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Patriotic fervour, freedom spirit mark I-Day in Karnataka

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Bengaluru, Patriotic fervour and the spirit of freedom and nationalism marked the 69th Independence Day celebrations in Karnataka on Saturday.

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Chief Minister Siddaramiah unfurled the tri-colour and sang the national anthem along with about 10,000 people who gathered at the Field Marshal Manekshaw Parade Ground in the city center for the grand occasion.

Earlier, a military helicopter hovered over the sprawling ground showering red rose petals around the podium, exciting the gathering and evoking applause.

Standing on an open jeep, the chief minister drove around for guard of honor and received salute from contingents of the three services (army, navy and air force), state police, home guards and fire forces at the podium.
After Siddaramaiah addressed the gathering in Kannada, battalions of the three services, state reserve police, home guards, NCC and Bharat Scouts and Guides, contingents of about 3,000 boys and girls from city school sand music bands treated the audience with a two-hour long impressive march past and historical and cultural shows, with patriotic songs renting the air.

Martial arts and daring feats and acrobatics on motorcycles by the military as well as the state police teams kept the crowds spellbound.
Later, the chief minister presented medals and awards to police officers and distributed prizes to the participating organisations.
Reports from across the state said the national flag was hoisted in the respective districts by state cabinet ministers and deputy commissioners.

In Mangaluru, about 350 km away from here, about 500 students held a 350-meter long national flag in a long line that spilled into the main street from their school playground

(IANS)

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I-Day speech: Sartorially subdued Modi softens fiery rhetoric

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New Delhi, There was no eye-catching bright colorful flowing turban this year, that had made as much an impact as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day speech last year.

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Modi, whose sartorial preferences have been much written about, chose a subdued creamish-yellow turban this year, matching with his simple cream coloured churidaar-kurta and jacket.
Matching his dress sense, the fiery rhetoric which had galvanised his supporters through elections and governance in the first year has undergone a change.
The intense delivery was replaced with a ‘team India’ approach which credited the nation with achievements and the greatness to come, rather than the “me, mine, myself” eloquence so typical of the man who brought his party to power through a high octane campaign, and which carried on in his speeches for a year.

People did notice and comment on his earlier approach. It was former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah who had hit the nail on its head by once saying that for Modi the “whole thing was about being me, myself and I alone”.
On Independence Day last year, Modi’s fervent speech had made as much impact as his bright red and green headgear. His appeal of Make in India, of abolishing the Planning Commission, setting up toilets for all among other pronouncements had caught on – and there was much applause, including from among the over 150 foreign diplomats who had crowded around to hear the then new leader of India.

His visit to the US last September was talked about not only for his meeting with President Barack Obama and his speech at the UN General Assembly, but also his frequent change of attire. Those following the prime minister would notice him in a changed suit or churidar-kurta and bright jacket for every occasion – and the Prime Minister’s Office tweeted pictures of all his meetings with dignitaries.

Modi’s sartorial choice became one of the most talked about event during Obama’s India visit in January, when he wore a pin-striped suit with his name on it – that fetched the prime minister enormous amount of flak, not the least from opposition parties which tried to paint him as a man of form, rather than substance.

The “Rs.10 lakh suit”, was gifted by a businessman and was later auctioned off, but the attacks did not end. ‘Suit-Boot ki sarkar’ became a war-cry of Congress trying desperately to find a chink in the armour of a man who had reduced the party to its lowest-ever tally in the Lok Sabha
Sitting along side Barack Obama watching Republic Day parade this year, Modi made an eye-catching picture, attired in a black bandh-gala suit, and topped with a green and red bandhani turban with a red frill at the top. He also wore a pair of stylish shades in contrast to the US President who was attired in a simple dark blue suit.

Perhaps in the aftermath of the disapproval he received for the pin-striped suit, Modi has, over the months, become markedly spartan in his attire, even on foreign jaunts. So has his grandiloquence. The few schemes he announced this year appeared to be a case of reality catching up with hyperbole.

Modi had confessed in interviews earlier that he likes to mix and match his wardrobe and experiments with colour. The experiments seems to have been given up. He now largely wears dark coloured bandh-gala suits or simple churidar-kurtas for his meetings.
In another marked change this year – there was no jostling, eager crowd to hear Modi’s Independence Day speech. Is this the beginning of ennui among the people?

(IANS)

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Assam Accord issue to be taken up

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New Delhi, As the country celebrated Independence Day on Saturday, the historic Assam Accord, signed on this very day 30 years ago to detect and deport illegal immigrants in the northeastern state, has returned into focus.

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Though the accord was signed to end a six-year-long mass movement demanding detection and deportation of illegal immigrants, mostly from Bangladesh, who threatened the culture, identity and economic future of the indigenous people of Assam, successive central and state governments have failed to implement key clauses of the agreement.

The accord was signed between the central and Assam governments on one side and the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and the now defunct All Aasam Gana Sangram Parishad (AAGSP), who spearheaded the movement, on the other, in the presence of then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.
According to the accord, all foreigners who entered Assam illegally on or after March 25, 1971, would be detected, their names deleted from the electoral rolls and then deported under the provisions of the Foreigners Act, 1946 and the Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1964.

Though the accord was signed on August 15, 1985, seemingly unending illegal immigration continues from Bangladesh till this day. According to official figures released way back in December 2001, there were an estimated five million foreigners in Assam.
year, while campaigning for the BJP ahead of the general elections, Narendra Modi promised that, if brought to power, he would ensure that all clauses of the Assam Accord were implemented and illegal immigrants in the state detected and deported.

Now, with the NDA government completing one year in office, the AASU, in a smart move, organised a national seminar themed “30 Years of Assam Accord: Issues, Challenges and Implementation” in the national capital on August 11 and 12 – just before Independence Day.

The idea was not only to highlight the non-implementation of the accord’s clauses but also the security threat posed to national security by the phenomenon of illegal immigration.So, did it pay dividends? If nothing else, hopes were raised.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh said that as an immediate step, he would visit the Bangladesh border in Assam within this month accompanied by an AASU delegation to take stock of the situation arising out of the illegal immigration.

“I know about all your genuine demands and I can assure you that only Indians will stay in India. We should know what steps should be taken to protect the rights of the indigenous people without leaving any loopholes,” he said.

The home minister also said discussions would be held with AASU to find out the shortcomings in the Assam Accord that were stopping its full implementation.

The home ministry is the nodal ministry for implementing the accord.
“Since I became the home minister last year, I have visited Assam as many as seven times.

This is the most visits I have made to any state after my home state of Uttar Pradesh,” Rajnath Singh said by way of reassurance.
Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju, who hails from the neighbouring state of Arunachal Pradesh, said that he would take every initiative within his ministry with the support of Rajnath Singh to bring the issue to the prime minister’s notice.Calling Assam his motherland he lamented how the matter had slipped out of hand.

“Assam is the heart of the northeast. Assam has to be protected if the northeast is to be protected.”
He said all stakeholders, including the Assamese society, were responsible for the failure to implement the accord.
“All political parties should take responsibility, be it Congress, BJP or AGP (Asom Gana Parishad),” Rijiju said.

Former chief election commissioner H.S. Brahma, who also hails from Assam, said three key steps needed to be taken: someone should take ownership of the accord and ensure its implementation; a calendar should be prepared and half-yearly and yearly reviews of the work done should be made; and every year, the AASU or a think tank or civil society should present a white paper recording the progress in the accord’s implementation.

According to Rijiju, AASU should take the lead in the process and cooperation should be extended from all sides.
Former home secretary G.K. Pillai, who was also joint secretary for the northeast, was of the view that work permits should be issued as this would help identify the foreigners. However, this did not meet with assent from all sides.
In 2005, 20 years after the signing of the accord, a key impediment to the implementation of its clauses was removed when the Supreme Court struck down the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunal) Act, 1983. The Act had put the onus on the police to prove whether a person was a foreigner or not.

Following the national seminar, the AASU has come out with a 14-point Delhi Resolution, which, among others, calls for the signing of a repatriation treaty between India and Bangladesh, and complete sealing of the border within a declared deadline.
With the process of updating the National Register of Citizens also going on in Assam under the direct supervision of the Supreme Court – the deadline is August 31 – the historic accord seems to have somehow regained its relevance.

(IANS)

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Modi: Junior posts should not have interview

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New Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday urged state governments to avoid interviews for junior level posts and make such selections on the basis of merit through transparent, online processes.

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In his Independence Day speech, the prime minister said that a reason for corruption was the need for “approach” felt by people while applying for jobs.
He said sometimes a candidate is high on merit list for a job but is rejected in the interview.
“We should end this. Interview can be held for jobs where personality or appearance is important,” Modi said.