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Obama-Modi vision document: Shedding of India’s strategic inhibitions?

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New Delhi: The visit of US President Barack Obama to India not only resulted in both countries overcoming their six-year deadlock over the civil nuclear deal but also the emergence of a “strategic vision” document for closer cooperation in the Asia Pacific and India Ocean region in the backdrop of what is seen as an aggressively rising China, agreements that many feel may have resulted in India finally shedding its strategic inhibitions.

Lalit Mansingh, former foreign secretary and ambassador to the US, said the envisaged India-US cooperation in the Asia Pacific region signifies “a greater convergence between Mr. Modi’s Act East and Obama’s rebalance in Asia”. He said that both leaders were reported to have “discussed China extensively and the threat that China poses to both the countries”.

“So the Act East and the rebalance in Asia will bring the two countries closer together and we are going to see much more of military exercises and more dialogue with countries like Japan, Australia and other countries in the region. Also we are seeing a greater convergence between America and Indian positions,” he said.

Hardeep Singh Puri, India’s former envoy to the UN who has joined the ruling BJP, said while he does “not read any attempt at containment” of China in the vision document, but what it and other outcomes from the Obama visit clearly signify that “India has shed its inhibitions” and wants to have qualitatively higher relations with the US.

“Even as it does so, it is following a multi-aligned approach. India will seek similar upgradation with China,” Puri told IANS.

“However, by virtue of the fact that US and India are the world’s two largest democracies and by virtue of the fact that there is an attempt at convergence in their positions, US-India relations will become more important; experience has also shown that when we have better relations with the US, our task of improving relations with China is also facilitated,” he added.

Rakesh Sood, former diplomat and formerly the prime minister’s special envoy for disarmament and non-proliferation, also said the vision document only spelt out “greater cooperation between the two countries in the Asia Pacific region” and not containment of China. However, he said, that judging from the Chinese reaction to Obama’s visit “they do not seem to be very happy”.

According to Mansingh, while the vision document does not mention China, but the very fact that it speaks of safeguarding maritime security and ensuring freedom of navigation and overflight, especially in the South China Sea region, indirectly refers to China.

Former foreign secretary Kanwal Sibal said “relatively speaking it would be rebalancing the power equation between China and the US, and they wanted to use India’s weight, and India is using this publicly now”.

He feels that with China “not having changed their core policies towards India”, India is “sending a message to China that you play games with us in the Indian Ocean in our neighbourhood, then we will strengthen our hands vis-a-vis you by coming closer to the US more visibly”.

Regarding the breakthrough agreement on the civil nuclear issue, Puri said it was arrived at “without need to revisit our domestic legislation. We have a categorical assurance from the prime minister on that. The contact group comprised members of a large number of government of India ministries. To suggest that senior officials would dilute our position in this respect is not tenable”.

“My assessment is that the prospects for commercial contracting to take place now are far better. In overall terms, I am cautiously optimistic,” Puri said.

Sibal feels the “breakthrough” in the nuclear talks is a signal that “at the government level they have had an understanding”.

“The important thing is that we have shifted the whole argument away from government level to the commercial plane; so we have removed the strategic misunderstandings over this question successfully,” Sibal told IANS.

According to Sibal, the understanding reached on the issue of the US wanting to track in perpetuity the fuel and equipment in its reactors, is significant. “This was much more difficult because it involved non-proliferation issues, though the detailed understanding is not clear.”

Mansingh said though the two have resolved a problem that had a nuclear deal stuck for nearly six years, the inking of a commercial deal is not likely to come soon.

“We have to see whether the private companies like Westinghouse and GE will be able to find a solution to their problems; they have responded very cautiously saying they would like to see the fine print before they make any more comments,” Mansingh told IANS.

Sood said: “The breakthrough has to be welcomed, and the details of which will naturally come out in due course because other suppliers, both foreign and domestic, would also like to have similar assurances.”

Canadian News

Joint statement from the Greater Toronto Area & Hamilton Mayors and Chairs

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Ontario Premier Doug Ford, left, and Toronto Mayor John Tory
Ontario Premier Doug Ford, left, and Toronto Mayor John Tory take part in a candlelit vigil to honour the victims of a deadly shooting in Toronto on Wednesday July 25, 2018. Ten-year-old Julianna Kozis of Markham, Ont., and 18-year-old Reese Fallon of Toronto were killed in Sunday's shooting attack, and 13 other people were injured. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

We are united in fighting COVID-19 – protecting our residents and saving lives.

While the measures we have taken to stop the spread of the virus have made a difference, this virus has still taken far too many lives in our communities and continues to threaten the lives of our residents.

At the same time, there is no denying the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the economy. Jobs have been lost, many businesses have closed or are at risk of closure, and many families are worried about their financial future.

We’ve been hit hard but that’s why it is so important that we keep moving forward and come back as strong as possible.

Today, the GTHA Mayors and Chairs met to discuss the impacts of COVID-19 on the region and how our municipalities can work together on the economic restart and recovery.

We know the Toronto Census Metropolitan Area alone is projected to lose 355,000 jobs and 28% of GDP along with $894 million in lost wages and $3.7 billion in revenue losses for businesses. This will be felt right across the GTHA but it also threatens the provincial and national economies.

A strong recovery right here in the GTHA is crucial to healing the economic damage done by COVID-19 and helping the families and businesses all governments have been working to protect throughout this emergency.

Ontario’s economy and Canada’s economy need the GTHA to come back stronger than ever when the restart begins.

We are determined to deliver this recovery and we agreed today that the GTHA municipalities will be working together to successfully and smoothly reopen our vital regional economy when the time comes.

We also discussed how we can in a consistent way achieve significant, necessary financial support from the other governments to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and protect our ability to contribute to the recovery. A strong recovery needs strong cities and regional governments.

We have agreed we will work together to share information about our respective financial positions and explore together measures we can advocate to the other governments which will help to ensure the financial stability of local and regional governments in the GTHA.

Our child care and recreation programs help parents get back to work.

Our emergency services keep people safe.

Our transit systems get people to work and home safely.

Our major infrastructure projects – often built in conjunction with the other governments – will help kick-start the recovery and create countless jobs.

Our economic development activities attract jobs and investment.

We built a strong and vibrant GTHA and we know that we will need to come back even stronger and as quickly as we can in order to keep Canada’s economy going.

With the cooperation and support of the provincial and federal governments, we are ready to rise to this challenge.”

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Canadian News

Four People Charged in Mississauga Pedestrian Fail to Remain Fatality

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Investigators from the Major Collision Bureau have charged four people in Mississauga’s most recent fatal fail to remain collision.

On Thursday, February 15, 2018, at approximately 8:40 p.m., the victim, a 61 year-old female from Mississauga, was struck by a south bound vehicle as she was crossing Mavis Road in the area of Knotty Pine Grove in the City of Mississauga. The vehicle did not remain and the victim, having suffered major injuries, was pronounced dead at the scene.

On Saturday, February 17, 2018 shortly before 7:00 p.m., Satchithanantha VAITHILINGAM, a 60 year-old male from Brampton, and the driver believed to be responsible in this incident, surrendered to police at 22 Division. Satchithanantha VAITHILINGAM has since been charged with Fail to Remain Cause Death.

Hivissa SATCHITHANANTHAN, a 25 year old female from Brampton, Shajeetha SATCHITHANANTHAN a 28 year-old female from Brampton and Gowtham SATKUNARAJAH a 28 year-old male from Brampton have each been charged with Accessory After the Fact in relation to this incident.

Satchithanantha VAITHILINGAM will answer to his charge on March 12, 2018. Hivissa SATCHITHANANTHAN, Shajeetha SATCHITHANANTHAN andGowtham SATKUNARAJAH will answer to their charges on Monday March 26, 2018 at the Ontario Court of Justice in Brampton

Anyone who may have witnessed the collision, have dashboard video footage of the incident or who may have any information regarding this incident is asked to contact investigators with the Major Collision Bureau at (905) 453-2121, ext. 3710. Information may also be left anonymously by calling Peel Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), or by visiting www.peelcrimestoppers.ca or by sending a text message to CRIMES (274637) with the word ‘PEEL’ and then your tip.

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Canadian News

Justin Trudeau in India: Hug missing! Mounting pressure?

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The much publicized and anticipated visit of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to India was marred with questions. The questions were centered on the kind of welcome he would be given in the Sikh dominated state of Punjab. Also the famous hug by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was being anticipated. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau finally made his much-touted visit to India. He landed on the Indira Gandhi Airport, New Delhi only to be received by Gajendra Singh Shekhawat not even a Cabinet Minister in Narendra Modi’s government.

He is presently the second rank Minister of State for Agriculture.  That comes in complete contrast to the warmth that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his NDA government has generally displayed towards the visiting dignitaries.  Only a couple of weeks ago, when the heads of the 10 ASEAN states arrived in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi didn’t receive Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the airport, as he has previously done with many leaders including Barack Obama, Xi Jinping, Shinzo Abe, and Benjamin Netanyahu.

The fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi didn’t join him is all surprising even when Prime Minister Trudeau visited Gujarat. This is unusual because the Indian Prime Minister has set a trend that he always accompanies head of the state when they visit his home state.

Even Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath did not show up, let alone accompany Prime Minister Trudeau to the Taj. However, during Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s 15 January visit to the Taj Mahal at Agra, Yogi Adityanath had received Netanyahu and his wife and shown them around as well as hosted a lunch for them. For first three days, none from the executive or the elected representative held any meeting with the delegation.

Media in India is trying to spread a message that the cold treatment given by Prime Minister could be because two of the four Sikh members of Trudeau’s cabinet – Harjit Sajjan and Amarjeet Sohi – support the Khalistan movement. However, had that been the case his visit to Punjab would have got a similar response.  However, the Punjab Government led by Captain Amarinder Singh rolled out a red carpet during his stay at Amritsar and even the two leaders held some fruitful discussions.

Thus putting an end to those criticisms that that Prime Minister Trudeau’s visit was devoid of any warmth.  Chief Minister of Punjab Amarinder Singh, for instance who met Prime Minister Justin Trudeau setting aside his earlier prejudice that he exhibited during the visit of Defence Minister Harjeet Singh Sajjan.

In recent months, Gurudwaras (Sikh temples) in Canada, the United States and Australia have banned Indian officials from visiting gurudwaras and the moment started with Gurudwaras here in Toronto. Could that be the reason for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to not accord one of the warmest welcomes that he is known to provide?  Or the use by Canada’s parliament of the term genocide to describe mass killings of Sikhs in India in 1984 has left the Indian Prime Minister disturbed?  However, more than Prime Minister Modi, this could have left the Congress party in troubled waters, but that was also not the case as Amarinder Singh hails from the same party.

The lukewarm welcome to Prime Minister Trudeau can have its political ramifications too. Will it hamper the significant 2015 deal, in which Canada agreed to supply 3,000 metric tons of Uranium to power India’s atomic reactors?

Somewhere Prime Minister Modi has not taken the issue of non allowing entry of Indian officials to Gurudwaras and the statement on Genocide too lightly. Prime Minister Modi however has failed to understand that Canada cannot curtail the right of freedom of speech and expression of its citizen.

Two nations perhaps failed to resolve the matter before Prime Minister boarded the flight from Canada and not welcoming Prime Minister Trudeau could be a tactical decision to put pressure on him. With Prime Minister Modi preferring to meet him at the far end of the tour has conveyed a lot about the myopic approach of Prime Minister Modi.

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