External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj chaired the fourth meeting of the Board of Trustees of India Development Foundation of Overseas Indians (IDF-OI) in Jawaharlal Nehru Bhawan New Delhi today.
The meeting of the Board of Trustees decided the action plan for FY 2015-16, which focuses on various projects like Namami Gange, Swachh Bharat and Swachh Vidyalaya, state governments projects and NGO projects and projects selected by the NRI/PIO donors.
Modalities like the implementation of projects and quality control, monitoring and reporting to donors were also deliberated and given go-ahead by the board of trustees. The Board also deliberated on the Outreach plan for FY 2015-16.
For the Outreach Plan for FY 2015-16, IDF-OI proposes to hold outreach meeting wherein overseas Indians will be informed about the activities of the organization.
These meetings will have to be done in association with our Missions/ Posts, as also in the various Indian associations active abroad. Focus can be given to areas where there is a large concentration of overseas Indians with philanthropic propensities. For this purpose, IDF-OI has identified 7 global zones of diaspora concentration. It proposes to conduct 2-3 meetings in different cities in each of these zones in this financial year.
North America- a) USA b) Canada
South East Asia- a) Malaysia b) Singapore c) Mauritius d) Reunion Island e) Indonesia
Australasia- a) Australia b) New Zealand c) Fiji
Africa- a) South Africa b) Kenya c) Uganda
Gulf- a) UAE b) Saudi Arabia c) Bahrain d) Oman e) Qatar f) Kuwait
UK & Europe- a) UK b) France c) Germany d) Italy e) Netherlands
South America & Caribbean- a) Guyana b) Suriname c) Trinidad & Tobago
Besides the above, IDF-OI will participate in state diaspora events for outreach to Indian Diaspora. It will also reach out to the diaspora through the annual Pravasi Bharatiya Divas and the Ministry’s outreach events throughout the year.
Any incident in USA , particularly adverse incident, whether big or small, gets world wide publicity almost instantaneously. This is mainly due to the fact that USA is recognized as a rich country with super power status and known for significant advancement in variety of fields. Such news is followed by debates and discussions in the world media, with some pledged critics stating with glee that such adverse incidents clearly show that USA is a troubled society. Is that really so ?
Why shoot out incidents ?
In the recent years, many shoot outs have taken place in USA in universities, malls and other public places, when number of innocent lives have been lost. Shoot outs have been carried out by individuals for one reason or other and even due to psychic problems of individuals . These individuals hail from all background including young and old persons, white or black persons and there is no uniformity in the background, that point to any particular cause or reason. The detailed investigation that follow such shoot outs do not seem to explain the reasons adequately well with clarity .
It is generally said that the liberal gun policy and the prevailing gun culture in USA is the primary reason for such shoot outs and violence. Most of the Americans possess guns and rarely anyone amongst them indulge in such practices. If the violent prone person would not have a gun, he can use a knife or any other weapon. Are the causes for the violence as simple as gun culture ?
No evidence of widespread black-white conflict :
Now, the case of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white officer pressed his knee into his neck has caused widespread anger across the country. Obviously, the white police officer is a cruel person and should be punished severely. Even while President Trump has condemned the incident, protestors burned businesses in Minneapollis. They smashed police cars and windows in Atlanta, broke into police headquarters in Portland and chanted curses at Donald Trump outside the White House.
This sad incident should not be misinterpreted as result of conflict of interest between the white and black citizens in USA. While some protestors turned violent, there have been number of other protestors who conducted themselves peacefully and with dignity , holding placards and demanding justice for George Floyd. Of these protestors, many of them are white , brown or black Americans. Certainly, there is no racial conflict issue involved in the George Floyd murder but only the stupidity of a violent prone police officer was seen.
Is media playing responsible role?
While the sad incident happened, the media in USA played what seem to be a negative role by prominently showing the photograph of the crying George Floyd being attacked by the white police officer, which has whipped up passion and disgust all over USA causing widespread unrest. It is not the case that media should remain silent without revealing such bad news but the case is that media should be aware of the consequence of highlighting such negative photographs that could lead to greater violence and unrest. In USA, media claims that it has the liberty and right to show , speak or criticise any event as per the prejudices and priorities of the editors and journalists.
Can one say that the freedom of media is being abused and freedom without responsibility can only lead to violence, just as the George Floyd incident show. Many seem to think that the media sensationalise such violence issue, without counselling peace and harmony and discuss the causes in dispassionate and constructive manner. Such positive approach of media could have prevented the violence that followed George Floyd murder.
A tolerant country :
George Floyd incident has created an impression all over the world that USA is a country under the boil. This certainly is not so. There are many civilized and sane voices in USA who rarely get adequate coverage in the media and their civilized thoughts are not adequately publicized for the benefit of the country.
Today, one cannot but deny the fact that U S A is the most tolerant country in the world. People from countries with various background seek migration to USA and think that they would be privileged to get US citizenship. This is mainly due to their confidence that they would get fair deal in USA and the law would protect t their interests.
Today, USA is essentially described as a migrant country with people visiting USA as students , job seekers or immigrants and most of them seeking to stay in USA life long by getting citizenship. Any attempt to describe USA as a country under boil after the George Floyd issue is a mischievous and motivated attempt to discredit USA. This is very unfair.
Violence everywhere in the world :
Animals try to over power other creatures for self protection and for their feed. Therefore, violence is an essential part of animal’s life. In the case of human beings ( who are supposed to have sixth sense, which animals do not have) ,violence and anger seem to be there in the mindset , which are revealed due to reasons such as prejudices , hatred etc. This is a common trend all over the world including USA. It calls for enormous efforts amongst individuals living anywhere in the world to silence the feelings of anger and violence in the mindset and this is what religions are supposed to aid individuals in achieving such state of mind.
Like any other country, in USA too, it requires leaders and scholars advocating peace and harmony as way of life and they should get prominent place to mould the society. It is the duty of the media to identify persons of such ethical and moral stature and publicise their thoughts and preachings for overall betterment of the society. The recent violence in USA due to the death of George Floyd do not indicate any basic flaw in the American society.
Canada’s national statistical agency said that the country’s economy saw the worst quarterly performance since 2009 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Statistics Canada said on Friday that it came as the GDP suffered a big drop in March as restrictions against the spread of COVID-19 began rolling out during the month, reports Xinhua news agency.
The downturn in GDP, the sharpest since the first quarter of 2009, reflects measures rolled out in March to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, such as closures of school and non-essential businesses, border shutdowns and travel restrictions, as well as events earlier in the quarter, mainly the Ontario teachers’ strike and rail blockades in February.
The country’s GDP fell 7.2 per cent in March from February, the most severe month-on-month fall, while annualized growth for the first quarter decreased by 8.2 per cent, the largest since the depths of the Great Recession.
Household spending was reduced by 2.3 per cent in the first quarter of 2020, the steepest quarterly drop ever recorded.
Spending reductions were influenced by substantial job losses, income uncertainty and limited opportunities to spend because of the mandatory closure of non-essential retail stores, restaurants and services, and restrictions on travel and tourism activities.
Real GDP plummeted by a record 11 per cent in April from March as most sections of the economy were shut down to fight the COVID-19 outbreak.
The March and April falls are likely to be the largest consecutive monthly declines on record, said the country’s statistics agency. (IANS)
The Herricks Board of Education is accredited by the New York State Board of Regents and the Middle School Association.
The Year 2020-21 School Budget Vote and its Board of Education Election is to be conducted on Tuesday, June 9th. Two seats in the board are being challenged. Henry R. Zanetti and James Gounaris are running for re-elections against challengers Bhajan S. Ratra and Tarantej S. Arora.
Due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, the vote was postponed from its original date scheduled in May and it will now be conducted exclusively by absentee ballot via US Mail.
Challenger Bhajan S. Ratra is an adjunct professor of Mathematics at Baruch College and SUNY Farmingdale. He is a panel member on the content advisory and bias review committees of New York State Teaching Certification Examination and has served in the past on the standards setting committee for the NYS Regents exams. He claims that unfair practices and inappropriate approach is smacking the election for the board.
The preceding position holders- Zanetti and James Gounaris have violated the code of conduct by doing undesirable posts through social media.
In the below given screenshot it can be observed that they are instigating the audience to vote for them by posting a picture of the ballot having their names marked. They can also be seen getting criticized by a user questioning the “appropriateness” of the post.
According to the rules, it is illegal to take selfies/ post the picture of the ballot during the time of election in New York. Zanetti and James were seen violating the rules, thus, Ratra claims that their candidature should be disqualified.
In the above added screenshot, it can also be seen that the incumbents have pointed out “yes” To the budget vote. This can be considered as an act of misleading the public regardless of prior audits. According to the rules, an incumbent can not urge the public to vote “yes”. This raises some very serious questions- Does the incumbent(s) has/have their personal interest in voting “Yes”?
Mr. Ratra states that the reason for him contesting the election is because of his will to serve his community being an educator. As a member of the board of education he wants to use his experience to influence the decisions taken by the board that will help to move the Herricks School district from good to great. Bhajan aims to establish a transparent approach between students, families, Teachers and board members.
There were many issues emerging earlier in the board, among them which was an inordinate approach with the board’s budget. The NY State Auditors concluded that The Herricks school district consistently overspent its budget for custodians’ overtime pay — thousands of dollars in expenditures that in many cases may not have been necessary. Bhajan aims to focus on solving these very core issues, he says that he aims to take a stand but every time he tries, his voice gets dominated.
Despite these frustrations and pressures, Bhajan has refused to give up because his only aim is to establish a clean and fair approach. In his concludary words Bhajan told NewsGram- “It doesn’t matter if I win or lose, my only aim is to serve my community in any possible way, these frustrations and pressures doesn’t affect me as I continue to take stand for my role and responsibility as someone who wants to contribute to the society”.
Now, it is to be think upon~ what best possible action would be taken as far as the code of conduct and the rules are concerned with due respect to the elections. Here position doesn’t matter, what matters is ethics and the truth.