Finance Minister to Leave tomorrow for Japan on 6-Day Official Visit: To Meet Investors for Investment in India.

The Union Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley will leave on 28.05.2016 evening on 6-day official visit to Japan from 29th May to 4th June, 2016. On arrival in Tokyo on 29th May, 2016, he will have meetings with CEOs of Japanese Companies (Soft Bank/JBIC). 

Next day, on 30th May, 2016, the Finance Minister Shri Jaitley will attend the 22nd International Conference on “The Future of Asia” organized by Nikkei Inc. In the afternoon the Finance Minister will have Bilateral Meetings with the Prime Minister of Japan Mr. Shinz┼Ź Abe, METI Minister (Economy, Trade & Industry) and Health Minister. 

Next day, on 31st May, 2016, the Union Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley will have meeting with Chairman, Suzuki Motor Corporation Mr. Osamu Suzuki in the morning. Thereafter, he will participate in 22nd International Conference on “The Future of Asia” organized by Nikkei Inc. In the afternoon he will deliver Keynote Address at the Roundtable on National Investment & Infrastructure Fund (NIIF). In the evening Shri Jaitley will have meetings with President, GPIF (Government Pension Investment Fund) Mr. Norihiro Takahashi and President and CEO, JOIN (Japan Overseas Infrastructure Investment Cooperation for Transport and Urban Development) Mr. Takuma Hatano. 

In the morning on 1st June 2016, the Finance Minister have meeting with CEOs organized by JIBCC (Japan-India Business Cooperation Committee). He will also hold meetings with President, JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) Mr. Shinichi Kitaoka and Chairman, Hitachi, Mr. Hiroaki Nakanishi (Chair, Committee on South Asia, Keidanren). In the afternoon, Shri Jaitley will attend IIES Symposium on Indian Economy and deliver Keynote Speech there and afterwards he will leave for Osaka. On arrival at Osaka the Finance Minister will meet Indian organizations at India Club. 

On 2nd June, 2016, the Union Finance Minister will deliver a Lecture on “India: Political, Social and Economic Change (TBC) at Osaka University. In the evening the Finance Minister will participate and address the “Make In India- Investment Promotion Seminar. Thereafter he will meet select Japanese CEOs and CII delegation. 

On 3rd June, 2016 the Union Finance Minister Shri Jaitley will leave for Kyoto in the morning. He will reach Tokyo in the evening from Kyoto where he will hold various meetings like meetings with President, ICIJ (The Indian Commerce & Industry Association Japan), Sr. MD, SMBC (Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation), CEO, Eastspring Investments etc. 

. The Finance Minister will leave for back home on 4th June 2016 and will arrive in national capital in the evening on same day after completing his 6-day official visit to Japan. 


IAF Participation in Ex Desert Eagle – II at UAE

A bilateral Air Force exercise between India and United Arab Emirates (UAE) is underway at Al-Dhafra Air Base in UAE from 24 May 16 to 03 Jun 16. Ex-Desert Eagle-I with UAE Air Force was held at the same location in Sep 08. Su-30 MkI of the Indian Air Force and Mirage 2000-9, F-16 of UAE Air Force are participating in the exercise. The exercise will be played under multiple simulated scenarios. Exchange sorties for aircrew of both the Air Forces have also been planned. Participation in such exercises enables Indian Air Force to fly against multiple types of platforms. These air combat exercises provide exposure towards mission planning and execution in a simulated high threat combat environment besides building up crew confidence and bonhomie with friendly Air Forces of India and United Arab Emirates. 


PM’s Address at the Plenary Session of the North-Eastern Council  

I am very happy to be here for the North Eastern Council Plenary meeting. I also take this opportunity of welcoming you all to this meeting. I hope that the deliberations that have already taken place since yesterday and further deliberations that we have today, will help in faster development of this region. 

I am also happy to note that the North Eastern Council has provided support in the development of the North East region. It has been instrumental in establishment of a number of institutions and taking up infrastructure projects in the region. 

The North Eastern Council was set up in 1972. Since then it has contributed to the development of the North East region. To meet the growing aspirations of the people, it is important that the North Eastern Council introspects and assesses the extent to which it has been able to achieve its objectives. Perhaps, there is a need to re-orient and upgrade the North Eastern Council. You may like to consider developing the North Eastern Council as a state-of-the-art resource centre for the North Eastern states with the necessary resources, knowledge and skills. The resource centre may enable the states and the implementing agencies to properly plan and execute projects, promote research and innovations and provide strategic policy vision for the region. 

The North Eastern Council may look into developing a specialised domain expertise either by itself or through an agency model to assist states and central ministries in their development planning as also problem solving needs. This will enable the imbibing of good governance and best practices in the region. The North Eastern Council should also consider focussing on issues in emerging areas of livelihood, entrepreneurship, venture funds, start-ups and skill development. All this will help in generating jobs. 

The government has been focussing on the development of the North East region through its pro-active “Act East Policy”. As part of this policy, we are focussing on reducing the isolation of the region by improving all round connectivity through road, rail, telecom, power and waterways sectors. 

If the western region of the country can develop, if other regions of the country can develop, I see no reason why the North East region of the country cannot develop. I am also convinced that India can move forward if all the regions develop including the North East region. The North East region is also very important to us for strategic reasons. And it is my conviction that we have to bring this region at par with the other developed regions of the country. 

In the current Budget, more than Rs.30,000 crores have been earmarked for the North East region. It should be our endeavour to ensure that this money is spent well for the development of the region. 

We believe in cooperative and competitive federalism. States that are strong and want to grow further, need to be given adequate authority and resources. And States that are not so strong, need to be given needful assistance. It is in this regard that based on the report of the Committee of Chief Ministers, we have decided to continue to provide assistance in the ratio of 90:10 for core Central schemes and 80:20 for non-core schemes to the North Eastern States. 

In the recent past, we have established two important projects in Assam - Brahmaputra Cracker and Polymer Limited and Numaligarh Refinery Limited’s wax unit. These are big projects that would create huge employment opportunities in the North East region. However, it has taken us many years to complete these projects. We have to ensure that we are able to complete our projects in time and without cost over-runs. Only then can we realise the true benefits of these projects. 

The North East is the gateway to South East Asia and we need to take advantage of this. We are opening up both road and rail routes to our neighbouring countries. This should give a boost to the economic development of the region. 

We have created a specialised highways construction agency for the North East - the “National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation” - that was incorporated on 18th July 2014. Since then it has set up its Branch Offices, one each in every North Eastern State. As of today, it is implementing 34 projects in the North Eastern States covering a length of 1001 kilometres at a total cost of over Rs. 10,000 crore. 

In the road sector, we need to keep in view the special land and weather conditions of this area. Most of the North East areas get a lot of rainfall and are also prone to natural calamities and land-slides. We thus need to be careful in using appropriate technologies in the construction of roads in this area. 

We have recently implemented an improved internet connectivity project for the North East region in collaboration with Bangladesh. This will make available 10 GB of seamless alternate bandwidth for the region. This integration will benefit the North East region tremendously. 

The Government is also making a heavy investment in power transmission projects covering all the eight North Eastern states at a cost of around Rs 10,000 crore. This would ensure power to more areas. The recent commissioning of Bishwanath-Chariyali-Agra transmission line has also brought 500 MegaWatt additional capacity to the region. 

The railways have undertaken a major expansion in the region at a cost of around Rs 10,000 crore. In November 2014, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya were put up on the rail map. Agartala in Tripura has also been connected with broad gauge line. We are on the way to ensure that all the North East states come on the rail map soon. 

In the North East, the Indian Railways has commissioned about 900 kilometres of Broad Gauge in the last two years, leaving only about 50 kilometres Meter Gauge lines to be converted in 2016-17. In addition, a 132 kilometre part of third alternative connectivity route to North East (that is New Maynaguri – Jogighopa) has also been commissioned. 

There are a number of strengths of the North East which we need to harness for healthy growth of the region. All the states of the North East region are blessed with natural scenic beauty, distinct historical cultural and ethnic heritage. All this offers tremendous scope for tourism in the region. There is also a great scope for mountaineering, trekking and adventure tourism in the region. If developed and promoted well, this can emerge as the biggest employer in the region. It can also add to the growth and income of the region. 

I understand that the Ministry of Tourism has identified a thematic circuit for the North East region. I hope that the North Eastern states will make the best use of the scheme to develop tourist circuits and attract tourists from all over the world. The region can also look into combining a few popular destinations of the neighbouring countries with their tourism circuits. This will be an added attraction for tourists. 

The majority of youth of the North East region is English speaking. With improved connectivity and language skills, you may look into setting up of the BPO industry in the region. 

The Government has approved North East BPO promotion scheme in the Digital India programme for creation of employment opportunities. The North East States must avail facilities and get these BPOs operationalized in their respective States. This will promote growth and provide jobs to our youth. 

The North East is home to exotic fruits, flowers, vegetables, aromatic plants, and herbs. Most of them are organic in origin. If we focus our development strategy on organic farming, it would help the region greatly. 

A few months ago, I was in Sikkim and participated in a function to declare Sikkim as the first organic state in the country. Other States can take a lead from Sikkim and the North East Council can also play an important role in the development of organic farming in the region. The North East can become the organic food basket for this country. Organic products are going to be increasingly used widely and if the North East Council can assist the states in the region to take a lead in this area, it will contribute immensely to the income of the people and the region. 

There is a large rural population in the North East region. If we talk of Assam alone, 86% of the population lives in rural areas. We have initiated the Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Mission to bring in economic, social and basic development of the rural areas in a cluster model. It should be the endeavour of the region’s states to make use of this mission for the development of the rural areas. 

In the end, I would like to express my gratitude to the chairman and all the members of the North Eastern Council for successfully conducting the plenary meeting in Shillong. 

My special thanks to the Governor and the Chief Minister of Meghalaya for hosting this meeting. I am sure that the deliberations in this meeting will go a long way in providing direction to the development of the region. Thank you. 


Visit of Air Marshal Pankaj Aneja, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Maintenance Command to Air Force Station Tughlakabad

Air Marshal Pankaj Aneja VSM, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief (AOC-in-C), Maintenance Command, Indian Air Force arrived at Air Force Station Tughlakabad, a premier Base Repair Depot (BRD) under Maintenance Command, on 26 May 2016 on a two days visit. This was his first visit to BRD, after assuming Command as AOC-in-C, Maintenance Command. AOC-in C, MC was received by Air Commodore Yogesh Handa, Air Officer Commanding (AOC), Air Force Station Tughlakabad. On his arrival, an impressive Guard of Honour was presented to the AOC-in-C. 

The AOC-in-C visited various production wings, calibration facilities, logistics sites, lodger units and other vital installations. While addressing the Depot personnel, he appreciated the involvement & enthusiasm of all the personnel in ensuring high serviceability of the equipment towards operational preparedness of the field units. He also emphasized on the need to focus on indigenization efforts so as to achieve self-reliance, while ensuring reliability and quality of production. The Air Marshal also stressed upon the need to find solutions to techno-logistic challenges for sustaining the existing systems. 

Mrs Asha Aneja, President AFWWA (R) was received by Mrs Roopa Handa, President AFWWA (L). She reviewed the welfare activities for the Sanginis. During her interaction with Sanginis, she stressed upon the need to empower the Sanginis so as to make them confident and self-reliant.

President Shri Pranab Mukherjee’s Message on the Eve of Republic Day of Azerbaijan

The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee has extended his greetings and felicitations to the Government and people of the Republic of Azerbaijan on the eve of their Republic Day (May 28, 2016). 

In a message to His Excellency Mr. Ilham Aliyev, the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the President has said, “On behalf of the Government, the people of India and on my own behalf, it gives me great pleasure to convey cordial greetings and felicitations to you and to the Government and people of Azerbaijan on the occasion of your Republic Day. 

India and Azerbaijan enjoy warm and friendly relations based on close historical and cultural ties. I am confident that through our cooperative endeavours our bilateral relations will continue to grow for the mutual benefit of our two peoples. India looks forward to further strengthening our multi-faceted engagement with Azerbaijan. 

I take this opportunity to extend my best wishes for Your Excellency’s good health and well-being as well as for the prosperity and progress of the friendly people of Azerbaijan”.

President Shri Pranab Mukherjee’s Message on the Eve of National Day of Ethiopia

The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee has extended his greetings and felicitations to the Government and people of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia on the eve of their National Day (May 28, 2016). 

In a message to His Excellency Mr. Mulatu Teshome, the President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, the President has said, “On behalf of the Government, the people of India and on my own behalf, it gives me great pleasure to convey to you and to the people of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, warm greetings and felicitations on the occasion of your National Day. 

India and Ethiopia share cordial bilateral ties marked by our enhanced engagement in areas of common interest. Relations between India and Ethiopia are firmly based on mutual respect and understanding. I am confident that the bilateral cooperation between our two countries will be further strengthened in the coming years, to the mutual benefit of our two peoples. 

I take this opportunity to extend to Your Excellency, my best wishes for your personal well being and for the continued progress and prosperity of the friendly people of Ethiopia”.

Media Statement by the President of India Upon the Conclusion of His State Visit to the People’s Republic of China

Following is the full text of the statement to media by the President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee upon the conclusion of his State visit to the People’s Republic of China (May 24 to 27, 2016). The statement was made on board the aircraft during the President’s return to New Delhi from Beijing today (May 27, 2016): 

“I have just concluded my State visit to the People’s Republic of China from May 24 -27, 2016. My delegation included Shri Santosh Kumar Gangwar, Minister of State (IC) of the Ministry of Textiles, four Members of Parliament representing major political parties and different regions of India, namely, Dr. Bhushan Lal Jangde, Sh. K. C. Venugopal, Sh. Sudheer Gupta and Smt. Ranjanben Dhananjay Bhatt as well as senior officials of Rashtrapati Bhavan and MEA. An 8-member academic delegation comprising Vice Chancellors and heads of institutions of higher learning as well as a representative of MHRD also accompanied me. 

I have been closely associated with the development of India-China relations for over three decades of my political life, having visited China on many occasions in various capacities. This was, however, my first visit to China as the President of the Republic of India. The visit was to reciprocate the historic visit of President Xi Jinping to India in September 2014 during which we established a Closer Developmental Partnership as an important component of our bilateral relationship. 

The visit started with Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong Province which has played a key role in China’s economic development, accounting for around 10% of China’s GDP. Guangzhou was chosen as a destination because of its historical connection with India as well as its important role in economic as well as people-to-people exchanges with India. Guangdong province accounts for 20 per cent of bilateral trade and 40 per cent of Indian nationals in China. The large Indian community serves as an important bridge between India and China. 

During my stay in Guangzhou, I had a meeting with H.E. Mr. Hu Chunhua, Secretary of the provincial committee of the Chinese Communist Party of Guangdong, H.E. Mr. Zhu Xiaodan, Governor of the Guangdong province and H.E. Mr. Jiang Zengwei, Chairman of China Council for Promotion of International Trade. The Chinese leaders conveyed their strong interest in promoting business and people to people ties with India, especially the State of Gujarat with which they have a sister-province relationship. They enquired about various development initiatives launched by India and conveyed willingness to play a leadership role in enhancing trade and investment ties. I addressed the India-China Business Forum in which a large number of Indian and Chinese business representatives participated. In my address, I urged the business sectors of the two sides to take advantage of abundant opportunities available in India and China, which are today the engines driving global economic growth. 

I addressed a large assembly of the Indian community who had gathered from different parts of China and Hong Kong. I urged them to serve as unofficial ambassadors of India and to do their utmost to strengthen our Closer Development Partnership as well as promote people to people understanding. I also visited the Hualin Temple, which marks the arrival of Indian monk Bodhidharma to China in 6 century AD and stands testimony to the close cultural and historical linkages that bind our two countries together. 

I was received with great warmth and friendship by H.E. Mr. Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China; H.E. Mr. Li Keqiang, Premier of the State Council and H.E. Mr. Zhang Dejiang, Chairman of the National People’s Congress in Beijing. H.E. Mr. Li Yuanchao, Vice President of China, in a special gesture, joined a reception hosted in my honour by the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, inviting prominent cultural and academic personalities. I delivered a keynote address at the historic and prestigious Peking University and attended a Round Table between Vice Chancellors and Heads of institutions of higher learning of the two countries. This was the first such interaction organized in this format between our two countries in the important area of academic exchanges. Ten MoUs providing for enhanced faculty and student exchanges as well as collaboration in research and innovation were concluded between the higher education institutions of the two countries and exchanged in my presence. I also gifted to the Peking University 350 books on Indian culture and literature including books in Sanskrit. 

My interaction with the Chinese leadership was multi-faceted and comprehensive. It was conducted in a warm, friendly and cordial as well as candid manner. Discussions were wide-ranging and covered various areas of mutual interest. All four Chinese leaders fondly remembered their recent visits to India and conveyed their conviction that this State Visit would provide new impetus to the development of bilateral relations. There was deep appreciation of the role played by high-level visits in enhancing mutual understanding and political trust. We agreed on the need to build a solid foundation of goodwill between the two countries. 

I conveyed to the Chinese leadership that there is a national consensus within India on strengthening India-China ties. India attaches high importance to its relations with China. There was convergence of views that India and China as two major powers must have greater strategic communication and work together in an uncertain global situation where economic recovery was fragile, geo-political risks were growing and the menace of terrorism proving to be a threat to the whole world. We agreed that our relationship transcends bilateral dimensions and has regional and global salience. We emphasised the importance of close cooperation in all international fora. I conveyed that India and China should join hands not just in the interests of the people of our countries but also for the good of the whole world. We thanked China for its support for India’s membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Chinese leaders welcomed India’s membership and conveyed that it would strengthen the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and contribute to regional stability. 

We agreed that as neighbours it is natural for us to have differences from time to time. But, what is important is that we should continue to advance our relationship while managing our differences. 

Expanding bilateral trade and investment figured prominently in my discussions with the Chinese leadership. I was briefed on steps being taken by them to bring better balance in bilateral trade, including facilitating greater import of agricultural and pharmaceutical products from India. I conveyed that while addressing the imbalance is important, we should continue to expand bilateral trade. I welcomed greater Chinese investment into India especially in our flagship programmes such as ‘Make in India’, ‘Digital India’, ‘Skill India’, ‘Smart Cities’, etc. The Chinese leadership conveyed their deep appreciation for India’s economic progress of recent times and for our efforts to maintain rapid growth. We agreed to engage in practical cooperation and identify possible areas for early harvests in sectors such as railways, industrial zones, smart cities, renewable energy, power, space, aviation, etc. The Chinese side expressed appreciation for the visa facilitation measures adopted by us, including introduction of e-visa. 

The Chinese leadership conveyed their resolve to seek a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable resolution of the boundary question at an early date. I agreed with the Chinese leadership that while we continue to engage in seeking an early resolution of the boundary question, we must improve border management and ensure peace and tranquillity is maintained in border areas. 

Terrorism was an important topic which I covered in my meetings. I conveyed to the Chinese leaders that there is universal concern over growing acts of terrorism. India has been a victim of terrorism for around three and a half decades. There is no good terrorist or bad terrorist. Terrorism respects neither ideology nor geographical boundaries. Wanton destruction is its only aim. Comprehensive cooperation by all countries of the world is essential to tackle this global menace. The international community must engage in strong and effective action. As close neighbours, India and China should work together. The Chinese leadership agreed that terrorism was a menace to the entire human race. They conveyed their willingness to enhance cooperation, including in the UN. 

I conveyed that India faces acute energy shortage and we are engaged in efforts to significantly expand power generation within the country. We have announced a goal of 40% non-fossil fuel power generation capacity in our INDC and this target can be achieved only if we rapidly expand the generation of nuclear power. I conveyed that it was important for us to have a predictable environment in the above regard and hoped that China, as a close partner in the field of development as well as climate change, will play a positive and facilitative role. 

Recalling the close linkages between our two peoples in ancient times as well as the positive role people-to-people exchanges can play in enhancing mutual understanding and friendship, the Chinese leadership and I both agreed on the need to pro-actively promote contacts in the field of tourism; between academic institutions; amongst students and the youth as well as through sub-regional twinning arrangements. In my speech at the Peking University, I outlined my vision of a people-centric partnership with China and suggested eight steps to realize this goal. These include : (i) enhancing mutual trust and mutual respect, (ii) expanding youth exchanges, (iii) promoting greater cooperation and co-production of audio-visual media, (iv) fostering greater intellectual and cultural exchanges, (v) expanding tourism contacts, (vi) encouraging greater civil society interaction on developmental challenges, (vii) stronger cooperation in multilateral fora and (viii) broader trade and investment ties. 

In conclusion, my visit as well as discussions with Chinese leaders were fruitful and productive. Chinese leaders expressed gratitude for the forward looking approach adopted by us and willingness to take India-China relations to the next level, through all-round exchanges as well as continued communication at high political level on important issues. The BRICS Summit in Goa in October and the G-20 Summit in Hangzhou in September of this year will provide us opportunity to continue our dialogue in the above regard. I invited President Xi Jinping to pay a bilateral visit to India which he graciously accepted. 

Noting that China is as keen as India to take our bilateral relations forward, I return to India with the conviction that we must jointly impart new momentum to this defining partnership of the 21st century.”