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What happened to funds collected for Ram Mandir, Congress asks BJP

Union Minister Mahesh Sharma had yesterday clarified BJP’s stance on the issue of construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya, saying his party and government had already given their opinion on the issue, that people of the country want the temple to be constructed as soon as possible.

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‘What has war yielded, neither zameen nor jannat’: What Modi told Sharifs and struck a chord

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With Pak visit, Modi’s foreign policy circle is complete

Ever since Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister, he has been insisting on Foreign Policy and it has been on the top agenda. He has already visited almost 55 States but was criticised for not having visited Pakistan. In fact, in the earlier Indian government between 1998 to 2003, Atal Bihari Vajpayee had visited Pakistan twice in 1999 and 2002, once before and after the Kargil war. He was the one who constituted the process of peace building with Pakistan. So it was expected that Modi would carry forward the same legacy.So Modi’s visit to Pakistan was not spontaneous, it was a well decided and pre-determined sort of move, but was obviously kept out of media glare as there was tremendous public pressure and in a way India had to break the ice.Another important reason we have to look at is that Modi first visited Russia followed by Afghanistan and then Pakistan. In the last six months, India has been growing close to the United States of America (US) and Russia is getting closer to Pakistan so that made India look at relations with Russia from a whole new perspective. India has a very crucial role to play in Afghanistan, which is being opposed by Pakistan and to avoid this, India has to normalise it’s relations with Pakistan. This will be necessary to maintain balance on regional and international issues.In the last one year, Modi may have realised that cutting off the peace process and breaking ties with Pakistan did not yield any result. On the contrary, it ultimately increased the importance of the military in Pakistan and not of the political executive.India’s policy to keep its neighbours in confidence cannot be completed until and unless it normalises its relations with Pakistan. The ultimate reality is that there is no alternative solution for resolving Kashmir, Siachen and Sir Creek issues which have been pending for decades. Initiating the talks is the only solution to find the remedy for all pending issues with Pakistan.Since Russia and China are getting closer to Pakistan the triangle that is emerging from their relations, if developed, can be disastrous to India. So it is important for India to neutralise that aspect also. Hence Modi’s visit was well-planned in the order it took place, that is, Russia, Afghanistan and Pakistan. With this the foreign policy circle is completed, which had been left incomplete by the UPA government.One more important aspect to be considered in the Kashmir issue is that just talking to the political executive is not enough, but the army, that is, the top military generals have to be involved in it. India-Pakistan policy is not being decided and dictated by the political executive but by the army. Army plays a very crucial role in framing Indian, Pakistani, American and Israeli policy. So it is important to involve the army in talks and also to take it into confidence.The ice between the countries has been broken, a very positive development and the hope is that it will continue.-As told to dnaThe author is a foreign policy analyst<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

Indo-Pak talks: Parties welcome but urge Modi govt to be alert

13 members from various parties made their observations and asked questions in Lok Sabha after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj made a statement on the resumption of the dialogue process

Reuters
As India prepares to re-start dialogue with Pakistan, political parties from various hues on Monday welcomed it even though some asked the government to be alert in view of the neighbouring country’s history of “stabbing in the back” and a few wondered whether it could be trusted.13 members from various parties made their observations and asked questions in Lok Sabha after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj made a statement on the resumption of the dialogue process. All of them welcomed the initiation of the dialogue process as they batted for peaceful relations with Pakistan. However, several members talked about the past and cited how Pakistan had “stabbed” India in the back repeatedly.B Mahtab of BJD referred to the 26/11 incident and the lingering case in Pakistan.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”A mere assurance has been given to us that action will be taken against them (Mumbai terror attack perpetrators)… But are we not all aware that since last so many years what Pakistan has been saying, it has not been keeping its word? “This happened in the form of the Kargil war (of 1999) after our Prime Minister had gone there in a bus trip and extended a hand of friendship but we were stabbed in the back,” Mahtab said. Echoing similar views, Vinayak Raut (Shiv Sena) said: “Pakistan has a history of stabbing in the back. We should be wary of trusting Pakistan and remain alert.” Jayadev Galla (TDP) asked government if it was confident that Pakistan’s long-held policy of “plausible deniability” is ending or they continue to follow the same path. “If so, how do we get rid of the trust-deficit between the two countries?” A P Jithender Reddy (TRS) said India has to be “alert” and not be at ease thinking that Minister for External Affairs had gone there and everything will be all right.”I have my doubt in that aspect. So, some action has to be really taken and security should be enhanced,” Reddy said. Welcoming the decision to have talks, PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti said: “When relations between the two countries turn sour, its people of Jammu & Kashmir who suffer the maximum”. She said former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had taken steps to better relation between two countries and between 2003 to 2008 there was ceasefire along the border.She wanted to know if some more cross-LoC confidence-building measures were in the offing. Asaduddin Owaisi (AIMIM), while welcoming the resumption of dialogue, termed it a “clumsy climbdown” by India. “This is a procedural breakthrough but not a substantive breakthrough.” Swaraj replied to members’ concern saying: “Whenever talks happen, that is based on trust… There is a need to bridge the gulf (with Pakistan)”.

UP minister Shivpal Yadav likens Azam Khan to Sir Syed Ahmed Khan

Yadav, while praising Azam for his efforts in stablishing the Jauhar varsity, said, “He (Azam) has followed the path of Sir Syed Ahmad who established Aligarh Muslim University and like him Azam’s name too would be remembered.”
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
Uttar Pradesh Minister Shivpal Singh Yadav has equated his cabinet colleague Azam Khan to Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, saying his name too would be remembered for his efforts in establishing the Jauhar University.Yadav, while praising Azam for his efforts in stablishing the Jauhar varsity, said, “He (Azam) has followed the path of Sir Syed Ahmad who established Aligarh Muslim University and like him Azam’s name too would be remembered.”Yadav, who was the chief guest at the Jauhar remembrance Day celebrations in Rampur on Thursday said, “We had followed (Azam) Khan Sahib’s all the directives and doing that at present and will continue to do that in future as well.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Azam Khan, the lifetime chancellor of the Jauhar University, on the occasion of ‘Yaad-e-Jauhar’ reminded the sacrifices of Muslims in the freedom struggle and claimed that in “Jalian-wala-Bagh massacre 40 % of the martyrs were Muslims and it were we (Muslims) who won the Kargil war.””We expect and deserve honorable status in society but how one shall feel when we are placed in the category of Dawood Ibrahim,” he said alluding to Shiv Sena’s recent allegation that Azam Khan was more dangerous than Dawood.He also criticised US President Barack Obama, “We (Muslims) shall always be feeling ashamed for Obama’s deleting Hussain from his name.””After oath taking ceremony Barack Hussain Obama became Barack Obama …Obama could not keep ‘Hussain’ intact with him which hurts Muslims immensely,” Azam said.

Mercury stays below freezing point across Kashmir, Ladakh

Leh, in the frontier region of Ladakh, was the coldest in Jammu and Kashmir as the mercury there settled at minus 9.7 degrees Celsius, though slightly up from the previous night’s minus 9.9 degrees Celsius, a spokesman of the Meteorological Department said on Thursday.

Mercury stays below freezing point across Kashmir, Ladakh
File Photo

Mercury stayed below freezing point across Kashmir Valley and Ladakh region though there was marginal rise in minimum temperature in most places owing to overcast sky.Leh, in the frontier region of Ladakh, was the coldest in Jammu and Kashmir as the mercury there settled at minus 9.7 degrees Celsius, though slightly up from the previous night’s minus 9.9 degrees Celsius, a spokesman of the Meteorological Department said on Thursday.He said the minimum temperature in the nearby Kargil town also increased from Wedneday’s minus 10.3 degrees Celsius to settle at a low of minus 9.6 degrees Celsius.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Srinagar the summer capital of the state recorded the minimum temperature of minus 1.2 degrees Celsius, slightly up from Wednesday’s minus 1.4 degrees Celsius, the spokesman said. The city had on Wednesday experienced the coldest night of the winter so far.The minimum temperature in Kokernag, in south Kashmir, settled at minus 0.2 degree Celsius, while the mercury in Qazigund the gateway town to Kashmir Valley registered a low of minus 1.8 degrees Celsius, he said, adding the night temperature at both the places increased as compared to the previous night. He said Kupwara, in north Kashmir, recorded a low of minus 2.3 degrees Celsius.The tourist resort of Pahalgam which serves as a base camp during the annual Amarnath Yatra recorded a low of minus 3.9 degrees Celsius as compared to the previous night’s minus 3.8 degrees Celsius, the spokesman said.He said the famous ski-resort of Gulmarg, in north Kashmir, registered minimum temperature of minus 2.8 degrees Celsius as against the low of minus 2.0 degrees Celsius on Wednesday.The MET Office has predicted mainly dry weather for the week ahead.

He has lost his memory: Najma Heptulla hits out at Mani Shankar Aiyar for his anti-Modi comments

‘I think the Congress Party has realised that the people have lost faith on them. And, that’s why there are begging to our neighbours (Pakistan) . I strongly condemned Aiyar’s statement. The Congress Party has forgotten that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had invited his Pakistani counterpart in his oath taking ceremony and extended the hand of friendship,’ she said.

File Photo

Condemning senior Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar’s comment against Prime Minister Narendra Modi to a Pakistani news channel, Union Minority Affairs Minister Najma Heptulla on Tuesday said it was simply baffling to see the grand old party begging a neighbouring nation to join it to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party. ‘I think Mani Shankar Aiyar has lost his memory. Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the first prime minister who went on a bus to Pakistan, and what we got in return was the Kargil War. Aiyar is appreciating Pakistan for attacking India. I am sure that he would also appreciate the 26/11 Mumbai attacks,’ Heptulla told ANI.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> ‘I think the Congress Party has realised that the people have lost faith on them. And, that’s why there are begging to our neighbours (Pakistan) . I strongly condemned Aiyar’s statement. The Congress Party has forgotten that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had invited his Pakistani counterpart in his oath taking ceremony and extended the hand of friendship,’ she added.She also demanded a stern action against Aiyar as per the law of the land. Aiyar who went to Pakistan before the Bihar Assembly polls, said in an interview to a channel, that Islamabad should help India in defeating Prime Minister Modi and ensure that the Congress is back at the Centre. (Read: Mani Shankar Aiyar says Modi must be removed for proper Indo-Pak talks)

PM Modi must follow Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s friendship policy with Pakistan: Farooq Abdullah

Observing that not only Kashmiris but also Muslims in general are feeling whether they are safe in this country, Abdullah said the Government of the day is doing nothing to allay their fears.
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah on Saturday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi should follow Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s policy of friendship with Pakistan to find a solution to Kashmir issue, saying he will not be able to win hearts and minds of Kashmiris merely by doling out packages.Observing that not only Kashmiris but also Muslims in general are feeling whether they are safe in this country, Abdullah said the Government of the day is doing nothing to allay their fears. Terming the situation in Kashmir as “very dangerous”, Abdullah said that even if the Prime Minister announces a Rs one lakh crore package, it is not going to win heart and minds of people by only dishing money.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Final solution of the state has to be done with Pakistan. Otherwise we will suffer. The terrorists will keep on coming. What do we have to show other than God’s beauty that we have. And tourists don’t come when there is fear that their life is not safe. Has the Prime Minister tried to remove that fear in the mind of people of India,” Abdullah told a TV news channel.Advocating that talking to Pakistan was must, he said, “it is vital for our survival so that we can progress like other states of India. Other states have reached the moon and we are still on the ground.” And the National Conference leader’s advice for Modi was that he should follow what Vajpayee, a BJP stalwart and a former Prime Minister, did by inviting the then Pakistan President Gen Pervez Musharraf despite the Kargil war as he was clear that if the nation has to progress, then friendly ties with the neighbours are must.”Vajpayee ji said that he will talk about Kashmir within realms of humanity (Insanayaat ke daayre mein) and this is what the present Government should do. I would tell him that if he wants to be the next Mahatma Gandhi of India, then be strong to fight those forces that are trying to divide this nation, divide religion, divide areas. Fight them and become greater than Mahatma Gandhi,” Abdullah said in a veiled reference to right wing outfits which he blamed for spreading communal hatred in the country.

From army’s contribution to World Wars to Kargil: India to have ‘reader friendly’ war history books

Surprise, surprise! We’re getting new text books on all the wars India has been a part of. From our World War I contribution to our wars with Pakistan and China, the Modi government is all set to give them a new, ‘reader-friendly’ avatar.

ReutersReuters

Reuters

The  histories of all wars and major operations undertaken by the Indian armed forces will be re-written and rolled out by September, according to reports.

A plan with vague deadlines has been planned for further releases of the different war histories, movies and comic books by 2020-2022, reports TOI.

According to the government, students and forthcoming generations need to be “educated” about contributions made by the Indian armed forces.  The timeframe would include pre and post-Independence eras as well as in counter-insurgency operations and UN peacekeeping missions.

The DNA reports that, the history of 1971 war will be published in December 2016. and the simplified history of the Kargil war will be published to mark its 20th anniversary in 2019. Books related to Indian Army’s participation in World War I and II is also set to be published sometime in 2019-20.

“They should find a place in school curricula,” the official said to TOI.

This is not the first time the BJP led government has tried to rewrite our history books.

According to an earlier report, the Janata government first thought of changing NCERT history textbooks in 1977. When the NDA came to power in 1999, all NCERT textbooks were changed and when the UPA came to power in 2004 they replaced them again.

The RSS last year, to celebrate its centenary, wanted to piece together the history of over 670 districts and 600 tribal communities in the country  to produce a version of Indian history based on the Puranas.

Not only that but when HRD minister Smriti Irani declared that ancient Hindu texts should be included in school curriculum. Even Dinanath Batra – who was behind Penguin’s withdrawal of American scholar Wendy Doniger’s book The Hindus – sent proposals to Irani after she assumed office, demanding a revamp of school curriculum so that “values and nationalism’ could be inculcated in students.

It’s not just us, as this article notes, Pakistan actively engages in re-writing its textbooks too.

Govt plans to rewrite India’s war history to make it ‘reader friendly’

As of now the prevailing notion is that the war narration is too technical and hence the significance is sometimes lost in the details.

PTI
The Indian government has embarked on an ambitious mission to rewrite parts of the history of all major war expeditions undertaken by the Indian Army. According to an English daily, the government has taken up the plan to educate the future generations about India’s rich war history. As of now, the prevailing notion is that the war narration is too technical and hence the significance is sometimes lost in the details. This new project will not only include the accounts of all the wars post Independence but also those from the pre-Independence era, when the Indian soldiers fought for the British. To make it interesting for young readers, the plan is to release telefilms, comic books alongside conventional books. The government hopes to wrap up the whole project by 2020-22. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The project will kick-off as early as September 2015 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1965 war with Pakistan. The government has planned a month-long celebration to mark India’s victory over its neighbour in the war, reports the national daily. In December 2016, the history of 1971 war will be published. In 2019, simplified history of the Kargil war will be published to mark its 20th anniversary. Similarly history from World War I and II, relating the Indian Army’s participation, is slated to be published sometime in 2019-20. Operation Pawan undertaken by Indian peacekeeping forces in Sri Lanka in 1987 will be marked with release of its history in 2017. Interestingly though, the history of 1962 war with China, which ended in a resounding defeat, has been pushed back for release to the fag end. So the project is likely to end with the release of the China war history around 2020-22. The government is also unlikely to publish the Henderson Brooks-Bhagat report which reportedly severely indicted the then government for lack of intelligence and other factors. “A soldier is a soldier, whichever the government that directs him to go to war. The idea is to make the history and valour of Indian soldiers available in readable formats,” a senior officer to the newspaper.At a time when the number of youth applying to the Indian Army has dipped considerably, it will be interesting to see if this ‘reader friendly’ version of war history helps in any way to spike the application numbers.

PM Modi talks about Kargil, road accidents; sidesteps politics on ‘Mann Ki Baat’

New Delhi: Concerned over the high rate of casualties in accidents, the government will soon bring a Road Transport and Safety Bill and launch cashless treatment for mishap victims, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday in his monthly radio programme while avoiding any mention of politics or the logjam in Parliament.

In his 15-minute programme, he also hailed the armed forces in the context of Kargil Vijay Divas, paid tributes to the farming community and praised scientists, besides saying that a team of officials will pay a week-long visit to the Northeastern states to understand the problems of the region and address them.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. ReutersPrime Minister Narendra Modi. Reuters

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Reuters

He also invited suggestions from the public which could form part of his this year’s Independence Day speech.

While talking about various social issues, he avoided politics at a time when Parliament is unable to function because of a deadlock with opposition demanding resignation of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan over various controversies.

Talking about road accidents, he mentioned the case of a scooter rider lying bleeding on a road in Delhi with nobody helping him.

“Several people have been writing to me that I should speak on road safety to create awareness about it. When we see the figures, we notice that in India, an accident takes place every minute and a death due to these takes place every four minutes. Among the victims, one-third are in the age group of 15-25 years,” the Prime Minister noted.

Keeping this in mind, the government will soon bring a Road Transport and Safety Bill, he said.

The government is also planning other important measures like putting in place a National Road Safety Policy and Road Safety Action Plan, he said.

A project under which cashless treatment will be given to accident victims, wherein the victim does not have to worry for the first 50 hours as to who pays the money for treatment, will also be launched soon, he said.

The project will be launched in Gurgaon, Jaipur and Vadodara and then to Mumbai, Ranchi, Rungaon and Maurya national highways.

The Prime Minister also promised to ensure that all villages in the country get 24-hour electricity under the Deen Dayal Upadhyay Gram Jyoti Yojana, which was launched by him in Patna on Saturday.

“It is a difficult task but we have started work on this… India is such a big country and villages are so far-off but we will do it,” he said, while underlining that electricity is a key requirement for progress and a necessity in everyday life for everyone.

Talking about the North East, Modi said that under the ‘Act East’ policy of his government, officials of the Ministry of Development of North East Region (DONER) will go to the states of the region. “They will hold seven-day camps, talk to people and address their problems,” he said.

With regard to the farm sector, he expressed happiness that the Monsoon rainfall has been good so far and production of pulses and oilseeds has shown an increase of 50 per cent and 33 per cent respectively.

After talking about ‘kisan’ (farmer), he spoke about the ‘jawan’ (soldier) on the Kargil Vijay Divas, celebrated on Sunday as a day of victory against Pakistan in the three-month conflict in Kargil in Jammu and Kashmir in 1999. He paid tributes to the armed forces and hailed their valour and sacrifices for the nation.

“In Kargil, each of our soldier proved more than a 100 of the enemy. I salute to the brave soldiers who thwarted the evil designs of the enemy without caring for their own lives. The Kargil war was not fought only on the border but every village, every city contributed to it.

“This war was fought by those mothers and sisters whose sons and brothers were in the battlefield. It was fought by those girls, who had just been married, those fathers who gave their sons and felt young themselves, and those sons who had not even learnt to walk properly holding the finger of their father. It is because of their sacrifices that India can move in the world holding its head high,” he said.

While talking about ‘vigyan’ (science), he referred to the recent accomplishment of ISRO which launched five satellites of the United Kingdom, in first such feat.

At the same time, he regretted that interest in science and technology was on the decline among the youth of today. To generate interest in research and development, he suggested holding of competitions in innovations nationally.

In the context of the ‘Swacchh Bharat’ programme, Modi highlighted a case of a Madhya Pradesh village where locals have launched ‘Operation Mal Yudh’ (war against dirt).

He said the locals had started a competition of ‘Brother No.1’, in which brothers would have to gift a toilet to his sister on the upcoming Raksha Bandhan festival and the best among them will be chosen for awards.

Regarding the ‘mygov’ portal launched on this day a year ago, Modi said he had received almost 2 crore hits and several important suggestions were being made by the people.

“We had committed to enhance people’s participation in democracy and make the people partners in developmental activities,” he said, while referring to a suggestion by a person from Kanpur that IRCTC portal should have facility to provide bookings for the disabled.

“This suggestion was taken seriously by the government and now we have put this facility in place,” he said, adding that all major suggestions would be taken to their ends.

He also urged the people to make their suggestions on the ‘mygov’ site on what issues he should speak on the upcoming Independence Day, while referring to a person from Chennai who suggested that he should raise issues like ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padao’, ‘Swachch Bharat’ and ‘Clean Ganga’.

PTI

Government to launch cashless scheme for mishap victims

In his tenth ‘Mann Ki Baat’ address, Modi also asked the public to suggest what issues he should speak about during the Independence Day speech next month even as he remembered the 16th anniversary of Kargil War and offered respects to soldiers and their families.

A week after the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) released data on accident deaths in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his radio show on Sunday said that his government would soon introduce the Road Transport and Safety Bill and launch a scheme for cashless treatment of road accident victims.In his tenth ‘Mann Ki Baat’ address, Modi also asked the public to suggest what issues he should speak about during the Independence Day speech next month even as he remembered the 16th anniversary of Kargil War and offered respects to soldiers and their families.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Speaking on casualties in road accidents, Modi said, “We are thinking of taking important steps to implement National Road Safety Policy and Road Safety Action Plan. We have also taken up one more project which we are going to expand later on…we will put into place cashless treatment which means that for the first 50 hours, one would be provided with the best facilities and treatment without the worry of whether there is money or not, who will pay the money etc.”The prime minister added that an accident takes place every minute and a death due to these takes place every four minutes and among the victims, one-third are in the age group of 15-25 years.Speaking on Vijay Diwas, which marks the anniversary of 1999 Kargil War, Modi said, “Each of our soldiers in Kargil proved to be more than (the might) of a 100 of the enemy. I salute the brave soldiers who did not worry about their lives and worked to destroy the evil plans of our enemies. The Kargil war was not fought only on the border, every village, every city was a part of it.”Modi’s radio show comes amidst a stormy monsoon session of Parliament, of which he made no mention in his nearly 15-minute address.

PM Narendra Modi talks on road accidents, social issues; avoids politics on ‘Mann Ki Baat’

New Delhi: Concerned over the high rate of casualties in accidents, the government will soon bring a Road Transport and Safety Bill and launch cashless treatment for mishap victims, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday in his monthly radio programme while avoiding any mention of politics or the logjam in Parliament.

In his 15-minute programme, he also hailed the armed forces in the context of Kargil Vijay Divas, paid tributes to the farming community and praised scientists, besides saying that a team of officials will pay a week-long visit to the Northeastern states to understand the problems of the region and address them.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. ReutersPrime Minister Narendra Modi. Reuters

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Reuters

He also invited suggestions from the public which could form part of his this year’s Independence Day speech.

While talking about various social issues, he avoided politics at a time when Parliament is unable to function because of a deadlock with opposition demanding resignation of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan over various controversies.

Talking about road accidents, he mentioned the case of a scooter rider lying bleeding on a road in Delhi with nobody helping him.

“Several people have been writing to me that I should speak on road safety to create awareness about it. When we see the figures, we notice that in India, an accident takes place every minute and a death due to these takes place every four minutes. Among the victims, one-third are in the age group of 15-25 years,” the Prime Minister noted.

Keeping this in mind, the government will soon bring a Road Transport and Safety Bill, he said.

The government is also planning other important measures like putting in place a National Road Safety Policy and Road Safety Action Plan, he said.

A project under which cashless treatment will be given to accident victims, wherein the victim does not have to worry for the first 50 hours as to who pays the money for treatment, will also be launched soon, he said.

The project will be launched in Gurgaon, Jaipur and Vadodara and then to Mumbai, Ranchi, Rungaon and Maurya national highways.

The Prime Minister also promised to ensure that all villages in the country get 24-hour electricity under the Deen Dayal Upadhyay Gram Jyoti Yojana, which was launched by him in Patna on Saturday.

“It is a difficult task but we have started work on this… India is such a big country and villages are so far-off but we will do it,” he said, while underlining that electricity is a key requirement for progress and a necessity in everyday life for everyone.

Talking about the North East, Modi said that under the ‘Act East’ policy of his government, officials of the Ministry of Development of North East Region (DONER) will go to the states of the region. “They will hold seven-day camps, talk to people and address their problems,” he said.

With regard to the farm sector, he expressed happiness that the Monsoon rainfall has been good so far and production of pulses and oilseeds has shown an increase of 50 per cent and 33 per cent respectively.

After talking about ‘kisan’ (farmer), he spoke about the ‘jawan’ (soldier) on the Kargil Vijay Divas, celebrated on Sunday as a day of victory against Pakistan in the three-month conflict in Kargil in Jammu and Kashmir in 1999. He paid tributes to the armed forces and hailed their valour and sacrifices for the nation.

“In Kargil, each of our soldier proved more than a 100 of the enemy. I salute to the brave soldiers who thwarted the evil designs of the enemy without caring for their own lives. The Kargil war was not fought only on the border but every village, every city contributed to it.

“This war was fought by those mothers and sisters whose sons and brothers were in the battlefield. It was fought by those girls, who had just been married, those fathers who gave their sons and felt young themselves, and those sons who had not even learnt to walk properly holding the finger of their father. It is because of their sacrifices that India can move in the world holding its head high,” he said.

While talking about ‘vigyan’ (science), he referred to the recent accomplishment of ISRO which launched five satellites of the United Kingdom, in first such feat.

At the same time, he regretted that interest in science and technology was on the decline among the youth of today. To generate interest in research and development, he suggested holding of competitions in innovations nationally.

In the context of the ‘Swacchh Bharat’ programme, Modi highlighted a case of a Madhya Pradesh village where locals have launched ‘Operation Mal Yudh’ (war against dirt).

He said the locals had started a competition of ‘Brother No.1’, in which brothers would have to gift a toilet to his sister on the upcoming Raksha Bandhan festival and the best among them will be chosen for awards.

Regarding the ‘mygov’ portal launched on this day a year ago, Modi said he had received almost 2 crore hits and several important suggestions were being made by the people.

“We had committed to enhance people’s participation in democracy and make the people partners in developmental activities,” he said, while referring to a suggestion by a person from Kanpur that IRCTC portal should have facility to provide bookings for the disabled.

“This suggestion was taken seriously by the government and now we have put this facility in place,” he said, adding that all major suggestions would be taken to their ends.

He also urged the people to make their suggestions on the ‘mygov’ site on what issues he should speak on the upcoming Independence Day, while referring to a person from Chennai who suggested that he should raise issues like ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padao’, ‘Swachch Bharat’ and ‘Clean Ganga’.

PTI

Army’s capabilities have grown ‘exponentially’ since Kargil War: Lt Gen Hooda

Drass: Army on Sunday said its capabilities have grown “exponentially” since the Kargil war and the force was confident of dealing with any kind of situation on the borders with Pakistan and China.

“We are fully confident on both the borders. There used to be only a brigade before the Kargil war. Now there is a full division.

“Readiness has improved many manifold and similarly, with the counter-terrorism grid, measures have been put in place and so along the LAC with China, the capabilities have grown exponentially,” Northern Army Commander Lt General D S Hooda told reporters after laying a wreath at the Kargil War Memorial in Drass.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

“So, I just want to tell everyone, tell the nation, please be confident. We are there on the borders and our capability exists to do well,” he said.

The army commander said there was a difference in perception with regard to the border with China, but both the sides understand that the border needs to be kept calm and peaceful.

“There are some areas where there is a difference in perception of Line of Actual Control (LAC). It is not that there are differences all along the LAC, but there are few areas where there are problems.

He said both the sides undertake patrolling up to their perception of LAC. “So, just as we look at Chinese action as transgression, they look at our actions as transgression. But the overall sense is that there needs to be peace and calm on the border,” he said.

The army commander said there is regular engagement with the Chinese army and the kind of tension that takes place on the LoC is not there at the LAC.

“Border meetings take place very regularly and therefore you will find that in this area, the kind of tensions that take place on LoC are not there.

“I mean we have had incidents that like in Dipsang in 2013 and 2014 but there is an understanding on both sides that we need to keep the border calm. Both the sides understand that there are limits which they do not cross,” he said.

Lt Gen Hooda said the army has taken action to counter infiltration and was considering replacing the existing fence with a hi-tech one.

“This year there have been seven to eight infiltration bids. Traditionally, when the snow starts melting, the infiltration starts. In the next three-four months, you will find an increase in infiltration attempts.

“We have taken actions. This year we have actually increased deployment along the borders. More troops have gone up. We are looking at a hi-tech fence to replace the existing fence, so more surveillance measures are being taken. I think we are confident about dealing with this,” he said.

PTI

PM Narendra Modi speaks on road accidents, social issues; avoids politics on ‘Mann Ki Baat’

New Delhi: Concerned over the high rate of casualties in accidents, the government will soon bring a Road Transport and Safety Bill and launch cashless treatment for mishap victims, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday in his monthly radio programme while avoiding any mention of politics or the logjam in Parliament.

In his 15-minute programme, he also hailed the armed forces in the context of Kargil Vijay Divas, paid tributes to the farming community and praised scientists, besides saying that a team of officials will pay a week-long visit to the Northeastern states to understand the problems of the region and address them.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. ReutersPrime Minister Narendra Modi. Reuters

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Reuters

He also invited suggestions from the public which could form part of his this year’s Independence Day speech.

While talking about various social issues, he avoided politics at a time when Parliament is unable to function because of a deadlock with opposition demanding resignation of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan over various controversies.

Talking about road accidents, he mentioned the case of a scooter rider lying bleeding on a road in Delhi with nobody helping him.

“Several people have been writing to me that I should speak on road safety to create awareness about it. When we see the figures, we notice that in India, an accident takes place every minute and a death due to these takes place every four minutes. Among the victims, one-third are in the age group of 15-25 years,” the Prime Minister noted.

Keeping this in mind, the government will soon bring a Road Transport and Safety Bill, he said.

The government is also planning other important measures like putting in place a National Road Safety Policy and Road Safety Action Plan, he said.

A project under which cashless treatment will be given to accident victims, wherein the victim does not have to worry for the first 50 hours as to who pays the money for treatment, will also be launched soon, he said.

The project will be launched in Gurgaon, Jaipur and Vadodara and then to Mumbai, Ranchi, Rungaon and Maurya national highways.

PTI

Kargil Vijay Diwas: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar pays tribute to Kargil martyrs at Amar Jawan Jyoti

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Sunday led the nation in paying homage to the Kargil war heroes by laying a wreath at Amar Jawan Jyoti here.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Sunday led the nation in paying homage to the Kargil war heroes by laying a wreath at Amar Jawan Jyoti here.Along with Parrikar, Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha and Navy Vice Chief P Murugesan also paid tributes to the martyr’s on the 16th anniversary of India’s victory in the Kargil war.Several events are planned at army centres across the country to celebrate the Kargil victory and pay respect to the over 400 soldiers who were martyred in the Kargil war.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Suhag who had yesterday visited the Kargil War Memorial in Drass yesterday had said the armed forces will not let another Kargil-like conflict to take place.Though the celebrations to mark the 16th anniversary of India’s victory in the Kargil War, also called Vijay Diwas, began on July 20, the main functions are planned for today.The Kargil war, which began in May 1999, lasted for more than two months before Pakistani soldiers, a bulk of them drawn from its Northern Light Infantry, and irregulars withdrewfrom the mountain tops they had occupied overlooking the Srinagar-Leh highway.In the conflict, the Indian Army lost 490 officers, soldiers and jawans.

Won’t allow another Kargil, says Army chief on 16th anniversary of war

Drass: The Indian Army will never allow a repeat of the 1999 Kargil war with Pakistan, army chief General Dalbir Singh said on Saturday.

On the eve of the 16th anniversary of Vijay Divas, he laid a wreath at the Kargil war memorial here and said: “We won’t allow another Kargil.”

“This is a difficult area, I congratulate you for the good work,” he told the soldiers.

Indian army officers salute at war memorial duringIndian army officers salute at war memorial during

Indian army officers salute at war memorial during “Vijay Diwas” celebrations in Drass. Reuters

The army chief said there were some problems of equipment and clothing which have been identified and were being rectified.

The Kargil war was fought in the summer of 1999 to evict Pakistani regular forces who had intruded and occupied posts vacated for the winter on the Indian side of the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir.

The Indian Army has focused on plugging the loopholes after the Kargil war, where India was taken by surprise.

According to former army chief Gen. (retd) V.P. Malik, who headed the army during the Kargil war, improving surveillance and increasing the number of soldiers were some of the major steps taken after Kargil.

“At the time of the Kargil conflict, there was virtually no surveillance device at the border. Today’s technology was just not available. One had to walk from one post to another in snow,” the retired general told IANS.

“Today, things are different. We have more troops on the border now which started at that time with raising the 14th Corps,” he said.

The 14th Corps, a part of the army’s Udhampur-based Northern Command, was raised in 1999 after the Kargil War to organise troops in Ladakh.

A commemorative function is held every year in the memory of the hundreds of Indian soldiers who died in the operation.

The commemorative functions for the Kargil Vijay Divas started on July 20.

On Sunday, senior army officers, war heroes, political and civil administrative representatives will participate in the commemorative wreath laying ceremony at the Kargil war memorial located at the base of the Tololing feature, the scene of one of the most fierce battles of the operation.

IANS

Won’t allow another Kargil: Army Chief General Dalbir Singh

Jammu and Kashmir: Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag today said the armed forces will not let another Kargil- like conflict to take place.

After paying tributes to the Kargil war martyrs at a memorial in Jammu and Kashmir, he said the “Army won’t allow another Kargil”.

dalbir singhdalbir singh

Army Chief Dalbir Singh. PTI Image.

The Army will hold a memorial service at the Kargil War Memorial, where religious leaders will hold prayers. This will be followed by lighting of lamps.

The wreath-laying ceremony for the martyrs will be held tomorrow which will be followed by an interaction with Veer Naris.

The Kargil war, which began in May 1999, lasted for more than two months before Pakistani soldiers, a bulk of them drawn from its Northern Light Infantry, and irregulars withdrew from the mountain tops they had occupied overlooking the Srinagar-Leh highway.

In the conflict, the Indian Army lost 490 officers, soldiers and jawans.

PTI

Military becoming part of mall culture?

CHANGING TIMES | Shoppers surprised to find bands of IAF, Army playing at shopping mall “to help motivate youth”

A military band on play
File Photo

Here in the national capital, where the country’s defence and security forces are headquartered, a military band playing tunes amidst an enthralled public is often a sight at either the India Gate or Central Park in Connaught Place. Mumbaikars would relate to how the Indian Navy bands mesmerise them at the Gateway of India. There are also ones that happen inside the services’ premises across the country and are out of bounds for the uninvited.But how about one for regular shoppers at a neighborhood mall?On July 25 and 26, if you happen to be at the Select City Walk shopping mall in Delhi, you would find bands of the Indian Air Force and the Indian Army playing in honour of the 1999 Kargil war heroes. The place would be abuzz with the commemoration of the 16th anniversary of Kargil conflict from July 24 onwards. On display would be discarded army vehicles painted in graffiti art, war equipment, Kargil pictures, signature wall for people to write their tributes to the soldiers and stalls for Army war widows (veer naaris).<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Considered one of the premier malls, Select City is frequented mainly by brand-conscious buyers, and many would ask what is with our defence forces’ displays moving to such places.The director of the mall, Arjun Sharma, says that “people from all walks of life come here and hence it is a nice platform to pay homage to the family members of the martyrs’.”If we can celebrate occasions like Valentine’s Day and Christmas, we shall also organise such events that besides adding to the experience of visitors also give a chance to reinforce their patriotic spirit,” he says.There is another aspect to organising it at a place like a shopping complex. Ankit Gupta of the NGO Citizens for Force that works for the welfare of armed forces personnel and has helped organise such events at malls earlier says that it is often difficult for private organisers to get permission for such an event at places like India Gate.Kargil martyr and Param Vir Chakra recipient Captain Vikram Batra’s brother Vishal Batra, who is an invitee to the Select City event, told dna that it is highly welcome that private entities are thinking in this direction. “At any given point, in a popular Delhi mall, there are thousands of visitors who would get a chance to expose themselves to the valour of our armed forces,” he says.For Army, such are the occasions “to help motivate youth where ever they could”, is how a senior officer at the Army headquarters described it.The Army has cooperated when approached by private entities. Earlier this year, it shared war equipment for an exhibition at Amity University campus in Noida.In January, all the three services – the Army, Navy and the Air Force – besides the para-military force BSF played their bands during the Pravasi Bhartiya Divas and Vibrant Gujarat Summit in Gandhinagar.Besides, many believe that in an age where the defence forces are struggling to attract youths to its flock, especially from the urban centres who as trends suggest prefer ‘greener’ pastures in the corporate world, these are occasions to reconnect with them.

1 killed, 4 go missing as cloudburst hits near Sonamarg

The cloud-burst took place at Kellan village near Gagangir, 76 KMs from here at 6.30 PM, after which Srinagar-Leh highway was closed.

Image Courtesy: ANI
A teenaged girl was killed and four people went missing today when a cloudburst struck near Sonamarg, a place enroute to the Amarnath shrine, as Army stepped in to help Jammu and Kashmir government to cope with the nature”s fury.The cloud-burst took place at Kellan village near Gagangir, 76 KMs from here at 6.30 PM, after which Srinagar-Leh highway was closed. A police official identified the deceased as a girl named Iqra Nazir. Two more residents of Kellan village were missing and two labourers from Gangangir could not be traced as the Army mounted a relief operation to clear the national highway. Four Spanish and two civil engineers were rescused by the Army from this area immediately after the natural calamity.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Gagangir is the place before Sonamarg from where the prestigious Z-Morh tunnel across Zozila Pass is proposed to be constructed for an all-weather road between Srinagar and Kargil. Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has pressed its men and machines in operation along with Army engineers and Rashtriya Rifles jawans who had been posted on guarding the smooth conduct of Amarnath pilgrimage.The Army opened its transit camp at Sonamarg for civilians who had been evacauated from these areas besides pressing into operation 11 mobile teams to provide food and medical supply to the needy. There were landslides in Sonamarg area and the Army accommodated the civilians in transit camps. On the Baltal-Amarnath yatra route, a bridge caved in at Sheshnag but there was no report of any casualty.A bus with no one on board was also washed away in the rains.

Game theory pointer: Tit-for-tat may be India’s best strategy with Pakistan

<![CDATA[#bottom_popup{width:344px;background:url(http://s3.firstpost.in/wp-content/themes/firstpost2.0/images/promo/bottom_popup.gif) repeat-x;border:3px solid #6b6565;position:fixed;z-index:99;bottom:-130px;right:-350px}#bottom_popup .contbox{padding:5px 6px 25px 6px;position:relative;background:#F1F1F1}#bottom_popup .bptitle{border-bottom:1px solid #d3d3d3;font:19px/30px ‘FPfont’;color:#000;text-transform:uppercase;padding-bottom:5px}#bottom_popup .bptitle span{color:#F00}#bottom_popup .bptitle span.dot{color:#F00;font-size:30px}.f_flash_icon{background:url(http://s1.firstpost.in/wp-content/themes/firstpost2.0/images/promo/f_flash_icon.png) no-repeat 0 0;width:29px;height:29px;display:inline-block;vertical-align:bottom;margin-right:3px}.close_bottom_popup{background:url(http://s3.firstpost.in/wp-content/themes/firstpost2.0/images/promo/clost_bottom_popup.png) no-repeat 0 0;width:13px;height:13px;position:absolute;right:5px;top:5px}.bottom_infobox{font:14px Georgia, “Times New Roman”, Times, serif;color:#333;border-top:1px solid #FFF;padding-top:10px}.bottom_infobox a{color:#333}]]> <!– FP CRONTAB –>

Captain Saurabh Kalia case: Modi govt won’t take Pakistan to court; says it’s not feasible

Zee Media Corporation
In a huge blow to family of Indian Army Captain Saurabh Kalia, who has been running from pillar to post for the past 16 years, the Modi government has reportedly stated that it was not feasible to pursue the matter in the International Court of Justice (ICJ).According to media reports, the NDA government has told Parliament that it has no plans to move the International Court of Justice against the alleged torture and killing of Kargil martyr Captain Saurabh Kalia by Pakistani forces.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>“I had expected the BJP government to be more patriotic. Sadly, the new government’s stand remains the same despite change of power at the Centre. This is amply clear from Minister of State for Foreign Affairs VK Singh’s reply to MP Rajeev Chandrashekhar’s question in Parliament,” a leading quoted NK Kalia as saying.The Congress party on Monday criticised the stand taken by the NDA Government at the Centre terming it a ‘disgrace’ to soldiers sacrificing their lives for the nation.“The Supreme Court had directed Government of India to pursue martyr Saurabh Kalia’s matter in the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The BJP government has been in power for more than one year now and they have not done anything. Now there are reports that they have decided to not go to the ICJ. This is a disgrace to martyrs,” Congress leader PL Punia said.“They are trying to shield Pakistan. This is condemnable; we demand that the Supreme Court’s order be followed and the matter be raised in the ICJ,” he added.Captain Kalia, along with five other soldiers, was taken prisoner by Pakistani troops during the Kargil war in 1999. They were held captive and allegedly tortured before their bodies were handed back to India June 9, 1999.This incident had caused an uproar across the nation, as the torturing of Prisoners of War (PoW) is against the Geneva Convention.Meanwhile, Pakistan has consistently denied the charges of torture, stating that the soldiers may have died because of poor weather conditions.(With ANI inputs)

Bofors scam affected India’s defence procurement: Manohar Parrikar

He also pointed to how the scam and the resultant controversy had led to defence procurement being affected with the Indian Army not being able to buy new artillery guns for almost three decades.

Manohar Parrikar at a felicitation function in Mumbai on Friday.
Hemant Padalkar
dna
While President Pranab Mukherjee’s remarks about the Bofors scam being a “media trial” which the courts failed to establish have raised dust in political and diplomatic circles, defence minister Manohar Parrikar said that had Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi been tried, the extent of the corruption would have been known.He also pointed to how the scam and the resultant controversy had led to defence procurement being affected with the Indian Army not being able to buy new artillery guns for almost three decades.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Bofors is a good gun… (I) don’t think the quality of the product and corruption are synonymous,” noted Parrikar, who was speaking at a programme organised by the Indian Merchants Chamber (IMC) on the ‘Make in India’ programme for defence production. He pointed to how the 155 MM field Howitzers purchased from Swedish manufacturer Bofors AB had proved useful in the Kargil war.”But a good gun does not mean (that there was) no corruption,” said the former Goa chief minister, adding that had Quattrocchi been tried, we would have known about it. He also pointed to how the Indian artillery had not been able to purchase guns for around 31 years because of the controversy. Quattrocchi, who died in 2013, was known for his proximity to the Gandhi family.However, Parrikar added that new artillery guns would be inducted from 2015 onwards with the 155 MM, 45-calibre Dhanush artillery guns being inducted with six of these guns being inducted this year and being produced on mass scale by ordinance factories or private players from 2016 onwards.

Flood alert in Kashmir after Jhelum crosses danger mark

The water level in river Jhelum in Kashmir has risen as most parts of Kashmir Valley were lashed by incessant rains since Monday night.

A flood alert has been sounded in Srinagar after rains caused water levels of the River Jhelum to rise late on Monday.

Met Deparment said that weather will improve but district officials asked people to be vigilant in low lying areas. Avalanche warning was issued for Kargil after fresh snowfall.

File image of Kashmir flood. AFPFile image of Kashmir flood. AFP

File image of Kashmir flood. AFP

The water levels at two measuring points Sangam, in south Kashmir, and Ram Munshibagh here have crossed the “alarm” level and the present status at both the places was “orange”, officials said.

The water level has risen almost seven feet during the day, they said.

“The water level at Sangam at 8 am on Tuesday was 12.9 feet, while at Ram Munshibagh it was 12.85 feet. However, the level at Sangam and Ram Munshibagh at 5 PM was 19.9 feet and 16.7 feet respectively,” the officials said.

Chief Engineer Mir Javed Jaffar was quoted by ANI as saying that the water level at Sangam in South Kashmir had crossed 21 feet last evening, while the water level at Ram Munshi Bagh in Srinagar was at a little over 19 feet.

The Valley received widespread rains since Monday and the MeT department has said light rain or thundershowers may occur at a few places over the state during the next 24 hours.

Srinagar received 46.3 mm of rainfall since last evening, while Qazigund recorded 78.4 mm of rainfall, the officials said.

Pahalgam recorded 71.6 mm and Gulmarg 76.1 mm during this time period, they said.

The MeT department has predicted dry weather tomorrow onwards.

With inputs from PTI

Forces pull off an engineering marvel in Zanaskar valley

Indian Army pulled off an engineering marvel when they cleared the blockade of Phutkal River, which had led to formation of 15 kilometre artificial lake in the Kargil district of cold desert of Ladakh.

It took the army jawans several months to clear the blockade

Indian Army pulled off an engineering marvel when they cleared the blockade of Phutkal River, which had led to formation of 15 kilometre artificial lake in the Kargil district of cold desert of Ladakh.dna was first to report on January 18 about the major environmental disaster in the Zanaskar valley which could have led to the flooding of the nearby villages, loss of livelihood and damage to life and property.“The area being cut off during winter months, the entire operation had to be maintained by air. 500 sorties of Army and Air Force helicopters ferried 38 tons of load over more than 300 hours, under extremely hazardous and demanding flying conditions. A camp of area 10m x15m was established on a ledge on the rock face near the landslide site”, said Colonel SD Goswami, defence spokesman at Northern Command headquarters.On establishment of the camp, the composite task force immediately swung into action. Relentlessly working long hours, day in and day out, in temperatures lower than minus 25 degree with high wind chill, unmindful of the risk to life, a 75m long channel, two meter deep and two meter wide was created by controlled blasting using 175kg of explosive, over five days.“An artificial channel was created through the landslide area that facilitated flow of water to the downstream side. Water finally started gushing across the landslide in an uninterrupted manner from the lake formed. The flow is currently being closely monitored,” said Col Goswami.The crisis had started in January when a landslide caused complete blockage of water in the river, resulting in accumulation of more than 30 million cubic meters of water and forming a 15km-long lake, along the river.Alarmed by the phenomenon, the authorities had closed the famous frozen ice Chaddar trek for the tourists and asked the people in living few villages to shift as there is greater danger of flooding.Chaddar trek is world famous for frozen ice walk along the Zanaskar River. The matter was immediately brought to the notice of the centre. Consequently, National Crisis Management Committee declared the situation to be a ‘national crisis’ in first week of February and constituted an expert committee under the aegis of NDMA, to carry out technical assessment of the situation and prepare an action plan for execution, to avert any crisis”, he said.Col Goswami noted that given the urgency, risk involved, the Indian army was called to lead and coordinate activities for execution of the plan. Meanwhile, the rains have created fresh fears of floods in Kashmir even as the government drew a contingency plan to evacuate the people from the vulnerable areas in Srinagar in case of exigency. Several shelter camps have been established and nodal officers pressed into service to help the people during emergency.

Sending VK Singh to Pakistan National Day event is a self goal by the Modi govt

Narendra Modi’s Pakistan policy has come full circle in less than ten months after he took over as the Prime Minister of India. The wheel has come full circle from the point in May 2014 when he invited leaders of SAARC and Mauritius to attend his swearing in on 26 May to the high-octane event of Pakistan National Day at the nation’s high commission in New Delhi on 23 March.

The Modi government’s biggest mistake was to send retired Army chief VK Singh to the Pakistani event as the government’s representative. The government probably sent Singh as he is Minister of State for External Affairs.

But the government ignored the fact that Singh is the former chief of army staff. Sending a former top soldier to the civic reception of a country with which the Indian armed forces have fought three and a half wars (the “half” war being the Kargil conflict of 1999 where Pakistan armed forces were not directly involved in the conflict) was fraught with danger.

VK Singh at the Pakistan National Day celebrations. PTI imageVK Singh at the Pakistan National Day celebrations. PTI image

VK Singh at the Pakistan National Day celebrations. PTI image

The former Indian army chief is no small fry and he has been the leader of an army which is over 1.3 million strong. But then the appointment of Singh as MoS in the Modi government is itself a blunder as its a bad administrative decision. And Singh accepting the post is even more questionable, as it shows his thirst for power.

Former army chiefs have been governors and in other important advisory roles. It was for the first time that a former army chief was appointed as MoS.

In a way, the whole debate on the relations between the two nations has now come to centre on Singh. He roiled the waters with a series of tweets, which he could he have done without. Unfortunately for the MoS, these tweets were nothing but a self goal.

Gen Singh’s tweets about “duty” and “disgust” seemed to indicate that he was not happy to be there. Sample his tweets:

The tweets imply that he was unhappy over the job the government had assigned to him – to represent India at the Pakistan National Day celebrations. Nonetheless, he went to the Pakistan high commission, attired in a green jacket, something that may not have been micro-managed by the Modi government.

However, in all this, the victim is not the poor MoS, but the Modi government.

The Modi government has tied itself in knots with its management of the Monday event. It is all the more galling from a government whose top leader is billed as the biggest event manager of all times in Indian polity.

Monday’s fiasco is something that the Modi government could have done without and the government evidently under estimated the angry reactions from the common man. Those who don’t believe just how much outrage the Modi government triggered with the decision to send VK Singh to represent India at the function, just need to look at the comments on social media.

The criticism in social media has been largely been about the fact that Modi, who ridiculed the UPA government for serving biryani to the neighbour’s envoy when Indian soldiers were being beheaded on the Line of Control, is now courting the very same enemy. The images of a laughing VK Singh in company of the Pakistan high commissioner will haunt PM Modi and his government for a long, long time.

The point though, is that Modi’s Pakistan policy is no different from the UPA government’s. Thankfully for the Modi government Parliament is not in session and there are no elections round the corner. And that gives the Prime Minister time to still rectify his Pakistan policy to align it with the wishes and aspirations of the man on the street. There are interesting times ahead in the bilateral relations between India and Pakistan. Monday was just the beginning of a tug of war between the two nations and it would be wise to expect more fireworks shortly, perhaps on a day-to-day basis.

Modi began his prime ministerial innings on a high by conjuring up visions of much more bonhomie between the two nations. That seemed very unlikely after Monday. What a pity!

Cold wave continues to throw life out of gear across North India

Most parts of North India continued to be in the grip of a severe cold wave-cum foggy conditions on Friday, throwing normal life out of gear, as road, rail and air traffic was disrupted.The minimum temperature in national capital New Delhi early this morning was seven degree Celsius, one notch below normal.According to the Met department, the cold wave will continue for some more days and there will be dense fog in some places in the city.Visibility on Friday was reduced to 500 meters.Northern Railway confirmed that 52 trains are running late, while two trains have been rescheduled.The Met Department has said there will be clear skies with a maximum temperature of around 12 degrees Celsius.In Uttar Pradesh capital Lucknow, there was a sharp decline in minimum temperature. It was pegged at around five degrees Celsius.So far, 160 people have died due to cold wave conditions in the state.Fog has disrupted the rail and road traffic across the state, and normal life remains stalled.Fatehpur, Unnao, Jaunpur, Saharnapur and the Terai region are said to be the worst affected by the cold wave.In Jammu and Kashmir, the minimum temperature dropped to about two degrees Celsius in most places.Many water bodies, including the famous Dal Lake are partially frozen. Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir recorded a minimum temperature of minus 4.2 degree Celsius last night. Kargil registered a low of minus 16.6 degree Celsius.

J&K reels under cold wave, Kargil coldest at minus 16 degrees

Continue at source:  J&K reels under cold wave, Kargil coldest at minus 16 degrees

Mercury rises in Leh; Kargil coldest at minus 13 degree Celsius in Jammu and Kashmir

Representational Image
File Photo

With the minimum temperature appreciating by three notches in Leh, there was some respite from biting cold wave conditions for residents of the region, which witnessed the warmest night in the last ten days. Leh, in the frontier Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir, recorded a minimum temperature of minus of 7.5 degree Celsius, an increase of about three degrees from minus 10.0 degree Celsius the previous night, a spokesman of the Met Department said. This was the warmest night in the frontier town in the last 10 days and the night temperature increased by about 10 degrees from the season’s coldest of minus 17.1 degrees on January 2. Kargil, also in Ladakh region, registered a low of minus 13.0 degrees Celsius, a degree up from minus 14.0 degree Celsius the previous night. Kargil was the coldest recorded place in the state. Srinagar, the summer capital of the state, recorded a low of minus 1.4 degree Celsius, a drop of one degree from the previous night’s minus 0.3 degree Celsius, the spokesman said. The spokesman said Qazigund, the gateway town to Kashmir Valley in south, recorded a low of minus 4.4 degrees Celsius compared to minus 3.4 degrees Celsius on Monday night. The mercury in Pahalgam resort in south Kashmir, which serves as a base-camp for the annual Amarnath yatra, registered a low of minus 3.2 degree Celsius, as against the previous night’s minus 3.0 degree Celsius, he said. The minimum temperature in the famous ski-resort of Gulmarg settled at minus 5.0 degree Celsius, slightly up from the previous night’s minus 5.8 degree Celsius, the spokesman said. Also Read: Cold weather continues to prevail in Valley, Leh records season’s lowest

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