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Sushma Swaraj’s Thailand visit signals major cultural push for India

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New Delhi: Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj during a programme organised on the culmination of Indio-Nepal Car Rally at India Gate in New Delhi, on March 8, 2015. (Photo: Sunil Majumdar/IANS)

Bangkok: The signing of a revised treaty to avoid double taxation may have hogged the limelight during the recent visit of the Indian Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj to Thailand, but the two-day June-end trip also signaled a significant push to Indian cultural promotion and soft power in Southeast Asia.

Barely a week after the organisation of International Yoga Day, the Indian government moved ahead with a concerted effort to promote ayurveda and Sanskrit in Thailand. Also on the agenda was the exchange of Instruments of Ratification of Extradition Treaty, which had followed an earlier visit of India’s naval fleet to Thailand, indicating a deepening of security ties between the two countries.

While India has historically sought to capitalise on being the fountainhead of Buddhism in this highly devout Buddhist country, this visit expanded it to a broader realm. In May 2013, then Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh had gifted a sapling of the original Bodhi Tree from Bodh Gaya to the king of Thailand. The following year, Thailand’s Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn visited Bodh Gaya and Nalanda, both places of eminence in the Buddhist pantheon. Both reflected the shared sentiments of Thailand and India on ties based on Buddhism.

However, a significant part of the visit by Sushma Swaraj this time was dedicated to cultural affairs. Besides signing a memorandum of understanding on Nalanda University, another agreement was signed to establish a chair on ayurveda at Rangsit University in Thailand.

Sushma Swaraj also graced the 16th World Sanskrit Conference, and an official Doordarshan team was in place to cover this event. Speaking in Sanskrit, Sushma Swaraj described Sanskrit as “sacred” which sanctifies all that come into its contact.

The minister also visited a key centre of activities relating to India — the Centre for Bharat Studies at Mahidol University in Bangkok. The centre is known for its academic work on ayurveda, Gandhian satyagraha as well as the Indian diaspora in Southeast Asia.

The minister also met representatives of the Indian community, with separate meetings being held with the “Overseas Friends of BJP” and members of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of Thailand.

Just a few days ago, three swamijis from the Swaminarayan Akshardham Temple, New Delhi, had met the Indian ambassador in Thailand, and at the World Sanskrit Conference, they presented the ‘Swaminarayan Bhashyam’ which are complete commentaries of Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita and the Brahma Sutras.

Out of the five agreements signed between Thailand and India during Sushma Swaraj’s visit, two were on culture, one on extradition and commerce, and one focussed on the Thailand-India Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation.

While this was the seventh in a series of joint commissions, it was preceded by a senior official meeting co-chaired by Anil Wadhwa, secretary (east) in the Ministry of External Affairs of India and Vitavas Srivihok, deputy permanent secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand.

While the media focus was on the address of the minister to business leaders, Sushma Swaraj said India’s ruling NDA government was focussing on the 3Cs – commerce, culture and connectivity. This trip was not just about commerce, but significantly also about culture.

(IANS)

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“If Jinnah is secular than Laden is the world’s best democrat”, Ahmar Mustikhan

The recent emotional reunion between Kulbhushan Jadhav and his wife and mother has garnered enough global attention.

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Ahmar Mustikhan has come in for full support of Kulbhushan Yadav and his family
Ahmar Mustikhan has come in for full support of Kulbhushan Yadav and his family

NEW DELHI: In a recent Facebook video, Ahmar Mustikhan has communicated his views on the recent meeting of Kulbhushan Yadav with his wife Chetna and mother Avanti. Mustikhan is a renowned writer, analyst, and veteran Baloch journalist. He is also the founder of a non-profit organisation known as ’American Friends of Balochistan’. Through this organization, Mustikhan expresses his views on atrocities of Pakistani army been hammered on Baloch people.

Kulbhushan Jadav is an Indian national, who is been sentenced to death by the Pakistani Army court.. Wikileaks
Kulbhushan Jadav is an Indian national, who is been sentenced to death by the Pakistani Army court. Wikileaks

Kulbhushan Yadav is an Indian national, who is been sentenced to death by the Pakistani Army court. The recent emotional reunion between Kulbhushan Jadhav and his wife and mother has garnered enough global attention due to the mental torcher experienced by both the ladies at the Pakistani foreign office. The cold-shouldered response from Pakistan’s side was fiercely condemned by the Indian people and called it a violation of the human rights of the women. Foreign minister Sushma Swaraj even called it a “propaganda weapon” used by Pakistan.

MustiKhan in his video referred Pakistan as “Chapal Chor Pakistan” (Slipper thief Pakistan) because Pakistan’s foreign office had confiscated the slippers of Kulbhushan’s wife on the pretext of security concern. The women were even asked to remove their mangalsutra, bindi, and bangles for the same reason. Later on, Pakistani media didn’t let any stone unturned by harassing both the women and calling them murderer’s wife and mother.

Also Read: Clerics help Pakistan pedophiles target minor Hindu, Christian girls

On this basis, Mustikhan viewed that a Hindu or an Indian can never get Justice from the hands of Pakistan. To support his views, he quoted a historic event of 1927 which is related to a Hindu Marwari merchant, Raj Shivratan Chandraratan Mohatta. The merchant had built a very splendid mansion in the love of his ailing wife and named it ‘Mohatta Palace’ and was considered as the most beautiful residence of Karachi at that time. But Muhammad Ali Jinnah got his eyes on his house and forced him to vacate it. Soon, the house was taken over and turned into Pakistan’s first foreign office. After the capital was relocated to Islamabad from Karachi, the mansion was transferred to Jinnah’s sister, Fatima Jinnah. So, this was the case of the first foreign office of Pakistan, as stated by Ahmar Mustikhan.

According to MustiKhan, the Indian people who crib about Narendra Modi are directly supporting the views of Pakistani Generals and militants. These are the same army generals who have the blood of millions of innocent people on their hands.  When Modi was elected as the Prime Minister of India, some people called him as the “Butcher of Gujarat”. MustiKhan also denounces the view that Kulbhushan Yadav and Ajmal Kasab are similar offenders, as claimed by the Pakistani media. But he openly challenges the Pakistani government regarding any proof related to Yadav’s case, whereas Kasab’s heinous act was captured live on CCTV cameras. Here, MustiKhan openly exposes the double face strategy of Pakistan.

Also see: Ahmar Mustikhan views on Kulbhushan Yadav’s meeting with his mother and wife

MustiKhan even said, “If Jinnah is secular (as people says in Pakistan) than Laden is the best Democrat.” With his all these efforts, he is trying to make people aware of the war crimes against the people of Balochistan and has even requested the Indian people to support his cause of peace and harmony.