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Venkaiah Naidu to visit Serbia, Malta and Romania

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Venkaiah Naidu

New Delhi | Vice President Venkaiah Naidu will embark on a three-nation tour to Serbia, Malta and Romania from September 14 to 20 to boost ties with the Central European countries, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said Thursday.

In the first leg of his visit, Naidu will be visiting Serbia from September 14 to September 16, Anju Kumar, Joint Secretary (Central Europe) in the Ministry of External Affairs, told a media briefing.

The visit is at the invitation of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, she said.

“And it is coming after a long gap. In fact, after the break-up of Yugoslavia, it is the first time that a dignitary (from India) is visiting the country,” the official said.

Serbia has an unconditional and open visa policy for India, Kumar said.

During his visit, Naidu will hold talks with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, speaker of the national assembly and the prime minister of that country.

Naidu will also address a special session of the National Assembly, Kumar said, adding the venue of the session will be the place where the first announcement of the historic Non-Alignment Movement (NAM) was made.

Vucic had visited India to attend the Vibrant Gujarat Summit last year in the capacity of a prime minister.

The MEA joint secretary said the focus of the visit will be on trade.

Bilateral trade between India and Serbia stands at around USD 200 million with a focus on areas like agriculture and agricultural technologies, science and technology, education, tourism and pharmaceutical.

In the second leg of the tour, Naidu will visit Malta from September 16 to September 18.

Malta, a country in the Mediterranean, lies on the crossroads of North Africa and Europe and is also a trans-shipment hub.

During the visit, Naidu will visit Maltese President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, the speaker of the House of the Representatives and the acting prime minister of that country, the MEA said.

The vice president will also have an interaction with the Indian diaspora and attend a business event where 180-200 companies are likely to participate.

Last year, India had opened a permanent high commission in Malta. The country also actively cooperated in the evacuation of Indians from Libya in 2011 and 2014.

In the last leg, Naidu will visit Romania from September 18 to September 20, the ministry said.

The visit coincides with 70th year of Indo-Romanian ties and the centenary year of Romania.

During the visit, Naidu will meet Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, the president of Romanian Senate and the prime minister. He will also address a session of Chamber of Deputies in the Romanian Parliament.

Naidu will also have a business meet and interact with the Indian diaspora, Kumar said.

Several crucial pacts are expected to be signed during the visit to the three countries, the MEA official said.

The vice president will be accompanied by Shiv Pratap Shukla, Minister of State in the finance ministry; Rajya Sabha MPs– Prasanna Acharya (Biju Janata Dal-BJD), Vijila Sathyananth (All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam-AIADMK) and Saroj Pandey (Bharatiya Janata Party-BJP); and Lok Sabha MP Raghav Lakhanpal (BJP).

Earlier this month, President Ram Nath Kovind visited Cyprus, Bulgaria and Czech Republic.

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Shakitikanta Das to be the new RBI governor

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Shakitikanta Das

New Delhi | Former Economic Affairs Secretary Shakikanta Das is likely to be the next Reserve Bank of India Governor after the resignation of Urjit Patel on December 10.

Shaktikanta Das, a retired 1980 batch Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer of Tamil Nadu cadre was the member of the Fifteenth Finance Commission of India, and India’s Sherpa to G20. Das also worked as Union Economic Affairs Secretary, Union Revenue Secretary, Union Fertilizers Secretary, special secretary in the Department of Economic Affairs of the Ministry of Finance and as a joint secretary in the Department of Expenditure of the Ministry of Finance in the Indian government.

Earlier Urjit Patel on December 10 resigned from the post of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor. Patel’s three year team was to end in September 2019. Patel is also the first RBI governor to resign since 1990.

Submitting his resignation, Urjit Patel cited personal reasons and stepped down with immediate effect. He said, “On account of personal reasons, I have decided to step down from my current position effective immediately. It has been my privilege and honour to serve in the Reserve Bank of India in various capacities over the years,” Urjit Patel said in a statement. “The support and hard work of RBI staff, officers and management has been the proximate driver of the Bank’s considerable accomplishments in recent years. I take this opportunity to express gratitude to my colleagues and Directors of the RBI Central Board, and wish them all the best for the future,” he added.

 

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Four policemen killed by terrorists in J-K’s Shopian; weapons snatched

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Jaish-e-Mohammed

Srinagar | Four policemen were killed on Tuesday when Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists attacked a guard post outside a minority pocket in south Kashmir’s Shopian district, officials said.

The attack took place this afternoon when four policemen were sitting in a pre-fabricated room outside the pocket that houses six Kashmiri Pandit families.

A senior police official said that six Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists were led by former Special Police Officer Adil Bashir, who deserted in October and decamped eight weapons from a PDP legislator.

Quoting eyewitnesses, the police officer said that militants fired indiscriminately, killing three policemen on the spot and critically injuring one.

The injured policeman was rushed to an Army hospital, where he also succumbed to injuries, the official said.

The deceased have been identified as Anees Ahmad, Hamidullah, Mehraj ud Din and Abdul Majeed.

At the time of the incident, only one family was present at the minority pocket.

Immediately after the shootout, the terrorists fled with three Self Loading Rifles (SLRs) of the policemen, the official said, adding a cordon and search operation has been launched to nab the criminals.

The official said that an intercept had been received in which it was clear that Jaish-e-Mohammed, a banned terrorist organisation, was behind the barbaric act.

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PM Modi may visit Tripura in Feb to inaugurate projects: Officials

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Narendra Modi

Agartala | Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to visit Tripura in February to inaugurate several development projects, including an upgraded cancer centre, a government official said. The regional centre, which offers treatment to more than 2,000 cancer patients annually, is set to have a new building and modern equipment, he said.

According to government reports, 3,786 patients succumbed to cancer between 2013 and 2016 in the state.

Sanjoy Mishra, the media adviser to chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb, said a high-level meeting was convened Monday to review progress in the cancer hospital project. “The Prime Minister is scheduled to visit Tripura in February to inaugurate several developmental projects. The newly built building at the cancer centre is one of them. Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb on Monday reviewed the progress of the construction work at the centre,” Mishra said.

Chief Secretary LK Gupta, Public Works Department (PWD) secretary Manoj Kumar, and Health and Family Welfare secretary Samarjit Bhowmik were among those who attended Monday’s meeting, he said. “The CM would be visiting New Delhi tomorrow (Wednesday) and meet the prime minister to discuss various issues, including the inauguration of the cancer hospital building,” Mishra told reporters.

According to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (2016-17), 40 percent of all cancer patients in the northeast suffer from head and neck malignancy, mainly caused by tobacco consumption.

Tripura tops in tobacco use in the region with 64.5 percent patients in the state admitting to nicotine consumption, the report added.

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