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‘Howdy Modi, Namaste Trump’ euphoria under a cloud


The stunning results in American elections have come as a big shock to the ruling BJP in India. From the beginning, PM Modi has gone a step ahead in fostering friendly relations with President Donald Trump. The Indians in the US held ‘Howdy Modi’ to which Trump attended and made a warm address as well. A lot of euphoria was created as if Modi has endorsed Trump.

Afterwards, the US President also visited India. PM Modi organised ‘Namaste Trump’ in a big way. This reciprocation of personal and state-level gestures between the two leaders have sent out clear signals that Indian origin voters in the US would swing towards the Trump administration.

Usually, the US voters do not change their President after the first four years term. But, in this respect, the fortunes of Trump are getting reversed. It is already clear only a miracle would bring Trump back on the winning track. With this, the political pundits in India are beginning to estimate how the US-India relations would be like once Biden enters the White House. Joe Biden served as Vice President for two terms already. Analysts say that there would be no major setback to India but the upbeat mood in the inter-country relations that prevailed in the Trump era would not be there any more under the Biden regime there. Certainly, it is going to be a reversal of fortunes for India to some extent.

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We are terminating relationship with WHO: Trump


While addressing the breifing in the White House Rose Garden, US President Donald Trump said the US will be terminating relationship with the WOrld Health Organisation (WHO) right away.

In his today’s briefing, he also attacked China on several issues like origin of the coronavirus, recent development in Hong Kong, border disputes in the South China Sea and human rights abuses. He also announced measures aimed at punishing China, the BBC reported.

We will be today terminating our relationship with the World Health Organisation and directing those funds” to other global public health charities, Trump said.

“The world is now suffering as a result of the malfeasance of the Chinese government,” he says, adding that China “instigated a global pandemic that has cost over 100,000 American lives”.

China, he said, “pressured the World Health Organisation to mislead the world” about the virus.

“Countless lives have been taken and profound economic hardship has been inflicted all around the globe,” he adds.

Trump’s criticism of the WHO started last month when he threatened to permanently withdraw US funding if the body did not “commit to major substantive improvements in the next 30 days”.

“It is clear the repeated missteps by you and your organization in responding to the pandemic have been extremely costly for the world,” Trump wrote in a letter to the WHO director-general on May 18.

“The only way forward for the World Health Organisation is if it can actually demonstrate independence from China.”

In today’s White House speech, Trump said “China has total control over the World Health Organization”, despite paying the organisation a fraction of what the US does.

China has accused the US of being responsible for the spread of the virus on its own soil, attributing the outbreak to American “politicians who lie”.

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US working with India on Covid-19 vaccine project: Trump


Launching “Operation Warp Speed” to ready a vaccine against Covid-19 by the end of the year, President Donald Trump said on Friday the US was working with India on the project.

“We are working very closely also with India,” Trump said while speaking to reporters when he unveiled the project at the White House.

He also acknowledged the work of Indian-Americans on vaccine development projects.

There is a “tremendous Indian population in the United States, many of the people you are talking about are working on the vaccine too. Great scientists and researchers,” he said.

Trump, who recalled his February visit to India, ended his comment on India saying, “Say hello to your Prime Minister!”

Earlier, he said that India and other countries would have access to any vaccine or therapy developed by the US.

He said that the US and companies were not seeking to make a profit out of the crisis and wanted to make them available to all.

Trump said that the goal of “Operation Warp Speed” was to try to have a vaccine ready by the end of the year.

“We would love to see if we could do it prior to the end of the year,” he said.

He said that Moncef Slaoui, who is the former head of GlaxoSmithKline vaccines division, would head the project with General Gustave Perna looking after the logistics.

Trump said that the vaccine would be available to all who wanted it and the military, the other arms of the government and the private sector would be fully mobilised to get them out.

The best candidates of the several under development would be made ready in advance and would go out as soon one gets approved.

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Trump signs immigration ban, but exempts H1-B professional visa-holders

US President Donald Trump has issued an executive order banning many categories of immigration to the US for 60 days but it does not apply to H1-B professional visa-holders.

Trump signed the executive order on Wednesday evening and reiterated afterwards at his daily news briefing that he took the action to protect Americans thrown out of work by COVID-19 shutdowns.

The President said that he may reconsider it before it expires in 60 days.

Although he said repeatedly in the order that the 22 million Americans who have lost their jobs will be protected by the ban, there are several exemptions in it for potential immigrants and it does not cover those coming in on temporary work visas.

This makes it more of a political statement than a “strong” action as he called it, playing to a section of his political base while not upsetting business interests.

The ban does not apply to those who have already received their green cards or permanent resident status and to holders of temporary visas but find themselves abroad.

The ban distinguishes between those seeking to immigrate to the US permanently, who are covered by the ban, and those coming in on temporary visas, who are not.

Among the exempt categories of those immigrating are healthcare workers and those involved in COVID-19 and other medical research along with their families.

The order also exempts spouses and minor children of US citizens and members of the armed forces, and those required for law enforcement purposes who are in the immigration pipeline.

Holders of work visas like H1-B for professionals and H2-A for farm and other labour are exempt because they not considered immigrants as their visas are for a limited period and do not confer a permanent resident status.

Indians are the single largest group of H1-B visa-holders accounting for nearly 74 per cent of all such visas.

In addition to American firms, several Indian technology companies rely on the H1-B workforce to operate in the US.

The ban also does not cover L-1 visas for employees of foreign companies transferred to work in the US.

Investors, including those in the category eligible for green cards, are also exempt.

In contrast to his public statements about a quick economic rebound once the pandemic is under control, Trump said in his executive order that without the ban the US “faces a potentially protracted economic recovery with persistently high unemployment”.

Making a targeted political statement, Trump said that the categories of would-be immigrants he is barring would have competed with “African-Americans and other minorities, those without a college degree, and the disabled” who are “at the margin between employment and unemployment”.

Although Trump had barred asylum-seekers from coming through the Mexican border, the order said that it will not limit the ability of anyone to seek asylum or refugee status.

There is a ban on all travellers from 28 European countries, China and Iran who are not US citizens or permanent residents.

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Trump to sign executive order temporarily suspending immigration

US President Donald Trump has said that he will sign an executive order to temporarily suspend all immigration to America because of the coronavirus pandemic, it was reported on Tuesday.

Taking to Twitter late Monday night, the President said: “In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our great American Citizens, I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States.”

It was not immediately clear when the suspension would go into effect or how long it would last but the order would likely trigger political and legal pushback, reports Xinhua news agency.

The White House is yet to comment on the development.

The order would mark an extraordinary use of executive power by Trump, who has imposed travel restrictions on a group of nations and regions — measures that have led to chaos abroad and at US airports.

During his presidency, Trump has maintained a hardline stance on immigration and border security, and pushed for a series of controversial measures, including erecting a border wall along the nation’s southern border with Mexico in a bid to deter illegal immigrants.

The US has already agreed with both Canada and Mexico to extend border restrictions on non-essential travel until at least mid-May, said the BBC in a report.

In recent weeks, emergency powers have been used to expel thousands of undocumented migrants on the US border with Mexico.

The public health measure lets officials override immigration laws, expediting removal processes.

Trump’s announcement comes at the US has reported 786,968 coronavirus cases, with 42,308 deaths, both figures the highest in the world.

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Trump halts funding to WHO

US President Donald Trump announced that his administration is halting the nation’s funding to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Addressing the daily briefing at White House on Tuesday, Trump said, “I am directing my administration to halt funding while a review is conducted to access the World Health Organization’s role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus.”

“The WHO failed in its basic duty and it must be held accountable,” he added, the BBC reported.

Trump also accused the WHO of putting political correctness above saving lives and taking China’s claims about the outbreak at face value.

Trump has accused the WHO of being biased towards China in recent weeks, and recently attacked the organisation for being too “China-centric” in its tackling of the coronavirus pandemic.

US financial contributions to the WHO accounted for just under 15 per cent of its funding in 2019.

The US decided against using a coronavirus test approved by the WHO in January, in favour of a test being developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – but some of them did not work properly, and led to inconclusive results.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the first African head of the WHO, has been accused of being too cozy with China in the past.

“Many countries said they were going to listen to the WHO and they have problems now the likes of which they cannot believe,” Trump said.

“The world received all sorts of false information about misinformation and mortality,” he added.

If the WHO had gone to China to oversee the outbreak, mores lives would have been saved, he claims, adding that “their reliance on China’s disclosures… likely caused a 20-fold increase in cases worldwide and it may be much more than that.”

“So much death has been caused by their mistakes,” he said.

The US president previously praised China’s role in containing the virus in this tweet, sent a few days after the two countries signed a trade deal.

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President Trump praises, thanks PM Modi profusely for HCQ

The US president Donald Trump on Thursday profusely praised and thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his decision to supply hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), the anti-malaria drug used for COVID-19 disease, to some of the most affected nations.

In his morning tweet, President Trump said, “Extraordinary times require even closer cooperation between friends. Thank you India and the Indian people for the decision on HCQ. Will not be forgotten! Thank you Prime Minister Narendra Modi for your strong leadership in helping not just India, but humanity, in this fight!”

President Trump’s admiration for Modi and gratitude towards India, put rest to several speculative media reports that claimed that the Indian government had taken the decision to lift the ban on the export of HCQ under the “threat of retaliation” in international trade by the US.

At a White House press briefing on Monday President Trump, in response to a question whether he was worried about “retaliation to the US ban on export of medical goods” from India, had said, “I would be surprised if he (Modi) would, you know, because India does very well with the US… I spoke to him Sunday morning, called him, and I said, we’d appreciate you allowing our supply (of HCQ) to come out. If he doesn’t allow it to come out, that would be ok. But of course, there may be retaliation. Why wouldn’t there be?”

Trump’s response to the reporter’s leading question was construed by some sections of Indian media as a threat even as the government denied that it had taken the decision under any pressure.

In view of the humanitarian aspects of the pandemic, India on Tuesday decided to licence paracetamol and HCQ in appropriate quantities to neighbouring countries who are dependent on Indian capabilities. India will also be supplying these essential drugs to some nations which have been particularly badly affected by the pandemic, a ministry of external affairs statement said.

The US as of now has the highest number of the novel coronavirus cases in the world, with over 418,000 cases of infections and over 14,200 deaths. Relatively, India has managed to contain the pandemic with 178 deaths and over 5900 cases of infections.

The Directorate General of Foreign Trade has notified lifting restrictions on 14 drugs. Paracetamol and HCQ, have been kept in a licensed category and their demand status is to be continuously monitored. HCQ is being used to treat COVID-19 patients and as prophylactic by the frontline health care workers deployed in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. The Modi government had imposed a ban on export of the drug since the coronavirus outbreak hit India.

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Trump again offers to mediate on Kashmir


US President Donald Trump on Tuesday again offered to mediate between India and Pakistan on the Kashmir issue.

Addressing a press conference on Day 2 of his two-day state visit to India, Trump said, “Anything I can do to mediate or help, I would do.”

Bringing in Pakistan’s reference, he said, “They (Pakistan) are working on Kashmir. Kashmir has been a thorn in lots of people’s sides for a long time. There are two sides to every story. We discussed terrorism at length today.”

Earlier, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said, “Discussion was centred on positive developments in Jammu & Kashmir. Things are moving in the right direction.”

Soon after the abrogation of Article 370 that granted special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir in August last year, Trump had offered to mediate the “explosive” situation in Kashmir amid mounting international concern over a flare-up in violence between India and Pakistan.

Trump had told reporters at the White House on August 21 last year: “Kashmir is a very complicated place. You have the Hindus, and you have the Muslims, and I wouldn’t say they get along so great. And that’s what you have right now.

“Kashmir is a very tough situation, and this has been going on for decades, and decades; shooting, and I don’t mean shooting like shooting a rifle, but major shooting of howitzers, of heavy arms, and this has been going on for a long, long period of time.

“And I think we’re helping the situation, but there’s tremendous problems between the two countries. And I will do the best I can to mediate or do something.”

Again in January this year on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Trump had repeated his mediation offer at an interaction with the press ahead of his meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan.

“We will discuss the situation in Kashmir. We can meditate on the issue. If we can help, we certainly will be helping. We have been watching that and following it very very closely,” he had said.

On both the occasions, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs had rejected the US President’s offer, saying, “Kashmir is a bilateral issue and will have to be solved bilaterally.”

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Trump to seek Indian cos’ business expansion in US


US President Donald Trump will ask the Indian companies with business interests in his country to expand their current capacity with local resources, and use America as a gateway to access other markets when he meets Indian industrialists on Tuesday.

He is likely to exhort the industrialists to invest more in their US subsidiaries, and create jobs there, sounding an economic revival there.

“The US President especially will be focussing on Indian manufacturing companies pitching US as a win-win situation for them and America as well,” said a senior executive of a leading Indian Industry chamber.

The US economy rebounded in Q4 after prolonged sluggish productivity slowed the American economy to achieve the Trump administration’s target of 3 per cent annual growth. The economy grew 2.3 per cent in 2019, the slowest in three years, after logging 2.9 per cent in 2018. The President’s quick trip may not though see any trade pact, but Trump said there will be a 3 billion dollar defence deal with India.

Trump in an election year is on visit to India for two days.

Some Indian manufacturing as well as services firms have noticeable presence in the US like Mahindra which last year said it will invest another $1 billion in America and was committed to creating American jobs, while Bharat Forge has announced plans to invest $56 million to set up a new plant in North Carolina. Construction equipment major L&T has two delivery centres in the US.

The Tata Group is one of the largest Indian-headquartered multinationals in North America, with 13 companies and more than 35,000 employees.

Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani, Bharti Airtel chairman Sunil Mittal, Tata Sons chairman N. Chandrasekaran, Mahindra Group Chairman Anand Mahindra, Larsen & Toubro chairman A.M. Naik and Biocon CMD Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw will be among the CEOs who will be part of the roundtable in Delhi with Trump.

Trump, who on Monday hinted at working with India on a “fantastic and largest-ever deal” and that Indo-US trade grew 40 per cent and the US economy has done well during his tenure of the last four years, is seeking investments from Indian companies mainly manufacturing ones to create jobs.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

Why ‘Namaste Trump’ is much more than plain optics


Calling India and US ‘natural partners’, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made the case of the two playing ‘important roles’ in the way 21st century goes.

In what can be seen as a statement made with strategic intent, in front of hundreds and thousands of people in the world’s largest cricket stadium, Modi claimed, “In the 21st century, new alignments, new competition, new challenges and new opportunities are laying the foundation for change. The relationship and cooperation of India and America will have an important role in setting the direction of the 21st century world. I am clear that India and America are Natural Partners.”

Modi asserted that the two nations can make an effective contribution not only in the Indo-Pacific Region, but in the peace, progress and security of the whole world.

“Therefore, I believe that President Trump coming to India at the beginning of this decade is a very big opportunity,” PM Modi said.

Flexing the population muscle India has, Modi said, “Today, 130 crore Indians are jointly building New India. Our youthful strength is full of aspirations. Setting big goals, achieving them is becoming the hallmark of New India today.”

This assertion came closely on the heels of endorsement from Trump who not only heaped praise on his ‘friend’ Modi for winning the “largest democratically held elections”, but stating India has a right to defend itself. It’s no secret that India is one of the largest strategic partners of the US, regardless of the glitches between the two in terms of sealing a trade deal. And both Trump and Modi means business. As Trump announced of a helicopter sell to India and possibly partnering with India after its Chandrayan, India’s lunar satellite launch, Modi nodded in agreement.

“Today, the country that is India’s largest trading partner is America. Today, the country with which Indian armies are practicing the most is America. Today, the country with which India has the most extensive research and development partnership is America,” said Modi.

Before Trump spoke at length on the Indo-US relations, Modi harped on “Shared Values & Ideals, Shared Spirit of Enterprise & Innovation, Shared Opportunities & Challenges, Shared Hopes & Aspirations”.

Connecting the United States and India through two statues – Statue of Liberty and Statue of Unity, PM Modi smartly positioned India as a nation that has much in common with the United States.

“The name of the event – Namaste Trump, has a very deep meaning! It is one of the oldest languages in the world, a Sanskrit word. Its sense is that not only the person, but also the Divinity is within him,” remarked Modi.

Striking a personal bond between the Trump family and India, Modi stressed upon the work First Lady is doing and the last visit of Ivanka to India, a couple of years ago.

“First Lady Melania Trump, it is an honour to have you here. What you have done for Healthy and Happy America is getting good results. What you are doing for the children in the society is admirable,” said PM Modi as she smiled.

Modi added, “You say – Be Best! You must have felt that the same sentiment of people is being expressed in today’s reception.”

It was a win-win formula for both Modi and Trump. While it’s true that the two countries are at odds over a complicated trade agreement, Trump has an election to win back him where Indian community is crucial.

As of 2016, in the U.S, close to 18 lakh Indian origin people were of voting age. In the last election, Hillary Clinton won 11 out of the 14 counties in which Indian-origin voters exceeded 5 per cent of the population.

But getting a passive endorsement from India’s PM as “his friend, India’s friend” serves Trump’s electoral purpose. Moreover, he gets to seal deals through which American companies generate implements.

For Modi, India gets a lucrative defence deal and an endorsement for its right to protect itself, a reference India uses for Pakistan. Also the profuse praise for India’s democracy and shared values shuts up many international players who have been creating murmurs against India ever since India abrogated Article 370 and split Jammu and Kashmir.

As Trump mentions “Ganges to Jama Masjid”, it subtly contradicts its own government’s recent assertions of alleged religious freedom that it claimed has claimed down few notches owing to India’s Citizenship Amendment Act. No wonder, Namaste Trump is much more than optics. Its very significant for two world leaders – Trump and Modi.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

Taj city all set to welcome Trump


The Taj Mahal will be closed for the general public on Monday from afternoon following the visit of US President Donald Trump in the historic city later in the day, which is all set to welcome them, officials said.

An ASI official here told IANS, “The Taj Mahal will remain closed for the general public from 12.30 p.m. onwards as Trump will visit the historical monument in the evening.”

He said even the ticket windows for the Taj Mahal will close after 11.30 a.m.

Trump is scheduled to visit India on February 24 and 25 along with wife Melania Trump, daughter Ivanka Trump, and son-in-law Jared Kushner and top US officials.

The couple will spend the first day of the visit in Gujarat’s Ahmedabad and then they would fly to Agra before moving to Delhi for the official reception and bilateral talks.

Trump will arrive at the Kheria airport here, where he will be received by Governor Anandiben Patel and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

The two leaders, however, will not accompany Trump to Taj Mahal and will wait at the airport to send them back to Delhi.

This is Donald Trump’s first State Visit to India and also the first standalone visit by a US President to India.

Before Trump, US President Bill Clinton visited Agra in March 2000 and Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1959.

Following the visit of the US First family here, the city has got a massive facelift.

The administration has put huge billboards, placards, cutouts and several posters welcoming the US President and his wife Melania.

The 13 km-long route from airport to Taj Mahal has been spruced up aesthetically and the US and Indian flags have been put up at roundabouts to give the area a festive look.

At many places on the route, the administration has made several statues of animals with flowers.

The walls have been adorned with paintings reflecting the Brij culture and architectural heritage of Agra, Victorian-style lamp posts have been installed and the lawns of the iconic Taj Mahal bedecked with colourful blooms as the historic city gears up to welcome the US President.

According to the administration, over 3,000 artists at 21 different locations will perform for the US President to welcome him in the city of love and at the airport over 250 artists will give special performance highlighting the culture of Uttar Pradesh like Brij, Awadh, special performance on Lord Krishna, dance-themed on Radha and many others.

The US President will arrive in Agra at 4.45 p.m. and reach the Taj Mahal by 5.15 p.m. Trump will then spend an hour at the Taj Mahal and then emplane for Delhi for his final leg of journey.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

Opulence beckons Trumps at ITC Maurya


ITC Maurya has virtually turned into a fortress as the countdown begins to receive the most powerful man in the world — US President Donald Trump.

Potus or President Donald Trump, along with Flotus or First Lady Melania, will become the fourth US President to stay at the Grand Presidential Suite or the Chanakya Suite of the ultra luxe ITC Maurya on Sardar Patel Marg in the national capital.

Before him, Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama had stayed in the property earlier. The Chanakya suite is on the 14th floor of the luxurious property.

Trump’s daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kusher will also be staying at the same hotel. They have a choice of the wide and varied luxury suites before them. The Secret Service is the final arbiter in such matters. When contacted, the hotel management refused to comment on the matter.

It emerges that the Grand Presidential Suite represents an Indian global theme and has been decked up afresh for the US President. At present, ITC Maurya is the only hotel in India that offers indoor air quality at par with WHO standards.

IANS has also learnt that the US President may experience tandoori delights at Bukhara, a tradition enjoyed by Clintons and President Obama in the past. The chefs are preparing a Trump platter along with the signature Dal Bukhara.

Other dignitaries who have previously stayed here include the Dalai Lama, Bill Clinton, George Bush, Tony Blair, Vladimir Putin, King Abdullah and the Sultan of Brunei.

Sources close to developments have said that Team Trump will be accorded a traditional Indian welcome. It will start with a rangoli made from flowers and other biodegradable materials. What remains unconfirmed is that an elephant is also going to be part of the welcome party, as it not only represents India, but is also the mascot of the Republican Party.

Luxury in abundance

For the uninitiated, the Grand Presidential Suite is akin to a massive luxury apartment with all the bells and whistles. The opulence and ostentation is tasteful and not gaudy. The mini mansion boasts of silk panelled walls, dark wood flooring and magnificent artwork. The suite comprises a reception area, a large living room, a study, a peacock themed 12-seater private dining room, a huge bathroom with mother of pearl accessories and a mini spa and a gymnasium.

Diet Coke and Cherry Vanilla ice-cream

The Trumps will have valets waiting hand and foot, led by the presidential floor butler who will ensure that the US First Couple’s every wish is fulfilled. The suite has already stocked up on Diet Coke and Cherry Vanilla ice-cream, as these two items are the President’s faves.

Eat what you like

The US First Couple will be provided with their own private chef and he can prepare any kind of cuisine or food they want in a jiffy. An assortment of baked delicacies, personalised with a collage of photographs of the couple, is likely to await them in their Presidential Suite. The Presidential Suite also guarantees an exclusive access to a business courtyard, the Summit Lounge and as well as a private boardroom.

Tradition with a touch of global luxury

The Chanakya Suite spans 4,600 sq ft, costs around Rs 800,000 a night, and includes steam and sauna areas in addition to living quarters. The Tyeb Mehta paintings and illustrations from the Arthashastra on the wall lend a traditional touch while the Villeroy and Boch crockery and Cristal De Paris glassware add a touch of global luxury.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

KCR attending Trump dinner but not Jagan


Indian President Ramnath Kovind is offering official dinner to US President Donald Trump in Delhi on February 25. Prime Minister Modi will offer lunch. Only Kovind’s office has extended invitation to a select group of Chief Ministers which included Telangana CM K Chandrasekhar Rao. KCR office has already confirmed his Delhi visit to take part in the dinner.

Whereas, AP CM Jaganmohan Reddy is not attending the dinner. The President’s office has so far invited CMs of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Orissa, Bihar and Haryana. AP, Tamil Nadu and Kerala CMs have not received invitations as yet.

Political analysts say that obviously BJP and BJP-friendly CMs are given preference. But, why is KCR invited but not his Federal Front partner Jagan? Apparently, the same old political equations are still holding good. The BJP wants Congress to lose its strength in Telangana permanently. So, it is still accommodating KCR in important forums like US President dinner. Absence of invitation to AP is certainly a matter of concern for YCP.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

Hope Trump visit outcome in national interest: Congress


The opposition Congress on Friday welcomed US President Donald Trump’s coming visit to India but cautioned the government to take the utmost care to ensure that it did not turn into a Trump re-election campaign in the Indian diaspora.

“We feel this visit should not become a link to the re-election campaign of the US President. The outcome of this visit should be in national interest,” said senior Congress leader Anand Sharma.

The Congress said the three things that needed to be kept in mind are the sovereignty, self-respect and national interest of India. “Such tours should be serious and not limited to photo-ops, the Congress leader remarked.

Trump is visiting India on February 24 and 25.

The former Union Minister said: “The Congress understands Indo-US relations and supports it… the Congress wants the GSP (Generalised System of Preferences) regime to be brought back as Indian manufacturers are suffering and it has impacted small workers in the country.”

“As Trump has said, he has good relations with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and he has been assured that he (US President) will be welcomed by 50-70 lakh people during his visit. In such a situation, we hope that the pending issues of the country like H1B1 visa, GSP etc will be resolved,” the Congress leader added.

However, the Congress questioned who all were managing the proposed Ahmedabad visit of Trump, as the government said it was the “Trump Nagrik Abhinandan Samiti”.

“We have come to know that a quota has been fixed for schools, colleges and universities (to send students for Trump’s welcome). School children will also be lined up. As many as 100 teachers have been summoned from each block. All the hoardings put up there are not by any committee. The Gujarat government has given all approvals; Motera Stadium has been hired, artistes from all over India are coming. It’s not under the control of a committee. A special grant for the visit has been given to the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation. We don’t mind, but the government should not lie (about the arrangements),” a Congress leader said.

The party asked if the government was paying for the event, why was it hiding the fact.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

Trump’s great India show


The public reception for US President Donald Trump in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state of Gujarat will include an exhibition of Mahatma Gandhi’s life and 28 snippets from India’s rich and diverse culture in a manner “unparalleled” in history.

Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said at a press briefing here on Wednesday that “the highlight of the programme in Ahmedabad will be the exhibition of India’s rich and diverse culture and heritage to President Trump in a public manner that has few parallels in India or elsewhere.”

The February 24-25 trip will be Trump’s first state visit to India and also a first standalone visit by a US President to India. Trump’s visit will be brief but intense, with all essential elements of a state visit squeezed in 36 hours. Besides New Delhi, Trump will visit Ahmedabad and Agra during his two-day trip.

From the moment of Trump and First Lady Melania’s arrival at the airport on February 24, the delegates will be treated to a display of famed Indian hospitality and India’s unity in diversity, Shringla said.

In his honour, an event which has been named ‘Namaste Trump’ will be held at the newly reconstructed, largest cricket stadium in the world at Motera. The event will be similar to the ‘Howdy Modi’ event which was hosted by the Indian-American community for Modi in Houston last year.

In what is being billed as the great ‘Indian road show’, as many as 28 stages representing various parts of the country are being set up along Trump’s route from the airport to the stadium in Ahmedabad.

The show will depict different events in the life of Mahatma Gandhi. Tens of thousands of people, including artistes showcasing their art from different states and Union Territories, are expected to greet Trump along the way.

From Ahmedabad, Trump and his wife will fly to Agra where they will spend an hour at India’s iconic monument Taj Mahal before the sunset.

On February 25, the US President and the First Lady will be accorded a ceremonial welcome at the forecourt of the Rashtrapati Bhawan. This will be followed by a visit to Rajghat where the couple will pay respects at the samadhi of Mahatma Gandhi.

President Trump and Prime Minister Modi will hold restricted and delegation-level talks on strategic partnerships at the Hyderabad House. Later, Modi will host a lunch for Trump, following which the two leaders will address the media.

In the afternoon, Trump is expected to attend certain private events at the US Embassy, including a private roundtable with industry representatives. Trump’s last meeting will be with President Ram Nath Kovind at the Rashtrapati Bhawan in the evening before he leaves for the US.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

Liquor industry urges govt not to yield on duty cuts during Trump visit


Ahead of US President Donald Trump’s visit to India next week, the Indian alcoholic beverage industry has urged the government not to reduce customs duty on wine and spirits.

The US President has been pushing for reduction of customs duty on American liquor, particularly bourbon whiskey, and Indian liquor manufacturers fear that any tinkering with customs duty vis-a-vis US imports would have a domino effect as European Union would also push for slashing of customs duty.

“Ahead of Trump’s visit discussions on reducing customs duty have again resurfaced in the Commerce Ministry. If the government gives any concession on US wines and spirits, then it would open the floodgates as European Union would push for similar concessions which we cannot allow to happen. We have been writing to Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal again and again,” said Vinod Giri, Director General of Confederation of Indian Alcoholic Beverage Companies (CIABC).

In its recent letter to Goyal, the apex body of India’s alcoholic beverage industry has stated that “any immediate and large reduction in (basic customs) duty (BCD) will be highly detrimental to the domestic industry”. The letter says that “Foreign governments (are) seeking easy access to Indian markets (but) deny Indian companies the same in their countries through non-tariff barriers.”

According to Giri: “The Indian companies are not against reduction of BCD, but it should happen in a phased manner. BCD should be brought down from current level of 150 per cent to 75 per cent in next 10 years. But before that other countries, particularly the US and EU, should be persuaded to remove non-tariff barriers on Indian products. They should accept alcoholic products made in India as per the product description on the label. They should also not insist on any maturity period on liquor products made in India. All that we are seeking is a level playing field for the Indian alcoholic beverage industry.”

In its letter the CIABC has also urged that any negotiation on duties should proceed keeping in mind the interest of domestic industry. Basic Customs Duty should be reduced to a level which does not create great competitive disadvantage for Indian companies, it has said.

Also, reduction should be done in phased manner to allow Indian companies time to prepare and build own competitiveness to offset regulatory disadvantages of manufacturing in India.

The association has suggested that to prevent dumping and protect mainstream Indian products against predatory pricing, products below a certain import price (Threshold Import Price) should be taxed at the threshold import price rate only irrespective of actual import price.

Giri also pointed out that the current balance of trade in alcohol is heavily skewed against India. “Indian exports of alcoholic beverages is around Rs 2,200 crore per annum while imports is Rs 5,400 crore. Exports to US is just Rs 50 crore while imports is Rs 1,900 crore, and in case of EU exports is Rs 160 crore and imports is Rs 1,850 crore. The trade is heavily balanced against India. Any more concessions will aggravate the imbalance beyond redemption,” he added.

The domestic liquor industry is making a strong case for its protection as the industry contributed Rs 1.25 lakh crore in taxes to the government while its own annual turnover is to the tune of Rs 2.5 lakh crore.

Many states depend on it with industry accounting for 20-40 per cent of their total tax revenues.

As per industry estimates, the Indian liquor industry supports the livelihood of approximately 50 lakh farmers impacting 3.5 crore people in rural India besides employing, directly and indirectly, 20 lakh people.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

Trump says Soleimani responsible for terrorist plots in Delhi


US President Donald Trump has accused the slain Iranian military leader Qassam Soleimani of being responsible for terrorist plots in New Delhi.

“Soleimani made the death of innocent people his sick passion, contributing to terrorist plots as far away as New Delhi and London,a Trump said on Friday at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Flordia.

Speaking about the missile strike he ordered to kill Soleimani, he said, “Today we remember and honour the victims of Soleimani’s many atrocities and we take comfort in knowing that his reign of terror is over.”

While Trump did not specify the plots in India, he may have been referring to a 2012 bombing of the car of the wife of the Israeli defence attache to India.

Tal Yehoshua Koren was injured and underwent surgery to remove shrapnel and her driver and two bystanders were also hurt in the attack on February 13, 2012, using a bomb that was attached to the vehicle with a magnet.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Iran was behind that attack and another attempted attack using similar technique in Georgia.

The New Delhi case not been resolved so far and a conclusive link to Iran has not been made by India.

News reports at that time said that the attack was carried out by Iran in retaliation for the killing of Iranian nuclear scientist Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan in Teheran using a bomb with a magnet attached to his car, allegedly by Israelis.

An Indian journalist, Syed Mohammad Ahmad Kazmi, was arrested on March 6 that year and accused of being a part of a conspiracy to carry out the attack and held under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.

He was released on bail by the Supreme Court in October on the condition that he does not go abroad.A

According to news reports at that time, Delhi police alleged that he had carried out reconnaissance for the Iranians who carried out the attack.

The five persons who carried out the attacks were Iranian members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard who had visited Delhi, police were quoted as saying. They were not arrested although police identified them.

An Iranian major general, Soleimani was the leader of the Quds force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards. But his name did not figure in the reports at that time on theAIndian attack.

In his address on the killing of Soleimani in Iraq on Thursday, Trump said on Friday, “Soleimani was plotting imminent and sinister attacks on American diplomats and military personnel, but we caught him in the act and terminated him.”

He listed several alleged attacks directed by Soleimani and carried out by the Quds Force and allied militias.

“For years, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its ruthless Quds Force — under Soleimani’s leadership — has targeted, injured, and murdered hundreds of American civilians and servicemen,” Trump said.

He blamed Soleimani fro the recent attacks on US targets in Iraq, including rocket strikes that killed an American and injured four American servicemen, as well as the assault on the US embassy in Baghdad earlier this week.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

Trump suggested shooting migrants in the legs

US President Donald Trump suggested shooting migrants in the legs to slow them down, according to a new book.

The book, by two New York Times journalists, says Trump suggested extreme methods of deterring migrants from crossing the southern border, the BBC reported on Wednesday.

They included building an electrified, spiked border wall and a snake or alligator-infested moat.

Building a wall on the border with Mexico is one of Trump’s main policy objectives.

The construction of the wall has now begun, with the Pentagon allocating $3.6 billion of military funding towards its development.

The White House has not commented on the latest reports.

The book – called ‘Border Wars: Inside Trump’s Assault on Immigration’, by reporters Michael Shear and Julie Davis, and based on interviews with more than a dozen unnamed officials – was published by the New York Times.

It chronicles a week in March 2019 when Trump reportedly tried to halt all southern migration to the US.

According to an excerpt, the president privately suggested to aides that soldiers shoot migrants in the legs, but he was told it would be illegal.

Previously, Trump had made a public statement suggesting soldiers shoot migrants who throw rocks.

Trump suggested other extreme measures, according to the book.

“Privately, the president had often talked about fortifying a border wall with a water-filled trench, stocked with snakes or alligators, prompting aides to seek a cost estimate. He wanted the wall electrified, with spikes on top that could pierce human flesh,” reads the extract.

The excerpt describes Trump ordering aides to enforce a complete shutdown of the US-Mexico border by noon the following day, leaving advisers “in a near panic” and “desperately” trying to placate the president.

“Trump’s order to close the border was a decision point that touched off a frenzied week of presidential rages, round-the-clock staff panic and far more White House turmoil than was known at the time,” the excerpt says.

Aides reportedly managed to change Trump’s idea of closing the border, but the President later pushed out a number of senior aides who he believed were frustrating his immigration crackdown, including Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

Told India, Pak leaders to ‘just work it out’: Trump


US President Donald Trump said he had discussed Kashmir with the leaders of both India and Pakistan and offered mediation or arbitration, and urged them to “just work it out, just work it out”.

In a press conference after addressing the UN General Assembly here, Trump said he had held “very productive conversations with the leaders of Pakistan, India and many other countries” on achieving stronger ties and on fair reciprocal trade.

“With respect to Pakistan and India, we talked about Kashmir, and whatever help I can be, I said, I offered, whether it’s arbitration, or mediation, or whatever itA has to be. I’ll do whatever I can do, because they are at very serious odds right not, and hopefully that’ll get better.

“If you look at the two gentlemen, heading those two countries, very good friends of mine. I said fellows just work it out, just work it out; because they are two nuclear countries, they’ve gotta work it out.”

Trump had held bilateral meetings with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday and with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

He had also shared the stage with Modi at the Howdy Modi event in Houston on Sunday.

Ahead of his bilateral with Modi, Trump had said that Modi is perfectly capable of handling Pakistan-sponsored terror, and urged both sides to sit down and talk.

A readout of the meeting between Trump and Modi also said that the US president had “encouraged” Modi to improve relations with Islamabad and also “fulfil his promises” to better the lives of the Kashmiri people.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

Modi’s masterful use of ‘Howdy Modi’ to give message on Article 370, attack Pak on terror


It was a masterful stroke in strategic thinking – getting a 50,000-strong crowd of roaring and cheering Indian-Americans to stand up and back the Indian Parliaments move to revoke special status for Kashmir, and again getting them to give a standing ovation to US President Donald Trump for his “strong determination” to fight terrorism, in a thinly veiled reference to Pakistan.

With one fell swoop, Prime Minister Narendra Modi not only brought live to the US audience, comprising not just President Trump but also a large gathering of elected US officials, including Governors, Senators and Representatives, from both the Democrats and Republicans, the strong backing that Article 370’s revocation enjoys among mainstream India and he enumerated the developmental reasons for his government’s move, he also effectively targeted Islamabad over terrorism and its obsessive focus on Kashmir.

Modi, a master orator, also spoke of “Abki bar Trump Sarkar” – pausing strategically after saying that to drive home its meaning, thereby giving Indian-Americans, not just at the ‘Howdy Modi’ event but across the US, the message to back President Trump for re-election. Indian-Americans number nearly four million, and President Trump is keen to get their votes.

In his first speech at the event on Sunday in English while welcoming President Trump on the stage, Modi highlighted the close friendship between the two leaders and the countries. He was effusive in his praise for “my friend, a friend of India, a great American President Mr Donald Trump” and of how his presence at ‘Howdy Modi’ was “extraordinary and unprecedented”.

Trump replied in kind, describing Modi as “America’s greatest, most devoted, and loyal friend”, and backed his administration, saying the Prime Minister “is doing a truly excellent job in India and for all of the Indian people”.

Trump, who is keen to “Make America Great Again” and is pushing for job creation and business, also mentioned the MoU between India’s Petronet LNG and US liquefied natural gas (LNG) developer Tellurian Inc inked a day ago – one of the largest foreign investments in the US for shipping shale gas abroad. Petronet is to spend $2.5 billion for an 18 per cent equity stake in the $28 billion Driftwood LNG terminal, and negotiate the purchase of 5 million tonnes of gas per annum.

Taking the stage after Trump, this time to speak in Hindi for which the US dignitaries had their earphones on for the simultaneous translation, Modi was careful to enunciate clearly the many developmental moves of his government, and gave the million/billion equivalent of the Indian monetary figures.

He elaborated on “fast-paced vikas” or development, and how his government had bid “farewell” to many factors detrimental to growth and development, like corruption, fake companies etc,

He said his government was building a transparent ecosystem so that the benefits of development reaches every Indian. “And if any Indian is kept away from development it is not agreeable,” he said, before going to his government’s move on Kashmir.

“For 70 years a big challenge that India faced has been given farewell to,” and then asked the audience, “you know what I am referring to” – to loud cheers.

“Article 370 was another big challenge that was given farewell to. It kept people away from the benefits of development, and from equality, and it was being used by separatists and terrorists. The Constitution that is for the rest of India is now also for Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. All the discrimination that women, children and Dalits were facing, has been ended,” he said to loud cheering, and “Modi, Modi” chants going up.

Modi said the legislation was passed with a two-thirds majority in both Houses of Parliament, including the Upper House where his government did not have majority, and the proceedings were also telecast.

He then asked the audience to give a standing ovation to the Indian Parliament for its move, and the 50,000 crowd stood up as one, applauding, as Trump and the American Congressmen watched.

This move clearly brought home to the US, with the event being telecast live, the message of the wide approval that abrogation of Article 370 enjoys among Indians.

A day ago, Modi had met a cross section of people, including Kashmiri Pandits, who were emotional in their support for revoking special status for Kashmir. He had also met Dawoodi Bohra Muslims and Sikhs. This helped highlight to the US of the support the Prime Minister enjoys among people of different faith. It also came as separatist Sikhs and Pakistanis were holding a big demonstration in Houston against Modi.

Modi then attacked Pakistan, without naming it, against Islamabad’s persistent attacks over Kashmir and its move to internationalise what India says is an entirely internal issue.

“What India has done (revocation of Article 370), there are some people who have trouble over it; they are themselves unable to even take care of their own country.

“They have made hatred towards India the centre piece of their governance. They want ashanti (disturbance). ‘Woh atank ko paltey hain, postey hain’ (they are the breeding ground of terror), the whole world knows them, from 9/11 in the US or the Mumbai 2008 attacks.”

Modi then called for a definitive fight against terrorism.

“The time has come for a definitive fight against terrorism. I want to state with emphasis that President Trump is with us strongly in this fight against terrorism, and he has shown his determination to fight against terrorism,” he said and asked the audience to stand up and give a standing ovation to President Trump for his stand against terror. The entire audience stood up and cheered.

There could be no stronger message against Pakistan, its harbouring of terror, and its obsessive focus on Kashmir, to the watching US audience, and also of the Modi government’s resolve to develop Kashmir like the rest of India.

At the end of the event, the two leaders clasped hands, and walked around the stadium in a kind of victory lap, waving to the cheering crowd, their hands clasped throughout. The messaging was clear again, of the strong friendship between the US and India, and between the two leaders, with both focused on making their countries great.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.



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