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Attractive rehab package awaits Keralites returning home: CM Pinarayi Vijayan

The Keralite diaspora is estimated to be three million strong, and a major chunk of them is located in the Middle East

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CM Pinarayi Vijayan. Image Source: PTI
  • The Keralite diaspora is estimated to be three million strong, and a major chunk of them is located in the Middle East
  • The existing welfare scheme for the returnees is not attractive enough as is borne out by low take-up
  • Presenting the state budget on July 8, Finance Minister Thomas Issac increased the welfare fund for the needy returnees from just Rs 1 lakh to Rs 10 crore

Thiruvananthapuram, Jul 14: The Kerala government will offer a more attractive rehabilitation package to those who had to return from the Middle East because of economic downturn or other reasons, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on Thursday, July 14.

Vijayan told the assembly that Keralites settled in the Middle East have not only been facing economic downturn due to falling oil prices but also governmental regulations requiring employers to reserve jobs for the locals.

Fall in oil prices. Image Source: venturesafrica.com
Fall in oil prices. Image Source: venturesafrica.com

“On both these issues, it’s our diaspora which will bear the brunt as there is a likelihood of our people returning back,” Vijayan said in response to a calling attention motion moved by CPI-M legislator K.V. Abdul Khadar.

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“To tackle this, the state government will chalk out special rehabilitation schemes and welfare packages. Already there are programmes, but it appears they have not yielded the desired results,” said Vijayan.

The Keralite diaspora is estimated to be three million strong, and a major chunk of them is located in the Middle East.

Thousands of Indians working in these countries have been returning home on account of the downturn caused by steep fall in oil prices as also regulations that aim at increasing the proportion of locals in employment vis-à-vis migrants.

Vijayan said the existing welfare scheme for the returnees is not attractive enough as is borne out by low take-up — only 1.40 lakh people have taken advantage of it.

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“We will work in tandem with the various diaspora organisations to see that the scheme is revised. We will also work with financial institutions to work out suitable schemes for the returnees to set up self-employment schemes and also avenues for employing them,” he said.

The Chief Minister said “path-breaking land reforms” and the “contribution of our diaspora” are two biggest achievements of the state and now the government will do its best to tackle the issues facing Keralites living abroad and those returning.

Dr. Thomas Issac. Image Source: twitter
Dr. Thomas Issac. Image Source: twitter

Presenting the state budget on July 8, Finance Minister Thomas Issac increased the welfare fund for the needy returnees from just Rs 1 lakh to Rs 10 crore.

Issac also doubled the fund for the scheme for lending money to the returnees from Rs 12 crore to Rs 24 crore. (IANS)

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‘Janaraksha Yatra Kerala’ Witnesses escalating BJP-Left Confrontation

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Amit Shah, President of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Amit Shah, President of the Bharatiya Janata Party. Wikimedia

Hurling anti-left maneuver during Janaraksha Yatra Kerala, Indian BJP National President Amit Shah launched serious allegation against the ruling CPM government for triggering political violence and imputed to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan the culpability for the mass killings of party workers in the state.

The BJP Chief traced back the origin of violence-centric politics in ”God’s Own Country” to the inception of the Communist regime. “Left always paralyses the state it rules. West Bengal and Tripura witnessed similar political vehemence under the CPM government”, elucidated the President.

Criticizing the Human Rights Activists of the nation, Amit Shah pointed out that they are very selective when it comes to what they support. “You turn your eyes away when our workers die. Why is there no march in Delhi? Violence has no color. More than 120 workers of the BJP have succumbed due to political violence so far. What was their fault? They were working for the betterment of Kerala”, complained the BJP Chief.

Acclaiming BJP’s ideology enthusiastically, Shah called upon the people to join as workers. Addressing the gathering at ‘Janaraksha Yatra Kerala’, the President added that family members of the deceased have stood by the BJP and he wouldn’t let the martyrdom of the workers go waste.

Amit Shah inaugurated the ‘Janaraksha Yatra Kerala’ at Payyannur to protest against alleged killings of party workers. The “padayatra” was led by the party’s State President Kummanam Rajashekhharan.

The National President of BJP attributed the diminishing power of the CPM to their increasing reliance on political violence. Apart from CPM, the once dominating Congress is also losing momentum thereby giving BJP the opportunity to flourish with their ideology. “More the mud of violence, more the lotus will bloom” added Shah.

The BJP Chief assured his party workers and volunteers that BJP would fight the war with CPM until emerging victorious. Shah declared, “We must all unite against the rule of the Left Government.”

Shortly after the launching of the yatra, three BJP workers adorning the National Highway 66 were ambushed by anonymous men on Monday. During his address, Shah alleged that the assailants were CPM cadres who have also destroyed BJP flags in the area.

Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is ready to augment the saffron stand with his visit to Kerala on Wednesday. As per the report of Times Now, Adityanath will basically be in the Muslim-dominated district of Mallapuram.

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Coffee Museum: The First of its Kind in Dubai

The Coffee Museum opened its doors to public in October 2014

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coffee beans
coffee beans. Pixabay

Dubai, Sep 20, 2017: A popular beverage in most parts of the world, coffee is much more than just a drink in the Middle East. It is an integral part of the region’s heritage, a celebration of its culture and a dedicated coffee museum in Dubai — the first of its kind in the Middle East — stands as testimony to the region’s longstanding tryst with the drink.

Just like the traditional value that most Indians associate with “chai”, coffee is the customary drink served to visitors in most homes in the Middle East.

“It is a part of our heritage. The way we have been brought up, coffee has always occupied a vital space in our culture. So even the poor, those who cannot afford anything, will serve coffee to their guests and welcome them,” museum owner Khalid Al Mulla, a noted coffee trader and collector, told this visiting IANS correspondent.

But even before Mulla elaborated on the history of coffee and its particular significance in the Middle Eastern context, the museum was already a feast for our eyes. In a city of skyscrapers that revels in pomp and gaiety, this museum comes as some sort of relief to the souls of wanderers. It tells not only the regional but also the global history of coffee.

Also Read: A Pilgrim Smuggled Coffee Beans To India: The Intriguing History of the Development of Coffee Culture 

The museum’s shop is the first thing that catches the eye on entering this villa. Here one finds coffee mugs from several countries, personal hand grinders and other similar stuff to carry home.

Enter the museum and your are spellbound at the sight of a beautiful lady, dressed in traditional Egyptian attire serving traditional coffee and popcorn to visitors. Along with a cup of coffee prepared in authentic African style, she also told us a fable. “Marriages are not made by gods. They are made by coffee,” she proclaimed, before bursting into loud laughter.

She explained that in Turkey, marriages are often decided over coffee. When a proposal comes to the family, the girl approves it by preparing a good cup of coffee. But when she has to reject the proposal, she adds a pinch of salt.

The ground floor includes a room for Western antiques, and another for Orientalism. A dedicated corner is designed to showcase various types of coffee. There is also an Egyptian corner, which shows the history of coffee since the days of the Ottoman Empire. One of the most rare treasures in the basement, which transports you to back into time, is the “Swedish roast” dating to 1840.

Then, there is the German grinder from the World War II era and many mills that were collected from Britain, dating as far back as 1860. The museum also contains ancient toasters and old paintings that tell the history of coffee and its methods of manufacture and preparation. There is also a literature room, which displays texts related to coffee, from the eighteenth century to the present day.

The upper floor lounge includes a small coffee shop, offering coffee and snacks to visitors. What strikes you is that even the sweets offered here have a distinctive coffee flavour.

As we stroll through the museum and its distinctive rooms, Mulla, who is a mobile information bank about the cultivation of coffee and the ways of transporting and making it, elaborated on the history of what is one of the most popular drinks in the world today.

He said that the origin of coffee can be traced to the Ethiopian highlands many centuries ago. As the Legend of Kaldi has it, he said, coffee was discovered accidentally when a goat ate some unknown berries from a tree and remained alert for the rest of the night.

A drink was prepared from these berries by worshippers in the local monasteries and it helped them stay awake during the long hours of prayers. The message spread rapidly until it reached the Arabian peninsula, from where the Arabs took this newly found drink to other parts of the world.

The Coffee Museum opened its doors to public in October 2014.

(Saket Suman’s visit to Dubai was at the invitation of Dubai Tourism. He can be contacted at saket.s@ians.in)

(IANS)

 

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Kerala Catholic Priest Tom Uzhunnallil Abducted by ISIS Rescued from Yemen: Sushma Swaraj

The priest's release was achieved through the intervention of the Oman government

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Kerala Catholic priest Tom Uzhunnallil
Kerala Catholic priest Tom Uzhunnallil. Sushma Swaraj Twitter handle

Thiruvananthapuram | New Delhi, Sep 13, 2017: Kerala Catholic priest Tom Uzhunnallil, abducted by terrorists in Aden in March last year, has been rescued from captivity from an undisclosed location in Yemen.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted about the release of the Catholic priest, who was abducted in March last year.

“I am happy to inform that Father Tom Uzhunnalil has been rescued,” she said.

The priest’s release was achieved through the intervention of the Oman government.

According to reports reaching Kerala, after his release the priest was flown from Yemen to Muscat in the Sultanate of Oman.

He has left Oman on a chartered flight — either for New Delhi or for the Vatican, reports said.

The media in Oman confirmed the news of the release of the priest and posted a picture of him — standing in a room with the picture of the Oman king in the background.

He will be flown to Kerala later in the day.

Expressing happiness at the news, the priest’s brother Mathew Uzhunnallil said their prayers have been finally answered.

A spokesperson of the church Fr C. Jimmy told the media that the news has been received with a great sense of happiness.

In March 2016, militants barged into a care home for the elderly set up by Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in Yemen’s Aden and shot dead many people, including four nuns of the charity organisation, among whom one was from India.

After the shooting, the militants took away the Catholic priest. Since then, other than a few videos released from time to time, there has been no news of his whereabouts.

Uzhunnalil’s ancestral home in Ramapuram in Kottayam district is presently shut as two of his brothers live abroad, while another lives in Gujarat. (IANS)