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Wednesday, 13 June 2012

From Today's Papers - 13 Jun 2012
US sets tone for talks as India exempted from Iran curbs

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Monday exempted India and six other nations from sanctions saying they had significantly reduced their imports of oil from Iran.

“Today I have made the determination that seven economies - India, Malaysia, Republic of Korea, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Taiwan-have all significantly reduced their volume of crude oil purchases from Iran,” Hillary said in a statement.

The exemptions will be reviewed after 180 days.

The exemption for India coincides with the start of the third round of the US-India Strategic Dialogue. Hillary and External Affairs Minister SM Krishna will co-chair the dialogue in Washington on Wednesday.

Hillary said she would report to the US Congress that sanctions pursuant to Section 1245(d)(1) of the National Defense Authorisation Act will not apply to these seven countries’ financial institutions. Section 1245 of the NDAA provides for sanctions on any foreign financial institution that conducts a significant transaction with the Central Bank of Iran, on or after June 28, for the sale or purchase of petroleum or petroleum products.

India’s oil imports have been a source of frustration in Washington as the US puts pressure on Iran to dissuade it from developing nuclear weapons. Iran says its nuclear programme is intended for peaceful purposes.

The US wants India to end its dependence on Iranian oil and train Afghan security forces as it seeks to deepen its relationship with a nation it considers a linchpin of its new defence strategy in the Asia-Pacific region.

Indian officials say India has made significant cuts to its imports of Iranian oil, but that it is unrealistic to expect a total reduction overnight. In 2008-2009, the percentage of India’s crude oil imports that came from Iran was 16.42 per cent. By 2011-2012 that number dropped to 10.29 per cent.

The decision to provide exemptions is based on scrutiny of data gathered by agencies across the US government, including the Energy Department, the Energy Information Administration, the Treasury Department, the State Department and the intelligence agencies.

“We’ve reviewed commercially available data. We review data that is made available at different points in time by importers themselves,” a senior US official said in a background call with reporters.

“The Indian government also took steps to publish data on its previous imports through a process of parliamentary questions. These were published on the website of the lower house of Parliament. And it was based on taking into account all of these factors that we reached our decision,” he added.

In March, Hillary exempted 10 European nations and Japan from sanctions because they had significantly reduced their oil imports from Iran. Around a third of Iran’s oil exports used to be to Europe. A European Union embargo on Iranian oil will go into effect in July.

Hillary touted the exemptions as an example of the Obama administration’s success implementing sanctions against Iran. “By reducing Iran’s oil sales, we are sending a decisive message to Iran’s leaders: until they take concrete actions to satisfy the concerns of the international community, they will continue to face increasing isolation and pressure,” she said.
India, Pak fail to break Siachen ice
Two sides agree to continue dialogue
Afzal Khan in Islamabad

Both sides reaffirmed their resolve to make serious, sustained and result-oriented efforts for seeking an amicable resolution of Siachen. — Joint statement

The two-day India Pakistan defence secretary-level talks on Siachen ended Tuesday amid continuing stalemate.

A joint statement issued here at the conclusion of the talks did not point to any progress but affirmed desire to continue the dialogue process. It said the two sides will meet again at mutually agreed dates to be decided later.

The India delegation flew to Lahore later in the afternoon on way to New Delhi.

The Pakistan side was led by Defence Secretary Nargis Sethi and the Indian side by her counterpart Shashi Kant Sharma. "Both sides reaffirmed their resolve to make serious, sustained and result-oriented efforts for seeking an amicable resolution of Siachen," said a joint statement issued at the end of the talks.

It was agreed to continue the dialogue on Siachen in keeping with the desire of the leaders of both countries for early resolution of all outstanding issues, the statement said.

The two countries "acknowledged that the ceasefire (in Siachen) was holding since 2003."

Speaking to media representatives, the Indian defence secretary said the two countries had made progress on the Siachen dispute. He said both sides had exchanged recommendations in order to resolve the dispute. India and Pakistan had prepared a list of recommendations for a resolution which would be presented to both governments.

The two countries also agreed to hold foreign minister-level talks in Islamabad in July which would focus on the Siachen dispute along with other outstanding issues.

According to Pakistani media reports, the Pakistani side renewed its call for demilitarising the Siachen glacier and pulling back troops to the positions in 1984. The Pakistani side further called for the resolution of the issue in the light of arrangements discussed in 1989 and 1992.

The Indian government has made it clear that any settlement must include the authentication and demarcation of current military positions on Siachen. The move is aimed at thwarting the possible re-induction of troops by Pakistan after any demilitarisation of the glacier.

Pakistan's Defence Minister Naveed Qamar told The Nation daily: "There is a realisation among both the sides that confrontation would lead to very negative implications that hinder economic and social development.

"Peace is the ultimate solution to bring prosperity to the region. Pakistan and India need to keep peace measures intact so as to eradicate misgivings and move on. Cooperation is the key to success," he added.
Navy still giving women short shrift, says Brinda
Communist Party of India (Marxist) Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat has written to Defence Minister A.K. Antony, seeking his intervention to end “discriminatory” practices being followed in employment of women in the Navy.

“It is regrettable that in spite of your assurances to Parliament that there will be no discrimination against women officers in the armed services, such discrimination continues,” she wrote drawing his attention to men short service commission officers who joined the Navy before 2009 being offered commission in a number of branches while similarly placed women were denied the right. The government's decision in 2008 to offer permanent commission to women officers of the three services was being implemented in the Navy in a selected and discriminatory way, Ms. Karat said. For example, women officers of the Logistics branch could serve for 14 years (which is the tenure for short service commission) but not for 20 years. On the other hand, male officers in Air Traffic Control, Logistics and education branches were offered permanent commission even though they did not have sea tenure.

Even after the revised policy, a woman officer in the Navy could join only in the short service commission category. “She has to apply for permanent commission only after six years. However a male officer who joins the Navy in a non-combat post can be inducted into permanent commission right from the start,” Ms. Karat said.

“You will recall that when women of the defence services went to the Delhi High Court against discriminatory practices, the High Court ruled in their favour and directed the services to offer the women permanent commission. The order was implemented by the Air Force. But the Army refused to do so and the Supreme Court had to intervene and force the Army to offer permanent commissions to the women who had been wrongly retired. But the Navy, instead of appreciating the spirit of the Supreme Court orders, continues to discriminate against women refusing to offer permanent commission to those who were employed by them prior to 2009,” the letter said.

Thus, women in the Navy who completed 14 years were being forced to retire even though age-wise they had many more years of productive service and had an exemplary record of service.

“Government inaction is forcing the concerned women to go to the courts for justice,” Ms. Karat said drawing Mr. Antony's attention to the Parliamentary Committee on Women's Empowerment, in its recent report, faulting the defence services for their utterly patriarchal and insensitive approach to women, particularly in recruitment to and eligibility for permanent commission. “…This is not a matter that concerns the Navy alone. This is a violation of the constitutional guarantee for equality between men and women,” she said.
No deal at India-Pakistan talks on glacier dispute

Although they have discussed the issue during 13 different meeting, the Indian and Pakistani defense secretaries have not been able to resolve the issue of the military stand-off on the Saichen Glacier. The current round of talks ended with the promise to meet one more time to discuss the issue further.
India and Pakistan's latest talks seeking to end decades of military stand-off on the Siachen Glacier broke up Tuesday with nothing more than an agreement to meet again, both sides said.

There had been fresh hope of a breakthrough after the misery of the world's highest battlefield was brought home by an avalanche that killed 140 people at a Pakistani army camp on April 7.

A joint statement said talks between India and Pakistan's defense secretaries -- the highest civil servants at their respective ministries -- had been held "in a cordial and friendly atmosphere" at the Pakistani ministry in Rawalpindi.

The two sides would next meet in New Delhi, but no date was announced. It was the 13th round of talks to end in stalemate.

"Both sides reaffirmed their resolve to make serious, sustained and result oriented efforts for seeking an amicable resolution," the statement said.

"It was agreed to continue dialogue on Siachen in keeping with the desire of the leaders of both countries for early resolution of all outstanding issues."

The nuclear rivals have kept a ceasefire on the Himalayan glacier since 2003.

In April, Pakistan's army chief of staff, General Ashfaq Kayani, called for a negotiated solution and said that the glacier should be demilitarized.

India captured the commanding peaks in 1984 and sees the glacier as vital to monitor Pakistani positions below and important for the defense of its part of Kashmir, where a separatist insurgency has killed tens of thousands since 1989.

Pakistani troops have failed to seize armed control of the sliver of territory, where sub-zero temperatures and altitude have caused countless deaths.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since independence in 1947, two of them over the Himalayan region of Kashmir, which is divided by a heavily militarised Line of Control and which both countries claim in full.

Last year they resumed their tentative peace process, which collapsed after Islamist gunmen from Pakistan killed 166 people in Mumbai in November 2008.

Analysts say there is growing support in Pakistan for rapprochement with India, which could help boost its flagging economy and quell tensions on the eastern border as Pakistan grapples with a deadly Taliban insurgency in its northwest.

But India shares increasing US frustration with Pakistan's unwillingness or inability to clamp down on havens used by Islamist militants who attack US troops in Afghanistan and who pose a threat to India.
Army wants Punjab goats to feed jawans

If things fall in line, the jawans and Army officials posted in Jammu and Kashmir would get their daily diet of mutton courtesy Punjab.

The Indian Army has asked the Punjab government to supply of goats from the state to meet their dietary needs. Keeping this in mind, the government is planning to push goat framing on a huge scale in the state.

“The Army wants us to supply goats to Jammu and Kashmir for the personnel posted there. They aim to cut the transportation cost on the animals as at present they end up paying huge amounts getting the goats supplied from Rajasthan and other states,” Animal Husbandry, Fisheries and Dairy Development Minister, Gulzar Singh Ranike told Indian Express on Tuesday.

He said that at present are nearly 4,000 families in the state, which have been traditionally rearing goats. On an average each family keeps 20 to 25 goats.

“The state government has already decided to give subsidy to the farmers willing to set up goat farms. The state will provide Rs 85,000 subsidy on a farm that costs nearly Rs 2.75 lakh. Twenty two goats are kept in one such farm. Last year alone, nearly 100 such farms were set up. We are pushing hard to set up more such farms,” Ranike added.

Stating that nearly 75 per cent of the meat consumed in the state comes from outside, he said farmers can earn huge profits if they took to rearing goats.

“A farmer can breed nearly 500 goats in a farm spread over an acre of land. His total expenditure on up keep of the animals per year would come to Rs 2.5 lakh. He can make a progit of more than Rs 5 lakh per annum by selling the animals,” ranike said, adding that the major investment in this farming is one-time only. A goat, on an average, gives birth to four kids. “Even if three kids survive, the average population at the farm can be maintained. It takes one year for goat to grow up and be healthy enough to be marketed,” the minister added.

Contacted, director, animal husbandry, Dr HS Sandha too said the department was encouraging farmers to set up goat farms. “Apart from the subsidy provided by the state government, NABARD also gives subsidy of upto Rs 5 lakh for farms having 500 goats,” Sandha said.

Meanwhile, Ranike said that the government has decided to provide subsidy to marginal and small farmers willing to set up units for the production of milk products, purchase of milch cattle and for rearing calves. He said that the 25 per cent subsidy would be given to farmers from general category and while those from SC category would get 33.33 per cent subsidy. Last year, the state disbursed Rs 9 crore under this scheme, whereas the subsidy in the current year has been increased to Rs 20 crore.

Ranike said that the Punjab was among the 14 states chosen for National Dairy Plan. He said that under this programme, efforts would be initiated to improve the cattle breed and increase milk processing capacity. The government has also chalked out a comprehensive plan to bail out the debt-ridden farmers by promoting subsidiary occupations. Under such initiative Rs 3 crore would be incurred for setting up state-of-the-art Dairy Training Center in Rauni village of Patiala.

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