The Indian Express – A week into new fiscal, Punjab government unable to pay salaries to its staff

Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal said the salaries are usually delayed in April due to closing of last fiscal.

Kanchan Vasdev

Chandigarh – Panjab – India, 07 April 2018. A few days after the Punjab government paid Rs 950 crore to the Centre to square off its Cash Credit Limit (CCL) account, it is unable to pay salaries to its employees even after a week since the new fiscal began.

The state had to deposit the amount with the Centre at the onset of the new fiscal to get the CCL advance of Rs 22,000 crore for making payments to farmers for wheat procurement. This has caused a delay in disbursement salaries to its employees.

The delay has caused resentment among employees, who point out that this was the wheat purchase season and school admission season. They were helpless on these two counts as salaries have been delayed. This is for the fourth time in the 13-month long rule of Congress in Punjab that salaries have been delayed.

The employees have decided to boycott the work on April 10 in protest against the delay. Darshan Singh Lubana, an office-bearer of the Punjab employees union said the employees in the state civil secretariat in Chandigarh and in Chief Minister’s hometown, Patiala, would mark their presence in their offices on April 10 and after that stage a walk out of their offices to protest.

The employees said they were hoping that the salaries would be disbursed on Friday but it did not happen. On the other hand, the state has yet not received the CCL advance from the Centre even after depositing the money.

The finance department that paid the amount to the Centre has to get the money from food and civil supplies department that is already grappling with missing paddy scam in Amritsar.

Already, the state had a challenging month in March. It had a pending bill worth RS 6600 crore. Also, it had to pay Rs 3,500 crore towards debt-servicing in March. It was somehow able to get GST compensation and pay salaries to employees in March.

Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal said the salaries are usually delayed in April due to closing of last fiscal. “There were holidays followed by a bandh. We will disburse the salaries on Monday,” he said.

A week into new fiscal, Punjab government unable to pay salaries to its staff

The Tribune – Chief Khalsa Divan ties up with Tata for cancer hospital in Amritsar

GS Paul, Tribune News Service

Amritsar – Panjab – India, 06 April 2018. The Chief Khalsa Divan (CKD) has consented to collaborate with the Tata group to establish a cancer care hospital in Amritsar on the lines of the Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai.

The CKD management, headed by surgeon and philanthropist Dr Santokh Singh, held a meeting on Friday with Tata Trust Managing Trustee R Venkataramanan and Tata group chairman Chandrasekaran to proceed for the project estimated to cost over Rs 100 crore.

Talking to The Tribune, Dr Santokh Singh said the CKD had offered around 10 acres of land near Jandiala to the Tata group to set up an advanced centre for treatment, research and education in cancer, which will be a “self-sustaining” hospital on a no-profit, no-loss basis.

This land was earlier proposed to be utilised for establishing a university, said sources. Now, the CKD wants to make affordable cancer treatment accessible for Amritsar, Beas, Batala, Patti and Tarn Taran areas.

As per the plan, the requisite infrastructure and equipment will be provided by the Tata group. Thereafter, the CKD would run the hospital.

Dr Santokh Singh said a team of highly qualified doctors of various specialties such as radio oncologists, surgery oncologists, physician oncologists, radiotherapist, nursing and technical staff will be on CKD’s pay rolls. “They would be provided specialised training at Tata’s super specialty and research programmes,” he said.

Adjacent to it would be a General Hospital and Nursing College in the complex. Dr Santokh Singh said the site was strategically located at a quiet place and catered to both urban and rural population of the region.

“Soon, a team from the Tata group will visit the site to gauge the ground realities. The aim is to execute the project within 10 months,” he said.

Ten acres offered

The CKD has offered around 10 acres of land near Jandiala to the Tata group to set up an advanced centre for treatment, research and education in cancer, which will be a “self-sustaining” hospital on a no-profit, no-loss basis

Adjacent to it would be a General Hospital and Nursing College

The infrastructure would be handed over to the CKD later

Gent-Sint-Pieters – Gent Gurdwara – Gent Portus Ganda

05 February 2018

Track 11 IC train to Eupen via Brussel – Leuven – Luik (Liège)

Mata Sahib Kaur Gurdwara
05 February 2018

Granthi Singh Gursharan Singh :
Bringing the Guru Granth Sahib to its place of rest

Granthi Singh carrying the Guru Granth Sahib
Gursharan Singh follows with Chaur Sahib

Granthi Singh carrying the Guru Granth Sahib

Mata Sahib Kaur Gurdwara
Kortrijksepoortstraat 49
B-9000 Gent – Oost-Vlaanderen

Portus Ganda
06 February 2018

Traditional sailing vessel
Ganda means confluence, in this case of the Schelde and the Leie

To see all my pictures:

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Calgary Herald – ‘We call this our home’: Family of elderly man, MP Obhrai believe attack was a hate crime

Deanna Montalvo

Calgary – Alberta – Canada, 06 April 2018. An elderly Sikh man was attacked in the city’s northeast, and his family believes he was the victim of a hate crime.

“It is absolutely important when these incidents happen, that we highlight it, and we expose it, so that we can then address the issue on how to tackle this intolerance that exists,” said MP Deepak Obhrai during a press conference at his constituency office Friday morning.

Harjit Singh Rai, 91, was attacked, unprovoked, on March 16 at around 1:15 p.m. in the No Frills supermarket parking lot at 5401 Temple Dr. N.E.

Rai opened his car door and was allegedly confronted and pushed by a man in his mid-40s. Rai asked the assailant why he was pushing him, only to be pushed again and knocked to the ground, causing his turban to fall off.

A man was arrested at the scene in connection with the attack after running into the store, and is charged with one count of assault.

“I personally think, after talking with the family, that this was a hate crime incident,” said the victim’s son, Suritam Rai.

His belief stems from the fact that Rai was the only turban-wearing Sikh in the parking lot that afternoon, he did not know the assailant, there were no other victims and no apparent dispute at hand.

“My dad is 91 years old. He’s not young to create problems, and in his life, he has never had anything like this happen to him,” said the son.

Rai sustained injuries to his hand, shoulder and head, but due to his turban, his head injury “wasn’t that bad,” said his son.

“We call this our home. If living in a country for 35 years, then you end up in a situation like this, I’m pretty sure everyone else would feel pretty bad as well,” he said.

Thanks to the quick action of bystanders and police, Rai was taken to hospital, where he was treated for his injuries. He was released the same day.

Obhrai can’t recall an incident like this ever happening in his community, which he’s been politically involved in for the last 21 years; nor can the Rai family.

Nevertheless, Obhrai said the incident is cause for concern and he wants to “ensure the message goes out that all Canadians should be treated equally with respect in our country, and that these kinds of incidents and behaviour are not the Canadian way”.

The World Sikh Organization expressed deep concern about the attack on Rai, citing it as the second attack on Sikhs in Canada in March.

“We have repeatedly warned that intolerance against Sikhs is on the rise in Canada due to recent, false accusations of extremism and radicalism against the community. The removal of the turban is considered a very serious insult,” said vice-president Tejinder Singh Sidhu.

“We hope that this crime is fully investigated as a hate crime. It is important that members of the Sikh community remain vigilant in the wake of these attacks,” he said.

Obhrai described the victim as a highly respected individual in the community and a personal mentor.

Dawn – Triangular cold war

Ashraf Jehangir Qazi

Op/Ed, 07 April 2018. A triangular cold war is developing which could be much more dangerous than the 20th-century Cold War. This new cold war ranges the US against Russia and China.

The US remains the world’s number one military, S&T, economic and financial power. However, despite its global full-spectrum dominance, it is challenged in Europe and the Middle East by Russia, in East Asia by China, and in Central and South Asia by both.

The Pentagon officially says the “long war” against international terrorism is drawing to a close. It argues “the US must bolster its competitive military advantage relative to the threats posed by China and Russia” because “inter-state strategic competition, not terrorism, is now the primary concern in US national security”.

It concludes “the US-dominated global order today is challenged not by Al Qaeda and ISIS but by the aggressive behaviour of China and Russia”.

According to Prof Michael Clare “a permanent campaign to contain Russia and China in Eurasia has begun. The US military has committed itself and the nation to a three-front geopolitical struggle to resist Chinese and Russian advances in Asia, Europe and the Middle East”.

Centcom commander, General Votel, told the Senate “the containment of China and Russia has become an integral part of Centcom’s future strategic mission”. Of particular concern is “the Chinese-managed port at Gwadar in Pakistan” which could contribute to “China’s military posture and force projection”.

What are the implications of a new cold war for Pakistan?

This answers questions why the US plans a long-term presence in Afghanistan and why it is concerned with Gwadar, CPEC and the Belt and Road Initiative. This is also the context within which it pressures Pakistan on Afghanistan, terrorism and its nuclear arsenal, and in which it has recruited India to its strategic camp.

The current spate of US and Western accusations against Russia and diplomatic expulsions increasingly seems an orchestrated prelude to a new cold war.

The US aims to sanction and isolate Russia into withdrawing from Ukraine and Syria, disengaging from its strategic embrace of China, abandoning its developing understanding with Iran and Turkey, and refraining from building a significant political presence in Afghanistan.

Russia may be economically vulnerable but militarily and politically it is strong. Moreover, Russians admire Putin because even if he has not delivered democracy and prosperity he embodies Russian defiance and resilience.

Russia has developed Sarmat 2 missiles which it claims the US cannot intercept. If true, it would have a nuclear first-strike capability. The US claims a similar capability. A US-Russian mutual first-strike capability is extremely destabilising.

In case of a serious military confrontation, neither side could risk not striking first. During the last cold war a shared second-strike capability helped avert such doomsday scenarios.

Despite mutual suspicion, China does not want Russia humiliated and destabilised by a US that regards China as its main adversary. The renewed American cold war with Russia and possible trade war with China brings both countries together.

The blustering Trump is a weak leader whom neither Moscow nor Beijing can trust to control his hawks. This is the opposite of what Nixon and Kissinger achieved. They exploited Sino-Soviet mistrust and enabled the US to become the preferred interlocutor for both China and Russia.

Today, according to Prof James Petras, “while China exports economic products, the US exports arms and wars”.

The US has a surplus of arms exports and a growing commercial deficit. China has multibillion-dollar infrastructure investments in over 50 countries that enhance trade surpluses. The US has multibillion-dollar expenditures in over 800 military bases that enhance trade deficits”.

Moreover, a “trade war with China will result in higher prices for the US consumer, unskilled labour, war debts and financial monopolies. China will simply divert trade from the US to other countries and redirect its investments towards deepening its domestic economy and increasing ties with Russia, Asia, Africa, Latin America and Oceania”.

America’s response is to rely on its military supremacy to compensate for its woeful diplomatic and economic strategies.

What are the implications of a new cold war for Pakistan? US demands to “do more” will further escalate.

The US-Indian strategic alliance will deepen as the US remains distant and demanding towards Pakistan. India will progressively if not completely downgrade its strategic relations with Russia. It will bide its time with China which in turn will keep a door open to India, especially if Pakistan remains dysfunctional.

India would expect very significant transfers of military and development technology from the US and its allies, enabling it to eventually engage with China on less disadvantageous terms, at the expense of Pakistan.

Apart from these grave implications of a new cold war for Pakistan, the 21st century poses existential challenges that have been largely ignored by derelict governments and educationally and ethically challenged leadership, abetted by the narrow security focus of an overwhelming ‘deep state’. Pakistan’s population will be 400 million in 30 years.

Climate change threatens water scarcity and loss of agricultural land leading to widespread famine and disease.

Human security is also threatened by deliberate underfunding for general, vocational and S&T education; generating family-supporting jobs in a global knowledge economy; providing adequate health and other basic services; developing institutional capacities and credibility; reforming the criminal justice and police systems; ensuring the rule of law; and guaranteeing human rights protections.

The government doesn’t even want to know about these challenges. They can only be addressed by good governance at home; deeper geostrategic and geo-economic cooperation with China and Russia; good and substantive if non-strategic relations with the US based on addressing each other’s concerns; a non-confrontational, dialogue-based and problem-solving working relationship with India despite outstanding differences and futile provocations; and developing mutual confidence with Afghanistan. I have suggested specific measures (see ‘Who is listening?’ in Dawn, 9 October 2017).

Longer-term perspectives, rational mindsets, due diligence and honest common sense are what is required for policies to develop credibility, direction and momentum. Political and other non-civilian policy decision-makers should listen to and consider objective, professional and relevant advice and input.

The writer is a former ambassador to the US, India and China and head of UN missions in Iraq and Sudan.