Sonia: I will write my own book

31072014

I will write my own book: Sonia after row over Natwar Singh

With former External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh creating a row with his comments about Sonia Gandhi, the Congress President on Thursday said that she will come out with her own book, which will reveal the “truth”.
“I will write my own book and then you will come to know everything…the only way truth will come out is if I write…I am serious about it and I will be writing,” she told reporters in Parliament House.Gandhi was reacting to a question about the row triggered by the autobiography of Natwar Singh, which, he says, has given details about the reasons for her refusal to take up the Prime Minister’s post in 2004. Insisting that she was not hurt, Gandhi said that she had seen worse things like her husband Rajiv Gandhi being assassinated and her mother-in law Indira Gandhi riddled with bullets. “I am far from getting hurt from these things. These things do not affect me,” she said. Singh had claimed that it was not Sonia’s “inner voice” that prevented her from taking up the Prime Minister’s post, as she had stated at that time but the opposition from her son Rahul Gandhi who was afraid she would be killed like his father and grand mother if she accepted the post. Singh (83), an estranged Gandhi family friend, had quit the Congress in 2008 after he had to resign from the UPA-I Government in 2005 in the wake of the Iraqi food-for-oil scam. The book titled “One Life is Not Enough: An Autobiography” is due to be released soon. Singh also endorsed the claim of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s media adviser Sanjaya Baru that important government files were taken to Sonia by Pulok Chatterjee, who was in PMO, saying any question of protest over this did not arise as she was the “foremost” leader. Congress had slammed Singh on Wednesday over the remarks alleging that they were aimed at shoring up the sales of his new book and wer politically motivated





Kerry meets Jaitley, raises WTO impasse

31072014

Kerry meets Jaitley, raises WTO impasse

The United States raised the issue of a stalled trade agreement during talks with finance minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday, a source at the meeting said, hours before a deadline passes for New Delhi to sign a deal backers say would boost the global economy.
>US Secretary of State John Kerry, accompanied by Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, met Jaitley as part of a strategic dialogue that has been overshadowed by India’s refusal to sign the trade facilitation deal.New Delhi has insisted that, in exchange for signing up to the World Trade Organisation agreement, it wants to see more progress on a parallel pact giving it more freedom to subsidise and stockpile food grains than is allowed under WTO rules.

According to the source, who declined to be identified, Jaitley repeated his country’s position. The source added that neither side put forward any suggestions on how to break the deadlock.

The deal must be signed in Geneva on Thursday, and India’s ultimatum has revived doubts about the future of the WTO as a negotiating body.

Several diplomats said New Delhi’s stance could derail the whole process of world trade liberalisation, leading some WTO nations to discuss informally a last-resort idea of excluding India from the agreement.

“If India does end up blocking (on Thursday) there is already a group of members who are interested in pursuing that path,” a source involved in the discussions said.

“A dozen or so” of the WTO’s 160 members had informally discussed pushing ahead with the trade facilitation agreement with less than 100 percent participation, the source said.

US AND EU INVOLVED

The WTO says a successful deal could add $1 trillion to the global economy and create 21 million jobs.

An Australian trade official with knowledge of the talks said a group of countries including the United States, European Union, Australia, Japan, Canada and Norway began discussing the possibility in Geneva on Wednesday afternoon.

A Japanese official familiar with the negotiations said Japan was still working on reaching a consensus, while a State Department official travelling with Kerry in India said the United States continued to talk with India on the deal.

A WTO spokesman said the group’s director-general would hold meetings throughout the day to “avert a crisis.

“Delegations are showing real commitment to finding a solution and the director-general remains hopeful that a solution can be found,” he said.

US trade officials in Washington were not available for comment, given the late hour, while EU, Canadian and Norwegian officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

“ACTIVE DISCUSSION”

Technical details would still have to be ironed out, but there was a “credible core group” that would be ready to start talking about a deal without India when WTO diplomats return from their summer break, the Australian official said.

To what extent the alternative proposal, and India’s hardline position, were part of political brinkmanship was unclear. New Delhi’s absence from any agreement would be a setback given its size and importance in global trade.

“What began as a murmur has become a much more active discussion in Geneva and I think that there are a lot of members in town right now that have reached the reluctant conclusion that that may be the only way to go,” the official said.

Trade diplomats had previously said they were reluctant to consider the idea of the all-but-India option for the customs pact, partly because it would be hard to exclude one free rider in practical terms and partly because the agreement in its current state requires an amendment to the existing WTO treaty, which appears to make India’s cooperation vital.

Others pointed out that many countries, including China and Brazil, have already notified the WTO of steps they plan to take to implement the customs accord immediately. Other nations have begun bringing the rules into domestic law, and the WTO has already set up a funding mechanism to assist.

One trade diplomat in Geneva described two worlds moving in parallel, with a few WTO members wrangling with India, and others moving ahead as if oblivious to India’s objections.





Petrol gets cheaper by Rs 1.09, diesel by 50p

31072014

Petrol gets cheaper by Rs 1.09, diesel by 50p
Petrol is set to get cheaper by Rs 1.09 per litre and dielsel by 50 paise, effective Thursday midnight, Indian Oil Corporation announced.
After the price cut, petrol will be available for 72.51 a litre in Delhi, 80.60 in Mumbai, 80.30 in Kolkata and 75.78 in Chennai





Gen Suhag takes over as new Army Chief

31072014

Gen Suhag takes over as new Army Chief

Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag, whose appointment as Army Chief had kicked up a row, on Thursday took over as the head of the 1.3 million strong force succeeding Gen Bikram Singh.

Gen Suhag assumed charge after his predecessor handed over to him the Chief of Army Staff baton in his South Block office in New Delhi.The new Chief takes over at a time when the force is facing challenges of modernsation in its artillery, infantry and air defence arms and is also preparing itself for facing a possible multi-front war.59-year-old Suhag, a Gurkha officer who had participated in the 1987 Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) operation in Sri Lanka, was till now the Vice Chief of Army Staff. He will have a tenure of 30 months as the 26th Army Chief. Suhag was made the Vice Chief of Army Staff in December last year. Before that, he was the Eastern Army Commander from June 16, 2012. He was at the centre of a controversy triggered by ‘discipline and vigilance’ ban imposed on him by the then Army Chief Gen V K Singh in connection with an intelligence operation in Assam earlier. The ban on Suhag, the then 3 Corps Commander, was lifted soon after Gen Bikram Singh took over in May 2012. BJP had questioned the hurry in making the appointment and insisted that the matter be left to the next government. However, soon after the NDA government took over, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley had said the new dispensation will continue with the appointment made during the UPA rule
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