India to buy guns worth $553m for border troops

An Indian paramilitary trooper stands guard in Srinagar on January 15. At least nine people including four Pakistani soldiers were killed in recent fighting in disputed Kashmir. (AFP)
Updated 16 January 2018
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India to buy guns worth $553m for border troops

NEW DELHI: India will buy more than 160,000 guns worth $553 million for troops on its disputed, high-altitude borders, the defense ministry said on Tuesday.
The defense acquisition council cleared the purchase of 72,400 assault rifles and 93,895 carbines for 35 billion rupees ($553 million) in a meeting chaired by Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
The weapons will be bought to “enable the defense forces to meet their immediate requirement for the troops deployed on the borders,” the ministry said in a statement.
New Delhi has signed several big-ticket defense deals since Prime Minister Narendra Modi stormed to power in 2014.
India — the world’s largest defense importer — has been investing tens of billions in updating its Soviet-era military hardware to counter long-standing territorial disputes with its nuclear-armed neighbors China and Pakistan.
India and China fought a brief war in 1962 over their border and last year were involved in a months-long showdown over a disputed Himalayan plateau.
India is also mired in conflict in the Himalayan region of Kashmir where roughly 500,000 soldiers are deployed.
New Delhi accuses Islamabad of sending “terrorists” across the border — one of the most heavily militarised in the world — to fight security forces in Indian-administered Kashmir.
Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since the end of British rule in 1947, with both claiming the territory in its entirety.
India has fought three wars against Pakistan, two of them over the control of Kashmir.


Babies not welcome in parliament, Danish speaker says

Updated 3 min 5 sec ago
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Babies not welcome in parliament, Danish speaker says

  • In 2016, an Icelandic lawmaker made headlines after breastfeeding her infant while speaking at the podium in parliament
COPENHAGEN: A Danish lawmaker said Tuesday she was ordered to remove her infant daughter from parliament’s chamber, sparking surprise in a country often hailed as a pioneer in women’s rights.
“You are not welcome with your baby in the parliament’s chamber,” speaker Pia Kjaersgaard, an outspoken former leader of the far-right Danish People’s Party, allegedly told MP Mette Abildgaard.
“I didn’t ask for permission to bring her since I had previously seen another colleague bring a child into the chamber without any problems,” Abildgaard, whose Conservative party is part of the ruling center-right coalition, wrote on Facebook.
Abildgaard, who is in her 30s, said she found herself in an exceptional situation with her five-month-old daughter, and had never brought her into the chamber before.
But she said the infant was “in a good mood and had a pacifier in her mouth.”
Kjaersgaard passed the message to an assistant, who then asked Abildgaard to remove the baby from the room.
Abildgaard handed the child to an assistant and returned to the chamber to vote.
“MPs should be in the chamber, not babies or children,” insisted Kjaersgaard when questioned by news agency Ritzau.
She said clear rules would be issued on the subject.
The Scandinavian country is often held up as a champion of gender equality and women’s rights, and as a child and family-centered nation with generous parental leave.
Abildgaard noted that she was entitled to a year’s maternity leave with full pay, but that she had chosen to return to work.
Her Facebook post garnered more than 600 comments within the space of a few hours.
“A chamber that represents mothers, fathers and babies ought to be open to mothers, fathers and babies,” one person wrote.
In 2016, an Icelandic lawmaker made headlines after breastfeeding her infant while speaking at the podium in parliament.
And in September, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern became a symbol for working mothers when she brought her baby to the UN General Assembly in New York.