India asks US diplomats to return their IDs

India is reacting sharply after its deputy consul general Devyani Khobragade was arrested and handcuffed in public in New York on visa fraud charges last week

Escalating a diplomatic row, India on Tuesday asked the US to return IDs issued to all its consular officers posted in the country. This move may be a precursor to reviewing immunity and benefits enjoyed by US officials in India as a protest to the treatment meted out to the country’s deputy consul general in New York.


Indian government sources said, “Government has asked the US to return the ID cards given to their consular officers posted in India”.


It is understood that the government intends to review the immunity and benefits enjoyed by US diplomats.


Significantly, the review comes after India reacted sharply to deputy consul general Devyani Khobragade being arrested and handcuffed in public in New York on visa fraud charges last week by summoning US Ambassador Nancy Powell and issuing a demarche in this regard.


The displeasure was also evident among leaders and officials of Indian government. Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde today cancelled his meeting with a senior US Congressional delegation ostensibly as a mark of protest against the treatment meted out to Khobragade.


Yesterday, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar had cancelled her meeting with a senior US Congressional delegation due to the same reason.


National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon, who also had a scheduled meeting with the five-member US team, did not meet them, apparently for the same reason.


The delegation comprised Congressmen George Holding (Republican – North Carolina), Pete Olson (Republican – Texas), David Schweikert (Republican – Arizona), Robert Woodall (Republican – Georgia), Madeleine Bordallo (Democrat – Guam).


39-year-old Khobragade, a 1999-batch IFS officer, was taken into custody last week on a street in New York as she was dropping her daughter to school and handcuffed in public on visa fraud charges before being released on a $250,000 bond after pleading not guilty in court.


Indo-Pak relations: Mutual mistrust and uncertain future awaits both!

The "aam aadmi" of India and Pakistan is not really interested in the politics, but wants to carry on with life on a day-to-day basis

Pakistani foreign office spokesperson, Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhury said, India and Pakistan need to address the mistrust that exists between them, responding to prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh's statement that Pakistan cannot win a war against India in his life time!


Every two years, the Pakistani army's general headquarters at Rawalpindi publishes the "green book" which provides a rare insight into the organisation’s internal debates. In this, it is reported, that Pakistani Major General Shaukat Iqbal has stated that the deepening Indo-USA relationship could pose a serious threat to the integrity of Pakistan.


The man on the street, now popularly known as the "aam aadmi", on both sides of the border, is not really interested in the politics played but wants to carry on his life on a day-to-day basis. Truly, he is a pawn whose moves are decided by the politicans in power.


In the meanwhile, Shabhaz Sharif, who is actually the brother of Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif, chief minister of Punjab province, has called for early resumption of peace talks between India and Pakistan.


Talks on normalisation procedure between India and Pakistan, between Anand Sharma, Indian Commerce and Industry Minister with Khurram Dastgir Khan, Minister of State for Commerce began with a view to cover trade of more items through Wagah border, opening of bank branches, commencement of electricity supplies, and so on, continued, in the presence of Shabhaz Sharif. This is expected to continue during the ensuing meeting when the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) group gathers soon.


On his part, Anand Sharma has shown his keen desire to give enhanced preferential treatment to Pakistani products by bringing down its sensitive list under South Asia Free Trade Agreement. This will bring down the import tariff for all items for Pakistan, except for about 100 items.


Although India and Pakistan have reiterated the urgent and imperative need to work seriously on the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline that would bring in the much needed gas from Iran, and also supply at competitive rates to Pakistan, work has not been satisfactory. Iran has completed almost 900 km of the pipeline under its control, while hardly any progress has been made on the Pakistani side.


In a similar fashion, the proposed Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India

(TAPI) pipeline has also not made much progress, despite the keen interest and support that USA has given. Yet, with the recent developments that have taken place as a sequel to the nuclear deal with Iran, USA may soften its stand, but one never knows until the mandatory six month period is over and Iran keeps its bargain.


All said and done, it is time that both the prime ministers of India and

Pakistan sit together to at least have preliminary discussions on what is to be done. Indian prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh must reiterate that cross-border ISI-sponsored terror outfits must stop intrusions into the country; no longer should India tolerate these so-called "jehadi" outfits or freedom fighters attacking civilians. Any new attempts at intrusion should be dealt with firmly by the armed forces.


So far, in all these discussions that have been going on for years now, there are no reports, ever, that the question of counterfeit currency (manufactured with Pakistani support and smuggled into the country) has been raised at any level. If this is to be considered as the "Most Favoured Nation" status for India in printing this fake currency, this must stop forthwith, and the Pakistani counterpart must ensure this does not recur.


(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce. He was also associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts; and later to the US.)


Nifty, Sensex may rally: Monday closing report

Nifty may head higher if today’s low holds and closes above 6,210

Monday was the fifth consecutive session when the indices closed in the negative but the market recorded the lowest fall, giving some hope to the bulls. The benchmark moved in the narrow range on both the sides of previous week’s close. We expect the market to head higher as a short-covering rally.


The Sensex opened at 20,714 while the Nifty opened at 6,168. The benchmark immediately hit its day high and started its down ward journey. The Sensex moved down to the level of 20,638 after hitting the high of 20,765 and closed at 20,660 (down 56 points or 0.27%) while the Nifty hit the low of 6,146 after reaching upto 6,183 and closed at 6,155 (down 14 points or 0.22%). Today the indices hit their lowest levels since 29 November 2013. The NSE recorded a volume of 54.22 crore shares.


Among the other indices on the NSE, the top five gainers were IT (1.70%); MNC (1.67%); Nifty Junior (1.01%); Midcap 50 (0.57%) and Media (0.57%) while the top five losers were Energy (1.15%); FMCG (0.73%); PSU Bank (0.64%); Auto (0.57%) and Commodities (0.40%).


Of the 50 stocks on the Nifty, 20 ended in the green. The top five gainers were Sesa Sterlite (4.09%); Infosys (2.29%); Power Grid (1.74%); Tata Power (1.61%) and Coal India (1.38%). While the top five losers were M&M (2.89%); Jindal Steel (2.85%); Sun Pharma (2.48%); Reliance Industries (2.28%) and Bharti Airtel (2.23%).


Of the 1,210 stocks on the NSE, 475 closed in the positive, 674 closed in the negative while 61 remained unchanged.


Inflation based on the WPI accelerated to 7.52% in November 2013, from 7% in October 2013, data released by the government today. WPI for September 2013 was revised upwards to 7.05% from 6.46% reported earlier. Except for NZSE 50 (up 0.39%) all the other Asian indices closed in the negative. Nikkei 225 (fell 1.62%) was the top loser.


Chinese manufacturing index fell to a three-month low, the initial results from HSBC's monthly survey showed today. HSBC/Markit China manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index eased to 50.5, down from November's final reading of 50.8. Shanghai Composite was the second top most loser among the Asian indices fell 1.60%.


However, European indices were trading very strong. The latest data showed that Markit's German preliminary manufacturing purchasing managers' index strengthened in December. The German economy is ending 2013 positively, according to a survey released Monday, with new business, confidence and employment all growing in December. Markit's preliminary composite purchasing manager’s index was little changed in December, slipping marginally to 55.2 from 55.4 in November.


The French composite PMI fell to a seven-month low of 47.0 and signaled a steady contraction in activity.


Markit's Flash Eurozone Composite purchasing managers' index, which gauges business activity across thousands of companies large and small, rose to 52.1 in December from 51.7 last month. Growth in new orders rose the most since June 2011, while the manufacturing PMI rose to 54.8 from 53.1, the highest in nearly three years. US Futures were trading strongly in the positive.


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