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Modi, Morrison discuss defence partnership, bilateral ties

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New York, Sep 24: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison met in Washington ahead of the Quad Summit to discuss their countries’ bilateral relations, especially defence partnerships given their importance as bulwarks of democracy in the Indo-Pacific region.

Speaking to reporters after their meeting on Thursday, Morrison described Modi “a dear friend and great friend of Australia” and said, “We had a very good discussion about our defence partnerships. That was particularly progressed at the most recent 2+2 meeting of defence and foreign ministers.”

This was the first in-person meeting of the two leaders in the post-pandemic period, although they had held a virtual meeting in June.

They will be meeting again on Friday with President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Yoshihide Sugo of Japan at the Quad summit.

Morrison disclosed that he had spoken to Modi the night before the announcement last week of the tripartite defence pact between Australia, the UK and the US (AUKUS), which will have an impact on the Indo-Pacific region.

He said that there was “keen interest” in AUKUS and the plan to deploy a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines “from our partners in India, and well-received. And looking forward to see how that continues to progress.”

The US announced last week that it was going to provide Australia with nuclear-powered submarines.

An Indian Ministry of External Affairs readout of the Washington meeting said that Modi and Morrison reviewed the progress of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership of their countries since the June encounters “and resolved to continue close cooperation for mutual well-being and towards advancing their shared objective of an open, free, prosperous and rules-based Indo-Pacific region.”

The readout said that they “expressed satisfaction” on the progress towards a bilateral Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) and noted their commitment to “achieve an early harvest announcement on an interim agreement” by the end of the year.

Morrison said that Australia’s Trade and Investment Minister Dan Tehan and India’s Commerce and Industries Minister Piyush Goyal will be meeting in New Delhi next week and added, “Prime Minister Modi and I tasked our teams to be ambitious when they sit down next week to look at our trade opportunities, particularly in the area of digital trade arrangements.”

With a view to fighting climate change, he emphasised cooperation in clean energy and low-emissions technology.

“At our meeting today we agreed to go forward with a low emissions technology partnership, a partnership that will focus on hydrogen development, ultra low-cost solar programs, to support their energy transition,” he said.

“We’ll work together closely with our good friends in India, to work with the comparative advantages that Australia has, particularly in the area of hydrogen, and working together with their manufacturing capabilities so they can realise that in their own country,” he added.

Another area they dealt with was cooperating to ensure the reliable availability of critical minerals, which are especially important for the hi-tech sectors.

Morrison said, “Prime Minister Modi and I share a passion around that project, because they are also involved in that supply chain at various different points, and it’s important that we have the choice that exists in world markets around these issues. We want to play a stronger role here.”

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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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