In his recent meeting with Chuck Hagel, the US Secretary of Defence, Prime Minister Narendra Modi discussed a number of issues that are important from a geopolitical perspective. They have discussed the situation in Iraq, which has been becoming more violent with every passing day and the present condition of Afghanistan following the recent elections there. The two countries have also agreed that there should be greater cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region as well as the Indian Ocean area. Hagel has also expressed keenness on behalf of his country to play an important role in making the Indian army more advanced.
India and the US agree to extend mutual cooperation
The US has also agreed to the fact that India needs to make its defence industry stronger. Hagel has also had meetings with Arun Jaitley, the Union Defence Minister, and the External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj. As of now, both the countries have also agreed to the renewal of Indo-US defence framework agreement before it expires in July 2015. One of the dreams of Narendra Modi has been to make the armed forces more advanced and with the US, one of the world leaders in this domain, willing to cooperate one only feels that it will not be long before the dream becomes a reality.
Government’s foreign policy comes under attack
The Indian government has recently been making efforts to improve its relations with the US and has been trying to offer peace proposals to Pakistan. On the face of it these seem to be rather noble efforts that deserve all the praise that can be showered on them but some teething problems do remain as have been pointed out by the Opposition leaders. Regarding Pakistan, the Opposition has asked about the extent to which relations between the neighbours have improved. The foreign secretaries of both India and Pakistan are supposed to meet on August 25 and discuss areas where more bilateral talks can be held.
As far as relations with the US are concerned, the government is yet to provide any details regarding whether during the meetings between John Kerry, the visiting Secretary of State from the US, and leaders of the national government key issues pertaining to intellectual property rights, visa and software were discussed and even if it was done what was the progress of the said talks. Now the government has every right, perhaps, to hold its cards close to its chest but then it also needs to remember that proper information needs to be provided for an unhindered administrative experience and also that everyone must know what is happening with the government.
Subsidy for sugar export could be raised
The Union Food Ministry is expected to increase the export subsidy on raw sugar to the extent of INR 3371 for each ton. This will be done for August and September. In the previous couple of months the subsidy had been fixed at INR 3300 per ton. During February this year the UPA regime had proclaimed that there would be subsidy on raw sugar export. It was to be effective during the marketing years 2013-14 and 2014-15 during the months from October to September.
The sugar industry in India, at the moment, is struggling for cash and it is expected that with these decisions the industry will receive the necessary financial influx that can be used to clear the arrears of the sugarcane farmers. The rate of INR 3000 per ton had been decided on in February-March itself and it had then been decided that the rates would be subjected to a review after a gap of 2 months. The incentive was, however, reduced to INR 2277 during April and May only for it to come back to INR 3300 at the behest of Ram Vilas Paswan, the new Union Food Minister.
E-governance projects on the rise
In the last few years there has been an increase in the amount of internet being used in India and this has also led to an addition in the number of e-governance projects, or specifically the amount of transactions taking place online. Between January and July 2014 there have been a whopping 1.5 billion transactions and more in the various e-governance projects of the national government. The data has been provided by the National e-Transaction Count that takes care of the amount of transactions in the e-governance projects that are operating on an all-India level as well as in the various States.
The aforementioned count also includes the mission mode projects as has been revealed by Ravi Shankar Prasad, the Union Communication and Information Technology Minister. According to Prasad, the amount of people using the internet in India has gone up to 221 million by June 2014, which is a significant leap from 2005 when the count was 21 million. In the same period, the number of websites has gone up to 16 million from 0.17 million. However, one side-effect of this increase has been the proliferation in instances of cyber crime.
Union Health Ministry served notice for shortage of doctors
At the present moment the healthcare sector is facing a serious problem with a tremendous paucity of doctors and other medical staff at the leading hospitals such as the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi. This has prompted the National Human Rights Commission to issue a notice to the Health Ministry so that it may provide a report on the same. A few days back the government had accepted that there was indeed a shortage of doctors as well as specialists in various medical units operated by it.
The commission had taken immediate note of the said confession and then issued the notice in question. In leading hospitals, apart from AIIMS Delhi, such as Safdarjung Hospital, Lady Harding Medical College and Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital there is an aggregate vacancy for 223 doctors, 692 technical and paramedical staff and 287 nurses. The commission in its notice has stated, and dare it be said, rightly so that the Central government is also responsible for providing proper and adequate medical facilities to the people of the country.