Category Archives: India

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness: Arundhati Roy on Telling the Truth of the Atrocities in Kashmir Through Fiction

Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh speak with acclaimed Indian writer and activist Arundhati Roy about Kashmir, which has been one of the most militarised zones in the world. According to Roy, it’s also a territory that’s nearly impossible to capture in nonfiction writing. which she has attempted to do in in her second novel, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness. You can view the full one hour interview here. Roy also contributed to the book, Kashmir: The Case for Freedom(Democracy Now!)

 

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The War Between Globalism and Nationalism Is Just Getting Started

Ian Bremmer writes for Time Magazine:

When the storm turns out to be less severe than the warnings, there’s always a sigh of relief–and maybe a bit of over-confidence after the fact. If fans of the European Union felt better after populist Geert Wilders came up short in the Dutch elections in March, they also took heart from the absence of anti-E.U. firebrands among the leading contenders for this fall’s German elections. Then came May 7. The victory of Emmanuel Macron over Marine Le Pen in France’s presidential elections signaled that “the season of growth of populism has ended,” Antonio Tajani, president of the European Parliament, said on May 8.

Not so fast. Europeans will soon remember that elections are never the end of anything–they’re a beginning. And whether the issue is unelected Eurocrats’ forcing voters to abide by rules they don’t like or fears that borders are insecure, there are good reasons to doubt that the anti-E.U. fever has broken. France’s Macron now faces powerful opposition on both the far right and the far left. Hungary and Poland are becoming increasingly illiberal. Brexit negotiations are getting ugly. And resentment toward the E.U. is still rising throughout Europe.

In the U.S., President Donald Trump may be pushing what increasingly resembles a traditional Republican agenda, but polls show that his supporters are still eager for deeper disruption. Trump’s embrace of Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Egypt’s Abdul Fattah al-Sisi and the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte suggests a lasting affinity with aggressive strongmen. His chief adviser and nationalist muse, Stephen Bannon, may be under fire, but he’s still there. The Trump presidency has only just begun.

In short, nationalism is alive and well, partly because the problems that provoked it are still with us. Growing numbers of people in the world’s wealthiest countries still fear that globalization serves only elites who care nothing about nations and borders. Moderate politicians still offer few effective solutions.

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India: Street Kids Publish Newspaper to Raise Awareness

Showkat Shafi reports for Al Jazeera:

Sexual abuse, torture, drug addiction, harassment at the hands of thugs and policemen sums up life of street children in India. Delhi’s Balaknama newspaper – the Voice of Children, which is run by the street children has been working to highlight the plight of fellow youngsters.

The editor of Balaknama, 17-year-old Shambhu, washes cars during the day for a living. “This newspaper is our voice to tell people, about what we go through and that even our lives matter,” Shambhu tells Al Jazeera. “People usually don’t care about street children. Whether they are beaten up, raped or even disappear, it hardly creates a flutter.”

The newspaper has four main reporters and 64 news gatherers who go around collecting the stories. They are known as “Baatooni” – the talkative ones. Unable to write their own copies, the Baatooni relate the stories to the main reporters who put them in writing for the issue.

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India and Pakistan’s Proxy War in Afghanistan

Catherine Putz writes for The Diplomat:

In an interview Tuesday with TOLONews, Amar Sinha, the Indian ambassador to Afghanistan, called the idea of a proxy war between his country and Pakistan playing out in Afghanistan a myth.

[The] India-Pakistan war is somehow getting reflected in Afghanistan… we see many analysts and journalists [calling] it a proxy war, which is a myth. [Rather] it is a smokescreen created to justify Pakistan’s behavior, which has not been [that] of a friendly neighbor.

Sinha, nonetheless, says that India’s “proxy” in Afghanistan is the Afghan people and that Pakistan’s is the Taliban.’

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‘India’s Enron’: Court Convicts Ex-Satyam Chief of Fraud

Vivek Nemana reports for AFP:

An Indian court on Thursday convicted the former chief of outsourcing giant Satyam and his aides over a $2.25 billion accounting fraud scandal dubbed “India’s Enron”, the prosecutor said.

Byrraju Ramalinga Raju, his brother and eight others were found guilty of manipulating Satyam’s books in 2009 during the IT boom in India in a case that shook the industry and raised questions about the country’s regulators.

[…] The Satyam scandal erupted in 2009 after Raju admitted in a letter to shareholders to overstating profits for years and inflating the company’s balance sheet, a confession that saw the company’s share price plummet.’

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India: City police to use pepper-spray drones

BBC News reports:

The Lucknow Police have already placed order to acquire four drones, with capacity of lifting two kg weight.Police in one Indian city plan to use drones armed with pepper spray to disperse unruly crowds, it’s reported.

The police force in Lucknow, the capital of northern Uttar Pradesh state, has bought a set of drones which can each lift 2kg (4.4lb) in weight, the Indian Express reports. “We are planning to use these drones to control unruly mobs by showering them with pepper spray,” Senior Supt Yashasvi Yadav is quoted as saying. The method will be “less harsh” than a baton charge, he says, and police are hoping it will also be more effective. Drones are already used elsewhere in the state for aerial surveillance, but they haven’t been used for crowd control before, the report adds.’

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The Great Game in Afghanistan: The US Is Losing Out

Dilip Hiro writes for TomDispatch:

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani stands beside Chinese President Xi Jin-pingCall it an irony, if you will, but as the Obama administration struggles to slow down or halt its scheduled withdrawal from Afghanistan, newly elected Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is performing a withdrawal operation of his own. He seems to be in the process of trying to sideline the country’s major patron of the last 13 years — and as happened in Iraq after the American invasion and occupation there, Chinese resource companies are again picking up the pieces.

In the nineteenth century, Afghanistan was the focus of “the Great Game” between the imperial powers of that era, Britain and Czarist Russia, and so it is again.  Washington, the planet’s “sole superpower,” having spent an estimated $1 trillion and sacrificed the lives of 2,150 soldiers fighting the Taliban in the longest overseas war in its history, finds itself increasingly and embarrassingly consigned to observer status in the region, even while its soldiers and contractors still occupy Afghan bases, train Afghan forces, and organize night raids against the Taliban.’

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Could GCHQ soon have access to India’s phone network?

The East India Company: The original corporate raiders

William Dalrymple writes for The Guardian:

British Indian Empire[…] We still talk about the British conquering India, but that phrase disguises a more sinister reality. It was not the British government that seized India at the end of the 18th century, but a dangerously unregulated private company headquartered in one small office, five windows wide, in London, and managed in India by an unstable sociopath – Clive.

In many ways the EIC was a model of corporate efficiency: 100 years into its history, it had only 35 permanent employees in its head office. Nevertheless, that skeleton staff executed a corporate coup unparalleled in history: the military conquest, subjugation and plunder of vast tracts of southern Asia. It almost certainly remains the supreme act of corporate violence in world history. For all the power wielded today by the world’s largest corporations – whether ExxonMobil, Walmart or Google – they are tame beasts compared with the ravaging territorial appetites of the militarised East India Company. Yet if history shows anything, it is that in the intimate dance between the power of the state and that of the corporation, while the latter can be regulated, it will use all the resources in its power to resist.’

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Henry Kissinger’s secret role in the Bhopal tragedy

Rob Edwards reports for The Scottish Herald:

‘Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger put pressure on the Indian Government to agree a legal settlement that let the American chemical company Union Carbide off the hook for the 25,000 people killed by the toxic gas disaster in Bhopal 30 years ago.

A letter released under freedom of ­information legislation reveals that the late Indian steel magnate JRD Tata wrote secretly to the Indian prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi, in May 1988 conveying ­Kissinger’s concern about the delays in reaching agreement on the compensation to be paid to victims.

At the time, Kissinger – who became notorious around the world in the 1970s for being involved in some of most hawkish US foreign policy decisions – was an adviser to Union Carbide and other major US corporations.’

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30 Years After Bhopal Gas Leak, U.S. Company Responsible Remains Unpunished: Interview with Vijay Prashad

Spasm of Violence in Kashmir Worst in Years

Anjum Naveed and Aijaz Hussain report for The Associated Press:

‘[…] The clashes — which both India and Pakistan blame the other for starting — come even though both governments say they want to improve ties and even resolve the conflict. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited Pakistan’s leader, Nawaz Sharif, to attend his inauguration in May, saying he wanted to engage the archrival more assertively.

But relations remain fragile, even hostile. India in August abruptly canceled talks with Pakistan after its ambassador met with Kashmiri separatist leaders. The mostly Muslim region, divided into zones controlled by India and Pakistan, and even a chunk by China, has seen fighting off and on for decades. Pakistan and India have fought two wars over the mountainous territory.

Modi, a strident Hindu nationalist, seems intent on showing he represents a new, more forceful India.’

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The US Media’s Infatuation with India’s Ronald Reagan: Interview with Vijay Prashad

Abby Martin speaks with author and historian, Vijay Prashad, discussing the American media’s reception of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as discussing the latest measures announced by the White House to fight Islamic militants in Iraq and Syria.’ (Breaking the Set)

Al-Qaeda India branch’s first attack ends in dismal failure as jihadists ‘raid wrong ship’

Dean Nelson reports for The Telegraph:

 Pakistani sailors stand on the Tipu Sultan warship during the multinational naval exercise 'AMAN 07' (Peace) in the Arabian Sea off Karachi, 08 March 2007.‘Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, the new group announced last week by Ayman al-Zawahiri to bolster his flagging fortunes, suffered a setback when three of its fighters were killed and seven arrested in its first ever terror attack.

Heavily armed militants attacked a naval dock in Karachi’s sea port on Saturday night and targeted what they believed was an American aircraft carrier, but instead found a Pakistan Navy frigate and were overwhelmed before they could cause any damage, investigators said.’

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What dispute? India and China ignore land squabble (for now)

Tim Sullivan reports for the Associated Press:

‘For more than 50 years, it has pitted India against China — a smoldering dispute over who should control a swath of land larger than Austria. Two militaries have skirmished. A brief, bloody war has been fought. And today, thousands of soldiers from both countries sit deployed along their shared frontier, doing little but watching each other.

But as Beijing confronts countries across the South China and East China seas, displaying its diplomatic and strategic strength in a series of increasingly dangerous territorial disputes, the India-China standoff results in almost nothing beyond regular diplomatic talks and professions of international friendship.

Because the last thing the world’s two most populous countries want right now is war with each other. Not when things are going so well. “The territorial issues and the sovereignty issues have not gone away,” said Sujit Dutta, a China scholar at New Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia University. “But the Chinese are not pushing further (into the disputed regions) and neither are the Indians.”

“Today, India and China have a new context for their relationship,” he said. That context comes down to two key components: An understanding that the disputed land has lost its strategic luster. And money.’

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India says Pakistan border clashes ‘extremely serious and provocative’

Reuters reports:

‘Clashes along India’s border with Pakistan are “extremely serious and provocative” and not conducive to improving relations between the nuclear-armed neighbours, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley said on Saturday.

The comments came nearly two weeks after New Delhi called off top level diplomatic talks, protesting against Pakistan’s meetings with separatists from the disputed region of Kashmir.

Exchanges of fire between Indian and Pakistani troops along the Line of Control (LoC) that divides Indian- and Pakistan-controlled Kashmir have intensified in recent weeks, claiming lives of several people, including soldiers.’

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India’s prime minister accuses Pakistan of waging a “proxy war of terrorism”

The Associated Press reports:

‘India’s prime minister on Tuesday accused Pakistan of waging a proxy, terrorist war because it was too weak to fight a conventional one, a day after India accused its traditional rival of violating cease-fire agreements in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir. Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged to provide Indian troops with more weapons, saying they were suffering more casualties from “terrorism than from war.”

“Pakistan has lost the strength to fight a conventional war, but continues to engage in the proxy war of terrorism,” Modi said in an address to Indian army soldiers and officers in the city of Leh. He also announced that a national war memorial would be installed in the region. The pugnacious comments appeared to mark a reversal from friendlier tones struck in the days after Modi and his Hindu-nationalist party won Indian elections in a landslide in May. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was among regional leaders who attended Modi’s inauguration.’

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World Trade Organization’s failure points to fragmented future for global trade

From Reuters:

‘[…] For several years, many of the bigger economies have been pouring their energies into new clubs aiming to liberalise trade in particular regions or in specific sectors of the economy. “What WTO promoters fail to understand is that their forum competes with other vehicles for reform. Through poor design, bad luck and bad tactics, the WTO has handicapped itself in this race,” said Evenett.

Of all the big economies, India has perhaps bet most on the WTO, with little progress in opening up bilateral or regional ties. Despite its role as a offshore services hub and its vast population, it has yet to sew up a bilateral trade agreement with the EU and an investment treaty with the United States. The 28-nation EU and the United States, which are trying to negotiate a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, are among pioneers of the smaller clubs, but China is also involved.

Beijing is a member of groups trying to develop new standards for information technology products and environmental goods, and it wants to join one that is working to liberalise trade in services. Last week’s veto prompted some countries to discuss moving ahead with the customs treaty without India.’

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India’s Uranium Boss Says Deformed Children May Be ‘Imported’

Rakteem Katakey and Tom Lasseter report for Bloomberg:

‘Confronted with reports villages near Uranium Corp. of India Ltd.’s mines have unusually high numbers of physically deformed people, Chairman Diwakar Acharya said: “I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of those guys are imported from elsewhere, ok?”

A Bloomberg News report on July 9 highlighted the struggles of the locals with disease and early deaths — and the suspicion they shared with some environmental activists that the health conditions are linked to mining waste.’

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India’s New Budget Means Subsidies for Big Business and Debt for Citizens: Interview with Jayati Ghosh

‘Jayati Ghosh critiques the first budget presented by the new Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’ (The Real News)

US set to woo India with classified info, intel swap

Shishir Gupta reports for The Hindustan Times:

‘As part of a deepening cooperation on defense, the United States has offered to create institutionalized links between its military intelligence and India’s and is willing to share classified information on the region, including Afghanistan-Pakistan and China. While the full scope of the offer will be made by US defense secretary Charles ‘Chuck’ Hagel during his three-day visit to India next week, secretary of state John Kerry hinted about the proposal to defence minister Arun Jaitley in their meeting last Thursday.

Hagel arrives Tuesday and leaves Saturday after meeting Jaitley, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, national security advisor Ajit Doval and Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, who is the chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee. US diplomatic sources said Hagel will aim to take defense cooperation beyond military hardware sales and transfer of technology under the so-called Defense Technology Initiative (DTI) to joint manufacturing of weapon systems in India under the 49% FDI route announced by Jaitley in the budget.’

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US Court Rules Bhopal Victims Can’t Sue Union Carbide

Andrea Germanos reports for Common Dreams:

‘Victims of the notorious Bhopal chemical plant disaster are still seeking justice after a U.S. district court judge on Wednesday ruled (pdf) that Union Carbide Corp. (UCC) cannot be sued for ongoing contamination from the plant.

The disaster, dubbed “The Hiroshima of the Chemical Industry,” began in 1984 when a cloud of poisonous gas, methyl isocyanate, leaked from a pesticide plant whose majority owner was UCC and was operated by an Indian subsidiary, UCIL. Thousands were killed instantly and thousands more in the aftermath. Decades after the plant’s closure, nearby residents continue to suffer health impacts including cancers and birth defects.

The suit was filed by EarthRights International (ERI) on behalf of Bhopal residents whose water and land continues to suffer contamination from the plant. The organization states that “UCC largely abandoned the site, allowing toxic wastes to leach into the local water supply.”‘

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Nobel Economist Joseph Stiglitz Hails New BRICS Bank Challenging U.S.-Dominated World Bank & IMF

‘A group of five countries have launched their own development bank to challenge the U.S.-dominated World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Leaders from the so-called BRICS countries — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — unveiled the New Development Bank at a summit in the Brazilian city of Fortaleza. The bank will be headquartered in Shanghai. Together, BRICS countries account for 25 percent of global GDP and 40 percent of the world’s population. To discuss this development, we are joined by Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, a professor at Columbia University and the World Bank’s former chief economist. “It’s very important in many ways,” Stiglitz says of the New Development Bank’s founding. “This is adding to the flow of money that will go to finance infrastructure, adaptation to climate change — all the needs that are so evident in the poorest countries. It [also] reflects a fundamental change in global economic and political power. The BRICS countries today are richer than the advanced countries were when the World Bank and the IMF were founded. We’re in a different world — but the old institutions haven’t kept up.”‘ (Democracy Now!)

Coca-Cola Forced To Shut Bottling Plant in India

Fatima Hansia reports for CorpWatch:

Coca-Cola, the world’s largest beverage producer, has been ordered to shut down its bottling plant in Varanasi, India following local complaints that the company was drawing excessive amounts of groundwater. After an investigation, government authorities ruled that the company had violated its operating license.

…This is not the first time that the company has been in trouble in India for unsustainable water extraction practices. In 2004 a bottling plant in Plachimada, Kerala, was closed for excessive water consumption. Later Kerala passed legislation that allows Coca-Cola to be sued for as much as $47 million in damages as result of the operations. And last year, community organizers in Charba, Uttarakhand, defeated Coca-Cola’s plans to build a new factory as soon as the proposal went public.’

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Jim Rickards: BRICS Development Bank A Significant Step Away From The Dollar

India seeks giant gas deal with Russia following in China’s footsteps

Valentin Mândrăşescu reports for The Voice of Russia:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry O. Rogozin in New Delhi. File photo‘Less than a month ago, China ensured that its voracious economy would have a steady supply of Russian natural gas for the next thirty years. Indian press reports that Narendra Modi would like to follow Xi Jinping’s lead and connect India to the vast energy resources of Russia. For a decade, Russian experts have been talking about making the country the top energy supplier in Asia and creating a North-South energy axis that will inevitably lead to closer relations between the biggest geopolitical players on the continent. It seems that India’s newly elected Prime Minister is willing to take the necessary steps to make Moscow’s dream a reality.

The Financial Express reported that Narendra Modi is considering an ambitious plan to extend the natural gas pipeline between Siberia and China all the way to India. The pipeline will link Russia’s natural gas resources to Indian industrial and domestic consumers, drastically reducing the current exuberant energy costs that act as a drag on the country’s economy. For Modi, industrialization is everything, because without industrialization he can’t fulfill the promises he made to the India’s poor and middle class citizens during the recent elections. However, industrialization without low energy prices is impossible and India’s new leader is therefore obliged to seek cheap and reliable sources of natural gas and oil. The only reasonable option is to strike a long-term deal with Russia.’

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A quarter of India’s land is turning into desert

From Reuters:

‘About a quarter of India’s land is turning to desert and degradation of agricultural areas is becoming a severe problem, the environment minister said, potentially threatening food security in the world’s second most populous country.

India occupies just 2 percent of the world’s territory but is home to 17 percent of its population, leading to over-use of land and excessive grazing. Along with changing rainfall patterns, these are the main causes of desertification. “Land is becoming barren, degradation is happening,” said Prakash Javadekar, minister for environment, forests and climate change. “A lot of areas are on the verge of becoming deserts but it can be stopped.”‘

READ MORE @ REUTERS…

India to step up defence procurement

From Gulf News:

‘India’s military, one of the world’s largest arms importers, aims to speed up defence procurement in the interests of “national security”, the country’s new defence minister announced on Saturday. The policy announcement comes just after the new right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi was sworn in late last month. India’s weapons acquisition programme was bogged down by a string of graft scandals under the previous Congress led government of Manmohan Singh that was ousted in general elections staggered over April and May.

“National security is an issue which has always been a priority issue for us [the BJP],” Defence Minister Arun Jaitley told reporters. India needed more defence procurement and faster procurement, Jaitley added. The country still has a number of procurement needs, including for fighter jets, combat helicopters, as well as artillery, drones and electronic warfare systems, as it seeks to update its ageing military hardware.’

READ MORE @ GULF NEWS…

Why are women being hanged in India?

Geeta Pandey writes for BBC News:

In this May 31, 2014, photo mothers of gang-rape victims (C, shawls covering their faces) and villagers stand in front of the mango tree where the girls were hanged in Katra Shahadatgunj in Badaun district‘Four women have been found hanging from trees in remote villages in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh in the last fortnight. The families of at least three of the dead, two of them teenage cousins, have alleged that they were murdered after being raped. Such crimes are not new to Uttar Pradesh, indeed to India. As a young girl, when I visited my grandparents in my tiny ancestral village in Pratapgarh district in the state during my annual summer vacations, I sometimes heard my mother and our neighbours talk about assaults on women.

The perpetrators were almost always men from my community – high-caste Brahmins. And the victims were almost always lower-caste or Dalit (formerly untouchable) women. Sometimes the women attacked raised the alarm and managed to escape, at others they were overpowered. Nobody went to the police because, as my mother said, they were often considered part of the problem. In 2011, I visited Uttar Pradesh to report on a spate of exceptionally brutal rapes there. One of the victims was 14-year-old Sonam who was found hanging from a tree inside a police station right in front of her house.’

READ MORE @ BBC NEWS…

U.S. would welcome Modi as India’s leader despite past visa ban

David Brunnstrom reports for Reuters:

CREDIT: REUTERS/AMIT DAVE‘President Barack Obama faces the prospect this week of having to offer his congratulations to a new Indian leader who was barred from the United States less than 10 years ago over massacres of Muslims in 2002. As voting concluded in India’s general election on Monday, four major exit polls showed Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi set to become prime minister, with his opposition party and its allies forecast to sweep to a parliamentary majority.

A Modi victory would be a blow for campaigners who have long maintained he is an autocratic Hindu supremacist responsible for an outbreak of religious riots in his home state of Gujarat in 2002 in which more than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, died. Modi was shunned by Western nations for years after the bloodshed in Gujarat, where he has been chief minister since 2001. He was denied a U.S. visa in 2005 under the terms of a 1998 U.S. law which bars entry to foreigners who have committed “particularly severe violations of religious freedom.”‘

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