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Indian origin Muslim cleric gets honorary doctorate

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London: The University of Leicester in Britain awarded an honorary doctorate to an Indian-origin Muslim cleric in recognition of his commendable work for the local community.
Muhammad Shahid Raza, head Imam at the Leicester Central Mosque, received the honorary degree from university chancellor Lord Grocott at a ceremony at De Montfort Hall before a global audience of graduating students and their families.
Raza was born in Bihar and studied in Moradabad, Agra and Meerut before moving to Britain. He became head Imam at the Islamic Centre in Leicester in 1978.
Raza has spent his life working with Muslim community groups and on intra-faith relations, both nationally and internationally.
“I have always strived to instill in my students a desire to achieve academically and integrate themselves as valuable members and contributors to society,” Raza was quoted as saying.
“For this reason, I reflect on this award fondly and I hope it will further inspire the young Muslims of Leicester,” he added.
In Leicester, Indian-origin Raza has established a tradition of inter-faith dialogue by welcoming to the centre many groups and individuals from different faith communities, the report said.
Raza also helped form the Federation of Mosques in the city and is currently the executive secretary and registrar of The Muslim Law (Sharia) Council UK.
He was awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2008 New Year’s Honours list for services to the Muslim community in Leicester.
“Raza has been a hugely influential figure in our city and county as a leading Muslim cleric and teacher over a period approaching 40 years. In terms of Interfaith dialogue over that period, again his influence has been profound,” Stephen Foster, coordinating chaplain to the university, was quoted as saying. (IANS)(Image-shariahcouncil.org)

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The Fall of the poster boy of Indian politics – Nitish Kumar

How Nitish Kumar gave his career a downfall drift

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Chief Minister of Bihar
Nitish Kumar

Amulya Ganguly

At one time, he was the poster boy of Indian politics. Not only did he slay the villain of Bihar’s “jungle raj” in 2005 by rounding up lawless elements after winning an election and launching social and economic development projects, he also scored another resounding electoral victory in the company of a new set of friends, including the “villain”, in 2015.

It appeared at the time that he could do no wrong. So much so that he was seen as a possible prime ministerial candidate of the “secular” front.

But, then, the rise and rise of Nitish Kumar came to an abrupt halt. He remains Bihar’s Chief Minister, but the halo round his head has frayed.

The reason is not only his switching of friends in what is seen as an exercise in crass opportunism, but also his pursuit of policies which are out of sync with the modern world and threatens to reinforce Bihar’s reputation for backwardness by turning the entire state into a virtual dehat or village.

The first step in this bucolic direction was the imposition of prohibition which has robbed Bihar’s clubs, hotels and intellectual watering holes of cosmopolitanism. Now, Nitish Kumar has taken yet another step backwards by demanding 50 per cent reservations for the backward castes in the private sector.

To begin with the second step, it is obvious that by threatening to take the quota system to such an absurd level, the Chief Minister has scotched any hope of industrial growth in a state which is crying out for investment.

In 2012, Bihar received investment proposals worth Rs 24,000 crore. In the post-liquor ban period, they have dropped to Rs 6,500 crore.

If his new ally, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had any hope, therefore, of making Bihar the beneficiary of his Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas goals, he can bid it goodbye.

Nitish Kumar’s latest pitch in favour of the backward castes is all the more strange because he cannot seriously expect that his proposal will pass muster at the judicial level.

Like most Indian politicians, he is more interested in posing as a champion of whichever group he is courting at a given moment than in adopting measures which have a reasonable chance of success.

He merely wants to impress his targeted audience by showing that he did make an honest effort, but was stymied by the “system”.

Whether it is prohibition or reservations, Nitish Kumar’s ploys tend to underline crafty political manoeuvres rather than any genuine intention of acting in the state’s interest.

Unfortunately for the Janata Dal (United) leader, his gambits are too palpable to deceive anyone. In the case of the reservations, it is clear that Nitish Kumar is still battling his old adversary-cum-ally-cum-adversary, Lalu Prasad Yadav of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD).

Since Nitish Kumar belongs to a numerically small and politically less influential caste — the Kurmis — than the RJD’s powerful Yadavs, he has never been at ease in Lalu Prasad’s company whether at the time of their camaraderie during Jayaprakash Narayan’s anti-Congress movement or when they were a part of the state government after the 2015 election victory.

The focal point of Nitish Kumar’s political career has been to establish himself as the foremost leader in the state. Lalu Prasad’s conviction in the fodder scam case enabled Nitish Kumar to be the No. 1 in the Janata Dal (United)-RJD-Congress government.

But he appeared to be forever looking over his shoulder to check whether he was being undermined by the RJD which has more MLAs than the Janata Dal (United).

Prohibition was the policy which he embraced to win over the lower middle class and rural women to his side. But, predictably, the liquor ban has led to an increase in drug abuse with 25 per cent of the cases in de-addiction centres now dealing with the users of cannabis, inhalants and sedatives.

Unlike prohibition which is not aimed at any caste, the demand for the 50 per cent reservations is intended by Nitish Kumar to bolster his position vis-a-vis Lalu Prasad since both are intent on playing the backward caste card.

It is also a message to his partner in the government, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), about the importance of the quota system for the Chief Minister, especially when the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief, Mohan Bhagwat, is in favour of doing away with reservations altogether.

Nitish Kumar's self demolition
Bihar’s chief minister gave his political career a U-turn.

When Bhagwat expressed his views during the 2015 election campaign, the BJP quickly distanced itself from them for fear of losing the backward caste and Dalit votes. Even then, the BJP’s reputation as a brahmin-bania party remains intact. Besides, it is now more focused on playing the nationalist card than on wooing the backward castes.

Nitish Kumar must have thought, therefore, that the time was ripe for him to up the ante on the caste issue if only to let the BJP know that he cannot be marginalised as the BJP has been tending to do since tying the knot with the Janata Dal (United).

But, whatever his intention, Nitish Kumar cannot but be aware that his position is much weaker now than when he was in the “secular” camp. Nor is there any chance that he will regain his earlier status any time in the near future.(IANS)

 

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Rs 10,000 cr will be given to top 10 Universities to make them World-Class, says Prime Minister Narendra Modi

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Wikimedia

Patna, October 14: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said it was a “blot” that Indian universities do not figure among the top 500 of the world and noted that the government has decided to give autonomy and Rs 10,000 crore to top 10 public and private universities over the next five years to make them world-class

.Addressing the centenary Celebrations of Patna University here in presence of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Modi said Indian universities such as Nalanda and Takshashila attracted students from all over the world.

“We are not among the top 500. We should remove this blot or not. The situation should change through our determination and hard work,” Modi said.

He said the government has come with a scheme to make 10 private and 10 public universities world-class by providing them autonomy from the constraints of government rules and freedom to grow.

“They will be given Rs 10,000 crore in the next five years,” Modi said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the selection will not be on any recommendation. “The universities will be a selected on the basis of a challenge in which they will be required to prove their mettle. The selection will be based on factors such as history, performance and its roadmap reach global benchmarks. A third party professional agency will be involved in the selection process,” Modi said.

Referring to demands for making Patna University a central university, Modi said it should strive to be among the globally-ranked varsity based on the competition and “this was many times ahead of being a central university”.

“Patna University should not stay behind (in the challenge),” he said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said reforms in the country’s education sector have progressed at a slow speed and there have been differences among educationists which had hampered innovation with the governments too not measuring up to the task.

The Prime Minister said that for two years he heard arguments for and against granting more autonomy to Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and then a big decision was taken.

“It is for the first time that the IIMs are out of government control and have been professionally opened up. This is a big opportunity for them and they would make the best use,” he said.

Modi said that Patna University was known to produce IAS and IPS officers and in the same manner IIMs are known to produce Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of global companies.

He also urged universities to move from conventional teaching to innovative learning and involve alumni associations more actively.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said 65 per cent of the population of the country was below 35 years in age and the dreams of development can be fulfilled.

“We need to understand the changing trends across the world and the increased spirit of competitiveness. In that context India has to make its place in the world,” Modi said.

He appreciated the efforts Nitish Kumar towards development of the state and said the progress of eastern India is the Centre’s topmost priority.

“The commitment of Nitish Kumar towards the progress of Bihar is commendable. The Centre attaches topmost importance to the development of eastern India,” Modi said.

He said when the country celebrates the 75th anniversary of Independence day in 2022, he wants to see Bihar standing among the list of prosperous states.

Modi also said that many top level officials of civil services are students of Patna University.

“In every state, the top levels of the civil services has people who have studied in Patna University. In Delhi, I interact with so many officials, many of whom belong to Bihar… I consider it my honor to visit Patna University and be among the students. I bow to this land of Bihar. This university has nurtured students who have contributed greatly to the nation.”

He said that Bihar is blessed with both ‘Gyaan’ and ‘Ganga.’ “This land has a legacy that is unique,” he said.(IANS)

One response to “Rs 10,000 cr will be given to top 10 Universities to make them World-Class, says Prime Minister Narendra Modi”

  1. Grant of money alone does not make great institutions of learning, just as making large grand buildings, and setting up large sophisticated laboratories. It is the high ideals, learning & character in honest pursuit of knowledge and service that facilitates to create an atmosphere of pursuing higher & higher knowledge for the sake of welfare of humanity. An the open atmosphere of freely sharing the expertise & experience of seniors with development of young brains is equally important . This aspect has been pointed out by our Prime minister by the involvement of Alumni for the development of great institutions of learning.
    Another aspect that has not received due attention in the field of education in India so far is that we have not addressed properly the question of training and developing teachers of right caliber & character right from nursery and primary school levels of education to postgraduate levels in university in all fields of education i.e. humanities, engineering and medical schools by taking in to consideration present needs of society.
    Another point to note is that the famous All India Institution of Medical Sciences in Delhi was not set up to provide super speciality hospital services to the country, but to develop excellent faculty of teachers in collaboration with Harvard. This objective got lost on the way.

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In films ‘Victoria & Abdul’ and ‘American Made,’ Life is Stranger than Fiction

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Actors Ali Fazal and Judi Dench
Actors Ali Fazal and Judi Dench pose during a red carpet for the movie "Victoria and Abdul" at the 74th Venice Film Festival 2017 in Venice. voa

Stephen Frears’ heartwarming drama Victoria & Abdul is about the deep friendship between Queen Victoria and her Indian servant Abdul Karim between 1887 and 1901, and Doug Liman’s American Made about Barry Seal, a 1970s audacious American pilot, who, during the Nicaraguan Crisis worked for the CIA, the DEA and the Colombian cartel.

As different as these two films are, they are both based on true stories, proving yet again that often life is stranger than fiction. Both films feature intelligent plots and superb acting.

Victoria & Abdul

Stephen Frears’ film Victoria and Abdul, opens in 1887, with the festivities for Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, celebrating her 50-year reign.

Abdul Karim, a young Muslim clerk from Agra, India, is sent to the banquet all the way from India to present the queen with a gift from India, a ceremonial coin. To the dismay of Queen Victoria’s courtiers, the Indian servant strikes a deep friendship with the octogenarian Queen Victoria, defying class and racial boundaries.

According to the movie, Abdul Karim impressed the British sovereign with his depth of spirit and good looks. Soon the unlikely friends became inseparable, discussing philosophy, literature, even Indian cuisine. In a span of 14 years, Abdul Karm became the queen’s confidant and munshi, her teacher, in Urdu.

But the queen’s courtesans and her family, sidelined by Abdul, questioned her sanity and considered her removal.

Historian and author Shrabani Basu based her book of the same title on the queen’s journals in Urdu and on Karim’s private diary. Basu discovered Abdul Karim’s personal diary in possession of Karim’s surviving nephew Abdul Rashid in 2010, over a century after the queen’s death.

This was the only document on the relationship between royal and servant that survived the wrath of Queen Victoria’s children. Immediately after her death in 1901, the royals evicted Queen Victoria’s munshi, burned everything he had received from the queen and swiftly shipped him and his family to India. In 1909 Abdul Karim died in Agra leaving his diary as his only testimonial of his deep friendship with the empress.

Director Frears offers captivating cinematography while Dame Judi Dench portrays a free-spirited Queen Victoria and Indian actor Ali Fazal embodies a charming and loyal Adbul Karim.

Though the film does not depict a romantic relationship between the two, it does hint to it. Dench describes the queen’s reaction to Karim:

“She had a ready eye for somebody good-looking, which he is very, so it was easy to imagine a kind of tired, poor person suddenly looking up and seeing this wonderful good-looking young man. How lovely somebody at last beautiful to look at,” Dench said.

But, author Basu says, “At the heart of this book is a story of friendship, a friendship of two different people from two different specters of this world, one is the Empress of India, one is a clerk from Agra jail, and somewhere they have a bond they find this link and a common space.”

Actor Tom Cruise
Actor Tom Cruise poses while promoting a film in Mexico City. voa

American Made

American Made, by Bourne Identity filmmaker Doug Liman, offers a satirical look at the political crisis in Nicaragua.

It shows the involvement of the United States in the revolution during the late 1970s and 1980s through the perspective of pilot Barry Seal, who, for the right price, delivers guns to Nicaragua on behalf of the CIA, and cocaine into the U.S. on behalf of the Colombian cartel. Somewhere in between, Seal also works for the DEA.

Tom Cruise offers an engaging interpretation as Barry Seal, piloting the plane and doing all the stunts throughout the film. Cruise explains what drew him to the character:

“He just couldn’t help himself,” Cruise said. “He just had to live this life. He literally when you are talking about someone living on the edge, he didn’t even realize he was on the edge. He was just living life and not really thinking of necessary ramifications and what’s going to happen.”

As in most of his action film projects, Cruise pushes his boundaries.

“I don’t make a movie just to make a movie,” he said. “It’s not what interests me. What interests me is the passion of cinema, the passion of storytelling. That’s when it gets very exciting, not just a job. I love this too much.”  (VOA)