Iowa Instructors Attacked in China Park;Modi Retains Key Ministers in Third Term;Pakistani PM Congratulates Modi Amid Tensions:Modi Briefing20240611

Welcome to our show, “Modi Briefing.” I’m your host, Liang Jun. Today, we have some intriguing stories to cover. First up, four Iowa instructors teaching at a Chinese university were attacked while visiting a public park. The details about the extent of their injuries and the nature of the attack remain unclear, but the US embassy is working diligently to bring them back home safely. This incident comes at a time when tensions between Beijing and Washington are already high, making this a particularly sensitive situation.

Next, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has retained his core team of ministers as he embarks on his third consecutive term. Key figures like Nirmala Sitharaman, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, Rajnath Singh, and Amit Shah will continue to lead crucial ministries. Modi’s party, the Bharatiya Janata Party, fell short of a solo majority and will rely on allies to form the government. This decision signals a commitment to policy continuity, even as the political landscape in India becomes more complex.

Lastly, in a surprising move, Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has congratulated Narendra Modi on his third-term inauguration. Despite the strained relations between the two countries, particularly over the disputed Kashmir region, this gesture adds an interesting layer to the ongoing diplomatic dynamics. Analysts, however, remain skeptical about any imminent peace talks between the two nations.

Please stay tuned for more detailed coverage.

Associated Press: Four Iowa college instructors teaching at Beihua University in China were attacked while visiting a public park, as confirmed by Cornell College. The attack occurred while the instructors were accompanied by a faculty member from Beihua University. The details regarding the nature of the attack and the extent of the injuries remain unclear. U.S. Rep. Mariannette Jane Miller-Meeks is working to ensure the victims receive proper health care and return to the U.S. promptly. This incident comes at a time when both Beijing and Washington are trying to maintain people-to-people exchanges to prevent bilateral relations from deteriorating. The U.S. State Department has issued a Level 3 travel advisory for China, urging Americans to reconsider travel due to risks like arbitrary detentions and exit bans.

Nikkei Asia: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi retained his top ministers as he begins his historic third consecutive term, including those handling finance, foreign affairs, defense, and home affairs. The cabinet announcement followed Modi’s swearing-in ceremony attended by thousands, including foreign dignitaries. Nirmala Sitharaman, India’s first full-time female finance minister, continues in her role, expected to present the new government’s budget soon. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, credited with shaping India’s assertive foreign policy, remains the Minister of External Affairs. Defense Minister Rajnath Singh and Home Minister Amit Shah also retained their positions. Modi’s BJP fell short of a majority, requiring the support of allies like the Telugu Desam Party and Janata Dal (United) to form the government. The cabinet’s first meeting decided to provide assistance for constructing an additional 30 million houses for the poor, and Modi authorized a significant welfare distribution for farmers.

The Toronto Star: India’s Narendra Modi, newly sworn in for a third straight term, retained his top ministers despite his party losing the majority in a surprising election result. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar continues as External Affairs Minister, Amit Shah as Home Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman as Finance Minister, and Rajnath Singh as Defense Minister. Modi’s BJP won 240 seats, below the 272 needed for a majority, but his National Democratic Alliance coalition secured 293 seats, allowing him to form the government. This marks the first time under Modi that the BJP needed regional allies’ support. The coalition’s dependence on allies like the Telugu Desam Party and Janata Dal (United) could require Modi to adapt his governance style. Critics argue that Modi’s tenure has seen attacks on minorities and shrinking space for dissent, despite his supporters crediting him with economic growth and improving India’s global standing.

South China Morning Post: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled his coalition government after a surprising election setback cost his Hindu-nationalist party an overall majority. With 71 members taking the oath of office, Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) still dominates key positions, signaling broad policy continuity. Loyalists such as Rajnath Singh, Amit Shah, Nitin Gadkari, Nirmala Sitharaman, and S. Jaishankar retain their posts, while coalition allies secured 11 positions, including five in the top 30 cabinet posts. Notably, there are no Muslim lawmakers in Modi’s third-term lineup, reflecting his image as a champion of Hindu nationalism. Modi’s first actions included approving cash handouts for farmers and plans for 30 million new homes for poor families. The coalition’s dynamics mean Modi must seek greater consensus, with allies like the Telugu Desam Party and Janata Dal (United) playing crucial roles. Seven women are among the 71 ministers, with two in top cabinet positions, as Modi prepares to navigate a more fragmented parliament.

Nikkei Asia: Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif congratulated Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on being sworn in for a third term, marking Islamabad’s first response to the election results. Despite losing his outright majority, Modi secured a record-equaling third term and now depends on regional parties for support. Relations between nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan remain tense, especially since India revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status in 2019. Sharif’s elder brother, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, also extended congratulations, advocating for peace and cooperation between the two nations. However, analysts like Ayesha Siddiqa see little chance for immediate peace talks, despite some backdoor diplomatic initiatives. The elder Sharif’s pro-peace stance has historically clashed with Pakistan’s powerful military, highlighting the complex dynamics at play. Modi’s response to Shehbaz Sharif’s congratulations was courteous, though substantial diplomatic progress remains unlikely in the near future.

Yahoo US: Laura Modi, CEO of Bobbie, founded the formula brand after her own struggles with breastfeeding and the inadequacies she felt when turning to formula. Bobbie, created with a focus on high-quality ingredients, quickly became a success, especially during the 2022 formula shortage. This crisis underscored the need for more formula manufacturers, a cause Modi championed with the passage of the Infant Formula Made in America Act of 2024. Modi’s journey from Airbnb to Bobbie was driven by personal experiences and a mission to address broader issues facing parents, such as paid federal leave, childcare, and the Black maternal mortality crisis. Bobbie aims to be more than just a formula company; it seeks to change policies and cultural perceptions around parenting. Modi’s vision for Bobbie reflects a commitment to providing parents with choices and support, challenging the societal expectations and systemic problems that hinder modern parenting.

The Independent: Narendra Modi has been sworn in for his third term as India’s Prime Minister, leading a coalition government after his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) fell short of a parliamentary majority. Despite winning 240 seats, Modi’s coalition faces internal discontent, particularly from the Shiv Sena faction led by Eknath Shinde and Ajit Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party, both from Maharashtra. They are dissatisfied with their ministerial allocations, seeing them as demotions. The BJP’s decision to exclude 37 ministers from the previous term, including notable figures like Smriti Irani, has also stirred controversy. Modi’s cabinet includes key allies from regional parties, such as Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party and Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal United, who secured significant positions. However, the absence of minority representation, particularly Muslims, has drawn criticism. Modi’s first action in his new term was to allocate funds for farmers, a move criticized by the opposition as delayed and performative.

Diplomat: Modi’s third term marks the first time he leads a coalition government, facing a robust opposition from the INDIA coalition, led by the Congress party. The BJP’s 240 seats fell short of a majority, necessitating alliances with regional parties like JD(U) and TDP, whose secular policies contrast with the BJP’s Hindu nationalist stance. This coalition is perceived as fragile, with internal contradictions and demands for special status from Bihar and Andhra Pradesh. The opposition, emboldened by its electoral gains, is poised to challenge the government aggressively. Key opposition figures, including Mamata Banerjee and Rahul Gandhi, have voiced skepticism about the government’s longevity and pledged to hold it accountable. The INDIA coalition remains united, despite rumors of defections, and is determined to leverage any opportunity to destabilize the NDA government.

Diplomat: Modi’s third inauguration emphasized India’s strategic focus on its Himalayan and maritime neighbors. External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar’s reappointment signals continuity in India’s foreign policy, particularly towards neighboring countries. The presence of leaders from Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Seychelles, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Bhutan at the inauguration underscored India’s “Neighborhood First” and SAGAR initiatives. These efforts aim to counter China’s influence in the region, especially along the Himalayan borders and the Indian Ocean. Modi’s diplomatic engagements with these countries are crucial for maintaining regional stability and economic security. Challenges persist, such as China’s assertiveness in Nepal and Bhutan and the Maldives’ pro-China stance. Strengthening ties with Bangladesh, Mauritius, and Seychelles remains vital for India’s maritime strategy. The success of these initiatives will depend on reciprocal cooperation from these nations and sustained diplomatic efforts by India.

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