Wednesday December 13, 2017
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Modi exhorts India to ‘start up, stand up’, vows to end corruption

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New Delhi, Aug 15 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday vowed to end corruption, exhorted India to “start up, stand up”, didn’t announce the eagerly-awaited One Rank One Pension scheme and gave a complete miss to foreign policy.images (2)

Addressing the nation from the ramparts of the 17th century Red Fort, Modi said in his second Independence Day address that his government was determined to build a new India, including providing electricity to 18,500 power-less villages in the next 1,000 days.

Dressed in a cream kurta pyjama, beige jacket and mustard headgear, Modi said his ‘Swachh Bharat’ campaign was the biggest success of his BJP-led government which took office in May last year.

He, however, disappointed lakhs of ex-service personnel who were awaiting for a concrete announcement on the One-Rank-One-Pension (OROP) scheme. He said the government had accepted in principle the scheme, but not give any clear road map for its adoption, prompting protesting ex-servicemen in Jantar Mantar to cry out “shame, shame”.

In a first for August 15, the prime minister did not touch upon foreign policy – despite his numerous trips – and focused wholly on domestic issues. There was no mention of India’s neighbors, even Pakistan, in Modi’s speech that began at 7.30 a.m. and ended just before 9 a.m..

The miss is all the more stark as Modi had met Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif just over a month ago in Ufa, Russia – in a landmark move to ease tensions between the two neighbors.

Barely hours before Modi spoke, guns boomed at India’s border with Pakistan. The Pakistan Army used mortars and automatic weapons on the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir.

Military spokesman Colonel Manish Mehta told IANS in Jammu that the Pakistani army “resorted to unprovoked shelling and firing at our positions” at 7.30 a.m. in Poonch district.”

However, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif greeted India and said “good neighborly relations” will benefit both New Delhi and Islamabad.

“We in Pakistan sincerely hope to settle all our bilateral issues through a sustained and comprehensive dialogue and usher in a new era of mutual trust and cooperation,” he said in a message.

During his one hour, 23 minute long speech, Modi made it clear that there was no place for caste ism and communal-ism in India.

He said the country can be free of corruption but we “have to start from the top”.

“It can be done… Corruption is eating up our country like termites. If you want to get rid of termites, you have to inject medicine.”

He pointed out that there was no allegation of corruption against his government.

“Corruption had become part of the system. Contractors were running the nation. We have taken steps to correct the system.”

He said while the previous government was faulted for causing a loss of Rs.176,000 crore by giving away coal blocks, his government conducted auctions in a transparent and time-bound manner and raised Rs.300,000 crore, Modi said. “Ask yourself. Has corruption gone or not?”

Other steps had been taken to tackle black money — from the appointment of a special probe team to enacting a stringent law.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), he said, was probing some 800 cases of black money until he took power. Now the CBI was examining 1,800 cases.

Already several thousand crores of rupees had been collected from people who had begun to declare their ill-gotten assets, he said.

In his speech, Modi repeatedly used the word “Team India” – to denote a united nation.

“This is Team India, a team of 125 crore Indians. This is the team that makes the nation and takes our nation to new heights,” he said.

Modi also listed key initiatives of his 15-month government in the area of financial inclusion, fighting graft and inducing transparency, and said true economic progress must touch the bottom of the pyramid.

He said the country’s youth be given opportunities and support to become entrepreneurs in their own right, notably the deprived. “In the coming days, start-ups will be promoted in every corner of the country. Start up India, stand up India,” the prime minister said.

“All banks in our country must contribute to a start-up revolution. Each of the 125,000 bank branches must assist one Dalit or one tribal entrepreneur and one woman entrepreneur. They must also become entrepreneurs in the future.”

The prime minister said a lot had been done in the area of financial inclusion in the past year, and gave the example of his Jan Dhan Yojana, under which some 17 crore people have got bank accounts. Also, 10 crore people enrolled in social security schemes in 100 days.

“For the poor, the doors of banks were closed. I said this has to change… Bank accounts are essential for integrating the poor into the financial system. That’s what we have done.”

Modi announced the agriculture ministry would now be known as the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmer Welfare — to take better care of farmers’ needs.

He said he had also faced a lot of pressure against the transparent processes such as on the e-auction of private FM Radio channels. But he did not yield.

“People said radio concerns the common man. I was pressured,” he said, alluding to calls for giving away the licences cheap. But the transparent process evoked a lot of interest and the 85 channels that were on the block fetched Rs.1,000 crore to the exchequer.

The government, he said, had brought down inflation despite poor rainfall, and called for a restructuring of agricultural practices.

(IANS)

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Modi pens foreword for Hema Malini’s biography

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Hema Malini

New Delhi, Oct 13 : Prime Minister Narendra Modi has penned a “short, crisp and sweet” foreword for “Beyond The Dreamgirl”, an authorised biography of actress and BJP MP Hema Malini.

The book, by former editor of Stardust and producer Ram Kamal Mukherjee, will be launched on October 16, when the “evergreen beauty” turns 69. Its launch also marks the celebration of Hema Malini’s glorious run of 50 years in Indian showbiz.

“Our PM has written very briefly in the book about his feelings for Hemaji. It’s short, crisp and sweet, not rubble and bubble. It’s an honour for me as an author and for Hemaji also that it is perhaps the first time that an active Prime Minister has written a foreword for a book on a Bollywood actor,” Mukherjee told IANS over the phone from Mumbai.

Having started her film career in 1968 with Raj Kapoor-starrer “Sapno Ka Saudagar”, she regaled movie buffs with roles in films like “Seeta Aur Geeta”, “Sholay”, “Dream Girl” and “Satte Pe Satta”. An accomplished classical dancer, Hema Malini earned the epithet of ‘Dreamgirl’ for her flawless beauty, and became a pioneering female superstar in an otherwise male-oriented film industry.

In 1999, Hema Malini campaigned for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate in the Lok Sabha elections in Gurdaspur, Punjab. She is now a BJP MP from Mathura constituency.

“I guess it’s all because of Hemaji’s credentials and contribution to art and cinema that Mr Modi agreed to pen the foreword. When I was interacting with his office, they were very happy that Hemaji did not just limit her talk in the book to Bollywood,” said Mukherjee, who had in 2005 released a coffee table book called “Hema Malini Diva Unveiled”.

“Beyond The Dreamgirl”, published by HarperCollins India, will give readers an in-depth look into her life.

“It is divided into 23 chapters, covering her childhood, teens, Bollywood, rise as an actor, romance, colleagues, marriage, her second innings, launching Shah Rukh Khan in ‘Dil Aashna Hai’ — which she directed — her ballet, her political journey and spiritual journey. There are two chapters dedicated to her daughters Esha and Ahana.

“She has also spoken about her Agra accident and her singing career. We have summed it all up with a chapter called ‘Bliss’. This book will also have Hemaji’s family tree, which has not been published earlier, and there will be a lot of exclusive unseen photographs from her personal, professional and political spheres,” Mukherjee said.

The ageless talent has shared an insight into her life with Dharmendra as well as spoken on political figures like Modi, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, L.K. Advani and Sushma Swaraj.

How did Mukherjee get Modi to pen the foreword?

“It was not something thought of when I started writing the book two years ago. I started my research and wanted somebody else to do the foreword,” he said, without naming the film industry person whom he had approached.

“It was almost like a miracle to have Mr Modi write for us. When I discussed it with Hemaji, her first expression was, ‘I hope you know what you’re saying. I know you’re under pressure, but I think you’re losing your mind’.

“When I said there’s no harm in trying, she said, ‘You try and do whatever you want to do’. Then it was a process.”

The writer feels it’s the actress’ constant effort in promoting Indian classical music and dance through her ballets on Hindu mythological characters like Durga and Meera, which Modi appreciates.

“I think Mr Modi liked her inclination towards classical dance and music and how she promotes it at international platforms. I think this is a USP of Hema Maliniji, apart from she being Hema Malini. And I guess that’s also what justifies the title of the book.”(IANS)

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Actor “Prabhas” extends support to Modi’s Clean India campaign

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Prabhas extends support to Modi's Clean India campaign
wikipedia

Chennai, Sep 29 : “Baahubali” fame Prabhas on Friday said he extends his full support to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Swachhata Hi Seva” movement, adding that he sees the Clean India campaign not as a duty but as a habit.

“As we approach this significant day, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhiji, who always strived for cleanliness, I would like to take this opportunity to highlight the great work happening on making India clean and green with the Swachh Bharat Initiative,” Prabhas posted on his Facebook page.

Swachh Bharat: 10 easy steps that will make “clean india campaign” successful

He added that Clean India is something he personally believes in.

“Keeping my country clean and healthy is not just my duty as a citizen but also a habit. To all those who feel the same, let’s continue doing our best for a cleaner India,” he said.

Earlier this month, Modi had written personal letters to celebrities, industrialists and noted personalities to enlist their support for the initiative.

Quoting Mahatma Gandhi, Modi said Swachhata is for each of us to practice.

He also said the days leading up to Gandhi Jayanti on October 2 should be about “encouraging widespread participation in cleanliness initiatives across the country.”

Superstar Rajinikanth and filmmaker S.S Rajamouli have already expressed their support.(ians)

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PM Narendra Modi: Don’t believe in vote bank politics, Nation comes first

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Wikimedia

Varanasi, Sep 23: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Saturday, said that the BJP did not believe in vote bank politics as the country was above party politics. This is his second day of the visit to his parliamentary constituency in Varanasi.

Modi told a gathering that he had launched a major war against corruption and the corrupt to ease the life of the common man. He also said cleanliness was worship for him as it could rid the poor of various diseases and a lot of economic burdens.

“Governance for us is not about votes or winning elections. The priority is the development of the nation. For us, the country is bigger than party,” he said, in his address to farmers in Shahanshahpur on the outskirts of Varanasi.

He said most of the problems faced by the common people in India were rooted in corruption.

“I have launched a war against it and will take it further to ensure that graft is weeded out from the country.”(IANS)