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China eyes Afghan air bases, concerns for India

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By Amresh Srivastava

New Delhi, Sep 3 (IANS) China has been eyeing to take control of air bases, including the Bagram air force base, in Afghanistan after the Taliban took control of the war-torn country, which could be detrimental for India’s security.

Expressing concerns, experts say this could be an attempt to keep India away from southeast Asia, where China wants to have complete control.

Reacting to the current development in Afghanistan, former diplomat Anil Trigunayat said the recent interview by Taliban’s spokesperson clearly said China would be their most important partner under the new Taliban-led Afghan government.

“China is trying to fill the vacuum created after the US forces left Afghanistan economically and gets its Belt and Road (BRI) initiatives going. That is going to happen soon as the Taliban needs somebody to manage the air bases there,” said Trigunayat.

The Bagram airport is the biggest airport and technically well equipped as the Americans kept it for their use till the end instead of the Kabul airport.

Both China and Taliban under the new strategic partnership will likely jointly manage the Bagram air base as China needs to have a secure air base when they will increase its economic plans in Afghanistan.

As far as the matter concerning China supporting Pakistan against India, Trigunayat said this has been the reality since long, it has been happening even now. China has always used its veto power to protect dreaded Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist Masood Azhar when India was working to declare him as an international terrorist.

“Our worry is China, not Pakistan, which is a tool in the hands of China, and they use it to keep India away from Southeast Asia,” he added.

West Asia expert Qamar Agha also agrees that China has been mulling for a bigger role in Afghanistan because of its economic interests and with the huge investment plans they aim to control a factionalised government, which will be formed on Friday.

“China has always supported Pakistan for arms, military equipment and has been providing the financial aid to Pakistan and now apprehensions are that it will push Pakistan to engage into a proxy war against India so that it will not face any challenge near the China sea and adjoining areas,” Agha said.

The former US diplomat to the United Nations Nikki Haley on Thursday warned that the US needs to closely watch China as it might try to take over the Bagram air force base in Afghanistan following the Taliban’s takeover of the war-torn country and use Pakistan to get stronger to go against India.

“We need to watch China because I think you are going to see China make a move for Bagram Air Force base. I think they are also making a move in Afghanistan and trying to use Pakistan to get stronger to go against India. So, we have got a lot of issues,” she said.

Haley also said it was time that US President Joe Biden’s administration reached out to its key friends and allies like India, Japan and Australia and assured them that the US would guard their backs.

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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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