People in Delhi, Kerala, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu with lower incidence of extreme poverty live longer than the national average. Poorer states like Chhattisgarh, UP, MP, Assam, Rajasthan, Bihar and Jharkhand drag down life expectancy.
India’s current economic difficulties are turning the clock back in the fight against poverty.
Access to public health services could be an equally important factor.
Covid’s effect on lives and health services has multiple dimensions with generational implications.
The loss of incomes and livelihoods will force many to scrimp on meals and protein-rich foods.
Health insurance cannot substitute adequate doctor availability and healthcare infrastructure in rural areas.
Only lip service | IndExp
PM Modi meets PM Mahinda Rajapaksa
Since 1988, India has wanted Sri Lanka to implement the 13th Amendment of its Constitution to devolve political power to the Tamil dominated areas in the north and east.
The amendment came out of the 1987 India-Sri Lanka Accord and remains the only constitutional measure that gives the Tamil minority a smidgeon of autonomy within a unitary constitution.
Now there is talk in Colombo of abolishing the amendment altogether.
Prime Minister Modi called on the Sri Lankan government “to address the aspirations of the Tamil people for equality, justice, peace and respect within a united Sri Lanka”, and urged it to take forward “the process of reconciliation with the implementation of the 13th Amendment”.
Rajapaksa noncommittally “expressed the confidence that Sri Lanka will work towards realising the expectations of all ethnic groups, including Tamils, by achieving reconciliation nurtured as per the mandate of the people of Sri Lanka and implementation of the constitutional provisions”.
The Sri Lankan leader went on to issue a separate statement in Colombo that made no mention of the Tamil issue.
It is as if both sides now know they must pay lip service to Sri Lanka’s yet unresolved Tamil question.
Colombo knows its proximity to Beijing rattles Delhi.
The Modi government has not been able to get any of the infrastructure projects agreed upon in July 2017 moving.
The assault on Bollywood
Many Indians travelling overseas would have had my experience of the 1980s with a taxi driver in Dakar, Senegal, who offered to drive me around for free if I would part with a music cassette of Amitabh Bachchan’s latest movie.
From Raj Kapoor in Moscow in the 1950s to Aamir Khan in Beijing more recently, Bollywood actors have been India’s cultural ambassadors.
In Tokyo’s Diet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh received resounding applause when he informed his audience that he was aware of the popularity of “Odori Maharajah” (Dancing Maharajah), as Tamil actor Rajinikanth was popularly known in Japan.
It was in 1990 that American political scientist Joseph Nye coined the phrase “soft power” exploring the US’s global cultural influence that added to its economic, technological and militarypower.
“When one country gets other countries to want what it wants” summed up Nye, that would be its “co-optive or soft power”, as opposed to its “hard or command power of ordering others to do what it wants”.
If cinema or music can make a country popular inanother that would be its soft power.
Worried about rising communist influence in Italy, and competing with the Soviet Union for the affection of Italians, agencies of the US government encouraged Hollywood to make films that reminded Italians of the 1960s about the sacrifice of US soldiers during World War II.
Oscar-winningstars like Meryl Streep and RobertDe Niro criticised Trump for his politics and his crude rudeness and, in turn, Trump has attacked them.
Bollywood, too, has lived with its love-haterelationship with New Delhi.
Attacking Bollywood as an institution in pursuit of a political party’s partisan and ideological agenda, as is now happening, does not serve the national purpose.
Language, ethnicity, caste, class and even colour of skin are all inherent to cultural attitudes in India and Bollywood is no exception.
Social media has been full of brazen campaigns against highly regarded Muslim actors like ShahRukh Khan and Aamir Khan and writers like JavedAkhtar, as well as the icons of alternative cinema like Shyam Benegal.
Indian cinema is a national institution and a national asset. It is an aspect of Indian soft power.
In destroying its credibility by hurting the standing and credibility of the individuals who make these institutions tick, we harm the national interest.
By muting the voice of Kishore Kumar on All India Radio, Indira Gandhi’s government harmed the credibility of state broadcasting, not Kishore’s popularity.
NarendraModi’s government should not walk down that slippery slope.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan – speech t the UN General Assembly - focused less time on Pakistan, launching a broadside against India
Mr. Khan’s references to India, which formed more than a third of his text, repeated the vilification in his previous speeches: accusing the Modi government of “state sponsorship of Islamophobia”, of following an “extremist ideology” of the RSS, which he claims is “inspired” by Nazi concepts of “racial purity and supremacy”, and of planning to “cleanse” the country of minorities.
Extreme comparisons were made between the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the Nuremberg laws, as well as between detention camps in Assam and the concentration camps of Nazi Germany.
He concluded with a reference to LoC tensions, where ceasefire violations have risen, ending on an exaggerated note that referred to Kashmir as a “nuclear flashpoint”.
Pakistan’s own record on minorities, including its own laws that even prevent minorities from holding high office, completely demolish Pakistan’s credentials to attack India, which is a constitutionally declared secular democracy.
Mr. Khan’s accusations of Indian “state terrorism” come even as his country faces a decisive moment at the Financial Action Task Force in October, where Pakistan has been kept on a “grey list” since June 2018.
While India can safely disregard his barbs, it must not underestimate their intent, as part of a larger strategy to consistently hurl these allegations against India, in the hope that some of it will stick.
A soldier, diplomat, politician and mentor
He was entrusted with the responsibility of opening dialogue with the United States.
U.S. President Bill Clinton had originally planned a visit to India in early 1998, postponed to late 1998 because of the elections that brought the Vajpayee government to power.
The nuclear tests left the U.S. administration stunned and embarrassed.
Jaswant Singh was visiting New York for a UN meeting in early June; a message was conveyed to the White House that he would be available to come to Washington for talks.
And thus began the dialogue between India and the U.S., an engagement that is best described as the most intense, the most inconclusive and yet, the most productive.
After 16 meetings between June 1998 and September 2000 in seven cities, the tide turned with the highly successful Clinton visit in March 2000 and Mr. Vajpayee’s return visit in September 2000 when Mr. Clinton hosted his largest state dinner at the White House.
From “estranged democracies”, India and the U.S. became “natural partners for the 21st century”.
The U.S. position was guided by progress on five benchmarks for India that were also part of the UN Security Council resolution
Sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty that had been concluded in 1996
Join the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty negotiations being pushed in Geneva
Accept a freeze on developing nuclear arsenal
Tighten export controls on sensitive materials and technologies
Engage in dialogue to reduce tensions with Pakistan
Jaswant Singh took Mr. Vajpayee’s speech and the nuclear policy paper tabled in Parliament as his reference frame.
As Strobe Talbott later acknowledged, “Jaswant’s strategy was more directional than destinational” and laid the grounds for the lifting of sanctions, introducing the Next Steps in Strategic Partnership leading to the 2008 U.S.-India civilian nuclear deal.
The China meet
On another occasion in Manila in July 1998, we had our first meeting (since the tests) with the Chinese on the margins of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum.
The meeting began frostily, with China’s Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan blaming India for its provocative actions.
He added, “There is an old Chinese saying — he who ties a knot must untie the knot.” Jaswant Singh arched his eyebrows and said, “In my village in Rajasthan, we too have a saying — it takes two hands to untie a knot”.
The meeting with Tang Jiaxuan, scheduled to last for 20 minutes lasted an hour.
Before the end of the year, I was in Beijing to lay the ground for a new security dialogue between the two countries.
Collaboration among like-minded countries in vaccine development will help in fighting COVID pandemic: PM Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Denmark's Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen held a virtual bilateral summit this evening.
In his opening remarks during the Summit, Mr Narendra Modi said this virtual summit will not only prove useful for India-Denmark relations, but will also help in creating a common approach towards global challenges.
He said, a few months ago, both sides had discussed in detail about increasing Indo-Denmark cooperation on several fronts and today via this virtual summit, these ideas are being given a new direction and speed.
The Prime Minister said, COVID -19 pandemic has shown that it is risky for Global Supply Chains to be highly dependent on any single source. He said India is working together with Japan and Australia for supply-chain diversification and resilience and other like-minded countries can also join this effort.
Prime Minister of Denmark Mette Frederiksen said that the Summit is a milestone on our bilateral relations, and our forward-looking agreement on green strategic partnership.
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