Friday October 20, 2017
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If Modi transforms education, he’ll be remembered as a visionary

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modi1The front page news that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has personally directed that the feasibility of foreign universities entering the education space in India be urgently examined has come as good news for the higher education sector, which is currently reeling under burgeoning demand, limited supply and the mushrooming of poor quality educational institutions.

There is hope that the BJP, which had opposed the bill on the subject when UPA-II moved it, would support it now if the prime minister endorses it.

This might well turn out to be the game changer that would transform the education landscape in India. It is an accepted fact that many graduates, including those with engineering degrees, are unable to find employment because they do not possess the knowledge or skills that make them market-worthy. This is a consequence when sloppy education vendors flood the market simply to take advantage of demand. Quality education suffers as a consequence.

The passage of the long-pending Foreign Educational Institutions Bill is, consequently, viewed by many as the solution. It would make high quality education widely available in India, apart from improving the quality of existing education providers through direct competition. Many unreliable vendors would be rendered redundant by market forces. This would further contribute to improving the education delivery system.

Apart from savings in foreign exchange by providing Indian students an opportunity to study in India rather than going abroad, the entry of foreign education providers is expected to see increased investment in and encouragement of R&D, which has been a long-neglected sector. Additionally, a significant boost is expected to be given to the online platform, which is likely to emerge as a lucrative product in a rapidly growing demand-driven market, such as India.

Speculation that with the opening up of the education space, India could be positioned as an Asian education hub will also have positive implications on infrastructure, streamlining administrative procedures with regard to mutual recognition and accreditation, and the dismantling of abrasive visa regulations, particularly for those wishing to come to India for research projects. Collaboration with foreign universities would, most certainly, see the exchange of faculty and students, including credit transfer, and consequently impact positively not only on joint research but also on tourism.

In other words, this has the potential of emerging as a powerful public diplomacy tool in foreign affairs by opening its doors to international students and international faculty. When learning is experiential, it has the ability of becoming second nature and thus, influencing perceptions and behaviour. In short, the studying-in-India experience would enable students to make Indian friends, travel within India, and receive an experiential exposure to India’s diverse cultural heritage. Consequently, when they return to their countries, they would have a more informed, first-hand and long-lasting perception of India. This lies at the core of any public diplomacy intervention because it helps create life-time friends.

Equally important is the fact that the liberalization of India’s education sector would send a strong signal to the global community of India’s openness to engage with international partners. This would be in keeping with the prime minister’s message that his government’s priority would lie in ensuring the ease of doing business and in the dismantling of protectionist barriers. However, this requires firm advocacy by none other than the prime minister himself, who needs to not only make his intent clear but insist on time-bound implementation. It is expected that vested interests and strong lobbies, many of whom enjoy considerable political patronage, would oppose the passage of the bill, as it would, most certainly, threaten their existence and impact their bank balances.

How strongly the prime minister asserts his position would be watched. The prevalent perception is that promises are made but not kept. Indeed, the bureaucracy, especially in the visa-on-arrival issue, has unambiguously “overruled” a public prime ministerial public announcement, at huge cost and harassment to foreign visitors. This can create serious perception and credibility issues that the Prime Minister’s Office needs to be cognizant of. It is hoped that lessons have been learnt and that the bureaucracy appreciates the damage it causes when it undermines the prime minister’s perceived directives.

A positive signal was conveyed by Modi when he directed that the foreign education bill needs to be revisited. If he is able to transform the education landscape in India, he would be remembered as a man of vision. After all, it is only nations that recognize the primacy of education are able to achieve sustainable economic growth and social justice.

 

-(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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Actor “Prabhas” extends support to Modi’s Clean India campaign

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Prabhas extends support to Modi's Clean India campaign
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Chennai, Sep 29 : “Baahubali” fame Prabhas on Friday said he extends his full support to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Swachhata Hi Seva” movement, adding that he sees the Clean India campaign not as a duty but as a habit.

“As we approach this significant day, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhiji, who always strived for cleanliness, I would like to take this opportunity to highlight the great work happening on making India clean and green with the Swachh Bharat Initiative,” Prabhas posted on his Facebook page.

Swachh Bharat: 10 easy steps that will make “clean india campaign” successful

He added that Clean India is something he personally believes in.

“Keeping my country clean and healthy is not just my duty as a citizen but also a habit. To all those who feel the same, let’s continue doing our best for a cleaner India,” he said.

Earlier this month, Modi had written personal letters to celebrities, industrialists and noted personalities to enlist their support for the initiative.

Quoting Mahatma Gandhi, Modi said Swachhata is for each of us to practice.

He also said the days leading up to Gandhi Jayanti on October 2 should be about “encouraging widespread participation in cleanliness initiatives across the country.”

Superstar Rajinikanth and filmmaker S.S Rajamouli have already expressed their support.(ians)

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PM Narendra Modi: Don’t believe in vote bank politics, Nation comes first

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Wikimedia

Varanasi, Sep 23: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Saturday, said that the BJP did not believe in vote bank politics as the country was above party politics. This is his second day of the visit to his parliamentary constituency in Varanasi.

Modi told a gathering that he had launched a major war against corruption and the corrupt to ease the life of the common man. He also said cleanliness was worship for him as it could rid the poor of various diseases and a lot of economic burdens.

“Governance for us is not about votes or winning elections. The priority is the development of the nation. For us, the country is bigger than party,” he said, in his address to farmers in Shahanshahpur on the outskirts of Varanasi.

He said most of the problems faced by the common people in India were rooted in corruption.

“I have launched a war against it and will take it further to ensure that graft is weeded out from the country.”(IANS)