Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid fulsome tribute to President Pranab Mukherjee’s ability to reach out to people with diverse backgrounds and cultures and establish a relationship of trust and mutual respect. In this context, he said certain States may have doubts about central government schemes, hence a reluctance to abide by them. Bridges of understanding must be built for national concord and stability.
‘The contribution of President Mukherjee to India was immense,’ said Mr Modi, and so too was the personal experience and wisdom he had brought to his office. From the President people could learn how to handle relationships with fellow citizens from diverse political backgrounds and harness their strengths towards the fulfilment of a common purpose, be it in renewable energy, water conservation or digital India. All these causes had been implemented in Rashtrapati Bhavan.
The Prime Minister was speaking at the inauguration of a new museum, a range of new books on diverse subjects, a micro-site and a hop-on, hop-off bus at Rashtrapati Bhavan as part of the celebrations to mark the President’s four years of service to the country. He had made the place as accessible as possible to the common man. Among those present were Vice President Ansari, Chief Justice Thakur of the Supreme Court of India and leading public figures.
President Mukherjee in reply explained how little he actually knew about the work and duties of a president, although as a politician and minister of 43 years his activities were conducted only a stone’s throw away in Parliament and the secretariat. He has proved to be good learner and an exemplar of what a public servant should be. He has pressed repeatedly for reasoned and respectful discourse on the floor of the legislature and at the hustings. Democracy can only prosper when MPs set an example of democratic conduct. ( Mint, Times of India July 25, 26)
Stiffening approach on Pakistan
Indian diplomats stationed in Pakistan have been advised by the Ministry of External Affairs to withdraw their children from Pakistani schools and bring them home, as the country is increasingly unsafe for Indian personnel and their families. Islamabad will no longer be designated as a family posting. The Pakistan government has been asked to provide greater security to Indian High Commission in Pakistan’s capital city.
The move was precautionary, said an Indian official. Soft targets abound in Pakistan. ‘Starting with the school attack in Peshawar on 14 December 2014, children have often been perceived as soft targets,’ he said (Times of India, Hindu July 26)
A new bovine fertility technique being implemented for the first time on a commercial basis in India, promises to usher in second ‘Milk Revolution, the first having been pioneered by the legendary Verghese Kurien decades ago in Gujarat, thence across India in ‘Operation Flood.’
The in-vitro fertilization technology initiative, formally launched by Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh can enhance the milk yield of high-pedigree Indian-bred cows almost five-fold to 10 litres per cow every day. The technology introduced by JK Trust, in line with the central government’s mission, the upgrading indigenous breeds of cattle, will rapidly multiply the high-pedigree Indian-breed cow population (Business Line July 21)
Five diabetic drugs in top sales list
Insulin brand Mixtant, oral formulation Glycomet GP insulin Lantus, oral formulations Galvus Met and Janumet are now in the top-selling list of drugs in India. Overall, the anti-diabetic therapy - estimated at around Rs 8,500 crore – is the fifth largest in the organized pharmaceutical retail market, growing at a healthy rate of 12 per cent annually. This is attributable to improved methods of diabetic detection, but it also underscores the high incidence of diabetes in the country (Times of India July 21)
Housing Development Finance Corporation (HDFC), one of India’s foremost lenders continues its high trajectory profit margins by registering a 20.2 per cent rise in earnings in the first quarter of the current fiscal (April-June).The bank’s balance sheet (total assets) increased from Rs 6.29 lakh crore in the first quarter of the last fiscal to Rs 7.55 Lakh crore in the first quarter of the current fiscal. Few private banks including HDFC have been in a sweeter spot, thanks largely to the higher exposure to the retail segment and its focus on working capital financing in the corporate sector (Business Line July 22)
UNESCO honours India
Sikkim’s Kanchenjunga National Park has been named a world heritage site by the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO. The Kanchenjunga Park is the first ‘mixed’ (combining features of natural and cultural significance) heritage site from India to make it to the list. The Park, which covers 25 per cent of the territory of Sikkim, is an awesome manifestation of natural diversity, from the magnificent snow-clad Himalayan mountain – the world’s third-highest to lowlands and steep valleys, besides numerous lakes and valleys.
The archaeological monuments of the ancient Buddhist Nalanda University in Bihar was also marked as a heritage site, as was the Capitol Complex in Chandigarh, Punjab/Haryana, which includes the Legislative Assembly, Secretariat and High Court is the masterpiece of the iconic French architect Le Corbusier. ‘It is a moment of pride for our city. The [Chandigarh] administration assures residents that we will conserve and preserve this Heritage Site and make the city a major international tourism destination,’ said Parimal Rai, Adviser to the Union Territory’s Administration (Hindu July 18)
Better ‘Leh’d’ than never
The forbidding heights of freezing Ladakh may be a tour of duty for frontline units of the Indian Army and Air Force, but for a growing line of Bengalis, long accustomed to fleeing the heat and humidity of their tropical habitat on the Ganges plain, the cool air and sights and sounds of nearby Darjeeling beckoned invitingly. Recently, travellers have discovered the pleasures of a holiday in Buddhist-populated Ladakh. Wondrous sights, wonderfully friendly locals: such is Ladakh. A direct flight from Delhi to Leh, Ladakh’s capital, will avoid jihadi Srinagar.. Ladakh is now increasingly popular with European tourists (Telegraph July 23)
India, Russia defence ties deepen
One of the major projects before the Indian Defence Ministry involves a Russian designed nuclear-powered aircraft carrier project 2300 ‘Storm’. The concept vessel was developed at the Krylovsky research centre along with the Nevsky engineering company. The carrier has a displacement of 100,000 tonnes, will be 300 metres long and 40 metres wide. It will be capable of accommodating 4000 to 5000 crew and 100 aircraft, including the futurist Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft. India-Russia cooperation is set to cover the supply to India of Tu-22M3 long-range bombers and two nuclear-powered Akula II submarines (Shuka-B project 971) which Is keen to lease-purchase (Russia India Report July 22)
Oleg Sienko, General Director of Russia’s Uralvagonzavod company and Bharat Forge CEO, Baba Kalyani, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the establishment of a co-production unit for the manufacture of self-propelled artillery systems in India. ‘We plan to gradually transfer the documentation as part of the Make in India project to jointly produce the installation,; said Oleg Sienko (Russia India Report July 14) .
Russia has given India discretionary rights to sell their jointly manufactured BrahMos supersonic cruise missile to any country of India’s choice. The original required that both partners would affix formally to a common list of would-be buyers. Russia has waived that right, paving the way for its purchase by Vietnam, Indonesia, South Africa, Brazil and Chile. (Russia India Report July 22).
Vietnam is first in line with the deepening crisis in the South China Sea. A writer in the Telegraph likened India’s ties with Vietnam to China’s with Pakistan. India has gold to China’s dung.
India-US discover huge gas field
An Indo-US geological expedition in the Bay of Bengal discovered a massive field of natural gas, opening up a new resource to meet their energy needs. It is believed to be the most comprehensive gas hydrate field in the world to date. Natural gas hydrates are a natural ice-like substance of natural gas and water in ocean and polar regions. This global resource greatly exceeds all known conventional gas volumes. The next steps will determine if natural gas production is feasible and economic (Hindu July 27)
Maruti beats market expectations
India’s largest passenger car maker Maruti Suzuki India has recorded a standalone net profit of Rs 1,486 crore for the first quarter of the current fiscal (April-June), a rise of 23 per cent compared with the same period last year. ’The profit in the quarter was helped by higher turnover, material cost reduction, higher non-operating income and lower depreciation,’ said a company statement.(Business Line July 27)
No trace of missing plane
A double-engine AN 32 transport plane with 29 passengers and crew on board that went missing last week, when on a flight from Chennai to Port Blair in the Andaman, has not yet been found despite extensive searches by ships, a submarine and aircraft.