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No Sikh Regiment in R-Day parade ‘sad and regrettable’: Badal to PM

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Chandigarh: The controversy over the exclusion of the Sikh Regiment from the Republic Day parade in Delhi refuses to settle down, with Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Sunday describing the episode as “sad and regrettable” in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and saying that the community was “hurt”.

In his letter, Badal said “the absence of the Sikh regiment from the Republic Day parade was sad and regrettable”.

Badal urged the central government to issue necessary instructions and guidelines “to ensure that the Sikh Regiment is never kept out of Republic Day parade in future”.

“A widespread feeling of hurt and resentment (has been) caused by the non-inclusion of the Sikh Regiment in the Republic Day parade where French President Francois Hollande was the chief guest,” Badal said in the letter.

According to reports, the Sikh Regiment, which had participated in the parade earlier, was excluded this time.

The Sikh community has been at loggerheads with the French government due to the latter’s ban on students wearing turbans in schools in France as it was seen as a religious symbol.

“The Republic Day parade is always regarded as a great occasion to showcase India’s multi-cultural and multi-religious identity, highlighting its secular ethos.

“As a vibrant and fiercely patriotic minority community in the country, the Sikhs are always seen as the most powerful symbol of this multi-dimensional identity and secular character of the country,” Badal said.

“The exclusion of the Sikh Regiment from the parade would be regrettable at any time but it was doubly so this year because of the presence of the French president as a special guest at the event.

“The Sikhs have been facing several practices in France which amount to the denial of freedom to observe the fundamental religious practices to the community, including a ban on the wearing of turbans one of the five symbols of their religion,” Badal said.

Incidentally, the French president started his India tour on January 24 from Chandigarh, the joint capital of Punjab and Haryana which was designed by French architect Le Corbusier.

Hollande was received at the Chandigarh airport by Haryana Governor Kaptan Singh Solanki, who is also the acting Punjab governor, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and Chandigarh MP Kirron Kher.

However, Punjab Chief Minister Badal was admitted to a hospital a day earlier and could not meet Hollande. But his son and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal did not step in to receive the French president.

Modi, breaking protocol, specially flew to Chandigarh to welcome the French president at the famous Rock Garden. (IANS)

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Can Modi’s ‘AIM’ Challenge Global Manufacturing Hub China’s Dominance?

PM Modi has set his eye on water management, agriculture and security issues

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Modi, AIM, Global
The prime focus of the government as well as NITI Aayog remains on accelerating the pace of manufacturing sector in India. Flickr

Eyeing the global revolution in tech-innovations, the Modi government, in its second avatar, is all set to redefine the scope of ‘Knowledge and Innovation’ at NITI Aayog. Before leaving for his foreign visit to the Maldives, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a series of meetings with technocrats, top officials and key cabinet colleagues, discussing how to radically redefine innovations and technology on manufacturing front to compete with China.

Over all, the prime focus of the government as well as NITI Aayog remains on accelerating the pace of manufacturing sector in India. On domestic front, PM Modi has set his eye on water management, agriculture and security issues and he would likely underline his priorities once he chairs the first big meeting of NITI Aayog, on June 15.

In the wake of sharp criticism from West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on the alleged failure of NITI Aayog, the government now seems more determined to take the Aayog to a new height, inducting domain specialists at the rank of Joint Secretary and above.

“The PM’s dream project is the success of the Atal Innovation Mission,(AIM) the flagship project of NITI Aayog to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in the country. If AIM takes off well, the country would soon be a substitute for China as a global manufacturing hub. In fact AIM complements Make In India, Digital India and Start up India mega projects,” said a senior NITI Aayog official.

Modi, AIM, Global
Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a series of meetings with technocrats. Pixabay

To provide impetus to the industrial growth, the NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar recently told media that a slew of big bang economic reforms are being pursued by the Modi government. These include change in labour laws, privatization moves and land banks for new industrial development. Once the stage is set for a positive industrial environment, the innovation mission will finally accelerate the growth of the manufacturing sector.

Global tech giants such as Adobe, Amazon, Dell, IBM, Intel and Microsoft are already partnering with Atal Innovation Mission. The AIM project serves as a platform for promotion of world-class innovation hubs, and self-employment activities in technology-driven areas.

Through AIM, the government expects a radical change in country’s MSME industry.

Earlier in Modi’s first tenure as PM, his Cabinet Minister Kalraj Mishra and later Minister for State (Independent Charge) Giriraj Singh did not impress the business fraternity while running the ministry for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME). In an after thought, Modi in his second innings gave the charge of this crucial ministry to Nitin Gadkari, known for delivering the goods on time.

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“Modi ji had spoken about the project to Gadkari ji. He (Gadkari) was more than willing to take up this challenge. I am sure MSME would now be one of the most important ministries in the government as it also addresses the problem of unemployment and lack of a fast-paced industrial growth,” said a BJP leader close to Gadkari.

Another big change on the scene is the Atal Tinkering Labs (ATL). It is Modi’s long-term plan for revolutionizing the young Indian minds. The ATLs are innovation workplaces where do-it-yourself kits on latest technologies like 3D printers, Robotics, Internet of Things, are installed at schools using the government grant. The mission director of AIMs , R. Ramanan, an IITian, says that by next year 10,000 ATL workplaces in the Indian schools will bring radical change in the near future in the field of innovation.

The objective of PM Modi through mega ATL project, is to enable India to become a global leader in technology and innovations, the key to rule the modern-day industries. (IANS)