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World Hindi Meet curbs press freedom


VIkas swropBy NewsGram Staff Writer

The World Hindi Meet, the prestigious three-day international event, has raised a public furore after the media was kept out of the various sessions starting today.

After the inauguration ceremony was addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, at the Lal Parade Ground here, the media persons were told they could not attend the various sessions as they were closed to the media.

Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup informed the media persons that in case of such international events, the media was allowed only during the inauguration and concluding ceremonies.

A bitter stand-off then ensued with some journalists protesting, saying such a stipulation never occurred in the previous nine World Hindi conferences.

Later, Swarup briefed the media about the different sessions held on Thursday.

The four main sessions held on Thursday were: ‘Videsh Niti Mein Hindi’ or the use of Hindi in India’s foreign policy, the use of Hindi in administration, the use of Hindi in science, and the use of Hindi in information and technology.

Girmityas, or the diaspora living in Mauritius and Fiji were also among the other themes which saw the participation of around 2,000 from India.

27 other countries are expected to attend the 10th edition of the Vishwa Hindi Sammelan, an event organised by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in collaboration with the Madhya Pradesh government on September 10-12 in Bhopal.

The theme for the 10th World Hindi Conference is: ‘Hindi Jagat: Vistar evam Sambhavnai’ (World of Hindi: Expansion and Scope).


(With inputs from IANS)

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PM Narendra Modi to attend UN Vesak Day celebrations in Sri Lanka

It has been confirmed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will attend the UN Vesak Day celebrations to mark the birth of Buddha in Sri Lanka in May

Narendra Modi, Wikimedia

Colombo, Feb 18, 2017: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has confirmed his participation in the UN Vesak Day celebrations in Sri Lanka in May, a Sri Lankan minister was quoted as saying.

“Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has confirmed his participation in UN Vesak Day celebrations which will be conducted in Sri Lanka this year,” Minister of Justice and Buddha Sasana Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe said, the Colombo Page reported.

“We are going to celebrate the thrice blessed day on a grand scale,” Rajapakshe added.

The UN Vesak Day will be observed in Sri Lanka to mark the birth, enlightenment and passing away of the Buddha who founded Buddhism.

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This is the first time Sri Lanka has been given the opportunity to host this festival.

Many world leaders have been invited to the first ever United Nations’ Vesak Day celebrations to be held in in Sri Lanka on May 12 this year.

Over thousand representatives from India, China, Japan, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Laos, Tibet, Bhutan, Mongolia and other countries where Buddhism is practiced are expected to participate in the event.

Ahead of Prime Minister Modi’s visit, Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar is paying a visit to Sri Lanka from February 18 to 20, during which a wide range of bilateral issues will be discussed.

“The visit will continue the tradition of close exchanges with Sri Lanka that has gained momentum in the last two years,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said in a briefing in New Delhi earlier.

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“He will interact with the Sri Lankan leadership for discussions on possibilities of collaboration and cooperation in a number of sectors, including power, highways, airport, hydrocarbon sector, etc,” he said.

“The visit would help in taking stock on various decisions taken during the meetings between the two leaderships,” he said.

The Indian Foreign Secretary’s visit comes as a team from the Export-Import Bank of India was in Sri Lanka to monitor the progress of projects under India’s Lines of Credit (LoC) scheme, particularly in the railway sector.

The team visited sites of the Northern Railway Rehabilitation Project, including Kankesanthurai Railway Line, Omanthai-Pallai railway line, etc., apart from evaluating the signalling and telecommunication systems installed under the LoC, the Indian High Commission said in a statement.

The Line of Credit (LOC) is a financing mechanism through which India’s Exim (Export-Import) Bank extends support for export of goods and services from India. Between 2008-15 Exim Bank has disbursed $11,678 million as LOCs for various development related and capacity building projects across continents.

India has provided concessionary credit facilities amounting to about $800 million to Sri Lanka to undertake the Northern Railway Rehabilitation Project. Engineering and construction company IRCON International implemented the project, including track upgradation and setting up of signalling and communication infrastructure.

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The Exim Bank team also called on Sri Lanka Transport and Civil Aviation Minister Nimal Siripala De Silva and senior officials in several Sri Lankan ministries of such as Railways, Department of External Resources, Ministry of National Policies and Economic Affairs, etc.

The Indian High Commission said it remains committed to strengthening its bilateral relationship with Sri Lanka through closer economic ties, enhancing connectivity and continued development partnership. IANS