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Meet Harpal Singh Kumar, the Indian-origin cancer researcher knighted by Queen Elizabeth

The largest Indian-origin representation is among the list of Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) which include Rekha Mehr, founder of Indian sweets inspired bakery Pistachio Rose, for services to entrepreneurship and enterprise; Ayesha Hazarika, chief of staff to the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, for political service.

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Heroin trade strained India-UK relations in 1980s: UK files

India’s reluctance to allow Britain to position British officers in New Delhi and Mumbai to monitor illegal heroin trade in the 1980s strained India-UK relations, according to newly-released UK cabinet files.Then British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s government believed that “illicit heroin movement from India” was at an “all-time peak” and wanted her Indian counterpart Rajiv Gandhi to agree to two British Drug Liaison Officers (DLOs) to be appointed in India.However, Gandhi resisted until India had received information of its own on offenders seeking refuge in the UK, according to newly declassified documents in the National Archives. In contrast, Pakistan under President Zia-ul-Haq seemed more receptive to Britain’s requests with DLOs placed in Karachi and Islamabad happy with “effective steps to tackle the problem of heroin production”.”The evidence was that Pakistan was getting on top of the drug production problem,” a letter to Downing Street dated December 4, 1985, noted following a visit by then UK health minister David Mellor to Pakistan.It went on to warn of the problem shifting to India, saying “Mr Mellor believed that, as drug controls were increased in Pakistan, and particularly at Karachi Airport, much of the traffic was now taking the land route to India”.”This would inevitably have an impact on the extent of heroin used and production in India itself. India might replace Afghanistan and Pakistan as the major world supplier,” it said. Mellor was concerned about delays in securing India’s agreement to the secondment of two Customs officers. Following a telegram from Thatcher questioning the reason for the delay, Gandhi responded “I feel that there is a communication gap somewhere. We are determined to combat the drug menace with every resource at our command. We had readily agreed, in principle, to British drug liaison presence in India.”We have an equally pressing problem in relation to economic and commercial offenders, who operate from or seek foreign sanctuaries. Our Parliament and people continue to be exercised on what is perceived to be lack of adequate action against such offenders,” Gandhi wrote.Britain finally got its way and Hartley Booth, an adviser to Thatcher, confirmed the success in a memo dated November 28, 1986, “After 31 approaches from officials and FCO (Foreign & Commonwealth Office) ministers during the last 15 months, India relented on November 20 and accepted the appointment of two drugs liaison officers from the United Kingdom to India”.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

Arrested IAF official was honey-trapped by spy in guise of British journo

Ranjith KK, the 30-year-old Indian Air Force official who was dismissed from service and arrested from an airbase in Punjab earlier this week, had allegedly passed on official secrets to a suspected intelligence operative.According to Delhi police crime branch, the official had been compromised after falling prey to a honey trap set up by the suspected operative, Damini McNought, who posed as a journalist on Facebook.The arrest, made during a combined operation by Delhi police, military intelligence and Air Force liaisoning unit (LU), is being considered another major breakthrough after an ISI-backed espionage network was busted in Jammu and Kashmir earlier this month.Ranjith was posted in Bhatinda as an LAC (Leading Air Craftsman) before being dismissed on Monday. Bhatinda serves as a front line airbase near Pakistan border and has a very important surveillance unit, according to the officials. He is married and has a kid as well, said police.”The accused joined IAF in 2010 and has served in other states as well. He was booked under official secrets act and produced in a city court which sent him to four-day police custody,” said Ravindra Yadav, joint commissioner of Delhi police (Crime).Investigators told dna that Ranjith was contacted by Damini on Facebook nearly a year ago. Damini told Ranjith that she was working for a leading British magazine as a war correspondent and needed his help for a story she was working on.”The suspect offered to transfer money into a bank account under Ranjith’s name. We are looking into recent transactions made towards that account,” said a senior police official. In exchange, Ranjith sent official secrets that included Air Force deployments, exercises and troop movements, he added.Sources told dna that Rs30,000 transferred into the account of Ranjith from a foreign bank had tipped off the intelligence agencies. “Air Force had kept him under surveillance for nearly three months. He had passed on critical sensitive information including air field markings through VOIP calls,” said the source.The accused has disclosed that the alleged spy has a British accent, which was apparent in their conversations during later phase of their relationship, interrogators said.Ranjith’s relationship with the suspected operative took a turn after the duo cosied up to each other. By this time Ranjith had been frequently talking to the suspected spy over WhatsApp and Viber.”We cannot delve into the exact nature of the conversation. But it is believed that the alleged Intel operative had begun to blackmail the accused, threatening to publish the content he had sent her on social media,” an investigator told dna.Delhi police are now trying to pinpoint the location of Damini. Her Facebook profile shows Leeds, United Kingdom as present address and has some others with military background too in friends’ list.The Crime Branch had earlier busted a major espionage network involving officials of the armed forces. Five persons were arrested including personnel of Border Security Force and Rashtriya Rifles. With a second espionage case coming to fore, the Crime Branch is not ruling out the possibility of multiple espionage networks in Indian armed forces.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

Schools in India like factories churning out products: Madhavan Nair

He also advocated the need for exposing school students to the challenges of science and technology and fostering the scientific temper in them. “Though we have a large human resource base, we will cut a sorry figure in front of other nations if we don’t pay attention to these,” Nair said.

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Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro)Madhavan NairEducation
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Actor Orlando Bloom deported, Sushma Swaraj comes to his rescue

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“The Minister asked the Foreign Secretary to speak to the Indian High Commissioner in London to issue a ‘Tatkal’ (urgent) visa to the British actor so that he could attend the state function,” the sources said.

Orlando Bloom

British actor Orlando Bloom was on Sunday deported to the UK soon after his arrival here as his E-visa had been rejected following which External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj came to his help to get a visa.The 38-year-old actor, who was invited by the Uttar Pradesh Government for a state event, was told after he landed here that his e-visa has been rejected and subsequently, he was deported, according to sources.Following this, former Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh spoke to Swaraj seeking her intervention in the matter, they said. “The Minister asked the Foreign Secretary to speak to the Indian High Commissioner in London to issue a ‘Tatkal’ (urgent) visa to the British actor so that he could attend the state function,” the sources said. Following the direction, the actor was granted visa.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The British actor rose to fame after his performance in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. His best-known roles include Legolas in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies, Will Turner in the Pirates of the Caribbean series, Paris in Troy, and Balian de Ibelin in Kingdom of Heaven.

Jawaharlal Nehru’s equations with Sheikh Abdullah, Hari Singh complicated J&K issue: Gujarat Governor

Speaking about Article 370, the Gujarat Governor said while some people say that it is no longer an issue as many central laws are applicable to the state, but added that its various aspects should also be examined.

Jawaharlal Nehru

Former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had a “tilt towards ” Sheikh Abduah and a “tilt against” Raja Hari Singh, which played a big role in “complicating” the Jammu and Kashmir issue, Gujarat Governor O P Kohli on Saturday claimed.Kohli said this at the launch of a book ‘Dr Syama Prasad Mookherjee aur Kashmir Samasya’ authored by his daughter, Ritu Kohli. “He tilted very much towards Sheikh Abdullah, while he tilted against Maharaja Hari Singh, which played a big role in complicating the Jammu and Kashmir episode,” he claimed.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Kohli added that there is need to place the right narration of events before the country, even as he lauded the role played by Syama Prasad Mookherjee. Jammu and Kashmir Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh also said that major decisions were taken at that time because of Nehru’s personal inclinations and the “impact is being faced even today”.Kohli further claimed Congress, even after Independence, continued on its policies of “minority appeasement” or “softness towards Pakistan”, and the establishment of a national alternative to Congress, is one of aspects which needs an in-depth examination.Speaking about Article 370, the Gujarat Governor said while some people say that it is no longer an issue as many central laws are applicable to the state, but added that its various aspects should also be examined.Later when asked by reporters to comment on Kohli’s remarks, Deputy Chief Minister Singh said there are certain aspects related to the state’s history on which clarity is needed and some misconceptions are also present.Singh claimed that at the time when country became free from the British rule, all princely states were dealt with by Sardar Patel, while Nehru “only took care of Kashmir”, because of which “questions arise”.It is a big question, why we went to UN and internationalised the Kashmir issue, Singh asked.

Will UK’s healthcare services discriminate against Indians living there?

The UK government is preparing to introduce charges for non-EU national, including from countries like India, accessing doctor’s services in the country.

Narendra Modi and David Cameron

The UK government is preparing to introduce charges for non-EU national, including from countries like India, accessing doctor’s services in the country. It had been announced earlier this year that the government planned to charge for Accidents and Emergency (A&E) and ambulance care, but this has now been extended to some general practitioner (GP) services too. “We want to make sure that everyone makes a fair contribution to services, by extending charging to make sure visitors pay for the care they receive,” UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said.”This government was the first to introduce tough measures to clamp down on migrants accessing the NHS and these changes will recover up to 500 million pounds per year to put back into frontline patient care,” he said.Under the proposals, refugees and asylum seekers would be exempt from charges, and no-one would be denied emergency care at the point of need, the government said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>From April this year, non-European Union citizens settling in the UK for longer than six months are required to pay a “health surcharge” as part of their visa application which, according to the UK Department of Health, has already produced 100 million pounds in savings.The new proposed changes, expected to be enforced at the end of the consultation period in March 2016, would also see such patients charged for GP services such as blood tests, lung function tests, prescriptions, dental treatment and physiotherapy. They would also have to pay for care received by paramedics, ambulance transport costs, and A&E services such as X-rays, setting broken bones, treating wounds, draining fluids and, when needed, intensive care.The British Medical Association (BMA) has previously said doctors are meant to treat patients and “not to act as border guards”. “A doctor’s duty is to treat the patient in front of them, not to act as border guards. Any plans to charge migrants and short-term visitors need to be practical, economic and efficient,” a BMA spokesperson said.Visitors from EU countries must present a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) when using the NHS, so that the cost of their healthcare can be recouped from their government. PTI AK NSA

SC rubbishes plea for probe into Rahul Gandhi’s citizenship

New Delhi: The Supreme Court today dismissed a plea seeking a direction to CBI to register a case against Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi for allegedly declaring himself as a British national before company law authorities there.

Rahul Gandhi. AFPRahul Gandhi. AFP

Rahul Gandhi. AFP

Chief Justice H.L. Dattu and Justice Amitava Roy dismissed the PIL filed by lawyer M L Sharma, saying PILs cannot be centered around individuals. The bench questioned the “authenticity of the document” attached with the PIL and the manner in which the papers were procured. “Can we start making roving inquiries,” the bench asked while turning the petition as “frivolous”.

The court also questioned the petitioner about the authenticity of the documents he had placed before the court.

Earlier the apex court had refused urgent hearing on a plea filed by lawyer M L Sharma.

Recently, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy has alleged that the Congress Vice President has claimed himself to be a British national before the authorities in connection with incorporation of a firm.

PTI

Mobile app to bring Kolkata’s history alive

Jadavpur University and University of Liverpool in UK in association with the British Library have created an application, ‘Timescape: Kolkata’.

Representational Image

If you happen to pass by the Victoria Memorial, Writers Buildings and several other British-era monuments in the city, wait a second and get every information pertaining to the monument on your smartphone itself.Jadavpur University and University of Liverpool in UK in association with the British Library have created an application, ‘Timescape: Kolkata’, which allows smartphone users get all information of the 19th century British-era monuments in the city. The application was launched on Saturday at the Victoria Memorial. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>All that a smartphone user has to do is click a picture of the monument and get historic images besides the information on their mobile screen. The historic images have been provided by the photographic archives of the British Library. The application will provide information and images over 100 geographical points (such as National Library and Victoria Memorial Hall) and other historic images of the city. “This application aims at bringing past alive. In today’s time once has little time to go through the historic images of the city and the British-era monument’s details. The application will allow smartphone users to see images corresponding 19th century photograph,” said Jayanta Sengupta, curator, Victoria Memorial at the launch of the application.

Nawaz Sharif tells David Cameron that Pakistan is ready for dialogue with India: Geo News

Valletta (Malta): Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has indicated that Pakistan is ready for a dialogue with India without pre-conditions for sustainable peace, according to Pakistani TV channel Geo News.

Sharif is said to have given this indication during a meeting with his British counterpart David Cameron on the sidelines of Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Valletta on Friday.

Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif. ReutersPakistan PM Nawaz Sharif. Reuters

Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif. Reuters

The channel reported that Sharif said Pakistan intends to maintain friendly relations with all its neighbours including India and Afghanistan.

Ties have been strained between the two neighbours over border firing and a series of ceasefire violations. Talks between National Security Advisors of the two countries were cancelled in August because of a dispute over the agenda.

India wanted to discuss terror attacks and Pakistan insisted on raising Kashmir.

The Pakistani Prime Minister told Cameron that Pakistan was deeply saddened by the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and that his country, itself being victim of terrorism, could feel the pain of French people.

The two leaders expressed long term commitment to work together for greater security and prosperity of their countries.

Both prime ministers reaffirmed their commitment to work in partnership for countering the shared threats of terrorism, organised crime and illegal migration, the report said.

It said Sharif and Cameron agreed to continue close collaboration in diverse fields particularly trade, investment and security and the British Prime Minister lauded Pakistan’s efforts in eradication of militancy and extremism.

PTI

What is Constitution Day? Opposition asks govt

The Opposition, particularly the Congress and the Left, sought from the government’s as to what prompted it to declare November 26 as the Constitution Day when the constitution had come in force on January 26, 1950 that is celebrated as the Republic Day.

BJP government came under heavy opposition fire in Rajya Sabha during the debate on commitment to India’s constitution as part of 125th birth anniversary celebrations of Dr B R Ambedkar.The Ppposition, particularly the Congress and the Left, sought from the government’s as to what prompted it to declare November 26 as the Constitution Day when the constitution had come in force on January 26, 1950 that is celebrated as the Republic Day.Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad and CPM’s Sitaram Yechury questioned the sanctity of gazette notification issued by the ministry for social justice and empowerment to commemorate November 26 as the Constitution Day by circumventing the rules as the matter falls within the ambit of home ministry and the temerity of the education ministry to issue a circular on November 10 asking schools to celebrate the day.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Replying to finance minister Arun Jaitley long speech in which sang peans of Dr Ambedkar and indirectly took jibe at Congress’s role of subverting democracy during emergency by subtly equating it with Hitler, leader of the opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad accused BJP of trying to appropriate the icons of India’s freedom struggle without having such a leader of its own and trying to “manufacture a clash” between famous personalities like Sardar Patel, Nehru, dr Ambedkar, Maulana Azad and Netaji on the lines of the British policy of divide and rule.”You can talk about German Constitution, its dictator … but you feel ashamed to talk about Jawaharlal Nehru. … You are not able to recognise the contribution of first Prime Minister …. This is called intolerance. It flows from the top and percolates down to the streets,” said Azad reading out from the objectives that Nehru wrote and forwarded it to drafting committee under the chairmanship of Ambedkar.Picking on Jaitley, Azad said it has become became clear that the discussion on Ambedkar and commitment towards the Constitution was actually a “shield to take aim at other targets.”Yechury was more ruthless in tearing apart the government as he described it as expert in inserting items or events in Indian politics.”You (BJP government) have found a way through event management to worm your way into the national movement…This (Constitution Day) is one such event,”said Yechury inviting sharp comments from BJP member Tarun Vijay.Questioning the relevance of newly coined Constitution Day, Yechury asked, “It was India Independence Act passed in the House of Commons by the then British PM Attlee that was in force during the interim period of two months from November 26, 1949 when the draft constitution was signed and January 26, 1950 when it came in force. What is the new thing that you are trying to project?” What’s its relevance?Questioning the relevance of newly coined Constitution Day, Sitaram Yechury asked, “It was India Independence Act passed in the House of Commons by the then British PM Attlee that was in force during the interim period of two months from November 26, 1949 when the draft constitution was signed and January 26, 1950 when it came in force. What is the new thing that you are trying to project?”

I never saw myself as a Western or an Indian, but as a Muslim: British-Indian fighter

Abu Baseer

A British fighter of Indian origin in the ranks of al Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al Nusrah is the latest casualty from the armed opposition in the conflict in Syria. Known by his nom de guerre of Abu Baseer al Hindi, the fighter was killed in a battle in the coastal Latakia Governarate largely held by the Bashar al Assad led government but partly contested by rebel groups and Syrian armed forces supported by Russia and Iran.The information was recorded on social media where several fighters and supporters of Nusrah wrote about Abu Baseer’s death. The exact details of his death are not known. However, he is believed to have died in the battle for control of Al Zahi mountains in Latakia’s northern countryside. Backed by Russian airforces, over 25 rebels of Nusrah and Free Syrian Army’s 1st Coastal Brigade were killed in the combat. He is the 60th British national to have been killed in the ongoing conflict in Syria.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Amarnath Amarsingham, a postdoctoral fellow at Dalhousie University, Canada has been researching on the phenomenon of foreign fighters to Syria and Iraq and had been in touch with Abu Baseer. According to Amarsingham, Abu Baseer had Bachelors degree in sociology and law from UK where he had a normal upbringing in a Muslim family. “He did not seem to me like he was displaced. He was part of more radical Islamic activism in the UK as well. He was quite committed to the idea that jihad, particularly when faced with a situation like we have in Syria, was a religious obligation for him. He needed to go help his brothers and sisters in Syria.’’Amarsingham recalls that Abu Baseer told him that while he was born in UK, he is of an Indian origin. But he said, “I never saw myself as western or Indian. But a Muslim through and through.’’In a video released by his friends from Nusrah shot earlier in the year, Abu Baseer is seen recounting his time on the front-line. Dressed in military fatigues with a mask covering his face and an overgrown beard, he is seen in a pit with his Kalashnikov. In a noticable British accent, he says he is honoured to be here (in Syria) to “defend Muslim blood”. At one point he adds that while attaining shahada (martyrdom) is his dream, on the front-line one can’t be reckless while standing guard to protect the villages of the civilians.Many fighters on Twitter wrote tributes to Abu Baseer for his anti-IS views and for his drive to genuinely help the Muslims. “He left his well-paying job to come to Syria,’’ wrote one.As of now more than 700 British nationals have made this journey. Britain, which is home to a diverse immigrant population from the erstwhile colonies including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, has seen a large number of members of its Muslim community including converts travel to Iraq and Syria to join the militant groups or to live in the Caliphate declared by the Islamic State. One of the influential case of a British Indian origin jihadi is that of Siddharth Dhar who goes by the name of Abu Rumaysah. Dhar a Hindu convert to Islam, jumped bail while facing terror charges and fled UK with his wife, four children to the Islamic State. He later posted a picture of him holding his newborn son and an AK47 with the hashtag #GenerationKhilafah. Dhar last published an e-book called ‘A Brief Guide to the Islamic State’ [2015]’ a kind of tour guide providing details of the life in Caliphate to prospective recruits.

VIDEO: ‘Banning surrogacy takes away my support system’

Many surrogate mothers in India are protesting against a recent government decision to ban services for foreign couples.

McIlroy moves within a stroke of Dubai lead | Reuters

DUBAI Rory McIlroy carded a seven-under 65 in the third round of the DP World Tour Championships on Saturday and is one stroke adrift of surprise leader Andy Sullivan, who sunk a nerveless late birdie to edge ahead again.

The British pair will play together in Sunday’s concluding round after Sullivan’s 68 gave the 28-year-old an aggregate score of 200 to McIlroy’s 201 at the European Tour’s season finale.

American Patrick Reed (68) is on 203, while Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo (71) and Korea’s Byeong-hun An (66) are both a further stroke behind.

“I’m very satisfied. I hit the ball fantastically well from tee to green,” McIlroy, 26, told reporters.

“Everything was just firing today and that’s why I’m walking off the course a little bit disappointed because that 65 could have easily been a 62 or a 61. But it’s still a great position going into tomorrow.”

Sullivan had begun the day on 12-under, one stroke ahead of Grillo and four clear of the world number three McIlroy.

That meant Sullivan was last to tee off. McIlroy started two groups ahead of him and the Northern Irishman exerted some immediate pressure, making a 10-foot birdie on the first and picking up further shots at holes two and four.

Sullivan, famed for playing with a smile, looked serious on the first tee as he waited to start.

Course conditions were tough and the only respite from the sweltering heat was a sporadic, swirling, blustery wind.

Sullivan sunk a three-foot birdie on the second hole, but fluffed the chance to pick up another stroke at the third, missing from 10 feet.

LIPPED OUT

Worse was to follow on four when a simple putt lipped out for a bogey as McIlroy’s charge seemed to inhibit the usually ebullient Englishman.

Yet an eight-foot birdie at five and another on seven put Sullivan ahead again.

“I just didn’t feel like I was hitting it as close as I was yesterday,” Sullivan told reporters. “It was windy. I found it quite tough to actually get the ball the right distance.”

McIlroy was often sublime, picking up further shots at seven and 10, while the four-time major winner followed a bogey on 12 with three successive birdies.

Sullivan was unbowed, however, also birdying 15. He picked up another shot on 17 with a 20-footer that had him cupping his ears to acknowledge the roar of his boisterous fans, the self-proclaimed Sully Army.

McIlroy erred on the 18th, rolling a simple birdie chance wide, while Sullivan puffed out his cheeks in relief after later making a tricky par putt on the same green.

“If I keep putting the way I am and hitting the ball well, I can still do it,” added Sullivan.

“Rory will have his own fans out there, probably 90 percent of them, but my boys make a lot of noise. I felt like the putter really saved me the last few holes.”

As well as seeking a third tour win of the season, McIlroy is eyeing a third Race to Dubai title in four years, the prize awarded to Europe’s biggest money earner.

McIlroy led going into the season climax and of the six other golfers who could potentially usurp him, only Danny Willett still stands a chance with 18 holes to play.

The Englishman’s third-round 67 puts him on 205, four adrift of McIlroy.

“I’d love to finish the year on a high and win the Race to Dubai and more importantly win this tournament,” McIlroy said.

(Reporting by Matt Smith; editing by Toby Davis)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Delhi University students to get special discount on food, apparel, study material

The ISIC card will be in the form of a smart card which will serve the dual purpose of an identity card for a DU student and a discount card.

Delhi University

Delhi University students will be able to avail discounts on major national and international brands, study material, food and apparel by displaying a special student I-card provided to them.The I-card, called the International Student Identity Card (ISIC) endorsed by UNESCO was launched on Saturday and is being made available to the university students by Delhi University Student’s Union (DUSU) and will be accepted worldwide.”An ISIC card is currently being used by students in around 130 countries. Once this card is made available to DU students they can avail discounts in Microsoft, British Council, IELTS, Lenskart, Pizza Hut and other popular brands,” said a DUSU member.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The ISIC card will be in the form of a smart card which will serve the dual purpose of an identity card for a DU student and a discount card.DUSU is going to organise camps in various colleges starting in a few days to issue these cards to the students.”The cards will be issued to students only when they show their DU identity card. A nominal fee of Rs 250 will be charged from the students at the time of issuing of cards. It will come with a magnetic strap and a unique identification number like the smart cards and can be swiped at some places,” the member said.Some of the offers that will be available on the card include, a 90% discount on purchase of software from Microsoft, 20% discount on career planning workshops organised by Career Smart, a career counselling group, up to 50% discount on brands like Lakme and Pizza Hut outlets.

Citizenship row: Onus on Rahul Gandhi to prove he is innocent, says Subramanian Swamy

“How can one believe that for five years Rahul continued making a typing mistake,” Swamy said.

“I am happy he (Rahul) called me a chamcha as in Congress, chamcha is a very high post,” Swamy said.

File Photo
BJP leader Subramanian Swamy on Saturday accused Congress leader Rahul Gandhi of evading questions on the issue allegedly involving him in the incorporation of a company in Britain in 2003. “I have obtained documents which show that Rahul Gandhi had claimed himself to be a British national before the company law authorities there for setting up a company,” Swamy told reporters here. “Rahul Gandhi has confessed that he is a British citizen.The onus to prove he is innocent is on Rahul Gandhi,” he said in reply to a query.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”How can one believe that for five years Rahul continued making a typing mistake,” Swamy said on Congress party’s stand that the mention of being a British national in the documents may have been a typing error. Rahul has rejected the allegations against him and has dared Prime Minister Narendra Modi to order an inquiry against him and jail him if he is proved guilty. He accused Modi of using his ‘chamchas’ (cronies) to throw mud at him like the RSS and BJP did against his parents and grandmother Indira Gandhi.”I have also been labelled as a ‘chamcha’,” the BJP leader said. “I am happy he (Rahul) called me a chamcha as in Congress, chamcha is a very high post,” Swamy said. I feel that being called a chamcha is a great compliment, he added.

Anish Kapoor removed from arts panel

The British-Indian sculptor and 11 others removed from Rajasthan’s arts promotion body.

Was Narendra Modi given a warm welcome in UK back in 2003? Former diplomat disagrees

According to Satyabrata Pal, when Modi decided to visit UK post Godhra riots, the government’s reaction wasn’t exactly warm and receptive.

File Photo

PM Narendra Modi in his recent UK tour addressed a joint press conference with David Cameron where questions were raised about travel restrictions imposed on the erstwhile Gujarat CM post-2002 Godhra riots. Modi answered promptly saying that he wants to ‘set the record straight’ and that he had travelled to UK in 2003, and was warmly welcomed in the country. Now, ex-diplomat Satyabrata Pal, who was India’s Deputy High Commission in London at that time has written an article in The Wire, where he claims that the situation was not as rosy as Modi is claiming in UK at that time. Pal says that post-Gujarat riot, the British media was up in arms and Foreign Office in London was busy doing damage control. According to Pal, when Modi decided to visit UK in such a hostile atmosphere, the government’s reaction wasn’t exactly warm and receptive.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>They thought that Modi’s visit would drive a wedge between the immigrants and criticising him would not go down well with the Indian government, a crucial ally. Hence according to Pal, they wanted Modi to cancel his visit keeping larger bilateral interests in mind. The Indian High Commission also shared similar views and they sent their recommendations to the Foreign Ministry. Pal claims that Foreign Ministry also saw reason to their objection, but due to intervention from then PM Vajpayee, Modi’s trip went through. Pal has made an even more startling claim that there was serious apprehension of Modi being formally arrested or being under citizen’s arrest during his 2003 UK tour. UK government expressed their concern to their Indian counterpart, however Modi continued his trip as usual. According to Pal, this showed that Narendra Modi’s personal ambition was more important to him than Indo- UK bilateral relationship. Pal goes on to say that in 2005 Modi again planned a UK visit but the authorities were much more strident in their views. With a regime change in India too, Modi chose to play safe that time and promptly cancelled his visit, claims ex-diplomat Satyabrata Pal.

Subramanian Swamy demands ED probe against Rahul Gandhi

Swamy, who a couple of days ago alleged that Rahul has declared himself a British national in documents before the company law authorities in the UK, told reporters here that he has written a fresh letter to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the subject and demanded a CBI or ED probe into it

BJP leader Subramanian Swamy on Thursday demanded a CBI or ED probe alleging that there is a possibility that a shell company with Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi as Company Secretary and Director may have been formed in Britain.Swamy, who a couple of days ago alleged that Rahul has declared himself a British national in documents before the company law authorities in the UK, told reporters here that he has written a fresh letter to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the subject and demanded a CBI or ED probe into it. “While I do not have complete picture, the material enclosed are of sufficient prima facie value to order an investigation by the CBI/Enforcement Directorate with Mr Rahul Gandhi as the principal accused,” Swami said in a letter to Modi.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Also Read: Citizenship row: Rahul Gandhi accuses PM Modi of ‘throwing mud’, dares government to jail him if he is guiltyThe Congress had however, rejected the allegations of nationality against Rahul saying that it is a “bunch of falsehood”. Reacting to gandhi’s challenge to the government to jail him, Swamy took a dig at him saying “whether he is right or not ….police will take him. He will not go (to jail) on his own will.”He also questioned Rahul as to why he did not disclose his interest in a British company in his election affidavit or under Foreign Currency (Regulation) Act or Foreign Exchange Management Act. “You clarify, then all things will fall in place,” he said.

PM Narendra Modi reaches G20 Summit venue in Turkey

In Turkey, Modi will attend the G20 Summit, chaired by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Modi’s three-day trip had a packed schedule that included delegation-level talks with his British counterpart David Cameron

ANI Twitter
Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived at the G20 Summit from Antalya, Turkey after arriving there from UK on the second leg of his visit.PM Modi had earlier tweeted after reaching Turkey.”Reached Turkey to participate in @G20Turkey2015. Will meet world leaders & discuss global economic & security issues,” Modi tweeted after his arrival here from the UK.The Prime Minister described his three-day maiden visit to the UK as successful.Modi’s three-day trip had a packed schedule that included delegation-level talks with his British counterpart David Cameron, lunch with Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace, a speech to British MPs and an address to the Indian diaspora at the Wembley Stadium.In Turkey, Modi will attend the G20 Summit, chaired by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.The summit will focus on the current state of the global economy, sustainable growth, development and climate change, investment, trade and energy. Participating leaders are also expected to discuss political issues such as global terrorism and the refugee crisis in addition to the economic agenda.

PM Narendra Modi leaves for Turkey after three-day UK visit

Modi’s three-day tour had a packed schedule that included delegation-level talks with his British counterpart Cameron, lunch with Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace, a speech to British MPs and an address to the Indian diaspora at the Wembley Stadium.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday wrapped up his three-day UK visit and left for Turkey where he will attend the G20 Summit. After visiting a Tata Motors-owned Jaguar Land Rover factory in the West Midlands region of England, Modi boarded a flight from Heathrow Airport to Antalya in Turkey to take part in the G20 summit, which opens tomorrow. “My gratitude to the British people & Govt. Special thanks to PM @David_Cameron for his personal attention to all the aspects of my visit,” Modi tweeted before his departure from the UK.”The progress on the economic front was satisfying. India & UK are partners in development & our economic cooperation is all set to increase,” he said. “Goodbye UK. This visit was memorable because of the wide range of programmes I attended. The ground covered will transform India-UK ties,” he added.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Modi’s three-day tour had a packed schedule that included delegation-level talks with his British counterpart Cameron, lunch with Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace, a speech to British MPs and an address to the Indian diaspora at the Wembley Stadium.In Turkey, Modi will attend the G20 Summit, chaired by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The summit will focus on the current state of the global economy, sustainable growth, development and climate change, investment, trade and energy.Participating leaders are also expected to discuss political issues such as global terrorism and the refugee crisis in addition to the economic agenda.

Tipu Sultan, ‘servant of French’, had no qualities worth celebrating: Subramanian Swamy

Karnataka government has decided to celerbrate Tipu Sultan’s birth anniversary from this year with the main event held here on November 10.

BJP leader Subramanian Swamy on Saturday described Tipu Sultan as a “servant of the French” and said the 18th century ruler of Mysore had no qualities for his memory to be celebrated. “His (Tipu) supporters say he fought the British, well he fought the British not as an independent entity, he fought the British as what I would say as the servant of the French,” Swamy said. He said,”Napolean had arrived in Africa. He was confident of winning the war there and he wanted to come to India, so there was an alliance made by the French and Tipu Sultan to fight the British together.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Of course, Napolean lost the war and ended up also losing his position in France. But there is nothing to say that this man (Tipu) has any qualities for which we can celebrate his memory,” Swamy told reporters after a ‘discussion’ organised by “The Open Platform for Netaji.”Karnataka government has decided to celerbrate Tipu Sultan’s birth anniversary from this year with the main event held here on November 10. The celebration amidst protest from few pro-Hindu outfits had lead to death of two persons in Kodagu district following clashes, and a man was stabbed in Bantwal taluk near Mangaluru.Stating that there is no academically or scholarly or intellectually acceptable biography of Tipu Sultan, Swamy said the only authentic records “we have is the letters he wrote to his commander in chief, friends and so on.” He said “on the basis of whatever material that is available, there is no doubt that in various parts of India like Coorg, Kerala, Malabar in particular, of course in Trivandrum area where he got a beating- there he has engaged in a severe brutality with focus on Poojari’s of the area.”He said rocketry for which Tipu is credited for by few historians was developed much before and was used by Kings earlier also. Pointing out that for 216 years no government ever thought of celebrating Tipu or even remembering him, Swamy said,”It is being deliberately done because Congress party is desperate that they may loose the next elections.” Swamy said he will request for reopening of cases into the deaths of few national leaders including Mahatma Gandhi after the secret files related to Subhas Chandra Bose will be declassified by the central government beginning January 23.”I will have to request for Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, Deendayal Upadhyaya case also….” he said.On Subash Chandra Bose case, Swamy said “After January 23 basic thing will be clear that Subash Chandra Bose did not die in the air crash, he reached Russia after that what happened every thing will be out.”

India full of diversity, It is our pride and our strength: PM Modi at Wembley Stadium

Modi was addressing thousands of people, almost all of Indian origin, at a Grand Community reception in his honour at the iconic Wembley Stadium, home to rock concerts and England’s national soccer team. The event was themed ‘Two Great Nations, One Glorious Future’.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses a welcome rally in his honour at Wembley Stadium in London on November 13, 2015.

AFP photo
Facing attack back home over the issue of intolerance, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said India’s diversity was the country’s “strength and pride” and underlined the importance of peaceful co-existence.Modi also said that there is no reason for India to remain poor, asserting. “we harbor poverty for no reason.” “India is full of diversity. This diversity is our pride and it is our strength. Diversity is the speciality of India.” he said, adding that despite the country being home to diverse religions, over 100 languages and 1,500 dialects Indians have proved how to live together.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Modi was addressing thousands of people, almost all of Indian origin, at a Grand Community reception in his honour at the iconic Wembley Stadium, home to rock concerts and England’s national soccer team. The event was themed ‘Two Great Nations, One Glorious Future’.Courting the Indian diaspora with rock star-style tour on the second day of his three-day visit to the UK–the first by an Indian Premier in 10 years–, Modi got a rapturous welcome when he reached one of Britain’s most famous sporting venues this evening. An estimated 50,000 to 60,000 people were present at the event, according to the organisers.”Your warm welcome makes me feel home,” Modi told the biggest gathering of Indian diaspora he has ever addressed since assuming office in May 2014.Modi was introduced to the gathering by British Prime Minister David Cameron, whose wife Samantha, draped in a saree, was also present.Cameron greeted the assembled audience with a “Namaste” which drew loud cheers and followed up with another greeting “‘kem cho'(How are you?) Wembley” in Gujarati. He renewed his pitch for India getting a permanent seat in the UN Security Council.”When it comes to UN we know what needs to happen- India with a permanent seat at the UN Security Council,” Cameron said.Britain has a 1.5 million-strong Indian diaspora population. The event was held in a carnival atmosphere following celebrations for Diwali festival.Performers included Indian-origin pop star Jay Sean, popular Bollywood singer ‘Baby Doll’ Kanika Kapoor and Alisha Chinai, who belted out her famous ‘Made in India’ Hindi number of the 90s, and the London Philharmonic Orchestra.A dynamic cultural show showcasing dance styles prevailing across India besides a variety of dance mixes with Bollywood songs was on display. The audience also heard classical, folk art and contemporary music performances. There was also a performance by Scottish bagpipers.Special ‘ModiExpress’ buses were deployed to transport the attendees from across the UK.Modi told the gathering that newspaper and TV headlines are not the barometer to assess a country, a veiled reference to a number of reports in the British media today that were critical of his past and his record on human rights besides bringing up the issue of perceived intolerance in India.”India is not only that much what is seen in newspapers. India is much bigger. India with its 125 crore people is much bigger and better with a preeminent position beyond the screen of Television,” he said.Referring to his meeting with leaders of the Sikh community yesterday, Modi said, “We shared our thoughts on various subjects. I understand their pain on some issues as well”.Modi said the two dreams India were working towards was a clean India and India with 24/7 electricity. “18,000 villages in India need electricity. In next 1,000 days we will ensure they get it.””The pace and direction of progress in India is such that the fruits of development will be seen very soon,” he said.”World is seeing India as a land of many opportunities”.The Prime Minister announced a direct Air India flight between Ahmedabad and London from December 15. He said this connectivity had been established in 2003 during Vajpayee government but was discontinued later.”What is the use of taking names as to who did it,” he said in apparent dig at the UPA government.During the course of his 75-minute address, Modi referred to a youth Imran Khan of Alwar in Rajasthan who made 50 mobile applications and dedicated them to the students without charging anything.”My India resides in people like Imran Khan,” he said.Stating that FDI into India has increased by 40 %, Modi said this showed the increasing international confidence in India.Setting the tone for the global summit on climate change in Paris later this month, Modi said India will take a lead in showing to the world how to deal with the problem. He said he will be hosting a meeting of countries rich in solar energy resorces to help tap the renewable energy.The Prime Minister referred to the defence sector and said efforts were on to ensure that weapons systems including submarines, tanks, planes, warships are made in India which will help the country save millions of dollars. He said all major global players in defence sector are knocking at India’s door expressing keenness to manufacture in India.Modi, who acknowledged that terrorism is a challenge to both India and the UK, asserted that the Sufi tradition is the best antidote to terrorism and anybody who understood the message of this tenet would not have picked up the gun.”Kabir and Rahim have been our inspirations. Sufi tradition is the best antidote to terrorism,” he said, adding the two main challenges facing the world today are terrorism and global warming.Addressing the issue of terrorism, Cameron said this is a threat to the very existence of the two countries and they stand shoulder-to-shoulder to tackle it, reminding the gathering about the Mumbai and London attacks.Modi said that his experience in the office in 18 months has made it clear to him that there is no reason for India to remain poor.”There is no reason for India to remain poor, we harbor poverty for no reason. I wonder why we have started pampering povery” he said, adding that India’s demographic profile is predominantly of youth and hence nobody can stall the country’s development.”65 % of the population of the country consists of people below 35 years. India is full of youth and a country which has so many youth cannot continue to lag behind. Nobody can halt its march to development,” he said.On Indo-UK relations, Modi said, “Between two vibrant democracies we are celebrating this very special relationships in this very special venue,” Modi stated.”I was told London will be cold but not so cold. Your warm welcome makes me feel at home. I am grateful to PM Cameron for his kind words,” Modi said.”I want to thank PM Cameron and acknowledge the affection he has towards India,” he added.

Cameron plays safe as Modi tackles tricky issues

Cameron plays safe as Modi tackles issues

Cameron says discussed writers’ letter expressing concern over ‘growing intolerance’ with PM Modi

Booker Prize winner Rushdie, recent Booker prize shortlisted British-Indian author Neel Mukherjee and other well-known names like Ian McEwan and Hari Kunzru were among the signatories of the open letter to Cameron.

Modi-Cameron

PTI
British Prime Minister David Cameron on Friday said that the concerns of freedom of speech raised by over 200 authors in an open letter to him were discussed during talks with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi.The British Prime Minister stressed that the UK remained positive about the positive investment climate in the country. “We talked about the letter and as ever in our relationship, nothing was off the table in terms of the subjects we discussed. I see India as I see Britain, a country that is a vibrant multi-racial, multi-faith, multi-ethnic democracy that has very strong public debate, freedom of speech, rule of law and those are things that Britain and India continue to learn from each other,” Cameron told PTI.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Asked about his views on the reports of a curb on freedom of speech coming out of India, he said, “I think what s happening in India is that a Prime Minister with a very clear mandate to reform and open up the Indian economy to investment. That was the message very strongly received here in Britain.” Over 200 prominent authors including Salman Rushdie had asked Cameron in a letter to raise the issue of “rising climate of fear” and “growing intolerance” in India with Modi.Booker Prize winner Rushdie, recent Booker prize shortlisted British-Indian author Neel Mukherjee and other well-known names like Ian McEwan and Hari Kunzru were among the signatories of the open letter to Cameron.Cameron described his private dinner with Modi at his country residence in Chequers as his personal highlight. “I think the highlight for me was having dinner together at Chequers and the ability to talk very privately about the challenges we both face. We had very good discussions,” he said.On the overall visit, he added: “It’s been a fantastic visit because we are taking the visit to a much higher level and we ve got not just the big business deals of 9 billion and the jobs and the growth but the partnerships of energy and infrastructure and skills. “Above all, I can see that Prime Minister Modi is deadly serious about his plans to transform India and Britain can play a big part in helping him to do that.”

‘Mumbai’ must replace ‘Bombay’ in all institutions: Sena MP Arvind Sawant

After the Centre officially approved Mumbai’s renaming, the civic body, the Bombay Municipal Corporation, became the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation in early 1996.

Arvind Sawant

Claiming the name of the city was changed from ‘Mumbai’ to ‘Bombay’ by the British for ease of pronunciation, a Shiv Sena leader on Friday said all institutions still bearing the colonial-era name must undergo change in their nomenclature.The name ‘Bombay’ was changed to ‘Mumbai’ 20 years ago and several institutions also rechristened themselves like 1887-built Victoria Terminus, a World Heritage Site, was changed to ‘Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus’. Incidentally, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in London currently as part of a three-day visit, where he also spoke about connected histories of India and the UK. Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant claimed Mumbai was changed into Bombay by British rulers for pronunciation purpose.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”We have already raised this issue in Parliament and the state government has even officially conveyed that the names of all institutions should bear the name Mumbai. It is high time now this happened,” Sawant said. “Why did Mumbai become Bombay? There is a history behind it. The group of islands were always called Mumbai but only because the British rulers could not pronounce it properly that they changed the name to Mumbai,” he claimed.Sawant further claimed the name Mumbai has been mentioned in ancient literature. “Also, Mumbai has derived its name from Goddess Mumbadevi. The city’s name reflects the name of the Goddess. Our ancient texts and literatures have never used the name Bombay.” The Sena had effected ‘Bombay’ to ‘Mumbai’ change in 1995, when it came to power in Maharashtra in alliance with BJP, but several well-known institutions like the High Court and Indian Institute of Technology still use Bombay in their nomenclature.After the Centre officially approved Mumbai’s renaming, the civic body, the Bombay Municipal Corporation, became the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation in early 1996.

Concerns over freedom of speech in India discussed with Modi: David Cameron

London: British Prime Minister David Cameron on Friday said that the concerns of freedom of speech raised by over 200 authors in an open letter to him were discussed during talks with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi.

The British Prime Minister stressed that the UK remained positive about the positive investment climate in the country.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his UK counterpart David Cameron shake hands before a delegation level meeting at 10 Downing Street in London on Thursday. PTIPrime Minister Narendra Modi and his UK counterpart David Cameron shake hands before a delegation level meeting at 10 Downing Street in London on Thursday. PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his UK counterpart David Cameron shake hands before a delegation level meeting at 10 Downing Street in London on Thursday. PTI

“We talked about the letter and as ever in our relationship, nothing was off the table in terms of the subjects we discussed. I see India as I see Britain, a country that is a vibrant multi-racial, multi-faith, multi-ethnic democracy that has very strong public debate, freedom of speech, rule of law and those are things that Britain and India continue to learn from each other,” Cameron told PTI.

Asked about his views on the reports of a curb on freedom of speech coming out of India, he said, “I think what’s happening in India is that a Prime Minister with a very clear mandate to reform and open up the Indian economy to investment. That was the message very strongly received here in Britain.”

Over 200 prominent authors including Salman Rushdie had asked Cameron in a letter to raise the issue of “rising climate of fear” and “growing intolerance” in India with Modi.

Booker Prize winner Rushdie, recent Booker prize shortlisted British-Indian author Neel Mukherjee and other well-known names like Ian McEwan and Hari Kunzru were among the signatories of the open letter to Cameron.

Cameron described his private dinner with Modi at his country residence in Chequers as his personal highlight. “I think the highlight for me was having dinner together at Chequers and the ability to talk very privately about the challenges we both face. We had very good discussions,” he said.

On the overall visit, he added: “It’s been a fantastic visit because we are taking the visit to a much higher level and we’ve got not just the big business deals of £9 billion and the jobs and the growth but the partnerships of energy and infrastructure and skills.

“Above all, I can see that Prime Minister Modi is deadly serious about his plans to transform India and Britain can play a big part in helping him to do that.”

PTI

Prince William and wife Kate Middleton to visit India for the first time next year

London: Prince William and his wife Kate Middleton will undertake their first visit to India in the first half of next year, Kensington Palace announced on Friday coinciding with Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s maiden UK trip.

The announcement came soon after Prime Minister Modi was hosted for lunch by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace.

Prince William and Kate Middleton

Prince William and Kate Middleton

“The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will be visiting India in spring (February-June) next year. This is their first visit to the country and has been planned on the request of the British government,” a Kensington Palace spokesperson told PTI.

It is believed the couple, both aged 33, will visit the Taj Mahal among other tourist destinations in the country.

Whether the couple will be accompanied by their children — Prince George and Princess Charlotte — along with other details of the tour will be known by early next year.

The visit is set to be their first official overseas tour together since their three-day tour of New York in December 2014.

It will be the first time William and Kate have visited the region, and as such they will undertake a broad range of engagements during their time in India, reports said.

Although Prince William has never visited India before, his father Prince Charles has carried out eight official royal tours to the nation, the most recent being a nine-day tour of Dehradun, New Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and Kochi in November 2013.

William’s mother Diana, Princess of Wales, also visited India in 1992.

Queen last travelled to India in 1997.

PTI

A royal meet: Queen Elizabeth hosts PM Modi for lunch at Buckingham Palace

London: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday arrived at the Buckingham Palace where he was received by Queen Elizabeth II who will host him for lunch on the second day of his three-day visit to Britain.

“Her Majesty The Queen with PM @narendramodi at Buckingham Palace,” PMO India tweeted.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a meeting with Queen Elizabeth at Backingham Palace in London on Friday. PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a meeting with Queen Elizabeth at Backingham Palace in London on Friday. PTI

A photograph showing Modi in conversation with the British monarch inside Buckingham Palace was also attached to the tweet. Modi was wearing a white kurta-pyjama with a maroon Nehru jacket.

“Building on the bonds of history. PM @narendra Modi calls on Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II,” tweeted Vikas Swarup, spokesperson for the ministry of external affairs.

Prior to this, Modi, along with British Prime Minister David Cameron, attended a meeting of the UK-India CEO Forum at Lancaster House here.

The Indian prime minister began the day by continuing bilateral parleys with Cameron at the Chequers, the countryside retreat of the British prime minister. Modi was hosted by Cameron to a private dinner on Thursday at the Chequers and he spent the night there.

Later on Friday evening, Modi will address around 60,000 people of Indian origin at the iconic Wembley Stadium here.

This will be followed by a reception in his honour by India’s High Commissioner to Britain, Ranjan Mathai.

IANS

Britain, India sign over 9 billion pounds in deals despite protests | Reuters

LONDON Britain and India welcomed more than 9 billion pounds ($13.7 billion) in commercial deals during a visit by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but his arrival was overshadowed by protests over a perceived rise in intolerance back home.

Modi got a warm welcome by British Prime Minister David Cameron, who has tried to cultivate closer ties with India to secure business opportunities in a fast-growing economy at a time when Modi has been prioritising other relationships.

For his part, Modi is seeking to restore his authority on the world stage after a defeat for his Hindu nationalist party in populous Bihar state on Sunday. He appealed to business to invest in a more transparent India in a speech at the Guildhall, a historic building in the heart of London’s financial district.

While Cameron said he wanted to support Modi in his efforts to transform India with improved infrastructure, the Indian leader signalled he wanted Britain to stay in the European Union, saying the country was India’s gateway to Europe.

“We want to become your number one partner for supporting the finance needed for this ambitious plan, making London the world’s centre for offshore rupee trading,” Cameron told him during a news conference, adding that plans were in place to issue more than 1 billion pounds in bonds.

He later said in a statement: “During this visit, British and Indian companies are announcing new collaborations, together worth more than £9 billion pounds.”

The British government listed more than 20 deals and collaborations, including a 1.3 billion-pound ($1.98 billion) investment by Vodafone (VOD.L).

The two prime ministers also welcomed a package to promote clean energy worth 3.2 billion pounds of commercial agreements, joint research programmes and initiatives to share technical, scientific, and financial and policy expertise.

Before the visit, diplomats said the Indian leader was keen to buy 20 more BAE Systems (BAES.L) Hawk trainer aircraft to be made in Bengaluru.

Cameron has visited India three times since taking office in 2010 to try to climb up the diplomatic pecking order, but Modi is the first Indian head of government to pay an official visit to Britain, the country’s former colonial ruler, in almost a decade.

His visit comes at a time when a debate is raging in India over accusations that Modi is failing to rein in Hindu zealots trying to impose their values on all Indians.

POMP AND PROTESTS

As Modi and Cameron shook hands for the cameras outside Number 10 Downing Street, a crowd of about 200 protesters could be heard shouting anti-Modi slogans nearby.

“Our main concern is that minorities are not safe in India,” said Sikh protester Kuldip Singh.

The demonstrators held up banners with messages such as “Modi you are killing Indian democracy” and “Stop religious persecution in India”.

Asked about these concerns at his joint news conference with Cameron, Modi said India was a vibrant democracy in which individual rights were guaranteed by the constitution.

“There is something that is deeply entrenched in our culture, in our traditions, which is that of not accepting anything that has to do with intolerance,” he said, adding that violent incidents would not be tolerated.

Critics have accused Modi of remaining silent about incidents such as the recent deaths of four people attacked by Hindus enraged at reports of cows being slaughtered, smuggled or consumed, and the separate shootings of two prominent atheists.

Before his arrival in Britain, more than 200 writers, including Salman Rushdie and Ian McEwan, signed an open letter to Cameron urging him to raise concerns about freedom of expression in India during his talks with Modi.

About 45 British members of parliament, including opposition Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn, signed a motion to debate India’s human rights record.

The British government, however, rolled out the red carpet for Modi, who was greeted in the grand courtyard of the Treasury by a guard of honour wearing ceremonial bearskin headgear.

Modi was due to have lunch with Queen Elizabeth on Friday, before the emotional high point of his visit, a mass rally at Wembley Stadium where Modi will address about 60,000 supporters from India’s 1.5 million-strong diaspora in Britain.

(Additional reporting by Kate Holton and William James,; Writing by Estelle Shirbon,; Editing by Elizabeth Piper, Larry King)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Omar Abdullah slams critics,asks why can’t we praise PM’s excellent speech

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Friday took on critics of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech to British Parliamentarians asking “why cannot we take pride” in the excellent speech made by him.

Omar Abdullah

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Friday took on critics of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech to British Parliamentarians asking “why cannot we take pride” in the excellent speech made by him.”The Indian PM made an excellent speech to British MPs in their Parliament. Why can’t we just take pride in that?,” Omar said in response to a tweet on a Twitter account which claims to be a handle for Congress volunteers.”PM didn’t address joint session of parliament, but a speech to MPs in the royal gallery. Yeh Jhoot bhi pakda gaya (this lie has also been caught),” the volunteer handle, @withCongress, had tweeted. The former Chief Minister remarked on some of the questions asked of the Prime Minister saying it would be safe to assume that the British press was not “advised” about the questions to be asked.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I think we can safely assume that the British press was not ‘advised’ about what to ask & what not to. Some very hard hitting questions!,” he said. However, he made it clear that second part of the question asked by the British newspaper ‘Guardian’ was “disrespectful” towards the Prime Minister.”The second part of the @guardian question to PM Modi was rather disrespectful to say the least,” he said. The Guardian reporter had asked Modi about protests on the streets of London saying he did not deserve the respect that would normally be accorded to the leader of the world’s largest democracy given his record as Gujarat Chief Minister.

Modi in UK: PM spends time at Chequers retreat, to lunch with Queen today

In the evening, he is expected to address a 60,000-strong Indian Diaspora at the world famous Wembley Stadium, where as per television channel reports, arrangements are being fine tuned.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his UK counterpart David Cameron shakes hands after the joint press conference in London on Thursday.

PTI
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who stayed overnight at at Chequers, a 16th-century mansion that is the British Prime Minister’s country retreat in Buckinghamshire, has reportedly had another round of talks with his David Cameron and will return to London to meet with Chancellor of Exchequer Gordon Osborne and key British CEOs, which then will be followed by a lunch with Queen Elizabeth II at the Buckingham Palace.In the evening, he is expected to address a 60,000-strong Indian Diaspora at the world famous Wembley Stadium, where as per television channel reports, arrangements are being fine tuned. The event at the Wembley Stadium will also feature Bollywood performances and fireworks and will be attended by Prime Minister David Cameron.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On Thursday, Modi spoke at the Royal Gallery of the British Parliament and held bilateral talks with Cameron. He also addressed UK’s top industry leaders at London’s Guildhall, and made a pitch for investment in India. He said that it has been his endeavour to make India an easy and simple place to do business.During this visit, India and the UK have already announced deals worth nine billion pounds. The two countries have also signed a civil nuclear cooperation pact. Prime Minister Cameron has said that the UK supports India’s permanent membership in the UN Security Council.On reports of intolerance in India, Modi said his government was committed to protecting every Indian citizen’s freedom. At the Royal Gallery of the British Parliament, he took a strong stand on terror and reaffirmed India’s stance on climate change.”We need a social movement against extremism in countries where they originate,” he said.

PM Modi pays homage at Mahatma Gandhi’s statue in London

Prime Minister Modi and his British counterpart David Cameron also witnessed a fly-past by the Red Arrows, the aerobatics display team of the Royal Air Force, over Gandhi’s statue.

Image Courtesy: PM Modi’s Twitter Account

Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid homage to Mahatma Gandhi at his statue at the Parliament Square here.”At the heart of London, in the middle of Parliament Square, Bapu is immortalised.The 2 PMs pay homage to the Mahatma,” tweeted Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) official spokesperson Vikas Swarup.Prime Minister Modi and his British counterpart David Cameron also witnessed a fly-past by the Red Arrows, the aerobatics display team of the Royal Air Force, over Gandhi’s statue.”#IndiaUK relatns flying high. The tricolour lights up the London skies in a special fly past by the Royal Air Force,” said Swarup in another tweet.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister, who arrived here today on a three-day visit to Britain, earlier thanked Cameron for supporting India’s bid for permanent membership of the UN Security Council.

‘Isolate those who harbour terrorists’: PM Modi takes a dig at Pakistan in speech to British MPs

London: In a veiled reference to Pakistan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said there should be a global resolve to “isolate” those who harbour terrorists and willingness to stand with nations that will fight them “honestly”.

PM Narendra Modi. PTI

PM Narendra Modi. PTI

Addressing MPs in British Parliament’s Royal Gallery, Modi, who is the first Indian Prime Minister to visit the UK in 10 years, said the world must speak in one voice and act in unison to combat terrorism, calling it a “challenge of our times.”

Dwelling on terrorism among other subjects during his 25-minute speech, Modi said there should be no distinction between terrorist groups or discrimination between nations.

“There should be a resolve to isolate those who harbour terrorists and willingness to stand with nations that will fight them honestly. And, we need a social movement against extremism in countries where it is most prevalent and, every effort to delink religion and terrorism,” he said.

“The world must speak in one voice and act in unison to combat this challenge of our times,” Modi said while stating that terrorism and extremism are a global force that are larger than their changing names, groups, territories and targets.

“We must adopt a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism in the UN without delay. There should be no distinction between terrorist groups or discrimination between nations.

On the situation in the Indian sub-continent, Modi said India wants an Afghanistan that is shaped by the dreams of the great Afghan people, not by “irrational fears and overreaching ambitions” of others.

Modi told the British parliamentarians that we are living in a world where instability in a distant region quickly reaches our doorsteps and that we see this in the challenges of radicalization and refugees.

“The fault lines are shifting from the boundaries of nations into the web of our societies and the streets of our cities,” he said.

Stating that he is truly honoured to speak in the British Parliament, Modi said even in this globalised world, London is still the standard for our times.

Modi said Indians invest more in Britain than in the rest of European Union combined not because they want to save on interpretation costs, but because they find an environment that is welcoming and familiar.

India is the third largest source of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) projects in the UK.

Stating that India is new bright spot of hope and opportunity for the world, the Prime Minister said India among other things is igniting the engines of its manufacturing sector and making its farms more productive and more resilient.

“If you visit India, you will experience the wind of change,” he told his audience.

On domestic issues, Modi said federalism is no longer the fault line of Centre-State relations, but the definition of a new partnership of Team India.

“Citizens now have the ease of trust, not the burden of proof and process. Businesses find an environment that is open and easy to work in,” he said.

“And, the motto of Sab Ka Saath, Sab Ka Vikaas, is our vision of a nation, in which every citizen belongs, participates and prospers,” Modi said.

Modi said Indian and UK security agencies work together so that our children return home safe and our increasingly networked lives are not prey to the threats on cyber space.

“Our Armed Forces exercise with each other, so that they can stand more strongly for the values we represent. This year alone, we have had three exercises together,” he said.

He mentioned that a peaceful, stable Indian Ocean Region is vital for global commerce and prosperity.

“And, the future of Asia Pacific region will have profound impact on all of us. We both have huge stakes in West Asia and the Gulf,” he said amid increasing Chinese assertiveness in South China Sea.

He said UK’s support to India in the international arena, has made it more possible for India to take her rightful place in global institutions and regimes. “It has helped us both advance our common interests”.

“Inspired by Gandhiji, the change has begun with us – the way the government works. There is transparency and accountability in governance. There is boldness and speed in decisions. Federalism is no longer the fault line of Centre-State relations, but the definition of a new partnership of Team India.

“Citizens now have the ease of trust, not the burden of proof and process. Businesses find an environment that is open and easy to work in. In a nation connected by cell phones, Digital India is transforming the interface between Government and people,” he said.

Modi said the motto of ‘Sab Ka Saath, Sab Ka Vikaas‘, is his vision of a nation, in which every citizen belongs, participates and prospers.

It is not just a call for economic inclusion. It is also a celebration of our diversity, the creed for social harmony, and, a commitment to individual liberties and rights, he said.

“This is the timeless ethos of our culture, this is the basis of our constitution, and, this will be the foundation of our future,” he said.

Modi pointed out that on the way to this event, Cameron and he paid homage to Mahatma Gandhi outside the Parliament.

“I was reminded of a question I was asked on a tour abroad. How is it that the statue of Gandhi stands outside the British Parliament?

“To that question, my answer is: The British are wise enough to recognise his greatness, Indians are generous enough to share him, we are both fortunate enough to have been touched by his life and mission; and, we are both smart enough to use the strengths of our connected histories to power the future of our relationship,” he said.

PTI

PM in London: Modi cites Nehru, Manmohan Singh in address to British MPs

London: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday cited his predecessors Jawaharlal Nehru and Manmohan Singh to highlight the connected histories of India and the UK during his historic address to British MPs.

PM Narendra Modi (left) with British PM David Cameron. PTIPM Narendra Modi (left) with British PM David Cameron. PTI

PM Narendra Modi (left) with British PM David Cameron. PTI

“So much of the modern history of India is linked to this building. So much history looms across our relationship,” Modi said.

“I will only say that many freedom fighters of India found their calling in the institutions of Britain. And, many makers of modern India, including several of my distinguished predecessors, from Jawaharlal Nehru to Dr Manmohan Singh, passed through their doors,” he said amid criticism from the opposition that Modi in his speeches ignored the legacy of Nehru and the Congress party in India’s progress.

Modi thanked Commons Speaker John Bercow for opening the doors of the Royal Court to him despite the Parliament is not in session.

“There are many things on which it is hard to tell anymore if they are British or Indian: The Jaguar or the Scotland Yard, for example. The Brooke Bond tea or my friend late Lord Ghulam Nun’s curry…. And, we love the Bhangra rap from London just as you like the English novel from India,” he said.

“On the way to this event, Prime Minister (David) Cameron and I paid homage to Mahatma Gandhi outside the Parliament. I was reminded of a question I was asked on a tour abroad. How is it that the statue of Gandhi stands outside the British Parliament?

“To that question, my answer is: The British are wise enough to recognise his greatness; Indians are generous enough to share him; we are both fortunate enough to have been touched by his life and mission; and, we are both smart enough to use the strengths of our connected histories to power the future of our relationship,” he said.

“At the heart of London, in the middle of Parliament Square, Bapu is immortalised. The 2 PMs (Modi and Cameron) pay homage to the Mahatma,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesman Vikas Swarup tweeted as Modi for the first time saw the statue near the British Parliament and paid tributes to the Father of Nation.

PTI

Modi In UK: Britain, India sign over 9 billion pounds in deals despite protests

Modi got a warm welcome by British Prime Minister David Cameron, who has tried to cultivate closer ties with India to secure business opportunities in a fast-growing economy at a time when Modi has been prioritising other relationships.

Photo courtesy: PM Modi’s Twitter Account

Britain and India welcomed more than 9 billion pounds ($13.7 billion) in commercial deals during a visit by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but his arrival was overshadowed by protests over a perceived rise in intolerance back home.Modi got a warm welcome by British Prime Minister David Cameron, who has tried to cultivate closer ties with India to secure business opportunities in a fast-growing economy at a time when Modi has been prioritising other relationships.For his part, Modi is seeking to restore his authority on the world stage after a defeat for his Hindu nationalist party in populous Bihar state on Sunday. He appealed to business to invest in a more transparent India in a speech at the Guildhall, a historic building in the heart of London’s financial district.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While Cameron said he wanted to support Modi in his efforts to transform India with improved infrastructure, the Indian leader signalled he wanted Britain to stay in the European Union, saying the country was India’s gateway to Europe.”We want to become your number one partner for supporting the finance needed for this ambitious plan, making London the world’s centre for offshore rupee trading,” Cameron told him during a news conference, adding that plans were in place to issue more than 1 billion pounds in bonds.He later said in a statement: “During this visit, British and Indian companies are announcing new collaborations, together worth more than £9 billion pounds.”The British government listed more than 20 deals and collaborations, including a 1.3 billion-pound ($1.98 billion) investment by Vodafone.The two prime ministers also welcomed a package to promote clean energy worth 3.2 billion pounds of commercial agreements, joint research programmes and initiatives to share technical, scientific, and financial and policy expertise.Before the visit, diplomats said the Indian leader was keen to buy 20 more BAE Systems Hawk trainer aircraft to be made in Bengaluru.Cameron has visited India three times since taking office in 2010 to try to climb up the diplomatic pecking order, but Modi is the first Indian head of government to pay an official visit to Britain, the country’s former colonial ruler, in almost a decade.His visit comes at a time when a debate is raging in India over accusations that Modi is failing to rein in Hindu zealots trying to impose their values on all Indians.POMP AND PROTESTSAs Modi and Cameron shook hands for the cameras outside Number 10 Downing Street, a crowd of about 200 protesters could be heard shouting anti-Modi slogans nearby.”Our main concern is that minorities are not safe in India,” said Sikh protester Kuldip Singh.The demonstrators held up banners with messages such as “Modi you are killing Indian democracy” and “Stop religious persecution in India”.Asked about these concerns at his joint news conference with Cameron, Modi said India was a vibrant democracy in which individual rights were guaranteed by the constitution.”There is something that is deeply entrenched in our culture, in our traditions, which is that of not accepting anything that has to do with intolerance,” he said, adding that violent incidents would not be tolerated.Critics have accused Modi of remaining silent about incidents such as the recent deaths of four people attacked by Hindus enraged at reports of cows being slaughtered, smuggled or consumed, and the separate shootings of two prominent atheists.Before his arrival in Britain, more than 200 writers, including Salman Rushdie and Ian McEwan, signed an open letter to Cameron urging him to raise concerns about freedom of expression in India during his talks with Modi.About 45 British members of parliament, including opposition Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn, signed a motion to debate India’s human rights record.The British government, however, rolled out the red carpet for Modi, who was greeted in the grand courtyard of the Treasury by a guard of honour wearing ceremonial bearskin headgear.Modi was due to have lunch with Queen Elizabeth on Friday, before the emotional high point of his visit, a mass rally at Wembley Stadium where Modi will address about 60,000 supporters from India’s 1.5 million-strong diaspora in Britain.($1 = 0.6572 pounds)

From David Beckham to Bhangra rap: How PM Modi regaled British MPs with humour

Thanking the UK Parliament speaker for opening the doors to him, Modi left the house cracking as he said, “I know that the Parliament is not in Session. Prime Minister Cameron looks relaxed and relieved”.

Narendra Modi, David Beckham

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday left the British MPs and their peers in splits a few times during his address at the Parliament’s Royal Gallery here as he entwined his speech with humour invoking David Beckham to Bhangra rap.Thanking the UK Parliament speaker for opening the doors to him, Modi left the house cracking as he said, “I know that the Parliament is not in Session. Prime Minister Cameron looks relaxed and relieved”. He went on to remind Prime Minister Cameron the slogan – “Phir ek baar, Cameron Sarkar’ – used by him in the British elections earlier this year.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I want to remind you, Mr. Prime Minister, that you owe me royalty for an election slogan,” he said. Modi said that there are many things on which it is hard to tell anymore if they are British or Indian. “The Jaguar or the Scotland Yard, for example. The Brooke Bond tea or my friend late Lord Ghulam Nun’s curry,” he said.The Prime Minister said the strongest debates are whether the Lord’s pitch swings unfairly or the wicket at Eden Gardens cracks too early. “And, we love the Bhangra rap from London just as you like the English novel from India,” he said. Noting that he will be visiting Wembley, which has the iconic football ground where he will be addressing Indian diaspora, Modi said, “Even in India, every young footballer wants to bend it like Beckham”.

VIDEO: Modi on ‘important UK relationship’

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has started a three-day visit to the UK.

Fight over Tipu Sultan’s true legacy: Shiv Sena angry about Shivaji comparisons

“Tipu Sultan was a ruthless ruler who massacred Hindus and did not believe in the existence of any other religion except Islam. He had demolished temples and churches. And they say he was a good ruler?” Sawant told PTI.

File Photo

Joining the row over Tipu Sultan’s birth anniversary celebrations, the Shiv Sena termed the 18th century ruler of the erstwhile Mysore kingdom as “ruthless” and accused the Congress government in Karnataka of following a “divisive policy”. Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant also objected to parallels being drawn between Tipu Sultan and Maratha king Chhatrapati Shivaji.”Tipu Sultan was a ruthless ruler who massacred Hindus and did not believe in the existence of any other religion except Islam. He had demolished temples and churches. And they say he was a good ruler?” Sawant told PTI.Sawant expressed surprise over Tipu Sultan being remembered “suddenly” so many years after Independence.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The government has surprisingly and suddenly remembered Tipu Sultan now after 67 years of India’s Independence. Today they remembered him? Why?” he asked. “This is a divisive policy (of the Karnataka government),” he alleged. “Governments in Karnataka, whether previous ones or current, are known for the Sultani reign. Look at the way they treat the Marathi people who are fighting in a democratic way for the last sixty years (over the border issue). So, naturally, they will adore the Sultan”, Sawant said.Sawant also came down heavily on those drawing parallels with Tipu Sultan and Maratha Warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji. “How can he be compared with Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj who never did any wrong, never violated the modesty of women and the sanctity of religious places. Shivaji was a judicious leader, while Tipu Sultan was not.” “Shivaji had compassion for the poor and the sons of the soil irrespective of their caste, creed, religion. All these qualities were not there in Tipu,” he said. Any person who is ready to sacrifice his life for the nation’s peace and development will be considered “our own man” irrespective of his religion, the Sena leader asserted. “It is not the question of Muslims or Hindus, but of patriotism. One who believes in this country and is ready to sacrifice his life for the country’s peace and development is our own man irrespective of his region, but Tipu Sultan did not believe in all this. Show me a single example which would prove he did,” Sawant said. Eminent writer Girish Karnad had recently said Tipu Sultan would have had enjoyed the same status as Shivaji if he was a Hindu and not a Muslim. Karnad and BJP MP Prathap Simha have allegedly received death threats on social media as a controversy rages in Karnataka over official birth anniversary celebrations of 18th century Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan. On Tuesday, a VHP leader had died and several others were injured when violence erupted over the celebrationsat Madikeri. Tipu Sultan is a sensitive issue in Kodagu district.Thousands of Kodavas (Coorgis), considered a martial race, were seized and held captive by Tipu Sultan. According to a version of history, the captured Kodavas were forcibly converted to Islam, tortured and killed, and their temples destroyed. However, this view is disputed by several historians who see Tipu Sultan as a secular and modern ruler who took on the the British.

Modi in UK: Azam Khan asks PM to bring back Tipu Sultan’s ring from London

On Wednesday, well known playwright Girish Karnad received a death threat for demanding that Bengaluru’s Kempegowda International Airport to be renamed after Tipu Sultan

File Photo

Amid row over Tipu Sultan’s birth anniversary, Uttar Pradesh Minority Welfare Minister Azam Khan on Thursday described the 18th century Mysore ruler as a ‘martyr who fought the British’ and urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to bring back the late king’s ring from London. Hinting that Tipu Sultan was a secular ruler, Khan further said that Tipu’s ring had Lord Ram’s name written on it. ‘Tipu Sultan was a martyr, he fought against the British for the nation. He killed the General who had attacked him just before dying. After his death, the ring that the he was wearing was removed, and the ring had ‘Ram’ was written on it. That ring is in a museum in London,’ Khan told ANI.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>’Now that Prime Minsiter Modi is in London, we expect him to bring back the ring of Tipu Sultan and show it to RSS and BJP members.’ he added. The right wing groups such as VHP and Bajrang Dal are protesting against the celebration of birth anniversary of Tipu Sultan in Karnataka. These extremist groups are accusing Tipu Sultan, who fought against colonial rulers, as being communal.On Wednesday, well known playwright Girish Karnad received a death threat for demanding that Bengaluru’s Kempegowda International Airport to be renamed after Tipu Sultan. Tipu Sultan, a ruler who took on the British, is not regarded highly by the people of Kodagu, who rebelled against the Mysore ruler.

Travancore Maharaja’s Temple Entry Proclamation and what it means to Kerala 80 years later

On November 12, 1936, the birthday of the young Maharaja of Travancore, Sri Chitra Thirunal Balarama Varma, he issued a proclamation in his capital, Trivandrum. The proclamation said, in its entirety:

‘Profoundly convinced of the truth and validity of our religion, believing that it is based on divine guidance and on all-comprehending toleration, knowing that in its practice it has throughout the centuries, adapted itself to the needs of changing times, solicitous that none of our Hindu subjects should, by reason of birth or caste or community, be denied the consolation and the solace of the Hindu faith, we have decided and hereby declare, ordain and command that, subject to such rules and conditions as may be laid down and imposed by us for preserving their proper atmosphere and maintaining their rituals and observances, there should henceforth be no restriction placed on any Hindu by birth or religion on entering or worshipping at temples controlled by us and our Government.’

To us today, this may seem commonplace, but for that time and place it was revolutionary. For this was Travancore, which Swami Vivekananda had called “a lunatic asylum” for the indignities heaped on its lower castes. Today, Kerala is probably the least (overtly) casteist part of the country, although it is almost certainly the most (covertly) communal part as well. But nobody questions egalitarianism. This edict was as powerful as the ideals of the French Revolution: liberty, equality and fraternity.
But just as the revolution had its dark side, so does Kerala’s social revolution: the egalitarianism of this proclamation brought with it a reverse discrimination, so that today the Hindus are at the receiving end of what is for all practical purposes an apartheid: in every way, they are behind the Christians and Muslims, who also benefit from official benefits for them.

Image: Rajeev Srinivasan/FirstpostImage: Rajeev Srinivasan/Firstpost

At the entrance to the Travancore royal palace on the 103rd birthday of Sri Chitra Tirunal. on 10 November, 2015. Image: Rajeev Srinivasan/Firstpost

Be that as it may, a little history lesson is in order. What is now Kerala was, like most of South India around 1500 years ago, heavily Buddhist and Jain: and there are occasional discoveries of seated Buddhas by farmers tilling the fields. There is evidence from Xieun Tsang, the Chinese traveler, who described his trip to Sabarimala where he said the presiding deity was worshipped simultaneously as both Siva and the Avalokitesvara Padmapani.

And I am quoting Communist leader EMS Namboodiripad, so those of you about to outrage at me may calm down. An army of Hindus arrived circa 600CE, headed by Nambudiri Brahmins and defeated the Buddhists, imposing Hindu culture again over the area. Those Buddhists who collaborated became ‘high-caste’ sudras (eg Nairs), and those that didn’t became ‘low-caste’ (eg Ezhavas). This invasion is immortalized in the story of Mahabali, who ‘ruled over a kingdom where all were equal’, and was sent to Patala: thus exiled.

This situation continued for over a thousand years, partly because it was a stable equilibrium wherein all parties knew their roles in society, even those who were oppressed and at the bottom of the pile as feudal peasant untermenschen. There were also small groups of Christians (the first of them arrived around 345CE, contrary to popular mythology, as refugees led by Thomas of Canaan, a Syrian merchant), Jews, and Muslims.

The next big disruption was when the Portuguese, instigated by Francis Xavier, invaded and converted at gunpoint most of the coastal fisherfolk. They were annoyed to find the Syrian Christians who had never heard of the Pope (their allegiance was to the Patriarch of Antioch, Syria) and so proceeded to persecute and forcibly convert them as well.

Next came Tipu Sultan around 1790. He conquered Malabar and parts of Cochin, but was thwarted from entering Travancore by the use of a ‘river bomb’, wherein Travancore soldiers purposely burst a dam, causing a wall of water to course down the Periyar river. This flooded Tipu’s batteries and killed his troops, forcing him to retreat. But Tipu’s advance had caused a large number of Hindus to flee persecution and settle in Travancore. Many Hindus were also converted at swordpoint.

The net result of Tipu’s invasion was that Travancore became impoverished and thus dependent on the British, who took full advantage of the situation. They forced the regent queen in 1819 to donate Rs. 10,000 (an astronomical sum then) to set up the Valiya Palli church at Kottayam, and large-scale conversions of Hindus began, because they offered poor, low-caste people basic education if they converted.

In 1819, there were, according to the Travancore Manual, 6% Muslims and 6% Christians in Travancore. But under the stress of British overlordship, high tributes extracted by them, and the threat of conversion, paradoxically Hindu society turned destructively inwards and became dysfunctional, even suicidal. Lower castes bore the brunt of it, leading to extraordinary practices such as not only untouchability, but also un-seeability. Also, bizarrely precise laws of untouchability and even un-shadowability were in effect: a Nair must stand at least 5 feet away from a Nambudiri, an Ezhava 10 feet, a Pulaya 15 feet, and so on.

One of the most ridiculous laws prevented lower-caste Hindus from not only going to temples, but even walking on the public roads around them. Unbelievably, they had a simple way around it: just convert, and then you can use the public roads. Thus a Sankaran merely had to become a Thomas or a Bashir, and he could automatically enjoy a lot more freedom! As a result of all this, by 1930, Travancore was 33% Christian, up from 6% in 1819: Ezhavas and Nadars converted in huge numbers (data from the Travancore Manual).

Increasing awareness of their rights by the lower-castes, especially the Ezhavas, led to agitations for more rights, including entry into government jobs and the Praja-sabha (Assembly) for them. The leadership of Sree Narayana Guru and the poet Kumaran Asan ensured this anger was constructive, and not destructive. But the Vaikom Satyagraha, 1924, about access to the roads around the Vaikom Siva temple, crystallized the anger, and Ezhavas began to discuss en masse conversion to Christianity.

It was in this situation that the wise Maharaja, supported by his brilliant prime minister C P Ramaswamy Iyer, decided that natural justice and sheer decency indicated that temple entry should be granted. Thus the events of November 12, 1936. All Hindus could now, with dignity, go to all temples. In fact, police officers were required to escort low-caste people there. A great-uncle of mine, a dentist, recounted how the very lowest caste people had been led to believe that their eyes would burst if they entered temples, and so it was necessary to demonstrate to them that no such thing would happen.

The net result of all this, unfortunately, was that the previously oppressed became enamored with the siren song of radical egalitarianism and became Communists. To this day, they remain so, thus enabling Communism to retain a foothold in Kerala.

The royals of Travancore, who ruled as regents to the real sovereign Sri Padmanabha, had defeated the Dutch (Colachel 1741) and Tipu (Aluva 1790), and remained one of the best kingdoms in the country, retrieved their lost honor by this far-sighted and bold move in 1936. It was a landmark declaration, no less remarkable than the successes of human rights movements elsewhere.

Travancore’s temple entry proclamation of 1936 for ‘lower’ castes: Why nobody questions egalitarianism in Kerala

On November 12, 1936, the birthday of the young Maharaja of Travancore, Sri Chitra Thirunal Balarama Varma, he issued a proclamation in his capital, Trivandrum. The proclamation said, in its entirety:

‘Profoundly convinced of the truth and validity of our religion, believing that it is based on divine guidance and on all-comprehending toleration, knowing that in its practice it has throughout the centuries, adapted itself to the needs of changing times, solicitous that none of our Hindu subjects should, by reason of birth or caste or community, be denied the consolation and the solace of the Hindu faith, we have decided and hereby declare, ordain and command that, subject to such rules and conditions as may be laid down and imposed by us for preserving their proper atmosphere and maintaining their rituals and observances, there should henceforth be no restriction placed on any Hindu by birth or religion on entering or worshipping at temples controlled by us and our Government.’

To us today, this may seem commonplace, but for that time and place it was revolutionary. For this was Travancore, which Swami Vivekananda had called “a lunatic asylum” for the indignities heaped on its lower castes. Today, Kerala is probably the least (overtly) casteist part of the country, although it is almost certainly the most (covertly) communal part as well. But nobody questions egalitarianism. This edict was as powerful as the ideals of the French Revolution: liberty, equality and fraternity.
But just as the revolution had its dark side, so does Kerala’s social revolution: the egalitarianism of this proclamation brought with it a reverse discrimination, so that today the Hindus are at the receiving end of what is for all practical purposes an apartheid: in every way, they are behind the Christians and Muslims, who also benefit from official benefits for them.

Image: Rajeev Srinivasan/FirstpostImage: Rajeev Srinivasan/Firstpost

At the entrance to the Travancore royal palace on the 103rd birthday of Sri Chitra Tirunal. on 10 November, 2015. Image: Rajeev Srinivasan/Firstpost

Be that as it may, a little history lesson is in order. What is now Kerala was, like most of South India around 1500 years ago, heavily Buddhist and Jain: and there are occasional discoveries of seated Buddhas by farmers tilling the fields. There is evidence from Xieun Tsang, the Chinese traveler, who described his trip to Sabarimala where he said the presiding deity was worshipped simultaneously as both Siva and the Avalokitesvara Padmapani.

And I am quoting Communist leader EMS Namboodiripad, so those of you about to outrage at me may calm down. An army of Hindus arrived circa 600CE, headed by Nambudiri Brahmins and defeated the Buddhists, imposing Hindu culture again over the area. Those Buddhists who collaborated became ‘high-caste’ sudras (eg Nairs), and those that didn’t became ‘low-caste’ (eg Ezhavas). This invasion is immortalized in the story of Mahabali, who ‘ruled over a kingdom where all were equal’, and was sent to Patala: thus exiled.

This situation continued for over a thousand years, partly because it was a stable equilibrium wherein all parties knew their roles in society, even those who were oppressed and at the bottom of the pile as feudal peasant untermenschen. There were also small groups of Christians (the first of them arrived around 345CE, contrary to popular mythology, as refugees led by Thomas of Canaan, a Syrian merchant), Jews, and Muslims.

The next big disruption was when the Portuguese, instigated by Francis Xavier, invaded and converted at gunpoint most of the coastal fisherfolk. They were annoyed to find the Syrian Christians who had never heard of the Pope (their allegiance was to the Patriarch of Antioch, Syria) and so proceeded to persecute and forcibly convert them as well.

Next came Tipu Sultan around 1790. He conquered Malabar and parts of Cochin, but was thwarted from entering Travancore by the use of a ‘river bomb’, wherein Travancore soldiers purposely burst a dam, causing a wall of water to course down the Periyar river. This flooded Tipu’s batteries and killed his troops, forcing him to retreat. But Tipu’s advance had caused a large number of Hindus to flee persecution and settle in Travancore. Many Hindus were also converted at swordpoint.

The net result of Tipu’s invasion was that Travancore became impoverished and thus dependent on the British, who took full advantage of the situation. They forced the regent queen in 1819 to donate Rs. 10,000 (an astronomical sum then) to set up the Valiya Palli church at Kottayam, and large-scale conversions of Hindus began, because they offered poor, low-caste people basic education if they converted.

In 1819, there were, according to the Travancore Manual, 6% Muslims and 6% Christians in Travancore. But under the stress of British overlordship, high tributes extracted by them, and the threat of conversion, paradoxically Hindu society turned destructively inwards and became dysfunctional, even suicidal. Lower castes bore the brunt of it, leading to extraordinary practices such as not only untouchability, but also un-seeability. Also, bizarrely precise laws of untouchability and even un-shadowability were in effect: a Nair must stand at least 5 feet away from a Nambudiri, an Ezhava 10 feet, a Pulaya 15 feet, and so on.

One of the most ridiculous laws prevented lower-caste Hindus from not only going to temples, but even walking on the public roads around them. Unbelievably, they had a simple way around it: just convert, and then you can use the public roads. Thus a Sankaran merely had to become a Thomas or a Bashir, and he could automatically enjoy a lot more freedom! As a result of all this, by 1930, Travancore was 33% Christian, up from 6% in 1819: Ezhavas and Nadars converted in huge numbers (data from the Travancore Manual).

Increasing awareness of their rights by the lower-castes, especially the Ezhavas, led to agitations for more rights, including entry into government jobs and the Praja-sabha (Assembly) for them. The leadership of Sree Narayana Guru and the poet Kumaran Asan ensured this anger was constructive, and not destructive. But the Vaikom Satyagraha, 1924, about access to the roads around the Vaikom Siva temple, crystallized the anger, and Ezhavas began to discuss en masse conversion to Christianity.

It was in this situation that the wise Maharaja, supported by his brilliant prime minister C P Ramaswamy Iyer, decided that natural justice and sheer decency indicated that temple entry should be granted. Thus the events of November 12, 1936. All Hindus could now, with dignity, go to all temples. In fact, police officers were required to escort low-caste people there. A great-uncle of mine, a dentist, recounted how the very lowest caste people had been led to believe that their eyes would burst if they entered temples, and so it was necessary to demonstrate to them that no such thing would happen.

The net result of all this, unfortunately, was that the previously oppressed became enamored with the siren song of radical egalitarianism and became Communists. To this day, they remain so, thus enabling Communism to retain a foothold in Kerala.

The royals of Travancore, who ruled as regents to the real sovereign Sri Padmanabha, had defeated the Dutch (Colachel 1741) and Tipu (Aluva 1790), and remained one of the best kingdoms in the country, retrieved their lost honor by this far-sighted and bold move in 1936. It was a landmark declaration, no less remarkable than the successes of human rights movements elsewhere.

Tipu Sultan row: Mysuru king’s descendent Anwar Ali Shah wants PM Modi to intervene

On Wednesday, well known playwright Girish Karnad received a death threat for demanding that Bengaluru”s Kempegowda International Airport to be renamed after Tipu Sultan.

Picture of Tipu Sultan

A descendant of 18th century Mysore king Tipu Sultan has called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene to end the controversy surrounding the latter”s 265th birth anniversary.Anwar Ali Shah told ANI, “This controversy must end now. I appeal to our Prime Minister to intervene and sort out the issue. These protests are being done deliberately. The history of Tipu Sultan has been and is being distorted.”The clashes between a Muslim group and Hindutva activists took place earlier this week after the former organised a procession to mark a state government-sponsored Tipu Sultan Jayanti celebrations.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Related Read: Tipu Sultan row: After Girish Karnad, BJP MP Pratap Simha receives death threatThe Madikeri region of Karnataka is still said to be very tense, with local residents continuing to blame what they call “outsiders” for the clashes that have been taking place. There is a near curfew-like situation in the area.The police is out in full force to prevent any untoward incidents in the area as also in other parts of Karnataka, when the VHP is expected to organise protests over the death of one of its activists.On Wednesday, well known playwright Girish Karnad received a death threat for demanding that Bengaluru”s Kempegowda International Airport to be renamed after Tipu Sultan.Related Read: Tipu Sultan controversy: Girish Karnad gets death threat, told he will ‘face the same end as MM Kalburgi’While the ruling Congress Party in Karnataka has described Tipu Sultan as a true secularist, the hardliners in the BJP and its associate outfits such as the VHP, have criticised the ongoing celebrations as having the potential to divide society, and have warned well known personalities such as south Indian film star Rajinikanth not to accept a film offer on Tipu Sultan.The state unit of the BJP has stayed away from the Tipu Jayanti celebrations. Earlier this week, police had to resort to a baton charge to bring a near riot-like situation under control in Madikeri.Skirmishes between right-wing activists and security officials were also reported from many other parts of Karnataka. A VHP activist was also killed.Tipu Sultan, who is considered one of the early freedom fighters who took on the British, is not regarded highly by the people of Kodagu, a tribal community, who were part of a bloody rebellion against the Mysore ruler.Tipu Sultan was born on November 20, 1750 and died during the Battle of Srirangapatna on May 4, 1799. He was also known as the Tiger of Mysore, and was the eldest son of Sultan Hyder Ali of Mysore. During his reign, he introduced a number of administrative innovations, including new coinage, a new luni-solar calendar, a new land revenue system which initiated the growth of Mysore silk industry. He wrote the military manual Fathul Mujahidin and was considered a pioneer in the use of rocket artillery.Throughout his adult life, Tipu Sultan was engaged in expansionist attacks against his neighbours. He remained an implacable enemy of the British East India Company, bringing them into renewed conflict with his attack on British-allied Travancore in 1789.In the Third Anglo-Mysore War, Tipu Sultan was forced into the humiliating Treaty of Srirangapatna, losing a number of previously conquered territories, including Malabar and Mangalore. He sent emissaries to foreign states, including the Ottoman Turkey, Afghanistan, and France, in an attempt to rally opposition to the British.During the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War, the forces of the British East India Company, supported by the Marathas and the Nizam of Hyderabad, defeated Tipu and he was killed on May 4, 1799 while defending his fort of Srirangapatna.

From likely $15 bn trade deals to controversies: All you need to know about PM Modi’s UK visit

Prime Minister Narendra Modi left on Thursday for a three-day visit to Britain that will see India and Britain sign a number of pacts on mutual investments and defence cooperation.

Here’s what you can expect in this round of PM Modi’s foreign visit:

Itinerary

PM Narendra Modi. APPM Narendra Modi. AP

PM Narendra Modi. AP

Day One: Modi has a hectic schedule during his three-day visit. After arriving in London this afternoon, he will have talks with Cameron at 10 Downing Street. He will address a joint press conference at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) after the bilateral talks.

A brief stop to pay tributes at the Mahatma Gandhi statue in Parliament Square will be followed by speeches at the Houses of Parliament and then at the Guildhall in the financial hub of London.

His talks with Cameron will carry on at the British Prime Minister’s country residence of Chequers in Buckinghamshire, where he is being hosted overnight.

Day Two: On Friday, Modi returns to London for a CEOs round-table which is likely to include representatives from major British companies like Rolls-Royce and Vodafone.

The pomp and ceremony attached to the visit is expected to include a special tricolour flypast by the Red Arrows Royal Air Force (RAF) Aerobatic Team over Buckingham Palace before the Prime Minister sits down for lunch with Queen Elizabeth II in the afternoon.

Then comes the much-awaited the mega Diaspora reception Wembley Stadium in north London. About 60,000 British Indians are expected to attend the function.

Day Three: On Saturday, he will inaugurate a new statue of 12th century philosopher Basaveshwara as well as a new Ambedkar memorial in London. The last item will be a visit to the Tata Motors-owned Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) factory in Solihull, in the West Midlands region of England.

Then he will leave for Anakara, Turkey, for the annual G20 summit.

The importance of the visit

First and foremost, it comes after the drubbing the BJP received in the Bihar elections. Modi would want to project the visit as a major success for trade and business. That will be big boost to his image and also a face-saver.

Also, Modi’s visit to Britain is the first bilateral visit by an Indian prime minister in nine years after Manmohan Singh‘s visit in 2006. Singh visited Britain in 2009 to attend the G-20 summit.

“Leaving for UK. I am hopeful this visit will strengthen economic ties between India and UK & bring more investment to India. #makeinindia,” he tweeted before starting his three-day visit.

“My visit is aimed at strengthening cooperation with a traditional friend that is not only a major economic partner of India but also one of the leading economic players of the world,” Modi said in a series of pre-departure Facebook posts.

“India and UK are two vibrant democracies, which are proud of their diversity and multicultural societies,” he stated.

“UK is one of the fastest growing G-7 economies and is home to a strong financial services sector… I see immense scope for our economic and trade relations to improve and this will benefit both our economies,” he added.

Trade, trade, trade

According to a report in AFP, investment and trade will be the main focus of the visit. In 2014-15, India-UK trade hit $14 billion.

“Our focus is on how can we work together on challenges facing our countries from economic prosperity to security,” a Downing Street spokeswoman told AFP, adding “nothing is off the table”.

“The main thrust will be on leveraging investors,” said Sreeram Chaulia, Dean of the Jindal School of International Affairs.

“India stands out as a rare beacon and the prime minister will play that up, focus on that really, and say, ‘look, India’s a safe and stable bet’,” Chaulia told AFP.

Mitigating against that message is an ongoing tax dispute between Indian authorities and Britain’s Vodafone that has become a symbol of the problems foreign firms face in doing business in Asia’s third-largest economy.

That will likely feature on the agenda, as will Indian plans to market rupee-denominated “masala bonds” in London.

Defence deals are also on the cards as India undertakes a multi-billion-dollar upgrade of its ageing military hardware.

Among the $15 billion worth of deals reportedly expected to be signed during Modi’s stay is an agreement for Britain’s BAE Systems to sell 20 more Hawk trainer aircraft to India, AFP said.

Controversies

Modi was not welcome in the UK for a decade after the Gujarat riots of 2002, which resulted in death of thousands of innocent civilians. WSJ has termed the treatment Modi is getting in the UK now as a rehabilitation of Modi. However, there have been protests against Modi’s visit, especially due to the rising intolerance in India after his ascension to power in May 2014. An invitation to speak at the University of Cambridge has reportedly triggered a letter of protest from scholars concerned by those attacks. Moreover, the Awaaz Network projected Modi’s image on the Palace of Westminster in London, with a message “Modi not welcome” in a grim reminder the recent spate of violence and also the 2002 riots.

The links between the UK and India

What are the current links between the UK and India?

Why the UK visit is designed to dazzle Modi

Narendra Modi’s visit to UK is all about convincing the Indian leader that Britain is a friend like none other, writes Rudra Chaudhuri.

Modi in UK: PM to arrive in Britain tomorrow, may face protesters

Describing Modi’s visit as “extraordinary”, Cameron said it was not simply about celebrating the economic ties but “actually building a thoroughly modern partnership between our two great countries”.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is all set to arrive here tomorrow on a three-day visit to Britain during which he will have a hectic schedule that will start with talks with his British counterpart David Cameron who has described the trip as “extraordinary”. “I am excited by this visit. I am excited by what Prime Minister Modi is doing in India and I’m excited about the partnership that we can build together,” Cameron said. Describing Modi’s visit as “extraordinary”, Cameron said it was not simply about celebrating the economic ties but “actually building a thoroughly modern partnership between our two great countries”. Modi arrives here tomorrow afternoon and after talks with Cameron at 10 Downing Street he will address a joint press conference at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A brief stop to pay tributes at the Mahatma Gandhi statue in Parliament Square will be followed by speeches at the Houses of Parliament and then at the Guildhall in the financial hub of London. His talks with Cameron will carry on at the British Prime Minister’s country residence of Chequers in Buckinghamshire, where he is being hosted overnight.On Friday, Modi returns London for a CEOs round-table which is likely to include representatives from major British companies like Rolls-Royce and Vodafone. The pomp and ceremony attached to the visit is expected to include a special tricolour flypast by the Red Arrows Royal Air Force (RAF) Aerobatic Team over Buckingham Palace before the Prime Minister sits down for lunch with Queen Elizabeth II on Friday afternoon before making his way to Wembley Stadium in north London for the mega Diaspora reception.He leaves for Ankara to attend the G20 summit on Saturday after inaugurating a new statue of 12th century philosopher Basaveshwara as well as a new Ambedkar memorial in London. A visit to the Tata Motors owned Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) factory in Solihull, in the West Midlands region of England, will be the last item on his UK agenda. “My visit to UK is the first Prime Ministerial visit in almost a decade. I have had the opportunity to meet Prime Minister David Cameron at various international forums and our meetings have been productive. Prime Minister Cameron is a good friend of India’s, and we in India have had the privilege of welcoming him thrice during his first term as Prime Minister,” Modi wrote in a Facebook post ahead of the visit.Meanwhile, a number of groups have announced a “day of protest” tomorrow, coinciding with Modis visit. The “Modi Not Welcome” campaign by the Awaaz Network as well as a protest organised by CasteWatchUK will assemble outside Downing Street and then move on to Parliament Square. Another group of protesters are expected to assemble outside Wembley Stadium, demanding that the Indian government lift the ban on the documentary ‘India s Daughter’ by British filmmaker Leslie Udwin. “An appropriate policing plan is in place. We are in dialogue with various protest groups to facilitate their requests. No restrictions have been placed on the route,” a Metropolitan Police statement said.

Why Cameron is pulling out all the stops for India’s Modi

Why Cameron is pulling out all the stops for Modi

VIDEO: India’s forgotten Coronation Park

A neglected memorial park in Delhi houses statues of British emperors and viceroys.

Tipu Sultan would have enjoyed same status as Shivaji if he was Hindu: Girish Karnad

The remarks by the noted Kannada playwright and actor came at a state government organised function to mark the birth anniversary of Tipu Sultan held amid tight security at the state Secretariat in the presence of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.

File Photo

Jnanpith awardee Girish Karnad said 18th century Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan would have enjoyed the same status as of Maratha king Chhatrapathi Shivaji, if he was a Hindu and not a Muslim.In another remark that stoked a controversy, Karnad said it would have been “apt” had the Bengaluru International Airport at Devanahalli near here been named after Tipu Sultan rather than Kempegowda, a feudatory ruler under the erstwhile Vijayanagara Empire which founded Bengaluru in 1537.The remarks by the noted Kannada playwright and actor came at a state government organised function to mark the birth anniversary of Tipu Sultan held amid tight security at the state Secretariat in the presence of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The statewide celebrations are being boycotted by BJP and protested by several outfits who see the ruler of the erstwhile Mysore kindgom as a “religious bigot” and “anti-Kannadiga.” The protests led to violence at Madikeri in Kodagu district claiming one life.”I feel that if Tipu Sultan was a Hindu and not Muslim he would have attained the position in Karnataka that Shivaji Maharaj enjoys in Maharashtra,” Karnad said.Maintaining that Tipu is deprived of such a status owing to his religious persuasion, he said, “Because what has happened is today our scholars and politicians look at one’s religion and caste first….””Injustice has happened to Tipu Sultan because of this type of evaluation…” he added.Taking potshots at those calling Tipu Sultan “anti- Kannada and anti-Hindu”, Karnad said, “Today, when we are celebrating this day as Deepawali and Tipu Sultan day, we can also celebrate it as Bihar day.”His Bihar day remark was an apparent jibe at BJP, which was routed in the Assembly polls. Karnad has always made known his ideological opposition to BJP.Expressing similar opinion to that of Karnad while recounting the contributions of Tipu Sultan to the people of his kingdom, Siddaramaiah said “…if he was born as Hindu he would have got similar respect in Karnataka and the entire country, that Shivaji enjoys.” “We should not look at a person through his religion or caste perspective, but keeping in mind the good work done by him to the people. That is what we have done today by celebrating Tipu jayanti.” Karnad also said it would have been “apt” to name Bengaluru International Airport at Devanahalli after Tipu Sultan instead of Kempegowda as the latter was not a freedom fighter. He noted that naming airport after Tipu Sultan would be more appropriate as Devanahalli was his birth place.”I’m aware what I’m saying now will be debated….as we know Kolkata airport is named after Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Mumbai airport is named after Shivaji Maharaj, but in Karnataka we have named it after Kempegowda,” Karnad said.”It is true that Kempegowda was great, he founded Bangaluru, but he was not a freedom fighter, so naming Bengaluru airport after Tipu Sultan would have been apt.” Karnad’s remarks on Kempegowda international airport came in for attack from the BJP which said he had insulted the founder of Bengaluru on an issue which was a “closed chapter.” “Karnad is reopening a closed chapter and creating a new controversy….He has made name through controversies. His remarks are unfortunate and condemnable,” state’s senior BJP leader R Ashoka told reporters here. He also questioned the silence of the Chief Minister when Karnad made the remark.Tipu was a ruler of the erstwhile kingdom of Mysore, who was considered an implacable enemy of the British East India Company. He was killed in May 1799 while defending his fort of Srirangapatna against the British forces. Speaking at the event Siddaramaiah also said there is no “political interest” behind organising Tipu Jayanti. Calling those opposing the event as “fanatics” and “communal forces”, he said, “Until these communal forces exist such oppositions and controversies are common.

Tipu Sultan would have enjoyed status of Shivaji if he was a Hindu: Girish Karnad

Bengaluru: Jnanpith awardee Girish Karnad on Tuesday said 18th century Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan would have enjoyed the same status as of Maratha king Chhatrapathi Shivaji, if he was a Hindu and not a Muslim.

In another remark that stoked a controversy, Karnad said it would have been “apt” had the Bengaluru International Airport at Devanahalli near here been named after Tipu Sultan rather than Kempegowda, a feudatory ruler under the erstwhile Vijayanagara Empire which founded Bengaluru in 1537.

Girish Karnad in a file photo. IbnliveGirish Karnad in a file photo. Ibnlive

Girish Karnad in a file photo. Ibnlive

The remarks by the noted Kannada playwright and actor came at a state government organised function to mark the birth anniversary of Tipu Sultan held amid tight security at the state Secretariat in the presence of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.

The statewide celebrations are being boycotted by BJP and protested by several outfits who see the ruler of the erstwhile Mysore kindgom as a “religious bigot” and “anti-Kannadiga.” The protests led to violence at Madikeri in Kodagu district claiming one life.

“I feel that if Tipu Sultan was a Hindu and not Muslim he would have attained the position in Karnataka that Shivaji Maharaj enjoys in Maharashtra,” Karnad said.

Maintaining that Tipu is deprived of such a status owing to his religious persuasion, he said, “Because what has happened is today our scholars and politicians look at one’s religion and caste first….”

“Injustice has happened to Tipu Sultan because of this type of evaluation…” he added.

Taking potshots at those calling Tipu Sultan “anti-Kannada and anti-Hindu”, Karnad said, “Today, when we are celebrating this day as Deepawali and Tipu Sultan day, we can also celebrate it as Bihar day.”

His Bihar day remark was an apparent jibe at BJP, which was routed in the Assembly polls. Karnad has always made known his ideological opposition to BJP.

Expressing similar opinion to that of Karnad while recounting the contributions of Tipu Sultan to the people of his kingdom, Siddaramaiah said “…if he was born as Hindu he would have got similar respect in Karnataka and the entire country, that Shivaji enjoys.”

Siddaramaiah said, “We should not look at a person through his religion or caste perspective, but keeping in mind the good work done by him to the people. That is what we have done today by celebrating Tipu jayanti.”

Karnad also said it would have been “apt” to name Bengaluru International Airport at Devanahalli after Tipu Sultan instead of Kempegowda as the latter was not a freedom fighter.

He noted that naming airport after Tipu Sultan would be more appropriate as Devanahalli was his birth place.

“I’m aware what I’m saying now will be debated….as we know Kolkata airport is named after Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Mumbai airport is named after Shivaji Maharaj, but in Karnataka we have named it after Kempegowda,” Karnad said.

“It is true that Kempegowda was great, he founded Bangaluru, but he was not a freedom fighter, so naming Bengaluru airport after Tipu Sultan would have been apt.”

Karnad’s remarks on Kempegowda international airport came in for attack from the BJP which said he had insulted the founder of Bengaluru on an issue which was a “closed chapter.”

“Karnad is reopening a closed chapter and creating a new controversy….He has made name through controversies. His remarks are unfortunate and condemnable,” state’s senior BJP leader R Ashoka told reporters here. He also questioned the silence of the Chief Minister when Karnad made the remark.

Tipu was a ruler of the erstwhile kingdom of Mysore, who was considered an implacable enemy of the British East India Company. He was killed in May 1799 while defending his fort of Srirangapatna against the British forces.

Speaking at the event Siddaramaiah also said there is no “political interest” behind organising Tipu Jayanti.

Calling those opposing the event as “fanatics” and “communal forces”, he said, “Until these communal forces exist such oppositions and controversies are common.”

Siddaramaiah said politicising an event organised to pay respect to Tipu Sultan is “not correct”.

“Whichever religion or caste that he may belong to, he has fought for the nation and has laid down his life for the people, so it is our duty to show respect,” he added.

Several literary personalities and historians like Baraguru Ramachandrappa, Ko Channabasappa, Prof Shaik Ali, N V Narasimaiah who spoke at the event took exception to Tippu being labelled as anti-Hindu and anti-Kannada.

Recounting his contributions to promote communal and linguistic tolerance in his kingdom, they called him “truly secular.”

PTI

British papers say Bihar defeat to impact Modi UK visit

British newspapers feel the electoral debacle for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP party in the regional elections in Bihar state will have a sobering effect on his “high-profile” visit to the UK.

Plan to fete Modi in London is ‘highly disturbing’, says Congress

London: Post the BJP’s debacle in the Bihar assembly elections, the overseas unit of the Congress has said the interaction between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the British Indian diaspora scheduled at the Wembley Stadium in London on Friday would be an interference in the internal affairs of India.

“For foreign nationals, who either have a communal bias or are ignorant about India, to fete Modi when the communal situation in India is highly disturbing and clearly the mood of the country has turned against him, would be an insult to the people of the country,” the Indian Overseas Congress (London) stated in a letter to the Europe India Forum, organisers of the event.

“It would also be an unacceptable attempt to influence Indians from abroad and consequently an interference in the internal affairs of India,” the letter said.

File photo. Image courtesy: PTIFile photo. Image courtesy: PTI

File photo. Image courtesy: PTI

After Madison Square Garden in New York, Allphones Arena in Sydney, Ricoh Colisuem in Toronto, the Dubai Cricket Stadium in Dubai and the SAP Centre in San Jose, California, Modi will be holding his by now trademark public interactions with the Indian diaspora at the iconic stadium on the second day of his visit to Britain this month.

The event is going to be the biggest such gathering that Modi will address with the organisers expecting the stadium to seat over 70,000 people of Indian origin — surpassing the gathering of around 50,000 at the Dubai Cricket Stadium on August 17 this year.

Crowds of around 18,000 people greeted the prime minister at the Madison Square Garden (September 28, 2014) and SAP Centre (September 27, 2015) events while around 16,000 people gathered at Allphones Arena (November 17, 2014) and around 10,000 at Ricoh Coliseum (April 15, 2015).

The letter written by D. L. Kalhan, president of the Indian Overseas Congress (London), stated that for the past 18 months, “India has experienced widespread intimidation of agnostics, atheists, liberal Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs by Hindu extremists owing allegiance to Modi.”

Kalhan lamented there has been no condemnation of such acts or the persons committing them by Modi.

“No proactive measures were taken by the central government to act against the culprits. The centre has, in fact, fallen back on the excuse of law and order being a state subject.”

The letter said India was “witnessing a repeat of the 2002 inaction of Modi when he was chief minister of Gujarat, and when then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee reminded him that when in office he must observe raj dharma, and not behave like an RSS activist”.

The letter also pointed out the fact that in India, whenever a party has won power at the centre, it has gone on to win most, often all state elections in the next two years.

“Yet, Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party have not won an absolute majority in a single major state. They only emerged as the largest single party in Maharashtra and have now been thoroughly rejected in Bihar. These results reflect the doubts that have crept in soon after his victory, is presently turning into a flood of anger.”

The BJP and its allies won only 58 seats of the 243-seat Bihar assembly with the Nitish Kumar-led grand alliance that includes the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress winning a stunning 178 seats.

“In such a climate, for British nationals to ignore the sentiments of the Indian people would be terribly insensitive,” Kalhan stated in his letter.

He, however, said the Indian Overseas Congress (London) would not disrespect the office of the Indian prime minister by demonstrating against Modi on foreign soil.

“But there is no doubt that the rally will be seen in India as a vulgar exhibition of clannishness and cronyism,” the letter stated.

IANS

Why the Coorgs are upset with Tipu Sultan and the Karnataka government’s efforts to honour him

The Karnataka government’s decision to celebrate 10 November as Tipu Jayanthi flies in the face of history and has deeply offended the people of Coorg, Mangalore, and parts of Kerala who regard Tipu Sultan as a tyrant who destroyed temples, killed non-Muslims, and forcibly converted tens of thousands of conquered people. Various parties and organisations have already taken out protest processions and 10 November, is being observed across Coorg district as a black day.

Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has dismissed the protests as a conspiracy by communal forces. The BJP and Hindu organisations, though not leading the protests, have seen an opportunity here. But, the fact is that most Coorgs are hurt and offended by the Karnataka government’s decision to celebrate Tipu Jayanthi. “He was a treacherous tyrant,” says CP Belliappa, Coorg-based writer of historical books such as Victoria Gowramma, the story of a Coorg princess adopted by Queen Victoria.

Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah. PTI

Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah. PTI

Coorg was a direct recipient of Tipu’s tyranny. His occupation of the district, those days ruled by the Haleri dynasty, was marked with destruction of temples, killing of what Tipu called infidels, and mass conversions. According to Belliappa, Tipu, then at war with the Coorgs, said he would cease hostilities and suggested that the Coorgs come to a place near Bagamandala, near the birthplace of the River Cauvery, to discuss terms of peace. That was a trap. The Coorgs, when they arrived, were ambushed, rounded up, and taken away to Srirangapatna. There, they were circumcised and forced to eat beef.

Evidence of Tipu’s deeds in Coorg comes from within his own court. Tipu’s biographer and courtier Mir Hussein Kirmani wrote about Tipu’s exploits in Coorg in his The History of Tipu Sultan, “The conquering Sultan dispatched his Amirs and Khans with large bodies of troops to punish those idolaters and reduce the whole country (Coorg) to subjection. They attacked and destroyed many towns. Eight thousand men, women, and children were taken as prisoners. They were collected in an immense crowd like a flock of sheep or herd of bullocks.”

In a letter to the Nawab of Kurnool, Tipu claims he took 40,000 Coorgs as prisoners and forcibly converted them to Islam and incorporated them into his Ahmadi corps. Many of the descendants of Tipu’s converted Coorgs still retain their original Coorg family names.

Tipu also went about destroying temples in Coorg. To protect the Omkareshwara temple in Mercara, residents of the town knocked down its towers and replaced them with domes. The temple retains the domes even today, striking testimony that has survived over the ages. According to the Mysore Gazetteer of the time, when Tipu was finally vanquished, only two temples in his kingdom performed daily pujas. The Gazetteer estimates that Tipu destroyed around eight thousand temples in South India.

Tipu did on occasion display a benign attitude to his Hindu subjects. For instance, a temple at Sringeri was a beneficiary of his largesse. This cannot be disputed. He also fought a couple of wars with the British, for which politicians, more than historians, place him in the league of freedom fighters. A rather fanciful novel by Bhagavan Gidwani and a dramatic play by Girish Karnad, based on Gidwani’s book, help add to the narrative.

But these are fiction, according to Sandeep Balakrishnan, author of the definitive work titled Tipu Sultan, The Tyrant of Mysore. Balakrishnan says in a recent article that the gifts to Sringeri Mutt were meant to placate Hindus, who he feared would rise against him. It came at a time when Tipu had been drubbed during the Third Anglo-Mysore war of 1791. With the Marathas gaining in strength, the last thing he needed was to upset the Hindu majority among his subjects. Similarly, while he fought the British, he aligned himself with the French, whose Indian aspirations matched the British in greed and ruthlessness.

If Tipu’s actions in Coorg were questionable, his actions in Malabar were said to be worse. Portuguese missionary Father Bartholomew wrote in his book, Voyage to East Indies, “Women and children were hanged in Calicut, first mothers were hanged and their children tied to necks of mothers. That barbarian Tipu Sultan tied naked Christians and Hindus to the legs of elephants and made the elephants to move around till the bodies of the helpless victims were torn to pieces.” After the pillage of Calicut, Tipu wrote to his generals: “Almost all Hindus in Calicut are converted to Islam. Only on the borders of Cochin State a few are still not converted. I am determined to convert them also very soon. I consider this as Jihad to achieve that object.”

Back in his capital Srirangapatna, a few kilometres east of Mysore, Tipu made far-reaching changes to how his kingdom functioned. For instance, he changed the official language from Kannada to Farsi; he renamed cities and towns that had Hindu names; he changed weights and distance measurement to an Arabic system; he changed the calendar, reducing the year to 364 days, and even gave new names for the shorter months, Hindu courtiers, with one notable exception, were replaced. He also exempted Muslims from paying taxes. He reversed a decision by his father Hyder Ali not to levy taxes on temples.

The Coorgs helped end Tipu’s rule. According to Belliappa, the Coorgs wanted revenge and were ready to fight against Tipu. The British did not accept their services. While the Coorgs were ferocious on the battlefield, they lacked the discipline and training that the British needed in their armies. But the Coorg king and his subjects allowed the small kingdom to be used as a path for the English frontlines to be supplied. They protected the road and drove the bullock carts themselves.

Around 2,000 letters were discovered after Tipu’s death in 1799, written in his own handwriting. In them, Tipu frequently calls Hindus kaffirs and infidels. He also refers to Christians, mainly the British, who need to be cleansed or converted if Islam is to be established in India. So, when Chief Minister Siddaramaiah makes the astonishing claim that Tipu Sultan was a secular ruler and a model king, he ignores the huge array of historical evidence that says the opposite. But then, Tipu Jayanthi was never really about celebrating history. Says BJP, state media-in-charge Prakash Sesharagavachar, “The need to celebrate Tipu Jayanthi is political motivated. It is not supported by historical fact, which clearly paints Tipu as a tyrannical ruler.”

It’s always about politics.

Bihar defeat to overshadow PM Modi’s UK visit, says British media

“But his next foreign visit to the UK this week to meet David Cameron and the Queen and to address a crowd of 60,000 British Indians at Wembley Stadium will for the first time be overshadowed by deepening troubles at home,” it said.

Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s maiden visit to the UK, the British media on Monday said “troubles at home” after BJP’s drubbing in the Bihar elections will overshadow his visit.The fervour has been building up in the UK around Modi’s three-day visit starting Thursday, which will include a grand reception at Wembley Stadium described as the “biggest political rally in the history of the UK” on Friday.”Since he swept to power 18 months ago, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has proved to be a charismatic international statesman, impressing leaders from Shinzo Abe to Barack Obama as well as expatriate Indians with his ambition to modernise India,” The Financial Times’ said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”But his next foreign visit to the UK this week to meet David Cameron and the Queen and to address a crowd of 60,000 British Indians at Wembley Stadium will for the first time be overshadowed by deepening troubles at home,” it said.The newspaper, however, stressed that the UK will be keen to distance itself from any negatives to clinch an estimated package of USD 15-billion trade and investment deals.’The Independent’ newspaper also feels the drubbing in the Bihar elections is an “embarrassing setback” coming on the eve of the high-profile visit.”The result means that as he prepares for an enthusiastic welcome in Britain this week including an unprecedented sell-out event at Wembley Stadium on Friday Mr Modi will be smarting from the defeat on home soil, which comes as his administration also faces mounting accusations of fomenting intolerance,” the newspaper said.In its own analysis titled ‘From pariah to rock star world leader’, the ‘Daily Telegraph’ also expressed concerns over how his party was “comfortably defeated” in the Bihar polls, weakening the Indian Prime Minister’s domestic stand.”As he emerged from provincial politician to likely leader of the world’s largest democracy, Britain ended the boycott in 2012 in the face of growing business and realpolitik pressures.”The turnaround has been dramatic. This week he will stay at Mr Cameron’s country residence (Chequers), address the two Houses of Parliament, visit Indian-owned businesses and sites of Indian cultural importance,” the daily said.The news reports come against a backdrop of the so-called “Modi Not Welcome to the UK” protest group projecting a hologram with its banner on the House of Parliament on Sunday night. The group led by Awaaz Network is among some of the UK-based organisations planning protests during the visit this week.

Bihar defeat will overshadow PM Modi’s UK visit, says British media

The fervour has been building up in the UK around Modi’s three-day visit starting Thursday, which will include a grand reception at Wembley Stadium described as the “biggest political rally in the history of the UK” on Friday.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi
File Photo
AFP photo
Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s maiden visit to the UK, the British media on Monday said “troubles at home” after BJP’s drubbing in the Bihar elections will overshadow his visit.The fervour has been building up in the UK around Modi’s three-day visit starting Thursday, which will include a grand reception at Wembley Stadium described as the “biggest political rally in the history of the UK” on Friday.”Since he swept to power 18 months ago, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has proved to be a charismatic international statesman, impressing leaders from Shinzo Abe to Barack Obama as well as expatriate Indians with his ambition to modernise India,” The Financial Times’ said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”But his next foreign visit to the UK this week to meet David Cameron and the Queen and to address a crowd of 60,000 British Indians at Wembley Stadium will for the first time be overshadowed by deepening troubles at home,” it said.The newspaper, however, stressed that the UK will be keen to distance itself from any negatives to clinch an estimated package of USD 15-billion trade and investment deals. ‘The Independent’ newspaper also feels the drubbing in the Bihar elections is an “embarrassing setback” coming on the eve of the high-profile visit.”The result means that as he prepares for an enthusiastic welcome in Britain this week including an unprecedented sell-out event at Wembley Stadium on Friday Mr Modi will be smarting from the defeat on home soil, which comes as his administration also faces mounting accusations of fomenting intolerance,” the newspaper said.In its own analysis titled ‘From pariah to rock star world leader’, the ‘Daily Telegraph’ also expressed concerns over how his party was “comfortably defeated” in the Bihar polls, weakening the Indian Prime Minister’s domestic stand.”As he emerged from provincial politician to likely leader of the world’s largest democracy, Britain ended the boycott in 2012 in the face of growing business and realpolitik pressures. The turnaround has been dramatic. This week he will stay at Mr Cameron’s country residence (Chequers), address the two Houses of Parliament, visit Indian-owned businesses and sites of Indian cultural importance,” the daily said.The news reports come against a backdrop of the so-called “Modi Not Welcome to the UK” protest group projecting a hologram with its banner on the House of Parliament on Sunday night. The group led by Awaaz Network is among some of the UK-based organisations planning protests during the visit this week.

Modi visit will tackle challenges of our time: UK minister

Swire said in a statement: “As the Minister of State for India at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, I am delighted that Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi will be visiting the United Kingdom this week. The UK and India have a natural affinity rooted in a longstanding friendship, shared values and deep links between our people.”

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The UK and India have a natural affinity rooted in a longstanding friendship and shared values, a senior minister here has said as the country paid homage to troops from the Indian sub-continent who fought alongside their British colonial leaders. “This week we also commemorate, once again, the men and women from our two countries who fought together in both World Wars for freedom and democracy. India made a huge contribution to Britain’s war effort and staggering numbers fought on behalf of the allied forces,” Britain’s minister in charge of India in the UK Foreign Office Hugo Swire said. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Today, British Indians contribute immensely to the UK and are a cornerstone of British life. We see their success in culture, business, media, public services and, increasingly, in politics too,” he said. Britain marked ‘Remembrance Sunday’ in honour of the troops who laid their lives in the wars.Swire said in a statement: “As the Minister of State for India at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, I am delighted that Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi will be visiting the United Kingdom this week. The UK and India have a natural affinity rooted in a longstanding friendship, shared values and deep links between our people.””The visit by Prime Minister Modi this week is an opportunity to celebrate the ties between our two great countries and deepen our existing bonds in business, education, security, and culture,” he said. “This visit will also ensure that our partnership plays an indispensable role in tackling the immense challenges of our time, from climate change and migration, to economic development and security.” “As the oldest democracy and the largest democracy in the world it is right that we come together and build two great futures for our two nations.”

Karnataka: BJP to boycott ‘fanatic’ Tipu Sultan’s birth anniversary celebrations

Tipu was a ruler of the erstwhile kingdom of Mysore, who was considered an implacable enemy of the British East India Company.

Tipu Sultan was a “fanatic” and “anti-Kannada”, said BJP

The Opposition BJP has announced the boycott of Karnataka government’s birth anniversary celebrations of the 18th century legendary king Tipu Sultan tomorrow, stating that the king was a “religious bigot”. “It’s a total boycott on our part, no public representative from our party at any level should participate in the official function,” state BJP President Prahlad Joshi said. Describing Tipu Sultan as a “fanatic” and “anti-Kannada”, he said, “….we have 44 legislators, and it is a practice that wherever such events are organised local legislator presides over it. We have instructed our legislators that they should not preside over this event, they should not go on the dais.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”As the party state President, I’m giving this instruction to all our party public representatives through the media. We will also be sending this instruction through all our district presidents and zonal office bearers,” he told reporters at Hubballi in north Karnataka. Several organisations and individuals have opposed the state government’s move to celebrate ‘Tipu Sultan Jayanti’ on November 10, with a few threatening to disrupt the first-ever such government celebration. Tipu was a ruler of the erstwhile kingdom of Mysore, who was considered an implacable enemy of the British East India Company. He was killed in May 1799 while defending his fort of Srirangapatna against the British forces.Once again defending his government’s decision to organise ‘Tipu Jayanti’, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said RSS and “other communal forces” were opposing it. Speaking to reporters here, he said, “Tipu is a patriot, he fought against the British, in a sense freedom struggle began from three Mysore wars, he lost his life during the battle, and he had even pledged his son to British.” “RSS is unnecessarily trying to defame him, we will celebrate his Jayanti,” Siddaramaiah added.Recently Vishwesha Theertha Swami of Pejawar Mutt in Udupi had opposed government’s decision to celebrate Tipu’s birth anniversary, calling him a “controversial person”. Mangaluru United Christian Association had also protested against Tipu Jayanti celebration, alleging he was responsible for destruction of many churches in the coastal region and harassment to Christians during his rule.

Diwali 2015: Five things that got social media in Chennai excited this year

The rains have been lashing Chennai over the last few days, giving the city an unofficial extended holiday this Diwali. Meanwhile, social media has been buzzing with news that got people in Chennai really excited and happy this year.Here’s a look at what’s been making their year:Ajith’s VedalamThe star has a huge fan following online and anything he does starts to trend. Considering his movie is releasing this Diwali, his ardent fans have been making hashtags trend online like #vedalam, #17crorememes, #thalaveribeginswithvedalam and #thala. The hottest topic was who managed to get tickets for the first day.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Kamal Haasan’s statement on GandhiKamal Haasan made a statement on Saturday of not joining those who are returning their awards against “growing intolerance”. He then stated, “You don’t expect Gandhiji to return his barrister degree to the British because the British were ruling us. That would be irresponsible, and I’m not going to be that irresponsible.” This statement caught the attention of everyone and became a hot topic on social media.Bihar Election ResultsThe results of the Bihar elections were declared on Sunday and people in Chennai were keenly watching. While many exit polls may have gotten the results wrong, the people in the city waited for the final results.N Srinivasan’s removal as ICC chairmanThe big news on November was that N Srinivasan as ICC chairman and Shashank Manohar replaced him. This fired up many people on social media. Cyclone and the rainsThe city gets enthusiastic when it rains and everyone talks about how romantic the first day. But when it rains for the more than a day, the scenario is drastically different. With the cyclone alert sounded for November 9, the Tamil Nadu government declared all schools and colleges shut. Most retail stores remained closed and even some smaller offices chose to keep their doors closed. The heavy rains and winds made it an even wetter Diwali for people in Tamil Nadu.

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