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BY D.C. PATHAK
The alacrity with which Union Home Minister Amit Shah has pushed the new Citizenship Amendment Bill through the two Houses of Parliament reflects the determination of the Modi regime to implement its larger national agenda in its current tenure — unfazed by the ramblings of a disparate opposition. For decades, this country witnessed a polity of permissive corruption, majority-minority divide and unwillingness to deal with the lingering problems of Kashmir, illegal migrants and faith-based militancy.
After adopting an unambiguous policy towards Pakistan that ruled out talks with this roguish neighbour — unless it stopped cross-border terrorism against India — and getting Article 370 abrogated through an Act of Parliament to pave the way for the Centre to take direct responsibility for the development and security of the crucial border state, the government has now made a bold announcement through the CAB that members of the long persecuted Hindu minority of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan driven to taking shelter in India, would be granted membership of this country on a preferential basis. Interestingly, all these path-breaking policy measures of India are likely to continue receiving a response of understanding from the world community even as they came in for criticism from sections of the opposition at home.
The contrast between the fast moving ways of this government and the inhibitive, lacklustre and ambiguity-ridden approaches of the earlier regimes would not go unnoticed by the observant citizens of this country. The rampant corruption prevalent at the top then is largely gone — Prime Minister Modi and his cabinet colleagues have not invited questions on personal integrity even though not all of the ministers had created an image of leadership and efficiency. It is in the sphere of domestic politics that the opposition — starving for numbers — has taken to ‘vote bank’ appeal to the Muslims somewhat in a blatant fashion, having made a stark calculation that in a situation of caste and regional divides afflicting the majority community, consolidating the large Muslim minority for votes would effectively counter the political gains of the BJP.
The Congress leadership shunned recognising the fact of India being a Hindu majority nation and forgot that in a democracy run on the principle of ‘one man one vote’, the demographic distribution of communities did not affect any citizen so long as the elected political executive did not carry a denominational stamp and the state provided same development and legal protection to all. The opposition coined the term ‘majoritarianism’ to imply that a democratic governance in a Hindu majority country would not be able to safeguard the minorities.
It is because of this pre-occupation with minority politics that in the years before the advent of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) regime, the government followed a warped policy on strategically important issues like Pakistan, Kashmir and illegal migrations. There was no good reason for the government of the day not to express deep indignation over 26/11 and not respond to the horrendous attack on Mumbai organised from Karachi, with at least a suspension of talks with Pakistan. It seems the soft approach to Pakistan was conditioned by a strange notion that tough handling of Pakistan would not sit well with the Indian Muslims. The same thinking runs through the opposition’s responses on Kashmir. The world recognises — not only the Indian Parliament –that the state of Jammu and Kashmir was an integral part of India.
The dispute with Pakistan — rooted in the illegal occupation of what is POK, by Pakistan — is at best a ‘territorial’ matter and certainly not a ‘Muslim issue’ as Pakistan claims it to be on the strength of the state’s Muslim majority. The opposition has not only gone along with this communal approach for a state that houses multiple faiths but assiduously abstained from denouncing Pak ISI-sponsored cross-border terrorism in the Valley. They have not faulted the Valley-based political parties for colluding with the pro-Pak separatists for gaining power and for advocating talks with Pakistan even for maintaining internal order against stone pelters. The deterioration in Kashmir was, apart from terrorist violence, also due to the misgovernance of a corrupt local leadership which could not identify and pick up Pak agents behind the organised stone pelting. Kashmir is a matter concerning all Indians — why is the opposition linking it to Indian Muslims in a manner that puts the latter on the side of Pakistan’s communal claims?
The debate in Parliament on CAB has seen the opposition led by the Congress taking a stand that it might regret in the days to come. This legislation specifically seeks to safeguard the Hindus who were compelled to leave the Islamic states of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan because of the atrocities they were subjected to as non-Muslims — the Taliban-led Emirate of Afghanistan installed at Kabul by Pakistan in 1996 had become particularly notorious in this regard. The pilloried Hindus naturally chose to seek shelter in India as their country of origin. Their arrival in India does not alter the status of Indian Muslims as the equal citizens of this democratic country and the grant of citizenship to the non-Muslim refugees, including Christians, is by no means at the cost of our Muslim minority.
The Congress narrative, branding the Indian action and not the doings of the neighbouring Islamic states as ‘communal’, beats logic but more than that it makes the Congress look totally heartless towards the suffering of the Hindus and exposes its blind pro-Muslim politics — considering the fact that it is the Muslim leadership in this country that primarily took offence to the legislation. No doubt the matter has a bearing on Assam and the North-East where illegal migration of Muslims mainly from Bangladesh — prompted by economic reasons — had been a known problem. Home Minister Amit Shah, while presenting the Bill, made two politically clinical points: that an Islamic State does not have a Muslim minority and that there has to be a difference made between ‘refugees’ and ‘infiltrants’. However, it can also not be denied that both had to receive humane treatment and care till, after identification, they were either granted citizenship or deported. In this interregnum they would not be eligible for voting.
These issues related to the National Register of Citizens (NRC) may become the subject matter of an acrimonious debate but the CAB’s objective stands on its own as an unexceptional initiative of Indian democracy — that also happened to be the home of Hindus. Denunciation of this legislation by our own opposition parties, just because it might add to the BJP’s political numbers in elections, draws attention first and foremost to their insensitivity towards the uncalled for atrocities committed by our neighbouring countries in the name of religion. Also, this connects with the outcome of Partition of India on communal lines that saw a million innocent people dying in riots.
It would, therefore, be extremely unwise of the critics of the Bill to oppose it in the name of India’s Muslim minority whose fortunes as Indian citizens with full personal, socio-cultural and political rights stood totally assured in India. Domestic politics here should steer clear of communal tracks and the Ulema and the elite guiding the community should try to keep it that way in the interest of our democracy. (IANS)
One of the world's largest oil producers, Saudi Arabia, announced Saturday it aims to reach "net zero" greenhouse gas emissions by 2060, joining more than 100 countries in a global effort to try and curb man-made climate change.
The announcement, made by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in brief scripted remarks at the start of the kingdom's first-ever Saudi Green Initiative Forum, was timed to make a splash a little more than a week before the start of the global COP26 climate conference being held in Glasgow, Scotland.
Although the kingdom will aim to reduce its emissions, Prince Mohammed said the kingdom would do so through a so-called "Carbon Circular Economy" approach. That approach focuses on still unreliable carbon capture and storage technologies over efforts to actually reduce global reliance on fossil fuels. The announcement only pertains to Saudi Arabia's efforts within its national borders and does not impact its continued aggressive investment in oil and exporting its fossil fuels to Asia and other regions.
"The transition to net zero carbon emissions will be delivered in a manner that preserves the kingdom's leading role in enhancing the security and stability of global energy markets, particularly considering the maturity and availability of technologies necessary to manage and reduce emissions," a statement by the Saudi Green Initiative forum said.
The kingdom's oil and gas exports form the backbone of its economy, despite efforts to diversify away from reliance on fossil fuels for revenue.
The global summit COP26 starting Oct. 31 will draw heads of state from across the world to try and tackle global warming and its challenges. It is being described as "the world's last best chance "to prevent global warming from reaching dangerous levels. The summit is expected to see a flurry of new commitments from governments and businesses to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases.
Leaked documents first reported by the BBC emerged Thursday showing how Saudi Arabia and other countries, including Australia, Brazil and Japan, are apparently trying to water down an upcoming U.N. science panel report on global warming. The documents are purportedly evidence of the way in which some governments' public support for climate action is undermined by their efforts behind closed doors.
Saudi Arabia has pushed back against the recommendation that fossil fuels be urgently phased out of the energy sector. Instead, the kingdom is touting, thus enabling nations to continue burning fossil fuels by sucking the resulting emissions out of the atmosphere, according to Greenpeace, which obtained the documents.
The kingdom repeatedly seeks to have the report's authors delete references to the need to phase out fossil fuels, as well as the panel's conclusion that there is a "need for urgent and accelerated mitigation actions at all scales," according to the leaked documents
Earlier this month, the United Arab Emirates - another major Gulf Arab energy producer - announced it too would join the "net zero" club of nations with a target to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.
The UAE did not announce specifics on how it will reach this target but said its Ministry of Climate Change and Environment would work with the energy, economy, industry, infrastructure, transport, waste, agriculture and other sectors on the government's strategies and policies to achieve net zero by 2050.
The UAE says it is home to three of the largest solar facilities in the world and is the first country in the Middle East to deploy nuclear power. (VOA/RN)
Keywords: UAE, Oil Producer, Carbon Economy, COP26, Saudi Arabia
Apple has updated its App Store rules to allow developers to contact users directly about payments, a concession in a legal settlement with companies challenging its tightly controlled marketplace.
According to App Store rules updated Friday, developers can now contact consumers directly about alternate payment methods, bypassing Apple's commission of 15 or 30%.
They will be able to ask users for basic information, such as names and e-mail addresses, "as long as this request remains optional", said the iPhone maker.
Apple proposed the changes in August in a legal settlement with small app developers.
But the concession is unlikely to satisfy firms like "Fortnite" developer Epic Games, with which the tech giant has been grappling in a drawn-out dispute over its payments policy.
Epic launched a case aiming to break Apple's grip on the App Store, accusing the iPhone maker of operating a monopoly in its shop for digital goods or services.
In September, a judge ordered Apple to loosen control of its App Store payment options, but said Epic had failed to prove that antitrust violations had taken place.
For Epic and others, the ability to redirect users to an out-of-app payment method is not enough: it wants players to be able to pay directly without leaving the game.
Both sides have appealed.
Apple is also facing investigations from US and European authorities that accuse it of abusing its dominant position. (VOA/RN)
Keywords: Apple, App store, Epic, Games
Instagram (often abbreviated as IG or Insta) is one of the fastest-growing social media platforms in the market. It was a huge success right from the start, with more than a million users in only two months after it was launched. With individuals from all over the world posting photographs practically every second of the day, it is also one of the most popular social media platforms available. It is a picture and video social networking website based in the United States and owned by Facebook.
Instagram was created in San Francisco by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, who worked together. Systrom was employed in marketing at the time, but he would learn how to code at night. He developed a prototype app for the concept, originally called "Burbn"; people could use this app to check-in to their location. Systrom attended a party where he met individuals who worked for venture capitalist firms and persuaded them to meet with him to promote Burbn. As soon as the first meeting concluded, he stepped down from his job, and two weeks later, he had collected $500,000 in funding from companies.
Instagram (often abbreviated as IG or Insta) is one of the fastest-growing social media platforms in the market. | Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash
At this time, Systrom decided to form a team to help him further, so Mike Krieger chose to join. They concluded that the app was too similar to other preexisting mobile applications; therefore, they emphasized exclusively on visual communication. Apart from posting pictures, commenting, and liking, they removed all other services from the app. "Instagram" was chosen as the app's name since it corresponded to the fact that users were sending a kind of "instant telegram."
Instagram was launched on the 6th of October, 2010, and its popularity grew almost immediately. It quickly rose to become the most popular photography app following the launch, gaining 100,000 users in one week and reaching 1 million users within two months. Later, in 2012, it was purchased by Facebook for 1 billion dollars. Currently, it has more than 600 million active users, and the number is still steadily growing.
Keywords: Instagram, Instagram login, telegram, facebook, history, social media