‘AI, energy to be in focus’: PM Modi leaves for Italy to attend G7 outreach session

News Network
June 13, 2024

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New Delhi: As he embarks on a visit to Italy to attend an Outreach session at the G7 summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said its focus would be on artificial intelligence, energy, Africa, and the Mediterranean.

Modi said this in a departure statement before leaving for the European nation in his first foreign trip after becoming prime minister for a third term.

The prime minister said issues crucial for the Global South will also be deliberated upon at the Outreach session.

The G7 summit, to be held in the luxury resort of Borgo Egnazia in Italy's Apulia region from June 13 to 15, is expected to be dominated by the raging war in Ukraine and the conflict in Gaza.

"At the invitation of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, I am travelling to Apulia region in Italy to participate in the G7 Outreach summit on June 14," Modi said.

The prime minister said he was glad that his first visit in the third consecutive term is to Italy for the G-7 Summit.

"During the discussions at the Outreach session, the focus will be on artificial intelligence, energy, Africa, and the Mediterranean," Modi said.

"It will be an opportunity to bring greater synergy between the outcomes of the G20 Summit held under India's Presidency and the forthcoming G7 Summit, and deliberate on issues which are crucial for the Global South," he said.

Modi will have a bilateral meeting with Italian Prime Minister Meloni.

"Prime Minister Meloni's two visits to India last year were instrumental in infusing momentum and depth in our bilateral agenda," he said.

"We remain committed to consolidating the India-Italy strategic partnership, and bolstering cooperation in the Indo-Pacific and the Mediterranean regions," he said.

The prime minister is likely to hold a number of bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the summit. "I am also looking forward to meeting other leaders participating in the Summit," he said.

The G7 comprises the US, the UK, France, Italy, Germany, Canada and Japan.

Italy is holding the current presidency of the G7 (Group of Seven) and is hosting the summit in that capacity.

A key focus of the Italian presidency has been to defend the rules-based international system.

According to Italy, Russia's war of aggression on Ukraine has undermined its principles and triggered growing instability, with multiple crises unfolding worldwide. The G7 will give equal importance to the conflict in the Middle East, with its consequences for the global agenda, it says.

The bloc expanded into the G8 between 1997 and 2013, with the inclusion of Russia. However, Russia's participation was suspended in 2014 following its annexation of Crimea.

In line with the grouping's tradition, representatives of a number of countries and international organisations are invited to the summit by the host nation that holds the chair.

Besides India, Italy has invited leaders from 11 developing countries in Africa, South America and the Indo-Pacific region to attend the summit. Though the European Union is not a member of the G7, it attends the annual summit.

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News Network
July 15,2024

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New Delhi: The BJP's strength in the Rajya Sabha fell by four Saturday after as many nominated members - Rakesh Sinha, Ram Shakal, Sonal Mansingh, and Mahesh Jethmalani - completed their term.

All four were chosen - as non-aligned members - by President Droupadi Murmu on the advice of the ruling party, and formally allied with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government afterwards.

Their retirement brings the BJP's strength down to 86 and that of the party-led National Democratic Alliance to 101, which is below the current majority mark of 113 in the 245-member House.

The current strength of the Rajya Sabha is 225.

The Congress-led INDIA bloc has 87, of which the Congress has 26, Bengal's ruling Trinamool 13, and the Aam Aadmi Party and the DMK, in power in Delhi and Tamil Nadu, have 10 each.

Parties not aligned with either the BJP or the Congress - such as ex-Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao's BRS - nominated MPs and independents hold the rest.

What Do BJP's Reduced Numbers Mean?

It means the government is now reliant on non-NDA parties - such as ex-ally AIADMK of Tamil Nadu and former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy's YSR Congress Party - to pass bills in the Upper House. As of now, assuming the BJP can count on the 15 votes from NDA parties' MPs, it will need a minimum of 13 additional 'aye's cast in its favour to push through bills.

The YSRCP (11) and the AIADMK (4) are the BJP's two most obvious 'allies', even if its relationship with the latter has been fractious since they split in December last year, months before the election.

Jagan Reddy's YSRCP has lent issue-based support to the BJP in the past, so at least 11 votes seem assured for Mr Modi's party. Former Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik's BJD lent similar support too but, since it was beaten by the BJP in the May-June state election, has said it will not do so now.

The BJD has nine Rajya Sabha MPs.

If the AIADMK is unwilling to offer support, and the BJD of Naveen Patnaik has turned away, the BJP will then turn to votes from nominated members.

There are a total of 12 nominated members in the Rajya Sabha. Although non-aligned when brought in, since they are chosen by the government, in practice they tend to support the ruling party.

Non-aligned parties like the BRS, which has four MPs, and independents may also come into play.

Vacant Seats

There are a total of 20 seats vacant at this time, including 11 held by elected members for which polls are expected this year. Of these, there are two seats each in Maharashtra, Assam, and Bihar, and one each in Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, and Tripura.

The BJP-led alliance has the numbers to win seven - from Assam, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Tripura. And if it can keep its flock together in Maharashtra, it will win two more from there.

This could give the BJP as many as nine extra seats. If it wins those, and with the nominated members' votes, as well as the YSRCP's, it will have more than enough to cross the majority mark.

There are also four seats vacant from Jammu and Kashmir, which is expected to hold an Assembly election by September 30, in line with a Supreme Court order.

The Telangana seat is likely to be won by the Congress, which swept to power last year.

This is crucial because it will give the party enough votes to claim the Leader of the Opposition post in the Rajya Sabha. The Congress will then hold the LoP seat in both Houses.

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News Network
July 8,2024

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Moscow: Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived here on Monday on a two-day high-profile visit to Russia during which he will hold summit talks with President Vladimir Putin to review all aspects of bilateral ties and explore opportunities to further boost cooperation in sectors like trade, energy and defence.

It is Modi's first trip to Russia in nearly five years. His last visit to Russia was in 2019 when he attended an economic conclave in the Far East city of Vladivostok.

During the 22nd India-Russia annual summit on Tuesday, Modi and Putin are expected to explore ways to further expand bilateral relations in diverse areas, including trade, energy and defence.

"The special and privileged strategic partnership between India and Russia has advanced over the past 10 years, including in areas of energy, security, trade, investment, health, education, culture, tourism and people-to-people exchanges," Modi said in his departure statement.

"I look forward to reviewing all aspects of bilateral cooperation with my friend President Vladimir Putin and sharing perspectives on various regional and global issues," he said.

"We seek to play a supportive role for a peaceful and stable region," he said without making any specific references.

The annual summit between the Prime Minister of India and the President of Russia is the highest institutional dialogue mechanism in the strategic partnership between the two countries.

So far, 21 annual summits have taken place alternatively in India and Russia.

The last summit was held on December 6, 2021, in New Delhi. President Putin had visited India to attend the summit. Putin, as head of the Russian state, has visited India nine times.

Prime Minister Modi and President Putin last held bilateral talks on the margins of a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) at Samarkand in Uzbekistan on September 16, 2022.

In the meeting, Modi had famously pressed Putin to end the conflict in Ukraine saying, "Today's era is not of war".

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Modi has held several telephonic conversations with Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

In reflection of its strong friendship with Russia, India has not yet condemned Moscow's invasion of Ukraine and it has been maintaining that the crisis must be resolved through diplomacy and dialogue.

In Russia, the prime minister will also meet the vibrant Indian community.

From Russia, Modi will travel to Austria on Tuesday in the first visit by an Indian prime minister to that country in over 40 years.

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News Network
July 16,2024

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Bengaluru: Senior JD(S) lawmaker HD Revanna on Tuesday launched a diatribe against Director-General of Police Alok Mohan in Karnataka Assembly, dubbing him as “unfit” to be the top cop.

But an emotional Revanna also said that his son Prajwal Revanna, the former Hassan MP accused of mass sexual abuse, should be hanged if found guilty.

“If my son has committed wrongs, then let him be hanged. I won’t say no,” Revanna said in his first Assembly appearance after his family was embroiled in the Hassan sexual abuse case. 

“I’ve been a lawmaker for 25 years. I’ve spent 40 years in public life. Against me, some woman is brought to the Director-General’s office. The DG gets the complaint filed. Isn’t he nalayak to be the DG? He’s unfit. This is a shameless government,” Revanna said. 

This riled up members of the ruling Congress, including Chief Minister Siddaramaiah who asked Deputy Speaker Ramappa Lamani in the chair to expunge the comments. 

Revanna was arrested on May 4 in a kidnap and illegal confinement case linked to the Hassan sexual abuse saga. 

Revanna rose to speak after Leader of the Opposition R Ashoka drew a comparison between the manner in which Special Investigation Teams (SIT) are probing the Hassan sexual abuse case and the embezzlement at the Maharshi Valmiki ST Development Corporation. 

“Revanna, Bhavani and our former Hassan MLA Preetham...they’re facing an SIT. But that SIT is so strong...all of them went to court seeking justice fearing arrest,” Ashoka said. “But with the other SIT, there’s no fear,” he said, adding that former minister B Nagendra was not summoned for investigation for over 30 days. 

Senior BJP lawmaker S Suresh Kumar interjected. “There’s SIT and there’s SSIT. The SIT is Special Investigation Team. The SSIT is the Siddaramaiah Shivakumar Investigation Team,” he said. Taking exception, Shivakumar said the comment should be expunged.

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