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Titanic hero tweets on Chennai drought

Leonardo DiCaprio cites BBC report, highlights plight of the residents

Several people took to social media to thank Leonardo DiCaprio for his concern. AFP

Now, everyone seems to love a good drought. As Chennai reels under a dire water crisis, it seems to have grabbed eyeballs across the world. Twitter’s big news for the city on Wednesday was actor Leonardo DiCaprio tweeting about the Chennai water crisis, citing a report on the issue. He had tweeted: “Only rain can save Chennai from this situation.”

Citing BBC News, Mr. DiCaprio, a United Nations Messenger of Peace with a special focus on climate change, has written about wells that are empty and a city that is without water. He also highlighted the plight of Chennaiites who are scrambling for water and waiting in queues for long hours to fetch water.

“As the water levels depleted, hotels and restaurants started to shut down temporarily; and the air con was turned off in the city’s metro. Officials in the city continue to try and find alternate sources of water-but the community continues to pray for rain,” read his post.

Interestingly, Mr. DiCaprio, probably known best for his role in the Oscar-winning Titanic, and himself an Academy award winner, has taken on the avatar of a climate change campaigner. His recently released documentary Ice on Fire, which he produced and narrates, received rave reviews. He said the documentary focussed on never-before-seen solutions to the environmental crisis.

But that was not all. Earlier last week, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders too highlighted a BBC report on Chennai running out of water in a social media post.

Several people took to social media to thank Mr. DiCaprio for his concern and called the crisis an example of political tension within the country. Some Instagram users like Mahesh Manoj blamed it on residents who were not keen on rainwater harvesting in their houses; this had led to a decline in groundwater levels and a serious water scarcity.

Back at home, though, it is clear that the water crisis has certainly been rendered political. Saidapet MLA and former Chennai Mayor Ma. Subramanian, who staged a protest seeking a solution for the water crisis, noted that the issue was making headlines in several international newspapers, but charged that “the State government was yet to realise the gravity of the situation”.

54 nations back India for UNSC non-permanent seat

Pakistan and China also come out in support

India has won the unanimous support of all countries in the 55-member Asia-Pacific Group at the United Nations in support of its bid for a non-permanent seat at the UN Security Council (UNSC) for a two-year term in 2021-22.

The development is particularly significant given that Pakistan and China, both countries with which India has had diplomatic challenges at the UN, supported the move.

“Humbled by the show of solidarity by the Asia-Pacific Group in endorsing India’s candidature,” India’s Ambassador & Permanent Representative to the UN Syed Akbaruddin told The Hindu. “We accept the responsibility with humility and will now seek support from the broader UN membership at the elections in General Assembly next year.”

The 55-member Asia-Pacific Group gets to nominate one of its members for the June 2020 elections to a non-permanent seat on the UNSC. Estonia, Niger, Tunisia, Vietnam and St. Vincent and the Grenadines were elected earlier this month.

India and U.S. resolve to work through their trade differences

Secretary of State Pompeo meets Jaishankar, says hurdles can be negotiated

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo with External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar in New Delhi.R.V. Moorthy

India and the U.S. resolved to “work through” their differences which have led to an impasse on trade issues as External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar hosted U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Delhi ahead of a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and U.S. President Donald Trump in Osaka this week.

“If you trade with somebody, and particularly if they are your biggest trading partners, it’s impossible that you don’t have trade issues. But I think the sign of a mature relationship is that ability to negotiate your way through that and find common ground,” Mr. Jaishankar said at the end of their meeting on Wednesday, although neither side announced any positive outcomes from the discussions. Mr. Pompeo and Mr. Jaishankar are understood to have thrashed out issues, including tariffs and counter-tariffs imposed by New Delhi and Washington on each other in the past year, as well as the U.S.’s specific concerns with India’s proposed laws on e-commerce and data localisation, on price caps and market access.

“The U.S. is clear that it seeks greater market access and the removal of trade barriers in our economic relationship, and today I addressed these differences in the spirit of friendship and I think we will be able to resolve these issues in the interests of our two countries,” said Mr. Pompeo.

Modi says he is pained by Jharkhand lynching

‘Don’t insult the State by calling it a hub of such incidents’

Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaking in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.PTI

Breaking his silence on the Jharkhand lynching, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday that he was pained by the incident, and the law would take its course in the case. However, he criticised the “insults” hurled on the State over the lynching.

“Some people in the Rajya Sabha are calling Jharkhand a hub of lynching. Is this fair? Why are they insulting a State? None of us have the right to insult the State of Jharkhand,” he said.

Jharkhand will go to the polls later this year.

Whether it is Jharkhand, or West Bengal or Kerala, incidents of violence should be treated in the same manner and the perpetrators of violence should get the message that the entire country is one on this issue, the Prime Minister said.

In the Jharkhand lynching, Tabrez Ansari, 24, was tied to an electric pole and beaten up on suspicion of being a thief.

The suspects recorded his plight on a mobile phone and forced him to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’ and ‘Jai Hanuman’.

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