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President Trump promises a ‘very big trade deal with India’

Discusses terrorism, Gulf crisis with Modi on the sidelines of G-20 summit

Productive talks: Donald Trump, Shinzo Abe and Narendra Modi in Osaka on Friday. REUTERSREUTERS

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday held “very open and productive” talks on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in , Japan, on a host of issues, ranging from trade disputes to the crisis in the Gulf.

They also pledged to provide a “strong leadership” to the world to address pressing global challenges like terrorism.

Mr. Trump hinted before the talks that trade prospects were improving between the two countries. “I think we were going to have some very big things to announce. Very big trade deal,” he said at the beginning of the talks.

‘Love towards India’

Mr. Modi thanked Mr. Trump for expressing his “love towards India” in a letter delivered by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was in Delhi earlier this week. The Prime Minister said India stands committed to further deepening economic and cultural relations with the U.S. “The talks with @POTUS were wide ranging. We discussed ways to leverage the power of technology, improve defence and security ties as well as issues relating to trade,” he tweeted after the meeting.

Briefing reporters, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said the meeting was “very open and productive.” “The two leaders had a very warm discussion. President Trump congratulated the Prime Minister on his victory and the Prime Minister, in particular, noted that Mr. Trump had sent a very warm letter to him through Secretary of State Mike Pompeo,” he said.

President’s rule for 6 more months in J&K

Polls will be held by year-end, Amit Shah tells Lok Sabha

The Lok Sabha on Friday approved the extension of President’s rule in Jammu and Kashmir for another six months, beginning July 3.

Home Minister Amit Shah assured the House that “democratic, free and fair Assembly elections will be held in the State by the year-end.”

Article 370 of the Constitution, which extends special status to Jammu and Kashmir, is “temporary in nature” and “not permanent,” he told the House.

“The Assembly in Jammu and Kashmir is not yet in existence, so I have brought a Bill to extend President’s rule for six months. The Election Commission has also held talks with the Central government and all political parties, and decided that it would be possible to hold elections at the end of this year,” Mr. Shah said.

The Lok Sabha also cleared the Jammu and Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2019, to replace an ordinance issued by the previous government. With this, people living along the International Border (IB) in Jammu and Kashmir will get the benefit of reservation in direct recruitment, promotion and admission to professional courses on a par with those living along the Actual Line of Control (ALoC).

Hitting out at the Congress and the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Mr. Shah said it was because of them that a third of Jammu and Kashmir was not with India. “Who is responsible?” he asked, drawing a sharp reaction from the Congress members. The House witnessed disruptions over Mr. Shah naming Nehru.

‘A mistake’

Calling Kashmir a mistake made by the Congress and Nehru, he held them responsible for dividing the country on the basis of religion. Mr. Shah asserted that his government had a “zero tolerance” policy towards terrorism. “We have spent ₹2,307 crore to upgrade the security apparatus in the State,” he said.

‘Proposal on electric vehicles is well-thought-out’

NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman refutes industry charge that plan is ‘unrealistic’

Rajiv Kumar

Countering the industry’s claims that the NITI Aayog’s proposal for transition to electric vehicles (EVs) was “unrealistic” and “ill-timed”, the think-tank’s Vice-Chairman Rajiv Kumar said it was a well-thought-out policy to capitalise on the “sunrise industry” and that two-wheeler makers should work with the NITI Aayog rather than paint an incorrect picture.

“We are trying to create a policy that will attract resources and investment. How does one attract investment without declaring a policy? Work with us rather than trying to paint us wrong and saying that the policy has not been thought through,” Mr. Kumar told The Hindu. The NITI Aayog has proposed that only electric three-wheelers be sold in the country post March 31, 2023. Additionally, all new two-wheelers below 150cc sold after March 31, 2025, should be electric, it said.

Industry opposes

The industry has strongly opposed the recommendation, terming it impractical and cautioning that such a move would disrupt the automotive sector, which is already reeling under stress.

Reacting to the industry’s allegation that there had been no consultations, Mr. Kumar said this was completely wrong.

“We started this consultative process very actively in preparation of our mobility conference held last October. I have myself met so many industry people.”

Additionally, he pointed out, the figure of ₹70,000 crore-₹80,000 crore cited by the industry as investment to move to BS-VI was primarily by the four-wheeler industry.

₹2 lakh a month spent on defunct project

Tamil Nadu paying demurrage as submarine museum fell through

No attraction:INS Vagli was handed over to the Tamil Nadu government on April 8, 2013. B. Jothi Ramalingam The Hindu

Call it lack of coordination between the State and Central governments or a lack of follow-up on their part, the Tamil Nadu government has ended up paying about ₹2 lakh every month for a tourism project that it has decided to abandon.

The State government has decided that the ambitious project conceptualised during Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s regime in 2012 to set up a submarine museum at Mamallapuram on the East Coast Road would not work. But it is paying about ₹2 lakh as demurrage to the Chennai Port Trust, where the decommissioned submarine INS Vagli is lying idle.

“We have decided that it is not feasible to implement the project since the submarine could not be mounted at the site in Mamallapuram. We have informed the Centre that we want to give back the submarine,” Minister for Tourism Vellamandi N. Natarajan told The Hindu, asked about the project.

No reply from Centre

He claimed that the communication to the Centre was sent as early as January 2018, but there has been no reply. He also confirmed that the State had been paying demurrage.

When contacted, a spokesperson of the Ministry of Defence said: “The issue has been under discussion among all stakeholders. Some clarification has been sought from the State, and its response is awaited.”

The submarine was handed over to Tamil Nadu on April 8, 2013, and it was towed to Mamallapuram. As it could not be mounted, it had to be towed to the Chennai port.

In September 2013, the then Tourism Minister, S.P. Shunmuganathan, even visited Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh to take a look at the museum that displays another decommissioned submarine INS Kursura, which attracts visitors and generates revenue.

As it turns out, all those visits have not served any purpose.

Maritime heritage enthusiast D. Hemachandra Rao said there was expertise available within the country and if a similar project was implemented in Visakhapatnam how could it not be done in Mamallapuram.

The man behind INS Kursura museum is a retired Vice- Admiral, who lives in Pune, Mr. Rao pointed out.

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