It's Kharge vs Tharoor battle for Congress chief post as other biggies sit out

News Network
September 30, 2022

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New Delhi, Sept 30: Congress leaders Shashi Tharoor and Mallikarjun Kharge have filed their nominations for the Congress presidential poll. 

Kharge's candidature was proposed by party leaders Ashok Gehlot, Digvijaya Singh, Pramod Tiwari, PL Punia, AK Antony, Pawan Kumar Bansal and Mukul Wasnik. 

G23 leaders Anand Sharma and Manish Tewari are also proposers for Kharge's candidature. Earlier in the day, Congress leader Digvijaya Singh announced that he would not contest the party president's election and would instead propose the candidature of his senior Kharge. 

Congress leader Sachin Pilot on Thursday night met Sonia Gandhi and discussed the crisis in the party's Rajasthan unit, and later said the Congress chief would take "positive decisions" with regard to the state. 

Pilot, who spent around an hour at Gandhi's residence where Congress general secretary (organisation) K C Venugopal was also present, said he conveyed his sentiments and gave his feedback to the party president.

Pilot's meeting with Gandhi comes days after an open rebellion by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot's loyalists over a possible leadership change in the state. "I met Congress president Sonia Gandhi. She listened to me calmly. The events in Rajasthan were discussed in detail," Pilot said after the meeting.

Pilot met Gandhi hours after his bete noire Ashok Gehlot met her in the afternoon, following which the Rajasthan chief minister announced that he will opt out of the Congress president's race. Gehlot also said the decision on whether he would remain CM would be taken by party chief Sonia Gandhi.

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News Network
November 18,2022

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Seoul, Nov 18: South Korean and Saudi Arabian leaders pledged stronger ties in the fields of energy, defense industry and building projects, as the Kingdom signed investment agreements worth $30 billion with South Korean companies, according to Reuters.

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol told Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman he hoped the two nations can expand cooperation, calling the Kingdom a key partner for its economy and energy security.

Yoon held talks in Seoul with Prince Mohammed, who arrived on Thursday from Bali, Indonesia, where he had participated in a conference of the Group of 20 major economies.

Yoon hoped to see South Korean companies’ participation in projects such as the NEOM smart city project in Saudi Arabia and further cooperation in defense industry and future energy such as hydrogen, his office said in a statement.

Prince Mohammed noted the role of South Korean businesses over the years in the development of Saudi Arabia’s national infrastructure and wanted to see stronger cooperation with South Korea based on the trust built between the two countries.

“In particular, he said he would like to drastically strengthen cooperation with South Korea in the areas of defense industry, infrastructure and construction,” Yoon’s office said. 

The Saudi-Korean Joint Committee and the Saudi-Korean Vision 2030 includes as many as 40 projects and initiatives across the targeted sectors, according to an economic report issued by the Federation of Saudi Chambers.

The report also indicated steady growth in the volume of trade exchange between both countries which amounted to SR470 billion ($12.5 billion) over the past five years.

In 2021 alone, the volume of trade exchange hit SR100 billion, SR87 billion of which were exports to Korea and SR13 billion were Korean imports to the Kingdom.

Earlier, South Korea’s industry ministry said companies including Samsung C&T Corp. and POSCO Holdings Inc. had signed over 20 agreements with Saudi counterparts in fields such as energy cooperation, railways, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and gaming.

Saudi-based Asharq TV quoted the Kingdom’s investment minister as saying deals signed on Thursday were worth $30 billion. It also quoted the Saudi Venture Capital Company as saying it had agreed to establish seven specialized funds.

Among the agreements, Korea Electric Power Corp. and four other Korean firms signed a memorandum of understanding with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund to build and operate a hydrogen and ammonia production plant in the Kingdom, the company said.

The project will be worth about $6.5 billion, said a source with knowledge of the deal, who was not authorized to speak with media on the matter and declined to be named.

The plant is expected to produce 1.2 million tons of green hydrogen and ammonia annually, KEPCO said. It is to be built over 2025-2029 and operate for 20 years, the Yonhap news agency reported on Thursday, citing industry sources.

Another pact is Hyundai Rotem Co’s memorandum of understanding with Saudi Arabia to cooperate on a railway project for the Middle Eastern country’s $500 billion NEOM economic zone and smart city, the ministry said. It did not disclose the potential dollar amount of this agreement.

“The (South Korean) government will actively support the successful implementation of cooperative projects which apply Korea’s state-of-the-art architecture ... in NEOM,” said South Korea’s trade minister, Lee Chang-yang.

Hyundai Rotem shares rose 8.5 percent, versus a 1.1 percent drop in the wider market. Shares in Lotte Fine Chemical, which signed an agreement for chemical industry cooperation with the Saudi Ministry of Investment, rose 2.1 percent.

Also, S-Oil Corp, whose largest shareholder is Saudi Aramco, said it plans to invest a total of 9.3 trillion won ($7.0 billion) into its Ulsan factory to produce more high-value petrochemical products. 

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News Network
November 15,2022

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As the world population touched 8 billion on Tuesday, India was the largest contributor to the milestone, having added 177 million people, while China, whose contribution to the next billion in the global population is projected to be in the negative, the UN said.

India is expected to surpass China as the world’s most populous nation by next year.

The UN Population Fund (UNFPA), in a special graphic to mark the global population reaching eight billion, said Asia and Africa has driven much of this growth is expected to drive the next billion by 2037, while Europe's contribution will be negative due to declining population.

The world added a billion people in the last 12 years. UNFPA said that as the world adds the next billion to its tally of inhabitants, China’s contribution will be negative.

"India, the largest contributor to the 8 billion (177 million) will surpass China, which was the second largest contributor (73 million) and whose contribution to the next billion will be negative, as the world's most populous nation by 2023,” UNFPA said.

The UN said that it took about 12 years for the world population to grow from 7 to 8 billion, but the next billion is expected to take about 14.5 years (2037), reflecting the slowdown in global growth.

World population is projected to reach a peak of around 10.4 billion people during the 2080s and is expected to remain at that level until 2100.

For the increase from 7 to 8 billion, around 70 per cent of the added population was in low-income and lower-middle-income countries.

For the increase from 8 to 9 billion, these two groups of countries are expected to account for more than 90 per cent of global growth, the UN said.

Between now and 2050, the global increase in the population under the age 65 will occur entirely in low income and lower-middle-income countries, since population growth in high-income and upper-middle income countries will occur only among those aged 65 or more, it said.

The World Population Prospects 2022, released in July this year said that India’s population stands at 1.412 billion in 2022, compared with China’s 1.426 billion.

India is projected to have a population of 1.668 billion in 2050, ahead of China’s 1.317 billion people by the middle of the century.

According to UNFPA estimates, 68 per cent of India’s population is between 15-64 years old in 2022, while people aged 65 and older were seven per cent of the population.

The report had said that the global population is growing at its slowest rate since 1950, having fallen under 1 per cent in 2020.

The world’s population could grow to around 8.5 billion in 2030 and 9.7 billion in 2050.

China is expected to experience an absolute decline in its population as early as 2023, the report had said.

At the launch of the report in July, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Liu Zhenmin had said that countries where population growth has slowed must prepare for an increasing proportion of older persons and, in more extreme cases, a decreasing population size.

“China provides a clear example. With the rapid ageing of its population due to the combined effects of very low fertility and increasing life expectancy, growth of China’s total population is slowing down, a trend that is likely to continue in the coming decades," Liu said.

The WHO pointed out that China has one of the fastest growing ageing populations in the world.

“The population of people over 60 years in China is projected to reach 28 per cent by 2040, due to longer life expectancy and declining fertility rates," the WHO said.

In China, by 2019, there were 254 million older people aged 60 and over, and 176 million older people aged 65 and over.

In 2022, the two most populous regions were both in Asia: Eastern and South-Eastern Asia with 2.3 billion people (29 per cent of the global population) and Central and Southern Asia with 2.1 billion (26 per cent).

China and India, with more than 1.4 billion each, accounted for most of the population in these two regions.

More than half of the projected increase in the global population up to 2050 will be concentrated in eight countries: the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines and the United Republic of Tanzania.

Countries of sub-Saharan Africa are expected to contribute more than half of the increase anticipated through 2050, the report added. 

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News Network
November 24,2022

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New Delhi, June 24: Delhi's iconic Jama Masjid found itself under a cloud of controversy on Thursday after it put up notices banning the entry of girls, whether alone or in groups, claiming that there were incidents of "dancing", "shooting" of Tik Tok videos and making the 17th century mosque a "meeting place" for boys and girls.

However, by evening, the Jama Masjid authorities decided to withdraw the order after Delhi Lieutenant Governor V K Saxena spoke to Shahi Imam Syed Ahmed Bukhari requesting him to take back the decree. The Shahi Imam agreed to Saxena’s request on the condition that visitors respect and maintain the sanctity of the mosque.

Earlier in the day, the notices pasted on the three gates of the heritage structure opposite the Red Fort attracted the ire of the National Commission of Women (NCW) and Delhi Commission of Women as well as activists, who called it a "regressive mindset" that religious groups have about girls. However, Shahi Imam Syed Ahmed Bukhari sought to clarify that the ban did not apply to women who come to offer prayers.

The NCW called the decision “gender-biased” and  a “violation of fundamental rights of the women worshippers”. Its chairperson Rekha Sharma wrote to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and secretaries of Union Ministry of Minority Affairs and Delhi government’s Department of Social Welfare seeking appropriate action and ensuring the right of women to practice religion.

DCW chairperson Swati Maliwal said, "It is completely wrong to ban the entry of women in Jama Masjid. The kind of rights a man has to pray, women also have the same rights…Nobody has the right to ban entry of women in this way."

While the notices were pasted on the gates a couple of days ago, the issue snowballed into a controversy on Thursday only. "Jama Masjid mein ladki ya ladkiyon ka akele dakhla mana hai (The entry of a girl, or girls is not permitted in Jama Masjid)," the notices by the Jama Masjid read.

Bhukhari said the decision was taken after they noticed "a few incidents" in the premises. He said Jama Masjid is a place of worship but claimed that girls were coming to meet boys.

"This is not what this place is meant for. The restriction is on that," he said, adding, "any such place, be it a mosque, temple or gurudwara is a place of worship and there is no restriction on anyone coming for that purpose." He said on Thursday, a group of 20-25 girls visited the mosque and they were allowed inside.

Echoing the Shahi Imam, Jama Masjid spokesperson Sabiullah Khan said that women's entry is not banned. "There is a ban on girls who come alone to meet boys, who get involved in improper acts like dancing, shooting Tik Tok videos, etc. The ban is enforced for that," he said.

"This is a religious place and you cannot make it a meeting point, a park. This is not allowed in any religious place. One has to follow the protocol of the religious places," Khan added.

Women's rights activist Ranjana Kumari described the ban as "completely unacceptable" and asked "what kind of 10th century mindset is this?"

Another activist Yogita Bhayana, according to PTI, said, "This diktat takes us 100 years back. This is not just regressive but shows what kind of mindset these religious groups have about girls. It is extremely unfortunate."

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