Dalits in UP threaten protest after 22 year old youth is attacked by Hindu group activists

Youth being thrashed on the streets by Hindu groups and forced to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’
Image Source: ANI

Several Dalit organisations have threatened to launch protests aftera  22 year old lower caste man Vipin Kumar was allegedly beaten up by 4 Hindu Vahini activists in Muzaffarnagar, UP. The youth was forced to chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’ said the officials on Wednesday. Shahid Udham Singh Sena, Bheem Army and other Dalit rights group, have announced that there will be agitations if the accused are not arrested at the earliest, reports Asian age.

Vipin Kumar was allegedly brutally thrashed on Monday in Kalanpur village in Muzaffarnagar, said Circle officer Yogender Singh. A complaint was filed by the victim under sections 307 of IPC and the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

Singh also added that a case was registered against four individuals who are currently absconding. Hindustan Times reports that Vipin was allegedly assaulted for leading a Dalit group that had intentions of converting to Buddhism while also removing Hindu deities from their homes.

A video clip documenting the entire assault was released on Wednesday that created significant caste tension in the region that was already volatile because of the clashes between Dalits and Thakurs last year.

In the video, the attackers can be heard saying that they had no objection to Dalits keeping portraits of Dr.Ambedkar in their homes but they could not remove portraits of Hindu deities.  The Dalit rights groups staged a demonstration at the office of the senior superintendent of police in Muzaffarnagar. The accused are yet to be arrested.

Sources: Hindustan Times, Asian Age

Being Positively Sceptical – Bengal Global Summit

Image Courtesy: The Indian Express
The state government in the third edition of Bengal Global Summit in 2017 had garnered investment commitment worth Rs 2.35 lakh crore.

West Bengal is not exactly known for its industrial competence, and the reasons for its dismal performance are manifold- militant labour activism, lack of investments in core industrial sector, microscopic interest and investment by private sector players, failure to develop a prominent service sector like tourism or the decline of traditional stronghold sectors of Jute and tea-the list is long and continuing. Almost 14 years ago, Buddhadeb Bhattacharya tried to break the shackles by bringing TATA group to the state, a first of its kind commendable move.

But the move backfired badly, the whole Nano Car Project turned out to be a dismal failure and the state was tarnished with an ignominious tag of “Unfriendly to Industry”. The chief architect of the protest and the current chief minister, Mamata Banerjee who took over the office in 2011, raised a lot of apprehensions especially after her vocal protests towards the land acquisition process and her cool attitude towards industry towards her first term.

However, better sense prevailed and the government began to take slow, yet steady steps for setting up an industrial base. The prime example was seen soon- a state of art, massive convention centre was set up on outskirts of city within a record 3 years.

On Tuesday, at the fourth Bengal Global Summit held for the first time at the convention centre,when Mukesh Ambani announced an investment of Rs. 5,000 crore, the harbinger of good time for Bengal just seemed to have arrived. The announcement follows a string of promises-all large ones, a commitment of Rs 10,000 by Jindal Group for setting a new steel plant (it has already set up a cement manufacturing plant at Salboni, West Bengal), promise of scaling up power distribution business by Sanjiv Goenka Group along with venturing into food processing industries and increasing capacity of its stronghold of Philips Carbon Black business across the state.

But, the most surprising announcement came from Ajay Singh of Spice Group who stated that it is considering the state as a hub for manufacturing sea planes.

While the chief minister is upbeat about the promises and describes the investments as certificates of confidence by the industry, due to near absence of industrial strikes in last couple of years, it remains to be the seen as how much the promised investments will actually deliver on ground. The opposition has accused the event as an empty show and the promises as rhetoric, but one cannot deny the fact that the government has made a pitch for industrial development.

In a state which enjoys a location advantage due to strategic location of ports and railways, coupled with availability of both blue and white collar workers such investments can solve the twin problems of unemployment and image development of the state. However, it remains to be seen in the coming years, as whether the event was an actual indicator regarding the winds of change for the state or just another photo opportunity at the cost of state exchequer.

Haj Subsidy Canceled, Funds to be used for empowering Minority Women

Image Courtesy: Reuters
Around 1,75,000 pilgrims to visit Haj this year from India.

On January 16th, the government decided to cancel the historical Haj subsidy. The subsidy given to Haj pilgrims can be dated back to 1932. The Port Haj Committee Act was adopted by the British to encourage the Muslims to go on a pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

Over the decades, the policy was greeted by a number of changes. And in contemporary times it had turned into a matter of criticism. Though the initial discussions to do away with the Haj subsidy began with a Supreme Court order in 2012, it was only in 2017 that the Central Haj Committee decided to abolish the subsidy with start of a new year in 2018.

With the government announcing the withdrawal of the Haj subsidy, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Minority Affairs Minister stated that the funds used for the subsidy will now be directed towards education. He claimed that the objective was to empower the women hailing from the minority section. It also interesting to note that the verdict to eliminate the subsidy came a day after the government permitted Muslim women over 45 years of age to perform a Haj yatra, in groups of four, without being accompanied by a male guardian.

However, regardless of the decision to cancel the subsidy, Naqvi told the media that around 1.75 lakh Muslims might be undertaking the Haj pilgrimage through the course of the year. He also added that the Saudi Arabian government is in talks with India to permit Haj pilgrims from India via ships.

Concerning the cancellation of the subsidy, makes one question the actual intention of the government. Did Air India and a Saudi airline feed on the subsidy arranged by the Centre for Muslims to fly budget to Jeddah? The truth is that the Haj subsidy was surrounded by numerous layers.

According to reports from Outlook magazine, in 2017 the pilgrims were required to pay a subsidized return airfare amount of Rs 45,000 for Air India. This advance booking was expensive as the Delhi – Jeddah return ticket was available at Rs 30,000 during the peak season. And in August, again during the peak season, Etihad provided tickets at Rs 39,846.

These figures reveal that the amount paid by the pilgrims was equivalent to or higher than the market price. Thus making the subsidy a financial excuse to keep Air India afloat.  However, Air India stated that the definite rate fluctuated between Rs 63,750 to Rs 1,63,350 based on the ports of embarkation.

Since 2012, there has been a decline in the amount of subsidy allocated. In 2016-17, the Centre released Rs.450 crore towards Haj. Reacting to this, Asaduddin Owaisi, leader of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen insisted on the cancellation of the subsidies as he was convinced that they were used as an armour to benefit airline companies.

Keeping the matter of airlines aside, Congress positively reacted to Modi government’s decision and demanded the successful utilization of money towards education. And since the government also supplies subsidies for Hindu pilgrimages like Kumbh Melas and the Kailash Mansarovar yatra, the Vishva Hindu Parishad requested the allocation of funds utilised for the education of poor Hindu girls.


Source: The Wire, The Indian Express

Moshe, survivor of 26/11, arrives in Mumbai after 9 years

http://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/baby-moshe-to-unveil-26-11-memorial-in-mumbai/story-gKRTB86pen9OEynMjI4dKI.htmlMoshe Holtzberg, the Israeli child who survived the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, arrived in Mumbai today, to visit the Nairman House in the city.

This is Moshe’s first visit to the city since his parents were gunned down by the terrorist during the siege at the Nairman House by ten terrorists in November 2008.

On his first day in the city, the 11-year-old boy first visited Taj Mahal hotel and then proceeded towards the Nairman House.  He was accompanied by his grandparents. More than 100 Indian and Israeli security personnel were deployed for the visit.

Moshe along with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will inaugurate a memorial dedicated to the victims of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks at Nairman House on January 18. The memorial is expected to be partially complete by the 10th anniversary of the attack.

According to Moshe’s grandfather Shimon Rosenberg, Mose will fly back to Israel with Israeli Prime Minister on January 19.

The visit comes six months after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s trip to Israel where he met the young boy and extended an open invitation.

19-year-old boy mauled to death by bull during Jallikattu

Image Courtesy: Associated Press/R. Parthibhan
An man tries to tame a bull during a traditional bull-taming festival called “Jallikattu,” in the village of Palamedu, near Madurai, Tamil Nadu state.

Madurai, January 16: A 19-year-old boy was gored to death by a bull during a Jallikattu, a bull-taming event at Palamedu, in Madurai district of Tamil Nadu. The deceased was a participant in the first round of the event. The event was held as a part of Pongal festivities in the district.

Source quoted that the deceased was playing with the bull outside the arena, after his turn in the event got over when the bull attacked him. Around 25 spectators suffered injuries during the event.  Around 1,000 bulls were issued token to mark the event, where only 450 bulls were released at the end of the event.

The Madurai district administration, which governs the event, claimed that the preparation for the event was all set to welcome thousands of people. Around 50,000 to 1 lakh spectators are expected to witness the three-day event, said the district administration.

The festive event was brought to nations attention last year with massive protest, forcing Tamil Nadu government to pass an ordinance on the event. This year, the Animal welfare board of India has instructed the state government to comply with new safety rules and regulations while conducting the event. It is not to hurt the sentiments of culture but to protect the animals from cruelty, the board added.

Source: The Indian Express, India TV News

Mamata Banerjee assures industrialists to invest in West Bengal

Image Courtesy: Arun Sharma/HT File Photo
CM Mamata Banerjee said Bengal holds potential in power, port, agro-based industries, IT and ITes, urban development, health and education and many other sectors.

Kolkata, January 16:  In order to encourage foreign investment in West Bengal, chief minister Mamata Banerjee said people of the state will dedicate their heart to Indian and foreign investors if they are willing to infuse the capital in the state. She also claimed that there is no discrimination, pressure, and intimidation in the state. Bengal has love and affection for the investors. The move was much needed to assure the investors and woo the much-needed capital to the sate.

The state is opening its business opportunity and attracting its investors never like before. If you invest in Bengal, the state will give you everything. We cannot invest but can promise our dedication and hearts to the investors. We love India and support the unity of India. We are tolerance; we do not “discriminate, and intimidate”.  And Bengal state has only “love and affection” for the investors. She said.

The prominent Industrialists, including LN Mittal of Arcelor Mittal, Sajjan Jindal of JSW Steel among many others attended the business summit. Among oversees Czech Republic, France, Germany, Poland, Italy, Japan, China, South Korea, the UK and the UAE are represented at the mega business gathering.

The chief minister also stressed the potential that states holds, like of power, port, agro-based industries, IT, urban development, education and health and many others. She said West Bengal shares boundaries with neighbouring countries of Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh and it is a perfect gateway for investors, for this she appealed to them to come to the state.

The chief minister further assured investors to consider Bengal as home and that the state will work with transparency, accountability, credibility, sincerity, and punctuality.


Sources: Hindustan Times, Firstpost

Baby Moshe accepts PM Modi’s invite, will visit Mumbai this week

Moshe Holtzberg, then a two-year old toddler, was miraculously rescued when Chabad House in Mumbai feel prey to terrorists on November 26, 2008. His parents, Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg, directors of the Chabad House, lost their lives in the attack.

Baby Moshe’s nanny, Sandra Samuels, found the child standing between his parents’ bodies. She grabbed him and fled the building. Presently, Moshe lives with his grandparents in Alufa, a town 90 km from Jerusalem.

Moshe had expressed his desire to visit Chabad House when he turned 13. “I hope I will be able to visit Mumbai. When I live there I will be the director of Chabad house,” the young boy had said.

However, his visit to Mumbai will happen two years earlier than expected. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on his visit to Israel in July last year, met Moshe and invited him to India. “Anytime you can come to India. Anytime you can go,” PM Modi said to the young boy.

Moshe accompanied Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the latter’s six-day visit to India. Moshe is expected to arrive in Mumbai on Tuesday, two days before Netanyahu’s planned visit to Mumbai.