Monday June 17, 2019
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Students’ discussion panel de-recognized by IIT Madras for criticizing PM Modi 

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

IIT Madras stirred a controversy by de-recognising a discussion panel for students that apparently tried to spread “hatred” against Prime Minister Narendra Modi by mobilizing SC/ST students to question government policies on the use of Hindi and the ban on cow slaughter.

Reportedly, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) made an inquiry after receiving an anonymous complaint against the activities of the Ambedkar Periyar Student Circle (APSC) on the IIT campus. The complainant had enclosed one of APSC’s pamphlets containing a copy of a speech, which criticized PM Modi’s government and its policies.

Times of India reported that the ‘controversial’ pamphlet that the MHRD forwarded was a reproduced speech by a Dravidian University academic, R Vivekandanda Gopal, on the “Contemporary relevance of Dr Ambedkar.” The event was organized by the APSC on the campus. The pamphlet reproduced portions of the speech in which the speaker had criticized the Modi regime for “pro-corporate” policies such as the Land Acquisition Bill and insurance and labor reforms. He had also accused the government of “communally polarizing” people by introducing a ban on cow slaughter and through ‘ghar wapsi’ programs.

As per the report, in the letter addressed to the IIT director dated May 15, Prisca Mathew, under secretary to the government of India, wrote, “I am directed to forward herewith a copy of anonymous letter alleging serious complaints received from students, IIT-Madras along with pamphlet issued by Ambedkar-Periyar study circle on the above mentioned subject and to request that comments of the institute may please be sent to this ministry at an early date.”

The IIT dean (for students), Sivakumar M Srinivasan, on May 24 in a concise email, informed the coordinators of the APSC that they had been “derecognized.”

Members of APSC, upset and enraged at this decision, pointed out that the HRD ministry’s action and the IIT’s decision to ban their activities was based on an anonymous complaint by right-wing groups and that they were denied a hearing. The group questioned that how an ‘anonymous’ letter can represent the majority opinion of the students of IIT-Madras.

“We object to the fact that the dean has derecognized our study circle unilaterally without giving us a fair hearing and an opportunity to represent ourselves. In our interaction with the dean of students, we have been told that our study circle engaged in “controversial activities” and violated the code of conduct of independent student bodies. We are clear in our stand that we have not misused any privileges given by the institute,” said a member of the APSC.

After being banned, APSC can no longer avail the facilities on the campus including the auditoriums for its functions.

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India’s President ‘Ram Nath Kovind’ Designates ‘Narendra Modi’ as PM for Second Term

The Election Commission announced that the BJP won 303 out of 542 seats in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of Parliament

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Newly elected lawmakers from India's ruling alliance led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party raise their hands in support of Narendra Modi's election as their leader in New Delhi, May 25, 2019. VOA

India’s president on Saturday appointed Narendra Modi as the prime minister soon after newly elected lawmakers from the ruling alliance, led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, elected him as their leader following a thunderous victory in national elections.

President Ram Nath Kovind said in a tweet that he also asked Modi to forward the names of those to be appointed as ministers in his government and the date for the swearing-in for his second five-year term as prime minister. Modi and some leaders of his alliance met the president on Saturday.

Media reports said Modi was likely to be sworn in by Kovind on Thursday.

BJP president Amit Shah announced Modi’s name as the leader of the National Democratic Alliance in a meeting of the lawmakers in the Central Hall of Parliament in New Delhi.

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, second right, hugs senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader M.M. Joshi as L.K. Advani, left, watches after Modi’s election as ruling alliance leader, in New Delhi, May 25, 2019. VOA

The Election Commission announced that the BJP won 303 out of 542 seats in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of Parliament, after the official vote count from the six-week-long election was completed on Friday. That is well beyond the simple majority a party in India needs to form a government.

The BJP’s top rival, the Indian National Congress led by Rahul Gandhi, won 52 seats, and the All India Trinamool Congress led by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee won 22.

Unity movement

Critics say Modi and his party have applied divisive policies and used a Hindu-first strategy. But Modi said after Saturday’s vote that “this election has become a movement of social unity.” “It is generally said that the election divides, creates distances, makes walls. But the 2019 elections have worked to break the walls,” he said in his address.

On Friday, Modi met with his outgoing Cabinet ministers and later presented his resignation to the country’s president. The president asked the officials to continue to serve until the new government assumes office.

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The Election Commission announced that the BJP won 303 out of 542 seats in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of Parliament. VOA

Gandhi, whose great-grandfather, grandmother and father were all prime ministers, personally conceded his seat, long a Congress party bastion, to his BJP rival, India’s textiles minister, marking the end of an era for modern India’s most powerful political dynasty.

Counting of the estimated 600 million ballots cast over six weeks of staggered polling — the world’s largest democratic exercise — began early Thursday.

ALSO READ: Here’s How TikTok Made PM Modi Popular Among Young Voters

Hindu-first politics

The victory was largely seen as a referendum on Modi’s Hindu-first politics that some observers say have bred intolerance toward Muslims and other religious minorities, as well as his muscular stance on neighboring Pakistan, with whom India nearly went to war earlier this year after suicide attacks killed more than 40 Indian security officials in Indian-controlled Kashmir.

Modi effectively used the incident as a major campaign tool after responding to the attack with an airstrike in Pakistan that triggered nationalist sentiments, with the BJP saying Modi is the right person to ensure India’s national security. (VOA)