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Retain special category status: Meghalaya CM tells Modi

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Shillong: Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to retain the “special category” status and maintain the central funding pattern for all sponsored schemes on 90:10 formula of all the eight northeastern states.

The Congress leader, who also holds the finance portfolio, also urged Modi to release the special block grants as was done by successive central governments besides enhancing adequate allocation of funds under article 275 to enable the state to transfer funds to Autonomous District Councils.

“I urge your personal intervention for action on the issues urgently and to put in place policies and procedures which are beneficial to both the central and state governments, so that we can work together in a true spirit of cooperative federalism,” Meghalaya CM said in a letter to Modi.

Sangma also said the change in funding pattern for centrally sponsored schemes had put a lot of strain on the limited resources of the state and critically required investment have had to be put on hold.

Therefore, he said, the state government was now expected to fund schemes which have been delinked from central support as well as the ongoing Special Plan Assistance and Special Central Assistance schemes which were funded by the special block grants.

Moreover, he said the state is also expected to meet the requirement of erstwhile central programmes of judicial administration, police administration, environment conservation, civil defence and maintenance expenditure which have not been funded by the 14th Finance Commission.

“These factors have resulted in dislocation in the momentum of growth that the state has been able to generate in last few years. The result will be that Meghalaya and other northeastern states will not be able to catch up with the resource rich states and thus with the rest of the country. The region will remain backward and in absence of development, our youth will be forced to migrate in search of opportunities, which do not augur well for the nation,” Sangma noted.

In recent times, the chief ministers of northeastern states have written to and met Modi urging him to retain the “special category” status besides maintaining the central funding pattern of 90:10 for them.

 

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Modi pens foreword for Hema Malini’s biography

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Hema Malini

New Delhi, Oct 13 : Prime Minister Narendra Modi has penned a “short, crisp and sweet” foreword for “Beyond The Dreamgirl”, an authorised biography of actress and BJP MP Hema Malini.

The book, by former editor of Stardust and producer Ram Kamal Mukherjee, will be launched on October 16, when the “evergreen beauty” turns 69. Its launch also marks the celebration of Hema Malini’s glorious run of 50 years in Indian showbiz.

“Our PM has written very briefly in the book about his feelings for Hemaji. It’s short, crisp and sweet, not rubble and bubble. It’s an honour for me as an author and for Hemaji also that it is perhaps the first time that an active Prime Minister has written a foreword for a book on a Bollywood actor,” Mukherjee told IANS over the phone from Mumbai.

Having started her film career in 1968 with Raj Kapoor-starrer “Sapno Ka Saudagar”, she regaled movie buffs with roles in films like “Seeta Aur Geeta”, “Sholay”, “Dream Girl” and “Satte Pe Satta”. An accomplished classical dancer, Hema Malini earned the epithet of ‘Dreamgirl’ for her flawless beauty, and became a pioneering female superstar in an otherwise male-oriented film industry.

In 1999, Hema Malini campaigned for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate in the Lok Sabha elections in Gurdaspur, Punjab. She is now a BJP MP from Mathura constituency.

“I guess it’s all because of Hemaji’s credentials and contribution to art and cinema that Mr Modi agreed to pen the foreword. When I was interacting with his office, they were very happy that Hemaji did not just limit her talk in the book to Bollywood,” said Mukherjee, who had in 2005 released a coffee table book called “Hema Malini Diva Unveiled”.

“Beyond The Dreamgirl”, published by HarperCollins India, will give readers an in-depth look into her life.

“It is divided into 23 chapters, covering her childhood, teens, Bollywood, rise as an actor, romance, colleagues, marriage, her second innings, launching Shah Rukh Khan in ‘Dil Aashna Hai’ — which she directed — her ballet, her political journey and spiritual journey. There are two chapters dedicated to her daughters Esha and Ahana.

“She has also spoken about her Agra accident and her singing career. We have summed it all up with a chapter called ‘Bliss’. This book will also have Hemaji’s family tree, which has not been published earlier, and there will be a lot of exclusive unseen photographs from her personal, professional and political spheres,” Mukherjee said.

The ageless talent has shared an insight into her life with Dharmendra as well as spoken on political figures like Modi, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, L.K. Advani and Sushma Swaraj.

How did Mukherjee get Modi to pen the foreword?

“It was not something thought of when I started writing the book two years ago. I started my research and wanted somebody else to do the foreword,” he said, without naming the film industry person whom he had approached.

“It was almost like a miracle to have Mr Modi write for us. When I discussed it with Hemaji, her first expression was, ‘I hope you know what you’re saying. I know you’re under pressure, but I think you’re losing your mind’.

“When I said there’s no harm in trying, she said, ‘You try and do whatever you want to do’. Then it was a process.”

The writer feels it’s the actress’ constant effort in promoting Indian classical music and dance through her ballets on Hindu mythological characters like Durga and Meera, which Modi appreciates.

“I think Mr Modi liked her inclination towards classical dance and music and how she promotes it at international platforms. I think this is a USP of Hema Maliniji, apart from she being Hema Malini. And I guess that’s also what justifies the title of the book.”(IANS)

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