War hero, Arjan Singh, dies at 98.

Arjan Singh, a war hero and Marshal of the Indian Air Force, has died at 98. He was admitted to Army’s Research and Referral hospital in Delhi after he had a cardiac arrest on Saturday morning. He was in a critical condition when he was admitted.

Arjan Singh was the only officer in the Indian Air Force who was promoted to a five-star rank. He became famous after he led the Air Force in the India-Pakistan war of 1965 at the age of hardly 44. He severed as the IAF chief from 1964 to 1969. In January 2002, he was elevated to the rank of the Marshal of IAF.

He was visited by the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, in the R&R hospital. After the news of Singh’s death, the Prime Minister tweeted, “India will never forget the excellent leadership of Marshal of the IAF Arjan Singh in 1965 when the IAF saw substantial action.” According to a report of NDTV, he was also visited by Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman and the three services chief along with the Prime Minister earlier today.

Singh had served as India’s ambassador to Switzerland, Vatican and Kenya. He was also appointed as the Lt. Governor of Delhi in 1989.

 

Sources: TOI, Indian Express

Image Source: Hindustan Times

Modi arrives in Assam to review flood conditions

As the flood situation worsens in Assam due to continuous heavy downpour, Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Guwahati on August 1 , 2017 to review the destruction caused by the floods. Modi arrived at Guwahati’s international airport after which he left for Khanapara. He then visited the Assam Administrative College where several review meetings were held to assess the situation. One of the main topics of discussion was the infrastructural damage caused because of the floods, reports Times of India.

Modi is also scheduled to hold talks with the Chief Minister of Assam Sarbanada Sonowal where they will discuss ways to combat the flood, provide more protection and carry out damage control. According to the Economic Times, the centre has already taken some measures to handle the situation with Modi announcing an ex-gratia amount of 2 lakhs for the families of the deceased in the floods and 50,000 rupees for those who have been seriously injured.

The Finance Minister of the state Himanta Baswa Sarma stated that the purpose of Modi’s visit to Assam was to find a permanent solution to the flood problem. Assam is currently witnessing one of its most destructive floods where more than half of Assam’s districts have been harmed by the flood with several roads and bridges going underwater. Nearly 25 lakh people are grappling with the deluge and over 70 people have lost their lives.

News Source: Economic Times, Times of India

Image Source: PMO/ Twitter

‘Aadarsh’ village Kanhewadi, a tale of new rural India

Almost seventy years ago, when India became a nation, the leaders of our country were completely convinced that the only way forward for our agrarian economy is through the growth of our agriculture and our villagers. The Gandhian belief that “If the villages perish, India will perish too” was entrenched in the principles of our nation and ahead we surged hoping to provide a better life to the millions of Indians living in numerous villages all over the country.

Sadly, the condition of our villages today defies this notion of our founding fathers as the rural India rots away due to lack of development and opportunity, while humongous industries scrawl up all over the urban India.

The picture may look too discouraging but all hope has not been lost. As one moves about 56 km north of the urban city of Pune, we enter one of Maharashtra’s villages, Kanhewadi. Lush green fields, cemented roads, schools and happy faces fill this small village.

Apart from agriculture, the ordinance factory, box factory, and Cadbury factory provide employment to the villagers in the area. Majority of women work along with the men in the fields. When asked how is life in their village, with a smile on her face, Sunanda replies, “It is very good. We are all happy. We have everything we need”.

Sunanda like many others has been living in the village all her life. With her husband working in the box factory and her son working in the nearby village, she feels at peace with her life.

The basic necessities of water and electricity are available in each household, with a separate drinking water machine installed in the village. At a rate of 5 rupees per 20 litres, this machine provides the villagers with their daily quota of clean drinking water. This has helped improve the life quality of the people immensely. Additionally, the government supplied water for other purposes is made available every day to the villagers; the only issue being no fixed timing for each household as the supply happens daily between 6 am to 2 pm.

Daily power cuts do trouble the people a bit, but they are still content with regular power supply available to each household in the village. The villagers very proudly explain the open-defecation free status of their village as each house has individual toilets.

Every child attends the primary school in the village till class 5, post which they have to go to a school in the nearby Induri village for higher studies. The local panchayat provides the children with bicycles for free to travel to the school so that education is affordable for each and every kid in the village. The primary school has E-learning facilities with the children learning computers very eagerly.

Apart from this, as a part of a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) project, Volkswagen runs a mobile health clinic van which covers many villages along with Kanhewadi on a daily basis, providing basic health care and medicines in these areas.

Many more companies like Reliance, Cadbury, etc. have adopted such villages as a part of their CSR projects and are helping realize the vision of an equally developed India.

The major role of this change has been played by the Gram Panchayat, specifically Mrs. Shanta Yevale, the Sarpanch of Kanhewadi who has been actively working to make Kanhewadi an “AADARSH” village.

While there is a lack of emergency services in the village, Vishnu Prasad, a retired government employee recalls the days when there was only a mud road running throughout the village and one had to cross the river and walk to reach the nearest railway station to reach further into the city of Pune for higher education and work opportunities. Today, Vishnu’s elder son is a professor in the University of Mumbai.

Certainly, the journey doesn’t end here, but it is definitely a start worth looking forward to. The tale of developing India is just beginning, after all as the Prime Minister says, “Acche din aane wale hai”.

 

 

Image Source-

Ratnadeep Choudhary

Ashok Malik picked as Ram Nath Kovind’s Press Secretary

Senior journalist and analyst, Ashok Malik, has been selected as the new President-elect, Ram Nath Kovind’s press secretary.

 

The announcement of press secretary was made by the Department of Personnel and Training, along with the selection of Sanjay Kothari and Bharat Lal as Rashtrapati Bhavan’s secretary and joint-secretary, respectively.

 

Malik, a veteran journalist, is one of India’s well-known columnists, having written for The Indian Express, The Telegraph, India Today and more, and also occurs as a commentator on news television programs. Additionally, he also held the position of consulting editor at media publications Tehelka and Pioneer. He frequently writes about trade policy from a domestic and international context, along with national politics and economics. The press secretary is also currently part of Indian think-tank Observer Research Foundation as a Distinguished Fellow from 2015.

 

In 2016, the senior analyst was awarded the Padma Shri Award by the Indian Government. The Modi government has awarded him honorary positions – a part of the board of governors at a CSR-focused think-tank, Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs, and the Rajghat Memorial Committee.

Sources-

  1. Indian Express- http://indianexpress.com/article/who-is/who-is-ashok-malik-president-ram-nath-kovind-press-secretary-ram-nath-kovind-4762067/

2. Financial Express-http://www.financialexpress.com/india-news/who-is-ashok-malik-narendra-modi-led-committee-picks-senior-journalist-as-press-secretary-to-president-elect-ram-nath-kovind/774466/

Hizbul chief Salahuddin admits to conducting terror acts in India

The recently-designated ‘global terrorist’, Hizbul Mujahideen Chief, Syed Salahuddin, has admitted in an interview to Geo News that his terrorist organization has carried out numerous attacks in India with the support Hizbul garners from India.

He made it absolutely clear, that they are a lot of sympathizers in Kashmir who help him carry out planned attacks on Indian soil. “Khud India ke andar hamare bahot saare supporters hai. Jo hamse hamdardi hai. Jo samajh hai Kashmiri maslo mein. Jo hamse hamdardi karte hai”, said Salahuddin.

He also threw light on the international arms market and how he can deliver arms to any customer on either side of the LOC, in exchange of money.

Hours after the Modi-Trump meeting in the United States, Salahuddin was labelled as a global terrorist, a move that was welcomed by India. This only reinforces the commitment that the two countries have promised in the past to tackle terrorism.

In 2016, Salahuddin put up an open resolution that he will not allow any peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue and the valley would be a “graveyard of Indian soldiers”, as Hizbul will continue a train batches of suicide bombers.

 

Sources: India Today, Hindustan Times

China accuses Indian border guards of ‘crossing boundary’ into Sikkim section

The Indian troops on June 27, 2017, were accused by China for cross-border incursion into its territory from the state of Sikkim on India’s northeastern frontier with Tibet which has raised tensions between the countries.

Gang Shuang a spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry said, “We have lodged solemn representation in Beijing and New Delhi to elaborate our solemn position.”

Reuters reported that Geng Shuang yearned India to respect the territorial integrity of China and the border treaties signed by the two countries. Adding further, he said that China had suspended official pilgrimages at the Nathu La Pass.

According to The Hindu, the Chinese foreign ministry has asserted that the area where the border incident took place was undisputed.

Referring to the Kailash Yatra, the foreign ministry said, “At the same time, in view of the above events, for security reasons, the Chinese side had to suspend the arrangement of the Indian official pilgrimage group through the Sino-Indian border at Nathu La pass, Sikkim, into the pilgrimage, and through diplomatic channels informed the Indian side.”

According to Reuters, Chinese President Xi Jinping told Modi a few days ago that the two countries should work to “appropriately” manage their differences.

The Indian government has since then taken steps to decrease tensions. Modi is expected to attend a summit of the BRICS nations namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa and hence will be visiting China in September.

 

Sources : Reuters, The Hindu, BBC

25 years after Godhra riots: Politics of hate still prevails

February 27th marked 15 years since the infamous Godhra incident. The draconian face of humanity engulfed Gujarat across its length and breadth. State machinery remained paralysed for numerous days and the nation watched the murders and rapes in pin drop silence. The riot which brutally killed thousands of people (mostly Muslims), displaced them permanently and destroyed their livelihood was a much celebrated event in the state of Gujarat by the then Chief Minister and his party.

Like all the other cases, this case of 2002 is still in court. However, a few people like Maya Kodnani and Babu Bajrangi have been convicted and sentenced by the special court for their roles in the Naroda Patiya riots. The irony of the situation is that, Maya is roaming freely and Bajrangi has been released on bail multiple times.

15 years down the line, the state of Gujarat has changed for the on-lookers but not for the minorities of Muslims. Harsh Mander, an activist, opines in an interview with Hindustan times, “15 years after the Gujarat riots, there is the new normalcy of Gujarat, in which Muslims have learnt to live separately, much like Dalits have been forced to exist for centuries… I feel an intense unrest and foreboding thinking about how fundamentally the idea of India and its practice is changing so rapidly today and how the politics of hate has so profoundly polarised and divided us.”

Today, Muslims in Gujarat have stopped revealing even their names to anyone in order to protect themselves from another communal feud. They have stopped showcasing any external symbolic representation of their religion. The displaced Muslims have not been able to return to their homes after the 2002 massacre. Many villages have banned Muslims and have proudly proclaimed to be a “Muslim free village.” While those villages who did allow their residency, have a set of stringent rules to be followed.

The “Gujarat model” which received laurels from the Country for its business-friendly administration over investment in social sectors, did not represent the entire state of Gujarat. The less recognised part of this model was systematic reduction of the minority religion to second-class citizens. These second-class citizens comprise of not only Muslims but also Christians, Dalit and tribal communities of Gujarat.

Even after receiving flak, the communal violence in the country has only been increasing with campaigns such as ‘ghar wapsi’, ‘love jihad’ and ‘beef lynching’. India’s constitution calls it as a ‘Secular state’ however, in the wake of these incidents, the idea of being secular as a Nation-state is in question.

Source: Hindustan times and Catch news