Japan assistance for Southern Africa

first_imgJapanese finance and expertise have rehabilitated the power station in the Sierra Leone capital of Freetown. Jica experts discuss rice production with local Mozambican farmers.(Images: Jica / R Wilkinson) ) The Jica study team was on hand to explain the results of their findings.(Image: Janine Erasmus) MEDIA CONTACTS • Jacky Mashapu  Communications manager, DBSA  +27 11 313 3069 or +27 71 670 3768 RELATED ARTICLES • Japan hails SA space tech successes • Eye in the sky benefits society • Talks to launch African trade bloc • Grand opening for port of Nqura • Uganda leads rice researchJanine ErasmusThe Japan International Co-operation Agency (Jica) has released the draft results of a study conducted to find ways of boosting economic development in Southern Africa, particularly along eight economic corridors selected for priority attention.The preliminary findings were released in February 2013 at the Development Bank of Southern Africa in Midrand – the bank assisted with the study. Representatives from local government and officials from other African countries, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, among others, were in attendance.Because the results were still in draft format, comments and suggestions from attendees were welcomed for inclusion into the final version, the release date for which has not yet been made known.The agency started the study in July 2012, following a similar exercise conducted in 2010. However, the 2012 study provides more specific objectives than the 2010 study, according to Jica, and is a response to the need to reduce poverty and economic disparities within the region, and to intensify economic and industrial development and job creation.The earlier study suggested three growth scenarios – one based on mineral resources development, one through intra-regional trade, and the third by diversifying industry through global trade. These scenarios, said representatives from Jica’s Pretoria office, were too broad to qualify for future developmental assistance, the provision of which is one of the agency’s core functions.In 2012, potential development along the eight corridors, as proposed by Jica, is based on more specific development scenarios tailored for each corridor, but also on overall scenarios that cover multiple countries and give a perspective on the entire Southern African region.These scenarios form the basis of potential Jica assistance with regional infrastructure and economic and industrial development.Regional integration is already happening through bodies such as SADC and SACU. Many countries have national development plans in place, said Jica, which give detailed steps for development going forward, so the Jica report is a suggested strategy more than a plan and as such, does not aim to clash with national development priorities.With this in mind, it is up to authorities and businesses in the countries themselves to initiate the co-operation process, assess the study to determine how they can best use the suggestions or incorporate them into existing plans, and contact Jica for assistance.Potential for growth in Southern AfricaThe 2010 study focused heavily on the transport sector. Out of 18 economic corridors – trade routes that arise between land-locked countries and their nearest ports – assessed in 2010 in the Southern and Central African regions, eight were identified as needing special attention, because their development could mean a boom for the region. They are:the Maputo corridor running between Maputo in Mozambique and South Africa’s Gauteng, Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces;the Nacala corridor, running between Nacala in Mozambique and Lilongwe in Malawi;the Beira corridor, which links Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia;the Lobito corridor between Angola and Zambia;the Trans-Caprivi corridor, crossing Namibia between Walvis Bay and the Copperbelt in Zambia;the Trans-Kalahari corridor, between Walvis Bay and Gaborone in Botswana;the North-South corridor which involves nine countries and extends from Durban in South Africa to Lubumbashi in the Democratic Republic of Congo;and the Dar es Salaam corridor running between Tanzania’s capital city and Ndola in Zambia.These are all multi-modal routes – that is, they combine road, railway and port facilities to transport goods and if functioning efficiently, will make it easier to get goods to markets. However, the condition of the facilities for the most part is not ideal. If the region is to reach the level of economic activity that Jica suggests is possible, then railways and roads need rehabilitation and upgrading, and ports must be expanded or built from scratch.The most recent study uses an innovative approach of deciding on a favourable outcome after 20 years, and working backwards to decide what would have had to happen years ago to achieve that desired outcome. This differs from conventional methods of extrapolating from the past to decide on a vision for the future.Jica envisions a highly developed regional mining and manufacturing sector and supporting industries in 20 years, with all countries in the region exporting to regional and global markets.Examples suggested by Jica include production at Mozambique’s Mozal aluminium smelter, with the products shipped out through the Maputo corridor; the development of heavy chemical industries in Mozambique and Tanzania with shipping through the Nacala and Dar es Salaam corridors, and increased copper, iron and steel production in Zambia, using the Nacala and North-South corridors to transport the goods to market.Heavy chemicals, as opposed to fine chemicals, are those produced in vast quantities and are often of a lower grade.Optimal operation of the corridors will depend on infrastructure and facilities. For instance, Bagamoyo in Tanzania has the potential to become a thriving economic town in 20 years, with a new port, a CBD, urban development and recreational and tourism facilities. But because Bagamoyo is a Unesco-designated world heritage site and is of great historical value, it is vital that development proceeds with caution to preserve the tourist industry.Power supply in the region is inconsistent but grid accessibility is possible in all but a few cases. There are large hydropower projects in development along the Zambezi and its tributaries and smaller projects in Tanzania, Malawi and Zambia, as well as coal thermal and gas turbine projects in a number of countries including South Africa.Water supply and irrigation facilities are also key to the success of the region. Jica proposes the building of dams and water treatment facilities, as well as the rehabilitation of irrigation facilities.Room for improvement in agriculture and ICTWith a general downward trend in production over the past three decades, the Southern African agriculture sector can also be improved significantly. Here Jica has pointed out four aspects for attention – productivity growth in cereal production; diversification towards higher-value products; expanding agro-processing activities; and the geographical diversification of production.In several Southern African countries the agriculture sector is the major employer, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, but regardless of the size of their agricultural workforce, all countries can achieve increased agricultural productivity, with a decreasing reliance on imports and greater food security as a result.According to Jica, the under-use of fertilizer is a significant factor in this situation, but can easily be addressed. The organisation was encouraged to note that in Malawi and Zambia cereal production has been on the rise since 2004, and this is attributed partly to fertilizer use.Jica suggests that commercial farming clusters be developed along the Beira and Nacala corridors and along the North-South corridor neat the Zambia/Zimbabwe border, as well as special economic zones for agri-business at key cities along the Dar es Salaam corridor.The organisation goes on to explain how increasing urbanisation and unemployment could be used as an opportunity for developing new industries in metropolitan areas. The establishment of labour-intensive light industries and value-added agriculture and agro-processing industries near urban centres would provide an opportunity to absorb the unemployed population while simultaneously providing the boost that the sector needs.As an added bonus, the focus on labour-intensive industries will mean that labour costs in Africa could start to compare more favourably with those of Asia.In terms of ICT, strengthening this sector will have an impact on job creation because it accommodates a broad spectrum of labour, from unskilled to highly trained workers.Bringing more investment to the regionAll of these suggestions will cost money, but Jica is in a position to assist with capital grants and technical training.The agency has however made the assumption that certain factors will be in place for the scenarios to work.These factors include the presence of political will; adequate institutional capacity; infrastructure that can cope with the new pace; the role of the private sector in transforming the regions industrial structure; and the ongoing task of job creation.Apart from political will – which Jica has no control over – the other factors have been taken into account in the 2012 study.If the scenarios put forth in the study are taken up, Jica anticipates that the region will become more attractive as a foreign investment destination.last_img read more

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World Cup of Disabled Golf tees off in South Africa

first_img21 May 2014The South African Disabled Golf Association will break new ground this week with the hosting of the inaugural World Cup of Disabled Golf, which tees off at Zebula Golf Estate and Spa in Limpopo province on Wednesday.The event is a 54-hole stroke-play championship and has drawn entries from Australia, Canada, England, New Zealand, Sweden and the United States.In-form rising stars Daniel Slabbert and Reinard Schuhknecht will partner with seasoned campaigner Conrad Scholtz in chasing down a home victory.‘A really big deal’Kathu’s Slabbert said there is a lot of pride at stake for the South African team. “The World Cup is a really big deal, but to tee it up for South Africa here at home is huge,” the three-time Nedbank SA Disabled Golf Open champion said in a statement on Tuesday.“We are South Africa’s first disabled golfers to earn national colours, along with our team manager, Eugene Vorster. We all definitely feel the pressure, because to wear the green and gold is an enormous honour for any athlete.“The South African Disabled Golf Association worked incredibly hard to make this event happen and we want to do the country proud by winning the first World Cup.”Schuhknecht believes the South African trio have had enough laps around the 6 829 metre Zebula layout over the last week to prepare for the challenge.“We all played in the Nedbank SA Disabled Golf Open here last week and we’ve had some practice rounds since, so we are definitely ready for the World Cup,” the 2013 World One-Arm Stroke Play champion explained.“However, every team here wants to be the first winners of the World Cup, so the competition will be stiff. We just have to give it our best shot and make sure we come out on top.”Stranglehold brokenJust a week ago, reigning Canadian and American amputee golf champion Josh Williams broke Slabbert’s stronghold on the country’s premier disabled golf tournament and added the South African Disabled Open title to his tally.The Kitchener native is relishing the chance to win the inaugural World Cup for Canada alongside Johannes Grames and Robert MacDermott.“I love team competitions, so I am really looking forward to the challenge this week,” Williams said.“It’s a fine thing to own three national titles, but in a team competition, it’s all down to how you perform on the day.“We had a great practice round, and I’m confident we’ll do well here. The course is in fantastic nick, despite the struggles they have had with drought in this neck of the woods.“It’s a long layout, but it is very fair and if you go off-line here, you will pay the price.”‘Tough competition’The Canada Post employee said he is expecting a tough week. “We have some serious competition here this week,” he said. “Daniel and Reinard finished second and third last week, so they will be looking for a home victory and a little revenge. But we also have guys like Geoff Nicholas from Australia, Kenny Bonz and Tracy Ramin from the USA, who can be dangerous.“As far as I am concerned, everyone has brought their A-game and the World Cup is wide open.”Multiple US Amputee Championship winner Nicholas will partner Graham Kenyon and Shane Luke for Australia, while Bonz from the United States will line up with James Curley and Ramin, who finished sixth at the Nedbank SA Disabled Golf Open.SAinfo reporterlast_img read more

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Let’s talk about geocache quality

first_imgToday, we’re inviting you to join a community conversation about geocache quality. You have the opportunity to share thoughts about how you define geocache quality and what you think the community or Geocaching HQ can do to improve it. But before we get into specifics, let’s talk about why we think this conversation is necessary.Cache quality has always been an important topic. In order for geocaching to continue to thrive, people have to enjoy what they’re finding. Here at Geocaching HQ, we’ve taken steps in recent years to bring cache quality into greater focus, including: the Geocache Health Score, the introduction of Virtual Rewards, recognition of great cache hiders in the Geocaching Blog, and more. If we’re going to do more, we’d like to first give geocachers a place to make their voices heard and see how others in the community feel about cache quality.We have opened a new thread in our User Insights Forum. (We’re also opening dedicated threads for German and French speakers. For all other languages, please answer in the English thread and we’ll translate when compiling the feedback.)There are four questions to answer:In your mind, what is a high quality geocache?In your mind, what is a low quality geocache?What steps can the community take to improve geocache quality?What steps can Geocaching HQ take to improve geocache quality?The threads are open for three weeks. After compiling the feedback, we expect to follow up with a survey to gather more information.Geocaching is played by a vibrant community of millions of people across the world. We hope this conversation will help identify common themes and possible next steps as we continue to build tools and services for the game.Share with your Friends:More SharePrint RelatedLet’s talk some more about geocache qualityDecember 4, 2018In “Community”Results of 2018 Cache Quality SurveyMay 14, 2019In “News”Introducing Virtual Rewards!August 24, 2017In “Community”last_img read more

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ED registers money laundering case against Lalu Prasad, kin

first_imgIn fresh trouble for Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has registered a money laundering case against him and his family members in a railway hotels allotment corruption case dating back to the United Progressive Alliance tenure, officials said on Thursday.The case was registered under sections of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). The ED has taken cognisance of a CBI FIR in this regard to initiate the move.Earlier this month, the CBI registered a criminal FIR and conducted multiple searches against the former Bihar Chief Minister and others.The ED will investigate the alleged “proceeds of crime” generated by the accused, purportedly through shell companies, the officials said.Mr. Prasad’s wife and former Bihar Chief Minister Rabri Devi, son Tejashwi Yadav, and others will be probed by the agency under charges filed in the Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR), the ED equivalent of a police FIR.The case dates back to the time when Mr. Prasad was the Railway Minister in the UPA government.Others named in the CBI FIR include Vijay Kochhar and Vinay Kochhar (both directors of Sujata Hotels), Delight Marketing company (now known as Lara Projects) and former IRCTC managing director P K Goel.The CBI FIR alleges that Mr. Prasad, as Railway Minister, handed over the maintenance of two IRCTC hotels to a company after receiving a bribe in the form of prime land in Patna through a ‘benami’ company owned by Sarla Gupta.The FIR was registered on July 5 in connection with favours allegedly extended to Sujata Hotels in awarding a contract for the upkeep of the hotels in Ranchi and Puri and receiving premium land as ‘quid pro quo’The ED, under the PMLA, has powers to attach and confiscate tainted assets and it is expected that the agency will initiate such a move once it makes progress in the case.last_img read more

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A step closer to explaining high-temperature superconductivity?

first_imgFor years some physicists have been hoping to crack the mystery of high-temperature superconductivity—the ability of some complex materials to carry electricity without resistance at temperatures high above absolute zero—by simulating crystals with patterns of laser light and individual atoms. Now, a team has taken—almost—the next-to-last step in such “optical lattice” simulation by reproducing the pattern of magnetism seen in high-temperature superconductors from which the resistance-free flow of electricity emerges.”It’s a very big improvement over previous results,” says Tilman Esslinger, an experimentalist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, who was not involved in the work. “It’s very exciting to see steady progress.”An optical lattice simulation is essentially a crystal made of light. A real crystal contains a repeating 3D pattern of ions, and electrons flow from ion to ion. In the simulation, spots of laser light replace the ions, and ultracold atoms moving among spots replace the electrons. Physicists can adjust the pattern of spots, how strongly the spots attract the atoms, and how strongly the atoms repel one another. That makes the experiments ideal for probing physics such as high-temperature superconductivity, in which materials such as mercury barium calcium copper oxide carry electricity without resistance at temperatures up to 138 K, far higher above absolute zero than ordinary superconductors such as niobium can.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)Just how the copper-and-oxygen, or cuprate, superconductors work remains unclear. The materials contain planes of copper and oxygen ions with the coppers arranged in a square pattern. Repelling one another, the electrons get stuck in a one-to-a-copper traffic jam called a Mott insulator state. They also spin like tops, and at low temperatures neighboring electrons spin in opposite directions, creating an up-down-up-down pattern of magnetism called antiferromagnetism. Superconductivity sets in when impurities soak up a few electrons and ease the traffic jam. The remaining electrons then pair to glide freely along the planes.Theorists do not yet agree how that pairing occurs. Some think that wavelike ripples in the antiferromagnetic pattern act as a glue to attract one electron to the other. Others argue that the pairing arises, paradoxically, from the repulsion among the electrons alone. Theorists can write down a mathematical model of electrons on a checkerboard plane, known as the Fermi-Hubbard model, but it is so hard to “solve” that nobody has been able to show whether it produces superconductivity.Experimentalists hope to reproduce the Fermi-Hubbard model in laser light and cold atoms to see if it yields superconductivity. In 2002, Immanuel Bloch, a physicist at the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics (MPQ) in Garching, Germany, and colleagues realized a Mott insulator state in an optical lattice. Six years later, Esslinger and colleagues achieved the Mott state with atoms with the right amount of spin to mimic electrons. Now, Randall Hulet, a physicist at Rice University in Houston, Texas, and colleagues have nearly achieved the next-to-last step along the way: antiferromagnetism.Hulet and colleagues trapped between 100,000 and 250,000 lithium-6 atoms in laser light. They then ramped up the optical lattice and ramped it back down to put them in order. Shining laser light of a specific wavelength on the atoms, they observed evidence of an emerging up-down-up-down spin pattern. The laser light was redirected, or diffracted, at a particular angle by the rows of atoms—just as x-rays diffract off the ions in a real crystal. Crucially, the light probed the spin of the atoms: The light wave flipped if it bounced off an atom spinning one way but not the other. Without that flipping, the diffraction wouldn’t have occurred, so observation confirms the emergence of the up-down-up-down pattern, Hulet says.Hulet’s team solved a problem that has plagued other efforts. Usually, turning the optical lattice on heats the atoms. To avoid that, the researchers added another laser that slightly repelled the atoms, so that the most energetic ones were just barely held by the trap. Then, as the atoms heated, the most energetic ones “evaporated” like steam from hot soup to keep the other ones cool, the researchers report online this week in Nature. They didn’t quite reach a full stable antiferromagnetic pattern: The temperature was 40% too high. But the technique might get there and further, Hulet says. “We don’t have a good sense of what the limit of this method is,” he says. “We could get a factor of two lower, we could get a factor of 10 lower.””It is indeed very promising,” says Tin-Lun “Jason” Ho, a theorist at Ohio State University, Columbus. Reducing the temperature by a factor of two or three might be enough to reach the superconducting state, he says. However, MPQ’s Bloch cautions that it may take still other techniques to get that cold. “There are several cooling techniques that people are developing and interesting experiments coming up,” he says.Physicists are also exploring other systems and problems with optical lattices. The approach is still gaining steam, Hulet says: “It’s an exciting time.”last_img read more

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Indian government’s bid to make Hindi official UN language lacks local support

first_imgOpinions in India are divided over the government’s attempt to make Hindi an official language of the United Nations.“The irony is that Hindi in India does not enjoy the status of a national language. It is not the language aspiring India wants to learn, yet the government wants to spend millions of dollars promoting it as the official language of the UN,” said Priyadarshan, a New Delhi-based Hindi novelist, critic and journalist.Talking to Arab News, he said: “This is the by-product of the hyper-nationalism that has gripped the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ever since it has come to power.” Last week Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj told the lower house of Parliament that New Delhi is willing to spend $63 billion to make Hindi the official language of the UN.Read it at Arab News Related Itemslast_img read more

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Visa Dawn

first_imgFor the half million Indians who run the bureaucratic maze at U.S. consulates every year, U.S. Ambassador David C. Mulford’s announcement in October in New Delhi pledging to “reduce the waiting time for a visa appointment with the goal of eliminating this waiting period altogether,” was as startling as it was monumental. Ambassador Mulford greeting applicants at the embassyVisa applicants, who typically waited for months on end for an appointment, are now greeted on the embassy’s website with the surprising greeting: “Visa appointments are now available in all categories.”Mulford explained: “Nothing is more important for the future of our two countries than the strong and growing bond of business and people-to-people contact. Strengthening these connections is the future of U.S.-Indian relations and we have begun this today.”In an exclusive interview with Little India, Peter Kaestner, U.S. Consul General, sheds light on the new visa regime, bollywood, birding and butter chicken.Ambassador Mulford’s comments have created quite the international buzz. Now that the commitment has been vocalized, how does the embassy plan to reduce and eventually eliminate the waiting time for visa appointments?It is a simple plan. Starting September 25, we put all available resources on the NIV (Non Immigrant Visa) line. In addition to the mission’s resources, the Department of State supported us both financially and with additional vice consuls. We have temporary duty officers in India from as far away as Bogota, Hermosillo, Tokyo, Hong Kong and London. Between September 25 and October 23 we increased our visa production 52 per cent. The backlog for appointments for non-immigrant visas has essentially been eliminated. There are appointments available all over India.Do these changes apply to immigrant and non-immigrant visas?The initial push was directed at the NIV appointment backlog. Now that we have NIV appointments available, we are also looking at our IV (Immigrant Visa) processing too. Early next year, we intend to examine all our interactions with the public with the intention to making them more efficient and customer friendly.Can you give us a sense of what the average waiting period was for the most common visa categories and what it is now? When we started our NIV appointment elimination push on September 25, ordinary tourist appointments had a six-month backlog. Business Executive Program appointments could be obtained in three to four weeks and students were able to get emergency appointments at any time. At present, there are no waiting periods. All visas appointment categories are available. Because of some processing peculiarities, Mumbai visa applications must be handed in to our appointment provider five days in advance. Therefore, there is a delay in Mumbai until we find another way to process the cases differently. (We are exploring this option.)Certain IV categories, including Limited Family Based visas and H visas, have annual entry allowances. How will the revisions affect the wait times and/or number of allocations?The limitations that you hrefer to are congressionally mandated. Only a change in legislation will increase those numbers. Eliminating the backlog will allow all applicants, including those on numerically controlled visa categories, to get an interview more expeditiously.Are you also attempting to reduce the wait times for people who line up daily outside the consulates? Peter Kaestner In the old days, people used to queue up outside the building to wait for a chance to see a consul. When we implemented our appointment system, the queue became an electronic, or virtual, wait. Unfortunately, because of the physical limitations of our buildings, increasing workload and security screening requirements, queues then developed as our clients waited to enter the consular office.In the past six weeks, we have eliminated the virtual wait, and Indian visa applicants can obtain visa appointments promptly. While that is great news, the processing to get into the section is still a concern. In the short term, we will be looking at further hrefining our processes to reduce the waiting for all our customers, and to reach a goal that all visa applicants be processed from start to finish in two hours or less.I believe that, since over a half million Indians approach the U.S. Government each year to request consular services, we have an important obligation to treat each and every customer with dignity, respect, and professionalism. In the coming months, we will be looking for tangible ways to further improve our services with this important thought in mind.In the medium-to-long term, we are building new facilities in Mumbai, Delhi, and Hyderabad and improving/expanding the sections Calcutta and Chennai. Within a year, Calcutta and Chennai should be ready to process more applicants more rapidly, and in 2008, we expect the other three major construction projects to be finished. Our intention is to make the visa applicant process as efficient and pleasant as possible. It is a very exciting time to be in India.Is there any correlation between the timing of these visa changes and the current immigration issues in the U.S.?No. It is just tied to a routine change in personnel. At my last post (Cairo), there was a four-month backlog when I arrived. Within six months, we had eliminated it. It was clear to me that eliminating the backlog would be job number one when I arrived in India. What made it so dramatic was the leadership and initiative of Ambassador Mulford. Without his commitment of all the Mission’s resources, we could never eliminate the NIV appointment backlog so quickly. How many visas are filed and approved on an average monthly or annual basis?We do not release our hrefusal rates in any country as a matter of policy. (Data on approvals in table).Of the applicants that reapply after being denied, what is the percentage of approved visas?We do not publicize our issuance or hrefusal rates. I can say that the vast majority of visa applications in India are approved for issuance.What are the most common reasons visas are denied?Most non-immigrant visa denials are based on Section 214(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. This part of the law requires all applicants to demonstrate to the interviewing consular officer that they have a residence in a foreign country that they have no intention of abandoning. In other words, the burden of proof is on the applicant to show that they plan to go back to India after their temporary stay in the United States.Of the four U.S. consulates in India, which is the most difficult to oversee and why?The office I spend the most time on is Chennai, since it is the farthest away and it has the biggest volume of any consular operation in India.What accounts for Chennai being the busiest consulate?I don’t know why southern India has been the focus of the economic boom in India, but it has. Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad all house scores of huge businesses that require thousands of visas.In addition to wait times, one of the greatest complaints from visa applicants is that consular officers do not grant enough time during the appointment to fairly evaluate the petition. Some even say they are apathetic. How do you address these concerns?We are looking at this in several ways. One way is to better inform the applicants about the interview and what they should expect. In addition, we are looking to produce a more helpful document to give those people who are unsuccessful in their interview so that they understand the reasons for the hrefusal. Finally, we are constantly working with our interviewing officers to communicate with their customers in ways that better convey the process and the basis for the denial. I just got off the visa line today, and I had an applicant that insisted on grabbing a folder of papers every time I asked him a question. It was like Pavlov’s Dog. All I wanted were his honest answers, not papers.As Consul General, what is your greatest frustration with the visa process? It is unfortunate that anyone has to be denied a visa. In this age of international terrorism and illegal immigration, however, we need to be especially vigilant.We always hear the same advice for applicants: never forge documents and be honest with the consular officer about your past and the purpose of your visa. What other, atypical advice can you offer applicants? I guess I’m pretty typical. That sounds like good advice to me. It has been three months since you were appointed Minister Counselor for Consular Affairs. What immediate problems did you observe in the consular division? What is being done to overcome these obstacles? The biggest challenge I faced was the non-immigrant visa (NIV) backlog. I had hoped to tackle it within a year, but Ambassador Mulford’s initiative has allowed us to marshal the resources of the entire Mission. As a result, we’ve already eliminated the backlog and appointments for non-immigrant visas are now available. In the weeks to come we’ll be fine-tuning our processes to identify and meet our on-going demand.From 1981-1982, you served your first overseas assignment with the State Department as a vice consul in New Delhi. How is it returning 24 years later?It is fabulous. I am now living only 300 yards away from my old home in Jorbagh, so it is especially comfortable. I really feel like I’ve returned home. While much of India has changed, much of New Delhi is still the same.You entered the Foreign Service in 1981 and have been assigned to remarkable countries – Egypt, Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, New Guinea, Malaysia, the Solomon Islands, and Namibia. Besides obvious cultural differences, what sets India apart from other countries?One of the things that most impressed me in 1981-2 was the extraordinary closeness of our peoples. Even during a time when our bilateral political relationship was not particularly warm, there was never a shortage of applicants in the visa line. Now, almost a quarter of a century later, the economic miracle that India is enjoying is partially built on those personal ties. While each company must make business decisions based on the bottom line, I believe that the investment and commitment to India by U.S. companies is strengthened because of those person-to-person ties that have sustained our relationship through the years.In your view, how have the economic transformations in India altered its traditional social landscape? Funny you should ask me. I was just watching a Bollywood movie on the plane last night from Frankfurt. What struck me was the amazing resilience India has to social change. Imagine a U.S. movie in which not even a kiss is exchanged between the stars. While I marvel at the strength of the Indian culture, it also has its down sides. Unfortunate practices such as female foeticide and dowry killings have also shown unfortunate staying power.What are your concerns for India’s future?I’m very bullish on India. I think that it has a really bright future. In the long term I am concerned about population growth. Since my first stay in India as a student (1967-68), India’s population has tripled. While modernization and increases in efficiency have allowed for much of the population to be absorbed, there are many Indians who are not yet benefiting from India’s march into the 21st Century.I understand you are an avid birder. By 1986, you were the first birder to see a representative of each bird family in the world, and in 1989 you discovered an entirely new species in Colombia. Any unusual bird sightings in India?So far I’ve been focusing mostly on work. I did get one new bird at Sultanpur shortly after I arrived. The Bristled Grassbird was so poorly known in 1981-2 that it was just about impossible to see. In the interim, a home-grown birding group in Delhi has developed, along with considerable expertise. This expertise helped me to see the grassbird in August. As Indians become more affluent, they are embracing leisure activities like birding. That is great. Back to my own plans, I hope to focus on the Northeast of India, since it was off-limits when I was here in 1981-2. I am especially looking forward to visiting Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary to see the newly described Bugun Liocichla.Ok, I have to ask: what is your favorite Indian food?That’s easy: butter chicken. When I was here in 1981-2, I would eat butter chicken at the Shiraz Restaurant under the Defense Colony Flyover. Since the road has been expanded, the restaurant apparently is gone. I have spent the last 25 years searching the world for a butter chicken to rival Shiraz’s. I hope to try all the butter chickens in Delhi during my three years here.Finally, what has been your most profound Indian experience? My most profound memories all revolve around nature. I still have haunting memories of sleeping on the roof of our house at K-80-A Hauz Khas in 1967. As I slept on the barsati, I could hear the peacocks’ mournful calling off in the distance – a wonderful sound. It was a reminder that we were living in a wild area, on the far southern reaches of Delhi. Another magical moment was in Corbett Park in 1982. I was looking for the Indian Pitta, which was a new family for me at the time. Walking alone through the forest, I suddenly came upon a huge bull elephant. I still cannot understand how you can suddenly come upon such a beast, but I did. The tusker trumpeted to voice his displeasure, raising his trunk and flapping his ears at me. I was scared to death, but in an instant, he turned and walked away, not interested in squashing me flat as he easily could have done. The thrill of such an encounter still makes me shiver! I believe that being in touch with nature helps us maintain our humanity and better understand our place in the world.  Related Itemslast_img read more

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Kaya FC’s U-12 unit goes 2-0 in int’l youth football tilt

first_img“We want to show not only China but the rest of the world that we can play good football in the Philippines,” Coach Thomas Pfyl said in a statement on Tuesday.Gothia Cup, which originated in Sweden in 1975, is considered the biggest youth football tournament in the world. Its staging in Asia, which is considered the second biggest in the world, was first held in Shenyang, China last year.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSSEA Games: Philippines picks up 1st win in men’s water poloSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutLast year, Kaya FC was the only Philippine team in the tournament. They finished in the top 16 out of the 32 teams in their age group. This year, the Quezon City Football Club also joined the Cup. IDLPhoto courtesy of Paco Guerrero UPLB exempted from SEA Games class suspension MOST READ Photo courtesy of Paco GuerreroKaya Futbol Club (FC) Academy’s Under-12 team has raced to a 2-0 start at the Gothia Cup in China.Kaya recorded a convincing 12-0 victory against Beijing’s Sunny Zone team on Monday, and followed it up with a 2-0 beating of Shanxi’s FC Eagle Brothers.ADVERTISEMENT Protesters burn down Iran consulate in Najaf PLAY LIST 01:37Protesters burn down Iran consulate in Najaf01:47Panelo casts doubts on Robredo’s drug war ‘discoveries’01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games WATCH: Streetboys show off slick dance moves in Vhong Navarro’s wedding LOOK: Venues for 2019 SEA Games Catriona Gray spends Thanksgiving by preparing meals for people with illnesses SEA Games in Calabarzon safe, secure – Solcom chief PH opens SEAG bid on high note, nips Thailand in water polo Read Next LATEST STORIES Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Man sworn in as lawyer by judge who sentenced him to prison as a teen 20 years ago Flags of SEA Games countries raised at Athletes Village Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC View commentslast_img read more

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Saina Nehwal third in Player of the Year list

first_imgAce Indian shuttler Saina Nehwal, who won five major titles last year, has been voted as the third best Badminton Player of the Year 2010 by readers of an international magazine in a recent poll.File photo of Saina NehwalBadzine, an international badminton magazine, conducted a poll recently and the readers gave Commonwealth Games gold medallist Saina 34 votes to be ranked third in the best players’ list.China’s Lin Dan was voted as the Badminton Player of the Year for 2010 after receiving 110 votes while Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia was a very close runner-up with 97 votes.Fifteen-year-old Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand, who won her second World Junior title as well as her first Grand Prix and Grand Prix Gold titles was a surprising fourth with 29 votes in the poll.Saina, 20, won three back-to-back titles in June last year, winning the Indian Grand Prix, Singapore Super Series and defended the Indonesian Super Series.She also won the Commonwealth gold medal in New Delhi, before clinching the Hong Kong Open in November.With five major titles in her kitty, Saina came tantalisingly close to reaching the top rank last year when she climbed to world number two spot before slipping to number four.An injury to her right ankle forced the girl from Hyderabad to pull out of season-ending Indian Open Grand Prix in December. She also missed the Super Series Masters in January this year for the same injury.-With PTI inputslast_img read more

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WEEKLY-MARKETS-REVIEW 3

first_imgForex: The rupee recovered against the American currencyForex: The rupee recovered against the American currency by 49 paise to end the week at 66.76 per dollar on fresh selling of dollars by banks and exporters on the back of good foreign capital inflows into equity market.The rupee opened higher at 66.95 per dollar as against the last weekends level of 67.25 per dollar at the Interbank Foreign Exchange market and firmed up to 4-week high at 66.55 per dollar during the week.It hovered in a range of 66.55 per dollar and 67.0550 during the week before ending the week at 66.76 per dollar, still showing a gain of 49 paise or 0.73 per cent.The rupee had last traded at 66.5350 per dollar May 12, 2016 during the intra-day trade.It had dropped by 22 paise or 0.31 per cent in the last week.Heavy capital inflows mainly boosted the rupee value against the dollar, a forex dealer said. Hopes of more funds from foreign funds into equity market also got tonic to rupee.RBIs decision to remain accommodative propelled market to an over 7-month high as the Sensex wrested back control of the crucial 27,000-mark on Tuesday.In the second bi-monthly monetary policy meeting of this fiscal, RBI kept the repo rate unchanged at 6.50 per cent and the cash reserve requirement at 4 per cent.Overseas, the US dollar slumped against its major rivals and was under pressure by dismal US payroll data last week, prompting investors to rule out the chance of a hike in the US interest rates this month. (MORE) PTI RSU ARR RD PAK ABIadvertisementlast_img read more

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