China holds meeting with 19 countries including Pakistan in Indian Ocean region; India not invited

News Network
November 26, 2022

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Beijing, Nov 26: China held a meeting this week with 19 countries from the Indian Ocean region in which India was conspicuously absent.

The China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA), an organisation connected with the Chinese Foreign Ministry held a meeting of the China-Indian Ocean Region Forum on Development Cooperation on November 21, in which 19 countries took part, according to a press release issued by the organisation.

The meeting was held in a hybrid manner under the theme of "Shared Development: Theory and Practice from the Perspective of the Blue Economy" in Kunming, Yunnan Province, it said.

Representatives of 19 countries, including Indonesia, Pakistan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives, Nepal, Afghanistan, Iran, Oman, South Africa, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, Seychelles, Madagascar, Mauritius, Djibouti, Australia and representatives of 3 international organisations were present, it said.

India was reportedly not invited, according to informed sources here.

Last year, China held a meeting with some South Asian countries on Covid-19 vaccine cooperation without the participation of India.

CIDCA is headed by Luo Zhaohui, the former Vice Foreign Minister and Ambassador to India.

According to the official website of the organisation, he is the Secretary of the CPC (the ruling Communist Party of China) Leadership Group of CIDCA.

CIDCA’s official website said the aims of the organisation is to formulate strategic guidelines, plans and policies for foreign aid, coordinate and offer advice on major foreign aid issues, advance the country's reforms in matters involving foreign aid, and identify major programmes, supervise and evaluate their implementation.

During his tour of Sri Lanka in January this year, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi proposed to establish a “forum on the development of Indian Ocean Island Countries.”

When asked whether the CIDCA meeting is the same that is proposed by Wang, the Chinese Foreign Ministry here has clarified to the media that the November 21 meeting was not part of it.

At the November 21 meeting, China has proposed to establish a marine disaster prevention and mitigation cooperation mechanism between China and countries in the Indian Ocean region, the CIDCA press release said.

China is ready to provide necessary financial, material, and technical support to countries in need, it said.

China is vying for influence in the strategic Indian Ocean region with substantial investments in ports and infrastructure investments in several countries, including Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

While China has established a full-fledged naval base in Djibouti, its first outside the country, Beijing has acquired the Hambantota port in Sri Lanka on a 99-year lease besides building the port at Pakistan’s Gwadar in the Arabian Sea opposite India’s western coast besides infrastructure investments in the Maldives.

The Chinese forum apparently is aimed at countering India’s strong influence in the Indian Ocean region where India-backed organisations like the Indian Ocean Rim Association, (IORA), which has a membership of 23 countries have taken strong roots.

China is a dialogue partner in the IORA formed in 1997.

IORA became an observer to the UN General Assembly and the African Union in 2015.

Besides the IORA, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has proposed “Security and Growth for All in the Region” (SAGAR) in 2015 for active cooperation among the littoral countries of the Indian Ocean region.

The Indian Navy-backed ‘Indian Ocean Naval Symposium’ (IONS) seeks to increase maritime cooperation among navies of the region.

Since the June 2020 Galwan Valley clash between Chinese and Indian armies, bilateral ties have been severely hit.

India has consistently maintained that peace and tranquillity along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) are important for the overall development of bilateral relations with China.

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News Network
January 16,2023

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The richest one per cent in India now own more than 40 per cent of the country's total wealth, while the bottom half of the population together share just 3 per cent of wealth, a new study showed on Monday.

Releasing the India supplement of its annual inequality report on the first day of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting here, rights group Oxfam International said that taxing India's ten-richest at 5 per cent can fetch entire money to bring children back to school.

"A one-off tax on unrealized gains from 2017–2021 on just one billionaire, Gautam Adani, could have raised Rs 1.79 lakh crore, enough to employ more than five million Indian primary school teachers for a year," it added.

The report titled 'Survival of the Richest' further said that if India's billionaires are taxed once at 2 per cent on their entire wealth, it would support the requirement of Rs 40,423 crore for the nutrition of malnourished in the country for the next three years.

"A one-time tax of 5 per cent on the 10 richest billionaires in the country (Rs 1.37 lakh crore) is more than 1.5 times the funds estimated by the Health and Family Welfare Ministry (Rs 86,200 crore) and the Ministry of Ayush (Rs 3,050 crore) for the year 2022-23," it added.

On gender inequality, the report said that female workers earned only 63 paise for every 1 rupee a male worker earned.

For Scheduled Castes and rural workers, the difference is even starker -- the former earned 55 per cent of what the advantaged social groups earned, and the latter earned only half of the urban earnings between 2018 and 2019.

"Taxing the top 100 Indian billionaires at 2.5 per cent, or taxing the top 10 Indian billionaires at 5 per cent would nearly cover the entire amount required to bring the children back into school," it added.

Oxfam said the report is a mix of qualitative and quantitative information to explore the impact of inequality in India.

Secondary sources like Forbes and Credit Suisse have been used to look at the wealth inequality and billionaire wealth in the country, while government sources like NSS, Union budget documents, parliamentary questions, etc have been used to corroborate arguments made through out the report.

Since the pandemic begun to Nov 2022, billionaires in India have seen their wealth surge by 121 per cent or Rs 3,608 crore per day in real terms, Oxfam said.

On the other hand, approximately 64 per cent of the total Rs 14.83 lakh crore in Goods and Services Tax (GST) came from bottom 50 per cent of the population in 2021-22, with only 3 per cent of GST coming from the top 10 per cent.

Oxfam said the total number of billionaires in India increased from 102 in 2020 to 166 in 2022.

The combined wealth of India's 100 richest has touched USD 660 billion (Rs 54.12 lakh crore) -– an amount that could fund the entire Union Budget for more than 18 months, it added.

Oxfam India CEO Amitabh Behar said, "The country's marginalised – Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims, Women and informal sector workers are continuing to suffer in a system which ensures the survival of the richest.

"The poor are paying disproportionately higher taxes, spending more on essentials items and services when compared to the rich. The time has come to tax the rich and ensure they pay their fair share."

Behar urged the Union finance minister to implement progressive tax measures such as wealth tax and inheritance tax, which he said have been historically proven to be effective in tackling inequality.

Citing a nationwide survey by Fight Inequality Alliance India (FIA India) in 2021, Oxfam said it found that more than 80 per cent of people in India support tax on the rich and corporations who earned record profits during the Covid-19 pandemic.

"More than 90 per cent participants demanded budget measures to combat inequality such as universal social security, right to health and expansion of budget to prevent gender-based violence," it added.

"It's time we demolish the convenient myth that tax cuts for the richest result in their wealth somehow 'trickling down' to everyone else. Taxing the super-rich is the strategic precondition to reducing inequality and resuscitating democracy.

"We need to do this for innovation. For stronger public services and for happier and healthier societies," said Gabriela Bucher, Executive Director of Oxfam International.

Oxfam India urged the Union finance minister to introduce one-off solidarity wealth taxes and windfall taxes to end crisis profiteering. It also demanded a permanent increase in taxes on the richest 1 per cent and especially raise taxes on capital gains, which are subject to lower tax rates than other forms of income.

Oxfam also called for inheritance, property, and land taxes, as well as net wealth taxes, while enhancing the budgetary allocation of the health sector to 2.5 per cent of GDP by 2025, as envisaged in the National Health Policy. Oxfam said it also wants public health systems to be strengthened and budgetary allocation for education to be enhanced to the global benchmark of 6 per cent of GDP.

"Ensure workers in formal and informal sector are paid basic minimum wages. The minimum wages should be at par with living wages which is essential for living a life with dignity," it added. 

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coastaldigest.com news network
January 23,2023

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Mysuru, Jan 23: Two boys lost their lives in two separate incidents of wild beast attacks in Mysuru district of Karnataka in 24 hours.

Manju, a 19-year-old tribal was killed in a tiger attack at Balle in D.B. Kuppe range of Nagarahole National Park, which falls under Mysuru district on Sunday. 

The victim was relieving himself when the tiger attacked him from the rear. Senior officials of the Forest Department said the incident took place late in the afternoon and additional staff have been deployed to monitor the area.

Camera traps too will be installed to ascertain the tiger’s identity and movements but it was unlikely that the tiger would be captured as the hamlet is inside the forest.

But sources said elephants are being deployed to comb the area and the objective was to drive it deep within the forests away from the hamlet.

Leopard attack

Meanwhile, an 11-year-old boy was killed in a leopard attack at Horalahalli in T Narasipura taluk of Mysuru district on Saturday night, the second such incident in 48 hours in the taluk.

Jayanth, a Class 5 student of a government school, was dragged to a bush while he was returning home from a shop. A search was launched for the missing boy, whose mauled body was found late in the night.

This is the fourth death in leopard attack in the last three months in T Narasipura taluk. 

It may be mentioned that 60-year-old Siddamma was killed in a leopard attack at Kannaayakanahalli around on January 19, 22-year-old Meghana was killed at S Kebbehundi on December 2 and 22-year-old Manjunath at Ukkalagere, near Mallikarjunaswamy hill on October 31.

Incidents of human-animal conflicts are on the rise in Mysuru-Kodagu belt and has been attributed to increase in wildlife population besides habitat disturbance due to anthropogenic pressures. There are also issues related to resettlement of tribal hamlets due to paucity of land abutting the tiger reserve.

Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai instructed forest department officials to form special squads to trap the big cats. "We have taken the leopard attacks in T Narasipura taluk seriously. I have instructed Chief conservator of Forest, Mysuru Circle, to form special squads involving the best of forest officials from other districts also. Officials will also take up awareness campaigns to ensure that people do not leave their houses in the night," he said.

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News Network
January 23,2023

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Torrance, Jan 23: The hunt for a gunman who killed 10 people at a Los Angeles-area ballroom dance club ended Sunday when authorities found him dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in the van he used to flee after people thwarted his attempt at a second shooting.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna identified the man as 72-year-old Huu Can Tran and said no other suspects were at large.

He added that the motive remained unclear for the attack, which wounded 10 more.

Luna did not have the exact ages of the victims but said they all appeared to be over 50.

Seven of the wounded people remained in the hospital, he said.

"I still have questions in my mind, which is: What was the motive for this shooter? Did he have a mental illness? Was he a domestic violence abuser? How did he gets these guns and was it through legal means or not?” Congresswoman Judy Chu said.

Earlier Sunday, law enforcement officials swarmed and entered the van after surrounding it for for hours before going in.

A person's body appeared to be slumped over the wheel and was later removed from the vehicle.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna previously released photos of an Asian man who was believed to be the suspect.

The manhunt came after the gunman killed 10 people at a ballroom dance studio late Saturday amid Lunar New Years celebrations in the predominantly Asian American community of Monterey Park.

He likely tried and failed to target a second dance hall, authorities said.

The van was found in Torrance, another community home to many Asian Americans, about 22 miles (34.5 kilometers) from that second location.

The shooting sent a wave of fear through Asian American communities in the Los Angeles area and cast a shadow over Lunar New Year festivities around the country.

Other cities sent extra officers to watch over the celebrations.

“The community was in fear thinking that they should not go to any events because there was an active shooter,” Chu said. She added that she wants residents to now feel secure.

“Feel safe,” she said to residents during a press conference late Sunday. “You are no longer in danger.”

Luna said the shooting at the Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park left five women and five men dead and wounded another 10 people.

Then 20 to 30 minutes later, a man with a gun entered the Lai Lai Ballroom in nearby Alhambra.

The suspect entered the Alhambra club with a gun, and people wrested the weapon away from him before he fled, Luna said.

Hours earlier, Luna said authorities were looking for a white van after witnesses reported seeing the suspect flee from Alhambra in such a vehicle.

Members of a SWAT team entered the van a short time later and looked through its contents before walking away.

It was unclear what they found.

The massacre was the nation's fifth mass killing this month. It was also the deadliest attack since May 24, when 21 people were killed in an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

Monterey Park is a city of about 60,000 people on the eastern edge of Los Angeles and is composed mostly of Asian immigrants from China or first-generation Asian Americans.

The shooting happened in the heart of its downtown where red lanterns decorated the streets for the Lunar New Year festivities.

A police car was parked near a large banner that proclaimed “Happy Year of the Rabbit!”

The celebration in Monterey Park is one of California's largest.

Two days of festivities, which have been attended by as many as 100,000 people in past years, were planned. But officials cancelled Sunday's events following the shooting.

Tony Lai, 35, of Monterey Park was stunned when he came out for his early morning walk to learn that the noises he heard in the night were gunshots.

“I thought maybe it was fireworks. I thought maybe it had something to do with Lunar New Year,” he said.

“And we don't even get a lot of fireworks here. It's weird to see this. It's really safe here. We're right in the middle of the city, but it's really safe.”

Wynn Liaw, 57, who lives about two blocks from the Monterey Park studio, said she was shocked that such a crime would happen, especially during New Year's celebrations.

“Chinese people, they consider Chinese New Year very, very special" — a time when "you don't do anything that will bring bad luck the entire year,” she said.

She took a picture of the activity outside the studio to send to relatives and friends in China "to let them know how crazy the U.S. is becoming with all these mass shootings, even in the New Year.”

An Associated Press/USA Today database on mass killings in the U.S. shows that 2022 was one of the nation's worst years with 42 such attacks — the second-highest number since the creation of the tracker in 2006.

The database defines a mass killing as four people killed, not including the perpetrator.

The latest violence comes two months after five people were killed at a Colorado Springs nightclub.

President Joe Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland were briefed on the situation, aides said.

Biden said he and first lady Jill Biden were thinking of those killed and wounded, and he directed federal authorities to support the investigation.

The shooting occurred at Star Ballroom Dance Studio, a few blocks from city hall on Monterey Park's main thoroughfare of Garvey Avenue, which is dotted with strip malls of small businesses whose signs are in both English and Chinese.

Cantonese and Mandarin are both widely spoken, Chinese holidays are celebrated and Chinese films are screened regularly in the city.

The business offered dance lessons from tango to rumba to the fox trot, and rented its space for events.

On Saturday, its website said, it was hosting an event called “Star Night” from 8 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. 

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