President’s Republic Day address: Indian president appreciates contribution of country’s diaspora

President’s Republic Day address: Indian president appreciates contribution of country’s diaspora
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with Indian President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a ceremonial reception in New Delhi in 2019. (Getty)
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Updated 26 January 2021

President’s Republic Day address: Indian president appreciates contribution of country’s diaspora

President’s Republic Day address: Indian president appreciates contribution of country’s diaspora
  • India’s tradition is to work for the well-being of the entire world, says Indian President Ram Nath Kovind
  • The ‘National Education Policy 2020,’ with its stress on tradition as well as technology, will lay the foundation of a New India

The following text is excerpted from the Indian president's speech delivered on the eve of the 72nd Republic Day:

NEW DELHI: Greetings to all of you on the 72nd Republic Day of the world’s largest and most vibrant democracy. In this land of ours, enriched by diversity, with many festivals, our national festivals are celebrated by everyone with great patriotic fervor. We celebrate the national festival of the Republic Day with enthusiasm and express our respect for the national flag, and our faith in the constitution.
This day has come to mean a lot to all Indians living within the country and abroad. Seventy-one years ago, on this very day, we the people of India adopted, enacted and gave to ourselves a unique constitution. For all of us, then, this is the day to also pause and ponder over the core values that the constitution propounds. These values — justice, liberty, equality and fraternity — outlined in the preamble of our constitution are sacred to all of us. Its abiding adherence is meant not only for those who are mandated to govern but for the people at large.
The adversities of the previous year have only reminded us of what we have always known deep in our hearts — that care and concern for humanity and the feeling of fraternity is what kept us together for millennia. In every sphere, Indians rose to the occasion, and put others before themselves. We Indians live and die for humanity.
Converting a crisis into an opportunity, the prime minister gave a call of “Atma-Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan,” or “Self-reliant India Mission.” Our vibrant democracy, our enterprising and talented fellow citizens — especially the youth — energize our efforts in shaping a self-reliant India. The demand for goods and services in the country, the domestic efforts to meet them, and the use of modern technology in such efforts are strengthening the “Atma-Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan.” Under this mission, steps have been taken for economic growth as well as employment generation by promoting micro, small and medium enterprises and making the startup ecosystem more robust. It has become a movement being taken forward by the people themselves.
Adversity often plays the role of a great teacher. It makes us stronger and more confident. With that confidence, India has taken great strides in several sectors. Economic reforms have continued apace and have been supplemented by long-pending reforms in the areas of labor and agriculture through legislation. The path to reform at the initial stages may cause misapprehensions. However, it is beyond doubt that the government remains singularly devoted to farmers’ welfare.
Equally salient but touching more lives directly is the comprehensive reform in education which was long overdue. The “National Education Policy 2020,” with its stress on tradition as well as technology, will lay the foundation of a New India which aspires to emerge as a knowledge hub on the international stage. This reform promises to incubate innate talent of students and ignite their minds to take up the challenges of life.
The net outcome of all these efforts is before us. After about a year of this unforeseen ordeal, India today stands not despondent but confident. The slowdown has turned out to be transitory, as the economy has regained its dynamism. A self-reliant India has manufactured its own vaccine for COVID-19, and is now undertaking a mass vaccination drive, which will be the largest exercise of its kind in history.
Today, India is being rightly called “pharmacy of the world” as we are supplying medicines and other healthcare items to several countries to alleviate people’s suffering and contain the pandemic across the globe. Now we also provide vaccines to other countries.
While we celebrate the anniversary of our republic, I am thinking of our brothers and sisters abroad. Our diaspora is our pride. Indians abroad have succeeded in different walks of life, some rising to high levels of political leadership, some contributing to science, arts, academics, civil society and business, each bringing laurels to their new homelands and also to India. Republic Day greetings to you from the land of your ancestors!
I once again congratulate you all on the occasion of Republic Day.

 

 


Pakistani PM urges Sri Lanka to join China corridor

Pakistani PM urges Sri Lanka to join China corridor
Updated 8 min 3 sec ago

Pakistani PM urges Sri Lanka to join China corridor

Pakistani PM urges Sri Lanka to join China corridor
  • Khan woos business leaders with promise of ‘religious tourism’

COLOMBO: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday opened Pakistan’s doors to “religious tourism” from Sri Lanka, inviting business leaders to visit the historically rich Gandharan region in the northwest of the country where a 40-foot statue of sleeping Buddha was recently unearthed.

He also sought their participation in Islamabad’s multibillion-dollar China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project with Beijing.

“Pakistan has probably the most undiscovered religious tourism. For people in Sri Lanka, what is of great interest is the Gandhara Buddhist civilization. We have discovered various new sites for tourists to visit Pakistan,” Khan told delegates at the Pakistan-Sri Lanka Trade and Investment Conference in Colombo.

The event was attended by Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunwardena, and a host of officials.

Khan added that the Buddhist civilization was “discovered in the north of Islamabad,” the capital of Pakistan, and that “the findings will be of interest to Sri Lankan tourists who go to historical places.”

“Pakistan will do its best to restore Sri Lanka’s tourist industry,” he added.

Earlier on Wednesday, during talks with Rajapaksa, Khan said that both countries were “on the same page” on the need to alleviate poverty in their respective nations.

“We both agreed that poverty is due to food inflation, and this problem could be solved by bridging the gap between the producer and the consumer,” he said, citing the example of China, which had “successfully uplifted more than 700 million people.”

“Successful trading relations will help alleviate poverty. Pakistan is part of the One Belt and Road initiative of China, and CPEC is one of its flagship programs, and it means connectivity, and it will help enhance Sri Lanka’s connectivity right up to Central Asia,” he said.

China has pledged more than $60 billion for infrastructure projects in Pakistan as part of CPEC, central to Beijing’s wider Belt and Road Initiative, for the development of land and sea trade routes in Asia and beyond.

Khan also underlined the “exceptional quality” of Pakistan-Sri Lanka relations which are “marked by trust, understanding and mutual support,” before inviting Rajapaksa to visit Pakistan at the “earliest convenience.”

The Pakistani leader also stressed the importance of building a “robust economic partnership characterized by enhanced bilateral trade, investments, and commercial cooperation.”

Sri Lanka’s business leaders agreed.

“The first-ever investment forum with 39 Pakistani business magnates will pave the way for development in trade and investments,” Bandula Dissananayake, secretary-general of the Sri Lanka National Chamber of Commerce, told Arab News.

On Monday, both prime ministers witnessed several economically important agreements between Sri Lanka and Pakistan for development in tourism cooperation, investment, technology and education.

Pakistan’s exports to Sri Lanka grew from $97 million in 2004 to $355 million in 2018, while Sri Lanka’s exports to Pakistan grew from $47 million in 2004 to $105 million in 2018, almost double over the same period.

However, the two-way trade totals only $460 million, despite the potential to garner more than $2 billion.

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Saudi Arabia's Red Sea Project adds Gartner in advisory role

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Updated 13 min 13 sec ago

Saudi Arabia's Red Sea Project adds Gartner in advisory role

Saudi Arabia's Red Sea Project adds Gartner in advisory role
  • US-based research firm signs contract with Red Sea Development Company

LONDON: The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC) signed a contract with Gartner on Wednesday to provide consulting services on technology procurement for the Red Sea Project.
The leading US-based research and advisory firm will assist TRSDC in sourcing technology partners through three main specializations: smart destination development, information technology, and cybersecurity.
The Red Sea Project is a regenerative tourism destination along Saudi Arabia’s west coast, and one of three giga-projects announced by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in July 2017.
Gartner will also provide ideas and advice on licensing, technology customization, service scoping and pricing.
“Technical innovation underpins every aspect of our vision for the Red Sea Project,” said John Pagano, the CEO of TRSDC.
“Everything from the seamless, personalized service guests will experience when they arrive at our airport, to the 24/7 smart monitoring of the environment. Every element will be world-class.” 
He said Gartner’s specialists are at the forefront of emerging trends and with their expert counsel, “we can transform travel through technology.”
The advisory firm will provide insight to help TRSDC create a special experience for guests, the company said.
“Work is already underway to develop an extensive smart destination platform,” TRSDC said. “It will monitor, simulate, and forecast the environmental impact of the destination’s operations, in keeping with TRSDC’s commitment to protect and enhance the environment.”
The first phase of the project includes 16 hotels providing 3,000 rooms across five islands and two resorts on the mainland. Retail, entertainment and other commercial facilities will also be included in the first phase.
The Red Sea project, scheduled to be completed in 2030, will ultimately feature 50 hotels with 8,000 hotel rooms and around 1,300 housing units distributed over 22 islands. A yacht marina, entertainment centers, an international airport, along with public and logistical facilities will be included.


Saudi crown prince undergoes successful appendicitis surgery

Saudi crown prince undergoes successful appendicitis surgery
Updated 2 min 56 sec ago

Saudi crown prince undergoes successful appendicitis surgery

Saudi crown prince undergoes successful appendicitis surgery
  • The crown prince left the hospital later on Wednesday

LONDON: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman underwent a successful surgical procedure on Wednesday morning to treat appendicitis at King Faisal Specialist Hospital, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

The crown prince left the hospital later on Wednesday. 


Syrian war being forgotten in UK as poll shows growing apathy

The results of a YouGov survey, released on Wednesday, showed only a little more than half (58 percent) of British people were aware the war in Syria was still going on. (Reuters/File Photo)
The results of a YouGov survey, released on Wednesday, showed only a little more than half (58 percent) of British people were aware the war in Syria was still going on. (Reuters/File Photo)
Updated 24 February 2021

Syrian war being forgotten in UK as poll shows growing apathy

The results of a YouGov survey, released on Wednesday, showed only a little more than half (58 percent) of British people were aware the war in Syria was still going on. (Reuters/File Photo)
  • Brits have ‘turned off their minds’ to what is happening in Syria amid increasingly scarce media coverage

LONDON: The civil war in Syria is being forgotten by the British people as apathy toward the decade-long conflict grows, according to a UK-based charity.

The results of a YouGov survey, released on Wednesday, showed only a little more than half (58 percent) of those polled were aware the war was still going on. A spokesman for Syria Relief said Britons have “turned off their minds” to what is happening in the country.

The poll, which marks the upcoming 10th anniversary of the start of the conflict, found 38 percent of 1,753 people questioned in the UK were not sure of the current status of the war, while four percent believed it had ended.

Public awareness of the conflict was higher in August 2019, when a survey found that 77 percent people knew about the conflict, according to Syria Relief.

“I believe that after 10 years the UK has become fatigued about the Syrian crisis because of its protracted nature,” Charles Lawley, head of communications and advocacy at Syria Relief, told Arab News. “They are accepting that this is a place where tragedies happen on a daily basis, so they turn their minds off to it — and this is a great tragedy.

“I think it is a symptom of British society becoming less concerned about issues beyond our own borders and, to be frank, it is almost as if the suffering of Syrians is boring them.”

This year also marks 10 years since the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad targeted 10 schools and a hospital in attacks that claimed the lives of more than 20 people, more than half of them children, something that would not be tolerated in the UK, Lawley said.

“If this would have happened in Britain it would have been treated akin to our 9/11: a national tragedy that would be remembered for generations,” he said. “Yet because it happened in Syria, no one knows about it.

“We wouldn’t tolerate children being bombed as they sit in the classrooms of British schools so why on earth do we tolerate it in Syria or anywhere else in the world?”

Extensive media coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic and Brexit negotiations has meant that UK national news updates on the Syrian conflict have been increasingly rare in the past few years, which makes the efforts of charities to help the victims of the conflict much harder, Lawley said.

“It is so difficult for organizations like Syria Relief to get the UK or the world to care about suffering and death in Syria,” he said. “When we just allow Syria to be a place where bombs can be dropped on schools or hospitals, we devalue the lives of Syrians.

“But, tragically, our apathy to the plight of the Syrian people compounds their suffering as there is no pressure on governments to act to stop warring parties in the conflict from committing crimes against humanity.

“Ultimately, the British people need to remember that Syrians are people too. Their lives are just as valuable as any human life; the only different between them and (us) is where they were born. They didn’t ask for this.”

While the UK has pledged billions of pounds in aid for Syria since 2012, politicians and the media in the UK need to do more to shine a light on the conflict and the suffering of ordinary Syrians, Lawley said, especially after the government’s recent announcement of cuts to the aid budget.

“The UK government is the third-biggest donor to the Syrian humanitarian aid response and should be proud about the enormous amount of good it is doing to help the people impacted by the conflict,” he said.

“However, with the recent announcement of the government about plans to cut the aid budget, this is making us at Syria Relief, and many of our colleagues in the (nongovernmental organization) community very concerned about what this could mean to the Syrian people — many of whom are some of the most vulnerable people on the globe.

“I think the government should be shouting from the rooftops about the incredible things that the UK aid budget has achieved. If it had, I think there would have been more opposition from the public about the announcement to cut the budget.

“Being a global leader in helping the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people should be worn as a badge of national pride, not treated like a dirty little secret.”

The war in Syria began in 2011 amid pro-democracy protests in Deraa. Tensions escalated after the Assad regime crushed dissenters who staged a “day of rage” on March 15, which ultimately led to more people flooding city streets demanding the president step down.


US patience with Iran on nuclear deal ‘not unlimited’: State Department

US patience with Iran on nuclear deal ‘not unlimited’: State Department
Updated 45 sec ago

US patience with Iran on nuclear deal ‘not unlimited’: State Department

US patience with Iran on nuclear deal ‘not unlimited’: State Department
  • Iran has not formally responded to a US offer last week to talk with Iran in a joint meeting with the countries that negotiated the deal

WASHINGTON: The United States' patience with Iran on returning to discussions over the 2015 nuclear deal is "not unlimited," State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Wednesday.
Iran has not formally responded to a US offer last week to talk with Iran in a joint meeting with the countries that negotiated the deal.
Asked at a news briefing whether there was an expiration date on the offer, Price said Iran's moves away from compliance with the 2015 agreement's restrictions on its nuclear activities made the issue an "urgent challenge" for the United States.
"Our patience is not unlimited, but we do believe, and the president has been clear on this ... that the most effective way to ensure Iran could never acquire a nuclear weapon was through diplomacy," Price said.