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India, Australia ink 5 pacts as President Kovind meets PM Morrison

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President Kovind

Melbourne | India and Australia signed five agreements on Thursday to boost investments and enhance cooperation in key sectors like disability, agricultural research and education as President Ram Nath Kovind met Australian Prime minister Scott Morrison in Sydney.

Kovind, the first-ever Indian head of state to visit Australia, arrived in Sydney on Wednesday on the second leg of his two nation trip.

External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said that during the state visit of President Kovind to Australia, five agreements were exchanged in the presence of Marise Payne, Foreign Minister of Australia and Anantkumar Hegde, Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, by High Commissioners of both countries.

The first agreement was for cooperation in the area of disability and to deliver services to the differently-abled. The second one was between Invest India and Austrade to facilitate bilateral investment.

The third agreement was signed between the Central Mine Planning and Design Institute, Ranchi, and the Commonwealth Scientific and Research Organisation, Canberra, to foster scientific collaboration and innovation.

The fourth one between the Acharya N G Ranga Agricultural University, Guntur, and the University of Western Australia, Perth, for cooperation in agricultural research and education while the last one was between the Indraprashta Institute of Information Technology, New Delhi, and the Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane for a joint Ph.D agreement.

Following the meeting with President Kovind, Prime Minister Morrison announced the release of Australia’s response to the India Economic Strategy, a blueprint to transform the economic engagement. “This report provides a roadmap for our economic future with India,” Morrison said.

India is the world’s fastest growing major economy and offers more opportunity for Australian business over the next 20 years than any other single market, he said.

The Australian government said it endorsed the report and provides in-principle support to its 20 priority recommendations.

“Our work will focus on greater economic engagement targeting 10 Indian states and 10 key sectors, while providing practical support for Australian businesses entering or expanding operations in India,” Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said.

Australia also pinpointed the initial implementation plan with key actions for next one year which will include agreements forged between Austrade and Invest India, the establishment of an Australia-India Food Partnership, opening up new opportunities for agri-tech and service companies and Australia-India Strategic Research Fund grants of up to Australian dollar 500,000.

The fund is designed to help researchers solve challenges shared by both nations, including energy storage, marine science and plant genomics.

Other actions include the expansion of the Australia-India Mining Partnership at the Indian School of Mines, connecting Australian companies to India’s mineral-rich northeastern states, supported by the new Consulate-General in Kolkata, engagement with airlines to increase direct flights through the Australia-India air services agreement.

Ministers across education, agribusiness, resources and tourism will oversee progress of the government’s response and ongoing implementation of the India Economic Strategy.

Morrison along with the ministers for trade and resources will join President Kovind at the launch of the Australian chapter of the Confederation of Indian Industry India Business Forum, which will serve as a platform for networking and policy advocacy for Indian businesses in Australia.

“I look forward to continue discussing the opportunities presented in the India Economic Strategy with President Kovind, and how we can continue to work together to develop enhanced economic ties,” Morrison said. “Today’s steps are only the first on a long journey that will see Australia and India grow together,” he said.

Kovind, who was accorded a ceremonial Guard of Honour by Governor General Peter Cosgrove in Sydney, will be visiting Melbourne on Friday to address university students.

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India invited as ‘Guest of Honour’ to OIC meet, Sushma Swaraj to attend

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Official sources said it was for the first time, India has been invited to an Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) meeting as a guest of honour.

 

New Delhi| In a significant move, India has been invited to the inaugural plenary of the foreign ministers’ conclave of the OIC, a powerful grouping of Muslim majority nations, and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will attend it in Abu Dhabi next month as the ‘guest of honour’.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) called the invitation a “welcome recognition” of the presence of 185 million Muslims in India and of their contribution to its pluralistic ethos, and of India’s contribution to the Islamic world.

Official sources said it was for the first time, India has been invited to an Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) meeting as a guest of honour. The 46th Session of the OIC’s Council of Foreign Ministers will be held in Abu Dhabi from March 1 to 2.

The invitation to India by the OIC comes at a time when India has been mounting a diplomatic offensive against Pakistan to isolate it internationally following the Pulwama terror attack in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed.

The OIC has usually been supportive of Pakistan and, often sided with Islamabad on the Kashmir issue.

The MEA said Foreign Minister of United Arab Emirates Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan invited Swaraj as the ‘guest of honour’ to address the inaugural plenary and that India was happy to accept the invitation.

“We see this invitation as the desire of the enlightened leadership of the UAE to go beyond our rapidly growing close bilateral ties and forge a true multifaceted partnership at the multilateral and international level,” the MEA said in a release.

“We see this invitation as a milestone in our comprehensive strategic partnership with the UAE. We also see this invitation as a welcome recognition of the presence of 185 million Muslims in India and of their contribution to its pluralistic ethos, and of India’s contribution to the Islamic world,” it said.

India is, therefore, happy to accept the invitation and thanked the leadership of the UAE for it, the ministry said.

Last year, Bangladesh proposed a restructuring of the charter of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to pave way for the inclusion of non-Muslim countries like India as an “observer state” of the 50-year old grouping.

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Assam hooch tragedy death toll mounts to 59, 200 taken ill

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Jorhat| At least 59 people have died and over 200 taken ill after consuming spurious liquor in tea gardens in Assam‘s Golaghat and Jorhat since Thursday night, Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Saturday.

The death toll is rising every minute, the minister said after visiting Jorhat Medical College Hospital (JMCH) here.

“This morning the death toll in Golaghat and Jorhat districts was 59 and 200 people have been admitted to hospitals. The death toll and the number of people admitted are changing minute by minute,” Sarma told reporters after meeting some patients at the hospital.

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100 cars gutted in fire at Aero India 2019 show in Bengaluru

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Bengaluru | More than 100 cars have been gutted in to fire at the parking lot near the Aero India Show held at the Yelahankha air base in Bengaluru.

According to a local eye witness, a grass fire spread to parking area number 5 and some vehicles which were parked there have also caught fire. The fire department has stated that around 80-100 cars gutted in fire near the venue of the Aero India Show in Bengaluru.

 

Officials stated that around 10 fire engines have rushed to the spot. Responding on the incident Senior police official MNReddi tweeted, “Fire in the open field parking lot of aero show. Nearly 20 cars burnt. Fire fighting operations by Chief Fire Officer and 10 water tenders staff underway.”

Earlier on Tuesday, one fighter pilot was killed after two Surya Kiran Aircraft crashed during the rehearsal of the Aero India Show.

 

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