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New era of partnership expected in India-Africa summit: Modi


New Delhi: The third India-Africa Forum Summit, which will see the participation of all African nations for the first time, will launch a new era of mutual partnership, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Speaking to African Journalists at the editors forum of the third India-Africa Forum summit on Friday, Modi said India will focus on human resource development, institution building, infrastructure, clean energy, agriculture, health, education and skill development.

“The summit would set substantially higher targets for our development partnership”, he added.

India will provide necessary help to hasten the development program of the African countries, Modi said adding, the summit will also address key challenges of present times including food, health and environmental security.

“We will create conditions that stimulate trade and investment flow between our countries. We will work together to address the problems of climate change. We will explore new areas like a sustainable blue economy. We hope to learn a great deal from numerous African success stories,” he said.

“We will also reinforce our partnership on the global platform and deepen our security cooperation, including on maritime security, countering terrorism,” he said.

The Prime Minister said apart from the political and economic relation both the countries had a very rich cultural tradition.

Modi said, this is the first summit where all the 54 countries of Africa have been invited and all of them are participating.

“Till now as per the information that we have received, 40 countries will be represented by the head of state, head of government level, and the rest are being represented by senior ministers,” he said, adding the summit was attracting the attention of the entire world.

He said there were many similarities between India and Africa and together we represent one third of the world’s population. “Africa represents the youngest region in the world and India too is the youngest country.”

He said that the bilateral trade between India and Africa has grown by eight to nine times in the past few years and India has given concessional credit to the tune of $7.4 billion.

“In more than 40 countries today there are more than 100 projects which are under implementation. Noting that India has invested $1.2 billion in more than 100 institutes”, Modi said, adding, “the point which makes me the most happy is that there is this partnership between India and Africa that is human resource development, the capacity building.”

The Prime Minister said in recent years Africa has been developing in a very significant manner and around 95 percent of Africa comes under mobile network.

(With inputs from IANS)

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Rath Yatra 2016: Lord Jagannath begins his 9-Day sojourn amid tight security

Lord Jagannath's chariot, called Nandighosh and is is 45.6 feet high and has 18 wheels

Rath Yatra 2016. Image source:
  • The celebrations mark the visit of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balaram and their sister Devi Subhadra to their aunt’s house for nine days
  • The preparations for the yatra are known to start well in advance, to celebrate the grandness of the festival
  • Amid the fêtes, PM Narendra Modi took to his Twitter handle and wished the nation on the annual occasion of Rath Yatra

Jagannath Rath Yatra is a splendid Hindu festival, which calls out for fervour every year. The celebrations mark the visit of Lord Jagannath (a manifestation of Krishna), Lord Balaram (Balabhadra) and their sister Devi Subhadra to their aunt’s house for nine days.

While the cities get all decked up, the journey to and from their aunt’s house at Shri Gundicha temple are the two important days of festivities, which are celebrated in the seaside town of Puri in Odisha. This year, in 2016, the two days will be July 6 (when the two idols will leave for their aunt’s house) and July 14 (when they’ll return to Jagannath temple, also called Bahuda Yatra).

Being the grandest festival in the city, and in the state, to say the least, the preparations for the yatra are known to start well in advance.  The arrangements begin with the decoration of the elaborate wooden chariots that are pulled by ropes by thousands of devotees. Lord Jagannath’s chariot, called Nandighosh, is 45.6 feet tall and has 18 wheels. Taladhvaja is the name of Lord Balaram’s chariot and is 45 feet high and has 16 wheels and Devi Subhadra’s chariot, Devadalana, stands at 44.6 feet and has 14 wheels.

Signifying that all are equal in the eyes of Lord, the erstwhile rule of the state sweeps the path in front of the decked up rath with a broom having a golden handle and sprinkles sandalwood powder on both the days of the journey of the idols.

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Cognizant to the increasing terror threat to the pilgrim town, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik took a stock of security arrangements. 145 platoons of armed police personnel including officers of various ranks have been deployed in and around the town to ensure that the yatra is carried out peacefully.

Director General of Police (DGP) KB Singh told The New Indian Express, “Multi-layer security arrangements have been made for smooth conduct of the festival. CCTVs have been installed at various locations to keep a tab on the visitors.”

He further said that air surveillance and land patrolling would also be intensified.

Prime Minister Narendra Midi. Image Source: The Indian Express
Prime Minister Narendra Midi. Image Source: The Indian Express

Amid the fêtes, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also took to his Twitter handle and extended his wishes to the nation on the annual occasion of Rath Yatra in a tweet that read, “On the occasion of Rath Yatra, my warmest greetings to you all. May Lord Jagannath continue to shower his blessings on everyone.”

He added, “May the blessings of Lord Jagannath lead to the development of villages, the well-being of poor & farmers and take India to new heights of progress.”

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Meanwhile, Ahmedabad is also celebrating the 139th edition of Lord Jagannath Yatra. BJP chief Amit Shah also offered his prayers at the Jagannath Temple here.

The rath yatra in Ahmedabad will begin from the 400-year old Jagannath temple at Jamalpur.

Considering that the procession will pass through some communally sensitive areas, almost 18,000 security personnel have been deployed at strategic locations throughout the route.

Sand chariots made by Sudarshan Patnaik. Image Source: The New Indian Express
Sand chariots made by Sudarshan Patnaik. Image Source: The New Indian Express

Interestingly, famous sand artist Sudarshan Patnaik also created a grand spectacle and another record for the Limca book by carving out 100 sand chariots on the beach.


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Bharat Dharma Jana Sena recruiting agency for RSS, BJP: Kerala CM


New Delhi: Chief Minister of Kerala Oommen Chandy on Monday alleged that SNDP general secretary Vellapally Natesan opened a recruiting agency of BJP and RSS in Kerala on the pretext of floating the Bharat Dharma Jana Sena.

“I see the new party as a recruiting agency of BJP and RSS in the state. They could not win a single seat in the Assembly and the Lok Sabha elections so far” Chandy said.

Notably, Natesan announced the formation of the new party- Bharat Dharma Jana Sena – at a rally on Shankmukham beach in Thiruvananthapuram. The announcement came following his 16-day ‘Samathwa Munnata Yatra’. The yatra aims at uniting peoples of the Hindu caste.

Criticising the move by Natesan, Chandy said that the initiative was against the stated principles of the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam.

Underscoring the need to form a political party, Natesan attacked both the ruling Congress-led UDF and CPI(M)-headed LDF and stated that it was an ‘adjustment rule’ by two alliances, which have enjoyed the position in power alternately.

It might be mentioned that the BJP had made a notable improvement in the recent civic polls.

The SNDP-BJP liaison developed following BJP president Amit Shah’s visit to Kerala and Natesan calling on Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently.

Meanwhile, the Congress termed Vellapally Natesan as the ‘middleman’ of the Sangh Parivar.

“Unfortunately Vellapaly Natesan is doing the work of a middleman for the Sangha Parivar in the state,” KPCC President V M Sudheeran said.

“There is nothing personal against Natesan. The opposition is towards his Sangh Parivar politics” he added.

Sudheeran further alleged that Natesan was involved in spreading the messages of Nathuram Godse and destroying the teachings of Sree Narayana Guru, the founder of SNDP.

(With inputs from agencies)

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Handicraft artisans accuse J&K government of indifference


Srinagar: Flood-hit handicraft artisans held a protest demonstration here on Thursday and accused the Jammu and Kashmir government of “indifferent” attitude towards their plight.

A large number of protestors rued that they had been left out of the government’s rehabilitation programme after last year’s devastating floods damaged their business units.

They urged the state government to address their long-pending issues at the earliest.

“We have suffered massive financial losses in last year’s floods. More than a year has passed and we are still awaiting help from the state government,” lamented Nisar Ahmad, president of the Kashmir Handicraft Workers Union.

“Some people have received financial aid to restart their business units, but most of us have been conveniently ignored,” he added.

Nisar Ahmad said the government was yet to release the interest subsidy on loans advanced to the poor artisans.

“The government promised to raise the amount of loan advanced under artisans’ credit card scheme from Rs.90,000 to Rs.1.5 lakh,” he added.

He demanded that the government fulfil its commitment and announce a comprehensive relief package for craftsmen.

Lakhs of people are involved in Kashmir’s famed handicraft industry, including weaving of shawls and carpet, paper machie and wood-carving.

Handicrafts worth Rs.1,287.04 crore were exported from Kashmir in 2014-15 fiscal.

The business community pegged its losses at around Rs.30,000 crore and damage to over 65,000 business units in the 2014 floods.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a special economic package of Rs.80,000 crore for the state in his Srinagar rally on November 7. As many as Rs.50 crore have been earmarked for the promotion of shawl industry.

“We hope Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, who is well acquainted with our pitiable conditions, will consider our demands and set apart some considerable amount from the PM’s package for our rehabilitation,” Nisar said.