In what augurs well for India’s diplomatic campaign to scuttle China’s plan to make forays into its neighbouring countries, especially in the defence field, Sri Lanka has said that it will adopt an “India-first approach” as its new foreign policy plank and protect New Delhi’s strategic security interests.
This statement has come from Sri Lanka’s foreign secretary Jayanath Colombage. The statement from Sri Lankan foreign ministry’s top official has come at a time when China is locked in a military showdown with India along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Indian officials believe that such observations may be of great use to unnerve China.
With Colombo foreign office top official allaying concerns amid China’s growing presence in the island nation, India is considering it to be a big development “that will help India take wind out of Beijing’s sails”. “It is a welcome statement made by Sri Lanka’s foreign secretary, which is a strong message to China also,” says an MEA official.
Admiral Co-lombage, the first-ever foreign secretary to have a military background, was appointed by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to head the Foreign Ministry on 14 August. His pro-India statements came during in an interview to a newspaper. He was the chief of the Sri Lanka Navy between 2012 and 2014 and later became a foreign policy analyst mostly on the Chinese initiatives in Sri Lanka and the immediate region. “Sri Lanka will not do anything harmful to India’s strategic security interests,” said Colombage. Jayanath Colombage said that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa will have an “India first approach” as the key to strategic security. “Sri Lanka cannot afford, should not afford and will not afford any particular country to use it as a staging area to do anything against another country–especially India,” he said in an obvious message to China.
According to MEA sources, this is the result of continuous and hectic diplomatic lobbying by India ever since Mahinda Rajapaksa took over as the prime minister of Sri Lanka. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s congratulatory call to Mahinda Rajapksa on his victory in Sri Lanka’s parliamentary elections had given ‘timely’ impetus to Indian diplomatic lobbying in Colombo. Prime Minister Modi was the first world leader to have congratulated Rajapaksa on his victory in the elections.
Soon thereafter, Indian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka, without losing a second, had met Rajapaksa, briefing him on what India had in store as far as development of the island nation is concerned. Indian diplomatic lobby had upstaged China by reaching out to the Sri Lankan leadership on the first available opportunity.
Meanwhile, the Chinese leadership was happy with Rajapaksa winning the parliamentary polls in Sri Lanka, as he was supposed to be a pro-Beijing leader. Indian diplomats were also working with Colombo keeping in view Rajapaksa’s well-known tilt towards China. Sources said that foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla may be visiting Colombo soon. A meeting with Rajapaksa and the President of Sri Lanka is being fixed, sources said. According to sources, Colombage has also been contacted in this regard by the Indian High Commissioner. He had recently visited Dhaka and met Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina there in what was seen to be a significant development keeping in view Chinese efforts to expand its presence in that country also.
It is a reality that the ties between Colombo and Beijing have been growing, with India working hard to ensure that China’s attempts to make inroads into the defence field in the island nation donot succeed. “The MEA is closely watching how Rajapaksa takes the ties with both the nations ahead in days to come,” said a top foreign ministry official. However, Colombo’s foreign secretary has dropped ample hints about where Rajapaksa’s foreign policy is headed.
Expansionist China’s aggressive bids to increase presence in Indian Ocean have to be dealt with effectively,” said the official. What India cannot lose sight of is the fact that China has pumped billions of dollars into Sri Lanka’s economy in the past two decades, especially in infrastructure projects like ports. A major part of these investments went to Sri Lanka when Mahinda Rajapaksa was the president there. “Sri Lanka has historically been an ally of India because of its geographical, cultural and religious ties with New Delhi going back thousands of years,” said an official. And this adds to India’s confidence of wooing Sri Lanka.
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India will lead world in digital economy: Rajeev Chandrasekhar
The Union Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology and Union Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, on Thursday said India will be a significant player in the digital economy. “India has been advancing toward a new era of technology. The nation will become a major force in the digital economy within a year. All Indians share the vision of a developed India, which is reflected in the expanding digital economy of the nation.”
In an interactive session with Professor MD Nalapat and Priya Sahgal at the first Capital Dialouge, organised by The Sunday Guardian Foundation, the Union minister said, “India will play a vital role in entrepreneurship and the digital economy.
Post-Covid, we have reimagined our ambitions, and talking about a trillion-dollar economy is a critical discussion. There has been discussion about a five-trillion-dollar economy in the past, but over the last two and a half years, the acceleration of digitalisation around the world has led to a permanent change in the global value of all products and services. We have come to a point where we are confident that India will be a significant player in the digital world.”
The digital economy has constituted about 6% to 8% of the overall economy, and the goal of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is to achieve a minimum of 20% of the overall GDP by 2025–2026. Apart from the incentives and schemes of the government, the momentum, and determination of young entrepreneurs play a key role in enabling a strong digital economy.
Explaining the concept of ‘New India for Young India’, the minister, said, “The last few years have been a difficult time as the world had to deal with the pandemic. However, we have produced a very strong, surging digital economy, as well as strong innovation and startup ecosystem growth. Over 102 unicorns and 75000 startups have grown in India as a result of global-scale innovation and products and services. This gives us the confidence of a trillion-dollar digital economy.”
The journey, when 90% of mobile phones were imported to one where 97% are country-made-manufactured phones, demonstrates the success of India’s digital economy. Today, almost 55000 crores of mobile brands are exported from India. From 2014 to 2018, the digital economy has been slowly building, followed by the growth of investments.
Similarly, the launch of 5G is a big joy as it represents ‘transformation’. Speaking about the launching of 5G, the minister said, “Indian technology is finding its place in cutting-edge technology.” Reminiscent of the days when all services were imported, India has come a long way, establishing a strong presence in the world of future 5G wireless hi-tech Indian products.
With the growth of entrepreneurship, the unemployment rate has also come down, although, the aftereffects of the pandemic cannot be negated. Hospitality, one of the major employment generators, is left with a deep scar post-pandemic. However, the rebound is taking place slowly, and around 10 lakh net new jobs are being created in the technology sector, where 54% of women are, presently, employed. The revamping of the digital ecosystem along with local economic opportunities based on districts and migratory opportunities will soon provide more employment to Indian youth.
Highlighting upskilling and reskilling Indian youth, the minister said, “In the future, various institutions, trainers, students, and so on will come on one platform to assess and provide suggestions about local opportunities that will lead to empowerment.”
Nobel Prize in literature goes to French writer Annie Ernaux
The Royal Swedish Academy on Thursday awarded the 2022 Nobel Prize in literature to French writer Annie Ernaux for the courage and clinical acuity with which she uncovers the roots, estrangements and collective restraints of personal memory.
“BREAKING NEWS: The 2022 #NobelPrize in Literature is awarded to the French author Annie Ernaux for the courage and clinical acuity with which she uncovers the roots, estrangements and collective restraints of personal memory,” the official Twitter handle of The Nobel Prize said. “French writer Annie Ernaux – awarded the 2022 #NobelPrize in Literature – was born in 1940 and grew up in the small town of Yvetot in Normandy, where her parents had a combined grocery store and cafe. Her path to authorship was long and arduous,” the tweet added.
The Nobel Prize laureate, in her writing consistently and from different angles examines a life marked by strong disparities regarding gender, language and class. She has written over 30 literary works.
In ‘L’occupation’ (2002) Ernaux dissects the social mythology of romantic love. On the basis of notes in a diary recording her abandonment by a lover, she both confesses and attacks a self-image built on stereotypes. Writing becomes a sharp weapon for dissecting truth.
Ernaux has said that writing is a political act, opening our eyes to social inequality. For this purpose she uses language as “a knife”, as she calls it, to tear apart the veils of imagination.
With great courage and clinical acuity, Annie Ernaux reveals the agony of the experience of class, describing shame, humiliation, jealousy or inability to see who you are, she has achieved something admirable and enduring.
The Nobel Prize laureate Ernaux believes in the liberating force of writing. Her work is uncompromising and written in plain language, scraped clean.
And when she with great courage and clinical acuity reveals the agony of the experience of class, describing shame, humiliation, jealousy or inability to see who you are, she has achieved something admirable and enduring.
Last year, Tanzanian author Abdulrazak Gurnah won the 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature. Born in 1948 and growing up on the island of Zanzibar, Gurnah has published ten novels and a number of short stories. The theme of the refugee’s disruption runs throughout his work. He began writing as a 21-year-old in English exile, and although Swahili was his first language, English became his literary tool.
Minor allegedly gang-raped by seniors in school washroom
An 11-year-old student was allegedly gang-raped by two seniors inside the washroom of a Kendriya Vidyalaya school in Delhi. The alleged incident had taken place in July but the victim approached the police on Tuesday. The matter came to the fore when it was highlighted by the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW).
The Delhi Police has registered a case was against the two teenagers on Tuesday.
Confirming the incident, DCP (New Delhi) Amrutha Guguloth said they received a complaint and immediately registered a case under sections of sexual assault and the POCSO Act. Police said the matter is being investigated and nobody has been apprehended yet.
School officials said the incident was not reported to principal by the victim.
Permanent UN seat India’s top priority, says Jaishankar
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Thursday said that a permanent seat, as well as reforms of the UN Security Council, remains India’s main priority. He asserted that India voices the interest and aspirations of a broad set of countries and added that the contemporary global issues cannot be solved by few countries only.
Jaishankar was addressing Auckland Community business. He said, “There is a widespread acceptance that the problems of today cannot be solved by one, two or even five of the countries in the United Nations Security Council. When we look at the reforms at the United Nations Security Council, we have an interest in becoming a permanent member of the security council.”
Currently, United Nations Security Council, also known as the Permanent Five or P5, are China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States and India has been reiterating its bid for a permanent seat at the UN Security Council.
Over the multilateral Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) grouping, External Affairs Minister Jaishankar reiterated that not joining RCEP was the “right decision.”
During Jaishankar’s address to Auckland Community business, he noted, “When it came to the RCEP, we took a decision in 2019 not to proceed in joining the RCEP. We weigh the pros and cons. We did an evaluation and many of the critical issues were not addressed in the final outcome.”
He continued saying, “India went back to the other 15 countries and shared some of its anxieties with them but they collectively took the view that they had gone as far as they could. So we decided that it was not in our interest.”
India joined the 15-nation ‘Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations in 2012. In 2019, 15 nations, including China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand among others, signed the free trade agreement. However, India walked out of the negotiations, citing national interests.
Jaishankar also said that the entire world is suffering from the Russia-Ukraine war and mentioned the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan as also a big issue.
Govt begins probe after who links deaths in gambia to india-made syrup
The Union government has started an investigation into four cough syrups manufactured by a Haryana-based pharmaceutical firm after the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that they could be linked to the deaths of 66 children in Gambia.
At the same time, the government on Thursday activated National Regulatory Authority, CDSCO who requested the World Health Organization (WHO) to share the report on the establishment of “causal relation to death” with the syrups manufactured by a Haryana-based company, Maiden Pharmaceutical Limited.
This comes after the World Health Organization (WHO) issued an alert on four India-made cough and cold syrups used for paediatric groups. Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) took up an urgent investigation in this regard. WHO informed that the certificate of analysis will be made available to WHO in near future and it will be shared with the Indian Regulator which is yet to be done. The exact one-to-one causal relation of death has not yet been provided by WHO to CDSCO.
“As a robust National Regulatory Authority, CDSCO has requested WHO to share at the earliest with CDSCO the report on the establishment of causal relation to death with the medical products in question etc.,” it added.
CDSCO said that Maiden Pharmaceutical Limited holds manufacturing permission for the products Promethazine Oral Solution BP, Kofexnalin Baby Cough Syrup, MaKoff Baby Cough Syrup and MaGrip n Cold Syrup for “export only.”
“From the preliminary enquiry of CDSCO, it has been made out that Maiden Pharmaceutical Limited, Sonepat, Haryana is a manufacturer licensed by the State Drug Controller for the products Promethazine Oral Solution BP, Kofexnalin Baby Cough Syrup, MaKoff Baby Cough Syrup and MaGrip n Cold Syrup under reference, and holds manufacturing permission for these products for export only. The company has manufactured and exported these products only to The Gambia,” the press release said.
The State Drug Controller had given licenses to the said Company only for exporting these four drugs namely Promethazine Oral Solution BP, Kofexnalin Baby Cough Syrup, MaKoff Baby Cough Syrup and MaGrip n Cold Syrup.
Further, all these 4 drugs manufactured only for exports by Maiden Pharmaceuticals Limited are not licensed for manufacture and sale in India. In effect, none of these four drugs of Maiden Pharmaceuticals is sold domestically in India, it added.
WHO on September 29 informed DCGI, the National Drug Regulator of India, that WHO is currently providing technical assistance and advice to The Gambia, where children have died.
World Health Organization expressed that a contributing factor is suspected to be the use of medicines which may have been contaminated with Diethylene glycol or Ethylene glycol (in some of the samples it was claimed to have been confirmed by further analysis conducted by WHO), the press release added.
CDSCO took up the matter immediately with the Haryana State Regulatory Authority, under whose jurisdiction the drug manufacturing unit of Maiden Pharmaceutical Limited, Sonepat is located.
Further, a detailed investigation was also launched to ascertain the facts/ details in the matter in collaboration with State Drugs Controller, Haryana.
It is a usual practice that the importing country tests these imported products on quality parameters, and satisfies itself as to the quality of the products before the importing country decides to release such products for usage in the country. As per the tentative results received by WHO, out of the 23 samples of the products under reference which were tested, 4 samples have been found to contain Diethylene Glycol/ Ethylene Glycol.
The samples (controlled samples of the same batch manufactured by Maiden Pharmaceuticals Limited for all four drugs in question) have been taken and sent for testing to Regional Drug Testing Lab, Chandigarh by CDSCO, the results of which will guide a further course of action as well as bring clarity on the inputs received from WHO.
More reports on page 5
India abstains from voting in UN on rights issue in Xinjiang
India on Thursday abstained from voting on a United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) resolution on holding a debate on the human rights situation in China’s Xinjiang.
The draft resolution on “holding a debate on the situation of human rights in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China” was rejected in the 47-member Council after 17 members voted in favour, 19 members voted against, including China, and 11 abstentions, including India, Brazil, Mexico and Ukraine.
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