Monday, August 31, 2020

Nepal has lost a great friend: President Bidhya Devi Bhandari, PM Oli condole demise of Pranab Mukherjee

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Kathmandu [Nepal], August 31 (ANI): Expressing grief over the demise of former President of India, Pranab Mukherjee, Nepal President Bidhya Devi Bhandari and Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli said the country has lost a good friend.

Incumbent President of Nepal Bidhya Devi Bhandari who welcomed Mukharjee during his state visit to Nepal in 2016 said Nepal has lost a good friend.

"I am saddened by the tragic death of former President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee today. On behalf of the Nepali people, the Government of Nepal and myself, I extend my heartfelt condolences to the people of India, the Government of India and the bereaved families. Since his death, Nepal has lost a good friend," President Bhandari tweeted.

Indian President Pranab Mukharjee came on 3-days state visit to Nepal from November 2-4, 2016. The visit at the time came in a gap of about 18 years as K. R. Narayanan was the last Indian President who came on a visit to Nepal in May 1998.

Pouring tribute to former President of India, Nepal's Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli also condoled the demise of Pranab Mukharjee as loss of a great friend.

"I am deeply saddened by the news of passing away of former President of India H.E. Pranab Mukharjee. Heartfelt condolences to the government and people of India as well as the bereaved family members," PM Oli tweeted on Monday evening.

"In his demise, Nepal has lost a great friend. We remember his contributions in strengthening Nepal-India relations in different capacities of his public life," Prime Minister Oli tweeted condoling the demise of Bharat Ratna 2019.

Respected and admired by all the levels of Nepal, Mukharjee also had played a role to a broker peace deal between the then warring Maoist and Government of Nepal. The successful negotiation is done by Mukharjee as then Minister of External Affairs is attributed for bringing guerilla Maoist to the table of talk and broker a deal which paved way forward to make Nepal the Federal Republic. (ANI)

Bhutan, Sri Lanka condole demise of Pranab Mukherjee

Former President Pranab Mukherjee. (File Photo)

New Delhi [India], August 31 (ANI): Prime Minister of Bhutan Lotay Tshering on Monday condoled the demise of former President of India Pranab Mukherjee.

"On behalf of the people of Bhutan, I offer our deepest condolences to the people of India on the passing away of Bharat Ratna Shri Pranab Mukherjee. We offer our sincere prayers and wish his family all the strength," Bhutan Prime Minister said in a tweet.

Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksha said he was saddened to hear about the passing of the former Indian President.

"I am saddened to hear of the passing of the Fmr. #Indian President, #Bharatratna Pranab Mukherjee. He was a statesman par excellence, a writer and a man loved by all. The passion with which he served his nation is unparalleled. My deepest condolences to his family and friends," he said in the tweet.

Emmanuel Lenain, French Ambassador to India, extended his deepest condolences to the family and friends of Mukherjee and called him a "statesman, who deeply respected across the aisle, he was widely admired for his people-centric policies. Under his tenure, Indo-French relations scaled new heights."

US Ambassador to India, Ken Juster recalled the former Indian President's contribution to India-US ties. "Very sad to learn of Pranab Mukherjee's passing. Through his long career in public service, he contributed much to the US-India relationship, including signing the US-India Civil Nuclear Agreement when he was the Minister of External Affairs. Our condolences to his family," he said.
Seven days state mourning will be observed throughout India from August 31 to September 6 as a mark of respect to former President Pranab Mukherjee, who passed away on Monday, the government informed here.

Pranab Mukherjee passed at the Army Hospital (Research and Referral) Hospital where he was admitted earlier this month and had undergone surgery for removal of a clot in his brain. He was 84. (ANI)

Indian Army beats Chinese, occupies strategic height near Pangong lake soutern bank

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Leh [Ladakh], August 31 (ANI): In a significant move, Indian Army occupied the height on the southern bank of Pangong Tso, which can give advantage to the side which holds it for controlling the areas around.

Sources said a special operations battalion was recently inducted into the area. On the night of August 29-30 moved into the area and occupied the heights from where Chinese troops were present barely a few hundred meters, said sources.

"Height occupied by Indian Army troops including a special operations battalion is south of Southern bank of Pangong Tso near Thakung. Height was lying dormant and can give strategic advantage to the side which holds it for controlling the southern bank of lake and areas around it," said sources.

They said the height is in the area under the Indian side of the LAC but the Chinese also claim it to be on their side.

According to sources, two brigade commander level meetings have already been held in Chushul/Moldo for resolving the matter and the tension but it has not yielded any result.
PLA Western Theater Command earlier said Indian troops violated the consensus reached at "multi-level talks" between the two countries.

"Indian troops have violated the consensus reached at the multi-level talks between #India and #China and again crossed the line of actual control at the border on Monday and purposely launched provocations," PLA Western Theater Command was quoted as saying by China's state-run Global Times.

This came after an Indian Army spokesperson earlier in the day said Indian Army has thwarted an attempt by the Chinese Army to transgress into Indian areas near the southern bank of Pangong Tso near Chushul in Ladakh on the intervening night of Saturday and Sunday and talks are being held now to resolve the issue there, an Army spokesperson said earlier in the day.

"On the night of August 29/30, PLA troops violated the previous consensus arrived at during military and diplomatic engagements during the ongoing standoff in Eastern Ladakh and carried out provocative military movements to change the status quo," said Army spokesperson Colonel Aman Anand in a statement.

The Indian Army took measures to strengthen its position and "and thwart Chinese intentions to unilaterally change facts on the ground".

India and China are engaged in a standoff since April-May over the transgressions by the Chinese Army in multiple areas including Finger area, Galwan valley, Hot springs and Kongrung Nala.

The talks between the two sides have been going on for the last three months including five Lieutenant General-level talks but have failed to yield any results, so far.

The Chinese Army has refused to withdraw or disengage completely from the Finger area and seems to be buying time to delay its disengagement from there.

While efforts are underway to resolve the ongoing border dispute, India has rejected the Chinese suggestion to disengage equidistantly from the Finger area in Eastern Ladakh. (ANI)

Maitri Through My Lens: Indian Mission in Nepal announces photograph

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Kathmandu [Nepal], August 31 (ANI): The Indian mission in Nepal on Monday announced a photography contest based on the theme of "India-Nepal Friendship" which has been entitled "Maitri Through My Lens".

Lately announced photography contest focuses on strengthening Nepal- India relation which has deep-rooted socio-cultural connection and people to people ties, Indian Embassy in Kathmandu said.
"To cherish this special and unique bond, Embassy of India and B.P. Koirala India-Nepal Foundation announce 'Maitri Through My Lens' Photography Contest. It will celebrate this multi-faceted relationship between the people of two great countries through the language of photography," the release stated.

Contestants may focus on themes that capture the common threads of bonhomie in the field of arts, architecture, dance, education, religion, festivals and celebrations etc. They may also focus on socio-economic development and iconic projects which capture partnership of both the countries towards economic prosperity, the terms of reference of competition stated.

Exclusively for Nepali Citizens or Photographers, the Embassy has asked participants for the competition to send their entries from 31st August, 2020 to 30th September, 2020 to

Winner of the Competition will be awarded with Nrs. 50,000, second be awarded with Nrs. 30,000 and third will be awarded with Nrs. 15,000. Consolation Prize (5 Total) will get Nrs. 6,000 each.
Embassy of India in Nepal has stated further details of competition in website. Winner of competition will be announced on Social Media, Web Sites of Embassy and other media platforms operated by the Embassy. (ANI)

Indian troops violated consensus, crossed LAC, claims PLA

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Beijing [China], August 31 (ANI): Chinese military on Monday said it strongly demands India to withdraw its troops from China-India border in order to avoid escalation of tension, according to Reuters.

People's Liberation Army's (PLA) Western Command said Indian troops violated the consensus reached at "multi-level talks" between the two countries.

"Indian troops have violated the consensus reached at the multi-level talks between #India and #China and again crossed the line of actual control at the border on Monday and purposely launched provocations," PLA's Western Command was quoted as saying by China's state-run Global Times.

The Indian Army has thwarted an attempt by the Chinese Army to transgress into Indian areas near the southern bank of Pangong Tso near Chushul in Ladakh on the intervening night of Saturday and Sunday and talks are being held now to resolve the issue there, an Army spokesperson said earlier in the day.

"On the night of August 29/30, PLA troops violated the previous consensus arrived at during military and diplomatic engagements during the ongoing standoff in Eastern Ladakh and carried out provocative military movements to change the status quo," said Indian Army spokesperson Colonel Aman Anand in a statement.

The Indian Army took measures to strengthen its position and "and thwart Chinese intentions to unilaterally change facts on the ground".

"The Indian Army is committed to maintaining peace and tranquillity through dialogue but is also equally determined to protect its territorial integrity. A Brigade Commander level Flag Meeting is in progress at Chushul to resolve the issues," Anand said further.

Army sources said the Chinese Army had tried to transgress into Indian areas using a sizeable number of troops but Indian Army came to know about their intentions and preempted the Chinese attempt and foiled their move.

India and China are engaged in a standoff since April-May over the transgressions by the Chinese Army in multiple areas including Finger area, Galwan valley, Hot springs and Kongrung Nala.
The talks between the two sides have been going on for the last three months including five Lieutenant General-level talks but have failed to yield any results, so far.

The Chinese Army has refused to withdraw or disengage completely from the Finger area and seems to be buying time to delay its disengagement from there.

While efforts are underway to resolve the ongoing border dispute, India has rejected the Chinese suggestion to disengage equidistantly from the Finger area in Eastern Ladakh. (ANI)

Australian television anchor for China's state-run CGTN detained Beijing

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Canberra [Australia], August 31 (ANI): In what could further strain relations between Beijing and Canberra, an Australian television anchor working with CGTN, China's state-run news channel has been detained in Beijing in a highly sensitive case. A statement from Foreign Minister Marise Payne confirmed Cheng Lei was being held by authorities in the Chinese capital and Australian diplomats were permitted to speak to her last week via video conference, reported ABC.

"The Australian Government has been informed that an Australian citizen, Ms Cheng Lei, has been detained in China," Payne was quoted as saying in a statement. The statement informed that formal notification was received on 14th of August from Chinese authorities of her detention.

"Australian officials had an initial consular visit with Ms Cheng at a detention facility via video link on 27th of August and will continue to provide assistance and support to her and her family," the statement read. Relations between China and Australia have strained in recent times over several issues.

As per the report, friends became concerned when Cheng did not reply to messages in recent weeks, fuelling speculation among her Chinese state media colleagues. She has not been charged but is being held under what is called "residential surveillance at a designated location", a form of detention in which investigators can imprison and question a suspect for up to six months while cutting them off from lawyers and the outside world.

Her family in a statement said they are in touch with the Department of Foreign Affairs and trade and doing everything to support her. "Cheng has worked as an on-air anchor and reporter for CGTN for the past eight years. She was trusted to present coverage of some of the nation's most politically sensitive events, including China's annual political congress," the report said.

She is the second Australian, after writer and former Chinese Government employee Yang Hengjun, to be detained in Beijing. Yang, who is under an espionage investigation was taken by authorities in January 2019. The report stated that in July this year, the Australian Government updated its information for Australians travelling to China, warning they could be at increased risk of arbitrary detention.

Nation has lost a brilliant leader: Virat Kohli expresses grief over demise over demise of Pranab Mukherjee

Former President Pranab Mukherjee (Photo/Virender Sehwag Twitter)

New Delhi [India], Aug 31 (ANI): Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli on Monday expressed grief over the demise of former President Pranab Mukherjee saying that the 'nation has lost a brilliant leader'.

"The nation has lost a brilliant leader. Saddened to hear about the passing of Shri Pranab Mukherjee. My sincere condolences to his family," Kohli tweeted.

Pranab Mukherjee passed away on Monday at the Army Hospital (Research and Referral) Hospital where he was admitted earlier this month and had undergone surgery for removal of a clot in his brain. He was 84.

Indian batsman Rohit Sharma also expressed condolences as he wrote, "Rest in Peace #PranabMukherjee ji. An inspiring figure to the nation. My condolences are with his loved ones."
Former cricketer VVS Laxman tweeted, "My heartfelt condolences on the passing away of our former President, Shri #PranabMukherjee. May his soul attain sadgati."

"My heartfelt condolences on the passing away of Shri #PranabMukherjee. Om Shanti," Virender Sehwag said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also paid his tributes to the former president and said the late leader left an indelible mark on the development trajectory of the country and was a scholar par excellence, a towering statesman who was admired across the political spectrum.

"India grieves the passing away of Bharat Ratna Pranab Mukherjee. He has left an indelible mark on the development trajectory of our nation. A scholar par excellence, a towering statesman, he was admired across the political spectrum and by all sections of society," the Prime Minister said. (ANI)

Pi Green innovations combating air pollution on several fronts

Emission Control Device for Jaggery Processing Units - On site installation

New Delhi [India], Aug 31 (ANI/Mediawire): Pi Green Innovations is a cleantech company which works with the single mission of providing Clean Air for All. With its indigenously developed technology, the company has developed products keeping in mind the various daily life situations that cause immense health hazards due to prolonged exposure to Particulate Matter (PM).

To learn more about Pi Green, and what they aim to do over the next few years, we got chatting with Irfan Pathan, Co-founder and CEO.

So, what is your view on the Government's initiatives towards Air Pollution.
We welcome the initiatives taken by the Government of India, the National Green Tribunal (NGT), the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and respective State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) to address the problem of Air Pollution that the country is facing. Pi Green Innovations seeks to partner with the Government in reducing emissions by implementing guidelines as mentioned in the National Clean Air Program (NCAP) which has identified 122 Non- Attainment Cities (NAC) where the Air Quality Index (AQI) does not meet the WHO prescribed limit. India is one of the most polluted countries in the world and it is time that we adopt a multi-pronged approach to combat Air pollution at various levels. Improving the AQI is a step by step process and the NCAP is certainly a step in the right direction.

Tell us something about Pi Green Innovations.
Pi Green Innovations is a cleantech company based out of Pune. We are working to combat air pollution by reducing the PM from the ambient Air and also from the sources like Vehicles and Diesel Generators (DG Sets). Our proprietary technology has been rated as one of the best technologies for air purification globally at Smogathon, 2018. We are also solution partners to United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in their initiatives for Clean Air in India. We have applied for patents in India, USA, China, Japan, Singapore, UK and Europe.

What is particulate matter? Why is it harmful?
Particulate Matter refers to extremely small particles suspended in the air. Components of particulate matter (PM) include finely divided solids or liquids such as dust, fly ash, soot, smoke, aerosols, and fumes that can be suspended in the air for an extended period of time. PM 2.5/ PM 10 once inhaled can directly affect the heart and lungs and cause serious health problems. In metro cities, one of the major contributing factors for air pollution and, perhaps, the deadliest of all pollutants is particulate matter PM 2.5 because they are small enough to penetrate the lungs and even the bloodstream, leading to critical health issues. Major sources of PM pollution in cities are vehicles, construction, industrial emissions and DG Sets.

How does Pi Green help in reduction of PM pollution?
Pursuant to the National Green Tribunal) NGT order dated 06/08/2019, all DG sets operational in India are required to be retrofitted with a device to reduce PM emissions by at least 70 per cent. Various State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) including Tamil Nadu, J&K and Haryana have started issuing orders to this effect to all DG set operators within their jurisdiction. We have developed several products to address different sources of air pollution. The DG set retrofit which is the Carbon Cutter Machine is designed to curb PM emissions from DG sets. Likewise, we have products to address pollution of the vehicles and jaggery processing units and ambient air.

The Carbon Cutter for DG sets sounds interesting. Could you tell us more about it?
Simply put, the Carbon Cutter is a filter-less retro-fit device attached to the exhaust of a DG set. The DG gensets pollution emission passes through a processing cylinder where our proprietary technology converts it to carbon powder which is stored in a container. This carbon can be further recycled. In conclusion, it reduces the PM 2.5 and PM 10 emissions by more than 80 per cent and can be customized depending on the capacity of the DG set. Carbon Cutter might not be the only solution in this space.

What are the other options available in the market to reduce such emissions?
Carbon Cutter is not the only solution. There are a few filter- and solvent-based solutions as well. What sets us apart is our product's sustainability and reliability in the long run.

What are the drawbacks of filter-based retrofits?
Let me explain. One of the major drawbacks of a filter-based solution is that the filters tend to choke over time. Once they get choked, they don't allow the passage of the incoming smoke, creating a lot of back pressure consequently, the system will be forced to open a bypass valve or activate a partial flow that simply lets the emissions out directly into the atmosphere without any treatment. In an instant, the efficiency of such a system drops from 70 per cent to zero.

Filter-less means that the product requires significantly lesser maintenance. Carbon Cutter does not clog, there is no backpressure, needs no replacement, water connection or chemicals of any sort.

While that sounds impressive, it also seems quite sophisticated. Will the initial cost of buying and installing the Carbon Cutter be more expensive than other solutions?
Not at all. In fact, the Carbon Cutter is remarkable value for money because it is at least 30 per cent more affordable than any other solution. Especially when you take into consideration that it offers consistent levels of pollution reduction efficiency and needs lower maintenance when compared to other products.

What is the test of efficacy of the retrofit devices? As a customer, how does one know which device meets the criteria laid down in the Government?
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has appointed five institutions to test the efficacy of the retrofit devices namely, Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI), International Center for Automotive Technology (ICAT), Indian Oil Corporation R & D Center, Indian Institute of Petroleum, Vehicle Research and Development Establishment. Any retrofit device which reduces PM emissions from DG sets by at least 70 per cent in tests conducted by either one of the above, is compliant as per the norms laid down by the National Green Tribunal (NGT). We have planned a 5 mode D 2 cycle test in the next month with one of the above institutions. In an earlier development test with one of these agencies the CCM has reported over 90% efficiency in PM reduction.

The gensets itself are fairly large equipment, so, how much space will the Carbon Cutter need to be retro-fitted to an existing genset?
The Carbon Cutter is an extremely modular piece of equipment. As it is a customised solution, we make optimum utilisation of the space allotted to us by our clients. In our experience, space allocation has not been a challenge.

Does Pi Green have other products to reduce air pollution?
Certainly. Carbon Cutter is only one part of our product portfolio.
* We have also developed a filterless Carbon Cutter retrofit for heavy vehicles to reduce exhaust emissions.
* RepAir is another product that uses a variation of the same filter-less technology to purify ambient air in large and open spaces. It can be installed in public places such as metro stations, bus stations, airports, public parks etc. RepAir also has an ultraviolet chamber that neutralises harmful bacteria and viruses from the surrounding air and helps maintain cleaner air in the vicinity.
* We have also developed a device for reducing emissions from pollution-intensive jaggery processing units.

Device for reducing emissions from Jaggery processing units? Can you elaborate?
In India, there are approximately eighty thousand to one lakh jaggery processing units which cause pollution in rural areas. These units are majorly concentrated in states of Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Punjab. These jaggery processing units lack any kind of emission control infrastructure such as chimneys or exhaust systems causing considerable particulate matter emissions.
Pi Green Innovations has developed a filterless device specifically to address this problem, which will ensure 80-90 per cent reduction in PM emissions from these jaggery processing units. We are looking to collaborate with government bodies and private organizations as part of their CSR initiatives in order to install these units to curb emissions from these Jaggery processing units thereby creating a positive impact at the grassroot level.

What are your future plans?
We see a lot of potential for sustainable air purification technologies in India and on a global scale as well and are looking to add innovative products to our existing portfolio. We are exploring specific opportunities in the UK and Europe where our technology can bring about positive change. We are also looking to raise further rounds of investments from institutional investors. Our endeavor will always be to contribute significantly towards improving the air quality in India and globally.
This story is provided by Mediawire. ANI will not be responsible in any way for the content of this article. (ANI/Mediawire)

Deeply touched by your warm words: Shinzo Abe responds to PM Modi

PM Narendra Modi with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe (File Photo)

Tokyo [Japan], August 31 (ANI): Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday said he was deeply touched by the warm words of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had earlier wished him a speedy recovery.

"I am deeply touched by your warm words, Prime Minister @narendramodi. I wish you all the best and hope our artnership will be further enhanced," Shinzo Abe said in a tweet.

Abe, the longest-serving Japanese Prime Minister, is stepping down due to ulcerative colitis, a chronic disease which earlier forced him to resign from the post of the premiership in 2007.

The 65-year-old leader said on Friday that he will continue to carry out his duties until the LDP elects its new leader, who will subsequently become the new prime minister.

On August 28, PM Modi had tweeted to wish a speedy recovery for Abe.

"Pained to hear about your ill health, my dear friend @AbeShinzo. In recent years, with your wise leadership and personal commitment, the India-Japan partnership has become deeper and stronger than ever before. I wish and pray for your speedy recovery," PM Modi had said in his tweet. (ANI)

Is Pakistan losing Riyadh?

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and Saudi King Salman holding talks in Riyadh last year

By Francesca Marino
Rome [Italy], August 31 (ANI): "Pakistan can no longer wait ... I respectfully remind the OIC (Organization of the Islamic Cooperation) once again that we are expecting a meeting of foreign ministers belonging to the member countries of the organization. If you cannot do it, I will be forced to ask Prime Minister Imran Khan to hold a meeting of Islamic countries ready to stand by us on the question of Kashmir".

Speaking like this, during a television talk-show, was the Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmud Qureshi who, with an unprecedented externalization, shattered a ten-year protocol of relations between Pakistan and the Saudi "big brother" and gave the launch of a series of speculations on the geopolitical order or re-order of the region.

The Saudis, to tell the truth, did not take well the appeal of Qureshi which was seen as a real "sgarro" by the historical "younger brothers" and, as an immediate retaliation, they were quick to request the sudden repayment of a billion dollar loan renegotiated just six months ago.

Islamabad, cornered, asked the Chinese for the loan and repaid the debt. But, just to make things clear, it is only a drop in the sea of the six and more billion dollars of debt that Islamabad has with Saudi Arabia. Over the years, the alliance between Saudis and Islamabad has in fact been more or less indisputable postulate. An intricate web of financial and military relations has always existed between the two countries.

For Riyadh, the more or less remote control over Pakistan is of fundamental strategic importance, since it borders on Iran for about nine hundred kilometers. And that Islamabad is the only Muslim state to possess the atomic bomb and the largest and best-equipped Muslim army (mainly thanks to the West) in the world.

Pakistan has always guaranteed aid to Riyadh and trained Saudi troops. Riyadh, in exchange, obviously opened the purse strings by abundantly financing Islamabad and guaranteeing oil supplies at bargain prices. It also financed the Pakistani nuclear program: directly, but also by flying to the rescue of Islamabad at the time of the sanctions imposed by the United States in the aftermath of the nuclear tests. And it hosts, moreover, thousands of Pakistani workers.

Thus, strong of historical ties, a few days after the Qureshi gaffe, the Army Chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, and the ISI commander, Lieutenant General Faeez Hameed flew to Riyadh: officially to discuss military cooperation with their Saudi counterparts, actually trying to heal the rift created by their foreign minister.

Mohammad bin Salman, however, the "Saudi brother" to whom Imran Khan had acted as a personal driver on his last triumphal trip to Islamabad, said he was too busy to receive them. Not only that: MbS also invited Pakistan, in the press, to "downsize" its relations with China and to "let go of the Chinese" by ceasing to support them in skirmishes, military and otherwise, on the border with India.

It also seems that the Saudis have warned Islamabad not to support China with regard to investment projects for about 400 billion dollars in Iran. The Pakistani Foreign Ministry promptly denied it, but no one believed him.

Apparently, not only were Bajwa and Hameed's apologies not accepted, but the renewed proposal for a council of Arab countries on Kashmir once again fell on deaf ears. Result: not only Qureshi, as many thought, did not lose his job.

But, on the return of the scorned generals, he promptly flew to Beijing to meet his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi. In fact, China is now the only country, together with Erdogan's Islamized and dictatorial Turkey, which declares itself ready to defend the friendship "as deep as the sea and as high as the Himalayas" with Pakistani generals. Because the world is changing, the economy is an absolute priority and the alliance is based on this and not on age-old questions of principle.

So not only the Saudis seem to privilege the close economic ties with India and the alliance with the USA in opposing Iran, but also the Arab Emirates, with which Islamabad has tried to make a common front against the Saudis, have "betrayed" the cause by signing an agreement that normalizes relations with Israel.

If the Palestinian cause is ignored, said Imran Khan, "we will soon be forced to abandon any claim on Kashmir". And this, for Islamabad, is unacceptable. And it is also unacceptable for Beijing, which has appropriated a piece of Kashmir and is trying to occupy pieces of Indian territory to facilitate the Belt and Road Initiative.

But at this point, Pakistan- many say- risks ending up like the earthenware pot between superpowers, and being shattered earlier, long before the dragon flag flies over Islamabad and not just Gwadar.

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this column are strictly those of the author) (ANI)

Indian High Commission in Bangladesh organises Book Gifting Session on Sheikh Mujibur Rehman to mark Mujib Borsho

To mark Mujib Borsho, HCI Dhaka organised a Book Gifting Session on Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (Picture tweeted by Indian High Commission)

Dhaka [Bangladesh], August 31 (ANI): Indian High Commission in Dhaka, Bangladesh organised a Book Gifting Session on Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to mark Mujib Borsho.

"To mark Mujib Borsho, HCI Dhaka organised a Book Gifting Session on Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the Liberation War for 100 Universities & Colleges across Bangladesh," Indian High Commission said in a tweet.

Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh, Riva Ganguly Das described Bangabandhu as the founder of modern Bangladesh.

"High Commissioner of India to Bangladesh, Smt. Riva Ganguly Das @rivagdas described Bangabandhu as the founder of modern Bangladesh and hoped for the books to inspire Bangladeshi youth to realise Bangabandhu's vision of 'Sonar Bangla'," said Indian High Commission.

Mohibul Hasan Chowdhury, Dy Min of Education, Bangladesh while addressing the event, hailed India-Bangladesh ties as incomparable.

"Keynote Speaker, H.E. Barrister Mohibul Hasan Chowdhury, Dy Min of Education, Govt of Bangladesh spoke on Bangabandhu and his message for the Post Liberation Generation. Lauding @ihcdhaka for this initiative, he hailed #IndiaBangladesh relations as incomparable," said the Indian High Commission.

"Among the 100 Universities, which joined in, Vice Chancellors of BUET, CUET, Khulna Univ, Rajshahi Univ, Shahjalal Univ of S&T and CVASU spoke on the occasion," it added.

During the visit of Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla to Bangladesh on August 18 and 19, the discussions centred around the 100th birth anniversary of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 2020 and 50 years of the liberation of Bangladesh and the establishment of diplomatic ties between India and Bangladesh in 2021.

According to an official statement by the Ministry of External Affairs, during the two-day visit Shringla also announced India's plans to issue a commemorative stamp on Bangabandhu during Mujib Barsho. (ANI)

Israeli-US delegation flies to UAE

Flags of US and ISrael

Jerusalem [Israel], August 31 (ANI/Xinhua): An Israeli delegation, joined by senior US officials, departed from Tel Aviv on Monday to Abu Dhabi in Israel's first commercial flight to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Flight LY971, a direct flight operated by Israel's national airline carrier El Al, departed at around 10:30 am (local time).

The two-day visit will include working meetings of the joint teams ahead of the signing of cooperation deals following the US-brokered agreement to normalise ties between Israel and UAE, which was announced on August 13.

A statement from the Israeli Prime Minister's Office, ahead of the departure, said the meetings will focus on issues related to "the civil and economic spheres."

The visit will also include a trilateral meeting in Abu Dhabi between the heads of the delegations: Israel's chief of National Security Council Meir Ben Shabbat, US National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien and Senior US Presidential Advisor Jared Kushner, and UAE National Security Advisor Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

The discussions will be held in working groups composed of Israeli, Emirati and US representatives in the areas of diplomacy, finances, aviation and entry visas, health, culture and tourism, space, science and investments, innovation and trade, according to the Israeli Prime Minister's Office.

"Our goal is to achieve a joint work plan to promote the relationship in a very wide range of areas," head of the Israeli delegation Meir Ben Shabbat said in a statement ahead of the departure.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that his country held secret talks with "many more" Arab states on normalising relations. "There are many more unpublicised meetings with Arab and Muslim leaders," Netanyahu said during joint remarks in Jerusalem alongside Kushner and O'Brien. (ANI/Xinhua)

China attempting to militarise space

People's Liberation Army troops (File photo)

Hong Kong, August 31 (ANI): In line with its ambition to have a modernised military, China is trying to dominate space, which is visible from the number of space launches that it has been carrying out over the years.

China is the country that conducted the greatest number of space launches in 2018 and 2019, and this year it has already launched 22 space vehicles out of a planned 40. What China does not admit to is that its ambitious space programme is under the control of the People's Liberation Army (PLA).

China's space programme had an estimated budget of USD8 billion last year, trailing only that of the US. This money has produced impressive achievements too. Last year, China landed its Chang'e-4 rover on the far side of the Moon, permitting the nation to be labelled a leading player in space and raising the sphere as a domain of strategic competition.

More recently, on June 23, China launched its final BeiDou satellite to complete global coverage of its dual-use (i.e. civilian and military) precision navigation and timing (PMT) system. There are currently 30 BeiDou satellites in orbit, enabling five main functions: real-time navigation, rapid positioning, precise timing, location reporting and short message communication. BeiDou certainly helps the PLA immensely as it seeks to operate in far-flung regions.

The Jamestown Foundation, a US think-tank, hosted a webinar on August 19 entitled "China's Space Ambitions: Emerging Dimensions of Competition." One presenter, Dean Cheng, Senior Research Fellow at The Heritage Foundation, noted that Beijing's space programme is linked to China's central concept of comprehensive national power. "This is basically how the Chinese think about how they rack and stack, how they compare with other countries."

China recognises that military power is important, but it is not the only factor in being a great power. Cheng drew a parallel with the former USSR, where military power alone did not ensure survival of that communist state. Other comprehensive national power factors are political unity, economic power, diplomatic strength, science and technology, and even culture. "Space touches every one of these aspects in comprehensive national power, and that is a part of why Chinese see space as so important."

Indeed, a strong space industrial complex will generate benefits that ripple through the rest of China's economy. Furthermore, he said space achievements "promote pride within China, especially for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) ... It's symbolic of how far China has come," he said, and "it gives the CCP legitimacy".

China is pushing into space services, including satellite launches, satellite applications and Earth observation/satellite imagery for others. Satellite customers include Belarus, Laos, Pakistan and Venezuela, for example, attracting hard currency and influence. Cheng said most underestimate the impact this has, as such countries grow almost totally dependent on Chinese equipment, assets and training over time. Incidentally, China could have manufactured back doors into these systems for foreigners to allow it access.

Mark Stokes, Executive Director at the US-based Project 2049 Institute think-tank, said in the same webinar that PLA requirements have always been fundamental to development of Chinese space capabilities. Potential PLA space missions in support of joint warfighting in a crisis include targeting (battlefield surveillance, electronic reconnaissance and ocean surveillance), communications, PNT services (obtaining target data, navigation information, navigation support and timing services), space jamming (encompassing space communications, radar, electro-optical and PNT) and space protection.

Stokes said the end of 2015 was "significant" for Chinese space efforts because consolidation of end-users under the PLA's Strategic Support Force (PLASSF) occurred, specifically within the Space Systems Department. In terms of developing and meeting requirements, the PLASSF is now "much more efficient," the American analyst posited.

Indeed, China created its space force in 2015, just a few months after Russia. After formally establishing its Space Force in December 2019, the US is still getting its equivalent off the ground. Cheng said both China and Russia have been pushing to militarise space, even though such a term is probably meaningless given that 95 per cent of space technology has dual applications for both military and civilian use. Certainly, outer space can no longer be viewed as a sanctuary.

Stokes said that "not much has changed really in terms of the space launch infrastructure and the launch, tracking and control of space ... but they are now integrated with end-users, and that is going to have an effect on making the whole system more efficient."

China has freedom of action in space, and the creation of the PLASSF and consolidation of space/counter-space research, development and acquisition, as well as training and operations, have benefitted from a single integrated command. The PLA's ability to interfere with American military operations in places like Taiwan will continue to grow yearly.

Cheng said, "The Chinese see future war as revolving around joint operations, which are not just land, air and sea forces." They also include the outer space and electronic warfare domains, which are necessary for information dominance." China, therefore, wishes to deny an adversary like the US the use of space, plus it needs to give the Chinese military every advantage.

China has therefore developed the ability to target hostile space-based assets (from the ground or space) and their all-important data-links. Indeed, jamming and electronic warfare complement anti-satellite weapons (which China has already tested), any of which can achieve effective mission kills against US and allied satellites. Stokes has not yet ascertained which agency is responsible for satellite kinetic kills, but it could well be the PLA Rocket Force, which is traditionally very tightly controlled by the Central Military Commission.

A detailed report entitled China's Space and Counter-space Capabilities and Activities, prepared for the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, was published on March 30. Its authors, Mark Stokes, Gabriel Alvarado, Emily Weinstein and Ian Easton, summarised China's counter-space capabilities as follows.

"China has an operational counter-space capability that will evolve through 2020 and out to 2035. These capabilities include anti-satellite kinetic kill vehicles (KKV) and space electronic countermeasures ... On the non-kinetic side, the PLA has an operational ground-based satellite electronic countermeasures capability designed to disrupt adversary use of satellite communications, navigation, search and rescue, missile early warning and other satellites through use of jamming."

China obtained its first ground-based satellite jammers from Ukraine in the late 1990s, but it has developed its own solutions since then. "The PLA is capable of carrying out electronic countermeasures to disrupt, deny, deceive or degrade space services. Jamming prevents users from receiving intended signals and can be accomplished by attacking uplinks and downlinks.

The PLA and defence industry are developing and deploying jammers capable of targeting satellite communications over a large range of frequencies, including dedicated military communication bands. The PLASSF also has advanced cyber capabilities that could be applied in parallel with counter-space operations."

Nonetheless, the report asserted that the US still assumed a technological lead in space.
"China also is carrying out research, development and testing on potential space-based counter-space systems. The PLASSF and defense industry have carried out advanced satellite maneuvers and are likely testing orbital technologies that could be applied to counter-space operations." The PLASSF Network Systems Department probably oversees satellite jamming operations.

In a conflict, China could have the "option of augmenting existing space-based assets with microsatellites launched on solid-fueled launch vehicles". Such satellites weigh between 10 kg and 100 kg.

Asked what China might do if one of its satellites was attacked by the USA in a conflict, Cheng said that Beijing sees things differently from an American perspective. Indeed, China thinks more of using space to deter military action elsewhere - for example, it would see any hostile action in space as being tied to a geostrategic Taiwan or South China Sea issue. Cheng therefore saw it as more likely China would respond by downing an American drone or jamming GPS, since it sees space more holistically than a typical American tit-for-tat response.

This raises another question. Who is worse off if satellites were wiped from the slate? Geostrategically, China is focused on its border and maritime areas, and it is really only the US that is "playing an away game halfway round the world whether it is to help defend Taiwan or defend the Baltics," explained Cheng. That means the US must have space access, whereas it is not so pivotal for China. This underscores an asymmetry in space, with the USA the most vulnerable because of its dependency.

Stokes believes the US is ahead of China in general in terms of space technologies, but he identified two areas where China probably holds an advantage. One is in space electronic countermeasures, "with China and the PLA dedicating significant resources into this method of denying US ability to leverage its space assets". Another area is the near-space realm, stretching from approximately 20-30km to 100km above Earth.

Near-space assets provide similar capabilities to what China could get from space satellites for communications relay or surveillance/reconnaissance, and trans-atmospheric launch vehicles and hypersonic glide vehicles also utilise this space.
China is investing in different methods of producing electromagnetic pulses, including high-power microwave devices, although Stokes is uncertain if China has made a breakthrough in weaponising such systems.
Of enormous concern is China's cloak of secrecy. The aforementioned report noted, "The CCP conducts an active propaganda and deception campaign to conceal the drivers of its space programme, capabilities and operations. China's latest white paper on space activities, released in 2016, omitted any mention of the military and state security aspects of its space programme. The PRC's state media outlets routinely obscure the missions of military intelligence payloads, often reporting them as civilian satellites launched for scientific or economic purposes."

Yet, according to Chinese government sources, the national space programme is largely managed by the PLA, and Chinese space assets are probably assigned as either military or dual-use assets to be mobilised in the event of a crisis or war. China could issue a space white paper before the end of this year, but it will doubtlessly again gloss over military aspects.

More than that, China is actively seeking to steal or soak up foreign technology to boost its ambitions. The report's authors commented, "The CCP is executing a long-term strategy to exploit US technology, talent and capital to build up its military space and counter-space programmes and advance its strategic interests at the expense of the US. China's zero-sum pursuit of space superiority harms US economic competitiveness, weakens US military advantages and undermines strategic stability."

China tends to take a conservative incremental approach to its achievements in space -- "slow and steady" was how Stokes described it. Next year, China will release its 14th Five-Year Plan for 2021-25, which should list the nation's next space aspirations.

The prognosis is not good for China's adversaries. The report asserted, "As China's space capabilities improve, so too will its ability to conduct larger and more complex operations at greater distances from China. US policymakers should expect that by the early 2020s, space-based communications, navigation and intelligence assets will enhance the PLA's lethality across a range of scenarios and allow China to project power in West Africa, Central America, South America, Antarctica and the Arctic."

"Improved space architecture will enable the PLA to conduct precision strikes on targets at greater range, will guarantee Chinese forces access to PNT services provided by BeiDou instead of GPS, and could significantly expand the operational ranges of Chinese strategic forces. Secure satellite communications could support long-distance nuclear submarine patrols. They may also enable strategic bomber patrols and ground-based missile deployments overseas," the report said.

A US Navy aircraft carrier steaming to defend Taiwan, for instance, would come under greater threat as China improves its satellite spatial resolution in the Indo-Pacific region. Space-based sensors will also provide terminal guidance for ballistic and land-attack cruise missiles to even more precise degrees. The stealthy "star wars" threat from Beijing is very real. (ANI)

Despite China's criticism, Czech Senate President undetakes 6-day visit to Taiwan

Czech Senate President Milos Vystrcil along with the delegation in Taiwan (Photo credits: Tsai Ing-wen Twitter)

Taipei [Taiwan], August 31 (ANI): In a significant development, a delegation led by Czech Senate President Milos Vystrcil embarked on a six-day visit to Taiwan, despite China's criticism regarding the visit.

Vystrcil is on an official trip to Taiwan, which began on Sunday to promote business links and the visit marks the highest-level of exchange between the two countries to boost economic and cultural ties, Voice of America (VOA) reported.

Although the Czech Republic follows the one-China policy, it, however, maintains unofficial relations with Taiwan, which Beijing regards as its renegade province.

The Czech Senate President's visit even as China's "coercive diplomacy" in the European country is failing, according to observers, although it is yet to be seen whether other European nations would follow suit.

"This will be a trip to honour the spirits of late Czech President Vaclav Havel," Vystrcil told the 89-member delegation ahead of the visit, according to Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Havel, who was formerly a playwright, became the first Czech president in 1993. He was in prison for several years over his dissenting political views on civil activism, direct democracy and human rights -- values which Vystrcil said China does not believe in.

"My view is that if we focus on money, we will lose our values and the money, too," said Vystrcil, who is the second-highest official in the Czech Republic.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen extended her warm greetings to the delegation, saying that the people in Taiwan "look forward to furthering cooperation in all areas" with the visiting delegation in her Facebook post, according to VOA.

In response, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson had termed Vystrcil's visit as "despicable conduct".

On Sunday, China's state-run Global Times cited the Chinese Embassy in Czech Republic saying that Vystrcil made the visit "based on his own political calculation", thereby interfering in China's internal matters and violating the one-China policy, which says that the People's Republic of China (PRC) is the sole legitimate government in the whole of China.

"In my opinion, I think he (Vystrcil) wants to send a very strong message to China that Czech Republic is a free and democratic country and we do not like any country, no matter it is China or some small countries to tell us what we should do," said Karel Picha, a Czech who has lived in Taiwan for eight years and currently runs the only Czech cuisine restaurant in Taipei.

"We do not like any country to blackmail us by (saying), if you are gonna go to Taiwan, it will hurt you. So, it is a very strong statement to say that everything is not only about money," he told VOA, while noting that most Czech people support the visit.

Earlier today, China continued to issue negative and provocative comments regarding Vystrcil's visit to the Czech Republic, saying those who oppose the one-China policy will "pay a heavy price" for their moves.

"Those who attempt to challenge the one-China principle on the Taiwan question are making themselves enemies of the 1.4 billion Chinese people and will have to pay a heavy price for their moves," Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi was quoted as saying by CGTN.

This is not the first that Czech Republic has challenged the one-China policy.

In October last year, Beijing and Prague terminated their three-year-old twinning deal after the Czech capital unilaterally backed out of a clause on the one-China principle with several officials making "erroneous moves and inappropriate remarks" on issues like Taiwan and Tibet. After a few months, Shanghai also scrapped its sister-city relationship with Prague.

Disagreement on the agreement took place following the November 2018 municipal polls, which saw Zdenek Hrib from the Czech Pirate Party being elected as the new Prague mayor. Hrib called for amendments to the Beijing-Prague sister-city deal, suggesting the exclusion of the clause acknowledging the one-China principle, according to CGTN. (ANI)

Amid border tensions with India, China constructs missile site at Kailash-Mansarovar

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New York [US], August 31 (ANI): Amid tensions with India over the standoff in Eastern Ladakh sector, China has reportedly built a surface-to-air missile near a lake, which is a part of the Kailash-Mansarovar.

The development of the missile, according to experts, is a continuation of the aggressive provocation by the Chinese and it could further complicate the border tensions between the two countries, The Epoch Times reported.

Mount Kailash and Lake Mansarovar, commonly known as the Kailash-Mansarovar site is revered by four religions and is linked to culture and spiritual scriptures in India. While the Hindus consider the site as the abode of Shiva and his consort Parvati, the Tibetan Buddhists call the mountain Kang Rimpoche, the "Precious One of Glacial Snow," and revere it as the abode of Demchog and his consort, Dorje Phagmo.

The Jains call the mountain Astapada and consider it to be the place where the first of their 24 spiritual masters achieved liberation. The Bons, adherents of the pre-Buddhist religion of Tibet, term the mountain Tise and revere it the dwelling place of the sky goddess, Sipaimen.

The placing of the missile at the sacred site, which is also the origin of four transnational rivers -- Indus, Brahmaputra, Sutlej and Karnali, a major tributary of the Ganges, menaces India, which has refused to back down against Chinese aggression on the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

"In my view, first and foremost, it is a continuation of the Chinese provocation against India, which we are seeing all along from the LAC in Ladakh to the eastern and middle sector bordering areas with India," Priyajit Debsarkar, author and a geopolitical analyst with the London-based think tank Bridge India, told The Epoch Times in an e-mail.

"This move, of deploying a surface-to-air missile in Tibet, should not surprise us. It is pure authoritarian brinkmanship and provocation to India, which has refused to back down against Chinese threats and aggressive aggression," Debsarkar said.

India and China are engaged in a standoff since April-May over the transgressions by the Chinese Army in multiple areas including Finger area, Galwan valley, Hot springs and Kongrung Nala. In June, 20 Indian soldiers died in a violent face-off with Chinese troops in Eastern Ladakh.

Talks between the two sides have been going on for the last three months including five Lieutenant General-level talks but have failed to yield any results, so far.

Aparna Pande, a research fellow and the director of the Washington-based Hudson Institute's Initiative on the Future of India and South Asia, told the newspaper that China does not respect and believe in religion and culture.

"We have to bear in mind that the Chinese do not care about Christianity. They do not care about any of the ancient Chinese practices. They believe religion is the opium of the masses and the only ideology they care about is their form of communism," Pande said.

"They don't care about symbols and symbolism except those that are tied to the Chinese Communist Party," she was quoted as saying.

Harsh Pant, a New Delhi-based strategic analyst with the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), echoed similar sentiments and stated that China's move of creating military infrastructure at Kailash-Mansarovar will only intensify the anti-China sentiment within India.

"The fact that this happens to be one of the most sacred religious sites for the Hindus is also indicative of the disdain Beijing has for Indian sentiments," Pant said.

"This is only going to accentuate tensions in an already troubled relationship and will not only make Indian public even more antagonistic to China but will also make Indian policymakers even more determined to stand up to China," he added.

The missile base at Kailash-Mansarovar is a part of China's greater militarisation of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), according to Girish Kant Pandey, professor of defence studies at the Pandit Ravishankar Shukla University in Raipur.

"The missile mounted near Kailash-Mansarovar is called DF-21. It is a medium-range, 2,200 kilometres ballistic missile. Its advantage is that it can cover all cities of north India, including New Delhi," Pandey told The Epoch Times over the phone.

From 2006 to 2010, China carried out 180 strategic projects, which it did not mention in its defence budgets. These projects include constructing four large airstrips, 14 small airstrips and 17 radar stations on the India-China frontier from east to west, Pandey said.

Nepal exports electricity worth a billion Nepali rupees to India in last fiscal

Representative Image

Kathmandu [Nepal], August 31 (ANI): Nepal has exported electricity worth one billion Nepali rupees to India in the last fiscal year, according to a report published by the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA).

In 2076-77 (2019-20) fiscal year, Nepal was able to export electricity worth 95 crores 70 lakhs Nepali rupees to India as per a power deal signed by the two countries.

Earlier, the Himalayan nation had set a target of selling nine crore units of electricity while it was able to send 10 crores and 70 lakh units last year, the NEA report said.

"Nepal exported a total of two crores and 96 lakh units of electricity to India between mid-September and November, which was the highest flow of electricity during the fiscal year of 2076-77. The least was recorded between mid-April and May when 10,000 thousand units were only exported," Prabal Adhikari, spokesperson at NEA, said.

"It was transported to India via Kushwaha-Kataiya, Parwanipur-Raxaul, Dhalkebar-Muzaffarpur and Ramnagar," he added.

In 2072-73 (2015-16) fiscal year, Nepal exported 31 lakh units of electricity, 26 lakhs 90 thousand units in 2073-74 (2016-17), 29 lakhs 40 thousand in 2074-75 (2017-18), three crores 47 lakh in 2075-76 (2018-19) and 10 crores 70 lakh units to India in 2076-77 (2019-20).

This has shown Nepal's increased income from power sector by selling it to India because of favourable terrain and interconnectivity.

Nepal and India previously had a capacity to ferry 350 MW electricity using the trans-border connectivity line, which has been expanded to 1,500 MW. Both countries are involved in a study over an additional cross-border connectivity line, which has been named as Butwal-Gorakhpur Mainhiya-Sampatiya, Inaruwa-Purniya, Lamki-Bareli and Kohalpur-Nanpara transmission lines. (ANI)

Flood death toll rises to 251 in Bangladesh

A total of 251 people have been killed in floods caused by heavy seasonal rains and onrush of water in parts of Bangladesh, said a government report.

Dhaka [Bangladesh], Aug 31 (ANI/Xinhua): A total of 251 people have been killed in floods caused by heavy seasonal rains and onrush of water in parts of Bangladesh, said a government report. According to the daily flood report of the country's Health Emergency Operation Centre and Control Room under the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) on Sunday, three waves of devastating floods since June 30 have claimed the lives in 33 Bangladeshi districts.

Most victims were drowned but some died due to snake bites and lightning in the flood-hit areas, said the authorities. Sarder Udoy Raihan, Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB) executive engineer, said the country's overall flood situation had improved in most of the districts with water levels in many rivers receding. Floodwaters have continued to recede, improving the situation considerably, he added.

Since June, official data showed that the floods triggered by heavy seasonal rains and onrush of water from hills have left a trail of death, misery and destruction. The daily disaster situation report prepared by the country's National Disaster Response Coordination Centre (NDRCC) under the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief said over five million people had been affected by the floods while thousands of families were forced to flee their homes.

Also, the loss of crops due to floods in Bangladesh has been put at 13.23 billion taka (about 156.4 million US dollars). Millions of people in Bangladesh, crisscrossed by hundreds of rivers, suffer from flooding as the low-lying country experiences seasonal floods every year during the June-September monsoon when rivers that feed into the Bay of Bengal burst their banks.

US to provide military assistance if China attacks in South China Sea: Philippines

South China Sea (File Photo)

Manila [Philippines], August 31 (ANI): In a strong message to China, the Philippines have made it clear that it would turn to the US for military help during ongoing flare-ups between Manila and Beijing in the South China Sea.

Philippines Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr said Manila would invoke its defence agreement with the US if China attacks its naval vessels in the disputed waters. "If something happens that is beyond incursion but is, in fact, an attack on say a Filipino naval vessel.....means then I call up Washington DC," he added.

Since 1951, the US and the Philippines have had a Mutual Defence Treaty that commits them to support each other in the event if either is attacked.

The comments by the Philippines Foreign Secretary marks the first time President Rodrigo Duterte administration openly declaring its intention to side with the US against Chinese expansionist agenda.
The Foreign Secretary said Manila would continue air patrols over the South China Sea despite Beijing calling it an illegal provocation.

"They can call it an illegal provocation, you cannot change their minds. They already lost the arbitral award," he said referring to the 2016 decision by an international tribunal that ruled against China's expansive claims to the South China Sea.

Locsin also said the US' military presence in Asia is needed as the rivalry between Washington and Beijing has intensified. He added it would be in Philippine's interest for the US to maintain its military presence in the region and he reiterated the country "never stopped cooperation" with its long-time security ally. "We have a balance of power situation, we need the US presence in Asia," he stated.

The two powers are arguing over issues from trade to what the US sees as aggressive moves by China's armed forces, especially in the disputed South China Sea and around Chinese-claimed Taiwan.

The US has long opposed China's territorial claims on the South China Sea, regularly sending warships to demonstrate freedom of navigation there. It hardened its position last month by rejecting Chinese maritime claims in the South China Sea, a move which Beijing condemned.

On August 24, Philippines Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana accused China of illegally occupying Filipino maritime territory and said, "China's nine-dash line used to claim most of the South China Sea is a fabrication." The remarks came amid a fresh row between both countries over the disputed Scarborough Shoal, which has been a flashpoint since long.

The Philippines Foreign Ministry lodged a diplomatic protest last week over what it said was the illegal confiscation by China's coastguard of fishing equipment near the shoal.

China condemned patrols in the South China Sea and declared it's beyond reproach and air patrols by the Philippines infringe on its sovereignty. Beijing defended the coast guard's activities and urged Manila to immediately stop what it described as illegal provocations.

Lorenzana made it clear that the area was within the country's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). "Their (China's) so-called historical rights over an area enclosed by their nine-line does not exist except in their imagination," he said.

"Our fishermen are within our EEZ and likewise our ships and planes conduct patrol sorties within our area. They (China) are the ones who have been doing provocations by illegally occupying some features within our EEZ. Hence, they have no right to claim they are enforcing their laws," he further added.

In 2012, China had seized Scarborough from the Philippines following a tense stand-off. The shoal, one of the region's richest fishing grounds, is located 240 kilometres west of Philippines' main island of Luzon and 650 kilometres from the nearest major Chinese landmass, the southern island province of Hainan, is one of the region's richest fishing grounds.

China claims most of the sea, often invoking its so-called nine-dash line to justify its alleged historic rights to the key waterway that is also contested by the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan and Brunei. It rejected a 2016 UN-backed tribunal's ruling that its claims were without legal basis. (ANI)

Techwave launches Tax e-Invoice Solution for Indian businesses

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Hyderabad (Telangana) [India], Aug 31 (ANI/BusinessWire India): Techwave Consulting Inc, a leading global IT services and solutions company revolutionizing digital transformations, announced that the launching of "TAX-IN Solution" as an extension of its SAP Solutions and Services for the Indian market.

Starting October 01, 2020, electronic invoicing will be mandatory for B2B taxpayers with a turnover of over 500 crores.

Techwave released its India Specific Tax solution which will ease the customer integration with the e-invoice (IRP), eWay bill and GSTIN Portal for all validations and updates in real time. The integrated cockpit approach allows customer to manage their taxation needs using a single SAP transaction.

Introduction of new e-Invoice process from GOI has following impact on the processes:
Real-time reporting of transactions for the purpose of authentication even to run day to day business
Same transaction data to be readily available for the purposes of Compliance and E-way Bill
Integration with IT systems along with write-back becomes critical
Record availability of the transactions and changes made to them
Changes to invoices can be done only within 24 hours; After that CN/DN is required
Need for validations before generating invoices
Need for robust processes and controls
Integration of input tax credit with e-Invoicing
Techwave India Tax solution will ensure that business is ready for all the changes with limited impact on the existing process. The solution framework is highly configurable to allow customers to pick and choose the components they would like to implement, namely,
eInvoice Solution
eWay Bill
GST Reconciliation and Validations
Customer/Data Sanity Validation based on the GST Records

Techwave's e-Invoice Solution designed for SAP provides a seamless and real-time experience with nil dependence on cloud infrastructure and additional hardware. The solution is easy to use, fully configurable, secure and scalable with a quick turnaround time.

Techwave's team of 450 plus SAP consultants with more than 20 years of SAP know-how possess deep-rooted expertise across domains to address any issues with robust support.

Join a special webinar on Sep 03 at 11:00 AM IST to know more about becoming e-Invoice compliant.

This story is provided by BusinessWire India. ANI will not be responsible in any way for the content of this article. (ANI/BusinessWire India)

Japan mulls picking new Prime Minister September 17

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (File Photo)

Tokyo [Japan], Aug 31 (ANI/Xinhua): Japan is considering to hold an extraordinary parliamentary session on September 17 to pick the country's new Prime Minister to succeed Shinzo Abe, local media reported on Sunday.

According to public broadcaster NHK, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is expected to decide when and how to choose its next leader in a General Council meeting on September 1.

Meanwhile, LDP top officials are making final arrangements to have its members in both houses of the Diet meet around September 13-15 to choose the party's president. Then, the party plans to call an extraordinary parliamentary session to elect the new prime minister on September 17, according to the report.

Currently, LDP Policy Research Council Chairperson Fumio Kishida and former LDP Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba have shown interest in running in the party's presidential race. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga is also seen as a potential candidate. (ANI/Xinhua)

Uyghur diaspora in US protest against China's ethnic cleansing of minorities in Xinjiang

Members of Uyghur community during a protest in the US (Video grab source: Voice of East Turkestan Youtube Channel)

Washington/New York [US], Aug 31 (ANI): Members of the Uyghur community in Washington and New York protested against China's ethnic cleansing of minorities in the northwestern region of Xinjiang and called on the US government and the United Nations to take more action against Beijing.

"August 29 marks the fourth anniversary of Chen Quanguo's transfer from Tibet to East Turkistan, (the) so-called Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region's Chinese Communist Party (CCP) chief who was the mastermind behind the building of concentration camps, prisons, Uyghur forced labour and high-tech surveillance, the police state as we know it today," Salih Hudayar, the founder of the Washington-based Uyghur organisation East Turkistan National Awakening Movement, told Voice of America (VOA).

Hudayar organised the protests in front of the US State Department in Washington and UN headquarters in New York.

"We want both the US government and UN to recognise the atrocities as genocide and call on the international community and governments in many countries to break their silence and stand up against China," Hudayar added.

Last month, the US imposed sanctions on Chen Quanguo and two other Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials over human rights abuses in Xinjiang.

A protestor in Washington named Aziz Sulayman told VOA that his 33-year-old brother Alim Sulayman, 47-year-old brother-in-law Yehya Kurban and 31-year-old cousin Ekram Yarmuhammed were taken by Chinese authorities in 2016 and have not been found since then.

"My brother was a dentist, my brother-in-law was a businessman and my cousin was a graduate from a medical school. They did not need any vocational training or re-education as China lied to the world," said Aziz Sulayman, 49.

He said he has not been in contact with his mother and five sisters since late 2016.

"I do not know whether my entire family is still alive or dead. We are here to show the world that what the CCP is committing in our homeland against our loved ones meets the criteria of the UN Genocide Convention," Sulayman was quoted as saying.

According to the UN, genocide is defined as any of the several acts "committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group."

Recently, members of the Tibetan and Uyghur community in the United Kingdom organised a 'Black Day' protest outside the United Nations office in London to mark the ninth anniversary of 'heinous crimes against humanity' in Tibet and East Turkistan by Chen Quanguo.

The protest was held under the aegis of Tibetan Community UK, the World Uyghur Congress (WUC) and Global Alliance for Tibet and Persecuted Minorities (GATPM). The protesters held banners saying "Long Live friendship of Tibet and East Turkistan", "Say no to internment Camps" and save the "Uyghur people".

China has been criticised for cracking down on Uyghurs by sending them to mass detention camps, interfering in their religious activities and sending members of the community to undergo some form of forceful re-education or indoctrination.

In the past, US officials have denounced CCP's treatment of Uyghurs with Secretary of State Michael Pompeo describing the ethnic cleansing of the community as the "stain of the century" and condemned it as "a human rights violation on a scale we have not seen since the Second World War," VOA reported. (ANI)

DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences presents NutriScholars Awards 2020

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New Delhi [India], Aug. 31 (ANI/PRNewswire): DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences is proud to announce the third edition of DuPont NutriScholars Award (DNA) 2020, a pan-India food science program that facilitates knowledge exchange and drives innovation among the country's food academics. F1rstMR Business Analytics (F1rst) will administer the program as an execution partner, together with DuPont Food & Beverage Innovation team.

DNA 2020 invites budding food technologists from academic institutions across the country to put their knowledge and skills to the test in plant-based protein themed projects, centered around consumer consumption occasions.

Winning entries will be judged based on product innovativeness, commercial viability and improvements made in taste and texture using one or more of DuPont™ Danisco® range of protein and functional ingredients during the development process.

"Indian diets are carbohydrate rich and most Indians are not consuming enough protein to meet their RDA requirement; and it has been our constant endeavor to develop technologies and work along with food industry to fortify foods. Plant-based soy protein, for instance, is relevant across lifespan from infants/children to senior population with its nutrition and health benefits," said Karuna Jayakrishna, innovation leader, South Asia, DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences.

"DNA 2020 highlights this very importance of plant-based proteins for an everyday balanced diet. DuPont is committed to motivate design and creative thinking among future food scientists and technologists, providing them a hands-on experience", Karuna Jayakrishna added.

The DuPont NutriScholars Award 2020 features four distinctive award categories:
Convenient and nutritious breakfast
Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) style lunch/dinner
Healthier desserts/indulgences
4 PM healthy savory snacks

The DuPont NutriScholars Awards were previously held in 2017 and 2018. In 2017, the awards program encouraged ideation of ethnic Indian food and beverage concepts, followed by bakery food innovation challenge in 2018. Roadshows and student interactions were organized in 19 colleges and university campuses.

In total, more than 200 proposals were submitted, and the awards program mentored over 80 teams in innovative food product development and troubleshooting. DNA 2020 will now reach out to more than 300 universities and academies across the country.

The winning team in each award category will be announced in December 2020. The adjudicating panel in the grand finale includes industry experts from leading food companies, academicians, scientists, and DuPont representatives.

"DuPont distinguishes itself with world-class product innovation and application development," said Anurag Jain, business director, South Asia, DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences.

"We have a broad portfolio of ingredient offerings created with differentiated technologies and a robust innovation pipeline. We are delighted to announce the third edition of DNA and continue collaborative research with Indian food science academia. It's a journey towards building food strategies of the future and driving innovation in food science," Anurag Jain added.

This story is provided by PRNewswire. ANI will not be responsible in any way for the content of this article. (ANI/PRNewswire)

Over dozen new coronavirus cases reported in China

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Beijing [China], Aug 31 (ANI/Sputnik): China has registered 17 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours and all of them have been imported, while another 24 COVID-19 patients have recovered over that period, the country's National Health Commission said on Monday.

China's total number of confirmed coronavirus cases now stands at 85,048 and the death toll is 4,634. The total number of recovered individuals in the country stands at 80,177. The total number of imported cases is 2,499.

More than 230 COVID-19 patients remain hospitalised in China.

On Sunday, China reported nine new coronavirus cases (all imported) and 27 new recoveries. On Saturday, the country recorded nine new cases of the disease and 35 new recoveries.

In the past 24 hours, China confirmed 19 new asymptomatic coronavirus cases (all imported). More than 330 asymptomatic coronavirus patients are currently being monitored in the country. (ANI/Sputnik)

GVK signs pact to cooperate with Adani in relation to Mumbai airport

GVK has presence across energy, airports, transportation, hospitality and life sciences (Photo: ANI)

Hyderabad (Telangana) [India], Aug 31 (ANI): GVK Power and Infrastructure Ltd said on Monday that the company along with its subsidiaries GVK Airport Developers Ltd (GVKADL) and GVK Airport Holdings Ltd have agreed to cooperate with Adani Airport Holdings Ltd, the flagship holding company of Adani Group for its airports business and a subsidiary of Adani Enterprises Ltd.

The terms of cooperation include acquisition of debt by Adani from various GVK lenders including a Goldman Sachs led consortium and HDFC. The move will release GVK of various obligations, securities and corporate guarantees given in respect of debt to be acquired by Adani.

Adani will convert the acquired debt to equity of GVKADL on mutually agreed terms, subject to obtaining necessary regulatory approvals. The infusion of funds by Adani into Mumbai International Airport Ltd (MAIL) will provide liquidity support.

The financial closure will be achieved of the Navi Mumbai International Airport project by Adani at the earliest in order to commence construction, GVK said in a statement.

"The aviation industry has been severely impacted by COVID-19, setting it back by many years and has impacted the financials of MAIL," said GVK Founder and Chairman G V K Reddy.

"It was therefore important that we bring in a financially strong investor in the shortest possible time to improve the financial position of MIAL as well as to help achieve financial closure of Navi Mumbai International Airport project which is a project of national importance," he said.

"It is under these circumstances that we agreed to cooperate with Adani so as to achieve these twin objectives. Further, when the transaction is consummated which is subject to customary approvals, we will be reducing a significant portion of liabilities to our lenders which is of utmost importance to the group."

Separately, GVK notified the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, National Investment and Infrastructure Fund and PSP that the transaction documents stand terminated as it is no longer effective and implementable.

GVK said the terms of transaction envisaged in the transaction documents were not implementable and the alternative proposals discussed will not provide a resolution to the lenders of ADL by August-end which was a requirement of our lenders. (ANI)

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