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In memory of India’s founding fathers(Book Review)

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Title: Understanding the Founding Fathers –An Enquiry into the Indian Republic’s Beginnings Author: Raj Mohan Gandhi; Publisher: Aleph Book Company;
If we go through the scenario of political leaders, we will see them standing under a dim light of peace. This situation best describes the leaders who are involved in promising country’s independence or giving a blue map of its future strategies.

No matter how many years surpass, the people, opposition or the critics will still go on counter questioning their motivations, capabilities and achievements. India’s founding fathers are just the illustration of these actions.

In the Indian context, these could entail the prospects that could have ensued if Vallabhbhai Patel had been free India’s first Prime Minister instead of Jawaharlal Nehru, or if Subhas Chandra Bose had stayed in India during World War and led the freedom struggle and/or independent India.

Then how about if BR Ambedkar had not left Nehru’s cabinet, or going back a bit, the leadership of a united India had been given to Mohammed Ali Jinnah?

But as author Raj Mohan Gandhi observes, “These questions may usually be dismissed as being purely hypothetical but a related question makes practical sense. Are our present-day discontents of recent origin or connected to the beginnings of the Indian republic? Were crucial mistakes made in the 1947-50 period?”

It is an attempt to answer these questions that led to this work whose small size does not reflect its weighty and reasoned erudition but he admits its aims were first more limited – “merely wanting to address sweeping criticisms of (Mahatma) Gandhi and Nehru levelled by two interesting men – a swami from Gujarat and a professor from America”, both of who he only came to know about in early 2015.

Swami Sachidanand of Gujarat blames Mahatma Gandhi, for weakening India by his espousal of ‘ahimsa’, leading to the ignominious defeat to the Chinese in 1962 , as well as the Hindu community, by failing to understanding “two things: the value of the sword, and the danger from Islam.

On the other, American ‘Marxist’ scholar Perry Anderson, in “The Indian Ideology” (2014), charges the Mahatma with being “anti-Muslim, that he forced Pakistan on an unwilling Jinnah, that he helped fashion a Hindu state where Muslims would remain subordinate, a state which had enslaved the people of Kashmir”, and prescribes Indians banish Gandhi, Nehru and Patel and others and “all they represent”.

With “the Swami and the Professor were in essence cancelling each other’s charges against Gandhi, a reply would merely require quoting each to the other” but the author, despite a part of him encouraging this response, holds the issue is greater – for there are many Hindus who believe or led to believe what the Swami thinks contentions, and likewise, many Muslims in both countries about the stand most lately expressed by Anderson, “and if facts and reasons could clarify a few minds, an effort to supply them might be worthwhile”.

He begins with his rebuttals of both Sachidanand and Anderson, by extensively citing their criticism and inferences and countering it through Mahatma’s recorded writings, statements and actions – and simple logic.

The next chapter does the same for Nehru and the fourth deals with Jinnah, Bose and Ambedkar, who have all been praised by Anderson, laying out a tantalizing premise of whether they could have “joined hands to give India and Pakistan an alternative history, free of Partition and its killings and perhaps free also of the injustices and inequalities that have scarred the subcontinent?”

It is a thought-provoking work that the author, a grandson of the Mahatma, has penned and despite his relationship, he is quite balanced and freely acknowledges his grandfather’s shortcomings and mistakes. And there is something new that most of us will find, though it may not be very salutary, e.g.what ex-INA men ended up doing.

But the real value of this book is that icons are humans and not infallible or beyond debate, and issues of disagreements, or any perceived dishonors, can be discussed peacefully and logically, without sending oneself into paroxysms of rage and needing coercive action or bans to assuage.(IANS)

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India Demands Data on UN Staff Misconduct, Use of Immunity

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United nations
India has demanded the secretariat disclose information about misconduct by UN staff. Flickr

United Nations, Oct 7: In an attempt to break the wall of silence around the crimes and UN staff misconduct and those on its assignments, India has demanded the secretariat disclose information about such cases and the immunity invoked against prosecutions.

Yedla Umasankar, the legal advisor in India’s UN Mission, touched a raw nerve here by criticising the UN on Friday for not vigorously following up allegations of serious wrongdoing by its employees who enjoy the equivalent of diplomatic immunity, a prized possession of its staff.

“It appears that the UN system itself may be reluctant to waive immunity even for serious misconduct carried out by its personnel while serving on its missions, so that such cases can be prosecuted by the host governments,” he told the General Assembly’s committee on legal affairs.

“Even a few of such instances or allegations of crimes committed by UN personnel is highly damaging for the image and credibility of the United Nations system and its work around the world,” he added.

His statement also touched on the practice of some countries that protect their wrongdoers at the UN.

Umasankar demanded that secretariat disclose how many cases of serious misconduct by UN personnel were registered and the number of cases where the UN refused to waive immunity to allow their prosecution.

He also wanted to know in how many cases the host country wanted the immunity waived so it can prosecute those accused; the number of times the UN asked the host country or the country that sent them to prosecute them; how many times it consulted countries before waiver of the immunity of their personnel and how many of them refused UN’s request to waive their citizens’ immunity.

The information he wanted does not cover the diplomats sent by member countries to represent them at UN bodies and enjoy diplomatic immunity with the nations hosting the UN facilities.

After scores of serious allegations of sexual misconduct by peacekeepers, especially exploitation of children, the UN vowed to uphold a policy of zero tolerance and began publishing data on such cases in peacekeeping operations including how they were dealt with.

Starting with the year 2015, it began identifying the nationalities of those accused.

However, it has not made public a roster detailing all the allegations and proven cases of serious misconduct across the entire UN.

While the focus has been on sexual exploitation and abuse reported on peacekeeping operations, Umasankar said that “at a broader level, the issue of accountability has remained elusive in some cases”.

He attributed it to “the complexities of legal aspects relating to sovereignty and jurisdiction”, the immunity or privileges that may be necessary for UN operations, and the capability or willingness of countries to investigate and prosecute the accused.

He noted that the UN itself cannot make criminal prosecutions.

While Indian laws has provisions for dealing with crimes committed abroad by its citizens, not all countries have them, he said.

Those countries should be encouraged and helped to implement such measures, he added. (IANS)

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Indo-Pak Peace Talks Futile Unless Islamabad Sheds Links with Terrorism, says Study

A Study by a U.S. think tank calls India and Pakistan talks futile, until Pakistan changes its approach.

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India and Pakistan
India and Pakistan. Wikimedia.

A Top United States of America (U.S.) think tank, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace called the relations between India and Pakistan futile, unless Islamabad changes its approach and sheds its links with Jihadi terrorism.

A report “Are India and Pakistan Peace Talks Worth a Damn”, authored by Ashley J Tellis stated that such a move supported by foreign countries would be counterproductive and misguided.

The report suggests that International community’s call for the India and Pakistan talks don’t recognize that the tension between the two countries is not actually due to the sharp differences between them, but due to the long rooted ideological, territorial and power-political hatred. The report states that these antagonisms are fueled by Pakistani army’s desire to subvert India’s powerful global position.

Tellis writes that Pakistan’s hatred is driven by its aim to be considered and treated equal to India, despite the vast differences in their achievements and capabilities.

Also ReadMilitant Groups in Pakistan Emerge as Political Parties : Can Violent Extremism and Politics Co-exist? 

New Delhi, however, has kept their stance clear and mentioned that India and Pakistan talks cannot be conducted, until, the latter stops supporting terrorism, and the people conducting destructive activities in India.

The report further suggests that Pakistan sees India as a genuine threat and continuously uses Jihadi terrorism as a source to weaken India. The report extends its support to India’s position and asks other international powers, including the U.S., to extend their support to New Delhi.

Earlier in September, Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) slammed Pakistan for its continuous terror activities. She attacked the country by saying that India has produced engineers, doctors, and scholars; Pakistan has produced terrorists.

Sushma Swaraj further said that when India is being recognised in the world for its IT and achievements in the space, Pakistan is producing Terrorist Organisations like Lashkar-e-Taiba. She said that Pakistan is the world’s greatest exporter of havoc, death and inhumanity.

-by Megha Acharya  of NewsGram. Megha can be reached at @ImMeghaacharya. 

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Delhi University Students Win the Enactus World Cup 2017

India wins the Enactus World Cup 2017

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Delhi University
India wins Enactus World Cup 2017. Twitter.

New Delhi, Sep 30: After an extremely tough competition between different students across the world in the Enactus World Cup 2017, Team India, represented by Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies (SSCBS), Delhi University emerged as the winner. The winning projects were project UDAAN and Mission RAAHAT.

Supporting the Government of India’s Digital India and Swachh Bharat Abhiyan mission, RAAHAT strives to effectively eliminate open defecation and provide safe sanitation in the urban slums; whereas, UDAAN aims at narrowing the digital divide between rural and urban India by setting up computer centres.

The Delhi University college team was led by the college’s faculty advisor, Anuja Mathur and student president of SSCBS Student President Aditya Sharma. The winning projects included 34 more members. The Enactus India and Enactus SSCBS were presented the Ford Better World Award of USD 50,000.

Also Read: Three Indian Women on Fortune’s Most Powerful Business Women

President and Global CEO, Enactus, Rachael A. Jarosh congratulated the Indian for winning the world cup and called the projects- RAAHAT and UDAAN, inspirational success stories of Enactus students, who are sowing businesses. She said that the projects address the real world challenges efficiently and innovatively. Enactus India President Farhan Pettiwala said that the two projects created by Delhi University students contribute to the country’s betterment, as they support the Government’s civil and social agenda.

Enactus is an international nonprofit organisation, with 72,000 students from 1,700 universities in 36 countries, which held its annual global event in London from September 26 to 28. A selected group of 3,500 students, business, government leaders and academicians across the globe were present at the event. Participants for the final competition round are qualified from over 72,000 university students. Each team has about 17 minutes to present their projects of entrepreneurial action.

Enactus works to nurture the entrepreneurial skills of students, and to address fundamental, social and economic challenges by developing innovative and experiential learning opportunities for students.

-by Megha Acharya of NewsGram. Megha can be reached at @ImMeghaacharya.