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As U.S. changes tack, India redraws UNSC bid

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1. As U.S. changes tack, India redraws UNSC bid

The letters have been uploaded ( for public reading, the first time countries have put their official positions on paper.

While the Chinese Ambassador wrote that China wants “small and medium-sized countries” to “take turns to serve in the Security Council”, the Russian Ambassador made it clear that none of the current members’ powers would change, saying: “The prerogatives of the current Permanent Members of the Security Council, including the use of veto, should remain intact under any variant of the council reform.”

Sources said the government was particularly surprised by the letter of U.S. Ambassador Samantha Powers that said the U.S. was “open to a modest expansion” of the membership, and wanted specific countries that would be considered to be named in advance, thereby rejecting the current text-based process that India had been pushing for. “This document puts into doubt everything the U.S. has conveyed to India bilaterally on the issue,” one diplomat told The Hindu.

The India-U.S. Joint Statement issued during President Barack Obama’s visit in January said: “President Obama reaffirmed his support for a reformed U.N. Security Council with India as a permanent member.” However, unlike countries such as Kazakhstan and Romania, which specifically mentioned India as their approved candidate for the seat, the U.S. made no mention of India. Of particular concern is the U.S. Ambassador’s statement that “It is critical that any reform proposal enjoy broad consensus among member states,” as that mirrors the position of a group of 13 countries, including Pakistan, called the Uniting for Consensus Group.

Things could go down to the wire in the next few weeks as it is imperative that the consolidated document uploaded by the President of the General Assembly, Sam Kutesa, at least be accepted by the countries as a basis for discussing UN reform next year. Negotiations over reform and expansion of the U.N. Security Council have run on for more than seven years, and Indian officials feel that the fact that countries have committed to positions is a positive development for the process. If, however, one of the P-5 countries — for instance, China — decides to veto a resolution to accept the document, India’s hopes for a permanent seat in the near future will be in danger. “We would be back to square one unless that happens,” an official said.

2.Russian tie-up to boost ISRO’s semicryogenic launcher plan

The national space programme looks set to ride on a new thaw in the 40-year-old Indo Russian Space ties, as indicated by the just unveiled memorandum of understanding between the Indian Space Research Organisation and Russian Federal Space Agency (ROSCOSMOS).

The MoU covering wide-ranging areas and which was firmed up in June is “just the beginning”. The development of the new, higher-power semi-cryogenic engine could be an immediate beneficiary, according to A.S. Kiran Kumar, Chairman of the Indian Space Research Programme.

Mr. Kiran Kumar told The Hindu , “[The MoU] is the initial process, a lot of discussions must be held before it takes a concrete shape. We would work on future systems of common interest. We have identified several areas and established working groups to go through them. We have to see how it develops.”

The ISRO is working on its new-generation, Rs. 1,800-crore third rocket programme, called the semi-cryogenic launch vehicle, to beef up its current portfolio of the PSLV and the GSLV. It will use space-grade kerosene and liquid oxygen as fuel and is meant to pitch spacecraft totally weighing six to ten tonnes to heights of 36,000 km. This would be double the lifting power of the GSLV and triple that of the PSLV. Only the U.S. and Russia have this technology.

Mr. Kiran Kumar said: “We are looking at using Russian testing facilities for the semi-cryogenic engine. We will be ready with the engine [SCE-200] in six to eight months. Although we will have our own test facility at Mahendragiri, ours will take some time to come up.”

Mutual advantages

About the spin-offs to the Russians, he said today, all space agencies looked at working with each other for many mutual advantages.

ISRO and ROSCOSMOS signed the MoU separately in May and June, Union Minister of State for Space, Atomic Energy & PMO Jitendra Singh said in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.

Unlike in the 1990s, when the GSLV cryogenic technology transfer pact was stymied by U.S. geopolitics, the two sides do not envisage any transfer of technology in the cooperation.

The MoU includes new areas such as navigation. India is building its regional fleet of navigation satellites; Russia is completing its GLONASS global navigation constellation on the lines of the U.S. GPS. The two expect to augment each other’s reference signals for sharpness through ground receivers.

The other areas to be pursued are the ambitious Indian human space programme; outer space exploration, development of space systems and components; training and scientific exchanges.

The ‘new thaw’ is said to have been triggered in April this year when the two countries celebrated the 40th anniversary of the then Soviet Union putting into space the first Indian experimental satellite, the 358-kg ‘Aryabhata’, in 1975.

Then followed Bhaskara-1, IRS-1A and first Indian astronaut flying in space in the Soviet Soyuz T-11 in 1984.

ISRO working on semi-cryogenic launch vehicle, its new-generation third rocket programme,to beef up its current portfolio of PSLV and GSLV.

3.Iran Minister eyes trade beyond oil

Investment in infrastructure, oil imports and ironing out troubles over the planned Chabahar port development project are on the agenda as Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif meets the government in Delhi on Friday.

Mr. Zarif, who successfully negotiated the nuclear deal with the P-5 and EU countries, is in India as part of a “briefing tour” to speak about the deal.

He will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari. Mr. Zarif will also call on Vice-President Hamid Ansari, who had served as Ambassador to Iran from 1990-1992.

Officials said Mr. Zarif’s visit would serve as a “follow-up” to the meeting between Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Prime Minister Modi on the sidelines of the Ufa SCO summit in July.

“The dual focus of their negotiations was to turn the India-Iran buyer-seller relationship into a real partnership, while bringing diversity to our economic ties,” a senior official told The Hindu . To that end, India and Iran will look to discuss investment in each other’s countries after all U.N. and Western sanctions are lifted.

In particular, Iran is keen on Indian expertise and investment in rebuilding railways, as part of a total of $8 billion in infrastructure projects. “Iran is ready to welcome Indians, even without a bidding process,” Iran’s Ambassador to India Gholamreza Ansari had told The Hindu in an interview last month. Meanwhile, officials said Mr. Modi had told President Rouhani that India was keen for Iran to also invest in India’s proposed $1 trillion infrastructure development.


1.Indian-origin women scale legal heights

Renu Mandhane to head Ontario rights panel; Richa Naujoks on TrustLaw shortlist.

Two women of Indian origin, both legal luminaries, have done the nation proud on the eve of Independence Day.

If Renu Mandhane, an Indo-Canadian international human rights law expert, is set to be the next Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, Indian-American attorney Richa Naujoks, nee Gautam, has been shortlisted for the TrustLaw Lawyer of the Year Award of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, media reports said.

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