The Hindustan Times – India, Netherlands discuss cooperation across various sectors

India and The Netherlands on Thursday explored cooperation across multiple sectors at a CEOs Round Table attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte.

New Delhi – India, 24 May 2018. “Netherlands is the fourth largest investor in India in diverse sectors,” Kumar said in an earlier tweet.

The CEOs Round Table was preceded by a bilateral meeting between Modi and Rutte at Hyderabad House here.

Rutte arrived here on Thursday morning on a two-day visit to India that will also see him going to Bengaluru.

This is his second visit to India since June 2015, but the first after being re-elected as Prime Minister in 2017.

The Dutch leader’s visit comes within a year of Modi’s visit to The Netherlands last June.

According to figures released by the External Affairs Ministry, India and The Netherlands have a bilateral trade of $7.621 billion (April 2017-Feb 2018).

The Netherlands is also home to a 235,000-strong Indian diaspora, the largest in mainland Europe.

Rutte’s visit is expected to boost the economic and political cooperation between India and The Netherlands.

In the not too distant past stage democracy was important to the governments of the Netherlands. Now they are only to pleased to sit down with elected dictator Modi.
The Man in Blue

The Tribune – Need six months to set things right: Soni

Tribune News Service

Jalandhar – Panjab – India, 23 May 2018. Environment Minister O P Soni on Wednesday admitted that the water pollution problem in Punjab is grave. The minister, who visited the dera of environmentalist Balbir S Seechewal at Shahkot, tried to get away with any query related to the ecological disaster post discharge from Chadha Sugars.

He said: “We will narrate before the tribunal how it happened and what action has been taken by the government. We have got a report on the case from the inquiry committee.” The minister agreed that the water pollution affected villages of Shahkot and surrounding areas, which as cancer prone.

“I joined this department hardly a month back. Give me just six months to set things right. We will get all mills checked and punish the offenders”.

Soni was accompanied by PPCB chairman Kahan Singh Pannu, who said: “We acted swiftly and issued a show-cause notice to the company. Representatives of the company will appear before the board.” He said: “Though there has been a huge loss, we have tried our level best to ensure that drinking water is not contaminated”.

To Zelzate and Sas van Gent (NL)

12 April 2018

The goods line from Gent to Terneuzen
parallel to the Canal from Gent to Terneuzen

The goods line from Gent to Terneuzen

The goods line from Gent to Terneuzen

Sas van Gent – Nederland
12 April 2018

Sas van Gent – Zeeuws Vlaanderen
La Boursse

The old canal from Gent to Terneuzen

Albert Heijn
For komijnekaas and Zeeuwse Keukenstroop
Komijn = Cumin = Jeera – Kaas = Cheese

To see all my pictures:

More Belgian/Netherlands pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Firstpost – Brahmins and Jat Sikhs lead campaign for Dalit land rights in Punjab amid milieu of deep-rooted caste prejudices

Arjun Sharma

Ludhiana – Panjab – India, 24 May 2018. Upper castes have been rightly accused of oppressing and denying the human rights of Dalits for centuries. But in Punjab, a significant section of the leadership of the campaign for Dalit land rights comes from Brahmins and Jat Sikhs, both considered high castes.

The Malwa region of Punjab is witness to a growing Dalit movement over rights to common panchayat land. Section 6(1)a of The Punjab Village Common Lands (Regulation) Rules, 1964 stipulates that one-third of the cultivable common land proposed to be leased shall be reserved for the Scheduled Castes.

However, Dalits complain that the law is not being followed. They say the land is used for other purposes and have been protesting this injustice for years.

Interestingly, in this cause, they have not just been joined, but led by members of communities that have traditionally been the most notorious violators of their rights, the Brahmins and Jat Sikhs.

While leaders from higher castes working for Dalit causes in Punjab downplay their caste origins, their support is deeply appreciated by the Dalit leaders.

Laws rarely implemented

Mahi Pal, a prominent Brahmin leader of the landless peasants’ movement from Bathinda district, started working for Dalit causes in 1980. Pal who is the finance secretary of the Dihati Mazdoor Sabha said that caste has never come in the way of his work for Dalits, and that he tries to keep his caste a personal affair.

“After entering the movement for Dalits and landless labourers, I was shocked to see that people from this section of society are being discriminated against only because they are born in a specific caste,” Pal says.

He stressed that despite the many laws for uplifting Dalits, little has been done as they are rarely implemented.
“While the law demands renting out of one third or 33 percent of the panchayat land to Dalits, a village in Bathinda, Jai Singh Wala, has allotted the entire panchayat land for construction of a gurudwara. Now how will the Dalits in the village get their share of land?” questions Pal.

No land for Dalits

Dalits in villages of Punjab are mostly landless labourers who work on the agricultural lands of Jat Sikhs. After widespread mechanisation of agricultural processes in recent decades, most of them have lost their jobs and been forced to do menial work.

A Dalit rights activist, Mukesh Sharma Malaudh, from Sangrur district was recently declared a proclaimed offender (PO) in a case going back to June 2014. Sharma, along with other protesters, had then clashed with police over their demand for the lease of panchayat land to Dalits at a nominal price.

Sharma, who is the president of Zameen Prapti Sangarsh Committee (ZPSC), is fighting for the one-third share of Dalits on panchayat land as well as on Nazool land, which is un-irrigated, barren land located outside municipal limits and escheated to the state government.

The Nazool Land Cooperative Societies were established under the Nazool Lands (Transfer) Rules, 1956. As per the rules, there is a provision that Nazool land may be allotted to landless Dalits.

Sharma says that the state government increases the rent on panchayat land for Dalits every year. “If the government is serious about improving the status of the Dalits in the state, there is a need to overhaul a few things and implement all laws created for the welfare of Dalits,” says Sharma.

The problem of casteism is deep-rooted in Punjab, where separate cremation grounds and gurudwaras for Dalits still exist in most of the villages. While the law regarding renting out of one-third of panchayat land could be applicable in large villages, it becomes difficult to implement in case of smaller villages.

According to the 2011 census, Punjab has the highest percentage of Scheduled Caste population among all the states of the country.

The Scheduled Caste population in Punjab numbers 88.60 lakh, or 31.94 percent of a total population of 277.43 lakh.

As per the 2011 census, the vast majority of the Scheduled Castes (73.33 percent) live in rural areas, while 26.67 percent reside in Punjab’s urban centres. The majority of Scheduled Caste labourers work in the agricultural sector or are engaged in low-wage and arduous occupations in the cities.

Communist movement in Malwa

S R Darapuri, a retired IPS officer and Uttar Pradesh-based Dalit thinker whose family belongs to Doaba region of Punjab, says that the spread of the communist ideology in the Malwa region has led to many intellectuals and social activists, irrespective of their caste, to join the Dalit movement.

“It is a classic case where Brahmins and Jat Sikhs are steering a movement of people who were suppressed by these very castes. The success of the communists in the Malwa region of Punjab is the main cause why leaders have forgotten their castes for the cause of Dalits,” says Darapuri.

A case in point is the All India Kisan Sabha, the mass organisation of the Communist Party of India (Marxist).

Ruldu Singh, president of the Punjab Kisan Union says that despite being from the Jat community, he has been supporting the cause of poor farmers and Dalits in the area for a long time. “I was also arrested during a protest for Dalits in year 2009 in Mansa district,” he says.

Singh says the Jat community, for the most part, rarely concerns itself with issues other than the mounting problems of agriculture in Punjab. “But I will continue to work for poor and Dalits in our state as successive governments use Dalits only as their vote bank and never see them as humans,” Singh says.

Arjun Sharma is a Ludhiana-based freelance writer and a member of, a pan-India network of grassroots reporters

The Hindu – No discrimination on basis of religion: Rajnath

The minister was responding to the Archbishop’s call for prayers

Special Correspondent

New Delhi – India, 22 May 2018. Home Minister Rajnath Singh said on Tuesday that he had not seen the letter by the Archbishop of Delhi, Anil Couto, asking for a prayer campaign in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, along with an appeal to fast on Fridays.

“I have not seen the statement [of the Archbishop] verbatim but all I can say is that India is a country where there is no discrimination against anyone on the basis of caste, sect or religion. Such a thing cannot be allowed,” Mr Singh said on the sidelines of an event of the Border Security Force (BSF) here.

His comments came in the wake of the Archbishop referring to a “turbulent political atmosphere” in the country, and appealing for a prayer campaign ahead of the 2019 general elections.

Archbishop Couto, who had written to all parish priests in the national capital earlier this month, did not name any political party in his letter.

The Home Minister said the government would not allow any breach of the unity of the country.

“Sometimes questions are posed to us. We will not compromise on the unity, integrity and sovereignty of this country at any cost and this is our top priority. We are also committed to strengthening the bonds of amity, affinity and harmony in our society,” he said.

Call for campaign

Citing the political atmosphere which allegedly poses a threat to the democratic principles enshrined in the Constitution and the secular fabric of the nation, the Archbishop letter says, “It is our hallowed practice to pray for our country and its political leaders all the time but all the more so when we approach the general elections.

As we look forward towards 2019, when we will have a new government, let us begin a prayer campaign for our country”.

No discrimination against anyone on the basis of caste, sect or religion in India
Rajwant Singh must be joking !
Man in Blue