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India says terrorists can’t be backed for political convenience

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Zhengzhou (China): India on Tuesday said political convenience can no longer be an alibi for backing terrorism and called for closer coordination between the member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) to fight the scourge.

“International terrorism has emerged as the most serious threat to our peaceful and pluralistic societies,” Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh said while addressing the meeting of heads of government of the SCO grouping in this Chinese city.

“Closer coordination between SCO member states and zero tolerance towards terrorism will go a long way to addressing this menace. Political convenience can no longer provide an alibi for backing terrorist groups ideologically, financially or through material support,” he said.

The SCO is an intergovernmental organisation founded in Shanghai on June 15, 2001, by six countries — China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Among other things, the SCO aims to enhance regional security through the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) and build connectivity.

India and Pakistan were given the full membership of the organisation at its plenary held in the Russian city of Ufa in July this year.

“One of our most important goals remains a stable and peaceful Afghanistan free of external interference,” Singh said in Tuesday’s meeting also attended by Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

“This is absolutely essential to advance peace, stability and prosperity in the region.”

Singh also said India looked forward to the speedy completion of its full membership “so that we can involve ourselves fully in SCO’s programmes and activities at the earliest”.

According to him, there was enormous scope to push forward SCO’s economic and developmental agenda.

“India’s fast-growing market provides an immense economic opportunity, especially for the relatively smaller economies of Central Asia. India’s energy requirements can be met by new and more ambitious energy projects within the SCO bringing on board the interests of energy exporting, transit and importing nations,” the minister said.

He said India, on its part, could bring to the region its strengths in financial management, especially micro-finance, pharmaceuticals, services such as information technology and healthcare, as well as capacity building.

“The SCO should create a facilitating environment for trade and investment. We should bring down barriers to trade and enhance links between our businesses, especially our small and medium enterprises.

“We can also work together on issues of food security and agriculture,” he said.

He said that though the past few years have witnessed a steady growth of new modes of connectivity in the region, progress in this regard was still limited.

“As we move ahead, we should invest in improving regional transportation and communication networks through mutual consultation and sharing of benefits,” he said.

“On this basis, we can create new networks of physical and digital connectivity that extends from Russia’s northern regions to the shores of Indian Ocean. The International North-South Transportation Corridor is an important step in that direction.”

Singh said, “a young and dynamic India, constituting one-sixth of humanity, which is growing at nearly 8 percent per year is joining the SCO to usher in a new phase of friendship with our partners”.(IANS)

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Jaipur Literature Festival Takes A Questionable Stand On The #MeToo Movement

JLF's fast spreading presence in the international arena, calls for a more substantial stand on its part, as far as #MeToo is concerned.

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#MeToo, women
The hushed whispers are getting louder. Flickr

After several star speakers of the Zee Jaipur Literature Festival, including C.P. Surendran, Suhel Seth and Chetan Bhagat, among others, have been accused of sexually harassing multiple women, on the sidelines of the popular lit fest, the organisers, in a cautiously worded one-sentence tweet on Thursday, have supported the rising tide of the #MeToo campaign in India — but questions still remain.

“The ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival unequivocally stands by the women who have courageously spoken out for equity and dignity and is committed to supporting and amplifying their voices,” the official handle of the JLF said in a tweet on Thursday.

The statement came two days after a petition was started on www.change.org by writer-editor Rajni George, asking its organisers to support the #MeToo India and stand up “against sexual harassment”.

#MeToo
Jaipur Literature Festival

“We write today regarding the serious and credible allegations of sexual harassment made recently against a number of men in and around the literary world, as part of the MeToo movement in India.

“We, the undersigned, are dismayed, saddened and angered by these accounts. We admire the work that the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) undertakes. As India’s largest and most recognised literature festival, we believe JLF is ideally placed to take the lead in addressing this urgent issue,” George’s petition said.

JLF’s response in the one-line tweet is general, and does not specifically mention whether any of the allegations that have now surfaced were earlier brought to the notice of the organisers.

It also does not make it clear whether the doors of the festival will remain closed for the accused in its future editions, or not. It further makes no comment whatsoever on several instances that are said to have taken place on the sidelines of the annual event.

#MeToo
Sanjoy K. Roy, with writers Namita Gokhale and William Dalrymple as co-directors, has been instrumental in bringing societal issues to the fore.

Notably, many of the accused have featured in prominent sessions at what is described as the “greatest literary show on Earth”, and, in many instances, the festival has been instrumental in increasing their popularity as well as readership.

On its part, JLF, produced by Teamwork Arts, headed by Sanjoy K. Roy, and with writers Namita Gokhale and William Dalrymple as co-directors, has been instrumental in bringing societal issues to the fore. In fact, the 2018 edition of the festival in January this year had come to a close with a hard-hitting debate on #MeToo, long before the campaign gained momentum in India.

Also Read: Watch Jaipur Literature Festival Live On Twitter

Many in the literary circles feel the benchmark that JLF has itself set over the course of its journey, its coming of age and gradual but distinct shift from controversies to substance in the recent years, its fast spreading presence in the international arena, calls for a more substantial stand on its part, as far as #MeToo is concerned. (IANS)