The Hindu – Reporters Without Borders urges India to protect journalists

New Delhi, India, 04 July 2018. A media watch group on July 7 expressed serious concern at “an alarming deterioration in the working environment of journalists in India” and demanded that the government ensure the safety of journalists who are feeling threatened.

Reporters Without Borders said in a report that at least three journalists were killed in India in 2017 and that a fourth case is still under investigation.

In 2018, the situation appears to have worsened significantly, with four journalists killed in the first six months of the year. “The hate speech directed toward journalists has increased massively, causing serious concern for their safety,” the report said.

There was no immediate reaction from the government. The group demanded a swift and independent investigation of cases in which journalists have been targeted.

Columnist Neerja Choudhary said the government was not acting as it should be given the rise in attacks on journalists.

“If the government was serious about the freedom of press, the media can’t be treated like an upstart,” she said. “Those who want to stifle dissenting voices are getting emboldened as nobody is brought to book.”

On July 3, the general secretary of Reporters Without Borders, Christophe Deloire, wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi telling him that an incident report had been issued in relation to press freedom in the country, and asking him to take urgent action.

An incident report is issued when events are observed that could affect a country’s ranking based on one or more of the indicators that are used in the evaluation for the World Press Freedom Index.

The group called on representatives of the government and the BJP “to condemn in the strongest terms online campaigns of hate and harassment aimed at journalists”.

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/reporters-without-borders-urges-india-to-protect-journalists/article24330994.ece

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The Statesman – India, Pakistan exchange lists of prisoners, fishermen

The External Affairs Ministry said the government has emphasised on the need for early release and repatriation of civilian and defence personnel

New Delhi – India, 01 July 2018. India and Pakistan on Sunday exchanged, through diplomatic channels simultaneously at New Delhi and Islamabad, the lists of civilian prisoners and fishermen of each country lodged in the jails.

This was in keeping with the provisions of the 2008 agreement under which such lists are exchanged on 1 January and 1 July every year.

Lists of 249 civilian prisoners and 108 fishermen were handed over to Pakistan. Islamabad shared lists of 53 civilian prisoners and 418 fishermen, who are Indians or believed to be Indians.

The External Affairs Ministry said the government has emphasised on the need for early release and repatriation of civilian prisoners, missing Indian defence personnel and fishermen along with their boats.

In this context, Pakistan was asked to expedite the release of nine Indian civilian prisoners and 229 Indian fishermen, who have completed their sentences and whose nationality has been confirmed. Immediate consular access has also been sought for the remaining prisoners and fishermen to facilitate their early release and repatriation.

In order to take further the understanding reached to address the humanitarian issues, especially with respect to elderly, women and mentally unsound prisoners, India has already shared the details of the reconstituted joint judicial committee and that of the Indian medical experts’ team to visit Pakistan to meet the mentally unsound prisoners.

Islamabad has also been requested to allow the visit of a group of fishermen representatives to facilitate the repatriation of Indian fishing boats, presently in Pakistan’s custody, at the earliest.

https://www.thestatesman.com/india/india-pakistan-exchange-lists-of-prisoners-fishermen-1502655927.html

The Hindustan Times – Religious freedom continued ‘downward trend’ in India in 2017: Report

The US Commission for International Religious Freedom said conditions for religious minorities in India have deteriorated over the last decade. It categorised India in countries of concern, along with Afghanistan, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Malaysia and Turkey.

Washington DC – USA, 27 April 2018. Religious freedom conditions continued a “downward trend” in India last year as Hindu-nationalist groups sought to “saffronise” it through violence, intimidation, and harassment of non-Hindus and Hindu Dalits, a US federal government appointed commission has alleged.

The US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) in its latest report has placed India in the Tier 2 countries of particular concern along with Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Cuba, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhastan, Laos, Malaysia and Turkey.

“Conditions for religious minorities have deteriorated over the last decade due to a multifaceted campaign by Hindu-nationalist groups like Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sang (RSS), Sangh Parivar, and Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) to alienate non-Hindus or lower-caste Hindus,” the USCIRF said.

The victims of this campaign include Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Jains, as well as Dalit Hindus, who belong to the lowest rung in the Hindu caste system, the USCIRF said in its latest annual report on international religious freedom.

“These groups face challenges ranging from acts of violence or intimidation, to the loss of political power, to increasing feelings of disenfranchisement and otherness,” it said.

“In 2017, religious freedom conditions continued a downward trend in India.”

“India’s history as a multicultural and multireligious society remained threatened by an increasingly exclusionary conception of national identity based on religion. During the year, Hindu-nationalist groups sought to ‘saffronise’ India through violence, intimidation, and harassment against non-Hindus and Hindu Dalits,” it said.

Approximately one-third of state governments enforced anti-conversion and/or anti-cow slaughter laws against non-Hindus, and mobs engaged in violence against Muslims or Dalits whose families have been engaged in the dairy, leather, or beef trades for generations, and against Christians for proselytizing, it said.

“Cow protection” lynch mobs killed at least 10 victims in 2017. Forced conversions of non-Hindus to Hinduism through “homecoming” ceremonies (ghar wapsi) were reported, and rules on the registration of foreign-funded NGOs were used discriminatorily against religious minority groups, the report said.

At the same time, the report said that despite an overall deterioration of religious freedom conditions in 2017, there were positive developments.

“Some government entities have made efforts to counter increasing intolerance in the country,” the USCIRF said.

The active and independent judiciary, exemplified by India’s Supreme Court, decided several cases during the year that protect the rights of religious minorities, it said.

In its report, the USCIRF has urged the US government to integrate concern for religious freedom into bilateral discussions with India, including the framework of future Strategic Dialogues, at both the federal and state levels.

It also urged the US government to press the Indian government to allow the USCIRF to visit the country and to invite the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief to visit India.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/religious-freedom-continued-downward-trend-in-india-in-2017-report/story-joK5EcNectvVY2LiKJ1VxO.html

The Asian Age – Terror emerging again in Punjab, CM warns Centre

New Delhi – India, 20 April 2018. Fearing the re-emergence of militancy in Punjab, chief minister Amarinder Singh on Thursday urged the Centre to put in place an elaborate plan to tackle the emerging threat, with intelligence reports indicating that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) was training Sikh youths to revive terror activities in the region.

The issue, particularly some recent targeted killings by ISI-backed operatives, was discussed in detail during a meeting between Captain Singh and Union home minister Rajnath Singh here on Thursday.

The CM also briefed the home minister in detail about the security situation in Punjab and how attempts were being made to disturb the law and order situation through these targeted killings.

Home ministry officials claimed Captain Singh urged the Centre to plan an “all-encompassing” security strategy to deal with the revival of terror in the state.

Captain Singh also stressed the need for further strengthening and sharing of intelligence inputs between the Centre and state agencies, particularly on some terror operatives active in foreign countries like Italy, the United States, Germany, Canada and Britain.

The role of some of these operatives is suspected in recent killings in Punjab, now being investigated by the National Investigation Agency (NIA). Sources said the home minister assured Captain Singh of all possible help from the Centre in dealing with security issues in the sensitive border state, which had seen a long spell of terror in the past.

The Punjab CM also flagged the issue of how terror elements were using the social media to radicalise youth and the urgent need to counter this. The home ministry had recently told a parliamentary panel that Sikh youths were being trained at ISI facilities in Pakistan to carry out terror activities in India.

Captain Singh appreciated the role of the Central security agencies, particularly the NIA, in handling cases related to the killing of political and religious personalities in the state, which is being seen as a desperate attempt to disturb communal harmony in the region.

http://www.asianage.com/india/all-india/200418/terror-emerging-again-in-punjab-cm-warns-centre.html

The Asian Age – No restrictions imposed on pilgrims travelling to Pakistan, India clarifies

New Delhi-India, 17 February 2018.India on Friday said it has not imposed any restrictions on pilgrims travelling to Pakistan amid heightened tensions between the two nations following a string of terror attacks in the Kashmir Valley.

“Of course not,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said when asked if India had imposed any restriction on pilgrims.

The clarification comes after Pakistan reportedly blamed India for withdrawing visa applications of pilgrims from the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi.

http://www.asianage.com/india/all-india/170218/no-restrictions-imposed-on-pilgrims-travelling-to-pak-india-clarifies.html

The Hindustan Times – Amritsar boy who saved 15 kids to get National Bravery Award

The teen, who was also in the bus and injured, showed great courage and helped other children to come out of the water-filled bus.

HT Correspondent

Amritsar-Panjab-India, 18 January 2018. Seventeen-year-old Karanbeer Singh from Amritsar, who rescued 15 children from a school bus that had plunged into a drain, will be among the 18 children to receive the National Bravery Awards this year.

Singh, who was also in the bus and injured, showed great courage and helped other children to come out of the water-filled bus.

“He (driver) was driving rashly. I had warned him about the narrow bridge ahead that doesn’t have railings but he didn’t listen. Suddenly the front tyres were in the air and we landed in the drain,” said Karanbir.

He added that doors were jammed and he had to smash a window glass to come out and rescue the students.

A rashly driven school-van had fallen into a drain from a bridge at Muhawa village, 35 km from Amritsar, killing seven children on 20 September 2016. The van was taking students back home from DAV Public School, Neshta, when the accident took place five km from the school.

The awards, divided into five categories, Bharat Award, Geeta Chopra Award, Sanjay Chopra Award, Bapu Gaidhani Award, and General National Bravery Awards, will be given away by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on January 24. Karanbeer will receive the Sanjay Chopra award.

President Ramnath Kovind will host a reception for the awardees, seven girls and 11 boys, who will also be participating in the Republic Day parade on January 26.

18-year-old Nazia from Uttar Pradesh, who helped local police capture perpetrators of an illegal business of gambling and betting will be given the most coveted Bharat Award.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/punjab/amritsar-boy-who-saved-15-kids-to-get-national-bravery-award/story-rVZPQjRfDARGP0cwPLrFCM.html

Scroll.in – Why Hindus cannot be seen as a religious minority in Kashmir (or anywhere else in India)

Population is not the only criterion.

Op/Ed, 24 December 2017. The Supreme Court this month heard a petition asking for a minorities commission to be set up in Jammu and Kashmir.

The plea, filed by Ankur Sharma, a lawyer in Jammu, contended that Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Christians were unable to access benefits meant for minorities in the state where 68.3% of the population is Muslim.

Sharma’s plea came after a lawyer-leader of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, Ashwani Kumar Upadhyay, petitioned the apex court to direct the central government to confer minority status on Hindus in seven states, including Jammu and Kashmir, and a Union Territory.

On the advice of a bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Upadhyay later withdrew his petition and approached the National Commission for Minorities, which is reportedly considering the matter. Central to both cases is this question: can the majority community be seen as a religious minority in any part of the country?

A community’s minority status is relevant mainly for accessing specific welfare schemes. This should not be a bone of contention: the Supreme Court has already ruled that such schemes launched by the Centre are for national-level minorities while local schemes would cover the state-level minorities.

In Jammu and Kashmir, Sharma argued that in the absence of a minority commission in Jammu and Kashmir, “crores worth aid are being given away to a certain community, which is the majority Muslim community, in an illegal and arbitrary manner”.

No matter how they are designated in the state, Muslims, as a national minority, would continue to be beneficiaries of central minority welfare schemes.

As for directing the state government to establish a minorities commission, the court pointed out that it does not have the power to do so.

Since Jammu and Kashmir does not fall within the purview of the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992, a state minorities commission must be set up through legislation by the Assembly or an administrative order by the government.

Hindus as a minority

Upadhyay’s petition directly asks for recognising Hindus as a religious minority in certain states. If the petitioner’s idea has his party’s support it is intriguing.

Two decades ago, as chairperson of the National Commission for Minorities, I personally prepared a special report titled “Hindu Minorities in India”, written after visiting the states concerned and hearing local Hindu leaders.

My report, recommending state-level minority status for Hindus in Jammu and Kashmir, Lakshadweep, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Punjab, was endorsed by the Commission and submitted to the central government, then led by the BJP. But it was pooh-poohed by the party’s stalwarts and cold-shouldered by the government.

In the Constitution, Article 29 proclaims that “any section of citizens residing in the territory of India or any part thereof having a distinct language, script or culture of its own shall have a right to conserve the same”.
Article 30 recognises the right of a religious or linguistic minority to establish and administer educational institutions. Read together, the two provisions may be taken as the constitutional charter for religious and linguistic minorities at all levels.

The Constitution does not specify a mechanism for identifying groups of citizens covered by either of these provisions. The National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992, confined in application to religious minorities, does not list them either; it only states that for the purposes of the Act the word “minorities” means communities “notified as such” by the central government.

A notification issued under this provision in 1993 proclaimed Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Sikhs and Parsis as minorities.

The Jains protested against their exclusion and, on taking over as the Commission’s chairman, I took the position that since the Constitution and the laws bracket Jains with Buddhists and Sikhs, the government had two options: either drop Buddhists and Sikhs from the list or to extend it to Jains.

Fifteen years later, the government went for the second option – on the persistent demand of some Jain leaders, the 1993 notification was modified to include their community among the minorities.

Population not the only criterion

If population is to be the sole yardstick to accord minority status at state level, Hindus are a minority in Christian-dominated Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland; Sikh-dominated Punjab; Muslim-dominated Jammu and Kashmir and Lakshadweep as I pointed out in my report of 1998.

Upadhyay, in his petition, additionally counted Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur among Hindu-minority states, which is questionable. Hindu are less than 50% in these states but so are all other communities, and the difference in population between Hindus and Christians is miniscule.

Population, however, is not the only criterion for a religious community to be seen as a minority.

A 1977 report of the United Nations Subcommission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities defined minority as “a group numerically inferior to the rest of the population of a state, in a non-dominant position, whose members – being nationals of the State – possess ethnic, religious or linguistic characteristics differing from those of the rest of the population and show, if not implicitly, a sense of solidarity directed towards preserving their culture, traditions, religion or language”.

If each of these criteria is to be meticulously applied, Hindus, the national majority, would not be seen as a minority anywhere in India.

The legal position is that the National Commission for Minorities too has no power to declare any community to be a minority; it can only make a recommendation in this regard to the government.

My 1998 report remains on record and, considering it, the Centre or a state government may take whatever action they deem fit in respect of state-level Hindu minorities. No well-wisher of the community needs to go to the apex court or the minorities commission for this purpose.

Tahir Mahmood is a professor of law, former chairman of the National Commission for Minorities and ex-member of the Law Commission of India.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.

https://scroll.in/article/862345/why-hindus-cannot-be-seen-as-a-religious-minority-in-kashmir-or-anywhere-else-in-india

The Independent – Scottish Sikh ‘faces further torture’ after being taken back into police custody in India, campaigners say

Jagtar Singh Johal tells lawyers he has been tortured with electricity

Lucinda Cameron, Hilary Duncanson

London, UK, 19 November 2017. A British Sikh man arrested in India and allegedly tortured by police has been returned to police custody, campaigners have claimed.

Jagtar Singh Johal was moved to judicial custody after appearing in court in Punjab on Friday, sparking hopes the “physical torture” will come to an end, the Sikh Federation UK said .

However, the federation said he was later returned to police custody for the next two days without charge after he was taken to an area magistrate by police from another district.

His legal team are said to be concerned this period will be used to try and “falsely link him” to unsolved cases in the area.

Mr Johal, from Dumbarton in West Dunbartonshire, was detained in Jalandhar in the state of Punjab on 4 November.

The federation says no official charges have been brought against him, but local media reported Mr Johal’s arrest was linked to the killing of Hindu leaders in Punjab.

Mr Johal, 30, who got married in India last month, has told lawyers he has been tortured with “body separation techniques and electrocution to body parts”.

The Sikh Federation said that following his court appearance in Punjab, he was sent to jail until 30 November, when he will reappear in court.

It said he has had a brief meeting with his in-laws and a UK official, but business cards from his lawyers and the British High Commission representative were later taken off him.

He is also being denied fresh warm clothing, it is claimed.

His lawyers are said to have applied for an independent medical examination of Mr Johal.

Bhai Amrik Singh, chair of the Sikh Federation UK, said: “Many are asking why Jagtar was not allowed the business cards for his two lawyers or for the British High Commission representative or allowed to accept clothes from his family.

“The Indian authorities clearly have much to hide and the British and Scottish governments must do much more to secure his release.

“We will be challenging the Foreign Secretary next Tuesday when he appears in the Commons to answer questions from MPs.”

Hundreds of Sikhs held a demonstration outside the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London in support of Mr Johal on Thursday.

An FCO spokesman said: “Our consular staff in New Delhi have visited a British man who has been detained in Punjab. We have met his family to update them, and have confirmed that he now has access to his lawyer.

“We take all allegations or concerns of torture and mistreatment very seriously and will follow up with action as appropriate.

“When considering how to act, we will avoid any action that might put the individual in question or any other person that may be affected at risk.”

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/jagtar-singh-johal-british-scottish-sikh-man-tortured-police-india-custody-sikh-federation-uk-a8063906.html

The Times of India – Convince Myanmar to end violence against Rohingyas, Bangla Desh urges India

Indrani Bagchi

New Delhi, 12 September 2017. “India has good relations with Myanmar, we are both members of BIMSTEC. India must emphasize to Myanmar that conditions must be created so that these refugees can return to their country.

India can call for the immediate implementation of the Kofi Annan report,” said Syed Muazzem Ali, Bangladesh High Commissioner to India as Bangladesh grapples with a huge influx of refugees, which now total 6,70,000, in the midst of one of the worst floods in recent years.

The Bangladesh foreign minister Abul Hassan Mahmud Ali proposed a plan of action to tackle the crisis. This includes asking Myanmar to stop the violence in Rakhine province, create safe zones to protect civilians “irrespective of ethnicity and religion”.

“Myanmar must engage with Bangladesh to ensure repatriation of all of its nationals living in Bangladesh through international joint verification as also proposed by the Kofi Annan Commission,” the Bangla envoy said.

Muazzem Ali conveyed Bangladesh’s concerns regarding what they saw as India’s unhelpful stand on the issue during PM’s visit to Myanmar. “I explained to the foreign secretary that we have no hesitation in decrying the terrorist attack that was launched against the security forces of Mynamar.

We condemned in the strongest possible terms. My prime minister has emphasized that Bangladesh would show zero tolerance to any acts of terrorism and Bangladesh could not be allowed to be used by anyone for any terrorist acts.”

Bangladesh’s response coincides with the UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, roundly criticizing Myanmar, calling the ongoing violence “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”

“The Myanmar government should stop pretending that the Rohingyas are setting fire to their own homes and laying waste to their own villages,” saying “another brutal security operation is underway in Rakhine state this time, apparently on a far greater scale.”

Unconfirmed reports also said the biggest militant group, ARSA, has announced a month-long ceasefire for aid agencies to access people in Rakhine.

He said “Bangladesh had offered to Myanmar if necessary joint patrols on our border. But we did not get any response from Myanmar.” In the weeks before the August 25 terror attack, “security agencies of both India and Bangladesh had alerted Myanmar about an impending attack, because we saw some activities in this area, and intercepted some telephone calls.”

India had stood by Aung San Suu Kyi and the Myanmar leadership criticizing the August 25 violence as a terrorist attack, at a time when Suu Kyi has come under widespread international condemnation, including calls to rescind her Nobel peace prize.

But this stand played very badly in Bangladesh, India’s other strategic ally, which has borne the brunt of the Rohingya exodus. India changed its stance on Saturday evening acknowledging Bangladesh’s position on the issue.

“I believe we have seen in the past that the security concerns of this issue must be given due consideration,” Muazzem Ali said. Myanmar, “must distinguish between terrorist suspects and civilian population.

It has led to a mass exodus, 270,000 have taken shelter with us, and I am sure they will go to various other countries as well. I am given to understand by very high officials here that a very large number of them have also entered your country.”

The issue of Rohingya refugees is a problem in BJP-ruled India, but it comes directly in conflict with India’s position as a leading power in the region. India has found some 40,000 Rohingyas who have settled in different parts of India, but worryingly for the government, in Jammu and Kashmir.

Some ministers have spoken of deporting them, but Myanmar does not want them, neither does anyone else. Indian officials say the security implications of this influx cannot be overstated given reports that Rohingyas have been infiltrated and radicalized by terror groups in Pakistan.

The Bangladesh foreign minister also put out a set of proposals for the international community. “The root of the Rohingya crisis lies in Myanmar. Therefore the ultimate solution has to be found in Myanmar,” Ali said.

“The international community must pressure Myanmar to implement the recommendations of the Kofi Annan-led Commission and help Bangladesh with urgent humanitarian assistance to address the current crisis as well as for temporary relocation of Rohingyas that entered Bangladesh to Bhashan Char.”

The resolution of the Rohingya crisis, Ali said, had to be political. “Otherwise, wittingly or unwittingly we get involved in a security problem, where certain parties, which are interested in destabilizing the region, will set foot in our neighbourhood.”

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/india-must-work-to-change-myanmars-approach-to-rohingya-problem-bangladesh/articleshow/60471145.cms

The Asian Age – Cabinet reshuffle: Meet the nine new ministers to be inducted today

Here’s all you need to know about the nine new ministers being inducted in Modi’s Cabinet on Sunday.

New Delhi, 3 September 2017. The nine new members to be inducted in the Union council of ministers include four former senior bureaucrats and also Bharatiya Janata Party (BPP) leaders from the states of Karnataka, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh which go to polls in the near future.

Here are their short profiles:

Ashwini Kumar Choubey

64-year-old Ashwini Kumar Choubey has been the health minister of Bihar. A BJP veteran he was born at Dariyapur in Bhagalpur and did BSc (Hons) in Zoology from the Science College, Patna University. Presently, he represents the Buxar Lok Sabha seat.

Married to Neeta Choubey, he is father to two sons. He was an active part of the JP movement in the 1970s and was taken into custody during the Emergency.

Chaubey is credited with raising the slogan “Ghar-Ghar me ho Shouchalaya ka nirman, Tabhi hoga Ladli Bitiya ka Kanyadaan”, and has helped construct 11,000 toilets for Mahadalit families.

Virendra Kumar

Virendra Kumar, 63, is the Lok Sabha MP from Tikamgarh in Madhya Pradesh. From the convenor of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), District Sagar in 1977-79 to now being set to become a Union minister in the Modi government, it has been a long journey for Kumar, who was elected for a sixth Lok Sabha term in 2014.

Kumar had participated in the JP movement of the 1970s, and was in jail for 16 months during the Emergency. He hails from the scheduled caste community and hold a masters degree in economics and a PhD in Child Labour.

Shiv Pratap Shukla

65-year-old Shiv Pratap Shukla is a Rajya Sabha MP from the country’s most populous and electorally crucial state of Uttar Pradesh. The lawyer-social worker has earlier been a minister in the government of Uttar Pradesh.

He was appointed a vice president of Uttar Pradesh unit of the BJP in 2012. He is a law graduate from the Gorakhpur University and was imprisoned for 19 months during the Emergency.

Anant Kumar Hegde

Anant Kumar Hegde, 49, was elected to the Lok Sabha a member of the 11th, 12th, 14th, 15th and 16th Lok Sabha, from Uttara Kannada in Karnataka.

He is an agriculturist by profession. At the young age of 28, he was elected to the Lok Sabha for the first time. During his multiple stints in Parliament, he has been a member of multiple Parliamentary Standing Committees like Finance, Home Affairs, Human Resource Development, Commerce, Agriculture and External Affairs.

He has also been a member of the Spices Board of India for 4 terms. He is a practitioner of Tae-kwon-do.

Satya Pal Singh

Satya Pal Singh is a Lok Sabha MP from Baghpat, Uttar Pradesh. The 1980 batch, Maharashtra cadre, retired IAS officer is a former Mumbai police chief. He was recognized with medals like the Antrik Suraksha Sewa Padak by the Centre in 2008 and a special service medal for extraordinary work in the Naxalite areas of Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh in 1990.

Singh has written books, on topics like tribal conflict resolution and Naxalism. Born in Basauli village in Baghpat, Satya Pal Singh has a MSc and MPhil in Chemistry, MBA in Strategic Management from Australia, MA in Public Administration as well as a PhD in Naxalism.

Gajendrasingh Shekhawat

Gajendrasingh Shekhawat (age 49) is the Jodhpur Lok Sabha MP. He also is a national general secretary of the farmers wing of the BJP. A sports enthusiast, Shekhawat has participated at National and All India Inter University level in Basket Ball.

He currently is a Member of the All India Council of Sports and the President of Basketball India Players Association. He has an MPhil and MA in Philosophy from Jai Narain Vyas University, Jodhpur.

Hardeep Singh Puri

Hardeep Singh Puri, 65, is a 1974 batch Indian Foreign Service officer who served as the Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations from 2009 to 2013.

Known for his experience and expertise in foreign policy and national security, he is the president and chairman of Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS) think tank, and was the Vice President of International Peace Institute, New York.

His four-decade career in diplomacy spanning the multilateral arena, included critical roles of ambassador and Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations, Ambassador to Brazil and the United Kingdom and Permanent Representative of India to Geneva.

An alumnus of The Hindu College, Delhi University, Puri was a student leader and active during the JP movement. He briefly taught at St Stephens College before joining the IFS.

Raj Kumar Singh

Raj Kumar Singh, 64, a former IAS officer of 1975 batch Bihar cadre, has been a former Home Secretary of India. He is a member of the 16th Lok Sabha representing Arrah in Bihar. Singh studied English Literature at St Stephens College, New Delhi and got a Bachelors Degree in Law thereafter. He also went on to study at the RVB Delft University in Netherlands.

Alphons Kannanthanam

Alphons Kannanthanam is a former IAS officer of the 1979 batch, Kerala cadre. He is also a practicing advocate. Kannanthanam became famous as Delhi’s ‘Demolition Man’ during his stint at the Delhi Development Authority, having cleared DDA areas of encroachment removing around 15,000 illegal buildings.

Born in a non-electrified Manimala village in Kottayam district to a World War II veteran, he pioneered the literacy movement in India as District Collector of Kottayam by making it the first 100 per cent literate town in India in 1989.

He retired from the IAS to get elected as an Independent Member of Legislative Assembly for Kanjirappally in Kerala from 2006 to 2011. Kannanthanam is a Member of the Committee to prepare the final draft of the National Education Policy 2017. He has authored a book “Making A Difference”.

Really rejuvenating and refreshing the cabinet with two 49 year old and seven 60+ ministers !
Man in Blue

http://www.asianage.com/india/politics/030917/cabinet-reshuffle-meet-the-9-new-ministers-to-be-inducted-today.html