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IAS officer from SC community converts to Islam, takes VRS claiming ‘victimization’

According to reports, Vasundhara Raje was not too keen in making Salodia as the Chief Secreatry as he has only a few months to retire.

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<!– /#sidebar-second –>President Pranab Mukherjee leaves for Delhi after southern sojourn<!– /.block –>Engineering exporters protest against govt decision to restrict steel imports<!– /.block –> <!– /#content_bottom –>
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Fire breaks out at Telangana CM K Chandrashekhar Rao’s controversial ritual

Sunday is the last day of the ritual. The ritual, which reportedly cost Rs 7 crores and is being attended by many dignitaries including President Pranab Mukherjee, has been heavily criticised at a time when the agrarian crisis in Telangana is severe and farmer suicides a major issue.

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TN Governor K Rosaiah, Sharad Pawar attend the ‘Rs 7 crore Yagam’ performed by Telangana CM KCR

However, opposition parties such as Congress, BJP and CPI(M) hit out at him for allegedly misusing government machinery. President Pranab Mukherjee is expected to attend the ‘yagam’ tomorrow, according to a release from Rao’s office. Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu would also attend the event tomorrow.

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Online jihadis abuse girls who went on an army sponsored tour

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Online moral police and separatists are gunning for the group of 30 girl students for going on an Indian army sponsored Bharat dharshan. From calling for social boycott to asking boys not to marry these girls, the online abuse against the students has broken all records.

It is turning out to be redux of the Praagaash controversy in the strife torn Kashmir.Online moral police and separatists are gunning for the group of 30 girl students for going on an Indian army sponsored Bharat dharshan. From calling for social boycott to asking boys not to marry these girls, the online abuse against the students has broken all records.Unfazed by the abuses, the girls put up a brave face as they arrived after the 10 days of tour on Wednesday. From saluting to shouting loud Jai Hind to singing patriotic and Bollywood numbers, the girls’ message was loud and clear that they cannot be browbeaten to submission by online abusers and separatists.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Around 80 girls had signed in for the 10 days tour to different parts of the country. However the army pruned the list and selected 30 girls who were taken to Delhi, Agra and other places. During their tour, the girl students met President Pranab Mukherjee, HRD minister Smriti Irani and visited parliament.But back home, the girls and the parents had to face abuse where in the online `jihadis’ posted pictures and videos on social networking sites calling for social boycott of the families. “Third rate girls from third rate families”, reads one abusive post on the face book.Another netizen asked the society to boycott these girls and their families. One face book user even went to the extent asking boys not to marry these girls. “Kis besharam baap ki beti (daughter of shameless father)”, reads another abusive post.The abuse had an eerie similarity with Praagaash all girls rock band which was disbanded after Grand Mufti of Kashmir Bashir ud-din Ahmad issued fatwa calling music un-Islamic in 2013. This had followed abusive and hate messages posted on the social networking sites against the three girls of the band.Unperturbed by the abuse, the girl students said the tour has helped them to open up vistas and horizons. “It was a great experience for all of us. World opened before us”, said one of the girlsLieutenant General Satish Dua, General Officer Commanding (GoC) 15 corps, admitted that some of the comments were so low that he could not even mention it here. “It is up to the civil society to take stock and whether young girls should be subject to such trauma”, he said.The army commander said it was very voluntary tour with the assistance of schools, education department and with the consent of parents. “In fact we had the list of 80 students. But we had to prune it down. And those who could not tour were disappointed”, he said.Lieutenant General Dua said India is a free country and everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. “Social media even more so. Similarly the children and parents are entitled to their opinion and attitudes,” he said.

President Mukherjee begins his 14-day southern tour

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Governor ESL Narasimhana and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao along with some of his ministerial colleagues and senior officials received the President at Hakimpet Air Force base

Pranab Mukherjee

President Pranab Mukherjee today arrived here for his 14-day southern sojourn upto December 31, at the Rashtrapati Nilayam.Governor ESL Narasimhana and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao along with some of his ministerial colleagues and senior officials received the President at Hakimpet Air Force base. During the sojourn, the President will attend the convocation of Military College of Electronics and Mechanical Engineering (MCEME), Secunderabad on December 19, an official release had said earlier. The President would attend the second convocation of the Central University of Karnataka on December 22 at Gulbarga in Karntaka. On the same day, he will inaugurate the Magneto Encephalography Equipment and renovated heritage building of the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences (NIMHANS), Bengaluru.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He will also dedicate NIMHANS to the nation as an institute of national importance. On December 23, the President will attend the 150th anniversary of Bishop Cotton Boys’ School and lay the foundation stone of the State Cancer Institute at the Kidwai Memorial Institute of Oncology, Bengaluru.On December 25, the President will inaugurate the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam’s Veda-Patasala at Ai Bhimavaram in Andhra Pradesh. On December 27, Mukherjee would deliver the inaugural address at the Indian Economic Association’s Annual Conference at Prof Jayashankar Telangana State Agricultural University, Hyderabad. On the same day, he will also attend the ‘Purnahuthi’ of ‘Ayutha Chandi Maha Yagam’ being organised by the Telangana Chief Minister at Erravelli village in Medak in Telangana for ‘Lok Kalyanam’ (universal prosperity) and ‘Vishwa Shanthi’ (universal peace).ESL Narasimhan, Governor of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh will host a dinner in honour of the President on December 29. The President will host a reception for senior dignitaries of the state, Ministers, officials and others at the Rashtrapati Nalayam, Secunderabad on December 30. The Nilayam is one of the Presidential Retreats. It is customary for the President to visit the Nilayam at least once a year and conduct official business from there.

My daughter’s name was Jyoti Singh and I am not ashamed to name her, says Nirbhaya’s mother

The 23-year-old paramedical student was brutally sexually assaulted on the ill-fated night of December 16 three years ago, and died 13 days later, triggering a massive public outrage.

Nirbhaya’s mother Asha Devi addresses at a programme to observe the third anniversary of Nirbhaya gang-rape case as Nirbhaya Chetna Divas at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Wednesday.

PTI
In a brave homage to her daughter, the mother of the December 16 gangrape victim on Tuesday took her name in public, and said people who commit heinous crimes like rape should hang their heads in shame and not the victims or their families.The 23-year-old paramedical student was brutally sexually assaulted on the ill-fated night of December 16 three years ago, and died 13 days later, triggering a massive public outrage. Among many, her spirit continued to live, and in tribute she was given the name ‘Nirbhaya’ or brave heart. But, today on the third anniversary of the infamous incident that shocked the entire world, the victim’s mother Asha Devi, in a display of extraordinary courage, took her daughter’s name in public.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”My daughter’s name was Jyoti Singh and I am not ashamed to name her. Those who commit heinous crimes like rape, their heads should hang in shame, not the victims or their families. You should take her name too,” she said at ‘Nirbhaya Chetna Diwas’ in New Delhi, a public event organised by women’s and citizens groups at the Jantar Mantar to mark the anniversary.The parents of the girl, Asha Devi and Badri Singh Pandey also demanded that juvenile convict, allegedly the most brutal” of the six offenders, and scheduled to be released on December 20, should not be released, citing he was a threat to the city.”On the third death anniversary of our death, we are seeing the release of the juvenile convict. Where is justice in that? I do not know whether he is 16 or 18. I only know that he has committed a brutal crime and there should be no age limit for punishment,” Asha said.She also put forth four demands from a public platform that the five accused including the juvenile convict should be sentenced to death, fast-track courts be set up in all the courts to offer speedy justice to sexual assault victims, amendments to the Juveniles Justice Act be passed and utilisation of Nirbhaya Fund for setting up high quality forensic labs in all states.Celebrities like Javed Akhtar, Shabana Azmi, Delhi Congress chief spokesperson Sharmistha Mukherjee, and various women’s groups had gathered at the Jantar Mantar to pay homage to the girl and agreed that it was the certainty of justice which can bring about a change.The Jantar Mantar street after the incident had virtually turned into a public memorial for her, with people flocking in from all parts of the city to light up a candle or offer a prayer in her memory, with many moved to tears, recalling the brutality the young girl was subjected to. Today also, candle light vigils, prayer meetings and a series of other events marked three years of the heinous gangrape and death of the girl, that left the nation benumbed.

100 Indian railway stations to get wi-fi by 2016-end, says Sundar Pichai

“Our focus on bringing Internet access to everyone, making sure our products are working for them in a meaningful way and then ensure our platform allows them to add their voice to the Internet,” the India born CEO said.

Technology giant Google will bring Internet connectivity to 100 railway stations across the country by next year, its CEO Sundar Pichai said on Wednesday.This is part of the US-based firm’s focus on bringing Internet to everyone in India, which has the world’s second largest population.”100 stations will have wi-fi by December 2016. Mumbai Central (station) to go live by January. This is in partnership with RailTel,” Pichai said at a Google for India event.The telecom wing of the Indian Railway, RailTel, had signed an agreement with the subsidiary of Google India to provide wi-fi facilities at 400 stations across the country.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>During his two-day visit, Pichai will meet President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He will also address students at a Delhi University college.”Our focus on bringing Internet access to everyone, making sure our products are working for them in a meaningful way and then ensure our platform allows them to add their voice to the Internet,” the India born CEO said.Pichai, who is on his maiden visit to India after taking over as the CEO of Google earlier this year, said the company is also expanding its headcount in India, especially in engineering operations.”Google is looking at hiring people for Bangalore and Hyderabad… We will also build huge new campus in Hyderabad to build capabilities,” he said.Pichai said as part of Google’s efforts to help women get online, the company is expanding bicycle for women programme nationally.”From a pilot, we will now expand the programme to cover three lakh villages in three years,” he said.

PM Narendra Modi takes a dig at Congress in Kerala

The event was marred by a controversy with Chief Minister Oommen Chandy being told to stay away after being invited at the instance of SNDP yogam chief Vellapalli Natesan who received the prime minister.
File Photo
PTI
With Parliament paralysed, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday launched a blistering attack on the Congress saying its only programme is to “destroy” the country because it cannot reconcile to defeat in the Lok Sabha polls.”Disrupt, Destruct and Demolish” is now the Congress slogan brushing aside President Pranab Mukherjee’s counsel for debate, dissent and decision for Parliament to function, he said in his broadside, a fortnight after he reached out to them in a bid to sort out differences over the GST bill.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Those who have been defeated and sent home are saying now that we have been destroyed we will destroy you (ruling side) too, whatever happens to the country. We will not let Parliament run,” he said in an obvious reference to the Congress’s stalling tactics, especially in the Rajya Sabha, without naming the main opposition party.”They have made a joke of Parliament’s functioning,” he said addressing a gathering at a function organised by Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam (SNDP), an outfit of the backward ezhava Community whose votes the BJP is hoping to woo in the Assembly elections in the state due early next year.The event was marred by a controversy with Chief Minister Oommen Chandy being told to stay away after being invited at the instance of SNDP yogam chief Vellapalli Natesan who received the prime minister. On the occasion, Modi unveiled a statue of former chief minister R Sankar, who hailed from the ezhava community and belonged to the Congress. Modi recalled President Mukherjee’s speech in Kolkata on Sunday where he said there are three D’s through which Parliament functions and these are debate, dissent and decision.In an apparent reference to Congress citing Mukherjee’s remarks on intolerance, he said the Congress has the habit of quoting him every now and then and “run it for 15 days” but they are not ready to take note of what he had said in Kolkata.”They have eaten the 3 Ds. They like only one D which is destruct–that is disrupt, destruct, demolish. They have only this D. They have forgotten President’s three Ds,” Modi said.”Our path is the 3 Ds shown by the President and the 4th D for us is development,” he said, amidst cheers by the assembled audience.

Invoke Nirbhaya Act to check crime against women: Chandrababu Naidu

The CM said that the ‘call money operators’ who indulged in violence against women borrowers should be punished under the ‘Nirbhaya Act’.

Chandrababu Naidu

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu has asked the District Collectors to “invoke” the stringent ‘Nirbhaya Act’ against the anti-social elements who indulge in violence against women.”The law and order mechanism should function effectively and also take preventive measures to check the crime, particularly crime against women. Invoke ‘Nirbhaya Act’ against anti-social elements, particularly against those who indulge in sexual violence on women,” Naidu said after inaugurating a two-day conference of Collectors here. He expressed concern over the recent incidents of spurious liquor trade and ‘call money racket’ in Vijayawada.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The CM said that the ‘call money operators’ who indulged in violence against women borrowers should be punished under the ‘Nirbhaya Act’. The Vijayawada Police had on Saturday booked a case against some people of a company in connection with lending loans to women and allegedly forcing them to indulge into immoral activities when they could not repay the amount. So far nine ‘money call operators’ have been arrested in this connection.Naidu also said that the ‘call money’ racket operators deserve punishment, irrespective of political affiliations. The state CPI unit yesterday demanded that the government should check activities of ‘call money’ operators in the city and do justice with victims of the racket that was busted on Saturday. The YSRCP yesterday alleged that some TDP leaders are involved in the case.”There are reports which point out that the perpetrators of the crime have links with TDP leaders and are supporters of the ruling party and there are efforts to cover up the issue, but we demand that the culprits should be brought to book,” YSRCP spokesperson K Parthasarathi told reporters here. The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, passed in 2013, provides for amendment of Indian Penal Code, Indian Evidence Act, and Code of Criminal Procedure-1973, on laws related to sexual offences. It was originally an Ordinance promulgated by President Pranab Mukherjee in April 2013, following protests in connection with the 2012 Delhi gang rape case.

All communities should get space in national narrative: President Pranab Mukherjee

In a public address at the Asiatic Society, Pranab Mukherjee called on to education, to do away with casteism and religion-based mariginalization.

President Pranab Mukherjee

File Photo
President Pranab Mukherjee, on Monday, underlined the need for respecting the sensitivities of the minorities and said effort should be made to maintain an atmosphere where every community finds a space in the national narrative.”We must encourage a broad human outlook in all our citizens and educate them to rise above caste or communal loyalties. We must learn to respect the rights and sensitivities of minorities, both in letter and spirit,” he said while delivering the Indira Gandhi Memorial Lecture of the Asiatic Society, at Kolkata.”We must strive to maintain an atmosphere where every community feels a part of the national narrative,” he said and called for cultivation of a secular and democratic outlook and promote a way of life that was inclusive and did not interfere with civic duties and rights as well as responsibilities of individuals.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He also warned against regional interests overtaking commitment to national interest.”Sometimes, it does happen that regional interests overtake our commitment to the national interest. We have to guard against any such tendency,” the President said.He said that while all Indian languages must receive encouragement and support, in a linguistically plural society some accommodation in favour of the national imperatives would always be required.Knowledge about different religions and great saints who took birth here should be part and parcel of everyone’s education, he said, adding that focus should remain on raising the standard of living and reducing existing disparities in power, wealth, income, consumption and utilisation of social services like education or health.Mukherjee said the state must do its best to reduce regional imbalances and provide a just, fair and good administration which would ensure equal treatment to every citizen irrespective of his caste, religion, race, colour, sex or place of birth.Calling for maintaining an atmosphere where every community feels a part of the national narrative, Mukherjee said national integration demands that every citizen recognise the primacy of national interest over group or individual interests.Appreciating the role of Asiatic Society, the President said it was founded by William Jones and was declared an Institution of National importance by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1984 through an Act of Parliament.”It can be said that the revival of India’s spirit originated here. The world’s attention was drawn to India’s philosophical thought, literature, mathematics, astronomy, and scientific investigations,” he said.

PM Modi wishes President Mukherjee on his birthday

“I convey my heartfelt wishes to our beloved President, Shri Pranab Mukherjee on his birthday. I pray for his long and healthy life,” Modi tweeted.

Pranab Mukherjee
File Photo
Reuters
Prime Minster Narendra Modi on Friday greeted President Pranab Mukherjee on his 80th birthday, saying he is an “invaluable asset” to the nation.”I convey my heartfelt wishes to our beloved President, Shri Pranab Mukherjee on his birthday. I pray for his long and healthy life,” Modi tweeted.”President Mukherjee’s long years in public life make him an invaluable asset to our nation. His wisdom and intelligence have few parallels,” Modi wrote.In another tweet Modi said Mukherjee had always been a respected leader with friends and well-wishers across the political spectrum.Born on December 11, 1935 in Mirati West Bengal, Mukherjee has a political career spanning six decades.

BJP delegation to meet President Pranab Mukherjee to demand Virbhadra Singh’s removal

The ED has filed a case under provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) against the Congress leader after taking cognisance of a criminal complaint filed by the CBI in this regard in September.

Escalating its attack against Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, a high-level BJP delegation will meet on Wednesday President Pranab Mukherjee seeking removal of Singh who is being probed by CBI, Enforcement Directorate and IT department over graft charges. The party delegation will include Union Minister JP Nadda and party MPs from the state, including Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) president Anurag Thakur, BJP sources said.Besides, former Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, state BJP chief Satpal Singh Satti and party general secretary and in-charge of Himachal wing Srikant Sharma will also be part of the delegation, they said. The BJP has been putting pressure for Singh’s ouster ever since cases have been registered against him by CBI and ED. The delegation will also handover a memorandum to President Mukherjee in this regard, the sources said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The ED has filed a case under provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) against the Congress leader after taking cognisance of a criminal complaint filed by the CBI in this regard in September. The agency will investigate the allegation that Singh and his family members allegedly amassed wealth of Rs 6.1 crore between 2009-11, disproportionate to his known sources of income, while serving as the Union Minister of Steel. CBI suspects that during the period, Singh allegedly invested Rs 6.1 crore in life insurance policies in his and his family members’ names through an LIC agent claiming this money to be his agricultural income.It alleged Singh attempted to legitimise the same as agricultural income by filing revised income tax returns in 2012.

Real dirt of India lies not on the streets but in ‘our minds’, says President Pranab Mukherjee

“Every day, we see unprecedented violence all around us. At the heart of this violence is darkness, fear and mistrust. While we invent new modes of combating this ever spiralling violence, we must not forget the power of non-violence, dialogue and reason,” said President Pranab Mukherjee.

The real dirt of India lies not on the streets but in “our minds and in our unwillingness to let go of views that divide society into them and us”, President Pranab Mukherjee said in Ahmedabad on Tuesday emphasising on cleansing minds of divisive thoughts.Speaking at a function in Sabarmati Ashram here, Mukherjee cited Gandhiji’s vision of India as an inclusive nation where every section of population lived in equality and enjoyed equal opportunity and said the essence of being human is “our trust of each other”.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Every day, we see unprecedented violence all around us. At the heart of this violence is darkness, fear and mistrust. While we invent new modes of combating this ever spiralling violence, we must not forget the power of non-violence, dialogue and reason,” he said.Mukherjee has been speaking against intolerance after the Dadri lynching incident and subsequent events.He said Ahimsa (or non-violence) is not a negative force and “we must free our public discourse of all forms of violence, physical as well as verbal. Only a non-violent society can ensure the participation of all sections of the people, especially the marginalised and the dispossessed in our democratic process.”The President said Gandhiji gave us an object lesson in Ahimsa by taking the assassin’s bullets with the name of Rama on his lips.Inaugurating the Archives and Research Centre at the Ashram, he said the real dirt of India lies not in our streets but in our minds and in our unwillingness to let go of views that divide society into ‘them’ and ‘us’, ‘pure’ and ‘impure’.”We must make a success of the laudable and welcome Swatch Bharat Mission.However, this also must be seen as just the beginning of a much larger and intense effort to cleanse minds and fulfil Gandhiji’s vision in all its aspects,” said Mukherjee, who is on three-day maiden visit to Gujarat.He said, “So long as the dehumanising practice of carrying night soil persists, we cannot have real Swacch Bharat”.Mukherjee said Gandhiji is not just the “Father of our Nation’ but also the maker of our nation as he gave us the moral vector to guide our actions, a measure by which we are judged.”Gandhiji saw India as an inclusive nation where every section of our population lived in equality and enjoyed equal opportunity.He saw India as a country which would celebrate and constantly strengthen its vibrant diversity and commitment to pluralism.”Gandhiji wanted our people to move forward unitedly in ever widening thought and action.And most of all, he did not want us to convert the celebration of his life and message into a mere ritual,” the President said.The real essence of Gandhiji’s legacy and its continuing resonance lies in his injunction to us that all our actions must keep in mind the last person.The last person in India is often a woman, a Dalit or an Adivasi.”We must constantly ask ourselves, do our actions have meaning for them?, he asked.Mukherjee said we must empower the poorest of the poor.”Everyone must act as trustees of collective welfare and wealth. The essence of being human is our trust of each other.The damage we see to the environment all around us- reminds us of the need for trusteeship, the President said.”Only those who are confident of their conviction, secure in their faith and rooted in their culture can hope to live in an open house, an open society.If we close ourselves in, seek to be immune from other influences, it shows that we are prepared to live in a house that is devoid of fresh breeze,” Mukherjee said.Remembering Gandhiji’s favourite Bhajan, “Vaishnava Jana To” which was being sung this morning as he entered ‘Hriday Kunj’ in the Ashram, he said this immortal hymn of Narsinh Mehta says the true devotee is one who is compassionate and moved by empathy for others.”This capacity for compassion and empathy is the true foundation of our civilisation,” Mukherjee said.Gandhiji used a very special word for civilisation, Sudhar (improvement). Sudhar is not just the good path or the right path but also that which holds human civilisation together. Let us pledge to join hands and build an India that truly exemplifies this Sudhar,” he added.

Intolerance debate: Why so much hullabaloo over Aamir Khan’s statement, asks Nagma

She wondered why so much hullabaloo has been created over his statement on “intolerance” when similar sentiments have been expressed by some other prominent personalties.

Actress and Congress member Nagma on Friday came out in support of Aamir Khan over his comments on “growing intolerance” and said the superstar never thought of leaving India, as she slammed BJP leaders like Yogi Adityanath over their remarks. She wondered why so much hullabaloo has been created over his statement on “intolerance” when similar sentiments have been expressed by some other prominent personalties. Asked by reporters to comment on Khan’s statement, the filmstar-politician shot back “kaun sa pahad toot gaya hai desh par (what big trouble his statement has caused)?” The 40-year-old “Baaghi” actress criticised BJP leaders like Yogi Adityanath for targeting Khan.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”When did Aamir say he wants to leave the country? There is a false propaganda against him. He never said he wants to leave India.” The 50-year-old actor has featured in advertisements for the Government of India and does not belong to any political party, she said. The General Secretary of All-India Mahila Congress had come to Jambusar town in Bharuch district to campaign for party candidates contesting the taluka panchayat polls slated for November 29.President Pranab Mukherjee, RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan and Infosys co-founder NR Narayana Murthy, among others, have also spoken on the issue of intolerance, she said. The Congress politician took potshots at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his frequent foreign visits, saying “he should be issued an NRI (Non-Resident Indian) passport”. Nagma alleged law and order situation is deteriorating in BJP-ruled Gujarat, where she claimed attacks on women are increasing. She criticised the Gujarat government for extending soft loan at 0.1 per cent interest to Tata Motors for their Nano car plant in Sanand near Ahmedabad.

Noted poet Ashok Vajpeyi says RSS trying to distort Hinduism, turn it into monolithic faith

Vajpeyi, who was among the writers who returned their awards, accused RSS of ‘distorting’ Hindu religion and insisted that the government should do its job of protecting interests of people.

Poet Ashok Vajpeyi

Authors like him had no option but to “dramatise” their protest against growing intolerance by returning awards for a “visible” impact, noted poet Ashok Vajpeyi said on Thursday.He also claimed that President Pranab Mukherjee has expressed the view that “puraskar wapsi” was a way of expressing dissent.Speaking on the sidelines of an event organised to mark Constitution Day in Delhi, he asserted that writers had raised voices against “intolerance” for one-and-half years, but no one took notice of it, compelling them to take such a step.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Vajpeyi, who was among the writers who returned their awards, accused RSS of “distorting” the definition of Hindu religion and insisted that the government should do its job of protecting interests of people.”We had no option but to dramatise (protest) because no one paid attention to the issues we raised earlier. Had we not done so (returned awards), you would not be asking us questions (now).”For a year-and-a-half, I had been writing on these issues in my column, but it had no impact. Thirty of us issued a statement, but majority of newspapers did not even carry it. So, we thought of this (returning award) as the socially visible action,” Vajpeyi said.He further claimed that during an interaction with Mukherjee on Wednesday, the President admitted that the return of awards by writers and intellectuals was “evidently spontaneous” and a way of protest that has triggered a nation-wide debate on the issue of intolerance.”Now even the Parliament wants to discuss it,” he added. Vajpeyi also dismissed allegations that awards returning was a “motivated” protest and ridiculed Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh for his reported charges that the demonstrators were “paid” for the same by Congress.”The minister says from holy soil of US that Congress paid us for returning awards. Yesterday someone asked me that we were paid Rs 15 lakh for the protest. Forget my case, but will anyone be able to buy authors like Romila Thapar? She had refused to accept Padma award from Congress government. How can anyone question her integrity,” he asked.Vajpeyi termed the allegations as ones aimed at “character assassination” of demonstrators as the ruling class lacked logic. The poet though maintained he will not take back the award once returned even if situation “improves” and added “puraskar wapsi” was never an issue for the scholars, but the “growing intolerance” in the country.”There is no question of taking it back. But there is no intention to insult the awards. We are not demeaning that. We are only using it to attract attention towards a certain issue, to express our dissent against what is happening via a spontaneous protest,” Vajpeyi added. The poet further accused RSS of trying to “cementise” Hindu religion which, he said, is “diverse” in nature, into one/singular concept.”Hindu religion is diverse in nature. RSS is trying to cementise it. Bringing in one God, one book concept. This can’t happen as Hindu religion by nature is diverse. RSS is distorting definition of Hindu religion. “This definition will turn 90 years next year… It has been trying to turn India into Hindu Rashtra. But it has failed,” he noted.Vajpeyi also advised those attending the event to ask questions “fearlessly” in the present democratic setup as it had been the tradition of the country for ages and needs to be kept intact. “Our tradition has been of raising questions fearlessly. We have questioned Gods too. Nachiketa had questioned Yama. Yaksha had questioned Yudhisthir and other Pandavas. So, questioning is an age-old tradition. We cannot relinquish it. Democracy has only strengthened the tradition. We have to keep it intact,” he said.The gathering of civil society members was also addressed by former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court Rajinder Sachar, who also administered a pledge by reading out text of preamble to the attendees.Besides the duo, lawyers Indira Jaising and Usha Ramanathan, social activist Nikhil Dey, Paul Diwakar of National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights, Bezwada Wilson of the Safai Karmchari Aandolan addressed the gathering.

Intolerance debate: Pranab Mukherjee said Award Wapsi was ‘evidently spontaneous’, claims group of intellectuals

A three-member delegation comprising Ashok Vajpeyi (poet), Vivan Sundaram (painter) and Om Thanvi (journalist) had called on the President on Wednesday and submitted a memorandum on behalf of writers, artists, scientists and academics.

Pranab Mukherjee

President Pranab Mukherjee has said that the return of awards by writers and intellectuals was “evidently spontaneous” and a way of protest that has triggered a nation-wide debate on the issue of intolerance, a release issued today by a group of intellectuals has claimed.A three-member delegation comprising Ashok Vajpeyi (poet), Vivan Sundaram (painter) and Om Thanvi (journalist) had called on the President on Wednesday and submitted a memorandum on behalf of writers, artists, scientists and academics. They sought his intervention to persuade the Central and state governments to ensure tolerance, freedom of expression and mutual cooperation, the release said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The President expressed the view that ‘award-wapsi’ is a way of protest and it has been evidently spontaneous. He feels that the reason India has survived, though many more ancient civilisations have disappeared, is due to its pluralism over millenia. “The recent protests by writers, artists, scientists and academics have made the issue of intolerance a matter of nation-wide debate,” the President was quoted as having told the three-member delegation.The delegation thanked the President for speaking repeatedly against growing intolerance and also requested him ‘as the head of the nation’ to do all that is possible to advise and persuade states and central governments, political parties and all others to act decisively to end the incidents of intolerance.They should ensure that the ethos of tolerance, mutual cooperation, respect for plurality and difference, scope for dissent and dialogue, freedom of expression are all ensured and given full and free expression both in deeds and words, the release said.

Jamia invites PM Modi for annual convocation; yet to receive confirmation

Last year, President Pranab Mukherjee was the chief guest at the convocation of the university, which was founded in 1920 and became a central university in 1988

PTI
Jamia Millia Islamia has invited Prime Minister Narendra Modi to be the chief guest at its annual convocation this year.The varsity has, however, not received any confirmation from the PMO regarding the same. “We are looking forward to host Prime Minister Narendra Modi at our university. We had extended an invitation to him earlier this month to be the chief guest at our annual convocation. We have not received any communication from the PMO so far,” the university spokesman Mukesh Ranjan said.Last year, President Pranab Mukherjee was the chief guest at the convocation of the university, which was founded in 1920 and became a central university in 1988. The invitation assumes significance as Modi, who has not visited the university so far, had attacked Jamia in 2008 after the Batla House encounter in September that year.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Addressing a gathering in Gujarat, he had said, “There is a university in Delhi called Jamia Millia Islamia. It has publicly announced that it will foot the legal fee of terrorists involved in act. Go drown yourself. This Jamia Millia is being run on government money and it is daring to spend money on lawyers to get terrorists out of jail. When will this vote bank politics end?” Modi’s comments had come following a statement by the then Jamia VC Mushirul Hasan that the university would offer legal aid to two of its students arrested for their suspected involvement in terror activities.

President Mukherjee, Narendra Modi wish nation on Guru Nanak Jayanti

The founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak Dev Ji has remained an icon of truth, compassion, and righteousness through his noble life.

AFP
President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice-President Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday, extended their greetings to the nation on the occasion of Guru Nanak Devs birthday.”On the joyous occasion of the birthday of Guru Nanak Devji, I convey greetings and good wishes to all my fellow countrymen” said President Mukherjee. Added, “Guru Nanak Devji believed that service of man is supreme. He called upon all people to lead a moral and righteous life.”Vice-President Ansari also wished the nation on the auspicious occasion. “The founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak Dev Ji has remained an icon of truth, compassion, and righteousness through his noble life,” he said. “His divine teachings would forever inspire us to follow the path of righteousness and show respect for all humankind irrespective of caste, creed or religion.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On Twitter, Prime Minister Modi wished the nation and also reminded the country of Guru Nanak Dev’s message. Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, was born on April 15, 1469 in Rai-Bhoi-di Talwandi in the present Shekhupura district of Pakistan, now Nankana Sahib. His birthday is celebrated on Kartik Poornima, the full moon day in the month of Kartik.

Rahul Gandhi encouraging radical elements in Punjab, says CM Parkash Badal

Punjab deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal with President Mukherjee

With assembly elections in Punjab still more than a year away, political parties in the state are racing to cozy up with Sikh hardline factions, to shape their political fortunes. While Akali Dal-BJP combine is accusing Congress of fomenting trouble and encouraging return of militancy, the ruling dispensation under chief minister Parkash Singh Badal is redoubling efforts to build a memorial for those killed fighting against Indian Army during 1984 Operation Blue Star and also seeking pardon for a number of jailed Sikh militants and commutation of sentence to the killers of former chief minister Beant Singh.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Rattled at the huge congregation at “Sarbat Khalsa” on November 10 near Amritsar, where Badal government was criticised, Punjab deputy CM Sukhbir Badal on Saturday knocked doors of President Pranabh Mukherjee, accusing the Congress of playing a “big role” behind the gathering and encouraging the revival of militancy in the state.He directly accused Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi of repeating the mistakes of his grandmother late Indira Gandhi, who encouraged hardline Sikh factions to clip Akali Dal, but at the end, the fire returned to haunt her. Rahul Gandhi, Badal further alleged, went to Punjab and encouraged radical elements at a time when Pakistan’s ISI is already on the lookout to foment trouble in the state. He demanded action against the Congress.Congress leaders Ramanjit Singh Sikki and Inderjit Singh Zira also addressed the gathering. Sikki, MLA from Khadoor Sahib, had resigned from the assembly, following an incident of sacrilege at a village in his constituency.Punjab BSP chief Avtar Singh Karimpuri addressed the congregation and assured his support to the Panthic leaders as they were fighting for a “just cause”.Before leaving for Rashtrapati Bhavan, junior Badal played transcripts of conversation purportedly of certain Congress leaders allegedly in conversation with a senior leader of Sikh hardline group United Akali Dal, and assuring him to mobilise crowd for the congregation. “Congress party’s senior leaders participated and masterminded holding of the Sarbat Khalsa on November 10. They gave directions in the congregation for passing the resolutions and bringing people,” he said. Badal even demanded that Congress be declared an anti-national party and its recognition be revoked for supporting an anti-national gathering, where speakers openly talked of creation of separate Sikh state of Khalistan.Meanwhile, Congress deputy leader in Lok Sabha Amarinder Singh accused Badals of hiding the real issues and their government’s own failure. At the same time, he asked: “By claiming to be in possession of the telephone recordings of our leaders, hasn’t the government admitted that it has been tapping the telephones of political opponents which is a serious criminal offence?”Singh said the presence of huge number of people at ‘Sarbat Khalsa” was an expression of anger against the Badal government and not a sign ofsupport to Khalistan as being projected by Badal and Khalistan protagonist Simranjit Singh Mann. He said not only the Congress leaders, but the leaders of other political parties like the Bahujan Samaj Party and Aam Aadmi Party also attended the congregation.

Time to reinforce civilisational values that bind diversity of India, says President Pranab Mukherjee

President Pranab Mukherjee was speaking at the first ever International Conference of Indologists in New Delhi.

President Pranab Mukherjee
File Photo
PTI
Asserting that pluralism and multi-culturalism are at the very core of the Indian psyche, President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday warned that “worst impulses of intolerance and hatred” are confronting the world and the time has come to reinforce civilisational values that bind together the country’s complex diversity.”We are today, witnessing events without precedent: when the world is struggling to deal with the worst impulses of intolerance and hatred that mankind has ever witnessed. At such a time, there can be no better recourse that to remind ourselves of the high values, written and unwritten samskaras (tradition), duties and the way of life that is the essence of India. This is the time to reinforce the civilisational values that bind together the complex diversity of modern-day India and promote them among our people and the world,” he said while inaugurating the first-ever International Conference of Indologists in New Delhi.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ever since the Dadri lynching, killing of two dalit children in Uttar Pradesh and unrelenting protest by intellectuals, scientists, film-makers and others over “rising intolerance”, Mukherjee has been appealing for tolerance and pluralism. He asked the scholars, who will be deliberating on various matters during the three-day conference, not to excessively dwell on ancient times or merely fill us with nostalgia about India’s grand past but “highlight the manner in which pluralism and multi-culturalism are at the very core of the Indian psyche”.”I am confident that your deliberations over the next three days will highlight the manner in which pluralism and multi-culturalism are at the very core of the Indian psyche. They will surely make an important contribution to our existing body of knowledge in the area of Indology,” the President told the gathering that included 22 leading Indologists from different parts of the world as also several Indian scholars.Mukherjee also gave away the first Distinguished Indologist Award to Prof Emeritus Heinrich Freiherr von Stietencron of Germany in recognition of his great work in Indology, which is study of India from the perspectives of history, culture, religious and languages, among others.The award, instituted by External Affairs Ministry and Indian Council for Cultural Relations, comprises USD 20,000 and a citation. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was also present during the function.

Goa CM Laxmikant Parsekar asks FTII students to call off IFFI protests

The protesting FTII students will gather outside the venue of the opening ceremony of IFFI today.

“They should not protest. If necessary, I will speak to them, understand their issues…as well as speak to the Centre about this,” Parsekar said. (File Photo)

dna Research & Archives
Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar has urged the FTII students not to go ahead with their planned protests at the IFFI inaugural venue on Friday, even offering to negotiate with them over the issue. Speaking at a press conference after a cabinet meeting, Parsekar first claimed ignorance about the protest and later said, “they should not do it”. “They should not protest. If necessary I will speak to them, understand their issues…as well as speak to the Centre about this. After all the Central government is our own government,” Parsekar said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The protesting FTII students will gather outside the venue of the opening ceremony of IFFI today.”Some of us will sing songs, show films about our strike and distribute pamphlets and interact with filmmakers during IFFI-2015,” Kislay Gonsalves, spokesperson for the protesting students had said. “In spite of the public outcry against the said appointments, the ministry refused to revoke the same despite being generally accepted as ‘mistakes’. We withdrew our 139-day long strike on October 12 without any of our core demands being addressed. The strike has been withdrawn but the protest is continuing,” he said. “We will gather outside the Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Stadium, Goa University, Taleigao where the opening ceremony for IFFI is scheduled to take place,” Gonsalves added.FTII students went on a strike on June 12 protesting against the appointment of TV actor and BJP member Gajendra Chauhan as chairman of the institute’s Governing Council, claiming it as a partisan appointment by the government. “The innovative, non-violent, academic and cultural nature of the almost five month long strike resonated with students, artists, filmmakers and academics not only across the country but also internationally,” Gonsalves said.”However, instead of paying due weightage to the collective voice of the people, the government resorted to blatant high-handed measures to bulldoze the protests,” he added. The 46th edition of IFFI will kick off later today with veteran actor Anil Kapoor set to preside over the opening ceremony as the chief guest.

President Mukherjee gives message of unity in diversity

The President was speaking during a function to celebrate 500th year of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s advent in Vrindavan.

Pranab Mukherjee

Living with diversity and finding unity in diversity is practised in India over centuries and it is part of our civilisational values, President Pranab Mukherjee said in Vrindavan on Wednesday against the backdrop of debate on ‘intolerance’ in the country.”Living with diversity, finding unity in diversity is practised in India over centuries. That is why many people wonder how is it possible in India, in one system of administration, in one Constitution, in one way of legal jurisprudence and functioning. “Is it possible to accommodate, to absorb so much diversity. Many a time we are confronted with these questions,” he asked and answered himself that “the answer lies in our civilisational values.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The President was speaking during a function to celebrate 500th year of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s advent in Vrindavan. Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was a revered monk and a reformer in the medieval India. Mukherjee said that (civilisational values) is the reason why we live with 128 crores of people, the second largest population of the world, with almost all major religions. Seven major religions are practised in India, more than 100 languages are spoken and over 1,600 dialects are used in India, he said.”All three major ethnic groups Dravidians, Caucasians and Mongolites. They live in one piece of land. In whole of north eastern India you will find the concentration of Mongolite people. Whole south India, you will find Dravidian people and in North and North West, people belonging to Caucasians group. All these major ethnic groups live in one state.”It had been possible because of our cultural values, civilisational values, which has taught us over centuries and which has descendant on us and we have nurtured it which is a part of life and therefore it is no cliche to us,” the President said. Ever since the Dadri lynching and subsequent events, Mukherjee has been appealing for tolerance and pluralism.Citing teachings of various spiritual leaders and poets, he asked people to accept the message of great saints and “recharge our society, retransform ourselves with love and harmony”. He said India’s civilisation is 5,000 years old. “It has been contributed by many saints various sages but all converge into one vast ocean of humanity,” Mekherjee said. Later, the President visited Sri Radha Raman Temple to pay obeisance.

‘Growing intolerance’: Express disagreement through debate, discussion, says President Pranab Mukherjee

lthough the President did not refer to any particular incident, his comments assume significance as these came against the backdrop of certain cases which were seen as reflection of ‘intolerance’.

Pranab Mukherjee

Against the backdrop of ‘intolerance’ debate, President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday said disagreement should be expressed through debate and discussion without letting emotions “overrun reason”.Observing that “sensitive minds” sometimes get disturbed by some incidents in the society, he advocated a “balanced” expression of concern over such events.”Sensitive minds sometimes get disturbed by some incidents in society. But, expression of concern over such events should be balanced. Emotions should not overrun reason, and disagreement should be expressed through debate and discussion,” the President said addressing an event organised by the Press Council of India (PCI) on the occasion of National Press Day.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”We must, as proud Indians, have confidence in the idea of India and the values and principles enshrined in our Constitution. India has always been able to self-correct whenever such a need has arisen,” he added while speaking on the topic ‘The impact and import of cartooning and caricatures as a medium of expression of opinion’.Although the President did not refer to any particular incident, his comments assume significance as these came against the backdrop of certain cases which were seen as reflection of ‘intolerance’.At the fuction, he paid tributes to legendary cartoonists like RK Laxman and Rajinder Puri. He also referred to Jawaharlal Nehru and said he used to repeatedly tell cartoonist V Shankar to not spare him in his work.”This open mindedness and appreciation of genuine criticism is one of the lovable traditions of our great nation, which we must preserve and strengthen,” Mukherjee said. The President also said that freedom of the press in India forms part of the freedom of expression which is guaranteed by the Constitution as a fundamental right.In a democracy, he said, various challenges will emerge from time to time and these should be addressed collectively. “We must ensure that the letter and spirit of the law always remains a living reality,” he said.Speaking at the event where Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore and PCI chairman Justice (retd) CK Prasad were present, Mukherjee also said that the growth of newspapers and agencies in the country has its roots in our freedom struggle.

Nation remembers Jawaharlal Nehru on 126th birth anniversary

Mukherjee, Ansari, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh along with top Congress leaders paid floral tributes to Nehru at his memorial ‘Shanti Van’ on the banks of Yamuna here.

File photo.

The nation on Saturday fondly remembered the country’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru on his 126th birth anniversary with President Pranab Mukherjee and Vice President Hamid Ansari leading the country in paying homage to him.Mukherjee, Ansari, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh along with top Congress leaders paid floral tributes to Nehru at his memorial ‘Shanti Van’ on the banks of Yamuna here.The NDA leaders, however, were conspicuous by their absence at the event.Congress President Sonia Gandhi, party Vice President Rahul Gandhi, senior party leaders Sheila Dikshit, Ajay Maken, Anand Sharma and Bhupinder Singh Hooda were among those who paid homage at the memorial.At the end of the ceremony, the dignitaries released tricolour balloons in the air amid playing of bands and patriotic songs by school children.Nehru was born to Motilal Nehru and Swaroop Rani on November 14, 1889, in Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh and his birthday is celebrated as Children’s Day in India as he was fond of children.

Forget eating, beef was ayurvedic medicine in ancient India, claims veteran scientist

“The flesh of the cow is beneficial for those suffering from the loss of flesh due to disorders caused by an excess of vayu, rhinitis, irregular fever, dry cough, fatigue, and also in cases of excessive appetite resulting from hard manual labour.”

File Photo

Veteran scientist PM Bhargava, who returned his Padma Bhushan to protest rising intolerance in the country, had written a letter to President Pranab Mukherjee. In the letter, he said that ancient Indian scriptures didn’t prohibit beef eating and ayurveda itself prescribes beef as medicine. He quoted the Charaka Samita saying: “The flesh of the cow is beneficial for those suffering from the loss of flesh due to disorders caused by an excess of vayu, rhinitis, irregular fever, dry cough, fatigue, and also in cases of excessive appetite resulting from hard manual labour.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Bhargava also hit out at the Modi government ‘the least knowledgeable and least concerned about science’. He said that the ‘climate of religious conservatism was a major obstacle in the functioning of science’.The history of cow slaughter is complicated. The perception that cow slaughter was introduced in India by Mughal rulers is fallacious. Early texts suggest that even our gods liked cattle meat. Indra liked bull’s meat while Agni preferred cow’s and bull’s meat, which explains why they were routinely sacrificed and even used as medicine. (Read Prof Ram Puniyani’s explanation in The Hindu about how beef-eating habits changed in ancient India)

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

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

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

Anupam Kher. PTIAnupam Kher. PTI

Anupam Kher. PTI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PTI

OROP stir: Now, military veterans to return medals in protest

New Delhi: Armed forces veterans staging a protest in New Delhi to press their demand for ‘One Rank, One Pension’ (OROP) scheme on Friday announced that they will return their medals across the country on 9-10 November.

“We have unanimously decided to return our medals across India,” said Group Captain VK Gandhi, the general secretary of Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement.

Representational image. Firstpost

Representational image. Firstpost

On 145th day of the protest at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi and across the country, the armed forces veterans also decided to escalate, upgrade and intensify their agitation.

“The government is willing to provide us an OROP, which is full of discrepancies and is not as per its definition. To protest, all ex-servicemen with their medals will line up in discipline and dignified manner in each district across the nation on 9-10 November,” Gandhi told reporters in New Delhi.

“The district magistrate will collect the medals and if he doesn’t come to collect it, the medals will be left behind. The DMs will be requested to guard their medals. We would request them to send these medals either to Prime Minister Narendra Modi or to President Pranab Mukherjee,” he added.

The agitation of armed forces veterans continued even after the central government announced the OROP scheme on 5 September.

The veterans have said what government announced is not OROP, but ‘One Rank, Five Pension’.

IANS

90% Indian universities have outdated curriculum: CNR Rao

Rao also called for eliminating the bureaucratic hassles in the education system.

Eminent scientist and Bharat Ratna awardee CNR Rao believes that 90% of the universities and higher educational institutions in the country have an outdated curriculum, keeping them from making into the top institutes of the world.”90% of the universities in our country have an outdated curriculum. We talk about increasing funds, increasing infrastructure but there is no improvement in the content we are teaching in our hi-tech classrooms,” Rao said on Wednesday during the ongoing Visitor’s Conference at the Rashtrapati Bhawan.”One of the major reasons behind why Indian institutions don’t make it to the top 100 universities in the world. There are a lot of Indian students abroad who want to study in our country and come back, but there are no quality colleges to offer them the same kind of environment and education,” he said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Maintaining that Indian institutions need to improve, Rao, who is currently serving as the Head of the Scientific Advisory Council to the Prime Minister, also asserted that the talent search in the country is “marginal”.”Talent search in our country has always been marginal. We teach our students what Newton and Faraday did, but there is no mechanism to look out for similar talent in interiors of the country,” he said.Rao also called for eliminating the bureaucratic hassles in the education system.”You want to introduce a course, institute a fellowship, establish an exchange programme, utilise the already allocated funds… there are so many laws, too many bureaucratic rooms.I think that process should be simplified,” he said.Heads of 114 institutions where President Pranab Mukherjee is the Visitor are participating in the three-day Visitors’ Conference which started on Thursday.The subjects that will be deliberated upon during the conference include creating inter-linkages of Industry-Academia, interfacing with ranking agencies, providing impetus to research and innovation in educational eco-system, establishing international networks and workforce sustainability, among others.Also addressing the conference were Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi and renowned geneticist MS Swaminathan.”Though the introduction of Right to Education (RTE) has contributed to a significant progress in the sector but the lack of three things – inclusion, quality and equity, are still roadblocks in ensuring progress at the ground level,” Satyarthi said.Swaminathan, known as ‘Indian Father of Green Revolution’, called for developing courses in “Sustainability Science” in all the institutions.

Congress slams Anupam Kher for planning counter tolerance march

The Congress party on Thursday lashed out at Anupam Kher for planning to lead a tolerance debate march to the Rashtrapati Bhawan, saying the veteran actor should introspect if he has right to speak for the artists when he is wearing the ?spectacles of a particular political party.

The Congress party on Thursday lashed out at Anupam Kher for planning to lead a tolerance debate march to the Rashtrapati Bhawan, saying the veteran actor should introspect if he has right to speak for the artists when he is wearing the ?spectacles of a particular political party.”If you wear spectacles of a particular political party then you should introspect whether you have the right to speak for the artists and people associated with culture,” Congress leader Manish Tewari told ANI.”Unfortunately if you have completely subscribed yourself in a world view and cannot see the obvious, then you should introspect if you can speak for a community. Well, you can always speak for yourself,” he added.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Kher, who had criticised the filmmakers returning their awards to protest “rising intolerance” in the country, is set to lead a tolerance debate march to the President’s house on November 7 to counter it.The announcement came two days after Congress president Sonia Gandhi led a protest march against the ‘rising intolerance in the country? to the Rashtrapati Bhawan and submitted a memorandum to President Pranab Mukherjee.Meanwhile, Tewari also expressed his disappointment over Yoga Guru Baba Ramdev’s remark that Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan should return the money earned after receiving the prestigious Padma Shri award.”What have we come down to, even Ramdev speaks about artists of India who have won acclaim and honour across the world. Whether it is Mehdi Hassan, Ghulam Ali or Jagjit Singh, Pankaj Udhas, Shivkumar Batalvi, all of them are a part of the common heritage and traditions. If we try and divide them then we do so at our own peril,” he said.

Volcanic ash in Indonesia further delays Vice President Ansari’s Brunei visit

Officials sources said that with the situation not improving, the Vice President’s visit to Brunei is likely to be cancelled.

Hamid Ansari

Vice President Hamid Ansari’s departure from Indonesia to Brunei has been further delayed following shutting down of operations at the Bali airport due to spewing of ash from a rumbling volcano. Officials sources said that with the situation not improving, the Vice President’s visit to Brunei is likely to be cancelled. Ansari was scheduled to leave Bali this morning but the flight was cancelled, officials said, adding, there seemed very little possibility that Ansari may be able to leave today and he may head directly to India.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> It is learnt that one of the factors because of which the Brunei trip may be cancelled is that Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao has arrived in India on a five-day visit to the country. Li, is scheduled to hold talks with Ansari and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 6, besides calling on President Pranab Mukherjee. As per the earlier schedule, the Vice President was to leave Bali yesterday, but his departure had to be deferred due to closure of Bali International Airport following the spewing of volcanic ash. Ansari had arrived in Indonesia on November 1 and after two days in Jakarta had arrived in Bali November 3. In Bali Ansari had yesterday visited the famous Tanah Lot Temple and addressed students of the University of Udayana, The closure of Bali airport has forced closure of hundreds of flights and left many tourists stranded. The closure of the airport, one of of Indonesia’s busiest, follows a volcanic eruption on the nearby island of Lombok. According to reports, volcano-blasted ash and debris thousands of feet into the air has disrupted flight operations.

Shah Rukh Khan row: Minority Affairs Minister Heptulla defends BJP party members’ comments

“Had he not said anything of that sort, people from my party would not have made such comments. People from my party have not commented on their own, but have only reacted to his remark,” she said.

File Photo

Advising Shah Rukh, Heptulla asked him to speak about tolerance and integrity in the country as people will follow his words, instead of complaining. She maintained her party members would not have criticised the actor had he not made the remark in the first place. “Had he not said anything of that sort, people from my party would not have made such comments. People from my party have not commented on their own, but have only reacted to his remark,” she said.Shah Rukh had on Monday come out strongly against what he called “extreme intolerance” in the country, saying intolerance towards creativity and religion will hurt the country. Reacting to the same, senior BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya attacked the Bollywood superstar over the comment saying his “soul” is in Pakistan though he lives in India and also painted him as an “anti-nationalist”.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While Vijayvargiya today retracted his tweet, BJP distanced itself from his remarks saying what he has said is “not the view of the BJP”. Controversial BJP MP Yogi Adityanath also compared Shah Rukh to Pakistani terrorist Hafiz Saeed, the mastermind of Mumbai carnage, and suggested that he go to Pakistan. Heptulla also hailed Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s statement that India can never be intolerant. “India has embraced people from all over the world. What Arun Jaitley said is absolutely correct, we are most tolerant in the world,” she said. Replying to queries pertaining to Congress’s protest march to President Pranab Mukherjee on the issue of intolerance yesterday, Jaitley had stressed that “there is harmony in the country, which has never been intolerant and will never be.”

Congress’ intolerance march: Sonia Gandhi accuses PM Modi of ‘endorsing’ incidents of hate

Covering a distance of more than a kilometre from the Gandhi statue in Parliament to the Presidential estate on the Raisina Hill, Gandhi led a delegation to President Pranab Mukherjee and handed over a memorandum against “fear, intolerance and pressure tactics” orchestrated by some organisations.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Vice President Rahul Gandhi leading the leaders and parliamentarians in a march from Parliament to Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on Tuesday to protest against the alleged rise in intolerance.

PTI
Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday took to the streets and led a march of its top leaders to Rashtrapati Bhavan to protest against the climate of growing intolerance in the country and accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of “endorsing” incidents of hate.Covering a distance of more than a kilometre from the Gandhi statue in Parliament to the Presidential estate on the Raisina Hill, Gandhi led a delegation to President Pranab Mukherjee and handed over a memorandum against “fear, intolerance and pressure tactics” orchestrated by some organisations.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Whatever incidents are happening in the country today are part of a well thought-out strategy being adopted deliberately to divide our society,” she told reporters quoting from the memorandum given to the President.Image Courtesy: PTIThe Congress President said what was happening in the country was a matter of deep concern to every Indian and the President has already made clear his views on them.”But the Prime Minister is silent. It clearly indicates that he endorses all these incidents,” said Gandhi, who was flanked by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, leaders of the party in Parliament Mallikarjun Kharge and Ghulam Nabi Azad, besides Rahul Gandhi and A K Antony.Gandhi said some outfits linked to the government and some of them part of the government are indulging in acts that are an assault on the multi-coloured culture and fundamental ideas of the society and are fuelling intolerance.”The Congress party will fight these forces with all its strength,” she said.Image Courtesy: PTIRahul Gandhi also attacked the Prime Minister for his “silence” and said he does not believe it is necessary for him to speak on these incidents while the President and the RBI Governor have conveyed their concerns.”The Prime Minister and the Finance Minister believe nothing is happening in the country and they feel everything is fine. This is the heart of the problem. These people believe in intolerance. Ideologically they are not tolerant. It is not a matter of just Congress party alone. It is a problem of every single Indian …and the PM does not believe in that,” he said.Asked about Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s comment that protests against intolerance are manufactured, he said “yes, the RSS and BJP people are manufacturing these incidents. The Finance Minister feels there is nothing going on. He should go to the villages and see what is happening.”He attacked Union Minister V K Singh saying “when two dalit children were burnt to death, he called them dogs. He should not be in the cabinet.””Large numbers of people have made it clear that they are unhappy with the way this government views this country,” he said.Gandhi parried a question on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in the wake of Indira Gandhi’s assassination. The Congress delegation told the President that a “sinister campaign” was being unleashed to create social and communal tension in the country.”It is being done with the objective of polarising society and disturbing social harmony,” the Congress said.
Image Courtesy: PTIThe opposition party also expressed its gratitude to the President for speaking out “strongly and unequivocally against forces of prejudice, bigotry and intolerance, its memorandum said while expressing deep regret that the Prime Minister had not deemed it fit to do so.”Worse, his council of ministers continue to harbour individuals who are contributing heavily to spreading hate and divisiveness. Congress conveys its grave concern at growing atmosphere of fear, intolerance and intimidation being deliberately created by sections of ruling establish men,” it said.The march came against the backdrop of protests by artistes, writers and scientists over rising intolerance as reflected in the Dadri lynching, beef row and other such incidents. They also expressed their gratitude to Mukherjee for speaking out strongly and unequivocally against the force of prejudice, bigotry and intolerance.Police barricaded the route of the march and deployed a large number of personnel. Many Congress leaders were not allowed to march towards Rashtrapati Bhavan as police allowed only a small delegation to enter it.

PM Modi’s silence on incidence of intolerance points to his tacit support: Sonia Gandhi

The Congress president had met President Mukherjee last evening seen by many as the precursor to her sounding bugle of a full-fledged confrontation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA Government over the issue of ‘growing intolerance’.

Sonia-Rahul

Congress president Sonia Gandhi, accompanied by her party delegation, reached the Rashtrapati Bhawan to make an appeal to President Pranab Mukherjee to use his constitutional powers to end the ‘atmosphere of intolerance; in the nation.Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi was also part of the march, which began from the Parliament House . The Congress president had met President Mukherjee last evening seen by many as the precursor to her sounding bugle of a full-fledged confrontation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA Government over the issue of ‘growing intolerance’.The meeting, which was described by the Congress to be a courtesy call, took place hours after Prime Minister Modi blasted the grand old party during an election rally in Bihar and reminded them of the 1984 riots.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Amid criticism from various quarters over the recent untoward incidents in the country, Prime Minister Modi said the Congress leaders had no right to talk about tolerance when they were involved in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.The Congress? attempt to put the government in dock comes at a time when eminent persons from all walks of life, be it authors, historians, scientist or rating agencies are expressing their concern over the growing trend of intolerance under the NDA regime. Later speaking to the press, Congress President said that. “Whatever happening is painful. The Prime Minister’s “silence” on incidents of intolerance points to his tacit support to such activities”.”The incidents taking place are part of a well-thoughtout strategy to divide our society Incidents of intolerance are issue of serious concern for every Indian. Congress will fight the forces involved with all its strength”, said Sonia Gandhi. Rahul Gandhi was even more scathing in his criticism. He said, “Large numbers of people have made it very clear that they are unhappy with the way this Govt views this country”.Congress also expressed deep regrets that PM has not deemed it fit to do so, his Ministers Continue to harbour individuals..who are contributing heavily to spreading hate and divisiveness.No action has been taken against them,Congress states in its memorandum. Ahead of their ‘tolerance’ march, the Congress on Tuesday slammed the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA Government for limiting the number of protesters only to 125, saying it was a blatant attempt to curb freedom and democracy. Slamming the Centre for limiting the number of protesters to 125, Surjewala said on what grounds were the restriction being imposed on the main Opposition party.”If you put such kind of restrictions on the main opposition party, what will you do with the freedom of the common man? Are Congress leaders a threat to the security of Delhi? This is a curb on freedom”, he added.The Delhi Police had earlier informed the Congress that only 125 people would be permitted to participate in the march. The stretch that the party will march on, from Parliament to the President’s House, is under prohibitory orders and heavy security has been deployed.
With ANI inputs

Where is intolerance? India will never be intolerant, says Union Minister Arun Jaitley

New Delhi: Asserting that India will never be intolerant, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday rejected Congress’ pitch on the issue, saying opponents must fight political battles politically, and wondered “where is the intolerance”.

Calling as “aberrations” some of the recent incidents including the beef row, Jaitley insisted that there is “no justification” in returning of awards and the national situation “is absolutely peaceful. India is fully committed as a liberal democracy to peaceful co-existence”.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. PTIFinance Minister Arun Jaitley. PTI

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. PTI

“There is an atmosphere of harmony. This country has never been intolerant and will never be intolerant,” the BJP leader said.

He was replying to questions including about the protest march of Congress to President Pranab Mukherjee on the issue on Tuesday and Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Contemporary Sciences holding a seminar with ‘Leftist’ intellectuals on the issue.

Stressing that “political opponents must fight political battle politically”, the Finance Minister said that it is “not fair” to create an issue due to political reasons and then link it to government even when incidents of crime are happening in states ruled by other parties.

“Where is the intolerance? We are the most vibrant democracy. The atmosphere will not change only by talking. If some incident happens like the one in Karnataka, which is Congress-ruled, you cannot link it to the central government to attack. That is not fair.

“This is a crime and action should be taken against whoever commits crime. That is why people in the mainstream in the country have opposed it,” he said.

The Minister was speaking after unveiling the plans for the 46th International Film Festival of India. The IFFI is being held in Goa between November 20 and November 30.

BJP and Congress have locked horns over the issue of “growing intolerance” in society, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday saying the Congress president had no moral right to lecture the NDA on tolerance and it should “hang its head in shame” for the 1984 anti-Sikh riots where thousands were massacred.

Congress chief Sonia Gandhi yesterday met President Mukherjee ahead of the proposed march by party leaders to Rashtrapati Bhavan today to request him to invoke his constitutional powers to stem the “atmosphere of intolerance”.

Jaitley also expressed confidence that the issue will have no impact on the IFFI.

“I do not see any reason why anyone should try and disturb any event in India. It’s not a good practice. It’s not a good principle,” he said.

Replying to question on whether the government is talking to film makers who are returning awards, Jaitley wondered “when there is an atmosphere of peace in the country, what is the justification in returning awards”.

“There is no justification in returning awards,” he asserted adding that they are selected for awards by people from their profession for their work.

The Finance Minister downplayed film star Shahrukh Khan’s comments after he joined the chorus against “growing intolerance” in the country saying that “religious intolerance and not being secular…is the worst kind of crime that you can do as a patriot”.

Jaitley said, “Nobody is ready to say in this country that there should be intolerance. What is wrong if somebody says that there should be no intolerance in the country.”

Jaitley also refused to join issue with former Union minister Arun Shourie, a supporter-turned-critic of Narendra Modi who has attacked both the BJP leaders.

“I do not need to answer any personal comment on me,” he said.

The Finance Minister also declined to comment on a question about sulking BJP leader Shatrughan Sinha, who said that while Jaitley was responsible for the defeat of BJP in Delhi, Amit Shah has to take responsibility if BJP loses Bihar.

“I need not make a comment on that,” Jaitley said.

PTI

dna Must Read: From latest on Indian killed in Nepal to Congress’ march against intolerance tomorrow

Top 5 stories which you must read at this hour.

1) PM Modi speaks to Nepal PM KP Oli, expresses ‘shock’ over killing of IndianPrime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday expressed “shock” over the unfortunate killing of a youngster from Bihar due to police firing in Nepal and requested for details from his Nepalese counterpart KP Oli during a telephonic conversation. Read full story here2) Awards Wapasi: Noted historian Shekhar Pathak from Uttarakhand returns Padma Shri<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Announcing the decision at the ongoing 4th Nainital Film Festival which got underway in the tourist town today, Shekhar Pathak said his move was in “protest against the atmosphere of growing intolernace in the country and the neglect of the Himalayan region”. To read the full story, please click here.3) Calling PM Modi victim of intolerance will give him fullest justification for being vengeful: Arun ShourieArun Shourie also agreed with the suggestion that Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah were pitting one community against another in Bihar and cited a Pakistani analyst to say that while the neighbouring country was trying to get out of the pit, India was slowly going down its way.​ Read it here.4) Sonia Gandhi meets President Mukherjee ahead of march against intolerance tomorrowCongress chief Sonia Gandhi on Monday met President Pranab Mukherjee ahead of the proposed march by party leaders to Rashtrapati Bhavan on Tuesday to request him to invoke his constitutional powers to stem the “atmosphere of intolerance”.​ Read the full story here.5) Bigg Boss 9: Day 22- Nominations, Rishabh Sinha’s entry, Keith-Rochelle’s meltdown over Mandana are highlights!Wildcard entry, Rishabh Sinha enters the house and creates a furore! Read that, and more about tonight’s episode, here.

Sonia Gandhi meets President Mukherjee ahead of march against intolerance tomorrow

Gandhi was with the President for about half-an-hour during which they are understood to have discussed the current political situation.

Sonia Gandhi

Congress chief Sonia Gandhi on Monday met President Pranab Mukherjee ahead of the proposed march by party leaders to Rashtrapati Bhavan on Tuesday to request him to invoke his constitutional powers to stem the “atmosphere of intolerance”.Gandhi was with the President for about half-an-hour during which they are understood to have discussed the current political situation. Congress sources, however, described it as a courtesy call. The Gandhis and other party leaders will march from Parliament House to Rashtrapati Bhavan to plead with the President that as head of the nation, he should ensure an end to “the atmosphere of intolerance, intemperate behaviour, violence and communal polarisation”, Congress sources said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Members of the Congress Working Committee, AICC General Secretaries and office-bearers and party MPs will be part of the delegation meeting the President, who has repeatedly sought to underline the need to preserve India’s core values of diversity, tolerance, and plurality. The move by the main opposition party came in the backdrop of protests by artistes, writers and scientists over alleged “rising intolerance” reflected in the Dadri lynching, beef row and other such incidents.BJP and Congress today locked horns over the issue of intolerance in the society, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying the Congress president had no moral right to lecture the NDA on tolerance and it should “hang its head in shame” for the 1984 anti-Sikh riots where thousands were massacred. Congress hit back, contending like in 2002 post-Godhra violence, Modi has “forgotten Rajdharma” in 2015 too as he was an “endorser of intolerance by his studied silence” over acts of hate and violence.

Jaitley’s remarks on intolerance ultimate insult to nation’s intelligence: Ashwani Kumar

New Delhi: Former Law Minister Ashwani Kumar on Monday hit out at Finance Minister Arun Jaitley for his remarks accusing Congress, Left thinkers and activists of practising “ideological intolerance”, and said such a view is “ultimate insult” to the nation’s intelligence.

“The earlier statement of Jaitley that a conscientious protest borne out of deep anguish by the conscience keepers of the nation is a manufactured dissent was shocking enough. His recent blog suggesting intolerance on part of intellectuals merely because they chose to protest against the nauseating assault on liberal conscience of the country under Modi regime is the ultimate insult to our intelligence,” Kumar said.

“While the government led by Prime Minister Modi is trying to accelerate India’s growth, there are many who have never intellectually accepted the idea of BJP being in power. This obviously includes the Congress, many Left thinkers and activists. Over decades they have practised ideological intolerance towards BJP,” Jaitely had said on a Facebook post.

File photo. Image courtesy: AFPFile photo. Image courtesy: AFP

File photo. Image courtesy: AFP

In a sarcastic tone, Kumar said Jaitley could have done better than equating an “unprecedented” nationwide protest by the intelligentsia against “dictatorial and divisive politics” of an incumbent regime with the protest against the Gujarat carnage during Narendra Modi‘s chief ministership.

“A senior minister like Jaitley, otherwise not given to taking extreme positions, seems obviously under intense pressure to prove his loyalty to his boss by becoming his Master’s Voice and in the process undermining his own credibility,” he said.

Kumar also said that President Pranab Mukherjee‘s “unequivocal disapproval of the pervading culture of intolerance is a clinching denouement of the polarising and divisive politics” of the Modi dispensation.

Targeting Rajnath Singh, the Congress leader said the Home Minister, who is directly responsible for ensuring peace and harmony in the country, has magnanimously announced his willingness to “sit for a whole day” to talk to intellectuals and litterateurs if only they would stop criticising the Prime Minister.

“Quite clearly, the Home Minister has read the Constitution upside down. His defence of the Prime Minister is premised on the basis that the Office of Prime Minister is an institution whose sanctity needs to be protected,” he said.

Kumar also sought to remind Jaitley and Singh of “continuous attempts” by RSS to “malign” institution of the Prime Minister through their “reckless and unsubstantiated” allegations and an “orchestrated campaign of calumny” against former Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and Manmohan Singh.

PTI

Congress President Sonia Gandhi to lead march to protest intolerance

Congress sources said they were in touch with other opposition parties as well to join the march.

Encouraged by the response of civil society, writers, historians and scientists, against the wave of intolerance and attacks on rationalists, the main Opposition, Congress so far watching from the fence, has now decided to jump into the fray. The party sources here told dna, that president Sonia Gandhi will lead a march of leaders from the 30-January marg, Gandhi Smiriti to Rashtrapati Bhawan possibly on Tuesday, two days ahead of last phase of polling in Bihar. In March, Sonia Gandhi had led a similar march, in protest against land reforms, the ultimately forced the government to withdraw amendments in the land acquisition law.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Realising that President Pranabh Mukherjee himself was concerned at the threats to country’s pluralism, as he spoke on it third time in less than a month, a memorandum is being readied at the Congress headquarters, asking the President to intervene and ask the Modi government to rein in its ministers, MPs, chief ministers and workers fanning social strife. Congress sources said they were in touch with other opposition parties as well to join the march.Giving that the march is being planned ahead of last phase of crucial Bihar elections, which mostly entails regions with considerable majority of Muslim voters, the party aims to convey a message and garner as many votes for the secular alliance as it can. The party sources, however, said they were still deciding on the dates matching availability of President Mukherjee as well as maximum Congress leaders in national capital. “The only purpose of this march is to highlight t communal agenda and threatening statements of elements within the government. Congress being main political party in the country feels duty bound to save the country from such elements,” said a senior leader, confirming that a march was being planned. The idea was finalised few days ago at a high-level meeting attended by leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad and party leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, besides other senior leaders.Many writers, who returned their awards in protest against Dadri lynching and other incidents over past few days had also accused the Congress for keeping silence apparently fearing its vote bank and not to be seen leaning towards minorities, as party strategists close to Rahul Gandhi believe it proved detrimental for the party’s political fortunes during last Lok Sabha polls. Sahitya Akademi winner Kiran Nagarkar, who criticised the government also accused Sonia Gandhi of ‘paving the way’ for Narendra Modi’s rise to power.On Saturday, while speaking after handing out the Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration to land reforms activist PV Rajagopal, Congress president said India’s prestige was at stake. She said Indian people will never allow the forces which are creating trouble in the country to succeed. “Economic well-being and social conflicts can’t go together. What is worrying is that the atmosphere of hate is being deliberately created. This will not only block development but weaken the foundations of the country. Indira would have expected us to rise against this, and we are prepared to fight this battle,” she said.

Here’s why top Congress leaders couldn’t attend banquet hosted by President Pranab Mukherjee

Party spokesman RPN Singh told reporters that the two leaders had excused themselves from the event citing personal reasons.

Pranab Mukherjee

Congress President Sonia Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh could not attend the banquet hosted by President Pranab Mukherjee in honour of 54 African leaders last night due to personal reasons.Party spokesman RPN Singh told reporters that the two leaders had excused themselves from the event citing personal reasons.He, however, said that party leaders Anand Sharma and Mallikarjun Kharge were present at the banquet. Two day back, Congress leaders including Manmohan Singh had stayed away from the dinner hosted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for African leaders, apparently sending a message that it was outraged over the “insult” to the legacy of Nehru.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Singh said that Sonia Gandhi was not invited for the dinner. Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge and Deputy leader of the party in the Upper House Anand Sharma were among others invited for the dinner.Noting that calling such conference of African leaders was the idea floated by the Congress-led UPA way back in 2006, a senior Congress leader said the Prime Minister was projecting it as his “original idea”.

Pranab Mukehrjee emphasises importance of diversity at India-Africa meet

“These are perspectives on the human development that India and Africa share, these are perspectives that we can together contribute to the rest of the world for handling conflicts and crises,” he added.

Against the backdrop of incidents of violence with communal and casteist overtones, President Pranab Mukherjee once again emphasised the importance of diversity, saying it is “our lifeblood” and ensures that “we value co-existence, dialogue, mutual understanding and peace”. He made the remarks in the context of India and Africa while addressing a banquet hosted for leaders of 54 African nations who are here for a Summit for which he hailed the “drive” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.India and Africa understand each other and for both “diversity is our lifeblood” as it “enriches us and makes us even stronger. It ensures that we value co-existence, dialogue, mutual understanding and peace,” Mukherjee said. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”These are perspectives on the human development that India and Africa share, these are perspectives that we can together contribute to the rest of the world for handling conflicts and crises,” he added.These remarks of the President assume significance as these come against the backdrop of certain incidents in the recent times which had communal and casteist overtones, like the Dadri lynching, controversy over beef and burning of a family of Dalits in Haryana.Mukherjee said the difficult decades of colonial rule and cruel oppression, economic deprivation and racial discrimination may be behind us but the challenges are far from gone and they have changed.”We have still to overcome poverty and disease, terrorism and drug trafficking, lack of education and training,” he said.He said both India and Africa have stood in days of struggle and “we will stand together in this challenging dawn of development. India is ready to share its democratic experience, its agricultural expertise, its capacity building potential, its healthcare institutions, its peacekeepers with our partners from Africa.”Once again we are determined that our struggle will be based on principles – the principles of equality and partnership, of mutual benefit, of human dignity. For India and Africa, guided by the vision of Mahatma Gandhi who belonged to both, that is the only path.” Hosting a banquet for representatives of African Nations at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, President Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday said a century ago when the construction of this building (President’s House), began, it would have been difficult to imagine such a moment when India as well as so many African nations would discard their colonial chains, threw away the imperial yoke and one day stand together here to celebrate freedom, democracy and human dignity.’I’m supremely confident that the work done during the summit, refreshing of a collective vision for the future of our people will be critical in defining the directions and counters of our political and economic engagements,’ said the President. He said given that India and Africa are home to a third of the world’s populations, this engagement is certain to have an impact on the future of the sustainable development of the world.’Your shared visions and guidance reflected in the two documents ‘ Delhi Declaration 2015 and India-Africa Framework for Strategic Cooperation ‘ that have been adopted by you at the summit and encapsulate the India-Africa Strategic Partnership, is a unique example of South-South Cooperation,’ the President added.The Delhi Declaration called for continued collaboration in the fields of peace and security, besides strengthening of the UN counter-terrorism mechanism and enhancing cooperation and coordination to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.The India-Africa Framework for Strategic Cooperation reaffirmed strong commitment to work together for a comprehensive reform of the United Nations system, including the Security Council, to make it more regionally representative, democratic, accountable and effective. The third edition of the India-Africa Forum Summit 2015, which was commenced on October 26 at Indira Gandhi Stadium Complex here, concluded here on Thursday with Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivering the vote of thanks.

Geeta a ‘symbol of India-Pakistan unity’: President Mukherjee

New Delhi: A day after returning to India from Pakistan where she was stranded for years, speech and hearing impaired Geeta met President Pranab Mukherjee — who called her “a symbol of India-Pakistan unity” — and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and took a ride on Delhi Metro.

“You are the daughter of both our countries, a symbol of India-Pakistan unity. God has listened to your prayers,” Mukherjee told the 23-year-old when she called on him at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

A Rashtrapati Bhavan statement said Mukherjee blessed Geeta, a Hindu who strayed into Pakistan when she was around 11 years old in 2003. Pakistan Rangers promptly handed her over to the Edhi Foundation that took care of her since then.

President Pranab Mukherjee. PTI

President Pranab Mukherjee. PTI

Unable to explain who she was and from where she came, Geeta began living in Pakistan, and grew from a teenager to a young adult.

The president also thanked Bilquis Bano Edhi and the Edhi Foundation for their good work in Pakistan.

Before meeting the president, Geeta met Delhi Chief Minister and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal, who asked her about her life in Pakistan and how she strayed into that country.

At both meetings, Geeta was accompanied by members of Edhi Foundation.

Geeta, who interacted with everyone with the help of a facilitator, later took a ride on Delhi Metro, travelling from the Civil Lines station in the city’s north to Patel Chowk station in the heart of the capital.

At the Patel Chowk station, she was taken around the Delhi Metro museum.

On Monday, Geeta flew into New Delhi on Pakistan International Airlines to begin a new life on her home soil.

Among the first people she called on were External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who had taken a keen interest on her return, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Modi thanked Bilquis Edhi, wife of Karachi-based Edhi Foundation founder Abdul Sattar Edhi, for taking care of Geeta in Pakistan. He also announced a Rs 1 crore rupee donation for the foundation.

On Tuesday, the NGO declined to accept the money.

“Edhi has thanked Modi and politely declined to accept his announced financial help,” the Dawn quoted Edhi Foundation spokesman Anwar Kazmi as saying.

“What the Edhi family has done is too priceless to be measured but I am happy to announce a contribution of Rs.1 crore for their foundation,” Modi had tweeted on Monday.

Edhi Foundation is a social welfare organisation known for its extensive social work.

IANS

Returning awards may not be right way to protest: Sangeet Natak Akademi awardees

Deb Sankar Halder, who received Akademi award for Acting, said, “This is their (writers’) decision, their principle to protest. What can I say about their decision? I have taken the award. It’s my decision.”

President Pranab Mukherjee and other dignitaries standing for national anthem during Sangeet Natak Akademi Awards 2014 function at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on Friday.

PTI
Returning awards by writers may not be the correct way to agitate against intolerance but they are entitled to decide the way they want to protest, feel dance, drama and music artistes who received Sangeet Natak Akademi awards on Friday.Doyen of Indian theatre M S Sathyu and 38 others received the coveted Sangeet Natak Akademi awards from President Pranab Mukherjee today amid raging protest by several writers who have returned their Sahitya Akademi awards over “rising intolerance” in the country.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I was confused. Akademis are autonomous bodies. It’s an insult to those people who selected you for those awards. People who have selected us are experts in their fields. Returning awards is an insult to people who have selected you for the awards,” said Sathyu.Condemning the recent communal killings, he said killings happened earlier also, but such kind of lynching of someone because of suspicion of his food habits did not happen before and it is law which has to act.”Rationalists are being killed which is a rightist attitude. So that was the confusion. But after consulting people, I decided to accept the award,” he said.At least 35 writers from across the country had over the past few weeks announced their decision to return their Sahitya Akademi awards and stepped down from official Akademi positions to protest the “rising intolerance” in the country.Deb Sankar Halder, who received Akademi award for Acting, said, “This is their (writers’) decision, their principle to protest. What can I say about their decision? I have taken the award. It’s my decision.”Surya Mohan Kulshreshtha who received the award for Direction, said, “They may be having their own logic. Their concerns on what is happening in the society are justified concerns. The protests should happen. Returning awards can be one of the many forms of protests which can be adopted but not the only way.” He said Uday Prakash had first returned the Sahitya Akademi Award saying no condolence was done by the Akademi after the killing of scholar M M Kalburgi.”So the complaint is somehow also linked to functioning of Sahitya Akademi as well, so they are returning. We do not see any such negative role of Sangeet Natak Akademi so far. So there was no reason to return the award,” he said.The Director, known for works like Sophocles’ King Oedipus, Kalidasa’s Malvikagnimitram, said, “The awards should not be politicised but Sahitya Akademi writers feel they are part of one family.”Now if they feel that Akademi does not condemn killing of one of their family members, they may think what’s the use of being part of such family, but its only they can tell.””We are musicians we are away from politics. Music is different and politics is different. Sangeet Akademi award is big honour. Returning it is insult of the honour,” said musician Iqbal Ahmed Khan.However, yielding to unrelenting protests by writers, the Sahitya Akademi today strongly condemned the killing of Kannada writer M M Kalburgi and others while urging litterateurs to take back awards they have returned.

Amidst Sahitya Akademi row, President Mukherjee gives away Sangeet Natak Akademi awards

Eminent folk singer from Jammu and Kashmir Abdul Rashid Hafiz who is known for his renditions of traditional singing Chakri was among eight artists facilitated for their contribution in traditional arts.

Noted Kashmiri folk singer Abdul Rashid Hafiz receiving the Akademi Award from President Pranab Mukherjee at Sangeet Natak Akademi Awards 2014 function at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on Friday.

PTI
Doyen of Indian theatre M S Sathyu, eminent vocalists SR Jankiraman, Vijay Kumar Kichlu and Harmonium player Tulsidas Borkar were on Friday awarded the coveted Sangeet Natak Akademi fellowship by President Pranab Mukherjee.Along with them, 35 other noted personalities from various disciplines of dance, drama and music were conferred Akademi awards for 2014 by the President at a glittering ceremony in the imposing Darbaar Hall of the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi.Eminent folk singer from Jammu and Kashmir Abdul Rashid Hafiz who is known for his renditions of traditional singing Chakri was among eight artists facilitated for their contribution in traditional arts.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Also read: Theatre artist Maya Krishna Rao returns Sangeet Natak Akademi award61-year old Hafiz, who trained under Sarangi Nawaz Gulam Muhammad Dar, is known for giving Chakri his own touch. Chakri is one of the most popular types of traditional music played in Jammu and Kashmir. The responsorial singing uses harmonium, and traditional instruments like the rubab, the nout, the geger and the chimta. The Akademi Awards carries purse money of Rs 1 lakh in cash, a Tamrapatra and an Angavastram.Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowships (Akademi Ratna Sadasyata) and Sangeet Natak Akademi Awards (Akademi Puraskar) are recognised as the most coveted national honours bestowed on performing artists as well as teachers and scholars in the field of performing arts.Among the eminent artists awarded fellowship of the Akademi, 85-year-old Sathyu is doyen of Indian theatre known for his classic movie ‘Garam Hawa’ on partition which introduced actors like Farooq Sheikh to Indian cinema.Besides, he has designed and directed productions for many theatre groups including Hindustani Theatre, Alyque Padamsee’s Theatre, Herbert Marshall’s civic theatre, Balraj Sahni’s Juhu Art Theatre among others. His play Mudra Rakshas will be performed on October 27.

Once again, President Mukherjee appeals to people to maintain unity, integrity

On the occasion of Dussehra, President Pranab Mukherjee appealed people to maintain India’s unity and integrity.

President Pranab Mukherjee performing aarti of artists enacting Lord Ram and Lakshman during Dussehra celebrations at Parade Ground in New Delhi on Thursday.

PTI
President Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday invoked Dussehra festivities to once again denounce rising incidents of intolerance and appealed to people to maintain India’s unity and integrity and focus on nation building, leaving aside their differences.”Dussehra is a symbol of our ancient culture and we should forget our differences and work towards nation building. That will be our victory. I appeal everyone to maintain unity and integrity of the nation and contribute to the country’s development,” he said.The President was speaking at a Dussehra celebration at Parade Ground in Central Delhi where towering effigies of Ravana along with his son Meghnad and brother Kumbhakaran were set afire marking triumph of good over evil. This is the fifth occasion in the last fortnight that Mukherjee expressed concern over rising incidents of intolerance and appealed to people to maintain unity and integrity.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Earlier on Thursday, the President posted a number of tweets hoping compassion, love and brotherhood prevail over all forces of “obscurantism and evil that seek to divide us.” “Dussehra reminds us that those who follow the path of virtue, goodness and righteousness will always emerge victorious.Also read: President Mukherjee, Sonia Gandhi, Amit Shah and others participate in Dussehra celebrations”May this year’s Dussehra inspire us to remain steadfast in the pursuit of our principles like Lord Rama. Let us collectively confront all adversities & march forward towards the goal of all-round development of nation,” the President said in a series of tweets.On Monday, Mukherjee had expressed serious apprehensions over whether tolerance and acceptance of dissent are on the wane in the country and said humanism and pluralism should not be abandoned under any circumstance and that India’s collective strength must be harnessed to resist evil powers.Mukherjee made the comments today in presence of Vice President Hamid Ansari, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi and BJP chief Amit Shah among others. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was invited to the celebrations but he could attend as he has travelled to Andhra Pradesh.Today’s burning of Ravana’s effigies marks the end of Navratra and the beginning of 20-day-long wait for Diwali, festival of lights, to celebrate the return of Lord Ram to Ayodhya after killing the demon king. Dressed in their festive best, people attended Ramlilas across city where artistes enacted the final battle episode of Ramayana where Lord Ram kills Ravana and brings back his wife Sita to Ayodhya on ‘Vijaydashmi’. The effigies were set ablaze amid chants in praise of Lord Ram, people witnessed spectacular fireworks which illuminated the sky leaving many in awe.People also visited friends and relatives and exchanged gifts. A large number of people were seen bursting crackers to mark the festivities while others went to market places on a shopping spree.Elaborate security arrangements were made to ensure that the festivities go without any untoward incident. Police kept a tight vigil in the city, a senior official said.

On Durga Puja, President Mukherjee hits out at rising intolerance in India

He said: “Our collective strength must to be harnessed to resist evil powers in society. Indian civilization has survived for 5000 years because of its tolerance. We have a Constitution that accommodates all these differences. Hope Mahamaya – the combination of all positive forces would eliminate the Asuras or divisive forces.”

Pranab Mukherjee

Speaking in Birbhum, West Bengal, Pranab Mukherjee asked: “Is tolerance and acceptance of dissent on the wane?” The official handle of President of India tweeted: “Remember teachings of Shri Ramakrishna Paramhansa ‘Jato Mat Tato Path’ As there are a number of beliefs, there are a number of ways. Humanism and pluralism should not be abandoned under any circumstance. Assimilation through receiving is a characteristic of Indian society.” He said: “Our collective strength must to be harnessed to resist evil powers in society. Indian civilization has survived for 5000 years because of its tolerance. We have a Constitution that accommodates all these differences. Hope Mahamaya – the combination of all positive forces would eliminate the Asuras or divisive forces.” <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Earlier, President Pranab Mukherjee said the core values of diversity, tolerance and plurality of Indian civilisation must be kept in mind and cannot be allowed to be wasted, in remarks that come against the backdrop of the Dadri lynching over rumours of beef eating.OO”I firmly believe that we cannot allow the core values of our civilization to be wasted and the core values is what over the years the civilization celebrated diversity, promoted and advocated tolerance, endurance and plurality. These core civilization values keep us together over the centuries. Many ancient civilizations have fallen. But that is right that aggression after aggression, long foreign rule, the Indian civilization has survived because of its core civilizational values and we must keep that in mind. And if we keep those core values in mind, nothing can prevent our democracy to move,” he said.

Jawaharlal Nehru’s message still relevant, says Pranab Mukherjee

The President told journalists on board his special flight from Tel Aviv to New Delhi last night, “certain messages and principles have relevance for a very very long time

Pranab Mukherjee

Jawaharlal Nehru’s message of peaceful coexistence has eternal relevance and is not “bound in a timeframe,” President Pranab Mukherjee said in remarks coming in the backdrop of questions being raised about the legacy of the country’s first Prime Minister.The President told journalists on board his special flight from Tel Aviv to New Delhi last night, “certain messages and principles have relevance for a very very long time. Peaceful coexistence is one such message and it is not to be bound in a timeframe.” He was answering a question on the relevance of Nehru’s ideals, particularly peaceful coexistence, in today’s context.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He had underlined that principles of peaceful coexistence during his discussions with leaders of Jordan, Palestine and Israel during his six-day trip. Mukherjee was also asked about his remarks in Israel that religion should not be the basis of a state with a journalist pointing out that Israel and Pakistan were based on religion.He replied, “I said that religion cannot be the basis of a state. For instance in a large number of Arab countries, Islam is the religion. But on the basis of religion the Arab countries have not converged into one state.”Pakistan was created out of India on the basis of religion in 1947. A large chunk had come out of Pakistan and become an independent sovereign state within 25 years( Bangladesh),” he said, ading that this is the point he had made to Israeli parliamentarians.The President, who was in the region at the time of escalating tensions, was asked why he had not specifically commented on the Israel-Palestine conflict. He had been criticised in Israel for not denouncing “Palestinian terrorism”. He replied, “I know that different countries have different relations. It is not the job of another country to make any comment on that. This is international diplomacy and courtesy.”He pointed out that India had established full fledged diplomatic relations with Israel nearly 23 years ago but continued to maintain its “principled position” with regard to Palestine. The President said that in his discussions with Israeli and Palestinian leaders he had got a sense that both sides wanted to resolve the issues between them

90 Bengali writers, intellectuals ask President Pranab Mukherjee to protect freedom of expression

A group of more than 90 writers and intellectuals from West Bengal have written to President Pranab Mukherjee seeking his intervention in the Dadri incident and attack on rationalists.

President Pranab Mukherjee

AFP photo
A group of more than 90 writers and intellectuals from West Bengal have written to President Pranab Mukherjee seeking his intervention in the Dadri incident and attack on rationalists.”We are horrified at the callous lack of support and apathy of the state in finding and bringing the culprits to justice. The stifling atmosphere of fear and uncertainty is fatal to the freedom of expression that is at the heart of our shared lives, and it is for the restoration of this common fabric that we urge you to intervene,” the letter said.Among the 94 personalities who have signed the letter are poets Sankha Ghosh, Nirendranath Chakraborty, economists Ashok Mitra and Amiya Bagchi, theatre and film actor Kaushik Sen, authors Nabaneeta Deb Sen, Bani Basu, Shirshendu Mukherjee, Samaresh Majumdar, theatre maestro Rudraprasad Sengupta and painter Wasim Kapoor.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Citing the killing of rationalists Narendra Dhabolkar and MM Kalburgi, and the lynching of Muhammad Akhlaq at Dadri for allegedly consuming beef, they said that the freedom of expression and choice were under threat.”We appeal to you to take firm and immediate steps to combat this well-planned conspiracy to endanger Indian democracy,” they said.

dna Must Reads for evening: Aarushi murder case, Barack Obama, Shahid Kapoor & more

Here are 5 top stories on dnaindia.com at 6pm.

The following quick read will take you through stories that are making news right now. ​1) After a book and movie came out questioning CBI’s action in the Aarushi Talwar murder case, CBI puts all court orders on its website​The 210-page exhaustive order by the then special judge Shyam Lal has gone into arguments of defence as well prosecution for nearly a year before the dentist couple were sentenced for life for the crimes.​ Read our full report here: Aarushi Talwar murder case: CBI puts all court orders on its website<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>2) Delhi government to soon install CCTV cameras, tweets Arvind KejriwalDelhi government has asked the PWD to light up ‘dark spots’ across the capital and decided to bring a proposal to install CCTV cameras soon, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Wednesday. Read more here.3) Barack Obama surprises couple at their wedding!While visiting California, President Obama enjoyed a round of golf at Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla, where Stephanie and Brian were about to tie the knot on Tuesday.Read more here: Best surprise ever: When President Obama gatecrashed a wedding4) President Mukherjee addresses Indian diaspora in Jerusalem​”Indians all over the world are successful not only as dedicated professionals and hard working businessmen, but also as model citizens,” said President Pranab Mukherjee at the event. To read more what he said, click here.5) Shahid Kapoor defends wife Mira Rajput when questioned about her making a Bollywood debut’Leave my wife out​,’ is what Shahid had to say to reporters when prodded about Mira Rajput. Read more here.

Corruption needs to be treated like disease, says Pranab Mukherjee

It is appropriate that the Commission has adopted the theme of ‘preventive vigilance as tool of good governance’ for the current year, he said.

Mukherjee said corruption needs to be treated like a disease and focus should be on prevention.

Corruption affects the growth of a nation and needs to be treated like a disease, President Pranab Mukherjee has said emphasising on generating awareness on its evils. “Corruption affects the growth of a nation, reduces the government’s income and creates inequalities in distribution of income and wealth. It is a major factor hindering development. It is critical that awareness is generated and public opinion developed on the evils of corruption,” he said in his message on vigilance awareness week to be observed across the country from October 26. Mukherjee said corruption needs to be treated like a disease and focus should be on prevention. “It is appropriate that the Commission has adopted the theme of ‘preventive vigilance as tool of good governance’ for the current year. The measures adopted for preventive vigilance would help not only reduce corruption but also contribute towards good governance by way of increasing efficiency, transparency and adherence to rule of law,” the President said. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Vice President Hamid Ansari said preventive vigilance can ensure that acts of corruption do not take place. “It is important to create awareness among government departments, institutions and general public to implement preventive measures effectively, so that transparency and accountability can be maintained in governance and corruption eliminated at every level,” he said. PM Narendra Modi, in his message, said the theme chosen by Central Vigilance Commission for this year’s vigilance week “shall help highlight the importance of preventive vigilance in curbing administrative malpractices, and providing good governance”.The CVC, which is organising this annual programme, said that cooperation of all stakeholders is imperative in creating and promoting a culture of integrity, transparency and accountability, which would help fulfil the expectations of the citizens for a corruption-free society. “Corruption is one of the factors inhibiting governance and preventive vigilance can play a prominent role in ensuring good governance. Good governance plays a vital role in promoting economic development of the country and well being of the citizens,” it said. Preventive vigilance is package of measures to improve systems or procedures aimed at eliminating the scope of corruption and to aid the management to achieve optimum results.Identifying complex rules or procedures and simplifying the same, curtailing discretions, ensuring accountability, sensitising the officials, facilitating a culture of honesty and promoting ethical practises, etc are some of the measures, the CVC said. The Commission believes that good governance can be promoted by putting in place strong preventive vigilance measures, it said. A report on observance of vigilance awareness week, from October 26 to 31, needs to be sent to the CVC by November 30, by all departments and organisations, the anti-corruption watchdog has said.

India offers $5 million as budgetary support to Palestine

India desires to see Palestine living side by side at peace with Israel.

Amidst spiralling violence in the region, India and Palestine on Monday called for a negotiated and peaceful settlement of the Israel-Palestinian conflict based on internationally agreed upon principles which would lead to a united and viable state of Palestine. Continuing violence between Israeli forces and Palestinians, which has led to hundreds of casualties in the recent weeks, figured prominently in the discussions between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and President Pranab Mukherjee, who arrived here today on an overnight visit, the first by an Indian Head of State to Palestine. Mukherjee conveyed India’s full support for the Palestinian cause and its commitment to a sovereign, independent, viable and united state of Palestine with east Jerusalem as its capital.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India desires to see Palestine living side by side at peace with Israel. Abbas told the Indian leader that Palestinians were doing their best to contain the violence. Palestine wanted friendly relations, not hostilities, with Israel, he said. The Palestinian leader also said that Palestine was following the principles of Mahatma Gandhi. “We are peaceseekers in the footsteps of Gandhiji, the eternal leader who achieved freedom for his country by speaking and practising peace”, he affirmed.Terrorism, with specific reference to ISIS and al-Qaeda, also came up for discussion during which Abbas told Mukherjee that Palestine did not want such organisations to come into its territory. Israel should look for a peaceful and negotiated settlement to prevent them from coming in. India, which has been helping Palestine in its capacity building, gave a cheque for USD 5 million as budgetary support to the Palestinian Authority (PA). It also committed USD 17.79 million for five projects in the Palestinian territory, including a technology park at Ramallah which will cost USD 12 million.On arrival from Jordan, Mukherjee began his public engagements here by laying a wreath on the mausoleum of the legendary Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Thereafter Abbas and Mukherjee named a street as shari-e-al-hind (India Road) and inaugurated midan-e-al-hind, the India roundabout.Before leaving for Israel tomorrow, Mukherjee will gift 30 computers to an Information Technology centre at al-Quds university here tomorrow morning. The computers will not carry sophisticated communication systems because of Israel’s refusal to permit such equipments on grounds of security. The communication equipment will be sent back to India and will be replaced by equipment with different frequencies acceptable to Israelis.

dna Morning Must reads: From latest in Ankara blasts to Sania-Hingis winning China Open and more

Here is a curated list of top 5 stories for your morning read.

Reuters
1. Toll from twin Ankara blasts rises to 95At least 95 people were killed in Ankara when bombs set off by two suspected suicide attackers ripped through a crowd of leftist and pro-Kurdish activists at a peace rally, in the deadliest such attack in Turkey’s recent history.The twin blasts that occurred on Saturday, near Ankara’s main train station, ratcheted up tensions ahead of Turkey’s November 1 snap elections which were already soaring amid the government’s offensive on Kurdish militants. Read More <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>2. LIVE India v/s South Africa: Proteas win toss and elect to bat firstSouth Africa has won the toss and elected to bat first. Can India make a winning start in the ODI series. Read the live blog here.
3. President Pranab Mukherjee firm on visiting contentious Palestine university; Israel halts computer consignmentContinuing violence in Israel and Palestine territories has curtailed President Pranab Mukherjee’s plans to visit some of the historic places like the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. However, Mukherjee, who arrived in Amman Saturday on a six-day visit to the region, is however believed to have rebuked Israeli concerns by staying firm on his visit to the contentious Al Quds University. Read More 4. Sania, Martina win 8th title of 2015, lift China Open trophyExtending their incredible unbeaten record, Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis on Saturday lifted their eighth trophy of the season and fourth in a row, winning the WTA China Open, in Beijing. The top seeds faced stiff resistance from sixth seed Taipei girls Hao-Ching Chan and Yung-Jan Chan before winning 6-7 (9) 6-1 10-8 in the final which lasted one hour and 40 minutes. Read More 5. Guatemala mudslide: 264 dead, 40 still missingForty people are still missing following last week’s deadly mudslides outside Guatemala City that killed 264 people, according to the latest tolls, a spokesman for search and rescue workers said on Sunday. “At this time we have 264 bodies and are continuing to search for 40 people who are still missing,” Julio Sanchez, spokesman for volunteer firefighters and other rescue workers at the site of the disaster, told AFP. Read More With agency inputs

President Pranab Mukherjee firm on visit to Palestine varsity; Israel halts computer consignment

The university is caught in current clashes, going on since September after Israel banned the Al Aqsa mosque – the third holiest site of Islam located in the compound of Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif site also revered by Jews – for Palestinians following confrontations with Jewish visitors.

Pranab Mukherjee

Continuing violence in Israel and Palestine territories has curtailed President Pranab Mukherjee’s plans to visit some of the historic places like the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. However, Mukherjee, who arrived in Amman Saturday on a six-day visit to the region, is however believed to have rebuked Israeli concerns by staying firm on his visit to the contentious Al Quds University. The university is caught in current clashes, going on since September after Israel banned the Al Aqsa mosque – the third holiest site of Islam located in the compound of Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif site also revered by Jews – for Palestinians following confrontations with Jewish visitors.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> While Israel considers the university, built by Palestinians, a source of promoting Islamic Jihad and vilifying the Jewish state, India has always been a leading partner in educational support and cooperation to Palestine. Israeli security forces also halted a consignment of 30 computers at Haifa Shipping Port on October 6, which were to make way to the Information Technology centre to be set up at the Al Quds varsity and inaugurated by Mukherjee. Indian diplomats are in hectic negotiations with their Israeli counterparts to release the consignment ahead of the President’s visit. Ohad Horsandi, spokesperson with embassy of Israel in India said, “the consignment is with the Israeli customs and the procedure is taking time. Israel has no interest in stopping this. We are trying our best to expedite the process.” The President, who will be conferred an honorary doctorate at the Al Quds varsity, will be accompanied by vice-chancellors and heads of Jamia Milia University and Jawaharlal Nehru University. “This is a symbolic move and a positive gesture by the President, in solidarity with Palestinians. Israel discriminates not just Al Quds varsity but all Palestinian institutions and calls the students terrorists. It shows India’s commitment and concern for the Palestine cause and development,” said author and journalist Dr Zafrul Islam Khan.

PM Modi’s remarks post Dadri lynching not ‘strong enough’, says Nitish Kumar

The prime minister’s statement should have been direct and he should not have invoked the President as it is Modi who is the elected leader of the country, Kumar said.
File Photo
PTI
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Saturday criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for not making a “strong enough” statement in the wake of the Dadri lynching and also censured him for not reacting immediately to the incident.The JD(U) leader also flayed Modi for invoking the President’s message on tolerance and plurality instead of directly condemning the lynching incident. He said Modi’s comments on Thursday on maintaining communal harmony and eradicating poverty were not “strong enough” to allay apprehensions among the people. Kumar also accused BJP of playing the communal card to divert attention away from the real issues.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The PM should have reacted quickly. His statement was not strong enough. Instead of remaining silent, he should have reacted immediately (on the Dadri incident) to allay apprehensions and repose confidence among people,” Kumar said in an interview to a TV channel. The prime minister’s statement should have been direct and he should not have invoked the President as it is Modi who is the elected leader of the country, Kumar said even as he wondered why he had made his remark in Bihar rather than at the central level.At an election rally on Friday, Kumar had also accused Modi of using President Pranab Mukherjee’s statement as an ‘alibi’ and asked him to show courage to condemn the Dadri lynching incident in ‘unequivocal terms’. Kumar had also dared him to a debate.JD(U) is contesting the upcoming Bihar polls as part of a grand alliance with RJD and Congress, exuded confidence about their victory and asserted that the alliance would remain intact after the elections even as he dismissed suggestions of joining hands with Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM should such a situation arise.Kumar also targeted Modi for his silence on RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat’s reservation comments and alleged that the prime minister’s assertion of focussing on development “sounded hollow” as the Centre had curtailed central allocation to various welfare programmes, including MNREGA.

India looks for new partners in Jordan, Palestine to secure release of 39 Indian hostages

The new initiative comes close on the heels of Prime Minister Narendra Modi meeting Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas on the sidelines of United Nation General Assembly in New York in September, with the later assuring him that the Indian hostages are alive.

Pranab Mukherjee

As President Pranab Mukherjee embarks on a historic visit to West Asia from today, among strengthening bilateral ties and signing memorandums for education, culture and economy he is expected to seek help from Jordan and Palestine in securing release of the 39 Indian workers taken hostage allegedly by ISIS in Iraq. Mukherjee will be on a six day visit to Jordan, Palestine and Israel.He is likely to discuss the issue in political interactions with both Jordanian and Palestinian authorities.While media reports and testimony from the lone Indian worker Harjit Masih, to have escaped from the group has said that all the 39 workers have been massacred, the Indian government believes they are still alive. The workers, belonging from Punjab were working to build part of University of Mosul in Jamia district in Mosul, Iraq. They were abducted on June 11, 2014 by ISIS militants, as the group captured territory in Iraq and Syria to declare a Caliphate- an Islamic State, few days after. According to interviews by Masih, four days after the workers were kidnapped; ISIS militants made them kneel and shot them in head. He was the only one to escape, survive the massacre and return back to India.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>However, the government has denied Masih’s claim and as recently as last month external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj who met the families, assured them of the well-being of the workers. She has also said that all the regional partners of the government have claimed that the labourers are alive. These assurances have failed to secure the release of the workers- if they are alive- and bring them back home.The new initiative comes close on the heels of Prime Minister Narendra Modi meeting Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas on the sidelines of United Nation General Assembly in New York in September, with the later assuring him that the Indian hostages are alive.“Palestine has strong intelligence network in Iraq and Syria, which was used successfully to secure release of two Sweden citizens. We are confident of helping in the case of Indian workers and rescuing them as well,” said an official from the Palestinian embassy.Both Palestine and Jordan earlier this year jointly helped in releasing two Swedish citizens, kidnapped by Al Qaeda’s Jabhat al Nusrah –a rival of Islamic State from 2013. Palestinian intelligence sources had entered 500 meters into Syria and negotiated with Nusrah fighters to release the hostages. They were successful in the operation.Since last year India has extended co-operation and intelligence sharing with Gulf and West Asian countries in its bid to secure the release, but this failed in any positive response, beyond written and verbal commitments of the safety of the workers. India is now hoping for a similar miracle with assistance from Jordan and Palestinian intelligence. “India needs Arabic partners from Levant to conduct this operation. So far its partners were Gulf based,” an official said. More than actual evidence, India will need Arabic interlocutors to negotiate or talk to IS or its allied armed groups, first to verify if the workers are indeed alive and secondly to release them and bring them from Iraq/Syria to India.India has recently appointed a new ambassador to Syria, three years after the post was left vacant as well as to Iraq.

Religion must not be used as mask to satisfy hunger for power: President Pranab Mukherjee

The President’s remarks come against the backdrop of lynching of a 50-year-old in Uttar Pradesh’s Dadri over beef rumours and the ongoing political slugfest over it.
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
Amidst the raging beef controversy that has triggered communal overtones, President Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday warned that “hate speech and fear mongering” should stop and asserted that religion should not be used as a mask to satisfy hunger for power of some individuals.In an interview to Arabic daily ‘Al Ghad’ ahead of his visit to Jordan, Mukherjee underlined the need to “amplify the voice of moderation”.”Hate speech and fear mongering should come to an end. Our values should become part of our daily life. We must amplify the voice of moderation. We should not permit religion to be used as a mask to satisfy hunger for power and control of some individuals,” he said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The President’s remarks come against the backdrop of lynching of a 50-year-old in Uttar Pradesh’s Dadri over beef rumours and the ongoing political slugfest over it.”Tolerance and co-existence are basic tenets of our civilisation. We hold them very dear to our hearts,” he said while noting that the country’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had propounded the five principles of peaceful co-existence among nations.Related read: Core values of tolerance, plurality cannot be wasted, says President Pranab MukherjeeMukherjee said he agreed with Jordanian King Abdullah that the world is confronted with a “third world war to which we must respond with equal intensity. I also agree that we must go back to essence of respective faiths and creeds”.Referring to a speech made by Abdullah, he said that leaders of every country, every belief, every neighbourhood need to take a clear and public stand against intolerance of any kind. Mukherjee said India has sought to challenge and repudiate the terrorist narrative that global counter- terrorism efforts are directed against any particular religion or ethnic group.”We are convinced that terrorism can be rolled back only through comprehensive, coordinated international cooperation combined with a strengthened, enforceable international legal regime,” he said.India is aware of the impact of the Syrian crisis on Jordan’s resources and truly commends its leadership and people for their compassion and untiring efforts to mitigate the sufferings of the victims of the ongoing strife in Syria, the President said. Mukherjee will embark on his first historic visit to Jordan, Palestine and Israel beginning October 10.India and Jordan are united in the fight against terrorism and extremism which have become a global menace, he said adding that his visit will serve the dual purpose of improving bilateral relations and providing an opportunity to exchange views on regional and global developments.

Dadri lynching: PM Modi skirted real issue by appealing to Hindus, Muslims to fight poverty, says Congress

Congress on Thursday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has “skirted the real issue” in the wake of Dadri lynching incident while appealing to Hindus and Muslims to work together to fight poverty.

Congress leader RPN Singh

Congress on Thursday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has “skirted the real issue” in the wake of Dadri lynching incident while appealing to Hindus and Muslims to work together to fight poverty.”The Prime Minister has skirted the real issue. He has appealed to Hindus and Muslims to fight against poverty…By this statement, he has not condemned Dadri incident and those in BJP playing the communal card on the issue,” party spokesperson RPN Singh said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Related Read: Hinting at Dadri, PM Narendra Modi asks to maintain communal harmonyAsked about his reaction on the Prime Minister’s statement, Singh said “why can’t the PM ask Hindus and Muslims to live in peace” and deplore those MLAs, MPs, party office bearers and Union Ministers who continue to spread communal venom.Addressing an election rally in Nawada in Bihar, the Prime Minister pitched for communal harmony and brotherhood in the country, saying Hindus and Muslims should work together to fight the common enemy of poverty and ignore “irresponsible” statements made by politicians, even if he himself makes any.In his first comments amid communal overtones in the wake of Dadri lynching incident, he invoked President Pranab Mukherjee, saying the countrymen should follow his message given yesterday on preserving the core civilisational values of diversity, tolerance and plurality.”I have said it earlier also. Hindus should decide whether to fight Muslims or poverty. Muslims have to decide whether to fight Hindus or poverty…Both need to fight poverty together…The country has to stay united,” Modi said.”It is the unity, communal harmony, brotherhood and peace that will take the nation forward,” he added.

IAF shows off might at 83rd Air Force Day rehearsal

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West Bengal: Unrest continues post civic polls; dead polling agent’s father demands arrest of accused

The deceased father has alleged that the Bidhannagar GRP made him give in writing that his son died in a train accident.

Congress activists burn the effigy of Mamata Banerjee protesting against violence in Bidhannagar municipal corporation elections, in Kolkata on Sunday.

PTI
Two days after the civic polls to the Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation were marred by violence, massive rigging and booth capturing, unrest continues in West Bengal.On Monday morning, CPM’s polling agent Ujjwal Mukherjee was found dead near the railway tracks between Bidhannagar and Kankurgachi railway station. Mukherjee was the polling agent for CPM’s candidate of ward 34, Dilip Bhaduri. After he did not return at night, his elderly parents filed a complaint with the police.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Several injury marks have been found on his body. His dead body has been sent for post mortem and the reports are likely to arrive by evening.However, the deceased father has alleged that the Bidhannagar GRP made him give in writing that his son died in a train accident. “They were forcing me to write the cause of my son’s death as train accident. How can I write something like that when we do not know the actual cause? I want the police to carry out an unbiased investigation and demand an immediate arrest of the accused,” said Mukherjee’s father.On the same day, several live bombs were found at Baguiati. Police suspect that the bombs recovered were reportedly to be used during the Bidhannagar Municipal polls. Meanwhile, police has decided to carry out more such searches for bombs in the adjoining areas.Also read: West Bengal municipality election- Widespread violence marks Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation polls

Few takers for Hindi in Delhi University, teachers urge to make it compulsory

The petition, which has been floated by Ravi Sharma, an assistant professor of the language at Sri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC), has been signed by over 100 teachers and has also been sent to the Prime Minister’s Office as well as to President Pranab Mukherjee, who is also the Visitor of the university.

Concerned about the dwindling number of students opting for Hindi in Delhi University, a section of teachers have petitioned the HRD ministry to make the language compulsory again.The petition, which has been floated by Ravi Sharma, an assistant professor of the language at Sri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC), has been signed by over 100 teachers and has also been sent to the Prime Minister’s Office as well as to President Pranab Mukherjee, who is also the Visitor of the university. While studying the subject was compulsory in DU colleges in form of either a credit course or a qualifying course, the students have an option of not pursuing it after the Choice Based Credit System (CBCS) was rolled out this session.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The CBCS implementation has offered students a choice between Modern Indian Languages (MIL), which include Hindi and English, as part of the Ability Enhancement Course (AEC). According to the UGC structure, AEC now has two subjects Environmental Science and MIL/English. “It is not surprising that not a single first-year student has enrolled for Hindi classes at SRCC. The earlier system had Hindi as a compulsory subject.”Students of BA (Prog) studied Hindi for three years, while those enrolled in honours programmes in Commerce and Humanities studied the language for at least one year,” Sharma said. A few takers for the subject has also led to less work and reduced requirement of Hindi teachers. “On one hand government observes Hindi week and on the other hand such is the condition in even prestigious colleges of the country. Hindi, which is our national language, will extinguish this way because soon absolutely no one will be opting for it,” Pragya, a Hindi professor at Kirori Mal College said.Another teacher at the college and an Academic Council (AC) member Lata said, “Students have always shown little interest in Hindi. But, the situation has gone worse since choice is now in the hands of students. This has resulted in many colleges saying goodbye to their Hindi teachers.” The workload cut has left ad hoc teachers worried as they feel there is a threat to their jobs.”Many of us are worried. Due to very few takers, the workload has greatly reduced. What kind of nationalist government is this, which screams about promoting indigenous languages, but then treats Hindi this way?,” said an ad-hoc teacher from an off-campus college.