Monday February 19, 2018

Ramayana trail: How Modi government plans to revive the legacy of Lord Ram

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Modi Sri Lanka

By Harshmeet Singh

Prime Minister Modi concluded his three nation tour after making a slew of agreements and announcements in Sri Lanka. While moves such as handing over more than 27,000 homes to the war affected people in Jaffna and an assistance of $318 million gathered much attention, his announcement regarding Indian Government’s plans to establish a Ramayana trail in Sri Lanka went away unnoticed.  

Ramayana Trail

The establishment of a Ramayana trail is aimed at developing all the Ramayana related mythological spots in the country. Though the PM fell short of announcing any budget or a deadline for the same, he did mention that his Government would soon be sending a team of experts to Sri Lanka to visit all such places that can be included under this plan.

The government plans to develop a number of modern facilities around these spots to ensure a constant tourists’ influx which, in turn, would take India’s heritage to different parts of the world. The PM also said that his Government would be happy to assist Sri Lanka in developing a similar Buddha trail in India.

Common history of India & Sri Lanka

The extremely rich Buddhist culture of Sri Lanka derives its roots from ancient India. According to ancient texts of Sri Lanka, it was Indian Emperor Ashoka’s son, Mahinda, who introduced Buddhism to Sri Lanka. Impressed by the message of Buddhism carried by Mahinda, the Monarch propagated Buddhist values to the entire Sinhalese population of the island. The historic Nalanda University also had a number of Sri Lankan Buddhist monks on roll before it was brought to the ground by Mohammed Kilji. Notably, around 70% Sri Lankans still follow Theravada Buddhism.

The Indian epic Ramayana gives a detailed description of the island nation. According to Ramayana, the island was built by Vishwakarma as a gift for Kubera, the Wealth Lord. Kubera was later overthrown by his stepbrother, Ravana. The story of Sita’s abduction at the hands of Ravana is one of the best known folklores around the world. The ‘Ram Setu’ or the ‘Adam’s bridge’, believed to be built by Lord Rama to take his army to Lanka to fight Ravana still remains one of the most significant common heritage points between India and Sri Lanka.

Ram Setu

Historically, the Indian railway network extended up to Dhanushkodi (south of Chennai) from where frequent ferry rides took the passengers to the Mannar Island in Sri Lanka. The ferry used to travel over the submerged Adam’s Bridge. A devastating cyclone in 1964 destroyed the railway facilities at Dhanushkodi which were never resurrected after that. This put an end to the ferry rides between Dhanushkodi and Mannar Island.

The shallow water over the Adam’s bridge doesn’t allow large cargo chips to pass through it. Hence, the large ships coming either from Arabian Sea or Bay of Bengal are needed to travel around Sri Lanka to reach the other side. The construction of a canal through the ‘Ram Setu’ to ease out the marine traffic has been proposed multiple times, with the most recent project being ‘Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project’. Quite understandably, these plans didn’t go well with a number of religious groups who, presenting evidence from NASA’s satellite images, claim that this bridge was built by Lord Rama and has a high religious significance attached to it. Notably, the efforts to build this canal have also received thumbs down from a number of environmental experts who doubt the feasibility of such plans and claim that this could destroy the corals.

 Growing bonhomie through tourism?

A number of experts have lauded Modi’s methods of warming up to the neighbouring nations by giving references to our common heritage. As seen with many nations, tourism and common heritage can help the nations come together and solve a number of grave issues. Let’s hope the story between India and Sri Lanka goes the same way.

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All You Need To Know About The Rafale Deal Controversy

The fiasco that Congress is creating on the Rafale Deal is certainly not fair

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Rafale Deal is very important for both the countries involved i.e. India and France.
Rafale Deal is very important for both the countries involved i.e. India and France.

By Ruchika Verma 

  • Rafale Deal happened between India and France
  • The Rafale Deal is about the Rafale fighter jets
  • The deal is getting into controversies because of the allegations de by the opposition, especially Congress

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in April 2015 made the announcement that India will buy 36 French-manufactured Rafale fighter jets from Dassault, a French aircraft builder and integrator. This came to be known as Rafale Deal.

The Rafale deal of 36 Rafale aircrafts between India and France was called a “win-win partnership” for both the countries.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi finalised the Rafale Deal during his visit to France in 2015. (FILE PHOTO)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi finalised the Rafale Deal during his visit to France in 2015. (FILE PHOTO)

But recently it has come under attack of the Opposition, mainly the Indian National Congress, which has alleged that there have been irregularities in this deal and its proceedings. However, the government has denied and rejected all the charges.

The Rafale Deal is nothing new and was also signed during the time of UPA government. The first time it came to light was during the government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee where the original proposal was to buy 126 fighter jets.

After tests and negotiations in 2012, Rafale was considered L-1 bidder and negotiations started which only came to a conclusion as the Rafale Deal in 2015 under Prime Minister Modi’s government.

NDA government has got a better price on the Rafale Deal than the UPA governement.
NDA government has got a better price on the Rafale Deal than the UPA government.

Now the UPA alleging irregularities on NDA government doesn’t seem fair to many because no deal took place under their government. The transfer of technology was a primary issue of concern between the two sides. Dassault Aviation also tried to deny to take the responsibility of quality control of the production of 108 aircraft in India. The Dassault provided for 3 crore man-hours for production of the Rafale jets in India, HAL’s estimate was approximately 3 times higher which resulted in an escalation of costs in the manifold.

Also Read: Make in India: France to set up production centers for Rafale fighters

Prime Minister Modi’s visit to France in 2015 helped bring this deal to a final conclusion. The government-to-government deal of 36 jets was to completed as soon as possible.

On costs of the Rafale Deal, NDA government has said that it got better terms than those quoted in the original bid under the UPA government. The total savings are reported to be of more than 1600 million Euros. However, the cost breakdown of Rafale Deal in the original bid under UPA government and in the 36 aircraft in the NDA’s government-to-government deal is not available for the public domain.

The Rafale Deal involves no private party from the side of India. www.worldwide-military.com
The Rafale Deal involves no private party from the side of India. www.worldwide-military.com

Under the current agreement, the  Rafale Deals support the ‘Make In India’ initiative of the Indian Government through the IGA’s Article 12. It states that France will facilitate the implementation of ‘Make In India’. These critical design technologies were already discussed between the two governments in previous meetings. The present Rafale Deal is signed between two sovereign governments and there is no private individual, firm or entity involved in the process from the side of India. The procurement process also does not include any private company or firm from India.

Also Read: IAF’s Rafale Deal with France: India confirms order

The fiasco that Congress is creating on the Rafale Deal is certainly not fair as the NDA government has proved that their deal is better than the one which was undertaken during the UPA government.