Tuesday March 19, 2019
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Modi holds bilateral meetings with 41 visiting African leaders

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New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for India and Egypt to work together on reforms to UN Security Council. Also, cooperation in counter-terrorism, agriculture, oil and energy figured in many of his bilateral meetings with 41 visiting African leaders who had come to take part in the India-Africa Forum Summit (IAFS).

Briefing about Modi’s meetings on Thursday with 10 African leaders, including Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, external affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said that the Egyptian president had agreed as a goodwill gesture to release two Indian prisoners who had been in jail in Egypt for 16 and 22 years, and they will be extradited to India.

Modi had bilaterals with all visiting heads of state and government. He met with 19 African leaders on Wednesday and had 12 bilaterals on Friday. IAFS, which saw participation from all African countries, including 41 heads of state and government, concluded on Thursday.

In his meeting with Egyptian president on Thursday, Modi thanked him for attending the summit, saying it would have been incomplete without his country.

Modi met Moroccan King Mohammed VI on Thursday and agreed to his suggestion of forming a high-level joint commission. The king invited Modi to visit his country.

There was discussion on UNSC reforms in Modi’s meeting with Namibian President Hage G. Geingob, who held that “powerful countries like India should be in the Security Council”.

Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita invited Modi to visit his country and offered to take him to Timbuktu, which he said was a heritage site which terrorists had threatened to blow up.

Modi invited Mauritanian President Ould Adbel Aziz to join the solar alliance that he proposes to launch during the meeting on climate change in Paris later this year. Aziz said his country was rich in copper, oil, iron, and gold and said they will open an embassy in Delhi to boost relations between two countries.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn said India can take advantage of arable land in his country for growing pulses and oil-seeds.

Modi and Angolan Vice President Manuel Domingos Vicente discussed cooperation in the oil sector. Referring to presence of diamonds in Angola, Modi said that India largely sourced diamonds for its industry from third parties and it will be a win-win situation for both countries if it gets access to them directly.

Tanzanian Vice President Mohamed Gharib Bilal sought India’s assistance for construction of a rail line.

Somalian President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud sought India’s assistance in the energy sector.

Modi invited Comoros’ President Ikililou Dhoinine to join the proposed solar alliance.

In his meeting with Sisi, Modi and he also discussed the situation in the Middle East and the need for more active cooperation in “counter-terrorism”. It was Modi’s second meeting with the Egyptian president in two months. Sisi said that though the summit was coinciding with parliamentary polls in Egypt, he made it a point to attend the “very important occasion”.

On Friday, Modi had bilaterals with Sudanese President Omer el Bashir, Liberian President Ellen Sirleaf, Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma, Madagascar President Hery Rajaonarimampianina, South Sudanese President Salva Kiir Mayardit, Senegalese President Macky Sall, Guinea Bissau President Jose Mario Vaz, Mauritius Prime Minister Anerood Jugnauth, Rwandan Prime Minister Anastase Murekezi, Zambian Vice President Inonge Winaat, Gambian Vice President Aja Isatou Njie Saidy, and Burundian Vice President Gaston Sindimwo.

(IANS)

(Photo: www.theweek.in)

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Know How Grammy Award Winner Inspired by PM Modi to Dedicate Music to Environment

From songs like "Ganga" - depicting the plight of the river considered holy by most Indians - to his Grammy-winning album "Winds of Samara" - which speaks of peace and global harmony

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grammy award winner, modi
"What was to be a photo opportunity with the Prime Minister turned into an hour-long discussion with him on environment. He spoke on the impact music could have on society and inspired me to make music on environment," Kej told IANS in an interview here. Wikimedia

A chance meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in September 2015 in New Delhi inspired Bengaluru-based Grammy Award winner Ricky Kej to dedicate his life and music to the cause of environment.

Since then, Kej, who has represented India on global fora, performing at venues including the United Nations General Assembly in New York and UN Headquarters in Geneva, has been using music to flag ecological issues to policymakers and public the world over.

“What was to be a photo opportunity with the Prime Minister turned into an hour-long discussion with him on environment. He spoke on the impact music could have on society and inspired me to make music on environment,” Kej told IANS in an interview here.

From songs like “Ganga” – depicting the plight of the river considered holy by most Indians – to his Grammy-winning album “Winds of Samara” – which speaks of peace and global harmony – Kej’s music connects with all — from world leaders to the man on the street.

With the aid of compelling visuals, Kej’s music, and collaborations with global music artists, highlights the deleterious consequences of urbanisation, climate change and human-animal conflict.

modi, grammy award winner
From songs like “Ganga” – depicting the plight of the river considered holy by most Indians – to his Grammy-winning album “Winds of Samara” – which speaks of peace and global harmony – Kej’s music connects with all — from world leaders to the man on the street. Wikimedia

“There are so many issues in India like child labour, gender inequality and poverty, which none seem to be reflecting through music. We see that music has lost the identity of being an art form and has become a profession,” he lamented.

Kej, 37, bagged Grammy in 2015 for the ‘Best New Age Album’ for “Winds of Samsara”, created along with South African flautist Wouter Kellerman. He is also recognised as the ‘United Nations Global Humanitarian Artist’ for his music with environmental consciousness.

The subjects of Kej’s music include, the rising air pollution in global cities and towns, the perils being posed to wildlife due to urbanisation and the story of Republic of Kiribati, an island nation in the central Pacific Ocean off Fiji, whose coasts are receding each year due to rising ocean levels due to global warming, among others.

With 15 studio albums released internationally, 3,500 commercials, three feature films in Kannada and over 100 music awards in 20 countries to his credit, the conservationist-musician’s album “Shanti Samsara” was released by Modi and then French President Francois Hollande at the United Nations Conference of Parties (CoP-21) Climate Change Conference in Paris, held from November 30-December 12, 2015.

The album, conceived after his meeting with Modi, had Kej collaborate with about 500 musicians from 40 countries, for songs like “Ganga”, throwing light on the pollution plaguing the river, and on “Earth and Water”.

“Politicians and policymakers are used to statistics and numbers, but when one approaches them through art, it makes a lot of difference. I have seen politicians change their perspectives towards environmental causes after attending my concerts,” Kej asserted.

The element of environment and nature in his work comes from his own experiences. For instance, he composed the song “One With Earth” – which highlights natural farming and the need to give up chemical fertilisers – after he lived with the tribals in Andhra Pradesh’s Araku Valley to understand their lifestyle and traditional farming techniques.

Grammy award winner, modi
“There are so many issues in India like child labour, gender inequality and poverty, which none seem to be reflecting through music. We see that music has lost the identity of being an art form and has become a profession,” he lamented. Wikimedia

Born in 1981 in North Carolina in the US, Kej moved to Bengaluru with family when he was eight, with intense love for music and nature.

“As a child, I felt music and nature were connected and found music in the sounds of nature, birds and animals. I used to look at music as a way of understanding history, cultures and emotions from different parts of the world. A lot of my education was through music,” said Kej, who was part of a rock band “Angel Dust” during his class 12th from Bishop Cotton Boys’ School in Bengaluru.

Even as Kej pursued a dental science course on his father’s advice, he continued to create music and decided to pursue it full-time on completing the degree.

“Like most musicians, I started my career with popular music and later turned to heavy metal and jazz. I finally zeroed in on world music as it connects with the people the world over, irrespective of the language they speak,” Kej recalled.

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As a professor at the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS) in the renowned Indian Institute of Science (IISc) campus in this tech hub, the musician believes his job is to approach environmental subjects artistically.

“Numbers don’t hit people as hard as visuals and art can. My job as a musician is to drive the numbers and data through emotions,” Kej added. (IANS)