Times of India – Jayalalithaa takes oath as Tamil Nadu CM; BJP leaders, Rajnikanth present at swearing-in ceremony

Julie Mariappan

Chennai, 23 May 2015. Ending more than seven months of administrative uncertainty in Tamil Nadu, Jayalalithaa was sworn in the chief minister at a glittering ceremony in the centenary auditorium of University of Madras on Saturday at 11.05am.

In attendance were industry heads and film stars, but what indicated the political resurgence of Jayalalithaa was the presence of BJP leaders Pon Radhakrishnan and L Ganesan, among others.

Jayalalithaa, 67, now the 29th chief minister of Tamil Nadu, now matches the record with DMK leader M Karunanidhi of being CM five times, though the AIADMK leader did it twice after she was forced to resign from the post following court verdicts that disqualified her.

The much-awaited event began at 11am. Jayalalithaa and her 28-member cabinet took the oath of office and secrecy in Tamil and in the name of God. Her trusted lieutenant and outgoing chief minister O Panneerselvam took the oath after her, followed by Natham Viswanathan, R Vaithialingam and Edappadi K Palaniswami.

Senior leaders P Mohan, B Valarmathi and P Palaniappan and the rest of the cabinet continued to hold the same portfolios.

The historic auditorium was swelling with over 3,500 special invitees. Seated on the first row, among senior AIADMK leaders and special invitees was Sasikalaa who, like Jayalalithaa, was clad in a green saree.

Superstar Rajnikanth sat next to actor and All India Samathuva Makkal Katchi leader Sarath Kumar. Representing the industry were India Cements managing director N Srinivasan and A C Muthaiah of SPIC.

Hundreds of party men from far off places thronged the venue since morning to get a glimpse of the leader, who is returning to the state government after eight months.

Hundreds waited outside Jayalalithaa’s Poes Garden residence since early morning. When she came out at 10.30am, women offered ‘aarti’ and showered flower petals on her vehicle. Party functionaries bowed, some prostrated on the road as her cavalcade passed.

Actor Rajinikanth, who lives in the neighbourhood, had left for the venue ahead of Jayalalithaa. Thespian Sivaji Ganesan’s sons Prabhu and Ramkumar were among the special invities.

The acquittal of AIADMK chief by Karnataka High Court in the disproportionate wealth case on May 11, had AIADMK MLAs electing Jayalalithaa as the leader of the legislature party on Friday.

Panneerselvam submitted his resignation to Governor thereafter, paving way for his party general secretary to take over the reins. He will continue to hold his previous portfolios of finance and public works department.

Huge banners hailing the AIADMK supremo dotted Wallajah Road and Kamarajar Salai, causing much inconvenience to the road-users. Not less than three giant screens have been installed in and around the campus for the cadres not to go disappointed.

The ceremony saw the presence of a galaxy of national and state political leaders, film stars and industrialists, and also conspicuous absence of the opposition parties like DMK.

The venue is guarded by huge posse of policemen and invitees are allowed after thorough checks at various points.

Jayalalithaa became chief minister of the state for the fourth time in May 2011, after a resounding victory with 151 seats in the 234-member assembly. On Friday noon, the AIADMK chief called on Governor and staked claim to form the government and submitted a list of council of ministers for appointment.

While P Chendur Pandian (who has been hospitalised for prolonged illness) was left out in the cabinet, dropping of forest minister MSM Anandan from the cabinet was not known. Highways minister Palaniswami has been given the additional portfolio of forests.


Sikh24.com – Dal Khalsa to Chief Justice of India: Restore federal rights of states to release lifers

Kanwarpal Singh, Dal Khalsa

Ludhiana, Punjab, 22 May 2015. Dal Khalsa has urged the Chief Justice of India to restore the federal rights of states to release political prisoners and the fundamental universal right of political prisoners to be released in reasonable time.

Party head H S Dhami and spokesperson Kanwar Pal Singh said the issue of release of political prisoners has been stuck in a legal hurdle. In an open appeal to the CJI, they stressed on the need for a systemic change in the judicial deliverance of justice to prisoners sentenced to life.

Talking with the media here today, they said, “the situation has been confounded by the Supreme Court of India by putting a bar on the release of prisoners by state governments and inordinately delaying the setting up of a constitution bench on the question of powers of state governments to pardon and release lifers who have undergone prison terms”.

Actually, this aspect of the judicial system is partial and unfair and hundreds such prisoners are at the mercy of the executive will and the officials of the jail department.

Both the leaders today visited the house of Bapu Surat Singh, a veteran Akali who is on fast unto death seeking the release of Sikh detainees at his native village Hasanpur in Ludhiana. They inquired about his health and prayed for his well being beside expressing their solidarity with the cause.

They said Bapu Surat Singh, age 83 is living without food since January 16, 2015 and was determined to stay as such till all prisoners in Punjab and the rest of the country who have served their prison term were released and their human rights were respected.

Even as Bapu Surat Singh has taken cudgels on behalf of the Sikh prisoners, the issue at stake is not of the prisoners alone, said they.

They sought strict action against the police officer who secretly reinstated the police cat turn infamous convicted cop Gurmeet Singh Pinki throwing all rules and norms to wind.

“A mere transfer is no punishment, as he deserves more”. They took a dig at the Akali government for deliberately closing their eyes on such officers who have been patronizing such notorious persons since the heydays of militancy to meet their vested interests through foul means.

Kanwarpal Singh, Dal Khalsa can be reached at


Havelock Road Singh Sabha, 5 April 2015

Southall Singh Sabha
Havelock Road, Southall, Middlesex UB2 4NP
United Kingdom

Southall Singh Sabha

Havelock Road, Southall

Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha

Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha

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Dawn – View from abroad: A week of tears, tragedy and shame

Shada Islam

Brussels, 23 May 2015, They may disagree on many issues, but as they struggled to respond to their respective refugee crises, the European and Asian governments acted with an equally distressing disregard for human life.

The Europeans showed little concern for the human rights and much — touted “European values” of tolerance etc that they often preach on the international stage and in their dealings with other states. The Asians illustrated an equal ruthlessness and lack of humanity.

The Europeans turned a deaf ear to the Vatican’s appeal for mercy and charity. The Asian nations had little pity for the plight of fellow Muslims.

In Europe, as the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean Sea worsened, with thousands of desperate African, Arab and Asian refugees continuing to arrive on Italian and Greek shores, the 28 European Union countries squabbled over the number of people they could “realistically” be expected to allow on to their territory.

Plans were drawn up for a naval operation against the human traffickers. There was toxic talk of keeping out as many as possible of the world’s huddled masses.

In Asia, the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) showed itself to be even more inhumane as Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia left thousands of Rohingya refugees adrift on the high seas, adamant that they could not be expected to open their doors to Myanmar’s persecuted Muslim minority.

The Rohingyas were eventually given temporary shelter by Malaysia and Indonesia, but only after repeated scoldings by the United Nations to protect migrants and refugees stranded on the vessels, to give priority to saving lives, protecting rights, and respecting human dignity.

Amazingly, Mynamar where persecution against the Rohingyas is rife escaped Asean censure. Thailand which has received many of the migrants said it was not going to be taking in any more. None of the other Asean states said a word of protest.

A meeting to discuss the problem has been called at the end of the month — but many believe that Myanmar is unlikely to attend.

Significantly, UN officials, including the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein have also appealed strongly to European leaders to put human life, rights and dignity first when agreeing on a common response to what they called the “tragedy of epic proportions” unfolding in the Mediterranean Sea, where some 1,600 people have died this year trying to flee their strife-torn homelands.

Certainly, it isn’t easy for any country to open its doors to thousands of foreigners in one go and to provide them with food, water and shelter — and a future.

But in a world of war, violence, extremism, persecution and poverty, the mass movement of desperate people is inevitable.

Pakistan opened its doors to millions of Afghans. Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey are taking in displaced Syrians.

The situation of so-called “stateless” people is even worse. Palestinian refugees have been in camps for decades as have so-called “Biharis”. The Rohingyas, chased out by the Buddhist extremists in Myanmar, are unwelcome across Southeast Asia.

Lampedusa in Italy is crowded with men, women and children of many different nationalities — but as they flee war and poverty, often leaving their documents behind, they might as well be stateless.

The number of migrants entering the EU illegally almost tripled last year. Of the nearly 170,000 migrants who crossed the Mediterranean to Italy in 2014, more than 3,200 lost their lives trying to reach Europe. During the first two months of this year, arrivals were up 43 per cent versus the same period last year.

The outlook for Asean is equally grim. Nearly 31,000 refugees took to the boats in the last three months of 2014, followed by another 25,750 in the first quarter of 2014. Europe’s initial response to the mass arrival of the refugees was feeble, disjointed and inadequate.

But the reality of the human tragedy unfolding in what many now call the “sea of death” finally forced governments into action — of sorts.

It’s still not clear if the distribution of the hapless people among EU member states will take place as the European Commission would like. Britain and France have already said no. With Europe’s Far Right xenophobic leaders breathing down their necks, others are not too keen either.

Asean’s callousness is not unexpected. Countries in the region don’t really have a tradition of caring much about human rights and have a policy of not interfering in the affairs of others.

Still, the lack of humanity initially shown by the region towards the desperate Rohingyas is cause for dismay. Most of Myanmar’s 1.1 million Rohingya Muslims are stateless and live in apartheid-like conditions. Almost 140,000 were displaced in clashes with ethnic Rakhine Buddhists in 2012.

In addition to taking in the refugees, Asean must demand that Myanmar stop the continuing violence against Rohingyas. The credibility and reputation of the region is at stake. Asean may want to focus on high economic growth and its plans to build a frontier-free common market. But it would be a pity if it lost its soul in the process.

—The writer is Dawn’s correspondent in Brussels


Published in: on May 23, 2015 at 7:45 am  Leave a Comment  

Hindustan Times – Geelani should declare himself Indian for passport, says Parrikar

New Delhi, 21 May 2015. Separatist Kashmiri leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani should declare he is an Indian to get a passport, defence minister Manohar Parrikar said on Thursday.

“If he wants to apply for a passport, he will have to fill the form and declare he is Indian,” said the minister at the ‘Manthan’ conclave organised by TV channel Aaj Tak.

“That will be the first round of victory… all separatists should be made to apply for a passport,” he said.

Geelani has applied for a passport along with his wife and son so that they can visit his ailing daughter in Saudi Arabia.

The government earlier said the passport application of Geelani cannot be processed in its present form, noting that it was incomplete.

Hours after the Union home ministry said the request will be processed on “merit” as the travel document is the “right of every Indian citizen”, the external affairs ministry asserted that “the application cannot be processed in its present form”.

“We have seen media reports of Syed Ali Geelani’s passport application. An incomplete passport application was received from him. Fees were not paid and the biometric details and photographs not submitted,” MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.

The spokesperson’s response came after sources had said that the ministries of home affairs and external affairs will take a decision on the issue in consultation with the Jammu and Kashmir government only after Geelani visits the nearest passport office for biometrics.

Defence minister Manohar Parrikar, meanwhile, said Geelani will have to write ‘Indian’ in the nationality column to apply for the passport.

“Passport is the right of every Indian citizen and is issued by the Ministry of External Affairs after following due process.

In case any applicant applies for the passport, he should fulfil all the formalities before his case is processed. As and when the matter is referred to the ministry of home affairs, we will process the case on merit,” a home ministry spokesperson said.

Jammu and Kashmir’s ruling coalition partners PDP and BJP are sharply divided over the Geelani passport issue.

PDP has said it would approach the Centre for giving passport to Geelani on “humanitarian” grounds while BJP has said he should not be given the travel document till he “apologises” for his anti-national activities.

Sources said Geelani and his family members want to travel to Jeddah and have applied for passports online.

But he has not yet visited the regional passport office in Srinagar to give his biometric data and clicking the photograph. As per the new rules, an applicant must visit the passport office in person to give biometric details and click the photograph.


The Tribune – UK hotelier ‘kidnapped’ in Punjab

London, 21 May 2015. The UK Foreign Office is looking into the mysterious disappearance of a British-Indian hotelier who went missing while on a business trip to Punjab.

Ranjit Singh Power’s family in Britain fears he may have been kidnapped as he uncharacteristically failed to stay in contact with them and did not board his return flight from Amritsar on May 14.

The 54-year-old owns the four-star Ramada Park Hall Hotel in Wolverhampton in the West Midlands region of England and is in the habit of ringing his family every day.

He last spoke to his partner Angela Bir on May 7 when he landed in India.

“We are getting more and more distraught. Our fears are that he may have been kidnapped or even worse,” said his daughter Emma.

“Father would contact England two or three times a day, if not more. We have not heard from him at all. He is very careful and has always been aware of his security,” said Emma (26). Power, who grew up in the West Midlands, has now been placed on the West Midlands Police’s Missing Persons list as the Foreign Office joins the investigation.

“A British national was reported missing in India on May 14. We are providing consular assistance to the family and liaising closely with the local authorities,” a spokesperson said. (PTI)


Havelock Road 05/04 and 09/04, Katha 08/04

5 April 2015

Havelock Court – Sweetie’s garden

8 April 2015

Doing katha in a snowy meadow in the Netherlands
Modern technology at work

9 April 2015

It is Nagar Kirtan time again

From 12 April till 12 April
No Parking !

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The Hindu – RSS wants spotlight on ‘sewa’ not ‘ghar wapsi’

RSS currently coordinates nearly 1.5 lakh service activities

Jatin Gandhi

New Delhi, 22 May 2015. With the Union government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party — the political arm of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh — embarking on a perception management exercise, the Sangh wants the focus of the outside world and the media to shift from its pro-Hindutva rhetoric to its welfare and social service activities.

RSS leaders made news in the first year of the Modi government for their rhetoric on programmes such as ghar wapsi (religious conversion), embarrassing the government in the international arena and causing unease to religious minorities back home.

The RSS leadership has instructed its publicity divisions across the country to propagate the Sangh’s social service credentials over and above everything else, multiple sources in the RSS’s Prachar Vibhag (publicity department) said.

“The resistance to conversion will continue, but the focus will be on talking about social welfare activities,” a source said.

Vast network

The RSS currently coordinates nearly 1.5 lakh service activities through the Rashtriya Sewa Bharati, a confederation of different RSS-affiliated organisations.

The number of organisations affiliated with the RSB has grown from nearly 450 five years ago to more than 800, with a spurt seen in the past one year. Sangh leaders concede that service activities are among the easiest way to spread the reach of the RSS and its affiliates.

“The Sangh has been growing and spreading in all parts of society. Sewa activities started with Dr. Hedgewar [founder of the RSS], who was a doctor and used to provide free services,” Surya Prakash Tonk, who took over as chief of the RSB from the current Sarkaryavah (general secretary), Suresh Bhaiyyaji Joshi, in 2009, said.

Mr. Tonk recently said in Delhi that RSS Karyakartas (workers) were able to collect donations and supplies for Nepal earthquake victims from “all communities despite our apprehensions that the RSS banner would deter donations from certain sections”.

“Service activities are the best measure of what we learn and how we apply it and the best way to connect with the have-nots,” he said.

Sources said with Mr. Joshi’s experience as all-India chief of Sewa activities, his elevation to the position of Sarkaryavah helped the Sangh leadership realise the importance of social work projects for its spread and the Sangh was currently working on a major organisational expansion plan leading up to its centenary in 2025.

“Whenever a BJP-led government comes to power, sewa activities go up. They are a catalyst for organisational spread,” an RSS source in Delhi said.


The Asian Age – Arvind Kejriwal writes to Narendra Modi, asks him to ‘allow Delhi govt to function independently’

In the letter, Kejriwal accuses the Centre of trying to run the Delhi government

New Delhi, 20 May 2015. Taking his fight against the Lieutenant-Governor to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday asked him to allow the city government to function “independently” even as he accused the Centre of trying to run the Delhi administration.

In a letter to Modi, Kejriwal mentioned the posting and transfers made by Lt Governor Najeeb Jung and said the elected government must have a say about distribution of work to senior officials.

“In Delhi, Central government is trying to run government unconstitutionally through the Lt Governor. Let Delhi government function independently,” Kejriwal said in the letter to Modi.

The letter by Kejriwal to the Prime Minister came a day after both he and Jung took their bitter fight to President Pranab Mukherjee, accusing each other of violating the Constitution and overstepping their respective jurisdictions.

The Lt Governor has been maintaining that he has the power to appoint and transfer the bureaucrats and none of his actions has been “unconstitutional” as was being alleged by the AAP government.

Kejriwal had yesterday met Mukherjee along with his deputy Manish Sisodia, who said “LG was functioning as if there is President’s Rule in the national capital and there is no elected government here.”

“Despite having a democratically elected government, he (LG) is bypassing the chief minister and ministers and issuing instructions to officers. He is even threatening them with transfers if they do not follow his orders. It is not good for democracy.

“We told the President that we accepted LG’s decision to appoint acting Chief Secretary even without consulting us. But after that too, he has been appointing officers bypassing the elected government.

He is even interfering in the appointments of secretaries and directly ordering them. Then where is democracy,” Sisodia had told reporters after meeting Mukherjee.

Jung had yesterday also met Home Minister Rajnath Singh on the issue and informed him about his stand-off with the AAP government.

The tussle over appointment of Shakuntala Gamlin as acting chief secretary of Delhi had turned into a full-blown war between the AAP government and Jung with Kejriwal alleging that the LG was trying to take over the administration.

Despite Kejriwal’s strong opposition, Jung had appointed her to the post on Friday.


Dawn – Pakistan, Turkmenistan vow to enhance transport and communication links

Ashgabat, 20 May 2015. Pakistan and Turkmenistan on Wednesday decided to enhance connectivity by establishing transportation and communication links and to pay special attention to establishing air, road and rail links on priority basis.

During a two-day official visit to Turkmenistan, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov held talks in the sphere of mutual interest concerning bilateral, regional and international issues.

According to a joint communiqué, the two sides expressed their determination to comprehensively upgrade their cooperative partnership, which is in the fundamental interests of their peoples and is an important factor in promoting peace, stability and prosperity in the region.

Turkmenistan also expressed support for the efforts of Pakistan to combat the menace of terrorism and extremism. Both sides decided to increase their cooperation in security, countering terrorism, and cooperation against illicit traffic of narcotics, transnational organised crime and other threats.

Given the special geo-economic and geo-political significance of both countries, Pakistan and Turkmenistan also agreed that bilateral cooperation in all sectors holds immense potential.

Both the leaders agreed to create favourable conditions and take up important development projects in trade, economic, financial and other sectors for the promotion of infrastructure, minerals, agriculture, manufacturing, multi-media technology, banking, environment and energy sectors.

The joint communiqué said that Turkmenistan could provide energy to Pakistan to meet its shortages. Both the countries agreed to jointly undertake regional and trans-regional cooperation and in that context, both sides underlined significance of TAPI project and decided to take measures for early implementation of that important regional project.

It was decided by the two leaders that bilateral cooperation in culture, science, art, tourism and sports should be further enhanced.

“Both countries are determined to increase their cooperation bilaterally as well as multilaterally at all for including UN, NAM, G-77, ECO, and OIC to promote regional peace, development and prosperity,” the joint statement said.

The two sides decided to institute regular dialogue and further intensify the process of consultations and cooperation on regional and global issues of mutual concern.

Both sides agreed to keep close coordination for the successful conduct of the 5th Asian Indoor and Martial Arts games in Ashgabat in 2017.

The two leaders noted that Pakistan and Turkmenistan enjoy special relationship, which is characterized by bonds of close affinity, mutual respect and are deep-rooted in the hearts of the peoples. Both sides attach highest importance to the friendship between their peoples and ties.

In their talks, which were characterised by great warmth and spirit of friendship, leaders of the two countries held extensive negotiations and exchange on various issues.



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