India is ready to supply various types of weapon systems to Indian Ocean Region countries, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Thursday, while stressing that the countries need to ensure peace in the region through “maritime cooperation”.
In a reference to the prevailing tension in the South China Sea because of China’s expansionist strategy, he said that the negative impact of conflicting claims in some maritime areas highlighted the need to ensure peace in the IOR region.
However, the Defence Minister didn’t name China while referring to the current situation in the South China Sea during his address at the Indian Ocean Region Defence Ministers’ Conclave here.
A total of 27 out of the 28 Indian Ocean countries participated in the conclave and shared their views on enhancing regional cooperation.
Rajnath Singh underlined that the Indian Ocean is a shared asset and a lifeline to international trade and transport due to its control of major sea-lanes carrying half of the world’s container ships, one-third of the world’s bulk cargo traffic and two-thirds of the world’s oil shipments.
He said SAGAR (Security and Growth for All in the Region) is the theme of Indian Ocean Policy as outlined by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2015, adding that in line with this, the IOR conclave should focus on security, commerce, connectivity, fight against terrorism and inter-cultural exchanges.
The Minister identified areas such as deepening economic and security cooperation in the littoral, enhancing capacities to safeguard land and maritime territories, working towards sustainable regional development, the Blue Economy, including sustainable and regulated fishing, and promoting collective action to deal with non-traditional threats like natural disasters, piracy, terrorism, illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing as inter-related elements of SAGAR.
He said that the IOR faces a number of challenges such as piracy, smuggling of drugs and people and arms, humanitarian and disaster relief, and Search and Rescue (SAR) which can be met through maritime cooperation.
The Minister identified maritime resources as the key to sustained growth and development of IOR nations in the 21st century.
Noting that IOR countries have demonstrated mutual respect for a rules-based order and commitment to abide by international law, he also spoke of the various policy initiatives of the Indian government to promote trade and tourism among IOR countries through sea link Sagarmala, Project Mausam, and the Asia Africa Growth Corridor.
He also emphasised the need to take economic, trade, naval cooperation and collaboration further in the region, adding that the linked futures of IOR countries depend on how they tackle emerging challenges and leverage opportunities.
Referring to India’s growing aerospace and defence sector and its emergence as a global research and development hub with one of the world’s largest start up ecosystems, Rajnath Singh said IOR countries can leverage these sectors for mutual benefit. He said the recent order from the Indian Air Force to buy 83 Advanced Light Helicopters Mk-1A from Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) is a milestone in India’s indigenisation of defence manufacturing capabilities.
Noting India is ready to supply various types of weapons systems to IOR countries, he said that in consonance with Modi’s vision of SAGAR, Neighbourhood First and Act East Policies, India has adopted a cooperative approach through capacity building assistance in partner countries. This was reflected in India’s supply of ships, maritime aircraft and setting-up of Coastal Surveillance Radar Systems, he said.
WITH IANS INPUTS
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AS INDIA RECORDS 1.61L CASES, GOVT SAYS THERE’S NO SHORTAGE OF VACCINES
India recorded a massive surge of 1,61,736 Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours. Taking the country’s Covid tally to 1,36,89,453 cases and making it the second worst-hit nation in terms of total cases and the third worst-hit in terms of active cases. India also witnessed 880 fatalities due to Covid-19 in a single day. The death toll from the deadly infection stands at 171,089.
Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan on Tuesday said, “India has 89.51 percent people who have been cured of Covid-19, 1.25 per cent deaths related to the viral infection and 9.24 percent active
cases currently. If we look at the new cases, we will find that the previous highest surge has already been crossed and the trend is going upward. That is a cause for worry.”
Amid concerns of a vaccine shortage in the country, the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) has approved the use of the Sputnik V vaccine for usage, according to the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF). It is set to be the third vaccine against Covid-19 in India.
RDIF said that India is expected to make 50 million doses of Sputnik V each month this summer. RDIF head Kirill Dmitriev told reporters on Tuesday that besides the tie-up with five drug companies, they are looking for more partnerships in India, some for production pacts.
Meanwhile, Bhushan assured that despite the surge, there is no shortage of vaccines. “In the last 24 hours, over 40 lakh doses were administered. As per data till 11 am today, unutilised doses available with states and UTs is over 1,67,20,000. This month— till April end—2,01,22,960 doses will be provided to states and UTs. This clearly shows that the issue is about better planning and not the shortage of doses,» Bhushan said.
He added that if wastage is taken into account and consumption is looked at, then states and UTs used 11.43 crore doses till now. “Till now we›ve provided 13,10,90,000 doses to states and union territories. On one hand, we have states like Kerala where there is zero wastage (of vaccine) and on the other hand, we have several other states where there still is 8-9 percent of wastage,” said the Health Secretary.
The five most affected states by total cases are Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh.
As many as 60,212 fresh Covid-19 cases have been reported in Maharashtra, where CM Uddhav Thackeray announced a 15-day Janata Curfew. With this the active number of cases reached 5,93,042. The state also reported 281 deaths in 24 hours. The positivity rate stands at 15.6%.
Delhi recorded as many as 13,468 fresh coronavirus cases, the sharpest daily spike this year. With this, the tally of Covid-19 cases in the national capital has reached over 7.50 lakh, while the death toll mounted to 11,436. 81 fatalities have been recorded in the last 24 hours. The case tally stands at 7,50,156 in the national capital, including 6,95,210 patients who have either been discharged or have migrated or recovered. The number of active cases is 43,510, of which 21,954 are in home isolation.
Uttar Pradesh reported the highest-ever single-day spike of 18,021 coronavirus cases while 85 fatalities took the death toll in the state to 9,309. The total number of cases in the state stands at 7,23,582 and the active caseload is 95,980.
Gujarat reported 6,690 new coronavirus cases, 2748 discharges and 67 deaths in the last 24 hours.
Rajasthan reported 5,528 new cases, 1,251 recoveries and 28 deaths in the same period.
Goa reported 562 new coronavirus cases, 236 recoveries and 3 deaths in the last 24 hours, the total case tally rose to 63,342, and active cases stood at 4,888.
Uttarakhand reported 1,925 new cases, including 775 cases in Dehradun and 594 cases in Haridwar, taking the total number of cases to 112,071.
Kerala recorded 7,515 Covid-19 cases, taking the total caseload to 11.80 lakh as active cases mounted to 52,132. As many as 2,959 people were cured of the infection, taking the total recoveries to 11,23,133. The test positivity rate stood at 10.23 percent. The death count has gone up to 4,814 with 20 more fatalities being added to the tally.
Andhra Pradesh added 4,228 infections, the highest daily count in exactly six months. The active caseload also crossed the 25,000 mark to 25,850. The gross Covid-19 positives in Andhra Pradesh has now risen to 9,32,892, recoveries 8,99,721 and deaths 7,321.
Karnataka reported 8,778 new coronavirus cases including 5,500 cases in Bengaluru Urban district, 6,079 discharges and 67 deaths in the last 24 hours.
Tamil Nadu reported 6,984 new cases, 3,289 recoveries and 18 deaths in the last 24 hours.
Jammu and Kashmir recorded 1,269 new Covid-19 cases, taking the tally to 1,40,650, while three deaths pushed the toll to 2,037. Out of the fresh cases, 582 were from the Jammu Division and 687 from the Kashmir Division.
DR AMBEDKAR AND HIS SUBLIME VISION OF SOCIAL DEMOCRACY
It might be unfair to associate Babasaheb Ambedkar with any particular section of society because his vision for the country encompassed every citizen of the nation. That is the reason why his thoughts and words on democracy, equality and the idea of the nation continue to be relevant.
Whenever I think of Babasaheb Ambedkar’s thoughts and his sublime vision, his works on social democracy strike the mind. It is not a coincidence that Babasaheb Ambedkar kept social democracy at the centre of the address he gave at the last meeting of the Constituent Assembly.
He said that the caste system and democracy cannot coexist. That is why the Indian Constitution introduced such rules that there is no discrimination on the basis of caste and language for the citizens living in any part of the country.
I believe that any nation is formed by combining its traditions, culture, religion, castes and languages. Therefore, nationalism has no place for parochialism. The main task of proving the provisions of the draft and their justification in the Constituent Assembly was carried out by Dr Ambedkar and other Drafting Committee members. He drafted the Constitution with his able colleagues and gave a voice to the traditions, faith and beliefs of the country. But, the basic thing in it was that all the citizens of the country are Indians first and have some other identity later.
If we go into the depth of Dr Ambedkar’s statements in the Constituent Assembly, we will also find that there is a unique confluence of politics, law, history and philosophy. Everyone has a sense of equality, not just any one caste.
In November 1948, while proposing to consider the draft of the Constitution, he said that they had called India a Union of States and not a Federation of States. I believe that Dr Ambedkar was concerned with social separation in India, so he said, “If we want to build a democracy, we have to recognize the obstacles in our path because the grand palace of the Constitution stands on the foundation of people’s allegiance in democracy.”
I think Dr Ambedkar’s views are in fact related to the nationalism in which there is no distinction between caste and religion among the individuals. Every citizen of the country has the same principle. There is harmony among all of us under social order and social thinking. That is why our nation is a classic example of unity in diversity. Even in the Preamble of the Constitution, equality and fraternity have been talked about for all citizens.
Dr Ambedkar also explained this vision for India in a wider perspective in his thoughts. Giving importance to the land, its society, and the best traditions for nation building, he also stressed that the nation is not a physical entity. The nation is the result of the continuous efforts, sacrifice and patriotism of the people of the past.
While describing the nation as lively, he also said that nationality is social consciousness and is how citizens come close to each other. The sense of fraternity develops from this. In this, the idea of narrowness is the biggest obstacle. He clearly said that he wants all the people of India to consider themselves as Indian and only Indian. Ambedkar said that if for some reason this cannot happen, then we will commit the biggest sin, and he will always keep opposing it with his strength.
Dr Ambedkar, the architect of the Indian Constitution, took three words from the French Revolution: liberty, equality and fraternity. These words, included in the core of the Constitution, also deeply influenced his political and social philosophy. That is why the Fundamental Rights enshrined in the Constitution explain the Right to Equality through Articles 14 to 18, Right to Freedom through Articles 19 to 22, and Articles 23 and 24 provide the Right Against Exploitation. The important fact is that Article 19 (2) also prohibits unrestrained expression against any caste, class or community under the Right to Freedom of Expression. If there is any law for the preservation of these three or if there is any law being made, it should not be hindered. The Right to Religious Freedom is also given in the Constitution of India through Articles 25 to 28. I believe that it is only the Indian Constitution, among other constitutions around the world, in which the fundamental rights have been interpreted in this way.
Dr Ambedkar’s contemplation is also profound because he pushed himself forward by having a fundamental vision for almost all-important areas. If we take his thoughts on women’s education, it also feels as if he was the first initiator for reservation for women in jobs. While addressing the Mahila Sabha of Bombay, he once said, “Woman is the creator of the nation, every citizen grows up in her lap, the development of the nation is not possible without awakening the woman.” His depth of thought also probably made him the first scholar who tried to understand the position of women in the caste structure from the point of view of gender in the Indian context. For this, women rights were also advocated.
At the core of his vision was the thought that equality should be established at all levels of society. That is why he constantly emphasized on making society classless. His saying, “Revolution is for the people, people are not for the revolution” will always enlighten minds.
Dr Ambedkar was a great personality. I also believe that it is intellectual poverty if we associate him with a particular class or caste. He was a great man with a lofty vision. There is also a need to explain his view of seeing everyone as equal as something essential for the rounded development of the nation.
It also needs to be understood that Article 370, which has been abrogated 72 years after Independence due to the strong will and resolve of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, had been added to the Constitution against Dr Ambedkar’s will.
Instead of looking at his thoughts and vision from a single point of view, there is a need to think deeply about it in totality and see the seeds of equality, unity and integrity of the country in his words. His multifaceted philosophy of “Bahujana Hitaya Bahujana Sukhaya”, speaking of equality and justice, is relevant even today and will remain so tomorrow too.
The author is the Governor of Rajasthan.
Ally quits NDA in Goa over differences in ‘agenda of government’
In a setback for the BJP-led NDA in Goa, the Goa Forward Party (GFP) on Tuesday quit the ruling alliance over differences in the “agenda of the government”.
In a letter penned to Union Home Minister and NDA chairperson Amit Shah, GFP president Vijai Sardesai said that his party has withdrawn from the alliance after a unanimous decision by the GFP leaders. The GFP president said that it mistook former Chief Minister of Goa Manohar Parrikar’s agenda to be NDA’s agenda and alleged that instead NDA is only interested in handing over port to Adanis.
The GFP chief said, “The state executive and the political affairs committee of the Goa Forward Party has decided to withdraw from the NDA. We joined the alliance in 2017 when Manohar Parrikar was Chief Minister of Goa seeing his development agenda as the agenda of NDA. Rs 16,500 crores were brought by him for the development of roads and bridges and he created good infrastructure in the state.”
“Today the only agenda of the government is related to transportation of coal and handing over port to Adanis and in protest against this destructive agenda of NDA we have formally resigned today although we were out of the government after NDA betrayed us in 2019. It betrayed the people of Goa by successively taking several decisions against the interest of Goa and Goans.
WITH ANI INPUTS
TENDULKAR, AKSHAY DIDN’T NEED TO GET ADMITTED TO HOSPITAL: MAHA MINISTER
Maharashtra minister Aslam Shaikh on Tuesday stirred a controversy when he said that celebrities like Sachin Tendulkar and Akshay Kumar “did not need to get admitted to the hospital”. He said that celebrities, who are Covid-19 positive but asymptomatic, should take treatment at home and leave the hospital beds for people in need.
“Celebrities who are asymptomatic should take treatment at home, not occupy beds in the hospital. Some celebrities like Akshay Kumar, Sachin Tendulkar did not need to get admitted to the hospital. Beds should be left for the need,” he said.
EC ban on Mamata campaign reflects desperation of BJP: Akhilesh
LUCKNOW: Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav has extended support to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s sit-in in Kolkata in protest against the Election Commission’s decision to ban her from campaigning for 24 hours and said it actually reflects the desperation of “a losing BJP”.
“Getting a ban imposed on the poll campaign of Mamata Banerjeeji in fact reflects the desperation of a BJP losing the election. Samajwadi Party is symbolically with her dharna,” Yadav said in a tweet. “Hope the independent Election Commission will also impose a ban on those talking of religious divide in terms of ‘shamshan, kabristan’,” he added.
TMC MP Derek O’Brien had on Monday slammed the EC’s decision, calling it a “black day for democracy”.
“Today is a black day in Indian democracy. They cannot beat us, that is why they ban us.”
The EC, on Monday, banned Banerjee from campaigning in the ongoing state elections for 24 hours from 8 pm and said she had made “highly insinuating and provocative remarks laden with the serious potential of the breakdown of law and order and thereby affecting the election process”.
The ban came ahead of the fifth phase of assembly polls in the state on 17 April.
GURUGRAM, FARIDABAD & HISAR EMERGE AS CORONA HUB IN HARYANA
Amid the ongoing spike in Covid-19 cases, Gurugram and Faridabad have emerged as the most affected districts, with both witnessing the maximum number of total cases and death toll, compared to other districts so far. This has added to the headache of the state government as well as the health department. It is pertinent to mention that nearly one-third of total cases were reported in both districts, followed by Hisar and Sonipat and this has added to the woes of the health officials of the state.
Besides, districts like Panipat, Karnal, Kurukshetra and Ambala continue to witness a huge increase in Covid-19 cases constituting a sizable chunk of the total cases. The present scenario clearly shows that districts located in the National Capital Region (NCR) and National Highway 1 have been highly affected by the disease. Gurugram and Faridabad are among those districts which have witnessed the maximum number of deaths amounting to nearly 25 percent of the total patients.
In the wake of a surge in Covid-19 cases, Haryana had imposed a night curfew which came into force on 12 April, to control the spread of the fatal disease. While rejecting the possibility of imposing a lockdown, Health Minister Anil Vij said that the government is not in favour of it. It is pertinent to mention that as many as 428 deaths have been reported in Faridabad so far, followed by Gurugram and Hisar with 370 and 342 deaths respectively. One-third of the total cases have been reported from Faridabad and Gurugram districts.
“The health department is doing its best to bring down the increasing number of cases, particularly in the most affected districts located in NCR,” said Director General Health Dr Veena Singh. Along with this, speed of vaccination is quite satisfactory and medicines have been administered to people across the state . Besides, the state has sufficient stock of vaccines which will play a pivotal role in controlling the disease.
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