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Gujarat: Patanjali products sent for testing

“The samples have been collected following instruction given by the state (Gujarat) health department after some of the products failed in lab testing,” the official said, adding that these samples have been sent to a Vadodara-based lab. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

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AI plane hit by catering van at Newark airport in US <!– /.block –>
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Also ReadIndiaRespect for Indians grew after PM Modi’s foreign visits, says Sushma SwarajIndiaCPI(M) thinking about introducing retirement policy in partyIndiaHeroin trade strained India-UK relations in 1980s: UK filesIndiaPM Modi to visit Noida on Thursday, UP CM Akhilesh Yadav to give it a missIndiaCongress dubs Centre’s Smart City project as ‘unconstitutional’IndiaOdd-even formula: Delhi govt tells agencies to allow date-wise parking <!– /.block –>

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DMDK Chief Vijayakanth hits back at Jayalalithaa for criticising his party workers

Meanwhile, BJP leaders Muralidhar Rao and Pon Radhakrishnan met Vijayakanth today, in a meeting the party described as a “courtesy call”.

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High time India, Pakistan set aside hostilities, says Nawaz Sharif <!– /.block –>
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Also ReadIndiaRespect for Indians grew after PM Modi’s foreign visits, says Sushma SwarajIndiaCPI(M) thinking about introducing retirement policy in partyIndiaHeroin trade strained India-UK relations in 1980s: UK filesIndiaPM Modi to visit Noida on Thursday, UP CM Akhilesh Yadav to give it a missIndiaCongress dubs Centre’s Smart City project as ‘unconstitutional’IndiaOdd-even formula: Delhi govt tells agencies to allow date-wise parking <!– /.block –>

<!– /#sidebar-second –>Lalu Prasad Yadav ‘Super CM’ of Bihar: Sushil Modi<!– /.block –>High time India, Pakistan set aside hostilities, says Nawaz Sharif<!– /.block –> <!– /#content_bottom –>
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High time India, Pakistan set aside hostilities, says Nawaz Sharif

The Pakistan premier’s comments came a day after his Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said that foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan will meet in Islamabad on January 14-15 to prepare a schedule of meeting for the comprehensive dialogue covering Jammu and Kashmir and other issues. Sharif also expressed optimism that India-Pakistan ties would improve in the days ahead and the “spirit of goodwill generated with Modi’s visit will continue to prevail”.

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Here is why Virender Sehwag is unhappy with selectors even after his retirement <!– /.block –>
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Also ReadIndiaRespect for Indians grew after PM Modi’s foreign visits, says Sushma SwarajIndiaCPI(M) thinking about introducing retirement policy in partyIndiaHeroin trade strained India-UK relations in 1980s: UK filesIndiaPM Modi to visit Noida on Thursday, UP CM Akhilesh Yadav to give it a missIndiaCongress dubs Centre’s Smart City project as ‘unconstitutional’IndiaOdd-even formula: Delhi govt tells agencies to allow date-wise parking <!– /.block –>

<!– /#sidebar-second –>Russian court jails blogger for five years for ‘extremist’ posts<!– /.block –>Here is why Virender Sehwag is unhappy with selectors even after his retirement<!– /.block –> <!– /#content_bottom –>
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Separatist leader Asiya Andrabi dismisses allegations of any IS link

“We do not have any connections with any other group outside the state,” she claimed. Three Hyderabad-based cousins, who allegedly planned to join “jihadi terror groups”, were picked up from Nagpur international airport while on their way to Srinagar, months after they were put under watch for being influenced by online ISIS propaganda. The trio allegedly aspired to meet Andrabi using the name of their late uncle, former chief of Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), Syed Salahuddin. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

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AAP govt suspends 2 Home Dept officers; colleagues threaten to go on mass leave <!– /.block –>
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Also ReadIndiaRespect for Indians grew after PM Modi’s foreign visits, says Sushma SwarajIndiaCPI(M) thinking about introducing retirement policy in partyIndiaHeroin trade strained India-UK relations in 1980s: UK filesIndiaPM Modi to visit Noida on Thursday, UP CM Akhilesh Yadav to give it a missIndiaCongress dubs Centre’s Smart City project as ‘unconstitutional’IndiaOdd-even formula: Delhi govt tells agencies to allow date-wise parking <!– /.block –>

<!– /#sidebar-second –>New sanitation survey under ‘Swachh Bharat’ to be undertaken between Jan 5-20<!– /.block –>AAP govt suspends 2 Home Dept officers; colleagues threaten to go on mass leave<!– /.block –> <!– /#content_bottom –>
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AAP govt suspends 2 Home Dept officers; colleagues threaten to go on mass leave

Besides, former home secretary Dharampal was ‘sidelined’ for following Lt Governor Najeeb Jung’s orders to remain at his post despite the government appointing Rajendra Kumar as the home secretary.

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State governments likely to borrow up to Rs 1.05 lakh crore in last quarter: RBI <!– /.block –>
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Also ReadIndiaRespect for Indians grew after PM Modi’s foreign visits, says Sushma SwarajIndiaCPI(M) thinking about introducing retirement policy in partyIndiaHeroin trade strained India-UK relations in 1980s: UK filesIndiaPM Modi to visit Noida on Thursday, UP CM Akhilesh Yadav to give it a missIndiaCongress dubs Centre’s Smart City project as ‘unconstitutional’IndiaOdd-even formula: Delhi govt tells agencies to allow date-wise parking <!– /.block –>

<!– /#sidebar-second –>Separatist leader Asiya Andrabi dismisses allegations of any IS link<!– /.block –>State governments likely to borrow up to Rs 1.05 lakh crore in last quarter: RBI<!– /.block –> <!– /#content_bottom –>
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Disclose if information on Sanjiv Chaturvedi leaked: CIC to PMO

The Commission directed the PMO to disclose the information related to alleged leakage of information.

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Rob Kardashian hospitalised with diabetes <!– /.block –>
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Also ReadIndiaRespect for Indians grew after PM Modi’s foreign visits, says Sushma SwarajIndiaCPI(M) thinking about introducing retirement policy in partyIndiaHeroin trade strained India-UK relations in 1980s: UK filesIndiaPM Modi to visit Noida on Thursday, UP CM Akhilesh Yadav to give it a missIndiaCongress dubs Centre’s Smart City project as ‘unconstitutional’IndiaOdd-even formula: Delhi govt tells agencies to allow date-wise parking <!– /.block –>

<!– /#sidebar-second –>Cristiano Ronaldo decides to spend his New Year’s eve with a guy<!– /.block –>Rob Kardashian hospitalised with diabetes<!– /.block –> <!– /#content_bottom –>
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‘Deep flaws’ in Facebook’s India plan

A group of leading Indian academics criticise Facebook’s controversial Free Basics internet plan, saying it has “deep flaws”.

How Indians are celebrating Christmas

Images of Indians celebrating Christmas all over the country.

Sushma Swaraj responds to social media post on 14 Indians stranded in Malaysia

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A Facebook post by one of the victims said they were a group of 14 people from Tamil Nadu and had arrived in Malaysia in July.
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
A social media post stating that a group of 14 Indians from Tamil Nadu are stranded in Malaysia after being allegedly duped by a job agent drew External Affairs Minister Sushama Swaraj’s attention on Monday as she said the Indian envoy in Kuala Lumpur has contacted them.A Facebook post by one of the victims said they were a group of 14 people from Tamil Nadu and had arrived in Malaysia in July.The post said they were promised a higher salary by a job agent in Tamil Nadu but were given a lesser amount and when they protested and refused to work they were allegedly beaten.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The post drew the attention of External Affairs Minister Swaraj, who tweeted, “Our High Commission in Malaysia has contacted them. Police has taken cognizance. Please contact Mission for any help.” She also posted a link to the Facebook post.

IITians are not Indians, says Markandey Katju

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“Please don’t have any illusions, I also don’t have any illusions about you. You are not Indians. I don’t regard you as Indians.”

Markandey Katju

zeenews.com
Former Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju calls IITians non-Indians while addressing the students of Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay.He visited the Institution on Friday to speak on various issues. He said that the students of IIT do not have genuine love for the country and they are utterly selfish with no patriotism or idealism left among them.Later he took to twitter where he posted “Most of you IIT students have no genuine love for the country. You are utterly selfish, with no patriotism or idealism.”Katju further said, “Please don’t have any illusions, I also don’t have any illusions about you. You are not Indians. I don’t regard you as Indians.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He even said that he doesn’t expect anything from IIT students.”India should not have any hopes from you because eventually you will serve America or Germany,” he added.In his Facebook post, Katju mentioned that IIT students are utterly selfish.
He wrote, “All you want is to migrate to America (and most of you manage to do that), usually by first going for an M.Tech degree there (for which you get a scholarship), and then settling down there and enjoying comfortable life — and to hell with India.”Not only that, he even went on to the tax sector where he said, “Your education in IIT is largely subsidized by the Indian taxpayer. But after we Indians pay for your education, you are taken away by America who benefit form your knowledge, which was imparted by us.He lashed at IITians and further mentioned, “And after settling down in America, you will become NRIs — supercilious know-alls, who will give lectures to Indians about what is good for them and what is not.”

Making restaurant visits ‘a pleasure’ for India’s disabled

Meet Nipun Malhotra whose campaign made a popular food app list wheelchair-friendly restaurants in Indian cities.

When Bollywood beat Modi: Here’s Google’s list of most searched Indians in 2015

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How Sirajuddin brainwashed girl from Pune

The probe has also revealed that out of the 150 members who formed the core ISIS group on Telegram app, at least six, including Sirajuddin, reside in India.

The reclusive Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) polymer wing marketing manager, Mohd Sirajuddin, who never connected with even his neighbours in the multi-storeyed apartment where he lived in Jaipur, had brainwashed a girl and a woman from India and South America respectively into becoming suicide bombers.Ongoing police investigations and Sirajuddin’s sustained grilling have revealed that he had brainwashed a 16-year-old school girl from Pune and a young woman in Argentina into becoming suicide bombers for the ISIS.The duo formed seminal part of the 150-odd core group members from across the world who were connected actively with the IOC manager over the online application Telegram.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Both, the Argentine woman who converted from Christianity to Islam a few years ago and the school girl from Pune were in constant touch with Sirajuddin over phone as well. They had been brainwashed to the extent that both of them were readying selves for training abroad to become suicide bombers, who would wreak havoc on selected targets anywhere in the world, state police sources in the know of the investigations confided to dna.The probe has also revealed that out of the 150 members who formed the core ISIS group on Telegram app, at least six, including Sirajuddin, reside in India.Besides the Pune girl, two young working professionals hailing from Jammu and Kashmir, a youngster based in national capital Delhi and a youth from South India were among the Indians featuring in the core group.Sirajuddin, who in the past had spurned an offer by ISIS elements to go to Fiji with other members of his group for some major plans, was offered to travel to Libya along with his close channel members for some big task, sources added.The IOC marketing manager’s grilling has also revealed that he was in constant touch with a United Arab Emirates woman (an office executive in health sector) over phone and used to discuss with her several plans, including fund raising and recruitment. The woman who had honey-trapped Sirajuddin over a popular social media platform has already been grilled by anti-terror agencies after being brought to Hyderabad.Investigations have also brought to the fore that right from his engineering education days in Suratkal (Karnataka) and Coimbatore he was inclined to extremist ideology, particularly owing to growing US intervention in affairs of Muslim nations and also happenings in Kashmir.His quizzing has revealed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is among the four global enemies for ISIS members and sympathisers. The other three ISIS adversaries include US president Barack Obama, Israeli premier Benjamin Netantyahu and Iranian supreme leader Sayyed Ali Khamenei.The ISIS propagators indoctrinate among their followers on how to conquer three parts of the world, the battleground (including Syria and Iraq and adjoining neighbourhood where they were engaged in bloody battle for supremacy now), the entire west which is now fighting against them and the entire Indian sub-continent, which in the past was ruled by Muslim rulers.

Is Sanskrit written in English/Hindi all Greek/Latin?

Only 2 out of 100 research papers in Sanskrit are written in the language; But many scholars aren’t cribbing

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Despite several efforts to promote Sanskrit, only two out of 100 research papers in Sanskrit are being presented in the language. Scholars prefer either Hindi or English to write their PhD papers. This has divided the Sanskrit lobby on whether the practice of learning Sanskrit in other languages be allowed to continue or should it be made a medium of instruction. Government and scholars at Sanskrit Bharti, an RSS-affiliated body for promoting Sanskrit, have been trying to promote the language and bring it to the mainstream education curriculum.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The human resource development ministry has constituted a committee last month to suggest a long-term vision and road map for the development of Sanskrit for 10 years. However, a month on, there is a split on traditional versus modern learning techniques. Scholars attached to university systems are of the view that Sanskrit be taught as a language and that there is no harm in presenting Sanskrit research papers in English or Hindi. “A research paper in other languages can be accessed even by those who do not know Sanskrit. Making Sanskrit a medium will discourage students from picking up the language and valuable research work will have very few takers,” said Professor Ramesh Bhardwaj, Sanskrit head of department at Delhi University. Bhardwaj is a member of the Sanskrit committee. Scholars backing Bhardwaj’s view also feel that to make Sanskrit a medium of instruction will require altering the overall syllabus from the school level. “In our school curriculum, we have been teaching basic Sanskrit. The grammar and literature of other languages taught in schools are way ahead of Sanskrit. To make Sanskrit attractive and more accessible at the college level, the need is to correct the school text books,” said Professor AD Mathur of St Stephen’s College. Mathur also feels that it is more important for students to be able to understand the rich content in these Sanskrit texts, even if it is available in other languages. However, scholars from Sanskrit Bharti and Rashtriya Sanskrit Santhan, who support the traditional Sanskrit method and have been championing for the speak-Sanskrit movement want Sanskrit to be developed into a teaching medium. “The current form of learning Sanskrit is adopted from the British. The British translated Sanskrit so that they could read it. For 150 years, we have been following their traditions,” said a member of the committee, who did not want to be quoted. These scholars are also of the view that the British style of teaching Sanskrit has led to a decline of the language and that there is a need to go to the pre- British mode. “We want Indians to read Gita and not the translation of Gita,” added a professor.

BJP has been treated with political untouchability in Kerala, says PM Modi in Kerala

PM Modi addressed BJP workers and leaders in Kerala on Monday evening. He said that after independence, BJP and its ideology has suffered the most atrocities in Kerala.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing BJP karyakartas in Kerala.

Image courtesy: ANI Twitter handle
Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived at Kochi Naval Base in Kerala on Monday on a two-day trip to Kerala. The Prime Minister was received by Kerala Governor P Sathasivam and Chief Minister Oomen Chandy. This is PM Modi’s first visit to Kerala after he took over the Prime Minister’s post in 2014.PM Modi addressed BJP workers and leaders in Kerala on Monday evening. He said that after independence, BJP and its ideology has suffered the most atrocities in Kerala. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I want to apologise to Kerala, I should have come here earlier. After independence, if you look at the political history of a state, BJP and its ideology has suffered atrocities most in Kerala. In the last some years, more than 200 BJP workers were killed, murdered due to political reasons in Kerala. BJP has been at the receiving end of political untouchability in Kerala from other parties. Today I pay tribute to all those BJP workers for their martyrdom,” PM Modi said. He further added, “People have made up their mind now, they have accepted you whole-heartedly, your hard work has paid off. During my visit to UAE I met Indian workers, and I also interacted with people from Kerala.PM Modi also spoke about the nurses who were held captive in Syria by terrorists and commended the government’s efforts to bring them back. “Few months ago, some of our daughters from Kerala who were working as nurses were held captive by terrorists, entire country was in tears. But as a result of our good relations with other nations, our daughters were brought back safely,” he said. He also said that the youth in Kerala can lead the ‘Digital India’ project. “India is a young nation. We want youth to get opportunities and that too in India. We’ve given priority to ensure security of Indians living all across world, because a large population of Kerala youth working abroad. Kerala’s youth strength is such that they can lead ‘Digital India’ project.” “Change must be brought to quality of life of fishermen from Kerala, will introduce a scheme related to modernised fishing industry soon. It is my dream that every Indian has his own house when India will celebrate its 75th Independence day in 2022. Around Rs 2100 crore has already been disbursed to 2,25,000 people from Kerala under Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana,” he said.Also read: Did Kerala CM Oommen Chandy decline attending PM Modi’s event?On Tuesday, he will unveil a statue of former Chief Minister R Shankar at a Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana (SNDP) programme in Kollam.In a series of tweets, PM Modi expressed excitement over his visit to Kerala on Monday morning.

NIA arrests Chennai man attempting to join ISIS in Libya

It is the first instance of an Indian being deployed in Libya by the ISIS.

ISIS

AFP photo
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Friday arrested a 23-year-old man from Chennai who was on his way to join the Islamic State (IS), reports Hindustan Times.According to the report, the youth, Mohammed Naser Packeer Mohammed, had allegedly reached Sudan and intended to travel to Libya to fight with ISIS militants there. It is the first instance of an Indian being deployed in Libya by the ISIS.According to Union home ministry’s data, so far 23 Indians have joined ISIS and all of them were reported to be in the terror outfit-held area along the border of Iraq and Syria. Out of them, six have been reported killed.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Mohammed Naser Packeer Mohammed is a computer expert. He got in touch with an IS recruiter known as ‘Mad Mullah’ sometime in May this year while he was in Dubai. Mad Mullah told him to reach Sudan from where he was to be sent to Libya to join the IS but his activities came in the notice of Sudanese authorities who detained him and sent back to India,” a senior government official said to HT.”NIA chief Sharad Kumar confirmed that an FIR has been registered by the anti-terror agency against Naser but refused to divulge further.Naser’s father worked in a car showroom in Dubai. Naser travelled to Dubai in 2014, came back to Chennai in May this year and went back again. During the same period he started looking for the ISIS related activities online. The ISIS recruiters promised to train him in Sudan before deployment in Libya. His handler arranged for a Sudanese visa for him and dispatched it to Dubai.So far, Indian security agencies have managed to stop more than 60 Indians from joining the ranks of ISIS, the report said.

Indo-Pak Talks: Minor controversy over missing Indian flag

Earlier, the tricolour was hoisted upside down during PM Narendra Modi’s photo with Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe before bilateral talks on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit in Kuala Lumpur. The missing national flag in Pakistan did not go down well with many Indians.

Sharif- Swaraj

PTI
Sushma Swaraj’s meeting with Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif came under some scrutiny when the tricolour was found missing from the backdrop, where both the leaders were sitting. Generally, whenever two leaders meet, the flags of both nations are displayed in the backdrop.Earlier, the tricolour was hoisted upside down during PM Narendra Modi’s photo with Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe before bilateral talks on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit in Kuala Lumpur. The missing national flag in Pakistan did not go down well with many Indians. Here’s how they reacted on Twitter:<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

Supreme Court seeks Centre’s and states’ replies on birth control of stray dogs

The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by Kerala-based social activist, Sabu Steephen, who has sought direction to take “urgent steps to safeguard people from the stray dog menace, in which the life of millions of Indians under constant threats”.
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
The Supreme Court on Monday sought responses of the Centre and states on a plea seeking birth control of stray dogs and their “destruction” in public necessity. A bench of justices Dipak Misra and P C Pant also issued notices to the concerned ministries, Animal Welfare Board of India and 36 states, while asking them to file their responses within four weeks.The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by Kerala-based social activist, Sabu Steephen, who has sought direction to take “urgent steps to safeguard people from the stray dog menace, in which the life of millions of Indians under constant threats”.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The existence of stray dogs is a common phenomenon in almost all streets throughout India and the same has been considered and proved as a terrible social menace, except in the Union Territory of Lakshadweep….The unexpected attacks of stray dogs on human beings, …create terrible shocks to the victims and their families, often at times’ even causing death of victims. In short, existence of stray dogs in India has adversely affected the citizen’s fundamental rights of “Right to Live” and “Freedom of Movement”,” the plea stated.He further sought directions to the Centre, states and Union Territories to implement Sections 11 (3) (b) and (c) and 38 (2) (ea) of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act-1960 (PCA Act).The plea also sought quashing of Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Rules, 2001 contending that it is violative of PCA Act and also violative of Article 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India. In PCA Act, there is only one category of a particular animal specifically mentioned to destroy, ie “destruction of stray dogs in lethal chambers”.Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Rules gives full protection to stray dogs, which is against PCA Act, the plea added. It further sought a direction to “enact necessary laws to introduce and implement licensing system to keep dogs, so that no stray dog is allowed on Indian streets”.

Dalai Lama says India is 90% tolerant, only some politicians and media create ‘sensationalism’

The Tibetan spiritual leader said a lot of problems are highlighted in newspapers but they are not that serious.

Amid the raging debate over intolerance, Tibetan spiritual head the Dalai Lama on Monday said overall Indians are religiously tolerant, but there are some politicians and some sections of the media who create sensationalism out of “small things”.”Ninety nine per cent of Indians still are religiously tolerant and one per cent it is possible (to have intolerant people). I believe that. Some politicians may express different things, but that is their individual expression,” the Dalai Lama told PTI in an interview here. “Some people in the media too create small things into ….create sensationalism,’ said the Dalai Lama, on a three-day visit to Bengaluru.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Tibetan spiritual leader said a lot of problems are highlighted in newspapers but they are not that serious. “In India I feel, when we look at the newspapers, there are a lot of problems, but besides that nothing serious – Totalitarian regimes’ newspaper is smooth, but underneath a lot of problems,” he said. Asked about criticism that writers did nothing like returning awards during the Emergency and the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, the Dalai Lama said US President Barack Obama had mentioned Modi as a straightforward and a visionary leader and his visits to different countries has improved India’s image and it is on the path becoming an economic power.”President Obama sort of expressed Prime Minister Modi as brother, truthful, straightforward leader with a vision.During his visits to different countries, the image of India and also the economy, I do not know the details, but if you see his own sort of speeches, India’s economy is very rapidly increasing and India is on the path of becoming more powerful,” he said.The Dalai Lama said he doesn’t not know the details about Modi’s alleged “connection” with the post-Godhra riots, but these issues crop up during elections. “When he (Modi) was the Chief Minister of Gujarat, a Muslim friend said he (Modi) may have some doubt about his connection with post-Godhra violence. I don’t know … During elections we see more criticism of such kind,” he said.”This kind of criticism also is witnessed in Tibetan communities during elections and whenever a political matter crops up,” he added. However, this sort of criticism is better than the totalitarian regimes of China and North Korea, where there is no sort of freedom of expression for different views, he said.Asked if it was fair for writers to return their awards on the issue of “intolerance”, the Dalai Lama said, “I do not know the details, but there are some individuals – they have some reasons and resented. They also enjoy freedom. Whether that is right or wrong, we have to study very very carefully.”

Chennai rains: Narendra Modi mocked and Jayalalithaa heckled after Chennai floods

Yet, within hours, Modi became the object of mockery on social media after his press office released a doctored photo of him inspecting flood damage. For both him and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa Jayaram, the image of strong leadership created by their publicity machines was undermined.

One of India’s most powerful politicians, a former movie star called “Amma” or “Mother” by her followers, is being heckled and abused for going missing in action after floods swept the capital of the southern state of Tamil Nadu, which she rules.It’s a salutary lesson for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who at first drew nods of approval when he rushed to Chennai last week, promising to stand by its people in their hour of need.Yet, within hours, Modi became the object of mockery on social media after his press office released a doctored photo of him inspecting flood damage. For both him and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa Jayaram, the image of strong leadership created by their publicity machines was undermined.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Until the floods that ravaged the city of 6 million, the lofty remoteness of Jayalalithaa added to the aura around a leader with an almost hysterical following. Devotees of the 1960s screen idol have immolated themselves in her defence in the past.Now, she faces a backlash from residents fed up with the sight of her image on billboards, aid packets and her own Jaya Plus TV channel. She has been since in public only twice during the crisis – once with Modi.Angry youths heckled a state minister and officials in Jayalalithaa’s north Chennai constituency, where people were sitting on the roadside amid sludge and mountains of garbage, their shanties swept away by the worst rains in a century.”Forget about Amma coming here, there was no sign of the party cadres,” said one of them, called Dorairaj.About 280 people have died across Tamil Nadu since torrential rains on Dec. 1 submerged tracts of Chennai under up to eight feet (2.5 metres) of water, trapping people on rooftops with no communication.There was further revulsion after a party legislator put up a poster of Jayalalithaa lifting a baby above the floodwaters, in a scene from a blockbuster movie. “Adding salt to the wounds,” said one Twitter post.Avadi Kumar, a spokesman of her ruling AIADMK party, said there was anger among the people but the administration was doing all it could to bring relief: “It is impossible to reach all areas immediately or be present everywhere at all times.”GOOD DAYS Modi’s own promise to voters of good days to come for India is also starting to face disenchantment, 18 months into his five-year term, with key reforms stalled by bureaucratic inertia and political gridlock.Ambitious initiatives, such as a “Clean India” campaign, have made little headway – even as Modi has built up huge followings on social media and addressed enthusiastic diaspora Indians at packed stadiums on his many trips overseas.”If today he appears to have lost control over his own narrative, it is his own fault,” commentator Tavleen Singh wrote in Sunday’s Indian Express, urging Modi to hire a professional media team. Modi does not have an official spokesperson.Jayalalithaa, 67, in the past considered as a possible prime ministerial candidate backed by regional groups, faces an election in Tamil Nadu next year.Modi’s nationalist party has little presence in Tamil Nadu, a state of 70 million. It would rather the iron-fisted Jayalalithaa stays in power, believing she is more inclined to back his reform agenda in parliament than her rivals.But there are concerns around her health and that she may have to curtail her campaign.Earlier this year a higher court acquitted her in a graft case for which was briefly jailed which had caused an outpouring of anger from her supporters. Some lay down on roads and tried to persuade bus drivers to go over them.”She is supposed to be a fantastic administrator. But this time there was no presence of government at all. Ordinary people did all the work that government and police were supposed to do,” said S. Raja, one flood-hit resident of Chennai.

India is second most ignorant nation of the world: Survey

“Mexico and India receive the dubious honour of being the most inaccurate in their perceptions on these issues, while South Koreans are the most accurate, followed by the Irish,” the survey said.

Getty
India has the “dubious honour” of being the second most ignorant nation in the world after Mexico, according to a survey which posed questions on issues like inequality, non-religious population, female employment and internet access.The survey conducted by Ipsos MORI, a London-based market research firm, polled 25,000 people from 33 countries and found that while people “over-estimate what we worry about”, a lot of major issues are underestimated.”Mexico and India receive the dubious honour of being the most inaccurate in their perceptions on these issues, while South Koreans are the most accurate, followed by the Irish,” the survey said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The rankings of the nations were based on the “Index of Ignorance” which was determined by questions about wealth that the top 1 % own, obesity, non-religious population, immigration, living with parents, female employment, rural living and internet access.Most Indians “underestimate” how much of their country’s wealth is concentrated in the hands of the top 1%, the survey said, adding that the top 1% actually own an “incredible” 70 % of all wealth.The survey also found that most Indians “hugely overestimate” the proportions of non-religious people in the country to be 33% when the true figure is under 1 %.While Israel significantly underestimates the proportion of female employment (by 29 % points), people in countries like India, Mexico, South Africa and Chile all think of more women in work than really are, it said.India fell in the list of nations which overestimate representation by women in politics.Countries like Columbia, Russia, India and Brazil all think there is better female representation than there really is, the survey said.However, the Indian population seriously underestimates the rural population of the country and thinks more people have internet access than in reality.In India the average guess among online respondents for internet access is 60 per cent – an overestimation of the true picture of 41 percentage points, the survey added.

Chennai Rains: When ‘PIB-photoshopped’ Modi and Jayalalithaa’s posters earned ridicule

Until the floods that ravaged the city of 6 million, the lofty remoteness of Jayalalithaa added to the aura around a leader with an almost hysterical following.

For both him and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa Jayaram, the image of strong leadership created by their publicity machines was undermined.

File Photo
Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalithaa is being heckled and abused for going missing in action after floods swept the capital of the southern state of Tamil Nadu, which she rules. It’s a salutary lesson for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who at first drew nods of approval when he rushed to Chennai last week, promising to stand by its people in their hour of need. Yet, within hours, Modi became the object of mockery on social media after his press office released a doctored photo of him inspecting flood damage. For both him and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa Jayaram, the image of strong leadership created by their publicity machines was undermined.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Until the floods that ravaged the city of 6 million, the lofty remoteness of Jayalalithaa added to the aura around a leader with an almost hysterical following. Devotees of the 1960s screen idol have immolated themselves in her defence in the past. Now, she faces a backlash from residents fed up with the sight of her image on billboards, aid packets and her own Jaya Plus TV channel. She has been since in public only twice during the crisis – once with Modi.Angry youths heckled a state minister and officials in Jayalalithaa’s north Chennai constituency, where people were sitting on the roadside amid sludge and mountains of garbage, their shanties swept away by the worst rains in a century. “Forget about Amma coming here, there was no sign of the party cadres,” said one of them, called Dorairaj. About 280 people have died across Tamil Nadu since torrential rains on Dec. 1 submerged tracts of Chennai under up to eight feet (2.5 metres) of water, trapping people on rooftops with no communication. There was further revulsion after a party legislator put up a poster of Jayalalithaa lifting a baby above the floodwaters, in a scene from a blockbuster movie. “Adding salt to the wounds,” said one Twitter post.Avadi Kumar, a spokesman of her ruling AIADMK party, said there was anger among the people but the administration was doing all it could to bring relief: “It is impossible to reach all areas immediately or be present everywhere at all times.”‘Acche din’Modi’s own promise to voters of good days to come for India is also starting to face disenchantment, 18 months into his five-year term, with key reforms stalled by bureaucratic inertia and political gridlock. Ambitious initiatives, such as a “Clean India” campaign, have made little headway – even as Modi has built up huge followings on social media and addressed enthusiastic diaspora Indians at packed stadiums on his many trips overseas. “If today he appears to have lost control over his own narrative, it is his own fault,” commentator Tavleen Singh wrote in Sunday’s Indian Express, urging Modi to hire a professional media team. Modi does not have an official spokesperson.Jayalalithaa, 67, in the past considered as a possible prime ministerial candidate backed by regional groups, faces an election in Tamil Nadu next year. BJP has little presence in Tamil Nadu, a state of 70 million. It would rather the iron-fisted Jayalalithaa stays in power, believing she is more inclined to back his reform agenda in parliament than her rivals. But there are concerns around her health and that she may have to curtail her campaign.Earlier this year a higher court acquitted her in a graft case for which was briefly jailed which had caused an outpouring of anger from her supporters. Some lay down on roads and tried to persuade bus drivers to go over them. “She is supposed to be a fantastic administrator. But this time there was no presence of government at all. Ordinary people did all the work that government and police were supposed to do,” said S. Raja, one flood-hit resident of Chennai.

ISIS influenced very few Indian youths; govt monitoring cyber space, minister tells Parliament

New Delhi: The terrorist organisation Islamic State has been able to influence very few Indian youths and security agencies are closely monitoring the situation, including keeping potential recruits under surveillance.

Minister of State for Home Affairs Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary told Lok Sabha that the government is closely monitoring the situation and has directed the intelligence and security agencies to identify potential recruits and keep them under surveillance.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

“The cyber space is being closely monitored in this regard,” he said.

The minister said a few incidents of unfurling of flags of ISIS by some misguided youths were noticed on different occasions in Jammu and Kashmir and some other states in the recent past.

“…state governments concerned have been directed to take appropriate action against such statements as per relevant provisions of law,” he said.

Home Ministry officials had earlier said that 23 youths have joined ISIS of which six were reportedly killed.

Quoting intelligence inputs, officials had said, it emerged that the dreaded terror outfit considered South Asian Muslims, including Indians, inferior to Arab fighters in the conflict zones of Iraq and Syria.

According to an intelligence report prepared by foreign agencies and shared with Indian agencies, fighters from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh as well as certain countries like Nigeria and Sudan are considered not good enough by ISIS and often tricked into suicide attacks.

Around 150 Indians are under surveillance for their alleged online links with ISIS, the officials had said.

PTI

ISIS has influenced very few Indian youths; security agencies alert, says government

Home Ministry officials had earlier said that 23 youths have joined the ISIS of which six were reportedly killed.

Islamic State militants

Reuters
Islamic State (IS) has been able to influence very few Indian youths and security agencies are closely monitoring the situation, including keeping under surveillance potential recruits.Minister of State for Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary told Lok Sabha that government is closely monitoring the situation and has directed the intelligence and security agencies to identify potential recruits and keep them under surveillance.”The cyber space is being closely monitored in this regard,” he said. The Minister said a few incidents of unfurling of flags of ISIS by some misguided youths were noticed on different occasions in Jammu and Kashmir and some other states in recent past. “…state governments concerned have been directed to take appropriate action against such statements as per relevant provisions of law,” he said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Home Ministry officials had earlier said that 23 youths have joined the ISIS of which six were reportedly killed. Quoting intelligence inputs, officials had said, it emerged that the dreaded terror outfit considered South Asian Muslims, including Indians, inferior to Arab fighters in the conflict zone of Iraq and Syria.According to an intelligence report prepared by foreign agencies and shared with Indian agencies, fighters from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh as well as certain countries like Nigeria and Sudan are considered not good enough by ISIS and often tricked into suicide attacks.The report said that a total of 23 Indians have so far joined the ISIS of which six were reportedly killed in different incidents. Around 150 Indians are under surveillance for their alleged online links with ISIS, the officials had said.

Prison break: Four unusual ways Indians have escaped jail

…and other novel ways Indians have escaped jail

Defend to death the freedom of Aamir and Shah Rukh, but take them seriously at your peril

By Kartikeya Tanna

They are two of the biggest Hindi film industry superstars. They represent a critical component of our nation’s soft power both within India and globally. Just like any of us common men and women, they, too, will have views. Included in the 1.25 billion of us, who our Constitution guarantees the right to speak, are them too.

File photo of Aamir Khan. ReutersFile photo of Aamir Khan. Reuters

File photo of Aamir Khan. Reuters

It is, therefore, unfair to say actors like Aamir and Shah Rukh should curtail themselves to movies. Good, bad, cheerful, despondent, positive or negative – they have an inalienable right to speak their mind when they want and how they want to.  In fact, the greatest bane of our country has been to assume that it is only the ‘intellectual’ class which should venture speaking about the India that ought to be.

It is also rather ridiculous to think that they speak their minds only when a movie release is round the corner. That may be true for other less popular actors in the industry, but Aamir and Shah Rukh command a huge loyal audience base.

While their right to speak their minds is something each Indian must defend – for that is the very foundation of our democracy when we got independence from over twelve centuries of oppression and alien rule – should they be taken seriously?

In an interview with Headlines Today, Shah Rukh said, in clear words in response to a question whether he would return a Padma Shri aaward, that there is intolerance repeating it thrice. Here is an excerpt of his interview. Just a few days later, he claimed how he never said India is intolerant, lamenting that his words got misconstrued.

He used the classic “they insisted” defence adding that he was only talking of how youth should focus on making our nation a secular, progressive nation. This tweet, a collection of his differing views to different channels, encapsulates his confusion very effectively.

Rewind to 2013, when an interviewer asked him about growing intolerance given the fatwa and death threats to a Kashmiri girl band Pragaash and Muslim bodies objecting to a Kamal Hassan movie Vishwaroopam, Shah Rukh had declined answering that question since these issues were “political” and “religious”.

Of course, he has the right to speak what he wants when he wants or not speak when he does not want to. The freedom he enjoys does not obligate him to speak up every time an issue of intolerance arises.

Aamir Khan went several steps further by saying how his wife once asked him if they should move out of India. Since it has been claimed that his quote got distorted, here is a transcript of his exact words at the Ramnath Goenka Award function which included epithets like “growing disquiet” and “growing sense of despondency”. To those defending him by stating those were his wife’s feelings and not his, Aamir completed that quote by stating – “This feeling exists in me too”.

He did issue a statement in response to the criticism he faced which is as hyperbolic and inane as his original quotation at the award function, something that can be best summed up in this tweet.

It must also be noted that, just a couple of weeks prior thereto, Aamir, in an interview with Shekhar Gupta, said how there is a lot of positivity in India and that we, as a nation, are “open to change”, “open to ideas” and that he has a “lot of hope”.

Aamir, of course, is the most popular face of the Incredible India campaign where he invites people from world over to come visit India. And, as he has said numerous times, he does not lend his face to anything unless he really believes in the cause, product or idea.

May be, he believed India was incredible, but now thinks it is intolerant. The question, then, is if he would still continue to truly believe in promoting our Incredible India.

This lack of clarity in their speech begs an additional question whether the two superstars are as prone to joining the prevalent herd as many in our country, albeit in their own unique style and choice of words.

Speaking to Shekhar Gupta in 2005 when calling Modi a mass murderer was the trend, Aamir had joined the herd concluding how “Indians were being killed by a leader [i.e., Modi]”. Referring to denial of visa by the United States to “a person who has been killing innocent people” (i.e., Modi), Aamir expressed shock at people in India criticizing US decision, adding that India too should take cognizance of punishing him.

Indeed, he was also one of the celebrated signatories of a petition which sought to shame the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for issuing a “highly insensitive and irresponsible statement defending Modi”. That he is now sharing the stage rather comfortably with the same man and seeks meetings with him at 7 Race Course Road speaks volumes.

The next time you see an Aamir uttering sweeping generalisations about us and our culture, pause before you believe in it. For there may be a contradiction round the corner. The next time you hear Shah Rukh, one of the most powerful men in India, cry victim, think before you conclude how we Indians don’t deserve your hero. For he may recant as meekly what he concludes so ostentatiously.

India, our tolerant nation, defends to death their freedom to speak their mind. That is the essence of our culture spanning thousands of years. But, India, a wise nation, has the right to pause and reflect before taking them seriously.

Imagine status of woman if Sharad Yadav had drafted Constitution: Smriti Irani

“I think it is paradoxical that today Sharadji, a very senior parliamentarian, yet again told me ‘sit down, sit down.

Taking a dig at senior JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav, Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani on Friday wondered what would have been the position of women had such politicians been part of the Drafting Committee of the Constitution. Referring to a comment by Yadav, the Minister said “I think it is paradoxical that today Sharadji, a very senior parliamentarian, yet again told me ‘sit down, sit down.Imagine if such a politician was a part of the Drafting Committee. “Participating in the debate on commitment to the Constitution in Rajya Sabha, she said as a woman in India, she celebrate the fact that women in many nations across the world had to struggle to get their right to vote. Irani said she got it because my Constitution gave it so at the birth of this very nation as a Republic in 1950. “But imagine, as the Leader of the House said today, what kind of restrictions such a senior parliamentarian would have imposed on a woman like me while this was being drafted. Would I have been told ‘You have dark complexion, so you don’t have right to vote?’ Would I have been told ‘you have short hair, you have no right to vote?'<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I see that some are disturbed by what I say. But apart from the social realities that were counted in this very House today, this also is a realty we must embrace, for the victims of such realty do not reside only outside this House, but we have witnessed this in this very House” she said. Irani further said that in September, 1949, B R Ambedkar sponsored Sanskrit as the official language of the Indian Union and supporting him, amongst many, was a gentleman called Naziruddin Ahmed. She further said a correspondent went to Babasaheb and said, “Why is Sanskrit?” and he replied “What’s wrong with Sanskrit?”. “It is ironical that six-and-a-half decades later, I too get posed that question and I have a similar response. But, this is the very evidence and the essence of a thriving Constitution which allows debates to permeate over decades till such time a consensus emerges,” the Minister said. On the notification for celebrating Constitution Day in schools, Irani said said on August 26, 2015 there was a notification, which indicates to another notification dated May 30, which included in it the need to increase awareness about the Constitution among citizens, particularly, children on the November 26. She said there has been a debate that November 26 was the day when the draft was adopted, but it was actualised in January, 1950. “But, as Indians, we cannot ignore the fact that this is the rock on which we sought to build the political salvation of our country…,” the Minister said. She further said In 1999, Justice J S Verma worked with a group of Indians to operationalise how fundamental duties are to be seen in the education sector. “…he said, presentation of the values inherent in each clause of Article 51A through anecdotal talks at morning assemblies in schools should be organised. “This, Sir, is the notification, which was subsequently given to the Central Board of Secondary Education, which said, amongst the events for the day, the School Head may address the students briefly about the significance of celebrating this day, and, also recite the Preamble to the Constitution,” Irani added. The Minister informed the House that in all CBSE schools yesterday, children flocked the morning assemblies to take oath to preserve the very values enshrined in the Constitution to celebrate the journey of this Constitution and the future it envisions for these children.

To speed up growth, Modi needs to show Indians more reasons to save

MUMBAI: On paper, India’s households have more reason than ever to save. But convincing them that the central bank can keep inflation low is proving difficult, hindering the country’s ambitious growth plans.

PM Narendra Modi. PTIPM Narendra Modi. PTI

PM Narendra Modi. PTI

That raises the stakes for Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s government, which wants to channel more savings into investments that can generate both growth and jobs, to boost chances of winning a second term after its landslide victory in 2014.

Real interest rates have been positive for over a year, ending almost a decade of negative rates, during which fast-rising prices ate away at whatever savers earned on deposits, and hardened their preference to hold gold and property.

Now inflation is around record lows and gold and property prices are languishing.

But a lack of confidence that inflation will stay muted, combined with lacklustre income growth, means India’s overall savings growth rates are at the weakest level in years, following five years of decline.

“If the government really wants to propel savings in the economy, it would be the best time to roll out more instruments like the tax free bonds… or to increase the investment limit into tax-free provident funds,” said Deepti Taneja, a 32-year-old New Delhi college professor.

Making it easier for some 18 million state and local government employees, like Taneja, to save more, the government pay commission, which reviews public sector salaries every few years, has recommended an increase of several billion dollars.

“We hope at least to some extent this money from the pay commission will come as savings into the banking sector and not go towards physical assets,” a senior policymaker said.

But, people still want better incentives to make financial investments.

“I am really confused about what will I do with these surplus funds once they start crediting it to my salary, because most of the financial instruments presently offered by the government provide little tax exemption,” said Taneja, a mother of two.

If not enough of the rise in incomes goes towards savings it could lead to other problems for the economy.

“The government has to raise savings. It is a virtuous cycle that kicks in when savings goes up, investment goes up and GDP grows,” said D.K. Joshi, chief economist at CRISIL, a leading credit rating agency, which also advises on risk and policy.

“If on the other hand your investment goes up and savings doesn’t, your current account deficit gets bloated.”

There is work to do. The World Bank estimates the gross savings rate – corporate, government and domestic savings – dipped below 30 percent in 2014 for the first time in over a decade.

Bank deposits, a proxy for financial investments by India’s conservative households, grew just 10.6 percent in the September quarter. That is well below expected capacity, which some analysts put at 1.5 times economic growth: closer to 15 percent.

SAVE, SAVE, SAVE

Government initiatives to pull more cash out from under India’s mattresses have had little success.

A recent gold deposit scheme to monetise more of the 20,000 tonnes of gold Indians have hoarded has attracted just 400 grammes.

Another plan to raise 400 billion rupees ($6 billion) through tax-free infrastructure bonds was announced in this year’s budget, but the specifics are yet to be finalized.

New Delhi still hopes higher incomes, lower inflation and a push to create more than 190 million new bank accounts will boost gross savings back above 30 percent, but it is unlikely to hit the peak savings rate of over 36 percent soon.

But there are some encouraging signs that Indians are becoming more interested in financial investments: equity mutual funds have seen inflows of Rs 79,850 crore so far this year.

But overall equity participation in India remains paltry. Less than 2 percent of Indians hold shares, compared to 30 percent of Koreans and 10 percent of Chinese.

The last time India boosted pay and allowances for government officials in 2008, the household savings rate jumped to 25.2 percent from 23.6 percent.

That rate has since dropped closer to 18 percent, much of it still flowing into gold and property.

But if even 16.5 percent of the newly raised wages and pensions for the public sector flows into financial savings – a target set by the current five-year plan to 2017 – then close to $14 billion in new cash could be pumped into the system.

That would be more than double the amount that can be expected at the current savings rate, and it would be enough to cover almost 5 percent of planned government spending this fiscal year.

REUTERS

Intolerance issue attempt to bring disrepute to country: BJP

“PM (Narendra Modi) is painstakingly building image of nation by visiting large number of countries to invite investments and strengthen position of India in world community”, Sethi told reporters here

h Bollywood actor Aamir Khan being the latest entrant to the intolerance debate.

File Photo
The recent growing chorus of “rising intolerance” in the country is a “calculated attempt” to bring “disrepute” to the nation and undermine its position in world community, state BJP here on Wednesday alleged. “We take a strong exception to this recent tirade against nation in the name of intolerance, which is deliberate. It is a calculated attempt to bring disrepute to the country and undermine its position and growing influence in world community”, state BJP’s chief spokesperson Sunil Sethi said. The debate over alleged intolerance in the country has taken centrestage in political discourse and media reportage, after several authors, scholars, historians, artists returned their awards claiming unfavourable environment, with Bollywood actor Aamir Khan being the latest entrant to the debate.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”PM (Narendra Modi) is painstakingly building image of nation by visiting large number of countries to invite investments and strengthen position of India in world community”, Sethi told reporters here. “This is also because of good governance and overall development, which is taking place in country and on the other hands there are people who are enjoying luxurious lifestyles because of being Indians but have started and carrying with them anti-national drive to do damage to good works of the Prime Minister”, he further alleged. Sethi claimed that “growing influence” of India on world scene is not liked by “forces opposed to the country” and has made this “plan of weakening country from within and certain elements in the country, who had lost social and political relevance have jumped on the bandwagon for the pity gains even at the cost of damaging national interests”. Sethi said Indian society and polity is run on principles of ‘Panchsheel’ and concepts of ‘Ram Rajya’, and it ia not in the Indian culture to be intolerant. “If India would have been intolerant then these persons making irresponsible statements at the cost of national interest would have been booted out but Indian culture and thought given by Vedic writings is to respect all and coexist peacefully”, he said.”It is unfortunate that persons made heroes by Indian society are proving themselves to be villains in reality”, he alleged.

Indian higher education crisis: More Indians go abroad to study, and fewer international students come to India

Even as reports last week suggested that the number of Indian student going to the US had increased by 30 percent, the inflow of foreign students to India has declined sharply, according to government data.

According to a report by The Times of India, data from the Union Ministry of Home affairs shows that the number of students coming to India from US, Germany, France, South Korea, Australia, China and Singapore had dropped by 73 percent from 13,961 in 2013 to 3,737 in 2014.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

The report also indicates that the number hadn’t just dropped for countries better placed than India, but even from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and African nations fewer people are turning to India for higher education.

Adding to this is a report in DNA which suggested that Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s bonhomie with Barack Obama had seen a huge surge in students from India studying in the US.

According to the report Indian students going to the United States had risen by 29.4 percent within a year, compared to the six percent previous year following three years of consistent decline. There are, as of now, 1.33 lakh Indians studying in universities across the United States.

In fact, it is not just to the US, more and more Indian students are looking to go abroad for higher education. According to a government report, India saw a huge jump in internationally mobile students with only 39,626 students in foreign countries in 1995 to 1,89,472 students going abroad in 2012.

While the US has remained the top destination abroad to go for higher education, the government date shows that UK replaced Australia in 2012 as the second most coveted destination for getting a higher education.

Though the Modi-Obama bonhomie and more students going to the US is well and good, the fact that lesser students are coming to India and more students are going abroad raises several questions about the quality of education in our country.

Hindustan Times in a report points out, “a part of the reason may have to do with perceptions of insecurity, owing to the attacks on women that inhibit parents from sending their children to the subcontinent.”

Another problem faced by those coming from other countries is racial discrimination. South Sudanese students had complained to Home Minister Rajnath Singh about the issue at Pune’s Symbiosis International University in September. Singh had hence appealed, “From this platform, I want to appeal to all Indian students in Pune as well as in other parts of the country not to discriminate anyone and consider every one as brother. It is very unfortunate if any such incident takes place in our country.”

The Hindustan Times also pointed out that declining level of education because of shortages of capable faculty and lack of government efforts is also a reason why fewer students are coming to India for higher education. This, may also be one of the reasons why more and more students are going out of India for their higher education, apart from may be a more prosperous middle class and easily available education loans.

However, another reason for Indian students going abroad may be better scope and opportunity. As pointed out by Philip G Altbach in a report in The Hindu in 2014, “Not only are overseas programmes and departments more prestigious, they also have far better facilities, laboratories and a more favourable culture of research. Top faculty members are often more accessible and it is easier to become affiliated with a laboratory or institute. Academic politics exists everywhere, and Indians may suffer from occasional discrimination abroad, but overall academic conditions are likely to be better than at home.”

With numbers projecting a pretty bleak picture of the Indian education system, the quickest solution could be government hiring better faculty members in universities, setting up more universities, labs and research centers across the country.

Desertions may leave Islamic State high and dry

Corruption is one of the main reasons for desertion, foreign intelligence agencies input shared with India reveals. The deserters interrogation report clearly mentioned that oil business controlled by few commanders and senior ISIS officials called as ‘Emirs’ have resulted in widespread corruption in the ISIS held territory which it claims as perfect Islamic society in its propaganda videos.

All is not well within the Islamic State (IS) that apparently allows only hardened fanatic Muslims to join to further the aim of establishing and expanding the Islamic Caliphate in its purest form. As many as 58 fighters who had committed themselves to further the cause of Caliphate have deserted the IS from January 2014 to August 2015, claims Intelligence input collated by central security agencies in collaboration with the foreign intelligence agencies.The maximum desertions, 21, have taken among Syrians followed by 9 from Saudi Arabia, 4 each from Indonesia and Turkey. Two Indians are also among the 58 deserters, the report says. This is besides the figure of deserting fighters who killed by the ISIS. Their number runs close to 1000 fighters.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”This is not a small figure if you look at what IS promised and why youth having Jihadists frame of mind joined it. It definitely indicates that those who went to join it and were even ready to die for it have found it corruption ridden, suffering from worst kind of racism, and far away from the purity of Islam. This is a telltale sign of ISIS imminent downfall in near future. The rot has set in,” said an intelligence official who monitors the ISIS closely.Corruption is one of the main reasons for desertion, foreign intelligence agencies input shared with India reveals. The deserters interrogation report clearly mentioned that oil business controlled by few commanders and senior ISIS officials called as ‘Emirs’ have resulted in widespread corruption in the ISIS held territory which it claims as perfect Islamic society in its propaganda videos.The deserters admitted that huge sums are paid to favourites of commanders. Syrians, who tops the chart in deserting the outfit, told the interrogators that privileges -attractive houses and money – is given to Westerners who have joined the outfit.Infighting ‘fitna’ is also a potent reason for them to abandon the ISIS and its ideology. Deserters during the questioning pointed out raging battle with Al-Qaeda affiliate ‘Jabhat al- Nusra’ was religiously illegitimate as fighting and killing a Sunni Muslim was against ISIS ideology and in violation of Islamic rules.”Many defectors argued that ISIS fight is focused on rebel groups and executing traitors from the same community. They felt disillusioned after witnessing random killing of civilians and public execution of fellow Muslims. This was not the Jihad they had imagined while joining the outfit,” the intelligence input stated.The disenchantment with ISIS among the deserters clearly shows that brutality and random killing of Muslims with corrupt commanders at the help of affairs has reduced the outfit to another bandit group which will eventually result in its quick downfall, the intelligence collected and collated by Indian security agencies further stated.

A question for Aamir Khan: Where in the world do you think intolerance isn’t ‘growing’ in these times?

The storm over actor Aamir Khan’s statement on “rising intolerance” on Monday needs to be understood against the backdrop of the recent political temperature raised over the issue. Given the nature of minority politics in India, where such issues are drummed up by “secular” parties to ensure that the minorities continue to vote on the basis of fear rather than pursuing their real economic and political interests, it would have been a surprise if Khan had said anything else.

What the statement reveals is Aamir’s decision to fall in line with the dominant narrative being tom-tommed by the mainstream English media that has been left out in the cold by Narendra Modi. Incidentally, an interesting aspect of the rising English media chorus of “growing intolerance” is that it is not supported by any kind of data or a benchmark from which this “rise” can be calculated. Barring a cacophony of statements by Sanghis, there is no evidence whatsoever that there is any actual rise in intolerance.

Aamir’s calculated statement can at best be put down as another voice added to this self-indulgent and self-righteous echo chamber in the English language media.

He has not thought through what he really meant when he said that there was an increased sense of despondency over the last six to eight months, and that he was alarmed by it. For effect, he added that his wife Kiran Rao had asked if they should move out of the country, as she feared for the safety of their child.

On the face of it, there is nothing wrong with what Aamir said, or what his wife may have asked him, though it is far from clear whether Aamir was firing his shots from his wife’s shoulder, or whether she genuinely meant what she said.

However, we should still check Aamir’s calculated statement in the light of three realities:

File image of Aamir Khan. AFP

File image of Aamir Khan. AFP

First, I doubt if anybody in India thinks we have nothing to fear, given the state of our policing, our weak legal systems, and the space we have given to criminals and vested interests in cities and villages. I too would fear for the safety of my daughters in India, especially given the patriarchal nature of our society and its inability to bring up its sons to respect women. We have strong laws and a weak state, making it near impossible to assume that we will be protected from rabid elements.

The problem though is this: Did this state of affairs emerge over the last six to eight months, as Aamir is believed to have said, or has this been the case all along? Did Nirbhaya happen after Modi was elected? Did the Assam communal riots — and the mass exodus of the northeastern people from Bangalore — happen due to the Modi administration’s lack of statement-making on this issue? Did the attack by a mob in Mumbai’s Azad Maidan in 2012 (the attacked included policewomen) happen during Modi’s watch? Did attacks on Dalits not happen before 26 May, 2014?

For an intelligent man, Aamir Khan clearly played to a script, and it does not do him credit.

Second, let’s come to his claim that his wife wondered whether they should move abroad? Now, this too is not an uncommon feeling among Indians. Many Indians have left Indian shores for better prospects, and it is this diaspora that believes in Modi and his idea of India by and large. From businessmen to ordinary students to techies, Indians have always sought to improve their material condition by taking advantage of merit-based systems in the West. The poor, on the other hand, went to West Asia to earn more while living like second-class citizens, whether in Saudi Arabia or even parts of the UAE. After decades, they are still not given citizenship.

Aamir’s insinuation is egregiously wrong: Indians leave India largely for economic reasons; almost none have left for the kind of reasons Kiran Rao is said to have suggested. In fact, Indians and others have come back to India because this is the only place that will give them a measure of citizenship, despite the handicap of a weak state.

In the sub-continent, Hindus and Muslims from Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, and now even Pakistan have, legally or illegally, moved into India as economic or political refugees. The Nepalese have been welcomed like they were our own citizens, and despite some hesitation to accept Muslim economic refugees from Bangladesh, they are here and voting their own leaders in Assam, West Bengal and Bihar.

If there is a beacon of tolerance in the sub-continent, it is India. The only areas of long-term intolerance (as opposed to short-term intolerance caused by riots) are in Kashmir, where an entire generation of Pandits has been driven out in the worst act of ethnic cleansing ever practised after 1947.

Third, let’s assume Aamir’s statement has entirely to do with the hate lines of some Sangh parivaar and BJP members like Sakshi Maharaj, Yogi Adityanath and culture minister Mahesh Sharma.

There is little doubt that these loud-mouths have helped derail the Modi agenda of inclusiveness, and if there is any despondency, it is because the Opposition has latched on to these to block the government’s programme of reforms. So, if anyone at all should be feeling despondent, it should be the Modi government and its well-wishers.

But the fact is these Sanghi elements were always saying the same things, and similar things are being said by communal elements in the Opposition as well. Remember the statements of Akbaruddin Owaisi, or Imran Khan, the Congress nominee from Saharanpur in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, with whom Rahul Gandhi was seen last week? Or those of a Samajwadi member who wanted to pay crores for those willing to murder the Danish cartoonists?

The fringe will be the fringe, and there is no point assuming that in a country of 125 crore, no one will ever make politically-incorrect statements.

Aamir also needs to ask himself a more basic question: Where in the world does he think tolerance is ‘growing’ in these times, when the angst of economic slowdown is being exacerbated by rising anger over Islamic fascism, especially with the emergence of the murderous Islamic State in parts of Syria and Iraq?

Two years ago, a white supremacist shot people in a gurdwara in Wisconsin. Over the last two years, we have seen race riots after the shooting of African-Americans in Ferguson and Baltimore by trigger-happy cops. When his name is Khan, can Aamir really expect to be treated as an equal in America?

In France and Belgium, we are seeing regular police action against Islamists in the wake of the Paris terror attacks. The far right is rising under Marine Le Pen. The face veil is banned in France, not in India.

In Norway, Anders Breivik went on a shooting spree in 2011 to fight Islamism.

In the United Kingdom, despite serious efforts at multi-culturalism and political correctness, the media reported a child abuse scandal run substantially by Muslim gangs. Intolerance is rising as political correctness is seen as the reason why this happened.

As for any of the countries in West Asia or our neighbourhood, surely Aamir can’t claim these are better places to bring up his children in.

The real problem with Aamir’s statement is that it is factually correct when seen non-contextually. But once you look around you and see where the world is heading – towards intolerance – India is actually far from the precipice. This is because our Indic nature, despite occasional lapses into intolerant words and violence, asserts itself.

For a country with 125 crore people and all their multiple diversities, insecurities and concerns involving caste, religion, and ethnicity, we are a mighty tolerant lot.

This does not mean we should bask in what we have achieved, but it does mean that we have a lot to be thankful for too.

This does not also mean that the Sangh hotheads should continue to vitiate the atmosphere. Modi would do well to put a tape across their mouths or even chuck them out of his ministry. But that still will be no guarantee that someone will not make an intolerant statement somewhere.

Surely, Aamir Khan does not want a state where everyone is gagged. That would be even more intolerant than the intolerance he would like to complain about.

Om Puri slams Aamir Khan’s remarks, calls reaction to intolerance ‘intolerable’

Om Puri is not only one of our most committed actors he is also an artiste who speaks his mind fearlessly.

Reacting sharply to Aamir Khan’s hugely controversial statement that his family felt ‘insecure’ in the country’s atmosphere of growing intolerance, Puri says, “I am shocked Aamir Khan and his wife feel that way. I find Aamir’s reaction to intolerance overblown and intolerable.”

Not that Puri downplays the radical wrongdoings. “Whatever happened in Dadri is condemned by every Indian. But are we all supposed to run away from India just because there are sporadic cases of violence? In Kerala, Muslim fundamentalists chopped off a Christian’s hands; should we all flee because there are such incidents? Are you implying that such incidents are so common in our country that you need to run away? Radical undesirable elements exist among both Hindus and Muslims. They are just a handful of troublemakers.The majority of Hindus and Muslims are secular.This is my firm belief,” he adds.

Aamir_Om_380Aamir_Om_380Puri describes Aamir’s reaction as paranoid and calculated. “He has said he discussed this with his wife. So the statement about leaving the country was not spontaneous .No matter how we perceive his words, they make an extremely irresponsible statement. You are provoking the people of your community. You’re telling them, ‘Bhaiya, ya to taiyyar ho jao, lado. Ya mulk chhod ke jao’ (fight or flee).”

He sees Aamir as a weighty voice and one that needs to be used cautiously. “He is not some ordinary rabble-rouser. He is Aamir Khan..And if he’s such superstar in India, have only Muslims made him what he is? All of Hindustan loves you. How could you utter such shocking words?And let me repeat,they were not spontaneous words. He admits he had discussed this at home.”

Puri feels Aamir’s insecurities are baseless, “He is an influential man and therefore highly protected.What about the common man? You are doing a very dangerous things by telling people, ‘Be careful of the Hindus.’ For a popular voice to say this, and a voice that’s taken very seriously is a very dangerous thing.’

Speaking of tolerance Puri reasons, “What is Aamir talking about? We Indians are the most tolerant people in the world. When the 26/11 attacks happened did we rush into Pakistan with an army? Did we retaliate? No! We kept quiet while planes, buses, trains even our parliament was attacked. Kashmiri pundits were driven outf of their native land. And we kept quiet. And now Aamir wants to run away? He can afford to buy his own island for his family’s safety . But what about the common man who has to face so many hardships every day? Should they all run away from their country?”

He feels the BJP will deal firmly with radical elements, “After the Bihar debacle, BJP knows it will lose ground if it encourages radical elements. The junta wants to make sure politicians don’t take them for granted. If they could get rid of Congress after decades why not the BJP? A government that encourages violence won’t be tolerated. I want to ask Aamir Saab, when was the last time we had commual riots in our country? What is he insecure about?”

Asaduddin Owaisi reacts to Aamir Khan’s comments, says Muslims will never leave India

Reacting to a query on Khan’s remarks on intolerance, Owaisi said “I cannot speak for a film star (Aamir Khan)…I can only speak as a proud Indian Muslim that…I will never succumb…we will not succumb to the dog whistle politics of Sangh Parivar and fascist organisations and their statements”.

Asaduddin Owaisi

Wading into the debate on “intolerance” post Aamir Khan’s remarks, AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi on Tuesday said that Muslims will not leave India under any circumstances as they are Indians “not only by birth but by choice.”Owaisi’s statement came against the backdrop of the storm created by the Bollywood superstar with his remarks that his wife Kiran Rao had suggested that they should probably leave the country over growing incidents of tolerance and Assam Governor P B Acharya’s reported remarks that Muslims are free to go to Pakistan or Bangladesh. He also said that Muslims will not “succumb” to the kind of politics being played by Sangh Parivar.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Reacting to a query on Khan’s remarks on intolerance, Owaisi said “I cannot speak for a film star (Aamir Khan)…I can only speak as a proud Indian Muslim that…I will never succumb…we will not succumb to the dog whistle politics of Sangh Parivar and fascist organisations and their statements”.”…Come what may, they cannot create fear in our hearts and minds because this is my country. So long as the planet earth survives, Muslims will live in India as proud Indians. And will definitely struggle for our due share and our rightful position. And no one can deny me that because that is what the Constitution has guaranteed me and I will get through democratic ways,” Owaisi told reporters here.The Hyderabad MP said that Muslims are Indians not only by birth but by choice. “A general atmosphere which is being created in the country about issues which have happened and statements emanating from ruling party government ministers, ruling party sister organisations and both Governors of North East who have stated certain things…So, I wanted to give my view that Muslims will not leave the country come what may. Because, we are not only Indians by birth but by choice,” he said.Owaisi said Muslims will not “succumb” to “fear” being created by certain political parties and fascist organisations. “It will be a great dishonesty and disservice to those freedom fighters who fought for this country. Their dream was Muslims should live as proud Indians and definitely we will continue to live…we are living as proud Indians.” He said Muslims are being meted out “injustice” and that justice has not been done to them in terms of political representation and economic upliftment.Yes, our grievance has always been with parties in power. They have not given those rights which the Constitution has given us. But this is our country and we will continue to fight and continue to struggle and we will definitely get our due share and our position,” Owaisi said. Reacting to a query on IS, the Hyderabad MP said “out of 17 crore Muslims in India, we have 23 misguided boys who have gone to Syria…this is what the media reports say, which is a very very small number. But definitely, my message to all those young Muslims is if you want to strive in the path of Allah, the best way of doing it is to join politics, is to ensure that illiteracy is eradicated in localities, cities and states you live in.”He appealed to members of his community to come forward and impart education. “If you are educated Muslim come forward and educate. That is the best way to strive in the path of Allah. We have many issues in our country and let us solve those issues. Why should we worry about an organisation which is only Islamic in name and their activities have nothing do with Islam,” Owaisi said referring to IS.

Muslims won’t succumb to politics of Sangh Parivar: Asaduddin Owaisi

Hyderabad: All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief, Asaduddin Owaisi on Tuesday said that the Muslims would not leave the country, come what may, and that they would continue to live here as “proud Indians”.

“Muslims will not succumb to dog whistle politics of the Sangh Parivar and other fascist forces but continue their democratic struggle for justice, due share and the rights guaranteed by the Constitution of the country,” the Lok Sabha member from Hyderabad told reporters here.

When asked for reaction on Bollywood actor Aamir Khan’s revelation on Monday that his wife asked if they should move out of the country due to security situation prevailing in the country, the AIMIM leader said, “I can’t speak for a film star. I can only speak as a proud Indian Muslim that I will never succumb to all these dog whistle politics of the Sangh Parivar and other fascist organisations.”

Asaduddin Owaisi. AFPAsaduddin Owaisi. AFP

Asaduddin Owaisi. AFP

“They can’t create fear in our hearts and minds because this is our county. So long as life on earth survives, Muslims will live in India as proud Indians,” he added. Owaisi said Indian Muslims would definitely struggle for their due share and rightful position, which no one could deny them since it was what the constitution guarantees.

“We are Indians not only by birth but by choice. We have seen many adversities, many riots; thousands of lives were lost. We have also seen destruction of Babri Masjid,” he said.

Owaisi said grievances of Indian Muslims had always been with parties in power as they did not give them the rights the Constitution guaranteed. “Still this is our country. We will continue to fight. We will continue to struggle and definitely get our due share and our position,” he added.

The AIMIM leader said Muslims would not disappoint great freedom fighters who dreamt of Muslims living in the country as proud Indians.

IANS

Intolerance row: Hope Aamir won’t be referred to as ‘Congress man’ now: Singhvi

The Congress on Tuesday backed Bollywood actor Aamir Khan for his views on rising intolerance in the nation and he hoped Aamir won’t be referred to as a ‘Congress man’ after his remark.

RNA
The Congress on Tuesday backed Bollywood actor Aamir Khan for his views on rising intolerance in the nation and he hoped Aamir won’t be referred to as a ‘Congress man’ after his remark.”What Aamir Khan, one of the most respected actor has said, and in the presence of senior BJP people, is what the whole world is saying, all of India is saying, all right-minded people are saying. I only hope and trust that he will not be referred to as a ‘Congress man’, not to be told as a biased person, he will not be referred to in derogatory terms,” Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Singhvi further said that instead of criticising people like Aamir, heed must be paid to the message given by him.Echoing similar sentiments, another Congress leader PL Punia said what Aamir Khan has said is also being felt by people at international level.”It’s a big thing to think to go out of the country for the children’s future,” he said.Punia slammed veteran Bollywood actor Anupam Kher for saying that Aamir should ‘spread hope instead of fear’.”Anupam Kher is trying to please the present government and his wife herself is a BJP MP. It is not expected of Anupam Kher to make this matter light. This is really bad,” he added.In a series of tweets expressing disappointment over Khan’s remarks, Kher asked if Khan would suggest millions of Indians to leave the country or to wait till the regime changes.”Dear @aamir_khan. #SatyamevaJayate u talked about evil practices but gave Hope. So even in ‘Intolerant’ times u need 2 spread Hope not Fear,” Kher tweeted.Speaking at the eighth edition of the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards, Khan had yesterday expressed ‘alarm’ and despondency over the rise in such cases ‘in the last six to eight months’.He had said that a sense a sense of ‘insecurity’ and ‘fear’ had seeped deep within society.”When I go home and talk to Kiran (Aamir’s wife), for the first time she says,’Should we move out of India’,” Khan said.”She (Kiran Rao) fears for her child and what the atmosphere around us will be,” he added.

Aamir Khan criticises ‘intolerance’

Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan joins the rising chorus of protest against “growing intolerance” in India.

Racism in Islamic State? ‘Inferior’ Indian fighters paid less than Afghans, tricked into suicide bomb attacks

New Delhi: Twenty-three Indians have so far joined the Islamic State of which six were reportedly killed even as it emerged that the dreaded terror outfit considered South Asian Muslims, including Indians, inferior to Arab fighters in the conflict zone of Iraq and Syria.

According to an intelligence report prepared by foreign agencies and shared with Indian agencies, fighters from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh as well as certain countries like Nigeria and Sudan are considered not good enough by IS and often tricked into suicide attacks.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The report said that a total of 23 Indians have so far joined the IS of which six were reportedly killed in different incidents.

The dead were identified as Athif Vaseem Mohammad (Adilabad, Telangana), Mohammad Umar Subhan (Bangalore, Karnataka), Maulana Abdul Kadir Sultan Armar (Bhatkal, Karnataka), Saheem Farooque Tanki (Thane, Maharashtra), Faiz Masood (Bangalore, Karnataka) and Mohammad Sajid alias Bada Sajid (Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh).

The intelligence report suggests that there is a disproportionately high level of casualties among the South Asian and African foreign terrorist fighters since they are forced to the frontlines of battle as foot soldiers.

The Arab fighters with better battle experience are mostly positioned behind these fighters and hence their casualties are proportionally less in terms of their total numbers. This explains why so many Indians from a small Indian contingent have died, it says.

There appears to be clear hierarchy wherein the Arab fighters are preferred as officer cadre and provided better arms and ammunition, equipment, accommodation and salaries.

“The fighters from South Asia are usually housed in groups in small barracks and are paid less than the Arab fighters and are provided inferior equipment,” the input says.

There are reports that the so-called inferior fighters are also, at times, tricked into suicide attacks. Usually they are given a vehicle loaded with explosives and asked to go near a targeted destination and call a certain number, who would purportedly come and meet them to explain the mission.

However, as soon as the number is dialled, the car explodes due to a pre-set mechanism aimed at destroying a specific target.

The intelligence report says there is information that foreign fighters of Chinese, Indian, Nigerian and Pakistani origin are housed together and are monitored closely by the IS Police.

Incidentally, only Tunisian, Palestinian, Saudi Arabian, Iraqi and Syrian are allowed to be in the IS Police force, which is barred for fighters of all other nationalities.

Hence, there is a clear trust deficit between the dominant Arab fighters from other nationalities, who are mostly attracted to IS through its sophisticated propaganda techniques on the Internet.

So, on the other side, who is fighting the Islamic State? AFP brings you the lowdown after operations by warplanes from France’s Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier were launched on Monday:

Syrian and Iraqi armies

– SYRIA: The Syrian army numbered 178,000 troops in 2015, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). Syria’s army has been roughly halved from its pre-war strength by deaths, defections and increased draft dodging. In its fight against rebels and jihadists, it relies on militias, which boast 150,000 to 200,000 members.

– IRAQ: The army counts 177,600 men, according to the IISS. After the US invasion in 2003, the Americans dissolved the army, which was then 450,000 strong, and rebuilt a new force which collapsed in June 2014 faced with the IS.

Washington and its allies then sought to train the Iraqi army and the government to restructure it. Since September. it has had at its disposal American F-16 fighter jets. It depends on Shiite militias, notably the Popular Mobilisation units (Hashed al-Shaabi) and Sunni tribes.

Kurdish forces and rebel militias

– Kurds have defended their own territory from the IS, backed by raids by the US-led coalition with Syria’s Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in the north and northeastern Syria, and peshmerga in northern Iraq.

– In Syria, after the failure of a plan to train rebels, Washington has offered support since October 12 to a coalition of Kurdish militia and rebel groups: the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance between the powerful YPG and other Syrian rebel groups.

– Elsewhere in Syria, the armed opposition is fractured between a variety of moderate and Islamist rebel groups, including the powerful Ahrar al-Sham faction in north and northwestern Syria, the Army of Islam near Damascus, and the Southern Front in Daraa province.

Some of those forces have at times allied with Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front, which is in turn a rival of IS.

Foreign forces

– A US-led international coalition has been conducting air strikes in Iraq since September 2014 at Baghdad’s request, and in Syria, where it has so far refused to collaborate with the Damascus authorities.

The coalition comprises around 60 countries, including Britain, France, Syria’s Arab neighbours and Turkey, as well as since late September Tunisia, Malaysia and Nigeria.

It has ruled out any boots on the ground but has sent in soldiers to train Iraqi troops.

Less than a dozen of the countries actually carry out air strikes, which have totalled 8,200 over the past year, and of which the US has carried out four fifths.

Five countries — the US, France, Canada, Australia and Jordan — are taking part in air strikes in both Syria and Iraq.

Others are taking part in strikes in Syria but not Iraq: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates and Turkey, or in Iraq but not Syria: Denmark, the Netherlands and Britain.

Washington, whose aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman is expected in the Mediterranean, has sent 3,500 soldiers to Iraq and will deploy in Syria some 50 soldiers from its special forces.

They do not take part in ground combat, except for one-off operations.

FRANCE: is stepping up its air strikes in Syria after the November 13 terrorist attacks in Paris claimed by the IS. It has mobilised 3,500 soldiers, and deployed in the eastern Mediterranean its aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, more than doubling its strike capacity.

TURKEY: launched its first air strikes with the coalition on August 28, and authorised the US to use its strategic base at Incirlik.

RUSSIA: An ally of the Damascus regime, Moscow launched air strikes on September 30 in Syria, after boosting its military presence over the summer and is building an air base near the northwestern coastal town of Latakia.

Its fleet in the Caspian Sea is also firing cruise missiles. Moscow, which is calling for a “large anti-terrorist coalition” has according to the Russian press sent up to 2,000 soldiers.

Accused by the Americans and their allies of targeting the opposition to Damascus rather than the IS, Moscow has stepped up attacks on the jihadists since the Paris attacks and the downing of a Russian plane over Egypt’s Sinai, though it continues to strike other groups too. Russia, Iran, Syria and Iraq have been coordinating intelligence since September.

IRAN: The Shiite power backs the regimes of Damascus and Baghdad and has committed its elite troops, the Revolutionary Guards, in Syria with some 7,000 soldiers, and also in Iraq.

LEBANON: The powerful Shiite militia Hezbollah has committed between 5,000 and 8,000 fighters to Syria where it is fighting alongside the army.

AGENCIES

Intolerance row: Anupam Kher urges Aamir Khan to spread ‘hope’ not ‘fear’

Lashing out at Aamir Khan for saying that he and his wife had considered moving out of the country over the alarming rise of intolerance, Anupam Kher said that the actor should ‘spread hope instead of fear’.

File photo.

Lashing out at Aamir Khan for saying that he and his wife had considered moving out of the country over the alarming rise of intolerance, Anupam Kher said that the actor should ‘spread hope instead of fear’.In a series of tweets expressing disappointment over Khan’s remarks, Kher asked if Khan would suggest millions of Indians to leave the country or to wait till the regime changes.”Dear @aamir_khan. #SatyamevaJayate u talked about evil practices but gave Hope. So even in ‘Intolerant’ times u need 2 spread Hope not Fear,” Kher tweeted.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Questioning Khan’s reaction, the veteran actor asked why he had not raised his voice earlier when the situation had been even worse.”Dear @aamir_khan. When did ‘Incredible India’ become ‘Intolerant India’ for you? Only in the last 7-8 months? #AtithiDevoBhavah. Did you tell Kiran that you have lived through more worse times in this country & but you never thought of moving out… Did you ask Kiran which country would she like to move out to? Did you tell her that this country has made you AAMIR KHAN,? he added in another tweet.Speaking at the eighth edition of the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards, Khan said that he has been “alarmed” by a number of incidences and his wife Kiran Rao even suggested that they should probably leave the country. He also virtually supported those returning their awards, saying one of the ways for creative people to express their dissatisfaction or disappointment is to return their awards.”When I chat with Kiran at home, she says ‘Should we move out of India?’ That’s a disastrous and big statement for Kiran to make. She fears for her child. She fears about what the atmosphere around us will be. She feels scared to open the newspapers every day. That does indicate that there is this sense of growing disquiet, there is growing despondency apart from alarm. You feel why this is happening, you feel low. That sense does exist in me,” 50-year-old Aamir said.(with agency inputs)

Modi in Malaysia: PM’s address to Indian diaspora steeped in Tamil flavour

Among the cheering audience, a majority were third generation Tamil-Malaysians.

Modi went on to talk about Tamil philosopher-poet Thiruvalluvar whose most famous work is Thirukkural.

PTI
Vanakkam! is how Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeted the Indian diaspora here as he set the tone for an address that was steeped in Tamil flavour for the majority Tamil-Malaysians in the audience. Prime Minister Modi walked up to the stage and hailed the 15,000-strong crowd, a majority of them Tamil-Malaysians, with “Vanakkam” (hello in Tamil) amid chants of Modi, Modi. After greeting the crowd, Modi spoke a few sentences in Tamil saying, “Many of you are from Tamil Nadu…Tamil Nadu’s role in India’s growth is important.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Switching to English, Modi said, “India is not confined to territory. India exists in every Indian in every part of the world, India is in you.”Among the cheering audience, a majority were third generation Tamil-Malaysians.Ethnic Indians form 8% of Malaysia’s population and are mostly Tamils. Their ancestors came to Malaysia more than 100 years ago and many were brought by the British to work at rubber plantations here. Many of those people did not return to India after independence preferring to live in Malaysia.In his 45-minute address at the Malaysia International Exhibition and Convention Centre here, Modi went on to talk about Tamil philosopher-poet Thiruvalluvar whose most famous work is Thirukkural. “As I stand before you, I am reminded of the words of the great Tamil saint Thiruvalluvar: ‘Friendship is not just a smile on the face. It is what is felt deep within a smiling heart’,” Modi said. “Mahatma Gandhi had once said that he wanted to learn Tamil to study Thiruvalluvar’s Thirukurral in its original form as there was no one who had given such treasures of wisdom as he had,” he said.The Prime Minister said the saint’s words on friendship capture the feeling that he gets each time he comes to Malaysia whether without office or as Prime Minister. “I have felt the same embrace of friendship and welcome.The love and friendship of the Malaya-Indians has always had a special place in my heart,” Modi said. “Generations ago, many of your ancestors came to an unknown land. Many of you came here more recently in the mobility of our globalised world. Whenever you came here, whatever be the circumstance in which you came, time or distance has not reduced your love for India,” he said.Modi also paid tribute to Tamil-origin Capt Janaky Athi Nahappan, who served as a deputy to Capt Lakshmi Sehgal. “That was in the regiment named after yet another icon of India’s war of Independence, Rani of Jhansi.”Modi invoked another Tamilian — former President APJ Abdul Kalam — to conclude his address. He ended with Kalam’s words — “have the courage to think differently, and to discover the impossible!”

PM Modi’s popularity intact despite Bihar defeat: BJP

Narendra Modi

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Sunday continued to maintain their stand that the Bihar debacle in no way had affected the image of Prime Minster Narendra Modi and that he still remained one of the most popular leaders in the world.”The Bihar elections did not go in our favour but that does not affect the Prime Minister. Yes, it was a setback for the BJP but the PM’s popularity remains intact,” BJP general secretary Ram Madhav told ANI in Kuala Lumpur. Talking about the general sense of excitement among the Indians in Kuala Lumpur, he added that the diaspora was waiting eagerly for his address during the glittering gala in the evening.”Leaders from 27 different nations are here, but most of the posters that you can see are all for PM Modi. From the airport to the city you can see hoardings welcoming him. So you can see how excited the Indian community is here,” Madhav said.Prime Minister Modi arrived here on Saturday early morning and addressed the ASEAN-India Summit and East Asia Summit. He will depart for Singapore tonight. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

Tolerance Debate: PEW survey says Indians believe in religious freedom more than others

Eighty-three per cent Indians say it is very important to have the freedom to practice their religion compared with a global median of 74 per cent across the nations polled.

File Photo

India is among the countries which have the highest support for religious freedom with 8 out of 10 Indians believing that it is very important to have the freedom to practice their faith compared with a global median of 74 per cent, according to a new survey. Nonpartisan fact tank US-based Pew Research – that surveyed 38 countries and interviewed 40,786 people between April 5 to May 21, 2015 – found there is strong support for gender equality and religious freedom in India.Eighty-three per cent Indians say it is very important to have the freedom to practice their religion compared with a global median of 74 per cent across the nations polled. Overall, global publics oppose government censorship of the media, except in cases of national security. In India, 74 per cent say media organizations should be able to publish information about large political protests in the country.Across the nations polled, a global median of 78 per cent also say this, Pew said, releasing the contents of its survey. Support for internet freedom in India (38 per cent) is among the lowest of all countries polled. Even though internet freedom ranks last among the six broad democratic rights included on the survey, majorities in 32 of 38 countries nonetheless say it is important to live in a country where people can use the internet without government censorship. Across the 38 nations, a median of 50 per cent believe it is very important to live in a country with an uncensored internet, it said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A global median of 65 per cent say it is very important for women to have the same rights as men and in India 71 percent of those polled agree, the report said. On the issue of equal rights for women, there are sharp differences between men and women in most of the countries in the study. In 24 nations, women are more likely than men to say it is very important for women to have equal rights. “However, in India, there is no gender difference on this question,” Pew said. In India, 49 per cent believe it is very important to have honest, competitive elections with a choice of at least two political parties.Elections are clearly considered a central component of democracy around the world, and among the 38 nations in the study, a median of 61 per cent agree.

150 youths under lens of Indian security agencies for leanings towards ISIS

Nearly 150 youths in the country are under the surveillance of security agencies for their alleged leanings towards dreaded terrorist group ISIS, responsible for the recent terror attacks in Paris.

Nearly 150 youths in the country are under the surveillance of security agencies for their alleged leanings towards dreaded terrorist group ISIS, responsible for the recent terror attacks in Paris.According to a report prepared by the intelligence agencies, the 150 people, mostly from South India, are believed to be attracted to the ISIS and sympathetic to the group’s activities. “Most of them are in regular contact with some ISIS activists through online. Hence, we have kept all them under surveillance of security forces,” an official privy to the development said. So far, a total of 23 Indians have gone to ISIS hold areas in Iraq-Syria to fight for the terrorist group. Of them six were killed while one returned home in Mumbai.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>30 other Indians, who were radicalised by ISIS elements, were also prevented from travelling to the conflict zone in the Middle-East. Among those who are currently fighting for ISIS include two youth from Kalyan in the outskirts of Mumbai, an Australia-based Kashmiri, one youth from Telangana, one from Karnataka, one Oman-based Indian and another Singapore-based Indian. Among the six Indians, who fought alongside ISIS and got killed were three Indian Mujahideen terrorists, including Sultan Ajmer Shah and Bada Sajid, who had joined its ranks after being in Pakistan, two from Maharashtra and one from Telangana.On September 15, the UAE deported four Indians suspected to have links with ISIS. The UAE had also sent back in September a 37-year-old woman, Afsha Jabeen alias Nicky Joseph, who was allegedly involving in recruiting youths for ISIS.In January, Salman Mohiuddin of Hyderabad was arrested at Hyderabad airport when he was preparing to board a flight to Dubai on way to Syria via Turkey. In an advisory sent yesterday, the Home Ministry said the recent multiple attacks in Paris clearly indicate the intention of the outfit (ISIS) to expand the area of terror action beyond the core area of Iraq and Syria.The Home Ministry said though the ISIS has not been able to establish any significant presence in India, its success in radicalising some youth, attracting certain sections of local population or Indian diaspora to physically participate in its activities or the possibility of piggy backing on terrorist groups operating in India have opened up the possibility of ISIS sponsored terrorist action on Indian territory.

India committed in fight against corruption, black money menace, asserts PM Modi

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said the government has taken “significant steps to check corruption and menace of black money”.

“The government has taken significant steps to check corruption and menace of black money in a short span of time,” Modi said at the inauguration of sixth Global Focal Point Conference (GFPC) on Asset Recovery at Vigyan Bhavan, emphasising that it was essential to fight relentlessly against corruption and that the government was unsparing when it came to punishing the corrupt.

“Our government is committed to make bureaucracy more efficient, performance oriented and accountable,” said.

PM Narendra Modi. AFPPM Narendra Modi. AFP

PM Narendra Modi. AFP

Modi said India is currently in a crucial phase of nation building and the government’s mission is to build a prosperous India where farmers are capable, workers satisfied, women empowered and youth self-reliant.

“However, to achieve this objective, it is essential to fight relentlessly against corruption. India stands committed in its fight against corruption,” he said.

“The very day that we assumed office, we constituted a Special Investigation Team under the supervision of the Supreme Court to look into the issue. We have entered into agreements with many countries for exchanging real time information on black money,” he said.

Modi said India has signed the Inter Government Agreement with the United States to implement the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act. This Agreement enables Indian tax authorities to receive financial account information of Indians from foreign countries on an automatic basis.

“A comprehensive and deterrent law, the Black Money Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets and Imposition of Tax Act has been enacted. It provides for stringent penalties and prosecution.

“We have also introduced a provision under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act for restitution of assets. This will enable millions of poor investors who have lost money in ponzi schemes to recover a part of their hard earned money,” he said.

Modi also spoke about how terrorists get funding from criminal activities such as bank robberies, vehicle thefts, fake currency and drug smuggling. The Paris attacks is a reminder of this, he said.

“The dastardly acts committed in Paris a few days ago are a grim reminder that terrorists have shown remarkable flexibility and adaptability in meeting their funding requirements.

“Disrupting fund flow constrains the capabilities of terrorists and reduces their ability to execute attacks.”

“This involves putting in place both systemic safeguards, and targeted economic sanctions based on credible counter-terrorism intelligence,” Modi told the gathering of investigators from 33 countries.

Some of the countries were unable to take part in the meet following cancellation of flights in the wake of Paris attacks, CBI officials said.

The Prime Minister said targeting proceeds of crime is an important elements in the fight against crime and sought international cooperation in this regard.

“There is an imperative need to focus our efforts to enhance international co-operation in the field of asset recovery for fighting crime, corruption and terrorism,” he said.

Globalisation of organised crime poses a major threat to economies throughout the world and it is a well known fact that dirty money drives out good money, he warned.

“Organised crime can hamper investment and economic growth. It can also infiltrate or control a large section of economy. Illicit funding promotes organised criminal activities like drug trafficking, arms trafficking, human trafficking and terrorism,” he said.

Calling for a concerted efforts to clamp down on proceeds of crime, the Prime Minister said economic liberalism and globalisation have drastically increased the ability to park profits of crime anywhere in the world.

“Today proceeds of crime can be routed through dozens of countries within seconds. By a process of layering the money-trail can be concealed. Investigation agencies are limited by national boundaries.

“Our Government is committed to the implementation of a uniform global standard on Automatic Exchange of Information, on a fully reciprocal basis. This will facilitate exchange of information regarding persons who have concealed their money in offshore financial centres and tax havens,” he said.

With inputs from IANS and PTI

No indication of intolerance on ground in India, says Arun Jaitley

Jaitley had dismissed the protest as a “manufactured paper rebellion” that was politically motivated.

Arun Jaitley

Justifying his description of the debate on intolerance as “manufactured”, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has said there is no indication of intolerance on the ground in India.”On the ground I see an environment of public harmony in India. That’s why I initially referred to this debate as a manufactured one,” Jaitley, who arrived here on Sunday on a two-day visit to the UAE, said. “It becomes an issue for discussion when people try to give the country a bad name and there the onus is on all of us as Indians to clarify the issue. But on the ground there is no indication of intolerance,” he told reporters at a media briefing in Dubai on Monday. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>At least 75 members of the intelligentsia have returned national or literary awards in an escalation of protests by writers, historians, filmmakers and scientists over “growing intolerance”, voicing fears that the country’s robust democracy might be “coming apart” in the current atmosphere. Jaitley had dismissed the protest as a “manufactured paper rebellion” that was politically motivated.

Paris attacks: No Indian injured or harmed, says official

“Indian Embassy telephone 0140507070 open, we hope all Indians are safe. Our prayers with families affected and solidarity with France,” Indian Ambassador to France Mohan Kumar tweeted.

A French policeman assists a blood-covered victim near the Bataclan concert hall following attacks in Paris, France, November 14, 2015.

There have been no Indian casualties so far in the horrific Paris attacks where around 160 people are feared dead.”There have been no Indian casualties so far. Some called us for aid and we have helped them in every way,” Manish Prabhat, Deputy Chief of Mission in France told ANI exclusively.He added that the help line number has been opened since the attack began last night and are ready to extend their help to any stranded Indian citizen or concerned kin.”No one has asked us yet to be sent back home,” Prabhat added.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Following the horrific serial attacks in the Indian Embassy in France opened its helpline number for stranded Indian citizens in the terror struck city.”Indian Embassy telephone 0140507070 open, we hope all Indians are safe. Our prayers with families affected and solidarity with France,” Indian Ambassador to France Mohan Kumar tweeted.President Hollande has declared a state of emergency and ordered closing all borders while a city-wide curfew has been enacted, the first in Paris since 1944.The nation was left in mourning and the world in unbelievable shock as scores were killed in the coordinated attacks late on Friday.The deadly attack reportedly began in the French capital at a soccer stadium where a match was underway as explosions set off. Simultaneously, terrorists armed with AK-47s and bombs strapped to them began attacking in different sites throughout the city.A bloodbath was reported from the Bataclan concert hall where more than 100 were killed as terrorists opened fire for 15 minutes and even shot hostages at point blank range.Later, SWAT units stormed the concert hall and around three terrorists were reportedly neutralised, ending the siege.According to reports, the attack sites are Bataclan concert venue, Le Carillon, Le Petit Cambodge, 20 rue Alibert, La Belle Equipe, Near Stade de France and reports of gunfire at least from one other site.Hollande sent out a strong message in a televised address to the grief and horror struck nation, asking them to stay united and swore the assailants responsible will face the consequences.”As I speak, terrorist attacks of unprecedented proportions are underway in the Paris area. There are dozens killed, there are many injured. It is a horror. Faced with terror, France must be strong, it must be great and the state authorities must be firm. We will be. What the terrorists want is to scare us and fill us with dread. There is indeed reason to be afraid. There is dread, but in the face of this dread, there is a nation that knows how to defend itself, that knows how to mobilise its forces and, once again, will defeat the terrorists,” the President said.Besides the massacre at the concert, around 150 people have reportedly been killed in different sites in the attacks.According to reports, the attack sites are Bataclan concert venue, Le Carillon, Le Petit Cambodge, 20 rue Alibert, La Belle Equipe, Near Stade de France and reports of gunfire were reported at least from one other site. Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins has said that all attackers are believed to be dead, however, a manhunt has been launched to capture any remaining possible accomplices.

Cameron plays safe as Modi tackles tricky issues

Cameron plays safe as Modi tackles issues

8 things you should know about PM Modi’s historic Wembley speech

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to speak at Wembley stadium tonight.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Tata Group Chairman Cyrus Mistry and Bharti Enterprises chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal at UK-India CEO Forum meet in London on Friday.

PTI
The Indian diaspora is gearing up to witness Prime Minister Narendra Modi to speak at the Wembley Stadium in London. Bollywood singer Kanika Kapoor, British-Indian singer Jay Sean and Patricia Rozario, a Bombay-born British soprano are scheduled to perform at the stadium.The Prime Minister will speak at a mass rally at Wembley Stadium, where he is expected to receive an enormous reception from 60,000 British Indians and the rally will be capped off with ‘the biggest fireworks display in the whole country.’ This is the first visit by an Indian Prime Minister to the UK in almost a decade and is expected to boost the economic and bilateral ties between the nations. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Here are some facts about the PM Modi’s speech at Wembley stadium that you should know: 1) With a gathering of 60,000 British Indians, it is the biggest crowd for any foreign elected leader on British soil.2) As many as 2000 volunteers have participated in organising this event.3) More than 600 performers are set to perform on stage during this event.4) 30% attendees are under the age of 30; 55% of female attendees are under the age of 40 and the youngest attendee is just 6 months old.5) People are reportedly flying in from Europe, US and India to attend the event.6) Largest ever Rangoli in the UK will be presented on the pitch.7) It is the first time that UK and India colours will be projected on Wembley arch8) 180 children will be performing in the school choirOn Thursday, India and the UK announced deals worth 9- billion pound as they inked a civil nuclear pact and decided to collaborate in defence and cyber security besides launching a railway rupee bond in London market.

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

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

PM Narendra Modi. PTI

PM Narendra Modi. PTI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PTI

What India and the UK love about each other

What should Britons and Indians thank each other for?

U.S. raising pressure on India over U.S. human trafficking visas | Reuters

WASHINGTONThe U.S. government is stepping up pressure on India to end a controversial policy of placing restrictions on passports of Indian nationals rescued from forced labour or human trafficking in the United States, a U.S. State Department official said.

In the next few months, the issue will be raised with Indian authorities during a number of high-level meetings, said the official, who declined to be identified.

This has already started to happen. The official said at a consular-level meeting on Nov. 3, U.S. officials asked Indian officials to scrap the policy. It was also raised at meetings on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September.

Since March, Indians who have received U.S. T visas have faced new restrictions. T-visa holders face long delays in renewing passports at Indian consulates in the United States. Reuters reported exclusively last week that they must also provide confidential information to the Indian government that they had previously submitted to the U.S. authorities, including details about who had trafficked them, according to the documents, legal advocates and interviews with T visa holders.

Human rights advocates say the restrictions undermine U.S. government efforts to help Indians rescued from forced labour in the United States, including hundreds recruited to work in U.S. Gulf Coast shipyards after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005.

“There is still a misunderstanding on the part of the Indians of what a T visa is and what the legal standard is for a T visa to be issued here in the United States,” said the U.S. official in an interview. “We have a number of high level visits that are going to be happening over the next quarter and some before that, at which we’ll raise the issue again.”

The Indian embassy in Washington said on Nov. 2 “many individuals seek to misuse the trafficking visa route to emigrate to the U.S” and that “appropriate measures are taken in such cases.” India, however, is mindful of hardships “faced by genuinely affected persons” who receive T visas and provides them with consular services, it added.

Between July 2014 and March 2015, the crackdown by the Indian authorities was harsher. At least 20 passports of Indians stamped with U.S. T visas were confiscated by authorities at Indian airports, preventing trafficking victims who returned home to collect their families from flying back to the United States. That has now stopped but the new restrictions are still making life very difficult for some of those with the visas.

In July, one of the biggest employers of Indian workers on the Gulf Coast, Alabama-based oil rig repair company Signal International LLC, agreed to pay $20 million to settle claims that it misled and exploited Indian guest workers brought to the United States.

A March 3 high court ruling in India found India’s confiscation of passports with T visas unconstitutional.  A March 16 memo from the Ministry of External Affairs reviewed by Reuters told “all missions and posts” to relax some aspects of the policy but not repeal it.

The problems with T visas follow the December 2013 arrest of an Indian diplomat, Devyani Khobragade, for visa fraud and underpaying a domestic worker who was later issued a U.S. T visa.  Her arrest and subsequent strip search provoked an outcry in India over her treatment by U.S. authorities.

The T Visa crackdown was widely seen as part of the Indian government’s diplomatic retaliation for the Khobragade incident, which New Delhi treated as an affront to its national pride.

(Reporting by Jason Szep; Editing by Martin Howell)

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

‘Cannot eliminate all who disagree with you’: Dalai Lama joins the debate on intolerance

Chennai: Amid ongoing debate over intolerance, Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama on Tuesday called for respecting dissent and said secularism denoted respect for all religious beliefs and all the non-believers.

“You cannot eliminate all people who disagree (with) you,” he said.

Expressing unhappiness that the previous century was filled with too much violence, he said it still continued and termed it as “non-sense.”

Dalai Lama. Reuters

Dalai Lama. Reuters

The Nobel peace laureate said secularism denoted respect for all religions and to non-believers as well.

“Of the seven billion people in the world, over one billion are non-believers… one should respect the non-believers as well, as the religious belief of a person is a private business,” he said.

In his lecture on ‘Human Approach to World Peace’ at the IIT Madras, as part of the institute’s Extra Mural Lecture series, the Tibetan spiritual leader said India was an example to the rest of the world for its religions harmony.

“Wherever, the Chinese go, there start a China town. Likewise, wherever Indians go, they should start an Indian town, where they should teach the world about religious harmony.”

On the possibility of a woman being the next Dalai Lama, he said, it was very much possible.

“I have said that many times earlier. She should be beautiful. The face also makes a difference, isn’t it?,” he said with a laughter, while replying to a query (from the student-audience) on the possibility of a woman Dalai Lama.

He said the world would be more peaceful if there were more women head of states.

PTI

Remove fear of minority community: Azam Khan to PM Modi

Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh minister Azam Khan on Tuesday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi should learn a lesson from drubbing in Bihar polls and work towards removing “fear” of the minority community.

“If you behave with hatred with everything created by the God then he will not be happy with you,” Azam said.

File photo of Azam Khan. PTIFile photo of Azam Khan. PTI

File photo of Azam Khan. PTI

“‘Sabka saath, sabka vikas’ was your slogan, accept it with an open heart and cremate religious and caste-based ill feelings,” he said.

Invoking ancient saints, the UP minister appealed to the Prime Minister to lessen the fear of the minorities.

“Take lessons from Dadhichi and Valmiki Maharaj. Take fear out of the hearts of the people who are afraid of you and set an example of oneness. Get out of ‘dal and daldal’ (groupings) and become the prime minister of great India.”

The Samajwadi Party leader said people of Bihar have set parameter of mutual brotherhood and relationship.

“Bihar polls have decided the fate of the country,” the minister said. In a written statement, Azam said atmosphere of peace, brotherhood and mutual faith, which prevails after Bihar polls, proves that Indians want a similar atmosphere.

“It is my appeal to the Prime Minister that he should not only learn from the situation, but take it as an experience. He should take an initiative to create a new person in himself,” Azam said.

“On the occasion of Diwali, the pained hearts congratulate you with hope that this won’t happen again in democratic and constitutional system,” he said.

PTI

President urges people to celebrate ‘pollution free’ Diwali

In his message to the people, the President said the festival represents the victory of light over darkness and good over evil

It was a Diwali message with difference this time from President Pranab Mukherjee, who greeted people on the eve of the festival and urged them to celebrate “in a pollution free manner”.In his message to the people, the President said the festival represents the victory of light over darkness and good over evil. “May the festival serve as a catalyst for greater unity within our country. Let us on this occasion join forces, share happiness, help the needy and engage in collective efforts to lead our nation to greater and greater glory.”May the festival bring joy and prosperity to all sections of our people across the length and breadth of the country. I urge all Indians to celebrate Diwali in a pollution free manner,” he said. The message from the President comes at a time when concern is being raised over air pollution in the national capital. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

Time is ripe for Rahul to take over as Congress president: Pratap Singh Bajwa

Bajwa said the phenomenal performance of the Congress in terms of the relative increase in seat tally from the previous Bihar assembly elections is indicative of the growing popularity of Rahul Gandhi.

Rahul Gandhi

Raising the pitch for Rahul Gandhi’s elevation in the party, Punjab Congress chief Pratap Singh Bajwa on Monday said the opportune time has arrived for him to take over as Congress President under the over-all guidance of Sonia Gandhi.”This is the right time for Rahul Gandhi to assume the mantle and lead the Congress from the forefront. Rahul Gandhi has shown excellent political acumen and foresight in stitching an alliance of like-minded and secular parties in Bihar and further brought Nitish Ji, Lalu Ji and Congress on one common platform which trumped the NDA led by Narendra Modi,” he said. Bajwa said the phenomenal performance of the Congress in terms of the relative increase in seat tally from the previous Bihar assembly elections is indicative of the growing popularity of Rahul Gandhi.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The decimation of the BJP in Bihar is a bellwether that the youth in the country are looking towards a progressive, sincere, young and dynamic leader who can take the nation forward and can deliver on the aspirations of crores of Indians,” he said. The PPCC chief also said the present dispensation instead of performing is turning the clock back and has created an atmosphere of fear and hatred in society.He said the public has seen through BJP’s propaganda and a strong sense of disillusionment has set in and the Bihar result is “symptomatic” of this trend. Many Congress leaders have in the past raised the demand for Rahul taking over the overall control of the party and lead it in future.

Bihar election 2015: The see-saw in media’s coverage of polls

So sure was the media of leads, including Doordarshan that they forgot to check election commission’s website that was showing more realistic picture.

Eager Indians woke up on Sunday with almost every channel predicting a comfortable win for the BJP led NDA Alliance. The initial leads were showing BJP+ leading in around 70 odd seats and Grand Alliance consisting of JDU, RJD and Congress trailing far behind with leads on less than 50 seats. This was the situation until 9:06 AM. By that time crowd of supporters had started gathering at the BJP headquarters in New Delhi. Many even started drenching each other in Gulal and firing crackers. Media started congratulating BJP leaders and what could be the reasons for Grand Alliance’s defeat.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As media got into discussion who would be the chief minister – Nand Kishore Yadav or Sushil Kumar Modi, Hindustani Awami Morcha (HAM) leader Jitan Ram Manjhi staked claim, “If NDA agrees he is ready to be the CM.”In comparison, there was somewhat introspective silence at the JDU, Congress and RJD offices. Its leaders getting into a cautious mould and reluctant to commit defeat, albeit reluctantly. So sure was the media of leads, including Doordarshan that they forgot to check election commission’s website that was showing more realistic picture. Suddenly, within a space of five minutes the situation started showing dramatic change in fortunes. The leads now were showing Grand Alliance’s seat proportion increasing steadily. By 9:10 AM the Grand Alliance with 68 leads at had reduced the difference to just 5 seats.At around 9:17 AM, the Grand Alliance had surged on 75 seats and surging ahead with brute leads had crossed the half way mark by 9:50 AM.. Everybody was perplexed at the sudden turn of fortunes till it suddenly dawned that the initial leads for BJP+ were because of counting of postal ballots and votes polled at urban centres. A television commentator conceded that such a blunder has happened for the first time in last 30 years.As the time passed and counting started including semi urban pockets, mofussil town and rural pockets, the tally of Grand Alliance picking up strength and finally culminated into a massive win of more than two-third majority.

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#MarchForIndia: Govt does not bestow awards, President Pranab Mukherjee tells Anupam Kher

Kher also stated that he was going to meet PM Narendra Modi at 6:30 pm on Saturday.

President Pranab Mukherjee

AFP photo
After meeting President Pranab Mukerjee at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on Saturday, Bollywood veteran actor Anupam Kher said that the former has conveyed to him that the Constitution must be revered at all costs and those who are returning the awards must remember that it had been bestowed upon them by the people of the nation, not the government.”As far as the Award Wapsi is concerned the President said that these awards were not given by the government, instead, it was given by the people of the country,” Kher told reporters in Delhi.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The President also said that the Constitution of the country was designed on a secular fabric and we all should all respect that,” he added. Kher announced that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has agreed to meet the delegation in the evening at his residence.Related Read: Anupam Kher leads #MarchforIndia, alleges Award Wapsi defaming countryThe actor led a march to the Rashtrapati Bhavan on Saturday in New Delhi to protest against the voices being raised over “intolerance” in the country. The actor claimed that the intolerance debate is an attempt to malign the image of the country and is intended to target the Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre. Kher also stated that he was going to meet PM Narendra Modi at 6:30 pm on Saturday.Earlier, countering the protests by writers and artistes against “rising intolerance”, Bollywood actor Anupam Kher on Saturday led a march to Rashtrapati Bhavan alleging that the “award-wapsi” campaign was to defame the country by projecting a “wrong” picture of the situation.”India is a very tolerant country. Some people have coined the term ‘growing intolerance’. They are very few. Not every Indian thinks like that. We are secular people. We do not believe in pseudo-secularism, selective outrage or selective patriotism,” Kher, who is the spouse of BJP MP from Chandigarh Kirron Kher, told reporters.”We had a meeting with a lot of writers, artistes, filmmakers and they also believe that there is no intolerance in the country… This march is a symbolic gesture on part of a lot of people over here who say India is one and free of intolerance,” the 60-year-old said.Many filmmakers and artistes from the fraternity including Madhur Bhandarkar, Ashoke Pandit, Priyadarshan, Manoj Joshi, Abhijeet Bhattacharya and writer Madhu Kishwar joined the march to hand over a memorandum signed by more than 40 personalities including actress Raveena Tandon.Bhandarkar, a National Award winner, alleged that those involved in the protest over intolerance had opposed Prime Minister Narendra Modi before he was elected, which raised questions about their intention.”The projection that is happening for the past few days is very sad. The people who were against Modiji during elections are the same people who are coming out right now.”The whole projection and narrative that is going abroad is wrong. It is a diverse country and of course there are incidents but we all condemn them. There is no two ways about it,” he said. Kher asserted that they were not associated with any organisation or political party. “This march is led by Indians and for Indians.” Film-maker Priyadarshan said the act of returning the awards is “childish”.”People returning awards are doing a childish act. They should use the power of pen. Instances of intolerance have always been there. It is not something that happened yesterday. Shah Rukh Khan never said he is returning award,” Priyadarshan told PTI. “They are respected people but behaving like school children,” Priyadarshan said. He, however, disapproved of those critical of Khan who had said that there was extreme intolerance in the country.At least 75 members of the intelligentsia have returned national or literary awards in an escalation of protests by writers, historians, filmmakers and scientists over “growing intolerance”, voicing fears that the country’s robust democracy might be “coming apart” in the current atmosphere.The BJP-led government has dismissed the protest as “manufactured rebellion” and “politically” motivated.

Award wapsi to defame India: Anupam Kher leads march against intolerance protests

New Delhi: Countering the protests by writers and artistes against “rising intolerance”, Bollywood actor Anupam Kher on Saturday led a march to Rashtrapati Bhavan alleging that the “award-wapsi” campaign was to defame the country by projecting a “wrong” picture of the situation.

“India is a very tolerant country. Some people have coined the term ‘growing intolerance’. They are very few. Not every Indian thinks like that. We are secular people. We do not believe in pseudo-secularism, selective outrage or selective patriotism,” Kher, who is the spouse of BJP MP from Chandigarh Kirron Kher, told reporters.

Anupam Kher. PTIAnupam Kher. PTI

Anupam Kher. PTI

“We had a meeting with a lot of writers, artistes, filmmakers and they also believe that there is no intolerance in the country… This march is a symbolic gesture on part of a lot of people over here who say India is one and free of intolerance,” the 60-year-old said.

Many filmmakers and artistes from the fraternity including Madhur Bhandarkar, Ashoke Pandit, Priyadarshan, Manoj Joshi, Abhijeet Bhattacharya and writer Madhu Kishwar joined the march to hand over a memorandum signed by more than 40 personalities including actress Raveena Tandon to President Pranab Mukherjee.

Bhandarkar, a National Award winner, alleged that those involved in the protest over intolerance had opposed Prime Minister Narendra Modi before he was elected, which raised questions about their intention.

“The projection that is happening for the past few days is very sad. The people who were against Modiji during elections are the same people who are coming out right now.

“The whole projection and narrative that is going abroad is wrong. It is a diverse country and of course there are incidents but we all condemn them. There is no two ways about it,” he said.

Kher asserted that they were not associated with any organisation or political party. “This march is led by Indians and for Indians.”

Film-maker Priyadarshan said the act of returning the awards is “childish”.

“People returning awards are doing a childish act. They should use the power of pen. Instances of intolerance have always been there. It is not something that happened yesterday. Shah Rukh Khan never said he is returning award,” Priyadarshan told PTI.

“They are respected people but behaving like school children,” Priyadarshan said.

He, however, disapproved of those critical of Khan who had said that there was extreme intolerance in the country.

At least 75 members of the intelligentsia have returned national or literary awards in an escalation of protests by writers, historians, filmmakers and scientists over “growing intolerance”, voicing fears that the country’s robust democracy might be “coming apart” in the current atmosphere.

The BJP-led government has dismissed the protest as “manufactured rebellion” and “politically” motivated.

PTI

Intolerance debate engulfs diaspora: 3 NRIs discuss the great Indian dilemma over PM Modi, end up being no damn different!

(Prologue: The ‘intolerance’ debate raging in India has reached foreign shores, engulfing in its wake the 32 million strong Indian diaspora as well. With Modi mania unabated in the global enclaves of Indians abroad, and all set to dramatically express itself next week in the UK, three NRIs from Singapore, the US and the UK, debate issues. This piece is inspired by their sparring on a Facebook group chat. It is as riveting as the debate back home, filled with hot air and abuse.)

Singapore Indian: Muslims being killed for consuming beef. Secular Indians being harassed for being accepting of others. Sportsmen being banned from plying their skills. Celebrities being taunted for speaking out against intolerance. India is under attack and no, it’s not at its borders but from within. It is not a foreign power but the one legally elected. The price for economic progress (which itself is questionable) cannot be social unrest. It is time every secular Indian expressed their outrage to remind these zealots and the government that we are the majority. Narendra Modi can hug Mark Zuckerberg all he likes but as long as we applaud these publicity stunts, we don’t send him a message to fix this or be fired. I encourage everyone in Singapore to boycott the Modi rally so that our Prime Minister is reminded that he represents all of India not the 31% who voted for him, including those of us who live abroad.”

PM Narendra Modi. AFP

PM Narendra Modi. AFP

UK Indian: Rich, coming from someone who is never going home. Easy to pass all these judgements. You think Modi brought up all these problems when he was elected and they were not there before him. Animal mobs, them and us, the divides of caste and religion, they are not new. Some idiot murders somebody, you cannot point to Modi and blame him, that is absurd. Hey, mister, you have chosen to live in a country where freedom has been sacrificed for technical progress and you proclaim it to be the ultimate destination, we know the atrocities and the diktats committed to achieve that but why do you praise that and scorn Modi (who has no direct or indirect association with any of the current madness)? And be honest, accept the fact that never has Indian freedom of expression been so free. Never has media babbled on without restriction. Explain that.

US Indian: What, getting inked for standing for a principle, is that your idea of freedom of speech? The way national awards are being returned in protest, freedoms are in peril. People are afraid to speak their minds. The enemy is at the gate, it was never this bad, what freedoms do you refer to….?

UK Indian: Don’t sit 10,000 miles away and have your opinions forged by the US media. Come to India. Nothing is that bad. Modi is doing a good job. Some of his peeps mess up and Modi-baiting is a sport thanks to the media which blows everything out of proportion. You think anyone cares if Indians in Singapore boycott him? What is achieved by that? Why are we afraid of someone being internationally acclaimed? Face it, Modi makes us all proud when he is on foreign shores and it is envy that makes people attack him. If 90,000 people plan to fill Wembley, it is a testament to his popularity.

US Indian: Actually, I am all for Singapore Indians demanding a boycott. Even Cambridge University has done it. I don’t think what we are seeing is really freedom of expression. It is more that so much rot is boiling over it is spilling out of the pot, murders, rapes, Hindu fringe groups, never has there been so much at the same time, even a tame media cannot duck it. This is the world’s perception.

Singapore Indian: I agree. Don’t call it freedom. If anything, law and order is up for grabs and looneys are around beating up people, can you imagine a Minister kicking a child beggar in the face and getting away with it anywhere else in the world? Just because there was crap for last 60 years doesn’t give the right to the new government to give anyone more crap. Why is everyone telling everyone else to either echo their sentiments or shut up? It’s sad and shameful that instead of condemning incidents of violence and bigotry, we say, ‘oh well, a previous government did much worse or who cares as long as there is economic progress.’

UK Indian: You people are bigoted. Modi has taken India places despite people pulling him down and done it in such a short time. If we backed him rather than pulled at the cotton all the time, our country would progress even faster. Indians have failed to grasp the fact that Modi has been made into a generic label from all our ills and we could be victims of a clever and diabolical plot to con us. It is amazing how you can be brainwashed by a controlled media offensive. Modi is doing a great job on building brand India and bringing the world to India. But he is doing a poor job in reinforcing the fundamental nature of what India is which is its unity in diversity. What is wrong, if anything, is this defensive attitude that seems to be like a shield around our prime minister. India is not perfect and will never be, the only way to reconcile these religious idiosyncrasies is by economic progress which is being stalled by the dynastic family that ruled us for so many years and is creating this entire media furore to stall the winter session of parliament. None of them ever got the spontaneous reception Modi gets. If that was the global perception as you say, why would 90,000 people, not all Indians, be attracted to Wembley?

US Indian: Oh please, spare us. Nothing is that simple. To respond to your statement, the question to ask is what is being done to fix the problems. As for the dynasty, they have only 44 seats, they don’t even count. You are missing the point. The global stage is rickety and investors are deeply concerned about India’s prejudices coming to the fore. Did you read the Moody’s report? Look what colours our image today. Child rapes, gangland dons, corrupt cops, moral police, insecurity for women, an absence of tolerance, mob violence, beef-eater threats and it is a daily diet. What is really sanctifying all this negativism is the number of ‘thinking’ people who are giving back their symbols of recognition, that is not something you can laugh away. We are a sinking ship and Modi is the captain, he has to take responsibility. He cannot keep running to foreign countries and addressing guilt-ridden NRIs in an orchestrated concert of the vanities.

UK Indian: Houston, the eagle has landed. When did you last go to India? You are probably called Jim from Jamshed or Jo from Joginder and you pretend to be that peacock and are an expert on things American and the fact is you ran away. India is not a hot dog with relish and what the hell do you mean orchestrated concert? Look at your own bigotry.

US Indian: And you didn’t, sitting there in bloody Hounslow or Slough in your little row house making curry, why don’t you go back to Kanpur or Kailashnagar and then let’s see how much flag waving you do? Meeting Modi is a PR exercise.

UK Indian: Damn pseudo-yank, don’t be rude and conceal your ignorance before you get laughed off.

US Indian: You are just another beef-eating hypocrite, you don’t see the writing on the wall, face it, India has never had it so bad.

UK Indian: It’s people like you who have no stake in India who make these judgments and become apologists…

US Indian: Yes, of course, you are a blue-blooded Indian to the core living in Stratham and taking the tube and I bet you’ve bought a tricolour and are all ready to welcome Modi next week…

UK Indian: You make me sick with your ignorance…and yes, I have and I am proud of it.

US Indian: Oh get lost, you stupid git.

Singapore Indian: Two NRIs echoing 1.2 billion…same difference.

— Bikram is himself an NRI (Dubai)

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