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Congress gearing up to aggressively corner VK Singh in Parliament next week

Reports had it that Congress had decided to boycott the Union minister in both Houses of Parliament for his remark, but party leaders said that a more aggressive strategy could be on the anvil next week.

VK Singh

The row over Union Minister VK Singh’s “dog” remarks could generate more heat in Parliament next week with the Congress on Friday stepping up attack on him demanding that he be “removed” from government and alleging that he was not fit to be an MP.”This government has not been able to control V K Singh as also the Culture Minister. Singh has repeatedly made improper statements. Government should ask him to go,” party spokesperson Sushmita Dev told reporters.She said that the opposition parties were asking for apology from the Minister for his dog analogy in the wake of burning to death of two Dalit children in Haryana, “but the government has remained adamant”. Rajya Sabha witnessed two adjournments on the demand for his resignation with Congress and BSP members targeting the Minister.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad went to the extent of saying that Singh should also be removed from Parliament. “Such a minister, I feel, should not be a member of the Union Cabinet for even a minute and he should neither be a member of Parliament. I request the government to not just remove V K Singh from the Cabinet but also from Parliament,” he said.Reports had it that Congress had decided to boycott the Union minister in both Houses of Parliament for his remark, but party leaders said that a more aggressive strategy could be on the anvil next week. Government has been insisting that Singh had not made any such comment about Dalits and there is no reason for the Opposition to raise the issue repeatedly.Hitting back, V K Singh today questioned the conduct of Opposition members in Rajya Sabha, saying they were indulging in “petty political oneupmanship” and “cheap political wranglings”. “Even in wild imagination my ‘dog analogy for government not being responsible for every incident’ being taken as a remark against any human is a travesty of intelligence,” the Minister of State for External Affairs said in a Facebook post.

Over 1000 stranded passengers rescued from Chennai airport

The Minister also informed that it has been decided to start limited commercial flight operations from Rajali Naval Air base from tomorrow.

Evacuation operations are on at the Chennai airport, with over a thousand stranded passengers rescued on Thursday. “The remaining 150 passengers will be rescued by Friday morning. Some of the evacuated passengers have been sent by road to Bangalore while some others have been flown out from the nearby Rajali Naval Air base at Arakkonam,” Minister of State for Civil Aviation and Tourism and Culture Mahesh Sharma said in a press conference in New Delhi this evening.The Minister also informed that it has been decided to start limited commercial flight operations from Rajali Naval Air base from tomorrow. “Air India and some private airlines have agreed to operate 6 flights from Arakkonam tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. Rs. 1000/ as fare will be charged for travelling to southern states and Rs. 2000/ will be charged for northern states,” Sharma added. “Manual ticketing for the flights will be done at the Rajali Naval Air base. Passengers can carry only hand baggage in these flights, check-in baggage will not be allowed. Railways will operate shuttle services from Chennai Beach station to Arakkonam,” he said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The minister also said that the flight details of these limited sorties will be available on DGCA website.

40 artists, writers returned awards over ‘mishappenings’: Government

In response to a question on many renowned literary writers returning awards, Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma said in his written response that “the return of the awards is stated to be in protest against the recent mishappenings against the writers, etc.”

Forty artists and writers have returned their awards to protest against “recent mishappenings against the writers” and the Sahitya Akademi has requested them to reconsider their decision, the Lok Sabha was informed on Monday.In response to a question on many renowned literary writers returning awards, Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma said in his written response that “the return of the awards is stated to be in protest against the recent mishappenings against the writers, etc.” He said Sahitya Akademi had convened a special Executive Board meeting in which a resolution was passed “condemning the attack on and murder of any writer or artist and requesting the writers, who had returned the awards, to reconsider their decision.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>According to the reply, 39 writers have returned their awards to the Sahitya Akademi while one artist has returned his award to the Lalit Kala Akademi. Several writers, poets and artists had recently returned their awards protesting against the Akademi’s silence on the murder of fellow writer and Sahitya Akademi board member M M Kalburgi as well as against the “communal” atmosphere in the backdrop of the Dadri lynching incident.Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had recently hit out at those returning awards as “rabid anti-BJP elements” and had said some of them had gone to Varanasi to campaign against Narendra Modi in the last Lok Sabha elections.”Those returning awards are playing politics by other means. They are rabid anti-BJP elements,” Jaitley, who also holds charge of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, had told reporters to a question on the returning of awards by writers, poets and film-makers.

Experts optimistic Tut’s tomb may conceal Egypt’s lost queen | Reuters

LUXOR, Egypt Chances are high that the tomb of Ancient Egypt’s boy-king Tutankhamun has passages to a hidden chamber, which may be the last resting place of the lost Queen Nefertiti, experts said on Saturday.

There is huge international interest in Nefertiti, who died in the 14th century B.C. and is thought to be Tutankhamun’s stepmother, and confirmation of her final resting place would be the most remarkable Egyptian archaeological find this century.

New evidence from the radar imaging taken so far is to be sent to a team in Japan for analysis. The results are expected to be announced in a month.

“We said earlier there was a 60 percent chance there is something behind the walls. But now after the initial reading of the scans, we are saying now its 90 percent likely there is something behind the walls,” Egyptian Antiquities Minister Mamdouh al-Damaty told a news conference.

He said he expected to reach the other side of the tomb’s wall within three months.

Discovery of Nefertiti, whose chiselled cheek-bones and regal beauty were immortalised in a 3,300-year old bust now in a Berlin museum, would shed fresh light on what remains a mysterious period of Egyptian history.

It could also be a boon for Egypt’s ailing tourism industry, which has suffered near endless setbacks since the uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011 and which is a vital source of foreign currency.

“There is, in fact, an empty space behind the wall based on radar, which is very accurate, there is no doubt,” Japanese radar specialist Hirokatsu Watanabe said, his hand hovering over a fuzzy blue radar scan he said indicated the presence of a false wall. The size of the cavity is not known.

DAMAGE RISK

British Egyptologist Nicholas Reeves, leading the investigation, said last month he believed Tutankhamun’s mausoleum was originally occupied by Nefertiti and that she had lain undisturbed behind what he believes is a partition wall.

But at the news conference with Damaty on Saturday, Reeves warned that even the most minor of incisions in the wall could wreak damage to an inner chamber that may have been hermetically sealed for so many years.

“The key is to excavate slowly and carefully and record well. The fact is this isn’t a race. All archaeology is disruption. We can’t go back and re-do it, so we have to do it well in the first place,” Reeves said.

“I’m feeling more certain today than I expected to be,” he said outside the Howard Carter House, a site named after the British archaeologist propelled to international celebrity for his discovery of the Tutankhamun tomb in 1922.

King Tut, as he is affectionately known, died around 1323 B.C. His intact tomb, complete with his famous golden burial mask, was discovered in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor.

Experts have long sought to understand why Tut’s tomb was smaller than that of other pharaohs and why its shape was more in keeping with that of the Egyptian queens of the time.

Egyptologists remain uncertain over where Nefertiti died and was buried. She was long believed to have passed away during her husband’s reign, suggesting she could be buried in Amarna, where her bust was found in 1912, some 400 km north of Luxor.

More recently, most experts, including Reeves, have come to believe she outlived Akhenaten, who may have been Tut’s father, but changed her name and may have briefly ruled Egypt.

“Research doesn’t always translate into reality. But it looks like we’re headed in the right direction, and our investigations are going well,” said Reeves.

(Reporting by Eric Knecht; Writing by Michael Georgy)

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

Brighter, shorter ‘Sesame Street’ bows January on HBO | Reuters

NEW YORK A new Latina character, different sets, shorter episodes and an updated theme song are coming to long-running children’s show “Sesame Street” at its new home on cable channel HBO in January.

HBO and show producers said on Tuesday that Muppets Elmo, Cookie Monster and Big Bird will be joined by real-life character Nina – a young, bilingual Latina who works at the laundromat and bike store – when the educational series arrives at its new home on Jan. 16.

Episodes will be cut by half to 30 minutes, the set has been “reimagined” and the theme song has been given a “new upbeat update,” they said in a statement.

“Families will see fun and fresh changes to ‘Sesame Street’ and can depend on their favourite Muppet friends to provide them with engaging and educational content,” said Brown Johnson, creative director of Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit behind the 45-year-old show.

HBO (TWX.N) and Sesame Workshop announced in August that they had struck a five-year partnership that will make new seasons of “Sesame Street” available first on HBO and its on-demand and mobile services.

“Sesame Street” had previously been broadcast in the United States on publicly funded PBS, which is free of charge to TV viewers. Under the deal, new episodes of the show will run on PBS starting in the fall of 2016.

Aimed at pre-schoolers, “Sesame Street” created Muppets like Elmo that have become cultural icons around the world. The show has won more than 150 Emmy awards and is broadcast in some 140 nations.

In the new season, Big Bird has a new nest, Cookie Monster has moved above Hooper’s Store, and Elmo has moved into the 123 Sesame Street brownstone house.

The series is known as much for its celebrity cameos as its regular characters and the new season will see appearances by singers Gwen Stefani, Pharrell, Nick Jonas and Sara Bareilles.

(Reporting By Jill Serjeant; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

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

APJ Abdul Kalam’s nephew quits BJP over memorial row

APJ Syed Haja Ibrahim, who had joined BJP in 2012, resigned as Vice President of the minority wing of Tamil Nadu unit of BJP and the party’s primary membership.

APJ Abdul Kalam’s grand nephew on Monday resigned from the BJP, upset over “failure” of the Modi government to convert the residence occupied by the former President into a knowledge centre.APJ Syed Haja Ibrahim, who had joined BJP in 2012, resigned as Vice President of the minority wing of Tamil Nadu unit of BJP and the party’s primary membership.”It (setting up a knowledge centre) was the wish of not only the former President, but the entire nation. I am resigning my post as this centre has not been set up despite repeated requests. I am also resigning from the primary membership of BJP,” he told PTI.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The No 10 Rajaji Marg bungalow in Delhi, occupied by Kalam till his death in July, has been allotted to Union Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma, a move which had drawn flak from various quarters. Delhi’s ruling AAP had also criticised the government decision.

World famous wax museum Madame Tussauds’ to open in Delhi

Madame Tussauds’, world famous Wax Museum, will open its new venture in New Delhi for Bollywood stars as part of the India-UK Year of Culture in 2017, it was officially announced here coinciding with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s maiden visit to the UK.

Actress Aishwarya Rai poses at the ‘Bollywood 4 Beginners’ photocall at Madame Tussauds on September 30, 2004 in London.

Getty Images
Madame Tussauds’, world famous Wax Museum, will open its new venture in New Delhi for Bollywood stars as part of the India-UK Year of Culture in 2017, it was officially announced here coinciding with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s maiden visit to the UK.Bollywood stars such as Amitabh Bachchan and Katrina Kaif are among the most popular exhibits at the famous waxworks in London.According to the announcement by British Prime Minister David Cameron, a Shakespeare First Folio, treasures from the British Museum and a copy of the Magna Carts will go on touring displays in India for the 2017 cultural exchange. A festival of India will be staged in the UK during the year.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The great partnership between India and the UK extends beyond economic ties to the boards of The Bard and the beaches of Bollywood. We have some of the best cultural exports in the world – and it’s about time we celebrated this, together,” Cameron said.The British Library will be digitising 200,000 pages of their South Asian archives, making India books from 1714 to 1914 accessible around the globe. A year long-programme to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Indian independence and UK cultural ties has been announced by Cameron.The Year of Culture 2017 will see an exciting festival of events celebrating the vibrant cultural history of the 2 countries. Top UK institutions will partner with their Indian counterparts to strengthen cultural and economic ties between the two nations, and showcase British creativity on the global stage.”The great partnership between India and the UK extends beyond economic ties to the boards of The Bard and the beaches of Bollywood. We have some of the best cultural exports in the world and it’s about time we celebrated this, together. To mark the start of this cultural pairing, the British Library will be digitising 200,000 pages of their South Asian archives,” Cameron said.”Two centuries of Indian print will be part of a major programme to make the wealth of Indian printed books held by the British Library dating from 1714 to 1914 accessible to anyone around the globe,” he said.The parent group of Madame Tussauds’, Merlin, is set to invest 50 million pounds in India over 10 years, rolling out other UK favourites such as Sea Life aquariums and Legoland Discovery Centres across Indian cities.Two of the most iconic British texts will tour India as part of the programme. The British Library will showcase Shakespeare’s First Folio the first collected edition of the Bard’s plays and the 1225 edition of the Magna Carta.One of India’s premier museums the CSMVS Mumbai will tell the story of Indian civilisation in the context of world history using some items on loan from the British Museum.The UK is already a big hit with Indian tourists. Last year saw a record breaking 400,000 visits to the UK from India and in the first half of 2015 Indian tourists spent 199 million pounds during their stays.

Sahitya Akademi urges writers to take back awards

The Akademi is not against the writers,” Akademi President Vishwanath Prasad Tiwari said at the “All Indian Poetry Festival” here.

The Sahitya Akademi on Friday again urged writers to take back the awards they have relinquished, saying these were given with love and respect and such feelings should be respected. “Our executive board has already appealed to the writers to re-consider their decision to give back their awards. Sahitya Akademi is the writer’s institution and has always supported freedom of speech and it is with the writers. The Akademi is not against the writers,” Akademi President Vishwanath Prasad Tiwari said at the “All Indian Poetry Festival” here. Padma Shri-winning Dogri poet Padma Sachdev, who inaugurated the festival, also supported the views of the Akademi and said that the writers should re-consider their decision.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Sahitya Akademi is the home of all the ‘sahityakars’. Due to the saddening incidents in the country, many of the members of the Akademi have returned their awards and for which we are very sad and hurt. If people leave their home for reasons like sadness, anger or other reasons then the house becomes empty and keeps waiting for the person,” she said. “This is my responsibility to tell my beloved family members (writers) that whatever reasons there might have been, your absence is being felt by us here and please rethink your decision. The awards have been given to you with respect and love please respect the feelings and take back your awards,” said Sachdev. Shedding light on the fact that often freedom of expression has been curbed, Tiwari encouraged poets to keep on writing their poetry. “No one can stop a poet from writing poetry. It’s irrelevant whether your poetry will be published or not but a poet should keep writing his prose,” he said.The one-day festival was organised on the occasion of Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav in collaboration with Ministry of Culture to promote poetry in all the 24 recognised languages of the country. “Poetry has not only been useful in prodding imagination and enabling human beings to express themselves more freely, but also has been a tool of social critique at various times in India,” said K Sreenivasarao, Secretary, Sahitya Akademi.The festival also saw recitation of poems by poets like Sukrita Paul Kumar, Leeladhar Jagoori, H S Shivaprakash, Sirpi Balasubramaniam, Voleti Parvateesam, Abdul Ahad Saz.

Sahitya Akademi again urges writers to take back awards

New Delhi: The Sahitya Akademi on Friday again urged writers to take back the awards they have relinquished, saying these were given with love and respect and such feelings should be respected.

“Our executive board has already appealed to the writers to re-consider their decision to give back their awards.

Representational image. Courtesy: Official Sahitya Akademi websiteRepresentational image. Courtesy: Official Sahitya Akademi website

Representational image. Courtesy: Official Sahitya Akademi website

Sahitya Akademi is the writer’s institution and has always supported freedom of speech and it is with the writers. The Akademi is not against the writers,” Akademi President Vishwanath Prasad Tiwari told PTI at the “All Indian Poetry Festival” here.

Padma Shri-winning Dogri poet Padma Sachdev, who inaugurated the festival, also supported the views of the Akademi and said that the writers should re-consider their decision.

“Sahitya Akademi is the home of all the ‘sahityakars’. Due to the saddening incidents in the country, many of the members of the Akademi have returned their awards and for which we are very sad and hurt. If people leave their home for reasons like sadness, anger or other reasons then the house becomes empty and keeps waiting for the person,” she said.

“This is my responsibility to tell my beloved family members (writers) that whatever reasons there might have been, your absence is being felt by us here and please rethink your decision. The awards have been given to you with respect and love please respect the feelings and take back your awards,” said Sachdev.

Shedding light on the fact that often freedom of expression has been curbed, Tiwari encouraged poets to keep on writing their poetry.

“No one can stop a poet from writing poetry. It’s irrelevant whether your poetry will be published or not but a poet should keep writing his prose,” he said.

The one-day festival was organised on the occasion of Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav in collaboration with Ministry of Culture to promote poetry in all the 24 recognised languages of the country.

“Poetry has not only been useful in prodding imagination and enabling human beings to express themselves more freely, but also has been a tool of social critique at various times in India,” said K Sreenivasarao, Secretary, Sahitya Akademi.

The festival also saw recitation of poems by poets like Sukrita Paul Kumar, Leeladhar Jagoori, H S Shivaprakash, Sirpi Balasubramaniam, Voleti Parvateesam, Abdul Ahad Saz.

PTI

India’s unity in diversity hailed abroad, says Sushma Swaraj

Hailing the country’s “unity in diversity”, Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday said there were high demands for setting up Indian cultural centres in countries across the world.

Sushma Swaraj

Hailing the country’s “unity in diversity”, Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday said there were high demands for setting up Indian cultural centres in countries across the world.Speaking at the first edition of ‘Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav’ in New Delhi, Swaraj said that there was tremendous “excitement” for Indian cultural traditions abroad and India’s unity fascinates people. “India is one despite so much diversity. The excitement in foreign countries over Indian culture is more than what it is in the country. Recently the PM (Narendra Modi) toured five Central Asian nations. Each and every country demanded that we set up an Indian culture centre there.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Wherever we go, people request us to set up cultural centres. People are surprised by the fact that India has so much unity despite so much diversity,” Swaraj said. New Delhi BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi, who was also present on the occasion, said that India is known for its culture globally although attempts “being made” and an ambience is being created to “dent that cherished heritage”.Union Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma, whose department organised the ongoing seven-day event, said the unity of Indians amid diversity was its identity and praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership, which, he said is taking the country to “greater heights”. “Indians do not talk about million-trillion dollars when they go abroad. We talk about our culture which is taking us towards becoming the world leader. The way India is progressing under Narendra Modi and being taken to greater heights…I also congratulate the PM and Sushma Swaraj for successfully hosting the Indo-Africa Summit,” Sharma said.

Transgender felicitated with Karnataka Rajyotsava Award

Born Jagadish, and today known as Akkai Padmashali, she has been fighting for LGBT rights and the acceptance of her community.

Akkai Padmashali. Image credit: Facebook page

Akkai Padmashali has been awarded the Karnataka Rajyotsava Award by the state government. This is the first time that a transgender has been bestowed this award.Born Jagadish, and today known as Akkai Padmashali, she has been fighting for LGBT rights and the acceptance of her community. The Karnataka government gave the award in recognition of her work.According to a report in The Better India, Akkai faced sexual violence and even became a sex worker before she decided to work on transforming the lives of sexual minorities. She worked with a local NGO called Sangama before setting up Ondede (convergence), an organisation to create awareness about sexuality, sexual diversity and the right to choose one’s sexual orientation. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>About conferring Akkai with the award, Umashree, the state’s Kannada and Culture minister, told NDTV, “This is the first year I think in India we have given the award for transgenders who are fighting to come into the mainstream and lead a good life.”Also watch: A Transgender for Change

Mahesh Sharma gets APJ Abdul Kalam’s bungalow after calling him a ‘nationalist despite being Muslim’

The former President Kalam’s bungalow will be vacated by October 31 and all his belongings have already been packed, said the India Today report.

Controversial Union Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma

Union Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma, who called the late Dr APJ Abdul Kalam ‘a great man who was a nationalist and humanist despite being a Muslim’, has been allotted Dr Kalam’s former residence in Delhi.According to India Today, the new occupant of No 10, Rajaji Marg will be the controversial Culture Minister, a sheer coincidence it seems.The former President Kalam’s bungalow will be vacated by October 31 and all his belongings have already been packed, said the India Today report.Related Read: Controversial Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma gets pulled up by BJP, asked to calm down<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A senior journalist from Tamil Nadu, Bhagwan Singh, has already filed a petition on Change.org asking Kalam’s home to be turned into a Knowledge Centre, reports The News Minute.The Change.org petition titled ‘Don’t Insult Dr. Abdul Kalam! Make his Delhi home a Knowledge Centre’ describes “Thousands of Dr. Kalam’s books and documents that he worked on through his life, the Veena that he often played, are being boxed up, so that Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma, who has been in the news recently for his sexist and discriminatory comments, can move in.”It asks for the bungalow to be instead converted into a knowledge centre. “Setting up ‘Dr. Abdul Kalam International Knowledge Centre’ at 10, Rajaji Marg, and opening it to general public, will serve as a universal destination for scholars, scientists and students where Dr. Kalam’s work will give practical and inexpensive solutions for our most critical issues.” You can sign the petition here.But senior CWPD officer contends that “As per our rules, a Type VIII bungalow of this size is allotted only to cabinet ministers or those holding cabinet ranks. As a minister of state and a first-time MP, he (Sharma) is not entitled to it,” reported India Today.

Ramayana on the silver screen: MEA set to commission a film on the epic before Diwali

The so-called secularists may baulk at it. The Ministry of External Affairs is going to view presentations by leading filmmakers next week on the topic: “Ramayana – A Shared Culture in India and Southeast Asia”.

ibn live imageibn live image

ibn live image

The presentations may be held as early as just before Dussehra, immediately after the deadline for filing submissions ends on 19 October at 5.30 pm. The 26-minute film project is likely to be awarded to the best candidate by Diwali which falls on 11 November. This is the first time that the MEA is going to commission a film on Ramayana.

The film is likely to cost the MEA anywhere between RS. 40 to 50 lakh but it is no deterrent for the MEA.

The Narendra Modi government feels that Ramayana, the eternal battle between good and evil, holds a borderless appeal and carrying the message of the Ramayana to international audience is the need of the hour.

The MEA commissions films worth crores of rupees every year. Normally it stays away from religious topics and chooses subjects which give it heft for soft power projection or furthers national interests or promotes relations with friendly countries.

Three years ago, the UPA government had commissioned a film on Christian nun from Kerala Saint Alphonso. However, earlier this year when MPs from Kerala wrote to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj for commissioning second part of the film, she turned down the proposal.

But the Ramayana is a different ball game, even though it may lead to demands for commissioning films on scriptures of other religions as well.

Going by the vast appeal of Ramayana in Southeast Asian countries, most of which are either Buddhist or Muslim dominated, the Modi government’s decision to make a film on this timeless epic is not only understandable but laudable too.

If out of ten nations of ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) at least seven nations — Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia –have received the influence of Hindu culture since the early days of Indian contacts, it is largely because of the influence of Ramayana.

Consider the following little known facts.

*The capital of early Thailand was called Ayutthaya, named after Lord Ram’s capital of Ayodhya. Another ancient city in Thailand is Lavpuri, named after Ram’s son Lav.

*The Royal king in Thailand is called ‘Bhumipal Athulyatej, Rama IX’.

*The country Laos is named after Ram’s son Lav.

*Thai kick boxing which is based on the military skills of Bali and Sugreeva, famous characters of Ramayana, is now an event in International Olympics.

*Ministers in Malaysia take oath of office in the name of Lord Ram’s Paduka ‘Urusan Seri Paduka’ and the agong or royal president takes oath of office in the name of the dust of Ram’s Paduka ‘Urusan Seri Paduka Dhuli’, as the Malaysians consider the dust of Ram’s ‘paduka’ or footwear holier than the Paduka itself.

*One may find it strange but it is true that even if a mosque has to be built in Malaysia, the government orders are issued in the name of ‘Urusan Seri Paduka’.

*Predominantly Muslim countries in Southeast Asia like Brunei and Indonesia, the world’s largest Islamic nation,  take pride in saying ‘Islam is our Religion but Ramayana is our Culture’.

*The Southeast Asian Games in 1997 used Hanuman as its mascot.

BJP MP Shatrughan Sinha denies to be ‘sulking’; says will attend saffron meets when invited

Actor-turned BJP MP Shatrughan Sinha, who is courting controversies due to his series of recent statements, has denied that he was “sulking” while stating that he would only attend those saffron meetings that he was invited to.

Actor-turned BJP MP Shatrughan Sinha, who is courting controversies due to his series of recent statements, has denied that he was “sulking” while stating that he would only attend those saffron meetings that he was invited to.”With all my good wishes and warm feelings for the BJP, I decided not to create more controversy or make the situation more messy.”That is why I have skipped from my side and also I firmly believe that …I only attend when I am invited to,” he said when asked why he was not campaigning for the party in the ongoing politically significant Bihar polls.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>That, he said, was the reason why he kept away “from the scene” and work towards his parliamentary duties.”I have come over here. However, I have got no ill-feelings. And I feel that we could have still fared much better or as per our expectations if we had gone into the right direction…I am talking about local leaders….some of them have become over ambitious,” Sinha said.When asked who will win the Bihar polls, he said, “That…people will decide.””I hope, wish and pray we take Bihar…that is BJP take Bihar to the path of progress, peace, prosperity, further growth and of course glory. But ultimately, since I have not been an astrologer, I can’t say now,” the popular actor said.”I have even not seen the ground reality…but my good wishes are for my party and ultimately let the best person, let the best party win,” Sinha said.The Patna Sahib MP was in Kochi on Saturday in the capacity as a member of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport Tourism and Culture, Civil Aviation and Shipping.When told that he had been a star campaigner for the party, Sinha merely said, “I am not sulking.” The ‘Bihari Babu’ had yesterday tweeted blaming BJP leaders in Bihar for “cancellation” of election rallies to be addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.Sinha had tweeted, “A situation that led our star campaigner PM to cancel his Bihar rallies at the last minute sending a negative message???””This time reasons are best known to all of us and my people and my supporters and my well wishers. The way the things are being played in Bihar…certain handful of leaders with dictatorial attitude I feel pain. That is the reason I said ok…no demand, no command, no complaints and no expectations,” he said.Sinha said he might go to Patna, his constituency for campaigning, if he is required.”I might go there, if I am required. If not required… no problem… no demand, command and no complaints…I wish them all the best. I wish them luck,” he added.

Australian art gallery to return 2,000 years old Buddha idol

With the Canberra-based art gallery giving its consent, the ASI has requested the Ministry of Culture to send an official team to examine the antique idol dating to the first century.

The 2,000-year-old Buddha sculpture

Image credit: National Gallery of Australia
Close on the heels of Germany returning an ancient Durga idol, an Australian art gallery has agreed to give a 2,000-year-old Buddha sculpture back to India. The Sitting Buddha sculpture, whose roots could be traced to Mathura in Uttar Pradesh, is currently with a national art gallery in Canberra, Australia, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) officials here said. “Last week, the Australian art gallery intimated the Union Culture Ministry that they intend to return it. The sculpture made of sandstone is an image, which is very unique to the Mathura region,” ASI sources said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> With the Canberra-based art gallery giving its consent, the ASI has requested the Ministry of Culture to send an official team to examine the antique idol dating to the first century. “Now, the gallery has agreed to return the sculpture. It is necessary for us to authenticate the sculpture,” they said, adding it is part of the process involved in retrieving the object. Asked whether any case regarding the missing of the sculpture has been registered in India, sources said there was no complaint available with the police “as of now”. However, ASI sources said, the design employed in crafting the sculpture is quintessentially associated with Mathura, an important Buddhist centre several hundred years ago. Besides, they said, a state archaeological museum in Uttar Pradesh has similar Buddha statues, indicating towards the sculpture’s Mathura links. ASI sources also suspect the role of notorious Indian art dealer Subhash Kapoor in smuggling the sculpture out of the country.

Now, Maha CM Fadnavis asked for security for Pakistan ex-FM Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri’s book launch

In a letter to Fadnavis, Kulkarni asked the state government to provide adequate and fool-proof security to Kasuri during his stay here.

They sought ‘adequate security’ to Kasuri from CM Fadnavis

Organisers of an event featuring former Pakistani Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, have approached Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, seeking ‘adequate security’ to him after cancellation of Pakistani Ghazal maestro Ghulam Ali’s concert here. The Observer Research Foundation Mumbai, along with Nehru Centre and Penguin Books India, is organising a function to launch the book ‘Neither a Hawk nor a Dove: An Insider’s Account of Pakistan’s Foreign Policy’ by Kasuri, in Mumbai on October 12 at the Hall of Culture, Nehru Centre, Worli.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Our purpose in organising this function is to make our own humble contribution to the much-needed normalisation of relations between India and Pakistan. Kasuri’s widely appreciated book shows his strong commitment to peaceful and cooperative ties between our two countries,” ORF Chairman Sudheendra Kulkarni said. “The launch of the book will be accompanied by a panel discussion, in which the speakers are: A G Noorani, eminent jurist, historian and author; Naseeruddin Shah, renowned film and theatre personality; and Dileep Padgaonkar, eminent journalist and columnist,” Kulkarni, who will moderate the talk, said.During his stay in Mumbai between October 11 and 14, Kasuri, besides attending the book launch function, will also visit Mani Bhavan and Jinnah House if possible, he said. Kasuri will also meet veteran movie star Dilip Kumar at his residence.In a letter to Fadnavis, Kulkarni asked the state government to provide adequate and fool-proof security to Kasuri during his stay here.Security for Kasuri has become all the more necessary in view of the condemnable episode a few days ago when a concert in Mumbai by Ghulam Ali, the famous ghazal maestro from Pakistan, was called off because of the Shiv Sena’s threat to the organisers of the event, he said.

French TV station fails in attempt to make a point on feminism; but India is no better

Advertisements centred around women’s empowerment are very much in vogue, and not just in India.

However, much like in India, some end up scoring a self-goal on the patriarchy front. One such feminism disaster happened in France recently, when a French TV station pulled down an advertisement aimed at highlighting its feminist credentials, but instead earned ridicule for being inherently sexist.

A screenshot from France-3 advertisementA screenshot from France-3 advertisement

A screenshot from the France 3 advertisement

The advertisement was designed to highlight the station’s positive record on female employment, with the tagline “The majority of our presenters are women presenters,” AFP reported. However, the TV station chose a rather dubious way of making the point, by showing household chores that had gone wrong because the woman of the house was, well, not in the house, but working at the TV station — France 3.

So, a meal is left overheating in an oven, a bedroom is in disarray and an iron is left smouldering over clothes, while a song on the soundtrack asks ‘Where are the women?’ Soon enough, the question is answered emphatically: “They are at France 3”. The channel goes on to proclaim that it is ‘more different, more modern and more feminine’. France’s minister for women’s rights, Pascale Boistard, however, was not convinced and tweeted that ‘it did not seem like the best way to promote equal rights.’ The TV station later pulled down the advertisement.

Evidently, while creative heads for advertisements are convinced that showing equality at the workplace is a good way to showcase a brand, they are not as enthusiastic about shared responsibility on the home front.

Not long ago, an advertisement for Airtel in India sparked a debate for its depiction of working women. The advertisement shows a woman taking her husband to task as her boss in office, while cooking up a meal for him at home. While one could say that the commercial was better than the ones showing wives washing clothes for their high-flying husbands, it perhaps got flak precisely because it claimed to send out a different message, but ended up reinforcing it instead.

Not to be left behind, Fair & Lovely too, had come up with a commercial claiming to root for gender equality. However, that advertisement ended up showing a young woman’s marriage prospects, as also her self-confidence while standing up to her father, to be linked to the colour of her skin. This, of course, was not much of a surprise considering that the product itself is based on the premise that the colour of a woman’s skin is a deciding factor in her success in life.

So, along comes an advertisement from another part of the world which does not exactly do a good job of depicting gender equality either. However, in this case, the French minister for women’s rights’ remarks was followed by the commercial being pulled off the air by the TV station. In India, on the other hand, Minister for Culture Mahesh Sharma has been quoted as saying that girls wanting a night out is not a part of Indian culture (see report by The Times of India here). This is something to think about before we gloat about the French TV channel’s failed attempt at feminism.

With inputs from AFP

Pune has its own microbe and it’s called ‘Clostridium Punens’

Scientists name microbe after Pune city . This new microbe is called ‘Clostridium Punens.’

Now there is one more reason for Puneites to add to their “feel-proud-of-this-thing-because-it-is-from-Pune” list.Scientists in Pune have discovered a microbe in the intestine of a Punekar and now have named it after the city. This new microbe is called ‘Clostridium Punens.’ Pune’s Microbial Culture Collection (MCC) and Agharkar Research Institute (ARI) collaborated for this research, reports Maharashtra Times.Dr Yogesh Shouche of MCC and Dr Vikram Lanjekar of ARI explained that after detailed study of genome sequencing of Clostridium Punens, they found that it generates some enzymes that help digest polysaccharides we get after eating vegetarian food.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”For the first time the microbe was found in the intestine of a Puneri therefore even if it is found in another person’s body, it still will be called Clostridium Punens,” said Dr Shouche.Dr Lanjekar said, “This is one of its kind discovery in India and hence holds more importance.”

Chandigarh’s Capitol Complex to get world heritage status by 2016?

Union Territory administration of Chandigarh gave a powerpoint presentation to the members of UNESCO’s International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) on the management plan of the Chandigarh dossier, prepared in the year 2008.

Palace of Assembly Chandigarh

Wikimedia Commons
Union Territory administration of Chandigarh gave a powerpoint presentation to the members of UNESCO’s International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) on the management plan of the Chandigarh dossier, prepared in the year 2008.According to The Indian Express, the team was here to assess the structure of city’s Capitol Complex for the bid to get world heritage status. The team is expected to give an assessment on the areas that need improvement. The reports will then be submitted to ICOMOS and, finally, to the World Heritage Committee. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>According to the UT Home Secretary Anurag Aggarwal, the approval to the dossier is expected by June 2016. The dossier concerns the policy decisions regarding the alterations and additions to the Capitol Complex, risk preparedness and firefighting arrangements in several buildings.Chandigarh has been bidding for the honour since 2006, but has not been able to make it due to either a no-clearance from the Ministry of Culture or UNESCO. The Chandigarh report focused on its capital complex, apart from buildings designed by Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier, and Sukhna Lake and Leisure Valley.

Gandhi Jayanti 2015: 4 reasons Mahatma Gandhi would have hated modern India

While we’ve had all our politicians pay lip service to the Mahatma on his 146th birthday, the stark reality is that the India that he dreamt of his nowhere near the reality that exists today.

If Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was alive today, he would’ve been pained to see just how far the nation has come from his vision of India. Communal tension is always simmering under the pot, the gap between the have-lots and the have-nots have increased exponentially, the rural-urban divide is greater than ever before and violence is just a rumour away. In fact, the only Gandhian value which the nation seems to have imbibed properly is his love for the cow. Worshipping the cow aside, modern India is neither the nation he dreamt of nor the one our founding fathers fought for.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Here are some realities of modern India that would have shocked Gandhi: The continuance of Divide and Rule Lord Elphinstone, a former of Governor of Bombay had said to a committee while investigating the 1857 riots: “Divide et impera (divide and rule) was the old Roman motto, and it should be ours”. The British perfected the policy of divide and rule, as they pitted to the religions against one another.In Political Thinkers of Modern India: Lala Lajpat Rai, Volume 15 By Verinder Grover, Sir John Maynard, a retired Senior Member of the Executive Council of Punjab says: “It is, of course, true that British authority could not have established and now could not maintain itself but for a fissiparous tendency, of which the Hindu-Muslim antagonism is one manifestation. It’s also true that the mass rivalry of the two communities began under British rule. Persecuting rulers made their appearance from time to time in the pre-British era, levying tribute on unbelievers or punishing with masses — before they had eaten of the tree of knowledge and became religion-conscious — worshipped peacefully side by side at the same shrines.”For centuries, the two communities had lived in peace, but what was started by the British continues till this day as our politicians use these communal feelings to pit one religion against another.Despite the year being 2015, we still have instances like the lynching in Dadri, where a man was killed for allegedly eating beef . What was shocking wasn’t just the incident, but the reactions that followed with our Culture Minister calling the incident a misunderstanding and not one person from the ruling outwardly criticising the incident. As senior advocate Prashant Bhushan pointed out: “The silence maintained by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP’s brass is very important, as it means that it is a BJP’s well thought-out strategy to spread communal violence across the country, which is a matter of serious concern, and the nation will have to reckon with it.” (Read: 3 ways the British still rule us)The rise of religious intoleranceAfter returning from India in January 2015, while addressing the National Prayer Breakfast, US President Barack Obama had said that Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi would’ve shocked by the rise of religious intolerance in modern India.Obama said: ‘Michelle and I returned from India — an incredible, beautiful country, full of magnificent diversity — but a place where, in past years, religious faiths of all types have, on occasion, been targeted by other peoples of faith, simply due to their heritage and their beliefs — acts of intolerance that would have shocked Gandhi, the person who helped to liberate that nation.’ The rise of a right-wing government to the centre seems to have emboldened elements across the nation (groups which can be best described as Saffron Plus) which seems to have taken the mandate for a BJP government to mean that the nation has voted for them. It is an impression that seems to be shared by our culture minister Dr Mahesh Sharma who was quoted saying by The Telegraph: “If at all saffronisation has been done, it has been done by the 125 crore people of the country who gave us a huge mandate. They knew what is RSS, what is BJP. They have given us a mandate to run the country.”Untouchability in the 21st Century Along with the fight for Independence, one of Mahatma Gandhi’s greatest missions was to eradicate untouchability. It is even claimed that his rebellion against society began with the latter. He wrote: “Love of the people brought the problem of untouchability early into my life. My mother said. ‘You must not touch this boy, he is an untouchable.’ ‘Why not?’ I questioned back, and from that day my revolt began.”Sadly, the practise continues till this day. A survey carried out by the NCAER – India’s oldest and largest independent non-profit economic policy research institute – found that one out of four Indians still practise some form of untouchability. According to this survey, 27% people claimed they practised some form of it. It was most prevalent among Brahmins with 52% admitting to it. It’s simply mind-boggling, that even in the 21st century, there remain among us people who believe that they are somehow superior, due to the accidental circumstances of their birth.The growing difference between urban and rural IndiaOne of Gandhi’s visions of India involved a country full of self-sufficient villages, but the situation in rural India is so abysmal that scores leave their villages to find meaningful employment in urban centres. Rural India lacks even basic facilities like toilets or drinking water, while healthcare remains a major problem. While many of our cities now have facilities which could match the best in the world, basic amenities like healthcare and education are non-existent in rural India. Here are some numbers from the socio-economic caste-census of 2011:9.16 crore households earn their income from casual manual labour
5.39 crore households earn their income from cultivation
4.21 crore is the number of households sans any literate member above the age of 25 years
2.37 crore is the number of houses with kuccha walls or roof
65.15 lakh is the number of households without an adult member between the age of 18 and 59 years
(Read: 11 shocking numbers revealed in Socio Economic and Caste Census 2011)The huge numbers show that we’re a long, long way away from Gandhi’s vision of self-sufficient villages. While we’ve had all our politicians pay lip service to the Mahatma on his 146th birthday, the stark reality is that the India that he dreamt of his nowhere near the reality that exists today.

Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma blames ‘misunderstanding’ for killing of man for ‘eating beef’

“There was some confusion. There were a lot of events (incidents) going on…and not only cow slaughtering but of animal theft and animal slaughtering going on in that area. In that confusion, there was misunderstanding about the animal killing and the event was a result of that,” he said.

Union Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma

Terming as “painful” the alleged killing of a man in Dadri town by a mob following rumours of his family’s involvement in cow slaughter, Union Minister Mahesh Sharma on Wednesday said the incident happened due to “misunderstanding” and trashed suggestions that it was done to polarise the village ahead of panchayat polls.Sharma, Minister of State for Tourism and BJP MP from Noida, said he was in touch with the police and has also organised a meeting between the two rival groups in the village, where tension prevailed after the incident on Monday night.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”It’s a painful incident. Both the so-called groups belong to same village and are living there for years together. Nobody should take law into his hand,” Sharma said on the sidelines of a tourism function here.Asked about allegations that the incident was an attempt to polarise the society ahead of panchayat elections in that area, he said,”This incident was like action and reaction and not because of any organised plan. Misunderstanding was the main reason for this….I do not think it was done in a planned way.””There was some confusion. There were a lot of events (incidents) going on…and not only cow slaughtering but of animal theft and animal slaughtering going on in that area. In that confusion, there was misunderstanding about the animal killing and the event was a result of that,” he said.He also appealed for calm.”I am in touch with the people there and also with the police over the situation. We have also organised a meeting between both the groups in the village to maintain peace in the area,” he said. Massive security has been deployed in a village in Dadri town in Uttar Pradesh after a 50-year-old man was allegedly beaten to death and his son injured by a 200-strong mob following a rumour that his family was involved in cow slaughter. His son Danish was critically injured and is undergoing treatment at a hospital.Some reports said trouble erupted following a rumour that the victim had consumed beef, but there was no official confirmation. Cow slaughter and consumption of beef are banned in the state.

Now, Culture Ministry to rename Delhi’s Teen Murti Chowk to Haifa Mukti Chowk

Mahesh Sharma had recently created controversy by saying that girls should stay indoors at night

The Ministry of Culture has decided to change the name of Teen Murti Chowk to Teen Murti Haifa Mukti Chowk, says India Today report.The chowk is named after the Indian soldiers victory against the Ottoman Turks in Haifa, now in Israel in 1918 during World War One. According to the ministry officials, the name is often associated with Mahatma Gandhi’s Three Monkeys (Teen Bandars) and not the success of the Indian soldiers in capturing Haifa. “The moment people today think of Teen Murti they think of Gandhiji’s monkeys. This is a wrong impression that needs to be corrected.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>During the first World War, the Jodhpur IS Lancers, Mysore IS Lancers and the Hyderabad IS Lancers from the Indian 15th (Imperial Service) Cavalry Brigade formed a part of the 5th Cavalry Division of Desert Mounted Corps soldiers had defeated the Ottoman Turks and it’s artillery at Mount Carmel to claim the port of Haifa and Acre. The victory is considered a great feat as it was achieved by the Indian horsemen armed just with spears and swords.The 23rd of September, every year is celebrated as Haifa Day to remember their achievement.
Earlier Aurangzeb Road was renamed to APJ Abdul Kalam road by the Delhi municipality which resulted in critics saying that the BJP led civic body and AAP government wanted to remove certain parts of history.The Culture minister Mahesh Sharma courted controversy recently for saying girls night out not a part of Indian culture and that APJ Kalam was a nationalist despite being a Muslim.

Twitter mocks Mahesh Sharma for his uncultured comments

Union Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma has been in the eye of the storm since he made a handful of comments about ‘Indian culture’.

Union Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma has been in the eye of the storm since he made a handful of comments about ‘Indian culture’. He had said about former APJ Abdul Kalam: “Aurangzeb Road ka naam bhi badal kar ek aise mahapurush ke naam par kiya hai jo Musalman hote hue bhi inta bada rashtravadi aur manavtavadi insaan tha (We have renamed it after someone who was a humanitarian and a nationalist despite being a Muslim).” He also said: “Western culture is not bad but it may not be good for us. Here, 15-year-old children don’t leave their parents. A 14-year-old girl wanting a night out maybe all right elsewhere but not in India.”Speaking about the RSS’ role in governance he had said: “If at all saffronisation has been done, it has been done by the 125 crore people of the country who gave us a huge mandate. They knew what is RSS, what is BJP. They have given us a mandate to run the country.” <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Here’s how Twitter reacted to the Mahesh Sharma’s comments: He was compared to Mukesh Singh. He was compared to Donald Trump.

Dear Mahesh Sharma, it’s 2015: Let women decide what they want to do with their evenings

By Bikram Vohra

It’s 2015 and we have a Minister of Culture who gaily announces that women should not go out and make an evening out of it. What does he suggest for the boys then? Go out with other boys?

This claptrap about Indian culture and the keepers of the flame have become so regressive that it is scary. Rightwing loonies have scrambled into positions of power and this is not just sad beyond acceptance, it is downright scary.

Mahesh Sharma is the same person who is bent on creating a divide across religions in secular India and the fact that he grabs headlines with his holier than thou posturing offers him enough fuel to keep making obnoxious observations.

Women are not animals or property and they are equal to men, period. This moral policing has to end or this country is in grave danger of becoming extremist and polarised and so out of kilter with the modern world that it will fall on its face.

Representative image. AgenciesRepresentative image. Agencies

Representative image. Agencies

We are moving into the medieval age and the sheer frustration from our taboos makes sex per se a titillating obsession. We are so overwhelmed by it that our only release seems to be to talk about it incessantly in the negative. Clothes, speech, social gatherings, everything is seen through this grotesque prism as if by rejecting it totally we will get comforted that we are not missing anything worthwhile. The crippling of the Indian sexual psyche spawns these cultural bandits posing as custodians. To us anything between a man and a woman is ugly and disgusting…even going out for dinner.

Who is Mr Sharma to decide what women (girls) should and should not do? Just because he is our Minister for Culture he has the clout to set the tone and standards of our conduct and possibly save us from burning in hellfire. Why are people like Mahesh Sharma allowed to speak the way they do and face no consequences for what they say and how they say it?

We are getting so regressive. Ironically, twenty years ago India was right on track to being a progressive IT nation with intelligence and acumen and skill pouring out of our second level cities and the people looking good and feeling good about themselves.

People like Sharma make you feel dirty. In recent years we have become intolerant, petty, sexist and vicious.

Now, after all the damage is done comes the inevitable denial. It is like a well-worn script. If it was said on a TV channel it is so easy to prove. Don’t blame the media, Minister, for your follies.

Night outs by girls against Indian culture, says Union Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma

He said that he has nothing against Western culture but Indians shouldn’t follow it blindly.

Mahesh Sharma

Days after justifying meat ban and even proposing to extend it during Navaratri and saying APJ Abdul Kalam was a nationalist despite being a Muslim, Union Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma has reportedly made another controversial statement. Speaking to CNN IBN, Mahesh Sharma said that, “Girls wanting a night out may be all right elsewhere but it is not part of Indian culture”. He said that he has nothing against Western culture but Indians shouldn’t follow it blindly. According to him, Westernisation for the sake of modernisation shouldn’t be the goal and Indians should be mindful of the social structure prevalent in the country. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Now, Mahesh Sharma has issued a clarification saying his comments were distorted. He tweeted saying:Earlier, In an interview to India Today TV, Sharma spoke about multiple issues and gave his candid views on them. About the ongoing raging controversy regarding meat ban in some states during the Jain festival of Paryushan, Sharma said he welcomed such restrictions. Also Read: Modi government, RSS plan to ‘cleanse’ India of western culture, roadmap to be preparedHe said that, “If the sacrifices of a few help maintain the religious sentiments of a section of society, there is no harm in doing this”. Sharma also said that the Centre will decide on extending meat ban to nine days of Navratri festival. He said, “It will be a political decision. We would want that”.The minister said that he is working with the HRD Ministry to incorporate the Ramayana and Mahabharata in schools. But in a controversial statement, Sharma claimed that religious texts like the Bible and the Quran were not central to India’s soul. Making a strong pitch for learning Hindi and Sanskrit, Sharma said that Hindi should be made compulsory in all schools. According to him, putting parents in old age home and having narcotics were examples of western culture. The minister also made a fervent bid to remove the ill-effects of western culture from Indian society. Also Read: Union Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma wants meat ban during Navratri

Ramayana, Mahabharata to be taught in schools

Cultural ministry has initiated the task of identifying researchers and historians who have conducted scientific research on these texts

Government plans to scientifically incorporate the epics of Ramayana, Mahabharat and vedic mathematical studies as part of the education curriculum.Before the Human Resource Development ministry can incorporate these text in the syllabus, Culture ministry has been asked to bring on board the various historical researchers to establish that these epics are not merely mythological texts but have scientific links.The decision was taken after BJP President Amit Shah held a meeting with the education ministers of BJP-ruled states on September 5 and 6. The meeting was also attended by HRD minister Smriti Irani and culture minister Mahesh Sharma.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The cultural ministry has initiated the task of identifying researchers and historians who have conducted scientific research on these texts. The first consultation is to begin from September 17.Ramayana and Mahabharat are already taught in schools. “These texts are currently being taught as stories. These periods had also made great scientific advances, which history seems to have ignored. The idea is to make the students aware of these interesting details,” said a senior officer of the ministry of culture.The culture ministry has also prepared a document on the same. In the document prepared by the ministry it has referred to the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, which reveal that airplanes and rocket launchers existed in the Ramayana era. The document also suggests that atomic bombs and tear gas shells were used during the Mahabharat era. Vedic mathematics was also practised during these times.”The idea is not just to teach these texts as stories. The scientific and mathematical techniques and its social values can be taught at different grades,” added the officer.The culture ministry will hold several rounds of consultations with various stakeholders to come to a logical scientific conclusion. Through these consultations the ministry also wants to draw a nationwide consensus on the issue.The government then plans to hand over this document to HRD ministry. The HRD ministry will then be formulating a committee for incorporating these texts as part of the textbook curriculum.A senior BJP functionary present in the meeting with Shah last week also informed that the HRD ministry has consciously being kept out of the project for the time being. “The HRD ministry has so far been in several controversies in all policy matters, so the cultural ministry has been given the task to lead the project,” added the member.Conscious effortA senior BJP functionary present in the meeting with Amit Shah last week also informed that the HRD ministry has consciously being kept out of the project for the time being. “The HRD ministry has so far been in several controversies in all policy matters, so the cultural ministry has been given the task to lead the project,” added the member.

Union Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma defends controversial comment, says didn’t speak against any religion

I never said that my regard is not towards Quran or Bible. It is good if we know about Quran or Bible. Gita is the teaching of God Krishna and the world accepted that, Sharma said.

Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Culture and Tourism Mahesh Sharma on Monday said that his recent interview with an English news channel should be taken in a holistic approach and added that he did not speak against any religion.”I want the people to see that interview in a holistic approach and not picking up a line from that,” he said.Sharma further said that India is a country which takes all religion together.Also read: Also read: Union Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma wants meat ban during Navratri<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I never said that my regard is not towards Quran or Bible. It is good if we know about Quran or Bible. Gita is the teaching of God Krishna and the world accepted that,” Sharma said.Adding that he did not use Ramayan and Geeta as a religious statement, he said, “I got high regards for all the text of all the religion and haven’t said anything against any religion.”In an interview given to an English news channel, Sharma had said that Quran and Bible are not central to the soul of India. He added that Hindu epics like Ramayana, Mahabharata and Gita should be made compulsory in schools.Sharma also said that although he respects Bible and Quran, he feels that the two holy books are not at par with Hindu epics of Ramayana and Gita.

Union Minister asks Tamilians to learn Hindi and Sanksrit

Election in Tamil Nadu is due in few months and it will be interesting to see if this issue becomes a possible electoral talking point.

Pon Radhakrishnan

In a startling comment, senior BJP leader and Union Minister of State for Ports and Shipping in the Narendra Modi government, Pon Radhakrishnan has asked all Tamilians to learn Hindi and Sanskrit.This comes at a time when the Union Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma is proposing to make teaching of Sanksrit and Hindi compulsory in all schools. According to a leading daily, Pon Radhakrishnan said that he is ashamed for not learning Sanskrit but the new generation shouldn’t miss out. He said that if people from Andhra and Kerala can learn Hindi, there is no reason why Tamilians can’t learn the language. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Many parties from Tamil Nadu in the past have strongly objected to what they call as any attempt to impose Hindi on them. Election in Tamil Nadu is due in few months and it will be interesting to see if this issue becomes a possible electoral talking point.

Successful talks with NSCN (I-M) has started new journey, says PM Modi

The Prime Minister also said successive governments have made efforts to bring peace and stability in the region though these have seen various ups and downs in the past

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said that “successful” talks with NSCN (I-M) has started a journey of “walking together” and will lead to the development of not only Nagaland but the entire northeast region.The Prime Minister also said successive governments have made efforts to bring peace and stability in the region though these have seen various ups and downs in the past. “The credit does not go to any particular government and neither should they take it. Everyone contributed towards improving the situation. It is the result (of these efforts) that today in Nagaland there has been a successful dialogue with those people (NSCN(I-M) leaders).<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Everybody has seen the dream of development and joining the mainstream in not only Nagaland, but the entire northeast and the country. I am confident that the journey that has begun of walking together will bear best of results and the country will achieve greater heights,” he said referring to the accord reached between NSCN (I-M) and the Centre. Addressing a function here to commemorate the birth centenary of Rani Gaidinliu, a spiritual Naga leader who was born in Manipur and fought for India’s independence, Modi said the push of his government has been on the development of infrastructure of the northeast region.He said if the issue of connectivity is resolved then development would not be a problem. He said efforts were on to provide railway connectivity to state capitals in the region. Referring to pineapples grown in the region and chillis in Nagaland, he said the northeast can become the “organic capital” of the country. The development of the region was vital for the country’s growth, he said.The function was also attended by Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Nagaland Governor P B Acharya and Chief Ministers of Nagaland and Manipur T R Zeliang and O Ibobi Singh respectively. Referring to the the Land Boundary Agreement with Bangladesh, Modi said it would help improve connectivity of the region with the rest of the country. He lamented that years after India attained Independence, many “brave soldiers” who fought for the freedom, are missing from the portals of the country’s history. “It is the responsibility of the society to preserve the treasures of history…In most places the history is limited to royals and the rulers. But in India the efforts of the common people are valued as it is part of our philosophy,” he said.Blaming lacunae in the system, the Prime Minister lamented that “either we forgot about some great personalities or they were deliberately forgotten”. He said the northeast has given birth to several great personalities and had people learnt about their contribution, issues like alienation would not have crept in. Modi said that even after India got Independence, the “Rani maa”, as he referred to Rani Gaidinliu, was kept in jail for another three-four months. She was put behind bars by the British during the freedom struggle.The Prime Minister said she could not go to her village for “political reasons” as she was a nature worshipper. “Her philosophy has the answers to the issue of global warming and other environmental matters which we face today,” he said. He also recalled her contribution in spreading Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy in the northeast region. He termed as “important” the decision of the Congress party then to have passed a resolution for her release from jail in its Haripura session in 1938.It was Jawaharlal Nehru who gave the name ‘Rani’ (queen of the people of the northeast) to her, speakers at the function said. A brochure brought out by the Culture Ministry said Rani Gaidinliu was also associated with organisations such as Kalyan Ashram, VHP and Vidya Bharti.

AAP Government to facilitate Bihar CM Nitish Kumar in the national capital

According to a senior Delhi government official, the Department of Art, Culture and Languages, headed by minister Kapil Mishra, will organise a programme in which Kumar is expected to participate.

In the last meeting with Kejriwal in July, the Bihar Chief Minister had supported him and said Delhi Government should have powers of transferring and posting bureaucrats in the wake a controversy over posting of a senior official in Delhi.
File Photo
PTI photo
In an indication of growing closeness between Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his Bihar counterpart Nitish Kumar, the AAP government will facilitate the latter at a function likely to be held on August 19 in the national capital. According to a senior Delhi government official, the Department of Art, Culture and Languages, headed by minister Kapil Mishra, will organise a programme in which Kumar is expected to participate.”The government has sent an invite to the Bihar Chief Minister urging him to participate in the function as its chief guest on August 19. At the function, Kejriwal will facilitate Kumar,” the official said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Coming on the heels of the recent meeting of the two chief ministers, this development is being seen as an indication of growing understanding between the two leaders to work together to prevent the BJP from winning the upcoming Bihar Assembly elections.In the last meeting with Kejriwal in July, the Bihar Chief Minister had supported him and said Delhi Government should have powers of transferring and posting bureaucrats in the wake a controversy over posting of a senior official in Delhi. Kumar has also been advocating for AAP Government’s demand of full statehood status for Delhi.

Agra lawyers claim Taj Mahal was originally Shiva temple

Lawsuit has been filed caliming the Taj Mahal was originally a Shiva temple and that ownership of the monument be transferred to Hindus.

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A lawsuit claiming the Taj Mahal was originally a Shiva temple, has been filed by a team of lawyers from Agra, who believe its ownership be transferred to Hindus.On July 25, the plea regarding the ownership of the monument was moved to the additional district and sessions judge (XIV) and one of the defendants in this case, the Ministry of Culture has been given a deadline till August 10 to file their response, according to media reports.Defendant-I, the Archaeological Survey of India, had earlier dismissed the lawyers claims that the 17th century Mughal monument is a Shiva temple.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>However, the lawyers believe there is substantial evidence to prove that it was a Shiva temple dedicated to Lord Agreshwar Mahadev, who they have also made a party in their suit.In addition to demanding the ownership of the monument be transferred to Hindus, the lawyers’ suit also calls for Muslims to be restricted from offering prayers at the location.In December 2014, UP BJP chief Laxmikant Bajpai, had remarked the Taj Mahal was a part of an ancient temple, while responding to demands by Azam Khan, that the Taj Mahal be handed over to UP Waqf Board.Bajpai had also mentioned there was a evidence to prove, a part of Tejo Mahalaya temple’s land, was purchased by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan from Raja Jai Singh.

Historian-author Ramachandra Guha to receive Japan’s Fukuoka Prize

Fukuoka Prize honours those who have made outstanding contributions to academia, arts and culture across Asia.

Ramachandra Guha

File Photo
Historian-author Ramachandra Guha has been selected for Japan’s prestigious Fukuoka Prize in the Academic category. Guha’s fellow winners this year are Thant Myint-U (Grand Prize) and Minh Hanh (Arts and Culture). Fukuoka Prize honours those who have made outstanding contributions to academia, arts and culture across Asia. “Ramachandra Guha, a leading Indian historian, pioneered the new horizon of environmental history viewed from the general public’s viewpoints. His works present thorough explanations of the complex history of India, a country with a great diversity of languages, ethnicities, religions, and castes. “At the same time, his books vividly illustrate the actual state of the Indian democratic system, shedding light on our current multi-dimensional and chaotic world,” Guha’s citation says.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”In today’s world, which is becoming increasingly diversified and chaotic amid advancing globalisation, Indian people’s experiences in their modern history provide us with important lessons, as well as a ray of hope for the world’s future. Having served as a storyteller of Indian history, Guha is a truly worthy recipient of the Academic Prize of the Fukuoka Prize,” it further says. The awards will be presented on September 17 at the Fukuoka International Congress Centre. On September 19, Guha will also give a lecture on “Gandhi, India and the World”. Previous winners of Fukuoka Awards include Mohammad Yunus, Romila Thapar, Ashis Nandy and Mo Yan.

Online comic free this weekend all over India

The process for FCBW 2015 is set to go live on June 6 at 8 AM and will conclude on Monday June 8 at 8 AM.

Representational Image
A mix of iconic and contemporary comics sourced from over 100 publishers will be available for free download all over the country this weekend beginning June 6.As part of edition three of the Free Comic Book Weekend (FCBW), presented by Comic Con India, select comic titles will be available online for free download onto personal computers, mobiles, tablets etc. Publishers participating in the Third Edition of FCBW are Amar Chitra Katha, Campfire Graphic Novels, Pop Culture Publishing, Sufi Comics, Diamond Comics, Meta Desi and many more.The FCBW was initiated in 2013, with an aim to expand the scope and access of comics across India. “Over 15,000 comic book fans joined the event last year. Comic Con India has plans to make this event grow bigger and better. With an ambition to triple the number, we plan to have a wider outreach and more publishers joining hands,” says Jatin Varma, Founder, Comic Con India.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Users can download comics series straight on their PC, mobile phone or tablet from online digital content marketplace Readwhere.com, which has been partnering the event from its inception. Readwhere is set to offer over 1000 titles, from over 50 comic book publishers. Users will have the option of choosing any 5 for free. The rest will be available at a very nominal price as a bundle.Purchases via the Comic Book Store will receive a cashback of maximum Rs 100 in the readwhere wallet, organisers said. “We hope to reach audiences in all corners of India, to get addicted to comics and relive their childhood, or buy comics for their children. Digital presents the best medium to read and share comics,” says Manish Dhingra, Director and Co-Founder, Readwhere.com.The titles featured this year will be a mix of iconic and latest. This year’s spectrum of comic books includes Stan Lee’s “Chakra Boy,” “Sab Ke Comics,” “Vrika-Dawn of the Wolf,” “Angry Maushi” by Abhijeet Kini. Besides this the other publishers including Pran’s Features, Campfire Graphic Novels, Pop Culture Publishing and Amar Chitra Katha.The process for FCBW 2015 is set to go live on June 6 at 8 AM and will conclude on Monday June 8 at 8 AM.

An Englishman from Varanasi has a message for PM Modi: Leave my city alone

Christopher Burchett, a 67-year-old doughty Englishman who has been living in Varanasi since 1970 and now knows its history, culture, lanes and by-lanes better than many Banarsi babus – has a pretty straight-forward message for its VVIP MP: leave Varanasi alone.

“Trying to turn Varanasi into Kyoto is an exercise in futility”, Burchett told Firstpost. This even as Varanasi Mayor Ram Gopal Mohle, District Magistrate Pranjal Yadav, Municipal Commissioner Umakant Tripathi and a host of state and central government officials returned from a week-long tour of the Japanese model heritage city Modi wants to transform Varanasi into.

“I don’t want to decry Mr Modi’s ideas but it doesn’t make much sense to me. Varanasi’s facilities should be improved rather than trying to recast it,” Burchett said.

Burchett believes Varanasi cannot be changed too much. Image courtesy: SNM AbdiBurchett believes Varanasi cannot be changed too much. Image courtesy: SNM Abdi

Burchett believes Varanasi cannot be changed too much. Image courtesy: SNM Abdi

Burchett doesn’t think that having Modi as Varanasi’s representative is such a big deal. “His (Modi’s) arrival hasn’t made such a big impact. It’s a mere fact that he is representing Varanasi in Parliament. I see no great changes. Varanasi has been a BJP stronghold and won elections here since the Janata Party days. Earlier it was Kamalapati Tripathi’s fiefdom. After Rajiv Gandhi’s rout, it became a saffron stronghold and continues to be one.”

And he’s skeptical about just what changes can be made to the historic town.

“I’m not sure how he can change the face of Varanasi except superficially. The whole charm of Varanasi is in its historicity and the religious character of the place. Varanasi doesn’t need to be industrialized. You can’t industrialise Puri or Dwarka either. There is no place for Adanis or Ambanis in Varanasi, except to put some money in the civic infrastructure,” Burchett said.

“I can’t see six-lane highways running through the heart of Varanasi. The charm of Varanasi has always been its maze of narrow and winding lanes. And that has to be preserved at all cost,” he said.

Burchett speaks flawless Hindi and Bhojpuri to boot, which is quite an achievement for a Brit born in north Wales. Educated in the University of London, where he earned his History degree, Burchett headed to India through the overland route via Europe and the Middle East.

Arriving in India 45 years ago, he roamed from Kashmir to Kanyakumari taking in the sights and sounds of Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Puri, Chennai, Cochin and Madurai before settling down in Varanasi. He recalls getting involved in “overlapping activities like teaching and studying” until he landed a job in a primary school to pay his bills.

In 1982, he met Geeta Choudhury, who had come to join the school he worked in, but after she failed to get through asked him to teach her English. What began as English lessons in the afternoon at Geeta’s home, ended in marriage in 30 days flat.

“I was surprised by how quickly it happened. It didn’t happen so fast even in the West, let alone in India”, said Burchett about marrying Geeta, who is 11 years younger than him. The couple have two daughters – Bhumika and Roohi – and a son Romi. His four grandchildren are the apple of his eye. However, Burchett has retained his British nationality.His Indian visa is renewed every five years.

Burchett now works as an editor in a publishing firm in Varanasi, which produces books on subjects like Hinduism and mythology. Geeta works for the New India Assurance Company and they live in a rented house which was built opposite the landmark Durga Kund more than 100 years ago.

So what’s Burchett’s take on the controversial ghar wapsi campaigns that have been run in the state?

“Rubbish! If someone who is born and brought up as a Muslim because six generations ago his forefathers converted to Islam, how can you expect him to become a Hindu? The Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal’s case is very weak. Similarly, the offspring of a Christian family which converted 100 years ago can’t be expected to become a Hindu once again.It’s not humanly possible.

“On the one hand you say Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, or the world is my family. And on the other hand you want to make an issue out of Hindu, Muslim and Christian. All very trite and childish,” Burchett said.

Burchett is a witness to Varanasi’s evolution over four and a half decades. “I was attracted by the happy go lucky way of life – taking things as they came. That’s no longer the case. Time is money.  Everything is related to money now.”

“For the first 14-15 years, there was no TV set in my Varanasi home. TV arrived just in time for Indira Gandhi’s assassination in 1984 – the first TV tower was erected around that time.” he said.

“Besides TV, the other big influence was the influx of rich Biharis into Varanasi who wanted to escape the lawlessness and kidnappings in Bihar. Their arrival resulted in skyrocketing land prices. And now the Bihari mafia itself is buying into Varanasi as it has blossomed into the biggest mandi in entire eastern UP. Patna and Gorakhpur are also important trading centres but not as important as Varanasi,” he said.

So what are Burchett’s expectations of Modi as a Banarsi to the core?

“To be honest, I have bigger expectations of him as the country’s PM rather than Varanasi’s MP. He must create jobs. He must fulfill as many promises as he can.. He must make India proud – and he shouldn’t forget his roots,” Burchett said.

An Englishman in Varanasi has a message for Modi: Leave my city alone

Christopher Doughty, a 67-year-old doughty Englishman who has been living in Varanasi since 1970, and now knows its history, culture, lanes and by-lanes better than many Banarsi babus – has a pretty straight-forward message for its VVIP MP: leave Varanasi alone.

“Trying to turn Varanasi into Kyoto is an exercise in futility”, Burchett told Firstpost. This even as Varanasi Mayor Ram Gopal Mohle, District Magistrate Pranjal Yadav, Municipal Commissioner Umakant Tripathi and a host of state and central government officials returned from a week-long tour of the Japanese model heritage city Modi wants to transform Varanasi into.

“I don’t want to decry Mr Modi’s ideas but it doesn’t make much sense to me. Varanasi’s facilities should be improved rather than trying to recast it,” Burchett said.

Burchett believes Varanasi cannot be changed too much. Image courtesy: SNM AbdiBurchett believes Varanasi cannot be changed too much. Image courtesy: SNM Abdi

Burchett believes Varanasi cannot be changed too much. Image courtesy: SNM Abdi

Burchett doesn’t think that having Modi as Varanasi’s representative is such a big deal. “His (Modi’s) arrival hasn’t made such a big impact. It’s a mere fact that he is representing Varanasi in Parliament. I see no great changes. Varanasi has been a BJP stronghold and won elections here since the Janata Party days. Earlier it was Kamalapati Tripathi’s fiefdom. After Rajiv Gandhi’s rout, it became a saffron stronghold and continues to be one.”

And he’s skeptical about just what changes can be made to the historic town.

“I’m not sure how he can change the face of Varanasi except superficially. The whole charm of Varanasi is in its historicity and the religious character of the place. Varanasi doesn’t need to be industrialized. You can’t industrialise Puri or Dwarka either. There is no place for Adanis or Ambanis in Varanasi, except to put some money in the civic infrastructure,” Burchett said.

“I can’t see six-lane highways running through the heart of Varanasi. The charm of Varanasi has always been its maze of narrow and winding lanes. And that has to be preserved at all cost,” he said.

Burchett speaks flawless Hindi and Bhojpuri to boot, which is quite an achievement for a Brit born in north Wales. Educated in the University of London, where he earned his History degree, Burchett headed to India through the overland route via Europe and the Middle East.

Arriving in India 45 years ago, he roamed from Kashmir to Kanyakumari taking in the sights and sounds of Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Puri, Chennai, Cochin and Madurai before settling down in Varanasi. He recalls getting involved in “overlapping activities like teaching and studying” until he landed a job in a primary school to pay his bills.

In 1982, he met Geeta Choudhury, who had come to join the school he worked in, but after failing asked him to teach her English. What began as English lessons in the afternoon at Geeta’s home, ended in marriage in 30 days flat.

“I was surprised by how quickly it happened. It didn’t happen so fast even in the West, let alone in India”, said Burchett about marrying Geeta, who is 11 years younger than him. The couple have two daughters – Bhumika and Roohi – and a son Romi. His four grandchildren are the apple of his eye. However, Burchett has retained his British nationality.His Indian visa is renewed every five years.

Burchett now works as an editor in a publishing firm in Varanasi, which produces books on subjects like Hinduism and mythology. Geeta works for the New India Assurance Company and they live in a rented house which was built opposite the landmark Durga Kund more than 100 years ago.

So what’s Burchett’s take on the controversial ghar wapsi campaigns that have been run in the state?

“Rubbish! If someone who is born and brought up as a Muslim because six generations ago his forefathers converted to Islam, how can you expect him to become a Hindu? The Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal’s case is very weak. Similarly, the offspring of a Christian family which converted 100 years ago can’t be expected to become a Hindu once again.It’s not humanly possible.

“On the one hand you say Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, or the world is my family. And on the other hand you want to make an issue out of Hindu, Muslim and Christian. All very trite and childish,” Burchett said.

Burchett is a witness to Varanasi’s evolution over four and a half decades. “I was attracted by the happy go lucky way of life – taking things as they came. That’s no longer the case. Time is money.  Everything is related to money now.”

“For the first 14-15 years, there was no TV set in my Varanasi home. TV arrived just in time for Indira Gandhi’s assassination in 1984 – the first TV tower was erected around that time.” he said.

“Besides TV, the other big influence was the influx of rich Biharis into Varanasi who wanted to escape the lawlessness and kidnappings in Bihar. Their arrival resulted in skyrocketing land prices. And now the Bihari mafia itself is buying into Varanasi as it has blossomed into the biggest mandi in entire eastern UP. Patna and Gorakhpur are also important trading centres but not as important as Varanasi,” he said.

So what are Burchett’s expectations of Modi as a Banarsi to the core?

“To be honest, I have bigger expectations of him as the country’s PM rather than Varanasi’s MP. He must create jobs. He must fulfill as many promises as he can.. He must make India proud – and he shouldn’t forget his roots,” Burchett said.

Tips for PM Modi: When in China, make sure you don’t hug or finish your entire meal

Narendra Modi is all set for his maiden visit to China as prime minister for what is considered to be one of his biggest diplomatic missions. The visit, starting 14 May, will focus on strengthening Indo-China ties through trade and economics, even as the two countries deal with the contentious border issues.

When Chinese President Xi Jinping visited India last year, Modi took him to his home state of Gujarat and showcased its cultural heritage with statues of lions, Gandhi’s charkha and traditional swings. Jinping will be looking to return the favour and acquaint Modi with the Chinese culture.

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However, many aspects of their culture are vastly different from those around the globe and when in China, one must try to do as Chinese do.

So here are some Chinese cultural quirks that Modi should keep in mind when he is in China –

Gifts – Modi is known to give thoughtful gifts to various dignitaries be it silk shawls or unique paintings, and this is a practice that he should definitely continue in China. According to China Highlights, giving small, traditional gifts is considered a nice gesture in the country. Moreover, the gift is considered an extension of the person and handing it over with both hands is a sign of respect.

However at the same time, it is considered impolite to open the gifts in the presence of the giver. So if the prime minister is given something in return, he should keep it to himself and he too should accept it with both hands and say thank you.

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Gestures – It is widely known that simple gestures can mean very different things in China.  For example, two thumbs up and tugging on the earlobe are signs of excellence while outward pointing and raised pinky are considered rude gestures, says Cultural China.

In addition, the universally known head-nod is considered to be acknowledgement in China, and not agreement, according to the Center for non-verbal studies. Thus Modi and his entourage should be careful while communicating with the press and people of China.

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Hugs – If his interactions with US President Barack Obama are anything to go by, Modi is known to be quite expansive with his hugs. However, Chinese people may be uncomfortable about physical contact with people they are not too familiar with, so one must avoid hugging, back-slapping or putting an arm around someone’s shoulders they do not know too well, according to China Highlights.

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Food etiquette – Dining table etiquette, especially the correct usage of chopsticks, are considered particularly important in China. According to etiquetteinchina.com one must never stick chopsticks straight up in a bowl, as it alludes to the incense burned at funerals. Also one must never drop chopsticks down as that is a sign of bad luck.

Another important thing to keep in mind is that one should not finish the entire meal placed before them as that is considered disrespectful. One should always leave a little on the plate to demonstrate the generosity of the host.

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Kannada author Chidananda Murthy manhandled, arrested by Bengaluru Police

Noted Kannada author Chidananda Murthy was on Wednesday dragged and detained by the Bengaluru Police when he objected to the celebration of a poet’s birth anniversary.

The 84-year-old author was dragged out in front of Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah during the celebrations to mark the birth anniversary of ancient poet Devaradasi Maiyya.

Chidananda Murthy. IbnliveChidananda Murthy. Ibnlive

Chidananda Murthy. Ibnlive

According to CNN-IBN, “The veteran writer Chidanana Murthy along with some of the supporters raised objection to the birth celebration of Devaradasi Maiyya as he feels the Jethadevaradasi Maiyya’s contribution is much more than Devaradasi Maiyya.”

The police, in civil clothes, dragged him out without hearing out his protests. His supporters were arrested as well.

“After the function, Chief minister evaded questions by the media while Kannada and Culture minister Uma Shree defended the government. However, he admitted that the way the renowned writer was taken out was wrong,” reported CNN-IBN.

However Leader of Opposition Jagdish Shettar slammed the incident.

Marathi to get Classical Language status soon

The Centre is expediting the process to declare Marathi a Classical Language, Maharashtra Minister for Culture and Marathi language, Vinod Tawde on Wednesday said. He also said that the Centre has assured the state that the process of declaring Marathi a Classical Language before February 27 is being expedited.A chair for Marathi language would also come up at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, he said at a press conference. “The Marathi Chair in the Jawaharlal Nehru University would be opened up before February 27, which is celebrated as Marathi Language Day.”Prior to this date, the Marathi Language will definitely acquire a Classical Language status, as efforts to expedite the same have been assured by the Centre,” he said.