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Indian women beyond borders – a formidable force in world politics

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Indian women beyond borders – a formidable force in world politics

New Delhi, March 8 (IANS) Women serve as heads of state and government in only 31 countries with less than one in four serving as cabinet ministers, and just 26.5 per cent of them as MPs in a 21st-century world that speaks of gender equality.

Despite the not-so-impressive numbers, based on a 2023 UN study, women across the world have been emerging as a formidable force in political fora that has long been overpowered by men.

While in India, Ministers Nirmala Sitharaman, Smriti Irani, and many of their colleagues in the PM Narendra Modi government put in assiduous work to make governance more responsive to women’s interests and needs, their fellow Indian women beyond borders are not far behind.

In the US, Vice President Kamala Devi Harris — born to a Jamaican father and an Indian mother — is President Joe Biden’s running mate in this year’s crucial election and could well script history by becoming America’s first woman President, as well as the first of Indian descent.

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Till two days back, two-time former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley — born Nimrata Nikki Randhawa to Punjabi Sikh parents — was the last woman standing against Republican frontrunner Donald Trump in the 2024 race to the White House. She was also the US Ambassador to the UN under then-President Trump.

Chennai-born Pramila Jayapal is among the five Indian-American lawmakers in the US Congress and represents the 7th Congressional District of Washington. Last year, her sister Susheela Jayapal, launched her congressional bid from the state of Oregon.

Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar, the first Hindu American elected to New York State Office, won the Diwali school holiday in just one legislative session, winning the hearts of the South Asian community in the state.

Last year, Andhra Pradesh-born Aruna Miller scripted history by becoming the first Indian-American politician to be sworn in as the Lieutenant Governor in the state of Maryland.

In Australia, Labour MP Zaneta Mascarenhas became the first person of Goan origin to be elected to the country’s lower house of representatives in 2022 from Swan.

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In Australia’s closest neighbour to the east, Priyanca Radhakrishnan became the first person of Indian roots to be named minister for Diversity, Inclusion and Ethnic Communities in New Zealand.

Her great-grandfather, Dr C.R. Krishna Pillai, had reportedly been a left-wing leader with the Communist Party and played a key role in Kerala politics.

In January 2021, Radhakrishnan, who is a Labour MP right now, was conferred a Pravasi Bharatiya Samman award for public service.

Indo-Canadian Anita Anand, promoted as the President of the Treasury Board in a last year Cabinet reshuffle, was the former Defence Minister of Canada and also served as the Minister of Public Services and Procurement in the past.

Born in 1967 in Nova Scotia to a Punjabi mother and a Tamil father, both physicians, Anita — having worked as a scholar, lawyer and researcher — was first elected as the MP for Oakville in 2019.

Reacting to Justin Trudeau’s allegations of an Indian hand in the murder of Khalistani activist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, Anita said it was a “very difficult time” to hear the Prime Minister make the remarks, especially for families who come from India.

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“I am thinking about my parents, for example, and I think that sentiment is shared by South Asians and families who come from India, regardless of religion,” Anita said, adding that it is “time to let the legal process continue as it must.”

Born to Sikh parents from India, Jyoti Gondek was sworn in as the 37th mayor of Calgary, a city in Canada’s Alberta province, becoming the first woman to be elected to the role in 2021.

In the island nation of Singapore, Indranee Rajah — born to a Tamil father and a Chinese Singaporean mother, entered politics in 2001 and was appointed a minister in the Prime Minister’s office in 2018. She has been serving as Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and Second Minister for Finance since 2018 in the city-state.

–IANS

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Laos moves to enhance tour guides' skills to promote tourism

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Laos moves to enhance tour guides' skills to promote tourism

Laos moves to enhance tour guides' skills to promote tourism

Vientiane, July 23 (IANS) The Laos government has provided training courses for domestic tour guides to ensure they are sufficiently knowledgeable about the Southeast Asian nation’s history and culture, while boosting the number of guides amid surging visitor arrivals.

The training programme by the Lao Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism ran from May 6 to July 19, Lao National TV reported on Tuesday.

More than 80 participants attended the upskilling courses for them to meet the professional standards of tour guides through competency-based trainings covering knowledge, skills and attitude.

The courses were also intended to ensure the tour guides are multilingual in providing tourists with services efficiently, knowledgably and courteously, Xinhua news agency reported.

The training programme has also served as an opportunity for creating a strong network for sharing experiences related to tour guide operations and other aspects of tourism.

–IANS

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UN envoy says Yemen rival parties agreed to de-escalate economic crisis

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UN envoy says Yemen rival parties agreed to de-escalate economic crisis

UN envoy says Yemen rival parties agreed to de-escalate economic crisis

Sanaa, July 23 (IANS) The Yemeni government and the Houthi group agreed to end the banking dispute and resume flights from Houthi-held capital Sanaa, in a deal mediated by Saudi Arabia, the UN envoy for Yemen said in a statement on Tuesday.

The Yemeni government and the Houthi group informed a day earlier the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, that they agreed to de-escalate on these matters, said the statement, adding Grundberg appreciated the Saudi facilitating role in the deal.

The two sides agreed on “canceling all the recent decisions and procedures against banks by both sides, resuming Yemenia Airways’ flights between Sanaa and Jordan and increasing the number of flights to three daily flights, and operating flights to Cairo and India daily or as needed,” it noted.

“Grundberg stressed the need for the parties to collaborate towards an economy that benefits all Yemenis and supports the implementation of a nationwide ceasefire and the resumption of an inclusive political process,” it added, Xinhua news agency reported.

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Houthi top negotiator Mohammed Abdulsalam confirmed the deal, considering it as a significant breakthrough, Houthi-run al-Masirah TV reported.

Last month, the Yemeni government withdrew its license and stopped operations of six banks in the Houthi-held Sanaa after they refused to relocate to Aden, Yemen’s temporary capital.

It also suspended flights from and to Sanaa airport after the Houthi group seized three passenger planes of Yemenia Airways, the natural carrier of Yemen, to press the government to increase the number of flights from Sanaa to Jordan.

Yemen has been mired in a civil war since late 2014, when the Houthis seized control of much of northern Yemen, forcing the internationally recognized government out of the capital Sanaa.

–IANS

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Estonia's new government takes office

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Estonia's new government takes office

Estonia's new government takes office

Tallinn, July 23 (IANS) The members of Estonia’s new government, led by Kristen Michal, took the oath of office in front of the parliament on Tuesday.

The oath started at 10 am local time (0700 GMT) with the cabinet members reading aloud and signing the oath, Xinhua news agency reported.

Estonian President Alar Karis approved the composition of the new government on Monday.

The new government was formed by the ruling coalition composed of the Reform Party, the Social Democratic Party and Eesti 200.

–IANS

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Sydney Airport records 6.4 per cent rise in passenger traffic

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Sydney Airport records 6.4 per cent rise in passenger traffic

Sydney Airport records 6.4 per cent rise in passenger traffic

Sydney, July 23 (IANS) Australia’s Sydney Airport has seen 9.7 million travelers passing through its terminals in the second quarter (Q2) of this year, representing a 6.4-per cent increase from the same period last year, but still falling short of its pre-Covid levels.

Released on Tuesday, the latest report suggested that 3.8 million passengers traveled through the international terminal in the second quarter, rising 12.1 per cent year-on-year and reaching a 94.3-percent recovery rate compared to Q2 2019.

Domestic and regional traffic rose 3 percent from the same period last year, with 6 million passengers coming through the domestic terminals. It also marked a 90.5-percent recovery rate on Q2 2019.

According to Sydney Airport Chief Executive Officer Scott Charlton, the seat capacity growth across the markets of Japan, South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam led to strong international passenger volumes.

“This was underpinned by increased frequencies including Thai Airways adding a second daily service to Bangkok, Jetstar putting on a new, three-weekly service to Osaka and VietJet Air adding a twice-weekly service to Hanoi,” he said, Xinhua news agency reported.

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As for the domestic front, Charlton touched upon “a lag relative to international” with higher airfares, a lack of capacity, and a downturn in discretionary business travel affecting demand.

Charlton revealed that the airport is focusing on the government’s implementation of the Harris Review Recommendations to optimize its reliability and passenger service.

“Airservices Australia had a ‘ground delay protocol’ in place due to weather on 41 out of 91 days during Q2. We know that on each day we are on ground delay, we see on average a 21-percent increase in cancellations. Over time, that adds up to a lot of canceled flights that could have potentially been avoided with a recovery mechanism,” said Charlton.

“Last Friday’s global technology outage is another good example. It took some airlines a number of days to recover their schedules, and perhaps the impact wouldn’t have been as severe with a recovery mechanism, which is why we are looking forward to working with the government to implement it as soon as possible,” he added.

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–IANS

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Kamala Harris secures majority of delegates, Trump campaign targets her on 'border invasion'

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Kamala Harris secures majority of delegates, Trump campaign targets her on 'border invasion'

Kamala Harris secures majority of delegates, Trump campaign targets her on 'border invasion'

Washington, July 23 (IANS) US Vice-President Kamala Harris has secured the support of the majority of Democratic delegates who will formally elect her as the party’s nominee for president at the convention in August as the Trump campaign prepared to hold her responsible for the “border invasion” and J.D. Vance slammed the Democratic party ticket switch as a threat to democracy in his first solo speech as the Republican nominee for Vice-President.

Harris surpassed the mark of 1,976 delegates needed to win the nomination reflecting the overwhelming support she is getting from the Democratic party, which is rapidly coalescing around her candidacy from the level of leaders down to the rank and file members.

She has no challengers so far.

The party plans to lock up the process through virtual polling before the start of the convention on August 19.

“When I announced my campaign for President, I said I intended to go out and earn this nomination,” Harris said in a statement late Monday.

“Tonight, I am proud to have secured the broad support needed to become our party’s nominee, and as a daughter of California, I am proud that my home state’s delegation helped put our campaign over the top. I look forward to formally accepting the nomination soon.”

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She added: “Over the next few months, I will be travelling across the country talking to Americans about everything that is on the line. I fully intend to unite our party, unite our nation, and defeat Donald Trump in November.”

Although the presidential election takes place on November 4, early polling is scheduled to start in September, just a few weeks after the four-day Democratic convention closes in Chicago, Illinois on August 22. Democratic voters tend to vote early either through in-person voting at early booths or through mail and drop boxes. Republicans have historically voted on election day, but that is changing.

The Democratic party has been galvanised by Harris’ elevation to the top of the ticket and the cloud of doom that hung over the party since Biden’s disastrous performance in the first presidential debate against former President Donald Trump had lifted, giving way to new energy. Donations are pouring in with the Harris campaign reporting raising an unprecedented $81 million in the first 24 hours since Harris became the nominee.

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Harris’s ascendancy has been watched closely by the Trump campaign, which would have preferred a weakened Biden. In a memo to campaign staff, Chris LaCivita and Susie Wiles, who are running the Trump campaign, said: “Just as Donald Trump fired Joe Biden, he will demonstrate to the world he can fire Dangerously liberal Kamala as well.”

The campaign will tie her to the Biden administration’s failures, chiefly the surge of undocumented migrants coming through the southern border.

“Border Czar Kamala Harris owns the border invasion, which has resulted in nearly 100 terrorists roaming the United States, hundreds of thousands of American dead due to Fentanyl, a child trafficking epidemic resulting in killings and kidnappings, a spread of a new type of crime, a crime directly linked to Harris’ own beliefs, and backed by her actions, released migrants who prey and kill innocent Americans,” LaCivita and Wiles said in the memo.

Vance, the Vice-President candidate, made his solo debut at an election rally in home state Ohio. “Now history will remember Joe Biden as not just a quitter, which he is, but one of the worst Presidents of the United States of America,” he said, adding, “But my friends, Kamala Harris is a million times worse and everybody knows it.”

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He also accused Harris of hiding from public Biden’s health, a claim first advanced by Trump. Vance also slammed the Democratic party for switching its nominee for president midstream. “That is not how it works. That is a threat to democracy, not the Republican Party, which is fighting for democracy every single day,” Vance said from the auditorium of his high school in his hometown Middletown, Ohio.

“This is not OK.”

–IANS

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