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India to push for blacklisting of Pakistan at FATF

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India is gearing up to get Pakistan blacklisted during the upcoming plenary of the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF). Indian officials are preparing to push New Delhi’s agenda on two fronts. 

First, India has an agenda of getting Pakistan blacklisted for terror financing by sharing evidence to establish that fact. Second, India has to counter China’s move in support of Pakistan during the plenary of Paris-based financial watchdog. Sources said that South Block is aware of Beijing’s possible move to try and get Pakistan off the grey list during the FATF plenary to be held virtually from 21-23 October.

 Therefore, India has decided to ramp up global pressure against Pakistan in view of the fact that it continues to run the business of terror as usual, sources said. Sources said that Indian officials will have a tough task of countering the agenda of both Pakistan and China during the meet. FATF’s big meet is going to be held at a time when India and China are engaged in a standoff at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh region.

 The FATF plenary is the highest decision-making body, and India will have a much-needed opportunity to get Pakistan blacklisted and also to expose China on the ground how it is supporting such a tainted country. 

Pakistan has been on the grey list of the FATF since June 2018 when its plenary was held that time. Islamabad had been given a 27-point action plan, and was asked to fulfil them and come prepared with convincing details, sources said. According to sources, Pakistan has been able to fulfil only five targets by then.

 The FATF was quite upset with Pakistan on this and warned it that if it does not fulfill all the action plan requirements, it will be placed in the category of high-risk jurisdiction, which is known as black list as well. India’s prime agenda at FATF plenary is to nail the lies of Pakistan vis-à-vis terrorism. New Delhi will counter Pakistan’s claim of acting against terrorism. “MEA, Home Ministry as well as Defence Ministry officials will be meeting soon to fine-tune the agenda,” an official told The Daily Guardian.

 He said that India has already enough evidence to prove that Pakistan’s state actors continue to support terrorist outfits like Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba. The officials working with FATF are not convinced with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s claim that his government is working sincerely to dismantle the terror network in his country. India has already apprised the FATF of how Imran Khan’s government issued two notifications giving details of the present status of 88 terrorists and their organisations to the United Nations. These terrorists included Dawood Ibrahim and Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed. Both are in the list of most wanted terrorists that India has given to Pakistan.

 But Islamabad has taken no action against them, but on the contrary the Imran government is patronising them, says an official. This will be included in India’s documents to be presented at the FATF meet. “Apart from this, India’s effort will be to expose China which seeks to defend Pakistan at the virtual plenary. China’s stand in favour of a nation that supports terrorists will give India much-needed and an apt opportunity to drive home the message that Beijing cannot also be seen as a responsible country,” sources said.

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ART MAKES YOU CARE ABOUT THINGS, SAYS MAHIMA TYAGI

Student, writer and filmmaker Mahia Tyagi shares her views on art and her experience of performing on the international stage.

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Student, writer and filmmaker Mahia Tyagi

Mahima began her stint with writing at a really young age and her English teachers in school were to thank for that. She was about five years old when she wrote her first poem. “Not a day goes by for me without cherishing what it is to be a writer and to wield the power of the pen,” said Mahima.

Speaking of what drove her to pursue it after school, she shared, “I was awarded a certificate of recognition by the HRD Ministry in 10th grade. I also, since an early age, associated my self-esteem with academic success. In 12th grade, I suffered a bit of a setback academically and the career path I had in mind went out of the window. But as one door closes, another one opens, and I applied to some universities I had dreamt of when I was young, and managed to get into all of them! I then chose the one I wanted the most and that has been one of my best decisions.”

Tyagi believes in the power of her pen and that, with her writing, she can bring about a change in society. “Writing is art and any kind of art can bring about as much change as extensive political lobbying can. So, if you have the right intention in mind, your art is one of the strongest mediums to do that. I witnessed that firsthand when I competed in an international poetry competition.” Mahima had discussed with her poetry coach about talking about colonialism in front of a panel of judges with mostly white people of British origin. But her coach gave her the green signal. “I remember when I finished reciting my poem, there was a brief pause. That was the final moment for revelation – is this going to work or am I going to lose faith in this entire process? And I got applauded by everyone there and it meant a lot to me because it made me realize that if I truly believe in something, no matter how bold or outrageous, it’s going to arouse an emotion among people,” said Tyagi.

Elaborating more on her poems, Mahima said that she dabbles between socially motivated themes and more lyrical or personal poetry. Studying abroad, in a strange way, has brought her closer to the social fabric of her own country, she admitted. “When we look at something from a distance, we’re able to see it in its entirety and that’s what I was able to do. I came closer to the issues I had grown up seeing but never really noticing, like human trafficking, the class divide or the religious divide,” she said.

Mahima, also passionate about filmmaking, shared, “I realised that poetry is storytelling and so is filmmaking. I think films are visual poetry. The idea is to extend a narrative for people to observe.” She continued, “I started to make videos, and my passion for films came into being. And so poetry, filmmaking and public speaking blended together for me, and it became art, which is something that I really feel passionately about.”

Talking about her sources of inspiration, Mahima said, “Inspiration is everywhere, especially when you have a drive and really care about things. A lot of it also came from fieldwork that I have done. I wrote a little collection about the Rohingya community when I met these people. They are beautiful people and their stories are so compelling and evocative that you can’t help but gain inspiration.”

Sharing her future plans, Mahima said that she believes that one needs to have a cause in life and then have the means to bring that to fruition. She added that the cause should be to bring change in the attitudes and taboos which persist in society. “The idea is to wake up every single morning, care about something and try to change what it is that prevents me from caring about things,” she said.

Conveying her message to the youth, Mahima said, “There is no singular method to bring about change. I think you just need to believe and care and use your privilege to bring about that change. One of my favourite authors, Nikesh Shukla, says, “Get where you want to be, and then throw a line back” and I think that’s a beautiful way to look at life.”

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USING TECHNOLOGY TO SOLVE PROBLEMS DURING COVID TIMES

Chintan Panara, founder of Xpertnest, shares his journey as an entrepreneur and how Xpertnest is bringing the benefits of digitalisation to the places where it is needed most.

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Chintan Panara, founder of Xpertnest

As founder of the tech company Xpertnest, Chintan Panara formulates the programme strategies for all sectors, establishes teams, and is responsible for successful deliveries throughout the UK and EMEA. Talking about his journey as an entrepreneur and founder of the company, Panara said, “It has been wonderful so far. If I recall the days when we started Xpertnest, which was probably five years back, we had been looking for a breakthrough. Comparing that with today, when we are a Smart City R&D partner for big councils in the UK, it has been a roller coaster ride.”

Sharing the story of the start of Xpertnest, Panara said, “After 15 years of industry experience, we had a similar vision, which was about how we can, with the help of technology, impact the life of the people and make it better. That was the core vision with which we started. At Xpertnest, we are a technology company but a value-driven innovation company as well. With the help of cutting-edge technology, we develop the next generation of solutions for companies around the world.”

Sharing his insights about how Xpertnest contributes to society and the public and private sectors, he explained, “We saw potential in many things where we work with different clients. For example, we are working with the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, where we are their R&D partner, helping them with satellite imagery, drone images and various sensors. Thus, we help scientists do richer research which, at the end of the day, makes the life of the farmer better. We also strategize with cities to see how they can be self-sustainable. We had a few acts rolled out in the UK related to COVID. We are also working on a platform for the US, where the government can put up challenges, and entrepreneurs and other people can respond and collaborate.”

Panara also talked about other ongoing projects. “We are working on a water leakage solution. With the help of satellite technology and artificial intelligence, we identify the leakage underneath. The same technology can be used for identifying soil moisture, which again helps farmers. We are also working with telco in the UK with immersive technology, virtual reality and augmented reality experience to help their engineers boost their productivity. Further, we are also developing apps for CO2 savings and facial recognition technology in the education industry,” he outlined.

Throwing light on the ethos behind the company’s work, Panara said, “Even though we offer a technological solution to problems, we believe that technology should not be the goal of identifying any problem or working towards any solution. The goal should be solving the real problem faced by real people. Technology is just the means to achieve the solution. So, we are always looking at the real problems and helping communities to be in a better world.”

On a concluding note, Panara talked about Xpertnest has left an impact during the pandemic. “During Covid, a major thing which people felt across the world but we were lucky about, is that we are not impacted operationally too much. We haven’t left behind a single employee in this situation. Rather, we contributed to developing solid social distancing applications for the UK, which have been rolled out widely and are being appreciated as well.”

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CHHATTISGARH IS ON THE ROAD TO A SELF-RELIANT AGRARIAN ECONOMY

The Baghel-led government is building a more empowered agrarian sector by schemes and subsidies to revive the finances of the state’s farmers as well as amending legislation to protect their interests.

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Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel

The Chhattisgarh government’s vision of a self-reliant agrarian state is turning into reality, with farmers becoming financially independent and growing and selling their produce on a large scale. They are not dependent only on the monsoon or clutched within the chains of agricultural loans, and are witnessing a rebirth thanks to the schemes implemented by the government of Chhattisgarh, under the leadership of Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel.

Over the last two years, with every consecutive kharif season, the amount of paddy procured, the number of registered farmers and registered lands as well as the number of farmers selling paddy have witnessed a significant spurt in Chhattisgarh. At the end of the kharif financial year 2017, the amount of paddy procured had been just 56.88 lakh metric tons with 15,77,332 registered farmers with a land acreage of 24,46,546 hectares with 76.47% farmers selling their produce. However, after the 2018 elections, paddy procurement amounted to 80.37 lakh metric tons, along with 16,96,763 registered farmers with a land acreage of 25,60,557 hectares, and a drastic increase in the percentage of farmers selling paddy to 92.61%. Meanwhile, in the kharif year of 2019-20, 83.94 lakh metric tonnes of paddy were procured from 19,55,541 registered farmers with a land acreage of 26,88,101, and 94.02% of farmers sold their produce. Currently, 2,49,080 new farmers have registered for paddy procurement in the state, taking the total number of registered farmers to 21,48,606, across more than 2,000 cooperative societies in the state.

Paddy is a major crop in Chhattisgarh—which is why the state is referred to as the ‘Rice Bowl of India’—and paddy procurement has been a socio-political issue in the state. Thus, the Baghel-led government is not allowing any sort of a reduction in paddy procurement this year, despite the Covid-19 crisis. The state government is set to start paddy procurement from December 1 at the support price, and is trying to collect gunny bags for the same after the Centre’s non-fulfilment of the state’s demand for them.

Several schemes started by the chief minister have also helped paddy farmers in Chhattisgarh. Under the Rajiv Gandhi Kisan Nyay Yojana, the state is transferring Rs 5,750 crore directly into the bank accounts of 19 lakh farmers. So far, Rs 4,500 crore have been provided directly to the farmers in three instalments. The scheme is similar to the farmer-friendly schemes of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh, and has revived the financial status of farmers in Chhattisgarh, especially as 90% of the scheme’s beneficiaries belong to marginal communities such as the SC, ST, OBC and economically weaker sections.

The Godhan Nyaya Yojana, launched on 20th July, is another scheme aimed at improving the agricultural scenario in Chhattisgarh. The scheme is designed for the promotion of organic farming and the creation of employment opportunities at both rural and urban levels. Out of the total 6,430 gauthans in the state, 3,726 are actively engaged in the procurement of cow dung. Cow dung is purchased from villagers and collectors at the cost of Rs.2 per kg. About 26,76,000 quintals of cow dung has been purchased, benefitting 1,32,855 cattlemen in the state so far.

Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel has also fulfilled promises made to the state’s farmers by waiving agricultural loans and irrigation taxes. Loans worth Rs 9,000 crores have been waived by the state. The Chhattisgarh government also set a new record by procuring 83.94 lakh metric tonnes of paddy at the rate of Rs 2,500 per quintal in the kharif year of 2019-2020. An outstanding irrigation tax worth Rs 244.18 crore has also been waived off. Additionally, the compensation amount for the acquisition of agricultural land has been quadrupled and free and subsidized electricity is being provided to more than 5 lakh farmers of the state, which accounts for Rs 900 crore annually.

Besides the financial support and subsidies, the Chhattisgarh government has amended the Agricultural Produce Market Act to protect the interests of the state’s farmers and other citizens. With regard to the three new agricultural laws passed by the central government, the Chhattisgarh government had called a special session of the Legislative Assembly on 27th October and passed a resolution amending the Market Act, to make provisions for monitoring the sale of agricultural produce and establish electronic trading platforms.

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Four Gujarat metros stare at weekend daytime curfew

Abhijit Bhatt

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Curfew is currently in place in four metros of Gujarat during the night, but in view of the deteriorating condition of Covid-19 in the state, the government is considering imposing daytime curfew in Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Rajkot and Surat on Saturdays and Sundays. In addition, paan shops, tea kettles, snacks, as well as street food outlets, which are found to be a major breach of social distance, may be banned altogether.

An official announcement has not been made yet, but a decision may be taken at a core committee meeting chaired by the Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Thursday. Meanwhile, Additional Chief Secretary of the state Home Department Pankaj Kumar has said that the news of lockdown in the state again on social media is false and the government has no such consideration.

Chief Minister Rupani had earlier said in a conference with the Prime Minister that the number of Covid beds in other cities, including Ahmedabad, has been increased to 55,000, of which 82% or 45,000 beds are vacant. The number of Dhanvantari chariots for treatment in Covid affected areas has been increased to 1,700. More than 125 kiosks and 74 urban health centres in Ahmedabad are undergoing continuous corona tests, with an estimated 11 lakh tests so far, while around 70,000 tests are being conducted daily in the state. The number of people attending weddings and public ceremonies has also been reduced from 200 to 100.

The CM said that the state government has taken immediate steps to curb the transmission of corona, as part of which a weekend curfew was first implemented in Ahmedabad city with the increase in corona cases. In addition, night curfew has been imposed in Vadodara, Surat and Rajkot from 9 pm to 6 am, which will continue till the situation is brought under control. The number of weddings and public ceremonies in the state has also been reduced from 200 to 100, while 50 people have been allowed to attend funerals.

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Ahmed Patel buried next to his parents’ grave, Rahul attends funeral

Abhijit Bhatt

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Ahmed Patel was laid to rest at his native village in Gujarat’s Bharuch district on Thursday. Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi attended the funeral after landing at Surat Airport on Thursday morning.Ahmed Patel, senior Congress leader and Rajya Sabha MP from Piraman village in Ankleshwar taluka of Bharuch district, has passed away at the age of 71. As per his wish, he was buried next to his parents’ grave in Piramana village. Maulana Maulana Rahman of Piraman village told The Daily Guardian, “He is no longer with us today. Still cannot believe. He took society along and walked together. He used to call them Ahmedbhai, whether they were young or old and belonged to any party. The entire Ankleshwar taluka is in mourning.”Patel’s mortal remains reached Piraman from Vadodara and he was laid to rest at a Muslim cemetery on Thursday. The mortal remains reached Vadodara airport Wednesday night and were kept at the Sardar Patel Hospital at Ankleshwar town of Bharuch district.Ahmed Patel, a close confidant of Sonia Gandhi and her political adviser, was suffering from Covid-19 infection. He died of multiple organ failure at 3.30 am on Wednesday. He was admitted to the ICU at Medanta Hospital in Gurugram on Sunday, where he breathed his last.Patel came from a political family, though he kept his children away. He started his political career in 1976 from Bharuch, Gujarat, trying his luck in the local arena and quickly became close to Indira Gandhi. Later, he remained close to Rajiv and Sonia Gandhi.Ahmed Patel was born in 1949 in the house of Mohammad Ishaqji Patel and Hawaben Mohammad Bhai. His father was a member of Bharuch taluka panchayat and was a renowned leader in the area. Patel’s father helped him a lot in building a political career. In 1976, Ahmed Patel married Memuna Ahmed. They had two children, a son and a daughter. However, both have stayed away from politics. Son Faisal Patel has a business, while daughter Mumtaz Patel is married to Irfan Siddiqui, a lawyer.

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Entrepreneurship is the art of grabbing opportunities and solving problems: Prathamesh Gosavi

Prathamesh Gosavi, co-founder of Bots ‘N’ Brains, shares the vision behind the company and
his insights on the medical device industry, especially amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Prathamesh Gosavi, co-founder, Bots ‘N’ Brains, is building the world’s first full-stack ER&D ecosystem for the medical devices industry. In an exclusive conversation with NewsX, Gosavi said, “India’s R&D ecosystem is in shambles. We have made huge strides in the digital world but we are highly reliant on foreign technology—a case in point being the medical devices market in India, which is the fourth-largest in Asia. It is worth around $11 billion right now and is going to become a $60 billion dollar market by 2025. Yet, we very generously import more than 80% of all our domestic consumption. We have around 800 manufacturers in India, but an average turnover of just five to seven crores rupees. To reduce this need for imports and to help our manufacturers level up their game, we work as research and product development partners to build select medical device technologies, along with all the necessary support required, from concept to commercialisation.”“We are planning to build and commercialise at least 1,000 medical device technologies by 2025 in partnership with these Indian manufacturers as well as all other interested parties who want to start their manufacturing businesses in India. The biggest challenge in this is the high cost of failure and the limited access to the right tools, the right talent in training. This will probably make us India’s first true physical medical device company,” he added.Gosavi further shared his take on the ER&D ecosystem in India and important industry introspection. “To be very blunt, the ER&D ecosystem is not good by any parameters. We are a country of 1.25 billion population producing more than 15 million STEM graduates and we take pride in how our fellow countrymen and women are leading some of the biggest tech companies in the world. We aspire to compete with the likes of the US and China on technology leadership. But we have hardly 200 researchers per billion population. The US has more than 4,000 researchers per million. China is equivalent in terms of population, but they also have 1,600 researchers per million,” he informed.“Just last year, Indians filed only 15,000 patents, as compared to 600,000 reviewers and 1.6 million patents in China. More importantly, our academic institutes, which generally are the hotbed of research and innovation, are at least 20 years behind the technology challenges our industry faces right now. Countries like the US and China have grown into these economic payments on the backbone of their academic institutes transferring breakthrough research and technologies to the industry. So, there is a huge amount of work which is cut out for us,” he continued.Gosavi also talked about his entrepreneurial journey and some much-needed mantras for young minds out there wanting to make an impact. “I always feel that this is the best gift I have received. More than 80% of my engineering batch-mates have settled abroad. Even I was asked all the time about my plans to move to countries like Germany, the UK and the US. But I had one very simple answer: there are so many opportunities in India. I’ve always believed that trade is the basic fabric that ties this entire society together. And to be able to trade, one needs to identify someone else’s problem as an opportunity,” he shared. “Entrepreneurship is nothing but the art of grabbing these opportunities and solving problems at state,” he added.Talking about the contribution Bots ‘N’ Brains made during the pandemic, the co-founder elaborated, “Covid was probably the biggest blessing in disguise for us. For starters, very few people would say that. It exposed a new set of vulnerabilities in our economy, for which we needed solutions yesterday. We missed out on the first Industrial Revolution, but that’s not an excuse for policymakers. We also did a lot of research on different sanitisation technologies. Testing technologies, vaccines which are being developed, and benchmarking all the different drugs which will be repurposed for Covid treatment. Many of these reports are still available free of cost on our website.”“During one of these researches, we came across a very peculiar candidate, an Asian drug with an amazing safety profile and super effective in curbing the replication of a virus in the body. We shared our findings with the government bodies and actively consulted different stakeholders and presented all evidence. Now this drug is widely used across the country which gives a sense of pride in us, to know that a small team sitting out here in Pune could make such a significant impact in such dire times,” Gosavi further said.

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