Narendra Modi US visit: Three Indian cities to be named for smart cities project

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Modi US visit: 3 cities for project
Washington/New Delhi, Sep 29: Three Indian cities are in line to be adopted for the government's "smart cities" project by way of technology and infrastructure upgrade during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's talks in Washington that are also set to see major cooperation with the US in the field of renewable energy.

The Modi government is keen to push ahead with its smart cities project under which 100 smaller cities are to be upgraded to match the resources of the top metros. Japan has evinced interest in developing the oldest living city of Varanasi into a smart city.

Three Indian cities are likely to be identified as part of the smart cities project during talks in Washington, said an official source declining to be named.

Renewable energy, including solar, wind and hydro, would also see cooperation with the US in the field in India. Modi has been pushing for the use of renewable energy, and the visit is expected to see major cooperation in this sector, with the US EXIM bank expected to provide the loans.

The sticky issue of India's Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) regime is also to be in focus during the talks. US firms have decried India's IPR regime as restrictive.

The US has been irked after the Supreme Court last year rejected drug major Novartis's plea for a patent on cancer drug Glivec in April. The Indian government also last year invoked compulsory licence on Bayer Corporation's cancer-treatment drug Nexavar, permitting Hyderabad-based Natco Pharma to manufacture and sell the drug at a price lesser by over 30 times charged by its patent-holder.

The US feels that IPRs are not being adequately enforced in India and following the grant of compulsory licence to manufacture Bayer's anti-cancer drug there is concern that there could be more such compulsory licences.

India would also be discussing the issue of totalisation during the talks. The issue has been under discussion with the US for the past several years. India has almost 300,000 Indian professionals working in the United States and they all contribute to the Social Security System of the US, but they cannot derive benefits from the system because they can only work for about seven years under the immigration regime. Under US law social security benefits are given only if a person lives there beyond 10 year

The US is asking India to enter into a reciprocal totalisation agreement and is presently studying the kind of agreements India has entered into with Canada, where too many Indians are working.

IANS

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