SATURDAY www.thestatesman.com 17 SEPTEMBER 2022 FIND US ONLINE Scan this with your smartphone twitter.com/TheStatesmanLtd facebook.com/thestatesman1875 Pages 16 |`3.00|LC* KOLKATA | NEW DELHI | SILIGURI | BHUBANESWAR Develop reliable supply chains: PM Modi to SCO ''India's young and talented workforce makes us naturally competitive. India's economy is expected to grow by 7.5 per cent this year, which will be the highest among the world's largest economies,'' he said. STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, 16 SEPTEMBER rime Minister Narendra Modi today called upon the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation) countries, including China and Pakistan, to develop reliable supply chains in the region by promoting connectivity and giving each other full transit rights. ''SCO must make efforts to develop reliable, resilient, and diversified supply chains in our region. This will require better connectivity, as well as it will be important that we all give each other full right to transit,'' he said addressing the SCO Summit at Samarkand in Uzbekistan. Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif were among the leaders attending the summit. The leaders of Kazakhstan, Kyr- P gyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Iran and host Uzbekistan also attended the summit. Modi's remarks are significant since Pakistan does not give India transit rights to Afghanistan and Central Asia through its territory. India has now been developing a transport link to Afghanistan through the Chabahar Port in Iran to bypass Pakistan. The Indian leader, who economic recovery after the pandemic, the role of SCO becomes very important. SCO member countries contribute about 30 per cent of global GDP , and 40 per cent of the world's population also lives in SCO countries. India supports greater cooperation and mutual trust among SCO members,'' he said. Modi said India was making progress in making the country a manufacturing hub. technology in India's peoplecentric development model. India was supporting innovation in every sector. Today, there were more than 70,000 Start-ups in India, of which more than 100 were unicorns. ''Our experience can also be useful for many other SCO members. For this purpose, we are ready to share our experience with SCO member countries by establishing a new FAST F RWORD Special Feature on PM Modi inside arrived in Samarkand late last night, noted that the Covid-19 pandemic and the crisis in Ukraine caused many obstacles in global supply chains, due to which the whole world was facing an unprecedented energy and food crisis. ''Today, when the whole world is facing the challenges of ''India's young and talented workforce makes us naturally competitive. India's economy is expected to grow by 7.5 per cent this year, which will be the highest among the world's largest economies,'' he added. A lot of focus was also being given to the proper use of Special Working Group on Start-ups and Innovation,'' he added. The PM pointed out that the world faced another major challenge of ensuring the food security of citizens. One possible solution to this problem was to promote the cultivation and consumption of millets. ''Mil- lets are a superfood that has been grown for thousands of years, not just in SCO countries, but in many parts of the world, and is a traditional, nutritious, and low-cost alternative to dealing with the food crisis. The year 2023 will be celebrated as the UN International Year of Millets. We should consider organising a 'Millet Food Festival' under the SCO,'' he said. He also told the SCO leaders that India was today one of the most affordable destinations for medical and wellness tourism in the world. The WHO Global Centre for Traditional Medicine was inaugurated in Gujarat in April 2022. This would be the WHO's first and only global centre for traditional medicine. ''We must increase cooperation on traditional medicine among SCO countries. For this, India will take the initiative for a new SCO Working Group on Traditional Medicine,'' he added. Modi raises Ukraine war with Putin at bilateral meet STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, 16 SEPTEMBER Prime Minister Narendra Modi today met Russian President Vladimir Putin on the margins of the SCO Summit in Samarkand and discussed with him the situation in war-torn Ukraine, among other issues. “Excellency, I know today's time is not a time for war,” Mr Modi is reported to have told Mr Putin in their first face-to-face meeting since Russia invaded Ukraine in February. Mr Modi is said to have pointed out to Mr Putin the major concerns relating to food, fertiliser and fuel security facing the world at present. “Had a wonderful meeting with President Putin. We got the opportunity to discuss furthering India-Russia cooperation in sectors such as trade, energy, defence, and more. We also discussed other bilateral and global issues,'' Mr Modi tweeted after the meeting. According to Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Arindam Bagchi, the two lead- ers reviewed bilateral cooperation and discussed various regional and international issues, including global food and energy security, terrorism, and the current situation in Ukraine. Reports from Samarkand said Mr Putin told Mr Modi that he understood the Indian leader's concern. Earlier, Mr Modi held talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey on the margins of the SCO Summit in an attempt to repair ties between the two nations. “Useful discussions between PM @narendramodi and President @RTErdogan of Türkiye in Samarkand. Leaders reviewed bilateral relations and appreciated recent gains in bilateral trade. Also exchanged views on regional & global developments,” Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Arindam Bagchi tweeted. The two leaders discussed ways to deepen bilateral cooperation in diverse sectors at the meeting at which senior officials from the two sides, including External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, were present. Economic and business ties between India and Turkey have not achieved their full potential because of strain in ties from time to time. President Erdogan's continuous support of Pakistan on Jammu and Kashmir, including at international fora, has not been taken kindly by New Delhi. Lend Ukraine-returned med students a helping hand: SC SNS & AGENCIES NEW DELHI, 16 SEPTEMBER The Supreme Court on Friday suggested that the Centre could develop a web portal providing details of foreign universities for the medical students who returned from Ukraine following Russia's invasion in February, to complete their studies. A bench comprising Justices Hemant Gupta and Sudhanshu Dhulia told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, that the government should help Indian students who will now have to go abroad under alternative schemes and the High Com- missions could help the students. "Start a web portal, post details like available seats in colleges (alternate foreign universities, which are compatible), fees, ensure they are not fleeced by agents," the bench said, adding that the government should use its resources to help the affected students. Mehta said that he is not taking an adversarial stand and sought time to get instructions from the authorities concerned regarding the suggestions made by the top court. He further submitted that the Centre has taken several measures to help the students, including for the ones who could not do their clinical training have been permitted to complete it here and it has been ensured that they will get their degrees from Ukraine, and the other is an "academic mobility programme". The bench noted that the government has a problem in admitting 20,000 students to Indian colleges and added that students will have to go to foreign countries to avail of alternate "academic mobility programmes", and that the Centre must coordinate, and extend all the required help. The Centre has told the Supreme Court that medical students cannot be accommodated in the Indian universi- ties in the absence of provision under the National Medical Commission (NMC) Act, 2019, and if any such relaxation is given then it will seriously hamper the standards of medical education in the country. In an affidavit, the Union Ministry of Health and FamilyWelfare said: "The prayer seeking transfer of these returnee students to medical colleges in India would not only be dehors the provisions of Indian Medical Council Act 1956, and the National Medical Commission Act, 2019, as well as the regulations made thereunder, but would also seriously hamper the standards of medical education in the country." During Friday's hearing, a counsel suggested that the Centre should declare 20,000 students who returned from Ukraine as "war victims" as per the Geneva Convention and extend them relief. The bench orally observed that the counsel should not take it to that level as the students had gone there voluntarily. Mehta said NMC allowed academic mobility in foreign universities, whereby those students can complete their courses from other foreign universities and also informed the court that an officer has been appointed to coordinate with students to find which of the varsities are compatible. PM Modi puts his personal stamp on India’s foreign policy ASHOK TUTEJA There are only two world leaders, one of them Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who have been repeatedly urging Russia and Ukraine to return to the negotiating table, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar pointed out the other day, aptly reflecting how India has walked a careful tightrope during the ongoing war in Europe. When all major powers, barring China, were condemning Russia for its unprovoked aggression in Ukraine n February, India was trying to do a delicate geopolitical balancing act. Even as it called for diplomacy and dialogue between Russia and Ukraine, New Delhi maintained its longstanding friendship with Moscow, much against the wishes of its key strategic partners like the United States, France, Australia, and Japan. But India’s decision on the Russia-Ukraine conflict fits with its desire to look out for its own strategic interests. Under Modi, India’s foreign policy has been incredibly malleable, which has helped it put the country’s interests above everything else. The diplomatic initiatives taken by the Modi government have to be seen in the larger context of spurring the rise of India as a great power. A day after the Republic Day celebrations this year, Modi hosted a virtual summit with the leaders of five Central Asian states, the first such engagement with the resourcerich and strategically located region. The summit showcased transformational diplomacy, which has become a crowning feature of India’s foreign policy. It ended with an ambitious joint statement by India and the five countries, which have become key factors for stability in the region since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in August last year. This diplomatic exercise of bringing the whole region on a common platform under the rubric of a region-wide summit illuminates a vital feature of Modi’s unprecedented diplomatic outreach in the last eight years. With the overarching strategic objective of making India a great power, the government has shed years of risk aversion. In the last eight years, Indian diplomacy has become more innovative and courageous, enabling the country to navigate its emergence on its own terms. The out-of-the-box thinking of Modi was evident from the day he won the Lok Sabha election in May 2014. Springing a surprise on the entire world, he invited all neighbouring countries, including Pakistan, to his swearing-in ceremony. Virtually defying the allpowerful Pakistan Army, the then Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited New Delhi for the ceremony, raising hopes of a new era in bilateral ties. That Modi was inclined towards peace with Pakistan became obvious when he paid a surprise visit to Lahore on his way back from Kabul on Christmas day in 2015. But just a week later, Pakistan-based terrorists carried out an audacious attack on the Pathankot airbase, thus derailing the peace process initiated by Modi. Since then, the Modi government has made it known to the world at large that it would deal with terrorism emanating from Pakistan with an iron fist by conducting surgical strikes in September 2016 and air strikes in February 2019 on terror launch pads. Even with China, India’s other major adversary, Modi made every attempt to mend fences. Impressed with the economic strides made by China, Modi always thought that India and China were destined to turn the 21st century into a century of Asia, given their market size and growth potential. He had over a dozen bilateral meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the margins of multilateral events and two informal summits before China stabbed India in the back with its aggressive designs in eastern Ladakh. The military stand-off has eased somewhat but India is quite clear that bilateral relations won’t become normal until there is disengagement followed by de-escalation in the area. Senior Indian officials acknowledge that under Modi's leadership, India has grown to assert its territorial integrity in the face of mounting Chinese aggression unlike in the past when precious little was done on quite a few occasions to protect India’s borders from China’s salami-slicing. The transformation of India’s relations with the Gulf countries is widely seen as a significant foreign policy achievement of the Modi government. PM Modi has paid personal attention to the energy-rich region, keeping in the mind the interests of the strong Indian diaspora there. He has even forged robust security and counter-terror cooperation with key players like Saudi Arabia and the UAE, who were hitherto considered close allies of Pakistan. Another major achievement of the NDA government under his leadership is the upgrade of India's ''Look East'' to ''Act East'' policy, which accelerated economic and commercial engagement with the strategically-located region. In tune with the emerging world order, India under Modi has become a key global player in addressing challenges ranging from combating terrorism, global warming, piracy, and pandemics. Instead of being reactive, India more often than not is setting the agenda on major multilateral platforms. And now, New Delhi is all set to host the G20 Summit of major global economies next year. Modi has established a special bond with the Indian diaspora. During all his visits outside India, he has often broken protocol to interact closely with the Indian community.
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