Nepal earthquake: How India and China vie for infl uence
India and China’s quick response to the Nepal earthquake is another example of the two Asian giants’ jostle for influence in the Himalayan state. India lost no time in sending aircraft to Kathmandu carrying disaster response forces, medical teams, food, medicines and rescue equipment. China promptly flew in rescue teams, sniffer dogs, medical equipment, tents, blankets and generators. Leaders of both the countries – Narendra Modi and Xi Jinping – were also quick to convey their condolences. “For many people of our country, Nepalis are our own people. Nepal’s ties with India run deep…,” Modi said.
Chinese President Xi Jinping offered the head of Taiwan’s ruling Nationalist Party “equal” talks to resolve their political differences but only if Taiwan accepts it is a part of China. While business ties between Taiwan and China have improved to their best level in six decades, there have been no talks on Taiwan’s political future.
Toyota said recently that it would build new factories in Mexico and China, ending a self-imposed expansion freeze and putting pressure on rivals. They would build a $1 billion plant with an annual capacity of 200,000 cars in central Mexico. In China, Toyota would spend about $440 million to add a new facility and a third line at its factory in Guangzhou.
Maruti Suzuki Ltd, India’s largest selling car maker, expects car sales to grow at a faster pace than the forecast of 5 to 6 per cent growth for the industry in the fiscal year that started on April 1, 2015. Maruti Suzuki, which accounts for one in every two cars sold in India, reported its best-ever annual sales in the year to end-March but is yet to see a strong recovery in the passenger car market. Sales growth in the 2014/2015 fiscal year was about 1.29 million passenger vehicles which was backed by new product launches, an expansion of its dealer network and discounts. Maruti Suzuki sold 1.29 million passenger vehicles in the fiscal year ended March 31, 2015.
Some 220 garment factories which did not have direct buyers have shut down in Bangladesh with the loss of up to 150,000 jobs after the collapse of Rana Plaza highlighted unsafe working conditions in the ready-to-wear industry, triggering a wave of factory inspections.
India is serious about hosting an Olympics but is not planning a late bid for the 2024 Summer Games. Boston, Hamburg and Rome have launched bids for the 2024 Games while Paris is expected to join them before the mid-September deadline. The host City will be selected in 2017.
Boys campaigning for girls’ education is not common in most parts of the world but in Rajasthan they are at the heart of a drive to get more girls into schools. India has reduced the number of children not attending school by more than 90 per cent and the target is to get all children into primary schools.
Sony Corp unveiled a new high-end Xperia handset featuring an aluminium frame and a 5.2-inch screen, showing it is still in the smartphone race even as it scales down its struggling mobile operations. Xperia Z4 would be available in Japan around the middle of the year. The handset would be available in four colours and was slightly thinner than the previous Z3. Sony is targeting the upper end of the market.
A group of India’s leading technology and Internet firms has pulled out of Internet. org, Facebook’s flagship effort to get billions more online, in a growing debate over free access and Internet neutrality in the country. Facebook partnered with Reliance Communications to launch Internet.org in India in February, making it the first country in Asia to get the app. Aimed at low-income rural users, the app offers free access to more than 30 pared-down web services, including job listings, healthcare and education sites as well as Facebook’s own social network.
Google Inc announced a free extension for its Chrome web browser that better protects Google accounts against online attackers trying to steal passwords and other personal information. The extension, called Password Alert, can be downloaded on Google Chrome and warns users before they enter account information on “phishing” pages or imitation sites designed to steal passwords and access personal information such as emails or online bank accounts. Millions of phishing emails are sent every day, Google said.
Gunmen attacked a school in Pakistan and killed a guard, raising fears of a repeat of a deadly school attack five months ago that toughened Pakistan’s resolve to fight terrorism. All teachers and children at the high school in the central town of Dera Ghazi Khan, 500 km southwest of Islamabad, were safe. Taliban militants killed 153 people, most of them children, at a high school in Peshawar on December 16, 2014.
Bangladesh hanged Islamist leader Muhammad Kamaruzzaman recently for war crimes committed during the 1971 War of Independence from Pakistan after the Supreme Court rejected his appeal against a death sentence imposed by a special tribunal for genocide and torture of civilians during the war. The EU, UN and rights groups urged Bangladesh not to impose the death penalty. Senior Jamaate- Islami official Abdul Quader Molla was hanged for war crimes in December 2013 after the Supreme Court overturned a life sentence imposed by the tribunal. Eight others have been sentenced to death for their actions in the 1971 War.
Iran’s president said that a framework for a nuclear deal was just the first step toward building a new relationship with the world, after Iranians greeted the announcement of the accord with celebrations in the streets. The tentative agreement, after eight days of talks between Iran and six world powers in Lausanne, Switzerland, clears the way for a settlement to allay Western fears that Iran could build an atomic bomb, with economic sanctions on Tehran being lifted in return. It marks the most significant step towards rapprochement between Washington and Tehran since the 1979 Iranian revolution, and could potentially end decades of international isolation, with far-reaching political consequences for the Middle East.