Chopper Deal: Jayant Sinha Says Investigators Have Ability To Find Money Trail

NEW DELHI: Amid controversy over alleged corruption in Rs. 3,600-crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal, Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha today said investigators have the ability to find the money trail and the government will pursue the matter for citizens’ benefit. “These are investigations that our agencies are undertaking and they are very capable,” Mr Sinha said in response to a question on how confident the government is in proving the money trail to Congress president Sonia Gandhi or if it is just a political aggression. “They (investigative agencies) have the ability to be able to track down and find out what the money trail is. Of course, we will pursue the matter for the benefit of citizens of the country, wherever the investigation, wherever the evidence may take us,” he said on the sidelines of the Enforcement Directorate Day in New Delhi. The ruling BJP has been making allegations of involvement of top leaders of the Congress in the chopper deal. The VVIP chopper deal relates to a 2010 decision of the UPA government to buy 12 helicopters from Italian manufacturer, Finmeccanica, a unit of AgustaWestland. CBI, in 2013, had registered a case in connection with alleged bribes paid by the firm to Indians to clinch the deal for 12 helicopters to ferry VVIPs, including the president and the prime minister. With regard to the Rs. 9,000-crore loan default case involving Vijay Mallya, Mr Sinha said these are commercial matters and banks are pursuing these cases. “It is obviously for them as well as investigative agencies that are pursuing cases against Mallya. We have a very robust as well as a very independent process both on the commercial side as well as on the investigative side,” he said. Asked if Mr Mallya would be deported to India for prosecution, Mr Sinha replied, “These are government to government matters that have to resolved taking into account laws of both the countries. We have made filing with respect to Mallya and we have to proceed as per the law.” Earlier this week, India asked the UK to deport Mr Mallya, whose Kingfisher Airlines has been accused of loan default, citing the revocation of his passport and a non-bailable warrant against him.

Jaitley releases vision document, says NDA will end bipolar politics in Kerala

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, APRIL 30: The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) will seek to end the self-seeking saga of bipolar politics in Kerala, according to Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. The game of oneupmanship played out during the past many decades by alternating Congress and Left governments in the state is to be blamed for its failures on various fronts, he said. Vision document Releasing the NDA’s vision document for the state ahead of the Assembly elections here today, Jaitley said the Congress and the Left are ‘natural partners’ in the regressive governance practiced here. The NDA seeks to offer the state a clear break from this disreputable past and present an effective and credible third alternative, he added. Historically, the state was rich and self-sufficient but its wealth was not evenly distributed because of the flawed economic model evolved by the Leftists, followed in letter and spirit by the Congress. A third and alternative development model has been conspicuous by its absence, Jaitley said. Total prohibition Meanwhile, the vision document promises to introduce total prohibition in the state in phases. Sales through outlets of the state beverages corporation will be restricted. A customer will not be allowed to take home more than 250 ml in a single transaction, the vision document specifies. It also lists a series of proposals aimed at tribal welfare and sustained growth not only in the agriculture sector and but also the overall economy. Some of these are a scholarship scheme for students, land for the landless, jobs for tribal youth, interest-free credit for farmers, and a Rs. 10,000-crore scheme for coastal area development. Resource conservation The document proposes a high-speed corridor between the north and south of the state which will cut down the travel time between Kasaragod and Thiruvananthapuram from 12 hours to just two hours. This project will be implemented in seven years. The document also lays stress on conservation of natural resources. It promises to bring out a white paper on the grave situation developing as a result of destruction of environment. It vows to plant five crore tree saplings over a period of five years.

Modi going to Varanasi on Sunday

VARANASI, APRIL 30: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit his Lok Sabha constituency Varanasi tomorrow where he will launch solar-powered boats for plying on river Ganga apart from distributing 1,000 e-rickshaws. The Prime Minister will arrive at the Babatpur airport from New Delhi by a special aircraft and will leave by helicopter for Ballia in eastern Uttar Pradesh to launch the Pradhanmantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY). PMUY scheme aims to provide free LPG connections to about five crore families living below poverty line across the country. From Ballia, the Prime Minister will fly back to Varanasi where will preside over a function to distribute 1,000 e-rickshaws to beneficiaries at Diesel Locomotive Works (DLW) ground. Modi will then visit “Jnana Pravaha”, a centre of cultural studies and research, in Samne Ghat area. The centre was founded in 1997 by city-borne philanthropist Bimla Poddar, who was conferred with Padma Shri last year. The Jnana Pravaha boasts of a museum with rare artefacts belonging to ancient and medieval ages, a library equipped with rare books and manuscripts and a handicraft atelier where artisans churn out exquisite specimens of brass, copper and Ashtadhatu (alloy comprising eight metals). The Prime Minister will thereafter head to the Assi Ghat on river Ganga, where he will launch 11 solar-powered “e-boats’’. Widespread use of motorboats, mostly powered by diesel, has been a cause for concern in view of the alarming pollution level in the holy river. The introduction of “e-boats” is being seen as a remedial measure. This will be the Prime Minister’s third tour of his parliamentary constituency since January this year.
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    Young Saudi Prince, 30, Is So Powerful He’s Called ‘Mr Everything’

    RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA: Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is second-in-line to the throne He’s in charge of Saudi’s economic policy & military as Defence Minister He also chairs a body overseeing state oil giant Saudi Aramco Saudi Arabia’s hard-charging Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman holds unusual power for a man of just 30, so much so that diplomats have nicknamed him “Mr Everything”. Set to announce Monday a major programme to restructure the kingdom’s oil-dependent economy, the son of King Salman has risen to among Saudi Arabia’s most influential figures since being named second-in-line to the throne last year. Prince Mohammed, seen as the standard-bearer for a new generation of Saudi royals, is in charge not only of the country’s economic policy but also the military as defence minister. The prince has amassed “extraordinary power and influence very quickly” since his father took the throne last year after the death of King Abdullah, said Frederic Wehrey of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington. “He’s clearly very bright, very intelligent, very on top of all his briefs” and has significant influence on the 80-year-old monarch, one Western diplomat said. Among his key positions is as chair of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs, set up last year to oversee the economy. Mohammed also chairs a body overseeing state oil giant Saudi Aramco. As defence minister the prince has spearheaded the kingdom’s military intervention in Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition 13 months ago launched air strikes against Iran-backed rebels in support of the embattled government. In a profile and interview released earlier this month, Bloomberg Businessweek said the prince works 16-hour days and draws inspiration from the writings of Winston Churchill and Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War”. It was the latest interview in which the prince has spoken at length about economic plans for the kingdom, where officials are traditionally tight-lipped. A law graduate from Riyadh’s King Saud University, the dark-bearded prince with a receding hairline is the father of two boys and two girls and — unlike other members of the royal family — has only married once. He told Bloomberg that although Islam allows for multiple marriages, modern life does not leave the time. While Mohammed has been careful not to challenge Saudi Arabia’s conservative traditions and powerful clerics, some in the country hope he will be a social reformer. Mohammed spent years working for his father when he was governor of Riyadh and from 2013 after Salman was named crown prince. “He has a reputation for being aggressive and ambitious,” Bruce Riedel, a former Central Intelligence Agency officer who directs the Brookings Intelligence Project in Washington, has said. His relationships with other members of the royal court are unclear and observers last year pointed to an emerging power struggle between Prince Mohammed and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, 56, the interior minister and first-in-line to the throne.

    Maldives jumps into Saudi lap to embrace radical Islam: India has reason to be concerned

    Maldives, the only South Asian country that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s outreach has not covered since he was elected in 2014, has its controversial president Abdulla Yameen visiting India on a two-day visit that began on Sunday. Given the size and population of the Maldives, his visit will not evoke any TV channel discussion or much newspaper coverage. His imprisonment and treatment of the first democratically-elected president Mohamed Nasheed has been one of the most prominent actions since he assumed power but, what Yameen has embarked on in the past two-and-a-half years should cause concern among security experts and those studying the spread and acceptance of Saudi-sponsored ultra-conservative Islam across South Asia. Spread over 90,000 square kilometres and 1,200 islands south of the Lakshadweep Islands, the Maldives has for centuries been on the trade route from East to West and vice versa. Considered a major tourist destination with its azure waters and silver sands, the Maldives gets more than a million tourists annually. Declared an Islamic country in 1997 by dictator Maumoon Abdul Gayoom who successfully managed to attract foreign tourists while keeping the local population insulated from “corrupting influences”. Islam was propagated and mosques built to counter growing liberal Opposition. Now his half-brother Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom has gone ahead in not just restricting but scuttling democratic voices, and in recent days closed down the islands’ only newspaper. Simultaneously he has got Saudi Arabia’s orthodox monarchy to finance, dictate and brainwash Muslims into believing and accepting an Islam that has been alien to them. Ironically, Yameen says Saudi Arabia will help with propagating “moderate” Islam! The Indian government has watched with serious reservation the manner in which Yameen has rolled out the red carpet for China and the treatment of Indian companies and existing investment like, in say the Male Airport project, which was struck off. While growing Chinese presence and Yameen’s open embrace of Beijing should cause alarm, it is the widening footprint of Saudi sponsored radical Islam in Maldives that needs investigation by security experts. With Islam as its official religion and strong laws in place against any attempt to challenge existing religious beliefs, the majority are now forced to follow an ‘Arabised’ version of Islam that Saudi Arabia professes as “true” Islam. In last two years the Saudi Arabian embassy has come up in Male, President Yameen has made three trip to the kingdom, and officially the two countries have signed agreements that would allow Riyadh to build mosques, send clerics and Imams to teach and train Maldivians “true” Islam, and spread ideas across the archipelago’s Muslims who follow less restrictive religious and social practices. Just the way Saudi money has helped indoctrinate millions across South Asia, including in India and across the world, a similar campaign has been unleashed with much zeal by the Saudi government across the Maldives. The recent suicide attacks in Brussels revealed how an innocuous decision by a Belgian government decades ago that laid out a red carpet for Saudi radicalism now threatens to consume that country and rest of Europe. Counter-terrorism is an area where India and Maldives have decided to join hands, and New Delhi expects to assist Yameen. In last few years Maldivian radicals have been found to be active in Kerala, which is the route for money and men passing through. In 2007, a radical Muslim arrested by Kerala police was said to be an accused in the Malé bomb blast. The historic connection between the Maldives and Kerala has now become an umbilical cord for the transmission of ultra-conservative Islam that threatens not just the Maldives, but Indian security as well. The growth in the number of mosques, adoption of headscarves and burqas by more women, and the free flow of Maldivians to Syria and Iraq to fight along with radical Islamic groups has become a visible sign of the path the island nation of 350,000 people has embarked on. Imagine in this background the government of President Yameen decides to embrace Saudi manufactured ultra-conservative Islam and supplant it amongst his people. Indian foreign secretary S Jaishankar played down the number of Islamic State recruits from the Maldives saying only 40 had joined the group. It is pertinent to note that Kerala has itself for decades been a hotbed of radical Islamic groups. The point of concern is that why should Maldives — a country that had and still retains a very “liberal” attitude to Islamic beliefs — should be officially pushed towards ideas that are alien to that society. Saudi notables ranging from then Crown Prince and now King Salman to Shura Council chief, Islamic Affairs Minister, official clerics and many other ministers have made a beeline to Malé in less than 24 months. In 2014, King Salman as Crown Prince pledged $1.2 million to build 10 mosques across the country and donated $1.5 million to the health sector and $1 million to the Islamic ministry’s Waqf fund. The Maldivian minister of Islamic affairs Ahmed Ziyad deputed to actively transform the country gave a strong indication of what the government had entered into when he said Saudi Arabia would help maintain “religious unity” and would not look away when the island nation faces “challenges” from western influence. Ziyad was quoted as having said, “Maldives and Saudi Arabia are 100 percent Muslim countries. We do not want any change to this percentage, and neither would the Maldives… Opening up to the world does not mean a change in a country’s essence”. Ziyad said Saudi Arabia would help the Maldives improve the collection of Zakat, an Islamic tax, publish books on Islam in English, expedite ongoing mosque projects and train Imams. Maldivian scholars will now have more opportunities to visit Saudi Arabia and learn from them, he added. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has just returned from Saudi Arabia where he was honoured and treated like a royal. Given that over 2.5 million Indians work in the Gulf kingdom and as the top exporter of crude oil to the country, India needs to be careful in dealing with the issue. However, Saudi financing of radicalism in India was and remains a major problem that needs to be tackled through identification and control of money flows and check on its end use. While India gears up to sign an agreement on counter-terrorism with the Maldives, it would be pertinent to start discussions on the threat posed to India by radical Saudi ideas, and initiate steps to break the Kerala link with Saudi-Maldives radicalism.
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    Baghdad: Car bomb kills 21, injures 42

    More than 40 civilians have been killed in recent high-profile bombings in Baghdad. A car-bombing on Saturday in southeastern Baghdad killed at least 21 people wounded at least 42 others, according to police and hospital officials.The attack targeted Shiite pilgrims walking to Baghdad’s holy Kadhimiyah shrine, according to local police officials at the scene. But other Iraqi security officials say the attack targeted an open-air market. The two differing accounts could not be immediately reconciled. The officials all spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorised to speak to the press.Thousands of Shiite pilgrims from across Iraq are expected to travel on foot to the shrine of eighth century Imam Moussa al-Kadhim over the coming days to commemorate the anniversary of his death. While there was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, the Islamic State group has claimed similar attacks targeting Shiite pilgrims and civilians in Baghdad’s Shiite neighbourhoods. Islamic State (ISIS) views Shiites as apostates deserving of death. The attacks come amid a political crisis in Iraq as the country’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is under increasing public pressure after repeated failed attempts at political reform to combat corruption and waste. While ISIS still controls large swaths of Iraq’s west and north, the group has suffered a series of territorial losses over the past year. In the face of those losses, analysts and Iraqi security officials say the extremist group is increasingly turning to insurgent-style attacks in Baghdad and other areas far from the frontline fighting. More than 40 civilians have been killed in high-profile bombings in Baghdad over the past month. On March 25 an ISIS-claimed suicide bombing attack on a stadium killed 29 and wounded 60.

    Vanuatu tsunami threat cancelled after 7.3 strong quake hits islands

    A major earthquake hit the Pacific nation of Vanuatu early on Friday, briefly prompting a tsunami warning that was cancelled after locals reported no significant damage. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) said the 7.0-magnitude quake — originally reported as 7.3, struck at a relatively shallow depth of 35 kilometres, some 209 kilometres from the capital Port Vila. The National Tsunami Warning Centre (NTWC) initially warned the quake, which hit at 1933 GMT, could generate waves of up to three metres on parts of the Vanuatu coast. Within two hours it had cancelled the alert, saying “there is no longer a tsunami threat from this earthquake”.Port Vila journalist Moses Stevens said he was not aware of any damage in the capital, while tourist resort manager Dave Cross said it was felt strongly on the island of Espiritu Santo. “We really felt the shake because it was so shallow, but all we lost was a vase and some flowers,” he told AFP. “I’m told there was a small wave, but that was the extent of it.” He added: “Earthquakes are just part of life here.” Vanuatu is part of the “Ring of Fire”, a zone of tectonic activity around the Pacific that is subject to frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. A series of tremors have been recorded in the region this month, including a 6.9 magnitude one, also close to Espiritu Santo island. No damage was reported from any of them.
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    Young Stars Jeddah lifts Karnataka Noble Trophy Season 2

    Young Stars Jeddah lifts Karnataka Noble Trophy Season 2 - Apr 18 2016

    JEDDAH — KNT SEASON 2, the Knockout Series Cricket Tournament jointly organized by Jamiyyatul Falah Jeddah & KNRI Forum Jeddah had concluded with the last ball of trilling Final match where Young Stars Jeddah has beaten Target Lothers and claim the title of KNT Season 2 Trophy. Enjoying the full season of two weeks in Sharbatly Ground the cricket fans witnessed the great play of cricket in between 16 well known teams from Jeddah. 8 teams have entered quarter finals and the first semifinal was played in between Masters XI & Target Lothers and Second Semifinals was played in between Young Stars & Barik ATS. The Finalists were Target Lothers & Young Stars. The impressive event of Final Presentation ceremony was honored by the chief guest Mr. Sayed Masood Ahmed – Principal of International Indian School Jeddah who also enjoyed the full innings of final match, presented the Title Trophy to Young Stars Jeddah Cricket Team and Runner Up Trophy to Target Lothers. Addressing the gathering Mr. Masood remembers his college life and congratulated all the teams who play cricket matches in this blessed land for the Noble Cause. He also emphasized the awareness and the responsibility of well to do peoples towards the social welfare of deserving needy and appreciated both the respective Organizations for their objectives and the achievements on Noble Cause. The Man of the Final Match Sponsored by Al Saggaf Eye Clinic was presented to Mr . Aftab from Young Stars for his amazing bowling figures of 2 overs-1 Maiden -3 Runs – 3 Wickets The Man of the Series Sponsored by Intermodal Services of SA was presented to Mr. Safayar from Target Lothers for his outstanding all round performance in the tournament with total score of 91 runs and had taken 9 wickets The Best Bowler award Sponsored by IOE Freight Forwarders was presented to Mr. Safayar from Target Lothers for his excellent bowling figure of 9 wickets against 18 runs in the tournament. The Best Batsman award Sponsored by Majdi Foods & Marketing Co was presented to Mr. Amer Siddiqui from Young Stars for his total score of 99 runs in the tournament. Mr. Iqbal Mirza, President of Jamiyyatul Falah Jeddah delivered welcome address while Mr. Roshan Rodrigues, President of KNRI Forum delivered Key Note Address on the occasion. Both the presidents honored jointly the chief Guest Mr. Syed Masood Ahmed by presenting the memento. The event was commenced with the recitation of Holy Quran by Mr. Shaikh Saoud from Jamiyyatul Falah Jeddah. Mr. Sabu Chandran from KNRI Forum had anchored the program who leads the honoring of all the sponsors and well-wishers by presenting the memento for their generous support. The guests and audients were also enjoyed the event by winning dozens of amazing prizes on Raffle Draw which had DSLR Camera, LED TV, Tab, Mobile Phones, Home Appliances and many more gifts. The Vote of Thanks was presented by Mr. Shaikh Saoud. On behalf of KNT he expressed deep sense of appreciation and thanks to all the members of the both the organizations for their dedicated and excellent team work to organize this tournament; he thanked Mr. Syed Masood Ahmed – Principal Indian International School Jeddah for gracing the event as Chief Guest. He also thanked all the sponsors for their generous contribution to the tournament as below: Al Saggaf Eye Clinic, Intermodal Services of SA, IOE Freight Forwarders, Majdi Foods & Marketing Co, RF Developers, Al Esayi Aviation, EFS Cargo & Logistics, Imas- Innovative Media Access Solutions, Intermodal Medical Services, AB Industrial Supplies, Hakami Computers, Premier Food Corp, Team Work Freight Forwarders, Village Restaurant , Lafi Est., SSQ Industrial Support Services, Al Ayon Est , Bariz Global Co, Global Key Est, Master Trading & Contracting, Al Salam Al Alami Est – Unitel, Al Zuoman General Trading Co, AEG Al Eshrath Gold Est for Transports, C System. Our Well Wishers : Mr. Vishwanath Karkera, Mr. Arshad Parker, Mr. Mohammed Iqbal and Mr. Qamar Sada. Mr. H. V. Hegde of Intermodal Services of SA, Mohammed Mansoor – NRCC Ameer Jamiyyatul Falah , Mr. Sharif Mashaly from Al Saggaf Clinic, Mr. Mohammed Mushtaq from IOE Freight Forwarders, Mr. Abdul Khader Kudrolli from AB Industrial Supplies were among the prominent supporters attended the event.
    Telugu Association of Jeddah (TAJ) Celebrated Telugu New Year Day in Jeddah

    Telugu Association of Jeddah (TAJ) Celebrated Telugu New Year Day in Jeddah - Apr 18 2016

    TAJ President Mastan Shaikh & TAJ office bearers with Chief Guest & Gest of honors Syed Masood Ahmed, Aijaz Ahmed Khan & Mohiuddin Siraj. Jeddah: The Telugu Association of Jeddah (TAJ) celebrated Telugu New Year Day at Indian Consulate premises in Jeddah on Friday 15th April 2016 with a cultural program compiled by TAJ “Kaladarshini” division secretary depicting the cultural value of Telugu speaking community. A large Telugu speaking community turned up from different cities of the Western Region of Saudi Arabia and there were prominent personalities from the Indian Community were present in this unique kind of program so far organized by the Telugu speaking Indian community. Syed Masood Ahmed, Principal of International Indian School Jeddah (IISJ) was the chief guest of the occasion,Aijaz Ahmed Khan President India Forum& a famous social activist was the guest of honour along with Mohideen Sirajudeen of Jeddah Tamil Sangam. TAJ family members & a wide range of Telugu speaking people from Jeddah and nearby cities like Rabigh, Yanbu, Makkah and Al Leith participated in the event with great enthusiasm. Moreover distinguished personalities from Indian community associations were also special invitees of the program. This is for the first time such a big gathering of Telugu speaking people took place in the history of Jeddah. Programs depicted the flavor of Telugu tradition and culture with blend of secularism and national integrity as main themes. The classical, folk and Tollywood dance numbers presented by the young buds were conceptually new with their unique dancing skills, message oriented skits were performed which were widely appreciated by the audience for their quality and message they sent out. Mastan Shaikh, founder President of TAJ, briefed the activities of TAJ in a wonderful “Taj Journey” presentation. TAJ “Welfare” and “Telugu Badi” (Telugu School) division services to the community were highlighted by their respective secretaries. Chief Guest Syed Masood Ahmed appreciated TAJ office bearers for organizing such a great show for the members of their organization&Aijaz Ahmed Khan the guest of honors appreciated the efforts done by TAJ for the social causes, he said TAJ & Tamil Sangam is always in the forefront of all the Indian causes when required their services they are at the top to give their voluntary services and he motivated the TAJ members by his inspirational message, Mohideen Sirajudeen offered his services to TAJ and praise the active role played by TAJ President Mastan Shaikh and his core group all praise for secular aspect of program was highlighted as unique experience by the TAJ group said Mohideen Sirajudeen. All the representatives of the sponsors and guests were honored by TAJ office bearers with a plaque of appreciation for participating and supporting this Telugu New Year Day Celebrations by the Telugu Association of Jeddah-(TAJ), the program came to an end with the vote of thanks and it is followed by the traditional Telugu dinner.
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    Saudi Arabia, India sign historic accord on security and economic ties

    Saudi Arabia, India sign historic accord on security and economic ties

    Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman decorates Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with King Abdulaziz Sash in Riyadh on Sunday. — SPA photo – By: Syed Ziaur Rahman, Saudi Arabia and India will strengthen their bilateral ties in the fields of security, investment and healthcare as part of a new thrust across the socio-economic spectrum. The landmark accord was sealed after Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi held talks in Riyadh on diversifying relations between the two major powers of the Arabian Gulf and South Asia. The high level talks between the Heads of State of the two countries took place almost six years following the visit of then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Riyadh on 27 February, 2010. During his current visit to the Saudi capital Prime Minister Narendra Modi strengthened the strategic partnership between the two countries established in 2010 within the framework of the Riyadh Declaration that envisions a deeper engagement in political, economic, security and defence areas. Earlier, King Salman stressed the importance of continued cooperation between Saudi Arabia and India in the economic sector as well as in the field of counter-terrorism. While paying tribute to King Salman on his various initiatives in regional and international levels, Prime Minister Modi said, “New Delhi is keen to enhance relations with Riyadh in the fields of security, defense, and investment.” They also dwelt on the issue of money laundering. The Monetary Investigation Unit (MIU) in the Ministry of Interior received 3,919 cases of money-laundering in the past two years, besides 419 notifications about financing terrorism. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was on a three-nation tour, earlier met Saudi women IT professionals at the first-of-its-kind all-women Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) training center in Riyadh. He invited them to visit India. “For the world it is considered to be the main headline news that in Riyadh today I am meeting those IT professionals who, I can say, today represent the glory of Saudi Arabia,” Modi said while interacting with the TCS women professionals. At the TCS Center, 1,000 women work in BPO Operations, 85 per cent of whom are Saudi nationals. TCS set up the first all-women Business Process Services (BPS) unit in Riyadh in 2013. The center brings a unique business model to Saudi Arabia and serves as a fertile training ground for building new capabilities, skills and careers for women in the country. In his address at the Council of Saudi Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Saudi and Indian delegations discussed ways of diversifying their trade relations. Saudi Arabia is India’s largest crude oil supplier accounting for about one-fifth of the country’s total imports. The Kingdom is India’s fourth largest trading partner with bilateral trade reaching $ 40 billion in 2014-15. Golden future Modi concluded his speech by saying “India and Saudi Arabia are old friends, but we are ready to take bold new steps into a golden future.” He said he was only the fourth Indian PM to visit Saudi Arabia. “But we have a centuries old relationship. India and Saudi Arabia should look at working together for building a dynamic global management sector for the cyber world, “Modi observed. From Petroleum to renewable energy, infrastructure, defence and agriculture, there was an immense scope for expanding their cooperation, the Prime Minister said, while spelling out policy changes in India: “My Govt will continue to work towards establishment of a predictable long-term taxation regime. Let us move beyond merely the export-import relationship. Joint investment, tech transfers are areas that we should explore,” he said, pointing out that Indian nurses, present in large numbers in the Gulf, “are a testament to our well trained manpower.” On the healthcare front, the Indian Premier pointed out that India’s health sector, which is globally cost competitive, can emerge as a bright spot in health tourism. He also referred to India’s strength in terms of its skilled youth, Information Technology and SMEs (small and medium enterprises) while addressing businessmen at the Council of Saudi Chambers in Riyadh. “Although it has been less than two years since I came to power, we have taken several policy initiatives to spur growth and progress,” he said, pointing out that “in a sector driven by technology changes, India’s low cost technology devices have gained global reputation.” Indians constitute the largest expatriate community in Saudi Arabia whose contribution to the Indian economy in terms of remittances are well recognized. There are over 2.96 million Indians currently working in Saudi Arabia. –
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