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#Pact: Could the Modi, Merkel meet pave way for revival of EU-India free trade talks?

The leaders of India and Germany pledged on Monday to revive efforts to reach an Indo-European free trade pact after talks fell apart this year, and struck deals to promote clean energy and make it easier to do business.

Although Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prime Minister Narendra Modi made no mention in conversations with journalists of resuming talks on a free trade agreement between India and the European Union, it was perhaps the most significant "deliverable" of her trip to New Delhi.

The leaders "committed themselves to bringing about the earliest possible resumption of talks", said a joint statement issued after their three-hour talks.

Asia's third-largest economy has been relatively insulated from a slump in global trade, but Modi still needs to boost exports for his pitch to investors to "Make in India" to create skilled jobs for millions of young Indians.

Germany, Europe's largest economy, is looking to expand its presence in India to compensate for a slowdown in China.

Merkel's delegation was joined by bosses from household names like Siemens, Airbus, E.ON and Thyssenkrupp.

The trade talks have been on ice since earlier this year when India walked out in a row over exports of generic drugs to the European Union.

Germany, a world leader in renewable energy, will also provide more than 2 billion euros (£1.6 billion) in aid for solar projects and green energy corridors - or high-efficiency power grids - as part of a broader push for sustainable development.

The assistance, part of a raft of agreements signed in New Delhi, dovetails with efforts to bind India into a global debate that will culminate in the COP21 climate change summit in December.

"We look forward to a concrete outcome at COP21 in Paris that strengthens the commitment and the ability of the world, especially of poor and vulnerable countries, to transition to a more sustainable growth path," Modi told reporters.

India, the world's third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, was the last major country to submit its energy strategy ahead of the U.N. climate conference.

India's energy plan seeks to boost energy efficiency but makes no commitment to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases - reflecting its view that richer nations bear most responsibility for global warming.

Responding, Merkel said: "We have understood, Prime Minister, that climate protection needs to be embraced by the people - who also have to reap a benefit."

India and Germany also signed an agreement to fast-track business approvals, providing German firms with a single point of contact to help them navigate a web of red tape that often thwarts initiative.

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#Festive: Narendra Modi has the complete sartorial package – Manish Malhotra.

By his own admission, fashion designer Manish Malhotra is a workhalic who doesn’t understand the concept of putting up your feet with a glass of champagne and a spot of brunch on a Sunday afternoon.

That work ethos was never more evident when the designer launched his ‘Festive Collection’ at the London designer boutique Aashni + Co this week.

The Festive Collection is one of the highlights of the fashion calendar in India and coincides with the country’s festival season and this was the first time Malhotra has unveiled it in London – a city which he said was “special” to him and where he intends placing a permanent footprint in the not-too-distant future.

Malhotra was also unveiled on the day as an ambassador for the British Asian Trust, the charity founded by Prince Charles.

“I am overwhelmed at the opportunity of coming on board as an ambassador for The British Asian Trust.  I have been observing their great work for some time and am looking forward to contributing in my own way”, Malhotra said.

The UKAsian caught up with the designer to talk about his plans for London and the sartorial choices of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

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#Divisions: Cheers, Scuffles and Tears as Narendra Modi visits Silicon Valley.

Lights flashed and chants of "Modi, Modi" filled the 18,000-seat sports arena in San Jose, California, on Sunday as the Indian premier took the stage for the final event of his Silicon Valley tour, marked by sporadic protests over his human rights record.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was winding up a whirlwind two-day U.S. West Coast trip and Sunday's event followed visits to some of the world's biggest technology companies, hoping to convince them to bring more investment and jobs to India.

Modi, 65, was the first Indian leader to visit the West Coast in more than 30 years.

His trip followed a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping, who met several tech leaders in Seattle last week.

Modi aimed to deepen ties with the U.S. technology sector and boost India's digital infrastructure by promoting his "Digital India" campaign, which seeks to connect thousands more villages to the Internet.

That campaign received a significant boost when Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg changed his profile picture to depict an Indian flag and pledging his company’s support to the initiative.

"(India) has moved on from scriptures to satellites," Mr Modi said.

"The world has started to believe that the twenty-first century belongs to India."

Technology executives, eager to expand into India with its 1.3-billion population, embraced Mr Modi's initiative, with CEOs from Google and Tesla Motors joining Zuckerberg in hosting Mr Modi at their headquarters.

Apple Inc Chief Executive Tim Cook met with the Prime Minister at his hotel.

The second day of his visit began with a town hall at Facebook headquarters with Zuckerberg, where Mr Modi spent 50 minutes on stage and discussed the importance of social media, Digital India and technological expansion in the country.

Modi is an avid user of social media and the second-most followed world leader after U.S. President Barack Obama.

He became emotional at one point when Zuckerberg asked him to speak about his mother.

"I came from a very poor family. ... We went to our neighbours' houses nearby (to) clean dishes, fill water, do hard chores.  So you can imagine what a mother had to do to raise her children."

Modi later visited Google headquarters and met with Indian-born Chief Executive Sundar Pichai, who announced that Google would bring wireless Internet to 500 Indian railway stations, news that Modi revealed at a dinner Saturday night with more than 350 business leaders.

Though Modi remains wildly popular in India with an 87 percent approval rating, some of his stops were met with protests of his human rights record.

Some claim that Modi did not do enough to stop 2002 religious riots in Gujarat that killed about 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, when he was chief minister of the state.

Anti-Narendra Modi protests in San Jose, California.

He has vehemently denied any wrongdoing.

Mostly Sikh protesters calling on Modi to answer for his rights record temporarily blocked one of Facebook's entrances.

Several hundred people gathered outside San Jose's SAP Center ahead of Modi's speech that lasted several hours.

Half were protesters shouting over metal barricades and holding signs that said "Modi believes in violence, not development," and "#ModiFail" that resulted in several scuffles.

Much of Modi's U.S. visit, on which he received rock-star welcomes, also focused on connecting with the Indian diaspora in Silicon Valley, the IT professionals who migrated in their droves over the past two decades to seize job opportunities that weren't available back home.

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