16-01-2021 The Asian Independent

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Vol : 04 : #59 16-01-2021 to 31-01-2021

10,000 people assemble at Azad Maidan!

Mumbaikars put Centre’s claim to shame

Punjab farmer leaders who travelled to the city for the Saturday event thanked attendees

for refuting the ‘only-Punjab-Haryana-protest” narrative of the Government of India.

Mumbai. Around 10,000 people

marched towards Azad Maidan in

Mumbai on January 16, 2021 in support

of India’s farmers battling the

three agriculture laws forcibly passed

by the central government.

A mammoth number of supporters

walked from Islam Gym to the protest

point at the call of a coalition of people’s

and peasant’s organisations such

as Mumbai Aman Committee, All

India Ulema Council, Citizens for

Justice and Peace (CJP,) the

Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana

(SSS,) the National Alliance of

People's Movements, Hum Bharat ke

Log, the All India Banjara Samaj, the

Chhatrapati Sambhaji Brigade and

many others.

rganisations put up “Mumbai with

Farmers” hoardings all over the city

for mass mobilisation from 2 PM to 4

PM.

CJP Secretary and renowned journalist

Teesta Setalvad congratulated

the farmers near Delhi for awakening

the people of India. She reminded

attendees at Azad Maidan every

Indian citizen needs to stand united in

this struggle for food security and people’s

rights because farmers.

“Farmers, who put all their efforts

in the land are all too aware of what

happens when agriculture is corporatized.

Our farmers are adivasis

(indigenous people,) Dalits, OBCs,

Muslims, Sikhs and Christians. And

so, we need to stand together,” said

Setalvad.

She added that the farmers protests

on the "borders" of the capital, Delhi

was historic as it poses a political challenge

to the policies of the regime.

Punjab farmers who challenged the

British with the Pagdi Sambhal Jatha

in the late 1800s are today challenging

the 21st century version of neo colonisation.

imilarly, SSS Founder Raju Shetti

applauded the assembled Mumbaikars

for promising their solidarity with

farmers.

“They call us annadaatas. But these

annadaatas have been forced at the

border of Delhi like beggars for near

two months now. India’s farmer cannot

enter the national capital to assert

his own right. What Independence is

this? For whom is it?” said Shetti.

Speaking exclusively to

SabrangIndia, Shetti said that the three

laws have been thrown upon farmers

under the false claim that farmers

themselves demanded these laws.

Instead of these laws, he said that

farmers want the legalisation of

Minimum Support Price (MSP) that it

not accessible to all farmers.

He warned that the government was

spreading a false narrative that this is a

farmers’ struggle when in reality both

farmers and poor people would suffer

under these laws due to its impact on

food security.

When asked whether the government

was likely to listen to farmers,

Shetti said that the alternative would

lead to results similar to 1980s when

former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi

tried to silence farmers.

Along with state leaders, three

farmer leaders from Punjab Amarjit

Singh, Mukesh Chandar Sharma and

Jangbir Singh Chauhan also attended

the Saturday protest in decrying the

three laws and demanding the rights of

farmers.

Leaders thanked the people of

Mumbai for assembling in the “economic

capital” of India and showing

Prime Minister Narendra Modi that

every state in India opposed the three

laws as opposed to the false narrative

of it being a Punjab-Haryana agitation.

“This is the country’s struggle.

[Union Home Minister] Amit Shah

kept making laws as per your wishes.

We kept silent. But now that 78 percent

of people’s lives are under threat,

then the entire nation has stood against

you. You are stealing food from the

poor!” said one of the leaders.

They also condemned the government

for selling public sector undertakings

to the private sectors.

Some of the organisations that participated

in the Saturday event are listed

below:

1. Mumbai Aman Committee

2. Chhatrapati Sambhaji Brigade

3. National Alliance of People’s

Movements

4. All India Ulema Council, Mumbai

5. Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind

6. Citizen for Justice and Peace

7. Jamiatul Ulema Ahle Sunnat

8. Movement for Human Welfare

9. All India Banjara Samaj

10. Subai Jamiat Ahle Hadees,

Mumbai

11. Jamaat e Islami Hind

12. All India Majlis e Mashwerat

13. Kamgar Sanghatna Sanyukt Kruti

Smiti

14. Hum Bharat Ke Log

15. Panjabi Sanjhi Sabha

16. Jan Andolanachi Sangharch Samiti

17. Milli Council

18. Guru Singh Sabha

19. Teachers Democratic Front

20. Yuva Kranti Sabha

21. National Christian Forum.

22. Ghar bacho ghar banao andolan.

23. Akhil bhartiya Obc Mahasabha.

24. Sadbhavna Sangh

25. Sambhaji Brigade Paksha

26. Janasena Samajik Sanstha

27. Sanvidhanvadi Republican Paksha

28. Republic Yuva Sena.

29. Manav Uddhar Samajik Sanstha

30. Bhartiya Aatma Sanghthana

31. Youth Wing JIH Maharashtra

32. Professional Solidarity Forum

33. Ham Bhartiya Mira Bhayandar

34. Mujtama e Olama wo Khotaba,

Mumbai

35. Mahfil e Sani e Zahra (s.a.), Zaib

Palace, Mumbai

36. Kisan Morcha All Kurla

Committee

37. Bhartiya Bodh Mahasabha Kurla

38. Kurla Voice

39. Mulbhut Adhikar Sangharsh

Samiti.

40. Rashtra Seva Dal-Mumbai

41. Students Islamic Organisation of

India, Mumbai

42. Hadana Education and Welfare

Trust (India)

43. Lokanchi Shakti Jogeshwari West

44. Kamgar Ekta Committee

45. Siri Guru Harrai Charitable Trust

46. ACBS Initiative

47. Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj

Vichaar Manch

48. Lok Hind Party

49. Lok Sangharsha Morcha

50. Swaraj Abhiyan

51. Satyashodhak Shetkari Sabha

52. Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana

53. Aam Aadmi Sarva Shramik

Sanghatan


2

16-01-2021 to 31-01-2021 ASIA

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

In a secular democracy, media turns

a zealous fundraiser for Ram Temple

In a secular democracy, the

mainstream media has become

a zealous fundraiser for the

construction of the Ram

Temple in Ayodhya. While it

has often opposed the appearance

of any religious symbol

belonging to minority communities

in the public sphere, it

has never restrained itself from

campaigning for the Hindutva

forces. A recent example is the

ongoing fundraising campaign

for the Ram Temple.

On January 16,

2021, Dainik

Jagran (National)

carried a sevencolumn

lead story

on page seven about the

President Ramnath Kovind

donating five lakh one hundred

rupees for the construction of

the Ram Temple. The Hindi

daily also carried an image of

Govind Dev Giri (treasurer of

Shri Ram Janmbhoomi Teerth

Kshetra Trust) showing the

cheque from the President. Not

only Dainik Jagran but other

newspapers also covered the

story prominently.

For example, The India

Express gave first-page coverage.

It wrote that “President

Ram Nath Kovind on Friday

donated Rs. 5,00,100 for the

construction of the Ram

Temple in Ayodhya, as the

Ramjanmabhoomi Teerth

Kshetra Trust began a nationwide

campaign to collect donations”.

Several chief ministers

also gave contributions. “The

sources said the Chief

Ministers of Madhya Pradesh

and Uttarakhand, Shivraj Singh

Chouhan and Trivendra Singh

Rawat respectively; the

Governors of Maharashtra,

Team AI :

Devinder Chander

Editor-in-chief

Columnists

V.B. Rawat

Farzana Suri

Arun Kumar

Rahul Kumar

Harminder K. Bhogal

Head Office

Samaj Media Enterprise Ltd

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Abhay Kumar

Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand,

and Uttarakhand, Bhagat Singh

Koshiyari, Bandaru Dattatreya,

Draupadi Murmu, and Baby

Rani Maurya respectively; and

Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister

Nitin Patel made donations on

Friday”, The Indian Express

reported.

In order to justify the

involvement with the government

and the state machinery in

the construction of the Ram

Temple, the media wrote a sentence

that the donation by the

President made in his “personal

capacity” (vyaktigat rup se).

But the media does not want to

tell us the truth that the way the

donation of President Kovind

was advertised through the

media was a purely political

act. The President is the first

citizen of India and also the

Head of the State. If he pays a

donation to any religious activity,

it carries a big legitimacy

for the act. It creates also an

impression that the President

has become a patron for the act.

In a secular democracy, a person

holding a constitutional

post is absolutely free to profess

a religion or not to profess

any, but he should not be seen

to be patronizing any particular

religious activity. Such an act

goes against the secular

Constitution of the country that

forbids the state from associating

with any particular religion.

The media is conspicuously

ignoring these points. It does

not want to accept the fact that

the RSS is planning to collect

funds from 10 crore families as

reported by Dainik Jagran

(January 8, p. 6). The media is

also silent about the fact that

the same Hindutva forces were

responsible for a religious frenzy

that tragically culminated in

the demolition of the Babri

Masjid and killings of a large

number of people in violence

related to the temple agitation.

The media does not want to

accept the fact that the Ram

Temple agitation was purely a

political movement for gaining

power for Hindutva outfits.

Those who have any doubt

about it can read a recently

published autobiography by the

former RSS activist Bhanwar

Meghwanshi. His biography

titled “Main Ek Karsewak Tha”

(I was an RSS volunteer) narrates

how the upper caste

Hindus organized Dalits and

lower castes to participate in

the Babri Masjid demolition in

Ayodhya; but they kept themselves

and their own children

away from participating in it.

Collecting donation for the

construction of the Ram

Temple is less a religious act

and more a political one. The

campaign is aimed at generating

less wealth than votes. The

Hindutva forces have got a

great opportunity to reach out

to each and every corner of the

country and mobilize people in

its support. They would not

only project themselves as the

Rama bhakta or devotees to

Lord Rama but call its opponents

and opposition leaders as

Ravana. The donation campaign

may also create law and

order problems. A news report

published in the Urdu daily

Inquilab (January 15, p. 15)

says that the Hindutva fanatics

organized a motorcycle rally in

Bulandshahar, UP, in the name

of collecting funds for Ram

Temple but ended up raising

anti-Muslim slogans and asking

them to leave the country.

During the anti-CAA

protests, the same media

donned the role of a great

champion of “secularism”. It

rejected a peaceful mass movement

on the pretext of the use

of religious symbols. For

example, the media alleged that

during the anti-CAA protests

the activists raised the slogans

in favor of Allah and women

sat on the protest sites in a

burqas. If invoking the name of

Allah by some activists, if it is

true, amounts to a violation of

secularism, is not a donation

for the construction of a religious

place by the people holding

constitutional posts and

high offices against the spirit of

secularism? Are not holding a

rally in the name of collecting

donation for building a religious

place and raising inflammatory

slogans against the religious

minority against secularism?

The media is still silent

about these questions. For

them, the religiosity promoted

by the Hindutva forces seems

to have become a new normal

and is now synonymous with

the national culture. For

instance, Dainik Jagran

(January 16) carried a picture

on its lead story in which government

officers are doing

* The Asian Independent and people associated with it are not responsible for any claims made by the advertisers and do not endorse in any products or services advertised. Please visit www.theasianindependent.com/tc for more information.

pooja before sending corona

vaccine to vaccination booths

in Mirzapur in eastern Uttar

Pradesh. How could public

officers be justified in doing

pooja at public offices? Had the

media taken it a “normal” event

if the same officers would have

recited the verses from the

Bible or offered namaz? Sadly,

the mainstream media, in a secular

democracy, continues to

ignore and it is increasingly

becoming a new zealot for the

Hindu religion as defined by

the Hindutva forces.

(Abhay Kumar is a Ph.D.

from JNU. He is broadly

interested in Minority and

Social Justice. Earlier, he

held a Post-Graduate

Diploma in English

Journalism from The Indian

Institute of Mass

Communication, New Delhi,

and worked as a Delhi-based

reporter with The Indian

Express. You may write to

him at

debatingissues@gmail.com)

Haryana Police arrest 89, recover Rs 112 cr in GST fraud

Chandigarh. In a wellcoordinated

operation against

Goods and Services Tax (GST)

scamsters, Haryana Police on

Sunday said it busted four

major gangs related to issuing

or registration of bogus firms

involved in fake invoice bills

scam which defrauded the government

exchequer to the tune

of over Rs 464.12 crore.

The nexus of the fraudsters

was active not only in Haryana

but across the country.

The crackdown on GST fake

invoice scam has also led to the

recovery of over Rs 112 crore

and unearthing of fake GST

identification numbers

(GSTIN).

A total of 72 police cases

have been filed so far in which

89 accused have been arrested

by the Crime Branch. Among

the total arrest, 40 cases have

been registered against on

Govind Sharma, Gaurav,

Anupam Singla and

Rakesh Arora.

Director General of

Police Manoj Yadava said

these persons issued

fraudulent invoices to

numerous firms and companies

without actual supply

of goods through

fraudulent e-way bills

(GST related challans for

transporting consignments)

and facilitated fake

income tax credit entitlement

on GST portal through GSTR-

3B form. It has also been

revealed that fraudulent income

tax credit worth crores of

rupees has been passed by these

gangs using fake GST invoices,

e-way bills and with the help of

forged bank transactions.

During the course of investigations,

it has also come to

light that out of the arrested

persons, some are white-collar

economic repeated offenders.

Police has also blocked

inadmissible income tax credit

worth of Rs 97.22 crore in the

Excise and Taxation

Department.

Yadava congratulated DGP,

Crime, Mohd Akil and his

entire team for their performance

in busting the

racket involved in

GST scam.

A total of 21 FIRs

against fake firms

belonging to the

Govind gang active in

Panipat and adjoining

areas were lodged in

2019 while other

three gangs involved

in major GST evasion

were booked between

2018 and 2019. Police

has so far blocked income tax

credit of these gangs to the tune

of over Rs 80 crore.

The DGP said the major

goods involved in these GST

invoice scams were scrap, iron

and steel articles, cotton yarn,

paper, etc. The drive against

the GST evaders and income

tax credit fraudsters is expected

to intensify and more

arrests are likely in the future.

Maximum fraudsters in

these gangs used to first register

fake firms on the GST portal

in the name of gullible people

and then generate fake

invoices, bills of these firms

by using software apps like

BusyApp, TallyApp, Shkun

Software, etc, and then

uploading these bills to generate

e-way bills on the GST

portal.

"We have conducted a

statewide drive against GST

fake invoice fraud and requested

the department concerned

seeking all the records. As the

beneficiaries (income tax credit

claimants) are from various

parts of Haryana and other

states too, we are coordinating

with our counterparts to track

the culprits involved in the

fraud," Akil said.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

ASIA

16-01-2021 to 31-01-2021

3

WHO hopes Covid vaccination 'underway

in EVERY COUNTRY in next 100 days'

Geneva : World Health

Organization (WHO) Director-

General Tedros Adhanom

Ghebreyesus has urged fairness

to the access of COovid-19

vaccines, saying he wants to

"see vaccination underway in

every country in the next 100

days". Speaking at a virtual

press conference from Geneva

on Friday, Tedros stressed that

efforts should be made to

ensure that middle and lowincome

countries are equally

protected, reports Xinhua news

agency. High-income countries

are disproportionately represented

among countries that

started vaccinating, the WHO

New Mexico declares state of

emergency due to riot threat

Santa Fe : Michelle Lujan

Grisham, Governor of the US

state of New Mexico, has

declared a state of emergency

due to the ongoing and pervasive

threat of riots and insurrection

in the wake of the January

6 Capitol violence in

Washington D.C., a local media

report said.

According to the report published

on Thursday by the

New Delhi : The Centre is likely to

intimate the qualified bidders for

national carrier Air India by the end of

the month, as the evaluation of the

expressions of interest (EoI) is still

underway, official sources said. The

government was to intimate the bidders

by January 5.

People in the know of the developments

said that the transaction advisors

are in touch with the interested

bidders regarding several queries and

the qualified bidders will be intimated

only after the government is satisfied

with the responses from the bidders.

The second phase of the strategic

disinvestment of Air India was scheduled

to start on January 5 with the

announcement of the names of the

qualified bidders.

Tata Sons and the New York-based

Interups Inc backed by strategic NRI

investors from the US and Europe are

said to be the interested bidders for the

national carrier.

DIPAM Secretary Tuhin Kanta

Pandey had earlier said that the government

has received multiple expressions

of interest for the strategic disinvestment

of Air India.

The process has been divided into

two stages. In stage I, expressions of

interest have been submitted by the

interested bidders and they will be

Albuquerque Journal, the executive

order referenced the

events of January 6 when supporters

of President Donald

Trump stormed the Capitol

building in Washington D.C.,

reports Xinhua news agency.

"There is credible intelligence

that threats of similar

riots exist and are likely at the

capitol buildings and other

prominent government buildings

in all 50 states either

before or on January 20, 2021

to coincide with the inauguration

of President-Elect Joseph

R. Biden and Vice President-

Elect Kamala D. Harris," said

the executive order.

The executive order allows

the Department of Homeland

Security and Emergency

Management to coordinate any

requests for assistance determined

by the governor's office.

"This Emergency requires

immediate action to preserve

the peace, health, and safety

and the public property of the

people of the state of New

Mexico," it added.

The state of emergency will

go into effect on Saturday and

last "through the day the

Governor's Authorized

Representative determines to

be the end of the emergency

period". According to local

media, a fence has been erected

around a portion of the

Roundhouse building in the

state capitol of Santa Fe.

Officials also plan to add

more fence and increase security

in the coming days.

chief said, stressing that the lessons

from previous epidemics

should not be forgotten.

"I know what it's like to

come from a continent where

not all health services are available,"

he said.

Tedros added that when

AIDS drugs first rolled out,

they were only available in rich

countries until a historic movement

of health advocates, civil

society and manufacturers provided

a rollout of low-cost antiretroviral

drugs.

He recalled that in the H1N1

pandemic, which hit the world

in 2009-2010, by the time lowincome

countries received vaccine

supply, the pandemic was

over. "We don't want this to be

repeated," said Tedros.

"I want to see vaccination

underway in every country in

the next 100 days, so that

health workers and those at

high-risk are protected first," he

said. Mariangela Simao, WHO

Assistant Director-General for

Drug Access, Vaccines and

Pharmaceuticals, told the press

conference that so far, 38 of the

46 countries that had started

vaccinations are high-income

countries. She emphasized that

COVAX, a WHO-led mechanism

to ensure vaccine access

for all, "was there to correct the

course" and allow access to

vaccines for low to middleincome

countries.

"The world we live in is not

a fair world," Simao said.

"The COVAX facility is a

way for us to reach fairness."

According to the WHO official,

under the COVAX mechanism,

"we hope to have good

news for you on this in

February of this year".

Currently, 236 candidate

vaccines are still being developed

worldwide -- 63 of them

in clinical trials -- in countries

including Germany, China,

Russia, the UK and the US,

according to the WHO.

Pakistan International Airlines

plane seized in MALAYSIA

Islamabad : Malaysian

authorities on Friday seized a

Pakistan International Airlines

(PIA) plane at the Kuala

Lumpur Airport over the nonpayment

of aircraft lease dues,

a media report said.

The PIA plane was seized on

the orders of a local Malaysian

court, the Geo News report said

shortlisted based on the eligibility criteria

and other terms mentioned in the

Preliminary

Information

Memorandum (PIM).

In stage II, the shortlisted interested

bidders will be provided with a request

for proposal (RFP) and thereafter

there will be a transparent bidding

citing sources as saying.

PIA had leased two aircraft,

including the seized Boeing-

777, from a Vietnamese company

in 2015.

The plane was seized after

passengers had already boarded

the aircraft.

The aircraft's 18-member

staff also become stranded in

process.

In view of the prevailing

situation arising out of the

Covid-19 pandemic, the last

date for submission of EOIs

was extended up to

December 14, 2020.

The privatisation of the

flag-bearer has already

faced several hurdles with initial lack

of interest for the airline.

Last month, the Ministry of Civil

Aviation had said that in view of the

post-Covid situation and the severe

impact on the aviation sector, the government

has considered various

options related to disinvestment,

Kuala Lumpur due to the

seizure, and will now quarantine

for 14 days as per protocols,

the sources said.

In a Twitter post, the

Pakistani flag carrier said: "The

passengers are being looked

after and alternate arrangements

for their travel have been

finalised."

Centre may intimate qualified bidders for Air India by Jan 30

including bidding parameters in the

PIM, while meetings have been held

regularly of the inter-ministerial group

and the core group of secretaries on

disinvestment to review the disinvestment

process.

The interested bidders were asked

to indicate their interest on the enterprise

value of Air India.

The PIM for inviting EoI issued on

January 27, 2020 had offered 100 per

cent sale of equity share capital of Air

India Ltd (AIL), sale of AIL's 100 per

cent shareholding in the Air India

Express Ltd (AIXL) and sale of 50 per

cent shareholding in Air India Airport

Services Private Ltd (AISATS).


4

16-01-2021 to 31-01-2021 ASIA

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

'CPEC to provide great benefit to

Afghanistan, Central Asian nations'

Islamabad : Pakistani President

Arif Alvi said that the China-Pakistan

Economic Corridor (CPEC) will benefit

Afghanistan and Central Asian

countries by enhancing connectivity

of the region.

Presiding over a meeting on Friday

regarding development activities at

the Gwadar port, the President said

that the land-locked countries can tap

on the potential of the deep sea port to

connect to the world, Xinhua news

agency reported. Alvi added that the

Gwadar port will help make Pakistan

the hub of transit trade in the region.

Talking about benefits of CPEC for

the country's southwest Balochistan

province where the Gwadar port is

located, the President said that CPEC

will create ample employment opportunities

for the people of Balochistan,

resulting in their socio-economic

prosperity. The meeting was also

attended by Lt Gen Asim Saleem

Bajwa, the chairman of CPEC

Authority, and Abdul Razak Dawood,

advisor to the country's Prime

Minister on Commerce and Trade.

The CPEC is a flagship $62 billion

project of Chinese President Xi

Jinping's Belt and Road Initiative that

aims to connect Asia, Africa and

Europe through a vast network of

highways, rail lines and sea lanes.

The multi-billion dollar corridor

connects the Chinese city of Kashgar

with Pakistan's Gwadar port on the

Arabian Sea.

'Ageing of India's workforce not favourable for strong recovery'

New Delhi : Higher job lossses among

those below the age of 40 years has resulted

in an ageing workforce, which is not

favourable for a strong recovery of the

Indian economy, according to the Centre

for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE).

Recent CMIE data shows that the share

of those over 40 years of age, which was 56

per cent in 2019-20 increased to 60 per

cent by December 2020.

"The share of the relatively young has

correspondingly shrunk. This ageing of the

workforce again, does not bode well for a

stronger recovery in the second half of

2020-21 or in the future," it said. Graduates

and post-graduates had a 13 per cent share

in total employment in 2019-20. Their

share in the loss of jobs was 65 per cent. As

per the CMIE, out of the 14.7 million jobs

lost, 9.5 million were those of graduates

and post-graduates.

It noted that job losses were concentrated

among the younger workers. All age

groups below the age of 40 suffered a fall

in employment till December 2020 this

year while all age groups above 40 years of

age have seen a small gain in employment.

Further, salaried employees who

accounted for 21 per cent total employment

in 2019-20, accounted for 71 per cent of

Bill Gates is

America's biggest

farmland owner

the total job losses. Nearly 15 million less

people were employed in December 2020,

nine months after the lockdown hit people's

livelihood compared to those that

were employed before the lockdown in

2019-20.

Those who lost jobs were concentrated

in urban regions, among women, among

the relatively younger workers, the graduates

and post graduates and the salaried

employees, the CMIE said.

"It is easy to assume that by December

2020, India's workforce had not only

declined quantitatively but also deteriorated

qualitatively.

'S.African govt will

be taken court over

alcohol sale ban'

Johannesburg : The Restaurants Association of South Africa

(RASA) said that it was taking government to court over the alcohol

sale ban imposed in December 2020.

RASA CEO Wendy Alberts believed that restaurants were

badly affected by the alcohol ban.

"The restaurants ate decimated," Alberts told Xinhua on Friday,

"Take a walk at any restaurants road and you will see it's a ghost

town. We are not even be in a viable position to pay our bills," he

added. Trauma units in South African hospitals often battle with

huge numbers of alcohol-related injuries especially during holidays.

The aim of the liquor sale ban was to curb such hospital

admissions while allowing medical workers to focus instead on

Covid-19 patients. Alberts said some restaurants were forced to

retrench workers due to financial difficulties.

"We are retrenching staff, if government is not even listening to

us or helping, it will get worse," she said.

In his recent address, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the alcohol

ban would remain in place until a further announcement.

San Francisco : Microsoft founder and philanthropist

Bill Gates owns the largest chunk of

private farmland in the US across 18 states, a

new report has revealed.

Bill and Melinda Gates amassed 242,000

acres of land in the US, with the largest holdings

in Louisiana (69,071 acres), Arkansas (47,927

acres) and Nebraska (20,588 acres), according to

The Land report.

Bill Gates also owns a stake in more than

24,800 acres of transitional land outside of

Phoenix.

Research indicated that the lands across the

US is held by Cascade Investment LLC, Gates'

private investment vehicle.

"Gates also backs online used-car seller

Vroom through Cascade as well as the Canadian

National Railway Company," Geek Wire reported.

According to the Tri-City Herald, a 14,500-

acre swath of choice Eastern Washington farmland

in the Horse Heaven Hills in Benton County

has just traded hands for almost $171 million -

part of Gates' holdings.

It is unclear why Gates has invested so heavily

in farmland, but it could be connected to climate

change. The Bill & Melinda Gates

Foundation launched a new nonprofit group a

year ago, focused on helping small-scale farmers

in developing countries with the tools and innovations

they'll need to deal with the effects of climate

change.

Bill Gates is currently at the third spot on the

Bloomberg Billionaires Index with a net worth of

$132 billion. But even with his big new agricultural

holdings, Gates still doesn't rank in the Top

100 private landowners overall in the US, considering

owners of land of all types.

The list is topped by Liberty Media's John

Malone, with 2.2 million acres of ranches and

forests. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos makes that list

at No. 25 with 420,000 acres.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

'No progress in talks between

Dalai Lama's envoys, China'

NEWS

16-01-2021 to 31-01-2021

5

Dharamsala : There was no

progress of formal negotiations

between the Dalai Lama's envoys and

China and the religious freedom continues

to deteriorate in Tibet, the 2020

annual report by the US

Congressional-Executive Commission

on China (CECC) has said.

The report, released this week and

based on the events between July 1,

2019 and July 1, 2020, details its recommendations

to Congress and the

US President based on the human

rights conditions and rule of law

developments in China.

The CECC, which favoured enactment

of the Tibetan Policy and

Support Act of 2020 that was passed at

the end of December of 2020, highlighted

their concerns of the Chinese

Communist Party's (CCP) increasingly

repressive tactics, such as intimidation

of critics, censorship and interference

in foreign governments and citizens.

Along with Tibet, freedom of

expression in Hong Kong, East

Turkestan (Xinjiang), and Taiwan are

curtailed because of China's concerted

efforts to influence foreign corporations,

said the report of the CECC that

has been monitoring Beijing's compliance

with international human rights

standards since 2000. Like the past

decades, the CECC observed that

there has been no progress of formal

negotiations between the 14th Dalai

Lama's representatives and the CCP.

Religious freedom continues to deteriorate

in Tibet as the CCP asserts their

Criminal charges for lawmakers

who helped Capitol riot: Pelosi

Washington : Nancy Pelosi,

Speaker of the US House of

Representatives, has suggested

that any lawmaker found to

have assisted in the January 6

storming of the Capitol in

Washington D.C. should face

criminal charges.

"We must trust each other,

respect the people who sent us

here. We must also have the

truth, and that will be looked

into," The Hill news website

quoted Pelosi as saying to

reporters on Friday in the

Capitol. "If, in fact, it is found

that members of Congress were

accomplices to this insurrection,

if they aided and abetted

the crime, there may have to be

actions taken beyond the

Congress, in terms of prosecution

for that," she added.

Pelosi's remarks came as

several Democrats have

already expressed their suspicions

that some Republican

lawmakers might have helped

the rioters ahead of the chaos.

On Wednesday, a group of

Democrats wrote a letter to

Capitol Police chief and the

acting sergeants-at-arms in

both chambers, urging probes

into "suspicious behaviour and

access" facilitated by some

Republican lawmakers on

January 5, the day before the

attack on the Capitol, The Hill

news website reported.

"Members of the group that

attacked the Capitol seemed to

have an unusually detailed

knowledge of the layout of the

claim over the Dalai Lama's and other

lamas' reincarnation. The CCP imposes

sacrilegious credentialism methods

to Tibetan Buddhist members in

monasteries. The government of the

so-called Tibet "autonomous" region

Capitol Complex. The presence

of these groups within the

Capitol Complex was indeed

suspicious.

"Given the events of January

6, the ties between these groups

inside the Capitol Complex and

the attacks on the Capitol need

to be investigated," the letter

read. The attack on the Capitol

building on January 6 which

took place while Congress was

in session considering the ratification

of the electoral college

votes electing Joe Biden as

President and Kamala Harris as

Vice President.

Earlier that day outside the

Capitol, Trump addressed his

supporters during which called

for "patriots" to take a stand

against the 2020 election

results Five people, including a

police officer, were killed during

the riots.

The Federal Bureau of

Investigation has issued a

warning about plans of armed

protests from January 16

through January 20 at all the 50

state capitols, and from January

17 through January 20, the day

of the inauguration, at the

Capitol in Washington D.C.

At least 20,000 National

Guard troops are expected to be

deployed in Washington D.C.

Washington : Aftab

Pureval, an Indian-

American Democrat, has

announced his candidature

for the Mayor of the

US city of Cincinnati in

Ohio state.

Taking to Twitter on

Thursday, Pureval said:

"It's been a challenging

week after a very difficult

year. Our country is at a

critical moment, and our

city is too. And that's why

I'm so excited to

announce my candidacy

to be Cincinnati's next

mayor... Let's get to work.

"This campaign isn't

about any one person. It's about

us, about who we want to be to

each other and the kind of

future we can build together."

In another tweet on Friday,

the 38-year-old said that he was

running for to "bring executive

experience and a record of

improving government services

to the table, starting with an

economic Covid recovery that

benefits every neighbourhood

in our city and a plan to restore

passed ethnic unity regulations that

impose more harsh measures to stifle

Tibetans in the name of containing

separatism. Ethnic unity provisions, as

described by the report, entails: "sinicizing

religion", increased propaganda

trust in City Hall".

Pureval, son of an Indian

father and a Tibetan mother,

currently serves as the

Hamilton County Clerk of

Courts, the first Democrat to

serve in that position in more

than a century, The American

Bazaar said in a report.

Cincinnati, the third-largest

city in Ohio, is the seat of

Hamilton County government.

Incumbent Cincinnati mayor

by media organizations, implementation

of ethnic unity propaganda in

museums and educational settings,

and criminalizing expression that may

disrupt ethnic unity aims.

Arbitrary detainment of Tibetans

continues to be common under

Chinese controlled Tibet, the Central

Tibetan Administration (CTA) said on

Saturday citing the report.

Less than a week after the US

Senate unanimously passed the

Tibetan Policy and Support Act

(TPSA) of 2020 despite China's

protest, President Donald Trump last

month signed it into law, a decision

that strengthened the American policy

on Tibet and reaffirmed the government's

steadfast support for the Dalai

Lama and the CTA.

Welcoming the historic legislation,

CTA President Lobsang Sangay had

said: "This legislation sends a powerful

message of hope and justice to the

Tibetans inside Tibet and bolsters US

support for the protection of Tibetan

people's religious freedom, human

rights, environmental rights and exile

Tibetan democracy like never before."

The Dalai Lama has lived in India

since fleeing his homeland in 1959.

The Tibetan exile administration is

based in Dharamsala.

Indian-American

Democrat running for

Cincinnati Mayor

John Cranley, also a

Democrat who has been in

office since December 2013,

is term-limited and cannot

run again.

According to local media

reports, Pureval is expected

to face a crowded field of

mayoral contenders that

includes a number of city

council members, a former

congressman and several

prominent Democrats.

When he ran against the

state's Republican

Representative Steve

Chabot, Pureval was the first

candidate of Tibetan origin

to run for Congress.

He lost narrowly in the race.

Pureval earned his undergraduate

degree in political science

from the Ohio State

University, where he served as

a student body president.

Later, he did his law degree

from University of Cincinnati

College of Law.

He has previously served as

a Special Assistant US

Attorney for the Department of

Justice.


6 16-01-2021 to 31-01-2021 ASIA

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Trump to fly to Florida shortly

before Biden's inauguration

Washington : US President Donald Trump will leave

Washington, D.C. on the

morning of January 20

shortly before Presidentelect

Joe Biden's inauguration,

with a grand ceremony

being planned for his departure,

according to media

reports.

In a report published on

Friday, the Associated Press

cited people familiar with

the plan as saying the

farewell ceremony, to be

held in Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, will probably feature the

reception Trump used to get as President during state visits abroad,

"complete with a red carpet, colour guard, military band and even

a 21-gun salute", reports Xinhua news agency

Flying in Air Force One for the last time, the President will go

to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, where he will reportedly live

his post-presidential life. What was revealed in the latest report

verified previous ones saying that in doing so, Trump wanted to

create a split-screen effect to turn audience's attention away from

Biden's swearing-in ceremony. A formal announcement of Trump's

plan is yet to be made official. Trump has said he will not attend

Biden's inauguration, which the latter responded by saying "it's a

good thing". Vice President Mike Pence, however, plans to attend

the inauguration, a move Biden has welcomed.

Pence on Friday spoke with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris

via telephone and pledged assistance.

Geneva : The International

Labour Organization (ILO), a

Geneva-based UN agency,

announced that child labour has

decreased by 38 per cent in the

last decade but warned that the

raging Covid-19 pandemic has

considerably worsened the situation

with 152 million children

still affected.

In a statement issued on

Friday, the ILO said that the

Covid-19 crisis has brought

additional poverty to these

already vulnerable populations

and may reverse years of

progress in the fight against

child labour, reports Xinhua

news agency.

"School closures have aggravated

the situation and many

millions of children are working

to contribute to the family

income. The pandemic has also

made women, men and children

more vulnerable to exploitation,"

the Organization said.

ILO data showed that

progress across regions is

uneven. Almost half of child

labour happens in Africa (72

million children), followed by

Asia and the Pacific (62 million).

Meanwhile, 70 per cent of

children in child labour work in

agriculture, mainly in subsistence

and commercial farming

and livestock herding, the report

said. Almost half of all these

children work in occupations or

situations considered hazardous

for their health and lives.

The ILO said that "joint and

decisive action could reverse this

trend".

Together with other partners,

the ILO has launched the

International Year for the

Elimination of Child Labour in

2021 in a bid to encourage legislative

and practical actions to

eradicate child labour worldwide.

"There is no place for child

India has world's largest diaspora: UN

United Nations : India has the

world's largest diaspora with about 18

million people born there now living

abroad, according to John Wilmoth, the

director of UN's Population Division at

the Department of Economic and Social

Affairs.

Presenting the International

Migration Report 2020 on Friday, he

said that the US was the top host country

for migrants with 51 million of them

or 18 per cent of the world's total living

there. The report said that between

2000 and 2020, the size of the migrant

population abroad grew for nearly all

countries and areas of the world with

India experiencing the largest gain of

nearly 10 million during that period,

going from the third place in 2000 for

the number of migrants to the first spot

in 2020. The report takes a broad view

of migrants, including also students and

those going abroad for family reunions

in the definition.

Explaining the phenomenon of the

migration from India, UN's Population

Affairs Officer Clare Menozzi said: "The

Indian diaspora is one of the most vibrant

dynamic world... It's present in all continents,

in all regions." The Indian diaspora is

Child labour decreased by

38% in last decade: ILO

labour in society. It

robs children of their

future and keeps

families in poverty,"

ILO Director-

General Guy Ryder

said in the statement.

" T h i s

International Year is

an opportunity for

governments to step

up and achieve

Target 8.7 of the

Sustainable

Development Goals

by taking concrete

actions to eliminate

child labour for

good. With Covid-19

threatening to reverse

years of progress, we

need to deliver on

promises now more

than ever," he added.

The International Year was

unanimously adopted in a UN

General Assembly resolution in

2019.

The ILO said that a main aim

of the year is to urge governments

to do what is necessary to

achieve Target 8.7 of the UN

Sustainable Development Goals

(SDGs).

Target 8.7 asks members

states to take immediate and

effective measures to eradicate

forced labour, end modern slavery

and human trafficking and

secure the prohibition and elimination

of the worst forms of

child labour, including the

recruitment and use of child soldiers,

and by 2025 to end child

labour in all its forms.

The ILO said that a number of

events will be held throughout

the year to raise awareness of the

problem that affects one in 10

children.

diverse, "comprised predominantly of persons

who are workers but also students, and

people who have moved for family reasons",

she said. The contingent of India-born

migrants born in the Gulf countries are playing

a central role in the economic prosperity

of those countries, Menozzi

said.

"They're also widely present in

Northern America and Canada, the US

and UK and Australia," she said.

"And if you look for example at the

US, I know from the education statistics

of some of the persons who are

born in India, they have often a very

high educational attainment some tertiary

or even post-doc(toral), and so

forth." She said that there is "a common

misperception that migration is a

reaction to lack of opportunity".

While that may be true in some

contexts, "it's also the sign of

dynamism, the fact of a person, an

individual makes a choice to pursue

opportunities", according to Menozzi.

There is also a change in how people

go abroad.

"The notion that a person would

migrate and then forever leave their

countries is no longer the case. Most

migrants actually now have an experience of

moving abroad but then they return, they

would go abroad to study, and then bring

back some of the knowledge that they find

abroad," Menozzi added.

Petition urges Aus

govt to allow int'l

students' return

Canberra : Thousands of

people have signed a petition

calling for the Australian government

to allow international

students back into the country.

As of Saturday afternoon, the

petition had garnered more than

5,700 signatures - the secondmost

terribly from the travel ban," the

petition said.

"High school students cannot

go to school. University students

struggle with online lessons with

bad quality. We are forced to

defer because of invalid internships

and in-person courses.

students arrived in the Northern

Territory (NT) in December

2020 as part of a pilot program,

becoming the first students to

enter Australia in March.

However, Prime Minister

Scott Morrison in November

2020 ruled out allowing students

of current position "Lots of students do not have to enter Australia in large num-

addressed to the lower house of online classes and they have to bers until more than 35,000 citizens

Australian Parliament, the be exempted to enter Australia to

and residents stranded over-

House of Representatives, schools as soon as possible,d. seas were repatriated.

reports Xinhua news agency.

Australia's lucrative international

education industry has

been devastated by the government's

decision to close the

country's borders in March 2020

in response to the coronavirus

pandemic.

"International students suffer

"International students contribute

millions of dollars to the

Australian community and benefit

Aussie society in various

areas. "International students are

willing to quarantine, obey any

rules and pay all the fees," the

petition added.

More than 60 international

"There is a queue and

Australians are at the front of the

queue," he said at the time.

The weekly cap on international

arrivals to Australia was

temporarily slashed by more

than 2,000 per week earlier in

January in response to fears over

the mutant strain of Covid-19.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

ASIA

16-01-2021 to 31-01-2021

7

Five groundbreaking self-portraits by women

New Delhi : Jennifer Higgie author

of a new book about women's selfportraits

to be published in March on

female artists whose depictions of

themselves helped secure their place

in history The museums of the world

are filled with paintings of women by

men. Ask around and you'll find that

most people struggle to name even one

female artist from before the 20th century.

But women have always made

art, even though, over the centuries,

every discouragement from laws to

religion and convention, the pressures

of family and public disapproval was,

and in some places still is, put in their

way. Until the advent of modernity,

women were expected to be wives,

mothers or nuns, not artists or writers;

they had no political agency and,

unless their father was a painter, they

had very little or no access to any kind

of artistic training.

(My focus here is the European tradition:

in many indigenous cultures

around the world, women's creativity

has been, and continues to be, central

to individual and community selfexpression.)

I like to think of van

Hemessen's self-portrait as an act of

defiance. 'I am a woman painting,' she

seems to be saying, 'and you can't stop

me'. As it was in the financial, cultural

and, we can assume, emotional interests

of men to discourage women from

pursuing a career, women were denied

access to materials, to training and to

the essential space and time every

artist needs to nurture their talent.

Although women were active in the

Middle Ages in crafts and illumination,

we know very few of their

names. In the Renaissance, women

were forbidden to work on scaffolds,

so they couldn't be commissioned to

make frescoes.

Public art schools for women didn't

exist until the late 19th century; and

even if they studied with a private

tutor, in the main women were forbidden

to work from life models and so

were prevented from learning a central

skill required by the professional

artist. That is why so many female

China blasts Trump admin for imposing

new sanctions on CHINESE firms

Beijing : A Chinese Foreign

Ministry spokesman rebuked

the Trump administration for

blacklisting some Chinese

companies with alleged military

ties, which he said has

shown the world exactly what

bullying is. Spokesman Zhao

Lijian told a press briefing on

Friday that China firmly

opposed the United States'

repeated sanctions against

Chinese firms, adding that the

move went against the trend of

the times and the United States'

much-touted principles of market

competition and international

economic trade rules,

Xinhua news agency reported.

He said the US move has

interfered with the normal economic,

trade and investment

cooperation between the two

countries, and undermined the

confidence of foreign companies

in investing and operating

in the United States, which will

eventually harm the interests of

US companies and investors.

Citing the fact that many

large US multinational companies

are the result of militarycivil

fusion, Zhao said the

Trump administration has once

again shown the world what

unilateralism, double standards

and bullying are.

"China will take necessary

measures to resolutely safeguard

the legitimate rights and

interests of Chinese enterprises

and resolutely support Chinese

enterprises in safeguarding

their rights and interests in

accordance with the law," Zhao

said.

Moscow : It is "a lie" that

Cuba supports terrorism, the

Russian Foreign Ministry said,

commenting on the US recent

decision to add the island

nation to its list of "State

Sponsor of Terrorism."

"When Washington accuses

Havana of sponsoring terrorists,

isn't it the very fake news

that the United States is collectively

fighting against? This is

a lie that has been granted the

official state status," Maria

Zakharova, the ministry's

spokesperson said on Friday,

Xinhua news agency reported.

At her weekly press briefing,

Zakharova called the US decision

"an unconstructive move,"

which clearly demonstrates

Washington's inability to pursue

a consistent foreign policy

based on objective realities. By

blacklisting Havana, the United

States has also discredited itself

artists specialised in botanical and scientific

studies, still life and self-portraiture:

you might not be allowed to

study a naked man, but your own body

was another matter.Over the past 500

years or so, there are countless stories

of women struggling to be accepted as

serious artists in the face of mass

exclusion. Here are some of them.

Almost 500 years ago, in Antwerp,

a young woman painted a self-portrait

on an oak panel. Once done, she carefully

inscribed some Latin words on

its surface. Translated, they declare: 'I

Catharina Van Hemessen have painted

myself / 1548 / Here aged 20.'

To our 21st-century eyes, van

Hemessen's self-portrait could be dismissed

as a charming, slightly clumsy

curio painted by a woman at a time

when few women were professional

artists. However, this small picture is

in fact a groundbreaking work of art: it

is widely believed to be the earliest

surviving self-portrait of an artist of

any gender seated at an easel and van

Hemessen, who was to become a court

artist in Spain, is the first female

Flemish painter whose work we know

of. I like to think of it as an act of defiance.

'I am a woman painting,' the

artist seems to be saying, 'and you

can't stop me.'

In 1633, the 24-year-old Judith

Leyster became the only woman,

alongside 30 men, to be accepted as a

member of the Haarlem Guild of St

Luke. This meant that she could sell

her work, establish a workshop and

take apprentices.

Although celebrated during her

lifetime, she was largely forgotten

after her death. Until 1893, her paintings

were assumed to be by Frans Hals

or her husband, Jan Miense Molenaer.

Her delight and pride in her craft

are evident. Wielding 18 brushes, she

is in the midst of painting her earlier

work, Merry Company (a canvas that

realised 1,808,750 in December 2018

when it was sold at Christie's in

London). She is dressed in her finest

clothes, a sartorial celebration of her

craft and the wealth it has afforded her.

She turns to greet us, smiling; it is as if

she is speaking directly to us.

After centuries of silence, now we

can hear her: this brilliant self-portrait,

which for centuries was assumed to be

by Hals, was only definitively attributed

to Leyster when the National

Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

acquired it in 1949.

Marie Antoinette's favourite artist,

Elisabeth-Louise Vigee Le Brun is

now best known for her scandalous

self-portraits. In 18th-century France,

according to the historian Colin Jones,

a smile that showed the teeth suggested

the subject was 'plebeian, insane...

or else in the grip of some particularly

powerful passion'. It also might have

had something to do with the fact that

King Louis XIV had no teeth left by

the time he was 40, and it wasn't done

to gloat. Self-Portrait in a Straw Hat is

the young artist's playful homage to

Peter Paul Rubens' 1622 painting of

Susanna Lunden, Le Chapeau de

Paille ('The Straw Hat'). Despite the

title, her hat is felt, not straw. In her

painting, Vigee Le Brun a brilliant

self-promoter has corrected Rubens'

mistake: a luxurious straw hat, decorated

with flowers and a feather,

adorns her golden curls. Holding a

large palette and a fistful of brushes,

she smiles out at us, allowing us a

glimpse of her dazzling white teeth.

In Paula Modersohn-Becker's lifesize

self-portrait, she pictures herself

cradling her pregnant belly, her head

at a quizzical angle, with a soft

expression of curiosity. Her features

are raw, free of makeup or artifice; her

brown eyes shine with intelligence

and personality. Like Catharina van

Hemessen's self-portrait centuries earlier,

the painting is inscribed.

Translated, it reads: 'I painted this at

age 30 / on my 6th wedding day. P.B.'a

return to her maiden name, Paula

Becker.

However, the pregnancy depicted

here is symbolic. Modersohn-Becker

had, in fact, just abandoned her husband

in Worpswede, Germany, and

moved to Paris in order to paint fulltime.

At a time when women artists were

often sidelined or ignored, what she

was expecting was not a child but the

fulfilment of her creativity. Today, the

painting is admired not just for its

modernity, but because it is considered

to be the earliest known naked selfportrait

by a woman.

One day in Paris, in 1934, a young

Hungarian-Indian woman painted a

self-portrait as a Tahitian, despite

never having been to the South

Pacific. Apart from a small cloth

draped across her lower body, she is

naked. Her body is outlined with the

pale green shadow of a man. He is

blocking the light.

In the last decades of the 19th century,

Paul Gauguin had portrayed,

again and again, semi-naked women

in French Polynesia. In Amrita Sher-

Gil's self-portrait, art history is at once

revered and reworked.

Young, brown-skinned women had

for centuries been reduced to stereotypes,

as signifiers of primitive passion.

Here, the artist has taken back

control of her representation. There is

no shame in her nakedness: her skin is

what she proudly inhabits. She is a

creature of the West and the East and

subservient to no one. She is Sikh,

Hungarian, a painter and the subject of

a painting her painting. She is not a

type: she's a person.

Russia blasts US for

blacklisting Cuba as

terrorism sponsor

in the eyes of everyone who is

familiar with "the selfless work

of Cuban doctors in dozens of

countries around the world"

amid the coronavirus pandemic,

she added.

On Monday, US Secretary of

State Mike Pompeo said in a

statement that Cuba was designated

as a "State Sponsor of

Terrorism" for "repeatedly providing

support for acts of international

terrorism in granting

safe harbour to terrorists."

"Cuba opposes terrorism: it

has been a victim of this

scourge, never a sponsor,"

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-

Canel said on Twitter.


8 16-01-2021 to 31-01-2021 ASIA

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

TRACTOR MARCH WAKES SUPREME COURT

Mr Modi still keeps insisting that the

three laws are in benefit of the Kisaans

but they totally refute his statement.

Even the Lawyers have now come forward

in support of the Kisaans because

they also hold of opinion that the laws

are in benefit of the Corporations and

not in favour of the Kisaans.

As to their majority in the Parliament

the Government has introduced these

three laws without any consultation

with the Kisaan Unions and without

proper debate in the parliament.

This action has compelled the

Kisaans in thousands to come out on the

roads in protest to protect their lands,

livelihood and future of their children.

The protest started in July 2020 in

Punjab but the Government failed to

give any attention and eventually on

November 24th 2020 it came onto the

borders of Delhi.

As soon as it hit the borders of Delhi,

the Government came forward and

offered a meeting to negotiate. It failed

and since nine meetings have taken

place but still the matter remains same.

The Government does not want to bulge

and the farmers are standing firm

because it concerns their livelihood.

The Government is refusing to withdraw

the objected laws because degrading

of the farmers and many others is

essential to pursue the hidden agenda

they have. The corporations are part of

the scheme.

The Kisaans and the rest of the public

have now woken up and they have

proved to the Government that they can

be much wiser then the politicians when

it comes to their livelihood. Now it is

becoming a national protest against the

Government. Solidarity is building and

the barriers of caste, religion and origin

are breaking.

If these three laws are not squashed

then the future of the small businesses,

the small farmers and the livelihood of

millions of the labourers connected with

the Kisaans will face dire consequences.

To protect and save the livelihood, it

essential that all immediately unite.

It should be remembered that the

politician’s main interest is to line his

own pocket. After five years, he pockets

50.000 rupees as retirement packet. The

Politicians, who come to represent the

Kisaans in the Parliament, have mostly

come on the BJP ticket so they go along

with the Government to safeguard their

own earnings.

Where the politician is ending with a

big retirement packet, on the other hand

the Kisaan because of the governing

laws and the natural disasters may be

compelled to commit suicide within five

years. Thousands have committed suicides

but the Governments have failed

to give any attention so they are now

stranding firm and protesting for the

future of their families.

Through the corporation control, the

unemployment will increase because

they will atomise production and the

higher castes will be given preference to

fill the vacancies.

India has had a fearless and an intellectual

leader Baba Sahib Dr Bhim Rao

Ambedkar who has drafted Indian

Constitution and sacrificed his life to

better the other without thinking about

his own gains. He was totally devoted to

pull out the poor from the rut the

Manuvaadis have put them in.

Unfortunately, the present leaders are

not for the helpless people but to pursue

their own interests whilst they are in

power. They lie through their teeth to

get the votes but never fulfil their promises.

They have always taken advantage

of the poor and vulnerable and will

always do so. Fifty people

have died since the protest in

Delhi but the Government has

failed to show of any sympathy

to this great loss. The

Jawaans protecting the borders

of India are mostly from

these Kisaan and Muzdoor

families and now their families

in Delhi are protesting to

save their livelihood and are

being labelled as

ATANKVAADIS.

The Jawaans on the borders

are not happy the way their families are

being treated on the borders of Delhi. It

regrets to say that a Jawaan mentioned

of justice for the protestors but has been

stripped of duty and is in jail.

Unfortunately, this point’s that the

Jawaans cannot even stand in sympathy

of their families who are exposed to

Corona and extremely cold weather on

the borders of Delhi.

Now suddenly after forty three days

of protest the Supreme Court has intervened

with the statement that the protestors

are exposed to corona virus. Is

this intervention from the Supreme

Court to a make way for the imposing of

144 in Delhi to stop tractor march on the

26th January 2021? The Kisaans travelling

from other states to join the protest

in Delhi are coming under police attack.

Plastic bullets, tear gas bombs and water

cannons are being used in this extremely

cold weather. When firing, the police

force is intentionally aiming at the protestors

to cause injuries. The police is

also using abusive and vulgar language.

All the democratic rules to a

peaceful demonstration are

being broken by the police.

Some leaders will not

accept defeat and through

enticing of Mr Trump, his

supporters forced entry into

the White House in

Washington and have done

an extensive amount of

damage. The Democracy in

America is in jeopardy. Mr

Biden and Kamala Harris

have a mammoth task to

reinstate it back. Unfortunately, the

Democracy in India is also in tatters

because Mr. Modi and his associates

want to bring back Manusmriti. The

Supreme Court judges have already

confirmed that the Democracy in India

is at stake and this Governments arrogance

towards the Kisaans sums it all.

Is the Tractor March on the 26th

January 2021 going to end in a peaceful

manner or the protestors or will have

they face bullets under Mr Modi’s

order? Everyone all around the world

wants this protest to end with happy

ending and not in bloodshed.

JAI BHARAT, JAI BHEEM, JAI

KISAAN, JAI MUZDOOR.

– M. Teji

Biden's Sunday inauguration

rehearsal postponed: Report

Washington : US President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration

rehearsal which was

to take place on

Sunday has been postponed

due to security

concerns, according

to a news report.

In the wake of the

deadly January 6 riots

staged by supporters

of outgoing President

Donald Trump at the

Capitol building in

Washington D.C., the

Federal Bureau of

Investigation (FBI)

has issued a warning

about plans of armed

protests from January 16 through January 20 at all the 50 state

capitols, and from January 17 through January 20, the day of the

inauguration, at the Capitol in Washington D.C.

The Politico news report published on Thursday night cited

two sources as saying that the rehearsal will not take place on

Monday (January 18).

According to the sources, Biden's team has also cancel'ed an

Amtrak trip from Wilmington to Washington planned for

Monday "because of heightened security concerns".

However, neither the transition team nor the presidential

inaugural committee, Secret Service and the Joint Congressional

Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies have commented on the

development. The Politico news report came a day after the

President-elect "received a briefing from senior officials at the

FBI, the US Secret Service, and key members of his national

security team". On Wednesday, the Secret Service began imposing

special security measures for the inauguration, The Hill news

website reported. At least 20,000 National Guard troops are

expected to be deployed in Washington D.C.

The attack on the Capitol building took place on January 6

while Congress was in session considering the ratification of the

electoral college votes electing Biden as President and Kamala

Harris as Vice President. Five people, including a police officer,

were killed during the riots.

2020 warmest year on record,

hotter years to come: NASA

Washington : The US

space agency has revealed that

the Covid-hit 2020 was also

the warmest year on record,

just barely exceeding the

record set in 2016 by less than

a tenth of a degree.

By most accounts, 2020 has

been a rough year for the planet.

Massive wildfires scorched

Australia, Siberia, and the US

west coast -- and many of the

fires were still burning during

the busiest Atlantic hurricane

season on record.

"This year has been a very

striking example of what it's

like to live under some of the

most severe effects of climate

change that we've been predicting,"

said Lesley Ott, a research

meteorologist at NASA's

Goddard Space Flight Center in

the US.

Human-produced greenhouse

gas emissions are largely

responsible for warming our

planet. "The natural processes

Earth has for absorbing carbon

dioxide released by human

activities - plants and the ocean

- just aren't enough to keep up

with how much carbon dioxide

we're putting into the atmosphere,"

said Gavin Schmidt,

climate scientist and Director

of NASA's Goddard Institute

for Space Studies (GISS) in

New York City.

According to NASA, carbon

dioxide levels have increased

by nearly 50 per cent since the

'Industrial Revolution' 250

years ago.

The amount of methane in

the atmosphere has more than

doubled.

As a result, during this period,

Earth has warmed by just

over 1 degree Celsius.

Climate modellers have predicted

that as the planet warms,

Earth will experience more

severe heat waves and

droughts, larger and more

extreme wildfires, and longer

and more intense hurricane seasons

on average.

"The events of 2020 are consistent

with what models have

predicted: extreme climate

events are more likely because

of greenhouse gas emissions,"

NASA said in a statement late

on Thursday.

Climate change has led to

longer fire seasons, as vegetation

dries out earlier and persistent

high temperatures allow

fires to burn longer.

This year, heat waves and

droughts added fuel for the

fires, setting the stage for more

intense fires in 2020.

This year wasn't a recordbreaker

for ice loss at sea or on

land. The planet is losing about

13.1 per cent of Arctic sea

ice by area each decade,

according to sea ice minimum

data from NASA and

the National Snow and Ice

Data Center in Boulder,

Colorado.

The Arctic has lost over

half of its summer minimum

sea ice extent in the

last few decades and the

trend is still declining. In

2020, Arctic sea ice covered

just 3.36 million

square kms at its minimum.

This year brought one of

the busiest and most intense

Atlantic hurricane seasons

on record, with 30 named

storms.

The planet is also seeing

more slow-travelling hurricanes

that stall, bringing prolonged

rainfall to an area, likely

as a result of climate change.

"The large wildfires, intense

hurricanes, and ice loss we saw

in 2020 are direct consequences

of human-induced climate

change. And they're projected

to continue and escalate

into the next decade -- especially

if human-induced greenhouse

gas emissions continue

at the current rate," said NASA.

"This isn't the new normal,"

said Schmidt. "This is a precursor

of more to come."


www.theasianindependent.co.uk ASIA 16-01-2021 to 31-01-2021 9

In Conversation with Prof K S Chalam

Dr. K.S.Chalam, Ex-In

charge Chairman, U.P.S.C a

Constitutional position (equivalent

to Supreme Court Judge)

during 2005-2011, is a wellknown

Political Economist,

Educationist and a Scholar of

Dravidian Studies. Prof

K.S.Chalam is known throughout

the country as the facilitator

of Academic Staff College concept

and was likewise recognised

for his Studies on Higher

Education, Political Economy of

Development.

At UPSC, he was in-charge

of several states like U.P,

Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala,

J&K etc for conferring of IAS,

IPS, and IFS and had processed

around 1000 disciplinary cases

of All India service officers. He

was the first Director of Swamy

Ramananad Tirtha Rural

Institute (SRTRI), Bhoodan

Pochampally funded by NCRI,

Government of India and produced

the plan of action for the

institute during 1997-98. He was

Member, NCRI during 2006-10.

He is actively pursuing academic

work after retirement

from UPSC and helped NHRC

to produce study reports on

important national issues including

MDM ,NMHS etc. His book

on “Governance in South Asia:

State of the Civil Services” by

Sage, is commended as a valuable

contribution to promote

excellence in the system. His

latest book on Social Economy

of Development in India, published

by Sage 2017 has

received critical acclaim. He is

founder Editor of ‘South India

Journal of Social Sciences’ (Estd

2002). He regularly contributes

to University News, on invitation

from AIU columnist for

Visalandhra , Andhra Jyothi,

Leader etc Telugu dailies .

It was Prof Chalam who as a

PG student during 1971-73 at

Andhra

University,

Visakhapatnam first realised the

problems of North Coastal

Andhra or Kalingandhra (present

Srikakulam, Visakhapatnam

and Visakhapatnam), raised his

voice while his contemporaries

like Sri M. Venkaiah Naidu(

present Vice-President) and others

were agitating for jai

Andhra. He published a paper in

Telugu about the disparities

between regions in the united

Andhra Pradesh. After he

became lecturer, reader and professor

of Economics in Andhra

University, he continued his pursuit

of studies on underdevelopment

and discrimination against

the region. Interestingly this is

the region during the British

regime (as part of Madras presidency)

had recalcitrant movements

including Alluri and later

Srikakulam struggle. But none

of the experts looked at the root

cause of the discontent. As a

native of the region born in

Pathapatnam in the district of

Visakhapatnam in 1948 ( later

Srikakulam was created in

1950) he knew the kind of discrimination

the people of the

region faced. He started a study

group Uttarandhra Adhyana

Vedika and involved leaders of

the region like late Gouthu

Latchanna, late Dronamraju,

D.V Subbarao etc and published

papers and books both in Telugu

and English. His efforts were

recognised and leaders of the

region including the chief ministers

and the B.N.Srikrishnan

Commission on the bifurcation

of the state in 2014 cited that

Uttarandhra is backward and is

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

social and human rights activist

separate from that of other

coastal districts of Andhra. It is

his sole contribution in getting

popular recognition for the

region as underdeveloped and

neglected though it has all the

resources.

Prof K.S.Chalam is a versatile

scholar with flair for social

and human rights and secular

activities. He was National

Secretary,

Amnesty

International, Indian section

during 1984-85 and represented

India at the Helsinki conference.

He has attended the World conference

against Racism at

Durban. His popular weekly

column in ‘The Hans India’

UK economy shrinks after rising

for 6 consecutive months

London : The UK's gross domestic

product (GDP) recorded a 2.6 per

cent fall in November 2020 amid

further Covid-19 lockdown restrictions

in the country, following six

consecutive months of growth, the

Office for National Statistics (ONS)

said.

The ONS data issued on Friday

revealed that the November GDP

fell back to 8.5 per cent below the

levels seen in February 2020 (before

the pandemic) compared with 6.1

per cent below in October 2020,

reports Xinhua news agency.

The services sector acted as the

main drag on growth in November,

falling by 3.4 per cent monthly as

restrictions on activity were reintroduced,

said the ONS, adding that the

services sector is now 9.9 percent

below the level of February 2020.

Meanwhile, the output in the production

sector dropped by 0.1 per

cent monthly in November while the

construction sector growing by 1.9

percent, said the ONS.

At present, millions of Britons

are facing new strict lockdown

measures requiring them to stay

indoors as Covid-19 case have continued

to spiral upwards.

The ONS data came as another

55,761 people have tested positive

for Covid-19, bringing the total

number of confirmed cases in the

country to 3,325,642, according to

official figures.

At least 1,280 have died within

28 days of a positive test, which

increased the overall fatality toll to

87,448. England is currently under

the third national lockdown since the

outbreak of the pandemic in the

country. Similar restriction measures

are also in place in Scotland, Wales

and Northern Ireland.

English daily, from Hyderabad

and Janata weekly from

Mumbai earned him a niche

among the Intellectuals. He

served as Vice-chancellor,

Dravidian University, Kuppam

Andhra Pradesh. He has contributed

to the development of

Academic or Human Resource

Development programmes

through his publication of books

and scores of papers on the subject.

He had

worked in close

association with

late Dr Aram,

Chairman, NCRI

in establishing SRTRI at

Bhoodan Pochampally A.P. He

was the recipient of the UGC

young social scientist award in

Economics in 1984, Kalinga

Seema Award etc. He taught in

the Department of Economics,

Andhra University as a

Lecturer, Reader and Professor

during 1974 to 2005. He has

supervised 12 scholars in

Economics for obtaining their

Ph.Ds. He was on the Planning

Board of the Madhya Pradesh

government as Member during

2002-2004.

He has published 25 books in

English, including ten books on

Education , 8 in Telugu and

more than 100 research papers

in reputed journals and around

200 edit page articles in Telugu.

Most of his books are used as

textbooks and widely discussed

and reviewed. He has obtained a

diploma in planning from

Central School of Planning and

Statistics, Warsaw, Poland in

1981.

He has travelled extensively

in more than 16 countries and

participated and chaired sessions

at International conferences.

He has specialised in

Economics of Human

Development, Political

Economy and Dravidian studies.

Prof K.S.Chalam was an academic

activist in the area of education,

culture, human rights,

Environment etc. He has delivered

the Presidential address at

the 32nd annual conference of

A.P Economic Association in

2013 and the valedictory address

of the Annual conference of

Indian Political Economy

Association held at University of

Hyderabad, November 2013.He

has delivered several memorial

lectures on important themes of

contemporary relevance at different

universities. He is an

active participant of public

debates on contemporary issues

Jammu : The Jammu and Kashmir police

on Friday produced a chargesheet against 11

accused persons working under the banned

terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), officials

said on Saturday.

The police said the chargesheet has been

produced before the court of 3rd additional

sessions judge of Jammu against the accused

persons, namely Mubashir Farooq Batt R/O

Sazan Doda, Toqeer Ahmad Batt R/O Sazan

Doda, Mohammad Asif Batt R/O Sazan

Doda, Khalid Latief Batt R/O Kotal Doda,

Gazi Iqbal Batt R/O Kotal Doda, Tariq

Hussain Mir R/O Tanta Doda, Farooq

Ahmad Malik R/O Doda, Farooq Ahmad

Batt R/O Kathawa Doda (Real brother of Pak

handler alias Haroon), Junaid Aziz Lone R/O

Handwara, Mohammad Hashim Malik R/O

Pattan, Baramulla, and Mohabbat Hussain

R/O Chiralla Doda. All the accused persons

were operating under the banned terror outfit

and literary and cultural activities.

He served as Joint secretary,

A.U Teachers Association,

Secretary Visakha Writers

Association, President APTF,

VoluntaryAction for Sustainable

Environment etc and is being

associated with several international

organisations like DFID,

CA, PiC etc. He is founder

Chairman of Mahendra Degree

College, Pathapatnam ,the first

Degree College in a semi-tribal

area in his native place in

Srikakulam district, A.P.He

passed out from ZPH School

Pathapatnam in 1964 with first

class and school second and

joined SKCG College

Parlakimidi and got his

Economics Honours degree as

the first Telugu person from

Utkal/Berhampur University in

1968 Dr Giridhar Gamang Ex-

CM of Orissa was his classmate

and both are still in touch with

each other. He later completed

M.A Economics in First class

and Ph.D. B.Ed, from Andhra

University, Visakhapatnam

where he taught for three

decades. He is the first from the

district of Srikakulam and

Andhra University to have occupied

the constitutional position

(equal to Supreme court Judge)

at the centre. He was Special

Rapporteur for South Zone,

National Human Rights

Commission, New Delhi. He is

now Chairman, Institute for

Economic and Social Justice,

Visakhapatnam of the Pancha

Shila Foundation Trust,

Hyderabad. This is a detailed

conversation with him on various

issues confronting our society

particularly the farmers and

Bahujan communities. You can

listen this conversation here :

https://youtu.be/IRy8skOVRDQ

J&K police produce

chargesheet against

11 terror accused

LeT. The police said the terror module was

being operated on the directions of a

Pakistan-based LeT handler, Mohd Amin

alias Haroon, who was an active LeT terrorist

operating in the Doda belt and had been

exfiltrated to Pakistan in 2009. The police

said the case is being investigated by an SIT.

"During investigation, terror funding

money amounting to Rs 1,90,700 along with

arms and ammunition were recovered," the

police said.


10 16-01-2021 to 31-01-2021 ASIA

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NIA summons to journalist, farmer

leaders, others in SFJ case

New Delhi : In a surprise move, the

National Investigation Agency (NIA)

has sent notices to over a dozen of people,

including a journalist, farmer leaders

associated with the agitation against

three farm laws and others, in connection

with its probe into the Sikh For

Justice (SFJ) case, officials said on

Saturday.

An NIA official related with the

development wishing not to be named

told IANS, "The NIA has sent notices to

several people for examination."

The official said that they have been

called as witnesses to ascertain certain

details of the case.

When asked who had been called

besides the journalist, the official said,

"I cannot specifically say about the profession

of the individuals who have

been called for examination."

The official said that the agency had

called a number of people as witnesses

for investigation. "They have been

called to be examined to ascertain certain

details for the investigation," the

official added.

The NIA has also summoned Baldev

Singh, the president of Lok Bhalai Insaf

Welfare Society (LBIWS), one of the

unions participating in talks with the

government over the new farm laws.

According to the NIA summons,

Singh has been asked to appear before

the anti-terror probe agency on January

17 at its headquarters located in south

Delhi's CGO Complex.

Besides Singh, Surender Singh

Thikriwal, Palwinder Singh, Pardeep

Singh, Nobeljit Singh and Karnail

Singh have also been summoned to

appear before the agency on January 17

and 18 .

The NIA had registered a case on

December 15 last year after a notification

from the government under several

sections of the IPC and the Unlawful

Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA. In

the FIR, which has been viewed by

IANS, the NIA alleged that SFJ, an

unlawful association and other

Khalistani terrorist outfits including but

not limited to Babbar Khalsa

International, Khalistan Tiger Force and

Khalistan Zindabad Force along with

their frontal organisations

have entered

into a conspiracy to

create an atmosphere

of fear and lawlessness

and to cause disaffection

in people

and to incite them

towards rising in

rebellion against the

government.

The FIR also said

that huge funds are

being collected

abroad for on-ground

campaign and propaganda

against missions

in countries like

US, UK, Canada

Germany and so forth.

These campaigns

are being spearheaded

by designated terrorists

Gurpatwant Singh

Pannun, Paramjit

Singh Pamma, Hardeep Singh Nijjar

and others.

The NIA FIR also alleged that SFJ

and other pro-Khalistani elements

involved in this conspiracy, through

their incessant social media campaign

and otherwise, are radicalising and

recruiting impressionable youth to agitate

and undertake terrorist acts for creation

of separate nation of Khalistan

after secession from Indian Territory.

It is worth a mention that the NIA

filed a charge sheet against 10

Khalistani terrorists in the Sikhs for

Justice (SFJ) case including designated

terrorist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun on

December 18 last year.

The agency has filed the charge sheet

in the Special NIA court in Punjab's

Mohali under several sections of the

Indian Penal Code and the UAPA.

Besides Pannun, who is a resident of

New York in US, the NIA has named

Pargat Singh, Sukhraj Singh, Bikramjit

Singh, Manjeet Singh, Jatinder Singh,

Gurwinder Singh, Harpreet Singh,

Kuldeep Singh and Harmeet Singh.

The charge sheet was filed in connection

with a case related to a series of

acts of violence including acts of arson

in Punjab during the year 2017-18, carrying

out of propaganda activities both

online and on ground campaigns in support

of the SFJ and Referendum-2020.

These acts were committed by a gang

of radicalised Sikh youth under direction

and financial assistance from SFJ

handlers located abroad as part of an

organised conspiracy by the accused for

launching a concerted secessionist campaign

for creation of 'Khalistan'.

The case was initially registered by

the Punjab Police in Amritsar and the

NIA took over the investigation on April

5 last year.

UK to close all travel corridors

London : UK Prime Minister

Boris Johnson announced that the

country will close all travel corridors

from Monday onwards in a

bid to keep out new coronavirus

variants.

The UK "will temporarily close

all travel corridors from 4 a.m. on

Monday", the Prime Minister during

a virtual press conference at

Downing Street on Friday.

The new measure means that

travellers entering the country

must have proof of a negative

Covid-19 test in the previous 72

hours, reports Xinhua news

agency.

Anyone arriving in the UK

must quarantine for 10 days or

they have the choice of doing an

extra test on day five to shorten the

isolation, Johnson said.

"What we don't want to see is

all that hard work undone by the

arrival of a new variant that is vaccine

busting," he said.

The Prime Minister made the

remarks after the UK on Thursday

banned arrivals from South America,

Portugal and some other countries over

fears about a strain of the virus detected

in Brazil.

The new rules will be in place until

at least February 15, he said.

Meanwhile, Johnson said 3.2 million

people have so far received

Covid-19 vaccines. The pressures

on the National Health

Service (NHS) are "extraordinary"

and it would be "fatal" to

show complacency now, he said.

"This is not the time for the

slightest relaxation of our

national resolve," Johnson said,

urging the public to stay at

home.

England is currently under

the third national lockdown

since the outbreak of the pandemic

in the country.

Similar restriction measures

are also in place in Scotland,

Wales and Northern Ireland.

Another 55,761 people have

tested positive for Covid-19,

bringing the total number of

confirmed cases in the country

to 3,325,642, according to official

figures.

Another 1,280 have died within 28

days of a positive test, which increased

the overall fatality toll to 87,448.

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www.theasianindependent.co.uk

A Struggle Spearheaded by the

Sikhs With Faith and Belief

On January 6, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting

Government of India sent an email to, perhaps, all Indians who

have email accounts with a statement released by the Prime

Minister Narendra Modi. I got this email on my G-mail account.

The statement is posted with a photograph that he stands amidst

Sikh leaders including the present Chief Minister of Punjab. The

statement reads as follows:

“ Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji illuminates the entire world with its

pure teachings. Inspired by it, Sikhs globally have done pioneering

service in several spheres. Their courage and kindness are remarkable.

May Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji keep guiding humanity forever.—Shri

Narendra Modi”.

This statement in the context of the Sikh farmers leading the

peaceful agitation against the New Farm Laws that the Bharatiya

Janata Party Government passed without any debate in the

Parliament must be seen very carefully.

I am glad that the PM realised that Sikhs with ‘courage and

kindness’ made pioneering service to the entire world. It is in the

spirit of that courage, kindness and determination they started this

movement in such bitter cold and the coronavirus threat, and faced

the Delhi police lathis, water canons. Many farmers have died

since. Many Sikh youth laid down their life during the freedom

struggle and later as soldiers. Bhagat Singh became what he was,

having learnt from the pure teachings of the Guru Granth Sahib.

With the same inspiration of the Guru Granth Sahib they have

started the farmers movement against the farm laws. They know of

the right wing ideology’s love hate relationship with Sikhism.

When Indira Gandhi treated Sikhism as part of Hinduism they

fought for their separate and minority status. They are a religious

minority in the country today.

Whenever the Congress attacked the right wing on issues of

communal riots the BJP’s defence fort was the Sikh riots of 1984.

Now the same Sikhs who produce the largest amount of India’s

food are spearheading the struggle for repeal of the laws not just

for themselves but for the entire nation.

The media did not say a word against the likes of Kangana

Ranaut, who called these Sikhs farmers ‘anti-national terrorists’.

When the Nihang Sikhs marched to Delhi in their traditional

attires and self-defence spears and swords the captive media projected

them as armed rebels against the nation.

Though the Sikh religion and Guru Granth Sahib emerged in

the fight against the Mughals but the very same Guru Granth Sahib

shows us that it evolved as anti- Varnadharma and anti-indignity of

labour scripture that operates in the Hindu Social Order (HSO).

The extreme right here still upholds such varna dharma division

and indignity of labour as the ancient Hindu parampara.

The farmers want to protect their agrarian markets from

monopoly capitalist takeover because of Guru Granth Sahib’s

teachings and unification of working farmers. Though Sikhism did

not abolish caste discrimination altogether, its Majabi Sikhs do not

face human untouchability and barbaric casteist attacks that we see

in Uttar Pradesh. Guru Ravidas (a Dalit Guru) sits on the same

pedestal that Guru Nanak and Guru Govind Singh sit in the Golden

Temple.

Where is the ruling elite’s reformist tone in the face of huge

caste atrocities, man-woman inequality, human lynching, atrocities

in the name of ‘love jihad’ in the states where his own party

rules? In the light of the PM’s statement on Guru Granth Sahib it

is important to make a comparative study whether the RSS literature

reflects the spirit of the Guru Granth Sahib in its long history.

I call upon the Sikh scholars who are better equipped to do that.

ASIA

16-01-2021 to 31-01-2021

11

US weekly unemployment

claims soar to nearly 1 mn

Washington : Initial unemployment

claims in the US soared to 965,000 last

week, indicating severe disruption to the

labor market recovery by Covid-19 spikes,

according to the government.

In the week ending January 9, the number

of Americans filing for unemployment benefits

jumped by 181,000 from the previous

week's downwardly revised level of 784,000,

according to a report released on Thursday

by the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor

Statistics (BLS). Meanwhile, the total number

of people claiming benefits in all programs,

state and federal combined, for the

week ending December 26, 2020, decreased

by 744,511, but remained elevated at 18.4

million, as the country struggles to grapple

with the fallout of the surging Covid-19

infections. With the jobs recovery "stalling,"

the extra 300 dollars in weekly benefits provided

by the recently approved $900 billion

Covid-19 relief bill "could not come soon

enough" for many families, she noted.

As Covid-19 shutdowns rippled through

the workforce last spring, initial jobless

claims spiked by 3 million to reach a record

3.3 million in the week ending March 21,

2020, and then doubled to reach a record

6.87 million in the week ending March 28.

After that, the figures have been largely

declining, though still at historically high

levels, but the trend was reversed several

times amid a resurgence in Covid-19 cases,

signaling a stalled recovery in the labor market.

In the week ending August 8, 2020, the

number of Americans filing for unemployment

benefits dropped by 228,000 to

963,000, the first time it has dipped below 1

million since mid-March.

Yet just in the following week, the figure

rose back above the 1 million mark to reach

1.1 million.

In the week ending October 17, 2020, the

figure fell below 800,000 for the first time

since late March, and has been largely

declining in following weeks, but the trend

was reversed in the weeks ending November

14 and November 21, and then in the weeks

ending December 5 and December 12 amid

recent Covid-19 spikes.

According to the monthly employment

report released by the Labor Department last

week, US employers slashed 140,000 jobs in

December 2020, marking the first monthly

decline in employment since April 2020.

The unemployment rate, which has been

trending down over the past seven months,

remained unchanged at 6.7 per cent in

December, the report showed.

Army officer develops first indigenous 9 mm 'Machine Pistol'

Nagpur : Nagpur-based Indian

Army officer Lt Col Prasad

Bansod has developed the country's

first indigenous 9 mm

'Machine Pistol', an official said

here on Saturday.

Working with the Infantry

School, Mhow (Madhya Pradesh),

Bansod, 39, developed the pistol

in a record four months with assistance

from ARDE, Pune.

Named 'ASMI' - symbolising

pride and self-respect - the

machine pistol's empty weight is

less than 2 kgs and it costs less

than Rs 50,000. Unlike the conventional pistols

which can fire only one round at a time,

'ASMI' can also fire in a machine-mode its

entire load of 33 rounds in one shot, almost

like a mini-machine gun, explained the official.

Sporting an upper receiver made from

aircraft-grade aluminium and lower receiver

of carbon fibre, the pistol has been manufactured

through 3D printing process including

trigger components made by 3D metal printing.

The barrel is 8 inches long with 33 rounds

of high-capacity magazine and the weapon

fires the in-service 9 mm ammunition.

"The weapon has a huge potential in the

armed forces as a personal weapon for commanders,

tank and aircraft crew, radio-radar

operators, other categories of security workers,

besides VVIP protection and policing

duties and in the civilian domain," said the

official.

Officials are optimistic that Bansod's

'ASMI' is likely to find huge employability

within the central and state police organisations,

besides a huge export potential as the

production cost would be well under Rs

50,000 per weapon.

On kanshi TV

channel 772.

SATURDAY at

6 :00 pm

SUNDAY at

6 :00 pm

Ambedkarites News and Views

by

BUDDHIST INTERNATIONAL MEDIA

Mob : 07411 251 804, 07847 307 059


12 16-01-2021 to 31-01-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Defending Human Rights is not terrorism!

At an online event titled I

cannot be framed 110 human

rights organisations, including

Peoples Union of Civil

Liberties (PUCL) and Citizens

for Justice and Peace(CJP),

came together to stand in solidarity

with Father Stan Swamy

and 15 other accused in the

Bhima Koregaon case. They

came together to mark the hundred

days of Father Stan

Swamy’s incarceration and hail

the efforts and struggle of all

Human Rights Defenders.

The demands of the programme

were to:

Release Father Stan Swamy

and the 15 others arrested and

falsely accused in the Bhima

Koregaon case immediately

Arrest the real perpetrators

of the violence that took place

on January 1, 2018

Repeal the Unlawful

Activities (Prevention) Act

The event was moderated by

Professor Apoorvaanad, who

has fearlessly written on the

issues of Indian democracy and

rising communalism. It started

with a spirited performance by

members of India’s indigenous

communities playing a variety

of drums and other traditional

instruments. This was followed

by activist and world-renowned

classical dancer Mallika

Sarabhai’s dance recital based

on Maya Angelou’s poem, Still,

I rise.

Xavier Dias, an activist,

humanitarian, and writer, who

has worked closely with Father

Stan in Chaibasa district said

that Father Stan’s detention is

unfortunate but it gives every

individual hope to prepare to

pay the same price. He compelled

all the participants and

listeners to rise and fight

against the brutal affairs of the

State.

Henri Tiphagne one of the

key activists in India advocating

with the United Nations and

other International Human

Rights Agencies introduced

Mary Lawlor, who took up the

mandate of Special Rapport on

the situation of the defenders

on May 1, 2020 and is also the

founder of Frontline Defenders.

Lawlor said, “India is a state

which doesn’t properly protect

human rights defenders. I am

appalled by the treatment of

human rights defenders such as

Father Stan Swamy who

embodies solidarity.” She also

cited UAPA as a draconian law

that designates individuals as

terrorists and fails to provide

legal certainty. She asserted,

“Defending human rights is not

terrorism.”

She added, “In November

2020, I sent a letter to Indian

government raising concerns

about arrest. Governments are

given a 60-day period during

which they are expected to

reply but I am still to receive a

response from the Indian

authorities.”

Elizabeth Soren, the Adivasi

leader of a group representing

domestic workers also

launched a sipper to honour the

jailed Jesuit priest. Badges calling

for the repeal of UAPA,

release of all political prisoners

was also launched during the

event provided by Citizens for

Justice and Peace through its

Secretary Ms. Teesta Setalvad.

Senior Counsel Mihir Desai,

a highly respected human

rights lawyer who is also

defending Fr. Stan Swamy in

the case in the Bombay High

Court and who also appears in

human rights cases before the

Supreme Court, gave a background

and current status of

Father Stan’s case before the

court, in addition to the Bhima

Koregaon case under which all

prominent lawyers, activists,

academicians and lawyers have

been apprehended. He showcased

how the frivolous

charges were not dropped

despite adequate hard evidence,

by comparing it to another case

where in a complete contradiction,

serious charges were

ignored despite witness testimonies

and records of meetings.

Advocate Desai said,

“This is a country where the

Zakia Jafri case was not

allowed to make much headway,

but the Bhima Koregaon

case is going strong.”

He explained how the narrative

of the police have changed

over the months from registering

cases against the right-wing

groups for inciting violence at

Elgar Parishad to now placing

the blame on the speeches

delivered by the undertrials that

were allegedly sponsored by

Allahabad HC stays arrest of

man for remarks against Yogi

Prayagraj (Uttar Pradesh)

.The Allahabad High Court has

stayed the arrest of a man who,

while taking part in a protest

against the alleged Hathras

gang-rape case, had reportedly

said that the 'Chief Minister of

UP is a man of thick skin'.

A division bench comprising

Justice Anjani Kumar Mishra

and Justice Shekhar Kumar

Yadav, while hearing a writ

petition filed by Neeraj Kishor

Mishra of Kasganj district,

directed the state government

to file its reply in four weeks

and directed to list this case

after six weeks.

The allegation made in the

first information report (FIR)

was that the man had made the

comment during the protests,

accusing the police of being

inactive. It is further alleged

that during the protest, the petitioner

had said that 'the Chief

Minister of UP is a man of thick

skin.'

The FIR further said that the

petitioner was a history-sheeter

and his arm licence had already

been cancelled.

The FIR was lodged against

the petitioner on December 11,

2020 under sections 153-B (2)

(imputations, assertions prejudicial

to national integration),

505 (2) (statements creating or

promoting enmity, hatred or illwill

between classes) of Indian

Penal Code (IPC) at the Patiyali

police station of Kasganj district.

During the court proceedings,

the counsel for the petitioner

submitted that in a democratic

country, agitation

against a ruling party is the

constitutional right of leaders

of opposition and, therefore,

agitation of the petitioner, on

the issue of rape of a girl of

'Balmiki Samaj' cannot be

termed as hatred or ill-will

between different religious

racial, hence, no offence under

Section 153 -B (2) and Section

505 (2) I.P.C. is made out.

While observing that 'the

matter requires consideration',

the court stayed the arrest of the

petitioner but made it clear that

it has not stayed the investigation,

hence it would go on.

Maoists. Advocate Desai said,

“One of the first cases was filed

against Milind Ekbote and

Sambhaji Bhide in the Bhima

Koregaon case. But suddenly

they changed the story and

blamed the speeches made at

Elgar Parishad instigated the

violence,” and pointed out,

“After the government changed

in Maharashtra, the case was

taken away from the state

police and given to the NIA.”

He ended on a positive note

stating that even though getting

bail under UAPA is difficult,

we must all be inspired from

the Farmers’ struggle and continue

to fight.

His speech was followed by

the performance of the vibrant

Bagaicha Cultural Group that

sang for Father, “Oh Stan baba

keeps struggling, keep fighting

for Adivasis, we too shall struggle”.

Father Swamy has been

instrumental in setting up this

group. Dayamani Barla, a fellow

comrade of Father Stan and

a well-known Adivasi activist

from Jharkhand who has been

at the forefront of several

movements on Adivasis for

their right to jal (water), jangal

(forest), zameen (land), said

that the 83-year-old priest has

inspired all Adivasis to fight for

their rights and raise their voices

against injustices. She also

fondly remembered how Father

Stan asked her to call him his

elder brother (dada) and not

Father.

Another courageous

women’s and Adivasi rights

activist, Aloka Kujur, who has

known Father Stan for 25 years

lauded his efforts and struggles.

“His spirit was akin to taking

forward the human values that

Birsa Munda fought for. He

took up the crucial issues of the

large number of Adivasi undertrials,

the deplorable conditions

in prisons in the state and

approached authorities and the

Court as well,” she said.

General Secretary of PUCL,

Chhattisgarh Shalini Gera and

lawyer Susan Abraham who’s

husband Vernon Fernandes has

been falsely accused in the case

and is in jail presently, talked

about all the accused in the

Bhima Koregaon case, providing

some background of how

all of them were arrested and

under what circumstances.

They include Anand

Teltumbde, Arun Ferriera,

Gautam Navlakha, Hanny

Babu, Rona Wilson, Shoma

Sen, Sudha Bharadwaj, Dr.

Varavara Rao, Sudhir Dhawale,

Surendra Gadling, Mahesh

Raut, Kabir Kala Manch artists

(Ramesh Gaichor, Sagar

Gorkhe and Jyoti Jagtap),

Vernon and Father Stan.

Kabir Kala Manch, a cultural

organisation that was formed

in Pune in the wake of the

Gujarat riots in 1992 also performed

a song saluting the

effort of all defenders. The

event drew to a close with

Virginius Xaxa and Sister

Dorothy Fernandes’ speech.

Virginius, a visiting Professor

at the Institute for Human

Development (IHD), New

Delhi and writer on themes of

tribal societies and politics said

that Father Stan is not against

the State and only desires to

fight for oppressed Adivasis in

India.

Sister Dorothy, who belongs

to the Congregation of the

Presentation Sister and is also

the Chairperson of the

Women’s Commission of the

Archdiocese of Patna recited,

“Well done my good and faithful

servant, I will put you in

charge of many things, come

and share your masters’ happiness”

for Father Stan as a message

from Jesus.

ED arrests 2 Chinese nationals

in money laundering case

New Delhi. The

Enforcement

Directorate (ED)

has arrested two

Chinese nationals in

connection with its

money laundering

probe that it registered

last year in

August, officials

said on Sunday.

An ED official related

to probe told

IANS, "ED arrested Luo

Sang aka Charlie Peng and

Carter Lee arrested on

Friday under Prevention of

Money Laundering Act

(PMLA)."

The official said that Peng and

Lee are accused of running a

huge hawala operation for

Chinese companies through

hundreds of shell companies.

The official said that they were

produced before a court on

Saturday and sent to ED custody

for 14 days.

The agency has

registered a case

of money laundering

against them

in August last year after the

Income Tax department had

carried out raids and claimed

Peng and other Chinese nationals

were running a huge hawala

operation.

They were also accused of running

an espionage racket. The

Delhi Police has also registered

a case against them.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NEWS

16-01-2021 to 31-01-2021

13

RAF to maintain public order in Southern India by 2023

New Delhi. After its successful

operations conducted in the last

29 years in various parts of the

country as well as the US peacekeeping

missions in different

foreign countries, Rapid Action

Force (RAF) will now handle

riots and similar public disorder

in southern India as well as

region up to Goa properly by

2023.

The 97th Battalion of RAF

has been given the new responsibility

by Union Home Minister

Amit Shah during his visit

to Karnataka where the

Minister expressed hope

that the force will always

"stand shoulder to shoulder with

the people for peacekeeping

throughout Southern India".

Aimed at achieving the security

setup of RAF, the force is

being provided a new building in

Bhadravathi in Shivamogga district

of Karnataka.

The Karnataka government

has allotted about 50 acres of

land for its construction to be

undertaken at a cost of about Rs

230 crores. The construction is

targeted to be finished by the end

of 2023, said an official source.

Administration block, residential

lines, hospital, Central

School as well as Sports Stadium

will be constructed here in the

premises of the building whose

foundation stone was laid by

Shah on Saturday.

A new chapter has been added

in the history of the RAF which

will get its proper establishments

By Rajnish Singh

in southern India after New

Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan and

Uttar Pradesh.

RAF, a specialised force of

the Central Reserve Police Force

(CRPF), deals with riots and

riot-like situations to instill confidence

amongst all sections of

the society and also, handle

internal security duty and maintain

public order.

The RAF is a neutral professional

force that boasts of Zero

Response Time to reach crisis

points. The RAF reaches out

promptly to provide security to

the weaker sections of the society

and its motto of 'serving

humanity with perfect policing'

is an ideal for the victims.

The RAF is part of a workforce

of more than three lakh

personnel CRPF, an armed

Central paramilitary wing, having

more than 250 battalions

Two sisters ask Delhi to listen, go viral

New Delhi. Even as "Sun Dilliye

Ni Sun Dilliye", a song written,

composed and sung by the two

young sisters on the ongoing

farmers' agitation continues to

grab thousands of hits on social

media from people across the

world, the duo maintains that

while all the praise has been

extremely encouraging, what

matters most is that people

across barriers have been able to

relate to it.

"We never thought that the

s o n g

(https://www.youtube.com/watc

h?v=0kEkwK5zS5A) would

become so popular. The feedback

from everyone has been

very kind. However, what is

most heartening is the fact that

even those involved in the agitation

-- from leaders to protesters

have liked it immensely," says

Simrita.

While both Simrita and

Ramneek have post-graduate

degrees in Hindustani classical

music, the duo admits that they

are not essentially lyricists. "But

these circumstances were different.

We were deeply troubled by

the fact that thousands of farmers

were out in the open at a time

when we were sitting comfortably

in our quilts," says

Ramneek.

The duo, residents of Mohali,

whose parents come from an

agricultural background insist

that they (parents) have been

very quite encouraging. "They

have been extremely supportive

and happy that we have been

singing in support of the

protests. In fact, ever since childhood,

they have pushed us to

find our place in our chosen

field," Simrita adds.

They feel that the most striking

aspect of the movement for

them has been the fact that

Punjabi mothers have been

encouraging their children to go

out in this cold and join the

protests. "And that says so much

-- about their spirit and heart,"

feels Ramneek.

Feeling that social media has

been instrumental in making

youngsters' join the agitation,

Simrita adds that considering its

deep penetration among youngsters,

it has been successful in

presenting multiple facets of the

agitation. "It has given so many

new perspectives unlike the

mainstream media which is

struck on a single narrative.

Most people of our generation

are heavy social media users. It

has definitely succeeded in

bringing about a very different

level of awareness and engagement,"

stresses Simrita

For them, the agitation has

'grown' in different ways in a

short while. "While during the

initial days, we mostly saw the

elderly protesting, very soon, a

large number of youngsters

joined the protests. Interestingly,

one sees a sizable number of

women protesters," says

Ramneek.

Talking about the perfect

coordination between them,

Simrita smiles that it is not limited

only to music. She loves to

cook, and "I am a foodie," she

says.

By Sukant Deepak

ever ready to protect the country's

borders, provide internal

security and boost the morale of

the people of the country as well

as fight against Maoism.

The RAF was raised on

December 11, 1991 with headquarters

in New Delhi. It became

fully operational on October 7,

1992, to deal with riots, riot like

situations, crowd control, rescue

and relief operations, and related

unrest.The first five battalions

were raised by October 1992 and

Washington. US Presidentelect

Joe Biden has named

Uzra Zeya, an Indian-

American diplomat who quit

her State Department job in

protest against the outgoing

administration's alleged

racial and sexist bias, as his

Under Secretary for Civilian

Security, Democracy, and

Human Rights.

Confirming the development

on Saturday night, Zeya

tweeted: "In my 25+years as

a diplomat, I learned that

America's greatest strength is

the power of our example,

diversity & democratic

ideals. I will uphold and

defend these values, if confirmed,

as Under Secretary

for Civilian Security,

Democracy, and Human Rights.

"Thank you, President-elect

Biden for centering democracy

and human rights in US foreign

policy and the opportunity to

serve the American people once

more alongside the heroic

women and men

at the State Department. It's

the honour of a lifetime to be

among such all-star nominees."

Zeya, who has more than two

decades of experience with the

Department of State and has

expertise in Near East, South

Asian, Europe, human rights and

multilateral affairs, was nominated

on January 16, The

American Bazaar reported.

"Zeya will be a champion for

putting universal rights and

strengthening democracy at the

centre of our efforts to meet the

challenges of the 21st century,"

the Biden transition team said

while announcing her nomination.

Zeya, who joined the US

Foreign Service in 1990, left the

State Department in 2018, alleging

that Outgoing President

Donald Trump's administration

was bent on reversing decades of

gains made by minorities and

women under secretaries like

Colin Powell and Hillary

Clinton.

In an article published by

Politico, she wrote that "a quieter

trend unfolded" under then-

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson:

"the exclusion of minorities from

top leadership positions in the

State Department and embassies

abroad".

In her nearly three-decadelong

stint at the State

Department, Zeya served in a

number of roles, including as

Charge d'Affaires and Deputy

Chief of Mission at US Embassy

in Paris from 2014 to 2017; as

Acting Assistant Secretary and

Principal Deputy Assistant

Secretary in the Bureau of

Democracy, Human Rights, and

Labor from 2012 to 2014; and as

an additional five battalions

were added in April 1994.

On November 9, 2013, the

RAF Academy of Public Order

was established in Meerut, Uttar

Pradesh. In 2017, the Indian

government approved an additional

five battalions to be based

in New Delhi, Haryana,

Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and

Bihar.

RAF is a zero response force

which gets to the crisis situation

within a minimal time, thus

enthuses an immediate sense of

security and confidence

amongst the general public.

This force also has the credit

for having a separate flag signifying

peace and was a proud

recipient of the president's

colour presented to it by L.K.

Advani, then Deputy Prime

Minister of India on October 7,

2003 for its selfless service to

the nation in the 11th year of

coming into existence.

RAF trained male and female

contingents for the UN peacekeeping

mission to different

countries like Haiti, Kosovo,

Liberia every year, continue to

earn accolades and excellence in

international forums for their

highest order of professionalism.

The force has now been

increased to 15 Battalions as

five more units have been added

with effect from January 1,

2018. The 15 battalions are

numbered 99 to 108 and 83, 91,

97, 114, 194. It is headed by an

officer of the rank of Inspector

General . The smallest functional

unit in the force is a 'Team'

commanded by an inspector, has

three components namely riot

control element, tear smoke element

and fire element. It has

been organised as an independent

striking unit.

One team in a company of

RAF is composed of women

personnel so as to deal more

effectively with situations where

the force forces women demonstrators.

Biden names Indian-American

Uzra Zeya as Under Secy at State Dept

Chief of Staff to the Deputy

Secretary of State from 2011

to 2012.

She has served as US

diplomat in capitals such as

New Delhi, Muscat,

Damascus, Cairo and

Kingston.

Zeya joins a long list of

India-Americans appointed

by Biden as members of his

administration.

Most recently, Sameera

Fazili, who traces her family's

roots to Kashmir, was

appointed as Deputy

Director, National Economic

Council; while health policy

expert Vidur Sharma was

named as the testing adviser

on Biden's Covid-19

Response Team.

On January 14, the Biden

transition team announced the

nomination of two Indian-

Americans, Sonia Aggarwal as

the climate policy adviser, and

Garima Verma as the Digital

Director for the President-elect's

wife.

Other key Indian-American

nominees include Neera Tanden,

who will be the Director of the

Office of Management and

Budget, Surgeon-General Vivek

Murthy, Assistant Press

Secretary Vedant Patel, Director

of speechwriting Vinay Reddy

and Gautam Raghavan, the

Deputy Director of the Office of

Presidential Personnel.

At the powerful National

Security Council, the nominees

are Tarun Chhabra, Senior

Director for Technology and

National Security; Sumona

Guha, Senior Director for South

Asia, and Shanthi Kalathil,

Coordinator for Democracy and

Human Rights.


14 16-01-2021 to 31-01-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

US woman charged over Capitol riots

Washington. A woman from

the US state of Missouri, who

was seen with a fractured sign

belonging to House of

Representatives Speaker Nancy

Pelosi during the January 6

Capitol riots, has been charged,

according to court documents.

On Saturday, the documents

filed in the US District Court

for the District of Columbia

revealed that Emily Hernandez

was slapped with five charges a

day earlier in connection to the

riot staged by supporters of outgoing

President Donald Trump,

The Hill news website reported.

The Federal Bureau of

Investigation received tips from

at least three persons identifying

Hernandez, who was

allegedly seen in a video circulated

by the UK's ITV news network.

According to The Hill news

report, in the video the rioters

are seen entering the Capitol

and a few minutes later, they

were seen going in and out of a

room, which had a wooden sign

above it saying, "Speaker of the

House Nancy Pelosi".

Next, a woman, donning a

pair of sunglasses and a white

and grey hat, is seen standing

outside the room and then later

she holds up a broken engraved

piece of wood, in which the

words "the House" and "Nancy"

are clearly visible, the report

added. The court documents further

revealed that Hernandez has

been charged with knowingly

entering or remaining in any

restricted building or grounds,

disorderly conduct which

impedes the conduct of government

business; stealing, selling,

conveying or disposing of any

thing of value to the US; disruptive

conduct in the Capitol

Buildings; and parading, demonstrating,

or picketing in the

Capitol Buildings.

But it remains unclear is she

has been arrested as of now.

The attack on the Capitol

building on January 6 took place

while Congress was in session

considering the ratification of the

electoral college votes electing

Joe Biden as President and

Kamala Harris as Vice President.

Earlier that day outside the

Capitol, Trump addressed his

supporters during which called

for "patriots" to take a stand

against the 2020 election results

Five people, including a

police officer, were killed during

the riots.

The Federal Bureau of

Investigation has issued a warning

about plans of armed

protests from January 16

through January 20 at all the 50

state capitols, and from January

17 through January 20, the day

of the inauguration, at the

Capitol in Washington D.C.

Up to 25,000 National Guard

members have been authorised

by the Pentagon for Washington

D.C., more than the amount of

the troops currently stationed in

Iraq and Afghanistan combined.

Rising trade deficit to dampen rupee's prospects

DNA test can identify pneumonia in patients with severe Covid

London. Researchers have developed

a DNA test to quickly identify secondary

infections in Covid-19 patients,

who have double the risk of developing

pneumonia while on ventilation.

For patients with the most severe

forms of Covid-19, mechanical ventilation

is often the only way to keep them

alive, as doctors use anti-inflammatory

therapies to treat their inflamed lungs.

However, these patients are susceptible

to further infections from bacteria

and fungi that they may acquire while in

hospital -- so called 'ventilator-associated

pneumonia'.

"Early on in the pandemic, we

noticed that Covid-19 patients appeared

to be particularly at risk of developing

secondary pneumonia, and started using

New Delhi. Rising trade deficit

along with chances of a populist

budget might dampen rupee's

prospects during the coming

week.

Nevertheless, persistent interest

of FIIs in India's equity market

will arrest any sharp depreciation

moves.

"The 25-month high trade

deficit may put brakes for strong

rupee appreciation. Equity markets

also looks stretched and a

cool-off looks imminent now.

Eyes will be on the budget and

the ballooning fiscal deficit,

which can be a challenge for the

local currency," said Sajal

Gupta, Head, Forex and Rates,

Edelweiss Securities.

On the other hand, new IPOs

and hopes of healthy Q3 earning

results will retain FIIs' interest in

equities. "We have two IPO subscriptions

next week, which can

attract FII participation and keep

the USDINR spot lower," said

Rahul Gupta, Head of Research-

Currency at Emkay Global

Financial Services.

"However, RBI's intervention

will be eyed. In spot 73 is acting

as strong support, a break of

which will push prices towards

72.70-72.75 and then the 72.50

zone. However, 73.50 will act as

immediate resistance," he added.

Till now in January, FIIs have

invested around $ 2.3 billion in

equities.

Consequently, the rupee continued

to appreciate and closed

at 73.07 to a greenback.

"We have an important event

this week. President-elect Joe

Biden and Vice President-elect

Kamala Harris will be sworn in

during the 59th inaugural ceremony

in Washington DC on

January 20. It is important that

this event passes peacefully in

a rapid diagnostic test

that we had developed for

just such a situation," said

co-author Andrew

Conway Morris from the

University of Cambridge.

"Using this test, we

found that patients with

Covid-19 were twice as

likely to develop secondary

pneumonia as other

patients in the same

intensive care unit," Conway added.

Normally, confirming a pneumonia

diagnosis is challenging, as bacterial

light of the recent violent attack

by Trump supporters on the US

Capitol. We expect rupee to consolidate

in the range of 72.75 to

73.3 for this week with depreciating

bias," said Devarsh Vakil,

samples from patients need to be cultured

and grown in a lab, which is timeconsuming.

The test takes an alternative

approach by detecting the DNA of different

pathogens, which allows for

faster and more accurate testing,

according to a paper published in the

journal Critical Care.

The test uses multiple polymerase

chain reaction (PCR) which detects the

DNA of the bacteria and can be done in

around four hours, meaning there is no

need to wait for the bacteria to grow.

IT runs multiple PCR reactions in

Deputy Head of Retail Research

at HDFC Securities.

The swearing-in assumes significance

since the incoming US

administration has announced a

new stimulus package. If enacted,

the $1.9 trillion package will

deliver a further jolt of fiscal

stimulus to the struggling US

recovery.

"As the newly elected President

takes charge more clarity on the

stimulus package will be important

to watch. Market participants will

also be keeping an eye on the ECB

and Bank of Japan policy statement;

expectation is that the both

the major central banks are expected

to maintain a dovish outlook,"

said Gaurang Somaiya, Forex &

Bullion Analyst, Motilal Oswal

Financial Services.

(Rohit Vaid can be contacted

at rohit.v@ians.in)

parallel, and can simultaneously pick up

52 different pathogens, which often

infect the lungs of patients in intensive

care. At the same time, it can also test

for antibiotic resistance.

"We found that although patients

with Covid-19 were more likely to

develop secondary pneumonia, the bacteria

that caused these infections were

similar to those in ICU patients without

Covid-19," said lead author Mailis

Maes from the varsity. "This means that

standard antibiotic protocols can be

applied to Covid-19 patients," Maes

added.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NEWS

Vikas Dubey's wife objects

to book, film on his life

Lucknow. Richa Dubey, wife of

slain gangster Vikas Dubey, has

sent a legal notice to the author

of a book and the makers of a

film on her husband's life.

Richa has sought a ban on any

material based on her husband's

life and the Bikru massacre in

which eight policemen were

allegedly killed on July 3 last

year by Vikas and his men.

Vikas was killed in an

encounter on July 10 after his

arrest from Madhya Pradesh.

Richa has sent the notice

through her lawyers and has said

that if she did not receive a satisfactory

reply within seven days,

she would file a petition in the

high court.

Richa's lawyers have also

sought the intervention of the

Union Ministry of Information

and Broadcasting in the matter.

Her lawyers said that the

book and the film being made on

the Bikru incident, sought to

malign the image of her family.

The lawyers, Prabha Shankar

Mishra and Rishabh Raj, told

reporters that a book with the

title "Main Kanpur Wala" was

being written by one Mridul

Kapil and a film based on this

book, was under production.

The lawyers said that the film

"Hanak", was being shot at various

locations.

The lawyers said the biopic as

well as the book, were a violation

of Article 21 of the

Constitution which protects the

right to privacy.

Article 21 of the Indian constitution

says that no person can

be denied his right to life and

personal freedom except through

the process established by law.

"No permission was sought

from Richa Dubey and other

family members before writing

the book or making the film.

This is an infringement of one's

right to privacy. The family

came to know about this only

when the trailer of the film was

released. The film is being made

by Mohan Nagar and is being

shot in Madhya Pradesh," the

lawyers said.

16-01-2021 to 31-01-2021

15

Road Safety Month

to be inaugurated

on Monday

New Delhi. National

Road Safety Month is all

set to be inaugurated on

Monday to create awareness

about road safety

and reduce road accidents

in India.

Activities planned during

the month include launch

of a film on road safety,

flagging off of a National

Championship Safe Speed

Challenge from Wagah border to

Kanyakumari, and giving away

of awards for road safety.

State governments, PSUs, and

insurance companies will also

participate in awareness-creation

activities with seminars,

walkathons, poster-making competitions

after the inaugural

function for the campaign slated

in Vigyan Bhavan here on

Monday. The event will be

launched by Union Defence

Minister Rajnath Singh, and

Road Transport and Highways

and MSME Minister Nitin

Gadkari. Minister of State for

Road Transport and Highways

Gen V.K. Singh and NITI Aayog

CEO Amitabh Kant will also

participate in the event.

Nitish Kumar woos NRIs to invest in Bihar

Patna. In a bid to attract Non-

Resident Indians (NRIs) of

Bihar origin, Chief Minister

Nitish Kumar held talks through

video conference with members

of the Bihar-Jharkhand

Association of North America

(BJANA).

Nitish invited BJANA members

on Saturday evening to visit

Bihar and see for themselves

what he said was the development

undertaken in the state in

the last 15 years. He also promised

all possible help on land

acquisition and other necessary

infrastructure development

required for setting up new

industrial units in Bihar.

The Chief minister said Bihar

CBI arrests Railway officer

in Rs 1 cr bribery case

New Delhi. The CBI has nabbed a senior railway engineering

service officer of 1985 batch along with two

others in an alleged bribery case of Rs 1 crore, sources

said on Sunday.

A CBI source told IANS, "The arrested railway officer

has been identified as Mahendra Singh Chauhan and the

amount has been recovered."

The source said that Chauhan allegedly demanded the

bribe to favour a private company connected to the

North East Frontier Railway which is headquartered at

Malegaon in Assam.

He said that CBI carried out searches at 20 places in

Assam, Delhi, Uttarakhand, and Sikkim at premises

linked to the accused.

had come a long way in infrastructure

development in the last

15 years with road connectivity

to every village and towns with

major cities.

"We have achieved the target to

reach from any remote place to

Patna in six hours and are now

working to reduce the time to

just five hours. The conversion

of two-laned roads into fourlaned

and four-laned to sixlaned

ones are underway at

many places. Besides, so many

new bridges and roads have

either been completed or 80 to

90 per cent complete," said

Nitish Kumar.

"We had targeted to give electricity

to every household in villages

under the 'Saat Nischay

Part-1' and we achieved it in

October 2018. Now, we are

facilitating more than 20-hour

power supply to them," he said.

New Delhi/London.Prime

Minister Narendra Modi has been

invited by his UK counterpart

Boris Johnson to attend the G7

summit in the UK as a guest in

June this year. The summit will be

held in England's Cornwall region

from June 11 to 13.

Last year, US President Donald

Trump had extended an invite to

Prime Minister Modi for an

expanded G7 meeting to discuss

China.

On Sunday, an official statement

issued by the British High

Commission in New Delhi said that

Prime Minister Johnson will use

the G7 presidency to unite leading

democracies to help the world

build back better from coronavirus

and create a greener, fairer and

more prosperous future.

The G7 - UK, Canada, France,

Germany, Italy, Japan, the US -

along with the EU is the only

"The Bihar government has also

achieved 90 per cent target of

supplying drinking water under

the "Har Ghar Nal Ka Jal" programme

as well as "Swachh

Bharat Abhiyan" initiative and

both these programmes will be

completed under the 'Saat

Nishchay Part- 2'," the Chief

Minister said.

The Bihar government is also

working on the tourism sector to

attract domestic and foreign

tourists.

"We have constructed many eco

parks in Patna, Gaya, Nalanda,

Rajgir, Bhagalpur etc. We inaugurated

the 'Venu Van' at Rajgir

a few days ago and nature safari,

zoo and 'glass walkway' will

come up in the next few weeks

at Rajgir. Bagaha is another

wildlife adventure spot in north

Bihar adjoining the Nepal border,"

Nitish Kumar said.

forum where the world's most

influential and open societies and

advanced economies come together

for close-knit discussions.

The UK has also invited heads of

Australia and South Korea to

attend as guest countries to deepen

the expertise and experience

around the table.

The statement said that Prime

Minister Johnson's ambition is to

use the G7 to intensify cooperation

between the world's democratic

and technologically advanced

nations. Between them the 10 leaders

represent over 60 per cent of

people living in democracies

around the world. Describing the

G7 as the most prominent group of

democratic countries, Johnson said

it has long been the catalyst for

decisive international action to

tackle the greatest challenges we

face. "From cancelling developing

world debt to our universal condemnation

of Russia's annexation

of Crimea, the world has looked to

the G7 to apply our shared values

and diplomatic might to create a

more open and prosperous planet,"

he said. Coronavirus, he said is

"doubtless the most destructive

force we have seen for generations

and the greatest test of the modern

world order we have experienced.

It is only right that we approach the

challenge of building back better

by uniting with a spirit of openness

to create a better future."

The statement said that as "the

pharmacy of the world, India

"In a bid to protect environment,

Microsoft founder Bill Gates

had given financial support to us

in 2019 which immensely helps

us to work in this field," Kumar

said.

Nitish also asked for suggestions

from members of BJANA

to improve the situation further

in Bihar.

BJANA President Avinash

Gupta said he hoped to become

a part of the development of

Bihar in the coming months.

BJANA members Ajay Jha,

Sanjay Rai, Ashok Ramsharan,

Ajay Singh and Consul General

of India in New York, Randhir

Jaiswal, were present on the

occasion.

UK invites PM Modi for G7 summit

already supplies more than 50 per

cent of the world's vaccines, and

the UK and India have worked

closely together throughout the

pandemic."

Recalling that the UK was the first

P5 member to support a permanent

UNSC seat for India and the first

G7 member to invite India to a G7

summit in 2005, the UK government

said that as the current

BRICS President and G20

President in 2023, India will play a

key role in driving multilateral

cooperation around the world.

2021 marks a crucial year of international

leadership for the UK. In

addition to the G7 summit, during

February the UK will assume the

Presidency of the UN Security

Council and later this year, the UK

will host COP26 in Glasgow and a

global education conference aimed

at getting children in the developing

world into school.


16 16-01-2021 to 31-01-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Buddhist Kung Fu nuns kicking

hard at centuries-old taboos

ArrayNew Delhi. They are the

Buddhist Kung Fu nuns of

Drukpa lineage, known globally

for trekking across the

Himalayas to clean trash, paddling

through mountain rivers

to break centuries-old taboos to

educate others on women's

health, and adopting martial

arts as a way to champion gender

equality.

They use their skills to teach

self-defence to young girls,

educate others on human trafficking,

and take environmental

action never seen before in the

region.

These fiercely kind Drukpa

nuns -- aged 9 to 60 years --

have been changing the lives of

thousands of women in the

Himalayas. Now, they are one

of three finalists for the worldrenowned

Vaclav Havel Human

Rights Prize based in Europe,

an honour for outstanding civil

service in the defence of human

rights.

The maroon-robed nuns are

from India and train at the

Kathmandu-based Druk

Amitabha Mountain Nunnery,

established by His Holiness the

12th Gyalwang Drukpa, the

spiritual head of the 1,000-

year-old Drukpa Order based in

the Himalayas, as warriors for

peace.

The Druk Amitabha

Mountain Nunnery, located in

the hills overlooking

Kathmandu in Nepal and the

largest in the Himalayas, is a

unique instance of gender

reversal where the nuns run the

administration and perform

nearly all the maintenance

tasks, including construction

work, a job historically

reserved for the monks.

The nuns, waking up at 3

a.m., except Sundays, practice

intensive meditation, perform

complex spiritual rituals with

BY VISHAL GULATI

ceremonial instruments and

dance, and train in martial arts

to empower a new generation

of young women, besides

evolving a connect between climate-related

disasters and climate

mitigation.

Elated over their selection as

a finalist by a panel chaired by

the Parliamentary Assembly of

the Council of Europe

President Rik Daems, nun

Jigme Konchok Lhamo told

IANS over phone from the

Druk Amitabha Mountain

Nunnery that this is a great feat

for a group of nuns.

"When I was just 12, I was

deeply inspired by His

Holiness the Gyalwang Drukpa

who said that women can do

anything by setting an example

of empowerment for all," said

Jigme Konchok Lhamo, 25,

who has been part of the nunnery

for 13 years and rarely visits

her family in the Buddhistdominated

Lahaul-Spiti district

of Himachal Pradesh.

Jigme is a first name of all

the nuns of the Drukpa lineage,

which means fearless.

The Kung Fu nuns, who

receive a modern education in

addition to their traditional

spiritual training, are now gaining

worldwide recognition.

In 2019, the Kung Fu nuns

were awarded the prestigious

Asia Society's Game Changers

Award in New York for inspiring

and applying their unique

talent to make the world a better

place.

They have also recently

received the Atlantic Council's

Unsung Heroes honour in

Washington D.C. for their

courageous work in gender

equality, environmentalism and

humanitarian aid.

The Kung Fu nuns have

devoted their lives to helping

their community -- advocating

for girls, protecting the environment,

and serving as first

responders during disasters like

the 2015 Nepal earthquake by

carrying vital aid on their

backs.

After surviving the deadly

7.9-magnitude earthquake, the

nuns famously refused evacuation

to help remote villagers

who had no other access to help

and aid. Another nun, Jigme

Migyur Palmo, said they

believe in awakening the power

every woman has in her.

"May more women and girls

realize that power is ours and

it's not something given by others,"

Palmo told IANS.

Just 13 years old and

extremely shy when she left her

home in Ladakh, Jigme Migyur

Palmo is now "fearless" with

Jigme in front of her name, and

is joined by other nuns in intensive

athletic training to build

confidence and strength, in

learning about climate change,

and even participating in events

like United Nations climate

change conferences.

The Drukpa Order of

Buddhism that originates from

the Himalayas has built a

strong history of community

action and citizen empowerment

for many years.

The spiritual leader, His

Holiness the Gyalwang

Drukpa, has spent much of his

life breaking down outdated

patriarchal practices that

exclude women. His Holiness

was honoured by the United

Nations with the Millennium

Development Goals Award in

September 2010 for promoting

environmental education and

gender equality. The Gyalwang

Drukpa's international foundation,

'Live to Love', has built

numerous schools, medical

clinics, heritage preservation

projects, and earthquake resistant

homes in the Himalayas. As

the on-ground partners of 'Live

to Love', the Kung Fu Nuns

spearhead many ongoing projects,

including disaster relief

and teaching young girls to

defend themselves against violence.

Most recently, they have

helped mitigate the impact of

COVID-19 in India and Nepal,

providing neglected villages

with critical food by harvesting

their own vegetables, supplies,

and also imparting hygiene education.

They have also begun

ground breaking education on

women's menstruation and distributing

sanitary products in

regions where women are often

punished for discussing health.

(Vishal Gulati can be contacted

at vishal.g@ians.in)


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

UK bans arrivals from South

American countries, Portugal

NEWS

16-01-2021 to 31-01-2021

17

London : The UK government has

announced its decision to ban arrivals

from more than a dozen South

American countries, and as well as

Portugal starting from Friday, after the

detection of a new coronavirus variant.

Taking to Twitter on Thursday,

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:

"I've taken the urgent decision to ban

arrivals from Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia,

Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador,

French Guiana, Guyana, Panama,

Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and

Venezuela from tomorrow at 4 a.m. following

evidence of a new variant in

Brazil. "Travel from Portugal to the UK

will also be suspended given its strong

travel links with Brazil, acting as another

way to reduce the risk of importing

infections. However, there is an exemption

for hauliers traveling from Portugal

(only), to allow transport of essential

goods. "This measure does not apply to

British and Irish Nationals and thirdcountry

nationals with residence rights -

- but passengers returning from these

destinations must self-isolate for TEN

days along with their households."

The new ban was announced after a

meeting of senior UK government officials

on Thursday.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson on

Wednesday told MPs in the House of

Commons, the lower house of

Parliament, that the government was

"concerned" about the new virus variant

London zookeepers

turn to storytelling

London : Keepers at the London Zoo and

the Whipsnade Zoo have launched a series of

virtual bedtime stories to help keep young

fans in touch with their favourite animals

during the nationwide Covid-19 lockdown.

Their 'Tails from the Zoo' will be available

to watch online on the zoos' official

social media pages each weekend from

Saturday until February 21, Xinhua news

agency reported. They will read different

animal-inspired stories, told from the zoos'

most popular exhibits.

Featuring children's classics such as "The

Tiger Who Came to Tea", told in the company

of Sumatran tigers Asim and Gaysha, animals

will be at the heart of each storytelling

session specially chosen to keep younger

fans entertained through this lockdown.

The story line-up will also include newer

favourites such as David Walliams' "The

Slightly Annoying Elephant", read from

Whipsnade Zoo's Center for Elephant Care,

and Tom Fletcher's "There's a Dragon in

Your Book", recited under the watchful eye

of Ganas, the Komodo dragon at London

Zoo.

Following the launch on Thursday,

zookeeper Sam Aberdeen said: "We came up

with the idea because lots of us have our own

children who love to listen to our own tales

from the zoo.

It's a tough time for the zoo at the moment

- as it is for so many others - and this felt like

a fun way to reach out to all the children we

miss seeing here so much.

"We have loved doing it, and we hope

children will enjoy hearing their favorite stories

and seeing the real animals at the same

time. And, of course, we hope it might spur

people who can, to donate a little bit too to

help secure the zoos' future."

James Wren, director of engagement at

the Zoological Society of London (ZSL)

said: "With our gates currently closed to the

public -- but life going on behind the scenes

caring for our animals -- the zookeepers have

found a great way to bring our zoos to our

youngest supporters, and hopefully give parents

a little break at bedtime too!"

'Tails from the Zoo' will be shared via the

Zoos' Facebook pages, kicking off this

Saturday, with Julia Donaldson's "What the

Ladybird Heard on Holiday", read by

zookeeper Nick Burnham and attentively listened

to by Yoda the white-cheeked gibbon.

detected in Brazil, reports Xinhua news

agency. "We already have tough measures

to protect this country from new

infections coming in from abroad," he

said. In December 2020, the UK had

suspended flights from South Africa

after the discovery of a new and concerning

variant in the continent.

Johnson said there were "lots of

questions" over the latest variant,

including whether it is resistant to

Covid vaccines.

At present, experts are uncertain how

effective existing vaccines will be

against the new variant, the Evening

Standard newspaper reported.

Patrick Vallance, the UK government's

top scientist, told ITV that the

new variant contains "a change of the

genetic code, at position 484, and that

changes a part of the protein, it changes

a bit of a shape of the protein".

He said that there is no evidence new

variants are more deadly.

The latest development came as

another 1,564 have died within 28 days

of a positive test, the highest daily death

toll since the pandemic began in the

country, according to official figures

released.

The total number of coronavirus

deaths in the country now stands at

86,163, the data showed.

Another 47,525 people in have tested

positive for Covid-19, bringing the total

ninfection tally in the country to

3,269,757, the figures showed.

England is currently under the third

national lockdown since the outbreak of

the pandemic in the country.

Similar restriction measures are also

in place in Scotland, Wales and

Northern Ireland.

Third peak of corona

in Delhi almost down

now: Minister

New Delhi. Delhi Health

Minister Satyendar Jain

said on Sunday that the

third peak of coronavirus

had almost come down as

positivity rate had dipped

to 0.42 per cent a day earlier.

"Now, we can say that

the third peak of Covid-19

infections has come down,

though I will still urge the

people of Delhi to follow

the prescribed health

guidelines."

Pointing out that the

vaccination drive against

coronavirus was rolled out

at 81 health centers across Delhi

on Saturday, the Minister confirmed

that one serious adverse

reaction case had been reported

from All India Institute of

Medical Sciences here.

"There were 51 minor incidents

but all persons were

allowed to go after a few hours

of medical observation, except

one patient who was a bit serious

and admitted in AIIMS," Jain

added.

The AIIMS patient is a 22-

year-old security guard working

at the hospital. He was admitted

in the Intensive Care Unit till

Saturday night but was stable.

The Minister said that the

healthcare workers of Delhi

Municipal Corporations (MCDs)

were not listed for vaccination

on the first day of the drive

because of their ongoing protest.

"Excluding MCD health

workers on the first day of vaccination

drive was not a politically

motivated decision but was done

because they are holding protest

for the last two weeks. The Delhi

government has already ensured

that vaccination shots are given

to all those eligible in the first

phase."

As for lesser number of vaccinations

undertaken on the first

day, he said: "It was the case

throughout the country, and not

only in Delhi. The Delhi government

will not force anyone for

vaccination. It will be voluntary.

Even those whose names have

been registered will not be

forced to take the vaccine shots."


18 16-01-2021 to 31-01-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

What will be the religion of

Scheduled Castes and Backward

Castes? It is turning into a heated

debate.

As far as the Scheduled Castes are

concerned, they started leaving Hindu

Religion after Babasaheb Ambedkar

converted to Buddhism on 14th

October, 1956. Recently, Jaats also

announced – that they will leave

Hinduism and register themselves as

Sikhs. The country is in the midst of a

massive Farmer’s Movement, which is

very much led by Jaats. So, how come

this issue of Religion has emerged now?

Well, it started after the Brahmin Priests

of Hindu Temples started locking them

up on protesting farmers, while Sikh

Gurudwaras are serving langar. The

issue of conversion was simmering

among Jaats for sometime and one

youth Jaat leader had converted to

Sikhism. But this Temple incident had

further instigated it.

One strong Jaat leader from Uttar

Pradesh said in a mass rally; that those

temple, where we had donated milkmoney

all this time have not served us

even a cup of tea. While Gurudwaras

have opened their doors. Jaats in Punjab

are Sikhs, so coming forward of

Gurudwaras is explicable. But Jaats in

Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and

other states are Hindus; then why

instead of offering help, temples were

closed ? Jaats are in a major shock over

this. If we check the 2011 census data,

India’s total population is 120 crores.

Out of this; 96 crores are

Hindus(80%), 17 crores are

Muslims(14%), 3 crores

Christians(2.5%), 2 crores

Sikhs(1.66%), 85 lakhs Buddhists(less

than 1%) and 45 lakhs Jains(less than

half percent).

But if we look closely, out of this

80%; 25% are SC-STs alone.

According to Brahmin scriptures,

they are Untouchables and Indigenous

or Tribals, thus are not considered

Hindus. SC-STs don’t consider themselves

Hindus as well.

Scheduled Castes – as mentioned

earlier are leaving Hinduism gradually.

But recently, the Hemant Soren

Will Hindu (Brahmin)

Religion become a Minority

RELIGION IN INDIA?

Census is taking

place in 2021.

Government of Jharkhand have recognized

the “Sarna Religion” of the

Scheduled Tribes as a separate religion.

So, if we take out this 25% SC-ST

population, the Hindu population comes

down from 80% to 55%.

Jaats are said to be around 5-6 crores.

If they become Sikhs, it can bring

– Satvinder Manakh

down the Hindu population to half of

total Indian population, i.e., to 50%.

But the question of leaving Hinduism

is not only confined to SC-STs or Jaats

alone. There are several other OBC

castes, which are also preparing for this

Tilak Manjhi: One of India’s first freedom fighters

Jharkhand communities remember the

first martyr of India who led an army

against the British in 1784. A poisoned arrow

shot at British Commissioner Augustus

Cleveland on January 13, 1784 marked the

beginning of the first freedom struggle of the

people of India against British colonists.

However, unlike what history textbooks say,

this attack was not led by Mangal Pandey but

by Santhal leader Tilka Manjhi.

Born as Jabra Pahadia, the Adivasi (indigenous)

leader led the Santhal Hul (Santhal

revolt) that is considered by historians as the

first armed rebellion against the British. Jabra

kept the British and other oppressors such as

zamindars and moneylenders from exploiting

the community, stole loot from the East India

Company treasury and prevented British soldiers

from entering the local area.

Prior to Cleveland’s death, Jabra also resisted

the Company’s attempts to appease Adivasi

complaints. The leader went around circulating

“We must be united” messages in the local

script on a sal leaf. When he finally succeeded

in killing the British officer, soldiers surrounded

the Tilapore forest under Jabra’s control and

after several weeks managed to arrest him.

Officials were shaken by the idea that a local

person using traditional weapons was able to

defeat a British officer. On capturing Tilka

Manjhi, soldiers tied him to the tail of a horse

and dragged him all the way to the collector’s

residence at Bhagalpur, Bihar. There, his body

was hung from a banyan tree to ward off any

other uprising. Instead, Jabra became a hero in

the community. Once India gained

Independence, Santhals erected a statue of the

leader who instilled fear in colonisers at the

very spot where he was hung. Even the

Bhagalpur University was renamed as Tilka

Manjhi Bhagalpur University. Incidentally,

members of the East India Company gave

Pahadia the title of Tilka Manjhi that means

“village head with angry red eyes” in Pahadia

language. Some British documents also called

him a dreaded dacoit or gussel (angry) Manjhi.

Even in 2021, Adivasi communities in

Jharkhand commemorated January 13 by garlanding

Tilka Manjhi’s statue, said Dainik

Jagran. The news website said that MLA

Mangal Kalindi said a grand statue of Tilka

Manjhi would be installed at the Chowk with

the same name in the future.

Meanwhile, a video published by the

Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Jabra died with a

smile on his face, inspiring the words “haansi

haansi, chadh gaya faansi” (he died smiling

hung from the noose.)

The life and accomplishments of the rebel

were also documented in a novel written by

Bengali writer Mahashweta Devi. Similarly,

Hindi novelist Rakesh Kumar Singh described

his struggles in the ‘Hool Pahadiya’ novel.

Tilka Manjhi’s episode ended nearly 70

years before Mangal Pandey was born. Yet,

other than British documents, his feats only

remain in folk songs of Santhal culture. One

such song is as follows:

- Tum par kodon ki barsat hui (They rained

whipcords on you)

- Tumhe ghodon mein bandhkar ghasita

gaya (They dragged you by horse)

- Fir bhi tumhe maara nahi jaa saka (Still

you could not be killed)

- Tum Bhagalour mein sareaam (They

amidst the Bhagalpur public)

- Faansi par latka diye gaye (Hung you on

the rope)

- Fir bhi darte rahe zamindar aur angrez

(Yet the landlords and the British were afraid)

- Tumhari tilka aankhon se (Of your angry

eyes)

-Maar kar bhi tumhe maara nahi jaa saka

(You didn’t die even after being killed)

Tilka Manjhi Mangal Pandey nahi (Not Mangal

Pandey) Tum adhunik Bharat ke pehle vidrohi

the (You were the first rebel of modern India)

migration. For example, the Shakyas

and Kushwahas of Uttar Pradesh –

Bihar. Majority of Shakyas have already

converted to Buddhism and looks like,

Kushwahas are following soon.

The dominant OBC caste of

Northern India, the Yadavs are also

caught in the same dilemma as Jaats.

When Akhilesh Singh Yadav left

Chief Minister’s house of Uttar Pradesh

and Savarna Thakur caste, Yogi

Adityanath took over; the whole CM

compound was purified because

Akhilesh Singh Yadav belonged to a

Shudra – OBC caste.

Akhilesh Singh Yadav was forced to

say in a public gathering, that all these

years I was thinking that I am

“Forward” but these RSS-BJP folks

finally made me realized, that no – I am

“Backward” ! All the OBC castes; such

as – Marathas, Jaats, Yadavs, Patels,

Kurmis, Gujjars are considered fourth

grade Varna – Shudras according to

Brahmin scriptures. Among the Yadavs,

the late Periyar Lalai Singh Yadav has

emerged as a major icon. He converted

to Buddhism soon after Babasaheb

Ambedkar. There is a video on Social

Media from a Yadav dominated village

of Bihar, which shows them leaving

Hinduism and accepting Buddhism.

So, if these Shakyas-Kushwahas-

Yadavs leave Hinduism in near future, it

can bring its population even below

50%. To be a majority religion, one

doesn’t only need to be the largest group

but their population should be more

than 50%. Now, these figures are of

national level but if we look separately

at the states, the picture looks even more

perplexed.

Let us take the example of Haryana,

which is at the center of this whole controversy.

Here, Hindu population is

87%, Muslims 7% and Sikhs are around

5%. But out of this 87% Hindu population

– 25% are Jaats alone. So, if they

switch over to Sikhism, Hindus will be

reduced to 62%, while Sikhs can rise

from 5% to 27%.

Still, Hindus seems to be in a majority

with more than 50% and Sikhs much

lower at 27%. But there is 20% SC population

in Haryana. If we also take them

out, Hindus can come down from 62%

to mere 42%. So, only these two groups

in 2021 census can turn the Hindus in

Haryana from majority to minority.

It was thought, that the intensity of

this religion issue will cool down during

the Farmer’s Movement, but it has

added fuel to the fire.

Cong's women wing to

observe 'Mahila Kisan

Diwas' on Monday

New Delhi. The women wing of

the Congress has decided to

observe "Mahila Kisan Diwas"

(Women Farmers' Day) on

Monday, to show solidarity with

the thousands of farmers' protesting

against the three controversial

farm laws.

All India Mahila

Congress president

Sushmita Dev said:

"The All India Mahila

Congress which has

been at the forefront of

the fight for women's

rights wholeheartedly

welcomes this and will

support this call to

observe Mahila Kisan Diwas."

The Congress' women wing

said that the farmers have played

a critical role in the fight for justice

and have shown the country

the importance of women in agriculture

and in revolution. They

have not only left their homes to

protest against the farm laws, but

also worked to ensure more

awareness amongst people on

how these legislations will

destroy their livelihood.

Congress General Secretary

Priyanka Gandhi and former

party chief Rahul Gandhi joined

the protest march here on Friday

to show solidarity with the

protesting farmers.

Speaking on the

occasion, Rahul

Gandhi said: "Prime

Minister Narendra

Modi did not respect

the farmers... the

party is in farmerss

support till these laws

are withdrawn."

Slamming the BJP, the

Congress leader said the government

is working for businessmen

and these laws are not in favour

of the farmers.

The Congress on Friday

staged protests at all Raj Bhavans

(Governor's House) across the

country and demanded the withdrawal

of the farm laws.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NEWS

16-01-2021 to 31-01-2021

19

NAPM condemns the denial of timely

whose homes at Dhobi House,

Jamia Nagar were forcibly demolished

by the DDA almost 4 months

back, Salutes the ongoing struggle

of the women of Dhobi Ghat Jhuggi

Adhikar Manch and supports their

demand for “jahan jhuggi wahan

makan” and compensation for all

losses, Govt must stop all demolitions

in the midst of Covid pandemic:

Follow Delhi Laws (Special

Provisions) Act, 2006.

National Alliance of People’s

Movements (NAPM) is outraged at the

continued callousness of Delhi

Development Authority (DDA) to deny

rehabilitation to more than 700 people

whose homes at Dhobi Ghat, Jamia

Nagar were demolished in Sep & Oct,

2020. We condemn the disregard for

human life demonstrated by abandoning

the residents to precarious lives and

increased risk over 4 months, due to loss

of shelter and livelihood in the midst of

the Covid pandemic.

NAPM joins the Dhobi Ghat Jhuggi

Adhikar Manch in demanding immediate

quality rehabilitation at the site from

where the people’s homes were demolished,

and fair compensation for the

losses suffered in the intervening winter

months. The women’s andolan in the

area requires widespread solidarity and

support from all of us to end the abuse

and harassment the community faces

every day.

Demolition Drives:

DDA carried out large scale demolitions

in Batla House at Dhobi Ghat,

Jamia Nagar, Delhi, on 24th September

2020. More than 700 residents were

forcefully evicted and over 200 huts

were destroyed during the first phase of

the drive. On 8th October 2020, the second

phase of demolitions was initiated

by DDA where the bulldozers destroyed

the rest of the jhuggis when most resi-

rehabilitation to 700 residents

both men and women living at Dhobi

Ghat, to suspend their employment.

Upon learning of the unsanitary conditions

in which the slum dwellers have

been forced to live, the residents in

neighbouring buildings subjected them

to further loss of livelihood, discrimination

and constant harassment. Displaced

families, including the aged and the

sick, pregnant women and young children

are now forced to live in the open

on the few spare acres of land which is

not under water. Frequent rain often

causes the swamp to overflow, flooding

the jhuggis of the residents in the middle

of an already harsh Delhi winter.

At a time when a new strain of the

Coronavirus has been detected, the residents

of Dhobi Ghat have been left destitute,

with few means of redressal.

There is severe shortage of food, government

ration is supplied irregularly

and consists only of dry grains.

Electricity too is cut off in the area during

the evening which only compounds

the problem of cooking the minimal

ration residents receive. Moreover,

every time residents have attempted to

rebuild temporary settlements for shelter,

these are destroyed and they are subsequently

intimidated by the authorities.

Formation of the Dhobi Ghat

dents were out at work. In December, governments demand promised in 2020 Jhuggi Adhikar Manch

the DDA intensified encroachment on Delhi election for basti dwellers “Jaha In response to the repeated illegal

the land of the residents and dug it up in juggi waha makan”(where the dwelling, demolitions at Dhobi Ghat, the women

order to construct huge boundaries and there itself the house). A promise made have collectivized as Dhobi Ghat Jhuggi

elevated structures resulting in deep for the Jhuggis (JJ clusters) in securing Adhikar Manch to fulfil the promise of

swamps where their homes once stood. tenureship and protecting themselves Jahan Jhuggi Wahan Makan, home

Actions of DDA are in violation of from forced evictions.

where the jhuggi was, in order to contribute

to the relief efforts that are

natural justice and their right to live Impact on lives and livelihoods:

with dignity. The DDA in its action has Most residents whose homes have underway and streamline a process to

not taken into account or addressed been demolished have been living in ensure the urgent needs of displaced

established policy protection for the residents

under Delhi Urban Shelter Board decades and suffered massive economic shawls, blankets along with ration kits

Dhobi Ghat for reportedly close to two families are met. Till now, clothes,

(DUSIB) policy 2015 – on procedures losses. Not only have they lost their and tarpaulins to protect the jhuggis

to be followed in case of forced eviction homes, but also their livelihood. Fear of have been painstakingly arranged and

including adequate notice and clear contracting the Corona virus motivated distributed to some of the families. Yet,

rehabilitation arrangements. DDA also many residents in neighbouring buildings,

who were primary employers of for the urgent demand for

interim relief efforts cannot substitute

remains in violation of their own state

long-term

Afghanistan launches polio

vaccination targeting 9.9mn kids

Kabul. The Afghan Public

Health Ministry on Sunday

launched a nationwide campaign

to administer polio vaccines

to 9.9 million children

under the age of five.

The five-day drive was

launched as 56 polio cases were

detected in Afghanistan in

2020, reports Xinhua news

agency.

The Covid-19 pandemic and

ongoing insurgency and conflicts

have been hindering the

efforts to stamp out the infectious

disease in the mountainous

country as millions of children

from areas inaccessible to

vaccination teams might miss

the ongoing vaccination drive.

Afghanistan and Pakistan

are the only two remaining

polio endemic countries in the

world., according to the Unicef.

The ban on house-to-house

campaign approach since May

2018 has impacted negatively

on the polio eradication

progress in Afghanistan, leading

to 3.4 million children

being missed in every round of

a National Immunization Day

(NID), it said. The situation

deteriorated further when a

nationwide ban was imposedon

all vaccinations in April 2019

for a period of five months,

exposing nearly 10 million children

to the poliovirus.

housing and rehabilitation of all slum

dwellers at Dhobi Ghat who have been

living in destitute conditions for nearly

four months now. The formation of the

committee itself, and their raising their

voices against the DDA has led to incidents

of attempted intimidation.

National Alliance of People’s

Movements strongly condemns the illegal

demolitions by the DDA, which

have eroded the most fundamental

rights of the displaced families at a time

when the pandemic and the subsequent

lockdown had already left them devastated.

We stand in solidarity with the

affected people, in particular the women

of Jhuggi Adhikar Manch, who have

strongly organized themselves and are

leading a valiant struggle amidst the crisis.

We extend our full support to their

demands that:

1. All the residents of Dhobi Ghat,

Batla House must be ensured full rehabilitation

and fair compensation for all

losses, with immediate effect by the concerned

authorities.

2. Pending rehabilitation, interim

monetary grant as well as relief support

be extended to all the families by way of

food grains, domestic materials and necessary

supplies.

3. Special attention must be paid to

the nutritional, education and health

needs of children and women in the area

who stand affected by the demolitions.

4. An inquiry must be initiated

against police personnel who used

undue force against the residents including

senior citizens, women and children

and suppressed their rightful expressions

of dissent as part of the Jahan Jhuggi

Wahan Makan Andolan; and action be

taken based on such an inquiry.

5. Given the history of ‘disruptions’

in the area in the last couple of years

including the fire in 2019 and now the

massive demolition, the actual motives

for the demolition also be thoroughly

inquired into.

Parliamentary panel summons

FB, Twitter officials on Jan 21

New Delhi. The Parliamentary

Committee on Information

Technology has issued summons

to officials of Facebook and

Twitter for January 21, to question

them over misuse of the

social media/online news platforms.

The schedule of meeting on

the Lok Sabha website read:

"Evidence of representatives of

Ministry of Electronics and

Information Technology and to

hear the views of the representatives

of Facebook and Twitter on

the subject safeguarding citizens'

rights and prevention of misuse

of social/online news media platforms

including special emphasis

on women security in the digital

space."

Earlier, the committee had

summoned Facebook's India

head Ajit Mohan over the issue

of political bias on the social

media platform.

The allegations of a Facebook

bias towards the BJP were

reported in The Wall Street

Journal in August 2020 and had

claimed that Ankhi Das, the platform's

then India Policy Head

had opposed the idea of removing

hate posts by BJP leaders,

warning that this could hamper

their "commercial interests".

Das has now quit Facebook.


20 16-01-2021 to 31-01-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Inspite of the economic and noneconomic

challenges of covid crisis, the

union budget 2021-22 will have to provide

relief to all the stakeholders including

consumers, producers, distributors

and traders. It is necessary for bringing

the economy out of the crisis of recession.

To make the measures sufficient,

we must do serious introspection of the

strengths, weaknesses, opportunities

and challenges known as SWOC analysis

of Indian economy. It is relevant to

mention that I read the long speech of

72 pages developed in 145 points on

Union Budget 2020-21 of the size of Rs

3042230 crore by Finance Minister

(FM) Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman and also

understands the covid created compulsions

for her in preparing budget 2021-

22. We need to identify the factors under

control and beyond control. We have to

be enthusiastic to nurture relationships

with stakeholders including consumers,

producers, traders and distributors. We

have to be motivated to succeed in

doing things which calls for change in

behavioural patterns.

I foresee the crisis of covid bigger

than expected difficult to quantify but

there are observed implications in terms

of recession, bankruptcies, unemployment,

underemployment, farmers’

unrest, white-collar crimes, terrorism,

exploitation, discriminations, deprivations

and discontent among the stakeholders

as the challenges for Indian

economy.

MSP is a known word among the agitating

formers which deserve to be

understood as minimum needs, support

needs and protect needs of all the stakeholders

including farmers more than

minimum support price (MSP) of the 23

agro -products announced by the government.

To avoid exclusion errors in social

safety net, we have to provide direct

Expectations from

UNION BUDGET 2021-22

income transfer universally to the tune

of at least one percent of the GDP by

pooling some if not all the subsidies.

The blow of recession can be softened

with reviving demand of nonessential

items by the middle class who

require reduction in personal income

tax.

The government should restore the

purchasing power of the employees as

consumers by paying the dearness

allowance which stands freeze and is

not justified as is a measure of compensation

for inflation.

For ensuring women empowerment

and gender equality, the woman FM has

to adopt ‘gender budgeting’ more than

Affordability and Worth) approach of

marketing with focus on the need based

priorities in choices of all kinds.

Atmanirbharta calls for loans on zero

rate of interest under monetary policy

and zero subsidy under fiscal policy for

implementation of manufacturing policy

with export orientation.

We have to learn best practices from

other nations including ‘palli palli’(

hurry up and be quick) culture of South

Korea and adopt prognosis approach.

To inspire greater confidence among

small entrepreneurs for exports, Khadi

and Village Industries Commission

(KVIC) needed to be converted into a

multinational corporation (MNC) for

merely increasing the budgetary allocations

for ease of living and improving

MSMEs. The structural transformation

Professor M.M. Goel* giving a brand name to the products of

quality of life. We have to adopt sustainable

fiscal path.

It has to be noted that about 3/4th of

the potential productivity growth come

from the broader adoption of best practices

or catch up improvements and

remaining comes from technological,

operational or business innovation that

goes beyond today’s best practices and

pushes the frontier of India’s GDP

potential.

To escape the debt trap of huge

dimension, we have to understand

‘Cobra effect’ making solutions worsening

in the economy, the conspicuous consumption

at micro and macro levels has

to be stopped. There is need for sharing

the responsibility calling for pricing

policy of public utilities to be linked

with inflation.

It would be relevant for the FM to

understand and adopt the canons of public

expenditure advocated by Dr. B.R.

Ambedkar that every Government

should spend the resources garnered

from the public not only according to

rules, laws and regulations, but should

also see that ‘faithfulness, wisdom and

more than allocating the resources needed

in the Indian economy to be competitive.

Atmanirbharta is necessary and sufficient

condition for sustainable development

of an economy and its people by

keeping a check on greed which is villain

for all.

The Public Private Partnership (PPP)

model has become more relevant and

calls for monitoring in all its operational

dimensions with awareness, alertness

and awakening (AAA) with rationality

(vivek).

the problem (unhappy conse-

Economy’ are adhered to in the acts of I believe that needonomics ( eco-

quences) and replace fear with fearlessness

and work without worries.

Keeping in view the resource crunch

expenditure by the Govt.

Economy can be made consumer

friendly by adopting NAW (Need,

nomics needs) should be the guiding

principle for the FM which provides

insurance to the Indians for their

atmanirbharta based on Gita used in the

logo of LIC of India ‘Yogakshemam

Vahamyaham’(Your welfare is our

responsibility).

There is a strong case for using the

used less manpower of the nation who

can contribute and also get benefited. To

care for the cared less, we need to learn

altruism as a rational behaviour in consumption,

production, distribution and

exchange activities in Indian economy.

We have to enhance defence expenditure

to face the challenges caused by

internal threats and terrorism of various

kinds including unemployment and

unrest among farmers. The only practical

solution of these problems is to

make military services compulsory for

five years for the youth which will bring

discipline to Indian economy in one

sense or the other. The domain of military

activities will have to be increased

to include agricultural industry.

We to become street smart (simple,

moral, action oriented, responsive and

transparent) with uniqueness even if

weak for converting the challenges into

opportunities as consumers, producers,

traders and distributors with honesty

without making undesirable demands of

higher budgetary allocations in the

budget 2021-22. For economic revival

and survival, we have to understand,

analyze, interpret and implement

atmanirbharta by adopting needonomics

( economics of needs) with street

smart Indians to ensure their participation,.

Best wishes to the FM for coming

up to the expectations of the various

stakeholders.

* Former Vice Chancellor and

Needonomist Professor presently

Advisor (Public Finance) 6th State

Finance Commission Haryana

www.needonomics.com

Lucknow,. In a landmark judgment,

the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad

high court has ruled that the 30 days'

notice to a marriage officer to register a

wedding under the Special Marriage

Act, 1954, should be optional rather

than mandatory.

The court said that enforcing a notice

period on the couple is tantamount to

intruding on their fundamental right to

privacy and liberty.

"If the couple does not want to go for

publication of the 30-day notice, the

marriage officer has to solemnise their

wedding forthwith," said Justice Vivek

Chaudhary while disposing of a habeas

corpus petition filed by a Hindu man

married to a woman who was born

Muslim but converted before the wedding.

Petitioner Abhishek Kumar Pandey

alleged that his wife Sufiya Sultana was

being held captive by her father because

she had converted and got married

according to Hindu rituals.

Justice Chaudhary based his judgment

on three key observations.

First, the law must keep evolving

with time and societal change.

Second, it should not violate anyone's

privacy, a fundamental right

underscored in several orders of the

Supreme Court.

Lastly, when there is no provision of

a 30-day notice period to get married

under various personal laws, why

should this be mandatory under the

Special Marriage Act?

The court, however, clarified that the

onus would be on the marriage officer to

verify the identity, age and valid consent

of the couple and their eligibility to

marry under the relevant law.

"In case the marriage officer has any

doubt, it shall be open for him to ask for

Notice period for

inter-faith marriage

now optional

appropriate details or proof as per the

facts of the case," the court said.

Responding to an earlier directive,

the father of Sufiya a.k.a. Simran had

produced his daughter in court.

During the course of the hearing, she

and Abhishek told the court that they

were consenting adults who had married

of their free will because they wanted to

live together.

Simran's father thereafter gave his

personal consent to their marriage.

While the case was amicably closed,

the court took notice of the fact that

under the Special Marriage Act, it is

mandatory to give 30 days' notice for an

interfaith couple to legalize their union.

and his bride had pleaded before the

court that any such notice would be an

invasion of their privacy and cause

unnecessary social pressure and interference

in their decision to marry. They

also pointed out that many interfaith

couples face the same challenge.

The petitioner's counsel said the circumstances

had become even more difficult

for couples in Uttar Pradesh under

the Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion

of Religion Ordinance, 2020, which

treats conversion through marriage as

'illegal and punishable'.

He argued that in the light of changes

in society, amendments to the Special

Marriage Act and various judgments of

the Supreme Court in regard to the privacy,

liberty and freedom of choice of a

person, it is imperative to revisit the

provision for a 30-day notice period and

understand whether this is to be treated

as mandatory or directory in nature.

Citing various orders of the Supreme

Court and recommendations of the Law

Commission of India in 2008, the court

concluded: "...the procedure of publication

of notice and inviting objections to

the intended marriage in Act of 1954

thus has to be such that would uphold

the fundamental rights and not violate

the same. No reasonable purpose is

achieved by putting the provision of 30

days' notice publication under the

Special Marriage Act.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Professor at Delhi University Dr. G.N.

Saibaba has been held in Nagpur Central

Prison since 2014, despite being 90 percent

disabled. Well-known outside of India,

attending many conferences abroad, human

rights advocate Dr. G.N. Saibaba started a

hunger strike on 21 October 2020, to condemn

human rights violations in prison, as

well as demanding medical care, books, and

sending letters, which is the most fundamental

right of every prisoner. Saibaba, who is in

life threatening condition due to many chronic

illnesses he suffers from, had previously

applied to the Supreme Court, but his brother’s

house, which he showed as the address,

was rejected because it was within the

boundaries of the COVID 19 quarantine. At

the current stage, the necessary medical

needs are not met, and the medical supplies

that his family wants to send are rejected. In

addition, the books, letters, and newspaper

clippings sent to him by his friends and family

from outside have not been given for

months. Letters and books are a prisoner’s

most natural right and only connection with

the outside. Not allowing them to him is a

violation of human rights.

As if all this were not enough, Dr. G.N.

Saibaba has been prevented from meeting

with his lawyers on the pretext of getting

COVID-19 for months. He is only allowed to

speak to his lawyers by phone twice a month.

Preventing him from meeting with his family,

friends, and lawyers, and preventing the

NEWS

International call to support the

resistance of Dr. G.N. Saibaba!

sending of books, magazines, letters, and

newspapers from outside, is an attempt to cut

his relationship with the outside world. With

his arrest, the Indian state is trying to achieve

multiple goals, preventing him from giving

lectures at university as well as cut his communication

with outside to arrest his

thoughts as well. Dr G.N Saibaba is not the

only prisoners facing the human rights violations

in India, there are thousands like him.

Thousands of people in many countries of

the world are arrested, tortured, and mistreated

in prisons for their political ideas and

opinions. Dr. G.N. Saibaba’s Freedom Is

Possible Through Solidarity! We, the undersigned,

are calling on the international public

to announce for Dr Saibaba to be freed, to be

treated in a healthy environment, to be given

his medicines, books, letters, and newspapers!

The hunger strike initiated by Dr G.N

Saibaba can only end with victory with the

support of Democratic organisations and

Individuals. We urge the democratic organisations

and individuals to force the Ministry

of Justice of India and Nagpur Central Prison

to meet the needs of Dr G.N Saibaba!

We call on all organizations and individuals

in the international arena to organise solidarity

campaigns in their fields to support

Dr Saibaba’s resistance!

16-01-2021 to 31-01-2021

21

Farmers not happy with SC panel

but will continue talks: Tikait

New Delhi : Representatives of farmers told the Centre on

Friday that the four-member

committee formed by the

Supreme Court to redress

their grievances on new

farm laws was "not acceptable"

to them though they

will continue to hold parleys.

"During our meeting

with the government representatives, we made it clear that the

committee formed by the Supreme Court is not acceptable. The

farmers will however continue to hold talks with the Centre and

try to find out a solution to their demands through dialogue,"

Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait said after lunch

break in the ongoing 9th round of talks with central Ministers

Narendra Singh Tomar, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, and

Minister of State Som Prakash.

Earlier, farmer leaders began another meeting with the three

Union Ministers at the Vigyan Bhavan here. In the afternoon, they

partook of lunch brought at the venue by Delhi Sikh Gurdwara

Management Committee.

Tikait said that discussion on their demands for repeal of the

three new farm laws and a legal assurance on Minimum Support

Price (MSP) for agricultural crops will take place after lunch.

"I can't say for how long the meeting will continue. However,

the meeting is taking place in a very good environment," he said.

This is the first meeting after the Supreme Court on January 12

suspended the three farm laws and formed the four-member committee

of experts. Bhupinder Singh Mann, one of the members,

has since withdrawn from the committee.

Earlier in the morning, ahead of the commencement of the ninth

round of talks, Tikait had warned that the farmer leaders would

walk out of the meeting in case the government remained stuck on

its earlier position on the three farm laws.

"If the government is afraid of fulfilling the demands of the

farmers on the central farm laws, there is no point in continuing

the dialogue," he had told IANS.

SC to take up pleas

connected to farm

laws on MONDAY

New Delhi : The Supreme

Court is likely to hear on

Monday the pleas challenging

the three farm laws and also the

pleas seeking the removal of

farmers camping at various

Delhi borders.

A bench headed by Chief

Justice S.A. Bobde and comprising

Justices L. Nageswara

Rao and Vincent Saran will

take up the petitions on January

18. On January 12, the top

court stayed the implementation

of the three farm laws until

further orders.

The hearing assumes significance

after Bhartiya Kisan

Union President Bhupinder

Singh Mann, a key member of

the court-appointed expert

panel, recused himself.

In a statement, Mann said he

would give up any position to

prevent farmers' interests from

being compromised.

He said that in view of the

prevailing sentiments and

apprehensions amongst the

farm unions and the public in

general, he is ready to sacrifice

any position offered or given so

as to not compromise the interests

of Punjab and farmers of

the country.

"I am recusing myself from

the committee and I will

always stand with my

farmers and Punjab,"

Mann added.

Apart from Mann,

Shetkari Sanghatana

(Maharashtra) president

Anil Ghanwat,

International Food

Policy Research

Institute's Pramod

Kumar Joshi and agriculture

economist Ashok

Gulati have been

appointed by the apex

court on the expert

panel.

Staying the implementation

of the farm

laws, the top court had

expressed hope that this step

may help resolve the deadlock.

However, amid the ninth

round of talks on Friday,

Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU)

spokesperson Rakesh Tikait,

who is part of the negotiations

between farmer unions and the

Centre, said the unions have

made it clear that the committee

formed by the Supreme

Court is "not acceptable" to us.

Thousands of farmers, mainly

from Punjab, Haryana and

western Uttar Pradesh, have

been agitating at various Delhi

borders since November end.

Stalemate over farm laws continues,

next meeting on Jan 19

New Delhi, Jan 15 (IANS)

The ninth round of talks

between the government and

the agitating farmers ended

inconclusively on Friday. The

next round of meeting has been

scheduled for January 19.

The meeting of the farmer

leaders with the government,

which started at 12 noon on

Friday and went on for around

five hours, over the three contentious

farm laws and the

demand for minimum support

price (MSP) ended in a stalemate.

Speaking to the media

after the meeting, Bharatiya

Kisan Union (BKU) spokesperson

Rakesh Tikait said, "Our

demand will remain the same

and we will not go to the committee

formed by the Supreme

Court, but continue to hold

talks with the government. We

still demand that the government

should repeal the three

farm laws besides ensuring

MSP."

Tikait also said that the antifarm

law protests will stretch

for long. "The opposition will

raise this issue in the

Parliament, while we will raise

the issue in our protests outside

the Parliament," Tikait said.

He also said that the government

is not accepting the

demands of the farmers.

This was the first meeting

between the two sides after the

Supreme Court order on

January 12, which stayed the

implementation of the three

farm laws and also formed a

four-member committee to

look into the farmers' issues.

However, on Thursday, farmer

leader Bhupinder Singh Mann,

one of the four members on the

committee, had recused himself

from the panel constituted by

the top court.

Earlier, eight rounds of talks

were held between the farmers

and the government, but they

all turned out to be inconclusive.

Thousands of farmers

from Punjab, Haryana and

western Uttar Pradesh have

been agitating against the three

farm laws on the borders of

Delhi since November 26.

Their main demand is that the

government must repeal the

three farm laws enacted in

September last year.


22 16-01-2021 to 31-01-2021 NEWS

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

No time to ‘celebrate’ on Supreme Court’s

stay on three farm laws

The Supreme Court has been unusually

aggressive with the government on

the three farm bills. The Chief Justice of

India made tough talking about this and

said that he is going to form the ‘expert’

committee and will stay the implementation

of the bill. And today, the court

decided that a four member panel will

speak to the farmers and the government.

The members are Mr Bhupinder

Singh Maan, Bharatiya Kisan Union (

Maan), Anil Gahlawat, Shetkari

Sanghthana, Ashok Gulati, agricultural

scientist and Pramod Joshi,

International Food Policy Research

Institute ( IFPRI). If you scan newspapers

of the last two months, you will

find most of these gentlemen I there is

no gender justice here), have been very

vocal about the new farm bills which

the government brought. They wanted

to get it implemented. Bhupinder Singh

Maan is the president of Bharatiya

Kisan Union which had actually supported

the government openly. The only

difference is that they wanted the government

to ensure Minimum Support

Price. Ashok Gulati is a well known

columnist and is visible in the media

most of the time vociferously supporting

the bill.

Shetkari Sagnthan has always been

in support of farm reform and just have

a look at the speeches of Anil

Gahalawat then you will find how he

feel that the current agriculture bill is

more beneficial for farmers because it

give them ‘opportunity’ to variety of

places and not merely the Mandis which

are going to get demolished after the

bills. Basically, there is a farm lobby

which feel that it can deal with the corporate

houses and get a better deal but

these are isolated farmers. Frankly

speaking the whole question of corportisation

of agriculture sector is an

assault on not merely farmers but on

India’s Dalit Bahujan Adivasi population

as it hurt them the most. How do

you expect the small and marginal farmers

to bargain with Ambanis and Adanis

? They cant even bargain with local

dealers and the result is farmers suicide

Vidya Bhushan Rawat

every year as they dont get their money

back and are forced to sell their product

in much lower prices.

Therefore, we need to understand

that the Supreme Court order today is

not ‘revolutionary’ but an attempt to

defuse the crisis without changing anything.

if the courts were really concerned

about the farmers, they would

have sought farmers representative in

the committee and called those economists

and agriculturalists who have

been working closely with farmers and

not those who are corporate friendly.

Nor is today’s stay on ‘implementation’

of the three farm bill an answer. It is trying

to save the political executive by

playing the role of the executive. It is

not the job of the court to make laws or

deal with law and order situations.

Court has to see the legality of an issue.

In fact, farmers are not even keen to go

to the court on this issue as they know

that the government wants to use the

Courts to save its skin without retracting

the laws. We have seen many times in

recent years when the judges make big

statements but the final judgements disappointed

us.

The Supreme Court was ‘upset’ with

the government response. Does the

court feel that the laws may be better

but the government has not been able to

communicate it. Is it the job of the court

to mediate for the government. If that is

the case, why didnt the court take the

matters related to Jammu and Kashmir

or anti-NRC-CAA protests. The court

has not been able to send a message to

the government to stop harassment of

the activists participating in the protests.

While it looks that the courts are

really upset but the other side is that it is

trying to find a way for a ‘negotiated’

settlement but if that has to happen, the

committee that it appointed should have

people known to have sympathies

towards farmers and not towards the

corporate.

How are the farmers expected to

have faith in such a committee when the

members of the committee and their

views are in public domain and well

known.

We know that various groups wanted

to go to the court deliberately to divide

the farmers and ensure to get a favorable

judgement. The Supreme Court’s

intervention will not build the confidence

of the farmers. It is the political

executive that has to take a call and it is

doing it deliberately. The ruling party

has failed in handling the issue and does

not want to budge an inch because the

bills are basically aimed to strengthen

the hands of the corporate and not of the

farmers.

The issue of farm bills has to be

responded to politically and not through

the courts. For every thing that the political

executive wants to get implemented,

it takes the court route as that is the

safest way for them to get their things

‘legitimised’. It is so because we all are

missing Justice H R Khanna, Justice V

R Krishna Iyer who had the courage and

conviction to stand with the people and

their rights when powerful leaders tried

to suppress them ‘legally’.

Even after sixty deaths, the government

continues to play multiple games

to foil this unity of the farmers. One side

invites them for negotiations while the

Ministers threaten them that their

‘details’ are with them, the other side, a

notorious IT cell has been targeting the

farm protest with tags like Khalistan,

urban naxals, Maoists, anti nationals.

Many BJP leaders have said that farmers

are eating pizzas and kaju-badam

and biryani as if eating that is anti

national. But this is the popular narrative

they build to polarise. Biryani is

Muslim and symbolise how the Sangh

mind treat these protests. The BJP has

already said that it would embark on big

rallies to ‘educate’ people about the

bills. Prime Minister spoke about it with

people online through his ‘man kee

baat’. Farmers unity was extraordinary

and yet the government wanted to foil it.

Now, the Supreme Court has taken the

matter in its hand. It says the ‘implementation;

is stayed. We dont know

what is the mandate of this committee

and what is the time schedule given to it

but we dont expect much from these

committees. Sad part is that the political

executive of this country has shamelessly

refused to admit that they made the

bills without consulting the farmers if

not to Ambanis and Adanis. Let us

watch what the court does and how the

committee responds to the entire issue.

Frankly speaking the government has

completely failed and it remained arrogant

enough to continue with its ranting

about the nature of the protests. It is

time it realise that it needs to protect the

farmers and not the business tycoons

who are looking to grab their land and

resources.

Vidya Bhushan Rawat is a social

and human rights activist. He blogs

at www.manukhsi.blogspot.com

twitter @freetohumanity

Email: vbrawat@gmail.com

A treat for admirers of Ambedkar's literary oeuvre

New Delhi : B.R. Ambedkar is

known for his relentless pursuit of justice

and equality across all spheres,

which has established him as one of the

pioneering architects of modern India.

His ideas on the upliftment of Dalits

still remain critically debated in Indian

society, inspiring many previous and

current socio-political movements.

Now, for the first time, the five-volume

"B.R. Ambedkar: The Quest for

Justice" (Oxford University Press)

explores the major themes of research

surrounding his capacious oeuvre and

provide a summary evaluation of the

state of Ambedkar studies internationally,

highlight research trends both about

and inspired by Ambedkar, and open up

lines of future enquiry.

It offers a critical analysis of the realities

of social inequality, diversity,

exclusion, and marginality that

Ambedkar's work has drawn

our attention to, as well as of

his writing itself.

Volume 1 focuses specifically

on the theme of political

justice, including explorations

in political theory

inspired by Ambedkarite

thought.

Volume 2 examines key

issues in social justice, especially

in terms of Indian

democracy, and provides a

wide range of perspectives

all anchored in Ambedkar's

work and writings. Volume 3

covers legal and economic

justice. The first part explores the literature

on the Indian constitution and its

institutions, the idea of constitutional

morality, rights and the rule of law, and

Ambedkarite jurisprudence. The second

part turns to a variety of issues in economic

justice anchored in Ambedkar's

economic philosophy. Volume 4 focuses

on gender justice and racial justice. The

first part explores Ambedkar's impact

on efforts to

achieve gender justice

in India, and

offers various readings

of Ambedkar

as a feminist. The

second part turns to

comparisons of

race and caste and

explores the ways

in which the movements

for racial

justice and caste

equality can learn

from one another

and seek strategies

of synergy.

Volume 5 treats of religious justice

and cultural justice. It covers topics

such as conversion, Navayana

Buddhism, and liberation theology. The

second part explores timely issues in

cultural justice inspired by Ambedkar's

own activism and struggles.

The general editor of the series,

Aakash Singh Rathore, is author of

Ambedkar's "Preamble: A Secret

History of the Constitution of India" and

regular contributor to newspapers and

magazines. Rathore has taught at

Jawaharlal Nehru University, the

Universities of Delhi, Rutgers,

Pennsylvania, Toronto, Humboldt

Berlin, LUISS-Rome, and Jindal Global

University.

His 20 previous books range from

political philosophy, law, and religion to

literature, sports, and wine. These

include Hegel's "India: A

Reinterpretation, with Texts", and "B.R.

Ambedkar's The Buddha and His

Dhamma: A Critical Edition". He is also

author of the forthcoming book, "B.R.

Ambedkar: A Definitive Biography".


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of

Unlawful Conversion of Religion

Ordinance 2020, passed by UP on 27th

November 2020, has set the ball rolling.

On one hand many other BJP ruled

states like MP and Haryana are activating

their machinery to bring in similar

law in their states and on the other at

social level many interfaith couples are

being subjected to harassment, some of

the Muslim men in particular are being

put behind the bars. This law has intentions

which are out and out communal

as already from 1960s there have been

anti-conversion laws. The new laws

have goals which are sinister and have

the potential of being misused to create

social disharmony.

While the ordinance does not use the

word love jihad, the foot soldiers of the

Hindu nationalist politics are out in the

open with apprehending Muslim Man-

Hindu girl couple and subjecting them

to increasing degrees of torture. In

Northern states the phenomenon of

intimidation and violence against such

couples, the Muslim men in particular

is surging. Gradually more couples are

being brought into the spiral of moral

policing and intimidations. The worst

part of the process is that those taking

the laws into their hands enjoy impunity

and are becoming bolder in creating

a divisive atmosphere in the society and

pushing back the minority Muslim

community into submission and marginalization.

At the same time these are

putting pressure on Hindu girls and

restricting their mobility and freedom.

This time two issues are being rolled

into one. The fear of conversions away

from Hinduism is being linked to Hindu

girls having relationship with Muslim

boys. At one level interfaith and inter

caste relationships are natural in an

open society, where people from different

castes/religion interact at various

levels.

Dislike for interfaith marriages was

put bluntly by the UP Chief minister

Adityanath Yogi, who citing a recent

ruling of the Allahabad High Court

which said religious conversion for the

sake of marriage is unacceptable,

warned that those waging “love jihad”

should mend their ways or be prepared

for their last journey — “Ram naam

satya hai ki yatra nikalne waali hai”.

(The slogan recited in the funeral processions)

The instructions have also

been passed down that parents should

keep a watch on their daughters.

The new law brought in by the UP

Government needs to be questioned in

the courts as it is an outright attack on

different clauses of the Constitution,

which gives us the freedom to choose,

practice and propagate our faith and

other provisions giving us liberty to

choose our life partner. This present law

(UP and possibly in other states) aims

to popularize that Hindu culture is

under threat, Hindu girls are vulnerable

and Hindu males have to act as their

protectors. While the ordinance does

WORLD

Love Jihad, Conversions and

Laws curbing Freedoms

not mention the word love jihad, the

background and the statements of the

top leaders of Hindu nationalism and

the actions of vigilantes

makes it clear that it is an

outright attempt to target

the inter faith marriages ,

especially when the

groom is a Muslim. The

accusation is that after

such marriages the Hindu

girl is unable to practice

her religion in her marital

home and is forced to

convert.

Such cases of interfaith

marriages are few

and far between in this

large country of ours’. In

more democratized countries interfaith

Nitish loses cool after being asked

about rising crime graph in Bihar

Patna : Bihar Chief

Minister Nitish Kumar lost

his cool on Friday after he

was asked questions about

the rising crime graph in

Bihar.

While inaugurating the

6.7 km long elevated road

between R-block and

Digha in Patna, Kumar was

asked about the rise in

criminal activities in the

state, espacially the recent

murder of Indigo airlines

state head Rupesh Singh, a

case which is yet to be

cracked. An agitated Kumar said

that investigation into the case is

currently underway and the miscreants

will be put behind the bars very

soon.

"Every incident of crime has

some reasons. In case of Rupesh

Singh's murder, the police are working

on the case. The miscreants will

be put behind the bars soon. We will

take the strongest action against

them and also conduct speedy trial

in this case to provide justice to the

victim's family," Kumar said.

When asked about the rising

crime graph in Bihar, Kumar said:

"Before accusing the government,

you should look at the tenure of the

Lalu Prasad-Rabri Devi regime that

ruled Bihar for 15 years."

"According to the NCRB

(National Crime Records Bureau)

data, Bihar is placed 23rd in the

country," he said.

The mediapersons also complained

about DGP

S.K. Singhal, SSP

Upendra Sharma and

other senior officers

for not replying to

their queries. In

reply, Kumar called

the DGP over phone

and directed him to

give proper replies to

the quarries of the

reporters.

Kumar did not

look pleased with the

performance of the

police, espacially in

case of the Indigo state head's murder.

Singh was gunned down by

unidentified assailants outside his

residential complex while he was

returning from the airport on

Tuesday night.

Kumar is facing the heat ever

since his alliance partner BJP raised

questions over law and order situation

in Bihar, along with the opposition

parties including the RJD,

Congress and the Left.

Ram Puniyani

marriages are on the rise, close to

becoming social norm. Also Muslim

girl and Hindu boy cases are fewer in

number, and in the present

scenario even the Hindu

boy (Ankit Saxena) has to

face the wrath of the parents

of the girl. The

Trinmul Congress MP

Nusrat Jahan was also

trolled for her choice to

marry a Hindu. But overall

the hue and cry, the target

is the Muslim boy.

In Maharashtra, a group

“Hindu Rakshak Samiti”

has been claiming to save

Hindu religion by breaking

up the Hindu Muslim

couples, if the girl happens to be a

New Delhi : The CBI said on Friday

that it had registered cases against two

companies based in NCR as well as

Karnal in Haryana on the charge of cheating

banks of more than Rs 340 crore and

carried out searches at six locations. The

Central Bureau of

Investigation (CBI) raids

were conducted at the

premises of the two companies

as well as their

accused officials/owners.

A CBI official said that the

agency had registered a

case of fraud on a complaint

by State Bank of

India against Naftogaz India Private

Limited, New Delhi/Noida, and others,

including its CMD and unknown public

servants or persons for causing a loss of

Rs 219.81 crore. The official alleged that

the company cheated the bank through

diversion of bank funds, fraudulent transactions,

criminal misappropriation, submission

of false stock or debt statements

etc. The complainant bank alleged that the

company was incorporated in 2005 as

EPC contractor for exploration, drilling,

extraction and production of mineral oils,

natural gas and petroleum products.

The fraud came to light when forensic

16-01-2021 to 31-01-2021

23

Hindu. A booklet in Marathi on Love

Jihad shows a Muslim boy riding the

Motor bike, with Hindu girl riding pillion.

In case of a Muslim girl marrying

a Hindu and converting is presented as

Ghar Wapasi (return home) so is not

attacked by Hindu vigilante groups.

The police investigation mostly showed

that there is no such phenomenon as

Love Jihad. The organizational promotion

of such marriages is a hoax but has

become part of social understanding.

Why are there such and opposition

to inter faith marriage? Is it a plan by

Muslims to lure Hindu girls, marry and

convert them? This is a make believe

propaganda. As such it is an attempt to

paint the Muslim men doing it deliberately

under a plan! What is missed out

in the whole scheme of things is that

here, in this assertive aggressive propaganda

and violence the agency of

Hindu girls/women is reduced to zero.

Hindu girls are presented as being

gullible and without any will or decision

making power of their own. While

Muslim men are presented as a threat to

Hinduism and the Hindu girls are presented

as being without any mind of

their own. The advice being given to

parents to keep a watch on the movements

of their daughters and their contacts

is a mechanism to control the lives

of girls. All sectarian nationalist ideologies

are strongly patriarchal and so the

woman has to be under the control of

men as ‘their property’. Patriarchal values

and nationalism under the wraps of

religion go hand in hand. With

Independence and implementation of

Indian Constitution this journey takes a

good leap and we can see the women as

their own selves coming to all the

spheres of Indian social, educational

and political life of the country. This is

a matter of discomfiture to those who

pay lip service to values of equality and

eulogize the ancient holy texts, which

give subordinate place to women.

Hope the judiciary is able to restrain

the state governments in withdrawing

these laws which are oppressive. The

interfaith amity needs to be promoted at

all the levels.

CBI books 2 firms for cheating

banks of Rs 340 cr, raids 6 places

auditors submitted a report on February

18 last year for the period from April 1,

2010 to March 31, 2014. The official said

that searches were conducted at three

locations, including in National Capital

Region at the office and residential premises

of Naftogaz and other

accused. The second case

was filed on a complaint

by the Punjab National

Bank against Hari Har

Overseas Private Ltd,

engaged in rice milling, at

Karnal. The case was registered

against the company

and others, including

its Directors, guarantor and unknown

public servants and persons for causing a

loss of Rs 121.75 crore to the bank. The

accused had fraudulently sold the company

stocks as well as machinery, which

was hypothecated to the bank.

The bank complaint alleged that the

accused did not deposit the sale proceed

with the bank and, as per the forensic

audit, falsified its financial data to avail of

loan. The official said that searches were

conducted at three locations, including

official and residential premises of the

accused in Karnal, which led to recovery

of incriminating documents.


24 16-01-2021 to 31-01-2021 WORLD

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

'Kamala's Way' charts an engaging

journey from California to Washington

New Delhi. Just how did the

daughter of two immigrants in

segregated California became

one of this countrys most effective

power players? Through

the human touch, by turning

defeat into victory and most of

all, by doing things her way, a

timely biography of Kamala

Harris, the US Vice Presidentelect

says.

"Harris entered the

(Democratic) presidential

(nomination) race fully intending

to win. To do that, she had

to defeat the front runner. That

she fell short can be attributed

to missteps by her and by factors

beyond her control. But

though her campaign sputtered

and halted before the first votes

were cast. Harris left a big

impression. Something about

her always cuts through. That is

Kamala Harris's way," longtime

Los Angeles Times

reporter Dan Morain writes in

"Kamala's Way – An American

Life" (Simon & Schuster).

It was that "something" that

made President-elect Joe Biden

pick Harris as his running mate

in November 3, 2020 US

Presidential election and

together they carved out an

impressive victory against

incumbent Donald Trump –

which didn't come without its

major hiccups.

Relying on his four decades

of chronicling California's policy,

politics and justice-related

issues, Morain takes readers

through Harris's career from its

beginnings handling child

molestation cases and homicides

for the Alameda County

District Attorney's office; her

years in the San Francisco

District Attorney's Office; her

relationship as a 29-year-old

with the most powerful man in

the state: married Assembly

Speaker Willie Brown, a relationship

that would prove lifechanging;

her audacious

embrace of the little-known

Barack Obama, and the sharp

elbows she deployed to make it

to the US Senate.

In 34 chapters, Morain

analyses her failure as a presidential

candidate and the

behind-the-scenes campaign

she waged to land the Vice

President spot. And along the

way, Morain paints a vivid picture

of her family, values and

priorities, as well as the missteps,

risks and bold moves

she's made on her way to the

top.

To explain just how difficult

the path was, Morain guides the

reader through the minefield of

California politics.

"It is impossible to understand

Harris without understanding

the unique contradictions

of California's politics.

There are many California's.

Some parts of the state are as

conservative as the reddest

parts of the nation. Other's are

among the nation's most liberal.

To leave a mark on its history,

as Harris has, a politician must

know how to navigate among

all of these. Her ascent...is

largely due to her talent at

doing just that.

"But most of all, you have to

understand California's particularly

contradictory record on

race – a record that Harris

would come to know intimately

from the day she was born,"

Morain writes.

Thus, what is altogether

remarkable is the humility that

Harris retained in

charting her way.

Sample this:

"Beth Foster Gayle

had just gotten up and

was making coffee at

her D.C. home on the

morning of October

25 (2020), bracing

herself for the day

ahead. It was the second

anniversary of the

death of her husband, Tyronne

Gayle, Harris's first Senate

press secretary.

"Such days bring with them

hard, happy, and sad memories.

Her phone buzzed with a text.

It was from the Democratic

vice presidential nominee, from

somewhere on the campaign

trail. Kamala Harris wanted to

pass along what she had seen at

the rally in Jacksonville,

Tyronne's hometown. Someone

held a sign that read DO IT

FOR TYRONNE. In other

words, the person holding the

sign wanted Harris to win the

election for the young man who

died too soon. Harris wanted

Beth to know that someone else

was remembering Tyronne.

"The gesture brightened the

start of the rough anniversary

and it reflected a fact of

Kamala Harris that

few people would

ever see. She could

be tough, often too

tough, with those

around her. In her

climb, she had left

people behind feeling

used, and she

left work undone as

she moved fast from

one important job to

By Vishnu Makhijani

the next. But she also took time

to show she cared and to display

that all-too-rare quality,

empathy. On this day, she knew

one person would be feeling

pain, and she wanted to let that

person know someone was

thinking of her. "It was Kamala

Harris's way," Morain writes.

This is a truly must-read

biography of the first Black

woman to be elected Vice

President of the US.

(Vishnu Makhijani can be

reached at vishnu.makhijani@ians.in)

2 female Afghan judges dead in targeted killing

Kabul. Two female Afghan

judges were killed in Kabul

on Sunday when unidentified

armed men opened fire at the

vehicle they were travelling

in, marking the latest incident

of targeted killings in

the war-torn country, a security

source said.

The incident took place in

Taimani neighbourhood,

Police District 4 of the city,

the source told Xinhua news

agency. The shooting also

left two other government

employees injured, he added.

Sunday's incident was the

latest in a string of targeted

killings in Afghanistan

On January 12, two

female army officers died

and two female officers and a

driver wounded in a similar

incident in northern Balkh

province.

No group has claimed

responsibility for the attacks

so far.

Shahid Kapoor starrer 'Jersey'

to release on November 5

Mumbai. Bollywood actor

Shahid Kapoor starrer Jersey

is all set for a Diwali release. It

is scheduled to hit the theatres

on November 5. Shahid made

the announcement on

Instagram. He shared a picture

dressed in a cricket uniform.

"JERSEY releasing in theatres

this DIWALI 5th November

2021. The triumph of the

human spirit. A journey I am

so very proud of. This ones for

the TEAM .... " he wrote

alongside the image. Shahid's

upcoming sports drama is a

Hindi remake of a Telugu hit

of the same name. The Hindi

version is directed by Gowtam

Tinnanuri, who had also

helmed the 2019 original. It

also stars Mrunal Thakur. The

story is about a talented but

failed cricketer named Arjun,

who decides to make a comeback

in his late thirties and

play for India, in order to fulfil

his son's wish.

Forest fires in Chile consume over 3,200 hectares

Santiago. The National

Emergency Office of the

Chilean Ministry of the

Interior and Public

Security (ONEMI) reported

that 3,230 hectares of land

have been consumed by

forest fires in the past two

days in the Valparaiso

region.

Ina statement on

Saturday, the National

Forestry Corporation

(CONAF) said the forest

fires were still raging in the

Lago Penuelas National

Reserve and Hacienda Las

Palmas 2, reports Xinhua

news agency. Although the

fires are under control,

they have not been extinguished.

"It is a giant

perimeter, and we are

mainly concerned about the

advance towards the western

sector. The other fronts

are quite confined and have

low spread," CONAF

Director Sandro Bruzzone

said. The Valparaiso

regional secretary of

health, Francisco Alvarez,

said that three patients that

tested positive for the

novel coronavirus were

evacuated from the area

near the fires and are now

in isolation. On Friday,

Chilean President

Sebastian Pinera said that

authorities had reason to

believe that the fires were

set intentionally, and investigators

had filed a criminal

complaint against the

perpetrators."(The fire)

could have turned into a

true tragedy. Fortunately,

early, timely, committed

and efficient work has

allowed us to control this

fire," he said.


www.theasianindependent.co.uk

NEWS

16-01-2021 to 31-01-2021

25

'They were killing Jews and I was not

a Jew': The parallel for the Pandits

Srinagar, Jan 17 (IANS) The

hounding of the Kashmiri

Pandit community from the

Valley has an uncanny similarity

with the persecution of the

Jews by Hitler.

"They were killing the Jews/

And I was not a Jew" was how

the Pandits rationalised the initial

killings of community notables.

The killings of the local

Pandits started with the daylight

murder of Tika Lal Taploo

on September 14, 1989. He was

killed by militants in his home

in downtown Srinagar.

Taploo's murder surprised,

15 more arrested for kidnapping

three businessmen in Hyderabad

Hyderabad. The Hyderabad police

have arrested 15 more people in connection

with sensational kidnap of

three businessmen brothers in the city

earlier this month.

Those arrested included an event

manager who provided 20 men for

execution of the crime. Police

Commissioner Anjani Kumar

announced the arrests at a

news conference on

Sunday.

The arrested include

two men who wore khaki

uniform to pose as cops

and threatened Praveen

Kumar, Sunil Kumar and

Naveen Kumar while kidnapping

them from their residence in

Bowenpalli on January 5.

The Police Commissioner said the

arrests were made on the basis of

information obtained from prime

accused and conspirator Bhuma

Akhila Priya, a former minister of

Andhra Pradesh. "Based on her confession,

the entire sequence of events

was unearthed along with the details

of the accomplices and the roles they

played," he said. With this the number

of people arrested in the case rose to

19. Akhila Priya was arrested hours

but did not deeply shock the

majority of the local Pandits.

They tried to console each

other by saying that Taploo was

killed because he was the

leader of the BJP in Kashmir.

This killing was followed by

the daylight murder of former

judge Neelkanth Ganjoo on

November 4, 1989.

The retired district and sessions

judge had gone to collect

his pension from the J&K Bank

branch in the busy Hari Singh

High Street market of Srinagar

when militants struck.

Militants fired at him several

times from close range. He

died on the spot.

Ganjoo was the judge who

had sentenced the JKLF

founder, Maqbool Bhat to the

gallows. Kashmiri Pandits

again argued that this was a

revenge killing and not the one

that was meant to target the

community.

"They were killing the Jews

and I was not a Jew. This was

my belief after these two

killings. I had no role in preventing

the 'freedom' the militants

were seeking. What

would they gain by harming

me? This remained my belief

By Sheikh Qayoom

till the beginning of 1990," says

Rajinder Sapru (name changed)

presently living in Jammu.

Sapru said the militants then

killed an employee of the

Telecom Department and later

an assistant director of the Food

and Supplies Department. This

again looked like not even

remotely threatening Sapru's

life although both these victims

belonged to his community.

Towards the beginning of

1990, serious and disturbing

news started pouring in.

From 'Azadi' or freedom for

all, the armed struggle was

after the kidnappers let off the victims

on the outskirts of Hyderabad in the

early hours of January 6.

The young TDP leader is currently

under judicial custody. Police last

week took her into custody for three

days and gathered vital information

about the crime. Akhila Priya's husband

Bhargav Ram, brother Jagat

Vikhyat Reddy and Guntur

Srinu, Kiranmayi and

Chandrahas are still at large.

Police teams are on the lookout

for these accused. The

police last week arrested three

more accused including personal

assistants of Akhila

Priya and her husband. Police already

claimed to have gathered technical

evidence of Akhila Priya's telephonic

conversation with kidnappers, who

posed as income tax officials to enter

Praveen Kumar's house and kidnap

him and his two brothers. According

to police, the accused assembled at

a school in Yousufguda and from

there went to the victims' house in

four cars. After kidnapping them in

three different cars, the brothers

were taken to a guest house belonging

to Bhargav Ram.

At the guest house, the accused

metamorphosing into the fight

for setting up a radical, Islamic

state in which non-Muslims

had no place.

It is important to mention

that the predominant majority

of the local Muslims opposed

the targeting of their Pandit

neighbours. However, an

unarmed Muslim was as helpless

before the radical, straitjacketed

belief of the armed

militant as his Pandit neighbour.

Migration of Kashmir

Pandits had already started

when Sarla Bhat, a staff nurse

at the Sher-e-Kashmir Institute

of Medical Sciences (SKIMS)

in Srinagar, was kidnapped and

killed in April 1990.

Her body was thrown on the

road in the Karan Nagar area of

threatened the victims and forcibly

made them sign property documents.

On knowing that the police

teams were searching for them, they

let the victims go.

The kidnapping is linked to a dispute

over 25 acres of land at

Hafeezpet in Hyderabad.

Praveen Rao had reportedly purchased

the land in 2016 from Subba

Reddy, a close aide of Bhuma Nagi

Reddy, a former MP. After Nagi

Reddy's death in 2017, his daughter

Akhila Priya approached Praveen

for a share and when the latter

refused she along with her husband

Bhargava Ram and others allegedly

planned the kidnap.

Deputy Commissioner of Police

(North Zone) S. Kalmeshwar said

Akhila Priya, Bhargav Ram, Jagat

Vikhtat Reddy and their follower

Guntur Srinu planned the kidnapping

January 2 at an apartment in

Kukatpally. More planning was

done in a school owned by Bhargav

Ram in Banjara Hills.

Guntur Srinu contacted Madala

Siddharth to arrange 20 people for

execution of the kidnapping and

paid Rs 5 lakh. The 20 men were

hired for Rs 25,000 each.

Srinagar. The body

carried a note saying

that she was a

police informer.

This justification

did not work either

with the Pandits or

the local Muslims.

The nurse's gruesome

murder -- her

family said she had

been raped before

she was murdered --

sent out a clear message

that a Kashmir

Pandit had to perish

or migrate out to

"India he belonged

to because of his

religion".

The government

was unable to protect

them. It was

battling hard to

establish its authority

that had been deeply compromised

because the militant

outfits called all the shots.

"It was comparatively easier

for the city resident Pandit to

pack and leave than it was for

us. We as villagers had cattle,

agricultural land and orchards.

Everything could not be abandoned

so quickly.

"My Muslim neighbours

tried their best to support me,

but they were as helpless before

the gun wielding youth as the

local Pandits. I entrusted my

property to a neighbour and left

the village with my wife, two

daughters and a son.

"We lived in a tent in one of

the makeshift camp for the

migrant Pandits in Jammu city.

My house had 10 rooms and the

tent in which we were living in

the camp did not have enough

space to stretch our legs," said

Autar Krishan Raina, who lived

in a central Kashmir village.

Every migrant Pandit family

has its tale of woes to

tell.

"The thought of

return to their homeland

varies between the first

generation of Pandit

migrants and their subsequent

generation.

"The Pandit who

faced the trauma and

had to leave his home,

still cherish and live in

the idea of Kashmir

since they had generational

understanding of

amity between the local

Muslims and Pandits.

"For the young generation

of Pandits born

and brought up in different

cultures, Kashmir

represents a home

snatched from their

forefathers. To which

they might go as tourists

and not as residents. Thus, the

community has become a diaspora

in their own land," said Dr

Farah who teaches sociology at

the Kashmir University.

Waiting for his turn to return

home, the average Pandit has

aged beyond recognition both

mentally and physically for

himself and for his friends and

neighbours back in Kashmir.

(Sheikh Qayoom can be

contacted

at

sheikhqayoom@gmail.com)

'Senior citizens feel economic

issues major concern for India'

New Delhi. Majority of the senior citizens

of the country believe that current

state of the economy is among the

biggest issues that India needs to address

immediately.

The other top concern is unemployment,

showed a survey by Antara, a Max

Group entity.

Further, fear of coronavirus infection

and social isolation were the two big

concerns for seniors during the lockdown,

it said.

More than half of seniors in the survey

said that India has done its best to

handle the Covid-19 pandemic.

On the senior assisted living programmes,

a large chunk of the surveyed

senior people was of the view that these

programmes and facilities were acceptable.

Despite being an established and

accepted industry across the world, senior

care services are still at a nascent

stage in India. This can be attributed to

various reasons such as a young population,

close knit-family structures, social

stigma, among others.

"The survey shows this perception is

changing rapidly. 48 per cent of seniors

consider senior care facilities as a readymade

social community, an acceptable

living option. They believe that it provides

them with the comfort and access

to a community of like-minded individuals,

thereby increasing their mental satisfaction

by making them feel understood,"

the report said.

Rajit Mehta, MD, and CEO, Antara

said: "Their (senior Indians) needs and

aspirations have come a long way. They

now want to be active contributors in the

economy, want to lead a life with dignity,

and become more 'Atmanirbhar'."


26 16-01-2021 to 31-01-2021 WORLD

www.theasianindependent.co.uk

New tighter rules come

into force in Scotland

Edinburgh. New

tighter Covid-19 restrictions

came into force in

Scotland with changes for

takeaway outlets, and

click and collect shopping.

Under the new curbs

which came into force on

Saturday, customers buying

takeaway food and

coffee are no longer

allowed inside premises,

staff must serve from a

hatch or doorway, Xinhua

news agency reported.

Now only retailers selling

essential items --

clothing, footwear, baby

equipment, homeware and

books -- can provide click

and collect services.

the new restrictions are

"regrettable" but are a

"means to an end".

More than half of all

cases in Scotland have

been blamed for the new

increase exponentially.

Britain's R number is

estimated at between 1.2

and 1.3, compared with

last week's one and 1.4,

the British government's

Customer collections variant of the virus, Scientific Advisory Group

can only be made outdoors,

prompting Sturgeon to tell for Emergencies (SAGE)

with staggered Parliament that it "makes said on Friday.

pick-up times to avoid

queues.

The changes are among

six new rules announced

it far more difficult to get

the R number back below

1, without severe restrictions".

Scotland also recorded

its highest death figure

from coronavirus since

May 2020 in the week

by Scotland's First The R number, or the ending January 10.

Minister Nicola Sturgeon

earlier this week in an

attempt to drive down the

region's infection rate.

She has expanded on

coronavirus reproduction

number, is one of many

indicators scientists use to

determine how fast Covid-

19 is spreading in the

England is currently

under the third national

lockdown since the outbreak

of the pandemic in

the country.

the rules that were initially

country.

Similar restriction

implemented by law on

January 5, telling the

If the R number is

above one, it means the

measures are also in place

in Scotland, Wales and

Scottish Parliament that number of cases will Northern Ireland.

Nepalese mountaineers scale K2

for 1st time in winter

Kathmandu. Nepalese

mountaineers created history

by scaling K2, the

second highest peak of the

world, for the first time

during the winter season,

the company which organised

the expedition said.

"We did it, believe me

we did it - journey to the

summit never done

before. The Karakorum's

'Savage Mountain' been

summited in most dangerous

season: Winter.

Nepalese climbers finally

reached the summit of Mt.

K2 (Chhogori 8,611m)

this afternoon at 17:00

local time," the company,

Seven Summit Treks, said

in a tweet on Saturday

evening.

Speaking to Xinhua

news agency, Karar

Haidari, Secretary

General of Alpine Club of

Pakistan, a non-governmental

organization working

for promotion of

mountaineering and

adventure tourism in

Pakistan, said the 10-

member Nepalese team

was the first one to reach

the summit of 8,611

metres in winter.

A total of 48 mountaineers

including five

women reached the mountain's

base camp to kick

off the expedition on

December 29, 2020, out of

which five were injured

and many others returned

due to tough weather at

the peak, he said.

Talking about the reason

for the mountain

being the only major peak

not scaled in winter,

Haidari said that it is the

deadliest among the five

highest peaks in the world

and that on average one in

every four dies on the way

to the summit even in

summer during which it

has been scaled multiple

times.

"It is the highest point

of the Karakoram, which

is very steep and in winter

the temperature here falls

below minus 50 degrees

Celsius. Extremely cold

weather coupled with

winds at the speed of 100-

200 km per hour makes it

the most challenging

expedition in the world

for mountaineers," he

said.

Haidari said that last

year only two to three

expeditions came to

Pakistan during the whole

year due to worldwide

Covid-19 lockdowns.

He added that the

adventure tourism restarted

by the end of last year

and is expected to return

to normal in the new year

which started with the

good news of scaling the

K2.

The K2 is located on

the China–Pakistan border

between in the Gilgit-

Baltistan region of northern

Pakistan, and Dafdar

Township in Taxkorgan

Tajik Autonomous County

of Xinjiang, China.

It is the highest point of

the Karakoram mountain

range and the highest

point in both Pakistan and

Xinjiang.

Ireland seeks Covid test

results for int'l arrivals

Dublin. Passengers arriving in

Ireland from all countries will

have to provide a negative Covid-

19 test result starting from

Saturday as part of the country's

latest efforts to control the spread

of the disease.

The test must be taken within

72 hours prior to arrival, according

to a new rule announced by

the Irish government earlier,

Xinhua news agency reported.

According to the rule, people

coming from all other locations

outside of Europe also

need to self-isolate for

14 days, but this may be

lifted on receipt of a

negative Covid-19 test

result taken no less than

of the pandemic in the

five days after arrival.

wake of the Christmas

People arriving in

holiday.

Ireland from Britain and

The Irish

South Africa must continue

to self-isolate

on Saturday reported

Department of Health

themselves for 14 days

another 3,231 new confirmed

cases of Covid-

even if they take a second

test after arrival.

19, bringing the total to

The Irish government

169,780, only a few

said in a statement that

hundred cases shy of

the new rule does not

170,000.

apply to international

In addition, 60 more

transport workers and

Covid-19-related

children aged under six.

deaths were also

The latest move came

reported, bringing the

at a time when Ireland

death toll in the country

to was hit by a third wave

2,595.

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