Deaths from Indian toxic alcohol rise to more than 56

Deaths from Indian toxic alcohol rise to more than 56
Selling and consuming liquor is prohibited in several other parts of India, further driving the thriving black market for potent and sometimes lethal backstreet moonshine. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 24 June 2024
Follow

Deaths from Indian toxic alcohol rise to more than 56

Deaths from Indian toxic alcohol rise to more than 56
  • Locally brewed arrack drink was laced with poisonous methanol, killing 37 within hours after they drank the illegal alcohol
  • Tamil Nadu is not a dry state, but liquor traded on the black market comes at a lower price than alcohol sold legally

BENGALURU, India: The death toll from a batch of toxic illegal alcohol in India had risen to 56, police said Monday, with 117 people in hospital recovering from the deadly drink.
Last week, hundreds of people in Kallakurichi district in the southern state of Tamil Nadu consumed a batch of locally made "arrack", which was laced with methanol.
Hundreds of people die every year in India from cheap alcohol made in backstreet distilleries, but this poisoning is one of the worst in recent years.
To increase its potency, the liquor is often spiked with methanol, which can cause blindness, liver damage and death.
Top district police official Rajat Chaturvedi told AFP that “56 people have died so far and around 117 people are currently under medical treatment.”
Political rivals in the state have blamed each other for the deaths, and the site of the tragedy witnessed a protest by local opposition politicians Monday.
Tamil Nadu is not a dry state, but liquor traded on the black market comes at a lower price than alcohol sold legally.
Selling and consuming liquor is prohibited in several other parts of India, further driving the thriving black market for potent and sometimes lethal moonshine.
Last year, poisonous alcohol killed at least 27 people in one sitting in the eastern Indian state of Bihar, while in 2022, at least 42 people died in Gujarat.
Indian media reported that poor laborers in Kallakurichi district regularly bought the liquor in plastic bags costing 60 rupees ($0.70), which they would drink before work.
This batch, however, was devastating. Some people went blind, while others collapsed in the street and died before they could make it to hospital.


UAE economy ministry holds investment talks in southern India

UAE economy ministry holds investment talks in southern India
Updated 4 sec ago
Follow

UAE economy ministry holds investment talks in southern India

UAE economy ministry holds investment talks in southern India
  • Investopia launched its first international event in India in 2022
  • 300 people attend sessions in Chennai on Wednesday

NEW DELHI: The UAE Ministry of Economy and the Confederation of Indian Industry on Wednesday held the Indian edition of Investopia Global Talks — a series of sessions in Chennai aimed at boosting cooperation in the new economy sectors.

Launched in 2021, Investopia is a global investment initiative by the UAE government to connect investors, business leaders and government officials and identify economic and investment opportunities. Its first global talks were held in India in 2022 and the latest sessions are the third to be held there.

UAE Economy Minister Abdulla bin Touq Al-Marri led a 70-member delegation to the event. He told the 300 participants that the UAE was “at the gate to collaborate with our international partners.”

“It is imperative that we leverage our strength, we capitalize on emerging trends, embrace innovation and as a catalyst for sustainable growth, it’s imperative that we remain agile, adaptive and forward thinking.”

UAE Minister of State for Entrepreneurship Alia Abdulla Al-Mazrouei, who was part of the delegation, urged both UAE and Indian stakeholders to take advantage of the opportunity to explore partnerships in both markets.

“To those Indian businesses operating in new economy sectors, I invite you to capitalize on the UAE’s highly incubating environment … to grow and scale at a global level and champion technology and knowledge transfer within the ecosystem,” she said.

India-UAE relations have grown considerably since 2022, when they signed a comprehensive economic partnership agreement to boost trade and investment.

Since then, the number of exchanges between the two countries has increased and trade has grown by more than 16 percent year on year, mostly in the energy, infrastructure and construction, technology and innovation, pharma and healthcare, tourism and cultural sectors.

India’s Ambassador to the UAE Sunjay Sudhir said relations between the two countries had seen “rapid progress” over the past decade, resulting in a “paradigm shift in bilateral ties.”

“Investopia has already become an important event in the calendar of Indian businesses,” he told Arab News.

“As we continue to work together, I am confident that our strategic partnership will enable our two nations to navigate complex global realities and will leave a lasting impact on regional and global stability, economic growth and governance frameworks.”

Chennai is located in Tamil Nadu, which is India’s second-largest exporter of software, after Karnataka, and known for its automobile and engineering industries. Manufacturing contributes 33 percent and agriculture 13 percent to the state’s economy.

Home to about 1.9 million small and medium-sized enterprises, the CII said Tamil Nadu could be the starting point for new collaborations.

“With the world acknowledging MSMEs (micro, small and medium-sized enterprises) are the backbone of the world economy and startups are the future, it is imperative we naturally collaborate on these domains,” Dr. R. Nandini, CII southern region chairperson, said.

“It is evident that the strengthening ties between India and the UAE are leading to a new era of trade and investment opportunities, innovation and sustained economic growth for both countries.”


Dutch court tosses out submarine deal lawsuit

Dutch court tosses out submarine deal lawsuit
Updated 23 min ago
Follow

Dutch court tosses out submarine deal lawsuit

Dutch court tosses out submarine deal lawsuit
  • The Netherlands in March picked French defense company Naval Group and its Dutch partner Royal IHC to build four new submarines for its navy
  • Dutch judges however said the state’s decision to declare TKMS’s bid invalid was “on good grounds“

THE HAGUE: Dutch judges on Wednesday turned down a lawsuit calling for a submarine deal between the Netherlands and France to be revised, saying there was “no reason” to further investigate the multi-billion-euro agreement.
The Netherlands in March picked French defense company Naval Group and its Dutch partner Royal IHC to build four new submarines for its navy, choosing the bid over one from Germany’s Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) and Swedish defense group Saab AB.
TKMS then filed an objection before The Hague District Court, saying it believed that the Dutch state “has wrongly judged that its offer is invalid.”
The Kiel-based ship and submarine builder wanted judges to order a repeat of the procurement process “in an adapted form” or that “at least various further investigations would be carried out and that a new award decision would then be made.”
Dutch judges however said the state’s decision to declare TKMS’s bid invalid was “on good grounds.”
“Contrary to what TKMS argued, there is no reason for further investigations into Naval’s submission,” it added.
“The judge therefore dismisses TKMS’s claims in the summary proceedings.”
The vessels are set to replace the Netherland’s four Walrus class subs which entered service in the early 1990s. One of the Walrus class subs was decommissioned last year so that its spare parts could be used to keep the other three in operation.
An outgoing Dutch parliament in June approved the deal, ahead of the new government led by Dutch MP Geert Wilders’ far-right PVV party.
The decision is a boon for Naval Group, coming three years after it abruptly lost a major contract to build 12 Barracuda submarines for Australia.
It also comes as European countries have stepped up military spending in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
The submarines will be built in Naval Group’s shipyards, but there will also be an industrial cooperation accord to “reinforce the technological and industrial base of the Dutch defense industry,” the French defense ministry has said.
The first two subs are to enter service within 10 years of the contract being signed.


Ukraine tells China that Russia not ready for ‘good faith’ talks

Ukraine tells China that Russia not ready for ‘good faith’ talks
Updated 33 min 27 sec ago
Follow

Ukraine tells China that Russia not ready for ‘good faith’ talks

Ukraine tells China that Russia not ready for ‘good faith’ talks
  • The Ukrainian foreign ministry said Kuleba told Wang that Kyiv was prepared to negotiate with Russian representatives when Moscow is willing to hold talks “in good faith“
  • It cited Kuleba as saying: “I am convinced that a just peace in Ukraine is in China’s strategic interests, and China’s role as a global force for peace is important“

BEIJING: Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told his Chinese counterpart that his government did not believe Russia was ready for “good faith” negotiations to end the war, his ministry said Wednesday.
Kuleba’s statement to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi came as he visited China for talks starting Tuesday with Russia’s most important ally.
China presents itself as a neutral party in the war, insisting that the only way to end it is by bringing both Ukraine and Russia to the negotiating table.
It says it is not sending lethal assistance to either side, unlike the United States and other Western nations, though it is a key political and economic partner of Russia, with NATO members branding Beijing a “decisive enabler” of the war.
The Ukrainian foreign ministry said Kuleba told Wang that Kyiv was prepared to negotiate with Russian representatives when Moscow is willing to hold talks “in good faith.”
“Dmytro Kuleba reiterated Ukraine’s consistent position that it is ready to negotiate with the Russian side at a certain stage, when Russia is ready to negotiate in good faith, but stressed that currently there is no such readiness on the Russian side,” the ministry said Wednesday.
It cited Kuleba as saying: “I am convinced that a just peace in Ukraine is in China’s strategic interests, and China’s role as a global force for peace is important.”
Kuleba is the first senior Ukrainian official to visit China since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.
His trip is scheduled to last until Friday.
China’s foreign ministry had said Kuleba and Wang held talks in the city of Guangzhou, with spokeswoman Mao Ning telling journalists they “exchanged views on the Ukraine crisis.”
“Although the conditions and timing are not yet mature, we support all efforts that contribute to peace and are willing to continue to play a constructive role for a ceasefire and the resumption of peace talks,” she said.
“China has always been firmly committed to promoting a political solution to the crisis,” she added.
China has sought to paint itself as a mediator in the war, sending envoy Li Hui to Europe on multiple visits, and releasing a paper calling for a “political settlement” to the conflict.
However, Western countries said the plan, if applied, would allow Russia to retain much of the territory it has seized in Ukraine.
Beijing has rebuffed claims it is supporting Russia’s war effort, insisting last week that its position was “open and above board” and accusing the West of fueling the conflict through arms shipments to Kyiv.
China did not attend a peace summit in Switzerland last month in protest against Russia not being invited.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called during that summit for Beijing to engage seriously with developing peace proposals.
Kuleba said on arrival in China Tuesday that “we must avoid competition between peace plans” and urged Beijing to “look at relations with our country through the prism of its strategic relations with Europe.”
Alexander Gabuev, director of the Carnegie Russia Eurasia Center, told AFP that Kyiv would likely seek this week to “convince China that it should participate in a second peace summit.”
“Beijing can try to extract a price, even for sending somebody like special envoy ambassador Li Hui,” he said.
China has offered a critical lifeline to Russia’s isolated economy since the conflict began.
But that economic partnership has come under scrutiny from the West in recent months, with the United States vowing to go after financial institutions that facilitate Russia’s war effort.
The United States and Europe have also accused China of selling components and equipment necessary to keep Russia’s military production afloat.


Colombo struggles to repatriate hundreds of Sri Lankans fighting Russia’s war

Colombo struggles to repatriate hundreds of Sri Lankans fighting Russia’s war
Updated 20 min 5 sec ago
Follow

Colombo struggles to repatriate hundreds of Sri Lankans fighting Russia’s war

Colombo struggles to repatriate hundreds of Sri Lankans fighting Russia’s war
  • At least 455 retired Sri Lankan soldiers joined Russian army after Ukraine invasion
  • According to Moscow, 96% of them are in process of obtaining Russian citizenship

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s negotiations to repatriate hundreds of its nationals fighting alongside Russian troops in Ukraine have been legally complicated, as most are believed to have applied to Moscow for citizenship.

According to Sri Lanka’s government data, at least 455 retired servicemen have joined the Russian armed forces as mercenaries since the beginning of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

The beginning of the war coincided with Sri Lanka being hit by an unprecedented economic crisis and a surge in its nationals seeking employment abroad. But while most of such opportunities were facilitated officially, it was not the case with the soldiers.

“(The) Sri Lankan government had no role to play in this and these people have left the country without any approval from the Sri Lankan government, Defense Ministry or Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment,” Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Ali Sabry told Arab News on Tuesday.

Many of the soldiers have been injured or taken prisoner by the Ukrainian military. At least 17 were killed on the frontline.

Their families have been protesting for months, asking Sri Lankan authorities to intervene, repatriate the dead and help negotiate an earlier release for others who had entered legal working agreements with the Russian army.

 

 

Two rounds of negotiations have already taken place this year.

“They are Sri Lankan citizens and in view of the pleas from their families, we are trying to negotiate for their safe return,” Sabry said. “We have nothing to do with this conflict, but in the meantime, since they have entered into a legally binding agreement, we need to negotiate and find a way to get them back to Sri Lanka.”

The legal situation has been further complicated as many have reportedly begun the process to gain Russian citizenship.

“According to information provided by the Russian Defense Ministry, about 96 percent of them have applied for Russian citizenship, so it’s a difficult situation for us,” Sabry said.

Russia’s war in Ukraine has taken a heavy toll on its troops, and it has been searching for fighters abroad, including in South Asia.

Sri Lanka’s military is one of the world’s largest per capita. According to World Bank data from 2018, the nation of 22 million people had about 317,000 armed personnel — double that of the UK, whose population is three times bigger.

Those who enlist serve for 20 years before their release, meaning that many who are now retired gained frontline experience during the deadly Sri Lankan Civil War from 1983 to 2009.


Over 100,000 schools in Pakistan remain closed due to the heat

Over 100,000 schools in Pakistan remain closed due to the heat
Updated 42 min 41 sec ago
Follow

Over 100,000 schools in Pakistan remain closed due to the heat

Over 100,000 schools in Pakistan remain closed due to the heat

KARACHI: School summer holidays will be extended by two weeks in southern Pakistan because of high temperatures, affecting more than 100,000 schools, an education official said Tuesday.
Pakistan is increasingly vulnerable to extreme weather conditions resulting from climate change, including heatwaves that are hotter and more frequent and monsoons that are heavier and longer.
“We decided to close schools for an additional 14 days for the children’s well-being,” Atif Vighio, a spokesperson at the education department in Sindh province, told AFP.
Planned power cuts, also known as load-shedding, happen frequently in Pakistan due to an ongoing power supply crisis.
The load-shedding varies from city to city, but in rural areas of Sindh they can last for more than 12 hours a day, leaving schools without fans.
“As a teacher, I am worried about how I will complete the curriculum, but as a mother, I am concerned about kids going to school in this heat,” a public school teacher told AFP, asking for her name not to be used.
“It is the load-shedding we are worried about, not just the heat.”
The government has said more than 26 million children are out of school due to poverty.
Pakistan struggled through a series of heatwaves in May and June, with temperatures peaking at more than 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) in parts of rural Sindh.
Authorities in Punjab province, the country’s most populous, started summer vacations in May one week early to protect children from the searing heat.
The UN children’s agency UNICEF said more than three-quarters of children in South Asia — or 460 million — are exposed to temperatures above 35C (95F) for at least 83 days per year.
Despite contributing less than one percent to global greenhouse gas emissions, Pakistan has experienced severe weather-related disasters in recent years due to changing weather patterns.