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NDA rule bolstered diaspora ties, says Sushma Swaraj

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Indian minister sushma swaraj

New Delhi: India’s ties with its diaspora have intensified greatly ever under the NDA government, said Sushma Swaraj, External Affairs Minister.

At the 14th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, the annual conclave of the Indian diaspora, Sushma Swaraj said in her speech, ” Contacts with you have strengthened since our government came to office”.

“It is our effort now to reach out to the maximum number of the diaspora”, she said.

She said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken engagements with the diaspora to a new level.

Starting with the Madison Square Garden event in 2014 where Modi addressed a huge gathering of the Indian diaspora after much scepticism, Sushma Swaraj said the Prime Minister has made a number of addresses in public gatherings of the Indian diaspora across various parts of the world.

“Recently, as you all know, when the prime minister went to the United Kingdom, the Madison Square Garden’s record was broken and the number of people who were present at the diaspora event (in Wembley Stadium) was three times that number,” she said.

She said that earlier when Indian prime ministers went to other countries, the diaspora there would get to read about it in newspapers but now, they get to know even a month in advance that the prime minister would be visiting their country.

“The Prime Minister speaks to them. He goes prepared knowing their problems, he listens to them, he listens to their pain and once he returns to India, he resorts to solve these problems and this is the way in fact contact with the Indian community has increased by leaps and bounds after this government came to office”, Sushma Swaraj said.

Stating that overseas Indians now knew that there was someone back home to help when they get into trouble, she said in its short tenure of 19 months, the government faced four major problems.

“It was on May 28, 2014, that we took our oath of office and on June 3, the crisis erupted in Ukraine where 1,000 Indian students had to be evacuated,” she said.

“Five days later, on June 8, the problem in Iraq erupted when 7,500 Indians had to be evacuated.”

Even as the problems in Iraq persisted, the crisis in Libya took a turn for the worse and 3,500 Indians had to be evacuated, the minister said.

From Yemen, apart from 4,500 Indians, India evacuated 2,500 foreign nationals from 38 countries.

Stating that the government issued advisories for Indians when there is any problem in one part of the world or the other, she said unfortunately little heed was paid to such advisories.

She urged all Indians living in countries where trouble starts to follow these advisories.

In this age of social media, Sushma Swaraj said that whenever Indians abroad find themselves in trouble they can always tweet her and she would immediately respond and ensure that the Indian mission in the country concerned came to the person’s help.

She also said all Indian missions have been colour-coded and if a large number of complaints piled up in a particular mission, that mission’s colour would turn red.

Coming to overseas Indians’ contributions to India’s development story, she said the government has launched three flagship programmes — Make in India, Skill India and Digital India — and three programmes that were in the mission mode — clean schools, clean India and the Namami Ganga project.

“There was a time when opportunities in India did not exist to have a good income and people went abroad seeking greener pastures and there was a lot of brain drain”, she said.

“But today, India has changed and there are all kinds of opportunities to earn and make a very good living and the time has come for you to rethink about coming back to India”, the minister said, adding that people can also keep one foot in India and one foot in their country of adoption.

Stating that the time has come for overseas Indians to repay their debt to their motherland, she urged them on the occasion of the PBD to pledge to contribute to the success of all developmental programmes of the country.

Coming to the change in the format of the PBD, she said that earlier the event was an annual three-day “mela” that ended without any concrete results.

“But now we have decided that we will hold this ‘mela’ every two years and in the intervening years, there will be a lot of thinking and a lot of thought process that would go into it.”

“People would study the various issues and come up with various recommendations so that the problems of the diaspora could be solved”, Sushma Swaraj said.

Saturday’s event was webcast live in London, Dubai, Port Louis, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.

Sushma Swaraj held question and answer sessions with diaspora members present in those places and discussed their problems and issues.(IANS)

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India condemns support systems for terrorists in South Asia, expresses concern over North Korea’s nuclear program

Sushma Swaraj’s statement assumes significance as it comes after the unprecedented BRICS Summit joint statement earlier this month in which Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa unequivocally named Pakistan and the terror groups based there

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Sushma Swaraj talks about support systems of terrorists in South Asia
External affairs minister of India, Sushma Swaraj. Wikimedia
  • India on Thursday condemned support systems for terrorists in South Asia while expressing concern over South Asia’s nuclear program
  • Sushma Swaraj’s statement is significant since it comes after the BRICS Summit where many countries unequivocally named Pakistan and the terrorist groups based there
  • Sushma Swaraj also sought cooperation for early conclusion of negotiations and adoption of the India-initiated Comprehensive Convention against International Terrorism

New York, Sep 22, 2017:  In an obvious reference to Pakistan, India on Thursday condemned support systems for terrorists in South Asia while expressing concern over North Korea’s nuclear and weapons and ballistic missile programmes.

“The horror of terrorism continues to haunt global peace and security. Terror groups draw sustenance from support systems in South Asia,” Sushma Swaraj said while speaking at the BRICS Ministerial Meeting on the margins of the UN General Assembly Session here.

“They continue to find support and shelter in countries which use terrorism as an instrument of state policy.

“We must condemn efforts, including by states, to use religion to justify, sustain and sponsor terrorism against other countries,” she added.

Sushma Swaraj’s statement assumes significance as it comes after the unprecedented BRICS Summit joint statement earlier this month in which Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa unequivocally named Pakistan and the terror groups based there.

“There is need for collective efforts to disrupt terrorist networks, their financing and movement,” she said, calling for terrorist funding, their weapons supply, training and political support to “be systematically cut off”.

Sushma Swaraj also sought cooperation for early conclusion of negotiations and adoption of the India-initiated Comprehensive Convention against International Terrorism (CCIT) in the UN Security Council.

On North Korea’s recent offensive military posturing, she said: “The action and rhetoric of North Korea has been a source of growing global concern.”

Also read: Baloch Activist Bugti hails Sushma Swaraj for her speech against Pakistan Atrocities at UN General Assembly

She also touched on climate change and referred to Indian Prime Minister Narendra’s Modi’s suggestion of an alliance between the India-initiated International Solar Alliance and the New Development Bank, a multilateral development bank established by the BRICS nations.

“I hope we can work together to give this ambitious agenda practical shape in coming months,” she said.

The International Solar Alliance, launched at the UN Conference of Parties (CoP) climate summit in Paris on November 30, 2015, by Prime Minister Modi and then French President Francois Hollande, is conceived as a coalition of solar resource-rich countries to address their special energy needs and provide a platform to collaborate on dealing with the identified gaps through a common, agreed approach.

It is open to all 121 prospective member countries falling between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. (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)

 

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‘You Never Lamb Alone’: Indian Christians Raise Objections to Ad Campaign by Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) Featuring Gods to Sell Meat

The advertisements feature Lord Ganesha, revered in India, Lord Buddha, Jesus Christ, Thor, Zeus and others seated at a table enjoying what is a sumptuous non-vegetarian feast

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Meat and Livestock Australia MLA)
Unite Over The Meat More People Can Eat | You Never Lamb Alone advertisement by MLA. Youtube

Mumbai, Sep 12, 2017: The Catholic Secular Forum (CSF) on Monday raised strong objections to a new Australian advertising campaign featuring revered Hindu and Christians gods and other mythical figures to ‘sell’ its red meat and meat products.

CSF Founder-General Secretary Joseph Dias said the latest advertising campaign by Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) is “bad in taste and offensive to all” and sought boycott of MLA and a ban of their products.

The advertisements feature the elephant-headed God, Lord Ganesha, revered in India, Lord Buddha, Jesus Christ, Thor, Zeus and others seated at a table enjoying what is a sumptuous non-vegetarian feast.

The ads have reportedly made an oblique reference to Prophet Mohammed, who is not pictured but is heard excusing himself from the party through a mobile phone call since he has to pick-up a child from daycare.

What has hurt Christians is that the caricature of Jesus Christ who performs what is termed as a ‘reverse miracle’ by turning wine into water so a Grecian goddess, who is a ‘designated driver’ can drive home safely, Dias said.

“We have written to Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj to take note of these ‘insensitive advertisements’ and raise the issue with the top authorities in Australia immediately. We also demand that MLA Chairman Michele Allan and MD Richard Norton withdraw the ads and tender an apology,” Dias told IANS.

Besides writing to Sushma Swaraj, the CSF has shot off emails to Australian Deputy High Commissioner in Mumbai Martin Huber, Indian High Commissioner to Australia Harinder Sidhu and other top officials raising serious objections to the MLA campaign.

“The CSF has always protested against commercial exploitation of religious figures for profit, irrespective of which religion the figures belong to. The MLA ads have hurt not only followers of different faiths, but atheists and agnostics all over,” Dias pointed out.

He termed the campaign as ‘culturally insensitive’ to vegans and communities like Hindus, Jains or Buddhists and said Lord Ganesha is a vegetarian and meat is never offered to him, as depicted in the MLA ads.

Dias warned that unless MLA yanks off the offensive ad campaign and apologises, the global Catholic community would be compelled to boycott its products as “there are many alternatives available worldwide”. (IANS)