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Showing posts from January 12, 2017

Strategic partnership. Really? (Hindu)

Bilateral relations coast on diplomatic niceties and joint statements invariably use flowery language to describe relationships in the best possible terms. Nevertheless, India’s decisions over the past two decades to upgrade more than 30 of its bilateral relationships to “strategic partnerships” is excessive. While there may be many ways to parse the term, its usage in international diplomacy is fairly clear: it defines a bilateral relationship more important than others, but stops short of an actual alliance. The term “strategic” further implies a future convergence of interests in areas that are vital: security, defence and investment. If that is the case, India’s latest strategic partnership signed with the east African country of Rwanda, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Rwandan President Paul Kagame in Gandhinagar this week, warrants further study. Rwanda is a land-locked country with 90 per cent of its population engaged in subsistence agriculture. It is also still recover…

Surviving the drought (Hindu.)

Tamil Nadu’s move to declare a drought, ironically on the eve of the harvest festival of Pongal, is an important step to address the agrarian distress that is sweeping the State following poor rainfall during the northeast monsoon. Even with relatively better governance structures, desperation among farmers has resulted in a spate of suicides, particularly in the Cauvery delta rice belt that has received little water from Karnataka in recent times. An official declaration of drought brings relief: postponement of loan recovery, waiver of land tax and alternative employment through schemes such as the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. The challenge now is to infuse confidence among farmers that the government is fully behind them. As agriculture scientist M.S. Swaminathan has pointed out, there is a need to look ahead and institute reforms in drought management for effective distress mitigation. These should be founded on a participatory approach, one that int…

Pact to bring chartered tourists from Ukraine (the hindu )

Kerala Tourism on Wednesday signed an agreement with a Kochi-based prominent tour operator handling chartered tourists from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries to operate chartered flights from Ukraine to God’s Own Country.

The agreement was signed by Director of Kerala Tourism U.V. Jose and Managing Director of the Concorde Exotica Voyager James Kodianthara at the Secretariat here in the presence of Minister for Tourism Kadakampally Surendran.

EoI invited

The tour operator was selected by Kerala Tourism on the basis of the response to expression of interest (EoI) floated by it. Under this, seats will be earmarked for the chartered tourists in regular flights from January to May this year in the Ukraine-Kerala sector.

First phase

The selected tour company will take care of the travel, accommodation and travel in the State. In the first phase, the authorities expect 500 chartered tourists to reach here.

The Tourism Minister said Kerala Tourism would come up with a s…

Obama pushes values in farewell (thehindu)

“Let’s be vigilant, but not afraid,” President Barack Obama told fellow Americans in an emotional farewell speech in Chicago, reflecting on the state of democracy in the country, 10 days before handing over the baton to Donald Trump.

Striking an optimistic note for the U.S., still reeling from a divisive election campaign, the 44th President — the first African American in the country’s 240-year-old dem- ocracy — said: “The work of democracy has always been hard, contentious and sometimes bloody… But the long sweep of America has been defined by forward motion.”

He identified four areas to watch out for the preservation of democracy — ensuring economic opportunity for everyone when technology destroys jobs faster than trade did, guarding against prejudices, keeping faith in reason and maintaining “some common baseline of facts” and not taking democracy for granted.

Mr. Obama returned to the city of Chicago where he cut his teeth as a community volunteer in the early 1990s, before cru…

Rs. 31,000 crore proposed for irrigation in budget(thehindu)

Creation of 21 new districts places additional burden on the budget

Irrigation sector with Rs 31,000 crore will take away the lion’s share of the budget proposed by various government departments for 2017-18. Thursday is the last day for online submission of proposals by the departments.

The budget approved for irrigation in 2016-17 was Rs 25,000 crore, including Rs 7,861 crore for Palamuru - Ranga Reddy and Rs 6,286 crore for Kaleswaram project. This time, the trend was reversed as a sum of Rs 11,000 crore was sought for Kaleswaram and Rs 6,000 crore for Palamuru - Ranga Reddy. There was no change in the budget of Rs 2,500 crore for minor irrigation which includes Mission Kakatiya programme of de-silting tanks.

By proposing Rs 31,000 crore, the government has gone a step ahead of its plan to allot Rs 25,000 crore each year from 2016-17 to 2018-19, aggregating to Rs 75,000 crore for irrigation.

Demonetisation factor

The finance officials have estimated the resources of the State gove…

Farewell with a message(Hindu.)

With just days remaining before his stint in office draws to an end, U.S. President Barack Obama addressed the American people one last time in a soaring speech that highlighted his administration’s top achievements and warned his fellow citizens about rising economic inequality, simmering racial divisions and regression into intractable partisanship. Although he will demit office with one of the highest approval ratings in recent history, to get to the door he will have to step across the debris of the Democratic Party, which suffered a debacle in the November general election. No wonder that the 44th President of the U.S. used his final address to urge Americans to rebuild trust in democratic institutions by reducing the corrosive influence of money in politics and breaking the logjams of congressional dysfunction through grass-roots activism. Mr. Obama knows that the polarisation of the electorate turned even more bitter over his policy agenda. While there were a few areas where h…