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Afghanistan: ‘G7 leaders agree it is moral duty to help Afghans’

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Brussels, Aug 25. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that G7 leaders agreed that it was their collective “moral duty” to help the Afghan people amid the current situation in the war-torn country following the Taliban takeover.

“We all agreed that it is our moral duty to help the Afghan people and to provide as much support as possible as conditions allow,” von der Leyen said at a press conference following a meeting of G7 leaders on Tuesday.

“To protect these most vulnerable, it is clearly a matter for global cooperation and it has to be dealt with as such from the start. These people should not fall into smugglers’ hands, they need safe pathways,” she added.

She said the Commission will propose to almost quadruple the humanitarian aid coming from the European Union (EU) budget, to “over 200 million euros ($236 million) for the year 2021. This will help meet the urgent needs of Afghans both in Afghanistan but also of course in the neighbouring host countries”.

However, von der Leyen added that “the future development assistance has to be condition-based. It always is condition-based, linked to fundamental values, human rights, and of course women’s rights.”

The EU has set aside one billion euros for Afghanistan’s development in the next seven years. But “the aid is frozen” until the bloc “has solid guarantees and credible actions on the ground that the conditions are being met”, von der Leyen said.

Addressing the same press conference, Charles Michel, president of the European Council, called on the new Afghan authorities to allow free passage to all foreign and Afghan citizens who wish to get to the airport.

“We have also raised this issue with our American friends and partners on two particular aspects: first, the need to secure the airport as long as necessary to complete the operations; and second, a fair and equitable access to the airport, for all nationals entitled to evacuation,” said Michel.

“Today it is too early to decide what kind of relations we will develop with the new Afghan authorities,” he noted.

“We call for an inclusive political settlement and if we want to remain a positive influence for the Afghan people, especially in supporting their basic needs, we will have to deal with the new authorities.

“This will be subject to strict conditions, regarding the deeds and attitude of the new regime,” he added.

In a joint statement issued after a virtual emergency meeting, the leaders of the US, the UK, Italy, France, Germany, Canada, and Japan called for “calm and restraint to ensure the safety and security of vulnerable Afghan and international citizens, and the prevention of a humanitarian crisis”.

The G7 leaders also expressed “grave concern about the situation in Afghanistan”.

“Our immediate priority is to ensure the safe evacuation of our citizens and those Afghans who have partnered with us and assisted our efforts over the past 20 years, and to ensure continuing safe passage out of Afghanistan. We will continue to coordinate closely on this.”

Business

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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