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BRICS 2016: Goa Declaration; Terror Main Focus

Full Text Of Goa Declaration at 8th BRICS Summit

October 16, 2016

  • We, the Leaders of the Federative Republic of Brazil, the Russian Federation, the Republic of India, the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of South Africa, met on 15-16 October 2016 in Goa, India, at the Eighth BRICS Summit, which was held under the theme “Building Responsive, Inclusive and Collective Solutions.”
  • Recalling all our previous declarations, we emphasise the importance of further strengthening BRICS solidarity and cooperation based on our common interests and key priorities to further strengthen our strategic partnership in the spirit ofopenness, solidarity,equality, mutual understanding, inclusiveness and mutually beneficial cooperation. We agree that emerging challenges to global peace and security and to sustainable development require further enhancing of our collective efforts.
  • We agree that BRICS countries represent an influential voice on the global stage through our tangible cooperation, which delivers direct benefits to our people. In this context, we note with satisfaction the operationalisation of the New Development Bank (NDB) and of the Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA), which contributes greatly to the global economy and the strengthening of the international financial architecture. We welcome the report presented by NDB President on the work of the Bank during the first year of its operations. We are pleased to note the progress in operationalising the Africa Regional Centre (ARC) of the NDB and pledge our full support in this regard. We look forward to developing new BRICS initiatives in a wider range of areas in the years to come.
  • We note with appreciation the approval of the first set of loans by the New Development Bank (NDB), particularly in the renewable energy projects in BRICS countries. We express satisfaction with NDB’s issuance of the first set of green bonds in RMB. We are pleased to note that the operationalisation of BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangements (CRA) has strengthened the global financial safety net.
  • In order to reach out and enrich our understanding and engagement with fellow developingand emerging economies, we will hold an OutreachSummit of BRICS Leaders with the Leaders of BIMSTEC member countries – Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation comprising of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand. The meeting will be an opportunity to renew our friendship with BIMSTEC countries as well as to jointly explore possibilities of expanding trade and commercial ties,and investment cooperation between BRICS and BIMSTEC countries,while advancing our common goals of peace, development, democracy and prosperity.
  • We reiterate our common vision of ongoing profound shifts in the world as it transitions to a more just, democratic, and multi-polar international order based on the central role of the United Nations, and respect for international law. We reaffirm the need for strengthening coordination of efforts on global issues and practical cooperation in the spirit of solidarity, mutual understanding and trust. We underline the importance of collective efforts in solving international problems, and for peaceful settlement of disputes through political and diplomatic means, and in this regard, we reiterate our commitment to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
  • We note the global character of current security challenges and threats confronting the international community. We reiterate our view that international efforts to address these challenges, the establishment ofsustainable peace as well as the transition to a more just, equitable and democratic multi-polar international order requires a comprehensive, concerted and determined approach, based on spirit of solidarity, mutual trust and benefit, equity and cooperation, strong commitment to international law and the central role of the United Nations as the universal multilateral organisation entrusted with the mandate for maintaining international peace and security, advance global development and to promote and protect human rights. We underline the importance of further strengthening coordination of our efforts in this context.
  • We reaffirm our commitment to contribute to safeguarding a fair and equitable international order based on the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations including through consistent and universal respect and adherence to the principles and rules of international law in their inter-relation and integrity, compliance by all states with their international legal obligations.We express our commitment to resolutely reject the continued attempts to misrepresent the results of World War II. We recall further that development and security are closely interlinked, mutually reinforcing and key to attaining sustainable peace.
  • We remain confident that resolving international problems require collective efforts for peaceful settlement of disputes through political and diplomatic means. Implementation of principles of good-faith, sovereign equality of States, non-intervention in the internal affairs of States and cooperation excludes imposition of unilateral coercive measures not based on international law. We condemn unilateral military interventions and economic sanctions in violation of international law and universally recognised norms of international relations. Bearing this in mind, we emphasise the unique importance of the indivisible nature of security, and that no State should strengthen its security at the expense of the security of others.
  • We recall the 2005 World Summit Outcome document. We reaffirm the need for a comprehensive reform of the UN, including its Security Council, with a view to making it more representative, effective and efficient, and to increase the representation of the developing countriesso that it can adequately respond to global challenges. China and Russia reiterate the importance they attach to the status and role of Brazil, India and South Africa in international affairs and support their aspiration to play a greater role in the UN.
  • We welcome the substantive measures undertaken by the UN membership to make the process of selecting and appointing the UN Secretary-General more transparent and inclusive.
  • We expressour gratitude to UN Secretary-General Mr. Ban Ki-moon for his contributions to the United Nations in the past ten years. We congratulate Mr. AntónioGuterres, on his appointment as the Secretary-General of the United Nations andexpress oursupport and to work closely with him.
  • Cognizant of BRICS countries’ significant contributions to UN Peacekeeping operations, and recognising the important role of UN Peacekeeping operations in safeguarding international peace and security, we realise the challenges faced by UN Peacekeeping and emphasise the need to further strengthen its role, capacity, effectiveness, accountability and efficiency, while adhering to the basic principles of peacekeeping. We emphasise that UN Peacekeeping operations should perform the duty of protection of civilians in strict accordance with their respective mandates and in respect of the primary responsibility of the host countries in this regard.
  • We are deeply concerned about the situation in the Middle East and North Africa. We support all effortsfor finding ways to the settlement of the crises in accordance with international law and in conformity with the principles of independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of the countries of the region. On Syria, we call upon all parties involved to work for a comprehensive and peaceful resolution of the conflict taking into account the legitimate aspirations of the people of Syria,through inclusive national dialogue and a Syrian-led political process based on Geneva Communiqué of 30 June 2012 and in pursuance of the UN Security Council Resolution 2254 and 2268 for their full implementation.While continuing the relentless pursuit against terrorist groups so designated by the UN Security Councilincluding ISIL, Jabhat al-Nusra and other terrorist organisations designated by the UN Security Council.
  • We reiterate also the necessity to implement the two-state solution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on the basis of the relevant UNSC resolutions, the Madrid Principles and Arab Peace Initiative, and previous agreements between the two sides,through negotiations aimed at creating an independent, viable, territorially contiguous Palestinian State livingside-by-side in peace with Israel, withinsecure, mutually agreed and internationally recognised borders on the basis of 1967 lines, with East Jerusalem as its capital, as envisaged in the relevant UN Resolutions.
  • We express deep concern at the persisting security challenges in Afghanistan and significant increase in terrorist activities in Afghanistan. We affirm support to the efforts of the Afghan Government to achieve Afghan-led and Afghan-owned national reconciliation and combat terrorism, and readiness for constructive cooperation in order to facilitate security in Afghanistan, promote its independent political and economic course, becoming free from terrorism and drug trafficking. The Leaders expressed the view that capable and effective Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) should be the key to the stabilisation of Afghanistan. In this regard, the Leaders emphasised the need for continued commitment of regional countries and wider international community, including the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission, which as the ISAF’s heir has a key role in the ANSF capacity-building. The Leaders stressed the importance of multilateral region-led interaction on Afghan issues, primarily by those organisations, which consist of Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries and other regional states, such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, Collective Security Treaty Organization, and the Heart of Asia Conference.
  • We welcome the African Union’s (AU) vision, aspirations, goals and priorities for Africa’s development enshrined in Agenda 2063, which is complementary with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. We reaffirm our support for Africa’s implementation of its variousprogrammesin pursuit of its continental agenda for peace and socio economic development. We will continue to engage in joint endeavours to advance Africa’s solidarity, unity and strength through support measures for regional integration and sustainable development.We further welcome recent elections that have been held in the continent and the peaceful manner in which they were conducted.
  • We support the AU’s efforts to resolving conflictsthrough its peace and security architecture, in collaboration with the United Nations and the continent’s regional organisations, and to contribute towards lasting and sustainable peace and security in Africa.
  • We welcome the decision of the African Union’s Assembly to operationalise its Peace Fund, in order to contribute to financing of its peace and security operations. We support efforts aimed at full operationalisation of the African Standby Force (ASF) and note the progress being made in this regard, including the contributions by the African Capacity for Immediate Responses to Crises (ACIRC).
  • We express our concern that political and security instability continues to loom in a number of countriesthat is exacerbated by terrorism and extremism.We call upon the international community through the United Nations, African Union and regional and international partners to continue their support in addressing these challenges, including post-conflict reconstruction and development efforts.
  • We welcome the adoption of landmark 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals during the UN Summit on Sustainable Development on 25 September 2015 and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda at the Third International Conference on Financing for Development. We welcome the people-centred and holistic approach to sustainable development enshrined in the 2030 Agenda and its emphasis on equality, equity and quality-life to all. We welcome the reaffirmation of the guiding principles of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, including the principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR).
  • The 2030 Agenda, with its overarching focus on povertyeradication, lays an equal and balanced emphasis on the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. We call upon developed countries to honour their Official Development Assistancecommitments to achieve 0.7% of Gross National Income commitment for Official Development Assistance to developing countries. Those commitments play a crucial role in the implementation of the SDGs. We further welcome the establishment of a Technology Facilitation Mechanism within the UN with a mandate to facilitate technology for the implementation of the SDGs.
  • We commit to lead by example in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development inline with national circumstances and development context respecting the national policy space. We welcome the G20 Action Plan on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Developmentadopted during G20 Hangzhou Summit and commit to its implementation by taking bold transformative steps through both collective and individual concreteactions.
  • We meet at a time when the global economic recovery is progressing, with improved resilience and emergence of new sources of growth.The growth, though is weaker than expected with downside risks to the global economy continuing to persist.This gets reflected in a variety of challenges including commodity price volatility, weak trade, high private and public indebtedness, inequality and lack of inclusiveness of economic growth. Meanwhile, the benefits from growth need to be sharedbroadly in an inclusive manner.Geopolitical conflicts, terrorism, refugee flows, illicit financial flows and the outcome of UK referendum have further added to the uncertainty in the global economy.
  • We reiterate our determination to use all policy tools – monetary, fiscal, and structural, individually and collectively, to achieve the goal of strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth. Monetary policy will continue to support economic activity and ensure price stability, consistent with central bank’s mandates. Monetary policy alone, though, cannot lead to balanced and sustainablegrowth. We, in this regard, underscore the essential role of structural reforms.We emphasise that our fiscal policies are equally important to support our common growth objectives. We also take note that the spill-over effects ofcertain policy measures in some systemically important advanced economies can have adverse impact on growth prospects of emerging economies.
  • We recognise that innovation is a key driver for mid and long term growth and sustainable development. We stress the importance of industrialisation and measures that promote industrial development as a core pillar of structural transformation.
  • We highlight the need to use tax policy and public expenditure in a more growth-friendly way taking into account fiscal space available, that promotesinclusiveness, maintains resilience and ensuressustainability of debt as a share of GDP.
  • We note the dynamic integration processes across the regions of the world, particularly in Asia, Africa and South America.We affirm our belief to promote growth in the context of regional integration on the basis of principles of equality, openness and inclusiveness. We further believe that this will promote economic expansion through enhanced trade,commercial and investmentlinkages.
  • We highlight the importance of public and private investments in infrastructure, including connectivity,to ensure sustained long-term growth. We, in this regard, call for approaches to bridge the financing gap in infrastructure including through enhanced involvement of Multilateral Development Banks.
  • We reaffirm our commitment to a strong, quota based and adequately resourced IMF. Borrowed resources by the IMF should be on a temporary basis. We remain strongly committed to support the coordinated effort by the emerging economies to ensure that the Fifteenth General Review of Quotas, including the new quota formula, will be finalised within the agreed timelines so as to ensure that the increased voice of the dynamic emerging and developing economies reflects their relative contributions to the world economy, while protecting the voices of least developed countries (LDCs), poor countries and regions.
  • We welcome the inclusion of the RMB into the Special Drawing Rights (SDR) currency basket on 1October, 2016.
  • We call for the advanced European economies to meet their commitment to cede two chairs on the Executive Board of the IMF. The reform of the IMF should strengthen the voice and representation of the poorest members of the IMF, including Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • We share concerns regarding the challenges of sovereign debt restructurings, and note that timely and successful debt restructuring is key for ensuring access to international capital markets, and hence economic growth, for countries with high debt levels. We welcome the current discussions to improve the debt restructuring process,and on the revised collective action clauses (CACs).
  • We reiterate our support for the multilateral trading system and the centrality of the WTO as the cornerstone of a rule based, open, transparent, non-discriminatory and inclusive multilateral trading system with development at the core ofits agenda. We note the increasing number ofbilateral, regional, and plurilateral trade agreements, and reiterate that these should be complementary to the multilateral trading system and encourage the parties thereon to align their work in consolidating the multilateral trading system under the WTO in accordance with the principles of transparency, inclusiveness, and compatibility with the WTO rules.
  • We emphasise the importance of implementing the decisions taken at the Bali and Nairobi Ministerial Conferences. We stress the need to advance negotiations on the remaining Doha Development Agenda (DDA) issues as a matter of priority. We call on all WTO members to work together to ensure a strong development oriented outcome for MC11 and beyond.
  • We appreciate the progress in the implementation of the Strategy for BRICS Economic Partnership and emphasise the importance of the BRICS Roadmap for Trade, Economic and Investment Cooperation until 2020. We believe that close cooperation between the sectoral cooperation mechanisms, BRICS Contact Group on Economic and Trade Issues, the BRICS Business Council, New Development Bank and the BRICS Interbank cooperation mechanism is crucial in strengthening the BRICS economic partnership. We welcome, in this context, the continued realisation of the major BRICS economic initiatives such as enhanced cooperation in e-commerce, “single window”, IPR cooperation, trade promotionand micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).We recognise non-tariff measures (NTMs),services sector, and standardisation and conformity assessments as possible areas of future cooperation.We note in this context the meeting of BRICS Trade Ministers in New Delhi on 13 October 2016 and welcome its substantive outcomes.
  • In operationalising the Strategy for BRICS Economic Partnership, we encourage measures that support greater participation, value addition and upward mobility in Global Value Chains of our firms including through the preservation of policy space to promote industrial development.
  • We welcome India’s initiative to host the first BRICS Trade Fair in New Delhi. This is an important step towards the implementation of Strategy for BRICS Economic Partnership. We believethis will further consolidate trade and commercial partnership among BRICS countries. We welcome the deliberations and outcome of the meeting of BRICS Trade Ministers held on 13October 2016 in New Delhi.
  • We noted the Annual Report by the BRICS Business Council, including the various initiatives undertaken by its Working Groups. We further direct the Council to accelerate the development and realisation of joint projects which, on a mutually beneficial basis, contribute to the economic objectives of BRICS.
  • We agreed that MSMEs provide major employment opportunities, at comparatively lower capital cost, and create self-employment opportunities in rural and underdeveloped areas. MSMEs thus help assure equitable wealth distribution nationally and globally. We commend organisation of BRICSsecond round-table on MSMEs by India with a focus on technical and business alliances in MSMEs Sector. We agree to work for greater integration of MSMEs in Regional and Global Value Chains.
  • We commend China for the successful hosting of the 11th G20 Leaders’ Summit in Hangzhou and its focus on innovation, structural reform and development as drivers of medium and long term economic growth. We recognise the role of G20 as the premier forum for international and financial cooperation and emphasise the importance of the implementationof the outcomes of G20 Hangzhou Summit, that we believe will foster strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth and will contribute to improved global economic governance and enhance the role of developing countries.
  • We stress the importance to foster an innovative, invigorated, interconnected and inclusive world economy.We will enhance our consultations and coordinationon the G20 agenda, especially on issues of mutual interest to the BRICS countries, and promote issues of importance for the Emerging Market and Developing Economies (EMDEs). We will continue to work closely with all G20 membersto strengthen macroeconomic cooperation, promote innovation, as well as robust and sustainable trade and investment to propel global growth,improve global economic governance,enhance the role of developing countries,strengthen international financial architecture,support for industrialisation in Africa and least developed countries and enhance cooperation on energy access and efficiency. We stress the need for enhanced international cooperation to address illicit cross-border financial flows, tax evasion and trade mis-invoicing.
  • The role of BRICS and its collaborative efforts in the field of economic and financial co-operation are yielding positive results. We emphasise the importance of our cooperation in order to help stabilise the global economy and to resume growth.
  • We welcome experts exploring the possibility of setting up an independent BRICS Rating Agency based on market-oriented principles, in order to further strengthen the global governance architecture.
  • We welcome the reports of BRICS Think Tanks Council and BRICS Academic Forum that have emerged as valuable platforms for our experts to exchange views. They have submitted their valuable suggestions with regard to promoting market research and analysis in BRICS and developing countries and exploring possibilities of carrying this process forward.We believe that BRICS institution-building is critical to our shared vision of transforming the global financial architecture to one based on the principles of fairness and equity.
  • We emphasise the importance of enhancing intra-BRICS cooperation in the industrial sector, including through the BRICS Industry Ministers Meetings, in order to contribute to the accelerated and sustainable economic growth, the strengthening of comprehensive industrial ties, the promotion of innovation as well as job creation, and improvement of the quality of life of people in BRICS countries.
  • We congratulate the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) for the 50th anniversary of its foundation and recall its unique mandate to promote and accelerate inclusive and sustainable industrial development and its contribution in promoting industrialisation in Africa. We note, in this context, the progress achieved so far in the establishment of the UNIDO-BRICS Technology Platform.
  • We commend our Customs administrations on the establishment of the Customs Cooperation Committee of BRICS,and on exploring means of further enhancing collaboration in the future, including those aimed at creating legal basis for customs cooperation and facilitating procedures of customs control. We note the signing of the Regulations on Customs Cooperation Committee of the BRICS in line with the undertaking in the Strategy for BRICS Economic Partnership to strengthen interaction among Customs Administrations.
  • We recall the Fortaleza Declaration wherein we recognised the potential for BRICS insurance and reinsurance markets to pool capacities and had directed our relevant authorities to explore avenues for cooperation in this regard. We would like this work to be expedited.
  • We reaffirm our commitment towards a globally fair and modern tax systemand welcome the progress made on effective and widespread implementation of the internationally agreed standards. We support the implementation of the Base Erosion andProfit Shifting Project (BEPS) with due regard to the national realities of the countries.We encourage countries and International Organisations to assist developing economies in building their tax capacity.
  • We note that aggressive tax planning and tax practices hurt equitable development and economic growth. Base Erosion and Profit Shiftingmust be effectively tackled. We affirm that profit should be taxed in the jurisdiction where the economic activity is performedand the value is created. We reaffirm our commitment to support international cooperation in this regard, including in the Common Reporting Standard for Automatic Exchange of Tax Information (AEOI).
  • We note the ongoing discussions on international taxation matters. In this regard, we recall the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development including its emphasis on inclusive cooperation and dialogue among national tax authorities on international tax matters with increased participation of developing countries and reflecting adequate, equitable, geographical distribution, representing different tax systems.
  • We support the strengthening of international cooperation against corruption, including through the BRICS Anti-Corruption Working Group, as well as on matters related to asset recovery and persons sought for corruption. We acknowledge that corruption includingillicit money and financial flows, and ill-gotten wealth stashed in foreign jurisdictions is a global challenge which mayimpact negatively on economic growth and sustainable development. We will strive to coordinate our approach in this regard and encourage a stronger global commitment to prevent and combat corruptionon the basis of the United Nations Convention against Corruption and other relevant international legal instruments.
  • We recognise that nuclear energy will play a significant role for some of the BRICS countries in meeting their 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement commitments and for reducing global greenhouse gas emissions in the long term. In this regard, we underline the importance of predictability in accessing technology and finance for expansion of civil nuclear energy capacity which would contribute to the sustainable development of BRICS countries.
  • We reiterate that outer space shall be free for peaceful exploration and use by all States on the basis of equality in accordance with international law.Reaffirming that outer space shall remain free from any kind of weapons or any use of force, we stress that negotiations for the conclusion of an international agreement or agreements to prevent an arms race in outer space are a priority task of the United Nations Conference on Disarmament, and support the efforts to start substantive work, inter alia, based on the updated draft treaty on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space and of the threat or use of force against outer space objects submitted by China and Russian Federation.We also note an international initiative for a political obligation onthe no first placement of weapons in outer space.
  • Priority should be accorded to ensuring the long-term sustainability of outer space activities, as well as ways and means of preserving outer space for future generations. We note that this is an important objective on the current agenda of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS). In this respect, we welcome the recentdecision by the UNCOPUOS Scientific and Technical Sub-Committee Working Group on Long-term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities to conclude negotiations and achieve consensus on the full set of guidelines for the long term sustainability of outer space activities by 2018to coincide with the commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the first United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNISPACE + 50).
  • We strongly condemn the recent several attacks, against some BRICS countries, including that in India.We strongly condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and stressed that there can be no justification whatsoever for any acts of terrorism, whether based upon ideological, religious, political, racial, ethnic or any other reasons. We agreed to strengthen cooperation in combating international terrorism both at the bilateral level and at international fora.
  • To address the threat of chemical and biological terrorism, we support and emphasise the need for launching multilateral negotiations on an international convention for the suppression of acts of chemical and biological terrorism, including at the Conference on Disarmament.In this context, we welcome India’s offer to host a Conference in 2018 aimed at strengthening international resolve in facing the challenge of the WMD-Terrorism nexus.
  • We call upon all nations to adopt a comprehensive approach in combating terrorism, which should include countering violent extremism as and when conducive to terrorism, radicalisation, recruitment, movement of terrorists including Foreign Terrorist Fighters, blocking sources of financing terrorism, including through organised crime by means of money-laundering, drug trafficking, criminal activities, dismantling terrorist bases, and countering misuse of the Internet including social media by terror entities through misuse of the latest Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs).Successfully combating terrorism requires a holistic approach. All counter-terrorism measures should uphold international law and respect human rights.
  • We acknowledge the recent meeting of the BRICS High Representatives on National Securityand, in this context, welcome the setting up and the first meeting of the BRICS Joint Working Group on Counter-Terrorism on 14September 2016 in New Delhi. We believe it will further promote dialogue and understanding among BRICS nations on issues of counter terrorism, as well ascoordinate efforts to address the scourge of terrorism.
  • We acknowledge that international terrorism, especially the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as Daesh) and affiliated terrorist groups and individuals, constitute a global and unprecedented threat to international peace and security. Stressing UN’s central role in coordinating multilateral approaches against terrorism, we urge all nations to undertake effective implementation of relevant UN Security Council Resolutions, and reaffirm our commitment on increasing the effectiveness of the UN counter terrorism framework.We call upon all nations to work together to expedite the adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT) in the UN General Assembly without any further delay. We recall the responsibility of all States to prevent terrorist actions from their territories.
  • We reaffirm our commitment to the FATF International Standards on Combating Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism and Proliferation and call for swift, effective and universal implementation of FATF Consolidated Strategy on Combating Terrorist Financing, including effective implementation of its operational plan. We seek to intensify our cooperation in FATF and FATF-style regional bodies (FSRBs).
  • We welcome the outcome document of the Special session of the General Assembly on the world drug problem, held in New York from 19-21 April 2016. We call for strengthening of international and regional cooperation and coordination to counter the global threat caused by the illicit production and trafficking of drugs, especiallyopiates. We note with deep concern the increasing links between drug trafficking and terrorism, money laundering and organised crime. We commend the cooperation between BRICS drug control agencies and welcome the deliberations in second Anti-Drug Working Group Meeting held in New Delhi on 8 July 2016.
  • We reaffirm that ICT expansion is a key enabler for sustainable development, for international peace and security and for human rights. We agree to strengthen joint efforts to enhance security in the use of ICTs, combating the use of ICTs for criminal and terrorist purposes and improving cooperation between our technical, law enforcement, R&D and innovation in the field of ICTs and capacity building institutions. We affirm our commitment to bridging digital and technological divides, in particular between developed and developing countries. We recognise that our approach must be multidimensional and inclusive and contains an evolving understanding of what constitutes access, emphasising the quality of that access.
  • We reiterate that the use and development of ICTs through international and regional cooperation and on the basis of universally accepted norms and principles of international law, including the Charter of the UN; in particular political independence, territorial integrity and sovereign equality of States, the settlement of disputes by peaceful means, non-interference in internal affairs of other States as well as respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to privacy; are of paramount importance in order to ensure a peaceful, secure and openand cooperative use of ICTs.
  • The increasing misuse of ICTs for terrorist purposes poses a threat to international peace and security. We emphasise the need to enhance international cooperation against terrorist and criminal misuse of ICTs and reaffirm the general approach laid in the eThekwini, Fortaleza and Ufa declarations in this regard. We reaffirm the key role of the UN in addressing the issues related to the security in the use of ICTs. We will continue to work together for the adoption of the rules, norms and principles of responsible behaviour of Statesincludingthrough the process of UNGGE. We recognise that the states have the leading role to ensure stability and security in the use of ICTs.
  • We advocate also for an open, non-fragmented and secure Internet, and reaffirm that the Internet is a global resource and that States should participate on an equal footing in its evolution and functioning,taking into account the need to involve relevant stakeholders in their respective roles and responsibilities.
  • We recognise the importance of energy-saving and energy-efficiency for ensuring sustainable economic development and welcome the Memorandum of Understanding which was signed in this regard.
  • We recognise the challenge of scaling-up power generation and its efficient distribution, as well as the need to scale up low carbon fuels and other clean energy solutions. We further recognise the level of investments needed in renewable energy in this regard. We therefore believe that international cooperation in this field be focused on access to clean energy technology and finance. We further note the significance of clean energy in achieving Sustainable Development Goals. We recognise that sustainable development, energy access, and energy security are critical to the shared prosperity and future of the planet. We acknowledge that clean and renewable energy needs to be affordable to all.
  • We support a wider use of natural gas as an economically efficient and clean fuel to promote sustainable development as well as to reduce the greenhouse emissions in accordance with the Paris Agreement on climate change.
  • We note that BRICS countries face challenges of communicable diseases including HIV and Tuberculosis. We, in this regard, note the efforts made by BRICS Health Ministers to achieve the 90–90–90 HIV treatment target by 2020. We underline the imperative to advance cooperation and action on HIV and TB in the BRICS countries, including in the production of quality-assured drugs and diagnostics.
  • We take note of United Nations High Level Meeting on Ending AIDS in June 2016 and forthcoming Global Conference on TB under WHO auspices in Moscow in 2017.
  • Recognising global health challenges we emphasise the importance of cooperation among BRICS countries in promoting research and development of medicines and diagnostic tools to end epidemics and to facilitate access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines.
  • We welcome the High Level meeting on Anti-Microbial Resistance (AMR) during UNGA-71, which addresses the serious threat that AMR poses to public health, growth and global economic stability. We will seek to identify possibilities for cooperation among our health and/or regulatory authorities, with a view to share best practices and discuss challenges, as well as identifying potential areas for convergence.
  • We reaffirm our commitment to promote a long-term and balanced demographic development and continue cooperation on population related matters in accordance with the Agenda for BRICS Cooperation on Population Matters for 2015-2020.
  • We welcome the outcomes of the meetings of BRICS Labour & Employment Ministers held on 9 June 2016 in Geneva and on 27-28 September 2016 in New Delhi. We take note of the possibility of bilateral Social Security Agreements between BRICS countries, and of the commitment to take steps to establish a network of lead labour research and training institutes, so as to encourage capacity building, information exchange and sharing of best practices amongst BRICS countries. We recognise quality employment, including a Decent Work Agenda, sustaining social protection and enhancing rights at work, are core to inclusive and sustainable development.
  • We welcome the outcomes of the fourth BRICS Education Ministers’ meeting held on 30 September 2016 in New Delhi, including the New Delhi Declaration on Education. We stress the importance of education and skills for economic development, and reaffirm the need for universal access to high-quality education. We are satisfied with the progress of the BRICS Network University (BRICSNU) as well as the BRICS University League (BRICSUL), which will commence their programmes in 2017. These two initiatives will facilitate higher education collaboration and partnerships across the BRICS countries.
  • We appreciate the organisation of Young Diplomats’ Forum held on 3-6 September 2016 in Kolkata. We also welcome the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between BRICS Diplomatic Academies to encourage exchange of knowledge and experiences.
  • We welcome the outcomes of the fourth BRICS STI Ministerial Meeting held on 8 October 2016, wherein they adopted theJaipur Declaration and endorsed the updated Work Plan (2015-2018) aimed at strengthening cooperation in science, technology and innovation, especially leveraging young scientific talent for addressing societal challenges; creating a networking platform for BRICS young scientists; co-generating new knowledge and innovative products, services and processes; and addressing common global and regional socio-economic challenges utilising shared experiences and complementarities.
  • We stress the importance of implementation of the BRICS Research and Innovation Initiative. We welcome the hosting of the first BRICS Young Scientists Conclave in India, instituting of BRICS Innovative Idea Prize for Young Scientists.We note the progress of the first Call for Proposals under the BRICS STI Framework Programme, in ten thematic areas, with funding commitment from the five BRICS STI Ministries and associated funding bodies. We welcome the establishment of the BRICS Working Group on Research Infrastructure, and Mega-Science to reinforce the BRICS Global Research Advanced Infrastructure Network (BRICS-GRAIN).
  • We welcome the outcomes of the Agriculture Ministers’ Meeting, held on 23 September 2016, including the Joint Declaration. We emphasise the importance of ensuring food security, and addressingmalnutrition, eliminating hunger,inequality and poverty through increased agricultural production, productivity, sustainable management of natural resources and trade in agriculture among the BRICS countries. As the world’s leading producers of agriculture products and home to large populations, we emphasise the importance of BRICS cooperation in agriculture.We recognize the importance of science-based agriculture and of deploying information and communication technology (ICT).
  • To further intensify cooperation among BRICScountries in agricultural research policy, science and technology, innovation and capacity building, including technologies for small-holder farming in the BRICS countries, we welcome the signing of the MoU for Establishment of the BRICS Agricultural Research Platform.
  • Considering the dependence of agriculture on water, we call upon the development of infrastructure for irrigation to assist farmers in building resilience during times of drought and welcome sharing of experiences and expertise in these areas.
  • We affirm that the value of sharing expertise and experiences among BRICS countries with regard to usage of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in e-governance, financial inclusion, and targeted delivery of benefits, e-commerce, open government, digital content and services and bridging the digital divide. We support efforts aimed at capacity building for effective participation in e-commerce trade to ensure shared benefits.
  • We welcome the forthcoming BRICS Telecommunication Ministerial Meeting that will further strengthen our cooperation, including on technology trends, standards developments, skill developments, and policy frameworks.
  • We believe it is necessary to ensure joint efforts towards diversification of the world market of software and IT equipment. We call for developing and strengthening the ICT cooperation in the framework of the BRICS Working Group on ICT Cooperation.
  • We welcome the outcomes of the meetings of BRICS Ministers responsible for Disaster Management held on 19-20 April 2016 in St. Petersburg and on 22 August 2016 in Udaipur. We also welcome the Udaipur Declaration adopted at the second meeting and applaud the formation of BRICS Joint Task Force on Disaster Risk Management.
  • We extend our deepest condolences to the people of Haiti and the Caribbean on the tragic loss of lives following hurricane Matthew. We support the efforts of the UN and humanitarian partners in their response to this tragedy.
  • We welcome the outcomes of the BRICS Ministerial Meeting on Environment held on 15-16 September 2016, in Goa, including the Goa Statement on Environment. We welcome the decision to share technical expertise in the areas of abatement and control of air and water pollution, efficient management of waste and sustainable management of bio-diversity. We recognise the importance of participation by BRICS countries in environmental cooperation initiatives, including developing a platform for sharing environmentally sound technologies.
  • We welcome the outcome of the 17th Conference of Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), held in Johannesburg, South Africa, as a landmark advancement of the regulation of international trade in endangered species from 24 September – 4 October 2016.
  • We welcome the adoption of the Paris Agreement anchored in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and its signing by a large number of countries on 22 April 2016. We emphasise that the comprehensive, balanced and ambitious nature of the Paris Agreement reaffirms the principles of UNFCCC includingthe principle of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in light of different national circumstances (CBDR & RC).
  • We welcome the Paris Agreement and its imminent entry into force on 4 November 2016.We call on the developed countries to fulfil their responsibility towards providing the necessary financial resources, technology and capacity building assistance to support the developing countries with respect to both mitigation and adaptation for the implementation of the Paris Agreement.
  • We reiterate the commitments to gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls as contained in the 2030 Agenda. We recognise that women play a vital roleas agents of developmentand acknowledge that their equal and inclusive participation and contribution is crucial to making progress across all Sustainable Development Goals and targets. We emphasise the importance of enhancing accountability for the implementation of these commitments.
  • Cognizant of the potential and diversity of youth population in our countries, their needs and aspirations, we welcome the outcomes of the BRICS Youth Summit in Guwahati including, “Guwahati BRICS Youth Summit 2016 Call to Action” that recognise the importance of education, employment, entrepreneurship, and skills training for them to be socially and economically empowered.
  • We welcome the BRICS Convention on Tourism, that was organised in Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh on 1-2 September 2016 as an effective means to promote tourism cooperation among BRICS countries.
  • As home to 43% of the world population and among the fastest urbanising societies, we recognise the multi-dimensional challenges and opportunities of urbanisation. We affirm our engagement in the process that will lead to adoption of a New Urban Agenda by the Conference of the United Nations on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development – Habitat III(Quito, 17-20 October, 2016).We welcome the BRICS Urbanisation Forum, BRICS Friendship Cities Conclave, held in Visakhapatnam on 14-16 September 2016, and in Mumbai on 14-16 April 2016, respectively, which contributed to fostering increased engagements between our cities and stakeholders. We call for enhanced cooperation with regard to strengthening urban governance, making our cities safe and inclusive, improving urban transport, financing of urban infrastructure and building sustainable cities.
  • We note India’s initiative on the upcoming BRICS Local Bodies Conference to exchange expertise and best-practices, including in local budgeting.
  • Noting the importance of orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people, we welcome the outcomes of first BRICS Migration Ministers Meeting in Sochi, Russian Federation, on 8 October 2015.
  • We recognise the important role of culture in sustainable development and in fostering mutual understanding and closer cooperation among our peoples. We encourage expansion of cultural exchanges between people of BRICS countries. In this context we commend the hosting of the first BRICS Film Festival in New Delhi on 2-6 September 2016.
  • We welcome the forthcoming meeting of the Second BRICS Parliamentary Forum in Geneva on 23 October 2016under the theme of ‘BRICS Parliamentary Cooperation on the implementation of the SDGs’.
  • We appreciate the deliberations of the BRICS Women Parliamentarians’ Forum in Jaipur on 20-21 August, 2016 and the adoption of Jaipur Declaration, centred on SDGs, that inter alia emphasises the commitment to strengthen parliamentary strategic partnerships on all the three dimensions of sustainable development,fostering gender equality and women empowerment.
  • We note the deliberations on a BRICS Railways Research Network aimed at promoting research and development in this field to further growth in our economies in a cost effective and sustainable manner.
  • We congratulate India on organising the first BRICS Under-17 Football Tournament in Goa on 5-15 October 2016. We,in this regard, note the initiative towards a BRICS Sports Council to foster exchanges among BRICS countries.
  • Recognising the increasing trade, business and investment between BRICS countries and the important role of BRICS Interbank Cooperation Mechanism, we welcome the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the BRICS countries National Development Banks and the New Development Bank (NDB). We welcome the initiative of the Export-Import Bank of India of instituting Annual BRICS Economic Research Award to promote advanced research in economics of relevance to BRICS countries.
  • We reiterate our commitment to strengthening our partnerships for common development. To this end, we endorse the Goa Action Plan.
  • China, South Africa, Brazil and Russia appreciate India’s BRICS Chairpersonship and the good pace of BRICS cooperation agenda.
  • We emphasise the importance of review and follow up of implementation of outcome documents and decisions of the BRICS Summits. We task our Sherpas to carry this process forward.
  • China, South Africa, Brazil and Russia express their sincere gratitude to the Government and people of India for hosting the Eighth BRICS Summit in Goa.
  • India, South Africa, Brazil and Russia convey their appreciation to China for its offer to host the Ninth BRICS Summit in 2017 and extend full support to that end.

India Carries Out Surgical Strikes On Terror Launch Pads At LoC, Pakistan Rejects

In what could be a major escalation of issues between India and Pakistan, Director General Military Operations (DGMO) Lt Gen Ranbir Singh said on Thursday that Indian Army conducted surgical strikes on terror launch pads at the Line of Control (LoC) in Pakistan on Wednesday night.

Adressing a Joint Press Conference with Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Vikar Swarup, DGMO said that the surgical strikes were based on specific intelligence input of terror groups ready to infiltrate into Indian soil to carry out attacks.

“Significant casualties have been caused in these strikes,” DGMO Lt General Ranbir Singh said adding, “the operation has now ended.”

“The strikes targeted the terrorists and those backing them,” the DGMO said while adding that he has informed his Pakistani counterpart about the operation and sought his coperation to scale down the tension.

Media reported that Prime Minister Narendra Modi took onboard President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice President Hamid Ansari and former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh before the operation.

Reports also added that J&K Governor N N Vohra, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti have been briefed on the surgical strikes by the Indian Army.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif slammed the attack, adding that his country’s desire for peace should not be interpreted as its weakness. “We are ready for the safety and defence of our country, we condemn this attack,” Sharif told Pakistani media.

Pakistan’s Inter Service Intelligence has outrightly rejected the Indian claim of carrying out any surgical operation on their soil.

“There has been no surgical strike by India, instead there had been cross border fire initiated and conducted by India which is existential phenomenon,” Pakistan’s Inter Services Public Relations posted on their official facebook page.

“The notion of surgical strike linked to alleged terrorists bases is an illusion being deliberately generated by Indian to create false effects,” they added.

The operation come 11 days after the alleged Pakistani militants attacked Uri camp in Jammu and Kashmir killing 20 soldiers.

Kashmir Unrest: Bloodbath Continues In Valley, 5 Killed Since Morning; Toll 66

Five people have been killed in Kashmir after security forces opened fire on Protesters in Budgam and Anantnag districts of Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday taking the death toll to 66 since July 08.

According to reports, a youth Amir Ganie son of Muhammad Yusuf Ganie has been killed by Security forces in Larkipora area of Anantnag while scores have been injured, after they opened fire on the protesting people near the Larkipora bridge which connects Anantnag distrct headquarter to historic Verinag town.

Earlier in mmorning, four people lost their lives in similar accident in Central Kashmir’s Budgam district.

Reports say that paramilitary forces opened fire on protesters in Arinpath area of Beerwah in Bugam district.

Out of four people killed in Aripanthan, three persons have been identified as Javid Najar, Mohammad Ashraf Wani – father of two, and Tauqeer Ahmad.

However, the fourth person is yet to be identified.

With these five killings, the death toll since July 9 has reached to 66.

China ‘Concerned’ Over Kashmir Clashes, Calls for ‘Peaceful Settlement’

Backing Pakistan over the ongoing turmoil in Kashmir Valley, China on Monday rakes up Kashmir issue and hoped that the situation will be “handled properly”.

According to reports, the statement issued by Chinese Foreign Ministry has impressed on India to address the Kashmir issue through peaceful dialogue by talking to “relvent parties”.

“China has taken note of relevant reports. We are equally concerned about the casualties in the clash, and hope that relevant incident will be handled properly,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said in his remarks posted on the Foreign Ministry website.

“The Kashmir issue is left over from history. China holds a consistent stance and hopes relevant parties will address the issue peacefully through dialogue,” he said in response to a question on the recent Kashmir unrest.

Media reported that Lu’s comments come as a surprise to observers in Beijing as it is rare for China to comment on the developments relating to Jammu and Kashmir.

China’s comments came in the backdrop of ongoing turoil in restive valley where 42 people have been killed and over 1500 injured during the violent protests from past 11 days. The protests broke on July 8 in wake of the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani.

Terror Strikes Dhaka

Bangladesh’s worst hostage crisis ended on Saturday when heavily-armed commandos stormed a popular eatery in Dhaka in the diplomatic enclave and killed six terrorists who had been holding many people, including foreigners, captive for over 12 hours.

According to the reports, special commondos launching final assault around 7.40 a.m. local time to end the siege at the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka’s Gulshan diplomatic zone.

Tuhin Mohammad Masud, a commander of the elite Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) which stormed the cafe, said there had been a number of casualties, including six hostage-takers.

“We have gunned down six of the terrorists,” Mr. Masud told reporters.

A total of 18 people were rescued from the restaurant, a senior police official said.

Among the rescued are Indian, Sri Lankan and Japanese nationals. Some of them are injured, said Mohammad Jashim, a deputy commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police.

An RAB official said at least five bodies were recovered during the raid, but did not confirm whether they were of hostages or gunmen.

The hostage crisis followed a Friday night gun-battle with police that left at least two senior officers dead and 40 people injured.

Fire-fighters rushed to the scene after the raid this morning with extinguishers, probably to put out flames from explosions. A medical team also rushed to the scene with stretchers.

According to unconfirmed reports, at least one foreigner has been shot during the raid inside the cafe.

Army men in armoured personnel carriers (APCs) had moved in with commandos. Over 1,000 rounds of gunshots were fired and almost 100 blasts were heard in the first half an hour of the raid, media reports said.

Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack through its Amaq news agency, nearly four hours after the hostage crisis unfolded, according to the U.S.-based SITE Intelligence group, which monitors jihadist activity online.

It later issued a number of photographs of what it said were scenes from inside the restaurant.

The pictures showed what appeared to be a number of bodies lying in pools of blood.

Amaq also claimed that 20 people had been killed in the attack.

Heavy firing and explosions continued at least for an hour after the operation began. A resident of a building, just 50 yards from the scene, reported spotting snipers firing from their guns.

Shots were also fired from armoured personnel carriers (APCs). Grenades were also apparently exploded. Later, the APCs broke through the walls and entered the restaurant premises.

After hours of quiet at the Holey Artisan Bakery where terrorists were holding hostages, a fresh round of heavy gunfire rang out in the morning.

On Friday night, terrorists shouting “Allahu Akbar” barged into the Holey Artisan Bakery, frequented by diplomats and expatriates, and opened indiscriminate fire at around 9.20 p.m., local time.

The military-led rescue operation today was launched jointly by a navy commando squad, paramilitary BGB, elite anti-crime RAB along with special police units.

According to CNN, senior U.S. officials believe that the attack has been probably carried out by al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, which was declared as a terrorist organisation by the U.S. only a day earlier.

According to a local news channel, one of the persons being held captive, messaged his relative that the terrorists are using them as human shields.

A hostage was also seen tied up in a chair on the balcony of the restaurant.

The deceased policemen have been identified as officer in-charge of nearby Banani police station, Salahuddin Ahmed and Additional Commissioner of Police Rabiul, identified only by his first name.

An Argentine national and a local escaped after taking refuge in a nearby house when the gunmen entered the restaurant.

Police said they have detained two employees of the eatery for questioning.

A kitchen staff of the restaurant, who managed to escape, said several armed men entered the restaurant and took the chief chef hostage. “They set off several crude bombs triggering panic,” he added.

The Muslim-majority Bangladesh has witnessed a wave of deadly attacks on religious minorities and secular bloggers by suspected Islamist militants.

A 48-year-old Hindu priest was on Saturday stabbed and critically injured by unidentified assailants in Bangladesh’s Satkhira district.

Earlier on Friday, a Hindu priest and a Buddhist leader were brutally hacked to death by machete-wielding Islamic State militants while another Hindu man survived a bid on his life. (With Inputs Agency Inputs)

After Raghuram Rajan, Next RBI Governor Will Be One Of These 4 Short-Listed Candidates

The government has narrowed its list of candidates to become the next governor of the Reserve Bank of India to four and a new Monetary Policy Committee will be appointed soon, Reuters reported on Tuesday quoting a senior official.

The news agency reported that the move seeks to ensure policy continuity and reassure domestic and global investors after RBI chief Raghuram Rajan shocked markets 10 days ago by saying he would not seek reappointment in September.

The report added that sending a reassuring signal, the official said the list of candidates to replace Rajan had been whittled down to four – three of them central bank veterans; the other the head of the country’s largest commercial bank.

Here is The brief about the four contenders likely to take over as Reserve Bank Of India Chief:

Urjit Patel

Urjit PatelOne of the RBI’s four current deputy governors, Patel, 52, was reappointed in January for another three years. He has run the central bank’s monetary policy department since 2013 and is viewed as a leading contender for the governor’s job. Patel is considered as a ‘hawk’ on his monetary policy stance.

Rakesh Mohan

Rakesh MohanMohan, 68, had two stints as a deputy governor of the RBI. He also served as secretary at the department of economic affairs at the Indian government’s finance ministry and held positions at the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Mohan was in charge of monetary policy, financial markets, economic research and statistics at the RBI.

Subir Gokarn

Subir GokarnGokarn, 56, also a former deputy RBI governor, currently serves as an executive director at the IMF. He looked after monetary policy during his three years at the central bank until the end of 2012.

Arundhati Bhattacharya

MINT Annual Banking ConclaveA high-profile banker, Bhattacharya has been at the helm of India’s largest lender – State Bank of India – since late 2013 and has earned praise from investors for her management of the bank’s mountain of bad debt. She was named in the Forbes list of the world’s 100 most powerful women.

Bhattacharya, 60, whose term as the chair at State Bank of India ends later this year, is perceived as another front-runner in the race.

PM Modi Leads Second International Yoga Day Celebrations

Prime Minister Narendra Modi pitched for treating diseases like diabetes through ancient spiritual discipline as he joined over 30,000 people for the second International Yoga Day celebrations in Chandigarh.

Dressed in while colored T-Shirt and trouser, Prime Minister led over over 30,000 participants, including defence forces personnel and school children, for the second International Day of Yoga celebrations here at the Capitol Complex amid tight security.

“I want to request trainers who are associated with yoga, from this public platform. From next year when we celebrate yoga day, in this one year, you continue to do what you do for yoga but focus on one subject and this is my subject — diabetes — Diabetes and yoga,” Modi said while addressing the gathering.

“All people belonging to the yoga field, whatever knowledge they have, they must continue with the rest of their yoga activities but this (diabetes) must be the main focus,” Modi added.

Expressing concern over rising number of patients suffering from diabetes, Modi asked yoga trainers to help in controlling the disease.

“In India, patients suffering from diabetes are rising. We might be able to get rid of this disease or not but with the help of yoga, diabetes can be controlled. Can we start a public campaign to suggest measures in yoga to the common man suffering from diabetes.

Prime Minister concluded his speech by saying,

‘Yoga is not only a way to get rid of a disease but it also guarantees wellness. For holistic development of lives, yoga is a great way’.

The Return To Nowhere

Tawqeer Hussain

Kashmiri Pandits are divided on the issue of returning to the Valley they fled in the ’90s. Very few are willing while most are unhappy about living in separate colonies built for them

May 27, Kokernag, south Kashmir. It is an unusual reunion. Elderly Abdul Razak Wagay is insistent that Sweeti Raina, his visitor, accepts ₹80. It is a sum that he had borrowed from Sweeti’s father before the latter’s family fled the Kashmir valley in the 1990s. Wagay makes an emotional attempt to convince the woman, who is visiting the Kokernag home of her Pandit family more than 20 years after it had bid it farewell.

“This is your money. Whatever I am today is because of what your folks did for me. We were like one big family, we all lived together like one,” Wagay’s voice quivers as he shoves a few crumpled notes into Sweeti’s folded palms. He breaks down when she finally gives in.

Wife of journalist Rajesh Raina, Sweeti listens patiently as Wagay recounts stories from the days the two families were neighbours.

“Our doors are open for you,” he says. “You even have a stake on our blood,” he adds, offering to share his house with Sweeti’s family.

This is not just an encounter between erstwhile neighbours but also a poignant reunion of two communities that had lived in peace and harmony before divisive politics and insurgency hijacked their lives in the ’90s. Threatened with violence, close to two lakh Kashmiri Pandits fled the Valley on the night of January 19, 1990. Their homes were ransacked and torched. Across towns, these charred buildings are grim reminders of the horror the community suffered at the hands of radicals and separatists.

Despite scars that run deep, several Kashmiri Pandits still believe in the resilience of Kashmiriyat — a term that symbolises the inherent secularism of Kashmir. A witness to the moving scene between Wagay and his wife Sweeti, Rajesh says,

“This is Kashmiriyat. We will live together again.”

The Rainas, like the thousands of other displaced Pandit families, haven’t stopped dreaming of the place they once called home. The issue of the Pandits’ return grabbed headlines last month when Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, in response to Governor NN Vohra’s address in the Assembly, promised to bring them back to the Valley. This statement came soon after the Mufti government, under pressure from the Centre, identified land for building colonies for members of the Pandit community.

But are Kashmiri Pandits willing to return and live in separate settlements?

Sarla Devi (name changed, 56) lives in a colony for Kashmiri Pandits at Vessu, south Kashmir. She and her three children returned to the state in 2010, after the then prime minister Manmohan Singh announced a special package for those willing to relocate. Devi’s eldest son is the family’s sole breadwinner. Six years after their return to Kashmir, Devi questions the emotional choice she made. “We are separated from the rest of the population; it’s like living in jails,” she says. Her tirade against the militants who forced the exodus is ceaseless. “I had a two-storey pucca house in Mattan, also in south Kashmir. And then one dreaded night, sensing trouble, the entire family, along with scores of relatives, decided to leave in a hurry …we managed to pack our belongings in the shortest possible time and left for Jammu.” She reacts angrily to the news of the government’s decision to build more colonies for Pandits.

“We live under poor conditions. Two to three families share a space meant for one. I’d advise people to not return until the government betters the conditions of those who already have.”

Before disappearing into the damp, ill-ventilated room she calls her kitchen, to prepare tea for us, Devi recalls her husband, who had died in a refugee camp in Jammu. “His desire to return to his roots died with him. But it’s better that he didn’t live to see this house we’ve been allotted,” she says.

Housing nearly 1,500 people belonging to 416 families, the Vessu Kashmiri Pandit colony stands on National Highway 1, which connects Kashmir to the rest of India. According to local residents, the camp has only 216 pre-fabricated quarters, with 36 more under construction for the past three years.

“Our living conditions are dismal. It’s a grave violation of human rights,” says Sanjay Kaul, president of the colony.

“We are living like cattle. We don’t have privacy.” Kaul adds that even Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, the recently deceased former chief minister, had been shocked at the conditions in the Vessu camps during a visit last year. “He immediately ordered the construction of more quarters, but no action was taken thereafter.”

Kaul was in Std VII when his family — settled in Luk Bawan, just six kilometres from the Anantnag district headquarters — fled the Valley in 1990. “We moved to Jammu overnight. I was too young to comprehend why we were leaving a comfortable home for a dirty tent in a refugee settlement. But I remember the journey to Jammu. It was difficult, especially for the old and the children. My cousins and I were huddled into the boot of a car and asked to remain quiet.” Kaul, too, returned to Kashmir under the rehabilitation package. “Today we are living under constant vigil. No one can enter the colony without being frisked and questioned at the main gate… Under these circumstances, even the locals avoid us,” he says.

He, too, has a word of caution for Kashmiri Pandits planning to return today. “I want to tell the Pandit community not to come here until the government takes proper measures to settle us. Living in guarded cages is far worse than being away from homeland.”

Same story, another day

Kaul’s story is echoed by many Pandit families in both Kashmir and New Delhi.

Satish Bhat, 46, lives in Kashmir Apartments in Delhi’s Pitampura area. With 80 flats, the residential complex that was built to safeguard Kashmiri culture in Delhi is now a symbol of unity among the migrants from the community.

A smile appears on Bhat’s face as he recalls his boyhood in Budgam district. “I would invite myself to my Muslim friend’s house for meals. Families celebrated Diwali and Eid together. Everything was just fine until those dark days arrived.” Blaming the National Conference and Congress parties for the turmoil in the Valley, Bhat questions why the parties remained as mute spectators when the Pandits were being herded out. “Where were they? What were they doing? Why didn’t they stop us from leaving,” he asks.

Unlike many among his current neighbours, Bhat didn’t snap ties with his Muslim friends in Kashmir. “In 2006, when I visited the Valley, hundreds of people gathered around me in my hometown. Each of them felt my loss. They hugged me and cried,” he says.

“It is wrong to blame the Muslims for what happened to us. Since the exodus, lakhs of Muslims have been killed. Did anyone care about that,” he asks.

He then narrates the story behind his family’s decision to leave Kashmir. In February 1990, a few unknown people had hoisted a Jammu & Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) flag near the Bhat residence. The flag remained there for three days until a white one replaced it. Its appearance, too, was equally mysterious.

“The disappearance of the JKLF flag started to worry us because my brother was blamed for bringing it down. People told us that my brother was on the hit-list of the militants, and that we should migrate,” Bhat reminisces. A month later, the family left for good. Bhat dismisses Mehbooba’s claims of wooing the Pandits back to Kashmir. “They failed to protect us when we were living there, how can they protect us now? Instead of asking Pandits to return, the government should help us find our feet in other states,” he adds.

“Kashmir is a distant dream now. My children are studying in Delhi. I cannot ask them to return to a place they’ve only heard of; they don’t understand Kashmiri culture, so it is better they live in Delhi,” he says.

Fool’s paradise?

Veena Bhat is another resident of Kashmir Apartments in Delhi. A former resident of Hari Singh High Street — an upscale address in Srinagar — she is unforgiving of the ‘role’ Kashmiri Muslims played in the exodus of the Pandits. “We had a flourishing wholesale business in Kashmir, with hundreds of clients across the state. We were forced, harassed into leaving the Valley. When we resisted, we were threatened with guns,” she says angrily. Asked if she would like to return to Kashmir, she replies,

“Who will protect my children? Where were all the good Muslims when we were bombarded with threats over loudspeakers — that we should leave or face the music? If the locals had helped we would have been spared the ordeal.”

Her husband, Subhash, echoes their neighbour Satish Bhat’s misgivings about plans to build new homes for Pandits in Kashmir. “It’s too late for all this. They should think of what they can do for us in other states.” He believes that a party with overt sympathies for separatists cannot be trusted to execute a fair rehabilitation programme.

“We won’t live peacefully with Muslims, we will have fights. They should have created a sense of security back then… nothing can happen now. It is foolish to even entertain such ideas,” he says.

Most people in Kashmir are of the opinion that Pandits should return to the Valley, but are not in favour of separate settlements for them. Faced with stiff resistance from separatist elements within her own party as well as other political groups, Mehbooba faces the uphill task of creating a conducive environment for the smooth execution of her plan.

Back in Kokernag, Rajesh Raina is optimistic that his homeland will once again become a symbol of communal harmony.

“I shot this video clip today at Kokernag, the native place of my wife. Ek pehloo yeh bhi hai Kashmir ki tasveer ki (This is one of the many facets of Kashmir),” he posted on his Facebook wall, sharing moments from Sweeti’s reunion with her former neighbour.

(The story was first published in Hindu Business Line on June 10, 2016 |

Jumpei Yasuda: Captured Japanese Journalist Pleads For Help

The Japanese government said on Monday that it was doing all it could to secure the release of a Freelance journalist, Jumpei Yasuda, being held hostage by an Al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, Reuters reported.

The statement from govt came after a photograph, apparently uploaded on internet, showed a man with long beard and dressed in orange suite holding a placard written in Japanese. “Please help me. This is my last chance,” said the sign, written in shaky characters and signed “Jumpei Yasuda.”

Jumpei Yasuda, a Japanese freelance journalist came to attention in March, when a video surfaced him reading message for his country and family. According to media reports, Yasuda was captured by a group called Nusra front in Syria.

While quoting Japan’s Chief Cabinet spokesman Yoshihide Suga, Reuters reported that the government was analyzing the new photo and believed it was Yasuda.

“Since preserving the safety of Japanese citizens is our most important duty, we are making use of a broad net of information and doing everything we can to respond,” Suga told a news conference.

Earlier in 2015, the Islamic State terrorists beheaded two Japanese nationals – a self-styled security consultant and a veteran war reporter Kejni Goto. The gruesome executions captured the attention of Japan but the government said at the time it would not negotiate with the militants for their release.

Meanwhile Japan’s Kyodo news agency quoted an unnamed source claiming to be a mediator for the Nusra Front reported that Yasuda would be passed to Islamic State if the government did not negotiate.

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