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PM wants Ramesh to continue as environment minister
New Delhi, May 13 (IANS):
Published on 14 May. 2010 12:31 AM IST
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Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has turned down Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh’s offer to step down because of the latter’s remarks on Chinese imports, and asked him not to speak out against other ministries.
“Yes, the minister (Ramesh) had clarified his position to the PM (prime minister). He had also offered to quit. But the offer has been turned down for the moment,” a senior official in Prime Minister’s Office said.
Truce was apparently reached after Ramesh called on Home Minister P. Chidambaram at his North Block office Wednesday and sought to clarify that his statements in Beijing last week were needlessly blown out of proportion.
Attending a global meet on climate change in Beijing, Ramesh had said that the Indian security establishment’s policies toward Chinese companies were “alarmist” -- a comment that prompted Chidambaram to write a stern note to the prime minister.
Ramesh had also said that there was danger that cooperation with Beijing flowing from the Copenhagen spirit would end if New Delhi adopted “a needlessly restrictive, alarmist approach” towards Chinese investment in India’s infrastructure.
The home ministry had expressed reservations about allowing the import and installation of equipment from Chinese telecom giant Huawei and other companies on the grounds that they could pose a security challenge in the highly sensitive telecom sector.
At the same time, the home ministry had also said its policies were company-specific and not country-specific. The prime minister, after going through Chidambaram’s letter on the matter, telephoned Ramesh and made it clear that a member of his ministerial council cannot comment on the functioning of other ministries, that too on foreign soil, officials said.
The Union Home Secretary G.K. Pillai Thursday gave a 45-minute hearing to a top official of ZTE India, the wholly-owned subsidiary of Chinese telecom equipment maker ZTE Corp, over its entry into the Indian market. D.K. Ghosh, ZTE India chairman and managing director, met Pillai in the backdrop of security issues-related import of Chinese telecom equipment to India.
“We have appealed to the Indian government. We have put forward our thoughts, let’s see,” Ghosh told reporters while emerging from the meeting held at Pillai’s North Block office. Asked if he was happy, Ghosh said that the meeting was held in a positive environment.
On being questioned Wednesday over the curbs on the import of Chinese telecom equipment to India, Ghosh said: “We have no formal communication but what we have learnt from telecom operators is that certain companies, including ZTE, have not met the security tests.”
“We offer our full cooperation to the Indian government. We fully understand and respect their security concerns and we will adhere to the security norms, policies and requirements of the government,” he said.
ZTE India has a manufacturing facility in Manesar, Haryana, which is more into repairs, maintenance and logistics. It imports telecom equipment and handsets from China.
It has two engineering centres and a research and development centre with main office located in Gurgaon.
Chinese equipment are cheaper than what the US and European companies offer. Almost all telecom companies, including Bharti Airtel, Reliance Communications, Vodafone and state-run Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd import equipment from Chinese suppliers, including ZTE.

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