Modi urges India to reject violence in name of religion

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi salutes a guard of honour during the country's 71st Independence Day celebrations, which marks the 70th anniversary of the end of British colonial rule, at the historic Red Fort in New Delhi on August 15, 2017. India can defend itself from anyone who seeks "to act against our country", Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in an Independence Day speech August 15 amid a tense standoff with Beijing over a Himalayan plateau. / AFP / PRAKASH SINGH
Updated 15 August 2017
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Modi urges India to reject violence in name of religion

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged India on Tuesday to reject religious violence, after a series of attacks against minorities sparked debate about whether a surge of Hindu nationalism is undermining the country’s secular ideals.
In a speech from the ramparts of Delhi’s Red Fort marking the 70th anniversary of India’s independence, Modi also listed his government’s achievements, including a fight against corruption.
The speech was light on foreign policy, making no mention of arch-rival Pakistan or of China. India has for nearly two months stationed hundreds of troops along its northern border with China because of a territorial dispute.
Modi has spoken out against attacks by right-wing Hindus, many of whom back his Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), against minority Muslims and lower-caste Hindus accused of killing cows, considered holy by the majority Hindus.
But the setting of his denunciation of violence on Tuesday was significant.
“We will not tolerate violence in the name of faith,” Modi said before a teeming crowd at the fort and a huge television audience.
Modi made much of the progress India has made since independence from British rule in 1947.
But he also expressed pain over the death of at least 60 children in a state-run hospital last week amid shortages of supplies — a reminder much remains to be done on India’s journey to development.
’AURA OF PROGRESS’
Since coming to power in 2014, Modi has found it difficult to balance the competing demands of groups from his nationalist Hindu power base and those Indians striving to build a modern, secular country befitting its growing economic influence.
Manoj Joshi, a fellow at the Observer Research Foundation think-tank said Modi was playing “good cop, bad cop” by condemning communal violence but doing little to rein in elements of his ruling party.
“There is an obvious gap between slogan and implementation. It’s a deliberate gap and it’s just for the record,” he said.
Modi also spoke at length about delivering a “new India” by 2022, underlining his confidence of winning the next general election, due by 2019.
Strong growth and economic reforms have bolstered Modi’s popularity and helped his party sweep state elections in recent years, leaving the opposition severely weakened.
Still, to keep up with the demands of India’s 1.3 billion people, the government needs to create millions more jobs a year, which it is struggling to do.
“A certain level of triumphalism ... brought Modi to power,” analyst Ajai Shukla told NDTV. “Now he realizes people are expecting answers. He felt the need to convey an aura of progress.”
Modi was conciliatory toward the Muslim-majority Himalayan region of Kashmir, where violent protests against Indian rule have erupted over the past year, saying neither “name-calling nor bullets” would be enough to pacify the region.
What was needed, he said, were “hugs” for Kashmiris.
Kashmir has been divided between Pakistan and India, and a source of conflict between them, since their creation upon the partition of British-ruled India in 1947.


Russia’s Port of Vladivostok prepares to host Kim Jong Un

Updated 19 April 2019
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Russia’s Port of Vladivostok prepares to host Kim Jong Un

  • Russian media were quick to report preparations were underway for the summit to take place in Vladivostok
  • Proximity is no doubt important for Kim, who is rumored to travel aboard his armored train

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is expected in Russia’s far-eastern port Vladivostok in the coming days, according to reports that have prompted excitement and concern among local residents.
After weeks of speculation, the Kremlin announced that Kim will visit Russia to hold his first talks with President Vladimir Putin in late April. It gave no details on a date or place, citing “security reasons.”
Russian media were quick to report preparations were underway for the summit to take place in Vladivostok, home to Moscow’s Pacific Fleet.
The port lies only about 130 kilometers (80 miles) from Russia’s short border with North Korea. This proximity is no doubt important for Kim, who is rumored to travel aboard his armored train.
The 35-year-old will be following in the footsteps of his father Kim Jong Il, who met the newly elected Putin in Vladivostok in 2002.
The far eastern city rarely sees major international events, and some locals are happy for the city to be in the spotlight.
“Any visit is good, whether it’s an enemy or a friend,” said Danil, a student at Vladivostok’s Far Eastern Federal University, billed by the media as a possible venue for the summit.
He welcomed the talks, saying “you can only make decisions through dialogue and communication.”
Nadezhda, a native of the city, said it will be a global event and “will be a boost for development in our city.”
Authorities this week were busy cleaning garbage near railways leading to the city, Russian media reported.
“The depressing view from the train window does not give a positive impression to guests of Vladivostok arriving by train,” an official from the local branch of Russian Railways told the Interfax news agency.
Nadezhda said she was “absolutely not afraid of (North Korea’s) nuclear program” and would like to see the country.
North Korea said this week it was testing nuclear weapons after a round of talks with the US ended in failure.
But Anna Marinina was less enthusiastic about the summit, and said that if Pyongyang did use its weapons, Vladivostok would be in the firing line.
“The people that panic the most about North Korea are safe on the other side of the ocean,” she said.
“If something were to happen, it would fall on us.”
Putin has long said he was ready to meet with Kim and is preparing to play a bigger role in nuclear negotiations with Moscow’s Cold War-era ally.
The last meeting between Russian and North Korean heads of state was in 2011, when Kim’s father traveled by train to Siberia, where he took a boat ride on Lake Baikal and held tightly guarded talks with then president Dmitry Medvedev.
There is a chance however that fresh talks will not take place at all, as Kim pulled out of 2015 celebrations in Moscow for the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II at the last minute.