Category Archives: India

(BBC) Pakistan-India: Pakistan ‘shoots down two Indian jets’ over Kashmir


Pakistan soldiers by what Pakistan says is a downed Indian jet
Image captionPakistani soldiers by what Pakistan says is wreckage from a downed Indian jet

Pakistan says it has shot down two Indian Air Force jets in a major escalation of the Kashmir conflict.

A spokesman said one plane had fallen inside Pakistani territory and two pilots had been captured. India has not yet given details. Pakistan has denied reports one of its jets was shot down.

Both India and Pakistan claim all of Kashmir, but control only parts of it.

The nuclear powers have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947. All but one were over Kashmir.

The aerial attacks across the Line of Control (LoC) dividing Indian and Pakistani territory are the first since a war in 1971.

They follow a militant attack in Kashmir which killed 40 Indian troops – the deadliest to take place during a three-decade insurgency against Indian rule in Kashmir. A Pakistan-based group said it carried out the attack.

The BBC’s Soutik Biswas, in Delhi, says the challenge for India and Pakistan now is to contain the latest escalation before things get completely out of control.

What’s the latest?

Pakistan’s information ministry published but subsequently deleted a video purporting to show one of the Indian pilots that the Pakistani military says it has captured.

In the video, the pilot – who is blindfolded and appears to have blood on his face – identifies himself as Wing-Commander Abhinandan.

Image purportedly showing captured Indian pilot
Image captionPakistan’s information ministry tweeted a video purporting to show a captured Indian pilot

The ministry also tweeted what it said was footage of one of the downed Indian jets.Skip Twitter post by @MoIB_Official

Embedded video

Information Ministry@MoIB_Official

Wreckges of Indian fighter planes burning. Well done Pakistan Air Force. The entire nation is proud of you.7646:59 AM – Feb 27, 2019298 people are talking about thisTwitter Ads info and privacyReport

End of Twitter post by @MoIB_Official

Pakistan’s assertion that it had shot down two Indian aircraft came shortly after Islamabad said its warplanes had struck targets in Indian territory.

Pakistan said it had “taken strikes at [a] non-military target, avoiding human loss and collateral damage”.

Indian authorities said the Pakistani jets had been pushed back.

In a briefing, Maj Gen Ghafoor said that Pakistan “had no alternative to respond” to Tuesday’s Indian air strikes on its territory.

However he said Pakistan had not hit Indian military targets because “we don’t want to go on the path of war”.Skip Twitter post by @OfficialDGISPR

Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor@OfficialDGISPR

In response to PAF strikes this morning as released by MoFA, IAF crossed LOC. PAF shot down two Indian aircrafts inside Pakistani airspace. One of the aircraft fell inside AJ&K while other fell inside IOK. One Indian pilot arrested by troops on ground while two in the area.88.8K6:19 AM – Feb 27, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy65K people are talking about thisReport

End of Twitter post by @OfficialDGISPR

Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj has also said that her country will act “with responsibility and restraint”.

“India does not wish to see further escalation of the situation,” she said, speaking from a meeting with Russian and Chinese foreign ministers in China.

India said Tuesday’s air strikes on Balakot in north-western Pakistan killed a large number of militants but Pakistan said there had been no casualties.

The US, EU and China have all called for restraint.

Are flights affected?

Pakistan has closed its entire airspace, its civil aviation authority said. Nine airports in northern India have been closed, reports in India said.Skip Twitter post by @AirportPakistanView image on Twitter

View image on Twitter

CAA Pakistan@AirportPakistan


Civil Aviation Authority of #Pakistan has officially closed its airspace until further notice & issued NOTAM. 1268:05 AM – Feb 27, 2019164 people are talking about thisTwitter Ads info and privacyReport

End of Twitter post by @AirportPakistan

The flight monitoring group Flight Radar says international flights are also avoiding the area.Skip Twitter post by @flightradar24View image on Twitter

View image on Twitter


International flights that transit between Indian and Pakistani airspace now being affected. Some flights returning to origin, while others appear to be seeking alternate routing.,1fa270f4,1fa21283,1fa21c61,1fa20062,1fa25484 …7366:39 AM – Feb 27, 20191,013 people are talking about thisTwitter Ads info and privacyReport

End of Twitter post by @flightradar24

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‘These are uncharted waters’

By Soutik Biswas, BBC News, Delhi

The challenge for India and Pakistan now is to contain the escalation before things get completely out of control.

It is almost unprecedented for two nuclear-armed countries to carry out air strikes into each other’s territories.

“We are in uncharted waters,” Husain Haqqani, the former Pakistani ambassador to the US and adviser to three Pakistani prime ministers, told me late on Tuesday.

An Indian defence analyst believes Indian security forces will now have to be prepared for a “full spectrum of conflict”.

However Daniel Markey from Johns Hopkins University in the US says we are “several steps away” from nuclear escalation.

A further escalation, he believes, will happen if Pakistan’s “next step were to raise the stakes by hitting Indian civilian targets”.

That is highly unlikely.

Read more from Soutik on this story

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What else is happening?

Troops have been shelling across the LoC. Four Pakistani civilians were killed and 10 others were injured in cross-border shelling on Tuesday.

On the Indian side, five soldiers were also injured in the firing, officials told the BBC. Schools in at least two districts along the LoC – Rajouri and Poonch – have been closed.

People living along the de facto border have been asked to leave their homes.

Map of region
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Timeline of India-Pakistan tensions

Media captionIn December Yogita Limaye examined why there had been a rise in violence in Kashmir

October 1947: First war between India and Pakistan over Kashmir just two months after they become independent nations.

August 1965: The neighbours fight another brief war over Kashmir.

December 1971: India supports East Pakistan’s bid to become independent. The Indian air force conducts bombing raids inside Pakistan. The war ends with the creation of Bangladesh.

May 1999: Pakistani soldiers and militants occupy Indian military posts in Kargil mountains. India launches air and ground strikes and the intruders are pushed back.

October 2001: A devastating attack on the state assembly in Indian-administered Kashmir kills 38. Two months later, an attack on the Indian parliament in Delhi leaves 14 dead.

November 2008: Co-ordinated attacks on Mumbai’s main railway station, luxury hotels and a Jewish cultural centre kill 166 people. India blames Pakistan-based group Lashkar-e-Taiba.

January 2016: Four-day attack on Indian air base in Pathankot leaves seven Indian soldiers and six militants dead.

18 September 2016: Attack on army base in Uri in Indian-administered Kashmir kills 19 soldiers.

30 September 2016: India says it carried “surgical strikes” on militants in Pakistani Kashmir. Islamabad denies strikes took place.

(Reuters) Venezuela open to barter trade with India to boost oil sales


NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Venezuela is open to barter-like payments from India to boost oil sales to the world’s third-biggest oil consumer, the South American country’s oil minister Manuel Quevedu said on Monday.Venezuela’s Oil Minister and President of Venezuelan state-run oil company PDVSA Manuel Quevedo (C) arrives to attend the Petrotech conference in Greater Noida, India, February 11, 2019. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis

Venezuela buys a slew of products including medicines from India, and it is looking for alternative payment mechanisms after application of the latest stringent U.S. sanctions.

The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has imposed sweeping sanctions on Venezuelan state-owned oil firm PDVSA, aimed at severely curbing the OPEC member’s crude exports to the United States to pressure socialist President Nicolas Maduro to step down.

“The relationships with India will continue, the trade will continue and we will simply expand all the trade and relationship,” Quevedu told reporters on the sidelines of Petrotech conference, without giving any further details on how a barter mechanism with India would work.

Venezuela’s oil production has dwindled in the last two decades, from more than 3 million barrels per day (bpd) at the beginning of the century to between 1.2 million and 1.4 million bpd by late 2018. Most of the crude oil it produces now is heavy or extra heavy.

Venezuela’s oil output is now at 1.57 million bpd, Quevedu said.

The Venezuelan oil minister, who now holds the rotating presidency of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), said it was important to listen to all the consuming countries that represent oil demand to maintain the balance of demand and supply in the markets.

“Inventory levels, demand, supply are the elements taken into account while trying to maintain the balance the global industry needs,” Quevedu said.

Unilateral sanctions by the United States have reduced PDVSA’s oil output and caused a loss of about $20 billion to its oil revenue-dependent economy, he said.

“U.S. exercises kidnapping of resources around the world … It is financial persecution. Now they want to steal Citgo Petroleum from Venezuela,” he said.

Citgo Petroleum Corp is a unit of PDVSA and Venezuela’s top foreign asset. Citgo operates three U.S. refineries that supply about 4 percent of total U.S. fuel production, and it is PDVSA’s largest U.S. customer for its oil exports.

Following the U.S. decision to impose sanctions on Venezuela’s oil industry, both sides have engaged in aggressive moves for control of Citgo, which has roots in the United States dating back 100 years, but has been owned by Venezuela’s state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela, or PDVSA, for three decades.

Sanctions have forced Citgo and other U.S. refiners to seek crude oil supplies from other nations.



Taiwan turns to India after China's unification threat

Chinese President Xi Jinping said this week that Taiwan “must and will be” part of China again. This talk seems to have already caused consternation in the formerly Chinese-owned country as it looks to assert its independence and show that it can hold.|

Chinese President Xi Jinping said this week that Taiwan “must and will be” part of China again. This talk seems to have already caused consternation in the formerly Chinese-owned country as it looks to assert its independence and show that it can hold its own on the world stage.

Last week, Taiwan said that it wants to be a part of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)and watched from the sidelines in recent trade talks at the APEC Summit held in Papua New Guinea at the end of 2018.

Now, the country is issuing statements about being more independent, which has led China to say that Taiwan has to reunite with the mainland at some point, preferably sooner rather than later. However, it appears that this rhetoric has merely instigated Taiwan to push forward with its own trade plans.

Due to its positioning in the Asia Pacific region, and particularly in the South China Sea, Taiwan has seen shows of aggression on all sides. The US is even trying to tempt Taiwan to work with it on trade, which could well be one of the reasons why China is taking a firmer stance.

There are clear signs that China is looking to increase the influence that it exerts in the region at present, but in the face of its strong words, Taiwan seemingly has no intention of taking any threats lying down.

Taiwan is now looking to reduce its dependency on China. It has a fairly heavy reliance on the nation due to its proximity and past ties. Jinping said this week that he did not oppose using military force to bring Taiwan back under China’s control.

It would seem that Taiwan’s best protection is to refuse to stay isolated on the matter and work on bilateral trade with other countries to show its outward international value.

The region’s current government came into power on the back of a wave of concerns over sharp reliance on China. Currently, 40% of Taiwan’s exports go to China, accounting for half of Taiwan’s GDP. The election manifesto called to “bid farewell to our past over-reliance on a single market.”

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen introduced the New Southbound Policy, a document that sets out intentions to get new investment from other South Asian nations. India is at the top of the list.

The Taiwan External Trade Development Council will be working to achieve this, and Chairperson James Huang has called India “the jewel in our external economic strategy.” India’s mass labor market, low wages and skill in electronics are well suited to the Taiwanese tech sector.

With India’s aim to grow its GDP by 8%-10% and its population set to overtake China’s, there could well be a developing battle between the two nations to establish themselves as dominant powers in the burgeoning tech market. China is beginning to feel the effects of a trade war between itself and the US.

Taiwan is likely to struggle with growth if it cannot establish bases in other countries due to its shortages in land and energy capacity. Forming agreements with nations such as India could, therefore, help Taiwan to flourish, reduce its reliance on China, and gain support from elsewhere.

(BBC) India court legalises gay sex in landmark ruling


Media caption“I’m finally glad I can say I’m not a criminal in this country anymore”

In a historic decision, India’s Supreme Court has ruled that gay sex is no longer a criminal offence.

The ruling overturns a 2013 judgement that upheld a colonial-era law, known as section 377, under which gay sex is categorised as an “unnatural offence”.

The court has now ruled discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a fundamental violation of rights.

Campaigners outside the court cheered and some broke down in tears as the ruling was handed down.

Although public opinion in India’s biggest cities has been in favour of scrapping the law, there remains strong opposition among religious groups and in conservative rural communities.

But this ruling, from the top court, is the final say in the matter and represents a huge victory for India’s LGBT community.

One activist outside the court told the BBC: “I hadn’t come out to my parents until now. But today, I guess I have.”

What have the judges said?

Thursday’s decision was delivered by a five-judge bench headed by India’s outgoing chief justice Dipak Misra and was unanimous.

Reading out the judgement, he said: “Criminalising carnal intercourse is irrational, arbitrary and manifestly unconstitutional.”

Another judge, Indu Malhotra, said she believed “history owes an apology” to LGBT people for ostracising them.

Justice DY Chandrachud said the state had no right to control the private lives of LGBT community members and that the denial of the right to sexual orientation was the same as denying the right to privacy.

The ruling effectively allows gay sex among consenting adults in private.

What is section 377?

It is a 157-year-old colonial-era law which criminalises certain sexual acts as “unnatural offences” that are punishable by a 10-year jail term.

A joyful reaction to the ruling at an NGO in MumbaiImage copyrightREUTERS
Image captionA joyful reaction to the ruling at an NGO in Mumbai

The law punishes, in its own words, “carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal”.

While the statute criminalises all anal and oral sex, it has largely affected same-sex relationships.

Human rights groups say police have used the statute to harass and abuse members of the LGBT community.

‘Recognising everyone’s right to love’

Geeta Pandey, BBC News, Delhi

Even though it was rarely invoked when it involved consenting adults, section 377 could be – and was sometimes – used as a tool for harassment. It is not surprising then that campaigners are describing the verdict as a “new dawn for personal liberty”.

But in a largely conservative India, where leaders of all religions have consistently opposed gay sex, it will still be a while before attitudes change and the community finds full acceptance.

But laws almost always play an important role in changing mindsets, and by recognising the community’s right to love, the Supreme Court has restored the dignity denied to them for a very long time.

How did we get to this point?

It’s been a tortuous route. A bid to repeal section 377 was initiated in 2001 and was batted between court and government until 2009, when the Delhi High Court ruled in favour of decriminalisation.

Media captionThe power of “pink money” in India

Several political, social and religious groups then mobilised to restore the law and in 2013 the Supreme Court struck down the High Court ruling.

Anti-section 377 activists then submitted a “curative petition” – a formal request to review an earlier court order perceived as a “miscarriage of justice” – and in 2016 the Supreme Court decided to revisit its ruling.

What has the LGBT reaction been to the latest ruling?

One of joy given that the community has fought vigorously to strike down the law.

Indian LGBT activists and supporters celebrate the court ruling, dancing and holding up rainbow flags and balloonsImage copyrightAFP
Image captionActivists say they are elated at the change although more needs to be done

Equal rights activists had argued that the very existence of such a law was proof of discrimination based on sexual orientation.

LGBT activist Harish Iyer told the BBC: “I’m absolutely elated. It’s like a second freedom struggle where finally we have thrown a British law out of this country… I think the next step would be to get anti-discrimination laws in place, or anti-bullying laws.”

Messages of support were posted on Twitter, including from film director Karan Johar:

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Journalist Anna MM Vetticad said India had been saved from its shame:

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How have political parties reacted?

The governing BJP party has said it would leave the decision to the Supreme Court.

However, one of its members said he was disappointed with the verdict.

Subramanian Swamy, known for making provocative comments, said: “It could give rise to an increase in the number of HIV cases.”

Meanwhile, the main opposition Congress party has welcomed the ruling, saying they “hope this is the beginning of a more equal and inclusive society”.

The UN has also welcomed the ruling, saying “sexual orientation and gender expression form an integral part of an individual’s identity the world over”.

What else was said in the ruling?

The court said other aspects of section 377 dealing with unnatural sex with animals and children would remain in force.

The judges also explicitly said that they only ruled on the constitutional validity of section 377 and were not looking at it in terms of other rights such as those related to marriage or inheritance.

It remains too early to say what this will translate to in the longer term.

Author and commentator Sandip Roy told the BBC that although the ruling was a cause for celebration, there were still hurdles to overcome, and a need for anti-discrimination laws.

“I think we would be foolish to think that this is the end of the fight,” he said.

Where is homosexuality illegal?

The 2017 report from the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (Ilga) lists 72 countries and territories where same-sex relationships are still criminalised, although that includes India before its latest ruling.

Most of them are in Africa, the Middle East and other parts of south Asia.

The report said homosexuality could still result in the death penalty in eight nations.

(BBG) Superpower India to Replace China as Growth Engine

(BBG) India is poised to emerge as an economic superpower, driven in part by its young population, while China and the Asian Tigers age rapidly, according to Deloitte LLP.

The number of people aged 65 and over in Asia will climb from 365 million today to more than half a billion in 2027, accounting for 60 percent of that age group globally by 2030, Deloitte said in a report Monday. In contrast, India will drive the third great wave of Asia’s growth – following Japan and China — with a potential workforce set to climb from 885 million to 1.08 billion people in the next 20 years and hold above that for half a century.

“India will account for more than half of the increase in Asia’s workforce in the coming decade, but this isn’t just a story of more workers: these new workers will be much better trained and educated than the existing Indian workforce,’’  said Anis Chakravarty, economist at Deloitte India. “There will be rising economic potential coming alongside that, thanks to an increased share of women in the workforce, as well as an increased ability and interest in working for longer. The consequences for businesses are huge.’’

While the looming ‘Indian summer’ will last decades, it isn’t the only Asian economy set to surge. Indonesia and the Philippines also have relatively young populations, suggesting they’ll experience similar growth, says Deloitte. But the rise of India isn’t set in stone: if the right frameworks are not in place to sustain and promote growth, the burgeoning population could be faced with unemployment and become ripe for social unrest.

Deloitte names the countries that face the biggest challenges from the impact of ageing on growth as China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, Singapore, Thailand and New Zealand. For Australia, the report says the impact will likely outstrip that of Japan, which has already been through decades of the challenges of getting older. But there are some advantages Down Under.

“Rare among rich nations, Australia has a track record of welcoming migrants to our shores,” said Ian Thatcher, deputy managing partner at Deloitte Asia Pacific.  “That leaves us less at risk of an ageing-related slowdown in the decades ahead.’’

Japan’s experience shows there are opportunities from ageing, too. Demand has risen in sectors such as nursing, consumer goods for the elderly, age-appropriate housing and social infrastructure, as well as asset management and insurance.

But Asia will need to adjust to cope with a forecast 1 billion people aged 65 and over by 2050. This will require:

  • Raising retirement ages: Encouraging this could help growth in nations at the forefront of ageing impacts.
  • More women in the workforce: A direct lever that ageing nations can pull to boost their growth potential.
  • Taking in migrants: Accepting young, high-skilled migrants can help ward off ageing impacts on growth.
  • Boosting productivity: Education and re-training to bolster growth opportunities offered by new technologies.

(Times of India) Past misconceptions about Portugal affecting present, says Portuguese consul general

(Times of India)

After a three-year stint as Portuguese consul general, Rui Carvalho Baceira is set to leave Goa for Palestine, where he will head Portugal‘s diplomatic mission. Ahead of his departure, he spoke to Lisa Monteiroabout the growing importance of the Portuguese language in today’s globalized world, and how misconceptions about Portugal due to the past are affecting ties in the present

How important has this year been for Portugal-India ties?

In fewer than seven months, we saw India’s and Portugal’s heads of government visit each other and sign over a dozen agreements. We are now seeing our bilateral relationship at its best. But we need follow-ups, else these agreements will remain on paper.

What challenges did you face when you took over as consul?

I had great expectations because it was India, one of the fastest-growing economies and a regional superpower. An important job I tried to do was putting the consulate on track and fostering bilateral relations by making Goa a bridge between Lisbon and New Delhi. But a few complexities came in the way. People, both pro- and anti-Portugal, don’t realise we have evolved into a modern democratic country that wants to engage with India. With very few exceptions, we have not had open support from state institutions for our events. Other states including Karnataka and Maharashtra, on the other hand, are willing to engage. Our consulate, Fundacao Oriente, and Instituto Camoes are working to safeguard the Portuguese language not because of the past but because it’s one of the world’s top five languages.

How significant is Portuguese language today?

Language and culture are two of the best tools for soft power that can bridge the gap between India and the Portuguese-speaking world. Goa attracts students from around the country. Goans too are studying it, not because their parents or grandparents speak it, but because they realise its importance in today’s globalized world. Yet, the teaching of Portuguese in the state is almost entirely supported by Portuguese institutions. Portuguese should be perceived like German, Spanish, and French, not the language of the past colonial power.

How has the consulate’s relationship with state authorities been?

There is a lack of approach from the government regarding the opportunities Portugal can offer. Over the past year, I have begged the central and state governments to organize a seminar on the conservation of Old Goa. Many architects and historians want to help find solutions.

How different is the work at the Goa consulate compared to others around the world?

This consulate has wrongly been devoted to questions of nationality. We have a strong Portuguese community that needs assistance. The consulate is here to guide and protect people, not for nostalgic purposes. The nationality process has nothing to do with it. This consulate serves not only Goa but a lot of expats — Indians with Portuguese nationality who live here and abroad.

What is your take on the issue of forged documents?

Most cases of forged documents were found in Diu, Daman, and Margao. One of my main goals was to tackle this. I brought this to the attention of Portuguese and Indian authorities. I tried to prevent people from falling prey to illegal agents, but their network is so strong, the consulate cannot compete. People have made new identities by forging Indian documents. When local institutions cooperate, whom can we trust?

What is the profile of people applying for Portuguese passports?

Most are male, between 20 and 30 years old, and are not skilled. Few have a university background. But after Brexit, older citizens are getting transcriptions of their births and marriages through agents in Lisbon. Later, their children apply for their Bilhete de Indentidade (BI) and nationality at the consulate. People pay ten times more to agents. It is sad because people with the least education pay the most. In Goa, Portuguese passport aspirants are roughly 60% Christian, 30% Hindu and 10% Muslims. In Daman and Diu, 80% are Hindus, followed by Muslims and Christians.

What memories will you take with you from Goa?

Goa was tough but a very good experience. I made friends and enemies — part of a diplomat’s life. I learnt a lot about India and travelled extensively. I definitely want to return.

(Hindu) ‘Life term for Abu Salem violates treaty with Portugal’


Sentence triggers legal debate as he can’t be awarded more than 25 years.

Before the special Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) court, Salem’s lawyer Sudeep Pasbola had contended that his role should be considered at par with convict Mansoor Ahmed Sayyed Ahmed, who had accompanied Salem to Sanjay Dutt’s house to deliver AK-56 rifles. But the prosecution represented by advocate Deepak Salvi had sought life imprisonment for Salem stating that he deserved nothing but death penalty but considering the treaty he cannot be sentenced to death or be imprisoned for more than 25 years.

The life term awarded to Abu Salem has triggered a complex legal debate which could have a bearing on future extradition treaties between India and other countries.

Courts have to consider the assurance given by the Indian government of not sentencing him for a term beyond 25 years, while extraditing Salem, his lawyer had argued while seeking minimum sentence in connection with the 1993 serial bomb blasts.

Citing the treaty, Mr. Pasbola contended that Salem cannot be sentenced to imprisonment for life, and said that the court should abide by the assurance given by the Indian government to the government of Portugalwhile extraditing him.

But the trial court did not take the extradition treaty into consideration while awarding him life imprisonment.

Criminal lawyer Majeed Memon, who is also a Rajya Sabha MP said, “The fugitive was handed over to us only on the conditions that we would do certain things and not do certain things which are given in writing and if we defy that it would be an international humiliation.”

Advocate Niteen Pradhan also questioned the sentence on Salem. He said: “The order granted is beyond the jurisdiction of the court as the order has limits [set on it] by the Portugal Supreme Court and the conditions imposed at the time of his extradition.

“The treaty says he cannot be imprisoned for more than 25 years and the Supreme Court of India has said that life sentence means for life as per the Indian law. When you say life sentence, it cannot be implied that it is 25 years.”

The other thing that can happen is that Salem can approach the Portugal Supreme Court and ask for re-extradition.

Senior advocate Raja Thakare said: “If we don’t abide by it [treaty], the ramifications will be all over and internationally we will be humiliated.”

(GUA) RBS to cut hundreds of UK jobs in move to India

(GUA) Bank’s transfer of loans team to Mumbai brings loss of 443 jobs in Britain and condemnation by Unite over ‘cheap’ labour.

The Royal Bank of Scotland’s latest restructuring follows its branch closures in March which shed 362 jobs.
 The Royal Bank of Scotland’s latest restructuring follows its branch closures in March which shed 362 jobs. Photograph: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA

Royal Bank of Scotland is to cut 443 jobs in Britain as the bank moves its team that arranges loans for small businesses to India.

The taxpayer-controlled bank said that the roles would transfer to Mumbai, to be included in the group’s growing team there, as part of a restructuring designed to cut costs, first reported in the Mail on Sunday.

An RBS spokesperson said: “As we become a simpler, smaller, bank, we are making some changes to the way we serve our customers. Unfortunately, these changes will result in the net reduction of 443 roles in the UK. We realise this will be difficult news for staff and we will do everything we can to support those affected, including redeployment into new roles where possible. All roles which require customer contact will remain in the UK.”

The latest wave of job cuts by RBS in the UK comes after at least 400 roles were moved to India last year, including 300 or so investment banking jobs.

In March this year the state-owned bank also said it was axing 158 branches, most of which were NatWest outlets, with the loss of up to 362 jobs.

Last year the bank shed more than 500 jobs as part of a plan to replace the staff giving investment tips with “robo-advisers”.

The bank has been trying to cut costs since a £45bn government bailout nearly 10 years ago at the height of the financial crisis.

Rob MacGregor, national officer for finance at Unite, said: “There has been a drip, drip, drip, cumulative effect so that we estimate that 12,500 people now work for RBS in India. That’s interesting for an organisation that owes its existence to the British taxpayer. We feel RBS has a moral responsibility to try wherever possible to keep work here in the UK. There is no customer business in India; it is just where they can get the jobs they want doing done cheaper.”

Moving jobs which relate to small business loans is likely to prove particularly controversial following a scandal at the bank’s global restructuring group, known as GRG.

MacGregor said: “It does pose the question, when it comes to regulation and risk, is this the right move for RBS?”

Small businesses were pushed to the brink of collapse to enable RBS to make a profit and, after years of pressure from campaigners, the bank set aside £400m to refund fees for customers of the now disbanded division.

RBS has also racked up a £1bn bill to end a legal battle sparked by the government bailout. The battle, involving 9,000 investors, has cost the bank an estimated £900m in settlements to shareholders and £100m in legal fees.

+++ O.P./P.O. (DN) Após acidente em Goa, governo indiano vai vistoriar todas as pontes da era portuguesa


É preciso desfaçatez…

A invasão de Goa pela União Indiana foi em 1961…

E nunca olharam para as pontes desde então…?

Todas as pontes precisam de manutenção.

Agora dizer que vão vistoriar todas as pontes da era Portuguesa, é um anátema e demagogia pura e dura.

Atiram o ónus para os Portugueses…

Para justificar o que não fizeram em mais de 50 anos!

Francisco (Abouaf) de Curiel Marques Pereira

(DN) O Governo indiano vai inspecionar todas as pontes portuguesas em Goa, depois do colapso de uma ponte no rio Sanvordem, na cidade de Curchorem, tendo-se afogado três pessoas.

O ministro das Obras Públicas de Goa, Sudin Dhavalikar, disse na sexta-feira que todas as pontes da “era portuguesa” iriam ser vistoriadas, segundo noticiou hoje a IANS, a principal agência da Índia.

Mais de 40 pessoas caíram ao rio na quinta-feira à noite quando uma ponte sobre o rio Sanvordem, na cidade de Curchorem, a 45 quilómetros de Panaji (Sul de Goa) colapsou.

“Temos que fazer uma vistoria às pontes em Goa para garantir que estes incidentes não se repitem”, disse Dhavalikar na sexta-feira aos jornalistas.

A maioria das pessoas que caíram conseguiu nadar e alcançar a segurança, mas três pessoas afogaram-se, embora os hospitais mais próximos tenham também recebido feridos.

A Marinha indiana na sua conta da rede social Twitter explicou que nove mergulhadores com equipamentos e barcos se deslocaram a Curchorem, local onde a ponte colapsou, tendo participado nas operações de busca e resgate.

(Reuters) India skips China’s Silk Road summit, warns of ‘unsustainable’ debt

(Reuters) India has not sent an official delegation to attend the “Belt and Road Forum” in Beijing and instead criticized China’s global initiative, warning of an “unsustainable debt burden” for countries involved.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is hosting dozens of world leaders and senior officials on Sunday for the country’s biggest diplomatic showcase of the year, touting his vision of a new “Silk Road” that opens trade routes across the globe.

Government officials from New Delhi did not travel, Indian officials said, although scholars from Indian think-tanks have flown to Beijing to attend some of the meetings at the forum.

Indian foreign ministry spokesman Gopal Baglay, asked whether New Delhi was participating in the summit, said India could not accept a project that compromised its sovereignty.

India is incensed that one of the key Belt and Road projects passes through Kashmir and Pakistan. The nuclear-armed rivals have fought two of their three wars over the disputed region.

“No country can accept a project that ignores its core concerns on sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Baglay said.

He also warned of the danger of debt. One of the criticisms of the Silk Road plan is that host countries may struggle to pay back loans for huge infrastructure projects being carried out and funded by Chinese companies and banks.

“Connectivity initiatives must follow principles of financial responsibility to avoid projects that would create unsustainable debt burden for communities,” Baglay said.

New Delhi’s criticism of the Belt and Road initiative came as Xi pledged $124 billion to the plan, and called for the abandonment of old models based on rivalry and diplomatic power games.

Leaders from 29 countries and ministerial delegates from many more are attending the forum in Beijing, including India’s smaller neighbors – not just Pakistan, but also Sri Lanka and Nepal.

Baglay said India supported greater connectivity across the region and listed the initiatives it was involved in, including highway projects and the North-South corridor in Central Asia, but he said these had to be developed in a transparent manner.

“We are of firm belief that connectivity initiatives must be based on universally recognized international norms, good governance, rule of law, openness, transparency and equality,” he said in a statement.

As well as the corridor through Pakistan, India is worried more broadly about China’s economic and diplomatic expansion through Asia, and in particular across countries and waterways that it considers to be its sphere of influence.

(CNBC) Around 2.2 million deaths in India and China from air pollution: Study


Sanjeev Verma | Hindustan Times | Getty Images

Air pollution is the leading environmental cause of death on the planet and 92 percent of the global population is living in areas where the air is unhealthy, according to a new report.

The State of Global Air 2017 report states that extensive, long term exposure to fine particulate matter contributed to more than four million premature deaths in 2015.

The report is a joint effort between the Health Effects Institute and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evalution’s Global Burden of Disease Project.

“We are seeing increasing air pollution problems worldwide,” Dan Greenbaum, president of the Health Effects Institute, said in a statement.

“The trends we report show that we have seen progress in some parts of the world – but serious challenges remain,” Greenbaum went on to add.

The report’s analysis showed that India – with extra exposure and its aging population – now competes with China in terms of air pollution health burdens. Both countries saw around 1.1 million early deaths due to air pollution in 2015.

It is not just in countries such as China and India that air pollution is proving to be a problem.

Last year, a report from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and the Royal College of Physicians stated that exposure to outdoor air pollution is linked to roughly 40,000 deaths every year in the U.K.

(Economist) India flirts with a UBI

(Economist) India is taking the idea of a universal basic income seriously, if not literally.

Basic needs

NOVEMBER 8th was not just the day of Donald Trump’s election. It was also when Indians found out most banknotes would lose all value unless promptly exchanged. Ever since, many have expected their patience in enduring the ensuing chaos to be rewarded in some way. Might scrapped cash unredeemed by presumed tax-dodgers be recycled into a lump-sum payment to each and every citizen? Or would the annual budget, presented on February 1st, be full of giveaways ahead of a string of state elections? In the event, the budget was restrained to the point of dullness. But the government’s closely-watched “economic survey”, released the previous day, hinted at a much bigger giveaway in the works: a universal basic income (UBI) payable to every single Indian.

The idea of a cash payment made to citizens irrespective of their wealth is centuries old. It has become newly fashionable in some rich countries, among both left-wing thinkers (who like its redistributive aspects) and their right-wing foes (who think it results in a less meddlesome state). The idea has had its fans in India: a small UBI scheme was launched as a pilot in the state of Madhya Pradesh in 2010.

Its inclusion in the annual survey, a breeding ground for policies that was drafted by the government’s chief economic adviser, Arvind Subramanian, gives a new focus for fans of the measure (and its opponents). A UBI is usually discussed in abstract terms. There is now a proposed amount: 7,620 rupees ($113) a year. Equivalent to less than a month’s pay at the minimum wage in a city, it is well short of what anyone might need to lead a life of leisure. But it would cut absolute poverty from 22% to less than 0.5%.

Mr Subramanian also provides an outline of how it would be paid for. Crucially, the money would largely come from recycling funds from around 950 existing welfare schemes, including those that offer subsidised food, water, fertiliser and much else besides. Altogether these add up to roughly the 5% of GDP he thinks his version of UBI would cost. Starting such a programme from scratch would take up around half the central government’s annual budget, such is the pitiful state of direct-tax collection in India.

The pros of UBI are clear: India is keen in theory to help its poor, but not very good at it in practice. Much of its welfare subsidies ends up in the hands of the relatively rich, who are more likely to make use of air-conditioned trains or cooking gas—or able to bribe the bureaucrats who decide who deserves subsidies. In-kind benefits are pilfered by middlemen who would find it harder to get at payments made to beneficiaries’ bank accounts.

Mr Subramanian acknowledges that managing the transition to a new system would be difficult. In much of India, citizens have to travel at least three kilometres to get to a bank. Digital payments are still a minority pursuit. One advantage of the proliferation of welfare schemes is that if one of them fails to pay out, others might.

Another obstacle is that a fair few billionaires would also benefit from a truly universal UBI. Telling an illiterate farmer that a food-in-kind scheme he has used for decades is being scrapped to finance a programme that will put him on par with Mukesh Ambani, a tycoon who lives in a 27-storey house, will not be a vote-winner. In truth, Mr Subramanian’s proposal stops a little short of true universality: for his sums to add up, take-up must be limited to just 75% of Indians. That means either a return to flawed means-testing, or a hope that the better-off will voluntarily opt out.

Implementing a UBI would be easier in India in one important way: getting the money to recipients. Well over 1bn Indians now have biometric identification cards, known as Aadhaar. The system can handle money, usually by diverting incoming payments to a bank account linked to an Aadhar number. A blast of cash to all citizens enrolled in the scheme would be a feasible way to distribute the money—though that would mean everyone got money, including the conspicuously rich.

It will take time before 1.3bn Indians receive such a transfer. Keen as Mr Subramanian is, he concludes that UBI is “a powerful idea whose time even if not ripe for implementation is ripe for serious discussion.” For now the government is focused on meeting its long-held 3% deficit target, which it expects to miss by just 0.2 percentage points next year, and on the aftermath of “demonetisation”. But the idea will not go away. It may seem folly in a country home to over a quarter of the world’s truly poor to give people money for nothing. But it would be a swift, efficient way to make it home to far fewer of them.

(EXP) António Costa homenageado na Índia por “excecional mérito” para “o crescimento” do país

(EXP) De sábado a quinta-feira, o primeiro-ministro português, filho de um goês católico, faz uma visita oficial à Índia onde receberá prémio da diáspora. Vai ser recebido como chefe de Estado num país em que Portugal já foi potência colonizadora.

António Costa em criança com o pai, Orlando Costa, no Jardim Zoológico, em Lisboa

António Costa em criança com o pai, Orlando Costa, no Jardim Zoológico, em Lisboa

9 de janeiro é um dos dias mais importantes na Índia. É o dia em que Mahatma Gandhi regressou ao seu país depois de 20 anos na África do Sul e tornou-se há alguns anos o momento escolhido para homenagear os indianos da diáspora tornando-se o dia do indiano não-residente. Tem lugar a grande convenção Pravasi Bharatiya Divas que junta cerca de mil pessoas e onde são homenageados os indianos ou descendentes que se tenham distinguido no estrangeiro. Este ano o principal homenageado será o primeiro primeiro-ministro de origem indiana no mundo ocidental, António Costa, filho de um goês, brâmane e católico de Margão, o escritor Orlando da Costa. Tal distinção, segundo o Governo indiano, destina-se a pessoas com “excecional mérito” para “o crescimento” do país.

O convite partiu do primeiro-ministro indiano, Narenda Modi, que tornou esta visita do seu homólogo português numa visita de Estado, onde terá honras iguais a um Presidente da República – as mesmas que tiveram Mário Soares, em 1992, ou Cavaco Silva, em 2007. Com uma diferença: haverá uma grande carga afetiva nesta viagem dadas as raízes de Costa.

Durante a visita, de sábado a quinta-feira, António Costa passa por Nova Deli, Bangalore (o “Silicon Valley” da Índia), Ahmedabad (onde Gandhi viveu durante oito anos) e Goa, antigo território português e onde viveu o seu pai. O Governo indiano, para carregar na homenagem, aproveita para lançar durante a visita duas obras em língua inglesa de Orlando da Costa, “O signo da ira” e “Sem flores nem coroa”. Em Goa, será ainda inaugurado o Centro de Língua Portuguesa e haverá, para, além do encontro com a comunidade portuguesa, visitas ao emblemático Bairro das Fontainhas, à igreja do Bom Jesus e um concerto de uma fadista goesa.

Acompanhado de cinco ministros e 30 empresários, António Costa irá aproveitar a visita que se inicia amanhã para lançar sementes e estimular as trocas comerciais entre os dois países que são incipientes. A Índia, que está a crescer 8% ao ano (acima da China, portanto), aparece como o 48º destino de exportações portuguesas, sendo que estas representam cerca de um quarto das importações. “Estamos a semear, não a fechar negócios”, explica fonte do gabinete do primeiro-ministro. Está prevista a sua presença na abertura de um seminário económico, um encontro com 25 CEO indianos e também com empresários de Bollywood, a maior indústria cinematográfica do mundo.

(DN) “António Costa é um exemplo do dinamismo da diáspora indiana” – Modi


Primeiro-ministro indiano Narendra Modi elogia o homólogo português, que amanhã inicia visita de Estado. Em entrevista por escrito ao DN, o homem que governa a Índia desde 2014 afirma ainda que “será para nós uma honra celebrar os seus grandes êxitos enquanto líder português”

Narendra Modi, primeiro-ministro indiano, respondeu a esta entrevista por escrito ao DN a propósito da visita do seu homólogo português, que amanhã se inicia. Mas se as respostas, entusiastas com António Costa e Portugal, chegaram só ontem, o processo que conduziu à entrevista foi longo, começando pela visita da embaixadora Nandini Singla à sede do jornal em outubro (ainda no Marquês de Pombal), onde ficou a saber que o jornal entrevistara em 1998 o presidente Kocheril Narayanan em Lisboa, como em 1981 a primeira-ministra Indira Gandhi (a bordo de um avião militar na Índia). Pouco depois, com ajuda da embaixadora indiana, publicámos uma conversa com Ananth Kumar, ministro dos Assuntos Parlamentares, que de passagem por Lisboa declarou que “António Costa simboliza 500 anos da relação indo-portuguesa”. Ora, com o governante com raízes em Goa prestes a visitar a Índia surgiu a proposta de entrevista por e-mail a Modi. O OK para envio das perguntas chegou a 27 de dezembro.

Que significado tem para a Índia esta visita de António Costa, enquanto cidadão português de origem indiana?

Aguardamos com expectativa por receber calorosamente o primeiro-ministro António Costa na Índia, naquela que será uma visita de Estado. Será o nosso convidado de honra naquele que é o nosso emblemático evento de celebração da diáspora do país – o Pravasi Bharatiya Divas [Dia da Diáspora Indiana]. Sendo ele uma pessoa com raízes familiares na Índia, será para nós uma honra celebrar os seus grandes êxitos enquanto líder do povo português. António Costa é um exemplo do dinamismo da diáspora indiana. Como primeiro chefe de governo de origem indiana na Europa, estou confiante de que o seu sucesso será fonte de grande inspiração para muitos outros. A visita do primeiro-ministro Costa constitui também um momento oportuno para a Índia e Portugal revitalizarem os seus laços históricos e culturais antigos e para criarem uma parceria moderna, à luz do século XXI.

Considera possível que venham a desenvolver-se relações económicas e comerciais fortes entre Portugal e Índia?

Certamente. Penso que há vastas oportunidades para estabelecer robustas relações económicas entre a Índia e Portugal. Os nossos países partilham prioridades económicas similares: dinamização da capacidade de produção, do crescimento económico, das relações comerciais, do investimento e do emprego, bem como a melhoria das infraestruturas, dos serviços públicos, da governação e da qualidade de vida das nossas populações. As nossas respetivas vantagens e competências proporcionam consideráveis oportunidades para que as nossas empresas e negócios colaborem mutuamente. Enquanto duas democracias pluralistas e laicas que partilham valores semelhantes e uma visão comum para o mundo, ambos procuramos potenciar as nossas aptidões e recursos para reforçar a educação, tornar as nossas economias altamente tecnológicas e viradas para a inovação, prover os nossos jovens com as competências para operar uma economia do conhecimento do século XXI e melhor relacionar os nossos ecossistemas comerciais e de investimento com o mercado global. Os nossos países têm sinergias numa série de setores. É preciso explorar estas abundantes oportunidades por forma a criar uma rede de colaboração mutuamente benéfica e concretizar todo o potencial da nossa aliança.

Em que áreas considera que as empresas portuguesas e indianas poderiam cooperar mais?

A Índia encontra-se atualmente num ponto de inflexão transformador. Somos uma economia em rápido crescimento que está aberta e recetiva aos impulsos da economia global. Os nossos planos económicos são ambiciosos, quer em alcance quer em escala. As empresas portuguesas estão dotadas de experiência útil, conhecimento e competências de nicho em vários setores-chave prioritários para a Índia, tais como as infraestruturas – especialmente na área das estradas, portos e vias navegáveis interiores -, a defesa, a energia (eólica, solar e hidroelétrica), as TIC e as startups, gestão de águas e resíduos, agricultura e processamento de produtos agrícolas, cooperação marítima, cinema, turismo e hospitalidade. Podemos criar parcerias comerciais nestas áreas. De igual modo, as empresas indianas são internacionalmente reputadas nas áreas das TI, da inovação farmacêutica, da biotecnologia e automóvel, entre outras. As competências e os recursos humanos indianos, combinados com as capacidades produtivas de baixo custo do nosso país, oferecem soluções lucrativas para as empresas portuguesas. As competências e complementaridades portuguesas e indianas representam excelentes oportunidades para o estabelecimento de parcerias mutuamente benéficas em todos estes setores.

Que expectativas tem relativamente a António Guterres enquanto secretário-geral da ONU?

Em primeiro lugar, gostaria de felicitar Portugal pelo facto de um dos seus talentosos líderes políticos e ex-primeiro-ministro ter sido nomeado secretário-geral das Nações Unidas. O secretário-geral desempenha um papel importante na condução das Nações Unidas, especialmente no que respeita a manter a capacidade e a legitimidade únicas da ONU para agir em nome da comunidade internacional – a ONU tem de servir os interesses de todos os Estados membros, desde o mais pequeno Estado insular às nações mais poderosas. O secretário-geral Guterres teve uma distinta carreira enquanto primeiro-ministro de Portugal e alto-comissário da ONU para os Refugiados e nós esperamos que, sob a sua liderança, a ONU desempenhe o papel que lhe compete de promoção e preservação de uma ordem internacional justa e inclusiva.

Portugal apoia a candidatura da Índia a tornar-se membro permanente do Conselho de Segurança da ONU. Isso é uma prioridade para o seu governo?

Estamos muito gratos pelo apoio de Portugal à candidatura da Índia a membro permanente da ONU, num Conselho de Segurança reformado e ampliado. A Índia sempre se empenhou em fortalecer o sistema multilateral. O panorama político e económico e a realidade do mundo de hoje são muito diferentes daquilo que eram em meados da década de 1940. Instituições globais, como as Nações Unidas, têm de refletir a atual realidade global se quiserem continuar a ser relevantes, eficazes e legítimas. Os líderes mundiais já aceitaram, em 2005, que as reformas urgentes do Conselho de Segurança são um elemento essencial de qualquer esforço de reforma do sistema das Nações Unidas na sua globalidade. Nós, enquanto comunidade internacional, temos de acelerar os esforços de reforma do Conselho de Segurança.

Como é que a Índia vê a concorrência entre os EUA, a China e a Rússia?

A Índia tem laços multifacetados com cada um desses países. As nossas relações com cada um deles têm méritos próprios. Não apreciamos as relações com qualquer destes países a partir do prisma das demais relações com outros. E as nossas relações vão além dos assuntos puramente bilaterais. Como todos eles são grandes potências mundiais, também colaboramos com eles em importantes assuntos regionais e globais da atualidade. No mundo atual, em que se assiste a alterações económicas e políticas a nível global, as alianças entre nações, especialmente entre países importantes, têm por objetivo tomar a rédea de múltiplos caudais de oportunidade e amenizar problemas complexos e interdependentes. Na Índia, o nosso foco é potenciar a política externa em prol do nosso desenvolvimento económico e facilitar a transformação em curso. Qualquer país que possa contribuir para este processo é bem-vindo como parceiro.

Quais são as perspetivas para a economia indiana nos próximos tempos?

A Índia é, de entre as principais economias mundiais, a que regista maior crescimento atualmente. A nossa economia cresceu 7,1% e 7,3% no primeiro e segundo trimestres, respetivamente, do ano fiscal 2016-2017. Convidamos os nossos parceiros internacionais, como Portugal, a fazer parte da nossa história de crescimento económico, para benefício mútuo. Salvaguardar o crescimento económico e um desenvolvimento célere, melhorar constantemente a facilidade de fazer negócio e a contínua liberalização da economia são as principais prioridades do nosso governo. Liberalizámos o IED [Investimento Externo Direto] em vários setores, incluindo no das telecomunicações, da defesa, o ferroviário, o dos seguros, do turismo e hospitalidade, das energias renováveis, entre outros. A Índia é hoje em dia a economia mais aberta ao IED em termos globais. O nosso objetivo é tornar a Índia um centro de produção global através do nosso programa Make in India, enquanto outros programas, como o Skill India, Digital India, Startup India e Smart Cities, visam criar um ambiente favorável a atingirmos os objetivos de desenvolvimento que traçámos. A rápida aplicação do imposto sobre bens e serviços vai simplificar e instaurar um regime tributário uniforme em todo o país.

Qual é a fórmula adotada na Índia para o combate à pobreza?

Penso que a Índia tem quer a vontade quer a capacidade para lutar contra problemas de desenvolvimento complexos, interdependentes e enraizados, como é o caso do desemprego, da pobreza e da iliteracia. O crescimento económico acelerado é essencial para criar oportunidades, mas é igualmente importante que haja uma distribuição dos frutos do crescimento entre todos. Estes desafios exigem uma resposta integrada. Adotámos numerosas medidas socioeconómicas que respondem a estes problemas a vários níveis e transversalmente em todos os estratos da sociedade. Melhores condições de saneamento, de habitação, de acesso ao fornecimento de energia e de prestação de cuidados de saúde focados nas mulheres e nas crianças, prósperas comunidades rurais e uma Índia física e digitalmente conectada é a nossa meta. Lançámos medidas como o seguro de colheitas, a microirrigação e esquemas de conectividade digital e física. Através do nosso programa de inclusão financeira, Jan Dhan Yojana, abrimos 220 milhões de novas contas bancárias para pessoas em situação de pobreza visando a integração daqueles que, até então, têm sido excluídos. O nosso programa de emancipação de género e de apoio às crianças do sexo feminino [Beti Bachao Beti Padhao] já começou a produzir resultados. Nos últimos dois anos e meio, conseguimos fornecer gás de cozinha ecológico e em condições de segurança a mais de 15 milhões de famílias pobres. Acredito que capacitar as pessoas, dando-lhes aptidões, literacia digital e contacto com a tecnologia, a par de administrações isentas de corrupção, são fatores críticos para lutar contra a pobreza. Os nossos esforços para formar a juventude indiana, dar acesso ao crédito a pequenos empresários, inclusão financeira para todos e apoio ao pequeno agricultor visam habilitar as camadas mais vulneráveis da sociedade, de modo que o seu avanço funcione como uma força multiplicadora para o nosso desenvolvimento. Usámos a tecnologia para superar algumas das dificuldades de desenvolvimento que existiam, melhorando a governação e fornecendo serviços de maior qualidade à população. A nossa recente decisão de desmonetização visa reprimir a economia paralela e combater a corrupção, para que os ganhos resultantes possam ser redistribuídos entre os mais necessitados. Com vontade coletiva e as fortes medidas adotadas pelo meu governo, estou confiante de que a Índia pode dar passos gigantes para debelar a pobreza.

(CNN) India Supreme Court orders all movie theaters to play national anthem

(CNN) Movie theaters across India must play the national anthem before every film, the Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.

The anthem — “Jana Gana Mana” — will be accompanied by an image of the Indian flag.
“All present in the (cinema) hall are obliged to stand up to show respect to the national anthem,” Justices Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy wrote.
The ruling is in response to a petition filed by Narayan Chouksey, a retired engineer in Bhopal, who asked the court to “specify what would be constituting disrespect and abuse of the national anthem.”

Attorneys for Chouksey argued that the anthem was being regularly insulted and called on the court to lay down norms to protect it.

The court said the ruling must be implemented within 10 days.

Law of the land

While the national anthem is already played before movies by some theaters, and many Indians grew up listening to the song before most school and society events, it has never before been the law except in the western state of Maharashtra.

“The citizens of the country must realize that they live in a nation and are duty bound to show respect to (the) national anthem,” the justices said.
Ministry of Home Affairs regulations already stipulate that Indians must stand to attention “whenever the anthem is sung or played.”

In the past there have been reports of people being thrown out of venues or attacked for not showing respect to the anthem.
However, many Indians have also criticized a recent trend toward aggressive displays ofpatriotism amid a rise in jingoism on television news and in the press.
Surviving India's cash crisis

Pakistan ban

It isn’t the first time in recent months that national politics and the movies have intersected.

In October, one of India’s most famous movie directors announced he would no longer work with Pakistani talent.

Bollywood director Karan Johar’s move came after weeks of rising tensions between the two neighbors over clashes along their disputed border in Kashmir.

(WSJ) Inside India’s Unprecedented Assault on Cash

(WSJ) For a country where few families pay any income tax and even large transactions are often completed in cash, the disruption has been significant.

NEW DELHI—Early last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modisummoned his cabinet to a room in India’s capital, told them to leave their cellphones outside and delivered a shocker: He was about to go on national television to declare that almost 90% of the country’s paper money would no longer be legal tender.

The move, prepared in secret by Mr. Modi and his advisers, kicked offa radical experiment in government control and instantly put India at the forefront of a nascent global campaign against cash. The European Central Bank has said it would stop printing the €500 note in 2018. Canada and Singapore have phased out their large-denomination bills. The Philippines, Denmark and others are tweaking regulations to nudge citizens to switch to electronic payments.

But no one has gone as far as Mr. Modi. Aiming to cut back tax dodging, terrorism and government corruption, he made India’s largest bank note and one of its most commonly used ones—the functional equivalents of America’s $100 and $20 bills—unusable overnight. Indians can deposit the discontinued bills in a bank before the end of the year to preserve their value. New bills are being rolled out, but so far they amount to only about a quarter of the $230 billion in cash that was voided.

India is hardly alone in seeking to drive underground money into the banking system. But the scale, pace and finality of Mr. Modi’s action make it a stunning and painful test of what had to this point been a largely theoretical debate.

“The great task that the country wants to accomplish today is the realization of our dream of a cashless society,” the prime minister said in a recent radio address.

For a country where few families pay any income tax and even large transactions are often completed in cash, the disruption has been significant—posing new risks for the world’s fastest-growing big economy and Mr. Modi’s popularity.

Home sales have flatlinedin the month since the Nov. 8 announcement. Daily uproar by opposition parties has brought Parliament to a standstill. Tourists have been stuck mid-voyage, unable to tip or buy souvenirs. And there have been long, sometimes tense lines at banks and ATMs.

The lives of the poor, in particular—many of whom depend on irregular, off-the-books employment paid in cash—have been upended.

Recently, after weeks of fruitless job-hunting near his Delhi slum, onetime factory worker Vijay Bhardwaj was contemplating riding out the crunch in his native farming village. Not that there is much money to be made there, either. “If there was work in the village, then I wouldn’t have come here,” he said.

In the gritty western city of Morbi, a major hub for makers of kitchen and bathroom tiles, production is down 30%, said Nilesh Jetpariya, president of the local ceramic-industry association. Short on cash to pay laborers and truckers, around a third of the city’s 650 tile factories are shut.

K.G. Kundariya has started paying employees at his three tile factories partly in groceries—rice, wheat, cooking oil—so they don’t go hungry. Local grocery stores don’t have enough cash to pay wholesalers, so ceramic companies have had to step in and offer guarantees just so supplies of staples like sugar and grain keep flowing.

Rohit Talwar, whose company in the northern city of Moradabad makes candle accessories and other handicrafts for U.S. brands likePier 1 Imports Inc., welcomed Mr. Modi’s move at first. But he has had trouble paying his workers and suppliers, who need cash to make critical purchases.

“In India, unfortunately, everything has cash involved at some point,” Mr. Talwar said. “You may want the entire country to go cashless, but you can’t make that happen overnight.”

Mr. Modi’s plan for the announcement was carefully coordinated. His ministers, once assembled, weren’t allowed to leave until their boss’s address to the public was complete, according to people familiar with the meeting. The government then ordered all banks closed for a day to prepare for an onslaught of customers.

But the almost unfathomable logistics of the effort have forced authorities to adjust course on the fly.

At first, people were allowed to exchange the discontinued bank notes for a redesigned 500-rupee note and a new 2,000-rupee note. That proved so unwieldy the government ordered banks to stop. Crowds at many branches grew so large that battalions of security guards were needed to keep order.

Now, Indians who have bank accounts—many don’t—can withdraw up to 24,000 rupees a week, about $350.

Even with those limits, the banking system is straining to keep up.

Navroze Dastur, managing director for India and South Asia at NCRCorp., an ATM maker based in Duluth, Ga., got the news of the cash cancellation on TV, just like everyone else.

Half of India’s roughly 200,000 ATMs are NCR’s. But Mr. Dastur didn’t get a sample of the new cash those machines would be dispensing until three days after Mr. Modi’s announcement, when a bank employee brought a few hundred fresh notes in a suitcase to the company’s office in Mumbai.

That was when Mr. Dastur noticed a problem: The new bills were slightly smaller than the old ones.

Huddling that afternoon with fellow ATM makers and regulators at the Reserve Bank of India, Mr. Dastur explained that engineers would have to open up each of the nation’s ATMs and manually reconfigure the cash drawers before they could dispense the new notes—a process that NCR estimated could take two months.

“I don’t think they realized the magnitude of the work involved,” Mr. Dastur said.

The RBI didn’t respond to requests for comment. Finance MinisterArun Jaitley said at a press conference in November that the machines couldn’t have been adjusted in advance lest word of the plan leak out.

The economy has already taken a knock, the central bank warned recently. Some businessmen worry that recovery could take a year or longer.

The Modi administration insists there will eventually be big benefits, including better tax collection, improved surveillance of crime networks, and more accurate monitoring of commercial activity itself.

Defenders of cash see risks in those same capabilities—including a loss of privacy and a vast expansion of government power.

Paper money, however, is starting to look vulnerable. China and Sweden are studying issuing their own digital currencies. The ECB has targeted €500 notes that had earned the nickname “Bin Ladens” for their popularity among criminals and terrorists.

Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, writing in The Washington Post, argued, “It’s time to kill the $100 bill.”

Technology has made it easier to press the case against cash. Credit and debit cards couldn’t penetrate the far reaches of the global economy. But phone payments are making tiny cashless transactions accessible.

Fewer than a third of Indians have a smartphone, according to research firm IDC, and patchy connectivity can make digital transactions cumbersome.

Still, millions of Indians have signed up for mobile wallets. Mom-and-pop shops, tea stalls and rickshaw drivers who had never even used a credit card have learned how to accept payments through their inexpensive smartphones.

“This is mostly happening because of developing technology,” said Harvard economist Kenneth Rogoff, author of “The Curse of Cash.” “That’s a big ally of governments.”

(ECO) Indianos oferecem 180 milhões de euros pela farmacêutica portuguesa Generis

(ECO) Indianos da Aurobindo querem comprar a farmacêutica portuguesa Generis por 180 milhões de euros. Mas há mais interessados.

A farmacêutica indiana Aurobindo está interessada na aquisição da Generis, uma farmacêutica portuguesa com sede na Amadora, por cerca de 180 milhões de euros (cerca de 200 milhões de dólares), segundo avança esta quinta-feira o jornal indiano The Economic Times.

O negócio para a compra da Generis em cima da mesa há já alguns meses, mas o grupo indiano não está sozinho na corrida porque há mais interessados na aquisição da empresa portuguesa. “O resultado final não é muito claro”, adiantou uma fonte próxima do processo ao jornal económico indiano.

O ECO tentou contactar a Generis, mas sem sucesso.

A Generis tem sede na Venda Nova, na Amadora, com presença no desenvolvimento de medicamentos genéricos na área dos anti-infecciosos, respiratórios, antidiabéticos e dermatológicos, além de prestar serviços de produção e análise na indústria farmacêutica. Segundo o Economic Times, a empresa portuguesa registou vendas de aproximadamente 54 milhões de euros (cerca de 60 milhões de dólares) em 2015.

A Aurobindo está entre as farmacêuticas indianas que pretende crescer por via da aquisição de operações internacionais. Há dois anos, a Aurobindo adquiriu o negócio europeu da Actavis, mas pretende manter expansão na Europa.

Numa apresentação recente aos investidores, a companhia indiana referiu que a baixa penetração de genéricos em Itália, Espanha e França oferece um potencial de crescimento à medida que os medicamentos considerados de marca branca começam a ganhar cada vez mais aceitação.

(Reuters) UK launches bilateral trade talks for post-Brexit deal with India

(Reuters) Britain said it would start preliminary talks with India on Friday about an eventual bilateral trade deal after last month’s referendum vote to leave the European Union, which has forced London to rethink its trade ties with the rest of the world.

Business Secretary Sajid Javid also said Britain would have as many as 300 trade specialists in place before the end of the year, up from about 100 now, as the country tries to increase its firepower to operate as a solo trading nation.

Britain has negotiated its trade deals through the EU for decades.

“Following the referendum result, my absolute priority is making sure the UK has the tools it needs to continue to compete on the global stage,” Javid said in a statement

“Over the coming months, I will be conducting similar meetings with other key trade partners, outlining the government’s vision for what the UK’s future trade relationship might look like,” he said.

Javid’s trip to New Delhi was likely to be followed in the coming months by discussions about trade with the United States, China, Japan and South Korea, the business ministry said.

London also appears to be keen to tighten its trade ties with China. A source close to British finance minister George Osborne said he met senior officials from the world’s second-largest economy in London on Thursday to discuss trade, agreeing to work to foster stronger ties between the two countries.

Britain’s decision to leave the EU at a referendum on June 23 has raised big questions about its future trading relationship with the rest of the bloc, which buys about 45 percent of British exports, and with other economies.

Brexit supporters have said that Britain will be able to strike a good deal with the EU and also reach agreements with other big economies more quickly on its own than as part of the 28-nation EU.

For its part, the bloc has so far failed to do a deal with India.

Formal negotiations between Britain and countries such as India and the United States will have to wait for London to settle its future ties with the EU, something that is likely to take years.

India is by far the most populous nation in the 53-country Commonwealth, whose members are mostly former British colonies and represent a combined 2.2 billion people across the world.

Britain was the biggest foreign investor among the Group of 20 nations in India in 2015, while India represents the third-largest source of foreign direct investment in Britain, the British business ministry said in a statement.

Bilateral trade in goods and services last year was worth 16.55 billion pounds, it said.

As one of the world’s biggest and fastest-growing developing economies, India has long been a target for rich countries. It has demanded significant visa concessions for its citizens to work abroad, a source of tension with the United States.

The leaders of Britain’s “Leave” campaign in the referendum said they wanted to allow more skilled, non-EU workers into the country under a new selective immigration policy.

On its part, Britain is likely to push for more access to India’s financial services market.

Javid was due to meet Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday.

+++ (DE) ‘Babush’ ou ‘Gandhi de Lisboa’ é hoje notícia nos jornais da Índia

(DE – click to see) António Costa toma hoje posse como primeiro-ministro de Portugal.

‘Babush’ ou ‘Gandhi de Lisboa’  é hoje notícia nos jornais da Índia

‘Babush’ (que significa menino em dialecto concani) ou ‘Gandhi de Lisboa’ tem hoje, dia em que toma posse como primeiro-ministro de Portugal, amplas referências na imprensa indiana.

Os jornais destacam as raízes goesas de António Costa, recordando o seu pai, Orlando Costa, poeta comunista goês, e a sua ligação a Margão, em Goa, onde ainda tem vários familiares.

O The Times of India lembra que António Costa é chamado de ‘Babush’ pelos familiares.

A publicação frisa que uma das principais características do advogado António Costa é a “tranquilidade” e fazem um perfil da sua vida e carreira política, sublinhando que desde a juventude esteve ligado às correntes de esquerda e cedo assumiu “elevados” cargos governativos em Portugal.

O India Today adianta que António Costa é conhecido como o “Gandhi de Lisboa”, cidade onde nasceu e onde cedo se interessou pela vida política.

Os jornais fazem ainda uma resenha das últimas semanas políticas em Portugal, descrevendo as adversidades que Costa enfrentou, e a sua coligação com os partidos de esquerda (PCP, BE e Verdes), para derrubar o Governo saído das eleições de 4 de Outubro.

O The Times of India sublinha as dificuldades que António Costa enfrentou nas últimas semanas, após o derrube do Governo de Passos Coelho, para que o Presidente da República o indigitasse primeiro-ministro.

Este jornal fala no ‘establishment’ conservador em Portugal que procurou afastá-lo do poder e que o acusa de chegar a primeiro-ministro de forma ilegítima. Recorda ainda as palavras de Manuela Ferreira Leite, que comparou o volte-face na política portuguesa após a moção de censura ao Governo de Passos Coelho a “um verdadeiro golpe de Estado”. E em simultâneo lembra que Costa admitiu estar a “derrubar os últimos restos de um muro de Berlim”.

A imprensa indiana destaca também os desafios que o novo Governo tem pela frente e a promessa de Costa em acabar com a austeridade, elencando as medidas anunciadas pelo PS.

Já o Zee News salienta que António Costa foi “forçado a fazer concessões de risco com a esquerda radical”, o que “terá impacto sobre o seu orçamento”.

Também o ‘Hindustantimes’ destaca que os socialistas, liderados por António Costa, “uniram-se numa aliança sem precedentes com os comunistas, Verdes e Bloco de Esquerda para derrubar o governo minoritário de linha conservadora, o mais curto na história de Portugal, com apenas 11 dias de governação”.