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South Africa President Ramaphosa welcomes PM Modi

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi was today welcomed by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa after he arrived in the country to attend the BRICS Summit beginning tomorrow.

Modi arrived here from Uganda’s capital Kampala, the first bilateral tour by an Indian prime minister since 1997.

“PM Narendra Modi welcomed by the host of the evening South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on the eve of the 10th BRICS Summit beginning tomorrow,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said in a tweet.

He will participate in the two-day BRICS Summit, whose theme this year is ‘BRICS in Africa’.

Modi will attend the 10th edition of the BRICS Summit in Johannesburg, during which the grouping’s leaders are expected to deliberate on global hot-spot issues, international peace and security, global governance and trade issues among others.

He is also expected to meet several leaders including Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Earlier, Modi had visited Rwanda for two days on the first leg of his visit.

BRICS is a grouping of five major emerging economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Originally the first four were grouped as “BRIC”, before the induction of South Africa in 2010.

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India-Pakistan need to work for terror free South Asia: PM Modi writes to Imran Khan

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New Delhi | PM Modi on Monday wrote to his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan and congratulated him for being elected as new Prime Minister of the Islamic democracy.

PM Modi in his letter wrote that “India is currently looking for good neighbourly relations with Pakistan. Both countries  should look for constructive and meaningful engagement towards this.” PM Modi also stressed for the “need to work for terror-free South Asia.”

Cricketer-turned-politician  Imran Khan on Saturday took oath as the 22nd Prime Minister of Pakistan after his party Pakistan Tehrrek-e-Insaf (PTI) emerged as the single largest party in the general election of Pakistan.

Responding to the letter by PM Modi, Pakistan’s Foreign Affairs minister SM Qureshi said,” There is a need for continued and uninterrupted dialogue with India. We are neighbours. We have long-standing issues, both of us know these problems. But we have no other option but to engage in dialogue. We cannot afford adventurism.”

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Kasturirangan says pressure on land resources could be the reason behind rain fury

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Hyderabad  |  Pressure on Kerala’s limited land resources due to the growing population, denudation of the Western Ghats and climate change could be the reasons behind the floods that have ravaged the state, eminent scientist K Kasturirangan has said.

The former chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) noted that the state’s population had increased in the last century and it “has its own pressures on the environment and resources”.

“So, together there has been an impact on the environment … The population has increased, there is more demand on resources, which includes land, agriculture and many other activities,” he told PTI.

Kasturirangan, who was a member of the now-defunct Planning Commission and hails from Kerala, said that heavy rains have in the past been “well managed” by nature through an exceptionally thick vegetation and other kinds of natural endowment that the state has, including the backwaters”.

But the size of the backwaters has shrunk to 50-60 per cent of what it was in the 1940s, he said.

Kasturirangan said the Western Ghats have denuded at many places, “and agricultural practices have been pursued there… population pressure has caused this”.

Climate change could also be a reason behind the heavy rains, according to him.

“There are multiple factors. One has to really analyse it,” he said.

He called for “proper planning” to minimize damage due to heavy rains.

Kasturirangan said steps should be taken to enable sustainable livelihood for Keralites, “make them happy and contented”.

The fierce monsoon rains in Kerala have claimed 210 lives since August 8 and displaced over 7.14 lakh people from their homes.

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Kerala requires technical assistance rather than food and clothing, claims Union Minister KJ Alphons

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Thiruvananthapuram | Union Minister and Kerala native KJ Alphons on Monday said that the state of Kerala who is currently suffering the worst floods since 1924 and it no more needs assistance in form of ‘food and clothing’.

Speaking to media, KJ Alphons said, “Help has been pouring in from all over the world, but the state doesn’t need food and clothes. What the state desperately needs is technical assistance to rebuild and recreate”. There will be no electricity in homes. Carpentry, plumbing would be gone. We need hundreds of thousands of electricians, plumbers, carpenters to rush to Kerala. We don’t need clothes/food. People with technical capabilities are required to put life back into Kerala,” added the Union Minister.

Speaking on the relief funds sanctioned by the Union Government, the Minister said,”The prime minister visited Kerala and took stock of the situation. He has promised assistance and whatever it takes to rebuild the state. He announced an immediate assistance of Rs. 500 crore. Before that Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Kiren Rijiju had sanctioned Rs. 100 crore and Rs. 80 crore, respectively. So money isn’t a problem.”

The state of Kerala has already suffered a loss of 21,000 crores with more than 7 lakh people have been forced to stay in relief camps due to constant rains and flood like situation in the state. Various state governments including Maharashtra, Punjab, Delhi, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh offered a contribution worth Rs.10 crores for the relief work. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath also offered Rs. 15 crores from the Uttar Pradesh Relief Fund.

Informing about the relief work, the Union Minister further added, “Things are running very well and all central forces are providing amazing services. Fishermen have turned out to be the biggest heroes. We thank the people of India and other countries for sending help and showing compassion, but we need technical help when the water level goes down. There is no electricity or mobile connectivity. The homes are gone so we need thousands of electricians, carpenters and plumbers to rush to Kerala. The biggest challenge right now is to rebuild. We need people with technical skills to put life back on track.”

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