January 19, 2018
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India empowered to me is…

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By His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

To me, India is empowered when at least 80 per cent of its people are empowered.   As most of India’s population live in rural areas, just a few urbanites being empowered will be unfortunate for this country.

India will be truly empowered when people at the grassroots start feeling confident about themselves, their way of life, their tradition and their language. A Frenchman is proud of being French or speaking French, but here in India for a Kannadiga, Telugu, Maharashtrian or Tamilian, pride depends on how well versed he or she is in English or any other foreign language. Their pride is in eating pizzas, owning branded jeans and shoes, and the foreign trips they make.

There is nothing wrong in adopting good things from other cultures. The problem is, creativity and entrepreneurship dies out completely when you don’t take pride in your own culture and lose self esteem. Wherever there is high self esteem, creativity has been proportionately high. You can see this everywhere in the world.

Empowerment means the courage to confront and willingness to co-operate. Activists resort to a confrontationist stance in most situations. Our youth must know how to co-operate and confront simultaneously. Getting stuck in predetermined positions will keep us from exploring newer possibilities.

The most effective yardstick of empowerment is the willingness of people to take responsibility. We need to move away from the blame culture. Instead of blaming the elected government, religious leaders, police and even the weather, people need to take responsibility for creating not just a prosperous but a happy society as well. Many societies in the world are prosperous, but they are miserable to the core. To me, India empowered means a crime-free, humane society.

A renewed focus on the core areas of strength will make India realise its true potential. India has the best of tourism which needs to be exploited. From the snow-clad Himalayas to the beaches and backwaters of Kerala and temples of Tamil Nadu, India offers a diverse array of destinations that can rarely be matched by any other place in the world.

India has some of the best scientific minds, most of which is youth power. In the field of science and technology, India can match the best in the world.

The ancient Indian knowledge of yoga is a rage all over the world. In the US alone, yoga is a US$27-billion industry. We need to revive and take pride in the profound and vast knowledge of yoga and meditation practices.

From Kashmir to Kanyakumari, India is bestowed with a rich lore of spiritual literature and philosophy, be it the Kashmir Shaivism of Vigyan Bhairav, Shiv Sutras, Ras Hriday Tantras or the Tamil scriptures such as Thirukural. There are, in fact, several thousands of manuscripts and palm leaf scripts which have not even been decoded yet. Thanks to the endeavour of University of Tubingen and Hamburg in Germany, many rare and old manuscripts are being preserved and digitalised.

Ayurveda has the potential to make India a leader in holistic healthcare. The largest variety of flora and fauna are available here. With Ayurveda becoming increasingly popular, India needs to measure up to the global competition and use its inherent strengths before it’s too late.

India should be proud of its diverse cuisines, dance and music, rich textiles, embroidery, jewellery and embellishments, which have been widely appreciated all over the world.

Like the story of the beggar who spent all his life in poverty unaware of the precious treasure hidden beneath his hut, India is sitting on a huge pile of wealth, not knowing its worth. The real empowerment will happen when people of India realise that they have the power to change.

Yogi Adityanath’s First Cabinet Meeting Today, 15 days After He Took Oath

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NEW DELHI:  Yogi Adityanath will hold his first cabinet meeting on today evening, 15 days after he took oath as Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister. A loan waiver for farmers is expected to headline the meeting, which, ministers said, would focus on election promises made by the BJP. The party won a landslide mandate in UP last month.

Since he has taken over, Yogi Adityanath has made a slew of big announcements, including closing down illegal slaughterhouses, and has met his ministers informally several times, but had so far not called a cabinet meeting.

It is unusual for a new chief minister to not hold a cabinet meeting within days of taking over and the delay is being ascribed to his first trying to figure out how to fund a farm waiver. He is bound by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s promise at a public rally during the election campaign. “We will waive farmers’ loan in our first cabinet meeting after the results of the UP elections,” PM Modi had said.

The BJP’s manifesto or Lok Kalyan Sankalp Patra for UP also promised to waive loans of small and marginal farmers. UP has 1.8 crore marginal farmers and about 30 lakh small farmers.


The state’s farmers owe about 62000 crore to banks and cooperative societies, money which the state doesn’t have. The chief minister is trying to get central help, but helping fund a loan waiver in only one state will be impossible for the BJP-led central government. “We will have to either seek funds from the Centre or raise loans on our own,” a UP government spokesperson said.

Sources said the new state government could announce a partial waiver today. State Agriculture Minister Surya Pratap Shahi said a proposal on writing off farm loans would be presented before the cabinet when it meets at 5 this evening.

Other key promises like electricity in rural areas and an ordinance on slaughterhouses too are expected to be taken up at the cabinet meeting. “Decisions on a number of important issues will be taken at the cabinet meeting on April 4. The focus will be on honouring the promises made in the party’s manifesto,” said Keshav Prasad Maurya, one of UP’s two deputy chief ministers.

The cabinet meeting is being watched keenly. “I hope farmers’ loans will forgiven…In many nationalized banks the Samajwadi Party has forgiven farmers’ loans, now let us see how much the BJP implements,” said Juhi Singh of the Samajwadi Party, which ruled UP for the last five years under Akhilesh Yadav.

“We are in opposition, but a strong one. The Samajwadi Party is with the people. Let us see what schemes the BJP actually rolls out on the ground. If people will have a problem then we will come on the roads,” vowed Ms Singh, whose party could win only 47 seats in this year’s election, with the BJP sweeping 312 seats, 325 along with its allies.  

India Not Doing Enough After “Racial” Attacks on Africans: Envoys

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  • African envoys term attacks against African nationals in India as “xenophobic and racial”.
  • No known, sufficient and visible deterring measures were taken by India following attack on African students, African envoys say on recent attacks. They also sought an international inquiry.
  • The statement follows a series of attacks on students from Africa. One such instance in Greater Noida last week had prompteda callfrom External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister seeking immediate action.

15 Tamil fishermen “detained” in Iran released, says Sushma Swaraj

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New Delhi, Apr 3 –External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj today confirmed that 15 Tamil fishermen, “detained” in Iran with Bahraini boats, have been released.
“I am happy to inform that Iran has released our 15 fishermen from Tamil Nadu.
They were detained with their three Bahraini boats,” Ms Swaraj said in a tweet.
She also appreciated the “good work by Indian Embassy in Iran” on the matter.
An Iranian court last month ruled that 15 Tamil fishermen out of 37 who were detained in that country in October 2016 can be released.

Panel for ‘Educationally Backward Classes’ can placate Jats and Patels

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New Delhi, Apr 3 – Into the last leg of on-going Budget session of Parliament, the Narendra Modi government is all set to get into motion for major legislative business vis-a-vis setting up on a new National Commission for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (NSEBC) that will ultimately replace the two- decade old National Commission for Backward Classes.
The move though borders with the risk of displeasing “caste groups like Yadavs”, the new criterion to incorporate the “educationally backward classes” may help BJP retain support base among Jats in Haryana and Patels in Gujarat — especially on the eve of assembly polls in Prime Minister’s political backyard (Gujarat).
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs S S Ahluwalia has said that the agenda for the coming week of Parliament would include the considering and passing of the National Commission for Backward Classes (Repeal) Bill, 2017.
Withdrawing the law that facilitated appointment of National Commission for Backward Classes will pave the way for moving a new bill that will seek to establish the new commission with “constitutional authority”.
The new Commission NSEBC will have a Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson and three other members.

Panic grips Srinagar after policemen open fire at hotel

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Srinagar, Apr 1 – Panic gripped civil lines in summer capital, Srinagar, this afternoon when police opened fire at a local hotel, official sources said. They said police received information that a suspected person had entered a hotel at Budshah Chowk in the civil lines and started damaging furniture and other property. Police immediately swung into action, rushed to the hotel and opened several rounds of fire and overpowered the person, who was reportedly mentally unsound. However, people in the busy area rushed for safety on hearing the firing shots, mistaking it as a fidayeen attack.

. Indian Army sets strict rules to reduce obesity; bans promotions, foreign postings for obese

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  • NEW DELHI: The Army will start implementing a stringent set of new rules from June to cut down on obesity in the ranks, with a ban on promotions , foreign postings and distinguished awards for soldiers not found to be in shape.Getting on with its action plan on ‘Reducing Obesity in the Indian Army ‘, instructions have been issued by HQ to all units across the country to maintain records of soldiers and officers who are found to be over 10 per cent of their ideal body weight.Senior officers have been asked to conduct spot checks, surprise visits and scrutinize records “if the individual appears to be obese”.
  • The detailed set of instructions accessed by ET also require the army to now maintain photographs of soldiers in their annual appraisal reports that will have a ‘side profile’ for visual records.Soldiers not meeting the ideal weight criteria will not be allowed to go for any foreign postings, including to the much coveted United Nations peacekeeping forces and, according to the new rules, any plum posting will not be given to the identified individuals.Officers and soldiers will also need to cut flab to pick up promotions that they would have otherwise qualified for.
  • “If an individual is found more than 10% beyond ideal body weight, records office will not issue promotion order till such time as the individual comes within laid down weight parameters,” the instructions state.The rules are also applicable to other non combat streams of the army including the army medical corps, defence security corps and the Territorial Army, empowering ‘commanders in the chain’ to conduct random checks to identify obese personnel.
  • The only exception to the rules is for soldiers who have received wounds in combat and individuals certified as having heavy muscle or bone density.Obese soldiers will also no longer be visible at public functions and events like awards ceremonies.While gallantry award winners would be allowed, any other awardees or escorts deemed to be obese would not be permitted to take part in the prestigious investiture ceremonies.

Stone Pelters: Act before it is too late

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Suresh Magotra-

The paradigms shift in approach towards Kashmir left security agencies in a tizzy.  Where the army chief Lt General Bipin  Rawat on February 15, 2017 had warned of dire consequences, after initial reluctance, the newly appointed Police Chief Dr SP Vaid has also fallen in line and said that ‘Youth protesting near the encounter sites are committing suicide; social media being used to instigate violence’.

Acting on the Chief’s statement the local authorities have asked the public in Kashmir to stay away from the places of encounters and imposition of prohibitory orders in the radius of 3 km from such sites in three districts. However, the restrictions shall not apply to the movement of ambulances, medical, paramedical staff and government employee’s .The decision had come a day after Army Chief General Bipin Rawat warned of tough action against those hampering counterinsurgency operations.

But main stream politicians, separatists have their own take on the issue. On one side lot of youth are being provided various job opportunities. Recently, the state police recruited 10,000 SPO’s from these very pelters. But this has not dampened the spirits of the stone pelters which are swelling by the day. Earlier such incidents were limited to few localities of Srinagar city, since 2008 the scene has shifted to various areas of the Valley. And now a new phenomenon has been adopted by militants and their mentors sitting across the border, i.e wherever an encounter takes place these hired pelters divert the attention of the security force by fiercely pelting stones, with the result injuring many defence personnel. In recent days about 25 militants reportedly escaped from the encounter sites owing to stone pelting.  According to sources, the modus operandi is simple, where rampant use of social media is being made. The moment security forces vehicle are seen moving towards a certain area, Whatapp messages are flashed directing the paid pelters to reach the encounter site, who in turn after reaching the spot instigate locals also and start pelting stones on the security forces ,who are engaged in encounter insurgency. The government may be mulling with the idea of taming the social media, which may again be counterproductive. The need of the hour is to re-establish the writ of the law before it is too late, as this time around, a new strategy having the tactical support of the separatists’ and those sitting across is to defunct the local police, whereby families of the cops operating in the infested areas are being threatened with dire consequences if their kin did not fall in line.   Time to ponder upon the surrender policy touted by the then National Conference and Congress government in the state having full backing of UPA government at centre, whereupon those local Pak trained militants desirous of surrender were provided safe route through Nepal and were allowed to settle back in their homes and hearths seems a misfired move on the part of government as there are reports that most of them are working as sleeper cells and have also added to this mess of stone pelting. Will mare appeal be sufficient to set the course right?



Ayodhya Case: SC dismisses Swamy’s plea for early hearing

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New Delhi, Mar 31 -The Supreme Court today refused to grant an early hearing in a plea filed by senior BJP leader Dr Subramanian Swamy in the Ayodhya case. A bench of the Apex Court headed by Chief Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar refused to grant an early hearing into Mr Swamy’s petition. The bench asked Swamy why did he not inform the court that he was not a party to the Ayodhya case. On Swamy’s request, the SC had earlier said that the issue should be resolved through negotiations by various parties, including all the petitioners and respondents. Dr Swamy had knocked the doors of the Apex Court seeking an urgent hearing into the matter. After hearing him, the court said, “We don’t have time right now to hear your plea.

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