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EAM Jaishankar scheduled to leave for Russia on Tuesday

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NEW DELHI:

External affairs minister

S

Jaishankar

is likely to have a stopover in Iran on Tuesday on his way to a four-day visit to

Russia

, where he is expected to hold a bilateral meeting with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, people familiar with the developments said.

Jaishankar is visiting Moscow to attend a meeting of foreign ministers of the eight-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) of which both India and China are members.

He is likely to have a meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister

Javad Zarif

in Tehran before he leaves for Moscow, they said.

Jaishankar’s trip to Moscow comes days after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh visited the Russian capital to attend a meeting of SCO defence ministers.

On Friday, Singh held an over two-hour meeting with Chinese Defence Minister Gen Wei Fenghe on the escalating border row between the two countries in eastern Ladakh.

In the talks, Singh categorically told Wei that India will not “cede an inch of land” and is determined to protect the integrity and sovereignty of the country at “all cost”.

An official statement said that Singh conveyed to his Chinese counterpart that China must strictly respect the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and not make attempts to unilaterally change its status quo.

It was the highest level face-to-face contact between the two sides after the border tension erupted in eastern Ladakh in early May.

Both Jaishankar and Wang are expected to hold a bilateral meeting on Thursday, the people familiar with the developments said.

The two foreign ministers held a telephonic conversation on June 17 during which both sides agreed that the overall situation would be handled in a responsible manner.

The talks took place two days after the Galwan Valley clashes in which 20 Indian Army personnel were killed. The clashes escalated the tensions manifold.

The Chinese side also suffered casualties but it is yet to give out the details. According to an American intelligence report, the number of casualties on the Chinese side was 35.

Tensions flared up again in eastern Ladakh after China unsuccessfully attempted to occupy Indian territory in the southern bank of Pangong lake a week back when the two sides were engaged in diplomatic and military talks to resolve the prolonged border row.

India occupied a number of strategic heights on the southern bank of Pangong lake and strengthened its presence in Finger 2 and Finger 3 areas in the region to thwart any Chinese actions. China has strongly objected to India’s move. However, India has maintained that the heights are on its side of the LAC.

India has also rushed in additional troops and weapons to the sensitive region following China’s transgression attempts.

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

India sets target of record grain output, focus on oilseeds to reduce import bills

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NEW DELHI: Banking on huge acreage of Kharif (summer) crops amidst good monsoon and adequate water storage for Rabi (winter) season, the Centre on Monday revised India’s food-grains production target for 2020-21 to an all-time record of 301 million tonnes (MT) – 4 MT more than the output of 2019-20 – and decided to put focus on pulses and oilseeds.

Accordingly, it raised the production target of the main oilseed, mustard, from 9.2 MT to 12.5 MT, syncing it with ongoing efforts to reduce the country’s import bills, and gave a hike of 5.1% to the minimum support price (MSP) for procuring mustard in the next marketing season compared to 2019-20 season.

Only lentils (popular pulses) attracted a bigger hike than mustard among the six crops whose MSPs were approved by the Union cabinet on Monday. Target of production of all pulses together, including lentil, gram and others, was set at 25.6 MT for 2020-21 crop year. Similarly, the target for all oilseeds has been set at 37 MT.

The new target for the country’s food-grains production was shared during a day-long deliberation at a conference on preparation for the upcoming sowing season of Rabi crops which will begin in certain parts of the country after mid-October.

“Great emphasis is being laid on production of oilseeds and oil palm plantation indigenously to reduce import of edible oils. Besides, the government has taken multiple steps to reach this new record target of food-grains production,” said Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar.

He told TOI that the new farm legislation will ensure that the farmers get a better price of their produce. “The Bills, passed by the Parliament, will give farmers freedom to sell their produce at different places. The provisions in the legislation on ‘contract farming’ will attract large private investment, leading to rapid development in the agriculture sector and overall rural economy,” said Tomar.

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INDIA

India slams Pakistan for raising J&K issue at UN, says it hails terrorists as ‘martyrs’

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NEW YORK: India on Monday hit back at Pakistan for raising the issue of Jammu and Kashmir during the high-level meeting to commemorate 75 years of United Nations (UN), saying Islamabad is globally recognised as the epicentre of terrorism which harbours and trains terrorists, hails them as martyrs and consistently persecutes its ethnic and religious minorities.

Exercising India’s Right of Reply after Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi raked up the Kashmir issue in his address to UN, first secretary India in UN, Vidisha Maitra, deemed Qureshi’s speech as the “never-ending fabricated narrative” about the internal affairs of India.

The virtual edition of a special General Assembly session to mark 75 years of the institution commenced on Monday (local time).

“I take the floor in the exercise of the right of reply to the statement made by the representative of Pakistan. Our delegation had hoped that during this solemn commemoration of a shared global milestone, the General Assembly would be spared another repetition of the baseless falsehoods that have now become a trademark of Pakistan’s interventions on such platforms,” said Maitra.

“However, for a nation that is bereft of milestones, one can only expect a stonewalled and stymied approach to reason, diplomacy and dialogue. What we heard today is the never-ending fabricated narrative presented by the Pakistani representative about the internal affairs of India,” she added.

Maitra said that India rejected the “malicious reference” made by Qureshi to the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, which is an integral part of India.

“If there is an item that is unfinished on the agenda of the UN, it is that of tackling the scourge of terrorism. Pakistan is a country which is globally recognised epicentre of terrorism, which by its own admission harbours and trains terrorists and hails them as martyrs, and consistently persecutes its ethnic and religious minorities,” she stated.

“It would do well turn its attention inwards to immediately addressing these pressing concerns, instead of misusing UN platforms to divert attention from them by misusing UN platforms,” Maitra said.

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INDIA

Govt tells why it stopped listing farm suicide cause

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NEW DELHI: The government on Monday told the Rajya Sabha that the national data on causes of suicides in the farming sector had become “untenable” with several states and Union Territories reporting ‘nil’ suicides by farmers and agricultural labourers, and was therefore not published separately.

Reply to a query from Congress MP P L Punia seeking confirmation of and reasons for NCRB having done away with listing causes for farmers’ suicides in its annual report on ‘ Accidents and Suicides in India’, Junior home minister G Kishan Reddy said: “As informed by National Crime Records Bureau, many states/ UTs had reported “nil” data on suicides by farmers/ cultivators and agricultural labourers, even while reporting suicides in other professions. Due to this limitation, data on causes of suicide in farming sector was untenable and not published separately”.

As per the NCRB report, West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, Uttarakhand, Manipur, Chandigarh, Daman & Diu, Delhi, Lakshadweep and Puducherry reported ‘zero’ suicides by farmers, cultivators and agricultural labourers in 2019. This was also the case in 2018, with West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, Uttarakhand, Meghalaya, Goa, Chandigarh, Daman & Diu, Delhi, Ladakh and Puducherry returning ‘nil’ suicides.

Overall, 10,281 suicides by farmers, cultivators and agricultural labourers were reported countrywide last year, down from 10,349 in 2018. Of the 10,281 suicides, 5,957 were by farmers or cultivators and 4,324 by labourers. Maharashtra accounted for the highest share (38.2%) in suicides related to the farm sector in 2019, followed by Karnataka (19.4%), Andhra (10%), MP (5.3%) and Telangana/Chhattisgarh (4.9% each).

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