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NEW DELHI: Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman, High Council for National Reconciliation of Afghanistan who is on a five-day India visit on Saturday said that his discussion with the top Indian leadership was around “peace” process and said Afghanistan did not ask for direct engagement from India to tackle Taliban. He also said there are different countries playing various roles in Afghanistan and India’s role will also be appreciated.

“The topic of discussion was around peace in what was going on in the negotiations and what different countries can do. India as an important country, which has helped Afghanistan throughout many years has a lot at stake in peaceful Afghanistan. The continuation of the war is an adverse impact,” Abdullah said in an exclusive interview with ANI.

He said it depends on the Indian government’s decision on engaging with the Taliban.

“I did not ask directly for engagement with the Taliban but at the same time, I encouraged in the peace process as a whole in general. There are different countries playing different roles in Afghanistan. India’s role will also be appreciated,” he said.

When asked whether Afghanistan wants India to engage with the Taliban, he said: “It depends on the Indian government’s decision. But as a whole India is supportive of the peace process which is important.”

While talking about key takeaways from interaction with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Abdullah said that India wants Afghan-led negotiation and inclusive settlement acceptable to Afghans.

“My takeaway from my interaction with PM Modi is that India wants Afghan-led negotiation and inclusive settlement acceptable to Afghans. A unified Afghanistan, which does not harbour terror groups,” he said.

Asked whether he discussed the military role of India in Afghanistan, Abdullah said: “No. Absolutely not. I did not raise that idea. The point is that we hope that Afghanistan will be able to stand on its own feet. As you know that US troops are the main part of it. They have withdrawn from Afghanistan. Still, they are present there but that will not be forever.”

“It is important for the people of Afghanistan to find a way to live in peace with one another. Then find an arrangement for the security of the country. Then other countries can help in peace in their own ways,” he said.

On Thursday, he met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval wherein he reaffirmed the long-term commitment to further deepen India-Afghan ties.

A day later, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar met Dr Abdullah and assured him of India’s commitment to peace, prosperity and stability in the neighbouring country.

Abdullah’s visit comes at a time when the Afghanistan government and Taliban are trying to negotiate a deal in order to restore peace in the country.The peace talks between the Afghanistan government and the Taliban began on September 12 in Qatar’s capital Doha.

The Times of India is an Indian English-language daily newspaper owned by The Times Group. It is the third-largest newspaper in India by circulation and largest selling English-language daily in the world. according to Audit Bureau of Circulations.

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INDIA

Pandemic to shave off 40% operating profit of pvt hospitals: Report

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MUMBAI: The pandemic will eat up around 40 per cent of the operational profit of private hospitals this fiscal, as billing has plunged drastically due to the virus outbreak and the resultant proclivity of people to avoid hospitals for non-emergency situations, says a report.

The Crisil report released on Tuesday, however, noted that a large number of pandemic cases, which though is low-margin, will get these hospitals an additional revenue to the tune of 15-20 per cent.

Further, with the relaxation in lockdown and travel restrictions, footfalls have started improving from July, helping bed-occupancy levels.

The report also expects bed-occupancy levels to stabilise 65-70 per cent of the pre-lockdown levels in the second half of the fiscal. This, along with additional revenue from the pandemic treatment will help limit overall decline in revenue to 16-18 per cent, as against 17 per cent annual growth logged in the two preceding fiscals, it said.

Since the pandemic-driven lockdowns that began late March, hospitals have been on a crisis path as people began to avoid going to hospitals for regular consultations and began to postpone elective surgeries, which have been the most lucrative procedures for any hospital, especially organ transplants among others.

“A triple whammy of postponement in elective surgeries, revenue loss from the highly profitable medical tourism segment, and increasing costs will lead to 35-40 per cent reduction in operating profit of private hospitals this fiscal,” Crisil said.

The report is based on the analysis of 40 hospitals, including 36 rated by the agency, which account for over Rs 36,000 crore of the sector’s revenue.

Even though the trauma and emergency treatment account for 28-30 per cent of revenue continued, but at a much lower level, given the fewer accidents during the lockdowns.

On top of these, medical tourism, which accounts for 10-12 per cent of revenue but gets the highest margins, especially for large hospitals, came to a complete standstill, due to travel restrictions imposed as part of the lockdowns.

However, the pandemic is set to bring them around 20 per cent of the revenue despite low margin.

“Treating COVID-19 patients is expected to provide an additional revenue stream and may contribute 15-20 per cent to revenue this fiscal. But it is not as profitable as other revenue streams. Additionally, given the high fixed cost structure of hospitals, lower overall occupancy will result in lesser absorption of overheads.

“This, coupled with the increased cost of safety and sanitation will lead to 35-40 per cent decline in operating profit this fiscal,” the report said.

Weakened operating performance accentuated cash-flow challenges in the first half and to manage the situation, hospitals have deferred 35-40 per cent of planned capex for this fiscal, and are now resorting to short-term debt funding.

About a third of the agency-rated hospitals also availed moratorium for loan repayments which supported their liquidity during the first half.

Nonetheless, the credit outlook for the sector remains moderately negative, with credit metrics being impacted primarily by lower profit, the report said adding that the deterioration in performance is expected to be only temporary, and a strong bounce-back is likely in the next fiscal supported by pent up demand.

“Elective surgeries cannot be postponed indefinitely and medical tourism is also expected to recoup as travel restrictions ease. We expect a healthy 25 per cent revenue growth in fiscal 2022, and operating profitability to recover to pre-pandemic levels, including due to lower share of less-profitable treatment for the pandemic patients,” the report said.

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INDIA

Rajnath Singh approves new DRDO procurement manual to facilitate indigenous defence industry

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NEW DELHI: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday approved a new procurement manual for Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to encourage the participation of the Indian industries in research and development activity to facilitate the indigenous Defence Industry.

Rajnath Singh said that the new manual will help towards realising Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dream of Atma Nirbhar Bharat.

“The new DRDO Procurement Manual will facilitate the indigenous Defence Industry by simplifying the processes and ensuring their participation in design and development activities. PM-2020 will help towards realising Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dream of Atma Nirbhar Bharat,” defence minister Singh tweeted.

The new DRDO Procurement Manual will facilitate the indigenous Defence Industry by simplifying the processes and en… https://t.co/cfSfIzJ3Kn

— Rajnath Singh (@rajnathsingh) 1603177544000

Prior to Singh’s tweet, Office of Defence Minister (DMO) had announced the approval of a new procurement manual for DRDO to achieve the goal of self-reliant in Defence industry.

“Raksha Mantri Rajnath Singh has approved a new DRDO India Procurement Manual (PM-2020) to encourage more participation of the Indian Industry including startups and MSMEs in Research and Development activity and also to achieve the goal of self-reliance in Defence,” DMO tweeted.

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INDIA

PM Narendra Modi to share message with nation on Tuesday evening

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NW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will share a message with the nation at 6 pm on Tuesday.

“Will be sharing a message with my fellow citizens at 6 pm this evening,” he said in a tweet.

आज शाम 6 बजे राष्ट्र के नाम संदेश दूंगा। आप जरूर जुड़ें।Will be sharing a message with my fellow citizens at 6 PM this evening.

— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) 1603179161000

Modi has addressed the nation a number of times during the COVID-19 crisis in which he has spoken about various measures, including lockdown, being taken to curb the pandemic and also announced economic and welfare packages.

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