The Indian Express – Don’t misuse money bills, consult Rajya Sabha more: Manmohan Singh in Parliament

By Express Web Desk, New Delhi – India, 18 November 2019. On Monday, the former Prime Minister had criticised the government for the tanking economy and for its “juvenile” shutting off of economic data.

Speaking in the Rajya Sabha on Monday, former prime minister Manmohan Singh said the role of the Upper House must not be undermined, and it should be allowed more time to study and debate Bills.

“In the 16th Lok Sabha, only 25% Bills were referred to committees as compared to 15th and 14th LS. Regardless of what the other House does, it is crucial for our House to form select committees to ensure Bills received go through detailed scrutiny,” Singh said.

The Congress MP from Rajasthan said misuse of the Money Bill provision should be avoided. “We have seen instances of misuse of the Money Bill provision by the Executive, leading to the bypassing of the Rajya Sabha on important matters. Those on the Treasury benches must ensure this is avoided,” Singh said.

“If not for the efforts of our first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, the Rajya Sabha would have been reduced to a mere revising House, relegated to a secondary position in the functioning of our democracy. He ensured the closest cooperation between the two Houses, and if that cooperation is not maintained, it will affect the working of our Constitution,” the former PM added.

Singh said the Rajya Sabha was a council of states, and hence it was all the more important that its voice was heard on the crucial issues of the day. “Converting Jammu and Kashmir to a Union territory has far-reaching consequences. The government should consult the council of states before such drastic measures can be considered by the House,” Singh said.

Earlier in the day, the former PM and former finance minister had come out with withering criticism of the NDA government on the state of India’s economy. Blaming the country’s tanking growth on the government’s “mala fide unless proven otherwise doctrine of governance”, Singh wrote in The Hindu that there was a spirit of distrust and helplessness around, which was stifling economic activity.

Singh also criticised the government for “hiding” economic data. “Shooting down messengers of bad news or shutting off economic reports and data is juvenile and does not behove a rising global economic powerhouse.

No amount of subterfuge can hide the performance and analysis of a $3-trillion market economy of 1.2 billion people. Economic participants respond to social and economic incentives, not diktats or coercions or public relations,” he said.

The former PM warned of more difficult times ahead unless corrective measures were taken, including stitching together the social fabric of the country. “Continued increase in inflation combined with stagnant demand and high unemployment will lead to what economists term as ‘stagflation’, a dangerous territory from which it becomes very hard for large economies to recover,” he said.

Singh also said India’s economy was slowing down at a time “when there is a unique and opportune moment in the global economy for India to capitalise”.

He urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to “set aside his deep-rooted suspicion of industrialists and entrepreneurs and nurse us back to a confident and mutually trustworthy society that can revive the animal spirits and help our economy soar.”

Don’t misuse Money Bills, consult Rajya Sabha more: Manmohan Singh in Parliament

Sikh24.com – CBI books Amnesty International India for violating FCRA; Amnesty terms it as India’s revenge for exposing excesses in Kashmir

Sikh24 Editors

New Delhi – India, 15 November 2019. About half-a-dozen sleuths of CBI today conducted a raid at Amnesty International’s offices in Delhi and Bengaluru during the morning hours and carried out searches till evening hours. After this, the CBI booked Amnesty International for violating the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act.

Reacting to the CBI’s action, the Amnesty International India has said that it is being targeted for speaking out against human rights violations in the country.

“Over the past year, a pattern of harassment has emerged every time Amnesty India stands up and speaks out against human rights violations in India” reads a statement by Amnesty International India.

“Our work in India, as elsewhere, is to uphold and fight for universal human rights. These are the same values that are enshrined in the Indian Constitution and flow from a long and rich Indian tradition of pluralism, tolerance, and dissent,” it added.

Amnesty International India is accused of bypassing the FCRA by floating a commercial entity in the name of Amnesty International India Pvt Ltd, which received Rupees 360 million in foreign funds.

CBI books Amnesty International India for violating FCRA; Amnesty terms it as India’s revenge for exposing excesses in Kashmir  

Gent: Neuseplein – Tolhuisdok

Neuseplein – Tram 4
07 November 2019


Tram 4 to Ledebergstraat/Botermarkt


Tram 4 about to turn left into Sassekaai


A long, long tram turning into Sassekaai

Nieuwe Vaart/Tolhuisdok
07 November 2019


Sas = Sluis = Locks


Tolhuisdok


Tolhuisdok

More Belgian pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

Sputnik – Pakistan moves to embrace its minorities by opening the doors of Hindu Mandirs

New Delhi – India, 18 November 2019. India and Pakistan have opened the Kartarpur Corridor, allowing Indian pilgrims to worship throughout the year at a Sikh shrine in Pakistan’s Punjab province.

Pakistan has historically been uneasy with its Hindu heritage but things seem to be changing under the ruling Imran Khan government.

Pakistan’s ruling party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s spokesperson Ahman Jawad has announced plans to restore Hindu places of worship.

The India-Pakistan partition in 1947 resulted in the closure Hindu and Sikh shrines in the country.

A survey by the All-Pakistan Hindu Rights Movement earlier this year revealed that at the time of partition, 428 Hindu mandirs existed in Pakistan but only 20 remain operational.

In April this year, the Pakistan government announced plans to re-open 400 of the 428 mandirs. It also cleared a plan to allow Indian tourists to visit Sharda Peeth, an ancient Hindu religious and cultural site in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

Taking another positive step towards the minority Hindus, Jagannath Mandir in Pakistan’s Sialkot city was reopened in July after 72 years.

The changes are not just at the bureaucratic level, but also at the judicial level, with the Supreme Court of Pakistan making judgements in favour of Hindus.

Similarly, in September 2019, Muslims escorted Hindus to a mandir in Ghotki district after riots broke out in the area over an alleged blasphemy committed by a Hindu teacher.

Pakistan also plans to begin the renovation of two to three historic and heritage mandirs every year. The restoration process will begin with two historic mandirs, the 1,000-year old Shivalaya Teja Singh Temple in Sialkot and Gorakhnath Temple in Peshawar.

https://sputniknews.com/asia/201911181077341024-pakistan-moves-to-embrace-its-minorities-by-opening-the-doors-of-hindu-temples-/

The Print – Modi’s new citizenship law will rip open the wounds of Partition

Muhammad Ali Jinnah would be proud of Narendra Modi.

Shivam Vij

New Delhi – India, 18 November 2019. Political language,” said George Orwell, “is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” That would be a fine description of how the Narendra Modi establishment sells its disastrous policies.

It is certainly the case with the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, likely to be a law in a few weeks. According to Prime Minister Modi, “There are many children of Maa Bharti who have faced persecution in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. We will stand with those who were part of India at one time, but got separated from us.”

The claim is that the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB) will somehow finish the unfinished business of Partition. On the contrary, it will only rip open the wounds of Partition.

Maa Bharti’s disowned children

Partition became necessary because there were two different visions of what India should be like after independence. One vision was based on the two-nation theory, the idea that Hindus and Muslims are two separate “nations”. (Wonder why the two-nation theory never saw the Christians, Parsis, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Bahai as separate “nations”. The logical end should be an eight-nation theory, if not more).

The other vision was that nationhood is not a religious construct. It is geographical. From Peshawar to Puducherry, we were one people united by shared geography and history. We were united in our diversity.

It was this difference of opinion that led to Partition. Pakistan saw itself as a Muslim nation. It didn’t matter that west and east Pakistanis would be separated by nearly 1,700 kilometres of Indian land mass. India saw itself as a secular country that respected all faiths equally. And the country itself did not have a state religion, unlike Pakistan.

This is why Mahatma Gandhi was busy stopping Hindu-Muslim riots that were meant to drive out Muslims into Pakistan on either side. The father of the nation, as also the government of India, was committed to ensuring that Muslims can stay peacefully as equal citizens.

In other words, all the people of this land were the children of “Maa Bharti”, no matter what religion they followed. But Narendra Modi now wants to separate some of “Maa Bharti’s” children from her: Muslims.

If you are a Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian in present-day Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan, you will soon be able to walk into India illegally, or overstay your visa, and become an Indian citizen in six years.

To exclude Muslims from this privilege, just because they are the “majority” community in these countries, is to say that Muslims are not the children of “Maa Bharti”.

What about Ahmadis whom Pakistan considers part of a separate sect and who are possibly far more persecuted than Christians and Hindus? Given that the founding place of the Ahmadiyya sect is in Indian Punjab, Ahmadis make a good case to be included in CAB.

Making Jinnah proud

Defenders of the CAB say it does not make India a Hindu state, because it also welcomes Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians. Yet, it does exclude the religion of the majority in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh. PM Modi must explain why Muslims in these countries are not the children of “Maa Bharti”.

In practice, the new idea of religion-based citizenship will encourage large-scale migration of people from these three countries into India, reminding us of the wounds of Partition. Since the largest religious minority in Pakistan and Bangladesh are Hindus, most beneficiaries of the CAB will be Hindus.

Simultaneously, the so-called, pan-India National Register of Citizens will target Muslims who are unable to prove their grandfathers were Indian. They will be stripped off their citizenship and put in detention camps. This is worse than the two-nation theory. This is a systematic legal design for the persecution of just one religious minority in India, Muslims.

Hindus come in, Muslims get out. That is the message of CAB and pan-India NRC, when seen together.

After all the Orwellian trickery, CAB and NRC are basically a way of accepting the two-nation theory. The 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi is the perfect time to do this. Muhammad Ali Jinnah would be proud of Narendra Modi. It is as if the Partition is still taking place.

Some more Orwellian trickery

Incidentally, the text of the proposed CAB does not say anything about Partition, persecution, leave alone “Maa Bharti”.

If the idea is that someone should be given citizenship because they are facing religious persecution, then they should be asked to prove they were facing persecution. That is how, often with the help of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, western countries grant citizenship to refugees.

For instance, after CAB becomes law, the Bhandara family in Pakistan, who happen to be Parsis, could walk into India and become Indian citizens. Are they “persecuted” in Pakistan? Not at all. They are part of the Pakistani high society, owners of the Murree Brewery.

Wouldn’t they love it if one of their family members could become an Indian citizen and start Murree Brewery’s operations in India?

So, the idea that CAB is for “persecuted” religious minorities in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh is media spin meant to fool us. The text of the law says no such thing, because the real intention is perhaps not to help persecuted minorities in the three countries. The real intention is to import lakhs of Hindus so that the BJP may play vote-bank politics with them.

On another note, can anyone explain what Afghanistan has to do with Partition? It was not a part of India in 1947. It was never a part of British India. We have always been told that Partition divided India into two countries, India and Pakistan, and a part of Pakistan later became a third country, Bangladesh. So, if CAB is about Partition, what is Afghanistan doing here?

And if Afghanistan can randomly qualify, why not Myanmar? Myanmar (then Burma) was a part of British Indian Empire until 1937. How about giving Indian citizenship to persecuted minorities in Myanmar?

Over 7 lakh Rohingya Muslims have been forced to flee to Bangladesh due to ethnic and religious persecution. If an Afghan-Christian from Herat is the offspring of “Maa Bharti”, why is a Rohingya Muslim from Arakan not a child of “Maa Bharti”?

If Afghanistan is included because of the RSS’ idea of Akhand Bharat, why not Sri Lanka? Just because Tamil-speaking Hindus from Sri Lanka aren’t really going to help the BJP win elections in Tamil Nadu?

There are other issues with CAB. Does India really need more people, given it is already one of the world’s most populous countries? And what about security issues? CAB offers a very convenient route for agencies to send spies to India and get them Indian citizenship in just six years.

None of this means India should not give citizenship to refugees. What we need is a comprehensive refugee law that determines how many refugees India can absorb as citizens every year, and the basis for such citizenship should not be religion or nationality. It should be humanity, in keeping with the spirit of the Indian Constitution.

Modi’s new citizenship law will rip open the wounds of Partition