Tuesday 25th July 2017 19:46 EDT

Prime Minister Narendra Modi found his voice again – not too soon either – on the hideous practice of lynching by cow protection vigilantes. Addressing an all-party meeting on the eve of the monsoon session of parliament, he called on State governments to take effective action to bring these lawless thugs to heel. The Prime Minister told the assembled gathering that these perpetrators of violence were ‘using cow protection as a medium for spreading anarchy.’ Mr Modi had last spoken out against cow vigilantism at Mahatma Gandhi’s Sabarmati Ashram as recently as June 30.

Earlier, on August 6, 2016, he had described cow vigilantes ‘anti-social.’

Opposition leaders were struck by Mr Modi’s outreach. He spoke for 30 minutes and went around the backbenches to greet various party leaders. Congress candidate for president Meira Kumar, and vice presidential nominee Gopal Krishna Gandhi were present. Congress President Sonia Gandhi, at a separate opposition conclave attacked the BJP government for the rise in communal tension (Hindu, Times of India July 17, 19).

Amarnath pilgrims killed in bus crash

Seventeen Amarnath pilgrims were killed as the bus in which they were travelling rolled down a gorge on the Jammu-Srinagar highway. The accident was caused by a burst tyre. Twenty-seven passengers were injured, some seriously, as helicopters ferried them to hospital. (Hindu Times of India July 17).

Opposition briefed on China standoff

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj briefed Opposition MPs on India’s standoff with China at the Dokalam Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction. It appears that a clear line of sight to Siliguri would be available to Chinese forces should their road building exercise continue to completion. Siliguri is strategically placed at the neck linking the plains to the hills. MPs from India’s North East spoke of the urgency of constructing a defence infrastructure in the area. The central government was urged to make haste in starting the process.

Contrarian Left

The Left parties consisting the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP), the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Communist Party of India were for an speedy resolution of the Sino-Indian standoff. The RSP MP Premachandran advised the prime minister not to spend time visiting far-off countries (read Israel) in the interests of good relations with an important neighbor, China. His CPI colleague D. Raja echoed him (Times of India July 14).

Muted Chinese signal

The Government of India’s National Security Advisor, Ajit Doval, is visiting Beijing shortly for the BRICS security dialogue, where, it is believed, he will initiate a peace process to resolve the India-China standoff. Hu Shisheng, Director of a Beijing-based government think-tank on South and South East Asian and Oceanic Studies, hinted at the possibility of a discreet unofficial conversation away from prying eyes so that the high octane nationalism on both sides can be gradually defused. This change of tone is much to be welcomed (Times of India July 14).

Mulayam Singh talks tough

Samajwadi Dal leader Mulayam Singh Yadav, once defence minister in the Gujral government in the late 1990s, delivered a robust speech in Parliament, advocating immediate Indian recognition of Tibet’s struggle for independence from Chinese colonial rule. Indian policy, he averred, was incorrect from its inception: India’s acceptance of Chinese sovereignty over Tibet was a grievous error for which the country was now paying. China was India’s foremost adversary, he said, recalling his repeated warnings to various governments, but none of them were taken with noticeable seriousness. Pakistan was now a secondary proposition for India, he concluded. Chinese voices threatening withdrawal of recognition of Sikkim’s cession to India must understand the consequences of any such hasty move, which they are likely to repent at leisure (Times of India, Hindu July 20).

US advises peace settlement

The US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert, answering a question at a routine press conference in Washington, said: ‘I know that the US is concerned about the situation there. We believe that both parties, both sides should work together to try to come up with some sort of arrangement for peace.’ (Mint July 20).

Jihadi module busted

A Kashmiri jihadi module was busted recently. It involved some 80 youths who were specially recruited for training on the Pakistan side of the Line of Control (LoC). The Baramullah Police spearheaded the investigation which exposed the Hizbul Mujahideen as the organization responsible for the conspiracy. Parvez Wani, the commander, and three of his team, Ansar-ul-lah Tantray, Abdul Rashid Bhat and Mehraj-ud-din Kak, all from north Kashmir, were arrested and a considerable haul of arms was recovered (Hindu July 17).

Rich strike in South

Scientists at the Geological Survey of India have discovered a presence of millions of tonnes of precious metals and minerals under the waters surrounding peninisular India. The marine resources off Mangalore, Chennai, the Mannar Basiin, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and around Lakshadeep have yielded significant data pointing to future possibilities from further exploration in what lies within India’s Exclusive Economic Zone. State-of-the-art research vessels were involved in the survey (Times of India July 17).

US firm to hire 500 Indians

US digital firm Softvision is to hire 500 software engineers in niche skills for its Bangalore facility. The new staff will add to the 2,400 product design and engineering professionals who are currently employed by Softvision across the world.

The Bangalore studio will be an addition to the firm’s network of 17 studios across eight counties and five continents that help clients evolve talent, and process technology, while creating custom digital experiences. Softvision already has a facility in Mysore with 8oo software developers and testers working out of the city (Business Line July 18).

Google in new Indian venture

Internet giant Google has rolled out its professional consulting services in India where it will work directly under with large clients to offer IT-based consulting solutions.

‘We have invested significantly into professional services in India. These are consulting services, change management services for customers where we work with them to solve some of their most complex problems,’ said Mohit Pande, Country Head, India Google Cloud. Google will be competing with big hitters such as Amazon Web Services, IBM Software Services, Microsoft Azure et al (Business Line July 18).

Reliance net profit up 28 per cent

Mukesh Ambani’s oil-to-telecom conglomerate Reliance Industries reported a net profit of Rs 9,108 crore for the June quarter, up 28 per cent from the corresponding quarter of the last year. The achievement arose from the sale of petroleum products, petro-chemicals and organized retail at stable prices, enabling the Group to record an all-time high profit. No disclosure has yet been made of its performance in 4G telecom service Jio, but it has announced further investments in this sector – which surely augurs well for its performance in this sector, too (Business Line July 21).

Realty sector rides high

The first half of the calendar year 2017, has seen the realty sector register a record inflow of investments worth Rs 16,000 crore, the highest ever for a half-year period. ‘2017 seems to have set a new milestone,’ said Shobit Aggarwal, Managing Director, Capital Markets & International Director, JLL India. ‘Given the scale, 2017 seems set to break all previous investment records,’ he added.

Attributing the surge to a basket of economic reforms by the government, he said, ‘Reforms are changing the investment scenario in the country and has made India one of the most attractive emerging markets from the investment point of view.’ (Business Line July 21).

Chinese autos in Gujarat

Human life is riddle with paradoxes and puzzles – which is why it never ceases to interest earth watchers, from writers, artists and scientists to ordinary folk. India and China may be in a standoff in distant Sikkim, Bhutan and Tibet; Chinese media commentators and diplomats may be breathing fire and threatening war, but in Gujarat, of all places, a major Chinese automobile company SAIC Motor Corporation has started operations at the Halol facility, where not so long General Motors of the US ruled the roost.

Return to good timesIts workforce of laid-off engineers and skilled mechanics are now looking to the Chinese company for re-employment and the return of the good times. Would the Chinese company work in a country with which its government was about to go to war? Good question. Time alone will provide the answer, but India does happen to be one of China’s more profitable markets, and there not many around these days (Business Line July 21).

Russia-India deal on new reactors

Russian companies are to sign three key agreements with the Nuclear Power Corporation of India for units 5 & 6 for the Kudankulam facility in Tamil Nadu, said Sergey Orlov, who leads the India operations of Atomstroyexport, one of the Russian companies engaged in the construction of nuclear power projects. Units 1 & 2 are operational and producing electricity for the Southern India grid; Units 3 & 4 are under construction, with 5& 6 to follow. The Indian government suggested Haripur in West Bengal as a site, but the State authorities turned it down. Andhra Pradesh will likely provide the alternative site. The new units will supply 1200MW of power (Business Line July 21). 

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