Indian Lawyer on Indian Politician

GUWAHATI — Late Nani Palkhiwala, the eminent Indian lawyer, wrote on 16 January 1984.“The picture that emerges is that of a great country in a state of moral decay. The immediate future seems to belong to the doomsayers rather than to cheer mongers. We suffer from a fatty degeneration of conscience, and the malady seems to be not only persistent but prone to aggravation. The life style of too many politicians and businessmen bears eloquent testimony to the truth of dictum that the single minded pursuit of money impoverishes the mind, shrivels the imagination and desiccates the heart.

The tricolour fluttering all over the country is black, red and scarlet - black money, red tape and scarlet corruption.”

My dog sleeps about 20 hours a day

He has his food prepared for him

He can eat whenever he wants, 24/7/365.His meals are provided at no cost to him.

By the way he does not need to pay for medical insurance He visits the doctor once a year for his check-up, and again during the year if any medical needs arise.

For this he pays nothing, and nothing is required of him.

He lives in a nice neighborhood in a house that is much larger than he needs, but he is not required to do any upkeep. If he makes a mess, someone else cleans it up.

He has his choice of luxurious places to sleep. He receives these  accommodations absolutely free.He is living like a King, and has absolutely no expenses whatsoever. All of his costs are picked up by others who go out and earn a living every day. I was just thinking about all this, and suddenly it hit me like a brick in the head…….

My dog is like the Indian POLITICIAN

The difference is, my dog is Honest & Grateful …….

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KANPUR, (# Chhotebhai Noronha) –  Over the years I have voted for the Janata Party, Janata Dal, CPM, Samajwadi, and of late, the Congress. As a social and civic activist I do not belong to any party. Ideologically I would brand myself as a left of centre Gandhian (the original Gandhi – the Mahatma). My votes have been determined more by the candidate than the party, as I believe that the driver (vahak) is more important than the car (vahan).

As I write, Rajiv Gandhi’s assassins have been spared the noose, to rejoicing in Tamilnadu. Telengana has been formed, and Andhra burns. Rajiv’s assassins were spared, and the Prime Minister could not go to Sri Lanka earlier, for a Commonwealth meeting, for fear of hurting Tamil sentiments. The same goes for Beant Singh’s assassin in Punjab. But Afzal Guru could be clandestinely hanged because the mighty Indian State can still ride roughshod over Kashmir.

There has been talk of policy paralysis and the Lok Sabha not functioning. This is part of coalition politics, based on convenience, not coalescence. The buzzwords are corruption (endemic) and inflation (systemic). Though they are poll issues for the Opposition Parties they cannot be swept away by any broom (pun intended). This time even communalism/ secularism is not such an issue. What is at stake is the very idea of India.

Bharatvarsha may have been a geographical reality, but as a political entity India was born only in 1947. Some States in the northeast, and Kashmir, acceded to the Indian Union after Independence. Hyderabad and Goa were annexed later, the latter only in 1961. Ironically, today Goa has the highest per capita income of nearly Rupees Two Lakhs, and the cheapest petrol at Rs 62/-. Why? Because it gave up its regional mindset by dumping regional parties like the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (Hindu dominated) and the United Goans Party (Catholic dominated), and switched to national parties like the Congress and the BJP. Goa is a lesson for the rest of the country.

The real danger is not corruption, communalism or inflation. Aggressive regionalism is now the greater threat. Hence in a Lok Sabha election the preference should be for pan-Indian parties like the Congress or the BJP. If only Congresswallahs had the courage to emerge from the shadow of “madam’s” pallo; and the BJP could jettison its hardcore Hindutva leanings, it would make our task so much easier.

As for Delhi’s AK47, he jumped off a running bus, and now wants us to join his gravy train! But he is no Don Quixote, tilting at windmills. He may not subscribe to political processes (rajniti), or social grace and finesse (kutniti), but he is a past master at strategy (ranniti), aided by expert psephsologist Yogendra Yadav. Their mild manners on TV shows (in contrast to their aggressive street fighting) are also a part of that disarming strategy. They now come across as shrewd strategists where aap (a polite way of saying “You”) is more like mein (“I”, the big ambition), as Anna has also now rightly observed.

So as an Indian, in this Lok Sabha election, I will vote for a pan-Indian party, largely depending on the credentials of the candidate. JAI HIND!
The writer is the Convenor of the Kanpur Nagrik Manch. His views are personal

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Students hold Peace Rally to start week-long sports & culture fiesta

Guwahati — A group of University students organized a peace rally in Assam to mark opening of week-long culture and sports fiesta, 10-15 March. Scores of Assam Don Bosco University students joined some 200 students belonging to the eight states of northeast India (including Sikkim) dressed in their colourful ethnic dresses for “United Northeast – A Peace Rally.”  Proud son of Assam from Nalbari, Mr Mahadev Deka, Mr Universe 2009, flagged off the march along with Vice-Chancellor of ADBU, and Principal of the Don Bosco College of Engineering & Technology.

After a 40 minute peace rally along National Highway 37, the marchers gathered before noon to inaugurate the fiesta christened “D’VERVE” by welcoming the Olympic flame, hoisting the flag and taking the pledge.

Mr Deka lit the Olympic torch and addressed the students encouraging them to take active part in the opportunities provided to excel in all spheres.

“I am mighty pleased to see such a colorful event organized for a noble cause, peace and harmony in the northeast,” said Mr Deka speaking in Assamese.

After hoisting the D’VERVE flag, the Vice Chancellor Dr Stephen Mavely spoke on the theme “Go, Glow and Grow” which has been celebrated each year since the start of the university six years ago.

The acting Controller of Exams and in-charge of Campus Ministry Dr Francis Fernandez administered the pledge to Class Representatives on behalf of all the students.

Declaring D’Verve 2014 open, the principal of DBCET Prof Manoranjan Kalita exhorted students to take active part in all the events spread out all through the week.

“This year we have more than 100 events spread out in six days, and I wish each student takes part in at least one event,” said Prof Kalita exhorting reluctant students to grab the opportunity to show case their talents.

Student Coordinator Mr Atique Hussain explained the events hosted by Sports, Dance, Music & Singing, Drama, Art & Craft, and Literary clubs.

“The student participation this year is far higher than other years and we had to hold auditions for the song, dance and musical events,” Mr Hussain said.

The inaugural function ended with a body building show and interaction as regards health and nutrition with Mr Deka.

Showing his six pack biceps Mr Deka a body builder and civil engineer by profession told the students who were awestruck, “this is not built in the gym, but in the kitchen,” he said explaining the need of strict dietary regimen in “body engineering.”

Mr Deka follows a daily diet of 20 egg whites, a chicken, fruit juice, little brown rice, lot of green vegetables and allotted supplements.

The week-long event is scheduled to end on Saturday evening, 15 March.

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AAP Team’s Questions to NaMo

Narendra Modi - Arvind Kejriwal

Narendra Modi – Arvind Kejriwal

AHMEDABAD — Here are some questions that were raised by the AAP team to Mr. Narendra Modi. The biggest of them is… Will Mr NaMo answer any?

1. Usage of Solar power in Gujarat was highlighted as a key achievement of the Modi government. The financials were clearly ignored? It seems that Solar power is costing much more, even more than another BJP ruled state of Madhya Pradesh? Its the same Sun right?

2. Why in Gujarat, Solar power is bought at Rs 13 without tender?MP & Karnataka buy the same at Rs 7.5 & 5.5 with proper tenders?
How do U claim 11% agriculture growth rate, when stats released by Guj Govt for 2012/13 indicate that it has fallen to 1.18%?

3. According to Guj govt. stats, agricultural output has fallen from 27,815 cr in 2006/07 to 25,908 cr in 2012/13.

4. Is your development model anti small & medium scale industry? In Mehsana, of the 187 such units, 140 units have shut down.

5. Recently, for 1500 Govt. jobs, 13 lakh people had applied. Yet you claim that you have solved the unemployment problem?

6. Primary healthcare centers in many villages are shut. Basic medicines are not available in many distt. level hospitals?

7. In the past few years, over 800 farmers have committed suicide. Farmers are not being paid basic support price for their crops.

8. U claim electricity in every Guj.village. U’r govt. is sitting on over 4 lakh applications from farmers for Elec. connections.

9. Farmers compensated for land acquired at rates much lower than market.Same land given at subsidized price of Rs 1 to Ambanis?

10. Why has the Guj. Govt. filed a case in Court against the Sikh farmers of Kutch? Will you snatch away their land?

11. In 2005, the height of Narmada dam increased for providing water to people of Kutch. 9 years on, they are still waiting! Why?

12. Is the Son-in-law of the Amabani family, a minister in your govt. handling the portfolio of energy! Can you explain this?

13. Why do people need to pay bribes for getting Govt. jobs, BPL cards, even Industrial licenses? Is this not corruption?

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The UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief

DR. HEINER BEILEFLDTNEW DELHI – 26th February 2014 at the India International Centre, New Delhi

1.   Human Rights

The Rapporteur relies on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) for the definition of human rights and calls it the “mother document” for all human rights. He refers to the preamble of the UDHR which talks about the recognition of the inherent dignity of all members of the human family.  He further refers to Article 1 of the UDHR which says that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity. The UDHR specifically recognises the dignity of human beings and says that the principles laid down in the UDHR are the guiding light for all human rights.

He explains that according to the Preamble of the UDHR, humans are given a broader definition as being members of the human family and hence no human being is alone. He further says that in the light of the above principles, equality and freedom are interrelated and that one cannot have one without the other. Referring to Article 18 of the UDHR as well as Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), he says that Freedom of Religion or Belief is intrinsically connected with human rights and is recognised specifically in these two important documents. 

2.   Secularism

The best way to implement Freedom of Religion or Belief is through a secular Constitution. Secularism can be of different types. India’s version of secularism is something that he subscribes wholly to. According to him, India’s version of secularism which opens up space to all religions and does not have any identification with any particular religion is the best kind of secularism. He calls it the respectful non-identification to any particular religion and says that it is a legacy worth cherishing. However, he observed that India’s secularism was under threat from various communal forces. [There is need for contingency plans ..  example of pastor jones Quran] burning aftermath when several European nations tested their emergency response programmes including their social communications, inter-community activism to ensure there was no violent response.]

3.   Freedom of Religion or Belief requires respect for the self understanding of human beings

Indiais the birthplace of many religions and is home to the existence of religious diversity. India is not only the world’s largest democracy but also the world’s largest secular democracy.

However, Freedom of Religion or Belief does not mean that the State can pre-define or dictate what religion its citizens should follow. Further, it is not the business of the State to tell its citizen which religion to follow. In fact Article 18 of the UDHR protects theistic, non-theistic and atheistic beliefs of everyone. It covers both traditional and new forms of the same religion like Traditional Buddhism and Neo Buddhism. Clubbing together of different religions under one religion like the clubbing of Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism under Hinduism cannot be considered to be a freedom of religion or belief by any standard.     

 4.   Right to change

Conversion is a basic and important concept in Freedom of Religion or Belief. There can be no freedom of religion or belief by removing the freedom to convert. Conversion is not just a sub-category of freedom of religion; it is the test case for freedom of religion or belief.

The right to change one’s religion is a delicate area of conversion. Conversion can mean changing one’s religion or inviting another person to join one’s religion. Right to change is so important that the right to convert or change was recognised by the UDHR. That it significance can be seen even at the drafting stage of Article 18 of the UDHR, when the Drafting Committee included freedom to change one’s religion or belief, it was objected to by the Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia at that time but supported by Pakistan.

If freedom of religion is a human right, then one should have the option to reconsider one’s faith even if it means breaking away from one’s present faith. It is a part and parcel and core part of Freedom of Religion or Belief.

There is an urgent need to reconsider the existing Freedom of Religion Acts in various Indian states. It is not freedom of religion that these Acts are promoting rather it is curbing the freedom of religion or belief of its citizens. The laws are draconian in nature and the colloquial use of the expression ‘anti-conversion laws” in reference to them is more apt than their original titles.

 5.   Right to invite others to one’s religion/missionary activity

Right to invite others to one’s religion is a part of the inner realm of Freedom of Religion or Belief though not as imperative as the right to change. Right to invite others to one’s religion involves dialogues between the concerned parties. The invitation cannot involve force at any point.

 6.   Protection against communal violence

With reference to the various riots that occurred in India against the minority community, the Rapporteur said that it cannot be called “riots” because riots involve equal participation by the parties involved. The riots against the minority communities were orchestrated by outside forces against peaceful members of minority communities. There are also instances of institutional bias within the security apparatus because it failed to protect the rights of the victims. Justice has prevailed in some cases but it still has a long way to go.

A way of countering such incidents is the Rabat Plan of Action on the prohibition of advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence. The Rabat Plan of Action came into being in the context of the number of incidents in recent years in different parts of the world which have brought renewed attention to the issue of incitement to hatred which also contained a component of incitement to national, racial or religious hatred. One of the recommendations that the Rabat Plan of Action has made is that states should adopt comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation that includes preventive and punitive action to effectively combat incitement to hatred.

The Rabat Plan of Action should become part of the accreditation of national human rights institutions.

 7.   Minority and Majority

Human Rights is a universal right and not just confined to minority communities. Majority communities also have the benefit of being subject to human rights principles. Minorities need to reach out to the majority and emphasise that human rights is a universal right and that service to the country is based on universal human rights principles.

Similarly, freedom of religion or belief is not limited to the minority communities. However, it is a very important right for the minorities and perhaps it was the minorities who first discovered the right to Freedom of Religion or Belief.

Freedom of Religion or Belief is important for the majority religions for an authentic and free development of society. It is also healthy for majority religions to live in a secular country because majority religions too have a lot to lose in states where there is a theocratic form of government.

There is a constant need for dialogue between the minority community and the majority community in order to fully realise the values of the human rights principles.  

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DB Varsity hosts International Conference on Education

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGUWAHATI – The Assam Don Bosco University in collaboration with Gauhati University and its global partners is hosting an International Conference on Education, from 24 to 26 February 2014 at its Azara Campus. Over 70 scholars and academicians from 26 university colleges are participating at the conference including participants from Ireland, and the Republic of Maldives.

Gracing the inaugural function were Vice Chancellors of Don Bosco and Guwahati Universities along with keynote speaker Dr Garret Campbell CEO of Global Schoolroom and Co-convener Dr Gayatree Goswamee, Head of Education Deptt, Gauhati University.

Dr Garret Campbell, CEO Global Schoolroom

Dr Garret Campbell, CEO Global Schoolroom

The “teaching to learning” conference seeks “re-conceptualization of higher education within the emerging environment of ICT: a reference to Northeast India.”

It is designed with three purposes says Conference Convener Dr Paul Pudussery, Head, Education Deptt. Don Bosco University.

First, to understand the present scenario of our education system – a fundamental reconceptualization of what curriculum is, how it functions, and how it might function in emancipatory ways. 

Second, to re-conceptualize higher education within the emerging environment of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).

Third, to understand the developing trend of education – its implications in classroom teaching and learning.

Some 40 scholarly papers will be presented under nine thrust areas to give ample time for discussions and deliberations. The nine technical sessions include: Teaching to Learning; ICT as a Subject and as a Tool; ICT in Pedagogy; Emerging Environment of ICT and its Impact; Education and Psychology; Education & Northeast India; Teacher Education and Northeast India; Education for 21st Century; and Theories of Learning.

The organizers say, “this conference is envisaged for academicians to understand the emerging educational reality, to gauge its demands, and to address these challenges.”

Besides offering an opportunity to explore policies, laws, leadership styles, values, social change, philosophy, technology, pedagogies and ethnic diversity from an educational perspective, the Conference will challenge participants to critically examine the conceptual, organizational, political, social, legal, managerial, interpersonal, and technical dimensions of current and future educational system.

Underlining the role of education today, the Vice Chancellor Dr Stephen Mavely insists, “creation of an enabling environment is one of most pressing demands made on educational institutions today, an environment that would be conducive for the formation of dependable human persons – thoughtful citizens, competent parents, faithful friends, capable workers, generous neighbors and lifelong learners.” 

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Assam Don Bosco University PhD Admissions 2014 Begins

PhD 2014Guwahati — The Assam Don Bosco University has started its admission procedure for the batch of 2014 this morning, Saturday 22 February. This year there are 196 candidates signed up for 17 streams.

“We have only slots for 56 candidates,” says Director of Research Prof. JN Vishwakarma.

While the morning session today has 23 candidates for Northeast India Studies, the after noon session has candidates for Physics (9), Chemical Science (1) and Comparative Religion (2).

Besides the personal interview for all, some candidates have to undergo written test.

All the candidates also appear for a brief 15 minute interview before a panel of five experts headed by the Vice Chancellor.

The week-long admission session will conclude on Thursday, 27 February 2014.

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