Daily News (In Short)-29-September-2015

29 Sep 2015


#* At UN peacekeeping summit, wave of the hand is the only interaction between Modi, Sharif
United Nations: Amid a chill in bilateral relations, waving at each other was all that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif did on Monday as they attended the UN peacekeeping summit.
Assembling for the Leaders' Summit on Peacekeeping being hosted by US President Barack Obama, Modi walked into the conference hall first. Sharif followed a few minutes later and waved at Modi. The Indian Prime Minister waved back and smiled.
Then there was a pause, after which Modi waved again and Sharif acknowledged and smiled.
File photo. Image courtesy: PTIFile photo. Image courtesy: PTI
The two leaders, who are in New York for UN summits, came across each other for the first time on Monday.
At the conference, they were seated across the horse-shoe-shaped table.
Ahead of the UN meet, there were questions whether the two leaders will have a meeting or at least manage a handshake, particularly since they are staying in the same hotel.
Modi and Sharif had last met in Ufa, Russia, in July on the sidelines of the BRICS and SCO summits.
Indo-Pak ties are going through a chill particularly after last month's cancellation of NSA-level talks following differences over the agenda proposed by Islamabad, and a planned meeting between Kashmiri separatists and Pakistan's National Security Advisor Sartaj Aziz.
The decision to hold meetings between the NSAs and the heads of border guards were taken during the Ufa talks.
Last week, Indian officials had said that Prime Minister Modi will not have a bilateral meeting with Sharif during his current visit to the US.
Modi and Sharif are staying in the same hotel in the city-the iconic Waldorf Astoria.


#* What the Modi-Obama talks finally boiled down to: Climate change and tackling China
Prime Minister Narendra Modi discussed the entire gamut of issues of bilateral interest with US President Barrack Obama on Monday, an agenda which also included multilateral issues of common interest. But two issues which he dwelt upon need to be highlighted.
One pertains to the global problem of climate change. The other one is a larger,long term strategic issue of China and its rivalry with Japan.
On the issue of climate change, PM Modi talked about the upcoming Paris Conference in December which is expected to set international standards and fix responsibilities for governments in combating climate change problems and seeking specific commitments from them.
Modi and Obama. PIB image
India is yet to announce its CBDRs (Common but Differentiated Responsibilities), while major powers, including China, have done that already. India is expected to announce its CBDRs in October.
The Indian case is that countries like the US, all developed countries and a developing country like China are much to be blamed for the present climate change woes and therefore they should bear the brunt for the money and technology needed to reverse this trend.
India’s considered opinion is that it is for the developed world to provide technology at affordable prices to the developing world to reverse bad effects of climate change and give ample time to the developing world to use indigenous and innovative means to deal with the problem.
PM Modi, therefore, elaborately explained his government's approach in this regard.
“The President and I share an uncompromising commitment on climate change, without affecting our ability to meet the development aspirations of humanity. We have both set ambitious national agendas. In India, our measures include not just a plan to add 175 GW of renewable energy by 2022, but a development strategy that will enable us to transition to a more sustainable energy mix.
"This is an exercise we are undertaking in the spirit of our culture and tradition, but also because of our commitment to the future of this planet. Our extraordinary bilateral partnership in the energy sector focuses on clean and renewable energy and energy efficiency,” Modi said.
Modi also told Obama that he was waiting  for a positive response to his call for a global public partnership for developing affordable clean energy sources that will enable faster adoption across the world.
"We should work together to advance that goal. And, it is equally important to develop mechanisms to ensure that the affordable also become accessible to those who need it the most. We look forward to comprehensive and concrete outcome in Paris with a positive agenda on combating climate change, which also focuses on access to finance and technology for the developing world, especially the poor countries and small island states," Modi said.
On strategic aspects, Modi told Obama that the India-US defence cooperation, including defence trade and training, was expanding and the two countries had just had a dialogue on cyber security.
The two sides have increased their cooperation even as existing terrorism threats were growing and new ones were emerging. Modi also catered to the US concern about tackling the rise of China when he specifically mentioned Japan,  a military ally of the US.
“I welcomed the progress in giving shape to our Joint Strategic Vision on Asia, Pacific and Indian Ocean Regions as also our joint engagement with regional partners like Japan. This will also strengthen our maritime security cooperation,” Modi said.
This is a major gesture from Modi to the US as the Americans are most concerned about China and its shenanigans in the South China Sea. Incidentally, when Obama had visited India in January this year, the two countries had for the first time issued a separate statement on the South China Sea developments.
Modi’s mention of Japan in his on-record conversation with Obama will please the Americans and inevitably ring a bell in Beijing. This is a bold move. One will have to wait and watch to see how China responds to this and how it is going to affect India-China ties. 

#* Facebook back after second outage
BENGALURU: Facebook restored access to its social media website for most users on Monday afternoon, after its second outage in less than a week.
According to Currentlydown.com, Facebook was down for about 42 minutes between 3 pm and 4 pm ET.
"We are currently restoring Facebook services that people had trouble accessing earlier today due to a configuration," Facebook spokesman Jay Nancarrow said.
"We are working to bring things back to normal for everyone," he added.

Your entertainment, whenever you want!
Facebook back online after major outage
Facebook's map on Downdetector.com, which monitors disruptions, showed major outages over parts of North America.
The social network's mobile app was also back in service, while its Messenger services was working during the outage.
Facebook suffered a similar outage on September 24 when it was down in North America, Europe, Australia and India.
The company's shares closed down nearly 4% at $89.21.

#* AAP's Somnath Bharti to be questioned today in domestic violence case
After evading arrest for over a week, Aam Aadmi Party MLA Somnath Bharti surrendered before the police on Monday night in a domestic violence case filed by his wife. The former Delhi law minister was left with no option after the apex court directed him to surrender before the investigating officer. Bharti defended his disappearance in his dramatic style and fortifying his argument with a copy of the Constitution.

#* FMC merges with Sebi: 5 facts to know about the unprecedented merger of regulators
The amalgamation of Forward Markets Commission (FMC), the erstwhile commodities regulatory body, with capital markets watchdog Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) came into effect today, marking the first major case of two regulators being merged.
Although, the merger of these two independent regulatory bodies was under discussion for long time, the move gathered pace, especially, after the commodity market was rocked by the outbreak of a multi-crore scam at National Spot Exchange (NSEL) unearthed two years back.
Now that the merger has been done with, below is the draw down of the journey of the commodities regulatory body and what led to the eventual covergence with the capital markets regulator Sebi.
1) History of the two regulatory bodies: The Forward Markets Commission regulated commodities market since 1953, while the Securities and Exchange Board of India was set up in 1988 as a non-statutory body for regulating the securities markets and became an autonomous body in 1992 with full independent powers. Currently, India boasts of three national and six regional bourses for commodity futures in the country. The persisting global economic slowdown coupled with slackening growth in China fuelled a sharp fall in commodity prices over the past year or so. So much so that the consolidated turnover of all the exchanges put together fell to nearly Rs 60 lakh crore in 2014-15 from over Rs 101 lakh crore in the preceding financial year.
2) Issues stifling commodities markets: FMC oversaw the commodities market for over 60 years, but it lacked powers which led to wild fluctuations and alleged irregularities remaining untamed in this market segment. Also, the commodities market faced challenges with respect to speculative activities and illegal activities like 'dabba trading' flourishing in this segment. Cautioning small investors, Sebi chairman UK Sinha had once said, "If you put your hard-earned money into this market, it may not be ultimately good for you. The commodities market is for those who are experts in this space. For non-experts, it is a risky area."
3) Talks of merger: The merger talks between the two regulatory bodies was first mooted in 2003, and continued in next few years before the Rajan committee in 2009 reiterated consolidation of all financial sector regulators under one umbrella. In the events before the outbreak of NSEL crisis came to light, Justice BN Srikrishna-led FSLRC recommended unified regulation. But the fallout of NSEL prompted finance ministry to bring FMC under its fold in that same year. Finally, in his budget speech this year in February, finance minister Arun Jaitley announced the merger of FMC with Sebi.
4) What merger aims to achieve: The merger is aimed at streamlining the regulations and curb wild speculations in the commodities market, while facilitating further growth there. “The merger will increase economies of scope and economies of scale for the government, exchanges, financial firms and stakeholders,” finance minister Arun Jaitley has been quoted as saying in reports. The minister also promised a more steps measures to further develop the market. He said there is no reason why the commodities market should not have options or index futures. He also said in future banks and foreign portfolio investors will also be allowed to participate in the markets.
5) Measures by Sebi: Sebi has also created a separate Commodity Cell and has set up new departments for regulation of commodities derivatives market. Sebi has formed a Commodity Cell by posting its senior officials, while two internal departmental committees (one each in Integrated Surveillance Department and Market Intermediaries Regulation and Supervision Department) have been set up. The market regulator has also sought help from the Agriculture Ministry with regard to the data sources for the prices and to improve the methodology for determination of final settlement price. It will also give up to one year time for those in commodities market to adjust to new regulations.


#* Ahead of Bihar polls, Sonia, Rahul to address more than a dozen rallies in Congress campaign
New Delhi: With the Congress-RJD-JD(U) 'grand alliance' facing a tough challenge in Bihar, Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Vice President Rahul Gandhi will address a series of rallies in the state next month ahead of the crucial five-phase assembly elections.
Sonia and Rahul are scheduled to address nine and four rallies, respectively. While Sonia is slated to address rallies on October 3 and October 17, Rahul will be holding public meetings on October 7, 26 and 30.
Congress sources said that both RJD chief Lalu Prasad and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar are likely to share the dais with Sonia and Rahul in one or more of their rallies during the fortnight-long campaign programme, which starts with the Congress President's rally at Kahalgaon in Bhagalpur and Wajirganj in Gaya on October 3.
File photo. Image courtesy: AFPFile photo. Image courtesy: AFP
Rahul is scheduled to address three rallies in Bachchwara in Begusarai, Barbigha in Sheikhpura and Chenari in Sasraam on October 7.
Due to his Bihar schedule, the Congress vice-president's visit to the party-ruled Karnataka to meet debt-ridden farmers and family members of those who committed suicide has been shifted to October 9 and 10. As per the earlier plan, Rahul was to tour Karnataka on October 6 and 7.
While Sonia had already shared dais with Nitish and Lalu at the Swabhiman Rally in Patna on August 30, Rahul is yet to address any joint rally with the Bihar leaders. Rahul kicked off his election campaign from Champaran on September 19, sharing the dais with Prasad's son Tejaswi Yadav and JD(U) general secretary K C Tyagi.
Launching his campaign from Ramnagar, Rahul had made a no-holds-barred attack on Modi calling him a "feku" (braggart) and accusing him of not fulfilling promises made to people and working only for a few "suited-booted" people as he tried to paint Modi and BJP as pro-rich.
The BJP-led NDA has already decided to launch a campaign blitzkrieg by holding a staggering 500 rallies, with Prime Minister Modi alone addressing 20-22 big meetings.
The BJP in alliance with Ram Vilas Paswan's LJP, Upendar Kushwaha's RLSP and and former Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi's HAM is making a serious bid to wrest power from two-term Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who has allied with his one time friend-turned-foe-turned-friend Lalu Prasad and Congress to halt the juggernaut of Modi-led BJP, which had virtually decimated them in Bihar in last Lok Sabha polls.
After the Delhi drubbing, Bihar is a make or break election for BJP while the political future of both Prasad and Kumar also hinge on the electoral fallout in this crucial poll.

#* Delhi: Lawyer caught for taking obscene pics of women with shoe-cam, later released
A 34-year-old corporate lawyer was arrested on Sunday for allegedly taking obscene pictures of women with a spy cam fitted to one of his shoes at DLF Saket mall, said police.

The lawyer, who is a son of a former president of consumer forum in Haryana, was arrested on Saturday when manager of a popular shop in DLF Saket suspected his unusual behaviour of standing particularly besides women while advancing his right foot. When he was confronted, he tried to get away but was soon nabbed. The security guards discovered spy cam and police was informed. 

A case under relevant sections of IPC was registered immediately, said DCP (South) Prem Nath. Police also recovered around 12 obscene clips from his possession, but it is yet to be found out whether he stored the clips for personal use or uploaded over internet sites.

During interrogation, he disclosed that he conceived the idea from popular sites and later purchased the spy cam from an online portal. Police officials said that he fitted the cam in his right shoe and used to tactically place his foot so as to capture private parts of women. He also revealed that he has been to the mall previous Saturday too. 

The lawyer is a resident of Faridabad. Police filed cases under 354C and 354D (outraging modesty of women) of the Indian Penal Code. He has been now released on bail. 


#* Obama and Putin meet on Syria, but remain divided on Assad’s fate
United Nations, US: Russian president Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Barack Obama met Monday on the crisis in Syria but failed to resolve their dispute over the future role of Bashar al-Assad.

In dueling speeches before the UN General Assembly, Obama branded the Syrian leader a child-killing tyrant, while Putin said the world should support Assad against the Islamic State group.

The Russian leader urged UN General Assembly members to unite to fight the jihadist group and warned that he plans to step up support for Assad’s forces and has not ruled out air strikes.

The US and Russian presidents clinked glasses and shook hands at lunch with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon after their addresses, but nothing could disguise the gulf in their positions.

Putin and Obama later met for 90 minutes for talks the Russian leader dubbed “constructive and business-likes” and a senior US official called a “business-like back and forth.”

Putin appeared pleased that Obama had agreed to Russia having a role in the debate, and said: “In my opinion, there is a basis to work on shared problems together.”

Both leaders agreed there should be a process of political transition in Syria but, the US official added, they “fundamentally disagreed” on the role of Assad.

“I think the Russians certainly understood the importance of there being a political resolution in Syria and there being a process that pursues a political resolution,” the official said.

“We have a difference about what the outcome of that process would be,” he added.

In his first speech to the world body in a decade, Putin warned it was an “enormous mistake to not cooperate with the Syrian group which is fighting the terrorists face-to-face.”

“We must address the problems that we are all facing and create a broad anti-terror coalition,” he declared, proposing a Security Council resolution on a coalition to include Assad and Iran.

Obama said Washington was ready to work with Russia and even Iran against the Islamic State jihadists, but warned this must not mean keeping Assad in power in Damascus indefinitely.

“The US is prepared to work with any nation, including Russia and Iran, to resolve the conflict,” he said.

Rather than a bulwark against jihadist extremism, Obama argued, Assad drives Syrians into the arms of such groups by such acts as dropping “barrel bombs to massacre innocent children.”

Not to be outdone, the Russian leader blamed the rise of violent extremism on the US military interventions in Iraq and Libya, which he said unleashed chaos in the Middle East.

He argued that the IS group now running rampant in Syria and Iraq sprang out of the chaos left behind after US-backed forces ousted Saddam Hussein from Baghdad and Moamer Kadhafi in Libya.

After the end of the Cold War, Putin argued, the West emerged as a new “center of domination” of the world and arrogantly took it upon itself to resolve conflicts through force.

This power led to the “emergence of areas of anarchy in the Middle East, with extremists and terrorists,” he said.

Raids against the Islamic State group by the US-led coalition of Western and Arab allies are illegal, he argued, because they were not requested by Syria nor authorized by the UN Security Council.

If there were a proper legal basis for air strikes, Russia had not ruled out taking part, he said later at a news conference.

“We are thinking about how to additionally help the Syrian army,” he said. “We don’t rule anything out. But if we are to act it will only be fully respecting international legal norms.”

Some European powers are reportedly softening their stance, signaling Assad could stay on in an interim role, but France’s President Francois Hollande stuck close to Obama’s line.

“Russia and Iran say they want to be part of a solution,” he said. “So we must work with these countries to explain to them that the route to a solution does not go through Bashar al-Assad.”

In his speech, Obama did not specifically address Assad’s fate in efforts to re-launch a bid to end a war that has left more than 240,000 dead since 2011.

But he declared that there could be no return to the pre-war status quo, when Assad held sway.

Putin scorned this stance, arguing that only the Syrian people could depose their leader and that Assad had agreed to begin a reform programme to bring more people on board.

“I relate to my colleagues the American and French presidents with great respect, but they aren’t citizens of Syria and so should not be involved in choosing the leadership,” he said.

Moscow has put Washington on the back foot by dispatching troops and aircraft to the war-torn country and pushing reluctant world leaders to admit that Assad could cling to power.

On the ground, Russia has started putting the pieces together by agreeing with Iraq, Syria and Iran that their officers will work together in Baghdad to share intelligence on IS.


#* Hong Kong, China stocks tumble, joining global sell-off
Hong Kong stocks tumbled more than 3 percent to their lowest in two years on Tuesday, while Chinese shares also fell sharply, as investors joined a global sell-off amid deepening worries about the world economy.
The Hang Seng index in Hong Kong was down 3.8 percent at 20,379.05 points by 0149 GMT, breaching a key support level and its lowest level since July, 2013.
China’s blue-chip CSI300 index fell 1.6 percent to 3,191.66 by 0149 GMT, while the Shanghai Composite Index  lost 1.6 percent to 3,050.23 points.
China CSI300 stock index futures for October fell 2.0 percent, to 3,087.2, 104.46 points below the current value of the underlying index.

#* Britain to host China's Xi on first state visit
BEIJING - Chinese President Xi Jinping will make his first state visit to Britain next month, the British government said on Tuesday, 10 years after the last such visit by a Chinese president.

The news of Xi's Oct 20-23 visit comes a week after British finance minister George Osborne visited China to strengthen economic and financial ties.

Despite disagreements over human rights and the former British colony of Hong Kong, China values Britain's staunch defense of free trade and lack of obstacles to investing in Britain.

Xi and his wife, Peng Liyuan, would stay at Buckingham Palace, the palace said in a statement, according to an email from the British embassy in Beijing.

The last Chinese head of state to visit Britain was President Hu Jintao in 2005.

A state visit usually includes a visit to parliament and a meeting with the prime minister.

Prince William, the queen's grandson, visited China in March, becoming the first high-level British royal to go to the country since the queen and her husband, Prince Philip, visited in 1986. REUTERS.


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