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National Fervour at its peak as India celebrates its 70th Independence Day

India is, and will always remain the biggest democracy and is one of the most flourishing nations

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Jawaharlal Nehru addressing the audience on August 15, 1947. Source: Wikimedia Commons

August 15, 2016:

This day, in 1947, marked the birth of a democratic and free nation. The historic day for Indians who were liberated from the clutches of 200-year-old British Raj. Today, India celebrates its 70th Independence Day amid monsoon showers, Olympic fever and Kashmir unrest. Even amid such tension, the patriotic fervour and zeal of celebrating independence day among Indians have not lost its way!

A refugee train, Punjab Source: Wikimedia Commons
A refugee train, Punjab Source: Wikimedia Commons

Instead of peace, communal violence rules two nations. The Partition of Hindustan into two nations- India and Pakistan were the outcome of pure communal politics, and the atmosphere of tension between the two is evident even today. A report suggests that more than 15 million people migrated from across the borders, and communal riots made it the biggest and the most torturous human resettlement ever.

The love-hate relationship between India and Pakistan ever since has taken an ugly and bitter turn with the increase of terrorism, the emergence of ISIS and Taliban, and Love Jihad.
It is for the first time that the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi has gone vocal about the terrorism spread by the neighbouring state and has promised to the fellow Indians that he won’t take the issue of India’s security lightly— be it the face of terrorism or the Kashmir narrative. With numerous preventive measures and some multi-national alliances with other countries— especially with Barack Obama and his government, PM Modi has been taking huge steps towards eradicating violence.

I. United we stand: PM Modi began the quest for a united battle against terrorism at the East Asia Summit, Kuala Lumpur in 2015. There needs to be a global solution to combat violence of any sort, especially terrorism and therefore this year, Modi has gone vocal about the international terrorism being spread by the neighbouring country.

II. Combating ISIS: The ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ is not only limited to cleaning all garbage from the country but ironically plans to clean all terrorism and let peace prevail around. Due to UPA’s reluctance, following are the ISI agents who were arrested or executed:

a) Traitors named Irshad Ansari, son Asfaq and brother-in-law Mohammad Jahan were ISI agents arrested from Bengal, who had alleged connections with Trinamool Congress.

b) Confidential information of the Indian Army had been sent to Pakistan by ISI agent Mohammad Kalam. He stayed in Bareilly since 2014 and was regularly paid ₹ 50,000 by ISI.

c) Ranjit, a former IAF officer, was accused and arrested for providing Pakistani intelligence ISI with vital information.

d) BSF officer Abdul Rasheed was arrested along with an ISI agent for cross-border transmission of confidential information.

3. “When terrorism is on the rise across the world and when we are encircled by terrorism sponsored by the neighbouring country, we will have to be united in this fight. The government expects constructive support from all opposition parties on this.” says Modi on the issue of the Kashmir turmoil. In an all-party press conference speech in J&K on August 12, Modi has spoken on a zero-tolerance  proposal on terrorism and Pakistan— that all consecutive violent terrorist activities in the Kashmir Valley are sponsored and ignited by cross-border enmity. Addressing the unrest in Jammu & Kashmir is the urgent need, but not at the cost of the nation’s integrity, says the Indian Prime Minister. The Central government has forwarded an amount of ₹ 80,000 crores to the state government for the re-development of Jammu & Kashmir. Also, in an attempt to increase employment in the Valley, a huge recruitment drive is also planned to be conducted by the Central Government.

In a reaction to Modi’s speech on PoK (Pak occupied Kashmir) and Balochistan’s issues, the Indian Diaspora now feels a ‘sense of belongingness’ says external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj.

IV. Peace in Nagaland: India is finding difficulties with Hindus (and especially Dalits) converting to Islam and walking the path of terrorism. In an attempt to achieve peace, Modi govt. signed the historic peace treaty with Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland in order to maintain normalcy in north-east India.

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Terrorism is an alarming concern for the entire world, but India as a developing nation is ready to fight with all these issues and rise above them. Nearly 70 years after gaining independence, India has been prospering at high paces. Let us read some of the greatest achievements of India since its independence:

i. Right to Vote: India as the largest democracy has given rights to every adult to vote, and this was implemented from the first day of gaining independence. In the United States, this right was given nearly after 150 years of independence.

ii. Combining the Union: Independence brought partition but also the merging of all princely states into the Union of India, 560 to be precise. All of the acquisition was done without any bloodshed.

iii. Multi-lingual state: India has over 29 active languages and 1,650 dialects, making it the only country with the maximum number of languages spoken. Whereas in comparison, Canada has only English and French since the 1960s.

Hindustan Times, 15 August 1947 Source: Wikimedia Commons
Hindustan Times, 15 August 1947. Image 
Source: Wikimedia Commons

iv. Empowering Goddesses: Ever since 1947, women have begun to be given equal rights and opportunities to grow and sustain themselves. India is the largest in number to ha e women elected in politics, especially as panchayats in villages. It is also the first country to appoint a woman (Pratibha Patil, the 12th President of India) as the head of State. Considering the state of affairs, Sucheta Kriplani was the very first woman chief minister of Uttar Pradesh in 1963. Following four states have women chief ministers:

a) West Bengal- Mamata Banerjee
b) Rajasthan- Vasundhara Raje
c) Tamil Nadu- J Jayalalitha
d) Gujarat- Anandiben Patel

v. Labour-free childhood: In an attempt to develop socio-economic scenarios in India, literacy has been highly focused on. From merely 12% in 1947 to 74.04% in 2011, the literacy rate in India has increased at a whopping pace.

Mid-day meals are an additional attempt towards achieving the goal which serves 120 million school children, making it the world’s biggest school lunch programme.

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vi. Freedom from Polio: India got Polio affectation rate down to zero since the last polio case was reported in January 2011, in West Bengal. After 20 years of battling the disease nationally, WHO has declared India as a polio-free nation.

vii. Green Revolution of the 1960s: India, before the revolution, suffered from food scarcity and began importing food and grains from foreign. Frequent famines like the Bengal famine of 1943 and others could not be sufficed by the agricultural production in the nation itself. The idea of Green Revolution eradicated this issue by increasing agriculture in Punjab and Haryana by using insecticides, pesticides, improving agricultural infrastructure and bringing land reforms.

Nobel prize holder Kailash Satyarthi in conversation with Narendra Modi. Source: Wikimedia Commons
Nobel prize holder Kailash Satyarthi in conversation with Narendra Modi. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

viii. Proud Indians: The list is endless and the Nobel Prize recipients and holders like Rabindranath Tagore, Mother Teresa, Dr. Hargobind Khorana, economist Amartya Sen, Indian origin novelist VS Naipaul are the ones, that Indians know by heart but this year in 2016, Kailash Satyarthi’s name has also been added to the pages of history for his incredible work to end child slavery and protect child rights. He is the fifth Nobel Prize winner for India and the second Indian winner of the Nobel Peace Prize after Mother Teresa.

ix. Non-Alignment: This was a major step taken to prevent World War- III. The world was split up in binaries of US and the Soviet Union, where India chose to be non-aligned in the Cold War.

x. Indian Diaspora: Indians constitute the world’s second largest Diaspora community across the world, with more than 20 million. They majorly reside in the United States, UAE, Canada and UK, contributing greatly to each country’s economic and socio-cultural stability.

xi. The United Nations and India: India has played a crucial role in supporting the objectives of U.N.O like the fight against apartheid and disintegrating colonisation. Various eminent personalities have also held positions in the United Nations, like Mrs. Vijaylakshmi Pandit who was the General Assembly’s President at United Nations.

India is, and will always remain the biggest democracy and is one of the most flourishing nations— rich in culture and heritage, knowledge and intelligence, with the world’s strongest army and even stronger citizens.

 Happy Independence Day to all!

– prepared by Chetna Karnani at NewsGram. Twitter: @karnani_chetna

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Pakistan Elected to UN Human Rights Council along with 14 other countries

The new members will serve a three-year term from January 1, 2018

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UN General Assembly elect 15 new members of Human Rights Council. Wikimedia

United Nations, October 17, 2017 : Fifteen countries, including Pakistan, have been elected to the UN Human Rights Council by the UN General Assembly.

In a vote on Monday, Afghanistan, Angola, Australia, Chile, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Qatar, Senegal, Slovakia, Spain and Ukraine were elected, a Foreign Office statement said.

They will serve a three-year term from January 1, 2018. (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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Pakistan Electoral Body Bars Political Party Due to Terror Ties

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Sheikh Yaqub (C) candidate of the newly-formed Milli Muslim League party, waves to his supporters at an election rally in Lahore, Pakistan. voa

Pakistan’s Election Commission (ECP) on Wednesday rejected the registration application of a newly established political party with alleged ties to a banned militant group in the country.

Milli Muslim League (MML) has been disqualified to participate in the country’s state and general elections.

The electoral commission’s decision is said to be based on a request made earlier by the country’s Ministry of Interior Affairs, stating that Milli Muslim League is a front organization for Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a U.S.-designated terror sponsoring organization in Pakistan.

“The government is vigilant and under no circumstances will allow any political party with a proven record of promoting violence and terrorism to spread their extremist ideology through democracy and political means,” Tallal Chaudhry, Pakistan’s minister of state for Interior Affairs, told VOA.

Saif Ullah Khalid, president of Milli Muslim League, dismissed the election commission’s decision and said the party will take the matter to the country’s judiciary.

Political wing

Milli Muslim League was established in August 2017 as a political wing for the controversial Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), which is believed to be a front organization for the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terror group led by Hafiz Saeed.

Saeed was accused of masterminding Mumbai’s 2008 terror attacks that killed 166 people, including six Americans.

The U.S. government has offered a $10 million reward for information leading to his arrest. Saeed has been reportedly under house arrest in the eastern city of Lahore for the past eight months.

In September, during an important by-election in Lahore, when the National Assembly’s seat fell vacant following the disqualification of then-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the newly launched MML backed an independent candidate who finished fourth in the race for Sharif’s seat.

At the time, Pakistan’s upper house of parliament strongly criticized the country’s election commission for allowing JuD’s political wing, MML, to participate in the Lahore by-election.

Some experts were concerned about the emergence of militant groups joining mainstream politics in Pakistan. They maintain that the political trend seen in Lahore’s by-election, where parties linked to militant groups are able to mobilize and generate sufficient numbers of votes within a very short period of time, as alarming.

“There should be a debate on this sensitive issue through social, political and media channels. By allowing militant-based political parties to integrate into mainstream politics, it will only escalate radicalization in the society,” Khadim Hussain, a Peshawar based political analyst, told VOA.

“There are people who believe with the merger of such militant groups into politics, we’ll provide them an avenue to maintain a political presence without leaving their extreme ideologies,” Hussain added.

Army’s support

Earlier last week, Pakistan’s army acknowledged they are mulling over plans to blend the militant-linked political groups into the mainstream political arena.

Some analysts side with MML, arguing the party should be allowed to participate in elections.

“I do not understand in what capacity the election commission has rejected MML’s application to register as a party,” said Ahmad Bilal Mehboob, the head of Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT).

“Did they (MML) break any law? If not, how can you bar MML from entering the mainstream politics when they’re doing it through legitimate ways,” Mehboob emphasized.

Zubair Iqbal, a Washington-based South Asia expert, also raised concerns over the validity of the decision.

“This is how democracy works. … There are some extreme groups, some moderate groups and no one should be stopped because of their extreme ideologies,” Iqbal told VOA. “The extremist groups can be barred from entering into the politics only through people and democracy.”

“Unless these parties and individuals are allowed to participate in the political system they might never change their extreme ideologies and might continue operating underground which will prove to be more dangerous,” Iqbal added.

International pressure

In the past few years, Pakistan has faced escalating pressure from the international community for not being able to crackdown on militant groups enjoying safe havens in Pakistan and launching attacks in neighboring countries.

In his recent speech on the region, U.S President Trump put Pakistan on notice to take actions against safe havens in Pakistan. Pakistani officials deny the existence of safe havens on its soil.

Pakistan is also accused of being selective in its pursuit of terror groups. It allegedly goes after only those groups that pose a threat to the country’s national security, ignoring others that threat India and Afghanistan.

Pakistan rejects the allegations and reiterates its stance of having no sympathy for any terror group operating in the country.(VOA)