The Indian Express – Sushma Swaraj: Doklam not only issue, solution will emerge through dialogue

With some members saying that the country should be ready for war, Sushma Swaraj reminded them that a standing army was there for such situations.

Shubhajit Roy & Anand Mishra

New Delhi, 4 August 2017. Underlining that China has been contributing to India’s growing economic might, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj Thursday said dialogue is the only way out of the Doklam standoff between Indian and Chinese troops at the trijunction with Bhutan.

This should be seen in the context of the “entire bilateral relationship”. She ruled out war as an option, saying a solution can only be reached through dialogue.

Speaking in Rajya Sabha, where she was replying to a discussion on India’s foreign policy, Swaraj said: “Hamari jo aarthik kshamta badh rahi hai, usme China ka yogdaan hai… unka yahan bahut zyada risk, stake hai… kitne zyada contract unhe diye huye hain (China has contributed to our growing economic strength. For them, there’s a lot at stake, risk here. They have been awarded many contracts).”

Pointing out that BSP’s Satish Chandra Mishra had said that the government should negotiate with China not just on Doklam, but the entire relationship, she said, “We are not negotiating only on Doklam, we are talking about bilateral relations in entirety. And a solution will also emerge from it.”

“As far as economic strength is concerned, China is one of the leading countries among major contributors and economic partners. That’s why Doklam is not the lone issue. So, a solution will definitely emerge if we engage in dialogue on bilateral relations.”

With some members saying that the country should be ready for war, Swaraj reminded them that a standing army was there for such situations. But even after a war, she said, a solution can only be arrived at through dialogue. She called for “patience” and “restraint” in dealing with the situation, and also the need for “restraint in statements”.

On Thursday, Chinese diplomats again said that patience was running thin in the Chinese establishment. They warned of consequences if Indian troops did not vacate what they call “Chinese territory”. A senior Chinese diplomat said there were 48 Indian soldiers at Doklam, Indian officials said 350 Indian soldiers were present there.

During her reply in the House, Swaraj also took a swipe at Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi. She said he had met the Chinese ambassador in New Delhi but had not bothered to first get the Indian government’s position on the Doklam issue.

“He should have first heard the Indian government’s view, and then should have confronted the Chinese envoy with facts. Instead, he met the Chinese ambassador to get facts on Doklam,” she said, remarks that were objected to by Anand Sharma of the Congress.

Later, reading from a prepared statement, Swaraj referred to a 15-page statement of the Chinese government. “The Chinese side, in their recent document published on the website of their Foreign Ministry, had expressed commitment to maintaining peace and tranquility in the India-China border areas.

India always believes that peace and tranquility in the India-China border is an important pre-requisite for smooth development of our bilateral relations.”

“We will continue to engage with the Chinese side through diplomatic channels to find a mutually acceptable solution on the basis of the Astana Consensus between our leaders.

I note the sense of the House is supportive in this regard. In keeping the traditional friendship with Bhutan, we will also continue to maintain close consultation and coordination with the Royal Government of Bhutan.”

She said that both these aspects of trijunction points and India-China boundary alignment in the Sikkim sector had earlier been addressed in a written common understanding reached between the Special Representatives of India and China on the boundary question in December 2012.

“Point 13 of the common understanding states that ‘The trijunction boundary points between India, China and third countries will be finalised in consultation with the concerned countries. Since 2012, we have not held any discussion on the trijunction with Bhutan. The Chinese action in the Doklam area is therefore of concern,” she said.

Swaraj also said: “We have noted that the Chinese side has selectively quoted parts of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s letter of 22nd March, 1959 pertaining to the India-China boundary in the Sikkim sector.

A full and accurate account of that letter would have also brought out Prime Minister Nehru’s assertion that was clearly based on the boundary alignment as shown in our Indian published maps,” she said.

Sushma Swaraj: Doklam not only issue, solution will emerge through dialogue


The Tribune – Parallel jathedars extend support to agitating pathis

Tribune News Service

Bathinda/Talwandi Sabo, 2 August 2017. The parallel Sarbat Khalsa jathedars of the three takhts today extended their support to the agitating pathis working at the Golden Temple [Harmandr Sahib] and in other gurdwaras and sought fixation of their salary and other perks.

The jathedars alleged that the pathis (readers) were forced to live a life of penury for the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) never bothered to improve their condition.

“They are seeking higher wages in the range of at least Rs 15,000 to Rs 20,000. They are also demanding best possible health and other facilities for them and free quality education for their children. Pathis were so poorly paid that they can hardly lead a life of honour,” said Baljit Singh Daduwal, Jathedar of Takht Damdama Sahib.

SGPC President Kirpal Singh Badungar has already assured the pathis that the highest Sikh religious body is in the process of increasing their wages.

The parallel jathedars said the SGPC should engage at least one pathi at each of the gurdwara in Punjab’s over 12,000 villages on fixed wages basis. “They should be selected and appointed on the basis of their educational qualification and after duly assessing their calibre as far as preaching were concerned,” Daduwal added.

Den Haag: Jacob Catsstraat – Wouwermansstraat

Jacob Catsstraat
11 July 2017

Jacob Catsstraat tram stop
Tram 9 to Scheveningen Noorderstrand

Jacob Catsstraat tram stop
Tram 12 to Duindorp, Tram 11 to Scheveningen Haven
Tram 9 to Vrederust

11 July 2017

Tram 12 to Duindorp

Tracks to/from Den Haag HS

Wouwermansstraat tram stop
On the left tracks for tram 9
On the right tracks for trams 11 and 12

Wouwermansstraat tram stop
Tram 12 to Den Haag city centre
Tram 11 to Den Haag HS station

To see all my pictures:

More Netherlands pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

The Mercury News – Sikh massacre at Oak Creek 5 years ago reminds us that we can teach against hate

Jagdeep Kaur Sekhon

Op/Ed, 3 August 2017. On 5 August 2012, a white supremacist opened fire on worshipers at a gurdwara, a Sikh house of worship, in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, killing six and seriously injuring several more. The attack ranks among the deadliest hate crimes in USA history.

As Sikhs mark the five-year anniversary of this tragedy, I worry that the threat of hate crimes will continue to haunt our communities until schools, politicians, and ordinary Americans make bias prevention a priority.

The Sikh religion was founded in Punjab, South Asia five centuries ago by Guru Nanak. Social justice and nondiscrimination are cornerstones of the faith. Devout Sikhs express their commitment by wearing a religious uniform that includes a turban, which is worn as a reminder to lead an ethical life and help the less fortunate.

But there is widespread ignorance among Americans about who Sikhs are and what we believe.

After 9/11, this confusion turned to hostility and violence, as ignorant bigots began to conflate Sikhs with followers of Osama bin Laden. Sixteen years later, the risk of anti-Sikh hate crime is as high as ever, and the rise in xenophobic rhetoric in our political discourse has added another layer of worry.

Recently, a man at San Francisco International Airport told my family and me to “go back” to where we came from, even though we are from California and our nationality is American.

This is not a problem exclusively for Sikhs. The Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that there have been 250,000 hate crimes in the United States each year from 2004 and 2015.

Americans of all races, religions, and sexual orientations are targeted because of hate, and there is no comfort in any of us assuming this is a problem that only affects other people.

I believe proactive steps can be taken to reduce the risk and incidence of hate crimes.

Our schools need to teach children to respect and appreciate diversity.

According to the Sikh Coalition, Sikh students in California experience high rates of bullying. Muslim and LGBTQ students face similar challenges in our state’s public schools.

When children are demeaned or physically harmed at school because of their identity, parents and educators should work together to create bias prevention programs. If bias is normalized in schools, we should not be surprised when it infects future generations.

Our politicians need to create platforms and meeting spaces to unify their communities against hate.

Unlike President Trump, who likens immigrants to snakes, other public officials can use their convening power to organize hate crime prevention forums for their constituents.

Much like neighborhood crime watch programs, if police, schools, businesses, interfaith groups, and concerned citizens can build local partnerships to combat bias, I am confident we can make progress.

Finally, hate crime prevention is largely a function of how we decide to treat one another.

This is a conscious choice for each of us. According to Sikh theology, all human beings are equal under God; the racial, religious, and gendered labels we apply to each other are irrelevant, and what ultimately count are the content of our character and common humanity.

If we all make an effort to see the world through this lens, then collectively we will make major strides toward stopping the spread of hate.

As Sikh Americans remember Oak Creek, I ask my fellow Californians to say a prayer for the lives that were lost on that day and pledge to build a more welcoming society, in whatever capacity we can, one step at a time.

Jagdeep Kaur Sekhon, who was raised in Emeryville, is a student of UC Berkeley and a volunteer for the Sikh Coalition, the nation’s largest Sikh civil rights organization. She wrote this for The Mercury News.

The Hindu – Religion tag for Lingayat: Why a plea was set aside earlier

An official, citing various records, had inferred that Veerashaiva/Lingayat is a sect of Hindu

Girish Pattanashetti

Hubballi-Karnataka-India, 4 August 2017. While there is growing demand for separate religion tag for Veerashaiva/Lingayat Dharma, with the Akhila Bharata Veerashaiva Mahasabha reiterating it, the body’s earlier efforts on the similar lines had not met with success. Some within the community fear that forwarding the same demand again might meet the same end.

The Veerashaiva Mahasabha, considered a representative body of the community, had approached the High Court of Karnataka seeking separate code for Veerashaiva/Lingayat in the census by filing a writ petition in 1990.

The court had dismissed the petition on the ground that the census instructions to the enumerators allow all religions to be faithfully recorded as reported by the respondents. Thus, all the religions have a fair and equal opportunity to be recorded and providing a code is only an administrative convenience.

What is more interesting is the reply of the Assistant Registrar General of India Pratibha Kumari (dated 14/11/2013) to the letter submitted to the Registrar General of India by the Mahasabha. She recalled the 1990 court order, census reports and works of British writers to argue why the plea of the mahasabha cannot be entertained.

Her objections stem mainly from the data available on the pre-Independence census reports and two works of British authors. In the reply, it is mentioned that the census of pre-Independence period (1891, 1901, 1911, and 1931) reports Lingayats to be “caste Hindu”.

In the reply, it is stated that standard ethnographic literature also substantiate the fact that Lingayat/Veerashaiva is a sect evolved from Hinduism, but it rejects completely the traditional temple cult dominated by Brahmin priest.
“As described by C.B. Brown… Lingayats are anti-Brahminical worshippers of Siva.” Ms. Pratibha Kumari further says that they are disciples of Basavanna whom they regard as a form of God Shiva.

She also quotes from Thurstone’s Castes and Tribes of Southern India (1909: rpt; 1975, Vol IV, page 236) where he says: “Lingayats have been aptly described as a peaceable race of Hindu Puritans. Their religion is a simple one. They acknowledge only one God Siva, and reject the other two persons of the Hindu triad.”

Ms Pratibha Kumari says from the details stated above, that it is inferred that Veerashaiva/Lingayat is a sect of Hindu and not an independent religion.

Interestingly, she has also made an observation regarding people belonging to Scheduled Castes community losing their reservation if the demand is met.

“Over and above, if Veerashaiva/Lingayat is treated as a separate religion by providing separate code other than Hindu, all SCs professing the Veerashaiva/Lingayat sect will lose their constitutional status since SCs can be only from Hindu, Buddhist and Sikh along with their sects,” she said in the letter.

Two views

However, several seers who contend that Lingayat and Veerashaiva are different, feel the term Veerashaiva was the reason for rejection, since it has its roots in Hinduism.

Sanjay Makal, president of Vishwa Lingayata Mahasabha, argues: “What is required now is to understand the reasons for rejection and go with the Lingayat nomenclature for which there is adequate material to support the demand.”

Contesting this, State president of the All-India Veerashaiva Mahasabha. N Thippanna, argued that the 2013 petition had not been fully rejected, but was still pending. “We are going to pursue it after taking everyone into confidence, and we will also seek a recommendation letter from the State government once the differences over Lingayat and Veerashaiva are sorted out,” he said.

Visiting religious heads

On Thursday, the mahasabha began the process of approaching religious heads and scholars in its bid to arrive at a consensus on the nomenclature. It’s national president Shamanur Shivashankarappa and Mr. Thippanna visited Sri Siddalinga Swami of Tontadarya Mutt in Gadag and invited him to participate in a meeting on the issue.