigarh highway has been sealed near Barwala town.
"We have made adequate arrangements to take him into custody and produce him in court. We cannot share operational details," Hisar Superintendent of Police Satender Kumar Gupta told the media.
Rampal, a controversial sect leader who faces charges of murder, inciting mobs and contempt of court, remained holed up inside the complex.
Thousands of his supporters, including women and children, camped outside the complex for over a fortnight to prevent security forces from arresting him.
He has been directed to appear before the Punjab and Haryana High Court Monday at 10
am. The police have to execute the warrants latest by Sunday.
Sect spokesman Purshottam Dass denied that Rampal was avoiding the judicial process.
"He (Rampal) is not medically fit. He will appear before the court when he is fit. He has been attending court hearings earlier also. He is not trying to avoid it," Dass said.
"The hearing can also take place through video conference. The administration has cut all our supplies, including water, power and milk. We are ready to die here." The high court had severely criticised the police and the Haryana government last week for failing to arrest Rampal. Non-bailable warrants were issued against him Nov 5.
"Rampal is under the wrong impression that he cannot be reached even by the long arms of law. When the majesty of law is browbeaten by a contemnor, this court has the authority to direct the state machinery to employ its mighty force to reach the contemnor to smoke him out even if he holes up in bunker," a division bench of Justices M. Jeyapaul and Lisa Gill observed last week.
Police have cordoned off all areas around 500 metres from the complex. Fire brigade and riot control vehicles, water cannons, bullet-proof vans as well as ambulances have been stationed.
Though the authorities are making last ditch efforts to persuade Rampal to surrender, the administration has snapped power and water supply to the complex.
Authorities in the area Saturday urged the thousands of his followers to disperse.
Rampal, through his counsel, had earlier claimed that he was medically unfit to appear in the court in person.
Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar Saturday appealed to him "to present himself in the court in a peaceful manner".
Mehboob Beg withdraws from Kashmir election
SRINAGAR: Mehboob Beg, a senior National Conference leader and its candidate against former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, withdrew from the contest on Sunday.
A former parliamentarian and candidate for south Kashmir's Anantnag assembly seat, Beg said he extended his unconditional support to Sayeed but asserted he would not join the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
"If we have to stop the march of the RSS and the BJP in Jammu and Kashmir, we must strengthen the hands of (PDP patron) Mufti Muhammad Sayeed," Beg told reporters in Anantnag town.
Beg's decision to withdraw from the assembly election is seen as a serious jolt to the ruling National Conference.
Beg was the National Conference candidate in the 2014 Lok Sabha election but lost by over 40,000 votes to PDP president Mehbooba Mufti from Anantnag.
The Jammu and Kashmir elections are due in November-December. -IANS
Govt plans to extend 'Udaan' scheme to small towns in J-K
NEW DELHI: The Centre is planning to extend "Udaan", a special scheme launched to help youths from Jammu and Kashmir to get jobs in top companies, to smaller towns in the state as not too many from the two main cities are willing to take up offers due to low entry-level pay.
As part of a new policy, to be launched after the forthcoming Assembly elections, companies will be encouraged to go beyond Jammu and Srinagar cities and even remote locations in the state to organise employment camps and hire locals.
The fresh attempt will be initiated after a study has shown that youths from Jammu and Srinagar are averse to taking up corporate jobs in metros as the initial remuneration is just Rs 20,000-Rs 25,000 per month.
"Youths living in cities like Srinagar and Jammu are not keen to leave the state for Rs 20,000 or Rs 25,000 as there are avenues where they can earn that much by staying at home.
But the situation may not be the same for someone living in Anantnag or Baramulla or a small village," a Home Ministry official said.
Based on the recommendations of the Expert Group constituted by the Prime Minister under the Chairmanship of C Rangarajan, the Centre launched the scheme Special Industry Initiative for Jammu and Kashmir "Udaan" in 2013 in the nature of partnership between the corporates and Ministry of Home Affairs.
The scheme is being implemented by National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC). The programme aims at providing the skill and enhancing the employability of 40,000 unemployed youths of the state who are graduates.
According to the scheme, the identified companies will screen and select students from the state. The duration, place and nature of training will be decided by the company after considering the profile of the candidates and their skill gap.
After completion of the training, the company will take necessary measures for placement of the trainees in association with NSDC. The scheme has already helped provide jobs to 1,785 youths from Jammu and Kashmir with companies including Accenture, Tata Consultancy Services and Wipro, the official said.
Nearly 5,300 youth of the state are currently under training with various
More than 54 companies have already committed to train nearly 68,738 graduates and post-graduates in Jammu and Kashmir over the next four-five years and later offer them jobs as well if they fit the bill.
The cost of the training, boarding and lodging, is borne by the central government. If a candidate is selected for a job after completing training, the government reimburses the training cost to the company.
Companies which have tied up with the Centre to train youths in Jammu and Kashmir over the next few years also include Bharti Infratel Limited, TENVIC, a division of Anil Kumble Sports Promotion; Fidelis Corporate Solutions; MTC Mount Talent Consulting; and Manpower Group, the world leader in innovative work solutions.
Yes Bank, Religare and public sector units including NTPC, BSNL, ONGC, HAL and BHEL are among other companies that have committed to train the youths for corporate jobs in metros. PTI
Himachal to set up thalassemia screening centres
SHIMLA: Himachal Pradesh will soon have screening centres to estimate the prevalence of beta thalassemia trait among people, a health official said on Sunday.
For this the state got a Rs 40-lakh project sanctioned from the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM).
Around 2,500 people of marriageable age from colleges of Mandi, Kullu, Kangra and Shimla districts will be screened initially every year, project principal investigator Omesh Bharti told IANS.
He said the project would be later extended to the remaining eight districts too.
The project would include free genetic screening for thalassemia and treatment of those suffering from the genetic disorder. The carriers detected would be provided free genetic counselling and their identity would be kept confidential.
Studies indicate in India there are around 30,000,000 carriers of beta thalassemia gene and 7,600 babies affected with the disorder are born each year.
Bharti said there are estimated 200,000 carriers in Himachal Pradesh.
"But the genetic makeup of the hill population may be different," he said.
Another doctor, Rajesh Sood said 68 thalassemia-affected children were detected in the state during a survey conducted by the state health department five years ago.
"At present, there might be over 100 children suffering from thalassemia in the state," he said.
Prospective prevention such as population education, mass screening, genetic counselling and prenatal diagnosis is the best strategy to cope with the disease, Sood added.
Many people are carriers of thalassemic traits which lead to chronic lifetime anaemia.
In cases where both parents carrying thalassemic traits give birth to a child, the child acquires full-fledged thalassemia major. These patients require frequent blood transfusions and face early death and disability as hemoglobin production in red blood cells is genetically deficient.