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NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday accused the opposition of “misleading” farmers and “using their shoulders to fire” at his government over the farm bills for selfish political interests, and asserted that for the first time in decades, the Centre has framed laws that will benefit farmers and workers.

Addressing BJP leaders and workers on the 104th birth anniversary of the party’s ideologue Deendayal Upadhyay, Modi launched a powerful defence of farm as well as labour bills, saying the reforms brought in the agriculture sector will benefit the small and marginal farmers the most as 85 out of 100 farmers fall in this category.

The three farm bills –the Farmer’s Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020– and the labour bills were passed by Parliament during the recent monsoon session.

Amid vehement protests by the Congress and other opposition parties against these bills, Modi hit out at them, saying many governments came to power in states and at the Centre over the decades in the name of farmers and workers, “but what did they get—nothing; just a web of promises that neither the farmers understood nor the workers.”

“The farmers were entwined in laws that prevented them from selling their produce at prices that they wanted; consequently, even though the produce went up their income did not go up,” he said, adding those who always “lied” to farmers are now “shooting from their shoulders” and misleading them.

Asserting that the small and marginal farmers are “happiest today”, the Prime Minister said, “for the first time, they have got an alternative to bargain for the price of their produce. The tradition earlier was to sell in ‘mandis’. If he thinks he will benefit by selling there, he will sell there. If he thinks the benefit is more outside, he will sell outside.”

The Opposition, farmers and many farmer organisations have been protesting against the proposed reforms in the agriculture sector by the Modi government, dubbing these measures as “anti-farmers”.

With Punjab witnessing most protests from a section of farmers, regional party Shiromani Akali Dal, a BJP ally, has also come out against these bills and its lone member in the Union Cabinet, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, has quit her post in an expression of solidarity with farmers.

During his address, Modi gave a call to BJP members to fan out across the villages to bust the propaganda of its rivals by explaining the importance of the agriculture reforms in simple language to farmers and how they will make their future brighter.

Our ground connection will bust the propaganda being spread in the virtual world, he asserted, stating that saving farmers from such “rumours” explaining them the importance and benefits of the agriculture reforms is the duty of all party workers.

Farmers were so far unable to sell their produce as they wished for decades and, consequently, their income did not grow despite the rise in farm productivity, he said, adding that workers faced the same situation.

“The BJP-led NDA government has constantly tried to change this situation. Minimum support price for crops was fixed at 1.5 times of the input cost. A record hike was effected in the MSP and the government procurement also hit a record high. Under the Kisan Samman Sidhi, more than Rs one lakh crore has been transferred to bank accounts of over one crore farmers,” he said.

Speaking of the working class, he said his government has brought labour codes to bring workers out of the complex web of dozens of laws.

Modi said over 50 crore workers employed in organised and unorganised sectors will benefit from these reforms, with fixed income and other, including health benefits.

So far only 30 percent of workers had the coverage of minimum wage guarantee, and it will now expand to all workers in the unorganised sector, he said.

Woman workers have been empowered and given equality by these proposed laws, as they did not get equal rights earlier, he said.

The views of Upadhyay, who propounded the BJP’s founding ideologies of integral humanism and ‘antyodaya’ (uplifting the last man in queue), are reflected in his government’s welfare works, he said.

In his speech, the prime minister also lauded his party’s workers for their “flexibility and adaptability”, and helping people extensively during the COVID-19 pandemic and said they have found a place in the poor’s heart with their welfare works.

“Our remarks, ideas and conduct should be in line with the expectation and aspiration of 21st century India,” he said, and asked party workers to follow coronavirus guidelines and encourage others to do so as well.

In his address, Modi also said his government has been very clear that it should not excessively interfere in the lives of those who do not need the government much, as he noted the faceless appeal system for the taxpayers has come into effect on the day of Upadhyay’s birth anniversary.

Asserting that “nation-first” is the BJP’s mantra, he noted as to how promises made by the party have been fulfilled and referred to decisions like scrapping Article 370, which had given Jammu and Kashmir special rights, and the beginning of the Ram temple construction in Ayodhya.

He also asked BJP cadres to promote local products and spread awareness about the National education Policy.

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 calls for complete ceasing of support to terrorist forces in Middle East




UNITED NATIONS: India has called on all concerned parties to completely stop supporting terrorist forces, like the ISIS, while urging all stakeholders in the Middle East to work constructively for peace, stability and development.

India underscored that it has invested considerably in the peace and stability of the region by deploying its personnel as part of UN peacekeeping forces, through humanitarian assistance, development cooperation, capacity building, and will continue contributing towards peace-building in the Middle East.

“India calls on concerned parties to completely stop support to terrorist forces, like ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) and others. India also urges all parties in the region to work constructively and in good faith to promote peace, stability and development for the benefit of all people in the Middle East,” India said in a written statement on Monday on the Security Council’s open debate on ‘The Situation in the Middle East’.

India said the truce between Israel and the Hamas has eased the humanitarian situation in Gaza and expressed hope that the temporary truce is converted into a permanent ceasefire, which can save precious human lives on both sides and create a conducive environment for talks.

“It is an unfortunate reality that the interlinked and mutually reinforcing challenges faced by the people of the Middle East have not yet been resolved. Political instability, long-festering conflicts, sectarian divides, issue of refugees and terrorism continue to plague the region. The COVID-pandemic has only exacerbated the threats posed by these challenges,” India said.

The statement made India’s permanent representative to the UN, Ambassador T S Tirumurti, will go as part of the official record of the Council.

India said it appreciates the agreement between Fatah and Hamas for holding Parliamentary and Presidential elections and also elections for the Palestinian National Council, which will help fulfill the democratic aspirations of the Palestinian people.

India also welcomed the agreements for normalisation of relations between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain. “India has always supported peace and stability in West Asia, which is our extended neighbourhood,” India said.

Further, India said the commencement of discussions on the disputed border between Israel and Lebanon is a significant development, expressing hope that this will provide an opportunity to resolve the longstanding issue between the two countries.

India highlighted that Palestinian aspirations for a sovereign and independent state are yet to be fulfilled and stressed that New Delhi has been unwavering in its commitment to the Palestinian cause and continues to remain supportive of a peaceful negotiated resolution of the Palestinian issue.

“India has supported the two-state solution as a just and acceptable solution to the conflict. Establishment of a Palestinian State living side-by-side in peace and security with Israel, within mutually agreed borders should be achieved through negotiations directly by the two parties,” India said adding that any stalemate could strengthen the hands of extremists and shut the door to cooperation thereby jeopardising the security, stability and prosperity of the people on both sides and the region.

Accordingly, India urged Israel and Palestine to resume direct negotiations at the earliest and called upon the international community to take concrete steps towards resuming and facilitating these negotiations quickly.

India noted that the decade-long armed conflict in Syria has claimed over 400,000 lives, displaced 6.2 million people internally and compelled another 6.3 million people to seek shelter in neighbouring countries.

“While we are heartened to see return of normalcy to major parts of the country, we are also reminded of the enormous resources that would be required to provide urgent humanitarian aid, rebuild infrastructure, enable return of the refugees and restore a normal and dignified life of all Syrians,” the statement said.

India said in the statement that it is not only contributing to the return of normalcy and rebuilding of Syria, but has also consistently called for a comprehensive and peaceful resolution of the Syrian conflict through a Syrian-led dialogue, taking into account the legitimate aspirations of the people of Syria.

India voiced concern over the security and humanitarian situation in Yemen and said the recent exchange of prisoners by the Government of Yemen and Ansar Allah, who had been detained in connection with the conflict, is a welcome development.

“India hopes that the parties will take more confidence building measures to provide the necessary impetus for the full implementation of the Stockholm Agreement,” the statement read.

India also hopes for peace and stability in Iraq with full respect for Iraq’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

India noted that in the aftermath of the August blast that brought destruction to vast swathes of Beirut and inflicted heavy loss of lives, India stood in solidarity with Lebanon.

New Delhi sent emergency humanitarian aid of over 58 metric tons to Beirut. “We look forward to the swift formation of a new government that can offer political stability and also tackle the grave socio-economic challenges being faced by the people of Lebanon,” the statement said.

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US, India must focus on threat posed by China: Secretary of state Mike Pompeo




NEW DELHI: US secretary of state Mike Pompeo on Tuesday stressed on the need for Washington and New Delhi to work together to counter the threat posed by Beijing to “security and freedom”

Pompeo’s comment came during the crucial 2+2 dialogue between India and the US, which saw the signing of a crucial defence agreement between the two countries.

“There is much more work to do for sure. We have a lot to discuss today: Our cooperation on the pandemic that originated in Wuhan, to confronting the Chinese Communist Party’s threats to security and freedom to promoting peace and stability throughout the region,” Pompeo said during talks with defence minister Rajnath Singh and external affairs minister S Jaishankar. Pompeo was joined by defence secretary Mark Esper.

Esper too focussed on the apparent threat posed by China, specifically in the Indo-Pacific region.

“Our focus now must be on institutionalising and regularising our cooperation to meet the challenges of the day and uphold the principles of a free and open Indo-Pacific well into the future,” Esper said.

The comments assume significance as India is locked in a border standoff with China in eastern Ladakh.

In June this year, 20 Indian soldiers and an unspecified number of PLA soldiers were killed in a clash with Chinese troops in Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh, hardening the mood in India against China and driving Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to seek closer military ties with the United States.

In the US, President Donald Trump has made being tough on China a key part of his campaign to secure a second term in next week’s presidential election and Pompeo has been trying to bolster allies to counter China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region.

This month, India invited Australia to join naval drills it holds each year with the United States and Japan, brushing off Chinese concerns that the exercises destabilise the region.

(With inputs from agencies)

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Defence Secretary Mark Esper meet NSA Doval




NEW DELHI: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Mark T Esper on Tuesday held talks with National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, covering key aspects of growing strategic ties between the two countries.

Issues of strategic importance were discussed at the meeting, sources said.

The meeting took place ahead of the third edition of 2+2 ministerial dialogue. Esper and Pompeo arrived here on Monday for the crucial talks aimed at further boosting the defence and security ties between the two countries.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar held separate talks with their US counterparts on Monday.

Earlier on Tuesday, both the top US administration officials visited the National War Memorial and paid tributes to India’s fallen heroes.

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