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Union Cabinet approves India’s INDC document at COP21

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INDCs were voluntary pledges that countries made to cut carbon pollution at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference held in Paris from November 30 to December 12.

Days after India submitted its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) before COP21, the Union Cabinet on Tuesday gave its ex post-facto approval to the document.INDCs were voluntary pledges that countries made to cut carbon pollution at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference held in Paris from November 30 to December 12.In its INDC submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), India had announced that it aims at achieving around 40 per cent cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel-based energy resources by 2030.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> India in its INDC also pledged to create an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent through additional forest and tree cover by 2030.

Paris climate talks: India welcomes final deal draft

Javadekar said India has been stressing on two important concepts — climate justice and sustainable lifestyles — in the last one year.

Prakash Javadekar (R) during the climate conference

Reuters
India on Saturday welcomed the final draft of an ambitious climate deal as “balanced” and said its concerns have been taken care of in the document. The climate change conference came out with an ambitious final draft of a deal that proposes limiting global warming to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius and committing US $100 billion a year from 2020 to help developing countries in coping with the problem. Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said the differentiation between developed and developing countries, which India has been demanding, is mentioned across all the pillars of action including mitigation, adaptation, finance and access to technology.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Terming it as an “important achievement” for India, Javadekar said that “sustainable lifestyles and climate justice” which have been espoused by it also get a mention in the final 31-page draft. He said French President Francois Hollande also called Prime Minister Narendra Modi after the final draft text was unveiled. “After the first glace of the final text, we are happy that the text contains and take care of concerns of India. It is linked with the convention (United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC) while Common But Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR) is imbibed in it,” Javadekar said “More importantly, differentiation for developed and developing countries are mentioned across all pillars of action — mitigation, adaption, finance, technology capacity and transparency. That is very important thing,” Javadekar said after initial reading of the text. Javadekar said India has been stressing on two important concepts — climate justice and sustainable lifestyles — in the last one year. “More importantly for India Prime Minister Narendra Modi has always espoused cause of sustainable lifestyle and climate justice. Both have found mention in the preamble of the text. That is an important achievement for India. These two concepts were put up very forcefully by India in the last one year,” he said. India wants the concept of ‘differentiation’ to be clearly spelt out in all elements of the agreement and has been taking the position that developed countries must have a greater responsibility to accept emission reduction targets while they must be the only ones to mandatorily provide financial resources.

e-waste rules remain on paper, inefficient implementation by CPCB: CAG report

CPCB was unable to coordinate with State Pollution Control Boards for collection and compilation of data regarding numbers of producers, collection centers, dismantlers and recyclers authorized in each state, the CAG report said.

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has pulled up the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the country’s top pollution watchdog, for ineffective implementation of the e-waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2011 even three years after it came into effect.The e-waste Rules, 2011, was the first regulatory notification brought out to manage and process the burgeoning e-waste generated in the country. One of CAG’s chief findings, shockingly, is that since 2005 CPCB has not bothered to assess the quantity of e-waste generated in the country. “There is no assurance that generation and treatment of e-waste in the country has been controlled and environmental risks reduced despite introduction of e-waste Rules, 2011”, the report said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>CPCB was unable to coordinate with State Pollution Control Boards for collection and compilation of data regarding numbers of producers, collection centers, dismantlers and recyclers authorized in each state, the CAG report said. As per a United Nations 2014 report, India is currently generating a massive 1.7 million tones or 17 lakh metric tonnes of e-waste.Electronic waste comprises of old, defunct and rejected electrical appliances such as personal computers, television sets, mobile phones and bulbs. e-waste contains toxic heavy metals such as mercury, cadmium, nickel and lead that can cause cancer, brain tumour, paralysis, infertility, joint pain and nerve disorders and also pollute the environment by way of groundwater contamination.According to the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry, only 1.5 per cent of India’s total e-waste is recycle by formal recyclers who are approved by state boards.Another key aspect of the e-waste Rules, 2011, called the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) has been largely left ignored by CPCB, CAG observed. Under EPR, producers of electronic goods are mandated to manage the ‘end of life’ of goods. Thus, even after consumers discard the electronic goods, the producers are responsible to collaborate with the government to collect e-waste and organize systems to process it scientifically.The CAG report though has noted that CPCB set up a committee to formulate EPR mechanisms only in May 2015, a good three years after E-waste Rules, 2011, came into effect. Thus, even today there is no system in place to get producers to manage e-waste.

Dialogue only route to resolution of Kashmir problem: Farooq Abdullah

“How much can the army defend us even if the entire army of India came to our rescue, they cannot defend us against terrorists or militants. The only way left is to hold dialogue and find a solution,” he stressed.

Dialogue is the only way forward for a resolution to the Kashmir issue, former chief minister Farooq Abdullah on Saturday said even as he held that nothing has been done to reclaim Pakistan-occupied Kashmir from the neighbouring country while reiterating views that have invited criticism. “The only way left is to hold dialogue and find a solution (to the Kashmir issue),” the National Conference leader said at a function here. Ever since I came into politics, I have always said that this state (PoK and J-K) can never become one. Neither do we have the power to take back their part (PoK) nor have they (Pakistan) the power to take our part; we are a nuclear power and they, too, are,” he said at a discussion by civil society to explore the ways for bringing peace and reconciliation between the two countries.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”How much can the army defend us even if the entire army of India came to our rescue, they cannot defend us against terrorists or militants. The only way left is to hold dialogue and find a solution,” he stressed.He said he was hopeful that the Kashmir issue would be solved during the tenure of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, but that did not happen. In the wake of his comments yesterday, he blamed the media for hyping up his statement and said his views about Pakistan continuing to hold PoK and India keeping J-K could not be the only scenario and he would accept any decision which was acceptable to the majority of people in India, Pakistan and J-K. “I never said it was the ultimate solution that they keep their part and we keep ours. If you have a better solution acceptable to a majority of Indians, Pakistanis and J-K citizens, it is also acceptable to us,” he said while urging that dialogue has to be started for reaching a resolution.Referring to the 1994 Parliament resolution on PoK, Farooq said nothing has been done following its adoption unanimously to reclaim area under Pakistani occupation. “They say there is a resolution in Parliament; but tell me what the Parliament has done so far to reclaim that part. “You passed the resolution, tell me how many resolutions are there in United Nations regarding Kashmir; have any of those been implemented. People on both sides are suffering due to the cross-border firing,” he said. Meanwhile, BJP today sought an apology from Abdullah for his remarks that “PoK is part of Pakistan” and said he was “deliberately raking up” the issue in order to remain in news for his political survival. “For how many years have we been saying that it (PoK) is part of India. What have we done so far, have we ever taken it back,” he had said yesterday.

India’s plan to cut emissions indicates ‘seriousness’: UN chief Ban Ki-moon

“I welcome India’s submission of its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC). I believe it indicates the seriousness with which India is confronting the challenges of climate change, and it will help the world ‘bend’ the temperature projections for the rest of this century,” Ban said.

PTI
India’s plan to slash greenhouse gas emissions indicates its “seriousness” in confronting climate change challenges and will help the world “bend” temperature projections for the rest of the century, UN chief Ban Ki-moon has said ahead of the crucial Paris summit.The UN Secretary General also took note of India’s concerns over the lack of climate ambition on display by developed countries on both fronts of mitigation and support, saying that there is “no question” that developed countries need to take the lead on climate action.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I welcome India’s submission of its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC). I believe it indicates the seriousness with which India is confronting the challenges of climate change, and it will help the world ‘bend’ the temperature projections for the rest of this century,” Ban told PTI.In its INDCs, India has offered to slash its emissions per-unit of gross domestic product figures to 35 per cent by 2030.The United Nations Climate Change Conference, widely known as Conference of Parties (CoP 21), will take place from November 30 to December 11 in Paris and will aim to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2 C.More than 120 leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will participate in the 21st Meeting of the States Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.India has expressed deep concern over the lack of climate ambition on display by developed countries on both fronts of mitigation and support. Ban said while there is no question that developed countries need to take the lead on climate action, nations however have to move forward.”Global emissions are continuing to rise. We have to look at the issue differently. We have to recognise that all countries have to do their part, to the extent they have the resources and capacity to take action,” Ban said.He stressed that countries understand that all nations need to be involved in the solutions, and all need to see that the benefits of low-carbon, climate-resilient growth are realised by all.”Developed countries need to lead but all countries need to contribute,” he said.India has stressed that developed countries cannot undermine the core principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities in arriving at a climate deal.Ban emphasised that the Paris conference has to result in an agreement that is “fair”. He said it needs to demonstrate solidarity with the poor and most vulnerable countries.”It has to recognise and respond to the circumstances and needs of the most vulnerable, who have not contributed to the problem of climate change yet have the most to lose due to its impacts,” he said.

‘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.

World Toilet Day: Is the government on track to tackle India’s sanitation problems?

Modi’s Swacch Bharat programme wanted to make India open-defecation free by 2019. But is his dream going as per plan?

When Narendra Modi became Prime Minister, one of his key stated missions was to build toilets across rural India, so that every household has access to sanitation facilities. His Swacch Bharat programme wanted to make India open-defecation free by 2019. But is his dream going as per plan? According to Saraswati Prasad, joint secretary, ministry of drinking water and sanitation, Swachh Bharat Mission-Gramin (SBM-G) division, nearly 55% of households in India don’t have toilets. The cost of constructing these 12 crore toilets in rural India would approximately be Rs 1.96 lakh crore. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>According to the 2014 report published by the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), 792 million people in India didn’t have access to improved sanitation facility in 2012. It also stated that India continues to be the country with the highest number of people (597 million people) having to resort to open defecation. Additionally, it was one of the countries that was making the least strides in reducing open defecation. In India, the 2011 census also shows a similar story. If you take a look at the statistics, you see that 9 out of 10 houses in rural areas don’t have a toilet in Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh (86%) comes second followed by Chhattisgarh (85%), Odisha (84%), Bihar (81%), Rajasthan (80%), Uttar Pradesh (77%), Tamil Nadu (73%), Karnataka (68%) and Gujarat (65%). Kerala is last on this list with only 5.6% houses with toilets in rural areas. According to government data, more than 2 crore toilets have been built for rural households between December 2012 and February 2015, but the number of toilets being built for each year has been steadily decreasing for some reason. In 2011-12, about 90 lakh toilets were built, but it’s only been 50 lakh toilets for 2013-14. A March 2015 report published in a leading daily stated that since Swacch Bharat was launched in October 2014, six lakh toilets are being built each month. But to reach the target of 12 crore toilets by 2019, at least ten lakh toilets need to be built each month. Thus, the government is still far below target. So if India continues to build only about one crore toilets a year in rural households, the dream of achieving the target that the government has set itself, can only be expected by 2026-27.

Global temperature rise to pass 1 degree C this year – Britain’s Met Office | Reuters

LONDONThe rise in global temperatures from pre-industrial levels will this year exceed 1 degree Celsius for the first time, Britain’s Met Office said on Monday.

That would put global warming more than half way towards the 2 degree limit by 2100 that negotiators from more than 190 countries hope to set at a United Nations climate summit starting in Paris at the end of November.

Met Office scientists said the rise will partly be due to the naturally occurring El Nino weather phenomenon this year although the effects of man-made climate change will be the main contributor.

“We’ve had similar natural events in the past, yet this is the first time we are set to reach the 1 degree marker and it’s clear that it is human influence driving our modern climate into uncharted territory,” said Stephen Belcher, director of the Met Office Hadley Centre in a statement.

Plans by about 150 countries to curb greenhouse gas emissions, presented ahead of the Paris talks, will slow the rise in temperature from pre-industrial times to around 2.7 degrees, the U.N. said last month.

Scientists say warming by 2100 must be kept below 2 degrees to stave off the worst effects of climate change such as floods, droughts and rising sea levels.

(Reporting By Susanna Twidale; editing by John Stonestreet)

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

Concerned over anti-India sentiments in Nepal: Indian envoy Ranjit Rae

Meanwhile, two human rights organisations — Informal Service Sector Centre (INSEC) and Democratic Freedom and Human Rights Institute (DFHRI) — registered a complaint with the United Nations Rapporteur on unilateral coercive measure.

A man rides his bicycle as stones thrown by the protesters are seen scattered on the road connecting Nepal to India during a general strike called by the Madhesi protesters demonstrating against the new constitution in Birgunj, Nepal November 4, 2015.

Reuters
India made it clear on Wednesday that it was not supporting protests by Madhesis in Nepal and expressed concern over spreading of anti-India sentiments in the country. India also stressed that it had not imposed any blockade at the border, stalling supply of essential goods to Nepal. India’s position was stated by Indian Ambassador Ranjit Rae in New Delhi in his meeting with former prime minister and senior CPN-UML leader Madhav Kumar Nepal.”The Ambassador expressed concern over the spreading of anti-India sentiments in Nepal,” the Nepalese leader’s personal aide Mohan Gautam said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”He said that India was not involved in the blockade and refuted claims that the southern neighbour was supporting Madhes-based parties in their protests,” Gautam said of the meeting between the two at Madhav Kumar Nepal’s residence. The Nepalese leader, on his part, asked the Indian envoy to ease supplies to Nepal from India.Meanwhile, two human rights organisations — Informal Service Sector Centre (INSEC) and Democratic Freedom and Human Rights Institute (DFHRI) — registered a complaint with the United Nations Rapporteur on unilateral coercive measure.In their complaint, they alleged that India had imposed a unilateral coercive blockade following the promulgation of Nepal’s new Constitution.”India’s action violates the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982, Provisions of World Trade Organisation, Nepal-India Transit Treaty and Agreement on South Asia Free Trade Area Agreement (SAFTA),” they claimed.Madhesis, Indian-origin inhabitants of Nepal’s Terai region, are protesting division of their ancestral homeland in the new Constitution. The agitation close to the main trading point near Raxaul has halted supply of essential goods, causing acute shortage of fuel in Nepal.Over 40 people have died in the violent agitation that has also overwhelmed Indo-Nepal ties as transit of goods and fuel to the Himalayan nation from India via the major border trading points has been badly affected.

Mahatma Gandhi, United Nations share the same ideals: PM Modi

He underlined that seven decades after its founding, the United Nations remains ‘a beacon for all humanity’.

PM Narendra Modi

PTI
On the 70th anniversary of the United Nations, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said that Mahatma Gandhi’s ideals resonate with the UN Charter and the India remains committed to the UN in all their endeavours.He added that in honour of the UN day, the Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad will be illuminated just like how the ‘iconic’ buildings worldwide will be illuminated in blue at night.United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a message on the eve of UN day that the blue flag of the UN had been a banner of hope for him growing up in wartime KoreaHe underlined that seven decades after its founding, the United Nations remains ‘a beacon for all humanity’.

US most relevant third party for Kashmir issue: Nawaz Sharif

He also briefed the senators about his recent peace initiative for India-Pak ties.

Sharif made the statement during his meeting with members of Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said that the United States would be the most relevant third party that could intervene to resolve the Kashmir Issue, said a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office. Sharif made the statement during his meeting with members of Senate Foreign Relations Committee, reports the Dawn. He also briefed the senators about his recent peace initiative for India-Pak ties, which he mentioned during his speech in United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) session last month.He also stated his government’s commitment to enhance coordination with the Afghanistan government to counter terrorism and promote peace in the region. The Prime Minister appreciated US efforts and assistance to Pakistan to counter terrorism. He added that due to successful operations by the security forces, the ability of militants to conduct any major attack in the country has significantly diminished.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>According to the statement, members of the US Congress have also highlighted Pakistan’s importance in the region and mentioned the significance US-Pakistan engagement to achieve the goals of regional peace and stability.

UK medical journal Lancet to slam Modi government for pushing ‘health’ out of its agenda

The Lancet which is known to be world’s most respectable medical journal has criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for giving lesser priority to India’s health sector and has expressed risks country may face, reported a leading daily.

Narendra Modi

The Lancet which is known to be the world’s most respectable medical journal has criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for giving less priority to India’s health sector and has expressed risks country may face, reported a leading daily. In its next edition which is to be published on December 11, according to the report, this journal with a paper written by world’s renowned experts, will take on the Modi government for not allocating sufficient budget and ignoring public health as opposed to his poll-promise of rolling out universal health coverage. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Lancet’s editor-in-chief Richard Horton told the leading daily in an interview that neither did he see any new policies, nor a significant public commitment and there is no financial commitment to the health sector under the current Modi-led government. Warning the prime minister of dire consequences, Horton said in the report that since Modi’s arrival at the centre, health has been pushed outside the government’s agenda and if PM Modi doesn’t take it into his notice, health will prove to be a matter of national security.”It’s not that before Modi came in power, health was an issue that wasn’t as high in the agenda as it should have been but it was definitely on the agenda. Since Modi has come in, health has completely vanished,” Horton was quoted as saying. These are the main points Horton wants Indian government to take notice of and act on:Lack of investment in the public health system and the growth of an unregulated private sector
Public health system that hardly meets the demands of the ever rising population
High child and maternal mortality rate
India’s objectives to be a world leader and to be a part of the United Nations security council are very legitimate but I don’t think it can claim to be a world leader when it allows so many of its children and mothers to die of abject poverty, the report quoted Horton.

UN owes India $85 million for peacekeeping operations, debt to Pak even higher

United Nations: The UN owes India an amount of USD 85 million for its contribution towards peacekeeping operations including troops, police and equipment, a senior management official has said.

The organisation owed a total of USD 1.03 billion to 86 member states which contributed troops, police and equipment as of October 2 this year.

The largest amount owed was to Pakistan at USD 97 million; followed by Ethiopia at USD 87 million; India at USD 85 million; Bangladesh at USD 84 million; Rwanda at USD 55 million; and Nepal at USD 44 million, Under-Secretary- General for Management Yukio Takasu told the the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) in the General Assembly.

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.

United Nations. Image courtesy: ReutersUnited Nations. Image courtesy: Reuters

United Nations. Image courtesy: Reuters

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.

He said the organisation’s financial indicators for 2015 were “generally sound and positive”, except for the cash position of the regular budget, whose funds had been depleted.

Urging member states to make their full payments as soon as possible, he said a few nations accounted for the bulk of the outstanding amount, with the US owing USD 813 million, Brazil USD 124 million and Venezuela USD 35 million.

Additionally, 99 member states had not paid their assessed contribution in full to the international tribunals and the United States led the list with an obligation of USD 29 million, followed by Russia with USD 11 million in unpaid assessments; Brazil at USD 9 million; Indonesia at USD 4 million; Venezuela with USD 4 million; and 94 other States owing USD 12 million.

He said India had fully paid up its contribution as of October 2.

Briefing on the status of the organisation’s four major financial categories of regular budget, peacekeeping operations, tribunals and the Capital Master Plan, Takasu as of October 2, unpaid assessments stood at USD 1.053 billion, up 16 million from a year earlier.

The total cash available for peacekeeping as of October 2 was about USD 4.3 billion, including the Peacekeeping Reserve account, he said.

As of October 2, USD 314 million was owed to Member States for troops and formed police units; and for contingent-owned equipment claims, USD 638 million was owed to active missions and USD 86 million for closed missions.

PTI

15 years of Resolution 1325: All about women, peace and security

1325 was the first of a series of Security Council resolutions on “Women, Peace and Security.” A few years later, the Security Council adopted Resolutions 1820 and 1888 took cognizance of sexual violence in conflict.

Representational image

dna Research & Archives
On a cold, dark October day in 2000, sitting in my office on campus, I somehow stumbled upon live-streaming from the UN Security Council of a debate on women, peace and security (WPS). I had the debate and the vote running on my desktop as I worked on other things, excited but without a sense of the history I was witnessing.That day, as the culmination of decades of women’s peace activism and of a growing consensus in global institutions about gender justice in conflict and post-conflict moments, the United Nations Security Council, under the leadership of Bangladesh’s Ambassador Anwarul Chowdhury, adopted Resolution 1325 unanimously.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>What does 1325 say? The Resolution recognized that the experience of conflict was gendered, and that this needed to be factored into conflict resolution and peace-building. Its central instruction to Member-States and the United Nations was to include women at every stage of the conflict-peace cycle. “More women at the peace table,” was the 1325 mantra.There were also provisions about gender sensitization, gender analysis and about dealing with impunity. It is commonly stated that there are three core pillars to 1325—participation, protection and prevention. While Member-States were to formulate and implement National Action Plans within a time-limit, they were also encouraged to work with women’s organisations on the ground.1325 was the first of a series of Security Council resolutions on “Women, Peace and Security.” A few years later, the Security Council adopted Resolutions 1820 and 1888 took cognizance of sexual violence in conflict.Resolution 1889 reiterated the 1325 message about women at the peace table. Resolution 1960 returned to the concern with sexual violence and instituted ‘naming and shaming’ along with sanctions as a deterrent device. Resolution 2106 addressed institutional measures that the UN should adopt and Resolution 2122 returned to the broader concerns of 1325. Yesterday, at the annual Open Debate on this question at the Security Council, the latest in this series was adopted. Resolution 2242 resolved to integrate women, peace and security concerns across all situations and crises on the Council agenda.Step back and think about what had started on that dark October day: The global executive body with the most decision-making and enforcement authority adopted the peacebuilding language and peacemaking agenda of women peace activists around the world and for fifteen years, has been promoting it through its agencies.In these fifteen years, many reviews and studies have been undertaken—locally, regionally and globally. Released this week was the official 15 year review, “Preventing Conflict, Transforming Justice, Securing the Peace: A Global Study on the Implementation of United Nations Security Council resolution 1325”.The Global Study starts by acknowledging that the world has changed in these fifteen years, a fundamental change being that we understand both peace and security far more holistically now. Like all UN documents, it starts by listing what has been accomplished—as both a recounting of precedents and a report card—commenting, “much of the progress towards the implementation of resolution 1325 continues to be measured in ‘firsts,’ rather than as standard practice.”One of the positives it notes include the fact that between 2000-15, 27% of peace agreements have referenced women, where only 11 % had between 1990-2000. In the six accords where the UN has played a part, the percentage is 67. But women make up only 9% of peace negotiators at work and only 3% of the military missions working for the UN.The Global Study is based on consultations around the world with experts and at the grassroots. It is also built on a host of especially commissioned studies. These messages from the field have been filtered into principles for women, peace and security work. They include a reminder that 1325 was first advocated as a human rights resolution, following the Beijing Women’s Platform for Action, among other things.As a corollary, “attempts to ‘securitize’ issues and to use women as instruments in military strategy must be consistently discouraged.” Accountability and justice are key principles; but the message is that justice for violence against women and girls should not be just punitive, the process should also address underlying structural inequalities. The role of women peacebuilders should be recognized and supported; “funding and support to women peacebuilders in contexts of rising extremism can play a critical role in ensuring that extremist ideologies neither survive nor thrive.”The Global Study faithfully reflects the current thinking in the field on at least two counts. First, it speaks with conviction of extremism and counter-terrorism as threats to women’s security. Working in the field now, all conversations veer to this. Second, it clearly extends responsibility for implementing the WPS resolutions well beyond the nation-state, regional organizations and the United Nations with recommendations for the media and civil society. It also dwells on the need for better data—a felt need on the ground as well among women peace activists.For the women’s movement, historically, militarization has been as much a concern as formal conflict. This has not been reflected in much of the official 1325 discussion. But in the stories that emerge about civil infrastructure being destroyed in the rivalry of armed groups or the challenges of getting to a hospital in zones with extended curfews, it is clear that militarisation, occupation, areas of insurgent and counter-insurgent operations and even in the battles over “development” projects, the extended security presence change women’s life-chances for the worse. (See the Community Conversations reports here)The Global Study notes, “Across religions and regions, a common thread shared by extremist groups is that in each and every instance, their advance has been coupled with attacks on the rights of women and girls—rights to education, to public life, and to decision-making over their own bodies.”The attack on Malala Yousufzai by the Pakistani Taliban, the abduction of 276 girls from Chibok by Boko Haram and the ISIS outreach to women across the world exemplify this. The Global Study notes that women are both victims and perpetrators in these movements.Based on the experience of women peacemakers and women’s rights activists, the Study recommends removing gender equality from the military and counter-terrorism agendas (which is not to say that gender sensitization and inclusivity should cease) so that human rights and peace work are not compromised—nor the safety of activists. The safety of women activists for peace and human rights are an explicit concern of the study, which actually mentions the work of the Urgent Action Fund in getting help to human rights defenders in danger.Critical academic and activist work on 1325 in the last few years has questioned the utility of focusing on the willingness of states to adopt National Action Plans. The Global Study devotes time and space to delineating the role of media and civil society. The section on the role of the media is a positive one, recognizing the role of social and community media in taking social movements forward—it opens with an anecdote from the Tahrir Square protests in 2011.Activists talk about how important it is to have their concerns featured in the media. “To get one’ message out in the media is extremely important since the public generally accept what is presented in the news as ‘truth,’” the report quotes Pernilla Ahlsén as writing.The use of community radio gets a special mention. The Global Study takes note that journalistic independence is imperilled in conflict contexts. Recommendations for media outlets include: committing to accurately portray women and men’s roles and experiences; increasing women’s representation in newsrooms, decision-making and leadership; monitoring reportage on sexual and gender-based violence and creating an ethical code for covering these issues.Civil society, especially the women’s movement, gets credit for 1325, and the responsibility to “shape public and government agendas and create the political will for action.” A civil society survey was commissioned for this Study and respondents said that while 1325 had been an important programming pivot, they say it as “only ‘moderately effective’” because it had not been quite transformational in impact. The Global Study recognizesthree constraints on civil society’s own effectiveness in this work: lack of resources; gaps between international policies and local realities and finally, lack of trust between governments and civil society. That last is growing in importance worldwide, and exacerbating other constraints. It is evident both in the inability of civil society to insist on and get accountability for conflict and state violence, and it is evident in the denial by many states of conflict situations. Still, it falls to civil society to bring issues, actors and stories to light; to create more inclusive discourses and spaces for peace, and to help adapt global ideas and strategies to local realities. The Global Study asks women’s organisations to build networks for peace and develop joint advocacy strategies.With each successive WPS resolution, the emphasis on protection seemed to be growing, but the Global Study moves attention back to prevention repeatedly. The report quotes a participant in its Asia-Pacific consultation as saying, “Women, peace and security is about preventing war, not about making war safer for women.”To look at protection of women as the central purpose of this work is to ensconce thinking about peace firmly within patriarchy. To facilitate meaningful participation of women in conflict prevention, conflict resolution and transformation and post-conflict reconstruction is to dismantle patriarchy and build a gender-just peace.The Global Study serves to benchmark progress, to identify good practices and also to offer a roadmap for action. As we mark the fifteenth anniversary of 1325 and figure out, each of us, our own work on this agenda, this will be the document we return to again and again in the coming decade. It reminds us, through the words of Nobel Laureate, Leymah Gbowee, “We have the power to stop war and turn our upside down world right.”A Call to Action “In all previous generations, when the world was at war, where there was increased militarization and terrible violence, women have come forward as peacemakers and peacebuilders. Today is no exception. It still happens at the local level, whether in Syria or the DRC. The international world, by embracing ‘celebrity culture’ has forgotten these women, and allows them to remain invisible. It is important to turn the spotlight again onto these women peacebuilders, to support and fund their efforts. Networks must be created at the local, regional and international level, so that their voices and activities can reach a climax and stem the current tide of recurrent militarization and mindless violence.Swarna Rajagopalan is a political scientist who has been thinking and writing about gender, peace and security topics, including 1325, for several years. She is the founder of Prajnya and a part of the Women’s Regional Network.

Dadri lynching: Shiv Sena mouthpiece Saamna says ‘religious tension’ being generated for ‘political gain’

Training guns on Azam Khan, the editorial attacked him for his decision of taking the Dadri lynching case to the United Nations

Family members of Mohammad Akhlaq, who was killed in Dadri

The Shiv Sena mouthpiece Saamna on Sunday attacked the Centre over the Dadri incident, saying that ‘a man’s death’ was being used for nefarious purposes and political gains in the upcoming Bihar polls and also hit out at Uttar Pradesh minister Azam Khan, saying he has misunderstood the very definition of ‘secularism’.”Our ‘secular’ nation is trying to use strategies on how to use Dadri for the Bihar elections. Criticism is rampant that the country is not secular under Prime Minister Modi and that the RSS wants a Hindu nation. But religious tension is being generated in the country for political gain and such attempts won’t be tolerated,? Saamna said. Taking on the Prime Minister, the editorial said that there was communal tension in his own constituency (Varanasi), but no action was being taken to douse the violence.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Training guns on Azam Khan, the editorial attacked him for his decision of taking the Dadri lynching case to the United Nations. “Azam Khan has misunderstood secularism and has crossed all limits in an effort to spur communal tension in the nation. There are many people like him who are the reasons for a divide in the country. Is he is so concerned about communal case, why is he not raising the deaths of many Hindus in Kashmir and Pakistan”, the Shiv Sena mouthpiece added.The editorial ended on an note appealing to the nation saying that India ‘should not be divided over a piece of beef’. The Shiv Sena had earlier re-iterated their demand for the resignation of Azam Khan, saying that by taking the Dadri lynching case to the United Nations he had betrayed the nation and asserted that India was a safe haven for all Muslims.

Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif invites Syed Ali Shah Geelani to Islamabad, calls India spoiler of peace

Pakistan high commissioner Abdul Basit had invited Geelani to his New Delhi residence where he handed over the letter of Nawaz Sharif to him, a Hurriyat spokesman said.

Days after raising Kashmir issue in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif invited Hurriyat hawk Syed Ali Shah Geelani to visit his country and blamed New Delhi for “spoiling Pakistan’s desire for peace.””Your (Geelani’s) character and your actions are guiding principles for the coming generations of Kashmir. I am inviting you to Pakistan so that I too can gain something from your views on the present situation. Hope that you will spare time to visit Pakistan at the earliest,” Sharif said in a letter to Geelani.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan high commissioner Abdul Basit had invited Geelani to his New Delhi residence where he handed over the letter of Nawaz Sharif to him, a Hurriyat spokesman said.”We want friendly and cordial relations with all the neighboring countries, including India, but the unrealistic approach of India has always spoiled our desire and it is the major hurdle in our peace efforts with this country,” Sharif said.Terming the role of Hurriyat Conference as historical, Pakistan prime minister expressed hope that the conglomerate will continue its struggle under the “fearless and honest leadership of Geelani”.”While promising full support to the Kashmiri nation on political, diplomatic and moral fronts in the letter, Shairf said in clear terms that the granting of right to self determination of the people of Kashmir is the unfinished agenda of the Pakistan formation and ignoring of this agenda can never establish friendly relationship between the two countries,” said the Hurriyat spokesman.The spokesman noted that the United Nations has accepted the right to self-determination of the Kashmiri people and it is the responsibility of the entire civilised world to hold free and fair referendum in Jammu and Kashmir.”Instead of solving the issues amicably and on the table, India wants to use its military might and this attitude is increasing the instability and political uncertainty in the entire sub-continent day by day,” he said.Quoting Sharif, the spokesman said, Pakistan is the center of hope for whole Muslim ummah and particularly to the Kashmiri Muslims and to meet these hopes we want economic development, social justice and lasting peace for this country so that it will play the role of a strong and important Muslim state.

Union Minister Mahesh Sharma defends PM Modi’s silence on Dadri case

Sharma further said that he was extremely pained to know about Uttar Pradesh Minority Affairs and Development Minister Azam Khan’s decision to take the Dadri incident to the United Nations.

Mahesh Sharma
File Photo

With the opposition mounting pressure on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and questioning his silence on the Dadri lynching incident, Union Minister of State for Culture Mahesh Sharma on Thursday said it is not necessary for the former to speak on every issue. “There are 60 ministers, who have their own responsibilities. Is it necessary for the Prime Minister to answer on everything?” Sharma said. “The President of India has already expressed his feelings on the issue. The Home Minister and the Finance Minister have both commented on the Dadri incident, pointing out that incident like this is a blot on country’s culture,” he added.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Sharma further said that he was extremely pained to know about Uttar Pradesh Minority Affairs and Development Minister Azam Khan’s decision to take the Dadri incident to the United Nations. “The leaders sitting at different levels in the state are desperate to prove their stature, through their unfortunate remarks. When we are ready to discuss the Kashmir issue bilaterally, then why to take this (Dadri) case to the UN,” he added. Facing flak for taking the Dadri incident to the United Nations, Azam Khan had on Wednesday hit back at his political opponents asking where were the ‘thekedaars’ of the society when Badaun case and those related to child labour were raised before the UN. The BJP has demanded Khan’s dismissal and said that he should be tried for treachery for taking the Dadri issue to the UN and tarnishing the image of the country at the global level. The Uttar Pradesh Minister had earlier sought the UN’s intervention to look into the miseries of minorities in India amidst outcry over lynching of 52-year-old Mohammad Akhlaq in Dadri.

India leads Asia’s dash for coal as emissions blow east

India is opening a mine a month as it races to double coal output by 2020, putting the world’s third-largest polluter at the forefront of a pan-Asian dash to burn more of the dirty fossil fuel that environmentalists fear will upend international efforts to contain global warming.

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Deep in the thickly forested hills in its east, India last month started production at what it hopes will in five years be Asia’s biggest coal mine.At the open-cast mine, which involves the clearing of more than 18,000 hectares (44,500 acres) of land, noisy excavators are busy digging for coal that will feed a huge power plant being built nearby to fuel India’s energy-hungry economy.India is opening a mine a month as it races to double coal output by 2020, putting the world’s third-largest polluter at the forefront of a pan-Asian dash to burn more of the dirty fossil fuel that environmentalists fear will upend international efforts to contain global warming.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Close to 200 nations are set to meet at a United Nations summit from Nov. 30-Dec. 11 to hammer out a deal to slow man-made climate change by weaning countries off fossil fuels.China has promised to restrict public funding for coal and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is trumpeting investment in renewable energy, but in Asia’s biggest economies the reality is that coal is still regarded as the easiest source of energy.”Environment is non-negotiable but we can’t live without coal. You can’t wish away coal,” said Anil Swarup, the top official in India’s coal ministry, who is leading the push to open new mines like Magadh, in poor but resource-rich Jharkhand state.”There is a temporary drop in demand, but no question of reducing coal output. We are well short of coal required in the country.”ASIA KEEPS DIGGINGChina, India and Indonesia now burn 71 % of the world’s newly mined coal according to the World Coal Association, with new European and North American consumption negligible as their countries turn to cleaner energy.Other Asian nations are increasingly looking to coal to power their economies too, with Pakistan, the Philippines and Vietnam opening new plants, pushing the Asia/Pacific region to 80 % of new coal plants.”Coal is still the most cost competitive power generation fuel, and in the end that’s what matters most for emerging markets,” said Frederic Neumann, Co-Head Of Asian Economic Research at HSBC in Hong Kong.Asia’s developed nations, too, are finding it hard to kick the coal habit.Japan’s use has reached a record after shrinking its nuclear industry and it plans to build another 41 new coal-fired units over the next decade.Australia’s exports of thermal coal rose 5 % to 205 million tonnes in the last financial year and are to increase by a further 1 million tonnes this year, driven by increased demand from Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.The rush to burn more coal comes as the world’s major economies, including leading emitters China and the United States, have agreed to start cutting greenhouse gases over the next 15 years ahead of the UN climate change summit in Paris.India has rejected any absolute cuts, arguing that its per capita emissions are far below the world average and that it needs to emit more as it grows to beat poverty.In a climate-change policy statement released last week, New Delhi promised to slow the rate at which its greenhouse gas emissions rise by a third by 2030.Coal will remain the dominant source of its energy for decades, India said, but it pledged to invest in cleaner coal technology, modernise old power stations and plant trees to absorb up to 3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide.THE NEW CHINA?Magadh mine is the biggest of the many New Delhi will open to hit an annual coal target of 1.5 billion tonnes by 2020, raising its production above the United States but less than half the amount China currently burns.Some 20 km from Magadh, along a bumpy track through mud-hut villages, lies a second vast coal pit launched last year. By 2018 another two mines will open nearby – combined, the mines in this one district alone will at peak generate as much coal as Poland, the world’s ninth largest producer, delivered last year.The United Nations has agreed a goal of keeping warming below a ceiling of 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels to avoid the worst impact of climate change including more droughts, extinctions, floods and rising seas.Sticking to that goal would require world emissions to start falling now and India’s to peak within a few years, said Glen Peters at the Oslo-based Center for International Climate and Environmental Research, but India’s coal drive makes that near-impossible as its extra emissions outweigh any savings from more solar and wind power.Because of its low-quality, twice as much Indian coal is needed to produce the same amount of energy as the best Australian coal.If India burns as much coal by 2020 as planned, its emissions could as much as double to 5.2 billion tonnes per annum – about a sixth of all the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere last year – Peters said.That would see India follow a similar path to China whose emissions, after growing slowly at the turn of the century, jumped when dozens of new coal power plants came on line.”If these coal targets are met, there could be a turn (in India’s emissions), with a steep increase. China is starting to stumble; India could replace that,” said Peters.He said India could replace the United States as the world’s second largest emitter by 2025. “This is something no one would have expected.”

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

AFP image

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.

No peace talks until you stop terror: Sushma 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

AFP image

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.”

This may stoke political controversy back home. But this may be a minor technical glitch. Overall, she took on Nawaz Sharif 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.

PM Modi praises Sushma Swaraj for ‘excellent’ speech at UN General Assembly

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday praised External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj for her ‘excellent’ speech at the 70th session of United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

Reuters
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday praised External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj for her ‘excellent’ speech at the 70th session of United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).Addressing the UNGA, Swaraj said that in order to preserve the ‘centrality and legitimacy’ of the UN as the custodian of global peace, security and development, the reform of the Security Council is its “most urgent and pressing need.””This is the need of the hour. How can we have a Security Council in 2015 which still reflects the geo-political architecture of 1945? How can we have a Security Council which still does not give place as a permanent member to Africa and Latin America?,” she questioned.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Watch: Full speech of Sushma Swaraj at UN General Assembly​Taking to micro-blogging site, PM Modi tweeted, ” Just spoke to @SushmaSwaraj ji & congratulated her for the excellent speech at the @UN. A perfect articulation of key global issues.”He further said, “EAM @SushmaSwaraj has wonderfully highlighted India’s contribution to @UN & shared India’s vision of what UN must be in the 21st century.”Modi also said that Swaraj rightly emphasised on the need to end all forms of terror & make the world a peaceful place to live in, adding, “Fully agree with you @SushmaSwaraj ji, empowering the girl child is vital to bring about a change in society.”Also read: India rubbishes Pakistan’s 4-point peace formula at UN, says ‘give up terrorism and let’s talk’ Swaraj also rubbished Pakistan’s 4-point formula for peace and asserted that it is ready to discuss all issues if the neighbouring country addresses “just one” point of ending terrorism emanating from there as she proposed NSA-level talks to address the problem.She made it clear that terrorism emanating from Pakistan is hampering normalisation of bilateral relations as she underlined that “talks and terror cannot go together”.With agency inputs

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.

United Nations flag

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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.

RJD chief Lalu Prasad says he will continue fighting for OBC, Dalits and poor

The RJD chief wrote on the micro-blogging site that even if PM Modi filed petition in the United Nations against him, he would not take rest towards getting reservation quota increased and caste census report published.
File Photo
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Unfazed by Election Commission scanner for casteist remark, RJD supremo Lalu Prasad on Tuesday made a blistering attack at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and said that he would not sit quietly in waging battle for the backwards, Dalits and poor even if they decide to “hang” him.”Let Modi give Bharat Ratna to RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat for ending reservation…even if they decide to hang me for waging battle for backwards, Dalits and poor, I will not sit quietly,” Prasad tweeted, a day after EC took notice of his “backward and forward castes” comment at Raghopur on Sunday.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The RJD chief further wrote on the micro-blogging site that even if PM Modi filed petition in the United Nations against him, he would not take rest towards getting reservation quota increased and caste census report published. Prasad’s alleged cast remark during campaigning for his son Tejaswi Yadav at Raghopur on Sunday last has come under the Election Commission lens.Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi had said on Monday that any casteist remark was a breach of EC guidelines and the commission would deal with such matters under its legal framework. He had also said the Election Commission would find out the details of the alleged casteist remarks by Prasad and take appropriate action.The RJD supremo had described the crucial Assembly elections in Bihar as a direct fight between “the backward castes and forward castes” and gave a call to Yadavs and other backward castes to rally behind the secular alliance to defeat the BJP-led NDA.

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.”

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.

PM Modi departs from Ireland, heads for second US visit

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday left for United States from Dublin, Ireland, for the second leg of his two-nation trip.

Narendra Modi

dna Research & Archives
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday left for United States from Dublin, Ireland, for the second leg of his two-nation trip. During his brief visit to Ireland, the Prime Minister held bilateral talks with his Irish counterpart Enda Kenny and addressed the Indian diaspora. He sought Ireland’s support for reforms in United Nations Security Council (UNSC). Prime Minister Modi also brought up the issue of India’s membership to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) during his discussions with the Irish Prime Minister.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Prime Minister Modi arrived in Ireland on Wednesday on the first leg of his two-nation trip to Ireland and United States. This is the first visit by an Indian Prime Minister to Ireland in 60 years.Related Read: PM Narendra Modi seeks Ireland’s support for India’s bid in UNSC, NSG​Modi in Ireland: PM addresses Indian diaspora, takes a dig at secularism​

Kashmir is a core issue, to be raised at every forum, says Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif

Ahead of the United Nations General Assembly Session, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawab Sharif has once again reiterated that Kashmir is a core issue and that must be resolved.

File Image

PTI
Ahead of the United Nations General Assembly Session, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has once again reiterated that Kashmir is a core issue and that must be resolved.Sharif made the statement while talking to reporters as he arrived in UK’s capital en route to the United States, where he will attend UN General Assembly’s 70th session.Sharif said, “Kashmir is a core issue, which must be resolved. And in my view sooner the two countries (Pakistan and India) start working on it, better it would be for them.” reported the tribune.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Stating that Pakistan will continue playing its due role with responsibility for peace and stability in the region, Sharif said, “The issue of Kashmir should be discussed at all levels and forums. “This issue should be discussed not only at international forum, but it should also be discussed at Pakistan-India bilateral forum,” reported Pakistan Today.Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sharif will be staying at the same hotel in US, as speculation grows on whether the two leaders will meet when they arrive in the city. On the sidelines of the session, Sharif will attend global leaders meeting on gender equality and women empowerment organised by China and UN women. Modi and Sharif last met on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Ufa, Russia.Pak PM will also address the plenary meeting of General Assembly for adoption of the post-2015 Development Agenda. Sharif will also attend receptions to be hosted separately by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and US President Barack Obama in honour of the visiting heads of state.Meanwhile, putting pressure on Pakistan over terrorism, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday said that India and the United States of America will join hands on their efforts to bring to justice the perpetrators of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.

Teak plantation on forest triggers food crisis for Odisha’s Kutia Kondh tribe

Convention on Biological Diversity states, “Protect and encourage customary use of biological resources in accordance with traditional cultural practices that are compatible with conservation or sustainable use requirements,” which is further supported by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Centre is obliged to follow it.

Image Courtesy: NABARD
Kutia Kondh tribe in Kandhamal’s Burlubaru village in Odisha faces a serious threat as they will no longer be able to depend on the hills for their food in near future. Teak plantations have uprooted entire patches of forest where tribes people sourced millets, pulses, tubers and vegetables, reports an English daily.Kutia Kondhs are one of the 13 “particularly vulnerable” or “primitive” tribal groups in Odisha who mainly live in the hills and have an indigenous diet but now efforts to afforest Kandhamal could snatch away their only source of nutrition, reports the English daily. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Not only food, but they also depend on the forest for medicine by growing wood apple, turmeric and wild flowers as they don’t have access to medical facility in their close vicinity. Quoting an assessment by Vasundhara, an environmental organisation in Odisha, the report says that massive plantations have been carried out without settlement of forest rights in several other parts like Rangaparu, Pandamaska, Kusumunda, Madalkuna, Deogada, Guchuka, Tidipadar, Kadapana where people from Kutia Kondh tribe live. “We can’t eat teak. Why should we accept these plantations? We have been taking care of the forests for ages. It’s our protector,” said a local in the report.Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) states, “Protect and encourage customary use of biological resources in accordance with traditional cultural practices that are compatible with conservation or sustainable use requirements,” which is further supported by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and the Centre is obliged to follow it. Several independent activists and environmental organisations have written to the written to the Ministry of tribal affairs and the Ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) about the same, report says.Although the forest department considers the teak plantation as a forest conservation scheme that was supported by most of the locals and they claim to have the tribals’ consent in writing. All the tribals in the hamlet who were approached by the English daily, however, said plantations were severely affecting their food resources and that they never given consent for it.

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.

dna Research & Archives
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

PM Modi writes to Ban ki-moon, urges UN to send stern message against terrorism

“The United Nations must be made more effective for dealing with the new security challenges. The United Nations was born out of the ashes of the Second World War when conflict was an inter-state phenomenon. “However, we are now living in an era when non-state military actors are a major factor,” Modi said in a veiled reference to threats posed to India from Pakistan.

File Picture

PTI
The historic 70th year of the UN must be used to send an “unambiguous message” of “zero tolerance against terrorism”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said, citing the threats posed by “non-state military actors”, in a letter to UN chief Ban Ki-moon.”The United Nations must be made more effective for dealing with the new security challenges. The United Nations was born out of the ashes of the Second World War when conflict was an inter-state phenomenon. “However, we are now living in an era when non-state military actors are a major factor,” Modi said in a veiled reference to threats posed to India from Pakistan. He also called for the adoption of a comprehensive convention against international terrorism this year.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The letter dated July 4 was made available by India’s Permanent Mission to the UN during a press briefing in UN on Thursday. Modi arrives at the world body’s headquarters in about a week to address the high-level Sustainable Development Summit on September 25. In the letter, Modi said terrorism and violent, intolerant extremism did not exist earlier as a primary threat to nations and societies at large.”Indeed, with expanded geographical spread, vast resources and new instruments to spread its ideology and draw recruits, the menace of terrorism and extremism has acquired a new dimension that requires a comprehensive global strategy. “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,” the Indian leader writes in the letter. Modi said for 70 years the world has remained a “better place” because of the UN but the world has changed dramatically since 1945.”Threats to peace and security have become more complex, unpredictable and undefined. In many ways, our lives are becoming globalised, but fault-lines around our identities are growing,” he said. Modi underscores that his purpose in writing the letter to the UN Chief is to “remind ourselves that we need to seize this moment to rethink how the multilateral system can be made more inclusive, more effective and, ultimately, better fit for the purpose it was conceived.”The 70th anniversary year of the world body is a landmark when member states should ask if the United Nations is adequately equipped to deal with the times they live in.

Aptitude certificates to replace character certificates: PM Narendra Modi on Teacher’s Day

Modi favoured an environment where the children has the freedom to decide what to do and realise their potential.

Modi said the character certificate has become a ‘ritualistic’ exercise (File Photo)

PTI
Aptitude certificates would soon replace the school leaving character certificates to help students realise their potential and chart their future, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday. Noting that he wants to bring a “small change” with the initiative, Modi said the character certificate has become a ritual which is awarded to everyone including a jail inmate and even to those who have been hanged, making it a “ritualistic” exercise. As per the initiative, “every three months a software would be developed and questionnaire would be filled up by friends about what are the specialities in a student. “Does he maintain discipline and is punctual and whether he is friendly. His parents should also fill it. This will help the student realise his potential and chart his future,” the prime minister said. Interacting with students to celebrate the Teachers Day, Modi said he has already asked the department (HRD Ministry) to award the aptitude certificates and “it will happen in the coming days”.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Modi favoured an environment where the children has the freedom to decide what to do and realise their potential. Noting that parents often force their children to do what they could not achieve in their life, Modi said such pressure has left children to only think about degrees and jobs. Replying to questions from students from across the country at the Manekshaw auditorium here, he encouraged them to develop an inquisitive mind, be curious and not to get deterred by failures in life.He said the international yoga day event has give a new recognition to India which needs to be “sustained”. “It has never happened earlier when 100 countries have passed resolution on yoga and 177 countries were co-sponsors in the United Nations. This shows the importance of yoga. The world was aware of yoga’s strength which perhaps India was even not aware of,” he said.Replying to critics who had raised question about selecting June 21 to celebrate the yoga day, he said the day was picked up as it is the longest day of the year getting maximum sunlight.

dna Must Read: From US travel advisory to Pakistan to the latest in Sheena Bora case- Here are top 5 reads at 9am

Here is a special curated list of top 5 stories at 9 am. They will get you up to speed with all the latest happenings across the globe.

must read at 9am

1. Massive govt rejig sees 16 bureaucratic changes effectedIn a major top-level bureaucratic shakeup, Shaktikanta Das was today named new Economic Affairs Secretary, and will be replaced by Gujarat cadre IAS officer Hasmukh Adhia in Department of Revenue, while former Air India chief Sunil Arora will become I&B Secretary. Read More <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>
2. Citing increased terror activities, US asks its citizens to defer all non-essential travel to Pakistan
The United States on Friday asked its citizens to defer their all non-essential travel to Pakistan, citing increased terror activities in the country. “The Department of State warns US citizens against all non-essential travel to Pakistan,” a travel advisory said. However, the US Embassy in Islamabad and the US Consulate General in Karachi continue to provide consular services for all its citizens in Pakistan. Read More
3. Rate hike in September will depend on global market volatility: US Fed
The Federal Reserve on Friday left the door open to a September interest rate hike even while several US central bank officials acknowledged that turmoil in financial markets, if prolonged, could delay the first policy tightening in nearly a decade. Read More
4. United Nations confirms Palmyra temple destruction with satellite imagesSatellite images confirm the destruction of the Baalshamin temple in Syria’s Palmyra, the United Nations said on Saturday, after international condemnation of the act claimed by the Islamic State group.The UN training and research agency UNITAR said its satellite programme had compared images of the site taken on June 26 and again on August 27. “We confirm the destruction of the main building, while surrounding columns seem to be less affected,” UNITAR said in a statement. Read More
5. Sheena Bora case- Dial M for murder: Call from Meerut or a socialite?Who tipped the Mumbai police about the murder of Sheena Bora? An anonymous caller from Meerut or a high-flying socialite?While the Mumbai police themselves have admitted about an anonymous call from Meerut, highly placed sources told dna that the first tip-off was received by a senior Indian Police Service officer from Mumbai at a high-profile party three months ago. Read More

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.

Pakistan bans film on Mumbai attacks after accused mastermind protests | Reuters

LAHORE, Pakistan A Pakistani court on Thursday banned an Indian film about the 2008 Mumbai attacks in response to a petition filed by the man New Delhi accuses of masterminding the killing of 166 people over three days.

Hafiz Saeed, the founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba which the United Nations has listed as a terrorist organisation, petitioned the court to ban the Kabir Khan-directed feature film “Phantom” on the basis that it maligns Pakistan and vilifies Saeed and his current organisation, Jamaat-ud-Dawa.

The Lahore High Court issued a ban on Thursday, Saeed’s lawyer said.

“The government has been told that the film should not be presented for showing in Pakistan and to take necessary steps in this regard,” lawyer AK Dogar told Reuters.

In its reply to the petition in court, the Pakistani government “vehemently denied” that there were ever any plans to screen the Indian film.

Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) is banned in Pakistan but tolerated unofficially. Saeed has long abandoned its leadership and is now the head of its charity wing, Jamaat-ud-Dawa.

India says it has handed over evidence against him to Pakistan which should have detained him. The issue has stood in the way of rebuilding relations between the nuclear-armed neighbours.

The United States has also offered $10 million for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Saeed, who denies any involvement in the Mumbai attacks.

Saeed lives freely in the city of Lahore in a villa with police stationed outside.

“Phantom” is described as a political thriller set in aftermath of the Mumbai attacks and features Bollywood stars Saif Ali Khan and Katrina Kaif opposing a villain named “Harif Saeed”.

Yahya Mujahid, spokesperson for Hafiz Saeed and Jamaat-ud-Daw, applauded Thursday’s court ruling.

“This film was calling for an attack on Hafiz Saeed, and this was clearly terrorism on the part of India, to release such propaganda. So we think the High Court has given a very good decision on this.”

(Writing by Asad Hashim and Kay Johnson; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)

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

Indian diaspora in US organising grand reception for PM Modi

The United Nations summit for the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda will be held from September 25 to 27 and will be convened as a high-level plenary meeting of the General Assembly.

The Indian community in the US is planning to host a mega reception for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who will travel to San Francisco after addressing a United Nations summit on sustainable development on September 25.About 500 Indian-American organisations have joined hands to host a grand reception for Modi in San Jose, Silicon Valley, on September 27, Rakhi Israni, spokesperson of Indo American Community of West Coast (IACW) said in a statement.”Prime Minister Modi has done a superb job in his first year in office, and it is evident by the public’s response to the upcoming event how excited the Indian diaspora is about the future of India,” the statement said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Online process for registration of reception’s organisers has been completed, it said.The United Nations summit for the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda will be held from September 25 to 27 and will be convened as a high-level plenary meeting of the General Assembly.Modi is expected to address the gathering on September 25 and then travel to San Francisco, becoming the fourth Indian premier to visit the US’ West Coast.His visit to San Francisco would also revive — after a gap of four decades with the exception of the former prime minister P V Narasimha Rao in 1994 — the post-independence tradition of Indian prime ministers visiting the US cities other than New York or Washington DC.The thriving Indian diaspora in the US, in particular those on the West Coast and the Silicon Valley has welcomed Modi’s decision to visit San Francisco.Massive preparations are on to accord a grand welcome to him at the SAP Center, one of the largest indoor stadium in the Silicon Valley, known as the tech hub of the world. The event is expected to be attended by an around 18,000-strong audience.”The reception is timed around the scheduling of many high impact meetings and programs, all of which stand to promote the shared ideals of innovation and entrepreneurship that define both Vibrant India under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi and Silicon Valley,” the IACW statement said.The visit shall also highlight the contributions of India and Indian-Americans to the technology and clean energy sectors, it said.The PM is likely to visit the offices of Internet giant Google. In California, he will make a speech at the famous Stanford University.Modi had given his maiden address to the UN General Assembly last year and had then travelled to Washington to meet US President Barack Obama.

Shashi Tharoor flies to New York for son’s wedding

He posted a picture of his son, Kanishk Tharoor on Twitter announcing the happy news.

File Photo

Thiruvananthapuram MP and former United Nations Under Secretary General Shashi Tharoor tweeted on Sunday to say he is in New York to attend his son Kanishk Tharoor’s wedding to Amanda Calderon. Kanishk is an author and writer who is currently based in New York. His articles have been published in leading news dailies like The Guardian, The National, The Caravan and The Hindu. His stories and essays have also been published in the Middle East and United Kingdom. He is currently working on a short fiction collection, Swimmer Among the Stars: Stories and has previously won accolades for Tale of the Teahouse. This short fiction not only won the Emily Belch award in 2008 but was also nominated for the National Magazine Award in 2009.His brother Ishaan Tharoor is a foreign affairs writer for The Washington Post. Also read: http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-shashi-tharoor-says-britain-must-compensate-india-for-its-colonial-rule-2106335

India once again ticks of China over South China Sea issue

India has once again tickled China’s soft underbelly, the South China Sea, by taking a position at an international meet earlier this week that territorial disputes in South China Sea should be settled under the UN Convention.

The latest red rag from India to China has come about at the 5th East Asia Summit foreign ministers’ Meeting in Kuala Lumpur wherein V K Singh, the junior foreign minister, reiterated the now well-known Indian position on the South China Sea dispute. Singh told the conference that territorial disputes must be settled through peaceful means “as was done by India and Bangladesh recently using the mechanisms provided under UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea)”.

The complete speech of the minister can be accessed here.

China has been going out of the way to consolidate its dominance in South-China Sea. However, this effort is vehemently and systematically opposed by all countries which believe that they have a stake in the Sea.

We have seen Vietnam violently protesting against Chinese initiatives in the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea, which even led to violent clashes between Chinese expats and local Vietnamese. Philippines, which also has interests in the region, has chosen to join hands with the US in conducting drills in the area. Malaysia has also recently joined the fray in protesting against China on the South China Sea issue.

South China SeaSouth China Sea

South China Sea

Despite various countries ganging up against China, it has not shown any kind of hesitation in going ahead with its plans in the region and has carried on and built artificial land over a huge area in the disputed Spartly Island chain much to the discomfort of Japan.

While the US has been maintaining its pressure, in collaboration with other affected nations, on China on the South China Sea issue, on occasions it has been quite vocal as recently displayed when it warned China that ‘it would not tolerate efforts to control sea and air routes in the South China Sea’ with US Secretary of State John Kerry saying at a regional summit that “open navigation of the strategically important area was an ‘intrinsic right’”.

India too recently sought to give teeth to its ‘act East’ policy,  and asked parties involved in South China Sea dispute to learn from the successful arbitration of India’s maritime territorial dispute with Bangladesh under United Nations convention of the law of the sea (UNCLOS). India and US even issued a joint strategic vision in January for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean region affirming the importance of safeguarding maritime security and ensuring freedom of navigation and over-flight in the South China Sea.

Recently, at the regional security talks, South-East Asian diplomats urged China to address concerns over its controversial Island-building drive. Philippines, during these talks, maintained a very stubborn stand calling Beijing’s activities in the South China Sea as “unilateral and aggressive”. China was sternly asked to stop land reclamation in the disputed South China Sea to which China responded saying that “it has a right to continue the activity”.

China is not only facing onslaught on the South China Sea issue but it has also got other irritants to keep it busy. It is facing a very uncomfortable and a resilient rebellion in the form of Uighur militants. The country has recently been criticized in the Muslim world for imposing severe restrictions on the followers of Islam. There were also reports that churches were banned from prominently displaying the ‘cross’.

While China finds itself targeted from all directions on the South China Sea, it has been steadily trying to consolidate and strengthen relations with its existing friends by getting into deals and agreements. Recently China promised Pakistan 46 billion dollars worth of projects and investments ensuring that Pakistan, which treats China as its ‘all weather friend’, remains an ally (read as slave) till the world exists. This exhibition of generosity on the part of the Chinese is seen as an exercise aimed at making Pakistan indebted forever and follow its diktats and do what is told especially with reference to the growing concerns in China on the Uighur insurgency, which China believes Pakistan has a lot to do with.

Some cooperation has also been seen recently between China and Russia. China is also believed to have recently decided to sell Tehran 24 J-10 fighter jets and in return is expected to get a 20-year access to one of Tehran’s major oil fields, the Azadegan Oil field.

China has also been seeing some positive signs with the prospects of Chinese currency RMB being fully internationalized and could join the group of being a component currency of the Special Drawing Rights (SDR). Also China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has received a lot of support which experts have opined could act as Asia’s IMF.

All said and done, one has to wait and see how China balances its friends and foes and addresses its various concerns, primary among them being the South China Sea issue, given that US’s China policy is continuing to be an all inclusive containment, one aiming to tackle Chinese capabilities economically, politically and militarily.

There is a section of well informed Chinese experts which feels that US fears continued Chinese prosperity as it could result in China becoming more assertive in international affairs. With China’s ambition fixed at becoming a world leader and the US wanting to stay ever at number one, it is important that China first attains the status of being supreme in Asia, after successfully dealing with Japan and India. It is a long way ahead before China can achieve its objective.

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.

Vyapam scam: UN body demands probe into Delhi scribe Akshay Singh’s death

United Nations: Indian authorities have been called on by the head of a UN agency mandated to defend freedom of expression to investigate the mysterious death of TV reporter Akshay Singh while covering the Vyapam scam in Madhya Pradesh, saying crimes against journalists must not go unpunished.

Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Irina Bokova expressed condolences to Singh’s family, friends and colleagues and urged the authorities to investigate his death.

“It is essential for rule of law and for society’s right to be kept informed, that the authorities do all they can to clarify the cause of Singh’s death. Reporters must be able to carry out their professional duties in a safe environment and crimes against them must not go unpunished,” Bokova said.

Akshay Singh. IBN Live.Akshay Singh. IBN Live.

Akshay Singh. IBN Live.

Singh, 38, an investigative journalist with a private Hindi news channel, was investigating the Vyapam scandal in Madhya Pradesh when he died mysteriously earlier this month.

Doubts have been raised over the circumstances in which he died.

The Vyapam scam, simmering for nearly a decade, exploded before the Indian public after Singh’s death.

With more than two dozen people connected in some way with the scam mysteriously dying, the Supreme Court has ordered that the corruption scandal be investigate by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

The Vyapam scam is an admission and recruitment scandal allegedly involving politicians and senior officials in Madhya Pradesh.

The scam involves students who paid bribes to officials to get high marks in entrance tests to get government jobs and coveted slots in medical schools.

PTI

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

File Photo
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.
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
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.

One should not politicise Yoga, says Delhi CM Kejriwal as he participates in International Yoga Day

The yoga celebrations are being organised after the United Nations had in December last year declared June 21 as International Yoga Day, with 177 countries voting in favour.

Delhi Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal with Deputy CM of Delhi Manish Sisodia at the International Yoga Day event in New Delhi.

Image Courtesy: ANI Twitter
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who arrived at Rajpath on Sunday to take part in the celebration of the first International Yoga Day, has said that the discipline is good for mental concentration, adding that he has been practicing it from years. “I have been practicing yoga for years. It is a good thing and everyone should do it, it is beneficial. One should not politicise it. It is good for mental concentration,” Kejriwal told the media here. The yoga celebrations are being organised after the United Nations had in December last year declared June 21 as International Yoga Day, with 177 countries voting in favour.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The proposal was mentioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his address to the UN General Assembly last year.

Yoga can prevent, cure physical disorders of our modern lifestyle: President Pranab Mukherjee

Prime Minister Narendra Modi kick-started the International Yoga Day celebrations at Rajpath in the national capital, with over 40,000 people participating in the festivities.
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
President Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday said that yoga can prevent and cure the physical disorders which arise from the modern lifestyle, adding that these aspects of the discipline will lead to the well-being of humanity. “Yoga, which is both a science and art, was practiced over centuries… At the initiative of the Government of India, and with the enthusiastic support of a large number of nations of the United Nations, on December 11, 2004 it was declared that henceforth June 21 all over the world will be observed as International Yoga Day,” the President said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> “I am happy that the residents of the Rashtrapati Bhavan, many of whom have been practicing yoga for a long period of time, have also decided to participate and commemorate this International Yoga Day, which all recognised experts have admitted, has amazing curing power of many physical disorders which may arise from our modern lifestyle and it also may not only cure it but also prevent it. All these aspects of yoga are to the well-being of humanity,” he added. Prime Minister Narendra Modi kick-started the International Yoga Day celebrations at Rajpath in the national capital, with over 40,000 people participating in the festivities. Besides, about two billion people across the globe are expected to participate in the inaugural day of the event. The yoga celebrations are being organised 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 mentioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his address to the UN General Assembly last year.

Thousands flock to Rajpath to rehearse ‘asanas’ for International Yoga Day

New Delhi: Thousands of participants on Friday descended on Rajpath to perform various ‘asanas’ during a rehearsal for the International Yoga Day on Sunday.

Officials of AYUSH Ministry which is the coordinating ministry for the event said that around 12,000 participants, comprising students from various schools, NCC cadets and others performed yoga asanas as per the common yoga protocol.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

The rehearsal started at 7 AM and concluded at 7.33 AM, which was also the schedule for the 21 June event.

23 giant LED screens had been put up at the Rajpath for the participants to see the asanas.

“The Minister of State for AYUSH Shripad Naik and various senior officials of the Ministry were also present on the occasion and they also reviewed the preparedness during the rehearsals,” a senior AYUSH Ministry official said.

A proper security drill was also conducted by security agencies on the occasion.

The 21 June mega event is expected to see participation of more than 35,000 people including government officials, NCC cadets, diplomats and others.

The yoga celebrations are being held in the national capital after the United Nations had in December last year declared 21 June as International Yoga Day, with 177 countries voting in favour.

The proposal had been mooted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his first address to the UN General Assembly in September last year.

PTI

Mayawati attacks BJP over Yoga Day

Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati today welcomed celebration of Yoga Day on June 21 but condemned the way BJP and its “offshoots” are playing “communal card” through it.

Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati today welcomed celebration of Yoga Day on June 21 but condemned the way BJP and its “offshoots” are playing “communal card” through it.”Our party is not against programmes to be held on the International Yoga Day on June 21 and welcomes it. But we condemn the way BJP and its offshoots are trying to play dirty game of using communal card on the occasion,” she told reporters here.She also accused the Narenda Modi government of starting “new controversial traditions” but did not elaborate.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Instead of following democratic traditions, the government has started new controversial traditions that shows its distorted mentality,” said the former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister.The United Nations had in December last year declared June 21 as the International Yoga Day after a proposal in this regard was mooted by Modi in September.The Modi government has chalked out elaborate plans for the day to make it a success.

We are not Myanmar, misadventure will get befitting response, warns Pakistan

ISPR further added, “It is highly regrettable that Indian politicians not only indulge in actions that are in violation of the United Nations’ charter but also take pride in claiming their interference in the internal affairs of other states.”

Pakistan Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has warned India that the Islamic Republic is not Myanmar, adding that those who were considering any kind of ‘adventure’ in the country will get a ‘befitting’ response.Nisar’s statement came in response to Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Colonel Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, who had dubbed Indian strikes in Myanmar as a message to all those nations harbouring hostile intentions towards the country.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Meanwhile, a formation commanders’ conference chaired by Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif​ reiterated to defend the territorial integrity of Pakistan at any cost with a befitting response to any misadventure.Taking to micro blogging site, ISPR said, “Forum took serious notice of recent Indian hostile rhetoric coupled with their covert and overt actions to destabilise Pakistan.”ISPR further added, “It is highly regrettable that Indian politicians not only indulge in actions that are in violation of the United Nations’ charter but also take pride in claiming their interference in the internal affairs of other states.”It also said that with nation behind us, we will remain focused to achieve terror free and peaceful Pakistan. Our Collective aim is to make Pakistan secure, strong and prosperous country.The army on Tuesday engaged two separate groups of militants along the Indo-Myanmar border, inflicting significant casualties on them.A crack team of about 70 commandos from 21 Para of the Indian Army carried out the surgical strike inside Myanmar territory in the thick of the night that killed 38 insurgents belonging to NSCN(K) and KYKL militant groups yesterday.The commandos, equipped with assault rifles, rocket launchers, grenades and night vision goggles, were divided into two groups after they slithered down from Dhruv helicopters just inside the Indian territory near the border with Myanmar.The actual operation (hitting the camp and destroying it) took about 40 minutes. Not only did the commandos kill those present at the camps in gun fight, during which rocket launchers were also used, one of the camp was also set afire.A statement from the Ministry of Defence said that the operations were necessary in light of intelligence reports, which warned of militants planning attacks on Indian soil. The statement further appreciated the cooperation shared between the armies of India and Myanmar, assuring that any security threat to the nation will be met with a ‘firm response’.(With agency inputs)

India launches virtual memorial wall to honour peacekeepers

The wall was unveiled by India’s Ambassador to the UN Asoke Mukerji at a solemn ceremony to mark the International Day of UN Peacekeepers here yesterday.

Asoke Mukerji

AFP
India has launched a virtual Memorial Wall to honour its soldiers who laid down their lives while serving in UN peacekeeping operations, a precursor to the eventual construction of a permanent memorial wall at the world body’s headquarters proposed by the country. The wall was unveiled by India’s Ambassador to the UN Asoke Mukerji at a solemn ceremony to mark the International Day of UN Peacekeepers here yesterday.The wall of honour includes details of 161 Indian peacekeepers who were killed in the line of duty in 16 UN Peacekeeping Missions so far. The wall will be hosted on the website of the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations. The initiative is a precursor to the eventual construction of a UN Peacekeepers Memorial Wall on the premises of the UN headquarters, a proposal given by India “as an appropriate way to commemorate all the troops from member states of the United Nations who had given their lives while on duty under the Blue Flag of the United Nations,” the Mission said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The proposal for the Memorial Wall has been recommended by the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations and is under consideration in the Special Political and Decolonisation Committee as a part of draft proposals. Mukerji also paid homage to the 126 UN military, police and civilian personnel who were posthumously awarded the prestigious Dag Hammarskjold Medal this year for their supreme sacrifice in various peacekeeping operations in 2014.Two Indians – Lance Naik Nand Ram, who served with the UN Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) and Raju Joseph, who had served in a civilian capacity with the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) were among those awarded the Dag Hammarskjold Medal. Mukerji welcomed uniformed personnel from across the world and read out External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s message on the UN’s commemoration of International Day of Peacekeepers. In her message, Swaraj had said that the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the United Nations was an “important year” in which “the invaluable contribution made by UN peacekeepers through the history of the organisation should be well recognised.”The ceremony was attended by Under Secretary General for Field Support Atul Khare along with Under Secretary General for Department of Peace Keeping Operations Herve Ladsous, both of whom paid glowing tributes to the sacrifices made by Indian peacekeepers in UN peacekeeping operations. As part of the commemoration of the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, a medal parade was held for military and police officers serving with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations at UN headquarters.Three Indian military officers and a police officer – Lt Col Bharat Sirohi, Lt Col Rajneesh Duseja, Lt Col Bharat Bhalla, and Deputy Inspector General PS Knegi – were among those awarded the medal for their service.India is the single largest contributor to UN peacekeeping and so far 180,000 Indian troops have participated in 44 of the 69 operations mandated by the Security Council.In order to keep their memory alive, and to highlight the significant contribution these dedicated professional troops have made to the objectives and purposes of the UN Charter, the Indian Mission has been actively engaged in enhancing the commemoration of the International Day of UN Peacekeepers on May 29 every year, the Mission said. In 2013, India had organised a photo exhibition showcasing the historical origins of its UN peacekeeping participation and scenes from the various areas of operation where Indian peacekeepers have been deployed over the past 60 years.In 2014, at India’s initiative, the UN General Assembly agreed for the first time to request the UN Secretary General to place a wreath at the UN Peacekeepers Memorial, located in the UN headquarters premises on May 29 every year.

Indian peacekeeper injured in fresh firing in Malakal region of South Sudan

United Nations: An Indian peacekeeper was injured in fresh firing in the troubled Malakal region in South Sudan, with the UN mission expressing concern over the incident and reiterating its call for parties to respect the sanctity of UN staff.

Sources here confirmed to PTI that the peacekeeper injured on Thursday in the firing is an Indian though no further information was available about his identity. Sources said the peacekeeper is in stable condition after sustaining minor injuries after being hit by a bullet in the head.

The United Nations. ReutersThe United Nations. Reuters

The United Nations. Reuters

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told reporters at the briefing that the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) reported fresh firing outside of its compound in Malakal, in which one peacekeeper was injured. He however said he did not have any further information about the nationality of the peacekeeper.

“The mission is deeply concerned that despite the reassurances given by both parties such an incident occurred and reiterates its strong call on all parties to respect the sanity of UN installations and staff,” Dujarric said.

When asked if the Secretary General aims to reinvigorate the peace process in the troubled nation and push for a political settlement to the conflict, Dujarric said the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) continues to be in the lead in the process.

“We are supportive of that process…the violence on a daily basis, the horrendous impact on access to food that we have been flagging and the fact that more than a hundred thousand people are being sheltered in UN civilians compounds shows the immediate need for both the president and the opposition to sit around the table and put their differences aside and agree on a political settlement,” Dujarric said.

India is among the top contributor of troops to UNMISS.

Five Indian peacekeepers, including a Lieutenant Colonel, were killed in South Sudan in April 2013 when their UN convoy was ambushed by about 200 attackers near Jonglei State.

In 2014, two Indian peacekeepers were injured in another “deadly and unprovoked” attack by a mob of armed men on civilians sheltering inside a UN base in the war-ravaged town of Bor in South Sudan.

India has in the past also voiced concern that the Council has repeatedly “violated” and “diluted” the clear provisions of Article 44 of the UN Charter, which explicitly requires the 15-nation Council to invite member states who are contributing troops but are not members of the Council, to participate in the decisions on peacekeeping and troop deployment.

India has stressed that views of the troop contributing countries should be taken into account while formulating peacekeeping mandates, the absence of which has seriously compromised the objectives of peacekeeping.

India has also repeatedly called for bringing the perpetrators of the attack on peacekeepers to swift justice to ensure soldiers and UN staff are not harmed while discharging their duty in hostile situations.

The attack came just a day before the UN commemorates the International Day of Peacekeepers. India is among the largest contributors of military and police personnel to UN peacekeeping and it currently deploys 8,112 military and police personnel to UN peacekeeping operations in Ivory Coast, Cyprus, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Lebanon, Liberia, the Middle East, Sudan, South Sudan and Western Sahara.

The attack occurred even as the Security Council adopted a resolution extending the mandate of the UN mission in the country until November 30, 2015, giving the operation authorisation to use all necessary means to protect civilians, monitor and investigate human rights, and create conditions conducive to the delivery of humanitarian assistance.

The resolution condemned in the strongest terms attacks on and threats made to UNMISS personnel and UN facilities, including repeated attacks on the Mission’s camps in Bur, Bentiu, Malakal and Melut, stressing that such attacks may constitute violations of the Status of Forces Agreement and/or war crimes.

It also condemned all violations of applicable international law, especially those involving children, and reports of rampant sexual violence, and urged investigations into all allegations of human rights violations and abuses, calling for accountability for anyone responsible, with all victims of sexual violence being assured equal protection under the law and equal access to justice.

The resolution decided that the military component of the Mission would comprise up to 12,500 troops and 1,323 police, requesting the Mission to work to continue to streamline its operations and expressing its intention to keep the requirements of and composition of UNMISS components under active review.

The text also called for immediate and full implementation of two agreements by the government of South Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLM) in Opposition, expressing its intention to consider all appropriate measures against any party taking action to undermine peace, stability, and security in the country.

The Secretary-General has in the past called upon President Salva Kiir and former Vice-President Riek Machar to immediately cease all military operations and reminded them of their obligations to protect civilians under international human rights and humanitarian law.

PTI

Two Indians among 126 fallen peacekeepers to be awarded UN medal

Lance Naik Nand Ram, who served with the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) and Raju Joseph, who had served in a civilian capacity with the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), will be awarded the Dag Hammarskjold Medal on the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers observed annually on May 29.

Two fallen Indian peacekeepers are among the 126 military, police and civilian personnel who will be posthumously awarded a prestigious UN medal next week for their courage and sacrifice while serving in the world body’s peacekeeping operations last year.Lance Naik Nand Ram, who served with the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) and Raju Joseph, who had served in a civilian capacity with the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), will be awarded the Dag Hammarskjold Medal on the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers observed annually on May 29.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The commemoration next week of the international peacekeepers’ day will mark the seventh successive year in which the UN will honour more than 100 “blue helmets” who lost their lives the previous year while serving the cause of peace, the UN said in a statement.The 126 military, police and civilian personnel lost their lives in 2014 while serving with the UN as a result of hostile acts, accidents and disease and will receive the medal during a ceremony at the world body’s headquarters here.Last year eight Indian soldiers had posthumously received the medal, named after the second UN Secretary General.India is among the largest contributors of military and police personnel to UN peacekeeping. It currently deploys 8,112 military and police personnel to the UN peacekeeping operations in Cote d’Ivoire, Cyprus, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Lebanon, Liberia, the Middle East, Sudan, South Sudan and Western Sahara.So far, India has contributed nearly 180,000 troops to UN peacekeeping missions, including the 103-strong Indian female police unit in the UN mission in Liberia.This year’s International Day of UN Peacekeepers falls during the significant 70th anniversary of the United Nations, offering a chance to honour the Blue Helmets’ invaluable contribution to the proud history of the organisation and to reaffirm its commitment to make them even more effective in the years ahead, the statement said.The theme for the day this year is ‘UN at 70: Peacekeeping: Past, Present, and Future’.In his message on the occasion, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for better funding and training for peacekeepers, who have to carry out complex mandates in hostile environments. He stressed that developed countries should increase their contribution to UN peacekeeping troops.”Through years of struggle and sacrifice, the iconic Blue Helmet has earned its place as a symbol of hope to millions of people living in war-ravaged lands,” he said in the message.”At the same time, demands far out pace resources. We need better funding, training and equipment. Our troops and police must carry out ever more complex mandates while being held to the highest standards of conduct. We need developed countries to resume their historically influential role as contributors of troops,” Ban said.”And we need stronger political support from the Member States that are responsible for authorising, financing and contributing troops and police to the missions,” he said.Under-Secretary-General for Field Support Atul Khare said the international community has high expectations from UN civilian and military peacekeepers and “we must ensure they are provided with all the support they need to undertake their important tasks.””We must continue to work together to enable operations in remote and dangerous environments, at the same time, prioritising the safety and security of our personnel, strengthen our collaboration and partnerships with troop and police contributing countries, improve the quality of service delivery and make the most of our limited resources,” Khare said.Paying tribute to the “courageous” men and women, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Herve Ladsous said the world body is currently witnessing its largest deployment in the history of UN Peacekeeping.”This is a testament of the international community’s faith in Peacekeeping as a fundamental tool in helping to bring peace and security,” he said.The 2015 commemorative ceremonies will be held at a time when the demand for United Nations peacekeepers is at an all-time high.There are now more than 125,000 UN peacekeepers, including 91,000 military personnel, 13,000 police officers as well as 17,000 international civilian and national staff serving in 16 operations on four continents.The International Day of UN Peacekeepers was established by the General Assembly in 2002, as a tribute to all men and women serving in peacekeeping operations for their high level of professionalism, dedication and courage, and to honour the memory of those who have lost their lives in the cause of peace.The General Assembly had designated May 29 as the commemoration day because it was the date in 1948 when the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), the world body’s first peacekeeping mission, began operations in Palestine.Commemorative activities will be held at United Nations Headquarters in New York and at peacekeeping operations and offices around the world.The Dag Hammarskjold Medal was established in December 2000 and is awarded posthumously to members of peacekeeping operations who lost their lives during service with a peacekeeping operation under the operational control and authority of the United Nations.Hammarskjold, a Swedish diplomat, died in a mysterious 1961 plane crash. He was posthumously awarded a Nobel Peace Prize the year he died.

Myanmar’s Rakhine state denies persecution at root of migrant crisis | Reuters

SITTWE, Myanmar/YANGON The head of the Myanmar state from which thousands of Rohingya Muslims are fleeing denied that persecution had prompted the exodus after the United States called on the country to deal with its root causes.

Many Rohingya have become prey to human traffickers on the journey south to Thailand, Malaysia and beyond as they flee what U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Friday were “the desperate conditions they face in Rakhine State”.

Rakhine Chief Minister Maung Maung Ohn told Reuters after meeting United Nations officials on Friday: “I am disappointed by, and completely disagree and reject such unfounded allegations by the United States.”

“This (migration) is human trafficking, not (due to) political or religious discrimination at all.”

Blinken, who was visiting Myanmar on Thursday and Friday, told Myanmar’s leaders they needed to address discrimination and violence against the minority Rohingya.

The majority of the more than 3,000 migrants who have landed on Malaysian and Indonesian shores this month were Rohingya Muslims, Blinken had told reporters.

The crisis flared in Southeast Asia after a Thai crackdown on human trafficking led criminals to abandon overloaded boats in the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea rather than risk trying to smuggle or traffic them through preferred routes in Thailand.

The United Nations refugee agency UNHCR estimated on Friday that some 3,500 migrants are still stranded on boats with dwindling supplies, and repeated its appeal for the region’s governments to rescue them.

Myanmar’s navy discovered two Thai trafficking boats off the coast of Rakhine on Thursday, one carrying migrants and the other empty, the state government said in a statement on Friday.

“One is loaded with around 200 Bengali people,” it said, using the government term for illegal migrants from Bangladesh.

“The people on the boat were all from Bangladesh,” said Rakhine State government executive secretary Tin Maung Swe. “We will deport them.”

Maung Maung Ohn said he would take a U.N. group to meet the migrants to show they were victims of trafficking, not persecution.

Myanmar has faced international criticism for not doing enough to help those at sea or stem the flow of migrants.

Migrant boats are often a mix of people from Bangladesh seeking to escape poverty at home as well as Rohingya.

STATELESS MINORITY

Most of Myanmar’s 1.1 million Rohingya are stateless and live in apartheid-like conditions in the state. Almost 140,000 were displaced in deadly clashes with majority Buddhists in Rakhine in 2012. They are denied citizenship and have long complained of state-sanctioned discrimination.

Myanmar denies discriminating against the group and has said it is not the source of the problem. It does not recognise the Rohingya as an ethnic minority, and instead classifies the group as Bengalis. Most Rohingya reject the term and many have lived in Rakhine for generations.

Myanmar military chief General Min Aung Hlaing cast doubt on the origin of many of the refugees in comments carried in Myanmar’s state media on Friday.

He “hinted that most victims are expected to assume themselves to be Rohingya from Myanmar in the hope of receiving assistance from UNHCR” at a meeting with Blinken on Thursday, the state-backed Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper reported.

“He stressed the need to investigate their country of origin rather than to accuse a country,” the newspaper said.

Scores of Rohingya are paying off people smugglers and returning to the squalid camps they used to live in after being held for months on overcrowded ships off the coast of Myanmar.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak on Thursday pledged assistance and ordered the navy to rescue thousands adrift at sea, and a Thai official said Myanmar had agreed to attend an emergency conference on the crisis on May 29.

Malaysia and Indonesia have said they would allow the thousands still at sea to come ashore temporarily, but Thailand has said it would not follow suit.

(Additional reporting by Aung Hla Tun and Hnin Yadana Zaw in YANGON and Stephanie Ulmer-Nebehay in GENEVA; Writing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre and Simon Webb; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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

Will take up Lakhvi release issue in next meet, UN assures India

United Nations: A UNSC committee has assured India that it will take up the issue of Mumbai terror attack mastermind Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi at its next meeting, after India expressed concern that the LeT commander’s release from a Pakistani jail violates the provisions of the global body.

India’s Ambassador to the UN Asoke Mukerji had written a letter to the Chair of the UNSC Al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee Ambassador Jim McLay expressing concern over Lakhvi’s release and said it violates the provisions of the committee concerning al-Qaeda and associated individuals and entities.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

India also pointed out that as a listed terrorist, Lakhvi can neither receive or give money since all his assets and financial resources have to be frozen. Any bail money posted for Lakhvi is also a violation of the provisions of the sanctions committee since he is listed terrorist.

Acknowledging India’s concerns, McLay has responded to India’s letter and assured that the matter will be discussed at the next meeting of the committee, sources here told PTI.

The next meeting of the committee is expected to take place in the next few days.

The committee had listed in December 2008 Lakhvi as a terrorist associated with LeT and Al-Qaeda for “participating in the financing, planning, facilitating, preparing or perpetrating of acts of activities by, in conjunction with, under the name of, on behalf or in support of” both entities.

As a listed terrorist, Lakhvi is subject to assets freeze, travel ban and an arms embargo.

The committee said that as chief of operations and military commander of LeT, Lakhvi has directed its operations, including in Iraq and South-East Asia.

“In past years, Lakhvi has played an important role in LeT fundraising activities, receiving donations from Al-Qaeda affiliates on behalf of LeT. He has also managed a training camp in Afghanistan,” according to the committee website.

The release of Lakhvi had also raised concerns in the US, UK, Russia, France and Germany with Washington calling for him to be rearrested.

Lakhvi and six others, Abdul Wajid, Mazhar Iqbal, Hamad Amin Sadiq, Shahid Jameel Riaz, Jamil Ahmed and Younis Anjum, have been charged with planning and executing the Mumbai attack in November, 2008 that left 166 people dead.

Lakhvi, 55, a close relative of LeT founder and Jamaat-Ud Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed, was arrested in December 2008 and was indicted along with the six others on November 25, 2009 in connection with the 26/11 attack case.

The trial has been underway since 2009.

A Pakistani court had on April 9 set free Lakhvi, a move which India said “eroded” the value of assurances repeatedly conveyed to it by Pakistan on cross-border terrorism.

PTI

Concept of marital rape can’t be applied in India, here marriage is sacred: Govt

New Delhi: Concept of marital rape cannot be applied in India as marriage is treated as a sacrament or sacred as per mindset of the Indian society, government said on Wednesday.

“It is considered that the concept of marital rape, as understood internationally, cannot be suitably applied in the Indian context due to various factors, including level of education, illiteracy, poverty, myriad social customs and values, religious beliefs, mindset of the society to treat the marriage as a sacrament,” Minister of State for Home, Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhary said.

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Representational image. Reuters

He was replying to a written question of DMK MP Kanimozhi in Rajya Sabha.

Kanimozhi had asked the Home Ministry whether Government will bring a bill to amend the IPC to remove the exception of marital rape from the definition of rape; and whether it is a fact that UN Committee on Elimination of Discrimination against women has recommended to India to criminalise marital rape.

She had also said that according to United Nations Population Fund that 75 per cent of the married women in India were subjected to marital rape and whether government has taken cognisance of the fact.

Chaudhary said the Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of Women and Child Development have reported that UN Committee on Elimination of Discrimination against Women has recommended to India to criminalise marital rape.

“The Law Commission of India, while making its 172nd Report on Review of Rape Laws did not recommend criminalisation of marital rape by amending the exception to Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code and hence presently there is no proposal to bring any amendment to the IPC in this regard,” the Minister said.

PTI