India set to become water scarce by 2025: report

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According to the Taiwanese portal, the J-10 fighters have a range of 2940 km, which will cover Iran’s entire air space as well as of the Persian Gulf. However, analysts say that the transfer of only 24 planes, or two squadrons, is unlikely to shift West Asia’s strategic military balance that is heavily tilted in favour of Israel.

China signed an agreement in 2009 to supply 36 J-10B planes to Pakistan, but none of the aircraft, which were part of $ 1.4 billion contract, has been delivered to Islamabad as yet.

Iran is significantly reliant on military aircraft to protect its vital national assets, including its sole civilian nuclear power plant, as well as strategic gas fields. The Fars News Agency of Iran has reported quoting a senior air force commander that the country’s F4 fighter jets are protecting the Bushehr nuclear power plant as well as the giant South Pars oil and gas field.

“At present, Shahid Yasini air base is responsible for fulfilling missions to provide cover and defend the Islamic Iran’s airspace and economic lifeline using F4 aircraft, in addition to conducting tactical and combat missions,” air force commander Esmayeel Lashkari was quoted as saying.

The Bushehr plant began operations in September 2011, but full commercial production is expected to start later in 2015.

Observers point out that if the reports about the China-Iran deal are true, it would confirm that despite the nuclear deal in which the Americans played a significant role, Iran is unlikely to loosen ties with its traditional allies in Eurasia, including China.

4.Ban on Indian drugs based on scientific reasons: EU

A day after India deferred trade talks with European Union (EU), protesting the ban on 700 generic drugs, the bloc said the ban was based on scientific and not trade considerations.

The Commission stresses that the decision concerning a ban on 700 generic drugs was based on scientific and not trade considerations and in accordance with the advice of the scientific committee of the European Medicines Agency (EMA),” Daniel Rosario, European Commission Spokesperson for Trade said in an email response to The Hindu.

India said the decision was taken as the government is “disappointed and concerned by the action of EU in imposing legally binding ban on the sale of around 700 pharma products clinically tested by GVK Biosciences, Hyderabad” on 16 July, the Commerce Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday. The meeting between chief trade negotiators of the two sides was scheduled for end of this month.

“The Commission takes note of the press release issued by the Indian Government about the deferral of jointly agreed talks between the Chief Negotiators on the EU-India Free Trade Agreement. The Commission would like to stress that the purpose of this meeting at Chief Negotiators level was to explore the possibility of resuming the FTA talks, and was not meant to constitute in anyway a full-fledged negotiation round. The Commission remains committed to continue working towards conclusion of an agreement between India and the EU that will be acceptable to both sides. For this reasons, the Commission hopes that a solution will be found to the current deferral,” European Commission Spokesperson for Trade said in his email in reaction to India’s action.

India and EU have been negotiating for the proposed free-trade agreements since 2007. The talks have seen set backs due to differences regarding lack of access for Indians to EU’s labour market and high taxes imposed on liquor and car imports from Europe. The latest development comes as yet another setback for the talks to progress further.

The country could lose about $1-1.2 billion worth of drug exports because of the decision taken by the European Commission to ban the drugs, according to Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council (Pharmexcil).

India exported $15.4 billion worth of pharmaceutical products in 2014-15, with Europe accounting for $3 billion, or 20 per cent of the total. Out of the $3 billion, exports of generic medicines constituted about $1 billion and drug ingredients accounted for the rest.

The country could lose about $1-1.2 billion worth of drug exports because of the decision.

5.Gold crashes to four-year low

Continuing its slide for the fourth consecutive day, gold prices on Thursday dipped below Rs.25,000 by losing Rs.40 to trade at over four-year lows of Rs.24,980 per 10 gram at the domestic bullion market.

Moreover, the precious metal was trading at five-year lows in the global market.

Besides, there was an easing demand from jewellers as retailers deferred their buying plans on hopes of further dip in the yellow metal prices.

6.EPFO plans to invest Rs 5,000 cr in equities

The Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO), for the first time since its inception in 1951, would invest in equities with a corpus of Rs.5,000 crore initially through SBI Mutual Fund.

For this purpose, SBI-ETF NIFTY and SBI SENSEX ETF are the two index-linked ETF schemes chosen from the State Bank of India-promoted SBI Mutual Fund. EPFO manages a corpus of Rs.6.5 lakh crore of pension fund of five crore subscribers.

“If foreign pension funds can invest in our equity market and make money, why can’t we take advantage.”


1.India decides to boycott CPU meet

Will not participate unless Pak. invites J&K AssemblySpeaker or association shifts the venue

New Delhi has decided to boycott the 61st conference of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Union (CPU) to be held in Islamabad unless Pakistan extends an invitation to the Speaker of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly, or the CPU changes the venue of the meeting.

India’s decision stems from Islamabad’s refusal to invite the J&K Speaker on the grounds that it is in violation of the UN Security Council Resolution 1991(1951) of March 30, 1951 and resolution 122 (1957) of January 4, 1957. Pakistan has also said the invitation to J&K would contradict the fundamentals of Pakistan’s foreign policy.

India’s strong reaction comes amid escalating tension between New Delhi and Islamabad over ceasefire violations along the border in Jammu and Kashmir and over the involvement of Pakistani nationals in the recent terror strikes.

2.Tripura passes resolution against death penalty

The Tripura Assembly has passed a resolution requesting the Centre to amend Section 302 of the IPC to abolish capital punishment. The resolution is apparently a fallout of the recent hanging of Yakub Memon, convict in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts case.

Congress MLA Jitendra Sarkar moved a motion in the Assembly on its opening day on Friday against the death penalty and replaced it with life sentence unto death.Chief Minister Manik Sarkar strongly opposed capital punishment terming it as murdering someone for committing a murder. Leader of the Opposition Sudip Roy Burman quoted Mahatma Gandhi to raise his objection to the death sentence. However, Ratan Lal Nath of the Congress favoured continuation of capital punishment.

Mr. Nath did not object when the Speaker put the motion to vote. The Speaker declared the motion to have been passed unanimously. The adopted resolution would be sent to union government and the Law Commission for consideration.

3.India follows global trends in taking on cyber attacks

The number of cyber attacks in the country stood at nearly 50,000 during the first five months of 2015, with most of these attacks on computer networks of Indian organisations originating from countries such as the U.S., Pakistan, China and Bangladesh, Parliament was informed on Friday.

“The trend in increase in cyber attacks is similar to that worldwide. A total number of 22,060, 71,780, 1,30,338, and 49,504 cyber security incidents, including phishing, scanning, spam, malicious code and website intrusion, were reported to Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) during the years 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 (up to May), respectively,” Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha.

Mr. Prasad said attackers are compromising computer systems in different parts of the world and use masquerading techniques and hidden servers to hide the identity of the systems from which the attacks are launched.

“In such cases, CERT-In notifies the organisation concerned regarding the cyber attacks and requests for logs of network devices, servers and other related components for analysing the attacks and identifying sources of attack,” he said.

Analysis of attack methodology is done based on available log provided by the organisations.

“According to the logs as analysed and made available to CERT-In, the Internet Protocol (IP) addresses of the computers from where the attacks originated belong to the countries, including the U.S., Europe, Pakistan, China, Bangladesh, Brazil, Turkey, Iran, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Algeria and the UAE,” the Minister said.

The Minister said a total of 27,605 and 28,481 websites were hacked during the year 2012 and 2013, respectively. In the year 2014 and 2015 (up to May), the number was 32,323 and 9,057, respectively.

A majority of them originate from the U.S., Pak., China and Bangladesh, says Telecom Minister

4.Another secular blogger hacked to death in Dhaka

Rarely three months after the killing of a blogger in Sylhet, unknown assailants armed with machetes hacked to death secular blogger Niloy Chatterjee Neel at his home in Dhaka on Friday.

Niloy, who used the pen-name Niloy Neel, was killed after the gang broke into his apartment on the top floor of a four-storeyed building in Dhaka’s North Gorhan around 1.45 p.m.

The police said Niloy was a member of the “Gonojagoran Moncha”, a platform for youths demanding capital punishment for war criminals. Five attackers entered his house posing as potential renters.

When they were refused entry, they forced their way in, confined Mr. Chatterjee in a room and slashed his head and neck. According to Niloy’s family members and the police, the assailants were armed with machetes and entered the flat in two groups after the Juma (Friday) prayers.

Niloy, who frequently blogged against communalism and fundamentalism on his website ‘Istishon’ (Station), recently received death threats from religious fanatics.

Family and friends said, following repeated threats, Niloy removed his pictures from his Facebook page and changed his place of residence to Kolkata.

The Bangladesh branch of Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, Ansar al-Islam, claimed the killing and warned of more to come, according to monitoring group SITE.

“If your ‘freedom of speech’ maintains no limits, then widen your chests for ‘freedom of our machetes’,” the group, which also claimed to have murdered secular blogger Oyasiqur Rahman Babu in March, said in posts on Twitter and Facebook.

Niloy,40, who worked for an NGO, is the fourth secular blogger to be killed in the Muslim-majority nation since February, when Bangladeshi-born US citizen Avijit Roy was hacked to death in Dhaka. Roy’s wife and fellow blogger, Rafida Ahmed Bonya, was also badly wounded in the attack. In May, secular blogger Ananta Bijoy Das was hacked to death in north-eastern Sylhet on his way to work.

Two years ago, blogger Ahmed Rajib Haider was hacked to death near his home in Dhaka’s Mirpur. 

Underground radical Islamist groups are reportedly behind the attacks. Their brutality is posing a major threat to free thinkers in the country.

Though the police have made some breakthrough in a few cases and arrested suspected killers, no punishment has been handed down so far.

Bloggers in hiding

Activist groups say they fear that Islamist hit squads have lists of the real names and addresses of the bloggers.

Asif Mohiuddin, a blogger who survived an attack in Bangladesh in 2013, described Chatterjee as an atheist “free thinker” whose posts appeared on several sites.

“He was critical against religions and wrote against Islamist, Hindu, Christian and Buddhist fundamentalism,” Mohiuddin, who is now based in the German capital Berlin, told AFP by phone.

The police meanwhile said Chatterjee was one of the organisers of the large-scale protests in 2013 against Islamists convicted of war crimes dating back to the 1971 conflict when Bangladesh seceded from Pakistan. (With inputs from AFP)

Niloy Neel wrote against communalism and fundamentalism; demanded capital punishment for war criminals

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