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Sri Lankan diaspora to strengthen moderate voices with India

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Colombo: The Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora is seeking a dialogue with the Indian government in an effort to strengthen the moderate voices within the Diaspora as well as in Sri Lanka.

In an interview with a newspaper, spokesperson of the London-based Global Tamil Forum, Suren Surendiran has said that India should urgently open a formal dialogue with Lankan Tamil diaspora groups to strengthen moderate voices at this critical juncture in the reconciliation process.

“This, we believe in turn will strengthen the collective moderate stands within and outside Sri Lanka,” Surendiran added.

He has pointed out that India’s Modi government has course corrected from being subdued and reactionary to being proactively taking the regional leadership role and the diplomatic engagement with Sri Lanka is now at a different scale than before.

“Since President Sirisena has taken over with a mandate to resolve the Tamil issue, India has been encouraging Sri Lanka to progress,” he said.

Surendiran noted that the new government of President Maithripala Sirisena has unlisted GTF and other member organizations that were listed as proscribed organizations by the Rajapaksa Regime and Minister of Foreign Affairs has met members of GTF at several meetings last year.

“The new government of Sri Lanka acknowledges the Diaspora as an important stakeholder. GTF has constructively engaged with the various stakeholders in Sri Lanka including the new government,” he said.

He said the Diaspora has also recognized the positive steps the government has taken to address certain immediate concerns of the Tamil people, such as removing of military Governors and appointing civilians as Governors for the Northern and Eastern Provinces, transferring of small sections of land back to the rightful owners, releasing of a few Tamil political detainees and the review of the proscription of Tamil diaspora individuals and entities.

“Though limited in scope, collectively, they are still significant,” Surendiran said adding that however, several issues remain to be resolved. The diaspora leader added that “Government of Sri Lanka must up the game and deliver faster”.(input from agencies)

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Australia to abolish 457 existing Visa programmes, Changes won’t affect Indians much: Harinder Sidhu

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Harinder Sidhu said that the number of India-born Australians has tripled in the last one decade providing relief by ousting fears over the new visa regime

New Delhi, May 9, 2017: After Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced last month that he will be abolishing the existing 457 Visa programme, currently used by temporary foreign workers to gain employment, the country’s High Commissioner to India Harinder Sidhu said on Tuesday that she did not expect the move to affect Indians much.

Speaking at a media interaction organised by the Indian Women’s Press Corps here, Sidhu said the move to abolish the 457 Visa programme was aimed to ensure that people who come to Australia should be properly qualified.

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The 457 Visa programme is used mainly to hire foreign workers in the restaurant, IT and medical industries and the majority of such visa holders came from India, Britain and China. Turnbull’s statement, coming days after he visited New Delhi, caused a lot of consternation in India.

According to government statistics, 95,758 people were living in Australia under 457 Visa programme last year, with the highest proportion coming from India (24.6 per cent), followed by Britain (19.5 per cent) and China (5.8 per cent).

Sidhu said that most of the Indian 457 Visa holders work in the IT sector and, given the “great shortage” of IT workers in her country, “we expect Indians to continue to qualify” for Australian visas.

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“This (457 Visa) is just a temporary visa that allowed people to come and work for a week to four years,” she said.

She said that the number of student visas issued to Indians has also continued to rise over the last three years.

From 46,000 student visas issued in 2014, the number rose to 53,000 in 2015 and to over 60,000 in 2017, the High Commissioner said.

As for incidents of racism in Australia, Sidhu, who is a person of Indian origin, said that Australia was “one of the most successful multicultural societies” with people from 120 countries.

“There is a policy of zero tolerance at all levels of government (on racism),” she said.

In this connection, she also pointed out that 48 per cent of Australia’s total population of 24 million are first and second generation migrants.

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As for India-Australia ties, the High Commissioner said that both countries shared “a fairly strong bilateral relationship”.

She said that during Prime Minister Turnbull’s visit to India last month, he and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi agreed to “add fresh momentum” to the bilateral ties.

Stating that both countries shared common strategic and security interests, Sidhu said that military ties were growing in numbers, “notably bilateral naval exercises”.

She also said that both countries shared a “strong economic relationship” while mentioning that Modi and Turnbull have agreed to “move forward” on the proposed Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA).

Later this year, the largest ever Australian trade delegation will visit India for the Australia Trade Week.

According to the High Commissioner, the personal relationship between Modi and Turbull is very important for growth of businesses in both countries. (IANS)

ab/dg

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101-year-old Indian Woman Man Kaur bags Gold in 100 metres sprint at the World Masters Games in New Zealand

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101-year-old Man Kaur , Twitter

Auckland, April 24, 2017: Indian Man Kaur, 101, won the 100 metres sprint at the World Masters Games here on Monday. Hailing from Chandigarh, Man Kaur was the lone contender in the 100-years-and-over event which she completed in a minute and 14 seconds.

She will also compete in the 200m race on Wednesday, and has registered to take part in the shot put and javelin throw events.

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Man Kaur has raced her way to glory in many championships with training from son Gurdev Singh, who lives in Canada and is also a runner. She took to running at the age of 93 on encouragement of her son.

She has won more than 20 medals in the Masters Games across the globe.

“I follow whatever my son does. I train every day with my son. I like to keep myself fit and healthy. I will continue running till the death,” she was quoted as saying by tvnz.co.nz. (IANS)

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Hinduism One of the Fastest Growing Religions in Ireland, according to Census 2016

Hinduism is the oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about one billion adherents.

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Hinduism is growing fast in Ireland
Source: Pixabay

April 10, 2017: According to Census 2016 Summary Results by Central Statistics Office (CSO) of Government of Ireland reportedly published on April 6, Hinduism is one of the fastest growing religions in Ireland and it grew over 34 percent from 2011 to 2016. According to this report, there are 14,300 Hindus now in Ireland.

Orthodox was the only other religion which grew faster than Hinduism during this time period. Religious groups whose population declined during this period included Roman Catholics (the predominant religious group in the country), Church of Ireland, Christian, Presbyterian, and Apostolic or Pentecostal. The number of Irish Catholics fell by 105,800. “No religion” that is people with no religion grew by nearly 74 percent numbering 468,421, while “Not stated” also grew by about 72 percent.

President of Universal Society of Hinduism, Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, commending the Irish Hindu community for their contributions to the society and nation in Ireland; urged them to continue with the traditional values of hard work, higher morals, stress on education, the sanctity of marriage, etc.

Rajan Zed also advised Hindus to focus on inner search, stay pure, explore the vast wisdom of scriptures, make spirituality more attractive to youth and children, stay away from the greed, and always keep God in the life.

Hinduism is the oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about one billion adherents.

Prepared by Upama Bhattacharya. Twitter @Upama_myself