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‘Conspiring’ Congress can’t digest elected government, ‘popular’ PM: BJP

“Our Prime Minister said in Malaysia that terrorism can’t be linked to religion, what more can we say. Today the world is supporting India?s bid to join the United Nations Security Council, proving that we are tolerant,” Hussain added.

File Photo

Hitting out at the Congress for spreading rumours that India was an ‘intolerant’ nation, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday said the grand old party was spreading a ‘web of conspiracy’ and was stooping to such low measures since they were ‘intolerant’ to a successful, elected government and the ‘popular’ Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”The Congress, which was involved in the massacre of 100 of Sikhs, took part in several riots. So, they must refrain from teaching India the language of tolerance or intolerance. They can’t tolerate a popular PM and an elected government, which is why they insult the nation when it is progressing,” BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain told the media here.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> He asserted that the Prime Minister had been working hard to take India’s name to great heights when he was abroad and the Congress was doing exactly the opposite from within the nation.”Our Prime Minister said in Malaysia that terrorism can’t be linked to religion, what more can we say. Today the world is supporting India’s bid to join the United Nations Security Council, proving that we are tolerant,” Hussain added.Training his guns on Aamir Khan for expressing his concerns over rising tolerance and admitting that his wife was considering ‘moving out’ of the nation, he asserted that the Bollywood star would not find any other nation more ‘tolerant’ than India.”Want to ask Aamir Khan that who is advising him on the basis on which he is saying such things Khaj ji, you can’t find a better nation in the world. Wherever you go, you will face intolerance, except India. All Muslims in India have the same right as anyone else,” Hussain said.The BJP spokesperson expressed confidence that if Khan went around the nation, he would not come across anyone who wanted to leave ‘incredible’ India. He, however, added that the BJP was open to a debate where the actor could convince them that an Indian could be happy in another country.Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has come out in support of the actor’s concerns and said that instead of branding all those who question the government as ‘unpatriotic’ or ‘anti-national’, they would do better to reach out to the people and try to understand the people’s problems.Aamir had earlier voiced his concern that he and his wife were worried with the alarming rise in ‘intolerance’ in the nation and had considered leaving the country, fearing the fate of their child.

Nawaz Sharif lauds separatist leader Andrabi, says Pakistan will continue raising Kashmir issue

“Received your letter and I respect your feeling and appreciate you being a well wisher for the people of Pakistan. The issue of Kashmir is an international one and has been pending since 1947. Pakistan knows its responsibility about Kashmir issue and will continue to raise this issue on all international levels,” Sharif said in his letter addressed to the Separatist leader.

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Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has written a letter to Separatist leader Asiya Andrabi appreciating her struggle in raising the Kashmir issue and said that Pakistan will continue raising this issue on all ‘international’ levels.According to Daily Pakistan, Sharif said this while responding to a letter by Andrabi and asserted that Pakistan will continue its moral and political support to the people of Kashmir in their struggle for right to self-determination that has been acknowledged by the United Nations.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Received your letter and I respect your feeling and appreciate you being a well wisher for the people of Pakistan. The issue of Kashmir is an international one and has been pending since 1947. Pakistan knows its responsibility about Kashmir issue and will continue to raise this issue on all international levels,” Sharif said in his letter addressed to the Separatist leader.He also accused India of going back on its promise to the international community that Kashmir would be given the right to choose its political future through the exercise of self determination and that this was a betrayal, the daily reports.Sharif appreciated the ‘sacrifices’ made by Andrabi saying that the people of Kashmir were carrying out an ‘exemplary’ struggle under her leadership.”No matter what India says, the resolution of Kashmir can be only achieved through a free and fair right to self determination,” Sharif wrote.The Prime Minister had earlier called for a third party intervention into the Kashmir issue since Pakistan had not received adequate response from India.India, however, has rejected any third party intervention to the Kashmir issue and has maintained that all outstanding matters in the Indo-Pak ties should be resolved bilaterally.

Obama wishes Modi on Diwali

US President Barack Obama on Tuesday night called up Prime Minister Narendra Modi to greet him on Diwali and they agreed to meet in Turkey on the sidelines of the G20 Summit to be held early next week.”A short while ago @POTUS (President of the United States) called. We exchanged Diwali greetings. This was our first conversation through the newly-established hotline,” Modi tweeted. “President Obama & I look forward to meeting in Turkey during the G20 Summit,” he said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Modi said President Obama and he “discussed a wide range of other issues as well. It was good knowing how @WhiteHouse is marking Diwali.” After his visit to the United Kingdom beginning on November 12, Modi will travel to Turkey to attend the G20 Summit to be held on November 15-16.The Summit is being held at a critical juncture after the adoption of Sustainable Development Goals agenda at the United Nations and ahead of the climate change Summit in Paris on November 30 to December 1. “During the Summit (in Turkey), we will review the progress on decisions taken at the Brisbane Summit and take up issues of climate change, terrorism, refugees, weak growth in global economy, strategies for growth and employment, investment strategies, trade, energy and financial sector resilience,” the Prime Minister had said in a Twitter post a few days ago.

Indo-Russian joint training begins in Bikaner

The 14-day training schedule is focused on training on ‘Counter Terrorism Operations in the backdrop of Desert terrain under a United Nations Mandate’.

Representational Image

The seventh Indo-Russian joint training exercise INDRA-2015 commenced on Monday at Mahajan field firing range here. The two contingents presented a parade before the senior officers in the ceremony with unfurling of the National Flags of both the countries. The Russian contingent from an Independent Motorised Brigade comprising 250 Military personnel along with supporting staff landed at Bikaner directly from Russia on November 7, according to defence spokesperson Lt Col Manish Ojha.The 14-day training schedule is focused on training on ‘Counter Terrorism Operations in the backdrop of Desert terrain under a United Nations Mandate’. The opening ceremony was held at Mahajan Field Firing Ranges where Major General PC Thimmaya, General Officer Commanding-Red Eagle Division welcomed the Russian contingent and urged both contingents to strive to understand each others’ battle drills and procedures so as to achieve optimum cohesion and enhanced inter operability between the two forces, the spokesperson said in a release.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”He stressed upon the importance of free exchange in ideas, discussion of concepts and assimilation of best practices between the troops of the two nations. Enhancing mutual confidence and inter operability between the two armies would be a priority,” he stated. Cultural programmes were also held at the ceremony. The exercise is scheduled to finally terminate on November 20.

TMC leader Derek O’Brien terms Kailash Vijayvargiya’s attack on Shah Rukh Khan as ‘sickening’

Vijayvargiya, a former state minister of Madhya Pradesh, said Shah Rukh’s “soul” is in Pakistan though he lives in India, a day after the actor said there is “extreme intolerance” in the country.
File Photo
PTI
Reacting sharply to senior BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya’s comments on Shah Rukh Khan, TMC national spokesperson Derek O’Brien termed it as “sickening”.”Sickening remarks against Shah Rukh Khan by BJP general secretary also Bengal in-charge. What kind of attitude is this? Everyone else is bad and only you are good?” Derek said in a statement.Vijayvargiya, a former state minister of Madhya Pradesh, said Shah Rukh’s “soul” is in Pakistan though he lives in India, a day after the actor said there is “extreme intolerance” in the country.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Shah Rukh lives in India, but his soul is in Pakistan. His films make crores here but he thinks India to be intolerant,” Vijayvargiya said in a series of tweets amid mounting concerns over the “climate of intolerance” in the country.Related read- ‘Traitor’ Shah Rukh Khan’s ‘soul in Pakistan’: BJP’s Vijayvargiya and Hindutva figure Sadhvi Prachi hit out”If this is not anti-nationalist, then what is it. India is making a bid to become a permanent member of the United Nations and all the anti-Indian forces including Pakistan are creating a conspiracy,” he said.Turning 50 yesterday, Shah Rukh came out strongly against what he called “extreme intolerance” in the country, saying intolerance towards creativity and religion would hurt the country.

Delhi court permits former TERI Chief RK Pachauri to attend conferences in Somalia, Kuwait

New Delhi: A Delhi court has granted permission to former TERI Director General R K Pachauri, facing sexual harassment allegations, to visit Kuwait and Somalia to attend conferences from November 1 to 7.

Metropolitan Magistrate Shivani Chauhan, while allowing Pachauri’s application, directed him to inform the court when he returns to India and make himself available to the investigating officer (IO) as per requirement.

File photo. Image courtesy: ibnliveFile photo. Image courtesy: ibnlive

File photo. Image courtesy: ibnlive

“Accused (Pachauri) is permitted to travel as per his itinerary from November 1-3 to Kuwait and thereafter from November 3 to Somalia and return on/or before November 7, subject to furnishing of one local surety of Rs 4 lakh to satisfaction of this court and upon furnishing an undertaking that he will make himself available to the IO as per requirement upon service of notice on him,” the magistrate said.

The court also asked him to file a copy of the travel tickets and intimate the court and the IO about any changes in his itinerary, in advance.

Pachauri’s advocate Ashish Dixit sought permission to travel abroad citing his past cooperation in the case and said that his client needed to attend the meetings and deliver a lecture in Kuwait and attend a conference in Somalia between November 1-7.

However, the investigating officer opposed his application saying Pachauri had failed to give satisfactory answers but admitted that he had joined the investigation.

On February 13, an FIR was registered against Pachauri on charges of sexual harassment under IPC sections including 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 354 (d)(molestation) and 506 (criminal intimidation).

The court had granted him anticipatory bail while imposing the conditions that he will join the probe as and when called and not enter the TERI office premises. In the place of Pachauri, TERI governing council had on July 23 appointed Dr Ajay Mathur as its Director General. Pachauri had also stepped down from United Nations’ IPCC and the Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change.

PTI

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.

India opposes unilateral embargoes, joins call to lift Cuba sanctions

United Nations: India reiterated its unambiguous opposition to unilateral embargoes imposed by countries through their domestic laws as New Delhi voted on Tuesday for a resolution calling for an end to the United States embargo against Cuba.

The vote on the General Assembly resolution completely isolated the US will all its allies, except Israel, abandoning it. Of the 193 members of the UN, the other 191 voted for the resolution. Even though Washington resumed diplomatic relations with Cuba this year it left embargo in place and this was the 24th time the General assembly passed such a resolution.

Representational Image. AFPRepresentational Image. AFP

Representational Image. AFP

India “has consistently rejected the imposition of laws and regulations with extra-territorial impact and all other forms of coercive economic measures that hurt the progress and prosperity of the people the world over,” India’s Permanent Representative Asoke Kumar Mukerji told the General Assembly.

“The continued existence of this embargo, in contravention of world opinion,” he added, “undermines multilateralism and the credibility of the United Nations itself.”

Embargoes impacted the human rights of people as it affected their right to development, food and medical care, hitting women and children the hardest, he said.

Mukerji praised Cuba for its “notable socio-economic and developmental achievements of the Cuban people, in particular the high HDI (human development index) ranking of Cuba and its achievement of several MDGs (Millennium Development Goals)” before the deadlines despite the embargo.

The US Senior Area Advisor for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Ronald D. Godard, pointed to the “historic measures” undertaken by the Obama administration to normalise relations with Cuba and said it was “unfortunate” that Havana had persisted in bringing the resolution again this year.

Obama has called on Congress to lift the embargo as soon as possible and has taken executive action to facilitate many transactions involving Cuba, he said.

“We do not expect Cuba or the United States to forget the past overnight,” he added. “We realize that fully normalizing our bilateral relationship will require years of persistence and dedication on both sides.”

Although the Cuban embargo, first imposed in 1960 and further tightened by Congressional action in the 1990s, was the direct target of the resolution, the General Assembly used it to call for an end to all unilateral sanctions, a sentiment that India strongly associated itself with.

The resolution asked all nations not to impose such sanctions and to lift any that are in place. Such embargoes are seen as violations of the UN Charter and international law provisions for the freedom of trade and navigation.

Under the UN Charter only the Security Council can impose such sanctions as it has in the case of Iran.

IANS

68 years since Kashmir’s accession: Want peace? Talk to locals, not US

If the relationship of Jammu and Kashmir to the Union remains in limbo on the sixty-eighth anniversary of the state’s accession to India, it is largely because the Government of India has over-emphasised global projection while missing out on local persuasion.

The effort to persuade world powers of India’s juridical claim was based on a naïve faith that those powers were unbiased. Chandrashekhar Dasgupta’s superbly researched (2002) book clearly shows that geostrategic concerns made Britain steer the United Nations Security Council towards backing Pakistan’s claims in 1948. Not only did it think Pakistan was far more likely to give the West such strategic benefits as landing rights for aircraft, it did not want to alienate `the whole of the Muslim world’ at a time when it was installing Israel in Palestine.

A Kashmiri Shiite Muslim shouts slogans as policemen detain him for participating in a religious procession during restrictions in Srinagar on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015. APA Kashmiri Shiite Muslim shouts slogans as policemen detain him for participating in a religious procession during restrictions in Srinagar on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015. AP

A Kashmiri Shiite Muslim shouts slogans as policemen detain him for participating in a religious procession during restrictions in Srinagar on Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015. AP

From 1949, the US took the lead role for the West regarding Kashmir, proposing that the United Nations appoint US Admiral Chester Nimitz to arbitrate a solution between India and Pakistan. That could have opened the way for introducing an `independence option’ but Jawaharlal Nehru rejected Nimitz’s nomination.

The US’s stand on Kashmir shifted radically only in 1995, when Ambassador Frank Wisner asked Pakistan to reassess its options when he addressed Pakistan Army’s staff college. That contrasted sharply with a volley of shrill anti-India statements from Assistant Secretary of State Robin Raphel just a couple of years before.

That change in the US’s stand had nothing to do with all the time, effort and resources the Ministry of External Affairs had earnestly put in over the past 47 years. It was powered by Wall Street’s pleasure over India’s investment liberalization and the US’s desire to wrap up India’s nuclear programme through the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

Even thereafter, though, world powers including the US have been happy to keep the fires in Kashmir burning. Happiness with market access aside, world powers still want to see India and Pakistan unstable – and therefore beholden to them.

The government would therefore be well advised to concentrate instead on engaging the Kashmiri people in a meaningful dialogue. No one in the world can raise a peep on the issue unless common Kashmiris raise a hue and cry.

Sadly, the current trends of targeted violence across the country are achieving the opposite effect. This is tragic, for reports from Dadri and other places across the country bolster the revulsion already caused by the horrific repression of counterinsurgency, the mindsets which political Islam have moulded, and the effects of the global `War on Terror’ – all vital motivating factors for the current round of militancy.

On this anniversary of accession, the government would do well to not only take stock of the damage from these trends but to also examine other reasons why many Kashmiris think of accession as fundamentally illegitimate.

One of the most important factors is skewed narratives about what happened between 25 and 27 October 1947. Generations of Kashmiris have grown up on these, and some still do. But, as with most social realities of this state, the Union government is oblivious – and several state governments have used these narratives to their advantage.

One common narrative goes something like this: ‘Sheikh Abdullah acceded to India temporarily when he asked his friend Nehru to send troops to help Kashmir against the kabalis (tribesmen from Pakistan who invaded the state on 22 October 1947). When the kabalis had been expelled, the army never left. They still occupy our land.’ No mention of the maharaja. Nor, generally, any understanding of what an accession means.

Other narratives abound – for instance, that Kashmir was an independent country until Indian troops arrived. Ironically, Kashmiri intellectuals routinely highlight tyrannical repression by Dogra rulers (1846-1951), but rarely point to how these narratives contradict those other ones.

The education system does not address these vital issues. The approved curriculum simply ignores Kashmir’s recent history. But this does not prevent teachers, family elders and other educators from promoting narratives about the illegitimacy of India’s presence in Kashmir.

Unsubstantiated narratives are also peddled by many of the shoddily-written notes (kunjis) on which most students rely to pass examinations, particularly in the current phase when the education system has been badly mauled by a quarter-century of militancy.

If the Government spent on ground-level education just a fraction of the resources it has spent on international projections, it would diminish the ready levers that the UK, the US, Pakistan or China pull to geostrategic advantage as and when any of these or other countries see fit.

Government spokespersons who routinely disparage Kashmiri agitators as ‘misguided’ have no clue how they are misguided. As long as the young men believe that India’s role 68 years ago was illegitimate, those who want to excite agitators will have a field day.

Of course, questioning populist narratives about accession will not suffice in isolation. Straightforward answers also need to be given regarding the promised plebiscite. If the government could develop policies beyond throwing money and military force at Kashmir, nurture responsive multi-layered democratic governance, and abide by the rule of law, it could move towards a plebiscite or negotiated settlement acceptable to the people.

David Devadas, an expert on political and international affairs, is the author of In Search of a Future, the Story of Kashmir

Sushma Swaraj calls for reforms in UNSC

New Delhi: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Sunday advocated reforms to the United Nations Security Council and pointed out that neither India with nearly one-sixth of the world’s population nor the largest continent Africa in terms of number of countries were on board.

She said the United Nations continued to be a “representative of the world order of 1945”.

Sushma Swaraj. AFPSushma Swaraj. AFP

Sushma Swaraj. AFP

“A major issue in this context is that of UN Security Council reforms. The Security Council continues to be representative of a world order of 1945. It is inconceivable that the Security Council today does not have any permanent representation from Africa, which is the largest continent (in terms of number of countries),” Sushma Swaraj said while addressing the third India-Africa Editors’ Forum meeting here.

She said it was also incomprehensible that India, which represents almost one-sixth of world’s population and has all credentials to be a permanent member of the Security Council, was still out of it.

“We all need to work together to remove this anomaly and the media has an important role in this,” she said.

The minister said developing countries were articulating similar views and concerns as the UN celebrates its 70th anniversary this year.

Sushma Swaraj said 2015 has been a historic year for pushing forward south-south cooperation.

“We celebrated the 60th anniversary of Asian-African conference and the 10th anniversary of the new Asian-African strategic partnership at Bandung (in Indonesia). We worked together in the finalisation of the post-2015 Development Agenda,” she said.

Welcoming the participants of India-Africa Editors’ Forum at the 3rd India-Africa Forum Summit, the minister said the unprecedented participation was testimony to the deep historical bonds that India shares with Africa.

The summit will begin on Monday and end on 29 October.

IANS

India, Africa should speak in one voice on UN Security Council reforms: PM Modi

New Delhi: Raising the pitch for UN Security Council reforms, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday asked 54 African nations to join India in demanding an overhaul of the global body to make it more “democratic, inclusive and representative” of the current world.

He said the present day world is facing challenges like terrorism and climate change which did not exist when the UN was founded 70 years back and the global body runs the risk of losing relevance if it does not adapt to the new systems in the world.

PM Modi. PTI

PM Modi. PTI

“…India advocates reforms in global political, economic and security institutions,” Modi said while interacting with editors from African nations here while replying to a question on New Delhi’s quest for UN reforms.
“They (global bodies) must become more democratic, inclusive and representative of our world. No institution will have that character today, if it does not give voice to Africa or the world’s largest democracy, constituting one-sixth of humanity. That is why we ask for reforms of the United Nations Security Council and global financial institutions,” he said.

Modi, who was talking to the journalists ahead of the India-Africa Forum Summit, said, “India and Africa, constituting one-third of the global population must continue to speak in one voice for these reforms.”

Noting that UN now has four times the member countries than it had at its inception, the Prime Minister said, “The world is undergoing political, economic and technological transition on a scale rarely seen in recent history.”

Talking about the greater awareness now and the new challenges like terrorism and climate change that the present world faces, he said, “If global institutions and systems do not adapt, they will risk irrelevance.”

PTI

Process of declassification of Netaji files to begin on 23 January, says PM Modi

New Delhi: The secret files related to Subhas Chandra Bose will be declassified by the central government beginning 23 January next year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on Wednesday as he met Netaji’s family members and declared “there is no need to strangle history”.

PM Modi said process of declassification of Netaji files will begin on 23 January. AFP

PM Modi said process of declassification of Netaji files will begin on 23 January. AFP

He said he will also urge foreign governments to declassify files on Netaji available with them by writing to them and personally taking up with foreign leaders, beginning with Russia in December.

His announcement regarding an issue that has been hanging fire for seven decades came when he received 35 family members of Bose at his official residence in New Delhi and interacted with them for an hour.

“Process of declassification of files relating to Netaji will begin on 23rd January 2016, Subhas Babu’s birth anniversary,” Modi tweeted later.

“Will also request foreign governments to declassify files on Netaji available with them. Shall begin this with Russia in December,” he said in another tweet.

Declaring that “there is no need to strangle history”, he said “Nations that forget their history lack the power to create it.”

PTI

India lashes out at UN Security Council, calls it ‘ineffective’ and ‘powerless’ to resolve crisis

Mukerji called for prioritising an early reform of the Security Council during the current 70th session of the Assembly “in order to bring hope to these millions of ordinary men, women and children.”

India has expressed its strong dismay at the lack of accountability and transparency in the framing of peacekeeping mandates by the UN Security Council, saying this “failing” by the world body is resulting in rising casualties among peacekeepers and civilians.”We are dismayed at the opaque manner in which the Security Council continues mandate peace operations, without any accountability or transparency,” India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Asoke Mukerji said at a debate in the UN General Assembly here on Tuesday on peacekeeping operations. Mukerji said the human costs of “this failing” are evident in both the rising number of casualties among UN peacekeepers, as well as an alarming growth in the number of civilians, now reaching 60 million, whose lives are being disrupted by the conflicts that an “ineffective Security Council is powerless” to resolve.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Mukerji called for prioritising an early reform of the Security Council during the current 70th session of the Assembly “in order to bring hope to these millions of ordinary men, women and children.” In the report titled ‘The report of the United Nations Peace Operations: Implementation of the recommendations of the High Level Independent Panel on Peace Operations’, the Secretary General has recommended that sustained dialogue between the Council, the Secretariat and contributors is essential for shared understanding of appropriate responses and their implications for the mandate and conduct of a peace operation.Mukerji said India strongly supports the Secretary General’s statement that this dialogue should begin before the establishment of the mission. He added that the report also rightly recognise that “a United Nations peace operation is not designed or equipped to impose political solutions through sustained use of force” and that UN peace operations are not the appropriate tool for military counter-terrorism operations. “We endorse this recommendation, as UN peacekeepers are not deployable for targeted offensive action against armed militias, non-state actors and terrorists,” Mukerji said.He stressed that the international community should not abandon the cardinal principles of UN peacekeeping of consent of the parties, impartiality and the non-use of force except in self-defence and defence of the mandate.He also urged a review of the current allocation of resources within UN peace operations to ensure that the growing resource constraint faced by UN peace operations is considerably mitigated. Mukerji said UN peacekeepers are not only the UN’s boots on the ground, but also the organisation’s eyes and ears, adding that the Security Council can only benefit from the ground level assessments which troop contributing countries can provide in direct interaction between member states.India is the largest cumulative troop contributor to UN peace operations, with over 185,000 troops having served in 48 of the 69 missions mandated so far. The country has repeatedly called for the Security Council to consult troop contributing countries before drawing up peacekeeping mandates given that troops now have to function is increasingly difficult and hostile conflict situations across the world’s hot-spots.

Prioritise child-friendly sustainable development goals: Nobel Laurate Kailash Satyarthi to UN members

“We will also reach out to each state in India to implement child-friendly initiatives,” said Satyarth

Satyarthi said involving the youth was necessary to prevent them from coming under the sway of negative ideologies (File Photo)

AFP
Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi on Wednesday said he will write to the heads of government of all 193 United Nations member countries asking them to ensure adequate financial and human resources for the effective implementation of child-friendly sustainable development goals (SDGs). “The world has again acknowledged and reaffirmed that sustainable development is not possible without seriously addressing the issues of children. We are going to write to government leaders of all 193 member countries of the UN to act vis-a-vis prioritising the child-friendly SDGs to ensure adequate financial and human resources for their effective implementation.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”We will also reach out to each state in India to implement child-friendly initiatives,” said Satyarthi, who shared the Nobel Peace Prize for 2014 with Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai. He added that civil society should come out more strongly in this regard and ensure that these SDGs related to children are accomplished. Satyarthi last week addressed the United Nations General Assembly Sustainable Development GoalsSDGs) Summit where he highlighted the need for governments to put children first and prioritise the child-related SDGs. Talking about the roadmap for facilitating effective implementation of the SDGs, Satyarthi said he plans to involve 100 million youths to become the “champions” of the cause of “left out” children.The Nobel prize winner’s organisation, Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA), is credited with rescuing over 80,000 children since the late 1980s. “What we see today is that, on the one hand, almost 100 million children are victims of various forms of violence, exploitation and abuse but, on the other hand, hundreds of millions of children want to do something good for society. Youth power has to be harnessed for the betterment of the world,” he said.Satyarthi said involving the youth was necessary to prevent them from coming under the sway of negative ideologiesSatyarthi also talked about the setting up of a policy research institute which will work in the field of child rights and ensure holistic development of child-friendly policies, practices and institutional framework. The institute, under the aegis of Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation (KSCF), would also undertake world-class research to identify, document and disseminate best practices and innovations for ending violence against children.He also urged spiritual leaders to take up the issue of child rights and spread awareness about the same.

Dadri lynching: Azam Khan takes on PM Modi, says will raise ‘communal violence’ at UN

Uttar Pradesh Minority Welfare and Urban Development Minister Azam Khan on Monday said that he would take the issue of rampant communal violence in India to the United Nations and also appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to stop those who are spreading violence and communalism across the country.

Uttar Pradesh Minority Welfare and Urban Development Minister Azam Khan on Monday said that he would take the issue of rampant communal violence in India to the United Nations and also appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to stop those who are spreading violence and communalism across the country.”PM Modi has opened the world to India after he insulted Indians by addressing our problems and policies in America. So, we are going to show the other side by highlighting the communal tension in this country. The UN is not capable of doling out justice and we know that, but the world needs to know this,” Khan told ANI.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Khan further said the Prime Minister is creating an image that India is uncultured and rife with corruption, which is why he will raise the issue of minorities being targeted.Also read: Stop Dadri from becoming Muzaffarnagar: JD(U) tells UP government”We will mention that the Muslim community is being targeted and being exposed to disrespecting language and uncivilized behaviour. The human rights of Muslims are being violated and an environment of fear is being created. Preparations to make India a Hindu nation is in full swing,” Khan said.Referring to the Dadri lynching case, Khan said Prime Minister Modi needed to address the issue of communal violence and added it was high time that concrete action is taken.Also read: Dadri lynching: Seven of 10 accused related to BJP leader Sanjay Rana”If simply on the basis of rumours this amount of destruction is capable, then the situation has progressed from dangerous to alarming. But Modi ji remains silent and keeps backing violence instigators,” Khan said.Meanwhile, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) also urged Prime Minister Modi to break his silence on the Dadri lynching case.”A person has died in Dadri and today is the sixth day. Now, the Prime Minister should end his silence and speak on the matter. The whole nation is looking at him, the people want assurance that no one would be murdered in this country again for eating a particular kind of food. I request the Prime Minister with folded hands to end his silence and meet the victim’s family members,” AAP leader Ashutosh told ANI.Also read: Dadri killing: Hindu villagers ask victim’s family not to leave, assure safety

No peace talks until you stop terror: Swaraj makes things clear to Pakistan at UNGA

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj gave a hard-hitting rebuttal to Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s speech on Wednesday to United Nations General Assembly that largely dealt with India. In her speech, that was delivered from the same platform on Thursday, she told Islamabad point blank that a one-point programme was enough to turn around India-Pakistan relations: give up terrorism and sit down at the negotiating table.

Her 25-minute speech in Hindi at the UNGA set the template for India-Pakistan bilateral relations from New Delhi’s perspective. But there is one subtle discrepancy in what she actually spoke at the UNGA and the English translation of her speech put out by the Ministry of External Affairs.

In her speech, that was beamed live by most Indian TV channels, Swaraj said that India has been facing terrorism for 25 years, suggesting that she takes the cut off year for the beginning of Pakistan-fomented terrorism in India as 1989-90 when terrorism hit Jammu and Kashmir, and is ignoring the previous five years of terror activities that rocked Punjab.

Sushma-Swaraj-at-UN_AFPSushma-Swaraj-at-UN_AFP

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But the English rendering of her speech put out by the MEA quoted her in this context as saying: “A threat that India has lived with for more than a quarter of a century was tragically brought home to this very city in the autumn of 2001. Since then, the proliferation of terrorist acts, the rise of extremist ideologies, and the impunity of states that back it have not been adequately countered.”

She then took the Pakistani Prime Minister head on.

This is what she said: “Yesterday the Prime Minister of Pakistan proposed what he termed as a four-point new peace initiative. I would like to respond. We do not need four points, we need just one – give up terrorism and let us sit down and talk.

“This was precisely what was discussed and decided by the two Prime Ministers at Ufa this July. Let us hold talks at the level of NSAs on all issues connected to terrorism and an early meeting of our Directors General of Military Operations to address the situation on the border. If the response is serious and credible, India is prepared to address all outstanding issues through a bilateral dialogue.”

This perhaps sums up the Pakistan policy of the current Indian government.

Swaraj also exhorted the international community to not categorise terrorists as “good” or “bad” and underscored the need for “zero tolerance” for terrorism and to not ascribe any religion to terrorists as they have no religion.

“Equally importantly, an international legal regime, under the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism can no longer be held up. 19 years ago, in 1996, India had made this proposal at the United Nations but we have been unable to adopt it and entangled ourselves in the issue of definition. We have to understand that there can be no distinction between good and bad terrorists. Neither can terrorism be linked to any religion. A terrorist is a terrorist; one who commits crimes against humanity cannot have any religion. Therefore, my appeal to all of you is that we should come together in this 70th anniversary year of the United Nations and pledge to unanimously adopt the CCIT,” she said.

She reiterated India’s stand on the issue by saying that India was all for talks with Pakistan but also made it clear that talks and terror cannot go hand in hand.

Swaraj thus articulated that the Modi government won’t consider Pakistan-sponsored terrorism as business as usual and Pakistan will have to give up using terrorism as a means of statecraft before the two South Asian neighbours can sit on the negotiating table to resolve their outstanding bilateral disputes. In other words, the international community should not expect India to smoke the peace pipe with Pakistan till that country completely turns off the terror tap.

India promises to be more energy efficient, pledges 33-35% cut in carbon intensity by 2030

India, the world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, also said it would target 40% cumulative installed power capacity from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030, though said this would require UN financial support.

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India has promised to make its economy more energy efficient and cut the carbon produced per unit of GDP growth by 33-35% by 2030 from 2005 levels in a climate-change policy statement released ahead of a UN summit in Paris in December.India, the world’s third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, also said it would target 40% cumulative installed power capacity from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030, though said this would require UN financial support. The pledges, submitted to the United Nations late on Thursday, were broadly in line with expectations, given emerging economies such as India have resisted setting specific targets to cut emissions.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India is not yet prepared to go as far as China, the world’s biggest emitter, which pledged at the end of June to reduce its carbon intensity by 60-65% by 2030, partly through the use of carbon trading. Beijing also said it would bring its absolute emissions to a peak by “around 2030”. As well as not setting such a timeline, India did not give a commitment in its submission to establishing carbon trading. New Delhi also stressed that coal would continue to dominate power generation for its more than 1 billion people in the future, though stressed its commitment to clean energy technologies.India said it planned to develop 25 Solar Parks, supply 100,0000 solar pumps to farmers and convert all 55,000 petrol pumps across the country to solar. It also pledged to “aggressively” develop hydro and nuclear energy.India said its plans were “fair and ambitious considering the fact that India is attempting to work towards low carbon emission pathway while endeavouring to meet all the developmental challenges the country faces today.”Preliminary estimates indicate India would need to spend around $206 billion between 2015 and 2030 for implementing adaptation actions in agriculture, forestry, fisheries infrastructure, water resources and ecosystems, the submission said.”India’s climate actions have so far been largely financed from domestic resources. A substantial scaling up of the climate action plans would require greater resources…,” said the statement, which was lodged with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. A preliminary estimate suggests that at least $2.5 trillion will be required for meeting India’s climate change actions between now and 2030, it said.Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met US President Barack Obama and France and Britain’s leaders last month, and called for a climate change agenda that helps developing countries with access to finance and technology.

‘Give up terrorism and then hold talks,’ Sushma Swaraj’s rebuttal to Nawaz Sharif at UNGA

“Nations who support, train, help, terrorists need to be stood against by UN,” she said.

She also made a veiled remark about India’s bid for permamnent UNSC membership

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will address the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) today. I hope that this year will also be historic for the UN. She began her speech in a reflective note as it was the UN assembly 70th year and said that countries must think about whether UN could solve various issues that several nationas face. She spoke about Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday and said that India will celebrate it as International Day of Non-Violence.She spoke about how India and New Yok faced terrorism. Hinting at the recent terror attacks in India and the ongoing ceasefire violtion at border, she said India has been affected by terrorism for 25 years.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>She said that countries backing terrorist activities are not dealt with. “Nations who support, train, help, terrorists need to be stood against by UN,” she said.She spoke about Pakistan’s hand in terrorist attacks in India and that it did not punish the offenders. She referred to Mumbai 26/11 attacks saying so many people died but it was shameful that culprits were still at large.She responded to Nawaz Sharif’s four point peace initiative. “Give up terrorism and then hold talks,” the EAM said. But she added that India is open to early DG level meet and NSA level talks and is willing to hold bilateral talks if Pakistan responds positively.She said Pakistan has not honoured its assurance that it would stop such attacks. “Attacks are meant to destabilize India and legitimize Pakistan’s illegal occupation of parts of Jammu and Kashmir and its claim on rest of it,” she said.She also made a veiled remark about India’s bid for permamnent UNSC membership saying India who are hugely involved in UN peacekeeping efforts are not decision makers. “But its sad that nations who provide peacekeepers are not decision makers,” she said.Swaraj said that for maintaining security, development and international peace, the UNSC must be reformed and more developing nations must be included. “We are very happy that text-based negotiations were adopted,” she said.She also said that as an elected woman MP shortcut to social change was to empower the girl child. She said countries like India can grow if provision of technology, finance and capacity building support was given by developed nations. She spoke about government’s agenda saying, “In India, the driving force is our motto of “sabka saath, sabka vikas”, the welfare of all our people.”

Arunachal Pradesh governor Jyoti Prashad Rajkhowa greets people on occasion of Gandhi Jayanti

Rajkhowa expressed hope that the birth anniversary of the ‘Father of the Nation’ would strengthen the spirit of unity among all the people across the globe and promote universal peace and tolerance.

Mahatma Gandhi

Arunachal Pradesh governor Jyoti Prashad Rajkhowa has extended warm greetings to the people of the state on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti, on Friday.Rajkhowa expressed hope that the birth anniversary of the ‘Father of the Nation’ would strengthen the spirit of unity among all the people across the globe and promote universal peace and tolerance.In his message on the occasion, the Governor said that Mahatma Gandhi is the embodiment of peace and non-violence.Gandhiji’s path of Ahimsa and his commitment to democracy and humanity are universal and are revered throughout the World. As an honour to this greatest son of India, the United Nations had declared Birthday of Gandhiji (October 2) as International Day of Non-violence in 2007, he said. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

Pakistan misusing UN to ‘distort reality & portray false picture of the challenges in our region’, says India

India has rejected Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s speech at the United Nations and accused him of misusing the global forum to ‘distort reality and portray a false picture of the challenges in our region’.

AFP
India has rejected Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s speech at the United Nations and accused him of misusing the global forum to ‘distort reality and portray a false picture of the challenges in our region’.Exercising India’s Right of Reply during the general debate of 70th session of the UN General Assembly, First Secretary, Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations, in a strongly-worded statement said it is regrettable that the delegation of Pakistan has once again chosen to misuse the High Level Segment of the UN General Assembly Session to distort reality and portray a false picture of the challenges in our region.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The First Secretary said Pakistan claims to be the primary victim of terrorism, but in truth it is actually a victim of its own policies of breeding and sponsoring terrorists.”Seeking to mask its activities as though an outcome of domestic discontent in the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir carries no credibility with the world,” he added.The First Secretary said it was stated that Jammu and Kashmir is under foreign occupation.Also read: Social media backs India on Kashmir, Pakistan told to vacate PoK”It is, except that the occupier in question is Pakistan. In fact, India’s reservations about the proposed China-Pakistan Economic Corridor stem from the fact that it passes through Indian territory illegally occupied by Pakistan for many years,” he added.Stating Pakistan apparently regrets that the dispute over Jammu and Kashmir remains unresolved and that our dialogue has not progressed, the First Secretary said, “If it is so, this is because Pakistan has chosen to disregard its commitments, whether it was under the 1972 Simla Agreement, the 2004 Joint Declaration forswearing terrorism, or more recently, the understanding between our two Prime Ministers at Ufa.””On each occasion, it is India that has extended the hand of friendship. India remains open even today to engage Pakistan on outstanding issues in an atmosphere free of terrorism and violence,” he added.Pointing out that reference was made to ceasefire violations and exchanges of fire along the Line of Control and the International Boundary, the First Secretary said the world knows that the primary reason for firing is to provide cover to terrorists crossing the border and added that it needs no imagination to figure out which side initiates this exchange.He said it is not uncommon for states, when confronted with serious challenges, to shift responsibility on others.Also read: India hits back at Nawaz Sharif, calls Pakistan ‘prime sponsor of terrorism’; says de-terrorising will bring peace”That is the case with Pakistan and terrorism, reflecting the inability to recognize that this is a home grown problem that has begun to bite the hand that fed it. We agree that terrorism has underlying causes in this case, poverty of wisdom and ignorance of consequences,” the First Secretary said.”The heart of the matter is a state that regards the use of terrorism as a legitimate instrument of statecraft. The world watches with concern as its consequences have spread beyond its immediate neighbourhood. All of us stand prepared to help, if only the creators of this monster wake up to the dangers of what they have done to themselves,” he added.On Wednesday, Sharif had proposed a four-point agenda to defuse tensions between his country and India with regard to the Kashmir issue as well as the frequent reported incidents of ceasefire violations along the Line of Control and the International Working Boundary that separates the two nations in Jammu and Kashmir.He suggested that Pakistan and India formalise and respect the November 26, 2003, understanding for a complete ceasefire on the Line of Control in Kashmir. For this purpose, he called for the UNMOGIP’s expansion to monitor the observance of the ceasefire.Secondly, the Pakistan Prime Minister said both countries needed to reaffirm their resolve not resort to the use of force under any circumstances, which he added was a central element of the UN Charter.Thirdly, Sharif proposed that steps should be taken to demilitarise Kashmir and fourth Pakistan and India should agree to an unconditional mutual withdrawal from Siachen Glacier, the world’s highest battleground.Accepting terrorism to be a menace that was hindering global peace, development and progress, Sharif also said that there was a need for one and all to address the underlying causes of this ever present threat and challenge.He said the global threat of terrorism cannot be defeated unless its underlying causes are addressed.

Cuba backs India’s bid for permanent seat in UNSC

Cuban Ambassador Abelardo Cueto Sosa on Wednesday backed India’s bid for permanent berth in United Nations Security Council (UNSC) even as he asserted that his country’s sovereignty remained non-negotiable notwithstanding the recent thaw in relationship between Washington and Havana.

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Cuban Ambassador Abelardo Cueto Sosa on Wednesday backed India’s bid for permanent berth in United Nations Security Council (UNSC) even as he asserted that his country’s sovereignty remained non-negotiable notwithstanding the recent thaw in relationship between Washington and Havana.Talking to reporters here, Sosa also batted for democratisation of the UNSC, saying his country has been fighting for the same for many years.”It will be very good (if India gets permanent seat in UNSC). Why not? We have been fighting to democratise the Security Council for many years,” he told reporters. While the diplomatic ties between US and Cuba seem to have been improving of late, Sosa maintained his country will ensure it doesn’t surrender its sovereignty “preserved for many years” following long struggle.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I am totally convinced that we have problems, we have hassles also, but we will never surrender our sovereignty. We are a country who fought for many many years to preserve the sovereignty. We will surrender nothing, absolutely nothing,” he said, adding, Cuba wants to build bridges while maintaining its sovereignty.On India-Pakistan relationship, he said it is a “problem” between the two Asian countries and Cuba was not in a position to suggest them what to do.”This is a problem between India and Pakistan. We are not in a position to say this to any country that you must do this or must do that,” he said. Shah’s call came following a number of dissident voices in the party over ticket allocation and allegation by BJP MP from Ara RK Singh about tickets having been sold to criminals.”This is time to forget who got ticket and who did not…You must leave all desires behind and work for the goal of party’s win,” he said. Taking a dig at Lalu, Shah said the RJD chief launched his poll campaign from the constituency of his son Tejaswi Yadav even though the seat is going to polls in the third phase.He said Nitish Kumar’s promise of development if voted back to power was a “mirage” in the company of Lalu, whose tenure was known for “jungle raj”, and Congress, which was involved in corruption worth thousands of crores of rupees.Claiming that the wave in favour of BJP in Bihar was stronger than that in 2002 Gujarat polls, when Modi as chief minister led the party to a massive victory, and last year’s Lok Sabha elections, he said the NDA will get a two-thirds majority.Amid repeated ceasefire violations by Pakistan, Shah targeted the Congress, saying the Narendra Modi government accorded great importance to national security, which will never be compromised. “Rahul Baba – nobody now dares to slaughter our soldiers.If anybody engages in a misadventure, we enter Burma’s borders and our forces take them out, that’s what Narendra Modi’s government is all about.”You wouldn’t know understand this because you have got your perspective from your mother’s side of the family,” he said, apparently referring to the army’s counteroffensive against insurgents along the Myanmar border in June following the killing of 18 soldiers in an ambush in Manipur.

The story behind MK Stalin’s image reboot before the 2016 Tamil Nadu Assembly polls

(Editor’s note: This story was originally published on 22 September) 

By Sandhya Ravishankar

A pink shirt, grey trousers, grey sneakers with neon green laces and shades to boot — MK Stalin, treasurer of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and possible chief ministerial candidate for Tamil Nadu in 2016, painted an incongruous picture for a Tamil politician as he kicked off his election yatra in Kanyakumari on Monday. Later in the day, he exchanged the pink shirt for a blue t-shirt, an even more astounding choice.

On Tuesday, Stalin went a step further — clad in a blue shirt and dark trousers, he rode a scooter in Ambasamudram, Tirunelveli district, leaving the locals in raptures.

Stalin has rarely been seen in trousers — his chosen attire usually is a crisply ironed white shirt and white ‘veshti’ (dhoti) with the DMK black and red colours on the border. Sometimes, during election campaigns, he sports a black and red scarf around his neck.

MK Stalin in an image released by the DMK

MK Stalin in an image released by the DMK

The last time Stalin was seen wearing trousers was in 2012 when he traveled with a contingent of DMK MPs to New York and Geneva to hand over petitions regarding the Sri Lankan war crimes issue to the United Nations Secretary-General and the United Nations Human Rights Council. On the day of his return to Chennai, huge posters had been plastered all along airport road in Chennai with a photograph of Stalin clad in a suit with the caption “Yes, we can!” plastered on the banner.

So why the sudden change in look?

Sources within Stalin’s camp tell Firstpost that this is a deliberate move to woo the young voters in the state. “Well, the idea is to break the ice first with the people,” said the source close to Stalin, adding, “He doesn’t want to be seen as a politician, he is going there to hear their issues and get inputs for the DMK’s manifesto. For that, he has to be seen as one among them, a common man.”

A video released by Stalin’s team shows him exhorting the people of Tamil Nadu to outrage. “Kobappadungal (Get angry),” roars Stalin in the video where he is shown walking along the sea. The video showcases the key election issues through letters written to Stalin by the people — unemployment, power cuts, water shortage, alcoholism and rising prices among others. This video will be shown on vans bearing LED screens as he continues on his yatra.

There is a growing understanding within the DMK that the electorate of Tamil Nadu has changed along with the demographics of age and aspirations. 60 lakh first-time voters will ink their fingers in 2016. A large proportion of the electorate next year will be millennials. “The current electorate seeks answers and is much more proactive,” said the source and added, “They want to know how their leader will change things for them.”

This realisation dawned on Stalin’s team following the upheaval created by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s campaign in 2013-14. And it is probably with this in mind that Stalin has shifted gears in his electoral campaign that kicked off early in September on his ‘Mudiyattum Vidiyattum’ (Let it end, let it dawn) public rallies. In a public meeting at Tirupur last month, Stalin spoke of change and solutions, getting rid of the usual J Jayalalithaa-bashing rhetoric that has thus far dominated Dravidian politics. Exhorting youngsters to join politics, Stalin outlined specifically how he would change things if the DMK was brought back to power in 2016.

“There are 85 lakh youngsters in the waiting list at the state Employment Exchange,” said Stalin at the rally in Tirupur earlier this month. “I give an assurance to all youngsters of Tamil Nadu that we will create incubation centres to bring in new industries in the state. We will revamp the Employment Exchange itself and bring in private companies, conduct group discussions to ensure employment opportunities for our youth,” he said.

Specifics of this nature are a first for the Karunanidhi-led DMK, a party widely seen as being steeped in corruption and dynastic politics. Stalin’s father M Karunanidhi preferred to issue statements against his political rivals, whether MG Ramachandran or Jayalalithaa of the All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam. If all else failed, Karuna would take the freebie route, promising free colour TVs and playing the caste card. His rival and current Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa too prefers to issue statements decrying Karunanidhi’s moves and motives. Many years have passed since either of these two prominent Tamil politicians walked the dusty roads of the state or mingled with the common man or woman.

Stalin on the other hand, is walking his talk so far. He has been riding autorickshaws, walking in market areas and his team says he will also ride a bicycle as he continues on his ‘Namakku Naame’ yatra across the state. He is kissing babies, shaking hands with bus drivers and students, posing for photographs with elderly vegetable vendors and sipping tea at local chai shops with the locals.

For Stalin, this routine could well be the only option to take on Jayalalithaa in 2016. A discredited and weakened DMK with a nonagenarian leader faces a tough challenge from the rival Dravidian behemoth, the AIADMK, which has been rolling out freebies and welfare schemes with abandon. A personality battle with Jaya would severely backfire on Stalin. Speaking of development, change, aspirations and a connect with young voters is likely to work better for 2016. Stalin’s team has decided that Jayalalithaa’s larger-than-life image can only be countered by a politician who is seen as accessible, approachable and likeable by the masses.

Can Stalin be that? He is certainly trying.

Modi in US 2015: Barack Obama and Narendra Modi hug as they meet for the fifth time in a year

After his whirlwind tour of Silicon Valley, Narendra Modi met his old friend Barack Obama and shared a warm embrace on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

Image Courtesy: Vikas Swarup (Twitter)
After his whirlwind tour of Silicon Valley, Narendra Modi met his old friend Barack Obama and shared a warm embrace on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. Vikas Swarup tweeted: “An embrace at the entrance. PM @narendramodi meets President @BarackObama for their 5th meeting in 1 year.”Speaking at the event, Barack Obama said: “The United States is prepared to work with any nation, including Russia and Iran, to resolve the conflict,” Obama told the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations. “But we must recognize that there cannot be, after so much bloodshed, so much carnage, a return to the pre-war status quo.””There is no room for accommodating an apocalyptic cult like ISIL (Islamic State) and the United States makes no apology for using our military as part of a broad coalition to go after it,” he said. He described Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as a tyrant. (Watch: The live United Nations General Assembly Debate)

PM Modi makes indirect jibe at Pakistan, asks UN to differentiate between terrorists and humanity supporters

Observing that India has been a victim of terrorism for the past 40 years, Modi said the West and many other countries woke up to the menace of terrorism only after bomb blasts or terror attacks in their nation.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday night pointed out that the United Nations took fifteen years to define the term ‘terrorism’, adding that it must clarify as to who is with terrorists and who is with humanity to make the picture clear.Addressing the Indian diaspora at the SAP Center in California, Modi said that terrorism is one of the pressing issues that the world is facing, pointing out that it will take time to fight terrorism as the United Nations is taking fifteen years to define it.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On the eve of his meeting with US President Barack Obama and leaders of France and Britain, Modi asked the international community to unitedly combat increasing challenges posed by terrorists across the globe.Observing that India has been a victim of terrorism for the past 40 years, Modi said the West and many other countries woke up to the menace of terrorism only after bomb blasts or terror attacks in their nation.”We cannot let 21st century to be stained with terrorism,” Modi said, adding that he would be raising the issue again before the United Nations tomorrow when he is scheduled to address a UN Peacekeeping Summit.”Terrorism is Terrorism, there is no difference between good terrorism and bad terrorism,” he said.”We cannot waste time in defining ‘terrorism’,” he said, adding that India is the land of Mahatma Gandhi and Gautam Buddha who preached peace and non-violence to the world.”The world has to realise that terrorism can hit anyone at anyplace, and it is the world’s responsibility to recognize it and unite against terrorism,” the Prime Minister said in an unusual aggressive speech on terrorism.(With agency inputs)

Pakistan PM Sharif raises Kashmir issue at UN, wants UN military observer group strengthened

United Nations: Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif raised the Kashmir plebiscite issue with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Sunday and wanted the United Nations Military Observer Group for India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) strengthened, Pakistani media reported.

File photo. Image courtesy: PTIFile photo. Image courtesy: PTI

File photo. Image courtesy: PTI

However, at the UN headquarters, Ban’s spokesman only said in a statement that during their meeting “the secretary-general stressed the necessity for Pakistan and India to continue their peaceful dialogue”.

The statement said that they also discussed “the fight against terrorism and violent extremism” and that Ban also asked Pakistan “to continue engaging Afghanistan in order to help stabilize the country”.

India considers the Kashmir dispute a bilateral issue and opposes any international involvement.

However, when Sharif spoke soon afterward at the UN Summit on sustainable development goals, he focused on development and stayed away from bilateral or international issues. He said that “development strategies remain first and foremost national undertakings”.

IANS

Nothing new in PM Modi’s speech at UN: Congress

In an apparent attack on Prime Minister Modi, Tewari said, “After one speech somewhere, you move on to the next target. This is not going to really help India’s cause in getting a permanent seat in the UNSC.”

PTI
Congress leader Manish Tewari on Saturday said there was nothing new in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech at the United Nations summit as every prime minister since 1991 had been saying the same thing that the power balance (at United Nations Security Council) of 1945 could not be geo-strategic reality of 2015.Stating that the UNSC reform is a very contentious issue as the existing members don’t want to give up the ‘veto’, Tewari said, “The question is not whom to include in the UNSC, but whom to exclude, as there are various contending and competing countries from each continent. Thus, it is a very contentious issue, discussions are in progress and India will have to be consistent in her effort.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Also Read: Full text and video of PM Narendra Modi’s speech at UNGAIn an apparent attack on Prime Minister Modi, Tewari said, “After one speech somewhere, you move on to the next target. This is not going to really help India’s cause in getting a permanent seat in the UNSC.”

Full Text: PM Modi’s speech at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the United Nations on Friday at the UN Sustainable Development Summit.

Here is the full text of the speech:

Excellencies,

Mahatma Gandhi had once said, “One must care about the world one will not see”. Indeed, humanity has progressed when it has collectively risen to its obligation to the world and responsibility to the future.

Seventy years after the end of a tragic war and birth of a new hope for our age, we are meeting to chart a course for our humanity and our planet. I consider this a very important summit and thank UN Secretary General for organizing it.

PM Modi during his UN speech. PTIPM Modi during his UN speech. PTI

PM Modi during his UN speech. PTI

Just as our vision behind the Agenda 2030 is lofty, our goals are comprehensive. It gives priority to the problems that have endured through the past decades. And, it reflects our evolving understanding of the social, economic and environmental linkages that define our lives.

We live in an age of unprecedented prosperity, but also unspeakable deprivation around the world.

I am pleased that elimination of poverty in all forms everywhere is at the top of our goals. Addressing the needs of 1.3 billion poor people in the world is not merely a question of their survival and dignity or our moral responsibility. It is a vital necessity for ensuring peaceful, sustainable and just world.

A great Indian thinker, Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay, placed the welfare of the poorest at the centre of his thoughts. This is what we also see in the 2030 Agenda. It is a happy coincidence that we are beginning the celebration of Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay’s 100th anniversary today.

The goals recognize that economic growth, industrialization, infrastructure, and access to energy provide the foundations of development.

We welcome the prominence given to environmental goals, especially climate change and sustainable consumption. The distinct goal on ocean ecosystem reflects the unique character of its challenges and opportunities. Equally important, it focuses our attention on the future of the island states.

I speak about Blue Revolution, which includes the prosperity, sustainable use of marine wealth and blue skies.

Today, much of India’s development agenda is mirrored in the Sustainable Development Goals.

Since Independence, we have pursued the dream of eliminating poverty from India. We have chosen the path of removing poverty by empowering the poor. We have placed priority on education and skill development.

Our attack on poverty today includes expanded conventional schemes of development, but we have also launched a new era of inclusion and empowerment, turning distant dreams into immediate possibilities: new bank accounts for 180 million; direct transfer of benefits; funds to the unbanked; insurance within the reach of all; and, pension for everyone’s sunset years.

The world speaks of private sector and public sector. In India, we have defined a new personal sector of individual enterprise, micro enterprises and micro finance, drawing also on the strength of digital and mobile applications.

We are focusing on the basics: housing, power, water and sanitation for all – important not just for welfare, but also human dignity. These are goals with a definite date, not just a mirage of hope. Our development is intrinsically linked to empowerment of women and it begins with a massive programme on educating the girl child that has become every family’s mission.

We are making our farms more productive and better connected to markets; and, farmers less vulnerable to the whims of nature.

We are reviving our manufacturing, improving our services sector, investing on an unprecedented scale in infrastructure; and, making our cities smart, sustainable and engines of progress.

We are committed to a sustainable path to prosperity. It comes from the natural instinct of our tradition and culture. But, it is also rooted firmly in our commitment to the future.

We represent a culture that calls our planet Mother Earth. As our ancient text say:

“Keep pure! For the Earth is our mother! And we are her children!”

Our national plans are ambitious and purposeful: new capacity of 175 GW of renewable energy over the next seven years; energy efficiency; a tax on coal; a huge afforestation programme; reforming our transportation; and, cleaning up our cities and rivers. The energy intensity of our growth will continue to decline.

Sustainable development of one-sixth of humanity will be of great consequence to the world and our beautiful planet. It will be a world of fewer challenges and greater hope; and, more confident of its success.

Our success will give us more resources to share with our friends. As India’s ancient saying goes, the wise look at the world as one family.

Today, India is fulfilling its responsibilities as development partners in Asia and Africa and with small island states from the Pacific to the Atlantic.

Nations have a national responsibility for sustainable development. They also need policy space.

However, we are here today in the United Nations because we all believe that international partnership must be at the centre of our efforts, whether it is development or combating climate change.

And, the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities is the bedrock of our collective enterprise.

When we speak only of climate change, there is a perception of our desire to secure the comforts of our lifestyle. When we speak of climate justice, we demonstrate our sensitivity and resolve to secure the future of the poor from the perils of natural disasters.

In addressing climate change, it is important to focus on solutions that can help us reach our goals. We should forge a global public partnership to harness technology, innovation and finance to put affordable clean and renewable energy within the reach of all.

Equally, we must look for changes in our lifestyles that would make us less dependent on energy and more sustainable in our consumption.

It is equally critical to launch a global education programme that prepares our next generation to protect and conserve Nature.

I hope that the Developed World will fulfil its financing commitments for development and climate change, without in any way putting both under the same head!

I also hope that the Technology Facilitation Mechanism will turn technology and innovation into an effective instrument for global public good, not just private returns.

As we see now, distance is no insulation from challenges. And, they can rise from the shadows of conflict and privations from distant lands.

So, we must transform international partnerships on the strength of solidarity with fellow human beings and also our enlightened self-interest.

And, we must also reform the United Nations, including its Security Council, so that it carries greater credibility and legitimacy and will be more representative and effective in achieving our goals.

There is no cause greater than shaping a world, in which every life that enters it can look to a future of security, opportunity and dignity; and, where we leave our environment in better shape for the next generation. And, no cause that is more challenging.

At 70, we are called to rise to that challenge, with our wisdom, experience, generosity, compassion, skills and technology.

I am confident that we can.

In the end, let me express my hope for everyone’s well with a few lines from our ancient texts:

May all be happy, may all be healthy, may all see welfare, may no one have any sorrow.

Thank you.

New York,
25 September 2015

Modi in US 2015: Islamic State greatest challenge facing international community, says PM Modi

During a meeting with King Abdullah of Jordan on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session, Modi discussed ways to prevent radicalisation of youth and to counteract extremist messaging, External Affairs Ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said after the meeting on Friday.

PTI
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has acknowledged that the dreaded terror group Islamic State poses one of the greatest challenges facing the international community today and said there is a need to “delink terrorism from religion”.During a meeting with King Abdullah of Jordan on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session, Modi discussed ways to prevent radicalisation of youth and to counteract extremist messaging, External Affairs Ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said after the meeting on Friday. “Both leaders acknowledged that ISIS was one of the greatest challenges facing the international community. The Prime Minister said that there is a need to delink terrorism from religion,” Swarup said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Modi said the only way to combat international terrorism and the menace of organisations like IS (also known as ISIS) was to have a global response. He specially referred to the long pending proposal of a comprehensive convention on international terrorism, saying the time has now come for the international community to speak on one voice on this important issue and adopt this global convention.Modi and King Abdullah also discussed the UN Security Council reform.”Prime Minister mentioned that it was inconceivable that a country as large as India representing one sixth of humanity was not in the Security Council,” he said. “This was something we have been agitating for a long time. We want that the 70th anniversary of the United Nations to be an occasion for the international community to step up to its obligations and reform this very important body of the United Nations,” Swarup said.The King of Jordan said he has fully supported this and he always supported India’s aspirations to be a permanent member of the Security Council, he said, adding that Jordan is a very important country in a very important region from India’s point of view. During the meeting, the Prime Minister commended King Abdullah for the strong leadership that he has shown in the fight against international terrorism.He also thanked the King for the support that Jordan had provided when Indian citizens were trapped in Iraq and Syria and have to be evacuated. King Abdullah said he valued India as a partner and wanted to increase the economic and security co-operation that Jordan has with India, Swarup added.

All you need to know about PM Narendra Modi’s guru Swami Dayanand Giri

PM Modi had personally paid a visit to Rishikesh to enquire about his health on September 11.

Swami Dayanand Giri was a teacher at Rishikesh’s Dayanand Saraswati Ashram and Coimbatore’s Arsh Vidya Gurukulam. He had been teaching Vedanta and Sanskrit in India as well as abroad. He established All India Movement for Seva (public welfare) in 2000 and was awarded by the United Nations in 2005. PM Narendra Modi had been in touch with the 87-year-old guru since his RSS days. Swami Dayanand had personally congratulated PM Modi after he had proposed International Yoga Day in United Nations.The guru had been brought back to the ashram after 10 days of treatment at the Jollygrant Himalayan Hospital, where his condition had begun to decline steadily. He took his last breath on Wednesday night. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The spiritual guru had been ailing for a long time.

PM Narendra Modi arrives in New York on second US visit

The Prime Minister was received at the airport by Indian Ambassador Arun K Singh, India’s envoy to the UN Asoke Mukerji, Consul General Dnyaneshwar Mulay and their spouses.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in New York on Wednesday on a five-day US visit, his second in as many years, during which he will address world leaders at a landmark UN sustainable development summit and interact with top CEOs and the Indian diaspora in Silicon Valley.Modi will have a packed agenda for the next two days in the city and then in California from September 26-27.The Prime Minister was received at the airport by Indian Ambassador Arun K Singh, India’s envoy to the UN Asoke Mukerji, Consul General Dnyaneshwar Mulay and their spouses.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Modi will return to New York on September 28 for a bilateral meeting with President Barack Obama as well as to attend a high-level peacekeeping summit at the United Nations.On Friday, he will address global heads of state at the Sustainable Development Summit hosted by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon when the new and ambitious post-2015 development agenda will be adopted.India will also host the G-4 summit here on September 26, before Modi leaves for the West Coast for a packed two-day trip during when he will have meetings with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google’s new CEO Sundar Pichai. He will also attend a grand community reception in San Jose.Modi will also meet President Barack Obama on September 28, his third summit meeting with the President in about a year.Modi is expected to focus on giving a further push to early and urgent reform of the Security Council and to send an “unambiguous message” of “zero tolerance against terrorism”.In a letter to the UN Secretary General in July, Modi had said that that the UN must be made more effective for dealing with new security challenges as “we are now living in an era when non-state military actors are a major factor.” “We must use this historic year to jointly send an unambiguous message of zero tolerance against terrorism. An important step in this direction would be adopting the Comprehensive Convention against International Terrorism at the United Nations this year,” Modi had written in the letter.India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Asoke Mukerji has said that the Prime Minister’s speech at the Sustainable Development summit will focus on “Agenda 2030” since he “has given a lot of attention to the substance of the development agenda.”

MHA launches search for identities of 17 mentally ill Indians languishing in Pakistan jail

A rights organisation called the Commonwealth Humans Rights Initiative has started a campaign for them on Facebook.

As per Article 14 of United Nations Convention on Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD) which says that disability cannot justify deprivation of liberty.

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Pakistan has conveyed to India that 17 Indians, including four women, have completed their jail terms in that country but they cannot be sent back home as they are unable to recall their whereabouts since they are “mentally unsound”. As Pakistan has failed to get details of their background, the Indian High Commission in Islamabad has been given special consular access to these prisoners hoping to make breakthrough.The Indian High Commission in Islamabad has sent the pictures of all these 17 prisoners to Ministry of External Affairs to trace their family members. The MEA had now forwarded to the Ministry of Home Affairs the details of the 17 prisoners to help identify their families and homes in India.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The MHA put their pictures on social media, inviting people to identify them. If any of the persons are identified, the MHA has made a request to furnish any information on the jailed persons and contact the administration. The details of the contacts are here.A rights organisation called the Commonwealth Humans Rights Initiative has started a campaign for them on Facebook. They have made a plea to share the photographs of the prisoners widely so there are more chances of identification. They even cited the article 14 of United Nations Convention on Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD) which says that disability cannot justify deprivation of liberty.17 Indian mentally ill prisoners in Pakistan are languishing behind bars despite finishing their sentences. This is…
Posted by Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative on Friday, September 18, 2015Among the 17 Indian prisoners in Pakistan, four are women who have been identified as Gullu Jan, Ajmeera, Naqaya and Hasina.The others are Sonu Singh, Surinder Mahto, Prahalad Singh, Silrof Salim, Birju, Raju, Bipla, Rupi Pal, Panwasi Lal, Raju Mahouli, Shyam Sunder, Ramesh and Raju Rai.Many of them seem to be old in the pictures provided by Pakistan. The prisoners have not been able to disclose any other particulars during the consular access, sources said. These Indians have completed their sentences but due to non-confirmation of their nationality they could not be repatriated to India, sources said. Pakistan had given consular access to these prisoners amidst the ongoing hostilities between the two countries but before the now-cancelled National Security Advisor talks.Last year the Indian government had said that there were around 403 Indians, including nearly 350 fishermen, languishing in Pakistani jails for various crimes. Many of them are mentally ill.On August 2, Pakistan had released 163 Indian fishermen held for violating its territorial waters as a goodwill gesture. On August 7, India repatriated 16 Pakistani prisoners, whose nationality has been confirmed by Pakistani authorities.With agency inputs

MK Stalin rebooted: Why the DMK heir apparent is sporting a new look on the campaign trail

By Sandhya Ravishankar

A pink shirt, grey trousers, grey sneakers with neon green laces and shades to boot — MK Stalin, treasurer of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and possible chief ministerial candidate for Tamil Nadu in 2016, painted an incongruous picture for a Tamil politician as he kicked off his election yatra in Kanyakumari on Monday. Later in the day, he exchanged the pink shirt for a blue t-shirt, an even more astounding choice.

On Tuesday, Stalin went a step further — clad in a blue shirt and dark trousers, he rode a scooter in Ambasamudram, Tirunelveli district, leaving the locals in raptures.

Stalin has rarely been seen in trousers — his chosen attire usually is a crisply ironed white shirt and white ‘veshti’ (dhoti) with the DMK black and red colours on the border. Sometimes, during election campaigns, he sports a black and red scarf around his neck.

MK Stalin in an image released by the DMK

MK Stalin in an image released by the DMK

The last time Stalin was seen wearing trousers was in 2012 when he traveled with a contingent of DMK MPs to New York and Geneva to hand over petitions regarding the Sri Lankan war crimes issue to the United Nations Secretary-General and the United Nations Human Rights Council. On the day of his return to Chennai, huge posters had been plastered all along airport road in Chennai with a photograph of Stalin clad in a suit with the caption “Yes, we can!” plastered on the banner.

So why the sudden change in look?

Sources within Stalin’s camp tell Firstpost that this is a deliberate move to woo the young voters in the state. “Well, the idea is to break the ice first with the people,” said the source close to Stalin, adding, “He doesn’t want to be seen as a politician, he is going there to hear their issues and get inputs for the DMK’s manifesto. For that, he has to be seen as one among them, a common man.”

A video released by Stalin’s team shows him exhorting the people of Tamil Nadu to outrage. “Kobappadungal (Get angry),” roars Stalin in the video where he is shown walking along the sea. The video showcases the key election issues through letters written to Stalin by the people — unemployment, power cuts, water shortage, alcoholism and rising prices among others. This video will be shown on vans bearing LED screens as he continues on his yatra.

There is a growing understanding within the DMK that the electorate of Tamil Nadu has changed along with the demographics of age and aspirations. 60 lakh first-time voters will ink their fingers in 2016. A large proportion of the electorate next year will be millennials. “The current electorate seeks answers and is much more proactive,” said the source and added, “They want to know how their leader will change things for them.”

This realisation dawned on Stalin’s team following the upheaval created by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s campaign in 2013-14. And it is probably with this in mind that Stalin has shifted gears in his electoral campaign that kicked off early in September on his ‘Mudiyattum Vidiyattum’ (Let it end, let it dawn) public rallies. In a public meeting at Tirupur last month, Stalin spoke of change and solutions, getting rid of the usual J Jayalalithaa-bashing rhetoric that has thus far dominated Dravidian politics. Exhorting youngsters to join politics, Stalin outlined specifically how he would change things if the DMK was brought back to power in 2016.

“There are 85 lakh youngsters in the waiting list at the state Employment Exchange,” said Stalin at the rally in Tirupur earlier this month. “I give an assurance to all youngsters of Tamil Nadu that we will create incubation centres to bring in new industries in the state. We will revamp the Employment Exchange itself and bring in private companies, conduct group discussions to ensure employment opportunities for our youth,” he said.

Specifics of this nature are a first for the Karunanidhi-led DMK, a party widely seen as being steeped in corruption and dynastic politics. Stalin’s father M Karunanidhi preferred to issue statements against his political rivals, whether MG Ramachandran or Jayalalithaa of the All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam. If all else failed, Karuna would take the freebie route, promising free colour TVs and playing the caste card. His rival and current Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa too prefers to issue statements decrying Karunanidhi’s moves and motives. Many years have passed since either of these two prominent Tamil politicians walked the dusty roads of the state or mingled with the common man or woman.

Stalin on the other hand, is walking his talk so far. He has been riding autorickshaws, walking in market areas and his team says he will also ride a bicycle as he continues on his ‘Namakku Naame’ yatra across the state. He is kissing babies, shaking hands with bus drivers and students, posing for photographs with elderly vegetable vendors and sipping tea at local chai shops with the locals.

For Stalin, this routine could well be the only option to take on Jayalalithaa in 2016. A discredited and weakened DMK with a nonagenarian leader faces a tough challenge from the rival Dravidian behemoth, the AIADMK, which has been rolling out freebies and welfare schemes with abandon. A personality battle with Jaya would severely backfire on Stalin. Speaking of development, change, aspirations and a connect with young voters is likely to work better for 2016. Stalin’s team has decided that Jayalalithaa’s larger-than-life image can only be countered by a politician who is seen as accessible, approachable and likeable by the masses.

Can Stalin be that? He is certainly trying.

This time, Narendra Modi’s UNGA visit to focus on digital seat for India

During his two-day stay in San Jose, the tech-savvy Prime Minister is scheduled to have back-to-back engagements, mostly with the Who’s Who of Silicon Valley. Modi’s focus, while connecting with technology leaders, is likely to underline the message to choose India as a destination and reach out to industry to help boost Digital India.

Unlike in the past when heads of states’ September visits to the US revolved around the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), this time Prime Minister Narendra Modi is zooming in on the West Coast to push for India’s technology-driven development plans. During his two-day stay in San Jose, the tech-savvy Prime Minister is scheduled to have back-to-back engagements, mostly with the Who’s Who of Silicon Valley. Modi’s focus, while connecting with technology leaders, is likely to underline the message to choose India as a destination and reach out to industry to help boost Digital India. While he presents what India has to offer, the meetings would also help by giving an opportunity for the tech brass to meet the PM face-to-face, according to sources closely involved in Modi’s US visit beginning September 23.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The first visit of an Indian PM to California in over three decades, Modi is also departing from the convention of addressing the UNGA and instead will make a speech at the UN Sustainable Development Summit. So far only external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj’s name figures on the list of speakers from India at the UNGA. While there have been instances of the external affairs minister addressing the UNGA in the past, it has happened only when the Prime Minister was not visiting, ministry sources said. Foreign ministers of other countries will also be addressing the UNGA. Modi, however, has been making attempts to push for a permanent seat for India in the United Nations Security Council during bilateral meetings with world leaders. Former ambassador to the US, Naresh Chandra, recalled how in the previous NDA regime, the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee cancelled plans to visit the West Coast at the last minute because of his knee problem and he requested Jaswant Singh, who was external affairs minister, to go there to interact with Indian IT professionals and entrepreneurs. “Its good that Modi is going to Silicon Valley. And he is meeting not just the Indians community representatives but also other top tech leaders. The important thing is that he might get to hear their views on the ease of doing business in India,” he said. As far as the UN was concerned, Chandra said it was a regular annual feature where India is one among a crowd of around 160 nations. “The new dimension is the West Coast,” he said. Among the engagements lined up are a townhall at Facebook office and an interaction with its founder Mark Zuckerberg, a meeting with Apple CEO Tim Cook, visit to the Tesla Motors headquarters and a meeting with its CEO Elon Musk. According to sources, the effort from the Indian side would be to convey that India should not be seen just as a market for companies like Apple, but also as a manufacturing hub. “Our development plans for India in the next few years will be technology-driven. So there is enormous scope for tech companies. Cultivating techology leaders is a key aspect of the visit. The engagements would help in understanding what India can offer and what they feel,” said BJP general secretary Ram Madhav. Besides a round-table on renewable energy, one on disruptive digital technologies is also under consideration, sources said adding that India was looking at lifestyle changing start-ups. Modi will be addressing the Indian diaspora in an auditorium with a capacity of 20,000 at San Jose. Modi is expected to meet US President Barack Obama on September 28 when he returns to New York after his West Coast tour. He will also attend a dinner where leaders of Fortune 500 companies will be present.

UNSC reforms must be implemented within fixed timeframe: PM Modi

As world leaders gather here next week for the landmark UN session, Modi said “posterity should remember the 70th anniversary not as a missed opportunity but as a moment when the world collectively honoured its covenant with the poor of our world, with its women, with its youth, with nature, and with the voiceless unborn.”

Describing the Security Council as a product of “circumstances of a bygone era”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has told UN chief Ban Ki-moon that the Council must include India to make it more representative and the reforms must be implemented within a fixed timeframe.”…whatever we seek to do as the United Nations, from dealing with the transformed security environment to ensuring the effective implementation of the post-2015 Development Agenda, our relevance and effectiveness will depend in large measure on the internal reform of the United Nations, especially its Security Council,” Modi said in a letter to the UN Secretary General.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”This is one of the most urgent and important, even if difficult tasks before us,” Modi said in the letter dated July 4.The letter was made available by India’s Permanent Mission to the UN during a press briefing here yesterday.Modi arrives at the world body’s headquarters in about a week to address the high-level Sustainable Development Summit on September 25.The Indian leader said that the Security Council, as constituted currently, is the product of circumstances of a “bygone era”.”It must now reflect the realities and needs of the 21st century. A Security Council that includes the world’s largest democracy, major locomotives of the global economy, and voices from all the major continents, will carry greater credibility and legitimacy and will be more representative and effective,” he wrote.As the UN commemorates its 70th anniversary this year, Modi said that “we are at a moment when we must close the endless debates of the past two and a half decades, and agree in a democratic manner in the United Nations General Assembly to set into motion the long needed reforms in the United Nations Security Council to be implemented with the broadest possible support and within a fixed timeframe.”As world leaders gather in New York next week for the landmark UN session, Modi said “posterity should remember the 70th anniversary not as a missed opportunity but as a moment when the world collectively honoured its covenant with the poor of our world, with its women, with its youth, with nature, and with the voiceless unborn.””I am confident that we will, as we have so often done, rise to our responsibilities.”Modi also underscored to the UN Chief that eliminating poverty by 2030 should “unquestionably” be at the heart of the post-2015 Development Agenda.”The most acute forms of poverty still remain the most pressing problem and require direct, urgent and sustained interventions.”Addressing the needs, concerns and human rights of 1.3 billion poor people in the world is not merely a question of their survival and dignity, but also a vital necessity for an enduring peaceful, sustainable and just international order,” he said.The post-2015 Development Agenda should ensure that no one is left behind and “we must rekindle the strength of international support and partnership that had characterised some of our social missions in the past for tackling poverty,” he said.Modi highlighted that his government’s touchstone remains inclusive growth “Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas, or participation of all and development for all”.On climate change, Modi said in the Paris summit later this year, nations must craft a global agreement, in accordance with the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities, to limit the rise in earth’s temperature.”We should go beyond targets and focus also on the need for provision of the finance and the technology to give developing nations the capabilities and the resources to mitigate climate change, as also to adapt and adjust to its impact,” he said.”We all agree that climate change is one of the most formidable global challenges. Nations around the world are already facing its consequences; and for many, especially small Island nations and those with low-lying coastal areas, it is an existential issue. Combating climate change is our collective obligation to our planet,” he said.The Indian leader pointed out that India has started pricing carbon, incentivising afforestation has set a target of generation capacity of 175 GW of solar and wind energy by 2022.

Russia assures India of support on UNSC permanent seat bid

Russia has assured its support to India for permanent membership in the UN Security Council, days after it along with the US and China refused to contribute to the text for negotiations on reforms which was seen as a move to thwart India’s bid for the seat.

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Russia has assured its support to India for permanent membership in the UN Security Council, days after it along with the US and China refused to contribute to the text for negotiations on reforms which was seen as a move to thwart India’s bid for the seat.The assurance was made by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov during a meeting with Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs Sujata Mehta yesterday when the two sides held wide-ranging discussions on the agenda of the 70th anniversary session of the UN General Assembly.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Special attention was paid to the issue of the United Nations Security Council reform. The parties exchanged opinions on the main aspects of intergovernmental negotiation process considering the current various options for the increase in the UNSC membership.”The Russian side reaffirmed the readiness to support the Indian candidature for the United Nations Security Council permanent membership in case of decision to extend it in both categories – permanent and non-permanent members,” a release from the Russian embassy said today.The meeting comes two days after the UN General Assembly adopted a negotiating text by consensus for the long-pending Security Council reforms, boosting India’s bid for a permanent seat in the revamped world body.However, the US, China and Russia did not contribute to the text, a move which was seen as an attempt to thwart India’s bid. Though the US and Russia have been supporting India’s bid, China has been against any expansion of the Security Council.India and Russia also discussed mutual priorities for the UNGA 70th session and stated proximity of approaches of the two countries on many issues being discussed within the framework of the UN bodies.In the context of the analysis of regional crises in the Middle East and the North Africa, special importance was given to the task to widely consolidate and coordinate international counter-terrorism efforts on a firm international legal basis under the UN aegis, the release said.The two sides expressed common view on the significance of implementation of the Post-2015 Development Agenda and formulation of main parameters to hold the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016.

Big boost for India as UN adopts document for Security Council reforms

India termed as “historic” and “path-breaking” the adoption of the document, saying the decision puts the Inter- Governmental Process formally on an “irreversible text-based negotiations path” and changes the “dynamics” of the negotiations on achieving UNSC reforms.

The UN General Assembly on Monday adopted a negotiating text by consensus for the long- pending Security Council reforms, setting the stage for talks on the issue at its 70th session beginning on Monday, boosting India’s bid for a permanent seat in the revamped world body.India termed as “historic” and “path-breaking” the adoption of the document, saying the decision puts the Inter- Governmental Process formally on an “irreversible text-based negotiations path” and changes the “dynamics” of the negotiations on achieving UNSC reforms. UN General Assembly President Sam Kutesa convened a plenary meeting here to take action on the draft decision on the “Question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and related matters”.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>During the meeting, he also circulated letters containing the positions of key countries, including Russia, the US and China which refused to contribute to the negotiating text. There was no voting on the decision to continue text- based UNSC reforms in the 70th session of the General Assembly and it was adopted by consensus. The draft decision contains a negotiating text which has positions of UN member states on Security Council reforms and how the powerful 15-nation body should be expanded in its permanent and non-permanent categories.The adoption is a significant step towards beginning talks on the long-stalled reforms process in the 70th session of the Assembly on the basis of a negotiating text, a first in the last seven years of Inter-Governmental Negotiations that have been conducted so far without the basis of any text. India’s Ambassador to the UN Asoke Mukerji said the “most important aspect” of Monday’s decision is the text circulated by Kutesa in July which “we have agreed will be the guiding basis for our deliberations in the 70th General Assembly session”.
“What you have delivered today… to all 193 Member States of the United Nations, is truly historic and path- breaking on several counts,” Mukerji told the Assembly. “It becomes especially memorable taking into account the stiff challenges and pressures that were brought upon you and your office to step back from this issue, which has been on the agenda of the UNGA for nearly 23 years,” he added.With the 69th session of the General Assembly concluding on Tuesday, Kutesa presented the text for adoption and to be carried forward to the 70th session beginning today. He had achieved a breakthrough of sorts by circulating the text to UN members that will form the basis for the Inter- Governmental negotiations on the UNSC reforms.With the adoption, the General Assembly decided to “immediately continue Inter-Governmental Negotiations on Security Council reform in informal plenary of the General Assembly at its 70th session, building on the informal meetings held during its 69th session, as well as the positions and proposals made by member states…” The draft also states that an open-ended Working Group on the negotiating text will be convened during the 70th session “if member states so decide”.Kutesa had appointed Jamaica’s Permanent Representative Courtenay Rattray to chair on his behalf the Intergovernmental Negotiations (IGN) on Security Council reforms.Kutesa, in a letter to all UN members in July, had circulated the text containing the positions of countries on Security Council reforms and how the UN body should be expanded in its permanent and non-permanent categories.He also circulated letters containing the positions of groups and member states that indicated they did not wish their proposals to be included in the body of the negotiating text. These countries include the US, Russia and China. Mukerji said the need for a supportive international peace and security environment is urgent and “if the Security Council continues to be ineffective, the lives of millions of people and the uninterrupted flow of trade, investment and technology, all of which depend on a stable and predictable global political environment will be jeopardised”.He said the decision to carry forward the reforms process is not just a “technical decision, nor is it a rollover but highly substantive”. “This is the first time in the history of the Inter- Governmental Negotiation (IGN) process that a decision on UNSC reform has been adopted through an official formal L Document of the UNGA.”This is the most positive and unique development, as so far, over the last seven years we have only been making statements in the air, or at each other, with easily deniable or disputable summaries, or at times compilation text(s), to register our endeavours,” he said. He said the adoption of such a “substantive decision” on UNSC Reforms “changes the dynamics of the Inter-governmental negotiations” completely. Mukerji noted that India was among the first to seek to conclude the UNSC reform process by the 70th anniversary of the United Nations.

Working towards safe evacuation of 70 Indian sailors from Yemen: Vikas Swarup

Yemen has been facing a civil war-like situation with Shiite rebels clashing with pro-government forces. United Nations estimates that more than 4,500 people have been killed in the conflict since March.

Image Courtesy: Twitter
India is coordinating with the local authorities to ensure safe evacuation of its nationals from Yemen after a sailors group claimed that 70 seamen from Gujarat are stranded in the war-torn county.”Our Mission in Yemen (Camp Office in Djibouti) is coordinating with local authorities (to ensure safe evacuation of Indians),” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said when asked about the action being taken to rescue the Indians.Nearly 70 seamen from the coastal village of Mandavi in Kutch and from Jodiya and Salaya villages of Jamnagar were stuck for over 15 days now at Khokha port in Yemen where they had gone to deliver cargo in five boats, a sailors group said in Gujarat and appealed to the government to rescue them. It came days after six Indians, most of them from Gujarat, were killed when their boat came under Saudi-led air strikes in the Arab country.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The deceased were among seven Indian nationals who were initially reported missing when two boats, ‘Mustafa’ and ‘Asmar’ carrying a total of 21 Indian nationals came under aerial attack. The ministry had said that of the remaining 15 Indians, 14 were safe in Hodeidah while one person was still missing.Yemen has been facing a civil war-like situation with Shiite rebels clashing with pro-government forces. United Nations estimates that more than 4,500 people have been killed in the conflict since March.

India’s bid for Security Council seat gets a boost as UN adopts negotiations on UNSC reforms

United Nations: The UN General Assembly on Monday adopted a negotiating text by consensus for the long-pending Security Council reforms, setting the stage for talks on the issue at its 70th session beginning Tuesday, boosting India’s bid for a permanent seat in the revamped world body.

India termed as “historic” and “path-breaking” the adoption of the document, saying the decision puts the Inter-Governmental Process formally on an “irreversible text-based negotiations path” and changes the “dynamics” of the negotiations on achieving UNSC reforms.

UN General Assembly President Sam Kutesa convened a plenary meeting to take action on the draft decision on the “Question of equitable representation on and increase in the membership of the Security Council and related matters”.

During the meeting, he also circulated letters containing the positions of key countries, including Russia, the US and China which refused to contribute to the negotiating text.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

There was no voting on the decision to continue text-based UNSC reforms in the 70th session of the General Assembly and it was adopted by consensus.

The draft decision contains a negotiating text which has positions of UN member states on Security Council reforms and how the powerful 15-nation body should be expanded in its permanent and non-permanent categories.

The adoption is a significant step towards beginning talks on the long-stalled reforms process in the 70th session of the Assembly on the basis of a negotiating text, a first in the last seven years of Inter-Governmental Negotiations that have been conducted so far without the basis of any text.

India’s Ambassador to the UN Asoke Mukerji said the “most important aspect” of Monday’s decision is the text circulated by Kutesa in July which “we have agreed will be the guiding basis for our deliberations in the 70th General Assembly session”.

“What you have delivered today… to all 193 Member States of the United Nations, is truly historic and path-breaking on several counts,” Mukerji told the Assembly.

“It becomes especially memorable taking into account the stiff challenges and pressures that were brought upon you and your office to step back from this issue, which has been on the agenda of the UNGA for nearly 23 years,” he added.

With the 69th session of the General Assembly concluding Tuesday, Kutesa presented the text for adoption and to be carried forward to the 70th session beginning Tuesday.

He had achieved a breakthrough of sorts by circulating the text to UN members that will form the basis for the Inter-Governmental negotiations on the UNSC reforms.

With the adoption, the General Assembly decided to “immediately continue Inter-Governmental Negotiations on Security Council reform in informal plenary of the General Assembly at its 70th session, building on the informal meetings held during its 69th session, as well as the positions and proposals made by member states…”

The draft also states that an open-ended Working Group on the negotiating text will be convened during the 70th session “if member states so decide”.

Kutesa had appointed Jamaica’s Permanent Representative Courtenay Rattray to chair on his behalf the Intergovernmental Negotiations (IGN) on Security Council reforms.

Kutesa, in a letter to all UN members in July, had circulated the text containing the positions of countries on Security Council reforms and how the UN body should be expanded in its permanent and non-permanent categories.

He also circulated letters containing the positions of groups and member states that indicated they did not wish their proposals to be included in the body of the negotiating text. These countries include the US, Russia and China.

Mukerji on Monday said the need for a supportive international peace and security environment is urgent and “if the Security Council continues to be ineffective, the lives of millions of people and the uninterrupted flow of trade, investment and technology, all of which depend on a stable and predictable global political environment will be jeopardised”.

He said the decision to carry forward the reforms process is not just a “technical decision, nor is it a rollover but highly substantive”.

“This is the first time in the history of the Inter-Governmental Negotiation (IGN) process that a decision on UNSC reform has been adopted through an official formal L Document of the UNGA.

“This is the most positive and unique development, as so far, over the last seven years we have only been making statements in the air, or at each other, with easily deniable or disputable summaries, or at times compilation text(s), to register our endeavours,” he said.

He said the adoption of such a “substantive decision” on UNSC Reforms “changes the dynamics of the Inter-governmental negotiations” completely.

Mukerji noted that India was among the first to seek to conclude the UNSC reform process by the 70th anniversary of the United Nations.

“This decision sets the IGN process formally on an irreversible text-based negotiations path, which had been your priority from the first day of your Presidency,” Mukerji said.

“The twin objectives of saving our work done in the 69th UNGA and carrying it meaningfully forward have therefore both been achieved,” he added.

Mukerji quoted from Kutesa’s letter of 31 July, in which he had stated that the text “represents a sound basis upon which Member States can engage in text-based negotiations through the next phase of IGN”.

He added: “This is as clear and explicit as any mandate could ever be.

“We now know that with the adoption of this truly historic decision, we can meet in the 70th Session of the UNGA under the leadership of our Chair, the Permanent Representative of Jamaica, Ambassador Courtenay Rattray and build upon the significant work undertaken by him in the 69th Session.

“It is our hope that with the adoption of this Decision, we will now move purposefully towards concluding our negotiations during the 70th Session, so that we fulfil the unanimous mandate given by our leaders in the World Summit of 2005 for ‘early reform’ of the Security Council to make it… ‘more broadly representative, efficient and transparent and thus to further enhance its effectiveness and the legitimacy and implementation of its decisions’.”

Kutesa had informed member states about the draft in a letter dated 10 September to all Permanent Representatives.

India has maintained that the process to expand the powerful UN body “cannot be seen to be an exercise ad infinitum” and a results-based timeline is crucial to achieve a concrete outcome.

PTI

Hindi a link between ancient civilisation and modernity: Pranab Mukherjee

Our efforts should be to increase the use of Hindi in science and technology, so that participation of all, including the rural population, can be ensured in the progress of the countr

“Hope, Hindi will soon get the recognition of the official language of the United Nations,” he said.

President Pranab Mukherjee on Mnday described Hindi as a link between the country’s ancient civilisation and modern progress and hoped that it will soon get recognition as the official language of the United Nations. Addressing a function organised on the occasion of ‘Hindi Divas’, the President said Hindi has achieved a number of milestones since Independence and it is credited to be the vehicle of Indian thought and culture. “The language is also a link between our traditional knowledge, ancient civilisation and modern progress. Our efforts should be to increase the use of Hindi in science and technology, so that participation of all, including the rural population, can be ensured in the progress of the country,” he said after conferring awards to individuals and government organisations for taking special efforts for promotion of Hindi.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Mukherjee said Hindi has its own imprint on the fast changing global economic scenario as millions of Indian diaspora around the world are using Hindi as a link language and this has given a new identification to Hindi at the international level. “I am sure that with our joint effort, Hindi will soon get the recognition of the official language of the United Nations,” he said.The President said it was essential that simple translation of literature pertaining to technical knowledge is made available in Hindi and other Indian languages. He said he was happy to note that in offices, the use of Hindi in Information Technology is increasing.The President congratulated the award winners for their commendable work in Hindi and urged everyone to come together to propagate the use of Hindi.

Hindi is a link between ancient civilisation and modernity, says President Mukherjee

New Delhi: President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday described Hindi as a link between the country’s ancient civilisation and modern progress and hoped that it will soon get recognition as the official language of the United Nations.

Addressing a function organised on the occasion of ‘Hindi Divas’, the President said Hindi has achieved a number of milestones since Independence and it is credited to be the vehicle of Indian thought and culture.

“The language is also a link between our traditional knowledge, ancient civilisation and modern progress. Our efforts should be to increase the use of Hindi in science and technology, so that participation of all, including the rural population, can be ensured in the progress of the country,” he said after conferring awards to individuals and government organisations for taking special efforts for promotion of Hindi.

President Pranab Mukherjee.President Pranab Mukherjee.

President Pranab Mukherjee.

Mukherjee said Hindi has its own imprint on the fast changing global economic scenario as millions of Indian diaspora around the world are using Hindi as a link language and this has given a new identification to Hindi at the international level.

“I am sure that with our joint effort, Hindi will soon get the recognition of the official language of the United Nations,” he said. The President said it was essential that simple translation of literature pertaining to technical knowledge is made available in Hindi and other Indian languages.

He said he was happy to note that in offices, the use of Hindi in Information Technology is increasing. The President congratulated the award winners for their commendable work in Hindi and urged everyone to come together to propagate the use of Hindi.

Speaking on the occasion, Home Minister Rajnath Singh expressed concern over Hindi not getting prominence in various spheres of life the way it should have got. “We have not given the kind of respect we should have given to Hindi. Some so called intellectuals still continue to try to promote English,” he said.

Singh said he has nothing against any particular language but Hindi is the only language which connect every part of the country. “75 per cent people in the country either speak Hindi or understand Hindi. In every village of the country, people either speak their mother tongue or Hindi, even if little. But they don’t know English. Demand for making Hindi official language came first from non-Hindi speaking leaders like Bal Gangdadhar Tilak,” he said.

The Home Minister said big technology companies have been giving stress to promotion of Hindi in a big way and as per a survey, among all languages, the maximum 94 per cent content is generated in Hindi while just 19 per cent content is generated in English.

“No doubt they are promoting Hindi for commercial reasons but they know the reach of Hindi,” he said. Singh said even though Tamil is considered to be the oldest Indian language after Sanskrit, the reach of Hindi is widest and hence it is considered the eldest sister of all Indian languages.

PTI

Hindi can unite India, ‘chase away’ English: RSS organ says on Hindi Diwas

Hindi has the potential to unite the country and “chase away” English, which has “enslaved” India, RSS organ ‘Panchjanya’ has said.

Representational Image

Hindi has the potential to unite the country and “chase away” English, which has “enslaved” India, RSS organ ‘Panchjanya’ has said.An editorial in ‘Panchjanya’, published to coincide with Hindi Diwas, also took a dig at Congress that ruled for decades after independence and said while Constitution makers wanted the national language to replace English in 15 years, “centres of power” were not dedicated to Hindi and “hatched conspiracies” to organise other Indian languages against it.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Hindi’s ability to unite India is a threat to all those forces which want the country to remain enslaved to English. Hindi is not against India’s regional languages. This is a myth being perpetuated… English is entrenched deeply in the Supreme Court functioning, file notings of bureaucracy and conduct of policy discussions, which is very dangerous,” the editorial said.The cover article in the RSS mouthpiece also said, “Hindi is the language with the potential to chase away English from the country. It will prosper along with other regional languages.” It said efforts are being made to grant Hindi the status of an official language at the United Nations. It said adequate political interest was not shown in fulfilling the desire of our the makers of Indian Constitution to enable Hindi replace English in 15 years.”The centres of power were not dedicated to Hindi, the language through which Mahatma Gandhi woke up the nation and which was key to the lively speeches of Subhas Chandra Bose and Bhagat Singh. On the contrary, conspiracies were hatched to organise other Indian languages against Hindi,” it said.The RSS mouthpiece said, “English is not a language of our preference. It was imposed on us by British. Although we have attained freedom, we are still the slaves of English.” “India can still be seen as fighting for compelete independence. A critical point in the ongoing India versus Bharat debate is certainly English versus Hindi debate.”While Hindi has public support (janadhaar), English has the market (bazaar) and the court (durbar). If Hindi has to be taken forward, for it to become an organ of Bharat’s self respect, progress and pride, it should be strengthened,” it said.

India strongly rejects Pakistan raising Kashmir issue at UN

She strongly rejected Pakistan raising the issue of Jammu and Kashmir at the Fourth World Conference of Speakers yesterday, saying that the Pakistan representative’s remarks on the issue in the UN are “totally irrelevant”.

Strongly rejecting Pakistan’s call for plebiscite in Jammu and Kashmir, India has asserted that the state is an integral part of the country and its citizens have chosen a democratically-elected state government as it lambasted Islamabad for raising the issue at the UN.”Pakistan must know that this is the platform of the Inter-Parliamentary Union where the 2030 development agenda is being discussed,” Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan told PTI.She strongly rejected Pakistan raising the issue of Jammu and Kashmir at the Fourth World Conference of Speakers yesterday, saying that the Pakistan representative’s remarks on the issue in the UN are “totally irrelevant”.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Raking up the Kashmir issue at yet another UN forum, Acting Speaker of the National Assembly Of Pakistan Murtaza Javed Abbasi had said in his speech that “it is time” to enable the people of Jammu and Kashmir to exercise their right to self-determination through an “independent and impartial plebiscite under the United Nations”.Mahajan said Jammu and Kashmir has been an integral part of India since independence and elections have been held in the state for the past many years.”Pakistan should keep in mind that the people of Jammu and Kashmir have voted to elect their state government. What can be more democratic than this,” she said, strongly rejecting Pakistan’s call for a plebiscite.She said Pakistan is trying to make an issue out of a non-issue by bringing up Jammu and Kashmir at every platform of the UN.”They are ignoring the realities on the ground. This (Jammu and Kashmir) is not an issue for the UN. They are making a non-issue an issue but they will not get success,” she said.She further said that Pakistan is not focusing on the theme of the conference, which is development but bringing a bilateral issue into the forum.”They are not focused on development. They are not thinking about their citizens and how development should take place in Pakistan. But instead every now and then they try to raise only one issue,” Mahajan said.In his speech, Abbasi had said that “outstanding disputes” continue to fester in South Asia preventing the region from realising its tremendous economic and social potential.He had claimed “foremost among these disputes” is the issue of Jammu and Kashmir, which is an “internationally recognised” disputed territory, underwritten by several United Nations resolutions.”The Kashmiri people have waited for too long for their just and inalienable right to self-determination. Peace in South Asia is an imperative not only for the people of that region but also for the citizens of a globalised world,” he had said.

Centre evaded talks with Pakistan on Kashmir: Hurriyat Conference

Terming the Kashmir dispute as the “core issue” between the two countries, Hurriyat said it was the main reason for the “huge trust deficit” between the two countries.

Mirwaiz umar farooq

Moderate Hurriyat Conference on Wednesday accused the Centre of “evading” the NSA-level talks with Pakistan by refusing to discuss Kashmir, an issue it described as the main reason for the “huge trust deficit” between the two countries.”India’s attempt to evade talks on Kashmir issue was extremely unfortunate, imprudent and contrary to the historical, political and ground realities of Jammu and Kashmir,” the Hurriyat said in a statement after its meeting at the residence of Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq in Srinagar. Terming the Kashmir dispute as the “core issue” between the two countries, Hurriyat said it was the main reason for the “huge trust deficit” between the two countries.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It said little progress could be made towards normalisation of bilateral ties and resolution of other issues till the Kashmir issue was resolved, “taking the aspirations of the people of state into consideration.” The separatist conglomerate said, “The Kashmir dispute has always been the focal point of any discussion between the two countries and the Kashmir leadership since 1947.”From Tashkent to Ufa, countless deliberations have been held between them to move towards the resolution of the dispute. Besides, the issue stands alive at the United Nations where many resolutions have been passed in this connection and several rounds of talks held,” the statement said.

Message to Pakistan? India, UAE condemn state-sponsored terrorism during Modi’s visit

Abu Dhabi: Elevating their ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership, India and the UAE on Monday came down heavily on countries sponsoring terrorism against other states in what is seen as an oblique reference to Pakistan.

Denouncing and opposing terrorism in all forms and manifestations and asking all states to abandon the use of terrorism against other countries, the two sides also called for dismantling of terrorism infrastructures and bringing perpetrators of terrorism to justice.

References to terrorism in all forms including state-sponsored were the highlight of a 31-point joint statement issued after talks between the UAE Crown Pince Prince Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Narendra Modi, the first Indian Prime Minister to visit the strategic Gulf state in 34 years.

Agreeing to boost bilateral cooperation in counter-terrorism operations, intelligence-sharing and capacity building, Modi and the Crown Prince also agreed to coordinate efforts to counter radicalisation and misuse of religion by groups and countries for inciting hatred and justifying terrorism for pursuing political aims.

Both sides denounced and opposed terrorism in “all forms and manifestations, wherever committed and by whomever, calling on all states to reject and abandon the use of terrorism against other countries, dismantle terrorism infrastructures where they exist, and bring perpetrators of terrorism to justice”.

India, UAE condemned terrorism during Modi's visit. PTI

India, UAE condemned terrorism during Modi’s visit. PTI

This is seen as a veiled reference to Pakistan which has been repeatedly told by India to stop terror activities emanating from Pakistani soil against it.

The two countries decided to work together to control, regulate and share information on flow of funds that could have a bearing on radicalisation activities and cooperate in interdicting illegal flows and take action against concerned individuals and organisations, the joint statement said.

They also agreed to strengthen cooperation in law enforcement, anti-money laundering, drug trafficking, other trans-national crimes and extradition arrangements.

Asked by reporters whether the issue of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and his properties in UAE came up for discussion, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar did not give a direct reply, saying larger issues and trends having bearing on the countries figured in the talks.

“The two nations reject extremism and any link between religion and terrorism. They condemn efforts, including by states, to use religion to justify, support and sponsor terrorism against other countries.

“They also deplore efforts by countries to give religious and sectarian colour to political issues and disputes, including in West and South Asia, and use terrorism to pursue their aims,” the statement said.

The two leaders agreed to elevate India-UAE relationship to a “comprehensive strategic partnership” and chart out a new course for cooperation in key areas like defence, security, trade, maritime security and intelligence sharing.

In Dubai, Modi held comprehensive talks with UAE Vice President and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Modi and Prince Mohamed agreed to establish a Strategic Security Dialogue between the two governments besides deciding to strengthen defence relations, including through regular exercises and training of naval, air, land and Special Forces.

They agreed to cooperate in manufacture of defence equipment in India and work together to promote peace, reconciliation, stability, inclusiveness and cooperation in the wider South Asia, Gulf and West Asia region.

India and the UAE also decided to establish a dialogue between their National Security Advisers and National Security Councils. The NSAs will meet every six months.

The statement said the leaders agreed to promote strategic partnership in the energy sector, including through UAE’s participation in India in the development of strategic petroleum reserves, upstream and downstream petroleum sectors, and collaboration in third countries.

The two sides also decided to promote cooperation in cyber security, including prevention on use of cyber for terrorism, radicalization and disturbing social harmony.

They agreed to cooperate to strengthen maritime security in the Gulf and the Indian Ocean region, which is vital for the security and prosperity of both countries.

The UAE resolved to join hands with India for the adoption of New Delhi’s proposed Comprehensive convention on International Terrorism in the United Nations.

Both the countries called on all nations to “fully respect and sincerely implement” their commitments to resolve disputes bilaterally and peacefully, without resorting to violence and terrorism.

Recognising India as an emerging frontier of business opportunities, it was decided that UAE would step up its investment in India including through the establishment of UAE-India Infrastructure Investment Fund, with the aim of reaching a target of USD 75 billion.

The sectors identified for UAE’s investment include railways, ports, roads, airports and industrial corridors and parks. UAE also agreed to help Indian companies to invest in infrastructure development in the Gulf country.

The two countries set a target of increasing current trade volume by 60 percent in the next five years.

It was agreed to tap India’s expertise in small and medium enterprises to create a vibrant industrial base in UAE, which could also be of benefit to Indian enterprises.

Modi and the Crown Prince agreed to cooperate in peaceful uses of nuclear energy including in areas like safety, health, agriculture and science and technology.

The joint statement said despite natural synergies and boundless potential for a natural strategic partnership, relations in the past have not kept pace with the exponential growth in relations between their people or the promise of the partnership.

The two sides also agreed to strengthen cooperation in education, science and technology, renewable energy, arid agriculture, desert ecology, urban development and advanced healthcare.

They decided to promote cooperation in space, including in joint development and launch of satellites, ground-based infrastructure and space application.

Modi welcomed UAE’s plan to set up the West Asia’s first Space Research Centre at AI Ain and plans to launch a Mars Mission in 2021.

The Prime Minister thanked UAE for its support for India’s candidature for permanent membership of a reformed United Nations Security Council.

The two sides felt people-to-people relations were at the heart of India-UAE relations and both governments will continue to nurture these relations and ensure the welfare of their citizens, especially the workers, in each other’s country, as also work together to prevent human trafficking, it said. An estimated 2.6 million Indians are living in the UAE.

Modi thanked the Crown Prince for his decision to allot land for construction of a temple in Abu Dhabi.

PTI

India set to become world’s most populous country by 2022: United Nations

India is set to overtake China and become the world’s most populous country in less than a decade – six years sooner than previously forecast, the United Nations said on Wednesday.

Representational image

Reuters
India is set to overtake China and become the world’s most populous country in less than a decade – six years sooner than previously forecast, the United Nations said on Wednesday.Fast-growing Nigeria is on course to outstrip the United States by about 2050 to become the country with the third largest population, the United Nations predicted.The current global population of 7.3 billion is forecast to reach 9.7 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100, slightly above the last set of UN projections.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Most growth will happen in developing regions, particularly Africa, according to the report World Population Prospects.The demographic forecasts are crucial for designing and implementing the new global development goals being launched later this year to replace the Millennium Development Goals.John Wilmoth, head of the UN population division, said the concentration of growth in the poorest countries would make it harder to eradicate poverty, combat hunger and expand schooling and health systems.The world’s two largest nations, China and India, have well over 1 billion people each and are likely to switch places by 2022 – six years earlier than previously forecast.Experts predict Africa will account for more than half the world’s population growth in the next 35 years.Ten African countries – Angola, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mali, Niger, Somalia, Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia – are projected to increase their populations five-fold or more by 2100.Future population growth is highly dependent on the path of future fertility, as relatively small changes in fertility can, projected over decades, generate large differences in total population, the report said.In recent years, fertility has declined in almost all parts of the world, while life expectancy has increased significantly in the poorest countries, rising from 56 to 62 since the beginning of the century.Declining fertility and rising life expectancy mean the world is getting greyer, and most regions will have an ageing population, starting with Europe where one third of the population is projected to be over 60 by 2050, the report said.Globally, the number of people aged 80 or over – currently 125 million – is projected to more than triple by 2050 and to increase more than seven times by 2100.But populations in many regions are still young. In Africa, children under 15 account for two fifths of the population.”The large number of young people (in Africa) who will reach adulthood in the coming years and have children of their own, ensures that the region will play a central role in shaping the size and distribution of the world’s population over the coming decades,” the report said.

How N-pact is good for India

According to estimates, Iran currently exports nearly 1.3 million barrels of oil per day as against over two million barrels, before the sanctions were put in place by the US, European Union and the United Nations.

The intense negotiations between major powers and Iran are finally over, with a deal being reached between the two. What does this deal mean for India and its oil security? It is likely to put pressure on oil prices further. Immediately after the announcement that a deal had been made, oil prices fell globally. Brent crude oil was trading at $56.86, down by nearly 1.7% and oil prices on NYMEX fell 2%. Reuters reported that stock prices of oil-related companies fell in European stock markets after the deal was announced.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> According to estimates, Iran currently exports nearly 1.3 million barrels of oil per day as against over two million barrels, before the sanctions were put in place by the US, European Union and the United Nations. Iran currently produces nearly 2.8 million barrels of oil a day, which is nearly half of its peak production in the 1970s. With the sanctions being lifted gradually and Iranian oil coming into the market, oil prices are likely to be depressed further. Oil prices have already fallen since July 2014, and reached a low of $45 a barrel before stabilising at over $60 a barrel. This has also brought down India’s oil import bill by nearly 50%. HDFC Securities, in a note dated July 14 said, “The deal, as and when it is signed, augurs well for India.” It further said that an additional 5,00,000 barrels of oil could hit the market within a month of signing the deal, and another 10,00,000 barrels after six months. Following the sanctions, heightened tensions between the US and Iran, and pressure from the US, India cut its oil imports from Iran to merely 6% of its total needs in 2013. Oil imports from Iran jumped four times last year when major powers and Iran had reached an interim nuclear deal, which set in motion the current final deal. India’s oil imports from Iran stood at 11 million tonne in 2013-14 as against over 13 million in 2012-13. India currently imports three million barrels of oil a day, however, because of the sanctions, India has reduced its oil imports from Iran over the past few years and moved to African oil; this event gives it a chance to strengthen its oil trade with Iran once again. According to Reuters, Nigeria came on top of India’s oil import list in the month of May. India has also signed a contract with Iran to build Chabahar Port in Southeast Iran. The agreement was signed in 2003 but went into cold storage because of the sanctions. In May this year, Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari said that the port will be operational by December 2016. The work on the project is already underway, and a draft agreement is expected to be signed soon. India is expected to lease two berths at the port for 10 years, which will be used to export oil to Kandla and JNPT ports in Gujarat and Mumbai, respectively. It is also estimated that Iran has one of the largest natural gas reserves in the world. India had plans of buying five million tonnes of natural gas per year as per the deal signed in 2005, between National Iranian Gas Export Company and India’s GAIL, Indian Oil Ltd and BPCL. India and Iran also had a deal about the Farzad-B field, but according to certain reports, Iran had cancelled the deal. ONGC Videsh, together with Oil India and Indian Oil Corporation Ltd, have already invested over $100 million in the field, and discovered oil way back in 2008. According to estimates, the field holds 13 trillion cubic feet of reserves. Iran wants India to increase its oil imports from Iran and resumption of investment in this block will be a key to negotiate a deal. Indian refiners, who cut imports from Iran, will have to scale up their oil imports from Iran once again. India’s oil bill is nearly $150 billion, which puts immense pressure on the current account deficit and forex reserves. Iran had agreed to accept all payments in Indian Rupees following the sanctions, but in October 2013 it went back on its word and resumed the old system of accepting only 45% of the bills in Indian currency. Iran would not want to continue this deal, now with the sanctions being lifted — and the country coming on the map of global banking, thereby making it easier for it to accept and spend money on goods and services. However, if India manages to convince Iran to continue with the current deal, then with increasing imports from Iran coupled with more payments in Indian Rupees, India’s forex reserves will get a positive boost.

Italian marines’ murder case in India may go to arbitration | Reuters

NEW DELHI A case in which two Italian marines are accused of killing two Indian fishermen could now be heard before an international court, offering a possible way out of a three-year impasse that has blighted bilateral relations.

The Supreme Court on Monday heard a plea from Italy challenging India’s jurisdiction in the murder case and ordered the Indian government to report back by Aug. 26.

India would participate in arbitration proceedings foreseen under a U.N. convention, a government lawyer told the Supreme Court.

Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone have been in legal limbo since their arrest by India in connection with the fatal incident off the coast of Kerala in February 2012.

The pair, part of a military team protecting a cargo ship, says they mistook Indian fishermen for pirates and fired warning shots. Two fishermen were killed.

Amid legal wrangling, India’s Supreme Court allowed Latorre home for heart surgery, which he underwent in January. On Monday, the court allowed Latorre to stay in Italy for a further six months.

Girone is currently at the Italian embassy in India awaiting trial.

Rome objects to holding a murder trial in India, arguing that the case should be taken to arbitration under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and that the incident happened in international waters.

In a statement, its foreign ministry said: “The Indian government’s decision to participate in the international arbitration we started … confirms the consolidation of the judicial path taken by Italy.”

FALLOUT

The Indian government lawyer who attended the hearing said, however, that New Delhi would argue at an arbitration hearing that the murder case should still be held in India but that it was seeking a way to resolve the legal row.

“We are trying to see how we can resolve this, we are not taking a very antagonistic stand,” Additional Solicitor General P.S. Narasimhan told Reuters after the hearing. “It is in the interest of both the nations.”

The fallout from the arrest of the two marines has damaged wider relations, contributing to the collapse of a European Union-India summit planned during Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s visit to France and Germany this spring.

In April 2012, Rome paid $190,000 to each of the victims’ families as compensation. In return, the families dropped their cases against the marines, but the state’s case has yet to come to trial.

(Writing by Douglas Busvine; Additional reporting by Isla Binnie in Rome; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Gareth Jones)

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

UNHRC resolution on Palestine: JD(U) slams government for abstaining

India for the first time on Friday abstained from voting on a resolution on Palestine at the United Nations human rights body that calls for accountability in last year’s conflict in Gaza in which hundreds of Palestinians and six Israeli civilians were killed.

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JD(U) on Saturday strongly condemned the Narendra Modi government’s decision to abstain from voting on a resolution on Palestine adopted at the United Nations Human Rights Council.”The JD(U) feels that the decision taken by the central government is not in favour of the country as it might disturb the solidarity with Arab countries… “The decision is against the established policy of our nation and if India continues to follow the same track, no west Asian nation will stand with us in future,” party general secretary K C Tyagi said in a release.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India for the first time on Friday abstained from voting on a resolution on Palestine at the United Nations human rights body that calls for accountability in last year’s conflict in Gaza in which hundreds of Palestinians and six Israeli civilians were killed. Tyagi said JD(U) condemns the government’s decision of “supporting” Israel in the UN.”If 40-41 countries can support Palestine stand against Israel, the party does not understand why the central government chose to go against its tradition,” he said, alleging that in the last 60 years, India has supported Israel in UNO for the first time, keeping all the traditional view aside. The JD(U) leader noted that hundreds of people including children, old men and women lost their lives in the “war crime perpetrated by Israel”.

India quiet on emissions peak year

India will not announce a target date for when it expects its carbon emissions to drop, the environment minister tells the BBC.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomes growing engagement of China, India

In his address to the university, Ban said the year 2015 is a “key year” for efforts to establish the ASEAN Community. “I look forward to seeing regional economic integration, including free movement of goods, services, investment, skilled labour and a freer flow of capital,” he said.

Ban Ki-moon

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UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said he welcomes the “growing global prominence and engagement” of the UN’s “close parters” China and India, as the Asia-Pacific region rises as a centre of dynamism and influence. “The engines of growth and economic power continue to shift with the rise of the Asia-Pacific region as a centre of dynamism and influence,” Ban said.”I welcome the growing global prominence and engagement of China and India, key Member States and close partners of the United Nations on many of the Organization’s priority areas,” he said in his address to Stanford University. Ban was in San Francisco yesterday to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the UN Charter.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In his address to the university, Ban said the year 2015 is a “key year” for efforts to establish the ASEAN Community. “I look forward to seeing regional economic integration, including free movement of goods, services, investment, skilled labour and a freer flow of capital,” he said.He said Asia also faces challenges that could put at risk global goals of prosperity, stability and dignity for all. These include competing territorial or maritime claims, political and communal tensions, and non-traditional security threats such as transnational organised crime and terrorism, he added.He also stressed that he has consistently called on all parties to resolve their disputes in the South China Sea in a peaceful and amicable manner, through dialogue and in conformity with international law, including the UN Charter. “It is now more important than ever to avoid actions that would provoke or exacerbate tensions,” he said.On the migration crisis in Southeast Asia, Ban said people in search of asylum are being left trapped at sea and saving lives must be the number one priority. “Resolving this complex situation also requires addressing the root causes of migration, which include human rights violations and lack of economic opportunities,” he said.On the Rohingya Muslim community in Myanmar, Ban said three years after the inter-communal violence in western Rakhine state, some 130,000 still remain in camps requiring urgent humanitarian assistance. “The United Nations has, through various channels, strongly urged the government of Myanmar to ensure that the human rights of the Rohingya and other Muslim populations are fully respected and that the longer-term issues of citizenship, identity permits, work permits, and birth registration are properly addressed,” he said.He voiced regret that relations between North and South Korea remain at a low ebb, saying that improved relations would benefit both nations and the region as a whole. “That is why I offered to visit the Kaesong Industrial Complex,” but North Korea cancelled that trip, he said.

Miracle of collective chant of ‘Shanti, Shanti, Shanti’ brings pre-monsoon showers: Kiran Bedi

She also thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the United Nations for the International Yoga Day celebrations.
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Former IPS officer and BJP leader Kiran Bedi on Sunday said the miracle of collective chant of ‘Shanti, Shanti, Shanti’ by millions on the first International Yoga Day has brought the pre-monsoon showers in Delhi. “Miracle of collective chant of Shanti,Shanti,Shanti, by millions brings pre-monsoon showers in Delhi. Reduces heat and cools even the trees,” she tweeted. She also thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the United Nations for the International Yoga Day celebrations.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> “Good morning from the Rajpath…witnessing a social revolution of Synergy..thanks to our leadership and the UN…,” she said in a series of tweets. “Thanku our PM @narendramodi and @UN for gifting to the world Yoga Forever.It was a treasure of energy you have now given to all for PEACE..,” she added.Prime Minister Modi has dubbed the International Yoga Day as the beginning of a new era of peace and goodwill, thanking all those who have contributed to the development of the great discipline.Dressed in all-white and a tricolour scarf, Prime Minister Modi performed a variety of poses, including the Vajrasan and Padmasan, at the Rajpath where an estimated 40,000 people participated in the celebrations. Nearly 2,000 digital cinema screens were set up across Rajpath for the people to witness the live streaming of the performance of yoga asanas. Similar yoga events took place simultaneously across India, with Chief Ministers like Vasundhara Raje, Chandrababu Naidu, Devendra Fadnavis and Raghubar Das joining in. The yoga celebrations are being organised after the United Nations had in December last year declared June 21 as International Yoga Day. The idea of celebrating the International Yoga Day was pitched by Prime Minister Modi at the United Nations General Assembly last year.

Live: PM Modi joins 37,000 participants in yoga session; UN Sec Gen says he is ‘very excited’

Jun 21, 2015

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday greeted people on International Yoga Day, asking for a pledge to make it an integral part of life.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Minutes before the mega event commenced at Rajpath, the Prime Minister tweeted, “Greetings to people around the world on first International Day of Yoga! “Lets pledge to make yoga an integral part of our daily lives,” he said.

In another tweet, he said in some parts of the world, the first rays of the sun have already been welcomed by people practising yoga. This will continue across the world.

“I will join the yoga day programme at Rajpath in a short while,” Modi said.

The Prime Minister, who practised ‘asanas’ along with nearly 35,000 participants during a mega event at Rajpath in New Delhi, also thanked the United Nations and the countries which backed the resolution by India to mark 21 June as International Yoga Day.

The Prime Minister, who was expected to only address the gathering, surprised everyone by participating in the yoga exercises along with thousands of people, including children.

Yoga guru Ramdev shared the dais with Modi along with heads of some other religious and yoga institutions. Modi later joined the participants on the ground as he practised the ‘asanas’ during the 30-minute programme.

Kicking off the event, the Prime Minister said the programme is aimed at benefiting the people by making them both physically and mentally healthy.

It seeks to make a tension-free world and spread the message of ‘Sadbhavana‘ (harmony), the Prime Minister said, adding that yoga is “more than only physical fitness”.

“For most of the people, yoga is just a physical exercise. This is the biggest mistake…. Had this been the case, children working in circuses could have been called ‘yogis’. Hence yoga is not only about making the body flexible,” he said, while addressing the participants.

The Prime Minister expressed hope that the atmosphere built in favour of yoga in the country will continue in future as well.

He also said that it is not important for him where this ancient technique originated and where all it has reached.

“We are not only celebrating a day but we are training the human mind to begin a new era of peace – Sadbhavana…This is a programme for the benefit of mankind, a tension-free world and a programme to spread the message of Sadbhavana,” Modi said.

Modi, while addressing the crowd at Rajpath, said, “Did anyone ever imagine that Rajpath can be a ‘Yoga-path’?”

The Prime Minister also said that this was the beginning of a new era. “I bow down to the sages who encouraged Yoga through centuries,” he said. “Everything is moving forward. We don’t want a situation where humans are lagging behind.”

He also said that yoga was much more than just physical exercise. “Just making a body flexible, turning body into shapes is not Yoga. Otherwise, everyone in a circus would be a yogi…Mann (heart), buddhi (mind), shareer (body) and aatma (spirit) have to be in sync,” he said.

Diplomats from 152 foreign missions were invited to take part in the event which started at 7 am.

Apart from PM Modi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh was also seen practising yoga with the participants.

President Pranab Mukherjee also addressed the people practising yoga and said, “I wish that everyone finds peace and happiness through yoga.”

Even Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal took part in the practising yoga. He also said that yoga is not something to be politicised. “Yoga is very essential, but it isn’t something to do politics over,” he said.

Delhi Lieutenant-Governor Najeeb Jung, who has been involved in a political row with Kejriwal, was also seen doing yoga along with the others.

However, alleging that yoga was being privatised by BJP, the East Singhbhum District Congress Committee has decided to organise a ‘Walk for Nation and Society’ in Jamshedpur on Sunday to coincide with International Yoga Day.

Congress members and supporters will assemble at Jubilee Park gate on Sunday morning and take part in the walk, said district Congress (DCC) president Vijay Khan.

(With inputs from PTI)

NDA Ministers fan out across country for Yoga Day celebrations

The Centre has planned a mega event at Rajpath on IYD where around 35,000 people including government officials, armed forces personnel, NCC cadets and foreign diplomats are expected to take part.

With Prime Minister Narendra Modi leading International Yoga Day event in Delhi, several of his cabinet colleagues will be in various states on Sunday to spread awareness about the traditional artform.While External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will lead the mega event at the United Nations headquarters, Home Minister Rajnath Singh will participate at a yoga event in Lucknow.Lucknow, Kolkata and Patna will host “mega events” to mark the day. Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu will travel to Chennai where 30,000 people are expected to participate while Tourism Minister Mahesh Sharma will visit his constituency in Noida to take part in the event.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Law Minister DV Sadananda Gowda will be in Thiruvananthapuram in Kerela to participate in a mega event, while Health Minister JP Nadda will take part in a yoga event scheduled to be held at Sanjeevaiah Park in Hyderabad.Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar will leave Delhi early in the morning for Meerut where he will take part in a yoga event, while Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi will participate in an event in her constituency Pilibhit.Shripad Naik, Minister for AYUSH, the coordinating Ministry for the event on June 21 said various Union Ministers have been assigned different states by the government.Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram will visit Jeypore in Odisha on June 21 where he will perform yoga as well as address the gathering.Minister of state for Information and Broadcasting Rajvardhan Rathore will be in Delhi. HRD Minister Smriti Irani will be in Shimla.The Centre has planned a mega event at Rajpath on IYD where around 35,000 people including government officials, armed forces personnel, NCC cadets and foreign diplomats are expected to take part. The yoga celebrations are being held in the national capital after the United Nations had in December last year declared June 21 as International Yoga Day, with 177 countries voting in favour.The proposal was mooted by the Prime Minister during his first address to the UN General Assembly in September last year.

Keep yoga away from politics, controversies: Sumitra Mahajan

Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan on Wednesday said yoga should be kept away from politics and unnecessary controversies as it is an ancient Indian exercise regime involving body and mind.

PTI
Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan on Wednesday said yoga should be kept away from politics and unnecessary controversies as it is an ancient Indian exercise regime involving body and mind.”Yoga is an ancient exercise regime to keep body and mind healthy. It should not be mixed with politics or dragged into controversies,” she said. Mahajan, the MP from Indore, was speaking to reporters at a function organised by the local civic body.The first International Yoga Day will be celebrated on June 21 and governments at the Centre and states are making preparations to make it a grand success.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The United Nations, too, has recognised the importance and relevance of yoga and fixed June 21 for its annual international commemoration. The world body’s decision has enhanced India’s prestige in the comity of nations, Mahajan maintained.Asked about the Sushma Swaraj-Lalit Modi controversy, Mahajan said the Foreign Minister and some other Union Ministers have already given statements on the row and she would not like to comment on the issue.The veteran Parliamentarian, however, added that she knows Swaraj at personal level for several years.

Over 100 US cities to organise ‘Yogathon’ on first international Yoga Day

Washington: More than 100 US cities will organise a Yogathon on the first International Yoga Day to be celebrated on 21 June, organisers of the event have said.

100 US cities will organise a 'Yogathon' on 21 June. Image Courtesy: Twitter/MEAIndia

100 US cities will organise a ‘Yogathon’ on 21 June. Image Courtesy: Twitter/MEAIndia

In the ambitious 100+ cities drive, 15 cities in New Jersey-New York area, seven cities in California, six cities in Texas and three cities in Ohio have already finalised the details of the Yogathon, said Overseas Volunteer for a Better India (OVBI) – the lead organisers – in a statement on Thursday.

All major spiritual and Yoga organisations like Art of Living have joined the campaign, OVBI said adding that more than 50 organisations have joined the countrywide campaign to spread the awareness about Yoga.

Sunstone Yoga, a Yoga studio chain having presence in 13 locations in Dallas has come as a sponsor for the event.

Ethnic organisations like the Nepali Student Organisation and Food for Life Global – the world largest vegetarian food relief organisation has joined in as an event partner.

Among its other partners include the Indian Consulate in New York and Air India and Subway.

The United Nations, in less than three months, declared 21 June as World Yoga Day on 11 December last year, following a proposal by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

During his visit to the United Nations in September last year, Modi had urged the world community to celebrate Indian Yoga at the international level and that 21 June be declared as the World Yoga Day.

PTI

Migrants in ‘maritime ping-pong’ as Asian nations turn them back | Reuters

KOH LIPE, Thailand/LANGSA, Indonesia A boat crammed with migrants was towed out to sea by the Thai navy and then held up by Malaysian vessels on Saturday, the latest round of “maritime ping-pong” by Asian states determined not to let asylum seekers come ashore.

The United Nations has called on countries around the Andaman Sea not to push back the thousands of desperate Bangladeshis and Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar now stranded in rickety boats, and to rescue them instead.

“We’re not seeing any such moves from any governments in the region even though we’re calling on the international community to take action because people are dying,” said Jeffrey Savage, who works with the UNHCR refugee agency in Indonesia, where some 1,400 migrants have landed over the past week.

Nearly 800 came ashore near Langsa in Indonesia’s Aceh province on Friday, many with stories of a gruelling voyage that included push-backs from the Malaysian and Indonesian coasts.

Mahmud Rafiq, a 21-year-old Rohingya man who left Myanmar a month ago, recounted how an Indonesian navy ship given them food and medicine before towing their boat to Malaysian waters, where they were again stopped, given supplies and taken right back.

While adrift at sea, he said, the Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants had fought fiercely over dwindling supplies of food.

“We had very little food, and we agreed that we would leave it for the women and children,” said Rafiq. “Then they started hitting us. They took the food. They pushed many of us overboard. They beat us and attacked us with knives. I was hit with a wooden plank on the head and on my legs.”

THAI CLAMPDOWN

An estimated 25,000 Bangladeshis and Rohingya boarded smugglers’ boats in the first three months of this year, twice as many as in the same period of 2014, the UNHCR has said.

A clampdown by Thailand’s military junta has made a well-trodden trafficking route into Malaysia – one of Southeast Asia’s wealthiest economies – too risky for criminals who prey on Rohingya fleeing persecution in Buddhist-majority Myanmar and on impoverished Bangladeshis looking for work.

In response, many people-smugglers appear to have abandoned their boats in the Andaman Sea, leaving thousands thirsty, hungry and sick, and without fuel for their vessels’ engines.

One of those boats was towed away from the Thai coast by Thailand’s navy on Saturday, only to be intercepted off the Malaysian coast.

A Reuters journalist on a speedboat taken from southern Thailand’s coast said that the people aboard had little shelter from the blazing sun. Some of the women were crying, and some passengers waved their arms and shouted.

The International Organization for Migration has criticised Southeast Asian governments for playing “maritime ping-pong” with the migrants and endangering their lives.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday urged Thailand to considering sheltering the homeless Rohingya and called on its neighbours not to send the migrants back out to sea.

Responding to the pressure, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said his country already had 120,000 illegal migrants from Myanmar and the “humanitarian catastrophe” was a global issue to be resolved by the international community.

“We allow some of them to land and provide humanitarian aid to them but Malaysia must not be burdened with this problem as there are thousands more waiting to flee from their region,” Najib told the state news agency Bernama on Saturday.

MYANMAR DEFIANT

The United Nations said this week that the deadly pattern of migration across the Bay of Bengal would continue unless Myanmar ended discrimination.

Most of Myanmar’s 1.1 million Rohingya Muslims are stateless and live in apartheid-like conditions. Almost 140,000 were displaced in clashes with ethnic Rakhine Buddhists in 2012.

Myanmar terms the Rohingya “Bengalis”, a name most Rohingya reject because it implies they are immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh despite having lived in Myanmar for generations.

Thailand is hosting talks on May 29 for 15 countries to discuss the crisis.

Myanmar had not received an invitation to the meeting and would not attend if the word Rohingya was used, Zaw Htay, a senior official from the president’s office, said on Saturday.

“We haven’t received any formal invitation from Thailand officially yet,” he said in an emailed response to questions.

“And another thing, if they use the term ‘Rohingya’ we won’t take part in it since we don’t recognise this term. The Myanmar government has been protesting against the use of it all along.”

In a routine note to Congress, U.S. President Barack Obama said the United States, while not curtailing engagement with Myanmar as it introduces democratic reforms after decades of military rule, would maintain some sanctions on the country.

White House spokesman Eric Schultz said on Friday that Washington continued to raise its concerns with Myanmar over the migrants “because of dire humanitarian and economic situations they face at home out of fear of ethnic and religious violence.”

(Additional reporting by Amy Sawitta Lefevre and Kaweewit Kaewjinda in Bangkok, Aung Hla Tun in Yangon and Kanupriya Kapoor in Jakarta; Writing by John Chalmers; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

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

Yoga on, Sunday gone: On World Yoga Day, Maharashtra govt expects all schools to remain open

The Maharashtra government on Tuesday issued a circular for all schools in Mumbai telling them to be stay open on 21 June — a Sunday — to celebrate World Yoga Day, a Hindustan Times report said. The government has formed a panel of experts who will suggest different ways to celebrate the day, the report added.

The United Nations declared 21 June as World Yoga Day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi had urged the world community to celebrate Indian yoga at the international level in his speech at the United Nations General Assembly in September last.

Image Courtesy: Twitter @MEAIndiaImage Courtesy: Twitter @MEAIndia

Image Courtesy: Twitter @MEAIndia

While a few schools welcomed the announcement, a few others had a problem with the fact that the state government planned the celebrations on a Sunday. Father Francis Swamy, coordinator of the Jesuit School Board and manager of St Xavier’s High School in Fort was quoted as saying, “Sunday will be difficult for Catholic schools especially because we have church service on that day.”

Although government officials said that no schools were bound to do anything on the World Yoga Day, they also added that the state government “expected them (schools) to follow it.”

The initiative to celebrate World Yoga Day is an addition to a long list of all the other special holidays which are already celebrated in city schools. This is not the first time that the government has made an attempt to keep schools open on a public holiday.

Last December, the Union HRD Ministry had faced flak over its attempts to celebrate Christmas as the Good Governance Day. CBSE schools were told to remain open on Christmas to celebrate the birthday of Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Hindu Mahasabha leader Madan Mohan Malviya.

The attempt had sparked a debate among leaders on how these were “communal designs” of the BJP government to target minority holidays. Speaking to Firstpost, John Dayal, national secretary of All India Catholic Union and national convenor of the United Christian Forum for Human Rights, had at theat time said, “After attempting to appropriate the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel, the Modi government has now set an eye on Christmas Day.”

Even though, Maharashtra government’s attempts to observe World Yoga Day on 21 June is not as controversial as Good Governance Day, schools still feel that since Sunday is a holiday, 21 June should be treated as a working day.

The World Yoga Day announcement sounds similar to the way the BJP government decided to celebrate Teacher’s Day. A public holiday, Teacher’s Day has forever been the day children look forward to. But the Modi government decided to cut off all the fanfare around the holiday and instead made the children sit and watch a speech by Prime Minister  Narendra Modi.

Like Firstpost Editor Sandip Roy argues in this article, “The whole Teachers’ Day pep talk by Narendra Modi quickly got stuck in a similar controversy of voluntary vs mandatory. Modi’s national Teacher’s Day telecast was also quite simply an exercise in power. He was not just the kindly PM stopping by for a meet-and-greet with students at a particular school. When the PM gives Teacher’s Day a makeover in his own image it sends a signal.”

Three survive eight days under Nepal quake rubble; but many trekkers dead | Reuters

KATHMANDU (Reuters) – Three people were pulled out alive from the rubble of their home eight days after Nepal’s devastating earthquake, an official said on Sunday, but rescuers have found about 50 bodies on a popular trekking route that was hit by an avalanche.

The current toll of 7,056 dead is likely to rise as an entire village was carried away by the avalanche and many more people are believed to have died, officials said.

A home ministry official said police and army rescued three people from the rubble in the district of Sindhupalchowk, northeast of the capital Kathmandu and one of the worst-hit areas in the country. No further details were immediately available.

In the northern Rasuwa district, a Nepali police team has pulled out the bodies of about 50 people, including some foreign trekkers, from the avalanche-hit area, officials said.

The entire village of Langtang was wiped out by the avalanche, said Ganga Sagar Pant, the head of the Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal, who has a representative in the area.

“All that is left is scattered belongings like bags and coats, all the houses have been thrown down the mountain,” he said. “There is nothing left. I don’t think anyone can survive that.”

The village is on a popular trekking route and has 55 guesthouses catering to visitors. It was not clear how many people were there at the time of the avalanche and whether they were foreigners or local villagers.

None of the recovered bodies has been identified, said Pravin Pokharel, deputy superintendent of police in the northern district of Rasuwa. Pokharel, who led the police team, said the bodies were pulled out from under snow and ice on Saturday. Rescuers were to return to the remote area on Sunday.

At least 200 other people are still missing in Langtang, including villagers and trekkers, said Uddhav Bhattarai, the seniormost bureaucrat in the district.

“We had not been able to reach the area earlier because of rains and cloudy weather,” he said by telephone.

Tulsi Prasad Gautam, the head of Nepal’s tourism department, said: “The death toll (of foreigners in Nepal) will go higher because in the Langtang area a significant number are still missing.”

U.S. MARINES TO HELP

U.S. military aircraft and personnel were due to arrive in Nepal on Sunday, a day later than expected, to help ferry relief supplies to stricken areas outside the capital Kathmandu, a U.S. Marines spokeswoman said.

Marine Brigadier General Paul Kennedy has said the delayed U.S. contingent included at least 100 U.S. soldiers, lifting equipment and six military aircraft, two of them helicopters.

The team arrives as criticism mounted over a pile-up of relief supplies at Kathmandu airport, the only international gateway to the Himalayan nation, because of customs inspections.

United Nations Resident Representative Jamie McGoldrick said the government must loosen its normal customs restrictions to deal with the increasing flow of relief pouring in from abroad.

But the government, complaining it has received unneeded supplies such as tuna and mayonnaise, insisted its customs agents had to check all emergency shipments.

“They should not be using peacetime customs methodology,” the U.N.’s McGoldrick said. Instead, he argued, all relief material should get a blanket exemption from checks on arrival.

Kennedy also warned against bottlenecks at Kathmandu airport, saying: “What you don’t want to do is build up a mountain of supplies” that block space for planes or more supplies.

Nepal lifted import taxes on tarpaulins and tents on Friday but a home ministry spokesman, Laxmi Prasad Dhakal, said all goods coming in from overseas had to be inspected. “This is something we need to do,” he said.

Nepali government officials have said efforts to step up the pace of delivery of relief material to remote areas were also frustrated by a shortage of supply trucks and drivers, many of whom had returned to their villages to help their families.

Many Nepalis have been sleeping in the open since the quake, afraid of returning to their homes because of powerful aftershocks. Tents have been pitched in Kathmandu’s main sports stadium and on its golf course.

According to the United Nations, 600,000 houses have been destroyed or damaged.

The United Nations said 8 million of Nepal’s 28 million people were affected, with at least 2 million needing tents, water, food and medicines over the next three months.

(Writing by Raju Gopalakrishnan; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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

Pakistan should not interfere in India’s internal matters: Rajnath Singh

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday said Pakistan should stop interfering in India’s internal matters and rather worry about their own selves.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday said Pakistan should stop interfering in India’s internal matters and rather worry about their own selves.”Pakistan should worry about themselves and should not interfere in the internal matters of India. We cannot accept even any other nation’s interference in India’s internal matters,” Singh told ANI.Singh’s reaction comes after Aslam had earlier said that any efforts to create special townships in Jammu and Kashmir would violate the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council, and added that the people of the state are resisting such change.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Jammu and Kashmir is a disputed territory. The UN Security Council resolutions have pronounced very clearly on the status of the Jammu and Kashmir. Pending the final settlement through plebiscite, the two countries have administrative responsibilities in the disputed territory. But, there is a very clear direction that there cannot be any demographic change and there cannot be any step which would alter the makeup of the state of Jammu and Kashmir,” Aslam said at her regular media briefing.”Any effort to create special and dedicated townships, zones or any other step to alter the demographic composition of Jammu and Kashmir is in violation of UN Security Council resolutions. We have already seen how the people of Jammu and Kashmir are resisting the possibility of such measures,” she added.Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had also dismissed Pakistan’s remarks stating that the community, along with Muslims and Sikhs, are an integral part of the state.

Nepal quake victims still stranded, PM says toll could be 10,000 | Reuters

JHARIBAR/SINDHUPALCHOWK, Nepal (Reuters) – People stranded in remote villages and towns across Nepal were still waiting for aid and relief to arrive on Tuesday, four days after a devastating earthquake destroyed buildings and roads and killed more than 4,600 people.

The government has yet to assess the full scale of the damage wrought by Saturday’s 7.9 magnitude quake, unable to reach many mountainous areas despite aid supplies and personnel pouring in from around the world.

Prime Minister Sushil Koirala told Reuters the death toll could reach 10,000, as information on damage from far-flung villages and towns has yet to come in.

That would surpass the 8,500 who died in a 1934 earthquake, the last disaster on this scale to hit the Himalayan nation.

“The government is doing all it can for rescue and relief on a war footing,” Koirala said. “It is a challenge and a very difficult hour for Nepal.”

Nepal told aid agencies it did not need more foreign rescue teams to help search for survivors, because its government and military could cope, the national head of the United Nations Development Programme told Reuters.

Experts said the chance of finding people alive in the ruins was slim more than four days after disaster struck.

“After the first 72 hours the survival rate drops dramatically and we are on day four,” said Wojtek Wilk of the Polish Centre for International Aid, an NGO which has six medical staff and 81 firefighters in Nepal. “On the fifth day it’s next to zero.”

In a rare glimmer of hope, a Nepali-French rescue team pulled a 28-year-old man, Rishi Khanal, from a collapsed apartment block in Kathmandu after he had spent around 80 hours trapped in a room with three dead bodies.

In Jharibar, a village in the hilly Gorkha district of Nepal close to the quake’s epicentre, Sunthalia was not so lucky.

Her husband away in India and with no help in sight, she dug for hours in the rubble of her collapsed home on Saturday to recover the bodies of two of her children, a 10-year-old daughter and eight-year-old son.

Another son aged four miraculously survived.

HUNDREDS KILLED IN LANDSLIDES

In Barpak, further north, rescue helicopters were unable to find a place to land. On Tuesday, soldiers had started to make their way overland, first by bus, then by foot.

Army helicopters also circled over Laprak, another village in the district best known as the home of Gurkha soldiers.

A local health official estimated that 1,600 of the 1,700 houses there had been razed. Helicopters dropped food packets in the hope that survivors could gather them up.

In Sindhupalchowk, about 3.5 hours by road northeast of Kathmandu, the earthquake was followed by landslides, killing 1,182 people and seriously injuring 376. A local official said he feared many more were trapped and more aid was needed.

“There are hundreds of houses where our people have not been able to reach yet,” said Krishna Pokharel, the district administrator. “There is a shortage of fuel, the weather is bad and there is not enough help coming in from Kathmandu.”

International aid has begun arriving in Nepal, but disbursement has been slow, partly because aftershocks have sporadically closed the airport.

According to the home (interior) ministry, the confirmed death toll stands at 4,682, with more than 9,240 injured.

The United Nations said 8 million people were affected by the quake and that 1.4 million people were in need of food.

Nepal’s most deadly quake in 81 years also triggered a huge avalanche on Mount Everest that killed at least 18 climbers and guides, including four foreigners, the worst single disaster on the world’s highest peak.

All the climbers who had been stranded at camps high up on Everest had been flown by helicopters to safety, mountaineers reported on Tuesday.

Up to 250 people were missing after an avalanche hit a village on Tuesday in Rasuwa district, a popular trekking area to the north of Kathmandu, district governor Uddhav Bhattarai said.

FRUIT VENDORS RETURN TO STREETS

A series of aftershocks, severe damage from the quake, creaking infrastructure and a lack of funds have complicated rescue efforts in the poor country of 28 million people sandwiched between India and China.

In Kathmandu, youths and relatives of victims were digging into the ruins of destroyed buildings and landmarks.

“Waiting for help is more torturous than doing this ourselves,” said Pradip Subba, searching for the bodies of his brother and sister-in-law in the debris of Kathmandu’s historic Dharahara tower.

The 19th century tower collapsed on Saturday as weekend sightseers clambered up its spiral stairs. Scores of people were killed when it crumpled.

Elsewhere in the capital’s ancient Durbar Square, groups of young men cleared rubble from around an ancient temple, using pickaxes, shovels and their hands. Several policemen stood by, watching.

Heavy rain late on Tuesday slowed the rescue work.

In the capital, as elsewhere, thousands have been sleeping on pavements, roads and in parks, many under makeshift tents.

Hospitals are full to overflowing, while water, food and power are scarce.

There were some signs of normality returning on Tuesday, with fruit vendors setting up stalls on major roads and public buses back in operation.

Officials acknowledged that they were overwhelmed by the scale of the disaster.

“The big challenge is relief,” said Chief Secretary Leela Mani Paudel, Nepal’s top bureaucrat. “We are really desperate for more foreign expertise to pull through this crisis.”

India and China, which have used aid and investment to court Kathmandu for years, were among the first contributors to the international effort to support Nepal’s stretched resources.

(Additional reporting by Gopal Sharma, Ross Adkin, Frank Jack Daniel, Andrew Marshall and Christophe Van Der Perre in Kathmandu, Aman Shah and Clara Ferreira-Marques in Mumbai, Aditya Kalra, Douglas Busvine and Aditi Shah in New Delhi, and Jane Wardell in Sydney; Writing by Raju Gopalakrishnan and Paritosh Bansal; Editing by Mike Collett-White and Paul Tait)

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