Modi, Biden review India-U.S. ties during their meeting in Bali

November 15, 2022 08:02 pm | Updated 08:03 pm IST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with U.S. President Joe Biden during a meeting in Bali on November 15, 2022.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with U.S. President Joe Biden during a meeting in Bali on November 15, 2022. | Photo Credit: AP

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and U.S. President Joe Biden on Tuesday reviewed the state of India-US strategic partnership including in sectors like critical and emerging technologies and artificial intelligence.

The two leaders also discussed topical global and regional developments in their meeting that took place on the margins of the G-20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said.

It is understood that the Ukraine conflict and its implications figured in the discussions.

The MEA said the two leaders expressed satisfaction about close cooperation between India and U.S. in new groupings such as Quad and I2U2. While the Quad comprises India, the U.S., Australia and Japan, the members of the I2U2 are the U.S., the United Arab Emirates and Israel.

“They reviewed the continuing deepening of the India-US strategic partnership including cooperation in future oriented sectors like critical and emerging technologies, advanced computing, artificial intelligence, etc,” MEA said in a statement.

The MEA said the two leaders discussed topical global and regional developments.

“PM Modi thanked President Biden for his constant support for strengthening the India-US partnership. He expressed confidence that both countries would continue to maintain close coordination during India’s G-20 Presidency,” it said.

India is currently part of the G20 Troika (current, previous, and incoming G20 Presidencies) comprising Indonesia, Italy, and India. The Prime Minister is attending the summit at the invitation of Indonesian President Joko Widodo. Indonesia is the current chair of the G-20.

World Population reaches 8 billion mark today; India will surpass China in 2023, says U.N.

A baby born somewhere on Tuesday will be the world’s eighth billionth person, according to a projection by the United Nations. “The milestone is an occasion to celebrate diversity and advancements while considering humanity’s shared responsibility for the planet,” U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement.

The U.N. attributes the growth to human development, with people living longer thanks to improvements in public health, nutrition, personal hygiene and medicine. It is also the result of higher fertility rates, particularly in the world’s poorest countries— most of which are in sub-Saharan Africa— putting their development goals at risk. Population growth has also magnified the environmental impacts of economic development.

But while some worry that eight billion humans are too many for planet Earth, most experts say the bigger problem is the overconsumption of resources by the wealthiest people.

“Some express concerns that our world is overpopulated,” said United Nations Population Fund chief Natalia Kanem. “I am here to say clearly that the sheer number of human lives is not a cause for fear.”

Joel Cohen of Rockefeller University’s Laboratory of Populations told AFP the question of how many people Earth can support has two sides: natural limits and human choices.

Our choices result in humans consuming far more biological resources, such as forests and land, than the planet can regenerate each year.

The overconsumption of fossil fuels, for example, leads to more carbon dioxide emissions, responsible for global warming. “We are stupid. We lacked foresight. We are greedy. We don’t use the information we have. That’s where the choices and the problems lie,” said Cohen.

However, he rejects the idea that humans are a curse on the planet, saying people should be given better choices. The current population is more than three times higher than the 2.5 billion global headcounts in 1950.

However, after a peak in the early 1960s, the world’s population growth rate has decelerated dramatically, Rachel Snow of the U.N. Population Fund told AFP. Annual growth has fallen from a high of 2.1% between 1962 and 1965 to below 1% in 2020. That could potentially fall further to around 0.5% by 2050 due to a continued decline in fertility rates, the United Nations projects.

The U.N. projects the population to continue growing to about 8.5 billion in 2030, 9.7 billion in 2050 and peak around 10.4 billion in the 2080s. Other groups have, however, calculated different figures.

The U.S.-based Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) estimated in a 2020 study that the global population would max out by 2064, without ever reaching 10 billion, and decline to 8.8 billion by 2100.

Since the emergence of the first humans in Africa over two million years ago the world’s population has ballooned, with only fleeting pauses to the increasing number of people sharing Earth.

Our ancestors were hunter-gatherers, who had few children compared to later settled populations in order to maintain their nomadic lifestyle. The introduction of agriculture in the Neolithic era, around 10,000 BC, brought the first known major population leap. With agriculture came sedentarization and the ability to store food, which caused birth rates to soar.

Gujarat High Court asks how Morbi bridge work was awarded without a tender

The Gujarat High Court on November 15, 2022 asked how the Morbi bridge’s repair work was awarded to the Oreva Group without a tender, while hearing a suo motu petition on the colonial era bridge collapse tragedy in which at least 140 people were killed on October 29.

The court also noted that “prima facie, the local municipality has defaulted which led to unfortunate incident”, and asked how the “largesse of the State” was granted to a company without floating a tender for such important work.

The Division Bench of Chief Justice Arvind Kumar and Justice Ashutosh Shastri lashed out at the authorities and asked the government to how Ajanta Manufacturing Limited, the Oreva Group’s flagship company, had been permitted to maintain the bridge between 2017 and 2022 in the absence of any agreement, after the term of a 2008 agreement on bridge maintenance and repair had ended.

All that remains at the entrance of a cable suspension bridge collapsed site in Morbi, Gujarat. File

All that remains at the entrance of a cable suspension bridge collapsed site in Morbi, Gujarat. File | Photo Credit: Vijay Soneji

The Morbi-based Oreva Group is a large corporate house engaged in the manufacture of wall clocks and electronic appliances. “This [the 2008] agreement with Ajanta [Oreva Group] is one-and-a-quarter pages agreement, absolutely without any conditions. This agreement is by way of an understanding, largesse of the State for ten years, and no tenders floated, no Expression of Interest,” the Division Bench said.

The court held that such negligence on the part of the local civic body was deplorable. It also asked whether any steps had been taken by the local authorities to float a tender for the bridge’s operation and maintenance after the 2008 agreement had expired in 2017.

“Under the said 2008 MoU [Memorandum of Understanding], who had been fixed the responsibility to certify that the bridge is ready and fit for usage is not forthcoming. The largesse of the State seems to have been granted without there being any tender floated in this regard,” observed the judges.

The company had informed the District Collector on various dates in 2020 that until and unless an agreement was executed, it would not commence the repair work on the suspension bridge.

“Yet, the Ajanta [Oreva] Group continued to operate, maintain and receive the revenue from the visitors to the bridge. The subject bridge was closed on March 8, 2022 till October 25, 2022,” the court said.

The Bench also observed that the affidavit filed by the Regional Commissioner of Municipalities did not contain the required details and information the court had sought earlier.

The court directed the government to secure the entire file relating to the bridge till date and give it to the Registrar (Judicial) in a sealed cover in two days, and sought details of the action taken against the chief officer of the Morbi Municipality. The officer was earlier suspended by the State government.

The court was informed that the State Human Rights Commission had formed a committee to inquire into the tragedy. After the tragedy, the police had on October 31 arrested nine persons, including four employees of the Oreva Group, security guards, and ticket clerks, who all are in judicial custody now.

Post standoff, 3D printed accommodation for troops in Eastern Ladakh

As standoff began with China in Eastern Ladakh in 2020 and the Army mobilised thousands of troops to the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the Corps of Engineers used 3D printing to construct 22,000 temperature controlled, re-locatable habitat in the high-altitude areas, according to sources in the security establishment.

On the connectivity front, forward areas of Leh will have all weather connectivity with alternate axis under construction by 2026 boosting the Army’s movement and sustenance to forward areas, a source said.

“With progress on the alternate axis we will have 365-day connectivity into Leh. It will be a big boost to our sustenance and logistics of the Army in the Ladakh sector,” one source said on November 15, 2022. “Work on 4.1 km long Shinkun La tunnel which will start shortly and the planned target is 2026 we should have the tunnel and entire axis coming through. Then it will be 365 days, the source stated.

Sources said that in addition to 3D printing habitat, the Army’s Corps of Engineers in consultation with Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar came up with 3D printed permanent defences for forward areas. Trials conducted in the deserts in Western sector have been successful and are now being implemented in the Northern borders as well, sources said. The 3D printed defences can take direct hit from T-90 tank from 100 metres away and can be constructed in a much shorter time frame compared to regular defensive bunkers, the source explained.

In Brief:

Google is introducing UPI Autopay as a payment option for subscription-based purchases on Google Play in India. “With the introduction of UPI Autopay on the platform, we aim to extend the convenience of UPI to subscription-based purchases,” Saurabh Agarwal, Head of Google Play Retail & Payments Activation - India, Vietnam, Australia & New Zealand said in a release today. This will also enable local developers to grow their subscription-based businesses on Google Play, he added. Introduced under UPI 2.0 by NPCI, UPI Autopay helps customers make recurring payments for subscriptions, using any UPI application that supports the feature.

Evening Wrap will return tomorrow.

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