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From 2004 tsunami to Covid-19: A timeline of Quad elevation

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New York, Sep 23: Nearly 17 years after the deadly 2004 tsunami, when outgoing Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and US President Joe Biden meet September 24 for the first ever in-person leader level summit of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, it will mark a high point in a steady year-long elevation against the backdrop of China’s growing economic and military strength and Covid-19.

Covid-19 vaccine production and distribution, supply chain resilience in critical and emerging technologies like semiconductors and 5G telecom networks are tipped to be top of the agenda.

For India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Quad meeting will be bookended by a Covid-19 summit convened by Biden and Modi’s own speech at the UN General Assembly, on Saturday.

The Covid-19 summit taps into the heart of Quad’s most urgent priorities – and India’s strengths in vaccine production.

In the last 17 years, the Quad has taken a meandering path to its current prominence, with China’s shadow being a central theme.

In early 2021, Quad returned to the big stage after a nearly 10 year lull.

Beginning from its roots in crisis, here is a timeline that captures some of the key moments that have nudged the Quad into a closer embrace:

2004: The earliest framework for the Quad surfaced when the US, Japan, India and Australia formed a “core group” during their joint response to the 2004 tsunami.

2006: While in Tokyo, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced that Japan and India wanted to begin a dialogue with other “like-minded countries in the Asia-Pacific region”. In the same year, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe proposed an “Arc of Freedom and Prosperity”.

2007: In August, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s “Confluence of the Two Seas” speech sparked the ideological foundations for the Quad. Speaking in the Indian Parliament, he said, “The Pacific and the Indian Oceans are now bringing about a dynamic coupling as seas of freedom and of prosperity. A ‘broader Asia’ that broke away geographical boundaries is now beginning to take on a distinct form. Our two countries have the ability — and the responsibility — to ensure that it broadens yet further and to nurture and enrich these seas to become seas of clearest transparence.”

2007: Quad countries held their first official meeting, in Manila. The Prime Ministers of India, Japan, and Australia met with then US Vice President Dick Cheney on the sidelines of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). In the same year, within four months of the first meeting, Quad countries, alongwith Singapore, held an ambitious naval exercise in the Indian Ocean. But the downplaying went in parallel. Australia framed the Quad as a construct limited to trade and culture, India said the Quad had “no security implication.”

2007: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a champion of the Quad grouping, resigned in September 2007. The Quad lost its most vocal champion.

2008: Soon after the 2007 Malabar exercise, Australia pulled out of the Quad. Subsequently, Australia was dropped from the 2008 Malabar exercise. More than a decade later, in a 2019 article, former Aussie PM Kevin Rudd recounted that in a full day of meetings with President George W. Bush and senior members of his cabinet in 2008, Quad wasn’t raised even once by the American side. The grouping came apart. Between Quad 1.0 and its revival 10 years on, the four countries realigned with minilaterals. Japan and India became important fixtures in two such arrangements. A steady string of “2+2” bilaterals and trilaterals among foreign and defence ministers took off.

2011: After the Great East Japan Earthquake, Japan received massive support from the US, Australia, and India.

2012: Shinzo Abe returned to office and wasted no time in calling for a “democratic security diamond.”

2013-2020: During this period, each of the Quad countries saw their share of China aggression. India dealt with four Chinese border agressions in 2103, 2014, 2017 and 2020.

2017: Japan announced plans to propose a top-level dialogue with the US, India and Australia. The stated intention was to counter Chinese aggression.

2017: Late this year, Australia began re-engaging with Quad partners. Senior officials met on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit in Manila. Biannual meetings continued at the “senior official” level. Also happening this year, a Japan-India civil nuclear cooperation agreement.

2019: First ministerial-level meeting of Quad 2.0.

2020: All four navies participated in their first joint exercise in over a decade, in November.

2021: In March, US President Joe Biden convened a virtual Quad meeting attended by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. They formed working groups on Covid-19 vaccines, climate change, and technological innovation and supply-chain resilience.

2021: First leader level in-person summit, scheduled for September 24 at the White House.

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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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