US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Subrahmanyam Jaishankar held detailed and extensive discussions on a wide range of issues including China, Afghanistan conflict, Taliban, the Indo-Pacific. Pakistan also figured during the discussion when both the leaders delved into regional security issues, with terror financing and terrorist activities emanating from ‘neighbouring country’ being very much on the agenda. Sources told The Daily Guardian that Pakistan-based terror activities and Taliban’s violent act being supported by Pakistan were the issues that featured in the meeting between National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval and Blinken on Wednesday. Blinken also met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the evening.
“Good to meet US Secretary of State @SecBlinken today. I welcome President Biden’s strong commitment to strengthen the India-US Strategic Partnership, which is anchored in our shared democratic values and is a force for global good,” PM Modi tweeted.
What came as a welcome development for MEA was that India and the US had a strong convergence of views on many regional and global issues that were discussed during these meetings with Blinken. EAM Jaishankar tweeted, “A wide ranging and productive discussion today with secretary Blinken. Useful in mapping out the next steps in our bilateral partnership. Strong convergence of views on many regional concerns. Agreed to work closely on multilateral and global issues.”
US Secretary of State Blinken actually confirmed what Jaishankar tweeted when he sent out a substantial message to all those who are posing a threat to regional security. On Afghanistan, Blinken’s message was for Taliban, Pakistan and China, as he said, “We both agreed strongly that any future government in Afghanistan has to be inclusive and fully representative of Afghan people. Ultimately it has to be an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.” Significantly, this has been the stand and
line of India vis-à-vis the future of Afghanistan. So, Blinken put a stamp of approval on what India has been reiterating about the future government of Afghanistan. His message was for both the Taliban and Pakistan. Blinken’s message was also for China which is reportedly trying to meddle in Afghanistan in a bid to increase its influence there. Similarly, Blinken is aware how Pakistan’s state actors are backing the Taliban due to their vested interests. What next Blinken said was also a strong message for all of them-Taliban, China and Pakistan. He said that even if American troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, the US will remain engaged there.
Further, on the fast-evolving situation in Afghanistan, Blinken said India and the US share a strong interest in a peaceful, secure and stable Afghanistan adding that both the nations are committed to the proposition that there is no military solution to the conflict in the region. The US official also noted that there has to be a peaceful resolution in Afghanistan that requires the Taliban and the Afghan government to come to the table. In a message to China, Blinken mentioned that India and the US share a vision of a free, open, secure and prosperous Indo-Pacific.
Sources said that Blinken expressed concern over the manner in which terror organisations like Al-Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Taiba are increasing their activities in Afghanistan. Both Blinken and Jaishankar stressed the need for Pakistan to rein in terrorist outfits on its soil, sources said.
In what is being seen as a message to those raising questions over democracy in India, Blinken said India and the US are two of world’s leading democracies where “diversity fuels our national strength.” He further pointed out that there are few relationships in the world that are more vital than one between the US and India. In a meeting with some civil society members, the US top diplomat stated that the US and India share a commitment to democratic values. He said it is part of the bedrock of the bilateral relationship.
He noted that Indians and Americans believe in human dignity, in equality of opportunity, the rule of law, and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of religion and belief. He further pointed out that all people deserve to have a voice in their government and be treated with respect no matter who they are. Further stating that both the democracies “are works in progress”, Blinken noted that “as friends we talk because doing hard work of strengthening democracy is often challenging.” “At a time of rising global threats to democracy and international freedoms – we talk about a democratic recession — it’s vital that we two world leading democracies continue to stand together in support of these ideals,” he noted. Covid-19 issues were also discussed on priority during the meet and EAM acknowledged the responsiveness of the Biden administration for keeping the raw material supply chain open for vaccine production in India. “We focussed today on expanding vaccine production to make it globally available and affordable,” Jaishankar said. Blinken, on the other hand, announced $25 million assistance to support Covid vaccination efforts across India.
India’s quest for a permanent seat in UNSC was also discussed and Blinken reiterated US support for the same. “We spoke at length about regional concerns, multilateral institutions and global issues. The expanding Indian footprint, be it in Africa, Southeast Asia, or the Caribbean, has naturally broadened our shared agenda. Among the many issues we looked at, I would specifically note Afghanistan, Indo-pacific and the Gulf,” Jaishankar said.
In a clear-cut message to China, Jaishankar said that the Indo-pacific presents a different set of challenges, including ensuring that everyone observes international laws and rules.
“Under the aegis of Quad framework, we are engaged on maritime security, HADR, connectivity and infrastructure, cyber and digital concerns, counter-terrorism, Covid-19 response, climate action education, etc. The secretary and I not only discussed opportunities for future collaboration on all these issues, but also the importance of observing the international laws, rules and norms. Our ability to work together in the quad benefits the international community as a whole,” Jaishankar added.
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SIKH BUSINESSMEN KILLED IN PAK, INDIA SEEKS JUSTICE
Motorbike born assailants gunned down two Sikh businessmen on Sunday morning in Sarband, 17 km from Peshawar in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province of Pakistan, in another incident of targeted killing of minorities in that country. Saljeet Singh and Ranjeet Singh were gunned down in broad daylight by two unidentified gunmen riding a motorbike killing them on the spot. The Sikh businessmen were in spice trading and had shops in Bata Tal bazaar in Sarband. The killers have not been identified even as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, while condemning the ghastly murders, has ordered the provincial police to bring the assailants to justice.
The killing of innocent Sikh traders has sent shockwaves across this side of the border as well. Condemning the ghastly killing, Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Singh Mann asked External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar to raise the killing with Pakistan to ensure the safety of minorities there. “I strongly condemn the gruesome killing of two Sikh youths in Peshawar Pakistan. I also request our Foreign Minister @DrJaishankar ji to speak to Pakistan the concern and ensure safety of Hindu and Sikh minorities residing in Pakistan,” Mann twitted at 3:46 pm on Sunday.
Reacting to the killing, SGPC President Harjinder Singh Dhami said, ”We strongly condemn the cowardly murders of two Sikhs, yet again. The Pakistan government should fulfil its responsibility diligently as such murders of minorities is a matter of grave concern for entire world, especially the Sikhs. We demand that the culprits should be nabbed immediately and justice should be delivered to the aggrieved families at the earliest,” said Dhami. The SGPC chief also accused the governments of both Pakistan and India of having failed in ensuring the safety of life and property of Sikhs in Pakistan who are a minority there.
As the news of the cold-blooded killing spread far and wide, the Sikh community held a big protest march in Peshawar demanding the arrest of the killers.
Ranjit Singh and Kuljit Singh are the latest victims of targeted killings. A week after an audacious attack on Nankana Saheb, the birthplace of the founder of the Sikh faith, by a frenzied mob of Muslims, Ravinder Singh, a Sikh youth, was killed in Peshawar in January 2020. Two years back in 2018, prominent Sikh community member Charanjit Singh was murdered in Peshawar. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf National Assembly member Soren Singh was killed and in 2016 again in Peshawar.
Mundka building owner arrested, forensic investigation begins
After 27 people died in a fire at a four-storey office complex near Mundka metro station, Delhi Police on Sunday arrested the owner of the building, identified as Manish Lakra. Lakra, who was absconding after the incident, was arrested after the police conducted multiple raids in Delhi and Haryana. The police had arrested company owners Harish Goel and Varun Goel in the matter on Saturday. An FIR was registered under Sections of Indian Penal Code 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 308 (attempt to commit culpable homicide), 120 (concealing design to commit an offence punishable with imprisonment), 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) in connection with the fire incident.
Deputy Commissioner of Police, Outer District, Sameer Sharma on Saturday had assured action against the concerned officers if they were found guilty in the investigation. “We have registered FIR under appropriate sections. Action will be taken against everyone who did anything wrong or didn’t follow rules. We will do a proper investigation, action will be taken against officers too if they’re found culpable,” Sharma had said.
Meanwhile there are allegations that while the fire-tenders allegedly reached the Mundka fire incident site late, a crane driver proved a saviour for over 50 people, mostly women, by rescuing them while the building was engulfed in a raging fire.
Dayanand Tiwari was driving his crane along with the owner of the vehicle when he approached the four-storey building that was caught in the fire, with fire-tenders allegedly not in sight on 13 May.
The fire incident claimed 27 lives while a number of people are reported to be missing.
Tiwari managed to save more than 50 lives with the help of the crane and the local bystanders.
“I was coming from Mundka Udyog Nagar when I saw the fire in the building. With the help of the crane, we rescued over 50 people, mostly women,” he said
Tiwari, who had the crane owner and a helper on his side, recalled the horrific incident and said that the fire tenders had reached the spot after one and a half hours.
“Later, the fire turned huge and we could not rescue others. Our crane owner and helper were also present during the rescue operation. It was a very frightening sight,” he said.
On Sunday, two forensic science teams reached the site of the fire mishap to assist the Delhi Police in the investigation. The charred remains of the victims have also been found at the site. The police have said that a forensic DNA examination would be carried out to identify the identities of the deceased.
“Our two teams, including senior experts, are working at the spot currently. They will identify the remains, and lift samples for the purpose of identification. The experts from FSL will be assisting police in identifying and lifting samples from the spot which will be later handed over to the Investigating Officer,” said Deepa Verma, Director, Forensic Science Laboratory in an official statement.
Meanwhile, S.K. Gupta, who is heading the forensic operations, said that body remains at fire-related crime scenes are very difficult to detect, collect and handle.
“Burned exhibits like body tissues at the scene are often modified to a similar appearance, and bones, in particular, become discoloured, brittle, and highly fragmented,” Gupta said. Rajnish Singh, Assistant Public Relations Officer of the FSL, said that the impact of the fire is severe on all the floors of the building and the body remains are disturbed, altered, and destroyed. “It is very challenging for our experts to identify and collect these exhibits at the crime scene, however, a detailed inspection of the crime fire site is going on” he added.
A total of 27 people died.
Manik Saha is sworn in as Tripura Chief Minister
After the unexpected resignation of the former Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb, the BJP state president Manik Saha was sworn in as the new Chief Minister of Tripura. Governor S.N. Arya administered the oath of office to the new CM Manik Saha at the Raj Bhavan, Agartala.
During the swearing-in ceremony, Saha promised to improvise the law and order situation in the state, taking the development agenda of Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead. Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, “Congratulation to Shri @DrManikSaha2 on taking oath as Tripura’s CM. Best wishes to him for a fruitful tenure. I am confident he will add vigour to the development journey of Tripura which began in 2018.” The year 2018 put an end to the 25-year communist rule in Tripura.
After quitting Congress, CM Manik Saha joined BJP in 2016 and was elevated to BJP state president in 2020. Earlier, this year, he had won the Rajya Sabha seat from Tripura. Saha is also the president of the Tripura Cricket Association. He is also a dentist by profession, who used to teach at Tripura Medical College in Hapania before entering mainstream politics.
The oath-taking ceremony was attended by Union minister Pratima Bhowmick and the former CM Biplab Kumar Deb, other BJP MLAs, and state ministers. Deputy Chief Minister Jishnu Dev Varma and minister Ram Prasad Paul appeared at the Raj Bhavan minutes after the swearing-in ceremony was over. They protested Saha’s appointment as Chief Minister at the BJP’s legislative party meeting on Saturday. According to the sources, the step was taken after an RSS report submitted to the BJP’s national leadership concluded that the party and government needed a change of guard. Saha’s excellent track record of ensuring the BJP’s victory in all thirteen municipal elections in November 2021 earned the faith of the party.
The opposition CPI(M) MLAs boycotted the oath-taking ceremony, claiming that the BJP’s administration has resulted in “fascist-style violence” in the state. Similarly, the Trinamool Congress, which is attempting to gain a foothold in the state, claimed that the Chief Minister was replaced because the BJP realised that the people had lost faith in the state administration.
AQVERIUM: First digital water bank receives US$500,000 grant
AquaKraft Digital Ventures Pvt. Ltd., a AquaKraft Group Ventures (www.aquakraft.net) today announced that it has received a USD 500,000 grant from Newrl (www.newrl.net) for its digital innovation, AQVERIUM (www.aqverium.com) – 1st Digital Water Bank. A brainchild of Dr. Subramanya Kusnur, Chairman & CEO of AquaKraft Group Ventures, AQVERIUM leverages the rich expertise of AquaKraft’s decade-long journey of advocating sustainability and impactful Water & Sanitation interventions across India. It enables to the creation of a Water Balance Sheet that accounts for every drop of Water making stewardship more accountable and rewarding, powered by a unique blockchain platform Newrl.
Speaking on occasion Vinay Rao, Co-Founder AquaKraft Digital Ventures Pvt. Ltd., said, “AQVERIUM is a next-generation cutting edge digital innovation that looks to leverage AquaKraft’s expertise in water & sanitation along with an optimum blend of Web 3 and various other technologies. One of the main factors for us to collaborate with Newrl is that it is the only public blockchain in the world to have an identity at the chain protocol layer. This mitigates the risk emanating out of anonymous participants on the blockchain. This grant will be used to create a mainstream defi ecosystem which involves tokenization of real-world assets such as Water which enables a high degree of governance and also helps with easier monetization.”
Newrl is a ‘trust network’ – a highly scalable, memory-aware, and multi-token blockchain with a rich protocol layer of template-driven transaction types, smart contracts, and DAOs. It is focused on effective tokenization of real-world assets/contracts and their frictionless financing on-chain ready to be used in institutional as well as DAO-based setups.
“We built Newrl with a specific focus on real-world applications of blockchain. We believe that many of the web3 innovations can add a lot of value to the mainstream. However, such use cases need to be compliant with regulations as well as KYC-AML norms. Newrl is the only public blockchain that enforces identity at the chain layer. We found AQVERIUM to be a fit use case for us to demonstrate our technological innovation and prowess with a real-world solution. It is a matter of great privilege for us to partner with the 1st Digital Water Bank.,” said Swapnil Pawar – Founder Newrl.
A lot has been talked about Water and the imminent crisis the world is facing. Everyone across all stakeholders acknowledges the fact that Water is precious and must be saved and conserved. Governments are trying their best to ensure per capita water adequacy with concrete and definitive steps in policy and action. It is time that every stakeholder realizes and acts in this direction. Water Stewardship needs to be an all-inclusive process across all stakeholders with forcing functions around the use and reuse of water.
Sharing his vision, Dr. Subramanya Kusnur, Founder Chairman & CEO, AquaKraft Group Ventures said, “We are delighted to partner with Newrl as it addresses all the challenges faced by networks today and enables KYC at the chain protocol level enabling a marketplace of qualified and bonafide participants. Water being core to sustainability will play a major role in the way Climate Control & ESG will evolve, and it was very important to create a trusted network that will enable the entire water ecosystem from generation to monetization.”
NOIDA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT WINS BEST INFRASTRUCTURE AWARD
Noida International Airport, the upcoming greenfield airport at Jewar, Uttar Pradesh, has been awarded Architectural Review Future Projects’ “Best Infrastructure Award 2022”. The AR Future Projects awards are a window into tomorrow’s cities, celebrating excellence in unbuilt and incomplete projects and the potential for positive contribution to communities, neighbourhoods, and urban landscapes around the world. Noida International Airport’s passenger terminal has been designed by Nordic, Grimshaw, Haptic, and STUP, merging Indian warmth and hospitality with Swiss efficiency. The design complements customer comfort with sustainability and timeless design with flexibility for future needs.
The terminal design envisions green spaces inside and around the building, offering a concept for a future airport city, and providing flexible expansion options to serve 30 million passengers per year in the future. The passenger terminal’s efficient layout, convincing design language, and multiple high-quality areas are spaced out with lush greenery with a balanced concept for both energy savings and a tangible sense of sustainability.
NIA’s design pivots on sustainable development and it will be India’s first net-zero emissions airport. It will feature design elements that are not only synonymous with local architecture, but also contribute to sustainable operations. For instance, the terminal’s central landscaped courtyard will bring in natural light and ventilation reducing energy costs and CO2 footprint. The campus landscaping is designed not just for aesthetic purposes but also for utilitarian value.
The other design elements synonymous with the local region’s architecture will include flights of steps at the terminal forecourt, like the famous ghats of Varanasi and Haridwar, welcoming and bringing together people. Delivering the look and feel of a haveli, a courtyard will allow fresh air and sunlight into the terminal building. Inspired by the important rivers of the region, a white, translucent, wavy roof will give the effect of a flowing river. The passenger terminal will feature intricate ornamental lattice screens, inspired by Indian architecture. Noida International Airport will showcase a grand entry to the state of Uttar Pradesh.
‘WE ARE HELPING IN SCHOOL MANAGEMENT THROUGH CENTRALIZED DATABASE’
In an interaction with The Daily Guardian Mr. Kanhaiya Kumar, Founder & CEO, School Canvas said they offer instant communication about all academic activities of a child. Parents need to download the app of School Canvas, where they can access everything related to the school announcements and students performance. It plays a key role in bridging school-parent gaps as well as teaching-learning gaps
Q: What made you get into this venture?
A: We are one of the leading ed-tech companies and renowned ERP service providers in India. Schoolcanvas.com has incepted the company in the year 2010. While I was studying at the Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT), I realized that various gaps were very much prevalent despite the technological advancements. Many institutions were still relying on pen and paper. The dire need of the hour was to close these gaps. I wanted to contribute to the same by transforming the way parents communicate with the schools and how the schools work. This is when we conceptualized and launched School Canvas.
Earlier, we offered only homework-related features. (Homework updates to parents, tracking submission, and so on). However, over the period, we modified the platform into an end-to-end ERP model. This way it evolved into a full-service solution provider, offering features of lesson planning, attendance management, bus tracking via GPS, fee reminders, and exam performance updates report card generation and analysis, and much more.
We are happy that we have had significant growth over the period. We are now the first-ever ed-tech company to implement the open API concept.
Q: What exactly is your company doing?
A: We are helping in seamless school management by establishing a centralized database and reducing the redundancy associated with data entry. Whether it is online fee collection, lesson planning, conducting exams, evaluating the performance of the students, or report card generation; every task in schools can now be automated in a way that would require minimal human assistance. Thus, they have been able to go paperless in the truest sense with our model. Apart from streamlining operations of schools; we are also playing a major role in bringing parents closer to their child’s performance in school as well as updating them on the ongoing activities. Circulating school notifications, a reminder for fee payment, homework updates, and GPS tracking, we at School Canvas offer solutions in the form of modules that pave the way for effective communication.
Q: How are you different from companies with similar profiles?
A: We are the only ERP Company catering and focusing on full-fledged ERP without any diversions. We are catering only to the school segment in the education industry.
Q: How is the edtech sector expected to grow?
A: As per IBEF, the Indian ed-tech industry stood at $750 million in 2020 and is projected to grow at a CAGR of 39.77% and be valued at $4 billion by 2025. It is expected that the surge in the digital revolution will lead to the growth of the sector. However, contrary to the notion, the adoption of new-age technologies will not replace teachers. Rather, it will lead to the provision of effective learning experiences.
Q: What are your future plans?
A: We have had a successful ride so far and are bracing for rapid growth in the future. We are planning to increase our presence across the country as well as increase our team size.
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