Denied visas under new U.S. policy, say Kashmir athletes A Kashmiri sportsman has been held on charges of molestation during a snowshoe racers’ event in United Nation’s Saranac Lake village, New York.J&K Sports Council secretary Waheed-ur-Rehman Parra confirmed to The Hindu that a sportsman on an independent event “has been detained.” “We are ascertaining the facts. Initial reports suggest that a Kashmir-origin sportsman has been detained. We are in the process of providing him the legal aid since he belongs to Jammu and Kashmir. So far, we have sketchy details of what has actually happened at the venue,” Mr. Parra said.A U.S.-based website, northcountrypublicradio.org, has identified the Indian snowshoe racer as Tanveer Hussain, 24.Mr. Hussain, a J&K Bank employee, is on a visit to Saranac Lake for an international snowshoe competition. “He (Mr. Hussain) was arrested on Wednesday and charged with first degree sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child,” the website quoted the Adirondack Daily Enterprise.According to the Enterprise, Hussain is accused of “inappropriate sexual behaviour with an underage girl, contact which allegedly took place on Monday in the village of Saranac Lake.”In a statement released by the Saranac Lake Village Police, according to a U.S.-based newspaper, the officials accused Mr. Hussain of “engaging in a passionate kiss with a 12-year-old girl”.“He further was accused of touching her in an intimate area over her clothing…There was no accusation of force. The charges result of the age differences of the individuals. There were no other allegations made against Mr. Hussain,” the police is quoted as saying.In January this year, The Hindu reported that two Kashmiri athletes, including Mr. Hussain, were denied visa by the U.S. embassy in India “due to the Donald Trump administration’s tough laws”, an accusation denied by the U.S. administration later.Also Read Mr. Hussain was allowed a visa to enter the U.S. for the competition, according to the website, following intense lobbying from local officials and residents in the Adirondacks, as well as by U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer.
Panaji: The State government formed a high-level steering committee on Saturday to hasten the decision-making for setting up the infrastructure for the under-17 FIFA World Cup. Goa would host nine matches of the event, including one quarter-final.The tournament is scheduled to begin on October 6. Chief Secretary Dharmendra Sharma will chair the committee.A government spokesperson said the committee has been formed “to provide the required executive decision-making, to meet all the requirements and obligations of being a host city for the event.”The venue for the matches is Jawaharlal Nehru stadium in Fatorda, South Goa.
Samajwadi Party (SP) national president Akhilesh Yadav on Saturday once again raised questions on the credibility of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs). His latest quip, however, was not provoked by any election result but curiously on the theft of petrol from filling stations.“If remote-controlled electronic chips can be used to steal petrol without any internet connection, then EVMs can also be [tampered with],” Mr. Yadav tweeted. “The misuse of technology must stop,” he said.The former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh was reacting after the State police Special Task Force (STF) exposed a racket in which electronic chips were being installed in dispensing machines at petrol pumps to reduce output and gain illegal profits by duping customers. In a joint operation with district officials, the U.P. STF on Friday arrested 23 persons, including 13 petrol pump owners and managers and one technician, in connection with the case. The police also recovered 15 electronic chips and 29 remote controllers after its teams raided seven petrol pumps in the State capital. According to police, the owners and managers of the petrol stations would get electronic chips fitted into the dispensing machines under the garb of getting them repaired. “The owner or dealer would generate a log of machine fault and then get the external chip installed through an electrician. This way, they would also get the seal of the weights and measurement department broken. The owner would control the chip through a remote control, switching it off whenever he suspected a police raid,” a police spokesperson said.The chips were pre-calibrated for 5% to 10% deduction in the dispensed amount, said officials, which means that though the petrol metre showed the correct figure, the customer would end up getting 5% to 10% less petrol.STF Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Amit Pathak said that due to the electronic chips an average petrol pump was earning around ₹6 lakh as illegal profit per month, while the larger stations were earning as much as ₹12 lakh.U.P. Director General of Police (DGP) Sulkhan Singh has ordered the constitution of a Special Investigating Team (SIT) to probe cases of petrol pilferage.Mr. Singh has also issued an advisory to all district magistrates to constitute a team to check the tampering of petrol pumps by organised gangs installing chips.Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas congratulated the U.P. STF for “unearthing the racket”. “The Petroleum Ministry & OMCs [oil manufacturing companies] will take strict action against those found guilty of short delivery & tampering with the dispensing units,” Mr. Pradhan tweeted.
A month after the Yogi Adityanath government announced a loan waiver package for farmers in UP, Suresh, a middle-aged farmer in Rohana area of Muzaffarnagar, committed suicide on Tuesday apparently because he was depressed due to the money he owed to the local bank. Suresh’s nephew Shivam said that Suresh was depressed as he had taken a loan of Rs. 3 lakh from the Rohana branch of Allahabad Bank which he had been unable to pay. “My uncle was in depression due to the farm loan he had taken a few years ago. He was extremely happy when the Adityanath government announced a farm loan waiver. But what sent him into depression was when he found out that he would not benefit from the waiver due to some technical grounds,” Shivam told the media. “The local district officials and those from the bank had apparently told him that farm loan waiver would not rescue him at all from the loan he had taken few years ago. This worry had been eating him up from within. On Tuesday he just got up, went into his room, and shot himself in his head. We were shocked because we did not expect that he would commit suicide,” he added. The doctors at the district hospital declared him brought dead. Sudhir Panwar, a farmers activist who hails from the nearby district of Shamli, told The Hindu that Suresh’s suicide pointed towards the biggest problem with the farm loan waiver as conceptualised by the Adityanath government. He said the amount of loan waiver worth Rs 30,729 crore does not match the total amount of loan taken by farmers. “The amount of loan taken by the farmers in the State and the amount which has been waived off by the State government does not match, which raises questions about the exact benefits that the farmers will get. Moreover, giving only a section of the farmers the benefit when the entire sector is going through an acute crisis is a complete betrayal of the promise the Prime Minister made to the farmers of the State. I think the State government had taken the decision more with the 2019 general election in mind than the acute crisis the farmers of the State faced,” Panwar, a former member of the UP Planning Commission, told The Hindu.
Pune: Former Chief Minister and Maharashtra Swabhiman Party (MSP) chief Narayan Rane on Friday once again attacked Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray over the upcoming mega refinery in Konkan’s Ratnagiri district. “I do not care how many cases are lodged against me… But I will continue my protest until this project is cancelled,” said Mr. Rane, speaking in Rajapur to display solidarity with families displaced by the project. Opposed by villagersThe project is being opposed by more than 3,000 residents of around 15 villages in Rajapur taluk. Locals allege that the project, if implemented, will ruin 14,000 hectares of fertile land besides the thriving mango and cashew nut cultivation for which the region is famous. The mega refinery and petrochemical complex project, set to come up in Rajapur, has already kicked off a political storm, with the Sena at loggerheads with its ally, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), over the project pegged at ₹1.5 trillion. “The Sena is merely pretending to oppose the project and take sides with the afflicted families. Show me proof that the Sena is truly against the project, and I will quit politics,” Mr. Rane said attacking the Sena for its ‘doublespeak’ over the mega project. He also warned the district authorities against interfering with the agitation. Resistance from partyThe Konkan strongman, who first made his political fortunes with the Shiv Sena, joined the Congress only to quit it in October last year in the hope of securing a cabinet berth in the BJP-led government in the State. However, he faces fierce opposition from the Sena. In December last year, Union Heavy Industries Minister and senior Shiv Sena leader Anant Geete had criticised Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis over the project and declared that the Sena would vociferously oppose it.“We are against the project as locals people are opposing it. Many people would have to be displaced during the land acquisition process and this is not acceptable,” Mr. Geete had said at the time and termed the project as “erroneous”. The minister had lambasted Mr. Fadnavis over media reports quoting the Chief Minister saying that Mr. Geete and the Sena MP from Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg Vinayak Raut had requested the refinery project.
Punjab Congress chief and Lok Sabha MP from Gurdaspur Sunil Jakhar on Sunday said that the party will expose the misdeeds and failures of the BJP-led Central government in the monsoon session of Parliament, slated to start from July 18. “The BJP government has completely failed to achieve the goals, in the shape of promises in its election manifesto of 2014. The government has virtually run away from the promises made to the farmers. Nothing has been done on issues like area-specific crops, vegetable farming scheme, agricultural rail link and price stability fund,” alleged Mr. Jakhar. ‘Lot of noise’ He added that on the issue of black money, the BJP had made a lot of noise before the elections. “The government has failed to bring back black money to the country,” he said. Mr. Jakhar said on the job front as well, the NDA government has failed to deliver. “Unemployment across the country has increased manyfold in the last four years. Similarly, the condition of the weaker sections and minorities has worsened,” he alleged. ‘Religious issues’ He added that the party had come to power by raising religious and emotional issues like ‘Ram Temple’ and ‘Article 370’, but after assuming power, ‘the government threw its own manifesto in trash’. “We will raise all these issues in upcoming session of Parliament to expose the NDA government’s failures and misdeeds,” said Mr. Jakhar.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday said that Aam Aadmi Party was the first political party in the history of independent India to hold a public meeting on the twin issues of schools and hospitals, adding that no outfit had ever raised these issues from a political platform over the past seven decades.Addressing the gathering at Gaushala Ground here, Mr. Kejriwal said the political parties hold “Hunkar rally”, “Parivartan Rally” and “Vikas Rally”, but AAP was the first party to hold “School-Hospital Rally”, adding that the people sitting in the sun for several hours showed that they wanted change in Haryana, having tried and been duped by all other political parties.He said the private schools in Haryana were charging exorbitant fee and similar was the situation in Delhi when he took over as Chief Minister, but he did not allow these institutions to increase the fee over the past three years. “We conducted the audit of the private schools in Delhi and made them return the overcharged fee for the past ten years. The families were pleasantly surprised to receive the cheques a decade after their wards had passed out,” said Mr. Kejriwal, adding that his party would improve the condition of the schools in Haryana as well in the event of coming to power.Mr. Kejiriwal also touched upon the issue of government hospitals and Mohalla Clinics in Delhi and invited the people of Haryana to come over and see the change for themselves. “We are offering all kinds of treatment in government hospitals free of cost for the rich and the poor,” he said, adding that “the chest of Delhiites had swelled with pride” and sought to know as to why the current Bharatiya Janata Party government and the previous governments of Congress and the Indian National Lok Dal had failed to bring about this change. “All parties previously indulged in corruption,” he alleged.Saying that his government gave ₹1 crore each to the martyrs, Mr. Kejriwal, in a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his “56-inch chest” remark, said he had not kept his promise before the 2104 general elections “to bring heads of ten Pakistani soldiers for every head of Indian soldier cut by them”.The Chief Minister also raised the issue of recent chilli powder attack on him and alleged that it seemed to be a conspiracy by the Union government responsible for his security. “I have been attacked four times in two years. It never happened to any Chief Minister. Since my security is the responsibility of the Union government, I sometimes feel as if they are behind this,” said Mr. Kejriwal.
Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Friday instructed DGP Kuladhar Saikia to ensure prompt and stern action against the miscreants who assaulted two journalists 540 km apart on Thursday night.Miscreants wielding sharp weapons attacked Rajen Deka, a correspondent of Assamese daily Dainik Asom in western Assam’s Mukalmua, while a group of inebriated youth assaulted News18 TV reporter Upasana Barua Goswami along with her husband at an eatery in Tinsukia.A bleeding Mr. Deka was admitted to the Guwahati Medical College Hospital where his condition is said to be stable.One of Mr. Deka’s neighbours, who is absconding, is suspected to have orchestrated the attack over his Lok Sabha election-related reporting. In the Tinsukia case, the youth assaulted Ms. Goswami and her husband after they asked them not to be boisterous and disturb others in the restaurant. The police in Tinsukia said they have arrested the four people in the case.Condemning the attacks, the National Union of Journalists India and Journalists’ Association of Assam expressed serious concern over the rise of crime against media persons in the State and demanded the introduction of the Journalist Protection Act.
Instagram never runs out of rich kids. They come from all parts of the globe, partying and sipping martinis in private yachts. Related Items
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has just left India after a six-day official visit during which the two countries heralded a “new era” in ties. BBC Hindi’s Zubair Ahmed travelled to Beersheba in Israel to meet a community of Indian-origin Jews who migrated there soon after the nation’s creation.Naor Gudekar is 61-years-old, but he is still a fighting fit cricketer. He is also the administrator of Israel’s first cricket club, which was founded by immigrant Indians like him 65 years ago in the desert city of Beersheba.Mr Gudekar is overseeing a practice session for the club team when we arrive at the grounds in what is a decidedly nicer part of the town.Read it at BBC Related Items
How many handmade products can be born out of recycled cotton saris? Ask Adhuri, or Asha, or Bharati, who are among dozens of women working at Sari Bari to create beautiful products, which range from sari blankets to bed covers to bags to baby items. But these women are not just weaving these items together, they are also creating a new life for themselves, and their families.Read it at Indiawest Related Items
When a study last fall showed the number of new foreign students arriving in the United States dipped slightly in 2016 – the first time in years – some analysts attributed the decline to the “Trump effect.”The nationalistic and anti-foreigner undertones of then-candidate Donald Trump’s presidential campaign had weakened the international draw of the Made-in-America college education, experts said.Read it at CS Monitor Related Items
Netflix’s next 100 million subscribers will come from India, said Netflix CEO Reed Hastings at The Economic Times Global Business Summit (GBS) on Friday, per The Economic Times. For context, Netflix last reported 117.6 million global subscribers in Q4 2017.The company didn’t disclose how many India-based subscribers it had, but Consultancy Media Partners Asia estimates this figure at more than 500,000. To help grow its subscriber base in India, the company plans to release five to six Indian originals a year, and it announced on Friday three new Indian original series it’s commissioning.Read it at Business insider Related Items
Highlighting the Narendra Modi government’s focus on Africa as a top priority in its foreign and economic policy, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Saturday said that strong India-Africa relations would redefine the contours of the international order on more egalitarian lines.Read it at Business Standard Related Items
Raj Kapoor was different things to different people. To some, he was the greatest showman Indian Cinema had ever seen. Mr. Razzle-Dazzle who converted the simplest of occasions — Mahurats, Holy celebrations, parties — into major events. The last of the movie moguls who truly thought big — big budgets, big canvas, and of course, big women! To some, he was Hindi cinema’s most passionate champion; a dedicated and creative filmmaker who genuinely loved the medium, giving his all to the industry.To some, he was one of the legendary trio — the other two being Dev Anand and Dilip Kumar — who formed the triumvirate that dominated the screen of the 1950s and 1960s.To some, he was the smartie who localized the “Chaplin” hero to give us “Raju” — the evergreen, happy-go-lucky tramp — the charming and zany Awara and 420 who took the 1950s by storm, striking as much by his comic antics, his passionate romancing with his first (and greatest) R. K. heroine, Nargis, as also his strong social cinematic comment.To some, he was the eternal optimist, the resilient, ne’er-say-die war horse, who was sometimes down, but never out. The ambitious, flamboyant gambler, who staked everything in what he believed — and to hell with current vogues!Interestingly, the legend started small. The eldest son of the late Prithviraj Kapoor — a Pathan from Peshawar, stunningly built and spectacular looking, who abandoned a career in law for the magic of the screen and stage — Raj Kapoor’s first job was that of a clapper boy in a Kedar Sharma film in 1942. Hired by Ranjit Movietone at the princely sum of Rs 10 a month, Raj occasionally managed an extra rupee bonus whenever he was lucky enough to be selected as an “extra.” Bombay Talkies was his next stop. The money was better — Rs. 100 a month — but the queen who reigned over that studio, Devika Rani, wasn’t impressed. This rankled all the more when her eyes repeatedly sought out another aspirant for special attention. Name? Yusuf Khan — alias Dilip Kumar! Rumor has it that when Raj, after a year of steady “iceberg” treatment, finally approached the great lady for a job, she promptly fired him! It was this humilation, believe Raj–watchers, that could well have propelled the blue-eyed Kapoor to do his own thing. At 21, he produced and acted in Aag. A modest success, he next made Barsaat, which rocketed him into big time. Teaming with Nargis, this film set the tone for the R.K. movies and established a team of outstanding professionals — Shanker-Jaikishen, Lata Mangeshkar, Mukesh, Shailendra, Hasrat — without peer. And then came Awara, a father-son story scripted by K.A. Abbas, with Prithviraj Kapoor and Raj Kapoor in mind. Mehboob Khan reportedly showed interest when offered the project, but insisted on replacing Raj with Dilip. He bought the script, allowed Abbas to sweet-talk a reluctant Prithviraj into playing his father, and started rolling. A super smash in every department — music, photography, acting, direction — Awara marked the beginning of a long and successful association with Abbas which was to run its course through three decades to Bobby (1973). Awara also marked the beginning of Raj’s “Chaplinesque” phase: the funny walk, the blend of effervescent humor, romantic pathos, rib-tickling slapstick, the telling idealism — it was all there, desified. It was Awara that blazed his stars in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, regions where even today he remains a folk-hero. “Mein Awara Hoon” and “Mera Joota Hai Japani” continue to be signature tunes as far as Indian music goes for millions in that part of the globe, with Shree 420 (among others) further perpetuating this image.With the 1960s, came a change in focus. Romance gave way to flash, sensuousness gave way to blatant sex-appeal. And the R.K. masterpieces of the 1950s, with the exquisite Nargis as centre-piece, were gently soft-focused from sight to memory making way for films like Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hain with the heavy-hipped and bosomy Padmini. Now it was all super packaging. “Style” was the thing — not “substance.” Jis Desh, a huge grosser, was followed by the spectacular Sangam, the first Hindi film shot extensively abroad, setting a trend which other film-makers in herd-fashion followed. A smash hit, it paved the way for the most ambitious film of his life — Mera Naam Joker, a five-hour epic that attempted to document the joys and sorrows of a circus clown. A spectacular flop (“too diverse a theme,” according to industry critics, “Too old fashioned, his kind of films are outdated”) he made Bobby, a love story with two newcomers, his son Rishi Kapoor and Dimple Kapadia. At a time when “multi-starrers” and “action” films were running into their own, Bobby appeared to be a very risky business proposition, completely out of sync with every conceivable formula ruling the roost — but Raj was undaunted. “Love can never date” declared its most passionate apostle. It proved to be one of the biggest megahits of its time — and Raj had struck again! Critics panned it, but as Raj caustically claimed, “Had it bombed, they would have called it a classic.” His next was his most controversial film ever Satyam Shivam Sundaram. Demolishing all accepted Indian film norms by permitting kissing on the screen, he had a scantily clad Zeenat Aman — the industry’s celebrated non-actress with a beautiful body — bouncing through the footage. Wanting to educate the Indian public to accept nudity as an art form, Kapoor obviously was hoping for a format to attract commercial viability — in vain. Prem Rog came next, with love as the central theme. Successful as it was, the film was a far cry from the maker of Awara, Barsaat and Shree 420. His last film, Ram Teri Ganga Maili starring his youngest son, Rajiv Kapoor and a newcomer named Mandakini as heroine, set the box-office on fire. On cue, it bared its young nubile heroine’s ample assets like never before, only propagating Kapoor’s personal vision of erotica as a thing of beauty, “For better or worse, I have been accused of stripping my heroines. Beauty, like evil, is in the eyes of the beholder, and where I see beauty, others see evil.”In the final analysis, whatever the failings of Raj Kapoor, one thing remains certain: he was truly India’s greatest showman! A gutsy up-front filmmaker who continuously braved odds and defied the times to weave his own personal version of aching, heart-stopping, romantic fare. Repeatedly reminding a blasé and cynical world that when the last of the gimmicks, formula and combinations will have bitten the dust, one thing will remain ever-true, evergreen and ever- fresh……. love Related Items
The Interpol has issued a red notice against Purvi Modi, the sister of fugitive diamantaire Nirav Modi, in connection with the $2.2 billion Punjab National Bank (PNB) money laundering case. The notice, which was put up on Interpol’s website, says that Purvi Deepak Modi, a Belgian national, is required on charges of “money laundering.”The agency had earlier issued notices against Nirav Modi, his brother Neeshal and close associate Subhash Parab. Neeshal, 34, is also a citizen of Belgium, the Interpol notice against him said.Nirav Modi’s wife Ami and uncle Mehul Choksi are also among the 21 people named in the charge sheet filed by CBI in a special court in Mumbai on May 14. While it’s believed that Modi is in the United Kingdom, Choksi fled to Antigua. India has asked both countries to extradite them.Choksi denied the allegations in an interview with ANI, the news agency tweeted on Sept. 11.#WATCH Antigua: PNB Scam accused Mehul Choksi says, “all the allegations leveled by ED are false and baseless.” pic.twitter.com/hkanruj9wl— ANI (@ANI) September 11, 2018The Interpol recently also issued an arrest warrant for Mihir R Bhansali, CEO of Firestar International, Nirav Modi’s jewelry firm in the United States, on charges of money laundering.Once a red corner notice is issued, the international agency asks its 192 member countries to arrest or detain the person if spotted in their territories, following which extradition or deportation proceedings can begin.Purvi, 44, speaks English, Gujarati, and Hindi, according to the Interpol notice.The Interpol action against her came after the Enforcement Directorate (ED), the Indian central agency probing the case along with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), asked it to issue the arrest warrant against her.The scam was allegedly conducted over several years during 2011-17 by raising credit from overseas branches of other Indian banks using illegal Letters of Undertaking issued by employees at PNB’s Mumbai branch.Purvi played “a major role in laundering the proceeds of crime generated from the PNB scam” and was a “beneficiary of the scam to the tune of at least $133 million (over Rs. 950 crore),” the Indian Express reported, citing an ED official.Purvi is also the “owner/director of several shell or investment companies formed solely for the purpose to launder the proceeds of crime in companies located in the UAE, British Virgin Islands, and Singapore,” the ED said in its probe report, according to PTI.The Indian agency approached Interpol after Purvi did not comply with summons issued for her alleged role in the scam.The ED had named her in the first charge sheet filed in the case before a Mumbai court in May.In August, public summons were issued to her and Neeshal by a special Fugitive Economic Offenders Act court in Mumbai, which asked them to appear before it on Sept. 25, according to Firstpost. Under the Act, assets of fugitive economic offenders can be confiscated.According to the ED’s prosecution complaint, Nirav Modi diverted about $ 629 million of $ 1,015.34 million outstanding fraudulent LoUs issued by the PNB to him, his firms and his relatives, through 15 “dummy companies” in UAE and Hong Kong, the Indian Express had reported earlier. Nirav Modi diverted $ 265 million to his group firms, Purvi and her husband Maiank Mehta through nine UAE-based dummy firms, the report added citing the ED probe.According to ED, Purvi formed and managed a number of overseas companies, all dubious or bogus “in a very complex manner to camouflage the criminal origin of funds in these companies,” the PTI report said, adding that some trusts incorporated for money laundering, such as Montecristo Trust, Ithaca Trust, New Zealand Trust, were found to be associated with her.Purvi allegedly opened bank accounts in her name, in the name of her companies, and in overseas jurisdictions like Barbados, Mauritius, Switzerland, Singapore, United Kingdom, and Hong Kong, to create a complex structure to pass the money around.“She was also the beneficiary of Dubai and Hong Kong-based dummy companies in which LOUs (letters of undertaking) were credited,” the news agency reported citing ED investigation. “Later on, her name was removed from these companies and dummy directors were introduced there. Therefore, she actively participated in the crime of money laundering and layering of the money thus acquired and was also the beneficiary of the proceeds of crime.” Related ItemsInterpolNirav ModiPunjab NAtional Bank
Many years ago when Shashi Tharoor was asked about his passion for writing, he quoted George Bernard Shaw: “I write for the same reason that a cow gives milk.” As he explained, “I’ve always tried to do – studying and writing, or working and writing – because I see myself as a human being with a number of concerns about the world: some of which I manifest through my work, whether it’s for hrefugees or peacekeeping; and some of which I manifest through my writing.” With his recent nomination for the top job of the Secretary General of the United Nations, Tharoor may get a chance to manifest those concerns in even more powerful ways, getting involved in life and death decisions across the world and channeling nations toward peace, health and prosperity. Writing has always been interwoven with his work-life. He is the winner of several awards, including the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. His books include Reasons of State, The Great Indian Novel, Show Business and India: From Midnight to the Millennium (1997).In an exclusive interview Shashi Tharoor talks with Little India about life since his nomination as UN Secretary General.Q: How has your life changed since India nominated you for the post of the United Nations Secretary General?A: It has changed considerably. For one thing, I find myself doing a lot of traveling on the campaign trail, which makes it difficult for me to fulfill my daily work at the UN. From mid-July I have in fact decided to take leave for several weeks, both to concentrate on my campaign and to avoid any perception of a conflict of interest.Q: Do you think this nomination can clash with India’s aspirations for a permanent seat on the Security Council?A: No. The two issues are unrelated. Security Council hreform is a structural issue at the UN. Many countries believe that the Council hreflects the geopolitical realities of 1945, not 2006. Member states have been discussing hreform for over a decade, but have yet to agree on the shape of that hreform. I sometimes joke it’s like a bunch of doctors gathered around a patient who all agree on the diagnosis, but disagree on the prescription! Until there is agreement amongst two-thirds of the member states about a formula for council expansion, there won’t be a framework within which India can seek a permanent seat. That will take time, whereas the SG race will be settled one way or the other within a few months.Some point to the convention that permanent members of the Council cannot put forward candidates for SG, and suggest that disqualifies India. But that unwritten convention resides on the fundamental principle that no one country should have both the right to initiate action at the UN (through the SG) and stop action (through the veto). India is not currently a permanent member of the Security Council and should it obtain this status it has already agreed to forego the veto for 15 years, so this argument does not apply to India. The next SG is not going to have to face a veto-wielding India. So there is no obstacle to India pursuing both objectives. Certainly it shouldn’t have to deny itself the secretary generalship in the name of a security council seat it doesn’t actually have!Q: You have written extensively and are very respected as an author. Yet all your books have dealt with India. Can that be seen as a negative, affiliating you with India in people’s minds? A: I write about what moves me and that happens to be India. But my writing has never affected my work for the UN – in hrefugees, in peacekeeping, in the SG’s office, and now heading a key department. My writing is one way of responding to the world, my work is another. I’ve tried to keep the two apart: in my work I have never dealt with India, whereas in my writing I have dealt with nothing but India! At the same time both emerge from the same individual human being. My outlook and imagination have been shaped at least as much by my growing up in India as by my international working life. Q: On the other hand, you do bring the rare talents that define good journalists and writers – objectivity and observation. Do you think your ability to stand back as an observer and see the world for what it is and the objectivity that writers need to create an imaginary world will stand you in good stead?A: Yes, I hope so, but it will never be a bloodless objectivity. One must care; there must be engagement with the great issues of our time. I believe I do have the capacity to see both sides of every issue, to step back and see the larger picture, take the longer view. That is as essential in an impartial UN secretary general as in a writer. But so also is a passionate commitment to work for a better world. I hope that comes through too in my work as well as in my writing.Q: Do you think your high visibility in the international world of letters and close connections to Kofi Annan’s administration plus points or negatives?A: Plus points, I hope. I am not going to run away from who I am or the life I have led so far. I hope that my literary credentials will bring new sources of support to the UN. Not too many candidates for this kind of job have been endorsed by Mira Nair and Bernard-Henri Levy! As for closeness to Kofi Annan, I am proud of my association with one of the great secretary generals in the UN. But we are different people. I am my own man and I hope I will be allowed to make my own mistakes.Q: Would some feel that your commitment to writing would interfere with you giving your undivided attention to the needs of the top job at the UN? Or is writing like breathing, a natural must for you?A: It is, and yet I wonder how on earth I will find either the time or the space inside my head to do any personal writing. Already in my current job I find it difficult. I suspect that in the secretary generalship, it will be near impossible, because modern communications have truly made it a 24/7 job. Amazingly enough, Dag Hammarskjold wrote every day; in addition to his Markings, which was published posthumously, he translated many European poets into Swedish and was working on a translation when his plane crashed. He also wrote other articles I remember reading a piece he wrote for National Geographic after a visit to Nepal on behalf of the UN. Maybe it won’t be impossible to do the same, but those were different times.Q: Now that you have been nominated, what are the next steps?A: Persuading a majority of the members of the security council to support me and ensuring that none of the permanent members veto me. There’s a non-binding straw ballot due on July 24, after which candidates campaign and perhaps new ones emerge. The council will probably have several more ballots in September and October, following which they send one name to the General Assembly, which usually ratifies it without debate. Q: How has your family reacted to the nomination?A: A mixture of excitement and dread. My sons think it’s cool, but they are careful not to get engaged in this. They are independent adults now, entitled to their own views on world affairs, which are not necessarily mine. My sisters are following the press accounts avidly. My mother says she’d much rather I had a peaceful life. But those who had the most fun of all were undoubtedly my uncles, aunts, cousins and grandmother back in Kerala, where the media really made a huge fuss about my nomination and they were on TV every day for a week!Q: Are we going to lose Shashi Tharoor the writer if we gain Shashi Tharoor, UN Secretary General? Are you working on anything currently?A: It won’t be a permanent loss! One day I’m bound to be known as a former UN official, but I hope never to be known as a former writer. I did begin a novel three Christmases ago, which I haven’t touched since then. But perhaps the Security Council will vote unanimously to return me to the world of letters!Q: You have traveled all over the world on conflict resolution assignments. What has been the most heart-rending and which made you want to change the way the world operates?A: I don’t have a “favorite tragedy”. Every one of the situations I have seen or dealt with, whether it’s the Vietnamese hrefugees rescued at sea, the Ethiopians in Somalia, the Nicaraguans in Costa Rica, the suffering Bosnians, Croats, Kosovars and Serbs in the Balkans, every one has been heart-rending in its own way and deserving of the deepest human compassion.I doubt we will ever be able to end man’s inhumanity to man, but we can certainly improve the way the world operates in responding to such crises, so that we can end the suffering more swiftly, both by stanching the wounds and by healing the cause of the injury.Q: You have written extensively about Nehru and how your views have been shaped by him. How is your relationship with the Gandhi family? A: Cordial but not close. I was pleased to discover that Ms Sonia Gandhi had read my book on Nehru, but I did not interact with the family in writing it. I have made no secret of my criticism of Mrs Indira Gandhi, in particular over the Emergency. Q: Again, you have written critically about the Hindutva movement so how has your nomination played out with the BJP?A: My views have been on issues and values; they are not partisan positions. I have not criticized or supported any particular political party. I was therefore particularly gratified that all the major political parties in India have endorsed my candidature and that former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, as well as Leader of the Opposition L.K. Advani, received me personally to express their support. My candidacy has been seen in India as a national choice, not a partisan matter. And that is as it should be.Q: Finally, a wish list. What would be the changes you’d like to bring about if you become Secretary General?A: The challenges are enormous: the threats of the 21st century are what we sometimes like to call “problems without passports” – problems that cross all frontiers uninvited (climate change, drug trafficking, terrorism, epidemics, hrefugee movements and so on) – and whose solutions also can have no passports, because no one country or group of countries, however rich or powerful, can tackle them alone. My objective would be ensure that the UN is ready to tackle these problems effectively, and be ready for new and unpredictable ones – three years ago, who had even heard of the grave risk of avian flu?I will seek to ensure both continuity and change. And that means the UN must embrace sensible hreform…. And in the broader world, if there’s one thing I’d like to change, I wouldn’t say “abolish war,” because I don’t think that’s realistically possible. What I’d say instead is “educate girls.” It’s the one thing that can transform the world. Educate a boy and you educate a person; educate a girl and you educate a family, a community, a society. Educated girls become better-informed mothers and more empowered human beings; they are less vulnerable to AIDS and other diseases; they bring up educated children. That would be my crusade – to end female illiteracy. Related Items
The Supreme Court on Tuesday said it would hear a petition by a Gujarat Congress leader challenging the decision of the Election Commission to hold separate by-polls for two Rajya Sabha seats which fell vacant on Wednesday.The two seats fell vacant following the election of BJP president Amit Shah and Union Minister Smriti Irani to the Lok Sabha.Pareshbhai Dhanani, Opposition leader in the Gujarat Assembly, in his plea contended that the conduct of election for each vacancy separately would only lead to one result — the victory of the party which commands simple majority in the State legislature.“This would turn the very objective of proportional representation i.e. to give each minority group an effective share as per its strength on its head,” he said.The BJP has 100 seats and the Congress 71 in the Assembly.The petition filed through advocate Varun K Chopra submitted that though the Congress party was in the minority, they had the requisite number to proportionately elect a member to the Rajya Sabha.“The BJP which is running the government at the Centre, in order to somehow have its party rule the Rajya Sabha despite not having complete proportion to elect both seats to Council of States, is trying to use the Respondent’s (ECI) Office to somehow impede the mandate under RP (Representation of People) Act,” the petition stated.Mr. Dhanani’s petition sought direction to the poll panel to hold simultaneous by-elections in all States.
The Samajwadi Party on Friday claimed that police lathi-charged its workers while they were protesting in several districts against the BJP government’s alleged failure in maintaining law and order in Uttar Pradesh. However, the police discounted the claim of lathi charge and said only mild force was used at certain places to keep the protesters under control. “As per directions of party president Akhilesh Yadav, we held protests across the State. Partymen demonstrating peacefully were unnecessarily lathi-charged by the police in Gorakhpur, Lucknow, Aligarh, Amroha and other districts,” SP chief spokesman Rajendra Chaudhary said. He said over 12 lakh SP workers participated in the protests in 75 districts of the State on ‘Kranti Diwas’, which is observed annually on August 9 to remember the historic ‘Quit India Movement’ initiated by Mahatma Gandhi in 1942.‘Undemocratic way’ “Police acted in an undemocratic way, but the SP will not bend before these arm-twisting tactics of the government,” Mr. Chaudhary said. Responding to SP’s allegations, U.P. government spokesperson and Cabinet Minister Shrikant Sharma said the SP was unable to digest the all-round development in the State and hence were resorting to such means. “Record investments have come to the State in the past two years. In Sonbhadra, the Congress and the SP were involved in massacre. The SP MP in Rampur was involved in land grabbing,” he said.
A 10-day-long social audit of welfare measures of the Building and Other Construction Workers’ Board in Ajmer district’s Beawar block has revealed irregularities by a vast network of agents and e-mitra centres operating in the region. The agents, who get the applications passed in the Labour Department, allegedly demand huge commissions and block the approvals for eligible labourers.Public hearing Construction workers narrated the instances of corruption and harassment in the system and recounted their experiences at a ‘Jan Sunwai’ (public hearing) organised in Beawar on Sunday after the conclusion of social audit. Activists of Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) and Labour Department’s officers were present at the event.The construction workers said they were deprived of the benefits of welfare schemes if they did not pay commission to the agents. The applications of labourers applying for various works through e-mitra centres were mostly rejected.Some of the workers alleged that the Labour Department’s officials had approached them at their homes demanding bribe for approving their applications for children’s scholarships, Shubh Shakti Scheme and social security death benefits for survivors.The social audit teams met a total of 1,370 families in Beawar block during the exercise and verified 509 applications for registration and 829 applications for various schemes. They found large-scale irregularities in both the categories.Most Backward Class The nomadic Gadia Lohar community, categorised as a Most Backward Class in Rajasthan, faces difficulty in getting the benefits of schemes because most of its members do their own work and are unable to get the employer’s certificate. The community members said their children were unable to go to schools and get scholarships.Social activists attending the public hearing said the BOCW Board should be made more transparent and efficient and steps be taken to carry its welfare component to the intended beneficiaries with a higher success rate. Gandhian leader Sudarshan Iyengar said the Gram Sabhas could play an important role in this task.While MKSS founder Aruna Roy said the government officials should take care of “Mahatma Gandhi’s last man” during his 150th birth anniversary celebrations, Board’s joint secretary Patanjali Bhu assured the gathering that the e-mitra centres charging commissions would be blocked and cases would be registered against them. He said the Board would conduct social audit in other districts as well.