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By Gaurav Sharma
In a world torn apart by religious intolerance, ethnic strife and gender discrimination, the Gandhian principles of Truth, Justice, Peace and Non-violence hold much lessons.
While most corporate and social organizations have distanced themselves considerably from the ideals espoused by the Mahatma, Gandhi Peace Foundation, a pioneer organization established in the late 1950’s, has been actively working on a long quest towards propagating the Gandhian ideals.
Surinder Kumar, secretary, Gandhi Peace Foundation caught up with NewsGram in an exclusive interview and vocalized the significance Gandhi holds in the post-modern world.
Gaurav Sharma: Your organization has been lauded for peace initiatives during the turbulent times of war. What is its relevance in the present day?
Surinder Kumar: After the onset of globalization, the world has become smaller by virtue of being well-connected. People belonging to different castes, religions, race and colour, inevitably meet and interact with each other. A lot of times, they harbour misconceptions against people from other backgrounds. The problem of social inequality is deeply ingrained and our organization, through the use of Gandhi ideals, seeks to make a change in the mental outlook of people.
GS: What is the scope of activities that the Gandhi Peace foundation is engaged in?
SK: Apart from intervening in situations of conflict, the foundation goes about its mission in four ways; study, research, communication and action. By organizing major programmes connected to education, social harmony, religious tolerance, environment awareness and sustainable development at the national level, we try to fulfil the aim of a peaceful and inclusive society.
GS: A lot of problems have arisen in India due to religious intolerance. How do you deal with such a complicated issue?
SK: Our job includes both preventive as well as remedial measures. To foster better understanding among people belonging to different faiths, we hold inter-faith prayers, dialogues and other social exchanges such as celebrating different religious festivities– Diwali, Eid, Christmas, Baisakhi, Bodhi day– with the same gusto and elan.
As part of our remedial activities, we hold Shanti Sena camps in areas engulfed by communal violence. For example, we have made significant contributions in the Kokrajhar district of Assam and the Chambal region of Madhya Pradesh.
GS: A lot of politicians are resorting to Dharna as a means of political agitation. Do you see such tactics as working on the Gandhian principle of Satyagraha or peaceful non-cooperation?
SK: Today, all parties are utilizing Gandhian principles as a token to gain personal growth. The concept of rightful means to a rightful end has lost its form and has now become diluted. The present day Satyagraha appropriated by politicians, is devoid of any substance.
GS: How do you visualize the present society with its one-pointed focus on “materialistic consumerism”?
SK: As our society thoughtlessly embraces a consumerist model, we unconsciously march towards self-annihilation. The gap in social inequality is widening, disparity is on the rise and corporates are gaining hegemony.
GS: Gandhiji used to talk about “spiritualizing politics” and harmonization of politics and religion. The current scenario of politics in India is completely antithetical to such an ideal. How do you stem the rot in Indian politics?
SK: Gandhi’s vision of politics was that of Seva or service. Currently, it has become Meva or a money generating instrument. There is need for purification. Power should be handed down to the masses, rather than being usurped by dictatorial politicians.
As part of our drive to root out corruption and religious overtones from politics, we hold regular conferences with political organizations and give our valuable inputs to promote comprehensive thinking and introspection. We continually stress the importance of avoiding discrimination on the basis of one’s faith.
Respecting personal freedom is of paramount importance in building an inclusive and peaceful society.
NEW DELHI - India Navy sending four ships for exercises and port visits with the Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia and Australia to strengthen cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region, its navy said Wednesday, as China's maritime power grows in the area.
The Indian ships will spend more than two months in the region, the navy said in a statement.
Commander Vivek Madhwal, the Indian navy spokesman, said four ships will take part.
The ships will also participate in a multilateral exercise, MALABAR-21, along with the Japanese, Australian and U.S. navies, the statement said.
It said the exercises will enhance coordination with friendly countries, based on common maritime interests and a commitment to freedom of navigation.
"Besides regular port calls, the task group will operate in conjunction with friendly navies to build military relations and develop interoperability in the conduct of maritime operations," the statement said.
The U.S., India, Japan and Australia are part of the Quad regional alliance created in response to China's growing economic and military strength. Washington has long viewed New Delhi as a key partner in efforts to blunt increasing Chinese assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region.
India is also in a continuing standoff with China over their disputed border in the eastern Ladakh region. The countries have stationed tens of thousands of soldiers backed by artillery, tanks and fighter jets along their de facto border, called the Line of Actual Control.
Last year, 20 Indian troops died in a clash with Chinese soldiers involving clubs, stones and fists in a portion of the disputed border. China said it lost four soldiers.(VOA/HP)
The UK government on Thursday announced that it will move India from the red to the amber list on Sunday, in the country's latest update to the 'Red-Amber-Green' traffic light ratings for arrivals into England amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
This means the visit visas for the UK from India are open, in addition to other long-term visas that have remained open. But travellers from India arriving in England can complete a 10-day quarantine at home or in the place they are staying (not mandatorily quarantine in a managed hotel).
The UK government also announced that arrivals from France to England will no longer need to quarantine if they are fully vaccinated. The step aligns France with the rest of the amber list now that the proportion of beta variant cases has fallen, where those who are fully vaccinated with a vaccine authorised and administered in the UK, the US or Europe do not need to quarantine when arriving in England.
This move also simplifies the system to three categories, as well as the green watch list to give travellers notice where green status is at risk.
To continue cautiously reopening international travel, Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Slovakia, Latvia, Romania and Norway will be added to the government's green list, having demonstrated they posed a low risk to UK public health.
Besides India, Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE will also be moved from the red to the amber list, as the situation in these countries has improved.
The data for all countries will be kept under review and the government will not hesitate to take action where a country's epidemiological picture changes, a statement by the UK government said.
Following an assessment of the latest data, Georgia, La Reunion, Mayotte and Mexico will be added to the red list as they present a high public health risk to the UK from known variants of concern, known high-risk variants under investigation or as a result of very high in-country or territory prevalence of Covid-19.
Arrivals from Spain and all its islands are advised to use a PCR test as their pre-departure test wherever possible, as a precaution against the increased prevalence of the virus and variants in the country.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: "We are committed to opening up international travel safely, taking advantage of the gains we've made through our successful vaccination programme, helping connect families, friends and businesses around the world.
"While we must continue to be cautious, today's changes reopen a range of different holiday destinations across the globe, which is good news for both the sector and travelling public."
Since February, anyone who arrives in the UK from a red list country has been required by law to book a stay in a managed quarantine facility for 10 days.
In order to ensure taxpayers are not subsidising the costs of staying in these facilities, which have gone up, the cost will increase from August 12. Alternative payment arrangements remain available to those who genuinely cannot afford to pay and rates remain the same for children up to 12.(IANS/HP)
A Hindu temple in Pakistan's Punjab province was reportedly vandalized by hundreds of people after a nine-year-old Hindu boy, who allegedly urinated at a local seminary, received bail, a media report said on Thursday.
According to the Dawn news report, the incident took place on Wednesday in Bhong town, about 60 km from Rahim Yar Khan city.
Besides the vandalization, the mob also blocked the Sukkur-Multan Motorway (M-5), the report added.
Citing sources, Dawn news said that a case was registered against the minor on July 24 based on a complaint filed by a cleric, Hafiz Muhammad Ibrahim, of the Darul Uloom Arabia Taleemul Quran.
The sources said that "some Hindu elders did tender an apology to the seminary administration saying the accused was a minor and mentally challenged".
But, when a lower court granted him bail a few days ago, some people incited the public in the town on Wednesday and got all shops there closed in protest, the report quoted the sources as further saying.
A video clip showing people wielding clubs and rods storming the temple and smashing its glass doors, windows, lights, and damaging the ceiling fans went viral on social media.
In response, one Twitter user said: "Ganesh Temple, village Bhong in Rahim Yar Khan, Punjab has been ravaged. Another day, another attack on Hindus in Pakistan."
Another said: "Yesterday, the mob ran amok at Temple over minor boy issue who allegedly urinated, the boy said to be mentally handicapped. Hindu community made an apology for the boy — a case registered against the nine-year-old boy. Those vandalized temples, no FIR registered against them."
District police spokesman Ahmed Nawaz Cheema said Rangers had been deployed in the troubled area and the situation was under control.
A small town close to the River Indus and Sindh-Punjab border, Bhong houses a number of gold traders who originally hail from Ghotki and Dehrki (Sindh), according to the Dawn news report.
A ruling PTI member representing the minority said he had been in touch with the local Hindu community and influential Rais family of Bhong since the issue surfaced.