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Modi meets Harris ahead of first-ever in-person Quad summit

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New York, Sep 24: Black on white, white on black. At 3:19 p.m. Thursday, when America’s first ever Indian American Vice President Kamala Harris welcomed India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave for the first time after taking power in the 2020 elections, it was a striking visual for a historic moment, blending austere monochrome with the all-white backdrop of the White House pillars.

Both wore masks – Modi white and Harris black. Harris dressed in a sleek black and white pantsuit, and sported her string of trusty pearls. Modi arrived in a crisp, milky white kurta ensemble with a black Nehru jacket, teamed with black shoes. Harris began about 5 minutes of remarks noting the passage of time since Modi was here last.

“It is my understanding that this is your first trip outside of South Asia for at least the last 16 months,” she said.

Back then, Donald Trump was US president, his Twitter megaphone was a riot, Covid-19 hadn’t exploded, masks weren’t yet a cultural flashpoint, Modi and Trump headlined a “Howdy, Modi!” rally in Houston, drawing over 50,000 people.

Trump is gone now, Biden has pulled US troops from Afghanistan, US, Britain and Australia stunned France by cutting a multibillion-dollar contract to acquire US nuclear-powered vessels. The political contrasts are sharp, Chinese aggression is rising, global contradictions are shifting, flexible multi alignments are on the ascendant.

Biden’s deputy Harris spoke first today, invoking themes that will be on full display on Friday, at the first-ever leader level Quad summit. Fragility, cooperation and resilience were on the table in the context of the Indo-Pacific.

“And as it relates to the Indo-Pacific, the US, like India, feels very strongly about the pride of being a member of the Indo-Pacific, but also the fragility and the importance and strength as well of those relationships, including maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Harris said.

Harris thanked Modi for cooperation on Covid-19 vaccines.

“Early in the pandemic, India was a vital source of vaccines for other countries. When India experienced a surge of Covid in the country, the US was very proud to support India in its need and responsibility to vaccinate its people,” she said.

India’s vaccination effort came in for special mention.

“It is of particular note and admiration that India, I’m told, is currently vaccinating approximately 10 million people a day, as of today,” Harris noted. ##

Modi began speaking at 3:24 p.m., checking off many of the same boxes.

“India was confronted with the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic — a very difficult time for us. But so — like a family, the sense of kinship and so warmly you extended a helping hand, the words that you chose when you spoke to me — I will always remember that, and I’d like to thank you from the bottom of my heart,” he told Harris.

Modi invited Harris to India, to continue “this journey of victory”. India, he said, is “waiting to welcome you”.

Whenever Kamala Harris touches down in India, it will be a standout journey for the idea of the Indian diaspora’s promise. Her rise was made possible by another audacious traveller – her mother Shyamala Gopalan, who arrived in America as a 19-year-old in 1958, on an academic scholarship.

Modi spoke to that potential today. “Excellency, between India and the US, there are very vibrant and strong people-to-people connections that we have. You know that all too well,” he said.

“More than 4 million people of Indian origin, the Indian community is a bridge between our two countries — a bridge of friendship. And their contribution to the economies and societies of both our countries is indeed very praiseworthy.”

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Air India goes to Tata Sons, Ratan Tata tweets, Welcome Back!

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New Delhi: Finally, Air India has gone to Tata Group which emerged the highest bidder. This was a much-awaited deal for the Government of India which wanted to sell this national career from a very long time. Welcome back, Air India, tweets Ratan Tata on Tata Sons winning the bid for Air India.
An SPV of Tata Sons – the holding company of conglomerate – has emerged as successful bidder, Tuhin Kanta Pandey, secretary to the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) — the government department responsible for privatisation, said.

The international service was among the first public-private partnerships in India, with the government holding 49 per cent, the Tatas keeping 25 per cent and the public owning the rest. In 1953, Air India was nationalised. The government is selling 100 per cent of its stake in the state-owned national airline, including Air India’s 100 per cent shareholding in AI Express Ltd and 50 per cent in Air India SATS Airport Services Private Ltd.

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Powerful earthquake in Japan injures 32, disrupts train services

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Tokyo, Oct 8: Authorities in Japan said on Friday that a powerful earthquake which jolted the country the previous day left 32 people injured, while also disrupting train services in the Tokyo area, affecting around 368,000 passengers in total.

The earthquake that struck the capital region at 10.41 p.m. on Thursday night reached upper 5 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale of 7 in parts of Tokyo and Saitama prefecture, reports Xinhua news agency.

The last time that people in central Tokyo faced such an intense jolt was during the massive quake of March 11, 2011, which devastated northeastern Japan and triggered a tsunami and nuclear disaster.

According to East Japan Railway Co. (JR East), the strongest earthquake for the Japanese capital in a decade caused services on the Shinkansen bullet train and 16 local train lines cancelled or delayed from late night Thursday to about 3 p.m. (local time) on Friday, resulting in many late-night train passengers stranded and a commuter disruption in the morning.

JR East have resumed train services, but many passengers were forced to wait at stations due to delays.

After a train derailed in Tokyo’s Adachi Ward, one of the areas hit hardest by the temblor, the operation of the Nippori Toneri Liner, a driverless guideway transit system in Tokyo, might remain suspended for several days, according to its operator.

The Japan Transport Safety Board has sent officials to investigate the derailment.

According to a tally by the Fire and Disaster Management Agency, two in Saitama Prefecture and one in Chiba Prefecture sustained severe injuries among the 32.

Around 250 houses in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward briefly experienced power outages due to the earthquake, and water stoppages and leaks were reported in central Tokyo.

The earthquake also caused 28 cases of people being trapped in elevators in Tokyo and three neighbouring prefectures, but all cases have been cleared according to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism.

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India to showcase its art, culture, tradition and business prospect in Dubai

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Dubai: India is out to showcase to the world its arts and culture, rich history and tradition and opportunities that exist for individuals and corporates with its biggest pavilion of the 192 participating countries in the Expo 2020 Dubai.

The six-month-long Expo kicked off on October 1 with Dubai expecting a large number of visitors despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. With the number of daily infections now well below 200 for the past week, the city has opened itself to the world. Most of the visitors are allowed to travel with a valid negative RT-PCR test within 72 hours.

However, India is still in the category that requires a valid negative PCR test certificate (with a QR code) for a test conducted within 48 hours, and a rapid PCR test report with a QR code for a test conducted at the departure airport within six hours of departure. The pavilion features a kinetic facade of 600 individual colourful blocks. The panels rotate and the facade presents a different look with each rotation, a unique representation of the country’s theme at the Expo, ‘India on the Move’.

The Indian pavilion was officially inaugurated by Piyush Goyal, Minister for Commerce & Industry, Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, and Textiles who said the Pavilion “shows an India on the move, it describes a new India rejuvenated, reinvented and revitalised, which can convert any adversity into an opportunity”.

As the country comes out a deadly second wave of the pandemic, India is eager to make an impression on the world and the Expo is a great platform. Aman Puri, Consul-General of India in Dubai, said: “India at Expo 2020 Dubai will present a new and dynamic India with its never-ending opportunities.” Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given us a clarion call for action to all stakeholders to give a renewed push to boosting exports and Expo 2020 will provide an important platform in driving forward this national agenda.”

While art and culture has always been a staple of India’s exhibitions in foreign countries, there is a big push for innovation and industries in Dubai. The India Innovation Hub, a specially designed mobile platform, was recently launched. It showcases innovations by Indian startups and corporates across various cutting edge fields like artificial intelligence, machine learning, mobility, robotics and space. As many as 15 states and eight Union Territories are taking part in the Expo, most of them displaying food, art & culture and business opportunities. Also, present and various ministries, like textile, space and energy, as well as some of the leading business houses like Tata, Reliance, L&T and Adani.

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