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Religion should not be misconstrued as communalism: Badal

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Patiala: Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Sunday said that religion should not be misconstrued as communalism and that people should refrain from identifying gurus, saints and seers on communal lines as they belong to the entire humanity.

“Religion should not be misconstrued as communalism as religion is just a way of life aimed at ensuring overall welfare of everybody. One should profess his own religion and should not hate the religion of others.”

“Punjab had suffered in the past as some people had divided the people on religious lines, which must be avoided,” Badal said while addressing a gathering here after installing Bhagwan Parshuram Chair for Indian literature and culture at Punjabi University here, 80 km from Chandigarh.

He claimed “some forces inimical to the progress of the state” were bent on disrupting its hard earned peace but asserted that he would not not allow such forces to succeed “till my last breath.”

The chief minister said that Punjab had suffered a lot due to “such conspiracies in the past”, but now the Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP alliance government was “keeping a strict vigil on the nefarious designs of all those people who were vary to the peace and progress of the state”.

“For their vested interests some people are actively working to bring black days back in the state but I assure you that they will not succeed till I am alive,” Badal added.

“People should refrain from identifying gurus, saints and seers on communal lines as they belong to the entire humanity. The Punjab government has been following the footsteps of great Sikh gurus to carve an egalitarian and secular society by observing days related with every community at state level functions,” he said.

“Unlike my predecessors who behaved like monarchs by maintaining a distance from the masses, I am always available to the people to serve them,” Badal said.

(IANS)

 

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Surajpal Singh Amu: A case of Fatwa by Hindus?

BJP's Surajpal Singh Amu announced a reward roughly equivalent to $1.5 million to anyone who would behead Deepika Padukone and the film director Sanjay Leela Bhansali.

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Padmavati Banner
A man signs a banner during a signature campaign as part of a protest against the release of Bollywood movie "Padmavati" in Kolkata, India, Nov. 22, 2017. VOA

A leader of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has announced that he would pay a reward roughly equivalent to $1.5 million to anyone who would behead an Indian actress and a film director.

Surajpal Singh Amu, a member of the BJP in northern Haryana state, is apparently upset about an upcoming movie, Padmavati, starring actress Deepika Padukone as the 14th-century Hindu queen Padmini.

The movie is directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali.

Amu alleged that the movie is misleading, not based on truth and offends Hindu sentiments in the country.

FILE - Actress Deepika Padukone and director Sanjay Leela Bhansali attend the opening of the 13th annual Marrakech International Film Festival in Marrakech, Nov. 29, 2013.
FILE – Actress Deepika Padukone and director Sanjay Leela Bhansali attend the opening of the 13th annual Marrakech International Film Festival in Marrakech, Nov. 29, 2013. VOA

“We will reward the ones beheading them, with 10 crore rupees, and also take care of their family’s needs,” Amu said in an interview with India’s Asia’s Premier News (ANI) earlier this week.

Threats against movie

Amu also vowed not to allow the release of the movie and warned movie theaters to avoid playing the movie or risk being torched.

The movie was set to be released during the first week of December.

Rights activists have reacted strongly to the threats and urged the government to take action.

“This is pretty outrageous that you announce publicly and no action takes place at a time when people are being arrested for most trivial reasons in this country,” Gotum Naulakha, an Indian-based civil liberties activist, told VOA.

A security guard walks past a poster of the upcoming Bollywood movie "Padmavati" outside a theater in Mumbai, India, Nov. 21, 2017.
A security guard walks past a poster of the upcoming Bollywood movie “Padmavati” outside a theater in Mumbai, India, Nov. 21, 2017. VOA

An official complaint has been registered against Amu, but many are criticizing the stance of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party — which controls the central government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi — on the matter.

“I’ve not heard any official stance from the central government or the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting,” Vinod Sharma, an Indian-based analyst, told VOA.

Anil Jain, a local BJP spokesperson, told ANI that the law applies to everyone in the state of Haryana and no one can threaten others. The central government has yet to react, however.

Bollywood actress Padukone stood her ground and said the movie would be released despite the threats.

“Where have we reached as a nation? We have regressed. The only people we are answerable to is the censor board, and I know and I believe that nothing can stop the release of this film,” Padukone told Indo-Asian News Service (IANS) last week.

Controversy

Padmavati was controversial right from the start. Opponents of the movie stormed the filming of one scene and destroyed the film sets. They were upset that the director of the movie was distorting facts by alleging romance between the Hindu queen and the Muslim invader Alauddin Khilji.

Film director Bhansali, however, denies the allegations and maintains the story is based on a Sufi and medieval-era poem written about the Hindu queen. In the poem, the Hindu queen chooses death before the Muslim conqueror could capture her.

Some experts say the poem is centuries old and there is a possibility the Hindu queen might be purely a fictional character found only in folklore.

“There’s a lot of debate in India whether Padmavati was actually a living being many, many years ago or whether she was just an imagined person in a poem,” analyst Sharma said.

Rights activists maintain that if government fails to draw clear lines around the threat made by the politician, and discourage a growing sense of impunity for some, incidents like this will only increase and threaten the freedom of expression in the world’s biggest democracy.

“By letting loose and giving [a] sense of impunity to the goons of the ruling party or people who’re connected or close to the ruling party, we’re paving the ground for much bigger and [worse] things to happen in the near future,” Naulakha told VOA.

The movie is awaiting approval from India’s Central Board of Film Certification.

Written by Madeeha Anwar of VOA.

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A little truth needs to be added in children’s literature

Children's literature needs to be developed with changing time and society

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Literature for Kids in India
Indian literature was all about mythology but now things are changing.Wikimedia Commons

– Paro Anand

I grew up in a house of books and reading. Every evening, we had what was called a “quiet time”, when we sat together just before dinner, listening to classical music and reading our own books. I hated that time. I resented being made to sit still and quiet. But my parents and sisters were avid readers; so I just had to fall in line.

I started reading whatever my sister seemed to enjoy. So at the age of 12 or so, I began reading “Great American Plays” and German poet Bertolt Brecht. I was part of a theatre group and so found reading plays fascinating. It did me more good than harm to be reading way beyond my years. I went back to reading these plays much later and enjoyed them in a totally different way. There didn’t seem to be much distinction between literature for children and adults. The lines had barely been formed. And there was no parental interference, we were free to pick any book off our parent’s shelves.

Yes, I was reading William Shakespeare, Pooh and also, Brecht, all at the same time. Whatever took my fancy. The biggest change from my growing-up years to my children’s and onwards is that there were practically no Indian books to choose from other than the usual mythology and folktales, not for the young reader, at any rate. When my children were growing up, there were some books for them to choose from that lay within India. Besides Ruskin Bond and R.K. Narayanan, there was also “Target” magazine which showcased some wonderful new writers like Sigrun Srivastava, Anupa Lal, Subhadra Sengupta and Deepa Agarwal, among many others.

“Target” and “Children’s World” spearheaded a much-needed trend of Indian writing in the contemporary context. Sadly, “Target” was closed down — a great disservice to children’s literature, I feel. Childrens Book Trust and National Book Trust were also bringing out exciting new writings like Arup Kumar Datta’s “The Kaziranga Trail”, which remains one of my all-time favourites along with Sigrun Srivastava’s “A Moment of Truth”.

And this trend has continued unabated. The growing number of foreign publishers coming into India and then starting a children’s imprint supports this. Of course, Penguin’s Puffin has been around for a long time, but they are bringing out exciting books that break new ground. Even Indian publishers like Duckbill, which is dedicated to young literature, Speaking Tiger launching Talking Cub, Rupa launching Red Turtle and Full Circle’s Tota Books are all important moves in the right direction.

Scholastic, the biggest children’s publisher worldwide, has been very successful in India, holding book fairs in schools. Schools themselves hold Book Weeks and book events where authors are invited. I am working with several book sellers who sell my books in the hundreds at schools. Supplementary readers are often from Indian authors.

The problem, I feel, is really one of access. While more and more schools are putting in a lot of effort to get books to their students, once that push is over and children have got excited by reading, where do they go? Where do they get more information about new releases and new authors? Media and bookseller support is a must. The growing trend of local literary festivals that has been sparked by the tremendous success of the Jaipur Lit Fest sees huge numbers of school students flocking there looking to meet and hear authors and buy copies.

Today, as I proudly receive my Sahitya Akademi Bal Sahitya Puraskar Award, I am humbled as I see how far we have come in the journey of winning a deserving status for children’s literature. Think of it, the Sahitya Akademi awards have been given since the 1950s to those writing for adults. The prize for children’s writers came only in 2010. So, yes, it has been a long time coming. But it is here.

There are now wonderful writers writing about real issues, real life — the lives that young people are grappling with every day. “Unbroken” by Nandhika Nambi (Duckbill) and “Slightly Burnt” by Payal Dhar (Bloomsbury) are wonderful books that are important in marking the paths of children’s literature in the modern context.

I speak, of course, only of Indian literature in English. There was a time when I could speak with some authority about the Indian languages but can no longer claim adequate knowledge. However, sitting on the stage to receive the Bal Sahitya Puraskar by Sahitya Akademi, I was so proud to be with other winners from 23 other languages, including Santhali, Manipuri, Dogri and others. It is important that our Indian languages and young literature in them are equally experimental, equally brave and path-breaking.

Yes, there is a place for mythology and folk tales. There is room for monsters and rakshasas, but there is also room for the monsters that inhabit our real world. The issues of dichotomy and prejudice. There is space for children to read about the issues that are already impacting them on an everyday basis as well as issues that they should know about. There is a time for fantasy and there is a time for truth. The fantasy has always been there. It’s time to put a little truth and trust in the hands of our young. (IANS)

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Delhi government’s liquor license scam exposed

AAP has turned Delhi into liquor den.

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Delhi government's liquor license scam exposed
Arvind Kejriwaal,Delhi CM.Flickr
 • Illegal liquor licenses granted in shopping malls
 
• Swaraj India protests against illegal vends at Cross River Mall
 
• Illegal vends have turned the mall into a liquor den
 
• Liquor license scam, a perfect example of unholy collusion between AAP & BJP
 
• Arvind Kejriwal, who came to power on the promise of making Delhi addiction free, has today become the Badal of Delhi and Manish Sisodia another Majithia.
New Delhi, Nov 5: Newly formed political party, the Swaraj India has exposed a major scandal in the distribution of liquor licenses by the Delhi government. Party’s Chief National Spokesperson and Delhi State President, Anupam, said that the Delhi government is illegally distributing L10 category liquor licenses enabling dealers to open vends in shopping malls of the city.
The Delhi government offers licenses in the L-10 category to liquor vends in shopping malls of the city. Definition of shops operating from within a mall is clearly stated in the law and the rule mandates that all shops operating from within a mall should be opening up within the building only and cannot have an entrance towards the exterior side of the mall. But Delhi government and the mall management have created these liquor shops against the approved map of the mall. Every week, the Excise officials of Delhi Government are supposed to inspect liquor vends existing in the city, but not a single objection has been raised against these vends that are blatantly violating rules every single day.
And this has resulted in around a dozen liquor vends springing up in just the ground floor of the Cross River Mall. This has turned the shopping mall into a den of liquor vends leaving people living in nearby residential areas helpless. Neither the Delhi government nor the MCD and nor the Delhi police are even taking note of this broad daylight scam. “Is this not a direct sign that all the levels of the government and administration are complicit in letting this illegal trade grow?” Anupam asked.
Everyone in Delhi is well aware of how the employees of MCD don’t lose a moment to demand their share when any construction work begins anywhere. But when illegal constructions are done at such a large scale in a big mall, the MCD doesn’t even blink an eye.
Cross River mall is located in an area from where the Councillor, the MLA as well as the MP are from the BJP. The illegal license is being granted by AAP led Delhi government. It is surprising to see such a harmonious blend between the Aam Aadmi Party and BJP. Promoting liquor trade in Delhi seems to be such a profitable business for both the BJP as well as the AAP that it has brought together the two parties that are otherwise always at loggerheads. Are the black transactions involved in such liquor business the real reason why not a single question has yet been raised by anyone or any party?
Earlier in the last, the Delhi government has eased rules for granting the license to new liquor vends by reducing the minimum carpet area required from 1000 to 500 square feet. And now, in clear dereliction of rules, even vends are being run in the shopping malls.
 On Sunday, Swaraj India’s Mahila Swaraj Morcha protested against the numerous liquor vends in Cross River Mall of Delhi and demanded that the liquor shops be closed down. And in this mall in Shahdara, around a dozen liquor shops have been opened up by granting illegal licenses of the L10 category. And outside this mall, that has been turned into a den of liquor vends, a crowd of drunkards creating an atmosphere of hooliganism has become a daily affair. There has been a continuous increase in crime in the drunken state, where eve-teasing & snatching have become a regular affair.
Sarvesh Verma, President of the party’s Mahila Morcha, said that Arvind Kejriwal who rode to power on the promise of making Delhi an addiction-free city has today become the Badal of Delhi with Sisodia as another Majithia.
Anupam said that though the Delhi government’s anti-women policies will result in the promotion of alcohol addiction but Swaraj India will not let these nefarious plans succeed. The party has earlier as well launched mass agitations against the granting of liquor licenses in residential areas of Delhi, because of which the Delhi government was compelled to announce a ban on the distribution of new licenses. If the government does not immediately order an investigation into the illegal L10 vends and stop this unholy collusion, the Mahila Swaraj Morcha of Swaraj India will take this agitation ahead for the betterment of Delhi.