The Indian prime minister has come back from the recently concluded BRICS summit. The importance of this event lay in the fact that this was Modi’s first proper taste of global politics and multi-lateral meetings. During the said visit Modi had meetings with leaders from all the participant countries such as Russia, Brazil, China and South Africa. In addition he met prominent leaders from other countries in South America as well. When Modi was coming back from the event he had a transit halt at Frankfurt, Germany and talked to Angela Merkel, the chancellor of Germany, over the telephone.
The BRICS meeting was helpful for India in several regards. The most important of these was the 80-minute meeting with Xi Jinping, the Chinese president, where both the leaders discussed a wide array of issues with global ramifications. In the end of the said meeting, which was originally supposed to last 40 minutes, Jinping expressed how much he was looking forward and also invited Modi for a return visit to China during November. It was stated that during the latter meeting, both the leaders would discuss the prickly issue of border and territory. The meeting with the other South American leaders could be regarded as a welcome addition to the developments at the sixth edition of BRICS meeting.
India’s stance on Israel
With the present situation in Gaza, which is facing a seemingly unstoppable spate of attacks from Israel, India or rather the Indian government has chosen to stay mum over the whole issue. Previously, India had rather good relations with Palestine but it seems that things could change judging the way NDA government has on July 16 stopped a discussion on the issue at the parliament. This perhaps shows its position vis-à-vis the entire situation whereby no criticism of Israel is welcome. What is interesting to note is that at Fortaleza where the BRICS summit was taking place Modi signed on a declaration that criticises Israel’s action on many grounds.
While contrasted with the steadfast support being showed for Israel by the ruling coalition this signing on part of the Indian PM surely represents a major confusion of sorts. In fact, opponents including Sitaram Yechuri, a prominent MP of the Left Front, has also asked the reasons behind government’s refusal to let discussion happen on the issue in spite of India being a party to the Fortaleza declaration. Apart from the international front, this refusal could also have a bad effect on the Islamic population in India. As it is, Modi and BJP are regarded in some circles as being propagators of Hindutva and decisions such as these may only help reaffirm such stereotypes.
Telecom department looking to achieve total tele-density within next 4 years
One of the major problems in the rural areas is that of connectivity in any way one could conceivably think of. With very sparse telecom infrastructure in the rural areas sometimes it becomes rather hard to get in touch with others or be contacted by anyone. However, all these problems could be a thing of the past if the telecom ministry is able to achieve its aim of providing complete access to telephonic infrastructure in the rural areas in a span of 3-4 years.
Rakesh Garg has assumed charge as the telecom secretary on July 17 and stated that one of the main areas of emphasis for his department will be to add significantly to the existing telephone infrastructure in the aforementioned period. At present India has a penetration rate of 44% in terms of telecommunication in the rural areas. He has also stated that the department will not be bogged down by any problem as far as realizing its goal is concerned. While such promises are not unheard of by bureaucrats and politicians, it remains to be seen whether they can be achieved or not.
Government lost money on EVDO spectrum says CAG
As per the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) Shashi Kant Sharma the Indian government had missed out on revenue amounting to INR 4,187 crore by letting the CDMA operators offer high-speed internet service on mobile devices without any auction. This has been done by fusing 2G spectrum with EVDO technology. In fact, the CAG has also sent across a note in this regard to the Department of Telecom and asked a reply for the same.
At present EVDO services are provided by Sistema Shyama (MTS), Tata Teleservices and Reliance Communications. Ashok Sud, the secretary general of AUSPI, which is the industry body of CDMA service providers in India, has however rebutted these claims. He says that as far as he understands, EVDO services are part of CDMA technology and pointed out the absence of a licence to stop them from using it. From a neutral perspective it is sad to see that a few things, which were regarded as faults of the UPA regime, are repeating themselves this time as well and it is worrying considering this is only early days for this government.
India could launch another Mars mission 3 years from now
India is looking to send another mission to Mars during a period within 2017 and 2020. According to K Radhakrishnan, the chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation, this particular mission will be more of a scientific mission. The Mars Orbiter Mission is expected to be inserted into Mars’ orbit on September 24, 2014 and it will be on the basis of the success of the same that the final decision in this case will be taken. The first mission, as pointed out by Radhakrishnan, is to show that ISRO is capable of inserting an orbiter into Mars’ orbit, which is an arduous responsibility in itself.
He has also said that the Mars Orbiter Mission has completed 79% of its journey. The success of this mission, as explained by the ISRO chairman, is dependent on several factors such as the liquid apogee motor starting to function after 300 odd days in space. However, with success unprecedented glory awaits India. If successful, India will be the first ever country in the world to achieve such a stupendous feat. In a scenario where there are not many good things to write home about India such a development is indeed good news for all concerned.