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Dutch PM gifts bicycle; Indian PM wants to give 5-yr business visa

HAGUE, 28 JUNE. Prime Minister Narendra Modi got a pleasant gift from Mark Rutte, the Prime Minister of the Netherlands.

For those who are unaware, The Netherlands is an economic superpower, yet its Prime Minister has never driven in convoys. A video shared by the Dutch national Broadcaster showed PM Rutte arriving at his office and later in the evening going home on a bicycle. In the video, the Dutch Premier can be seen getting help to fix a minor technical hitch in his black mamba bicycle. Even during his state visit, Rutte always tries to maintain the tradition of coming to work on a bicycle. In 2012, PM Mark Rutte shocked the Iranian delegation when he arrived at work with a bicycle.

"India will soon take a decision on granting five-year business and tourist visa to Dutch passport holders," Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday night.

He made the announcement while addressing the Indian diaspora here just before concluding his day-long visit to The Netherlands, which has the second largest population of the people of Indian origin after the UK.

In this context, he referred to construction of toilets under the Swacch Bharat campaign, adding his government had set an ambitious target of generating 175 gigawatt of renewable energy, that too at rapid pace. He said its cost has fallen drastically and was almost at par with fossil fuel. On solar power, Modi said, "Did the Sun start appearing only after I became the Prime Minister? Was it not there earlier? I coudl see it but they (previous governments) could not."

Talking about electrification, Modi said, "What is the difference between 18th century India and 21st century India, if even after 70 years of independence, 18000 villages do not have electricity?"

He said after becoming the PM in 2014 he asked officials how long it would take to electrify all the 18000 and was told that it would take 60 years. "I told them it has to be speeded up.. And then, from the Red Fort on the Independence Day, I announced that the 18000 villages will be electrified in 1000 days. Those 1000 days are yet to end but 13,000-14,000 villages have already been electrified and the work in the rest of the villages is being done at a fast pace," Modi said. He also said that optical fibre cable is being laid in 2.5 lakh villages to connect their panchayats digitally.

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