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India, Russia to unite against terrorism: PM Modi

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Prime Minister Modi also highlighted the agreement between the two nations on the manufacture of Kamov 226 helicopter in India

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday expressed condolences for the loss of lives in the terrorist attack on Russian aircraft and said that the two nations believed that the world must unite against terrorism, without distinction and discrimination between terrorist groups and target countries. “Mr. President, I have great respect and appreciation for our strategic partnership. It has been a source of strength and success for India. As I look to the future, I see Russia as a significant partner in India’s economic transformation and in shaping a balanced, multi-polar world,” Prime Minister Modi said while delivering a join-statement with Russian President Vladimir Putin. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Prime Minister Modi also highlighted the agreement between the two nations on the manufacture of Kamov 226 helicopter in India and said that it was the first project for a major defence platform under the Make in India mission. “The pace of our cooperation in nuclear energy is increasing. We are making progress on 12 Russian nuclear reactors at two sites,” Prime Minister Modi said. While addressing the joint-statement, Russian President Putin also noted that India has allotted one more ground for a nuclear power plant of Russian design. “Russia assists in building several power generating units at the Kudankulam nuclear plant,” he said, recalling that the first unit that was commissioned here in June 2014. “Russian specialists plan to get down to building power units No. 3 and No. 4 there shortly and talks on building units No. 5 and No. 6 are underway,” he added.

PM Modi ‘politically forced’ to support Arun Jaitley: Congress

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“If you want to read into the statement, it perhaps very clearly states that the Prime Minister may is forced politically to support Mr. Jaitley,” he added

Taking a jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Congress Party on Wednesday said that the former is ‘politically forced’ to support Finance Minister Arun Jaitley who is under the hammer for irregularities in the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA). “In the DDCA case some enquiries have been constituted. So we should all wait and let the enquiry come. It is unfortunate that the Prime Minister is making a statement like this. He never made a statement like this in the case of Sushma ji, Vasundhara Raje or Shivraj Singh Chouhan,” Congress leader Sandeep Dikshit told ANI.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”If you want to read into the statement, it perhaps very clearly states that the Prime Minister may is forced politically to support Mr. Jaitley,” he added. He asserted that there is a moral duty of the Finance Minister and it is up to him to take the call. Earlier, in a strong show of support for Jaitley, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the former will come through “with flying colours” against charges of corruption levelled against him by the Opposition.

AAP v/s Jaitley: Here’s what Arun Jaitley has to say about Arvind Kejriwal’s allegations

Free speech is unquestionably a pre-eminent Fundamental Right, but does free speech include the right to speak only falsehood? The Delhi Chief Minister, Mr. Arvind Kejriwal, seems to believe in untruth and defamation, delivered in a language that borders on hysteria.

File Photo

Replying to Arvind Kejriwal and Aam Aadmi party’s allegations, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley wrote a blog post titled Falsehood as Free Speech on Facebook bashing Delhi CM, Arvind Kejriwal and rejected charges of corruption. In the post, he claimed that the allegations of corruption were wrong while it was wrong to use the free speech argument to speak falsehoods. He also claimed that the CBI didn’t raid Arvind Kejriwal’s office, that he’d left cricket administration in 2013 and questioned Mamata Banerjee and Nitish Kumar’s support for Arvind Kejriwal. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Full Text of Arun Jaitley’s Facebook post: FALSEHOOD AS FREE SPEECHFree speech is unquestionably a pre-eminent Fundamental Right, but does free speech include the right to speak only falsehood? The Delhi Chief Minister, Mr. Arvind Kejriwal, seems to believe in untruth and defamation, delivered in a language that borders on hysteria. A few days ago, a Secretary of the Delhi Government was searched and arrested after being caught red handed for allegedly accepting a bribe. The CBI had conducted the operation. The Delhi Government welcomed the move.Four days later, another official close to the Chief Minister was searched for an alleged offence which related to the pre-Kejriwal period. The Chief Minister raised two pleas. First, that it violates the federal structure of the Constitution. In addition, the Chief Minister used unacceptable adjectives against the Prime Minister and, second, he questioned the purpose of the search and tried to divert attention by linking it to the Delhi Cricket body rather than alleged corruption of this official.FederalismFederalism is not a one way stream. It is not always that the Union Government challenges the spirit of federalism. A State or a Union Territory, by its unacceptable conduct, can also be a threat to federalism. During the UPA Government, the Delhi Government, with no police or investigative powers, registered an FIR against two Union Cabinet Ministers of the UPA Government for voluntarily implementing a decision of the Cabinet. If State Governments start investigating decisions of the Union Cabinet there can be no greater threat to federalism. Delhi is a Union Territory with no Police powers. I had, on 12th February, 2013, written a blog and, as Leader of Opposition, condemned this violation of federalism by the Union Territory of Delhi.If the Union Government were to consider using against the Delhi Chief Minister the adjectives that Mr. Kejriwal used against the Prime Minister, it would be legitimate to contend that this is not in consonance with the federal spirit. When two Chief Ministers, Mamata Banerjee Ji and Nitish Kumar Babu, supported Mr. Kejriwal, notwithstanding the use of highly objectionable words against the Prime Minister, can it be in consonance with the federal spirit? The two Chief Ministers need to redeem themselves by publicly distancing themselves from Mr. Kejriwal’s vocabulary.Now that the heat and dust of the search of an IAS officer’s room has settled down, it is clear that the search had nothing to do with either the Chief Minister or his room. An official was being searched for an alleged offence in his earlier capacities. The CBI has adequately clarified that. Notwithstanding that, an actually false propaganda is being repeated continuously. Why should the Chief Minister place himself as a shield in front of an official who is facing investigation? Why should two eminent Chief Ministers lend themselves to support the blatant falsehood of Delhi’s Chief Minister?The DDCAIt is a part of propaganda technique to deflect attention when you yourselves are in the dock. Finding himself acting as a shield to cover an officer under investigation, the Delhi Chief Minister has attempted to focus attention on me. He repeats endlessly that I misled the Parliament on the Delhi raid and that he has a series of allegations to make against me in relation to my tenure as President of the DDCA – Delhi’s cricket body. The Congress transiently joined Mr. Kejriwal’s company for the reason that its own leaders are in the dock for more than one reason.Even though I am not concerned with cricket administration since 2013, a Member of Parliament has been writing to various governmental bodies with regard to Delhi’s cricket affairs. The UPA Government seized upon the opportunity and referred the complaints to the SFIO which investigated all his complaints over a period of time and submitted a detailed Report on 21st March 2013. The Report concluded in relation to the DDCA being registered under the Companies Act, that:- “thus, in a nutshell, there are certain irregularities / non-compliance or technical violations, but no fraud (was) noticed as alleged”.These technical and procedural violations were all compoundable and were compounded by Members against whom they were alleged. The SFIO, under the UPA regime, investigated and could not find a shred of evidence against me. No personal allegation was ever made against me nor did I ever feel the need of contradicting it. There are fake allegations such as escalation of cost of construction of a stadium. When work expands, cost escalations are integral. A brand new 42,000 capacity world class stadium was constructed by the EPIL, a public sector body at a total cost of around Rs.114 crores. At the same time, the UPA Government renovated two stadiums. The Jawahar Lal Nehru stadium was renovated at a cost of over Rs.900 crores and Dhyan Chand stadium was renovated at a cost of over Rs. 600 crores. I have felt the need for stating the above in order to counter any unsubstantiated, non-specific allegations. I have left cricket administration in 2013. By referring to some facts of 2014 and 2015, he can’t drag me in.FALSEHOOD AS FREE SPEECHFree speech is unquestionably a pre-eminent Fundamental Right, but does free speech include…
Posted by Arun Jaitley on Thursday, 17 December 2015

Obama phones PM Modi, thanks his leadership for ensuring success of climate summit

The phone call from the American President came three days after 195 countries reached a deal to attempt to limit the rise in global temperatures.

Bacark Obama dn PM Narendra Modi
File Photo

US President Barack Obama on Wednesday spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi thanking him for his leadership, saying India played a “critical role” at the climate change summit in Paris which ensured the event was a “historic success.” During the telephone call, “The US President, Mr. Barack Obama, has thanked Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi for his positive role and leadership in the successful outcome of COP 21,” the PMO said. Obama said “India played a critical role in making climate change Paris summit an historic success,” it said. The phone call from the American President came three days after 195 countries reached a deal to attempt to limit the rise in global temperatures to less than 2C at the climate change summit in Paris after two weeks of intense negotiations.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Obama had met Modi on the sidelines of the summit in the French capital and also called him up on the PM’s return to Delhi in the midst of hard negotiations in Paris.

Let’s not obstruct CBI from doing its duty: Venkaiah Naidu

“The AAP functionary (Mr. Joshi) himself has filed this complaint. What do they have to say about this? Prashant Bhushan filed public interest litigation. The raid has not taken place in the CM’s personal office, it is about an officer, who is facing enquiry,” he said.

Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu on Wednesday urged the Aam Aadmi Party Government in Delhi not to create chaos and obstacles in the way of CBI’s investigation of a senior Delhi Government official for alleged corruption.”The CBI is doing its duty. Nobody should put obstacles in the way of the CBI conducting its duty and responsibility. Everyone must help in that. I would suggest that the case should not be influenced by making statements. You are weakening the fight against corruption by politicising the issue. Let us not obstruct the CBI from doing its duty,” Naidu told media here.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Further maintaining the Centre’s its stand, Naidu said the government has no role in the CBI raid.”The AAP functionary (Mr. Joshi) himself has filed this complaint. What do they have to say about this? Prashant Bhushan filed public interest litigation. The raid has not taken place in the CM’s personal office it is about an officer, who is facing enquiry,” he said.”The public prosecutor was pressurized and threatened. He has written to the Government saying that he wants to withdraw from the case. All this shows there is something serious happening. Let the enquiry be over,” he added.Mocking the opposition, Naidu asked whether the CBI should wait for an auspicious time to do its work.”The opposition should cooperate. If they are sincere to fight against corruption, they must all really appreciate the action taken by the CBI.”Echoing similar sentiments, Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, Jitendra Singh condemned Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s statement and called it ‘obnoxious’.”In day to day social behavior, the kind of resolution to be put into use, I think it is yet to be learnt by some of our friends,” Singh said.Minister of State for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi alleged that the AAP and Arvind Kejriwal is fighting to defend corruption. “They should understand that being dishonest won?t help them bring success in politics. Probe is going on and truth will come out in the probe. Your chaos before the probe indicates there is something fishy,” he added.Meanwhile, Kejriwal continued his assault on the Centre and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley over the raid by the CBI on his office yesterday and said that said that the documents that were seized from his office had absolutely no connection to the allegations that were being probed.”CBI kept reading DDCA file in my office. They wud hv seized it. But after my media briefing, they left it. Not clear if they took a copy,” Kejriwal tweeted.Attacking Jaitley for ‘rubbishing’ his allegations on the Centre, accusing them of being involved in the raid, Kejriwal said that the former was a liar and questioned his role over the DDCA scam.”FM lied in the Parliament yesterday. Why is Jaitley ji so scared of DDCA probe? What is his role in DDCA scam,” Kejriwal said in another tweet.

‘Dictator’ PM Modi using CBI as ‘political instrument’: AAP

“The CBI (conducts) raids only when they receive a credible complaint and they want to investigate the corruption. Does Arvind Kejriwal want to protect corruption,” asked Javadekar.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Tuesday alleged that a ‘dictator’ Prime Minister Narendra Modi was using the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) as a ‘political instrument’ to suppress the opposition.”The CBI is being used as a political instrument by Mr. Modi, who has turned into a dictator after realising that he has lost popular support in the country. I am amazed that the media of the country believes that Chief Minister’s office has not been raided. If the media believes that this is no violation of the federal structure in the country than I am sorry. It is an attack on the democratic fabric of the country,” AAP spokesperson Deepak Bajpai told ANI.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”A dictator is ruling this country and the people of the country will not take it lying down they will come out and respond,” he added.Bajpai further said the people of the country will stand up and respond to Prime Minister Modi-led NDA Government at the Centre.The government, however, justified the CBI raid on the Delhi Secretariat with Minister of State for Environment and Forests Prakash Javadekar alleging that the hypocrisy of AAP stands exposed.Javadekar dubbed Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s reaction on the CBI raid as ‘atrocious’.”The CBI (conducts) raids only when they receive a credible complaint and they want to investigate the corruption. Does Arvind Kejriwal want to protect corruption,” asked Javadekar.”Instead of immediately taking action against his own officials, who are found for corruption, he is accusing the Prime Minister. This is worst kind of politics,” he added.Javadekar alleged this is the worst scenario Delhi has ever witnessed as a sitting Chief Minister is protecting corruption.Refuting Kejriwal’s allegation on the raid on Chief Minister’s office, the CBI has said that the raid was conducted on the Principal Secretary’s office following a warrant.Kejriwal has accused the CBI of ‘lying’ and asserted that the investigating agency was looking at the files in the Chief Minister’s office.

Full Text: Sushma Swaraj explains why she went to Pakistan in Parliament

Answering critics, she said in the latest arrangement, the level of talks on terror has been raised as this issue will now be dealt with by the National Security Advisers (NSAs) instead of Foreign Secretaries as earlier.

File Photo

​Rejecting any “flip flop”, India asserted that the decision to re-start talks with Pakistan was based on “trust” and said the intent would be to have an “uninterrupted” dialogue process despite provocations by the “saboteurs”, an apparent reference to terror groups. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, while briefing Parliament on her recent visit to Pakistan, justified the decision to have ‘Comprehensive Dialogue’, saying there is a “need for bridging the gulf” with the neighbouring country for peace and stability in the region.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Answering critics, she said in the latest arrangement, the level of talks on terror has been raised as this issue will now be dealt with by the National Security Advisers (NSAs) instead of Foreign Secretaries as earlier.The fact that NSAs of India and Pakistan met in Bangkok without any publicity does not mean any third country’s involvement but it was only to take forward the Ufa process as such a meeting could not take place in Delhi as “you all know”, she told the Lok Sabha.Here’s the full text of her argument: Hon’ble Chairman,
I rise to brief this august House and Hon’ble Members on my recent visit to Islamabad, Pakistan to lead the Indian delegation to the ‘Heart of Asia’ Ministerial Conference on Afghanistan and recent developments relating to ties between India and Pakistan.The Fifth Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia Istanbul Process on December 8-9, 2015 in Islamabad was devoted to the themes of security and connectivity. The Conference provided to us an important opportunity on a vital regional platform for political consultations and regional cooperation to reiterate India’s commitment to Afghanistan’s stability and development and our faith in its future. India has actively participated in the Heart of Asia Process since its beginning. The process brings together friends of Afghanistan from its immediate and extended neighbourhood as well as supporting countries and international organizations to promote political consultations and regional cooperation for a united, democratic, independent, strong and prosperous Afghanistan. My visit to Islamabad underlined India’s strong commitment to that cause. In my statement at the Conference, I urged full and direct transit for Afghanistan through Pakistan to India. In the context of relations between India and Pakistan, I advocated working together for peace and development in South Asia, with self-confidence and maturity. I also take this opportunity to inform the House that during my visit to Islamabad, I called on Prime Minister Mr. Nawaz Sharif and held discussions with my Pakistani counterpart Mr. Sartaj Aziz. Following my meetings the decision of this Government to begin a Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue with Pakistan was announced in a Joint Statement in Islamabad on December 9, 2015. This decision of the Government follows the recent developments and engagements between the two countries, especially the constructive discussions between their National Security Advisors in Bangkok on December 6, 2015. The meeting of the NSAs resulted from discussion between our Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Mr. Nawaz Sharif in Paris on November 30, 2015.As the House is aware, the Prime Minister of Pakistan was invited in May 2014, among other SAARC leaders, by Prime Minister to attend the swearing-in ceremony of the new Government. This was a demonstration of our commitment to good neighbourly ties with Pakistan, in line with our vision for peace and development in the region through deeper regional integration in South Asia. In the first meeting between the two Prime Ministers during that visit of Mr. Nawaz Sharif to New Delhi, our views on India-Pakistan ties and our concerns on terrorism and violence were conveyed to the Pakistani authorities. The meetings as decided between the two sides in May 2014, however, did not take place.As the House is also aware, the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan met in Ufa in July 2015 and agreed that the two countries had collective responsibility to ensure peace and promote development. They condemned terrorism in all its forms and agreed to cooperate with each other to eliminate this menace from South Asia. To that end, they decided on a meeting of the National Security Advisors to discuss all issues connected to terrorism. They also stated that the two countries were prepared to discuss all outstanding issues. During the Ufa meeting, PM was extended an invitation by Prime Minister Mr. Nawaz Sharif to visit Islamabad for attending the SAARC Summit in 2016.For the reasons that we all know, the expected meetings of NSAs and Directors General of Military Operations of the two countries envisaged at Ufa, did not materialize though Directors General of BSF and Pakistan Rangers met and a number of humanitarian measures, agreed at Ufa, were implemented.In this background, when our Prime Minister met his Pakistan counterpart during the COP-21 Summit meeting in Paris on 30 November 2015, there was a discussion on how the two countries could build an atmosphere conducive for again re-engaging with each other. The underlying sentiment, on which I am confident that this House concurs fully, was that the continued estrangement of two neighbours was a hurdle to the realization of our shared vision of a peaceful and prosperous region. At the same time, there was also a sharp awareness that the principal obstacles to the growth of ties, especially terrorism, would have to be clearly and directly addressed.Following PM’s conversation with PM Mr. Nawaz Sharif in Paris, the two leaders decided that both sides should hold the NSA-level meeting. The National Security Advisors of the two countries accordingly met on December 6, 2015. The meeting was held in Bangkok. Discussions between the two NSAs in that meeting were held in a candid, cordial and constructive atmosphere. They focused on peace and security, terrorism, tranquility along the Line of Control, and Jammu & Kashmir – the State which has been most directly impacted by terrorism and violation of LOC.My visit to Islamabad for the Heart of Asia Conference came two days after the constructive talks between NSAs on issues related to security, terrorism, etc. My meetings with PM Mr. Nawaz Sharif and Mr. Sartaj Aziz in Islamabad were held in the backdrop of this positive development. Both sides condemned terrorism and resolved to cooperate to eliminate this menace. There we dwelt on the need for Pakistan to expedite the Mumbai terrorist attacks trial. The Indian side was assured of the steps being taken to expedite its early conclusion.Accordingly, it was decided to begin a dialogue with Pakistan under the new title “Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue”. The Foreign Secretaries have been tasked to work out modalities and schedule of the meetings under the new Dialogue.I would like to assure the House that this Government accords the highest priority to the country’s security. In order to meet any threats in this regard, the Government will take all steps, including through diplomatic channels. At the same time, the Government is also committed to building an environment of peaceful and cooperative relations with all our neighbours, including Pakistan, so that the efforts for peace and development in South Asia, initiated by the Government on the day of assuming office itself, are taken further forward. The new Dialogue with Pakistan has twin aims of removing hurdles in the path of a constructive engagement by addressing issues of concern, and at the same time, of exploring and establishing cooperative ties. Initiatives on trade and connectivity, people-to-people exchanges and humanitarian issues will contribute to welfare of the entire region, and promote better understanding and mutual trust. The new Dialogue, we sincerely hope, marks a new beginning also for peace and development in the whole region. I am confident that we have the support of the entire House in this expectation.(Read: A moderate Modi — is the BJP finally planning to switch off its election mode?)

Full text of joint statement made by India and Pakistan

Capping a series of positive developments since Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif met in Paris only ten days ago, it was announced here that the Foreign Secretaries will meet to decide the modalities and schedule of the dialogue

Sushma Swaraj and Sartaj Aziz

Reuters
Breaking the logjam in their ties, India and Pakistan on Wednesday announced that they have decided to engage in a “comprehensive” dialogue that will include peace and security and Jammu and Kashmir.Capping a series of positive developments since Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif met in Paris only ten days ago, it was announced here that the Foreign Secretaries will meet to decide the modalities and schedule of the dialogue.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>JOINT STATEMENT1. The External Affairs Minister of India, Smt. Sushma Swaraj led the Indian delegation to the Fifth Ministerial Conference of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process in Islamabad on December 8-9, 2015. She called on the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr. Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and held discussions with Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, Mr. Sartaj Aziz.2. The EAM and the Adviser condemned terrorism and resolved to cooperate to eliminate it. They noted the successful talks on terrorism and security related issues in Bangkok by the two NSAs and decided that the NSAs will continue to address all issues connected to terrorism. The Indian side was assured of the steps being taken to expedite the early conclusion of the Mumbai trial.3. Both sides, accordingly, agreed to a Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue and directed the Foreign Secretaries to work out the modalities and schedule of the meetings under the Dialogue including Peace and Security, CBMs, Jammu & Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek, Wullar Barrage/Tulbul Navigation Project, Economic and Commercial Cooperation, Counter-Terrorism, Narcotics Control, Humanitarian Issues, People to People exchanges and religious tourism.

Chennai rains: How the social media helped Chennaites reach out to people in distress

Aarti Krishnakumar writes how social media helped her to reach out to the Chennai flood victims in the moment of crisis.

Image Courtesy: Aarti Krishnakumar

Next time someone tells me “you are spending too much time online” I shall give them OTS. Why? Well, that is how awesome the online world has been the past few weeks. When the rains hit Chennai late November, I was following the action across the city via Twitter and then I discovered the forums on Facebook- Tamilnadu Flood- Support and Chennai Rains relief group. Soon after I found #chennairains and #chennairainshelp on Twitter. I live in Chetpet, an area that wasn’t too affected, so after I was done making sure our household help were taken off, I headed out to buy some pedigree, biscuits and bread and fed every possible stray that I found. I have also been leaving food and milk out daily couple of time along the streets in my area. I sent out about 20kg bags of rice, and 40 kgs of daal to a relief camp yesterday! For the dogs, I sent out bread, food, bowls, newspaper as well..<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On the second day, I began connecting people who had relief materials with those in need, helping update the Google doc that had been put together and that is how the ball rolled. Teamed with a best friend, Radha Srinivasan and her husband Jaishankar we put a plan to collect material from all over and head out to see who needed what. Twitter was a big help in this, we tracked, we hunted and we went out into knee deep water to give people basic necessities, food and everything else we thought they needed- clothes, medicines [esp for fever, headaches and Cybol for fungal infections], blankets, mats, juices, milks [tetra pack], water and soaps as well. Day before yesterday we loaded their Ertiga with these items – 300 packets of food, equal number of water, some clothes, medicines and head out towards OMR. There we found Fathima Child welfare center- with about 100 kids, gave them water, a kid from one center took us to their two other shelters where we distributed more stuff. On a whim, decided to drive down and find more places to help, found Tsunami colony [road opp TCS], Chemmenenchery and gave out nearly 300 packets biscuits, water and food packets. We nearly got mobbed, but managed to survive. Came to know there were nearly 20000 people inside and some haven’t received any relief, we put a team together. Image Courtesy: Aarti KrishnakumarYesterday, we hired a lorry and loaded it with relief items donated from all across the city. Strangers from across the world called asking if they can send us money – one kind soul sponsored the lorry cost and we were on the road with 1000+ packets of food and other material heading towards Tsunami Colony. Driving all the way inside, near the 98th street, we got out in 2-3ft water and distributed sanitary pads, food, water, sheets, ointments, and just about everything else we had. We also did a second round to Fathima child welfare center as water levels inside had increased with Sunday’s showers. The team of volunteers was a random group of people who found us via twitter and Facebook and just came along! On Monday, we intend to go to Kamatchi Nagar in Pallikaranai where houses are under water and families have lost everything. They need about 300-400 blankets, milk and medicines as priority. We have reached out to people who sent stuff yesterday and have already received materials required. A small team in a Tata Ace shall head out, make deliveries, assess areas around and come back with requirements.
Image Courtesy: Aarti KrishnakumarFor the coming week, we plan to collect more essential items and do a trip to Cuddalore and areas around there to help. We have also been following Twitter actively and calling people, who say they have materials to verify, block and follow up with collection. Similarly, we are looking to create a plan to organise medical camps and rehab centres – reach out to doctors, identify areas where help hasn’t reached, write to hospitals and labs to check if they set up mobile camps, and mobilise funds through all interested sponsors and out of our own pockets as well. Some of the contribution yesterday was routed through Vatsalya, started by Radha’s parents a decade ago with intention of helping babies, children and new moms who cannot afford milk or basic food. What touched us was people had so much trust; they were ready to extend any help needed without a single question. When we sent out pictures via Whatsapp to those who had contributed, they were overwhelmed and have been insisting we tell them what more we require! Talk about people coming together… more power to those in Chennai!Aarti Krishnakumar, a writer based in Chennai.

Surfer boys rescue more than 350 people in rain-hit Chennai

On November 16, Murthy got call from the coastal police about how girls were trapped in a college hostel due to waterlogging on OMR

M Murthy with the stranded girls on his rescue boat
Pazhani Rose

They came, they saw and they rescued! With the rain Gods unleashing their fury on Chennai over the last ten days, many people in the city were stranded due to rising water levels and needed to be rescued from their homes. And it was Murthy Megavan and his team of surfer boys from the Covelong Point Social Surfing School that came to the rescue!<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>
On November 16, Murthy got call from the coastal police about how girls were trapped in a college hostel due to waterlogging on OMR. He and his surfer boys rushed there with their kayaks and boats and rescued more than 60 people. Talking about this rescue M Murthy says, “As it was running water, it was difficult to paddle through the 2 kms to the road. Some of them were rescued using the kayaks with our boys but others we told them to hold onto ropes and cross the water.”Covelong Point Social surfer boys transporting boats and kayaks to waterlogged areas to help – Pazhani Rose
Yet again on November 17, Murthy and his boys received an SOS from Hafiz Khan of Tap Chennai Volunteers telling us that they needed a fishing boat to rescue people. “We went to Perumbakkam with one fishing boat and two kayaks and found that it was inundated with water and there were snakes in the water too. The people had been cut off from electricity and food for a few days. We worked from 1 30 pm till 6 pm in the evening and rescue around 300 people,” he says.One of the rescue boys kayaking to reach trapped individuals – Pazhani Rose​There were eight of them who went along with one girl student of the surfing school, Vadhana. Murthy says, “It was really good she came as she gave advice to the girls to stay calm during the rescue. One trip took us about 30 minutes ( a 2 kms paddle) and people in the boat or kayak have to stay calm. If they panic and shout, the boat can topple.”
Surfing school boys at the inundated OMR toll booth​ – Pazhani RoseMurthy also explains that they have been working with the Coastal ADGP Sailendra Babu over the last few years. They have trained coastal police, homeguard police and their own surfer boys in rescue and life-saving. A week before the torrential rains in the city, ADHP Saliendra Babu had alerted Murthy about the weather conditions and had asked for two kayaks and a rescue boat for the police.Also Read: The situation in Chennai after the deadly floods “We feel really proud and happy that we were able to help,” smiles Murthy who did the rescues free of cost. “All my boys are happy too because of the recognition they are getting for their work. It was a good experience for us.”You can follow the groups activities on their facebook page (Photos Courtesy: Pazhani Rose)

Despair over ban in India’s surrogacy hub

Despair in India’s surrogacy hub after ban

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

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

Narendra Modi, David Beckham

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

Modi in UK: Full text of PM Modi’s speech at British parliament

He had earlier given a joint statement with UK PM David Cameron on issues of terrorism, intolerance and civil nuclear agreement.

PM Narendra Modi spoke at the British Parliament and addressed the lawmakers there. PM Modi is on a three-day trip to the United Kingdom. He had earlier given a joint statement with UK PM David Cameron on issues of terrorism, intolerance and civil nuclear agreement.Here is the full text of PM’s address to the British Parliament:Lord Speaker, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Prime Minister I am delighted to be in London. Even in this globalised world, London is still the standard for our times. The city has embraced the world’s diversity and represents the finest in human achievements. And, I am truly honoured to speak in the British Parliament. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Mr. Speaker, thank you for opening the doors to us, here in this magnificent setting of the Royal Court. I know that the Parliament is not in Session. Prime Minister Cameron looks relaxed and relieved. But, I want to remind you, Mr. Prime Minister, that you owe me royalty for an election slogan. I know that you are hosting me at the Chequers this evening. But, I also know that you will understand if I am fair to both sides of the floor. Especially since British MPs of Indian Origin are evenly balanced between the Treasury and the Opposition benches. So, I also extend my good wishes to the Labour. Indeed, since these are still early days after the election, my warm congratulations to the Members of the House. And, greetings to the eminent leaders of Britain and great friends of India present here today. So much of the modern history of India is linked to this building. So much history looms across our relationship. There are others who have spoken forcefully on the debts and dues of history. I will only say that many freedom fighters of India found their calling in the institutions of Britain. And, many makers of modern India, including several of my distinguished predecessors, from Jawaharlal Nehru to Dr. Manmohan Singh, passed through their doors.There are many things on which it is hard to tell anymore if they are British or Indian: The Jaguar or the Scotland Yard, for example. The Brooke Bond tea or my friend late Lord Ghulam Nun’s curry. And, our strongest debates are whether the Lord’s pitch swings unfairly or the wicket at Eden Gardens cracks too early. And, we love the Bhangra rap from London just as you like the English novel from India. On the way to this event, Prime Minister Cameron and I paid homage to Mahatma Gandhi outside the Parliament. I was reminded of a question I was asked on a tour abroad. How is it that the statue of Gandhi stands outside the British Parliament? To that question, my answer is: The British are wise enough to recognise his greatness; Indians are generous enough to share him; we are both fortunate enough to have been touched by his life and mission; and, we are both smart enough to use the strengths of our connected histories to power the future of our relationship. So, I stand here today, not as a visiting Head of Government, given the honour to speak in this temple of democracy. I am here as a representative of a fellow institution and a shared tradition. And, tomorrow, Prime Minister and I will be at the Wembley. Even in India, every young footballer wants to bend it like Beckham. Wembley will be a celebration of one-half-million threads of life that bind us; one and half million people – proud of their heritage in India; proud of their home in Britain. It will be an expression of joy for all that we share: values, institutions, political system, sports, culture and art. And, it will be a recognition of our vibrant partnerships and a shared future. The United Kingdom is the third largest investor in India behind Singapore and Mauritius. India is the third largest source of Foreign Direct Investment projects in the United Kingdom. Indians invest more in Britain than in the rest of European Union combined. It is not because they want to save on interpretation costs, but because they find an environment that is welcoming and familiar. It takes an Indian icon, Tata, to run a British icon and become your nation’s largest private sector employer. The UK remains a preferred destination for Indian students. And, I am pleased that an Indian company is taking a thousand British students to India to skill them in Information Technology. We are working together in the most advanced areas of science and technology. We are finding solutions to the enduring human problems of food and health security, and seeking answers to emerging challenges like climate change. Our 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. And, in the international arena, your support has made it more possible for India to take her rightful place in global institutions and regimes. And, it has helped us both advance our common interests. Mr. Speaker, Strong as our partnership is, for a relationship such as ours, we must set higher ambitions. We are two democracies; two strong economies; and, two innovative societies. We have the comfort of familiarity and the experience of a long partnership. Britain’s resurgence is impressive. Its influence on the future of the global economy remains strong. And, Mr. Speaker, India is new bright spot of hope and opportunity for the world. It is not just the universal judgment of international institutions. It is not just the logic of numbers: a nation of 1.25 billion people with 800 million under the age of 35 years. This optimism comes from the energy and enterprise of our youth; eager for change and confident of achieving it. It is the result of bold and sustained measures to reform our laws, policies, institutions and processes. We are igniting the engines of our manufacturing sector; making our farms more productive and more resilient; making our services more innovative and efficient; moving with urgency on building global skills for our youth; creating a revolution in Startup enterprises; and, building the next generation infrastructure that will have a light footprint on the Earth. Our momentum comes not just from the growth we pursue, but from the transformation that we seek in the quality of life for every citizen. Much of India that we dream of still lies ahead of us: housing, power, water and sanitation for all; bank accounts and insurance for every citizen; connected and prosperous villages; and, smart and sustainable cities. These are goals with a definite date, not just a mirage of hope. And, 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. So, Mr. Speaker, with apologies to poet T.S. Eliot, we won’t let the shadow fall between the idea and reality. If you visit India, you will experience the wind of change. It is reflected in the surge of investments from around the world; in enhanced stability of our economy; in 190 million new bank accounts of hope and inclusion; in the increase in our growth to nearly 7.5% per year; and, in the sharp rise in our ranking on Ease of Doing Business. And, the motto of Sab Ka Saath, Sab Ka Vikas, is our 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. This is the timeless ethos of our culture; this is the basis of our constitution; and, this will be the foundation of our future. Mr. Speaker, Members and Friends, The progress of India is the destiny of one-sixth of humanity. And, it will also mean a world more confident of its prosperity; and, more secure about its future. It is also natural and inevitable that our economic relations will grow by leaps and bounds. We will form unbeatable partnerships, if we combine our unique strengths and the size and scale of opportunities in India. We will see more investment and trade. We will open new doors in the Services sector. We will collaborate more – here and in India – in defence equipment and technology. We will work together on renewable and nuclear energy. We will explore the mysteries of science and harness the power of technology and innovation. We will realise the opportunities of the digital world. Our youth will learn more from – and with – each other. But, a relationship as rich as this, with so much promise as ours, cannot be measured only in terms of our mutual prosperity. Mr. Speaker, Ours is an age of multiple transitions in the world. We are yet to fully comprehend the future unfolding before us. As in the previous ages, it will be different from the world we know. So, in the uncharted waters of our uncertain times, we must together help steer a steady course for this world in the direction that mirrors the ideals we share. For, in that lies not just the success of our two nations, but also the promise of the world that we desire. We have the strength of our partnership and the membership of the United Nations, the Commonwealth and the G-20. We live in a world where instability in a distant region quickly reaches our doorsteps. 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. And, terrorism and extremism are a global force that are larger than their changing names, groups, territories and targets. The world must speak in one voice and act in unison to combat this challenge of our times. 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. 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. Oceans remain vital for our prosperity. Now, we have to also secure our cyber and outer space. Our interests are aligned across many regions. We have a shared interest in stable, prosperous and integrated South Asia, drawn together in a shared march to prosperity. We want an Afghanistan that is shaped by the dreams of the great Afghan people, not by irrational fears and overreaching ambitions of others. 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. And, in Africa, where, amidst many challenges, we see so many promising signs of courage, wisdom, leadership and enterprise. India has just held an Africa Summit, in which all 55 countries, and 42 leaders participated. We must also cooperate to launch a low carbon age for a sustainable future for our planet. This is a global responsibility that we must assume in Paris later this month. The world has crafted a beautiful balance of collective action – common but differentiated responsibility and respective capabilities. Those who have the means and the know-how must help meet the universal aspiration of humanity for clean energy and a healthy environment. And, when we speak of restraint, we must not only think of curbing fossil fuels, but also moderating our lifestyles. We must all do our part. For India, a target of 175 GW of additional capacity in renewable energy by 2022 and reduction in emission intensity of 33-35 % by 2030 are just two of the steps of a comprehensive strategy. I have also proposed to launch during the COP 21 meeting an International Solar Alliance to make solar energy an integral part of our lives, even in the most unconnected villages. In Britain, you are more likely to use an umbrella against rain than the sun. But, my team defined the membership of the Solar Alliance in more precise terms: you have to be located within the Tropics. And, we are pleased that the United Kingdom qualifies! So, we look forward to an innovative Britain as a valuable partner in this endeavour. Prime Minister Cameron and I are, indeed, very pleased that cooperation on affordable and accessible clean energy is an important pillar of our relations. Mr. Speaker, This is a huge moment for our two great nations. So, we must seize our opportunities, remove the obstacles to cooperation, instill full confidence in our relations and remain sensitive to each other’s interests. In doing so, we will transform our strategic partnership, and we will make this relationship count as one of the leading global partnerships. Ever so often, in the call of Britain’s most famous Bard that we must seize the tide in the affairs of men, the world has sought the inspiration to act. And, so must we. But, in defining the purpose of our partnership, we must turn to a great son of India, whose house in London I shall dedicate to the cause of social justice on Saturday. Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, whose 125th birth anniversary we are celebrating now, was not just an architect of India’s Constitution and our parliamentary democracy. He also stood for the upliftment of the weak, the oppressed and the excluded. And, he lifted us all to a higher cause in the service of humanity; to build a future of justice, equality, opportunity and dignity for all humans; and, peace among people. That is the cause to which India and the United Kingdom have dedicated themselves today. Thank you very much, thanks a lot. Also read: LIVE| Modi in UK: Modi speaks about ‘growing intolerance’, says strict action is taken against such incidents

LK Advani my ultimate guru and guide, says Shatrughan Sinha

Shatrughan Sinha

Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) Member of Parliament Shatrughan Sinha on Wednesday described the veteran party leader Lal Krishna Advani as his ultimate guide, friend and philosopher.”Mr. Lal Krishna Advani has been my friend, philosopher, guide, guru and ultimate leader. Main sari baate unke samne rakh donga aur kahoonga aap jo hai ap hi hai. (I will keep all my views in front of him and say whatever you are, you are),” Sinha told ANI in an exclusive interview.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On being asked whether he felt he had been sidelined by the BJP, Sinha refused to say much, but referred to Advani as his mentor and ultimate friend. “Whatever happened with Advani ji, Murli Manohar Joshi ji or Jaswant Singh or with Yashwant Sinha ji, I would not like to speak much on that. I only know that Advani ji is my ultimate friend, guide and guru,” he said.

Arun Shourie calls NDA govt ‘Congress plus a cow’; BJP says he is in ‘pain’ because he is not part of govt

The Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday brushed aside former Union Minister Arun Shourie’s statement that Prime Minister Narendra Modi ‘managed headlines instead of economy’, saying that the former had made such a remark since he was in pain for not being a part of the NDA Government anymore.

The Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday brushed aside former Union Minister Arun Shourie’s statement that Prime Minister Narendra Modi ‘managed headlines instead of economy’, saying that the former had made such a remark since he was in pain for not being a part of the NDA Government anymore.”All I can say for our former colleague Mr. Arun Shourie is that somewhere, his pain of not being in the government anymore is being reflected through his career nationalism,” BJP spokesperson Siddharth Nath Singh told ANI.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Minister of State for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi also slammed Shourie saying the effect of the current company he was in, was showing through his words.Speaking at a book launch event on Monday, Shourie mocked the NDA Government saying that it was nothing but ‘Congress plus cow’.”There is a clearer belief that managing economy means managing headlines about the economy and this is not really going to work. The way to characterise the policies of the Government is Congress scaled plus a cow” Shourie said.He also said that the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) was never as weak as it was now.”I feel there was never a weaker a PMO as now… There has never been as great a centralisation of functions, not power, of functions in PMO as now,” he said.Shourie further said that looking at the way economy is being managed at present, people have started recalling the days of former prime minister Manmohan Singh.He also claimed that industrialists are afraid of speaking against the government. “The industrialists who meet the Prime Minister don’t speak whole truth. After meeting PM, they wonder what is happening and say ‘please do something’. And in front of media they give the government 9 out of 10,” Shourie claimed. Shourie noted that Parliament has become alibi for not doing anything. Read what Arun Shourie said

Kasuri row: India hits back at Pakistan, says neighbour not an ’embodiment of tolerance’

Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri

Responding to Islamabad’s statement over the ‘disruption of events organised for prominent Pakistani personalities in India’, the Centre lashed out saying it does not need a ‘lecture’ as the hostile neighbour is not an ’embodiment of tolerance’.Pakistan’s Foreign Office had earlier on Tuesday expressed its concern over the protests against Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri and Ghulam Ali and had asked New Delhi indirectly to take steps to prevent a repeat of such incidents.According to government sources, India hit back by saying that the Hurriyat being projected as a third party in the Kashmir issue by Pakistan would not be tolerated. India was open for NSA level talks in New York, Pakistan was not. India was adherent to agenda agreed upon in Ufa, Pak was not, the sources added.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a statement, the Foreign Office said, “We have noted with concern attempts to disrupt functions organised in respect of prominent Pakistani personalities on visit to India.” “Recently, a cultural event in Mumbai by Pakistani maestro Mr. Ghulam Ali was cancelled because of threats from a fundamentalist organisation,” the Foreign Office said in an apparent reference to the right-wing Shiv Sena.The statement further added, “Attempts were also made to disrupt a function in Mumbai organised for Mr. Khurshid Kasuri, former Foreign Minister of Pakistan.” The Foreign Office said it was important to ensure that such incidents do not take place again.

Samajwadi Party’s students wing ‘welcomes’ PM Modi in ‘Kyoto’

Opponents have raised their voices against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of his Varanasi visit on Friday.
Saiyed Faiz Hasnain

Opposition parties have raised their voices against PM Narendra Modi ahead of his Varanasi visit on Friday. Students wing of the Samajwadi Party from Benaras Hindu University have put up banners and hoarding making sarcastic comments over the ‘unfulfilled promises’ made by Narendra Modi during the LS polls in 2014. A poster that can be widely seen in Varanasi on Friday says, “Modi ji, you are welcome in Kyoto.” Varanasi according to critics hasn’t seen much development in terms of infrastructure particularly roads and electricity and the poster is a sarcastic take on Modi’s promise to transform the face of the city. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Other posters target the prevailing inflation situation. Some of them take a dig at Narendra Modi’s foreign tours. It says, “Zamini haqiqat se hain janaab aap door, kitna kijiyega pradhan mantri ji videshon ka tour?” The literal translation would mean – Mr. Prime Minister you are far from the ground reality and your foreign tours are not going to help it.Most of these posters have been put up by the BHU convener of Samajwadi Party student wing, Rahul Raj.For more such hyperlocal stories, visit iamn.in

Who introduced ‘VRS’ in OROP? Veterans call it mischief by the babus

New Delhi: After a long day of hectic activity, a big announcement and sharp reactions thereafter, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar met ex-servicemen who have been on a hunger strike at Jantar Mantar on Saturday evening and sought to clarify the misgivings on the word VRS which finds its way into the government’s OROP announcement. He is believed to have agreed with the veterans that there is indeed nothing called VRS (voluntary retirement from service) in the defence services and the right word to replace it would be pre-mature retirement (PMR).

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

It’s not clear yet whether the protesters are fully satisfied with the minister’s gesture – there are conflicting reports on this – but they are certainly wary of the use of VRS, which started making its presence felt in the whole OROP stand-off very late. Many ex-servicemen from the three wings of the defence forces called it a “bureaucratic mischief”.

“There’s nothing called VRS in defence services; it’s nonsensical. Some bureaucrat with ulterior motive has introduced it to mislead our movement and the government. The objective behind this is to prevent extending OROP to those who have taken pre-mature retirement,” Maj Gen (retd) Jagjit Singh Mahil, a member of the ex-servicemen group on agitation told Firstpost.

VRS vs PMR

According to ex-servicemen, there’s no concept of VRS in defence service. Instead, there is the PMR, which a jawan or an official can opt for during his service tenure.

· VRS is a scheme offered by the government undertakings, PSUs, banks, corporate sector – in which a lump sum amount is given to the employee as ‘golden handshake’ and no pension is offered.

· In defence services, for officers, the minimum permissible service period is 20 years, whereas for the jawans, it’s 15 years, to be eligible for PMR.

· After completing the statutory period, if one seeks PMR and it is accepted, the officer or the jawan becomes entitled for pension.

· If an officer or a jawan is short even by a day in completing his permissible service period and gets PMR, he won’t be eligible for pension.

· PMR is usually applied by defence personnel, in the following cases: (1) when one is superseded by a junior and the former doesn’t want to work under the latter (2) fails to get promoted on time, and decides not to continue (3) unfit on medical grounds (4) extraordinary conditions related to personal problems.

· The government has said the OROP scheme will not be applicable to pre-mature retirees.

· Ex-servicemen have demanded OROP for pre-mature retirees as well.

General (retd) VK Chaturvedi said, “We have the PMR system and those who go for it should also be given OROP because they have served the defence forces and are drawing pension. They are relieved with the consent of the ministry. If it rejects their application, they cannot leave the service. Therefore, OROP becomes their legitimate right.”

Added Commodore (retd) Yashwant Prakash added, “It’s misleading to equate VRS with PMR. If, one doesn’t complete his permissible period, his option of getting pension automatically becomes invalid and so there’s no question of OROP. But, if he’s eligible for pension, OROP should be applicable to him as in normal case announced by the government.”

Though, the retired defence personnel on agitation welcomed the government’s OROP announcement, they were visibly angry on the use of the term ‘VRS’ and said they would continue with their relay hunger strike and agitation.

The leader of the movement on OROP, Maj Gen (retd) Satbir Singh said, “Government agreed to OROP implementation. We welcome this move. But, we’ll approach Defence Ministry for clarification on ‘VRS’. We want that OROP should be applicable to pre-mature retirees as well. If the government agrees to this demand of ours, we’ll withdraw our fast unto death, but continue our agitation and hunger strike till all conditions are fulfilled.”

No one has the clue how this term ‘VRS’ got onto the negotiation table. According to the ex-servicemen, the term ‘VRS’ came into existence “all of a sudden” some three-four days ago during discussions with the government.

A majority of those on agitation believes that “it was done intentionally to derail the process”, but nobody has any idea who put this term into their negotiation with the government.

“It got into the discussion some three-four days back. It’s the game of the IAS lobby which controls each and every decision-making body of the government. And, it’s not possible to have VRS in defence service, as there’s already shortage of 12,500 officers. The question doesn’t arise. In fact, the government wants to keep 40% of those who seek PMR out of OROP to save money,” said Capt (retd) Shubhendu Kumar.

AAP suspends two Punjab MPs for anti-party activities

Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal had instructed the ousting of the two MPs

Cracking the whip on dissidents, AAP on Saturday suspended two of its Punjab MPs — Dharamvira Gandhi, who had supported expelled leader Yogendra Yadav, and Harinder Singh Khalsa — for anti-party activities and alleged that they had joined hands with ruling BJP-SAD combine in the state. The decision was taken at the party’s Political Affairs Committee (PAC) in which Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal participated through phone from Haridwar. AAP had won four seats in Lok Sabha polls in Punjab while drawing a blank elsewhere in the country, including Delhi.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Dharamvira Gandhi was elected from Patiala LS seat while Khalsa won from Fatehgarh Sahib constituency. The two MPs were charged with “damaging the prospects” of AAP in Punjab and the case has now been referred to the three-member National Disciplinary Committee comprising party’s national secretary Pankaj Gupta, Delhi unit convener Dilip Pandey and spokesperson Deepak Bajpail, the AAP said. “Mr Gandhi and Mr Khalsa have joined hands with the corrupt BJP-SAD leaders in Punjab and have betrayed the faith of the common man,” the AAP said in its twitter handle. “The two MPs have been suspended and not sacked. This means they have to follow the party’s whip in Lok Sabha,” said a senior AAP leader and threatened that they will be liable for disqualification if they do not follow the whip. Sources said the party leadership was unhappy with the duo for holding a parallel conference at Baba Bakala near Amritsar today on the occasion of Rakhar Puniya (rakhi) festival. Two stalls were set up at the venue of the festival — one by state convener Sucha Singh Chotepur and another by Gandhi and Khalsa. “They used pictures of National Convener Arvind Kejriwal and party MPs Bhagwant Mann and Sadhu Singh to create confusion and help Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP. “They used party symbol and pictures of party leaders in the publicity material of their conference without due permission from the party,” the party said.Full text of the resolution passed by the PACThe PAC expresses its concern over anti-party activities indulged in by Mr. Dharamvira Gandhi and Mr. Harinder Singh Khalsa. Mr. Gandhi and Mr. Khalsa have been involved in the activities of certain outfits, opposed to aims and objectives of the party. The only aim of these outfits is to damage the Aam Aadmi Party and anti-corruption movement in the country.There are several instances that show that Mr. Gandhi and Mr. Khalsa are trying to establish a parallel organization within the party with the sole objective of damaging the party in Punjab. Mr. Gandhi and Mr. Khalsa have criticized the party leadership and the decisions taken by the party on several occasions in the media. Not only Mr. Gandhi and Mr. Khalsa used the press to express their disagreement with the party on various issues, they also openly disobeyed the party on several occasions and refused to follow party discipline.The corrupt BJP-SAD regime in Punjab has made the state a hub of narcotics trade. Well-oiled state run corruption machinery has completely paralyzed the government apparatus. Fed up with two terms of misrule by the BJP-SAD combine, people of Punjab have decided to go with Aam Aadmi Party to bring Delhi model of corruption free governance to the state. Mr. Gandhi and Mr. Khalsa have joined hands with the corrupt BJP-SAD leaders in Punjab and have betrayed the faith of the common man.With a clear intent of creating confusion among party volunteers and damaging the party, Mr. Gandhi and Mr. Khalsa today organized a conference, parallel to that of the Aam Aadmi Party, at Baba Bakala today on the occasion of Rakhar Puniya. They used pictures of National Convenor Arvind Kejriwal and party MPs Bhagwant Mann and Sadhu Singh to create confusion and help Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP. They used party symbol and pictures of party leaders in the publicity material of their conference without due permission from the party.Taking cognizance of their anti-party activities and indiscipline, the PAC has decided to refer their case to the National Disciplinary Action Committee for suitable action against them. The PAC also unanimously resolves to suspend Mr. Dharamvira Ghandhi and Mr. Harinder Singh Khala from the primary membership of the party.The Political Affairs Committee (PAC) of the Aam Aadmi Party today suspended Dharamavira Gandhi and Harinder Singh Khalsa from the primary membership of the party and referred disciplinary proceedings against them to party’s National Disciplinary Action Committee.In its meeting on 29 August, 2015, the PAC took cognizance of anti-party activities indulged in by Dharamavira Gandhi and Harinder Singh Khalsa in Punjab. In a unanimous decision, the PAC suspended Khalsa and Gandhi from the party and referred their cases to the National Disciplinary Action Committee. Now the three-member National Disciplinary Action Committee, with Pankaj Gupta, Dilip Pandey and Deepak Bajpai as its members, will look into the complaints of anti-party activities and indiscipline against Dharamvira Gandhi and Harinder Singh Khalsa.Gandhi is considered close to expelled AAP leaders Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan. “Taking cognizance of their anti-party activities and indiscipline, the PAC has decided to refer their case to the National Disciplinary Action Committee for suitable action against them. The PAC also unanimously resolves to suspend Mr. Dharamvira Ghandhi and Mr. Harinder Singh Khasla from the primary membership of the party,” the party added.Patiala MP Dharamvira Gandhi said to be close to Prashant Bhushan, Yogendra YadavAction against Dharamvira Gandhi was impending from sometime. When Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan were removed from the AAP’s National Executive at the controversial National Council meeting in March this year, the Patiala MP had walked out of the venue in protest, calling the decision “unconstitutional”. Following this, Gandhi was even removed as party’s parliamentary leader and replaced by Sangrur MP and Arvind Kejriwal aide Bhagwant Mann.Gandhi had also extended his support to Swaraj Abhiyan, organisation founded by Bhushan and Yadav. Recently, he, along with Khalsa, had attacked Sanjay Singh, senior party leader and Kejriwal’s close confidant, for appointing observers in all 13 constituencies without consulting the MPs​AAP’s ​Patiala MP Gandhi has said, “Punjab comes first, then comes the party. If our pride isnt respected and is tried to be controlled from Delhi we wont tolerate it. In the Lok Sabha election when the party drew a blank in its stronghold of Delhi, it won four seats in Punjab. The party is now working to wrest power from the Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP combine in 2017 assembly polls.

‘Start up India, Stand up India’: PM Modi’s most emphatic quotes from his Independence Day speech

To say that Narendra Modi is a fiery orator, is an understatement. The Indian Prime Minister is one of the most fierce and hard-hitting speakers in Indian politics today and can wax eloquent in crisp Hindi for hours, even without a ‘cheat sheet’ as was evident from today’s 90-minute long Independence Day address from the Red Fort.

Last year he spoke about ‘Swachh Bharat’ and Niti Ayog, today he made his points on OROP and corruption in his trademark style complete with voice modulation and appropriate gesticulation. Here are some of PM Modi’s most emphatic quotes.

On allegations of corruption

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This line was one of the most impactful one as he insisted that his pre-election promise of ‘corruption-free government’ was holding good and thee wasn’t a single allegation of corruption in the ‘government people elected in Delhi’. While it remains to be seen if its actually true, his intonation was clear – I’m still Mr. Clean.

On Swachh Bharat, his pet project

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Can a PM Modi address a nation-wide gathering go without mentioning his pet project Swachh Bharat? Soon into his this year’s Independence Day address he referred to his last year’s speech where he spoke about this cleanliness drive and mentioned how it may have seems odd back then, a year later it has been something that binds India.

On ‘Vikas ka pyramid’

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A phrase coined by Modi himself, he likened India’s progress to a pyramid in connection to financial inclusion which required a strong foundation, as the base of a pyramid the widest and most important.

On fighting ‘brashtachaar’

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Modi’s impassioned defense against corruption was filled with analogy. ‘Brashtachaar deemak ki tarah hota hain,’ he said, referring to corruption as termites that creep into a house slowly and eat up everything which can only be beaten by regular ‘injections’. He also said that he believed, ‘Yeh desh brashtachaar se mukt ho sakta hain.’ (This country can be rid of corruption)

On farmers
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As Modi announced that the Agriculture Ministry will be renamed as Ministry of Agriculture and Farmer Welfare for institutionalised care of the farmers, he added this variation of Lal bahadur Shashtri’s famous line ‘Jai Jawaan, Jai Kisaan’.

On start-ups in India

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The topic of upcoming entrepreneurs and start-ups in India seems to be a topic lose to Modi’s heart as he repeated ‘Start up India, Stand up India’ at least three times with increasing fervour.

On One Rank, One Pension (OROP)

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This was one topic that many waited to hear Modi’s views on and he didn’t disappoint even though he waited till the end of his speech to approach it. And while he did not give a timeline, he assured the servicemen that he has accepted OROP invoking the Indian tricolour and Red Fort.

On the ‘brand ambassadors’ of Swachh Bharat

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Modi insisted that the real ambassadors of his favorite project Swachh Bharat were not the celebs who walked the streets with a broom but the little children of India who encouraged their families to maintain cleanliness.

On the ultimate goal for Swachh Bharat

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In the same vein, he expressed that his aim was to dedicate the Swachch Bharat Abhiyaan to Mahatma Gandhi on his 150th anniversary.

On his vision for India

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In his chaste Hindi, this is the message that Modi ended his 90-minute long speech with, expressing his vision for prosperous and clean India.

Parting Shot

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In conclusion, this one-liner, while talking about corruption, seems to be one that struck a chord as Modi said it with utmost enthusiasm.

I&B ministry seeks report from Prasar Bharati on DD Kisan

New Delhi: The information and broadcasting ministry has sought a report from Prasar Bharati on decisions relating to Amitabh Bachchan’s promotional campaign for Doordarshan(DD) Kisan channel to clear the “confusion” over the issue of payments to the superstar.

Amitabh Bachchan. PTIAmitabh Bachchan. PTI

Amitabh Bachchan. PTI

The ministry has written to the Public Broadcaster after reports appeared claiming that Rs 6.31 crore was the price that Doordarshan was paying for the actor’s campaign. However, questions over the matter arose after Bachchan denied having received any payment and declared that he was doing it “pro bono”.

“The ministry wants to know, the process through which the decision was taken and whether due diligence was done,” a senior ministry official said today.

Prasar Bharati sources, when asked about the ministry decision to seek a report, however, said that a report may be sent to the Board of the public broadcaster first which would then take a call on the future course to be adopted.

Sources said that additional secretary in the ministry JS Mathur, who is a member of the Prasar Bharati Board, in an email to CEO Jawhar Sircar raised questions about the processes followed.

Mathur has written that “bypassing the Internal Finance Division (IFD) of Prasar Bharati, the contracted amount of Rs 8 plus crore has been reportedly released to the Ad agency through some procedure without requisite approvals at Prasar Bharati level.”

Mathur emphasised that no contract proposal for publicity of DD Kisan channel with the said advertising firm was discussed or approved at the Prasar Bharati board meeting.

“The matter requires to be seriously looked into immediately and responsibility fixed to ensure that all
matters in Kisan channel and Doordarshan remain absolutely above board,” Mathur said in his email.

Meanwhile, a company spokesperson for Lintas, the advertising agency said that DD Kisan had formally authorised them on 31 March 2015 to negotiate on their behalf with Bachchan’s office.

“This was gone about with utmost transparency amongst all three parties involved. After much negotiation, Mr.Bachchan’s office on 12.05.15, sent communication to Lintas on the fee approval. Post receipt of this communication from Mr. Bachchan’s office, we sent the necessary paperwork to DD Kisan
who then went ahead with the processing and release of the payment to Lintas,” the company said.

Lintas said though the discussions on the fee clause in the contract was concluded, Lintas was up until recently, still negotiating diligently with Mr. Bachchan’s office on a variety of other clauses and terms that were to be for the best interest of DD Kisan.

“However yesterday ( 20.07.15 ) afternoon, we received formal communication from his office, that upon reviewing the work-in-progress contract with his team, Mr. Bachchan had taken a decision on principle that he will not charge any fee on issues involving social causes and those that are in the best interest of the nation and a request to Lintas to treat all conversations and discussions on the contract so far as null and void,” the company said.

Saying that it welcomes the decision to do the work for DD Kisan “pro–bono”, Lintas said that it has initiated the process of refund ( which will be concluded today ) to our client, DD Kisan, for the amount collected for Mr. Bachchan’s celebrity endorsement which was pending payment to him since the contract was still under discussion and not yet signed off.

Responding to questions raised by Mathur in his letter, a senior Prasar Bharati official said that there was a mention regarding the publicity for the channel, though complete details may not have been there.

Asserting that Prasar Bharati too was concerned, the official said the details of the matter would be examined.

Referring to the I&B ministry seeking a report, the official said that while on certain important issues the ministry says it is “autonomous” but applies a different yardstick on other occasions.

Prasar Bharati CEO Jawahar Sircar when asked about the issue yesterday had said that “there was some communication gap”.

He added that DD Kisan did mark Rs 8.6 crore approximately for a professional roll-out campaign by Lintas
that goes on for an year till 2016.

“Amitabh Bachchan was roped in and he did a great job as brand ambassador. I am told that no payment was made to Amitabh Bachchan and the matter was still under negotiation. Now the air is cleared,” Sircar said, when asked about Bachchan’s comments on the matter.

PTI

Do not show mercy to Rajiv Gandhi killers: Centre to SC

According to reports, the Central Government has said that since the case was investigated by the CBI and not the state police, the convicts should nto be released without the Centre’s sanction.
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
The Centre on Tuesday asked the Supreme Court not to show any mercy to the killers of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. This action by the Centre is likely to draw Tamil Nadu government’s ire which has tried to free the seven convicts of the 1991 assassination of Rajiv Gandhi. Last week, the Supreme Court refused to lift the stay on the release of the convicts. A five-judge Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court, including Chief Justice HL Dattu, said that for now it will not ‘tinker with any of the earlier orders.'<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In February the apex court revised the death sentences to the life imprisonment for the three convicts Murugan, Santhan and Periarivalan. Following this, the Jayalalithaa led Tamil Nadu government had decided to remit the sentences of all seven convicts in the case. The Central government obtained a stay against the release of the convicts from the Supreme Court.According to reports, the Central Government has said that since the case was investigated by the CBI and not the state police, the convicts should nto be released without the Centre’s sanction.According to a Hindu report, Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar submitted that 18 persons were killed and 48 were critically injured in the 1991 blast.“It is the government who has to take care of interests of the victims. The concept of parens patriae kicks in,” Mr. Kumar submitted.

Free speech for plagiarists: Writer Rajiv Malhotra’s supporters reveal hypocrisy of bhakts

Controversial writer Rajiv Malhotra has succeeded where others failed. He has reminded the Indian right wing of the virtues of free speech. Courtesy Malhotra, the book-burning cabals and poster-tearing hooligans of India are rallying around the very right whose value they once questioned. Writer-activist Madhu Kishwar is currently spearheading a campaign against, well, another campaign demanding that Malhotra’s books be pulped for allegedly plagiarising the work of several western scholars.

MF Husain, Wendy Doniger, Aamir Khan and Rajkumar Hirani would be laughing at the irony.

Rajiv Malhotra. Image courtesy: TwitterRajiv Malhotra. Image courtesy: Twitter

Rajiv Malhotra. Image courtesy: Twitter

Ah, the hypocrisy of right wingers.

The US-based Malhotra, whose foundation, incidentally, funded some of Kishwar’s own work, has been under attack from several Indologists who have accused the entrepreneur-turned-philanthropist-turned-author-turned Hindu activist of rehashing the research of others and passing it off as his own.

His critics, led by western scholars Richard Fox and Andrew J Nicholson, have reproduced several instances from Malhotra’s books to allege that he either reproduced them verbatim or twisted their original arguments to suit his own ends.

An article in Scroll.in points out, “As for HarperCollins, their willingness to rectify future editions of Rajiv Malhotra’s book would be welcome were it not for the fact that there may be nothing left for them to put in a “corrected” edition: much of the book has been shown up as a patchwork of other people’s work minus attribution.”

Business Standard columnist Sunil Sethi has labelled Malhotra as history cheater — a trademark neoligism inspired by history sheeter — noting, “Some paragraphs are lifted verbatim; others are crudely paraphrased. Attributions are cursory and incomplete. The concept of quotation marks on occasion eludes him altogether.”

Malhotra and his followers have denied the plagiarism charge with a mix of intellectual naivete — “Sanskrit doesn’t have quotation marks”; a matter of “adhikara” — a word Malhotra loves to spray liberally in his text; a case of the “adhikari” taking away what is rightfully his; and chest-thumping characteristic of the fan-base Malhotra represents. “Welcome to the battlefield. I give back as hard as I get,” he has promised.

Malhotra has also dared his critics to reveal their Indian teachers, and presumably confirm Mark Twain’s claim that “there is no such thing as a new idea.” From the trajectory of the debate, this round of dirt-digging may not end till all of Indus Valley Civilisation is excavated to trace the root of all Indic wisdom.

Since this fascinating battle is being fought in full public view of partisan supporters of both sides; Malhotra’s critics have urged his publisher Harper Collins to be the arbiter and review his work afresh in view of the brouhaha.

The jury is still out. But, in support of their argument, the right-wingers have decided to preach the very virtue of that which they so often have denigrated: the importance of debate and free speech in a democracy. As Sethi reminds us, “In 2014 when Penguin withdrew Wendy Doniger’s The Hindus after protracted litigation that it had neither the gumption nor stomach to take on, Mr Malhotra was mighty pleased. He called it ‘a moral victory’. His antagonists today are justified in asking why the current edition of his book shouldn’t be pulped.”

This, however, has not stopped his loyal supporters from invoking that very right in the defense of his alleged plagiarism.

“Intellectual disagreements must be resolved through debate with all parties present and Mr. Malhotra has publicly invited his opponents to debate. We should stop this practice of censorship using power plays. It is against the best interest of the publishing industry and all lovers of truth,” Kishwar pleads in an online petition for Malhotra and freedom of speech.

But was Doniger accorded the courtesy of a debate? In her own words: “(Dina Nath) Batra and I are talking past one another, playing two different games with the textual evidence. But he thinks there is only one game, and is determined to keep me off my own field. To debate a book you disagree with is what scholarship is about. To ban or burn a book you regard as blasphemous is what fascist bigotry is about.”

To follow the logic of the rightwing bhakts: better a plagiarised version of history that fits our worldview than original work that threatens it. The somersault on intellectual freedom of Malhotra’s followers is nothing short of awe-inspiring; though some may argue the real fight here is for freedom to surreptitiously borrow from the intellectual property of others. When fundamental issues like intellectual and moral propriety get obfuscated by “Us vs Them” and “Hindus vs the West” wars — and worse with freedom of expression — truth is generally a casualty.

When Doniger’s book was pulped, Dinanath Batra said freedom of speech was subject to conditions. “Yes, we have freedom of expression in our constitution, but that means freedom to a certain extent. We should remain under certain boundaries,” he opined. Apparently, those boundaries are generous enough to accommodate plagiarism, at least of the rightwing nationalist kind.

Free speech for plagiarists: Rajiv Malhotra’s supporters reveal the hypocrisy of bhakts

Controversial writer Rajiv Malhotra has succeeded where others failed. He has reminded the Indian right wing of the virtues of free speech. Courtesy Malhotra, the book-burning cabals and poster-tearing hooligans of India are rallying around the very right whose value they once questioned. Writer-activist Madhu Kishwar is currently spearheading a campaign against, well, another campaign demanding that Malhotra’s books be pulped for allegedly plagiarising the work of several western scholars.

MF Husain, Wendy Doniger, Aamir Khan and Rajkumar Hirani would be laughing at the irony.

Rajiv Malhotra. Image courtesy: TwitterRajiv Malhotra. Image courtesy: Twitter

Rajiv Malhotra. Image courtesy: Twitter

Ah, the hypocrisy of right wingers.

The US-based Malhotra, whose foundation, incidentally, funded some of Kishwar’s own work, has been under attack from several Indologists who have accused the entrepreneur-turned-philanthropist-turned-author-turned Hindu activist of rehashing the research of others and passing it off as his own.

His critics, led by western scholars Richard Fox and Andrew J Nicholson, have reproduced several instances from Malhotra’s books to allege that he either reproduced them verbatim or twisted their original arguments to suit his own ends.

Nicholson writes in Scroll.in that publisher Permanent Black has said, “As for HarperCollins, their willingness to rectify future editions of Rajiv Malhotra’s book would be welcome were it not for the fact that there may be nothing left for them to put in a “corrected” edition: much of the book has been shown up as a patchwork of other people’s work minus attribution.”

Business Standard columnist Sunil Sethi has labelled Malhotra as history cheater — a trademark neoligism inspired by history sheeter — noting, “Some paragraphs are lifted verbatim; others are crudely paraphrased. Attributions are cursory and incomplete. The concept of quotation marks on occasion eludes him altogether.”

Malhotra and his followers have denied the plagiarism charge with a mix of intellectual naivete — “Sanskrit doesn’t have quotation marks”; a matter of “adhikara” — a word Malhotra loves to spray liberally in his text; a case of the “adhikari” taking away what is rightfully his; and chest-thumping characteristic of the fan-base Malhotra represents. “Welcome to the battlefield. I give back as hard as I get,” he has promised.

Malhotra has also dared his critics to reveal their Indian teachers, and presumably confirm Mark Twain’s claim that “there is no such thing as a new idea.” From the trajectory of the debate, this round of dirt-digging may not end till all of Indus Valley Civilisation is excavated to trace the root of all Indic wisdom.

Since this fascinating battle is being fought in full public view of partisan supporters of both sides; Malhotra’s critics have urged his publisher Harper Collins to be the arbiter and review his work afresh in view of the brouhaha.

The jury is still out. But, in support of their argument, the right-wingers have decided to preach the very virtue of that which they so often have denigrated: the importance of debate and free speech in a democracy. As Sethi reminds us, “In 2014 when Penguin withdrew Wendy Doniger’s The Hindus after protracted litigation that it had neither the gumption nor stomach to take on, Mr Malhotra was mighty pleased. He called it ‘a moral victory’. His antagonists today are justified in asking why the current edition of his book shouldn’t be pulped.”

This, however, has not stopped his loyal supporters from invoking that very right in the defense of his plagiarism.

“Intellectual disagreements must be resolved through debate with all parties present and Mr. Malhotra has publicly invited his opponents to debate. We should stop this practice of censorship using power plays. It is against the best interest of the publishing industry and all lovers of truth,” Kishwar pleads in an online petition for Malhotra and freedom of speech.

But was Doniger accorded the courtesy of a debate? In her own words: “Batra and I are talking past one another, playing two different games with the textual evidence. But he thinks there is only one game, and is determined to keep me off my own field. To debate a book you disagree with is what scholarship is about. To ban or burn a book you regard as blasphemous is what fascist bigotry is about.”

To follow the logic of the rightwing bhakts: better a plagiarised version of history that fits our worldview than original work that threatens it. The somersault on intellectual freedom of Malhotra’s followers is nothing short of awe-inspiring; though some may argue the real fight here is for freedom to surreptitiously borrow from the intellectual property of others.When fundamental issues like intellectual and moral propriety get obfuscated by “Us vs Them” and “Hindus vs the West” wars — and worse with freedom of expression — truth is generally a casualty.

When Doniger’s book was pulped, Dinanath Batra said freedom of speech was subject to conditions. “Yes, we have freedom of expression in our constitution, but that means freedom to a certain extent. We should remain under certain boundaries,” he opined. Apparently, those boundaries are generous enough to accommodate plagiarism, at least of the rightwing nationalist kind.

Saving DD Kisan: Farmers need many things but Amitabh Bachchan isn’t one of them

Mera Bharat mahaan.

In a desi twist on Marie Antoinette’s if they cannot have bread, let them eat cake, ‘our farmers are finding out that if they cannot have fertilizers/seed/help against crushing debt, they can have Amitabh Bachchan.

A source close to Amitabh Bachchan told the media the superstar is “personally very excited and enthusiastic about promoting Kisan”, that is Doordarshan’s new farmers channel, not a jam.

Now we know why. It’s not because Bachchan himself once got himself registered as a farmer ,thanks to a few bighas of prime land he acquired in Muzaffarnagar in UP during the Mulayam Singh government. That in turn allowed him to try to buy agricultural land in Pune as a farmer. In 2007 a Faizabad court clarified he was not a farmer in UP. For “Farmer Bachchan” to now crop up as the brand ambassador for DD Kisan is a rather ironic twist indeed.

PTI image.PTI image.

PTI image.

But this is not about nostalgia for his Old MacDonald days.

Anuradha Raman reports in The Hindu, that Big B is endorsing DD Kisan for a year for Rs 6.31 crore after initially agreeing to Rs 4.02 crore. Lintas India bargained hard for the superstar and this might well be the most expensive endorsement by the actor to date.

At a time when farmer suicide is still a reality, this is a little hard to digest. But it’s unfair to say this is Big Bad Bollywood cashing in on farmer misery either. Bachchan is a star, and as one profile called him the “Lord of Endorsements”. Let’’s give him full credit. Which other star in his seventies is so sought after as a brand? And while he might be a goodwill ambassador for polio eradication, he has no obligation to turn down good money the government is offering for a day’s shoot.

The more pertinent question is why does the government want to spend crores on roping in a Bollywood star for their DD channel. The media reports that before settling on Bachchan’s star power, they toyed with other names – Ajay Devgn and Kajol and Salman Khan, all men and women of the soil.

“We felt the channel required a celebrity and also found that Mr. Bachchan had a strong connect with rural India,” said Ranjan Mukherjee, Additional Director-General of Prasar Bharati. A 6.31 crore connect.

Mr Bachchan’s job is to use his star power to promote the channel. Let’s face it ,garnering eyeballs for a television channel does not exactly have the kind of social impact an exhortation to immunize a child against polio or build a sauchalaya at home can have. That begs the question why spend that kind of money on a celebrity brand ambassador for something as grassroots as DD Kisan? A Bachchan promoting the touristy wonders of Gujarat makes more sense.

The Hindu reports that viewership peaked during the initial buzz around the launch on May 26 by Narendra Modi. A voiceover apprised all assembled about the honourable Prime Minister’s “atoot sraddha” (deep respect) for the kisan and “the sambedanshilta in his hriday” (empathy in his heart) for them. But viewership has declined even though cable and DTH operators must carry it says tThe Hindu. Discovery has more than 10 times the viewership despite sharing the same bandwidth.

And why should that surprise anyone? Who even thought that people would watch a channel day after day merely because a superstar endorsed it? It’s not like Mr Bachchan is hosting a daily Big Kisan reality show on it, or anchoring the Help Kisan live interactive show. To think that some jingles about the show from a superstar would have everyone coming back to the channel day after day like sheep ,shows that someone out there really thinks of farmers as utterly naïve and gullible. All channels live and die by the quality of their programming, not their brand ambassadors and why should DD Kisan be any exception? Anyway,DD Kisan could have no better brand ambassador than Modi himself whose Mann ki baat reaches rural India by radio every week.

DD Kisan promises live weather updates, discussion of ergonomic practices, tips on how to sell crops for higher prices from saffron in Kashmir to spices in Kerala to tea in Assam, a farmer helpline. These programs, worthy as they sound, have to be actually useful for farmers otherwise they will just shrug and change the channel to watch soap operas which are at least entertaining not dull government propaganda showing smiling farmers with twirling mustaches. Farmers have enough troubles on their hand anyway.

In a country where farmer suicide is a political football and a politician says “let farmers die if they must. Those who can afford farming will do it” and then explains he did not mean to be insensitive, it seems unlikely that a DD Kisan will be anything more than another vehicle for publicity peddling shiny happy messages about the kisan as “Bharat ki shaan”. Government channels are not the place to really foster open debate about contentious government programmes like the land acquisition bill for example.

According to the New York Times since 1995 more than 290,000 farmers have killed themselves for various reasons. But politicians are more interested in “debunking” those numbers than addressing the causes of despair. After the farmer suicide in front of television cameras in Delhi, Modi talked about feeling “the pain” and how “collective resolve” was needed to solve this “old, deep-rooted and widespread” problem. 24-hour Kisan is not that solution. And putting an Amitabh Bachchan on top of it like a cherry certainly does not make it one.

Saving DD Kisan: Farmers need many things and Amitabh Bachchan is not one of them

Mera Bharat mahaan.

In a desi twist on Marie Antoinette’s if they cannot have bread, let them eat cake, ‘our farmers are finding out that if they cannot have fertilizers/seed/help against crushing debt, they can have Amitabh Bachchan.

A source close to Amitabh Bachchan told the media the superstar is “personally very excited and enthusiastic about promoting Kisan”, that is Doordarshan’s new farmers channel, not a jam.

Now we know why. It’s not because Bachchan himself once got himself registered as a farmer ,thanks to a few bighas of prime land he acquired in Muzaffarnagar in UP during the Mulayam Singh government. That in turn allowed him to try to buy agricultural land in Pune as a farmer. In 2007 a Faizabad court clarified he was not a farmer in UP. For “Farmer Bachchan” to now crop up as the brand ambassador for DD Kisan is a rather ironic twist indeed.

PTI image.PTI image.

PTI image.

But this is not about nostalgia for his Old MacDonald days.

Anuradha Raman reports in The Hindu, that Big B is endorsing DD Kisan for a year for Rs 6.31 crore after initially agreeing to Rs 4.02 crore. Lintas India bargained hard for the superstar and this might well be the most expensive endorsement by the actor to date.

At a time when farmer suicide is still a reality, this is a little hard to digest. But it’s unfair to say this is Big Bad Bollywood cashing in on farmer misery either. Bachchan is a star, and as one profile called him the “Lord of Endorsements”. Let’’s give him full credit. Which other star in his seventies is so sought after as a brand? And while he might be a goodwill ambassador for polio eradication, he has no obligation to turn down good money the government is offering for a day’s shoot.

The more pertinent question is why does the government want to spend crores on roping in a Bollywood star for their DD channel. The media reports that before settling on Bachchan’s star power, they toyed with other names – Ajay Devgn and Kajol and Salman Khan, all men and women of the soil.

“We felt the channel required a celebrity and also found that Mr. Bachchan had a strong connect with rural India,” said Ranjan Mukherjee, Additional Director-General of Prasar Bharati. A 6.31 crore connect.

Mr Bachchan’s job is to use his star power to promote the channel. Let’s face it ,garnering eyeballs for a television channel does not exactly have the kind of social impact an exhortation to immunize a child against polio or build a sauchalaya at home can have. That begs the question why spend that kind of money on a celebrity brand ambassador for something as grassroots as DD Kisan? A Bachchan promoting the touristy wonders of Gujarat makes more sense.

The Hindu reports that viewership peaked during the initial buzz around the launch on May 26 by Narendra Modi. A voiceover apprised all assembled about the honourable Prime Minister’s “atoot sraddha” (deep respect) for the kisan and “the sambedanshilta in his hriday” (empathy in his heart) for them. But viewership has declined even though cable and DTH operators must carry it says tThe Hindu. Discovery has more than 10 times the viewership despite sharing the same bandwidth.

And why should that surprise anyone? Who even thought that people would watch a channel day after day merely because a superstar endorsed it? It’s not like Mr Bachchan is hosting a daily Big Kisan reality show on it, or anchoring the Help Kisan live interactive show. To think that some jingles about the show from a superstar would have everyone coming back to the channel day after day like sheep ,shows that someone out there really thinks of farmers as utterly naïve and gullible. All channels live and die by the quality of their programming, not their brand ambassadors and why should DD Kisan be any exception? Anyway,DD Kisan could have no better brand ambassador than Modi himself whose Mann ki baat reaches rural India by radio every week.

DD Kisan promises live weather updates, discussion of ergonomic practices, tips on how to sell crops for higher prices from saffron in Kashmir to spices in Kerala to tea in Assam, a farmer helpline. These programs, worthy as they sound, have to be actually useful for farmers otherwise they will just shrug and change the channel to watch soap operas which are at least entertaining not dull government propaganda showing smiling farmers with twirling mustaches. Farmers have enough troubles on their hand anyway.

In a country where farmer suicide is a political football and a politician says “let farmers die if they must. Those who can afford farming will do it” and then explains he did not mean to be insensitive, it seems unlikely that a DD Kisan will be anything more than another vehicle for publicity peddling shiny happy messages about the kisan as “Bharat ki shaan”. Government channels are not the place to really foster open debate about contentious government programmes like the land acquisition bill for example.

According to the New York Times since 1995 more than 290,000 farmers have killed themselves for various reasons. But politicians are more interested in “debunking” those numbers than addressing the causes of despair. After the farmer suicide in front of television cameras in Delhi, Modi talked about feeling “the pain” and how “collective resolve” was needed to solve this “old, deep-rooted and widespread” problem. 24-hour Kisan is not that solution. And putting an Amitabh Bachchan on top of it like a cherry certainly does not make it one.

Amidst row, Prashant Pathrabe likely to be new FTII Director

Prashant Pathrabe is likely to be new Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) Director. Reports said that he will replace DJ Narian

Prashant Pathrabe is likely to be new Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) Director. Reports said that he will replace DJ NarianPathrabe was quoted by a television channel, as saying that he will be taking charge, and described the present situation at the FTII as difficult and challenging. It maybe recalled that Narian had served a notice on the striking students, asking them to terminate their protest over a demand for the removal of Gajendra Chauhan from the post of chairman of the institute immediately, or face strong administrative action, which may include rustication.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The students have been on strike for 35 days over their demand for cancelling actor Gajendra Chauhan’s appointment as FTII chairman. The FTII administration had said a couple of days ago, “All concerned students will themselves be responsible for any administrative action in this regard. You are therefore ordered to terminate the strike with immediate effect and resume academic activities without any further delay, failing which the institution will be free to take strict administrative action,” the notice said.The notice addressed to the students leader Harishankar Nachimuthu said the students should go back to their academic activities and defiance of the directive would result in a strong administrative action which may include rustication as well. Asked to react to the director’s warning, a spokesman of the FTII Students’ Association (FSA) said, “We are in the process of deliberations and decide future course of action”.Striking students said that they were not aware of Mr. Pathrabe”s background. Mr. Pathrabe is an officer of the 1992 batch of the Indian Information Service and is currently the Director of the Pune-based National Film Archive of India.Prashant Pathrabe has been in the media field for over two decades, having previously worked in Doordarshan News and AIR News in Mumbai. He has also been the defence spokesperson for the Indian Army”s Southern Command, Pune. Pathrabe, a MBA from IIM, Ahmedabad joined the Indian Information Service after a couple of short stints in the public and private sector companies.

Those with limited vision won’t understand unlimited vision of 56: BJP tells Rahul Gandhi

BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said Gandhi should not forget how a’chai-wala’ defeated the first family in politics of India.

Sambit Patra

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Friday hit back at Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi following his ’56-inch’ chest jibe directed at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and said that those having a limited vision of 5.6 millimetres naturally would not understand the unlimited vision of 56.BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said Gandhi should not forget how a’chai-wala’ defeated the first family in politics of India. “As far as the statement of Rahul Gandhi is concerned, he talks about watching the Hindi film ‘Lagaan’ and says the common people came together to defeat the British. I believe Mr. Rahul Gandhi must be reminded of the fact that how a common ‘chai-wala’ defeated the first family in politics of India because first family was the corrupt family,” said Patra. “Very successfully the common man of this country under the leadership of Mr. Modi rightly defeated the Congress,” he added.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Patra also used the occasion to target Robert Vadra, the son-in-law of Congress president Sonia Gandhi.”Secondly, Rahul Gandhi talks of the fact that not an inch of land would be provided to the poor of Rajasthan. Mr. Rahul Gandhi’s ‘jijaji’, that is, Robert Vadra, could be given acres and acres of land in Rajasthan and today you want even an inch of land should not be given for the promotion of the poor farmers of Rajasthan. What kind of talk is this?” he asked. “And lastly, Rahul Gandhi talks of remote control, who live by remote control often, cannot see an independent and determined Prime Minister and that is the reason as to why the ones who are controlled by the remote control from the remote control of 10, Janpath, again talk of remote control,” he added.Addressing Congress workers in Jaipur, the Congress vice-president poked fun at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ’56-inch’ chest, saying his party and the people of this country will reduce it to 5.6 inches in the next six months. He said that for the first time there is a government in the country which wants to help the opposition. The Congress vice president said Prime Minister Modi, who made tall claims and promises before the Lok Sabha polls, is least concerned about farmers, as he has now occupied the top post “Now that he has become the PM, why should he be concerned about farmers? He made several promises, but empty ones,” he said. The Congress vice president also challenged Prime Minister Modi to bring back former IPL boss Lalit Modi. He alleged that the BJP Government in Rajasthan is being run by Lalit Modi from London. “As during the days of the British Raj, the remote control of the government here was in London. Similarly, the remote control of the Rajasthan Government is in London,” he said.

Congress hits back at Arun Jaitley over jibe at its CMs skipping meet

The Finance Minister, as Leader of Opposition, had remarked that obstructions as also boycott are principles of Parliamentary democracy, he said.
File Photo
PTI
Congress hit back at Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday over his jibe at its chief ministers who boycotted a meeting convened by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to push the controversial land bill, reminding him that “you are on the other side of the table now”.Party communication department in-charge Randeep Surjewala reminded Jaitley of his own words in the Opposition that obstructions and boycott are principles of Parliamentary democracy.Recalling that Jaitley along with BJP were the biggest obstructionists for 10 years when Congress was in power, he said that the BJP did not let the Insurance Bill be passed, did not allow the GST and other important legislations be passed.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Finance Minister, as Leader of Opposition, had remarked that obstructions as also boycott are principles of Parliamentary democracy, he said.”Please remember Mr. Finance Minister, you are on the other side of the table now.”Surjewala’s attack came close on the heels of Jaitley’s statement that the chief ministers who boycotted NITI Aayog meeting must introspect whether their action was in sync with spirit of cooperative federalism.The Congress leader also accused the Modi dispensation of using meeting of the NITI AAYOG as a “tool for oppression” of the poor, oppression of the downtrodden and oppression of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes as otherwise the government would not have introduced drastic cuts in the social sector budget.”NITI AAYOG is now being propped to put a stamp of approval on the anti-farmer and anti-poor policies of the NDA Government like the Land Acquisition Act.””In constitutional democracy, it is the right of the Congress-ruled states to register their protest against prejudices and the partisan fashion in which the prime minister is not only treating the Congress states but the poor and downtrodden sections,” he added.

Vasundhara Raje took my wife to Portugal: Everything Lalit Modi said in his explosive interview

After his lawyer’s press conference, former IPL chief Lalit Modi for the first time spoke to India Today‘s Rajdeep Sardesai spoke about the entire controversy surrounding his travel documents that were approved by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

Here’s the major highlights:

A screengrab from the interviewA screengrab from the interview

A screengrab from the interview

About knowing the Swaraj-s and asking Sushma for help

The former IPL chief admitted that he had asked for the External Affairs Minister’s assistance in getting travel documents.

“I did ask her(Swaraj) help,” Modi said, adding that he would have made a similar plea to any other External Affairs Minister in office.

“It was a family, a legal whatever you may call it. We were very close. But the point is not that. I am very close to a lot of politicians, not only Mrs Swaraj,” Modi said.

He also said that he had known the family for years.

“I know Swaraj Kaushal (Sushma’s husband) for 20 years. He has been my advocate for 20 years. His daughter Bansuri had been my advocate for four years,” he said.

He also pointed out that Swaraj’s husband and daughter had provided legal services free of cost.

“Raje and Sushma supported me when my wife was sick,” he said.

About Vasundhara Raje being closer to him than Sushma Swaraj

After releasing documents to show that his travel documents were backed by Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, he said as much during the interview as well.

“My wife was being taken to Portugal by whom, by Mrs Vasundhara Raje. Nobody knows that, I am putting that on record now,” Modi said, adding she accompanied his wife Minal in 2012 and 2013.

“My relationship with Vasundhara Raje goes back 30 years. That relationship is known to everybody. She is a close friend of the family and my wife for a long time…She openly agreed to be (to be a witness), but unfortunately by the time the case went to trial, she was already chief Minister, so she did not come to become a witness. The statements she gave is all on records in the courts.”

The document had a confidentiality clause in which Raje purportedly supported Modi’s case but did not want it to be revealed to Indian authorities. And expectedly, Raje had no intention of verifying Modi’s claims.

“Of course I know the family. I have always known them…(But) I do not know what documents they are talking about,” she told reporters in Jaipur.

About knowing other politicians

Lalit Modi told India Today he was also helped by NCP leaders Sharad Pawar and Praful Patel and Congress leader Rajiv Shukla.

Shukla said he had not talked to Modi for three years while Pawar said he tried to convince the former IPL chief to return to India and face investigations.

However, Modi maintained that he hadn’t travelled to India because of security concerns.

About holidaying in Ibiza after cancer treatment

Asked about his holiday in the famous Ibiza resort three days after the surgery of his wife, Modi said the family decided to celebrate because the “revolutionary treatment” received at the Portugal medical centre helped her because the liver cancer she was suffering from was in the final stage.

How Rupert Murdoch’s behind the present controversy

Modi said that media baron Rupert Murdoch was behind the entire controversy. The Sunday Times reported the emails between Swaraj and UK MP Keith Vaz, and according to Modi, it was done because of the involvement in the Champions Twenty20 League.

According to Modi, Murdoch wanted to get out of the broadcasting rights of the loss-making league and was afraid that the former IPL chief would reveal that he was “going to tell about the no-exit clause.”

About ‘living life Kingsize’ in the face of controversy

“You know the slogan ‘live life kingsize’ was coined by Four Square which is one of my brands. So I am living life Kingsize and why not? At the end I have done nothing wrong. At the end, I have gone by the book, I have paid my dues.”

The former IPL chief said that he had been taken to task by the Indian government for no reason at all.

About staying cool despite possibly costing ministers their jobs

“I am not cool and calm about someone doing an honest day’s job and losing their job. Mr Shashi Tharoor who lost his job, lost his job because he lied,” Modi said.

Tharoor was proven to be guilty and that’s why he lost his job, Modi said.

“If they have supported me as someone who has gone through tremendous wrong by different people. All I did, my wife was very sick, and I appealed to them for their help to ensure that I could go and be with her.

On P Chidambaram hounding him

The former IPL chairman claimed that he had been paid damages because of the Indian government’s actions against him and claimed that it was Finance Minister P Chidambaram who was targeting him.

It’s P. Chidambaram…Mr. P. Chidambaram was the person who tried to deport me to India,” Modi claimed, adding that he had done it as vendetta.

“He could not do it because there were no legal grounds to do it. Mr. Chidambaram only tried to do it because he sat there as a minister. Because I took Mr. Shashi Tharoor out. It was a political vendetta and only a political vendetta. There is not a single show cause notice against me,” he said.

About getting travel documents

The former IPL chief denied that he had ever fled from the Indian justice system and said that his bid for residency in the UK had been scotched by the UPA government which had intervened.

“I went through the court systems of India. I could have got a passport of any country in the world. There were many jurisdictions available to me then as they are now to get a passport…I could have easily given up right as an Indian citizen and taken another passport and I did not do that for one reason and one reason alone. I wanted to prove to everybody that I am going to fight this because my passport was wrongly taken,” he said.

with inputs from PTI

Cow issued admit card by Jammu and Kashmir authorities to write exam

Cow issued admit card byJammu and Kashmir authorities to write exam.

Image for representational purposes only.

A cow, brown indeed, has got an admit card issued by authorities on her name to write a professional entrance examination next week and Jammu and Kashmir authorities and former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah is keen on seeing her appear in the paper.In a strange turn of events, the admit card for the entrance examination for Diploma in Polytechnic was issued by Board of Professional Entrance Examinations (BOPEE) in the name of Kachir Gaaw (Brown Cow) who is supposedly daughter of Gura Dand (Red Bull). The cow was alloted a seat at Government Degree College Bemina for writing the examination scheduled to be held on May 10.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The incident came to light after opposition National Conference spokesman Junaid Azim Mattu uploaded a copy of the admit card on social networking site twitter.com. “The J&K Board of Professional Entrance Examinations issued this roll-number slip to a cow after due verification.I have both the Provisional Confirmation Page for applicant Ms ‘Kachir Gaw’ as well as details of payment she made to BOPEE,” Mattu wrote on his account. Mattu claimed that the records about the admit card had been taken off the BOPEE site at the behest of the state government.However, after an informal heads-up was sent to the government, BOPEE was asked to take the record down from their website this morning. “(Education Minister) Mr. Naeem Akhtar @jkpdp has some explaining to do. New benchmark of progress in Education Sector under him – COWS getting roll no slips?” Matuu added.Former Chief Minister and National Conference working president Omar Abdullah also commented on Mattu’s post saying “Brilliant. I wish Kachir Gaaw had turned up for the examination.”Controller Examinations of BOPEE Farooq Ahmad Mir said there was not much the authorities could do to prevent people from playing such pranks. “All the applications are now made online. There is an image recognition software which does not differentiate between a human face and an animal picture. Someone has played a prank,” Mir said.Asked about his signature on the admit card issued to the cow, Mir said “I do not sign the admit cards in person. This is a system generated signature and comes by default,” he said. Mir, however, said BOPEE will file a complaint against the prankster. “We will track down the IP address of the person who has played this prank,” he added.

PM Modi reviews Nepal relief operations, says India will provide ‘all possible help’ to Spanish nationals

Prime Minister Narendra Modi took stock of the rescue and relief efforts in quake-hit areas at home and in Nepal on Monday night, and pushed for streamlining the operations and greater coordination among the stake-holders.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi took stock of the rescue and relief efforts in quake-hit areas at home and in Nepal on Monday night, and pushed for streamlining the operations and greater coordination among the stake-holders.Chairing a follow-up meeting to review the progress of relief and rescue operations following the major earthquake in Nepal on Saturday, Modi took stock of the evacuation of stranded people from Nepal both by air and road and provision of relief supplies and material to affected areas.The Prime Minister, according to a PMO statement, emphasized on ensuring proper coordination between the Centre and state governments both for ensuring smooth flow of relief operations in the affected states and to streamline the delivery of relief and rescue material to Nepal. He said all necessary medical help should be given to the injured, including treatment in India, if required.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Prime Minister stressed on the need for effective coordination of relief operations within Nepal and especially at Kathmandu airport. He suggested ex-servicemen could be approached to help in the coordination effort.Modi also made a broad assessment of the long-term rehabilitation and reconstruction work that would be required, especially in Nepal, and was briefed on the first steps being taken towards this end.The Prime Minister was briefed on the progress of relief and rescue work being carried out by various agencies involved both in India and Nepal.This was the third meeting chaired by the Prime Minister on the earthquake and relief and rescue operations since Nepal and Bihar, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh were hit by the quake.The meeting was attended by Union Ministers Arun Jaitley, Rajnath Singh, Manohar Parrikar, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister Nripendra Misra, Additional Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister PK Mishra and senior officials of government, IMD, and NDRF.Modi also assured Spain Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Jose Garcia-Margallo y Marfil that India will provide all possible help to the people of the European country who are stranded in earthquake-hit Nepal. Marfil, who is in India on a three-day official visit, also discussed cooperation between the two nations in various sectors including railways, renewable energy and the ‘Smart Cities’ initiative. Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter to share the topics discussed in his meeting with the visiting dignitary. “Discussed India-Spain co-operation in railways, smart cities, renewable energy in my meeting with Mr. Jose Manuel Garcia – Margallo y Marfil,” he posted. “Assured the Spanish Foreign Minister that India will provide all possible help to Spanish nationals in Nepal,” he added. India and Spain have a number of bilateral treaties and agreements with each other, with the bilateral trade between the two nations from January to August 2014 standing at US $3.37 billion.

Abdul Kalam voices concern about maternal, infant mortality rates

APJ Abdul Kalam expressed concerns about maternal mortality.

APJ Abdul Kalam
File Photo

Former president APJ Abdul Kalam on Sunday expressed his concerns about maternal mortality rate (MMR) and infant mortality rate (IMR) in the country. Inaugurating a medical facility here on Sunday, he said that the World Health Organisation has reported that India faces a high IMR and MMR. He asked the medical fraternity to take up advanced research to prevent as well as reduce mother and infant mortality. He asked doctors to serve both rich and poor equally without any discrimination. Also Read: Maharashtra government aims to lower maternal mortality ratio in tribal Maharashtra.

Modi congratulates yoga guru Yogaraj for making it to Guinness World Record

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today congratulated Hong Kong-based Indian Yoga instructor Yogaraj CP, who created a Guinness World Record by performing Yoga continuously for 40 hours non-stop.

He also lauded the role of the Indian Consulate in Hong Kong for their efforts to popularise Yoga and their support to Yogaraj.

Yogaraj CP. Image courtesy: Facebook page.Yogaraj CP. Image courtesy: Facebook page.

Yogaraj CP. Image courtesy: Facebook page.

“Congrats to Hong Kong-based Indian Yoga teacher, Mr. Yogaraj C.P. for creating a Guinness World Record!,” he tweeted. “I appreciate the Indian Consulate in Hong Kong for their efforts to popularise Yoga & their support to Mr. Yogaraj,” he said in another tweet.

The 29-year-old Indian yoga teacher set a Guinness World Record by performing Yoga continuously for 40 hours non-stop, demonstrating more than 1,500 ‘asanas’.

Before attempting the record, Yogaraj had said if he succeeds, he will dedicate the record to Prime Minister Modi, who was instrumental in the UN’s decision to declare June 21 as the International Yoga Day.

The yoga instructor did multiple twists and turns at his Tsim Sha Tsui studio, Prana Yogam, which was open to public for for the duration of the challenge. Yogaraj started practicing the discipline at the age of five and began teaching when he was 12.

PTI

Full text: Special episode of Mann ki Baat participated by PM Modi, President Obama

(Hon’ble Shri Narendra Modi):

Today, Shri Barack Obama, President of the United States, joins us in a special programme of Mann Ki Baat. For the last few months, I have been sharing my “Mann Ki Baat” with you. But today, people from various parts of the country have asked questions.

But most of the questions are connected to politics, foreign policy, economic policy. However, some questions touch the heart. And I believe if we touch those questions today, we shall be able to reach out to the common man in different parts of the country. And therefore, the questions asked in press conferences, or discussed in meetings – instead of those – if we discuss what comes from the heart, and repeat it, hum it, we get a new energy. And therefore, in my opinion, those questions are more important. Some people wonder, what does “Barack” mean? I was searching for the meaning of Barack. In Swahili language, which is spoken in parts of Africa, Barack means, one who is blessed. I believe, along with a name, his family gave him a big gift.

Good friends. PTI

African countries have lived by the ancient idea of ‘Ubuntu’, which alludes to the ‘oneness in humanity’. They say – “I am, because we are”. Despite the gap in centuries and borders, there is the same spirit of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, which speak of in India. This is the great shared heritage of humanity. This unites us. When we discuss Mahatma Gandhi, we remember Henry Thoreau, from whom Mahatma Gandhi learnt disobedience. When we talk about Martin Luther King or Obama, we hear from their lips, respect for Mahatma Gandhi. These are the things that unite the world.

Today, Barack Obama is with us. I will first request him to share his thoughts. Then, I and Barack will both answer the questions that have been addressed to us.

I request President Barack Obama to say a few words.

(Hon’ble Shri Barack Obama):

Namaste! Thank you Prime Minister Modi for your kind words and for the incredible hospitality you have shown me and my wife Michelle on this visit and let me say to the people of India how honoured I am to be the first American President to join you for Republic Day; and I’m told that this is also the first ever Radio address by an Indian Prime Minister and an American President together, so we’re making a lot of history in a short time. Now to the people of India listening all across this great nation. It’s wonderful to be able to speak you directly. We just come from discussions in which we affirmed that India and the United States are natural partners, because we have so much in common. We are two great democracies, two innovative economies, two diverse societies dedicated to empowering individuals. We are linked together by millions of proud Indian Americans who still have family and carry on traditions from India. And I want to say to the Prime Minister how much I appreciate your strong personal commitment to strengthening the relationship between these two countries.

People are very excited in the United States about the energy that Prime Minister Modi is bringing to efforts in this country to reduce extreme poverty and lift people up, to empower women, to provide access to electricity, and clean energy and invest in infrastructure, and the education system. And on all these issues, we want to be partners. Because many of the efforts that I am promoting inside the United States to make sure that the young people get the best education possible, to make sure that the ordinary people are properly compensated for their labour, and paid fair wages, and have job security and health care. These are the same kinds of issues that Prime Minister Modi, I know cares so deeply about here. And I think there’s a common theme in these issues. It gives us a chance to reaffirm what Gandhi ji reminded us, should be a central aim of our lives. And that is, we should endeavour to seek God through service of humanity because God is in everyone. So these shared values, these convictions, are a large part of why I am so committed to this relationship. I believe that if the United States and India join together on the world stage around these values, then not only will our peoples be better off, but I think the world will be more prosperous and more peaceful and more secure for the future. So thank you so much Mr. Prime Minister, for giving me this opportunity to be with you here today.

(Hon’ble Shri Narendra Modi):

Barack the first question comes from Raj from Mumbai

His question is, the whole world knows about your love for your daughters. How will you tell your daughters about youre experience of India? Do you plan to do some shopping for them?

(Hon’ble Shri Barack Obama):

Well first of all they very much wanted to come. They are fascinated by India, Unfortunately each time that I have taken a trip here, they had school and they couldn’t leave school. And in fact, Malia, my older daughter, had exams just recently. They are fascinated by the culture, and the history of India, in part because of my influence I think, they are deeply moved by India’s movement to Independence, and the role that Gandhi played, in not only the non-violent strategies here in India, but how those ended up influencing the non-violent Civil Rights Movement in the United States. So when I go back I am going to tell them that India is as magnificent as they imagined. And I am quite sure that they are going to insist that I bring them back the next time I visit. It may not be during my Presidency, but afterwards they will definitely want to come and visit.

also see

Modi-Obama Mann Ki Baat address to be aired at 8 pm on Tuesday

Obama’s ‘mann ki baat’: What PM Modi wants to hear from the US President

Mann Ki Baat: It was PM Modi’s idea to invite Obama for joint radio address

And I will definitely do some shopping for them. Although I can’t go to the stores myself, so I have to have my team do the shopping for me. And I’ll get some advice from Michelle, because she probably has a better sense of what they would like.

(Hon’ble Shri Narendra Modi):

Barack said he will come with his daughters. I extend an invitation to you. Whether you come as President, or thereafter, India looks forward to welcoming you and your daughters.

Sanika Diwan from Pune, Maharashtra has asked me a question. She asks me, whether I have sought assistance from President Obama for the Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao Mission

Sanika you have asked a good question. There is a lot of worry because of the sex ratio in India. For every 1000 boys, the number of girls is less. And the main reason for this is that, there is a defect in our attitudes towards boys and girls.

Whether or not I seek help from President Obama, his life is in itself an inspiration. The way he has brought up his two daughters, the way he is proud of his two daughters.

In our country too, I meet many families who have only daughters. And they bring up their daughters with such pride, give them such respect, that is the biggest inspiration. I believe that inspiration is our strength. And in response to your question, I would like to say, to save the girl child, to educate the girl child, this is our social duty, cultural duty, and humanitarian responsibility. We should honour it.

Barack, there is a question for you. The second question for President Obama comes through e-mail: Dr. Kamlesh Upadhyay, a Doctor based in Ahmedabad, Gujarat – Your wife is doing extensive work on tackling modern health challenges like obesity and diabetes. These are increasingly being faced in India as well. Would you and the First Lady like to return to India to work on these issues after your Presidency, just like Bill and Melinda Gates?

(Hon’ble Barack Obama):

Well, we very much look forward to partnering with organizations, and the government and non-governmental organizations here in India, around broader Public Health issues including the issue of obesity. I am very proud of the work that Michelle has done on this issue. We’re seeing a world-wide epidemic of obesity, in many cases starting at a very young age. And a part of it has to do with increase in processed foods, not naturally prepared. Part of it is a lack of activity for too many children. And once they are on this path, it can lead to a life time of health challenges. This is an issue that we would like to work on internationally, including here in India. And it is a part of a broader set of issues around global health that we need to address. The Prime Minister and I have discussed, for example, how we can do a better job in dealing with issues like pandemic. And making sure that we have good alert systems so that if a disease like Ebola, or a deadly flu virus, or Polio appears, it is detected quickly and then treated quickly so that it doesn’t spread. The public health infrastructure around the world needs to be improved. I think the Prime Minister is doing a great job in focusing on these issues here in India. And India has a lot to teach many other countries who may not be advancing as rapidly in improving this public health sector. But it has an impact on everything, because if children are sick they can’t concentrate in school and they fall behind. It has a huge economic impact on the countries involved and so we think that there is a lot of progress to be made here and I am very excited about the possibilities of considering this work even after I leave office.

(Hon’ble Shri Narendra Modi):

Mr. Arjun asks me a question. An interesting question. He says he has seen an old photo of me as a tourist outside the White House. He asks me what touched me when I went there last September.

It is true that when I first went to America, I was not lucky enough to visit the White House. There is an iron fence far from the White House. We stood outside the fence and took a photograph. White House is visible in the background. Now that I have become Prime Minister, that photo too has become popular. But at that time, I had never thought that sometime in my life, I would get a chance to visit the White House. But when I visited the White House, one thing touched my heart. I can never forget that. Barack gave me a book, a book that he had located after considerable effort. That book had become famous in 1894. Swami Vivekananda, the inspiration of my life, had gone to Chicago to participate in the World Religions Conference. And this book was a compilation of the speeches delivered at the World Religions Conference. That touched my heart. And not just this. He turned the pages of the book, and showed me what was written there. He had gone through the entire book! And he told me with pride, I come from the Chicago where Swami Vivekananda had come. These words touched my heart a lot. And I will treasure this throughout my life. So once, standing far from the White House and taking a photo, and then, to visit the White House, and to receive a book on someone whom I respect. You can imagine, how it would have touched my heart.

Barack there is a question for you. Himani from Ludhiana, Punjab. Question is for you ……:

(Hon’ble Shri Barack Obama):

Well the question is “Did you both imagine you would reach the positions that you’ve reached today?”

And it is interesting, Mr. Prime Minister, your talking about the first time you visited White House and being outside that iron fence. The same is true for me. When I first went to the White House, I stood outside that same fence, and looked in, and I certainly did not imagine that I would ever be visiting there, much less living there. You know, I think both of us have been blessed with an extraordinary opportunity, coming from relatively humble beginnings. And when I think about what’s best in America and what’s best in India, the notion that a tea seller or somebody who’s born to a single mother like me, could end up leading our countries, is an extraordinary example of the opportunities that exist within our countries. Now I think, a part of what motivates both you and I, is the belief that there are millions of children out there who have the same potential but may not have the same education, may not be getting exposed to opportunities in the same way, and so a part of our job, a part of government’s job is that young people who have talent, and who have drive and are willing to work for, are able to succeed. And that’s why we are emphasizing school, higher education. Making sure that children are healthy and making sure those opportunities are available to children of all backgrounds, girls and boys, people of all religious faiths and of all races in the United States is so important. Because you never know who might be the next Prime Minister of India, or who might be the next President of United States. They might not always look the part right off the bat. And they might just surprise you if you give them the chance.

(Hon’ble Shri Narendra Modi):

Thank you Barack.

Himani from Ludhiana has also asked me this question – did I ever imagine I would reach this high office?

No. I never imagined it. Because, as Barack said, I come from a very ordinary family. But for a long time, I have been telling everyone, never dream of becoming something. If you wish to dream, dream of doing something. When we do something, we get satisfaction, and also get inspiration to do something new. If we only dream of becoming something, and cannot fulfil the dream, then we only get disappointed. And therefore, I never dreamt of becoming something. Even today, I have no dream of becoming something. But I do dream of doing something. Serving Mother India, serving 125 crore Indians, there can be no greater dream than this. That is what I have to do. I am thankful to Himani.

There is a question for Barack from Omprakash. Omprakash is studying Sanskrit at JNU. He belongs to Jhunjunu, Rajasthan. Om Prakash is convener of special centre for Sanskrit Studies in JNU.

(Hon’ble Shri Barack Obama):

Well this is a very interesting question. His question is, the youth of the new generation is a global citizen. He is not limited by time or boundaries. In such a situation what should be the approach by our leadership, governments as well as societies at large.

I think this is a very important question. When I look at this generation that is coming up, they are exposed to the world in ways that you and I could hardly imagine. They have the world at their fingertips, literally. They can, using their mobile phone, get information and images from all around the world and that’s extraordinarily powerful. And what that means, I think is that, governments and leaders cannot simply try to govern, or rule, by a top-down strategy. But rather have to reach out to people in an inclusive way, and an open way, and a transparent way. And engage in a dialogue with citizens, about the direction of their country. And one of the great things about India and the United States is that we are both open societies. And we have confidence and faith that when citizens have information, and there is a vigorous debate, that over time even though sometimes democracy is frustrating, the best decisions and the most stable societies emerge and the most prosperous societies emerge. And new ideas are constantly being exchanged. And technology today I think facilitates that, not just within countries, but across countries. And so, I have much greater faith in India and the United States, countries that are open information societies, in being able to succeed and thrive in this New Information Age; than closed societies that try to control the information that citizens receive. Because ultimately that’s no longer possible. Information will flow inevitably, one way or the other, and we want to make sure we are fostering a healthy debate and a good conversation between all peoples.

(Hon’ble Shri Narendra Modi):

Omprakash wants me too, to answer the question that has been asked to Barack.

Barack has given a very good answer. It is inspiring. I will only say, that once upon a time, there were people inspired primarily by the Communist ideology. They gave a call: Workers of the world, Unite. This slogan lasted for several decades. I believe, looking at the strength and reach of today’s youth, I would say, Youth, Unite the world. I believe they have the strength and they can do it.

The next question is from CA Pikashoo Mutha from Mumbai, and he asks me, which American leader has inspired you

When I was young, I used to see Kennedy’s pictures in Indian newspapers. His personality was very impressive. But your question is, who has inspired me. I liked reading as a child. And I got an opportunity to read the biography of Benjamin Franklin. He lived in the eighteenth century. And he was not an American President. But his biography is so inspiring – how a person can intelligently try to change his life.

If we feel excessively sleepy, how can we reduce that?

If we feel like eating too much, how can we work towards eating less?

If people get upset with you that cannot meet them, because of the pressure of work, then how to solve this problem?

He has addressed such issues in his biography. And I tell everyone, we should read Benjamin Franklin’s biography. Even today, it inspires me. And Benjamin Franklin had a multi-dimensional personality. He was a politician, he was a political scientist, he was a social worker, he was a diplomat. And he came from an ordinary family. He could not even complete his education. But till today, his thoughts have an impact on American life. I find his life truly inspiring. And I tell you too, if you read his biography, you will find ways to transform your life too. And he has talked about simple things. So I feel you will be inspired as much as I have been.

There is a question for Barack, from Monika Bhatia.

(Hon’ble Shri Barack Obama):

Well the question is “As leaders of two major economies, what inspires you and makes you smile at the end of a bad day at work?”

And that is a very good question. I say sometimes, that the only problems that come to my desk are the ones that nobody else solves. If they were easy questions, then somebody else would have solved them before they reached me. So there are days when it’s tough and frustrating. And that’s true in Foreign Affairs. That is true in Domestic Affairs. But I tell you what inspires me, and I don’t know Mr. Prime Minister if you share this view – almost every day I meet somebody who tells me, “You made a difference in my life.”

So they’ll say, “The Health-Care law that you passed, saved my child who didn’t have health insurance.” And they were able to get an examination from a Physician, and they caught an early tumour, and now he is doing fine.

Or they will say “You helped me save my home during the economic crisis.”

Or they’ll say, “I couldn’t afford college, and the program you set up has allowed me to go to the university.”

And sometimes they are thanking you for things that you did four or five years ago. Sometimes they are thanking you for things you don’t even remember, or you’re not thinking about that day. But it is a reminder of what you said earlier, which is, if you focus on getting things done as opposed to just occupying an office or maintaining power, then the satisfaction that you get is unmatched. And the good thing about service is that anybody can do it. If you are helping somebody else, the satisfaction that you can get from that, I think, exceeds anything else that you can do. And that’s usually what makes me inspired to do more, and helps get through the challenges and difficulties that we all have. Because obviously we are not the only people with bad days at work. I think everybody knows what it is like to have a bad day at work. You just have to keep on working through it. Eventually you make a difference.

(Hon’ble Shri Narendra Modi):

Indeed Barack has spoken words from the heart (Mann Ki Baat). Whatever position we may hold, we are human too. Simple things can inspire us. I also wish to narrate an experience. For many years, I was like an ascetic. I got food at other people’s homes. Whoever invited me, used to feed me as well. Once a family invited me over for a meal, repeatedly. I would not go, because I felt they are too poor, and if I go to eat at their place, I will become a burden on them. But eventually, I had to bow to their request and love. And I went to eat a meal at their home. It was a small hut, where we sat down to eat. They offered me roti made of bajra (millet), and mik. Their young child was looking at the milk. I felt, the child has never even seen milk. So I gave that small bowl of milk to the child. And he drank it within seconds. His family members were angry with him. And I felt that perhaps that child has never had any milk, apart from his mother’s milk. And maybe, they had bought milk so that I could have a good meal. This incident inspired me a lot. A poor person living in a hut could think so much about my well-being. So I should devote my life to their service. So these are the things that serve as inspiration. And Barack has also spoken about what can touch the heart.

I am thankful to Barack, he has given so much time. And I am thankful to my countrymen for listening to Mann Ki Baat. I know radio reaches every home and every lane of India. And this Mann Ki Baat, this special Mann Ki Baat will echo forever.

I have an idea. I share it with you. There should be an e-book made of the talk between Barack and me today. I hope the organizers of Mann Ki Baat will release this e-book. And to you all, who have listened to Mann Ki Baat, I also say, do participate in this. And the best hundred thoughts that emerge out of this, will also be added to this e-book. And I want you to write to us on Twitter, on Facebook, or online, using the hashtag #YesWeCan.

• Eliminate Poverty – #YesWeCan
• Quality Healthcare to All – #YesWeCan
• Youth empowered with Education – #YesWeCan
• Jobs for All – #YesWeCan
• End to Terrorism – #YesWeCan
• Global Peace and Progress – #YesWeCan

I want you to send your thoughts, experiences and feelings after listening to Mann Ki Baat. From them, we will select the best hundred, and we will add them to the book containing the talk that Barack and I have had. And I believe, this will truly become, the Mann Ki Baat of us all.

Once again, a big thank you to Barack. And to all of you. Barack’s visit to India on this pious occasion of 26th January, is a matter of pride for me and for the country.

Thank you very much.

Sunanda Pushkar case: Police was informed about Sunil even earlier, says Subramanian Swamy

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramanian Swamy on Friday said the police was informed even earlier that a person named Sunil had come to see Sunanda Pushkar, the wife of Congress leader and former union minister Shashi Tharoor, before her death.”As far as Sunil’s character is concerned, who had come to see her just a little before Sunanda Pushkar’s death and was seen by her loyal servant, Mr. Narain, this is the matter that the police had been told about earlier by the domestic helper,” Swamy said.”The police did nothing because till the Congress Party was in power, they wanted to hush up this case. I think the police seriously began taking this matter after Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh took my letter, telling him that I will be compelled to go on a PIL,” Swamy said.”He also said that at that time he was very much seized of the question whether a SIT should be appointed and was waiting for a police report,” he added.Swamy further said it’s only then the police began to compile a report. “And I think, they must have done some investigation. The hotel now claims that they have given all the close circuit records to the police. So, I am sure that the person will be identified by the police. And now, they are the best persons who can make it public who this Sunil is,” he added.Tharoor is presently undergoing treatment at a hospital in Perumbayil Mana Ayurvedic resort near Guruvayur in Kerala’s Thrissur district.Managing Director of Perumbayil Mana Ayurvedic resort, Sanjiv Karpur, said that Tharoor would be discharged this afternoon.He also said Tharoor has agreed to meet the media before he leaves.”He will meet the media friends because as I was talking to him about the media people waiting here for last three days. He said definitely, on his way, definitely he will interact with you, and then, he will check out around 5 O’clock. That is what the last information,” said Karpur.Delhi Police Commissioner B.S. Bassi had earlier on Wednesday said that a Special Investigation Team (SIT) has been formed to carry forward the probe in the case.Bassi also said that the police is as of now is proceeding according to the action plan, and added that every aspect is being examined carefully.Sunanda, who married Tharoor in 2010, had checked into The Leela Hotel in Chanakyapuri a day before her death on January 17, 2014.Tharoor’s aides said the couple had checked into the luxury hotel because of renovation work at his Delhi bungalow.Prior to her death, Sunanda was embroiled in a spat with Pakistan-based journalist, Mehr Tarar, whom she accused of stalking her husband.

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