The Hindustan Times – Congress leaders meet Goa governor, demand that Manohar Parrikar-led BJP government should face floor test

Congress claimed that the moment the name of a new chief minister was announced, replacing Manohar Parrikar, ‘many BJP MLAs’ will resign.

Gerard de Souza

Panaji – Goa – India, 18 September 2018. Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar must be asked to prove its majority in the state assembly, Congress leader told governor Mridula Sinha on Tuesday.

The Congress alleges “governance has come to a standstill” in Goa because Parrikar, 62, is unwell. Parrikar is undergoing treatment in New Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

Goa Congress president Girish Chodankar said earlier in the day there is political uncertainty in the state because the Bharatiya Janata Party has been unable to name a consensus candidate to replace Parrikar, news agency PTI reported.

“The situation is that this ‘government in minority’ should actually be dismissed by the governor. At least now, the single-largest party, the Congress, should be invited to form the government. The Congress is confident of proving its majority on the floor of the House,” Chodankar said.

With 16 of the 40 seats in the assembly, the Congress is the state’s single-largest party. But the BJP, which has 14 seats, stitched an alliance with regional players Goa Forward Party (GFP) and the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), which have three seats each, after the elections last year.


The Hindustan Times – Government plans to relax height limit for Nepalese in paramilitary forces: Rijiju

The minister of states for home affairs Kiren Rijiju said the relaxation in the height limit would be same as given to Scheduled Castes and Tribes in the paramilitary forces.

New Delhi – India, 12 September 2018. The home ministry is planning to relax the minimum height requirement for people from the Nepalese community residing in India to join the paramilitary forces, minister of states for home affairs Kiren Rijiju said on Wednesday.

He was speaking at Haritalika Teej Mahotsav organised by Ramdev’s Patanjali Yogpeeth Trust and Bharat Swabhiman Trust.

Rijiju praised the contribution of the Nepalese community in developing the Indian culture.

“The Nepalese community has played a very important role in saving and making the Indian culture and because of their enormous contribution, we are proposing relaxation of height for the Nepalese community residing in India in paramilitary forces,” he said.

The minister said the relaxation in the height limit would be same as given to Scheduled Castes and Tribes in the paramilitary forces.

The Scheduled Tribes get a relaxation of a few centimetres in paramilitary forces. The minimum height for all candidates belonging to Scheduled Tribes is 162.5 centimetres for males and 150 centimetres for females.

The minimum height for General Category candidates is 170 centimetres for males and 157 centimetres for females.

At the event, Ramdev urged people to believe in national unity, which should be above unity over caste, religion and region.

“We keep hearing about OBC unity, SC/ST unity. National unity should be above all,” Ramdev said.

The Hindustan Times – Modi recalls peace overture to Islamabad in meeting with Pompeo and Mattis

India and the US signed a foundational defence partnership agreement during the dialogue and also agreed on several other measures to boost defence ties

Shishir Gupta

New Delhi – India, 06 September 2018. Prime Minister Narendra Modi recalled his December 2015 peace overture to Islamabad before dignitaries including Secretary of Defence James Mattis, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and General Joseph Dunford, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff who called on him for 45 minutes.

The US delegation was in India for the two-plus-two dialogue between Mattis and Pompeo and their Indian counterparts, defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman and foreign minister Sushma Swaraj, and met the Prime Minister for around 45-minutes.

Pompeo conveyed to India that Pakistan has been told to take action against pan-Islamic terrorist group and not just talk; Pompeo spent a few hours in Pakistan before arriving in India on Wednesday and had a get-tough-on-terror message for the country’s new Prime Minister Imran Khan.

India and the US signed a foundational defence partnership agreement during the dialogue and also agreed on several other measures to boost defence ties. Prime Minister Modi is believed to have personally reviewed several aspects of the dialogue with all principals on the eve of the talks.

Hindustan Times learns that contrary to what was expected, the issue of a possible visit by US President Donald Trump to India early next year was not taken up during the meeting but that PM Modi asked the visiting dignitaries to convey his greetings to their President.

He fondly recalled his interactions with President Trump and told the US delegation that both Swaraj and Sitharaman were very happy with the outcome of the visit.

The visiting team did not raise the issue of the waiver to the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CATSAA) that would facilitate India’s plan to purchase S-400 missile systems from Russia.

Only macro issues were discussed, a senior South Block official said on condition of anonymity. “There is a CATSAA waiver by President Trump. We will discuss the issue when the acquisition is finalized,” said a senior South Block official.

The Indian side however, briefed the team on its legacy relationship with Iran for oil purchases and the effort being made to reduce the imports. The Indian side also explained the importance of Chahbahar port in stabilizing Afghanistan.

Both Pompeo and Mattis said that US will work with India on how to sort out the two issues with Iran, both of which could see India fall afoul of US sanctions against the West Asian nation.

The Hindustan Times – India, Pakistan discuss implementation of Indus Waters Treaty projects

The 115th meeting of the India-Pakistan Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) was held in Lahore on August 29-30

New Delhi – India, 31 August 2018. India and Pakistan have discussed the implementation of various hydroelectric projects under the Indus Waters Treaty during the 115th meeting of the India-Pakistan Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) in Lahore on August 29-30, the External Affairs Ministry said on Friday.

“As per the provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty 1960, technical discussions were held on the implementation of various hydroelectric projects, including Pakal Dul (1,000 MW) and Lower Kalnai(48 MW) in Jammu and Kashmir,” the Ministry said in a statement.

“Both the countries agreed to undertake the Treaty-mandated tours of both the Indus Commissioners in the Indus basin on both sides,” it said.

“Deliberations were also held on further strengthening the role of the Permanent Indus Commission on matters falling under the Treaty purview.”

The treaty was signed in 1960 and involves the Beas, Ravi, Sutlej, Indus, Chenab and Jhelum rivers.

Brokered by the World Bank, the treaty gave the right to use waters of the first three rivers to India and of the other three to Pakistan.

India has said it has the right under the treaty to set up hydroelectric plants on the tributaries of the rivers flowing through its territory. Pakistan fears this might reduce the water flow into its territory.

During the Lahore talks, the Indian side was led by P K Saxena, the Indian Commissioner for Indus Waters.

The Hindustan Times – Rahul Gandhi’s remark will anguish 1984 riot victims, says Akali Dal

The Congress party defended Rahul Gandhi’s remark on 1984 anti-Sikh riots, saying he has not absolved anyone.

New Delhi – India, 25 August. The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Saturday hit out at Congress president Rahul Gandhi for saying that his party was not involved in the 1984 riots, saying his statement indicated he was with the perpetrators of the violence in which nearly 3,000 Sikhs were killed, mostly in the national capital.

The Congress defended its chief, saying he has not absolved anyone.

“Rahul Gandhi has conveyed a clear message, he is with those who killed innocents at that time. The statement given by Rahul Gandhi has added salt to the wounds of the victims,” Sukhbir Singh Badal, SAD president, said at a press conference, reported ANI.

Asked about Gandhi’s statement, senior Congress leader P Chidamabaram said that “a very terrible thing happened in 1984” for which prime minister Manmohan Singh had apologised in Parliament.

“You can’t hold Rahul Gandhi responsible for that, he was 13 or 14. He hasn’t absolved anyone,” he added.

To a question being asked by the CNN-News18 at an event on Friday in the UK Parliament about the 1984 riots, Gandhi had said: “I have no confusion in my mind about that. It was a tragedy, it was a painful experience. You say that the Congress party was involved in that, I don’t agree with that.

Certainly there was violence, certainly there was tragedy”, according to an IANS report.

Later, during an interactive session at the London School of Economics (LSE) when he was again asked about the anti-Sikh riots and former prime minister Manmohan Singh’s statement on it, Gandhi said: “When Manmohan Singh spoke, he spoke for all of us. As I said earlier, I am a victim of violence and I understand what it feels.”

“So, I am against any sort of violence against anybody on this planet. I get disturbed when I see anybody being hurt. So, I condemn that 100 per cent and I am 100 per cent for punishment for those involved in any violence against anybody. That’s crystal clear,” he had said.

The Hindustan Times – The Taste with Vir Sanghvi: V S Naipaul didn’t hate India, he resented it

Vir Sanghvi writes about his meetings with VS Naipaul, who died earlier this week

Op/Ed 13 August 2018. The biggest obstacle to writing anything meaningful about VS Naipaul, who died over the weekend, is that there is nothing left to say that has not already appeared in Patrick French’s masterly biography.

Naipaul authorised the biography cooperated with French, and then when the book appeared in print (it pretty much destroyed his reputation as a human being while remaining respectful of the writing), said virtually nothing about it though his wife repeatedly trashed the biography.

I was no great friend of Naipaul and was never overly impressed with the fiction. (Yes, I know he won the Nobel Prize for Literature; so this may say more about me than it does about Naipaul’s work.) And some of the early non-fiction, especially the stuff relating to India, left me annoyed.

The young Naipaul called India An Area of Darkness (the title of the book that made his reputation) and in middle age he decided we were merely A Wounded Civilisation (a second book, much praised by the British press but treated with loathing in India).

Looking back, I reckon we were too sensitive about some of the things he said. Many of his observations were undoubtedly valid even if they sounded unkind. But I never quite lost the sense that these were books written by a man with a grudge; somebody who had an axe to grind. Many years later when I read one of his essays about an early trip to India, I thought he was almost comically misguided.

In the essay, Naipaul writes about meeting an old friend from Trinidad in Delhi. The two men talk about how much is wrong with India. Then, they discuss how far ahead of India their own Trinidad is.

I have nothing against Trinidad but I doubt if any sensible person believes that it has been far ahead of India at any time in the last several decades.

Things did not begin to fall into place till I finally met Naipaul.

He had come to Calcutta to research the book that would become A Million Mutinies Now and somebody had given him my number. He would get bored in Calcutta, he was told, so here were the numbers of some people he could talk to and meet up with in the evenings. My name and number were on the list.

There were no mobile phones in that era. So Naipaul called my office and left a message. When I saw it, I was a little taken aback. What was Naipaul doing in Calcutta? Why was he calling me?

I called the hotel, the Oberoi Grand, where he was staying and asked to be connected to his room. The operator went off the line for a couple of minutes before returning and saying “Connecting you sir”.

The phone rang and rang till a voice finally answered. “Main kitchen, can I help you?”

Obviously there had been some mistake. So I called the hotel again. After several tries they finally located Naipaul who was writing quietly in his room. (He wrote every single day, he later told me.)

He was pleased to hear from me but said he was fed up of the hotel. I promised to take him out for lunch the next day. Would he like to try a Chinese restaurant that had just opened? There was a silence on the line.

“No”, he finally said. “Anywhere else?”

So we agreed on a non-Chinese venue and noting his irritation I called the General Manager of the Oberoi Grand. Did he realise that V S Naipaul was staying with him and that nobody could get through to his room?

The General Manager said he would check and call me back.

When he did, he was apologetic. They had a pastry chef called Nagpal, he said. So naturally all calls for any name that sounded like Nagpal were being directed to the kitchen.

This was not a terribly satisfactory explanation and I said so. Oh well, he said, who was this Naipaul fellow anyway?

The next day when we met for lunch Naipaul complained again about how badly he was being treated by the Oberoi. I told him that I had spoken to the General Manager.

His mood brightened, we had a good meal and he apologised for turning down my offer of a Chinese meal. “Very dirty,” he said. “You know Shanghai used to be the dirtiest city in the world.”

I thought that this generalisation was a little strange (and inaccurate, and probably racist) but we agreed to meet again, a few days later.

When we did, Naipaul was annoyed about The Oberoi again “You know, some fool, who said he was the General Manager, came to see me to apologise,” he said.

And this was a bad thing?

“Yes. He disturbed me. I was writing and he made me sign copies of my books”.

Ah okay, I said to myself, this is one complicated man.

I kept that in mind as we met several times again including a memorable dinner at my home where Naipaul drank too much and let his hair down.

It turned out that he had strong views on nearly everything. He hated Salman Rushdie, joked about the Satanic Verses fatwa (“an extreme form of literary criticism”) and said he was delighted that Rushdie now had to seek the help of a woman he had called Mrs. Torture. (Margaret Thatcher.)

He did not like black people. He did not even like the term ‘black’, he said. Much better to call them ‘negroes’ which, to be fair, was not always regarded as an offensive term in the late 1980s. And on and on he went.

All of it made me uncomfortable and though we kept in touch intermittently for a few years, we never became friends. There were, however, the odd meetings where he would talk about his life in a surprisingly frank fashion.

He liked India, he said. He thought I was lucky to live here. I reminded him of An Area of Darkness and A Wounded Civilisation. He responded that a) India had changed since he wrote those books and b) he had never felt he belonged here till recently when India had ‘opened up.”

So where did he belong? His native Trinidad?

“Oh, absolutely not,” he answered vehemently. “I could never live there.”

This was followed by a diatribe about Trinidad’s black population. So much for Trinidad being far ahead of India!

What about England?

“Whenever I think of England, I feel a deep melancholy,” he said. ‘A deep melancholy.” (He had a way of repeating phrases.)

And then came what I thought was the most important admission: “People of your generation can go to places like Oxford, come back to India, made a good living, drink good wine and be happy. We never had that opportunity.”

Perhaps I am oversimplifying but after that conversation, I thought I had cracked it. Naipaul did not hate India, he resented it. What he did really hate was his native Trinidad (no matter what he wrote in his earlier pieces). And he never felt quite at home in England either.

He was, essentially, a stateless person who envied Indians for creating a modern country of our own. Only in the late 1980s and early 1990s, did he finally make his peace with the Indian part of his identity. And from that point on, he kept coming back to India.

In the aftermath of his death, there has been a stream of social media abuse. Some of it relates to his views on Muslims. I can understand why his influential 1980s book, Among the Believers, can be considered borderline prejudiced by some but, let’s be honest, many of his concerns in that book have been validated by later events.

Naipaul said that Islam was increasingly becoming an Arab religion (even though the majority of the world’s Muslims were non-Arab) and that Muslims were being asked to abandon their own cultures and to accept a severe, repressive, fundamentalist kind of Arab Islam.

Three decades later, can anyone seriously argue that Naipaul was wrong?

There is anger, also, over what people saw as his pro-Hindutva learnings. This stems from an ill-advised visit to a Sangh Parivar operation (which he is supposed to have later regretted) and a few loose remarks.

But in all his body of work, there is not one pro-Sangh Parivar article and as for the charge that he was anti-Muslim (one reason why bakhts love him), he married a Pakistani Muslim and never once showed signs of prejudice against individual Muslims.

So yes, he was a racist when it came to black people. Yes, he often wrote about other people’s countries without fully understanding them in a dangerously naïve and arrogant manner.

I once had lunch with him and his British-Argentinean girlfriend of the time and she spent much of our lunch telling me (and him) how Naipaul got everything about Argentina wrong when he wrote about the country.

And he got lots wrong about India too. At the beginning of An Area of Darkness, he writes about touts approaching passengers on the ship he had arrived on and asking if they had any cheese.

This provokes a bout of contempt for India. The country still hadn’t learnt how to make cheese, he scoffs! It had to be procured on the black market and bought off visiting passengers.

In fact, as Patrick French points out, what the touts were probably asking was whether passengers had any ‘cheez’. In the early 1960s there were strict import controls and liquor, cigarettes, electronics etc. were much in demand.

But Naipaul did not know what ‘cheez’ meant. And he offered up a diatribe about primitive Indians who did not even know how to make cheese, purely out of ignorance.

As most of the obituaries have noted, Naipaul may been a great writer but he was also a deeply flawed human being. Nobody can dispute how brilliantly he wrote. But let’s not forget that though he called himself a novelist, he was far better known for his non-fiction than for his novels.

Will his novels stand the test of time? Does anybody still read say, A House for Mr Biswas? Will they read it ten years from now?

I wonder.

I advise everybody to read ‘A house for Mr Biswas’ I read it many times and enjoyed it every time.
Man in Blue

The Hindustan Times – As Ladakh becomes unsafe, Kung Fu nuns train girls in self-defence

At least 40 girl students, in the age group of 12 to 20, participated in the event and learned the techniques to protect themselves.

Leh – Ladakh – India, 01 August 2018. Fourteen Buddhist nuns, who are specialized in Kungfu, imparted self-defence training to the local girls in a six-day workshop which concluded at Naro Photang Hemis on Wednesday.

At least 40 girl students, in the age group of 12 to 20, participated in the event and learned the techniques to protect themselves.

Reflecting on the motive behind the workshop, the program executive of the organizing body, Rigzin Angmo said that the incidents of harassment against women are increasing with each passing day in the region and Kungfu is a good way to shield ourselves from the social evils.

“Since many years, we have seen an influx of tourists in Ladakh. Ladakh is not a peaceful and safe area anymore.

We have seen many heinous crimes, we have seen many sexual molestation, eve-teasing and it is increasing day by day. In this kind of situation, I believe that when women are empowered and they know self-defence, they can do much better,” Angmo said.

“At least we can have some shield over us. That’s why we thought of organizing the self-defence workshop. At least, girls can feel safer in our homeland,” she added.

Girls, who participated in the event, were ecstatic to be a part of the workshop as they admitted that the workshop has helped them in boosting their confidence.

Talking about the need to conduct such workshops, one of the participants, Padma Youron said that the society is not a safe place and if your confidence level is high then you could deal with any kind of situation.

“During the course of learning Kungfu, my confidence level has increased and we were taught a lot of techniques to tackle social miscreants.

I felt the need to learn Kungfu as the society is not a safe area and if the confidence level of a girl is low then she does nothing to protect herself,” Youron said.

The Hindustan Times – Imran Khan declares election victory, says ready to serve Pakistan

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf‘s Imran Khan had campaigned on populist promises to build a “New Pakistan”.

Islamabad Capital Region – Pakistan, 26 July 2018. Pakistan’s cricket hero Imran Khan on Thursday declared victory in the country’s controversial elections, as rival parties alleged poll rigging and counting of votes progressed slowly.

“We were successful and we were given a mandate,” said Khan in a televised speech in Islamabad. “I came into politics because I wanted Pakistan to become the country that Jinnah had envisioned. This has been a historic election,” he said, referring to the country’s founding father.

“I want to thank Allah for this opportunity to serve the nation. Through its ups and downs; I am grateful for being given this chance,” he said.

Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf party had a commanding lead Thursday amid slow and tedious counting of ballots, but may still need to form a coalition to govern the country.

Khan, 65, campaigned on populist promises to build a “New Pakistan” and vowed to eradicate corruption, clean up the environment and construct an “Islamic welfare” state.

Khan’s support from the Pakistan Army and his support to Islamist voices have given rise to apprehensions that he would take a harder position on engagement with India than the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.

He has been an outspoken critic of the US-led war in neighbouring Afghanistan as well as China’s massive investment in Pakistan, which has racked up millions of dollars in debt to Beijing.

The Hindustan Times – Passports of 8 NRI husbands who abandoned their wives cancelled, says government

The women and child development ministry had earlier said all NRI marriages would soon need to be registered within seven days, failing which, passports and visas would not be issued to the people involved.

New Delhi – India, 20 July 2018. Passports of eight non-resident Indians (NRIs), who abandoned their wives and absconded, have been cancelled, a senior official of the ministry of women and child development (WCD) said on Thursday.

An inter-ministerial agency of the ministry of women and child development, ministry of external affairs and ministry of home affairs has formed a committee to look into the cases involving NRI offenders, who abscond after abandoning their wives.

“The committee has received 70 complaints in the last two months. Acting on the complaints, passports of eight NRI husbands have been cancelled and lookout notices issued against them,” the WCD official said.

The WCD ministry has also started an online portal for registration of such marriages, but it is yet to become operational.

Women and child development minister Maneka Gandhi had on Wednesday urged states to get their marriage registrars inform the ministry about registration of such marriages immediately, so as to make the portal operational at the earliest.

The ministry had earlier said all NRI marriages would soon need to be registered within seven days, and if the same was not done within the stipulated time, the passports and visas would not be issued to the people involved.

Another proposal was holding the properties of NRI offenders in escrow, in case they abscond abandoning their spouse.

Escrow is a legal concept in which a financial instrument or an asset is held by a third party on behalf of two other parties that are in the process of completing a transaction.

The Hindustan Times – Kolkata court issues summons to Shashi Tharoor over ‘Hindu Pakistan’ remark

A petition alleged that Congress leader and former Union minister Shashi Tharoor’s comment created disharmony and was a deliberate and malicious act intended to outrage religious feelings.

Kolkata – West Bengal – India, 14 July 2018. A Kolkata court has summoned Congress leader and former Union minister Shashi Tharoor for his remark that the BJP will pave the way for creation of a “Hindu Pakistan” if voted to power again, lawyer-petitioner Sumeet Chowdhury said on Saturday.

Chowdhury moved a petition before a metropolitan magistrate’s court on Friday, alleging that Tharoor’s comment created disharmony and was “a deliberate and malicious act intended to outrage religious feelings”.

Tharoor was also sued under Section 2 of the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971.

Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (1) M Dasgupta directed issuance of the summons to the Congress leader through post and on his Twitter handle.

The court directed him to appear before it on August 14, the next date of hearing.

In his plea, Chowdhury submitted that Tharoor made a public statement that if the BJP is voted to power in the 2019 general election, the party would turn India into a “Hindu Pakistan”.

In the petition, he said Tharoor has refused to apologise for his remark.

Chowdhury alleged that Tharoor’s statement has hurt the religious sentiments of Indians and was intended to create conflict and disharmony, besides insulting a secular country.

In Thiruvananthapuram, the Lok Sabha member had said at a public gathering that if the BJP returns to power, it would rewrite the Constitution and turn India into a “Hindu Pakistan”.